Cooperative Fiction

Skip to content

Post Mortem


Post Mortem

Post by Lylessa Uluki on

((This thread splits off from viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1572&start=60))


When Uluki, Rollick, and Dash returned to the family’s living area after saying their goodbyes to Julen and Soubrette, Kira was gone.

“She wanted to be by herself,” Zee told them, biting her lip and sounding worried. “Do you think I made her mad?”

“No, sweetheart,” Uluki said gently, as she healed the fang-bitten lip; Zee frequently forgot about her teeth and injured herself that way, so no one was very surprised by the sudden bead of blood from the small puncture wound. “This is a difficult night for Kira. It’s not because of you. We should go talk to her, though. Do you know where she went?”

Zee did indeed, and Kira hadn’t gone far— they would find her by the garden, if it could be called a garden without any plants. After exchanging hugs and affectionate words with their family, Uluki and Rollick went to their bedroom to wash and change before they sought out Kira. While they didn’t want to put off that conversation, it didn’t seem like it would help matters if the girl saw them soaked in her father’s blood, as well as her godfather’s.

Uluki washed her face and hands, then her body, and pulled on a clean dress. She turned to see if Rollick was also ready to go, but he hadn’t yet even finished washing. He had cleaned his sword blade and armour, and now he was scrubbing his hands— which he had rubbed red and raw, even though any traces of blood were long gone. Uluki’s heart ached for him. She took the cloth from his unresisting fingers, dipped it in the bowl, and gently washed his face instead. Her touch seemed to bring him out of his reverie, and he quickly finished washing and changed into civilian clothes. Rollick smiled at her, and offered her his arm with a courtly flourish.

“You look very handsome tonight,” she informed him as she took it.

“I just look like I always do.” He sounded surprised by the compliment, but far from displeased.

“Exactly.” She winked at him, glad she’d succeeded in making him at least a little less gloomy. This conversation wasn’t going to be easy, but it might as well get off to the best start possible.

Kira was by the garden, as Zee had told them she would be. The girls had already removed all the rocks, but apparently in need of something to do, Kira was repeatedly unearthing the same small stone and then reburying it. It didn’t seem like much of a pastime, but Uluki doubted Kira had the concentration for anything more right now, and it beat trying to make small talk, or just sitting there waiting to hear your father was dead.

When Kira saw Uluki and Rollick approaching, she stood and brushed off her hands, then waited awkwardly until they reached her. “Did you kill him?” she asked bluntly, before they had a chance to say anything at all.

“Yes,” Rollick said quietly. “I am sorry to have to give you that news.”

“Did you like it? Did you like killing him?” Kira’s eyes were wide, but her voice was without emotion.

“No,” Rollick told her honestly. “He was my friend once. He used to be a good man. I regret that his fall made his death necessary. I believe I did my duty, but there was no joy in it. Only sadness for a life so corrupted, and for the pain he caused others. The pain he caused you.” He met Kira’s steady gaze, allowing her to search his eyes, to read the truthfulness on his face.

“Do you miss him?” Kira’s voice was becoming more intense, yet more childlike.

“I miss the man he was. But that man is not the one I killed tonight. That man has been dead for a long time, and I would miss him no less if the person he became yet lived. Do you miss him?”

Kira thought about that for a moment. “No,” she said finally. “Don’t miss. He hurt me. It’s better with you. But…” She trailed off, uncertain.

Uluki nodded encouragingly. “It’s alright. Whatever you want to say, whatever you feel, it’s alright. We don’t expect you to rejoice in the death of your father, nor do we expect you to mourn the man who tortured you. We don’t have any expectation of what you’ll think about this. Whatever you’re feeling… it’s the right thing to feel, because it’s real, and it’s yours. Even if you feel a lot of things, and they’re all tangled.”

“He was my father,” she said simply. “He’s dead.”

When it became clear she had nothing more to say about the matter, at least not just yet, Rollick took Panterras’s ring and necklace from his pocket and held them out to Kira. “These belong to you now, if you want them.”

She turned away and shook her head. “No. There’s another thing too. A necklace. Obsidian. I hid it in case I needed to… to trade something, so you wouldn’t hurt me, but I know you won’t now. I don’t want that either. You can keep all of it. Or your girls, if you two don’t need it.”

The thought of Panterras’s jewellery hanging around the necks of his sweet daughters made Rollick feel a little ill; it seemed like a desecration of something holy with cursed gold. Panterras’s things were finer and far more costly than the simple silver butterfly earrings Rollick had given Uluki… but price wasn’t what mattered, and there would be other gifts, gifts not tainted with evil and blood. “Perhaps we could put it in the treasury, so it can help support the refugees? It would do more good that way.”

Kira looked doubtful. “I can’t. My father wouldn’t have let me.”

Uluki said gently, “It isn’t your father’s choice. These things belong to you now. It’s about what you want, what you choose to do.”

Kira pondered that. “Who do I belong to, now that he’s dead?”

