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Ties to the Wanderer: Part One


by neokitten4

--------

Also by draikmistress123

Part One: The Drifter

To most people, he would seem like some ratty wanderer, what with the torn clothes and such. To others, he was just some person who would be there one day and gone the next. To others still he was something just a little more important.

     He sure didn't look it, though. Leaning casually against a tree. A maroon short-sleeved shirt that had only slightly been repaired, ripped, and repaired again, matching the denim jeans that were just as covered with tears and holes as his shirt. Though they looked like something your grandfather would have had when he was young, these were fairly new.

     A green Gelert, he was. Nothing real special. Save his height at his age, he was perfectly normal. Normal brown hair, brown eyes, basically the guy you'd walk down the street and never notice. Meet Will, who had no idea what was about to happen.

     The blue Kacheek watched from behind another of those same trees which the Gelert leaned upon.

     She watched, quietly waiting.

     She was a strange one, aye. She was very shy until she knew someone. As a result, she was shy with most people, because she never was bold enough to get to know them.

     So she had recently developed a system.

     She watched someone until she felt she knew them well enough, then was just bold enough to speak with them, until she truly knew them and no longer felt shy.

     She had a suspicion, though, that he was not going to stay long enough to be watched.

     Well, that was good, too. No matter what she did, he would soon be gone.

     She would never see him again, and thus, no matter what she did, there would be no one to remember.

     Carefully, quietly, she approached.

     He noticed the Kacheek approaching, and said, "Can I help you?"

     She froze, all her power of will, speech, movement robbed by the words, words she had not been prepared for. She tried to speak, tried to reply, but could not.

     She had black hair, medium-length and utterly straight. Her ears, placed as they were, caused some to be forever getting in her eyes and in front of her face, which had frustrated her until she had given up. She was wearing a white dress with the Brightvale star on the front, back, and each side.

     The Kacheek looked up at last, saying quietly, "My name is Keladra. What is yours?"

     "Keladra, hm?" Will raised a brow, glancing around a bit. "Mine's Will Camp, good to meet you, Miss," he introduced himself, bowing slightly. Darn that old habit!

     She blushed, but did her best to hide it by curtsying in reply. She was, at least, rather good at that. Of course, she would deny any such thing if you told her that.

     "A pleasure to meet you as well, I am certain."

     "What brings you to Brightvale?" he asked, trying to strike up a conversation. If there was one thing Will was awful at, it was small-talk. For some reason, he sounded like an idiot whenever he tried to just have casual conversation with people.

     If anything, Keladra was worse at it. She had never attempted it, or at least rarely.

     "I live here," she answered quietly, trying her best to not sound as though he should have known that, for how could he have? "What brings you to our land?"

     "Oh," he replied, noticing for the first time the Brightvale star that was on her wardrobe. "Didn't notice. I wander around, actually. I was in Meridell the day before yesterday." He shrugged a bit.

     "Did you like it there?" Keladra asked, remembering her own trips to Meridell. Her sister had enjoyed them far more than she...

     "Eh, it was decent." He shrugged. "Not much to look at, actually. This place is so much more... advanced than Meridell," he commented. Meridell fans... get your killer vegetables ready.

     "Somehow, Brightvale reminds me more of my hometown," he said, a far off look in his eyes. "I might stay a bit longer than I thought."

     Keladra sighed. "There simply is not much to do there if you do not enjoy talking, farming, royal courts, or animal herding..."

     ~I do hope I do not ruin things, if he stays long,~ she thought. ~That would be unbearable!~

     "Just like home." He laughed, glancing off toward the huge Brightvale castle. "Well, I think our castle was just a foot or two bigger than theirs, but, I can't really remember it."

     She had run out of conversation on the topic and did not know how to change topics.

     So she was silent a moment, trying to gather her wits.

     All she succeeded in doing was panicking.

     She tried to fight it, struggled to resist the panic, but it was insistently driving itself into her...

     Go! Flee! Run away!

     ~I was not made to socialize,~ she thought. ~I simply cannot do it!~

     She looked left and right, suddenly nervous, trying to discern the best and most polite escape plan...

     Noticing her nervous movements, Will cocked his head a bit. "You alright?" he asked, hoping nothing was wrong. Something always tried to go wrong whenever he met someone new, it seemed.

      "I- I..." She tried to find words to express this feeling, this inability to socialize. "I- I cannot..." She was trying, failing, too nervous and panicked to speak coherently anymore.

     "Do you need something? Water, food, anything?" he asked, starting to worry. Had he brought this on? He never could tell, nowadays. "Cannot what? What's the matter?"

