Thanks for the reviews, you guys! I will definitely pay attention to Neytiri's knowledge of English, however, I will say that I don't think she is completely unable to understand certain English phrases. She's smart and can figure some things out, at least the way I see it. As for the contractions, she uses some contractions herself in the movie, so I'm quite sure she knows what those are. However, I will try to be more careful of that.
The river glistened in the Pandoran sun's rays as if it were late afternoon. But the chirps and high-pitched calls from the forest revealed that the day was only beginning. Bent down over the glimmering water, Neytiri dunked her head underneath the surface. For a moment, she stayed below the water's cool embrace. Then, she surfaced, face tilted towards the sky so that it was warmed by the sun. The rumbles of the waterfall behind her overwhelmed the faint sounds of the stream, the honeyed scent from the succulent yomhi'ang leaves filling her nostrils as she rubbed it over her body. She ran her hands through her tight braids, wringing out the water and then opened her eyes again. The vibrant landscape appeared even brighter than it had moments before. The river was encircled by ferns and small stones. A large, twisted root that led back to Kelutral crossed over the stream to the other side, covered in moss. The slender trunks of dandetiger trees towered over the edge of the riverbank, their puffed out crowns swaying in the gentle breeze.
As she bathed, Neytiri cast her eyes upward as she recalled the events of earlier that morning.
She had awoken facedown in her nivi, watching the families sleep beneath her. She reminisced what it had been like to sleep in the big hammock with her own family. Her father and mother would lie down first, Sylwanin would lie between them and then Neytiri, very young at the time, would snuggle in next to her, curled up against either her father or mother. She had felt so safe, so protected, so loved. But one day, Sylwanin announced that she wanted her own nivi, like all the other older girls. She said she would only sleep their sometimes, when her friends did. This made Neytiri want her own hammock as well, as any younger child always wants to be like their older sibling. The two had worked long and hard. They collected leaves and twine and then sat in the commons of Kelutral together while they weaved them. When it was finally time to place them, the clan had a small ceremony in honor of the girls' work. Neytiri had felt so included, like one of the older girls, though she was really much younger than them. Tsu'tey had danced with Sylwanin that same night. She had never seen him look so gleeful since then.
Sylwanin only slept in her hammock once. The next day she and her friends plotted to go and burn down a tawtute vehicle. "We'll be back in time for numtseng," she had told Neytiri. When it was time for school that next morning, Sylwanin and the others had never shown up. They didn't show up until...
Neytiri shook her head all of a sudden, in an attempt to force herself back to the present.
Do not dwell in the past. Think of now.
She ignored the ache in her heart as she reached up to massage the back of her neck, her eyes closed in thought.
After she had gotten up that morning, she had gone down the spiraled stairs to the fire pit, where her mother and a few other clan members were already eating the morning meal.
"That dreamwalker must get up as you do if he is to learn our ways," Mo'at had said. Neytiri gave her a flat smile. "I can't wake him. I've tried, but he is dream sleeping."
"You must tell him when he wakes, that he shouldn't sleep so much."
Neytiri nodded, but she wasn't sure if she really wanted that. Her mother was right. He was missing the village life, the togetherness, the oneness that such a big part of being one of the People. It was so much more than hunting and learning the language. All he seemed to care about was Iknimaya, which was something he would never do if he couldn't take things seriously.
As she nibbled on some seeds, she turned to Mo'at again. "There is so much for him to learn. Some things can't be taught. He has to See for himself." She pursed her lips in contemplation. It seemed so overwhelming, too great of a burden to carry.
The tsahik reached for another handful of aweiai seeds. "Do you remember what you heard when you went to Utral Aymokriya?"
"Srane. 'I will know what is right.' But how do I do what is right, sa'nok? How will I know? What if I can't? Why did you choose me?" the questions tumbled out of Neytiri's lips as fast as they popped in her head and she stopped herself. She should not have been so disrespectful. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to question your interpretation of Eywa's will..."
"Ma 'ite," Mo'at place a hand on Neytiri's shoulder and looked firmly in her eyes, "I chose you to teach him because you need to heal." There was a painful silence as mother and daughter both understood the meaning of those words. "When you aren't thinking of the loss, your wounds will heal. I See you, 'evi."
Neytiri shut her eyes for a brief moment as her mother's words sank in.
