-=- Part 3 - Harle Remains -=-
-=- Chapter 20 - "Unwanted, Unwelcome, Beloved" -=-
Harle lingered only a moment upon the shores of El Nido. She could not remain. The hatred of the world burned her up like a wisp of dew in the noonday light. Without uttering a parting word to the island she ravaged, nor to the world she chastised, Harle disappeared as quickly as her dragon form had descended upon the world. Memories of the purple dragon were spoken about now as one speaks of a plague or a natural disaster. For indeed no one alive could have stopped her then. And the world bandaged its wounds.
Moving north Harle traveled along with her Kidd. Lonely companions they spoke very little of the Black Harlequin and the legacy he had left. Though Kidd took her time to grieve, Harle did not. She spoke his words, quoting him at times as if she had memorized every word he had spoken. And those words gave her strength. But she never stopped to shed a tear. The world had felt enough of her tears. She pushed ahead over the water and the barrier islands around El Nido and the main land Zenan, and through the Porre naval ships to a patch of islands gripping each other with loose sandy fingers. The winters covered the islands, much like the fierce ice of Teodorrin. The summers moved just as hard, the heat dropping down like sand bags to shatter ice and bone.
On one of the islands Kidd and Harle found a forest. Indeed most of the larger islands round about all had forests. But in that particular forest there they found a cottage had been built, and promptly abandoned by its builder. Purchasing supplies from a traveling trader ship forty miles away, indeed the nearest human by twice that distance, they rebuilt the house and settled in to make it their home.
Black has fallen. Remember when. A year has passed between now and then...
Glass water edge. Red eyes cast out to the ocean. Waves fell, dulled knife blades, touching the edge of an everwhite toe and fleeing from it, back towards the blue and blue horizon. She gripped the shore, bare palms pressing through sand sticking between her fingers, arms stretched out to fullest length. And her back unfurled, uncurled, spreading out along the shore before a brazen bit of ocean washed higher up her legs. The sun shouted above, white burning away the sky until her eyelids snapped shut, head turned away. But the bright passed through, the glow glowing dull, and a hand lifted to cast a shadow down upon her face.
"Think fast mate!" A sudden shout cut across the summer beach head, riding the tail of a circled shard of wood. The carving descended from higher up a sand dune, a smooth brown line sliding closer to the ground and the woman spread thin where the water met the shore. A moment passed, another, diamond eyes followed the projectile as it spun along behind its shadow cast on the sand rising beneath it. Just before it sliced over the top of the sunbathing woman she lifted one pearl-white hand and her fingers snapped around it, stilling it as if she had scooped a bird from the sky and snapped its neck with the same motion. "Bloody good catch!" Leaping from the top of her sand dune, tumbling along the crumbling face, Kidd ran towards the woman still resting with the carved throwing disc shading her face above. "Throw it back! Quick! Throw the lil' bugger back! Harle! Harle? HARLE!"
"Bah, you are like zhe little puppy dog, non?" One eyelid crawled aside, perfect red beneath, and her other eye followed. The throwing toy remained in her grip above, eclipsing the sun though it still burned around the edges of the shadow held high. Leaning forward Harle rose to a sit, letting the wooden circle fall to her lap. Two arms thrust out over her head, taller, pulling on the joints until a crack replied.
"Woah mate..." Blinking once, stepping back, one eyelid slid up Kidd's face and lingered there. "Wher's yer...yer clothes?"
"Mmm?" Standing, brushing the sand from the backs of her legs, Harle looked down over her own body. From behind her back two wide lines of cloth joined between her shoulder blades, one blue and the other red. Curling around under her shoulders to her front they spiraled into a bow dripping two tails down to rest on either side of her naval. Below a pair of briefs were formed the same way, with the bow ending behind instead of in front. Yellow hair rained from her head with golden metal shine, surrounding everwhite cheeks and scarlet eyes. "What iz zhe matter? You don't like mon swimming suit?"
"Nah, that's not what'a meant." A smile melted across Kidd's face. "Just not used'ta seein' ya without the tails and bells is all."
"And what of you, ma amie? Not zhat you wear zhat much clozhing anyway." Having abandoned her red skirt and tee-shirt Kidd wore a patchwork swimming outfit formed of splotches of yellow and skin-toned peach held together with black thread jagged teeth, all drawing tight to a one piece suit. Though her scorpion tail still poked out behind.
"Hey! Yer just jealous cuz' I don't have ta hide behind a chest plate!"
"Hmpf!" Laying back out Harle turned onto her side, away from Kidd.
"What's a matta' mate? Gotta lobster in yer knickers?" Dropping down to sit beside Harle, hands on either side supporting her up, Kidd turned her eyes out to the oceans spreading out thin to an unseen line.
"...hot..." Harle's word blew against the sand near her lips.
