OOC: Okay, so I HAD nine pages of something I decided to entirely scrap. It was no good. Bad. Too much cliche, too much blood, too much memory.
So, I wrote this one in two hours. Riaril is back. Oh is she ever back and open for interaction... Dorian? Where’d you go you little drunkard? Your kneecaps have been claimed...
Also, Kriigata will be open for interaction in my next post with her. Promise.
IC: Riaril & Kriigata
She had passed through the open bamboo gate with difficulty. First she had been frisked for a glowing tattoo beneath all her silver scars. Once a trapper had recognized her on their way out to hunt the marines seemed even more alarmed. It had been hard work convincing the Marines on duty she was not a corpse risen by a necromancer, and that, yes, I would like to go home and sleep off the horrors of my life, and no thank you I don’t need an escort or food, and, yes, please don’t mention I’m back ‘cause I’d really like to have some peace and solitude for a while; now I’m going to walk past your spears and disks, go home, and fall asleep for three days, and I really don’t care if you try to kill me ‘cause I’ve already died once, and after the first time it just gets boring, ya’ know?
The door handle was driftwood, soft and fading as her blue fingers wrapped around it, each ratcheting gear tensing automatically in anticipation of the unknown beyond. Riaril breathed deeply, letting the foamy spray and smell of the sea rush through her air-wells. As a doctor, the concept of life-dermis needing air was well known but under studied. A doctor, huh? The sounds of life had led her back to Ga-koro. Now, with gulls screeching in the sky and sailors cajoling in the warf, she was unsure. Too much had ravaged her system. Her oath of practice had been broken.
“You can do this,” She said under her hot breath, championing herself to walk through the doorway. Her eye went to the bolts on the door: strong iron, newly forged and well welded into place. You’re going crazy girl, she thought, darkly amused at her nervous tick. “Is this what death does to you?”
With a final exhalation Riaril pushed down the lock with her thumb, guided the doorway inwards with an expert swing, and stepped through into a memory.
“Riaril please,” He stood there, hand on the door, Great Akaku barely hiding the guilt as the bed slowly cooled. “Please. Don’t go. I’m sorry.” She glared at him and turned away, attempting to exist the room. An auburn hand shot forward, clasping her wrist, drawing the toa of water back into the firelight of the small sconce in the corner.
“We don’t have to end things like this,” He began in a deep, sandy croak with the hint of a sob. His body bent into an animalistic hunch. “We can be happy together. I’m happy. Aren’t you happy,” He asked as if suddenly aware of her emotional existence for the first time, eyes dawning on the idea that perhaps she was not.
Wrenching her wrist away, she rubbed it and asked with displeasure; “You are not yourself. What’s gotten into you?”
“I’m in love,” He began, reaching out his hands to embrace her. She flicked him in the forehead, the blow knocking him backwards several feet into a pile of medical records with a *TH-Blam!*.
“You’re drunk. Or drugged. Probably both.” She retorted, backing away slowly, eyes darting to the black, leather object on her desk. Struggling up from the mess of client information, he followed her at her own pace; standing up now, arms in his coat pockets as if he had all the time in the world.
“Did you try one of Faerulo’s new concoctions?” Riaril asked. Please, Mata-Nui buy me time. I need time. It worked. With a roll of his eyes the toa of fire sat down in her chair, flopping himself against the stone as if lined with feather cushions. He gave a sigh of relief, then picked up a package of cigarettes laying on her desk.
“Tut-tut-tut: These things will kill you darling,” He said, lips pouting with disapproval as he wagged a naked cig in the air between his fingers. With a thought the drug burst into flames, the sweet smell of burning tobacco and herbs filled the office, wafted under the doorway into the hospital halls. He hacked away as the smoke invaded his body. “See? I’m dying already.”
“I’m a doctor. Not an idiot. Answer my question.”
He sighed and wiped his hands together, small bits of charcoaled paper floating to the desktop. “No, Riaril, I did not. If I’m drugged, then it’s your fault,” He chuckled sadly at the wit behind his words. “The point is, I am in love with you. That’s a greater drug than any, some say.”
