Tales Strangers in a Strange Land

Discussion in 'The Chronicles' started by aurichalcyon, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. aurichalcyon

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    aurichalcyon Member

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    Autumn,
    Allira

    The smell of wet stone, stale water and human filth hit Mibu's nose long before the trees thinned to logging camps, farmsteads and dirt roads strewn with herd-animal refuse. The first of the farmers wore clothing very unlike those that the young Kitsune had expected, and the old man out in his cabbage patch seemed rather alarmed when Mibu paused by the tiny fence and watched the human for a few minutes. The farmer fled inside before the kitsune could assure him, there was little to fear. Still, scaring the farmer left a strong reminder for Mibu to change into the local clothing when they got a chance. He stole a glance at Kira.

    "I expect you feel rather ostensible with your garment choice now. I ought to have listened." His robes were pristine white, a stern match for his hair, and decorated with a small charm knotted on his right side. The robes had been clumsily tightened around his waist, the hem of his split pants dragged behind him, trailing dirt and leaves. Almost, one might say, that these two travellers had walked from the forest, not following the road.

    He walked back to the road, "The adage I might caution against boasting, is in my favor that we should reach Allira today, not overmorrow."

    The landscape became increasingly foreign the further away from the thick trees and the smell of fox-dens. Dogs, tiny four-legged beasts who lowered themselves to domestic adaption with the humans, occasionally barked at the two Kitsune, but otherwise kept a wide berth.

    "Look there, see the domestic beasts, Kira? They use that big brown one for it's milk, which makes cheese- can you imagine the thought process the Orc farmer must have had? Thinking to drink milk from a big herd beast like that?"
    His voice suffused with amusement at the sight of the Orcish woman a few farm houses down, milking her dairy cow. "Ought we to try the local cuisine? I hear some of their species don't eat meat at all. But it might still be palatable."

    The road ahead dipped down and the hints of the domed architecture of the city pierced the overcast sky. Round rooftops, weather vanes and the sparkle of the water from the straight created a glitter off metal ornaments and added to the influx of sights and smells.


    A line already formed of folk entering and leaving the city as the day darkened with the threat of rain. Farmers sold their produce on the side of the road, a few merchants still plyed their wares to the incoming faces and all the while, Mibu's gaze slid to the promise of the buildings. "Well, I anticipate you'll want to visit the library first?"
     
  2. Kira Mako

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    Kira Mako New Member

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    Kira had rolled her eyes when she had seen what her twin had chosen to wear that morning. Don't wear that, she had warned him, you'll regret it later. But what strapping young man just beginning to enjoy the freedom of adulthood would listen to his older sister? Even if she was only his senior by a tiny margin, Kira took her role of elder sibling very seriously. So, when Mibu turned and admitted such, the girl said nothing, but slightly raised one delicately arched eyebrow, pursing her lips in smug satisfaction.

    The Kitsune slightly raised one shoulder, adopting an expression of mock innocence,

    "Me? Boast? Never..." She purred.

    Pushing a strand of onyx-hair from her eyes, Kira lowered the book in her hands and returned it to the satchel hanging from her shoulder. In truth, she had stopped actually reading it some time ago, her attention drawn to the changing countryside. Her large triangular ears swivelled in all directions, catching every sound as she lightly danced across the soil up to stand beside her brother. Following his gaze, the fox girl watched as one of the strange-smelling beasts was milked by a she-orc as the two wandered a few houses down.

    Of course, she knew everything Mibu was saying, having read all the same books he had, but for now, her fascination overpowered her need to be the smartest of the two.

    "Bizarre..." She murmured.

    On they walked, until the last of the forest melted away and the land eventually gave into a city. Sights and smells, sounds and atmosphere the likes of which Kira had never experienced flooded her senses. Her eyes drank in the sights, large ears taking in every sound. While she'd never consciously admit to doing so, she found herself walking closer to her twin, reaching to cling subtly to his arm. At the mention of a library, however, her ears perked up and she turned to face him,

    "You assume correctly, brother." She replied, tugging him forwards with renewed vigor, "if you're lucky maybe I'll let you go find us somewhere to stay after we've found it."
     