"Oui! It iz hot! I can hardly stand it!" Turning back onto her back, weaving her fingers together and cupping behind her head Harle shut her eyes against the sunlight. "Zhe summer... it iz too thick here... I want to just rip of zhese ribbonz and swim all zhe way to zhe nort' pole."
"You'd make some fishermen real happy." Picking up her throwing disc from the sand Kidd turned it over and over between two hands. "I dunno what yer whinnin' about though mate. It'aint that hot."
"Bah! Humanz are such numb creaturez!"
"C'mon mate! Get up!" Standing up, gripping Harle by the shoulder and pulling her upwards as well, Kidd shook her toy in her other hand. "Lets throw around the disc for awhile! A little runnin' and you'll forget all about the heat!"
"You do not give up eazily do you, ma amie." With a sigh Harle was upon her feet, Kidd departing, already running along the shoreline, distant away.
"Catch this one!" Pulling the toy against her and then whipping her arm around Kidd released the carving as her wrist snapped against her own limit. And the wood rocketed along, towards the naked clown along its path. A sudden ocean wind picked up the toy, taking it away from Harle and lifting upwards and around until it fell backwards, traveling where it came, striking Kidd squarely in the forehead.
"Ah oui. Your skill makez moi tremble."
"Yeah yeah. Try this one on for size mate!" A stronger effort and the throw toy dipped to the ground, tipped off a rock laid flat in the sand, bouncing off, the wood erupted heaven bound. Harle followed it, a black speck joining the seagulls, disappearing into the sun. With a tap of one foot Harle entered flight, chasing down the hunted bit of tree and pride. Passing it as she continued her climb Harle turned her back to the sunlight brighter so high up and she plucked the disc free from its own flight. Teeth snapping tight, eyes squinting she pulled back and let fly.
"I got it! I got it!" Spiraling around the descending shadow Kidd waved her arms above her head, trying to see her toy against the sunlight. "I got it! Bugger!" With her squeaked exclamation Kidd threw herself out of the way, arms covering the back of her head, as the splinter of wood slammed into the ground tossing a blast of sand up and over where it impacted. "Bloody hell!" A crater remained where Kidd once stood, the sand forming blast rings radiating out.
"Oh! You didn't catch it?" Touching down, her feet unfolding back upon the sand, Harle held her arms crossed over her chest ribbon. And her un-painted lips curved downwards just a pinch. "Oh non, I suppoze we are done. And I waz juzt starting to have fun."
"Sheeze ya bloody clown! Where ya tryin'a kill me!?"
"And where the hell is me throwin' disc!"
"Uh..." Dipping down Harle plucked a single wooden spike from the ground, dropping it in Kidd's open palm, letting a smile peek.
"Heh, well now I'm real glad I made two!" From behind her back Kidd drew out yet another carved flying disc.
"Give zhat to moi!" Reaching for it Harle's fingers grasped nothing as Kidd pulled it away just out of Harle's range.
"Hey now mate! If ya want it ya gotta catch it!" Stepping back Kidd threw it with a slash and the disc smashed into Harle's exposed abdomen, ricocheting off into the ocean beyond. "Ha! What's a'matta mate? Too fast for ya? Mate?"
Letting a gasp bubble up from her throat Harle's eyes grew wide within her face. And her legs let go, knees kicking forward, tossing her to the ground. On hands and knees she looked down to the sands below, minuscule pebbles trapped between spread fingers.
"HARLE!" A running step forward and Kidd was upon the fallen girl. Opening her mouth just a bit Harle released a stream of green and it splashed against the ground and her arms holding her up. "Ewwwah! What the bloody blue blazes is going on! Mate! Can ya hear me? Are ya' alright?" A belch and another round of vomit answered Kidd's cries.
"...hurt...hurtz..." Mumbling, with her face still down, Harle hardly tensed beneath Kidd's arm as the blonde-haired thief wrapped her grip around the slender blonde and lifted her up by the shoulder.
"C'mon mate, we gotta get ya outta'the sun."
"We're almost there mate, just hold on a mite longa'." Eyes cast forward Kidd kept her gaze set upon the rear of the cottage as she dragged the harlequin along. Harle remained limp, pushing along the ground, knees hardly locking, as if pedaling a bicycle made out of mud.
"Yah!" Head snapping straight up, neck a solid line, Harle suddenly thrust Kidd from her and took a stumbling step away. "Leave moi alone! Non!" And even as Kidd struggled to keep her balance Harle ran off into the forest, splitting from the path that would bring her home, heading for a shadier spot.
"Harle! Get back here! Sheeze..." Spitting the word out, Kidd picked up her feet and set them down, tossing herself into a run to follow the half-dragon already just a dancing spot of red between the trees.'
A tree root grasped Harle by the ankle and tore her from her sprint. Falling, sliding, she hit an elder tree, wider then its kin. Flipping herself around she began to stand but instead slid along the tree bark back to a sit. Kidd leapt from between two saplings, now just a card-throw from Harle's resting place. Drawing her legs up to her chest Harle hid her face behind her knees, curling tight together in the shadow of the old plant.