“Love is simply an emotion, like happiness or rage,” Riaril said, her body positioned with the desk between them. Her yellow eyes were moving everywhere around the clustered room. She had been sleeping when he crawled up next to her, and sleep was beginning to set in again, dulling her judgement.
“I thought I locked my door. How’d you get in,” Riaril asked, knowing full well the door had been locked. I just unbolted it after all, she thought.
He chuckled and looked up with pride. “I climbed,” Takimoc replied as Riaril’s jaw and eyebrows dropped slightly. His thumb gesticulated towards the office window. “Took me about three hours dangling off the side of this cursed hospital -- did you know how smooth the matoran carved this place? No? Neither did I. Anyways, after scraping up my knees as my fingers clutched the sill, I figured there wasn’t much for turning around. They always say ‘what goes up must come down” -- He gestured with his hands to emphasize the phrase -- “But really, when you’re halfway up an sandstone wall to see your madonna, there’s only up.”
“Uh-huh,” Riaril said as she realized there wasn’t some drug-induced maniac in her bedroom. She sat down on the edge of the desk, body twisted lightly counter-clockwise to see his color faded armor, the linen color of his doctor’s coat. He must have forgotten to take it off in his hurry to play the fool. She reached out her left hand tentatively, letting it hover a few inches above the maze of items on the stone furniture piece. Sensing something, Takimoc responded quickly, thrusting both hands to clasp her palm, his face flashing forwards to come dangerously close to her own.
“I want to live, Riaril. Really L.I.V.E,” He sounded out each syllable with dramatic flair. She blinked, taken aback by his confession. He continued; “We swore oaths to protect life. These are the vows of our class, so why do we not continue to pursue life just like anyone else? Is team Kanohi Dragon some exclusive cult of secrets and interplay? I don’t want that. I know what Faerulo and Moriika have. Even Nakumiir had it, well, once... They have love, Riaril. Love. Know what that means? It means it’s time we found it too.”
“Every day I sit on a stool and cut open wounded matoran, limbless skakdi, occasionally a half-together vortixx -- why they never seem to come in unless they’re half missing I will never know -- even other toa. I cut them open, piece their broken bodies back together, and weld them back up. Why? Why do I do this? Because everyday I see you. I watch you work; your unfaltering passion to heal and keep death at bay from the wounded and sick is a rainbow of color amidst the dull and drab reality of my occupation. I’m a surgeon. I love the way we work. But you are something else. You simply know, like, I dunno’, maybe you’re the Great Spirit of medicine or something. If you are, please don’t drive me away for worshipping your light. Let me come closer to you. Much closer...” He leaned in, craning his neck for an accepting kiss. His eyes bulged as cold steel pressed against his lips. The black leather case lay open on the desk, her toa tool in hand.
“I am not a Great Spirit. You are not in love with me. And the problem with things going too close to a light is they get burned, even jealous toa of fire.” She growled and shoved with her sai, pushing his head upwards, sending him toppling back into the stone chair. With a huff, she spun on her heel, grabbed the lab coat hanging on its peg on the back of the door, and strode through the doorway into the present.
The circular pool in the center of the home was untouched, its geometric tile pattern around the lip of the ocean opening looked no worse than the day the bolt had -- She shook her head. Don’t think about it now. The musical stairway still climbed up the octagonal home around the parameter; the vines and plants seemed dead and dry. She stepped off the landing and was confronted by the clinking of glass, her balance almost giving out as countless green wine bottles rolled under her feet, the floor of the living room shifting and swaying in a domino effect. Reaching down and grabbing an empty bottle, Riaril sniffed, and was hit with the pungent aromas of: cork, fungus, cinnamon, and cherry.
“Wine bottles. I’m standing in wine bottles.” She said the words slowly, as if the concept of alcohol in her home after The Hospital Incident was some alien form of torture.
Wading into the kitchen only changed the booze from soft to hard, bottles of Vermouth, Vodka, and Grande Marniere were stashed in the window boxes upside down as if to be cleansed Kosher amongst the dead flowers (perhaps the being that put them there was attempting to water the plants like they watered themselves), their colored glass creating a hallucinatory experience for the eyes in great swirls of riotous color.
