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6 July, 2014
"The chains which once kept us bound can also be the tools we need to escape. I learnt this as I pursued my father's legacy; I was bound to his order because I was his son, yet because of this order we were able to win the war with the barbarians from the north." –From the Book of Tutorik.
A few hours later, Miki left for home. As usual, Junetsu had generously given her lots of supplies for her work, which would hopefully keep them going for the next few weeks. She spent the rest of the afternoon with Ulva, playing with him in the snow and through the trees near the outskirts of the village. He particularly loved a game which Miki had made up, where she would throw a stick into the snow and Ulva would have to find it and bring it back to Miki. However, often she would hide so Ulva would have to use his sense of smell to find her. And when he did, he would get all excited and bark, and Miki would reward him with some sort of treat, usually some blubbered seal jerky they had to spare.
Both of them sat huddled together at the top of Miki's favourite hill, watching the sun slowly make its way below the horizon. The beautiful brushstrokes of orange, red, and yellow were etched across the sky. The glow from the setting sun reflected off the snowy trees before them, also making the ground look violet blue in colour. Soft snowflakes fell from the sky, delicately landing on the trees and snow-covered ground about them. Most Water Tribe villagers felt at home beneath the moon, under the protection of Tui. But for Miki, this is where she felt at home. Gazing upon the mass of trees before her, lit by the warm glow from the setting sun.
"The Cave of Enlightenment huh?" Miki spoke softly to her pal, "We should go look for it sometime right buddy?" She patted Ulva behind his ears, encouraging him to snuggle closer to her. She thought back to yesterday night when she had considered running away into the distance, her and Ulva, leaving everything behind. Maybe it was a bad idea. There were too many people to abandon; her sister, Junetsu, the other few friends she still had left. She wouldn't be able to just leave them behind. Yet something pulled her to the Earth Kingdom, like a distant voice echoing over mountains, drawing her and beckoning her to go there. Was it her destiny, or fate that called her there? Miki had given up believing in such things. One thing was for sure; she didn't want to be anywhere where her father was.
Miki placed her hand on her forehead, rubbing it with her fingers. The logistics of her escape were too complex to work out. She wanted to leave father, and be with her sister, yet her sister would never leave their father behind. Whatever she did, Miki would be losing someone. Why couldn't her father just change? Go back to who he once was? Perhaps that Spirit water from the oasis could change him back? Miki laughed at the thought. That water was no more spiritual than the water she could find in a stew pot. If it had any properties she would have been cleansed from her spirit powers, and freed from its bondage. No, Miki couldn't rely on anything or anyone else to be free; she would find her own liberation.
The sun had finally made its way below the horizon, taking the warm radiating light with it. Miki sighed. She would have to face her father again. After saying goodbye to Ulva, Miki made her way home.
Light snow flakes fell from the darkened heavens, landing on Miki's coat as she approached their home. She had noticed larger footprints leading to the hut, which probably meant that her father was home. Miki breathed in, mustering up enough courage to enter.
Her father was inside, slouching on one of the cushions in the main room. His face creased when he saw her enter, and his eyes more menacing than ever. Saskha on the other hand welcomed Miki inside, gesturing for her to sit down. The smell wafting from the pot drew her closer, the tantalizing flavours entering her nose . "That smells amazing! So you managed to catch some Yinying?"
Saskha laughed, "If you think the smell is good just wait until you taste it! I managed to find three, but they are nocturnal so it's hard to catch any in the early morning."
"Maybe you could go with your sister next time and help her," their father mumbled from his seat. "Instead of charming that wolf of yours, or whatever you did instead."
"Dad stop," Saskha replied, "This is meant to be a good night. After everything that has happened recently, I thought it would be nice to have a proper dinner together. As a family. So since I caught the Yinying surely I can decide how we eat them, and I would like to eat them without all this fighting and bickering, okay?" Keiro responded with his usual grunting sound, more animal like than human. "Anyway, Miki was at the market today. How did you get on?" She turned back to her sister.
