The Life of Okkun Resteravi - Part One
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Edited 2/13/2019. Thanks for the crit, airyfairy. Not enough characters were left to include the same ending point, so it's been moved to the beginning of Part Two. Still technically a first draft. Thank you.
Okkun Resteravi was born in the middle of snowfall, as many little Xc'woirians were. Wind howled and screamed, and him, being quite new and overwhelmed with this world, did too. His mother smiled upon him, as did the midwife, Miss Elvakan, as she commented on the name his dear mother had picked out for him. For a moment, all was well. If his mother knew who his father really was, she never told a soul. No one asked her to. She was accomplished, and a bit of a drunkard, but if she conceived out on a business trip and didn't seem to have any questions or worries, the house workers were to assume the best of her. Pay still came. She would say time and time again that they did better work than the slaves and respected her title more. Nevertheless, a few questions still found their way to her elegant ear. She did her best to deny them with graceful, feigned sincerity.
Over the next few years, however, she started having more slaves working around the house than paid servants and maids. Slaves didn't ask questions. Slaves didn’t think of your life choices.
Slaves didn't care if you were a Hybrid.
He didn't start showing signs until he was well on his way to maturity. He was constantly scratching at his skin, to the degree that Miss Elvakan would bandage his entire arms and neck just so he'd stop. He liked the pressure. He acted a couple years younger than his age and, on occasion, one eye would find its way apart from where the other directed. His depth perception was nonexistent. With some extra help and lots of motherly love, however, he managed to catch up with most of their expectations. Reading, too, was great fun once you got the hang of it. Some of the servants gave him strange looks. He heard his name called from the kitchen one day, just to see Mother and one of them arguing and shouting oh so loudly.
All except Miss Elvakan were dismissed at that time. He'll admit it: he cried.
Mother herself had taken to searching for ways to make him ‘perfect.’ She sat him down next to herself as she wrote and had him practice writing and reading. That was what people like them were supposed to do, she said, as acolytes of Knowledge. He didn’t understand what that meant, but she would smile and complement his script, and that was all he could ask for. Mother loved him most.
Just as well, Mother would brush his hair over his lazy eye and dress him in the finest clothes she could get. She had Miss Elvakan teach him to play a number of musical instruments. If he could be nothing else, he could be Mother’s doll, because Mother really did love him.
He was used to the strange concoctions she fed him at this point, too.
The fine clothing had other benefits as well, Okkun found. Where bandages didn’t cover him, soft furs did, sewn onto the interior of embellished and layered coats. The furs were his favorite. He found, too, that running his finger tips over the stones looped on his arms was a very nice feeling. Texture became one of his greatest comforts.
A few years later, as he started to grasp the idea of being an adult, the aging Miss Elvakan approached him with a little box in hand. She leaned over until they were eye-to-eye.
“What… what is that, Miss Elvakan?” He asked, big blues eyeing the brown leather coming up on the edges and the small belt tying it together. It was a quaint little thing.
She pressed it into his tiny hands, smiling. “Always keep it close to heart, Oka.”
Okkun just stared down at it harder, and then at her, as if meaning or purpose would magically become apparent. The spires upon her ears were pressed back in a fond expression to complement the white drapery of hair that covered her face and wise green eyes. It was such a kind face he could never forget.
A voice called from the kitchen, “Maid! Assistance, please!”
And with those words, Miss Elvakan swept herself and her pastel skirts to the study to aid his mother. He saw her again in a moment, ascending the stairs to gather more paper for the seemingly endless amounts of correspondences Mother was prone to writing. Okkun let his focus fall back to the strange gift in his hands.
The box held a small embellished leather armband with a pretty, dark ocean blue crystal embedded in it. He didn't feel any different wearing it, but he found his mother smiling at him more often. It wouldn't be for a good month until he realized that his eye ceased wandering with it on. Perhaps his mother thought he was fixed and that he'd be free from the consequence of her choice of lovers.
He had yet to know what he really was. His mother always was so worried about his learning curve and that damned lazy eye. He was quick to dismiss anything she said to that. He was sure that with more hard work, he wouldn't be so dumb. He was determined to study hard and perhaps even travel the world. He could repeat anything he had heard before. Mother liked it when he did that. Said that it was a gift that Puyawe had bestowed upon him to show Her favor.