Uluki and Rollick exchanged a glance, but she answered. “You belong to yourself. But you always have. He was wrong to pretend you didn’t. Your body was never his to use; that’s what’s so evil about what he did. No one owns you, but that didn’t change because he died. No one ever did own you. You do have people who care about you, though. Our family, our friends, all the people here. If you’re wondering where your place is, it’s here, if you choose for it to be. Not because you’re our goddaughter and we inherited you, but because we want you to stay, because we love you.”

Kira’s brow furrowed at this alien concept, but she seemed too confused to question it. “I want the refugees to have those things. To help take care of them. Because it’s mine and that’s what I want.” She said the word “mine” a little clumsily, as though she was cautiously trying out a foreign language.

Rollick nodded. “Very well. I shall see that it is done. Your gift is generous; thank you.”

Unsure how to respond to being thanked, Kira just shrugged. “Can I talk to Dash?” she asked abruptly.

“Of course. She’s upstairs. We can all walk up together, then you two can find an empty room and speak privately,” Uluki suggested.

Since they were prepared to give Kira as much space as she needed to process her emotions, Uluki and Rollick were startled when she took one of each of their hands in hers as they walked together.
"When you feel like you can't go on, love heals.
Hold onto love, and it will lead you home. Love heals." -Rent

Re: Post Mortem

Post by Lylessa Uluki on

((NPC Post))

For the first few minutes, Dash and Kira just stared at each other. Of the two of them, Kira had far less need for words to fill gaps like this— she was used to being mute for hours, days, months, and even years at a time. Going a few minutes without speaking was nothing to her.

Finally uncomfortable with the silence, though, Dash broke it. “How are you doing, Kira?”

Kira just shrugged. “Not sure yet. Worse, maybe. Or better.”

Dash wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that vague but rather extreme range of emotion. “I hope it’ll turn out you’re better.”

“Probably will. Was it better after you killed your father?”

Dash was surprised by the blunt nature of the question. “He wasn’t my father. He called himself that because he knew how much we wanted that. Especially how much I wanted it. He thought it would be easier to control me that way. Didn’t help; I was still unruly. He bought me, like you buy a sword or a crossbow. That doesn’t make him my father, just because he paid people to make me.”

“But you felt like he was. You said that,” Kira reminded her, not belligerently at all, but slightly stubbornly.

“Yeah, I felt like that at the time, because I didn’t know anything better. I thought he was my father, till I had Rollick as my father instead. Then I knew the General never was.”

“You thought he was when you killed him, though. Was it better or worse after you did?”

“Mostly better,” Dash admitted honestly, rather than trying to split hairs and argue that she had simply caused his death, not killed him outright. She knew there wasn’t really any difference, and Kira would know it too. “I know what he had planned, and some of what he’d already done. It meant he couldn’t hurt me and my sister anymore. He would have turned me into a monster, and Zee… you know how sweet she is, and how innocent. They would have destroyed her, mind and body.”

“Why isn’t it all better, then, not mostly? Because your brother died too?”

“That’s the biggest part of it. I still miss Gabriel, and wish he was still alive, and lived with us too. But also… it meant the General had turned me into what he wanted. A killer. So he won, in a way. But there was no other option. If we’d just run and left him to hurt other people, he would have won a lot more.”

“And that’s all? Because Gabriel died, and he won a little bit?”

Dash drew a deep breath. “Now, yes, that’s all. But at the time… I was also grieving for my father. The man I thought was my father, I mean, but back then…”

Kira nodded. “Back then.”

“It’s different for you, though, I suppose. Panterras was your blood, and he raised you, so even if he was a horrible father, at least you shared something with him. And you didn’t kill him or anything.”

“I would have. I tried once. He had this knife he used. Sometimes to sacrifice people. He made me watch. Other times he used it on me. I got the knife and tried to stab him when he was making me drink a potion. Didn’t work. My hands were too clumsy, and not strong enough. He hurt me for that. Badly. Worse than usual, I mean. It went on for days. I still have scars from it. And from other things.”

Dash touched Kira’s arm sympathetically, and Kira, lost in the memory, startled violently and yanked away. Then, realizing it was just Dash, she very deliberately gave her arm back. Dash smiled at her and resumed the comforting gesture. “It’ll be better here, Kira, I promise.”

“Uluki said they loved me. Does that make you mad? Do you want me to leave?”

Dash was utterly perplexed. “I figured, and why would that make me mad? Why would I want you to go?”

“Because I look like you, and they’re your parents, and they loved you first. They belong to you. I don’t get to have your parents just because my father was mean.”

Dash shook her head. “No, it doesn’t work like that. When I say they’re my parents, it doesn’t mean they belong to me and no one else. Like them saying I’m their daughter doesn’t mean my sister isn’t their daughter too.”

Kira puzzled over that for a moment. “Belonging without owning?”

“Yes. Right. Exactly. They can love you… and I can love you… and you can be part of our family without it breaking the family we already have.”

“Are you sure?” Kira twisted a piece of hair around her finger absently.