"There you are. What'a matta mate? Why'dya run off like that, uh?"
Pulling her head out of hiding Harle let out a shriek, beast mixed with a woman's scream that drove Kidd backwards away. And birds took to the air in clouds, running from the draconic roar.
"I'm not leavin' ya mate so get over it! Tell me what's goin' on!"
"We've had this talk already clowny. Now shut up and talk ta me!"
"Go...go away...leave moi..."
"Why? Are ya contagious? You got some sorta dragon flu?"
"I...I'm...I'm..." Pushing back, hard against the tree, tears gathering at the edges of blood red. "I'm embarrassed..."
"Holy..." And Kidd sat down beside Harle and leaned close. " 'kay mate now you're really scarrin' me. Harlakin's don't get embarrassed."
"Heh, you're still there. You are still with me, right Harle?"
"Why dontcha just tell me what's what eh? It can't be that bad."
"...mm...Mmmmm..." Slumping forward Harle's eyes sunk, closing over. She slid along, to the side until her body fell into Kidd's lap.
"Alrighty. Lets get you home first."
"Are ya bloody serious!?" The room stretched wide, though it remained filled with an equally portly bed clothed with a quilt stitched purple and red and with yellow trim. A dresser stacked three drawers high held aloft a teddy bear with a twin-tailed coxcomb. And a mirror leaned against the wall, nearly ceiling high, besides. A night table, a chair, a line of books gripped between two rocks on a shelf, and a sprinkle of other possessions laid out across the bedroom beneath the window sunlight and the four unlit candles waiting at the four corner posts of the wooden room. "Are ya really really sure?"
"Oui..." The word came wrapped in a sigh. Arms and legs spread out around her Harle laid out across the bed over the quilted bedspread. Kidd remained in the doorway, leaning on the doorway, with her arms crossed before her and her foot tapping along beneath.
"Cantcha...cantcha just, I dunno, hold it?"
"Are you insane?"
"Well I dunno! What am I suppsed'a say!"
"Just shut up...be quiet...I will make enough noise...ugh...for zhe two of us..."
"Well, uh, want me to, uh... sing a song or somethin' to calm ya down?"
"I...said...SHUT UP!!!" Leaping from her rest Harle slammed straight into Kidd, like a panther gathered upon its pray laid flat. Lashing downwards Harle bit down onto Kidd's cheek, leaving a curled teeth line etched in blood.
"Oi! Me head!" Hand spread out over her forehead, holding her head upon her neck, Kidd stood up. Nighttime covered the room, a secret black, the shine of Kidd's own eyes penetrated. "Where's me element...hmmp..." A slide, a crash, something fell and shattered with a deeper sound, clay bits remaining. "What happened...? Here we are!" With a click and a flash Kidd cupped her hand around a torch until the sparking red crystal lit the wick and died away itself in the torchlight. "Oi! Bloody! What...happened?" It seemed only the brick fireplace remained standing upright. In the center of the cottage's largest room. A table lay upon four broken legs, the legs having been snapped into clubs. The water pump gripping the pipe bent nearly parallel to the floor as if some stone had been hurled at it. Dishes and clayware coated the wood-tiled floor with a layer of powder mixed with metal shards strewn like shining splinters. Each wooden chair had been broken, the chair backs remained intact though, save for a few finger imprints where a mighty grip gripped the chair before swinging it into its target. Candles lay snapped, wicks keeping wax chunks together like the innards of a slaughtered goat. "Harle." And Kidd stepped towards Harle's bedroom, the door having been torn from its hinges and lodged into the wall nearby. "Harle! Ya broke the house! And ya bloody near broke me!" Thrusting herself into the Harle's bedroom door she stepped to each corner, lighting the candles, each adding a brighter glow. Harle's bedroom had remained calm despite the rest of the house, only the covers of Harle's bed lay disturbed, and the ribbons of Harle's bathing suit scattered like confetti squares around the room.
On her side Harle lay curved at the hips, her quilt resting draped upon her, above her bent knees and stopping beneath her shoulders under her arm. Curled around, her body seemed wrapped about a single point in the center of the spread-out bed. Six eggs, no larger then her own fist, rested in the delicate nest her body formed. With one free hand she touched one, then another, and then the next, as if counting them over and over. Each shell had its own color with specks of the same darker color spotted across. Black, orange, cerulean, gold, silver, and purple made up the rainbow she contained.
"So, ya finished yer buisness yet mate?"
"...oui..." A distant answer wisped from Harle's lips.
"Where ya gonna keep this a secret forever, mate?"
"...oui, eh, non...I don't know..." Peeling her eyes from her work Harle looked up to Kidd, the gold-haired girl leaning against the wall beside the doorway. "It waz not somzhing I wanted to talk about."