After Sylwanin and the others were killed, the Omatikaya had mourned for many days and nights. They knew that their souls rested with Eywa, it offered them peace. Neytiri knew that too, but for some reason, part of her couldn't accept that her sister was really gone. Without doubt she could have stopped that gun from...from killing her. Why, oh why, had she not done anything to help her? She had stood there, frozen, rooted to the ground as if she were a tree, unable to move. And it ached inside when she thought of it. She had never returned to her family's nivi. She had isolated herself from the clan, sometimes even missing the ceremonies. Especially the Iknimayas and the Uniltarons, for they reminded her of Sylwanin's. Then all of a sudden, she was expected to take on her sister's future duties as tsahik. She was needed for her clan. But, she was unable to take on the responsibility. She screamed, she cried, and she sulked for many days it seemed.
On the morning of her own Iknimaya, she stopped. How could she waste the life she had been given? Sylwanin would have wanted her to live life completely and fully. She became ruthless, never satisfied until she knew that she had done her absolute best. But, sometimes, it didn't feel like it was enough. And Neytiri wondered if it would ever be enough. She tried. She hoped. Because that was all she had.
But is it enough?
Neytiri had forced a smile for her mother as she shoved the familiar doubt back to the darkest place in her mind. She placed her hand over her mother's. "Irayo, ma sa'nok. Oel ngati kameie."
Finished bathing, Neytiri forged against the current towards the riverbank. Jake should be awake soon, if not now. She hurried along the river's edge and stepped up on the root that led back to Kelutral. The distant cackle of a group of prolemuris could be heard in the treetops as they swung from branch to branch. Their happy chatter lifted her spirits and she reveled in the beauty of her world, as she often did. A wasp buzzed past her ear and it twitched in response. The wasp hovered next to her and she could see it out of the corner of her eye. Rather than brushing it away, Neytiri halted her brisk pace and stood still so the insect could see she was not a danger. Satisfied, the bright orange insect flew off, its transparent wings a blur. There was a screech from above and she looked up, golden eyes squinted in the sunlight, and saw a tetrapteron swoop down from the canopy. It snapped its jaws and dove towards the river. The winged creature opened its beak and scooped the surface of the water. A decent sized fish wriggled into its mouth and the tetrapteron flapped its front wings furiously as it returned to the rest of the flock higher in the sky.
Eywa's children are lively today.
Neytiri attributed it to the start of the wet season, a time for new life.
A time for healing.
She wasn't sure if she felt ready to heal. She couldn't bandage her wounds and move on as others did. The pain was too great still. But she had dwelled on these thoughts enough for today.
As she approached the grounds of Kelutral, Neytiri contemplated what she would have the dreamwalker learn. She was tiring of teaching already. There had to be something that she could teach him that would be as intriguing for her as it would be for him. The only thing that still fascinated Neytiri was Eywa's creation, her children, her world. That was it then. She would show him her world. The na'ring. Take a walk outside of Kelutral grounds for a change.
With a lightness in her step, she made her way to the stair steps, nodding an acknowledgement at those she passed by. A small hand found her arm and tugged on it. "Neytiri, come play with me." It was Ansit. Neytiri looked down to see the small girl's wide eyes blink up at her. "Rutxe?"
She fought against her thoughts as she remembered similar instances between her and Sylwanin.
"I'm sorry, Ansit. I am teaching the dreamwalker today."
"Again? You've been teaching him every day. When can it be my turn?"
She gave a heavy sigh. "I don't know. I have to teach him everything I know." She found herself wince at her own words. It hadn't been her intention to complain, but she sounded like she was. "Perhaps tomorrow you can help me?"
Ansit's mouth upturned in a grin. "Srane! Irayo, Neytiri!" The girl retreated back to the group of children, satisfied. Neytiri realized that she would probably not get very much teaching done with Ansit's "help", but she found it too difficult to say no to her. She started back in the direction of the stairs, when she saw a certain lanky figure stumble towards her. His tail swished enthusiastically behind him, smacking Ansit's face in the process.
"Watch your tail!" the child called after him, though her tone remained lighthearted. He paused, turned around to see what happened, oblivious to what his tail had just done, then shrugged.
Neytiri noticed he walked with a bit of a hobble. Once he was within earshot, she clicked her tongue. "You are limping. What happened?" she nodded her head downwards at his right leg. He glanced down at it and then rubbed the back of his neck. "I, uh, didn't make it out of my hammock very well."