“What rainbow died and vomited across my house,” Riaril griped aloud, perplexed by the catastrophe she had been washed into. Every surface in her kitchen was a mess: knives lay embedded in cutting boards, pale powders lined the edges of the sink, a strange glob of silvery semi-liquid spread across the dining table curled her tongue, and everywhere the bottles were piled high. In some places, the drinker had been gifted with artistic talent, greens, browns, and whites lined up and stacked in patterns similar to the tile of the pool in the other room. Out the window, Riaril could see the prime real estate “back deck with the calm views of the sunset and never-ending ocean” had faired no better.
“I die, and my house becomes the recycling plant for the local taverns? Is this a joke...” Her blue armor still reeked of limestone and Mata-Nui knows what else had filled that grotto but the new light patterns were truly a horrible addition to her home’s atmosphere. Riaril grabbed a dining chair and shook off the contents of a half-eaten sandwich before sitting on it, bottles continuing to clank together happily like baby birds waiting to be fed. I just wanted some quiet. A little slice of isolation and peace. What am I gonna’ do with all this... She buried her head in her hands and coughed. Breathing deeply in here wasn’t going to work.
There was only one thing to do: clean it up.
The grotto muttered darkly to itself, dripping syllables as the wind hummed lightly across the underground lake. Consonants crashed together with the jump of a fish or the thrash of a shore-roaming rahi being pulled to the depths by a predator. Inside the earth, the damp horrors of the world moved, stalking through tunnels in search of food. Occasionally, if you paused and gave notice, one could hear the sound of a rahi in the throes of death. It was a comforting sound. A reminder that life sucked.
Bioluminescent algae outlined the edge of a world, a rocky domed ceiling cutting off all escape by sea. To leave by the water she had to swim down past the bengal-crabs, past the burrows of the snake-like rateki, past the rocky teeth protruding and holding the water within. Then, and only then, could the journey from the Northern most spit of Ga-wahi be undertaken to reach Ga-koro in the fecal armpit of Naho-Bay. It would be days traveling without food, without shelter. She would have gotten lost in the wilds, or starved in the deserts to the West. That bag of bolts, that witch of false medicine, that cursed, smooth-tongued liar was probably dead by now, lost or eaten by the hazards of her journey. Yep. She’s a dead toa.
Decay lay waste to the bedspread, its small periwinkle stitching all but gone. The great coral lamp hanging from her ceiling in the small cavern off the main grotto glowed and dripped with phosphorescent lichens; the plants had a ghostly white complexion, like hot wax left to cool into a grotesque and mottled form. She couldn’t remember when the bed had been made, but there it was: her hide-stitched coat rolled into a makeshift pillow, sheet shaken and scrubbed clean and straightened, even the molded food scraps were removed from their secret corners in the rotted headboard. A little note, a page ripped from her tome, was pinned to the mattress. There was single, crude, smiley face painted on with saliva-moistened soil.
Kriigata wanted to kill something.
“I need cleanser, the kind of stuff you could use interchangeably on your kitchen counters or to remove the emotional stains left from a family reunion; some disposable gloves, anything thick enough to be medical grade is good; a shovel, something flat-brimmed and good for snow, and a bag. Make that a lot of bags. Or, if you happen to know of any local toa of stone, that would work too.”
Riaril was sitting on the floor of a matoran’s shop, her head almost brushing the multitude of items lining the roof as they dangled from cargo nets by strings and metal hooks. The matoran had a necklace of shells around her neck, and in typical female Ga-toran chuckled at the quip before busing herself with gathering the materials requested. She talked as she rushed about, clambering onto step ladders and using a rusty kohlii stick to fish out higher items.
“Well, that’s a perfectly reasonable list, Toa-Doctor-Riaril. You are Toa-Doctor-Riaril, right? I mean, I’ve been hearing rumors about you walking out of your grave for the last few hours, and then, presto, you showed up in my shop. I am very honored to help you. Ah, would you mind shifting a little -- yes, thank you that’s perfect. Here’s your shovel. Do you want this all in the bag(s)?”