"How long mate? How long'd ya know? How long'd ya keep this a secret?"
"You... do not understand."
"I understand. I turn my back for a second and you and Black are playin' rabbit-rabbit in the middle'a the woods! At least ya waited till I was sleepin'."
"If you were sleeping, ma amie, how did you know?"
"I...uh...!" A flush of red blossomed across Kidd's cheeks.
"I did not know." And her eyes snapped back to the eggs. "I...we...made love...only once. I felt nozhing afterwardz." Eyes shut a grin curled across her face.
"Aww! No mate! No! Now yer all thinkin' about it! That's nasty!"
"And zhen zhis happenz. I felt hot, as zhough I had a fever. And you were more annoying zhen usual but suddenly I felt sick and..."
"Don't forget about wrecking the cottage mate. It's gonna take you weeks to fix it all."
"I don't know what to do, ma amie. I did not know zhis could happen."
"Wait a bloody second! I'm not more annoyin'!"
" I do not even know what will come out of zhese eggs or how long it will take."
"How do ya know they'll even hatch, huh?"
"I can feel zhem. I can feel zhe life." A sigh. Harle opened her eyes again. "What have we... what have I done? Zhis iz, all wrong!"
"Black! I need him! I cannot do zhis wizhout him! I cannot..." Her hand reached up, running through her hair, pulling the ends. "My instinct, it tellz me zhat I need my mate now. I cannot leave zhese eggs. Zhey must always be warm. But, how can I eat? How can I hunt?"
"How? Aww, c'mon." Rolling her eyes, ending with a smile Kidd pointed a thumb straight back at herself. "I guess I'll have to be the daddy. Just tell me what ta do mate!"
"I am...very scared..."
"I know. But nothin'll happen while this Radical Dreamer's around! Not even Spirit's gonna touch them eggs."
"Be right, ma amie... si vous plait....be right..."
Weeded ocean waving green, each bit of grass swayed to windy music invisible. Forests, like thick black hairs, surrounded the open meadow, the dandelions drifting upon the earthen sea. Wading into the plants knee deep, black eyes, onyx eyes turned from side to side, ears dancing about above, long points independent one of the other. Dipping its neck down, unfurling, unfolding to the ground the lonely deer dropped its tongue free a moment grasping a single colored blade up from the soil. Taking the mouthful back up with it she let her body carry her head, sliding around full circle, dying sun cast above tree-ravaged horizon.
A spark of red dripped from a forest tree, silver tooth glinting in hand. Low to the ground its scorpion tail jingled behind. With one leg catching the blur leapt into the air as the deer snapped its head to bear. Nothing remained to be seen, and a moment crept along.
"G'day!" From behind. And the deer pulled its head back around in time to meet with a leather gloved fist. Knocked flat to the ground Kidd stood over the deer, dagger climbing higher above. "Sorry mate. It's the law a'the jungle. First come, first serve, or whateva'..." When the dagger had sliced what needed slicing Kidd gripped a pair of legs in each hand, throwing the carcass about her like a sack resting behind her head. And as the wind died away with the sunlight, Kidd disappeared into the forest with it, leaving only a failing scent behind.
Through a stretch of forest she traveled, twilight weighing heavier then the departed dear. Beached upon the shore a long canoe, hewn from a single tree trunk, tickled the top of the rising tide. Blade marks and axe scars splattered across the sides of the craft, and it sank down beneath the meaty weight. With her prey at her feet Kidd gripped a double-paddled oar and pushed from the island towards the next in the chain.
"Hey mate! I'm gettin' a little tired'a this every five minutes." Kicking the door aside with her feet Kidd stepped into the cottage. A blast of firelight, a blast of hot air fleeing swept up into her face luring out a tear. With the same foot bent around Kidd pressed the door shut behind her, letting the deer drop to the floor with the same motion together. "Oi! I think me shoulder's split right down the middle!"
With a shriek Harle appeared in flight above, leaping from her place of rest, landing on the deer with her mouth leading her. And jagged teeth emerged behind thin lips. Blood splattered out in her wake as the clown pushed into the beast, withdrawing her head only for air, cheeks tainted scarlet, a string of innards trailing from her mouth.
"Oh...la-la! Excellent! Très excellent!" Circling her lips around an intestine she slurped it into her cheeks like a bit of spaghetti rolled too thick.
"Aww! Bugger!" Turning her face away, blocking the sight with two arms crossed over her face, Kidd crossed the living room floor. "Sheeze mate, it's gettin' real toasty in 'ere."
No response from the dinning clown.
"It's still summer mate, do we really need the fire goin' like that?" Taking a seat beside the table, wooden legs of the furniture patched with wood braces and twine, Kidd looked out over the floor towards the fireplace stocked full of fire. Between her and the blaze a crate lay filled with Harle's own bed quilt holding the clutch of eggs in a circle around.