He ran a hand over the texture of his overcoat.
Mother dearest got very upset when he said he wanted to the travel the world. He wasn't sure why it was such a terrible idea. Mother wouldn't let him leave the estate at all. He was getting sick of these cold stone halls he’d been stuck in since he was a toddler. Maybe exploring would finally relieve that itch under his skin. Maybe it'd curb his wild and undescribable dreams. At least Miss Elvakan would tell him folk tales from more cultures than he thought could possibly exist, complete with sound effects and gestures that let the light glint magically off her scales. Some of the slaves would tell him stories, too. Old folk ballads and perky tales of metal dragons left him feeling more lost than he had when they began. Elvakan’s stories of curiosities under the waves felt like they were from a different universe altogether. Even so, they worked their way into his dreams at night and he could imagine the sound of waves he had never heard so well. He’d like to see it for himself someday. He begged yet another tale of the merfolk heroes out of her one late half-moon night. She patted him, nearly as tall as her now, on the head and they curled up together in piles of ostentatious pillows for hours to come. He could nearly imagine himself as the protective Qansui, spear in hand, with all the colorful words the elder maid used.
His world felt so very tiny. It was all the reason more for his desire to expand it. A few times, he nearly ran away from the estate all alone, but the moment he was prepared was the moment he’d remember Mother’s words. He was dysfunctional. He’d never survive out there.
He wasn't that dumb, was he?
Elvakan had travelled, too. She had come off the shores in Cupiniae to see her merchant brother and fell in love with the land-sights. She had travelled all across the continent of Ryuco’ov before settling down in Xc’woiriu. She said that no words could do what she had seen, land nor sea, true justice. She described the time she road the metro as peaceful. Her personal stories were so serene he was sure even someone as inhibited as him could survive with a little luck. Right?
When he began to be considered a teenager, his mother started inviting more people there. They had many stories to tell. They had lived out in the great big world all by themselves. He loved listening to them, and would always ask the best questions, they'd later tell his mother-- she'd taken to parking him in the entryway so she'd have a bit more time to make sure the place was immaculate and overwork the slaves. On occasion, Okkun would clean and dress up one of them and send them to eat dinner with all her guests. His mother hated it. Not like she could send someone with no reptilian qualities away without disturbing the pleasantries. ‘Slave’ was such a harsh word, you’d know.
She couldn't really punish them in good heart, either. Not with that unfaltering smile both Okkun and Miss Elvakan gave her.
When the guests started calling him 'young man' was also about the time Miss Elvakan died. She stopped coming by to clean, and instead, the slaves would bring her food and drink when she visited. She became very thin and would wipe a strange milky substance from her eyes and nails every so often. One day, she hugged him very tight and whispered that there was a box upstairs in her old room for him, and then left through the big, wide front door. She never came back.
Mother stopped talking so much and had less guests. He cried a lot. Mother hated it when he cried. He never could bring himself to open the chest in Miss Elvakan's room, and Mother could never bring herself or anyone else to clean it out.
A lot happened that year. He finally learned what exactly a Guardian was.
He had only ever thought there was Puyawe of Knowledge in the heavens, who his mother described as the one who told the plants how to bear fruit, and the creatures to bear child. She was a stone statue next to the fireplace. Okkun wondered how a stone person could really visit everyone and provide them with the manuals such chores must require.
When he learned about all of the Guardians and the great pantheon in the sky, it made a lot more sense of how Puyawe was supposed to do all that, because she wasn’t a stone statue at all. A little book he found on the shelf addressed to him in Elvakan's shaky script told him about all of the Guardians, from Mle and Renaw all the way to the Great Mother Aewlt.
He felt very drawn to Aewlt. He wasn't entirely sure why. The very name of her made that itch under his skin feel worse. He didn't know what she looked like, but since he heard it, he kept seeing an ambiguous Ruire woman in his dreams. She felt close. He felt like he should know a little more about her. He felt like he should know a lot of things he didn't. It felt like words were always on the tip of his tongue, but too obtuse to let go and leave his mouth.
The book told him about all sorts of things. It reminded him of that chest in the deceased maid's room and urged him to it, if he hadn't opened it already. He was sure it had answers, but he wasn't sure he would ever be ready to enter that room.