“Positive. They didn’t stop loving my brother when they adopted us. They just love more people now. It isn’t about replacing.”

“Good. I don’t want to have to go. But I don’t want to make you angry.”

“You don’t. I’m glad you’re here. I’d miss you if you weren’t.”

Kira looked at her sceptically. “You would?”

“Of course. And you’d make Mama and Papa very sad if you left. And Zee would cry. You don’t want that, do you?”

“No. I’ll stay, and they’ll love me, and it’ll be different.” Maybe it would be different. Kira certainly hoped so. Rollick seemed like a much better father than her own, and while she barely remembered her own mother and couldn’t really compare that, she liked Uluki a lot too. And Dash, and Zee, and Martin, and Kaydee… “Do you mind if…?”

“Mind what?”

“If I pretend they’re my parents too?”

“Of course I don’t mind, but you should tell them…”

“No!” Kira practically shouted. “At least not now,” she added more softly. “Too soon. I’m not sure yet.”

“Alright, not till you’re sure. For now, of course I don’t mind if you pretend.”
"When you feel like you can't go on, love heals.
Hold onto love, and it will lead you home. Love heals." -Rent

Re: Post Mortem

Post by Lylessa Uluki on

By the time Dash and Kira returned, Martin and Zee were both asleep— Martin in Rollick’s arms, and Zee with her head resting on Uluki’s shoulder. Uluki wasn’t far from dozing herself, and neither Rollick nor Kaydee seemed in a particularly chatty mood, so they sat in silence for the most part… but a companionable silence, not an awkward one.

Uluki had no intention of prying into the conversation that had taken place between Dash and Kira, but she did study the girls’ faces as they returned to try to gauge if everything had gone alright. Neither girl tended to wear her heart on her sleeve, but from their expressions Uluki didn’t get a sense of anything amiss, so she was reassured. Zee had woken when the door opened, and she smiled sleepily at Dash and Kira.

“Kira,” Uluki said quietly, “we won’t have a chance to have a proper funeral for Lord Panterras, but since we’re all here, we could have our own observance if you wanted, if you had any thoughts you wished us to remember him by, or any words you wanted to say…” The man was, after all, Kira’s father, and as horrible and brutal as he had been, Uluki didn’t think it was right, for Kira’s sake, to turn him into some faceless enemy.

Kira considered that idea, and Uluki stayed quiet, not wanting to rush her. Finally Kira turned toward the wall, as though addressing the absent Panterras, and simply said, “Goodbye.”

Uluki had been to many funerals— and had conducted several funerals herself— and she knew they generally had more words, more wishes, more reassurances, but somehow for Panterras, Kira’s simple farewell seemed the most appropriate. What more could you say of a monster who was also a father? Uluki couldn’t tell exactly what emotions were going through Kira’s head, but once it was said, the tension in Kira’s shoulders lessened, and the girl seemed far more relaxed.

At that point, the clear consensus was that it was bedtime, so Uluki and Rollick bid the girls and the baby goodnight, and departed for their own room.

“How are you doing, love?” Uluki asked, once they were in the privacy of their own chamber.

“As is to be expected, I suppose. I do not feel that I did the wrong thing… but I confess that my mind is more agitated than is common after a battle.”

“I’m not surprised. You knew him…”

“Did I? The man who was my friend could never have done such a thing. Never. He wasn’t the most attentive father— honestly, Noemi, the mother, wasn’t particularly attentive either, while she lived— but I certainly would not have predicted abuse. If I had, I would have stopped it.”

“I know, love.” Uluki wrapped her arms around Rollick’s waist, and rested her head against him. “But what could you have done? You thought both of them were dead. I suppose the Scrying spells you had done to find Kira were confused by the changes made to her in the process of creating Dash.”

“Protecting Kira was my responsibility.”

“And that you have done, from the moment you were able. You can’t blame yourself for what others did, outside your power to control it.”

“Does the Duskling also follow that wise advice?”

Uluki chuckled. “No, the Duskling knows she should, but like the Human, she finds it rather difficult. Perhaps the representatives of both species should try to heed it more in the future.”

Rollick kissed her forehead. “I’ll try, dear one. For now, I could use some rest. Or… but maybe you’re too tired. Healing me took a lot out of you; I shouldn’t suggest that tonight.”

Uluki shook her head. She was tired, but there were comforts she desired now more than sleep. Not so much the physical release, but the intimacy. “No, I want you. That’s what I need. Just… slowly, alright?”

“Slowly sounds nice. Uluki… thank you for saving my life. You put yourself at great risk. Panterras could have killed you, when you left your cover to come help me. But you were well aware of that, I’m sure. I suppose it would be quite futile to try to persuade you not to trade your own life for mine, should the situation arise again?”

“Could I persuade you not to give yours for me?”

“No. Futile, then?”

“Futile,” she agreed as she joined him in the bed.


((Continued: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=1650&p=16147#p16147))
"When you feel like you can't go on, love heals.
Hold onto love, and it will lead you home. Love heals." -Rent




Return to Industrial District

cron