     "I- I am not good with others," she confessed. "I have difficulty associating with them. I- I am... feeling as though I must flee..."

     "Oh, I see," he nodded, raising a brow. "Just think of it as talking to someone you've known your entire life. That may help a bit." He shrugged. He wasn't exactly a psychologist, but it never hurt.

     "I- I cannot. I know no Gelerts, and I cannot fool myself. I cannot act as though anything is true but the truth..." She was starting to win against the impulse, the constant conversation distracting her from her panic.

     "Okay then," he muttered, before finally thinking of something. "Think of me as an oversized Kacheek," he said, pulling down his ears to resemble theirs. "But hurry, this hurts more than it looks."

     She shook her head, then could not restrain it anymore.

     Keladra laughed, the sound like the gentle tinkling of wind chimes, her head thrown back slightly.

     "I do apologize," she said when she had recovered, her eyes still sparkling merrily. "But somehow, it was so comical..."

     And, though she did not know it yet, in that moment, she had overcome it.

     She would be shy about Will no longer.

     Releasing his ears, he felt the relief and non-strain fly back into them. Hey, those things were stiffer than people thought. "Yeah, well, I'm a funny person. He laughed. "I say if someone's had a rough day, a laugh should help a bit. Even if the trouble measures about from here to the sky, and the laugh just gets up to my ankle." He grinned.

     Still smiling, Keladra said, "Say, would you like to come over for dinner? I am certain that my sister would be most interested to hear of your travels."

     He'd been taught not to impose, even if he was just seven or eight when he'd learned it. Of course, his mother never said anything about not taking up helpful offers. "I suppose, if it's alright with your sister." Will nodded, eager for the chance to eat something.

     "Of course it is," Keladra said. "Akirinia loves having guests over..."

     Smiling, she turned and started along the path, turning back a moment, her skirt billowing, to wave him to follow.

     "If you're completely sure," he said, shrugging a bit and following. Sure, they'd invited him, but he couldn't help but feel guilty. If things went as normal, things wouldn't be so normal soon...

     But he couldn't dwell on things like that all day. Hey, food!

     The house she led him to was moderately large. It had two floors, with a nice little garden out front, though it looked a bit the worse, as if it had been neglected a while.

     Leading him up to the front door, Keladra entered her home.

     "Akirinia!" she called. "Sister, I am home!"

     An Acara, blue like the Kacheek, came down the spiral staircase. She was dressed much like Keladra, though her dress was pink, not white.

     "Why, I didn't know you'd be bringing guests over, Kel," she said, self-consciously adjusting her curly blonde hair. Unlike Keladra, hers was behind her ears, but it was so hard to make it fall properly about her horns.

     "I did not either, until a little while ago, Akirinia," was Keladra's reply. "I will simply cook for one more. Perhaps you can handle things until then?"

     With that, the Kacheek went through the left-hand door, through which could be seen a table and five chairs.

     He glanced over to Akirinia, holding his hand out to shake. "Hey there. Name's Will Camp. I take it you're Keladra's sister?" he asked, nodding toward the door where she had exited. This certainly was nice of them, that was for sure.

     "Indeed," the Acara said, recovered from surprise. "My name's Akirinia. Nice to meet you, Will." She shook the hand. "I must say," she went on, "I never would have expected Kel to bring home a guest. She's usually too shy to even speak to people. How did you meet her?"

     "Well, she just came up to me and we started talking," he said simply. "Nothing really major or anything, actually." Will himself was quite surprised at how normal the meeting was. Believe me, if anything was 'normal' it'd seem odd to him.

     "She walked up to you and started talking," Akirinia said, her tone disbelieving. ~What on earth could have prompted her to do that?~ she wondered. ~It's not like her at all.~

     "Yeah, that's pretty much it." He nodded. "I'm sort of shocked as well; things normally don't go so... so well," he admitted. "Hey, if the normal way you met someone was to accidentally trip over them while you run, you'd think that was sort of... weird too."

     "If the normal way your sister met people was being forcibly introduced to them, you'd be surprised she'd approached someone too," she replied dryly.

     There was assorted rattling and clanking coming from the kitchen, presumably of pots and pans being located and used.

     "Come, sit down," Akirinia said, going through the right-hand doorway.

     There were a few chairs scattered here and there in the room. Akirinia pulled one close to another and sat in it, her skirts spreading gracefully.

     "So," she asked, "what brings you here?"

     "Oh, it's just... I don't know, I've been feeling restless. I don't feel like I belong where I was, so I'm looking for where I do."

     "Aye," Akirinia said, nodded in understanding. "Perhaps that is why..." She trailed off.