  3. aurichalcyon

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    aurichalcyon Member

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    The idea of Kira not boasting for a victory in her instruction made Mibu snort faintly, tail flicking about in a betraying expression, but Kira typically won most arguments and he was not going to pick a fresh on.

    "You are the dulcet voice of capitulation, then?" He teased.

    His elder sister's excitement was a quieter echo of his own. "From an anthropological examination I find their lifestyles fascination. Small buildings, they wash off their scent regularly and don't roll in mud to prevent sunburn. Look now, see the old beggar by the gate? He wears armour and a flag for the country, asking the workers to support him. And they all readily offer alms."

    Mibu pointed to one of the town guards, an older man, incorrectly identifying his social position, "I mean, it is fascinating behaviour. I admire a society built on such strange customs."

    The noise of the city hit him next and they fell into line behind two rickety caravans, "All the yelling and the extra noise is going to be hard to get used to."

    Her comment on the library brought a cheeky smile to Mibufuda's lips and he answered her as the line moved, before the guard stepped in to question their entry to the city, "Well, we should secure lodgings, then concern ourselves with the library. It will be dark and humans rarely operate after sundown."

    The older guard now stood before the two twins, taking in their strange appearances; the black haired beauty, demurely clinging to her brother, and the bright smiling young man in the strange foreign robes. The ears and tails, not a common sight, "Right, names and purpose of visit to Allira? Entry tax is a coin."

    Mibu straightened at the sharp address, plastering a large smile on his face and copying the open-palm greeting, He positioned himself between the guard and Kira "Hello, we are two normal humans or elves and we are here to buy supplies and do reading in the public libraries. We are not suspicious. We have shiny coins for offering to you." He held up two coins, "Please do not look at my sister so brazenly, you are not fit to make too much eye-contact with her."
     
  4. Kira Mako

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    Kira Mako New Member

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    Her brother's scoff and the sound of his low purr as he spoke helped comfort Kira as they approached the strange place. The problem with having such heightened senses meant that they could be more easily overwhelmed, particularly if one spent most of their time buried in books rather than experiencing the world. However not one to be outdone, she swallowed her nerves and nodded curiously as Mibufuda spoke. That is, until he pointed to the guard. A tiny grin of superiority curled at the corners of her mouth.

    "Your studies are clearly lacking, little brother," She corrected slyly, "consider how the others do not skirt him with such disinclination? Do you not remember reading the national disdain with which the destitute are often treated? You ought to brush up on your literature a little, I think."

    He was right, however. It was fascinating. As they walked, Kira found herself gazing with wide eyes and perked-up ears at the scene surrounding them. Only when they approached the man blocking their path did she return from her thoughts. As per the usual, Kira stood silently beside her brother, allowing him to do much of the talking.

    It takes significant skill and practice, to be able to gaze up at someone through thick lashes and yet appear that one is look down on them. The young kitsune, however, had it down to an art, and pursed her lips ever so slightly as she watched the guard's expression became flustered at being accused of casting her a less-than-proper gaze. Even if all had been innocent up until that point, Mibu had a way of making others feel as if they were at fault; she should know, she'd experienced it firsthand many a time.

    Raising a hand, she waved dismissively towards the guard, as if to dismiss this perceived transgression. Her words, however, were directed at her brother, rather than the human whom for all intents and purposes seemed not even worth her time,

    "I'm hungry, Mibu. Do you think we could find somewhere to eat before we head for their library?"

    Older she may be, but Kira seemed to always slip naturally into the "needful youngling" role whenever she and her brother were amongst outsiders. As the less outgoing of the two, she preferred to let him handle most interactions.
     
  5. aurichalcyon

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    aurichalcyon Member

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    Kira's correction caused Mibu to nod sagely, "Of course, dear sister, you have astutely observed what I failed to comprehend at first glance."

    The smell of the traders and other scents, foreign foods and baked goods, were of great interest. Mibu detected the delectable scent of a roasting sweet-meats not too far away and he swallowed compulsively. They had some old sausages, rations they had brought for the long trip, but the idea of fresh food and a good hole in the ground to curl in and avoid getting wet, were delightful.

    The guard, whom bristled visibly at the implication he was gazing upon the dark-haired sister with any degree of improprietry, straightened his jacket and took his coins, "Well, I never!"

    The old man stomped off, clearly irritated at the implications.