Miki tried to smile, even after her father's comments, "It went alright. After I sold some wood carvings I ran into Junetsu, and she took us back to the library."
Saskha smiled, "You saw Junetsu? How is she doing--?"
"What did you sell?"
The sisters both turned around to the father, who now stood up from his cushion, his face slowly creasing with anger. "Did you sell my wood carvings?"
Miki had begun to shake, her father's voice sending chills up her spine. Thankfully, Saskha interceded, "Father, you haven't touched them in ages. Don't make such a deal out of it."
"They were not yours to sell," Even Saskha reacted to their father's rising anger. She now stood next to Miki, who still cowered on the floor next to the pot. Her father narrowed his eyes and continued, "What would you do if I started selling your things? It doesn't matter that I haven't looked at them in a while. I am the leader of this family! You cannot just do what you please without my say so! I am your father!"
"No you're not!"
Both Keiro and Saskha turned to Miki, who was also standing now, her fists clenched. She would no longer cower under her father's rule. It was time to stand up for herself.
"You are not my father."
Completely stunned by her outburst, Keiro tried to reply, "What... How dare--"
"You are an impostor. My real father is nothing like you. He was kind, gentle, and caring towards his family! He was also funny, loving, and compassionate! He looked after this village. He looked after his family. And he loved me. You are none of these things!" She couldn't take it any longer. His hurtful words, the way he mistreated her. His violence. Miki was scared to her core for standing up to him, but there was no way she could back down now.
"How dare you say that to me!" Her father raged in reply, "I have done so much for you! Liena would be disappointed to see what you have become!"
A few seconds of silence passed after Kiero had uttered that last statement. Those words were enough to tip Miki over the edge.
"Don't you dare mention her!" She shrieked. Miki felt an energy flow from her chest to her hands, a familiar power which she could feel when the moon was out. It was her curse; thrown on her from that wretched moon spirit Tui, who had condemned her to be an outcast for the rest of her life. She hated the spirit for doing so. But tonight, her curse would become her liberator.
Miki swiftly spun her arms in front of her, causing her father for levitate. His eyes wide with fear and panic, Kiero tried to resist his daughter's grip, but Miki turned and twisted her hands and fingers in such a way that his muscles contracted and kept him fixed. A terrified gasp surpassed his lips, but Miki quickly sealed them shut. This man was not her father. He was an impostor, a parasite which had invaded their home and infected their lives. She had no love for him, not even a shred of pity. But she would waste no more time with him. Miki pulled her arms back, and with one final shove she sent Keiro flying out the door and into the snow piled outside.
The wind was strong outside, and blew Miki's hair into dark strands across her face. It hid her expression underneath; a mix of loathing and hatred for this man. Breathing deeply, she took small steps towards Keiro, who now lay sprawled in the snow. "I will never forgive you for what you have done. The rest of the village rejected me, and I needed you," Her tears slowly ceased as she continued. Enough of her sadness had been spent, and now all that was left was pure rage. "But you decided to abandon me like everyone else! I didn't just lose my mother from that accident. My father died too. The one who I loved. You... you're just a drunken, cruel, monster of a man, and have abused me enough!"
Her father lay on the ground, quivering without a word. "What?! You have nothing to say?" Miki had expected him to get up and scream at her, or try and attack her, but he just lay there instead. "So you can bark out whatever comes to mind, but when your daughter sends you flying into a pile of snow you're speechless? Maybe now do you realise what a coward and evil man you--"
"Miki! Stop!" Saskha finally ran out of the house towards their father. She knelt down and offered a hand to help him up.
"Saskha what are you doing?" Miki bellowed. She took a few more steps towards them.
Saskha turned back to her sister, "Please don't hurt me!" Her eyes were wide and tears leaked from them. She was terrified, and Miki felt a pang of guilt in her chest when she realised how frightening she must look while using her powers. "You've said all you need to, father knows how you feel."
"Saskha... I" Miki didn't know how to finish her sentence. She didn't feel bad about hurting their father, but she did feel guilty for using her powers in front of her sister.