"Urp! Oh, excusez-moi." Appearing at Kidd's side Harle stretched her arms up over her head. "Pardon, for zhe heat but..." A hand traced down Kidd's face, lunar-white.
"Woah..." Kidd's own hand went up to meet it. "Whats'a matta? Yer hand is burnin!"
"Oui, I know. Suddenly I feel like a fever is covering mon body from mon 'ead down to mes petits pieds. I feel like I am glowing."
"Bugger Cat, put on some bloody clothes." With her hand still lingering upon Kidd's shoulder Kidd turned her head away from the nude Harle, human Catharine.
"Bah! I can hardly stand zhis heat! I will not. You will juzt have to get uzed to it."
"Yeah, whateva' mate."
"Are you not going to your bedroom? It must be très chaud, too hot for zhe little human girl."
"Nah, I wanna watch. Then I'll leave ya alone."
Reaching down over the crate Harle's fingers wrapped about the ebon shell of one of the eggs, lifted from the clutch. Both hands circled around the egg with fingers weaving together, cupping the new-life-forming. Opening her mouth Harle let loose a slow exhale that came with a tangible mist tainted blue. Swirling from her lips the wisp wafted straight, blowing to the egg and disappearing upon the shell, luminescent energy clinging like drips of diamond dew, and it passed on through to the dragon within, illuminating from the inside out, revealing the shadow of a head and a body sprouting below it like a long curled tail.
"Sheeze mate, that is ... weird..." Pushing against her knees, rising to a stand Kidd stepped through the doorway nearest her, opening and shutting the door behind. A moment passed and Kidd appeared once more holding an item in each hand. "I bumped inta the old trada' again the other day. I traded some elements for a few things."
"Not any of zhe red elementz I hope."
"Nah, mother oven, just a few AquaBeams we had layin' around. I got ya this mate. Put it on. I'm tired'a lookin' at yer arse." A pair of sheer shorts and a wide cloth ring to wear around the chest, Kidd tossed them balled up tight to Harle as she laid the black shell to rest. Though not necessarily transparent, they ran sheer and thin like darker stockings sewn into odd shapes.
"Non! Non ma amie. Non clo'ez!"
"Listen mate, this whole thing is just startin'a freak me out a little. Do me a favor and just wear the bloody things. The guy said they're real light and breezy. Sides' I'll make ya a deal. Put'em on and maybe I'll letcha have this little beaut'." In her other hand Kidd held up a book, leather bound.
"You are a dirty thief."
"And yer a naked dragon."
"Bah, fine. I did not realize I waz so offensive."
"Heh, well now ya know."
And Harle slipped into the shorts, pulling the cloth around her chest and tucking it beneath her arms, it ended just above her naval.
"Ya know, I kinda miss yer costum clowny. I mean, 'clowny' don't make sense no more."
"Ah oui, moi aussi. It is zhe firzt on mon list."
"Of t'ings I will do when zhese bloody eggz hatch!"
"Oh shut up."
"Here's the book Cathy, as promised."
"Hmpf!" Slapping on palm onto the book Harle pulled it from the table and flipped it open to the title page, words scrawled with type-faced lettering, floating in a drawn box curling to brackets. "Fairty talez of zhe Sout'."
"Whateva'. Look, it was'a real popular book back in Nido. Was surprised to find the guy had one. Go on, look at the first story."
"How zhe six dragonz saved zhe sky..."
Standing in the center of the cottage's main room Harle held her hands out, palms open, slowly circling around. Her very fingers glowed a distant orange, as if fire burned within them. Perched around the room her eggs spread out around her in a loose circle, each upon their own resting place, though Gold and Silver leaned close beside one another. A chair, a pillow, held up in a corner, they all looked back to Harle and her empty crate besides. The door popped open with a kick, Harle crouched to hands and coiled knees and before Kidd even dropped her carcass to the ground Harle had already landed upon it, smashing it to the floor with a quicker strike.
"Almost outta firewood already? Sheeze. Didn't know being a papa was gonna be such bloody hard work. Five kills a day and firewood between. You sure those eggs're not just little BlackHoles mate?"
"Zhis iz, all pointless." She spoke hardly a whisper, gold-metal strands spreading before her blood stained face.
"I cannot keep pretending. I cannot imagine zhat everyt'ing iz okay!" Harle spun about to face Kidd's back. "Three weekz we have done zhis without speaking a word, a serious word!"
"Go on mate." Pulling a chair to meet her halfway, Kidd sank to a sit.
"What should I do? I am hunted. Spirit wants me dead and she will do...'orrible t'ings to zhese children. Maybe we will starve! Maybe-"
"We're mates, right?"
"Uh...oui." The fire pushed against the daylight, orange swirling into sun burned yellow. Both girls looked forward, Harle remaining behind, Kidd nearer the fire.