Time still ticked on uneventfully, oblivious to any feelings he may have towards it and the dust gathering on Miss Elvakan’s shelves. The slaves didn’t touch it and neither he nor Mother asked them to.
A year later, he still could smell her illness on the air. Mother was always twitching. She couldn't stay focused for long. He wasn't sure what it was he did, but Mother never met his eyes anymore. He'd hear her smashing things when she thought he was asleep. He noticed when the fragile decor changed, too.
The scent of illness seemed to be getting stronger, he noticed one day. He noticed a lot of things. Within a month, Mother started eating less. She’d shout at the empty air, now. She stopped writing so much. Within two months, she had started buying and wearing more makeup. Within three, a Rn'whe man decorated in the Health Guardian Iacoye’s symbols became a regular visitor. Within four, Mother started selling the slaves off and resuming writing her lengthy correspondences.
Within five months, Mother had died.
He had bawled. Mother smiled at him and gave him a wholehearted hug before she left.
"Here, Okkun dear, a note for you. It will explain everything. What you need to do next... it has everything. I love you, dear. Everything’s recorded here, so stay safe, my son..."
She pressed the water-stained note into his hands, her fingers thin and clammy. The feeling of her skin on his would be hard to forget. He gripped the note desperately as his mother finally passed away.
The note was completely illegible.
No one came to the house except to take his mother's corpse. Very few spoke to him, and when they did, they all said the exact same thing as the last. Some tried to sell him things; apparently his mother had left him quite a sum. The man with Iacoye's symbol took him to his mother's pyre, and then escorted him back home with nary a word. The furs of his clothes were white and pure. Rubbing his hands across them didn’t feel as nice as it used to.
The facade of the home looked the same as it always had, he was sure, but the fact that it had been so long since he’d seen it last kept it a rousing sight. His boots clicked on the stone stairs that not even the snow dared touch.
He entered into the dining room to see three of the slaves that had kept the house together sitting nervously. One, the very first one he had ever escorted to Mother's functions, unapologetically laid across the top of a counter, drunk off of her wine. He waved at Okkun lazily. The other two quaked in their boots at the table.
He was all alone in the world. He had never been taught how to survive this. He didn't even know what was going on and felt far too young. He didn't know anyone to turn to.
Apparently, his mother thought that leaving the three slaves would be enough. In the days since her death, he hadn’t even realized that there was anyone still around. How did that happen?
The drunken Canyo - a sturdy, dune-colored race of people vaguely similar to foxes or wolves - introduced himself as Ravi. Okkun already knew that. He remembered. The other two he knew, too. They were Alissi, a brown haired girl with Reptilian discoloration decorating her skin and yellow Dragon eyes, and Nev, a small redheaded girl with a slight hunchback and shoulder blades that looked like they were going to burst out of her skin. Her laugh could probably melt ice, given the chance. They laundered the clothes most the time. They could cook, too. Okkun loved their pies. He realized, distantly, that he technically owned the lives of these three people. Nevertheless, he wasn’t able to manage much more than a meek ‘I don’t know what’s going on.’
Ravi and his gruff off-key Cupinian accent said he knew what to do.
Strangely enough, that was to consult the chest in Miss Elvakan's room.
Stranger still, Okkun complied.
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Hi, welcome to ABC Tales.
Hi, welcome to ABC Tales. There is so much to read and take in with this that I will need a second read through before offering any comments. Just wanted to say I hope you enjoy being part of the site.
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Now had another read through.
Now had another read through. What comes out very strongly is your passion for and immersion in this world. The reader has no doubt that you are completely familiar with the setting and the characters, and this is a strength - nothing worse than feeling that the writer doesn't know any more than the reader does! You have obviously put a lot of thought and energy into it.
For me, the story is moving a little too fast, with lots of information but not enough time to savour it all. For example, when you say his mother looked for ways of making him 'perfect', I would have liked a bit more detail. When you talk about him listening to tales being told, it would have been lovely to hear more about that. You have given lots of detail about the two powerful beings of this world, but the tales, the clothes, the stories, can also give the reader a feel for the setting.
The main thing at the moment though is to get the story down - anything else can wait for a later draft. You are to be congratulated on having developed such a rich and imaginative world.
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