As Saskha helped Keiro stand, Miki noticed something odd. Their father was crying too. He sobbed gently as he rose; his eyes red and slightly hidden by a tangled mess of dark hair which fell from his face. "Miki... I," he stuttered in between stifled cries and coughing, "You're right about me. I... don't know why I...I'm so sorry for everything I've done."
"Father..." Saksha shed more tears once she heard his voice. She had only ever seen him like this once, in this weak and vulnerable state, which was after their mother had passed away.
Miki was too shocked to say anything. After everything her father had done to her, all the abuse and ignoring and mistreating, she had built up a picture of what her father was like. He was this evil monster without a soul, who felt no guilt and didn't know right from wrong. But the man who stood before her now, crying and cowering with remorse and fear, he was someone else.
"I don't want your forgiveness," Keiro mumbled while sniffing, "I don't deserve it." After he was finished, their father turned and ran towards the village.
Saskha reached out to stop him, but once again he kept on running. Tears streamed down her face though she didn't have the energy to call out to him after all that had just happened. Miki stood motionless, facing the ground, not knowing how to react to her father's words.
A few hours later, the sisters continued to eat dinner in silence. It really was the best thing Miki had ever tasted, but the tension in the air overshadowed how great the food was. Saskha hadn't even glanced at Miki when they had walked back into the hut.
"The food tastes amazing," Miki thought it best to break the awkward silence.
Saskha didn't even look up. Instead, she pushed the pieces of Yinying floating in the stew around in a circular motion with her chopsticks.
Miki sighed, "Look if you want to say something then say it. You're always saying how we need to communicate to solve problems, so let's hear it."
Her sister took her time to answer, continuing to swirl her stew, "What about me?" Miki looked confused at her question, so she continued, "You used your powers on father, so what about me?"
Miki finally understood what her sister was getting at, "Saskha come on--"
"With Hinani it was different since she wasn't a close friend, or family. But father... you used your powers on your own flesh and blood," Saskha interrupted.
"He's not my father!"
"Who's to say that you wouldn't use your powers on me then? What if I annoy you so much that you decided to throw me into the ground?"
"Something had to be done," Miki pleaded with her sister, "I couldn't let him control us anymore."
"You're right; something had to be done," Saskha sighed, "But not this. You didn't have to use your powers on him."
Miki didn't respond. She didn't feel guilty for attacking their father, but the fact that her sister was now scared of her made her upset. She would never attack her sister, but then again if she didn't have boundaries of who she would use her powers on than perhaps she could attack anyone she cared about, in a given situation.
Her thoughts were interrupted when they heard a knock on their door. Thinking it was father, Miki proceeded to get up and walk to her room while Saskha opened the door. She was nearly there when she heard a man's voice, different from her father's, and her sister gasping afterwards. Turning around, she saw that the man speaking was the owner of the tavern, and his next words he spoke caused Miki's stomach to drop.
"I'm so sorry," the man repeated, "But something's happened to your father."
|Spirit of the North|
|• Chapter 1 - Manirak • Chapter 2 - Memories • Chapter 3 - The Librarian • Chapter 4 - Liberation • Chapter 5 - Guilt • Chapter 6 - A Final Goodbye • Chapter 7 - Reconnection • Chapter 8 - Visitors from the East • Chapter 9 - Avatar • Chapter 10 - The Dream that Led to a Journey • Chapter 11 - Promise • Chapter 12 - The Vote • Chapter 13 - Unspoken Desires • Chapter 14 - Beyond the Borders • Chapter 15 - Foreseer of Futures • Chapter 16 - The Warrior Within • Chapter 17 - First Blood • Chapter 18 - Victories and Defeats • Chapter 19 - Secrets of the Book • Chapter 20 - Entering the Earth Kingdom• Chapter 21 - The Dream Nobody Thought Would Come True • Chapter 22 - The Great River City: Part 1 • Chapter 23 - The Great River City: Part 2|
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