    Mibu turned slightly, frowning, he asked his sister, "I perhaps reprimanded that one too harshly, no?"

    At her mention of food, Mibu grinned, "Then let us try some of this exotic human cuisine. Remember, the breads and pastries? I know cooking meat is tedious, but I like baked goods. We shall have plenty to examine."

    The line moved forward and the twins were treated to their first glimpse of the inside of the grand city of Allira. What an imposing, incredible sight the city was.

    The waterways, tall buildings and two-legged folk filled into a miasma around them and for a moment Mibu looked stunned. He had read the population of the city, but not truly expected it. The perfumes, the beasts and the waste. "Oh dear, we shall have to get used to the unpleasant smells. There is a very visercal side of seeing so many people in one place. Now, at least my fashion is not the strangest," he pointed to a woman with midnight skin wearing little more than a loincloth and jewellery. "I would love to explore the architectural differences, see the newer constructions toward the centre?"

    A pause overcame the kitsune and he walked toward a small stand where a man sold large, battered fish from hot oil, "Kira, look, these are sea-bound fish, I believe. Note the breading and frying in oil." He leaned forward, sniffing at one of the fish on display, "Salty and full of fats! Good for our coat, is it not?"

    Being so far inland, lake-fish were all he'd tried growing up. The vendor, sensing a sale, leaned forward eagerly, "Share one between the two of you?"

    Mibu laughed, "Oh no, can we have two each, to start with?" He offered coins.

    Apologetically, Mibu turned to Kira, "I know, it's hardly enough to sate hunger, but we can try several dishes this way."
     
  6. Kira Mako

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    Kira Mako New Member

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    Kira watched the guard snatch up their coins and stomp away with the look of having his feathers severely ruffled. At Mibu's suggestion that he'd been too harsh, the girl slightly raised one shoulder in a light shrug of indifference,

    "Perhaps, although he seems unlikely to attempt such again. Mother disciplined us with similar acrimony, and we turned out quite agreeable."

    As her twin agreed to seek out some food, Kira's face broke out into a broad, almost girlish grin of excitement. The air of superiority that had been hovering about the fox girl seemed to almost shatter completely as her tail swished excitedly and she tugged happily on Mibu's sleeve. As the two walked, she could practically feel her mouth beginning to water as she nodded her agreement to seek out something baked. Hot, fresh food exuding that delightfully exotic aroma.

    However, as they finally entered the city proper, the other smells associated with such assaulted Kira's delicate senses and she wrinkled her nose. Apparently, the same had happened to Mibu and he mentioned such, drawing from his sister a nod and a scowl. Why would people choose to live like this? It was much easier to have a little quiet den somewhere, no way could a single family procure such unpleasantness.

    Her gaze moved with Mibu's finger towards the strange woman with dark skin wearing very little. His words moved onto the architecture, but her gaze was still fixed on the woman,

    "... Y-yes," she murmured absently, "I'd like to explore that too..."

    Finally, the strange, beautiful woman disappeared into the crowd, and Kira's attention was forced back to her brother. She understood that it was impolite, or even frowned upon, for family members among the human clans to share mating preferences and stories. Personally, however, she didn't understand such, having often found herself badgering Mibu for stories of his latest exploits or seeking his advice on any of her potential mates. It helped that he had a preference for males... until the two found one they both wanted. Thankfully, it had only happened once.

    Mibu's pause tugged Kira back from her thoughts, and she glanced down as he explained the fish. Closing her eyes, she inhaled the aroma, nodding as a soft 'mmm' escaped her lips.

    "Very," She agreed, "imagine how our coats would gleam if we could dine on such daily!"

    Her tongue snaked out to eagerly lick her lips as Mibu purchased for them two fish each. At first, a forlorn expression fell over her features, only two? She wanted the entire cart! But his explanation drew from the girl a nod of understanding,

    "Ooh, like a tasting platter! Oh Mibufuda, you do have good ideas from time to time!"

    The merchant's face was overcome with an expression of utter surprise at the twins' apparent appetite--especially given their lean figures--however, he took the coins and sheepishly handed over four fillets. Barely waiting for them to be presented, Kira' reached for two of them, clutching eagerly at one as the other was brought to her lips. Although her bites were quiet, small and feminine, Kira was by no means polite. Barely glancing up to make sure her brother didn't wander off without her, she busied herself making short work of the meal. The fish was indeed salty and oily; the hot, tasty flesh igniting her palate and leaving her thoroughly excited for more.

