JP with mdman and Cindy

"Which part would you like to hear?" There were so many. She had briefly told him of Helias. Told him of Lord Vasant. Her three years on the run. How she ended up in Arcadia. About running from Malacost, how Shalia rescued her. But everything Islana had said up to this part had been brief descriptions of what had happened to her. So, did he want more details from the beginning or a particular part?

“I would like to know as much about Islana Annora as possible,” Ch’Truta elaborated. “I find her very fascinating! She has turned this land upside down. Her beauty and wisdom have captured my love. So, tell me every detail I can know.”

He sat in a squat position. All his attention was upon her as if listening to the story-teller about the community fire. A pleasant smile was upon his face.

That was a lot, "I suppose I could start at the beginning then. I will say we will not have time for all of it in one sitting. So, maybe we could do it in parts. After all, we have our whole lives to know each other, do we not?" She thought for a moment. "If I tell you more about my life, will you tell me more about your own?"

She started though before he could respond, giving him a chance to back out of that arrangement if he wanted.

"Helias is divided into sections, kingdoms they are called. The land I come from is Torja. My family lived in a house in the middle of the woods. The spring and fall are beautiful there. The spring full of new life and the fall full of colors and wonderful temperatures. The sumner can be hot. The winter's brutal. We were close to the boarder of the next land over which was mountainous, that had much to do with the drastic shifts in seasons." Islana paused. "My father had built our home, at one point he had been a woodcarver but that was before I was brought into the world. As I've mentioned in the past, My mother died in childbirth with me." She still instinctively touched her bird necklace. "My brother Cathal was the oldest. He was five years older than me. My sister, Aine was older by two years. My father had sort solace in alcohol after my mother passed, so my siblings pretty much raised me." She took a moment to turn the steaks and take the heat off the heat, as it was cooked.

Ch’Truta was both fascinated and troubled by Islana’s humble beginnings. She was the true image of resiliency despite what life had given her.

“I was born to Ch’Tras and U’bara of the Chulla Brood. I did not know my parents. I have been told that they were hunter-gatherers for the brood. One day, they wandered from the others while hunting. They were captured by an opposing brood and never again seen amongst the Chulla brood. I was raised by Ru’Halla, the Ku’hani of the brood. He taught me all that he knew and introduced me to the spirits of the swamp.”

Islana felt for the man, he had also been through a lot. She didn't know what would have happened if she hadn't had her siblings. Yet, she certainly understood how family are really those who are there for you. "He must have raised you well, then. For you are a good and wise man."

Islana then continued with her story. "My father wasn't a cruel man," she didn't want Ch’Truta to get the wrong idea. "On the rare occasion he was sober, he could be very nice. It was just when he was drinking, he wasn't always pleasant to be around." She paused to check the food. "I should tell you I have an exceptionally good memory and tend to remember many things about my past." There was nothing indicating that was bragging. It was just what was. "I do not remember the first time an animal was drawn to me, I though was very young. Growing up, I knew I was different from anyone in my family, neither my brother, sister or father had any kind of magik. I also was the only one red-haired with green eyes. My father had a problem with my ability." She paused. "I couldn't control it but, knowing what I know now, can't blame him. What do you know of the inquisition?”

Ch’Truta paused to think on the subject. “I only know what I have been told. The outsiders believe magik to be accursed. I know not why. It would seem they would not take to kindly to my communing with the spirits as well.”

He looked at her flaming hair. “No doubt, your mother was beautiful. You must have inherited your abilities from her.”

"My father used to say I was a lot like my mother but he would never say if she had any special abilities." Islana explained. "Helians are taught to fear two things magik and the Inquisition. The Inquisition believes that the Gods the Helians worship- The Pillars - hate magik. That magik is an abomination which needs to be destroyed. I do not know where all of that began but the Inquisition's main goal is to wipe magik from the entire Earth." Islana paused for a moment, and drank some water. "This seems to also go for people who seem different, who do things the Inquisition doesn't like. As a child, I had no idea what I could do was magik. I did know however if anyone found out, I would likely be killed. I was taught to hide it. However, my father also never let me go anywhere. He and my siblings used to sometimes go to sell hides and things my sister would make from gathering but I was never allowed to go with them. I guess my father was trying to keep me safe, it never felt that way." Islana took the now cooked vension off the fire. "When I was 8 my brother was killed in a hunting accident. I never saw my father sober again, after that. He would just lie in bed or sit around the house all day drinking. Occasionally, wandering off to town - a good 1/2 days journey. Sometimes not coming home for days. It was at this point I discovered my talent with the bow,and started hunting and fishing while my sister continued to gather, something she was excellent at.”