"What do you mean?"
"I tried to just jump out onto that tree branch..." his voice grew muffled, "but I kinda fell."
"You are all right?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little sore."
Neytiri almost insisted that they go and see her mother for a bandage, as she noted he kept his weight shifted on the other side, but one look at his eager face told her that wouldn't be necessary.
The two stopped outside of Kelutral and Neytiri picked up two gathering baskets. Jake arched an eyebrow as she handed him one of the baskets, "So, where are we going?"
"We are going away from Kelutral today, into the na'ring," was all she said. He pursed his lips in eager curiosity and his eyes grew watchful but he said nothing more as the two of them made their way across the same root that they had crossed that night Neytiri had rescued him. The trickle of the river could be heard in the distance and the clamor of ikranay was above them, high in the treetops. " Can you hear that?" Neytiri stopped abruptly, taking this as a chance to see if the dreamwalker was paying attention.
He halted directly behind her, nearly stumbling over the edge as he had last time. "Hear what?"
The huntress bit her lip and looked at him, then shot her eyes upward in the direction of the noise. He stared at her baffled, his shoulders hunched in, eyes cast upward. "What? What are you talking about?"
"The ikranay. Can you hear their calls?" Neytiri sighed. So ignorant.
"Those flying lizards? Is that what that is?"
Now it was Neytiri's turn to be confused. She tipped her head to one side and then looked back at Jake. "Liz-erd?"
"Nevermind," Jake waved a hand in the air as if to brush off the question, "it's nothing."
Shrugging, Neytiri turned and continued across the root, Jake trailing after her. How many more strange tawtute words would he use? This would be more difficult than she thought. Trying not to let her frustration get to her, she hopped off the root and onto solid ground. She had an idea in mind of where she wanted to go. It would be good for gathering seeds as well as provide a good education for Jake. Neytiri stopped short suddenly, realizing she didn't hear his awkward footfalls behind her any longer. Half afraid of what she would see if she turned around, Neytiri reluctantly cast a glance over her shoulder to see the dreamwalker still back on the Kelutral root. He was crouched down, hovering over something, a small twig in one of his five-fingered hands. She had to hold back a smile at the picture. He looked exactly like a young child jabbing at an eltungawng. Her amusement was short-lived, however, as she stepped closer to find what he was really poking at.
"Ra'a! Ftang a!" she exclaimed as she bent down, smacking the arm that held the twig. Startled, he dropped it and looked up at her, eyes widened with a childlike innocence. He had been messing with a kali'weya and its stinger was arched high over its back in a defensive position, ready to strike at any moment. Jake had clearly upset the poor creature and it's pincers were clacking together in a nervous manner. The moment the obnoxious twig stopped poking at it, the arachnoid took off underneath the tree root in hiding.
"That is not something to play with!" Neytiri chided. Jake rose to his feet, his tail flicking mischievously behind him. "What was that thing?"
"That is kali'weya. It's sting can kill." She didn't bother to tell him that the sting was usually only fatal to children and elders, however. He needed to learn to be more cautious and respectful.
"I was just messing with it. I wasn't actually going to--"
Neytiri cut him off. "Would you like it if I poked a stick at you?" she proceeded to jab at him slightly with her bow. She knew she was taking this quite far, but this was a lesson that applied to many other things as well. Neytiri was also starting to notice that subtlety was lost on this dreamwalker. He required much more than a gentle shove to understand something.
Jake stumbled back a bit and mumbled a few words that she couldn't understand, ears flicking backwards a bit.
"It is a child of Eywa," she explained, "it has it's part in the balance, as all of her children do." Neytiri started forward again, this time walking to the side of Jake to keep him in her sight.
He is such a child! Watching Ansit would be easier than this!
"What is it's 'part'?" the dreamwalker asked.
Slightly pleased at his curiosity, Neytiri elaborated. "It's sting is used to send hunters on their Uniltaron, Dream Hunt. Every hunter must pass this to become a part of the People."
Jake winced and his mouth twitched at the corners, "So, does that mean I have to do that?"
"If you are to become part of the People, then yes."
If you ever get that far.
He tilted his head slightly to one side. "What's a dream hunt?"