"Well, I'll always be here for ya. But latley, I dunno if it's the eggs talkin' or what, but ya keep on whinnin' like a lil' joey. I can't keep dryin' yer eyes like I'm yer mommy or somethin' mate."
A bird let out its call, flapping across the window's view, its body deformed behind sweat covered glass.
"You are, cruel."
"I dunno mate. I kinda hoped some'a the stuff Black said would'a really stuck with ya. Ya ever really think about 'im? I mean really think. Bah, a'course ya do."
"Ya ever think about that he was really old? Did ya ever think'a that? He was'a dragon way waaaaay before we were even born'r made. Heh, mate, ya loved an old grandpa dragon."
"Dragonz do not age az humanz!"
"Maybe not, but its this lil'human's opinion that you got stuck somewhere mate. That was his fault."
"Watch your wordz carefully human."
"Bugger." One diamond eye peeked back over Kidd's shoulder behind. "Are ya gonna kill me mate? Black was'a wise old grandpa. He wanted to do everyhin' for you and you let 'im, just like you let everyone do everythin' for ya. Ya gotta grow up. Ya gotta decide ta grow up. I think I've thought about stuff more'en you. I think I've thought'a those eggs more'en you."
Four walls, windows in each. Three doors with brass knobs catching firelight glow. A carpet thrown down, a rug pulled tight with woven yarn. A bookcase popped from the wall with three books sitting upright, and two laying down. Harle stood between Kidd's back and Kidd's meat, letting tears strike the floor.
"Snap the hell out of it mate. Stop treatin' these eggs like they're some sorta chore. They're Blacks goin' away present. And I don't care how much diff'rent humans and dragons are, yer still their mum. But if yer afraid, if ya wanna give up thats fine with me. I'll stay with ya no matta what decision ya make. But its time ta choose mate, and choose fast." From her lap Kidd lifted an arm up and out passed her side. Resting in her palm the orange egg remained aloft, a short drop from a wooden floor. "Cuz I'd ratha get rid a the joeys then watch 'em die later on."
And the egg tumbled free, spiraling down, caught by an everwhite palm.
"I'm gonna get the meat and chop the wood, but ya gotta raise 'em up right. That's yer responsibility."
Harle said nothing, kneeling on the floor, the orange egg tucked into her lap.
"I'm gonna go chop some wood. Lemme know when yer hungry again." As she stood the chair pushed off from the back of Kidd's legs. With a twist and a push Kidd emerged into the cooler summer sun, leaving Catharine behind, and an orange egg on the edge of death and life.
The door opened. A shadow pressed against the shards of sunlight slicing into darker rooms, moving closer over the threshold in. The door shut and Kidd remained standing with a dear looped round her neck. And it slid free, striking the floor at her feet, bouncing once before coming to rest.
"Et comment allez-vous sentant ce matin?" Holding the purple egg in her palm upright she brought it near her mouth and one eye opened wide.
"Ah, toujours affamé." Harle replied as if someone had spoken a word to her, invisible in the silence. "Tante Kidd est ici avec le petit déjeuner maintenant. L'attente juste plus longtemps et nous mangera ensemble." Setting the egg back down with the others Harle turned outwards to Kidd still standing nearest the door. "Bonjour ma amie! What...are you ztaring at?"
"Yer goin' bloody mad aren'tcha?"
"Yer talkin' ta the eggs like they're talkin' back ta ya!"
"Oh! Zhey are. Can you not hear zhem?"
"Uh, no mate."
"Ah oui. Zhey started speaking avec moi yesterday. Zhey are quite zhe talkerz."
"Oh, stop looking at me like zhat! I am not crazy."
Harle dipped down again, drawing out the orange egg from the bunch. Like the others of the clutch, the orange egg fell squat in her hand, larger then a softball in size. In her sheer shorts and top Harle split the room, arriving just a step before Kidd, and she held out the egg towards the blonde dreamer.
"Orange, she iz zhe lazt not to have spoken. She wants to see you."
"If she hasn't said nothin', how do ya know she wants to see me?" With two hands Kidd took the egg and held it up close to the edge of her nose. "Woah, its real warm."
"A mozher knowz. Ha! Listen to moi! I sound like zhe old lady, non?" One knee at a time Harle lowered herself to the floor before the deer, jabbing her hands into the animals stomach together she spread them apart, ripping a hole to start from.
"Uh, G'day lil'orange joey egg mate, uh, thing. How's the meat been tastin' through that shell?"
H...Hi... A word trickled from the egg, a whisper unheard yet spoken clear with a child's voice behind it.
"Oi! The bloody thing just shot a word inta me brain!"
"Mmm..." Crunch. Swallow. Harle withdrew her head from the deer. "Oui! Zhat iz how zhey talk."
"Uh, yeah. A' course."
Aunt Kidd? A girls voice it rang with a snowflake jingle. Where is mommy?
"She's eatin' some deer meat lil'darlin'. She'll be done...soon?"