Ch’Truta was taking all this information without even thinking of the food. His appetite was to hear Islana spin the tale of her life. In this, Ch’Truta found sustenance.

“My hunting and gathering served a different purpose,” Ch’Truta confessed. “Mostly, the animals and berries I sought were those used to seek the spirits. Although afterward, we did enjoy the meat from the serpents. We have found delight from most any swamp animal’s meat.”

Islana nodded in understanding to what Ch'Truta said. "Most Helians chose one Pillar to worship. I never found one that spoke to me, one that I felt a particular affinity for. My family worshiped Ereuhin, the Goddess of the Moon. I pretended to do the same. After my brother passed, it was only me and my sister keeping up the worship. So, I did so for her. I often thought if there was a Pillar for me it would be related to animals, somehow, and their wasn't such a deity.”

As she spoke, Ch’Truta thought of the many forms of Uctilo’rhu. “The Devourer of the mists is often seen in the form of an animal,” Ch’Truta solemnly declared.

Islana wasn't sure what to think of that revelation. While Ch’Truta had spoken of Uctilo’rhu before, she didn't exactly feel much affinity that God either. "I often wondered why there was not a Pillar that was not connected with or watched over the animals." Islana took a bite of venison, finished it before continuing. "When I was 12, I came home from hunting to my father standing outside to a man dressed on expensive clothes with a fancy carriage. My sister was no where to be found. That was when my father told me that he had sold my sister and she had been taken away. He then introduced me to Lord Vasant." Islana closed her eyes for a moment, and stopped eating. "I do not believe I can ever forgive my father for betraying us like that. Even at his worst, I never would have thought he would have done that.”

Before Islana started her story, Ch’Truta wondered if her gift would work with Uctilo’rhu. As she returned to the story, the retelling of Islana being sold to Vasant brought a feeling of injustice to Ch’Truta. He struggled to understand how a father could sell his child. Although Ch’Truta was not a parent, he had seen the value of the parent/child relationship.

“Ch’Truta put down the steak. He wrapped an arm around Islana.

“I am sorry that happened to you. I will never betray your love,” he swore with an oath.

"I believe that with every ounce of me." Islana replied, giving him a kiss."We should finish eating and get back to the hunt. I promise more of my story later." Talking about herself was getting a little tiring and she needed a break.

The taste of her lips was pleasant. Ch’Truta acknowledged her thoughts and agreed. He returned to eating his steak, which was delicious.

When I was just a youth and I was beginning to notice others coming together and coupling,” Ch’Truta began, “I wondered why none was drawn to me. That is when Ru’Halla explained to me that the Ku’Hani is destined to be alone. Devoted to the spirits. I am finding that to be man’s false tradition. Otherwise, the spirits would not have given us a blessing. After we became one, that night I received a vision of the spirits. It had been the first without any of the resources to induce a trance. You are from Helios, but for some reason, the gods of Arcadia have their blessing upon you. The Twins. Uctilo’rhu. Are you sure deep down you are not from here?”

Islana listened as she ate her steak. His words made a lot of sense but it took her several minutes to contemplate the response, because of what that might mean.

"I have often wondered about that very thing. When I first found out about Arcadia, I was just focused on escaping. Then I had to focus on survival. Though when I first saw the shores of this land, I found myself almost mesmerized by it. The more I got to know Arcadia the more I wanted to know. That still holds true." She continued. "I know almost nothing about my mother. Just her name and that I resemble her." One could see the young leader trying to piece together things in her mind but there were too many missing pieces. "The very first Sister Locust was not Ozanine, she was Odoine. She had been a Priestess of their fire God, Fosia. All priestesses of Fosia were red-headed, and had abilities. She had green eyes - at least that's what's been shown to me in my recollections of her. I feel connected to her, different than the other sisters. I feel a connection to Arcadia, which I can't explain. When I first met Aguzul and Amastan I wanted to know everything about the Ozanine. I still want to know more about the Odoine, other than Shalia, That opportunity hasn't presented itself for very long." She sighed. "You could be right but we might never know for certain.”

Ch’Truta intently listened to her heart. Like her, Ch’Truta felt the connection between Islana and Arcadia was through her mother. It was a shame she didn’t know much of her mother’s history.

“Well then,” Ch’Truta said with a smile, “it is a mystery we shall explore together.”

Islana smiled back at the man. "I would like that." The two finished their steaks and the heart, then continued on the hunt this time looking for tracks of smaller prey.

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