Written using 31_Days prompts from May and October. Sources: 1. and i'm afraid it's you - atwood, "She Considers Evading Him." 2. a flame in two cupped hands - atwood, "Variations on the Word Sleep." 3. we were water under the bridge - andrea cohen, "English as a Second Language." 4. running away in a language no longer spoken - burnside, "De Partout Jusqu'a Vous." 5. out of despair at a callous world - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, Poem Number Eight. 6. the sky is the road home - Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, Poem Number Ninety-three.
This is a collection of loosely connected drabbles featuring Judith and Ba'ul and is based off what's been translated of the Judith Novels. A few spoilers, and a few definitions to clear things up:
1. Nageeg - the power of the Kritya. The antennae on the back of their heads - the special power that the Kritya use is called the nageeg and is within their antennae. It's a form of communication in the ancient language. It basically signifies what makes a Krityan a Krityan, and without it, the Krityan are looked down upon by their friends. Judith uses the power of the nageeg to communicate images and thoughts to Ba'ul. He responds in kind. That is the link between the Kritya and the Entelexeia.
2. Great Circle - the elite of the Kritya who governed Mt. Temza.
3. Ba'ul's wound - spoilers - occurred when Judith and Ba'ul first met. In Balbusa, the high mountain of Mt. Temza. Judith discovered Ba'ul near death in a cave from a fight with a monster.
Your house is your larger body.
It grows in the sun and sleeps in the stillness of the night; and it is not dreamless.
– and I'm afraid it's you –
Judith checked the wind with her thumb twice before she finally decided a course of action. It was cold in the peaks of Yuzorea and she'd felt snow, real and cold and biting, on her cheek earlier that morning. Even bundled tight against fur and feathers and soft, baby down, the constantly changing textures left her chilled. I could die here, she thought, and shivered in the darkness of her thoughts.
"Let's go south," she said, and Ba'ul's rumble was loud. He touched her arm, lightly, consciously. Like a caress except his claws were sharp and she'd sliced her arm open the last time she touched them. It was a pad rough against her the flesh of her cheek that prompted him to commute.
Then it's decided.
– a flame in two cupped hands –
Clothes were expensive. If she were able to peel them off someone's unsuspecting body, she might have done so. For the thrill, and maybe for fact that the currency she carried was dead weight in the pouch of her pants. Idly, she swung her hips and let the bag clip her thigh. How dreadfully saddening it was to browse for something, unable to purchase anything but her own granted vision. That, which was fading at a gradually increasing pace with the darkening sky.
You are distressed. Why are you sad?
Ba'ul! I am fine. I will be back soon. With food—I hope.
I see... Food is good and heartening. Take care.
Alright. Sleep now, my friend.
The lanterns on the streets seemed to stare at her. Judith shook out her hair and nageeg and swaddled up against the nearest alley wall, and sat, deprived, like a fish swimming in an empty well.
– we were water under the bridge –
She encountered the story of a beast living in the sands when she was fifteen. She'd dropped from Myorzo, unafraid of great heights. The air carried her down in the clouds, twirling her like a dancer without feet, spinning like a top and her legs blazed in the sun. It was like walking on water when her feet gracelessly touched the ground, wobbling, sinking, gravity clutching at her. Judith collapsed, and she was suddenly very unsure. Her head spun.
You don't belong here, the Elder had said. She knew know his words had not meant to insult.
Egothor Forest was beautiful, untamed and undamaged—the lands of her people. The lands of the kritya and a sacred place. That was, for a very specific reason.
Ba'ul—Ba'ul, she said. I am here. Are you?
You kept me waiting. But that is okay. I am always here.
– running away to a language no longer spoken –
The blastia shattered like ice. It splintered, the glass case of it exploding in shades of green and blue against the butt of her lance. Typical for a Hermes Blastia exposed to too much aer. She would know.
Judith swung her lance under her arm and kicked at a few pieces of it. On the sidewalk, it looked like a broken bottle. The only thing that remained was the array, and even it was slowly fading away to nothing. People were staring at her, she knew. Casually, she walked away, undaunted by the looks of horror and accusing faces that told her she was a criminal. Idly, she thought, perhaps she was.