Neytiri heaved a sigh. So many questions! But, she supposed that was good. He was learning. "To become tsamsiyu, warrior, you must catch a kali'weya. When it stings you, it will send you on a journey that tells of your destiny and reveals your spirit animal. It is one of the most important ceremonies."
Jake scrunched his nose up and made a face, pushing his jaw forward. "Sounds trippy."
Ignoring his useless tawtute words, Neytiri made her way forward, closer to their destination. There was a sudden rattle in the bushes and the sounds of the forest grew hushed. A bulky orange figure emerged from the undergrowth. It was lenay'ga. Neytiri froze as the creature lumbered forward, it's legs shifting underneath it. It didn't appear to have noticed the pair yet, but it would soon enough. She shoved Jake behind a tree with a grunt and stepped next to him.
"What is--" She slapped a hand over his mouth, muffling his question. The lenay'ga stopped suddenly and Neytiri swallowed hard, hoping it hadn't heard him. She turned to Jake, whose eyes were fixed on the creature as he strained to make out what exactly it was. Recalling how fascinated Grace had always been by this animal, Neytiri imagined they must not have anything like this on Earth.
The creature rose up on its haunches, cocking it's muscular neck in an arch over its back as it assumed an offensive position. It's two front legs rose up and it emitted ear-splitting squeals. Neytiri glanced at Jake sidelong, whose mouth was gaped open at the sight of this strange creature. Smirking slightly to herself, she fixed her gaze back on the lenay'ga, anticipating its next move. Still squealing at a deafening rate, it's head suddenly shot out from the rest of its body and darted into a nearby fern. Jake uttered some words that Neytiri didn't know and his eyes goggled as the now headless creature began to walk slowly forward in the direction of its dart.
Acting quickly, Neytiri leaped out from behind the tree, no longer at risk of the creature shooting her. Much quicker and more agile than the sightless lenay'ga, she beat it to the dart and plucked it from the ground. Usually, hunters didn't take a dart unless it was found laying around in the ground without it's body, but Neytiri wanted to seize this opportunity to show Jake that they could be used. As she walked back towards Jake, who was still gawking at the event, she murmured a soft prayer to the lenay'ga, who would soon die without its dart. Her eyes were cast downwards and she nodded in a somewhat reverent manner at the creature. She couldn't help but feel a little guilty. But all creatures played their part. The lenay'ga would be honored, as its dart would become a weapon to provide for the People.
Placing the sharp object inside her pouch where her dagger was, Neytiri made her way back to the hollow where Jake was standing.
"What the hell was that thing?" he sputtered, his forehead crinkling as his eyes widened. He kept glancing back at the direction the creature had appeared, as if expecting another one to pop out. Neytiri smirked briefly before her face returned to her usual neutral expression. "It is lenay'ga," she stated simply, offering no more explanation. It was clear from the sight he had just witnessed that it was a very dangerous creature. The dreamwalker opened his mouth as if to say something more but then closed it.
Neytiri reached into her pouch and pulled out two nikt'chey, "Are you hungry?"
As if on cue, a loud grumble rose from within the dreamwalker's stomach and he nodded his head. She handed him a wrap, which was stuffed with smoked meat and various plants from around Kelutral, and then sank down into the ground, resting her back against the tree. Jake lowered himself beside her and then bit into the nikt'chey. "Good stuff," he mumbled, his words barely understandable as it was still full of food. Neytiri observed him, slightly appalled at the way he was eating. He resembled something of a viperwolf digging into a carcass. Then she remembered he probably had not eaten since yesterday.
Though she was content to sit there and eat in silence, Neytiri realized that she should use this opportunity to teach him more of the language. "That is nikt'chey," she murmured, nodding her head at his food wrap before taking a large bite out of her own.
He nodded, "Yeah, I know. Grace has been teaching me some stuff lately," he said while chewing.
Neytiri smiled at the name. She was also encouraged to know that the toktor would be helping her. It was an overwhelming task to teach this dreamwalker everything she knew, and she felt a bit more at ease to know that someone was doing the same.
There was a sudden flash of light from the sky and a loud zap as the air grew heavy. Jake murmured in surprise and his ears fell flat against his head at the sound. Neytiri could almost smell the humidity, nostrils flaring slightly, and she sensed a storm would be coming soon. Swallowing her last bit of food, she rose and glanced up at the canopy with squinted eyes. "We must hurry. It is going to rain." Her tail swished behind her in an urgent manner and she turned back to Jake.