     Oh, now she had his attention. Dramatic pauses always cued in something... well, dramatic. Not to tell him now would be like dangling food over a Kadoatie's head.

     "Why your sister... what?" he asked, raising a brow. "What's up?"

     "She wanders," Akirinia said. "We haven't heard from her for a while. We're getting worried..." The Acara gazed toward where Keladra worked. "I'm especially worried about Kel. Dia was good for her. Kel was always bolder when she was with Dia..."

     "Dia? The wanderer sister of yours?" he asked, leaning forward. "So... Dia was like... assuring for Keladra, right? And since she's been gone, she's not been doing so well, right?"

     "Do you mean reassuring? I suppose you could say that. But it was more like... like..." She groped for words, but could not find them. "She could describe it," the Acara admitted, "but I cannot. Since Dia -her full name is Wanndiasan- left on her latest trip, Kel has gone back to being shy and quiet. That's all well and good, but she won't make any friends that way..."

     He nodded, shaking his head. "Do you know where she might have gone? Any personal interests she may have had?" he asked, a serious expression coming over his face. For all he knew, this could turn into a missing person case thing. Either that, or just another cross-country trip.

     Akirinia thought a moment. "She said she was going to the Lost Desert," she said at last. "But she also said she'd send postcards, so I don't understand... She couldn't have forgotten, because Dia's not like that. Kel won't say anything -she's too shy- but she's very worried, much more than I."

     Will was sort of puzzled now. He had to get back to Gelvale before... well, let's leave it at things will go bad real fast. And yet, he wouldn't leave these two worrying over their sister... Darn having to be overly helpful!

     "I could help you find her," he offered, sort of muttering it under his breath.

     "Oh, but don't you have somewhere to be going?" Akirinia asked.

     Sounds of dishes rattling came from the dining room. Keladra had begun setting the table.

     "Oh, not really," he lied, grinning a little. "Besides, what's more important? Knowing where your relative is or getting to some place on time?" Will glanced toward where the sounds were coming from, noticing that dinner was apparently about done.

     Akirinia was saved from having to answer by Keladra appearing in the doorway to say, "Supper is ready." Arising, the two sisters left the room, heading towards the dining room.

     Eager to eat something decent for once instead of the dung Ashley fixed and called food, Will followed Akirinia to the dining room. "So, what are we having?" he asked, laughing a bit.

     "Fyora, Kel-" Akirinia gasped.

     There was a large bowl of meat and potatoes in the center of the table.

     "Do sit down," the Acara said, gesturing a bit vaguely at one of the five chairs. She had recovered just enough to appear outwardly calm.

     But within, she was not.

     For Akirinia knew what that dish meant.

     Of course, Will did not...

     "My Merriman," he muttered, taking a seat. Wow, this stuff actually looked... good. Ashley should take lessons from Kel, it seemed.

     "Looks pretty good, Kel. Any special secrets or anything?" he asked, not noticing anything that Akirinia or Kel was doing or acting like.

     Akirinia shot a glance at Keladra as the sisters seated themselves.

     The Kacheek blushed, murmuring, "Please, do not call me Kel. I... it bothers me, coming from- from..." She was struggling to find words which would not offend, but which would express her feelings...

     "From someone you haven't known over a day?" he asked, raising a brow. "I don't exactly blame you, since it might be your all's little... thing you've got going on here." Will shrugged, not really knowing what he just said.

     "So... how's the weather been?" He tried to get off the topic.

     Nodding, relieved he had understood and not been offended, Keladra replied, "Wonderful. The garden should grow marvelously..." She trailed off, remembering that it was Wanndiasan's garden, and that Dia was not there.

     Akirinia, while this had been occurring, had taken it upon herself to begin serving herself some supper.

     "Say," the Acara remarked, "did you tell Will about what happened the other day?"

     Keladra shook her head.

     "It was rather odd," Akirinia went on. "A troupe of performers came by, wanting to know the way to Meridell and King Skarl's court. Since we're right by Meridell, I asked why they needed directions. They said that they hadn't known they were in Brightvale. Rather odd, for a troupe of performers to not know what country they're in..."

     "That is weird." He nodded, serving himself as well. "If you don't know what country you're in, you probably shouldn't be breathing." He laughed a bit, tasting the dinner. It wasn't that bad, considering he'd eaten much worse.

     Neither laughed.

     "Perhaps that's a bit strong," Akirinia finally said.

     Keladra watched her guest closely, wanting to know his reaction.

     Akirinia watched her sister closely, knowing the hidden meaning of the supper they ate.

     And then the front door opened, and a voice called, "Is anyone home?"

To be continued...

 
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