“Alright, just a moment... Oh! How long have you been back? You haven’t heard about our new saviors, have you?” The matoran was standing at the register, hands rapidly sliding an abacus back and forth with the deft skill of a money-wrangler. Riaril slid a knee out from her cross-legged position and placed her hands on the ground behind her.
“Can’t say that I have, Little-one,” She replied, watching the total price in widgets begin to soar as duties were rightfully applied. Duties for the Marines. Duties for public works. Duties for the poor and hungry. Is this some new religious sect? How soon can I leave without seeming rude.
“Oh! Well then, I can tell you,” Sensing a moment of fame, the matoran batted her lashes at Toa-Doctor-Riaril and began. Riaril blinked on occasion, believing she may have broken some sort of vocal ###### on the poor matoran’s mouth that she would need to repair before leaving; “There have been soooo many things in such a short period of time! Where do I start? Okay, sooo, um, yeah. There were these beings who had, like, glowing marks on them that made them suuuuper evil. They went around blowing things up and generally causing chaos. Anyways, I heard one of them got into this fight with -- you won’t believe this one -- and Angel. Like, with wings and everything. The mark guy died I think, and the Angel flew away, but half the dock was torn up.”
“The dock does look new,” Riaril said, realizing she may have made a bad decision once the words left.
“Oh yeah, it’s new. The marines hired out the work since they were so busy chasing down pirates at the time, I think a group of slavers in the kumu islets, to a group of le-koran contractors... They were soooo handsome. This one matoran, his arms were, like, so muscular. And his abs.. Oh, every girl here was fighting over him. You would have thought he was Kyju or even Hau, or something, with the way everyone was fawning on him. Not me though. No-ma’am. You won’t catch this matoran fawning over the boys. I have a duty here to my shop and my people.”
Somehow, Riaril really doubted that.
“You were talking about angels, erm, I mean, of the winged kind.” She said, trying to steer the conversation back on track. “I believe you added an extra duty than needed too,” Riaril corrected, pointing at the massive sum staring at her on the wooden beaded calculating machine.
“Oh. Oh! No, no, no. Not at all, Toa-Doctor-Riaril. That’s our Arete duty. It’s new.”
“Um,” Riaril said, perplexed. “Who created that fiko-web? When did Turaga Nokama approve the legislature?”
“She didn’t. Our saviors did,” the devout matoran replied, her eyes batting once more. Riaril sighed.
“yes, about your Savior.”
“Saviors. There’s seven,” She reproached.
“Okay, saviors. You never really told me about them,” Riaril said slowly, her patience starting to wear thin like her wallet. The matoran stuck her balled hands on her hips and glared, lips pursed. She was standing on a stool behind the counter, and could barely reach Riaril’s chin. It was hard not to laugh.
“I was getting there,” She said; “If you hadn’t interrupted me I would have already told you. Wow. Moving on now. The Arete are a group of seven toa who have become protectors of Ga-koro. We give them a monetary donation and they save us. It’s been happening ever since they expelled six toa from the village.”
“Great Beings, six toa,” Riaril gasped.
“Du’uh. I just said that. Soooo, yeah, they exiled them. Didn’t even need to lift a finger in combat. Just downright got them to leave. They were causing all this chaos, those toa, even shredded my house while I was at work come to find out. This building is new. The Arete rebuilt each house personally. They are our saviors.” She ended with her eyes staring into space, a look of absolute joy spread across her inactive matatu. Riaril grimaced. Seven toa ruling this village without the approval of Turaga Nokama. What in Mata-Nui’s name is going on?
“Well,” Riaril said when she was finally sure the matoran had entered a coma still standing or some form of trance; “I’ll be going now. Thanks for your help, Little-one.” With a gentle sweep of the counter Riaril collected her items and knee-walked to the door. The concept of a financial loss brought the matoran back to reality, her voice a splutter of shock as she yelled after Toa-Doctor-Riaril to come back and pay for what she rightfully owed! Turning around, Riaril’s face had the devilish smile of her youth.
“Why don’t you ask your saviors to reimburse you. Hey, while you’re at it, tell them I’m in town. I could use some business.”