"Where are we going?" Jake scratched at his wide forehead and narrowed his eyes curiously.
"You will see," she replied, motioning with her hands to get moving. She peered upwards again, trying to catch a glimpse of the sky in between the thick foliage. From the looks of things, it appeared that this would only be a passing storm. But it was important to be cautious. Thunderstorms on Pandora were much more violent than the ones on Earth, she remembered Grace telling her once.
Such a contrast from that sunny morning, the sky was now shadowy and gray and with a thundering crack, rain began to pour forth from above. Quickening her pace, Neytiri wondered if perhaps they should turn back. Apparently thinking the same thing, the dreamwalker voiced her concerns. "Are you sure we shouldn't go back?" his voice was steady, but the hair above his eyes was raised and his jaw tight. Mouth twisted in contemplation, Neytiri mulled over this. Perhaps if she had said it first, she would have gone back, but now that the dreamwalker suggested it before her, her stubborn ways won out. "No. It is nothing to be worried about." A raindrop fell from a leaf above her and dripped on her ear, causing it to twitch instinctively. Glancing back upwards, she caught sight of a few ikranay diving under the canopy to perch on the tree branches. There was another clap of thunder, rousing a screech from one of them as it flapped its wings nervously.
"We will be safe under the trees. We are not out in the open," she affirmed, pivoting on her heel and forging ahead into the undergrowth. The tension of the rising storm caused her heartbeat to quicken and she Neytiri felt herself growing excited. She had always loved thunderstorms. When she was younger, provided her mother allowed her, she liked to climb up onto one of the higher branches of Kelutral and watch as the lightning lit up the sky, feeling the vibrations of the thunder within her being. It had seemed to match her restless spirit, wrestling with her emotions as she tried to suppress her sorrow from the loss of so many.
"If you say so," Jake's deep voice snapped her out of her memories and she continued forward, hoping that the storm would pass like she thought.
The treetops rustled in the stormy breeze and rain seeped through to the forest floor. Neytiri hoped that her stubborn nature wouldn't get them into trouble, but she was sure this storm would pass over. The rainy season was only beginning, with the worst storms in the middle at its peak. She could feel the dreamwalker's nervous energy beside her. "There's no reason to worry," she murmured over her shoulder, stepping over a felled log. He nodded and trailed after her, rain plastering the loose tendrils of hair over his face.
Neytiri noted that she would have to fix that when they returned to Kelutral, but for now, she focused on the task at hand. The plants were reacting to the tension of the storm and a kxaylte cluster that was growing from the side of a tree stretched it's long, narrow clasps in their direction. Neytiri easily sidestepped from its reach. It's tubular arms twisted towards her for a moment, tracking her movement, and then it snapped back into place, sensing no danger.
Her ears swiveled backwards suddenly and there was a low grunt from behind her. Absentmindedly tossing a glance over her shoulder, Neytiri did a double take as she saw one of the rosette's tendrils coiled around Jake's upper arm. He tugged away from it, which only made the plant tighten its grip. One of its leaves tensed, and without thinking, Neytiri shoved Jake out of the way vigorously, forcing the plant to release him and knocking him to the ground. His breath left him in a giant whoof and his eyes grew huge as he uttered some tawtute words under his breath.
"Nari si!" she exclaimed as she collapsed on top of him. The plant's arms unfurled and twisted back into their former position. As Neytiri shifted her position on top of him, raindrops fell from her braids onto his skin. Their eyes met for a split second and an uneasy feeling ran through her stomach. Nearly leaping off him, she turned back in the direction they had been heading. "You must stay alert, dreamwalker."
Abrupt ending I know, but I couldn't really find a good place to stop and I wanted to get this up soon! I apologize for the late update, but I should be getting these up much quicker now.
NA'VI WORD: ENGLISH WORD
yomhi'ang: Dakteron plant
Irayo, ma sa'nok. Oel ngati kameie: Thank you, mother. I See you.
ikranay: forest banshee, smaller than the mountain banshee
eltungawng: glow worms, used with the sting of an arachnoid for Uniltaron
Ra'a! Ftang a!: Don't! Stop that!
nikt'chey: food wrap
kxaylte: Cillaphant plant
Nari si!: Be careful!