I like dear meat. When I hatch mommy said she will take me hunting and teach me to hunt much better then that-good-for-nothing-blonde-bimbo-thief-I-keep-around-until-she-outlives-her usefulness.
"She is kidding, ma amie."
"She'd better be mate."
Auntie? What's an oi?
What's a bugger? What's always so bloody?
"Uh, those're figers a' speech-"
Why do you always bring home dear meet? Mommy said daddy would have brought home different meat but that you're my daddy until I hatch.
"Somethin' like that-"
Auntie? When I hatch, will you take me fishing?
Will you teach me to hunt too? I want to learn to use a dagger!
I wanna steal stuff too! From unsuspecting humans like you do!
You're my favorite aunt! When I grow up I wanna be-
"Woah mate, I feel a little sick." Setting the orange egg back into the crate. "I don't think I'm ready for all this parenting crap yet."
"Bah, you make a handsome fazher."
"You'd better cut that out Cathy."
"Oui, oui." Standing, patting her stomach curving outwards in slight, Harle stepped to the egg crate. "Time to eat mes enfants."
"Mate uh, we gotta talk." Opening the door, pulling by the leg, Kidd tossed the bones and innards left upon the deer. It flew up and smashed down on a pile further away, covered in fly-dots buzzing round and round. Door shut, crossing the living room, Kidd sat down on the chair nearest her room, crossing her arms in front of her chest.
"Orange, she will not ztop talking about you. What did you do to her?"
"Don't try and change the subject mate, we got a real problem."
"I know. It is getting cloze to winter. Zhe animalz are almost gone."
"Good guess mate. I dunno how we even got so much outta these islands. I've been watchin' the animals and I think they swim from island to island at some real shallow points and they keep movin' south until they hit the Zenan mainland. It's pro'ly a winter migration. Soon it'll take me a day just'ta walk to the huntin' grounds. I think we'd betta start thinkin' about movin for the winta' mate."
"Non." Speaking, back turned upon Kidd, Harle lifted the gold egg, letting her energy pass, a blue vapor between. "If zhese eggs are cold, too cold, zhey will die. I cannot move zhem without letting zhem become cold. Zhere is no way."
"Mate we can't-"
"Do you feel zhis heat? My heat?
"It iz still chilly for zhem."
"But we can't!"
"We have to. Unless you have a plan?"
"We are stronger zhen you t'ink. Let us try."
"Alright mate. We'll try. We'll give it a try."
Ocean breezes turned to demons with crystal wings. Days aged, falling gray where once sunshine chased saplings from the ground. A finger touched the window, Harle's arms extended to the glass, and she pulled the tip away with a snap as if the winter pending just beyond had burned her burning hand. White glare threw her scarlet eyes back towards her, a shimmer of her own face caught within the window. And a snowflake fell, a single speck of water fluff, touching the ground, blowing a silent horn, a herald horn for those waiting above.
Days and nights came without change, a colorless glow slightly dimmer during the night, slightly brighter when day should have been. Meat memories echoed the cabin, Harle holding her hands out to each egg, warming fingers spreading flesh fire vapor to those gathered around. Cheeps and chirps bounced between each egg. The dragons were speaking in audible voices, incoherent squeaks, begging for a touch of blue misty food. But the mother could do nothing but stand between them and offer heat, heat growing cooler as well.
The door opened, Kidd entered tugging in snow along with her feet. The door shut and the white rain upon the floor evaporated to steam in moments. Keeping her lips in a line, a rigid shape Kidd unhooked the jacket of deerskin fastened with rope and wooden clasps at the ends. Next came her pants of the same material, and booties covering her shoes. She collapsed to sit amongst her winter garb still cool against her skin, and Harle appeared above. Holding out open hands her maternal heat poured over Kidd's arms and legs, the blonde thief having worn her red and white clothes beneath the winter skins. Legs, arms, elbows and knees, her body glowed with a red tinge close to the surface.
"How long mate?"
"Three days." Harle remained above, arms ever extended.
"Bugger. Can't tell no more." Reaching behind Kidd began to tug on the strands of hair that had pulled themselves free from her scorpion hold. Twirling her fingers about she circled the knot once more, a tighter hold.
"Zhe winter seemz to be an enemy of moi." From the table at her side Harle lifted her teddy bear with the clown's headdress of blue and red.
"It ain't no mate'a mine niether." Standing, Kidd approached the egg crate, though only two eggs could fit inside, each having grown to be as round as a bowling ball around. "Hey mate."
Hi Auntie! Meat? Meat? Orange responded to Kidd's greeting even without a touch.
"Soon mate, real soon."
"Its getting colder." Harle said, at Kidd's side, looking down to Orange and Purple in the crate together. "I am, very hungry."
"I wish I could help ya mate." Looking away, lifting her head to stare at the ceiling Kidd let an index finger scratch at her cheek. "But there ain't nothin' left on these islands. And the Porre navy is startin'ta show up here'n there."