    "Mmm"
    She murmured, "Oh we simply must sample everything this city has to offer! If this is how wonderful the food is, imagine how their men and women could be!"
     
  7. aurichalcyon

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    aurichalcyon Member

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    Kira's reassurance made the younger kitsune, younger by all of a minute- but Kira would not let such pass- straighten. He nodded, "Yes, a gentleman must conduct himself above any reproach."

    His innocent gaze had drifted past the people for the love of old stone, long dead builders and longer dead stories. He hadn't noticed her wavering attention in his remarks of the city and the many fashions on display.

    Noting his sister's disappointed look, Mibu considered whether it would draw undue attention to them if they consumed another four or five fish- being big foxes, they were certainly capable. But luckily Kira relaxed at the suggestion they eat a few different types of food.

    He led them a little down the street, his portion included the front of one fish- the whole head battered in the delicious fried crumbs. While his small, dark sister ate with dainty bites, Mibu took hearty chunks- bone and all- of his meal, crunching the calcium as though candy. He alternated each of the fish until, like Kira, he had eaten the whole thing- except the wooden stick- as though this meal-sized portion were nothing but a finger-snack.

    The main thoroughfare led them over a bridge of water and the inner city, the noxious smells gave way to more cultivated, pleasant aromas and humans wearing too much perfume.

    Mibu pointed at one building, "Dwarven runic, if I am not decieved. I note it is a farrier."

    Across from the blacksmith, a young woman selling mince pies had a small crowd of workers vying for the meat and pastry concoctions on her benches. She stood in front of a bakery.

    He spoke, musing, "Dear sister, would you describe the central binding thesis behind human cities as being motivated by the availability of food, proximity and harvest- or the availability of reasources for building? They love stone and metal."

    "We can try the human bread here!" Mibu didn't wait for Kira's agreement, moving forward with every intention of purchasing a loaf of bread, and one of the large meat parcels.
     
  8. Kira Mako

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    Kira Mako New Member

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    Kira followed her brother, apparently completely un-bothered by his obvious lack of table etiquette.

    In fact, she thought little of such silly customs that would put more time between a person and their meal. Why bother with silly rituals while your food lay waiting for you? She had scarcely been able to believe, at first, that some of those in the richest and highest stations of human society, even had specific garments and such that they donned for meals, serving their food over several courses across several hours. It was bizarre, and to Kira, a waste of time.

    She gazed at the building Mibu pointed out, nodding absently at it.

    "Looks to be..." She answered idly.

    However, Kira perked up significantly when her brother led them to another vendor selling food. The aroma of cooked meat, pastry and other such things drew an audible growl from the Kitsune's stomach, and she wrapped her arms around it as she smacked her lips, following Mibu eagerly.

    His question caused her to glance up and cast a scrutinising gaze around them at the collection of bodies and buildings. As she considered her answer, she sidled up to the stall, waiting for her brother to purchase them another morsel to taste.

    "It would be difficult to reduce the course of their behaviour down to one single derivative,"
    She answered finally, "many variables come into account... but if I had to choose an overall influence, I would say it's likely their proximity to resources for building, but only those that also display an availability of food and water that survive long enough to become cities."

    Even as she spoke, already her eyes were widening, fixed on the food in front of them.

    "Oh yes, please let us try the human bread, brother!"
     
  9. aurichalcyon

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    aurichalcyon Member

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    Mibu watched the other customers ordering their foods and copied the man in front of him, asking for two pies and then pointing at a loaf of bread, "the bread, I desire this as well."

    The vendor took his coins with great efficiency and produced two meat pies and the loaf of bread in a cloth sling. Mibu passed one of the pies to Kira and moved out of the way of the still growing line.

    "Now this is something we can't get back home!"
    He touched the pastry, "I've often wondered about the appeal of grains and cultivating the land as humans do. Now I see the reason behind their endevours."

    The kitsune bit into the pie and his ears perked up, tail uncurling and wagging happily. A small yip echoed from his chest. A moment's pause and he turned to Kira, eyes serious, "It's horrible. I should eat them both. Save you from this."
     

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