"It is time that I leave." One step towards her room, she stopped as Kidd spoke out to her.
"Mate, we can't do this. You can't. Just, I dunno, eat me or somethin'. Winter can't be that much longa'."
And Harle's door shut tight behind her. Kneeling at the foot of her bed, before the chest sealed tight there, Harle lifted up the container and pulled out the copper key from beneath. Sliding it into the lock, with a quick twist the top popped free enough for slender fingers to enter. And she lifted the hinged chest open. Sheer shorts and light-weight top came off first, forming a ball in her hands that she tossed aside. Two halves, bound at a sewn joint at the crotch, and she folded it around her torso holding it with one hand and stitching up one side with the other. A blue string wove round and round through gold lined holes, pulling tight, the sheath forming to her body. With her back pressed to the wall, her other hand keeping the front tight to her chest, she wove up the other side. Pulling the edges, testing the tension behind, she nodded and reached back into the trunk. Blue puffed sleeves, and blue puffed pant legs came up next, sliding over each limb, fastening to the torso piece. Gloves and curled toed shoes slide over hands and feet, gripping the other end of each sleeve and pant leg to hold them in place. Lifting the brass breastplate next she held it up, reaching behind and fastening it together as it fit into the grooves and loops of the torso mid-piece. The tails, two tails with a gold bell on the tip of each, she slid them around her neck, zipping them up in front and pulling a line of cloth up over the zipper so only a black shadow line remained behind. Hanging down across her chest, where once just a bit of costume glass had hung the Heart Gem waited with the same dark color, never glowing, forgotten light.
The coxcomb came up last from her trunk, and she threw it on top of the bed. With a skip she landed beside it with her legs crossed already and a hand full of bobby pins poking from red glove cracks. Winding and weaving she pulled her hair up, tucking it around until two lumps formed on either side of her head. Pulling on her headdress like a hood Harle tucked the last strands up out of sight above, and let her fingers pinch the two puffs of pink covering either ear, until both were plump once more. In the mirror she held up a brush, a thin bit of metal with stiff hair at the tip, it grew no wider then Harle's own finger. Dipping it into a small glass bulb of red she drew out a pin-prick of the paint and dabbed it up and over each eyebrow, an outline of scarlet circling each scarlet eye, left eye drawn with a jagged spike jutting down, smaller ones going around, and her lips grew fuller with the stuff. Snapping the cap back into place Harle replaced the paint into her nightable drawer, and the brush as well. Retrieving a new brush she took out also another paint bulb holding water blue. And she circled a teardrop circle beneath her other eye.
Harle pushed open her door once more, out into the living room, red leather burning against her skin.
"No mate, no!"
Ignoring the calls Harle stepped to the fireplace and the mantle held above. Two metalic fighter fan blades stood above, mounted to a single wooden board. Beneath a hinged card box remained. And Harle lifted the box, drawing out a section of metal throwing cards glowing with shards of rainbow prismatic colors.
"Mate! What'ya doin!?" Standing, holding Harle's hands in place, Kidd pulled the formed clown from the fireplace and the weapons gathered, dusty rusty memories. "Ya can't leave, who'll keep the lil'joeys warm?"
Holding up one hand Harle let the sheer shorts and lightweight cloth she once wore, fall to hang from her pinched fingers.
"No way! You got yer dragon sweat all over that stuff."
"I made zhem for you, zhey are not mine." She held them out still to Kidd but the thief spun around to the fire with her hands tucked beneath each armpit, crossed over her chest. "Si vous plait, you must keep zhem warm while I gather food."
"Stay very close to zhe fire. Hold on tight to each egg. And zhey will fight as well, to stay alive." Placing the sheer cloth bunched up on the table, walking to the door, Harle turned her face up and over her shoulder. "Ah! Ma amie! Why be zhe drama queen? Zhey are children of moi! Zhey will not die!"
"Alright mate." Hand squeezing the heating clothes, Kidd turned to face the harlequin with a smile burning beneath wide diamond eyes. "I'll take good care a'em! In fact I'll take such good care' a 'em when they hatch there'll be six lil Kidd's runnin' around instead'a weird lizards."
"Eww, sounds messy."
"That's not what'a meant clown girl!"
"Oui, ah well, ourevoir ma amie! Ourevoir mes enfants! Dream of moi every night!" With a wink and a slam Harle disappeared into the failing daylight, into the snow, into the shadow, and her smile disappeared already.
Leaving her eggs in the hands of a human thief Harle sets out to find food in the wastelands of the world. But what was supposed to be a simple hunt turns a sinister shade of Black...
Will Harle be able to fight her way back home? Can she gather food along the way? Or will her children starve before she can save them? Will she even be able to make it back at all? Stay tuned...
-=- Chapter 21 - "His Return...?" -=-
Arise and poke it shinny gundam!