It was funny. Her father had been obsessed with perfecting a blastia that would benefit the world. He spent more time working than they spent communicating. Judith felt so isolated—so alone. Classmates had learned to use the power of the nageeg long before her. The worst part about it was they were younger and even more obnoxious then she had been. She was mocked; the Great Circle waited for her, though thought she'd never succeed. She never thought she would either.
It was embarrassing; she was ashamed—and her father was busy trying to save the world while she worried over the most trivial matters.
But then he'd realized his mistake. Then she'd found Ba'ul. Then he'd tried to make up for it, emerging from his Fortress. And then—then the Great War took him away and there were no more chances for anything.
And all that worrying seemed pointless and petty. Child-like. But, she thought, she was a child. An exposed, sleep-deprived and very tired child. She was tired of being tired. But it didn't look like the exhaustion would ever let up at this rate.
Judith struck at the ground with the heel of her boot, biting her lip contemplatively. She was stuck living in the shadow of an insomniac who lived on a mountain with a monster and—and she didn't know how to make things right.
– out of despair at a callous world –
The injury Ba'ul had sustained all those years ago had been reduced to nothing but a thin white scar. It was large, spanning the length of her arm along his side and scraping against his underbelly and reaching halfway down his tail.
It aches, sometimes, he said.
Judith ran her calloused hands along it, thinking, thinking of a cave and a dying monster. All those years ago, all those precious years ago when she'd ran up the mountain with a lantern to light her path. It had been very dark that night. And he had been alone.
I was worried you wouldn't survive the night, she thought. His response was unsurprising:
Why – and then – I'm sorry.
She smiled. She stood and stretched, her heart reaching for the sky. Her stomach growled. She spoke aloud in defiance, "Don't be sorry. Don't ever be sorry. If not for you, I wouldn't be here."
I would be very lonely without you.
The fire was warm, but he was warmer. Judith shuffled over to him, linking her arms around his neck and holding on tightly. He startled, and awkwardly, in a very human-like gesture, a large arm curved around her lower legs as if he sought to hold her.
Sorry, he murmured again. I can't hold you. She kissed the top of his head. It was soft. So soft. He hummed.
Silly. I love you. You're very important to me.
She saw his smile in her head. Judith held him tighter until she was clutching him and her arms began to shake. She felt sad suddenly; she didn't know why. Maybe it the meaning of the word 'love' that made her sad. Her father had loved her once, too. Now, he wasn't around to love her anymore. The people of Myorzo didn't love her. The children in the Circle hadn't loved her. She was an outcast, a survivor. That made her different. That made her strange. Did that mean she wasn't worth loving though? Or maybe she just craved to be touched. To be held. To be comforted. She'd forgotten what it was like to be coddled. Ba'ul was good at giving her things she'd never thought she'd get again.
I love you, too. Always. You are special to me.
Does that make you mine?
...Yes. I will not part with you.
Thank you, my friend, for existing.
She cried silently in the fire light, on fur and feathers; she didn't know why, only that the scar along Ba'ul's chest was as deeply engraven as the one inside her heart. And tonight, it ached fiercely.
You won't hurt forever.
– the sky is the road home –
Yuri gave her and Ba'ul a strange look, his arms crossed over his exposed chest.
"Wait—so you're telling me he saved you during the Great War? That's pretty impressive."
Judith smiled, hands tucked behind her back. The sun felt good on her skin, leaving the impression of sun beams in a dusty room and grassy meadows. Quaint, was her thought process. She shared it was Ba'ul and he hummed cheerfully in approval. "Ba'ul is a very impressive entelexeia. He's very reliable—my best friend in your human terms, I suppose."
He raised an eyebrow at that. "Huh... some partner. I guess you're pretty lucky to have found him. I wouldn't mind having a partner like him."
"Yes. But you already have Repede and Flynn, don't you? I think you're well off." Judith raised her eyes to her companion who swam in the sky above, a streak of blue and yellow and orange and his chest broad and his face happy. His eyes—they glowed. The Fiertia was being rocked like a cradle. His hum was a gentle lullaby, his voice a rumble in her mind, resonating deep.
Yuri is silly. There's only one of me to go around.
Yes, Judith thought, there's only one of you. I suppose I'll just have to share you.
Are you okay with that?
That is your decision, my friend.
I am alright with it if you are.
Then I suppose it's settled, isn't it?
"He really affected you, didn't he?" Yuri said; he was observing her, a small smile on his face that she hadn't noticed before. She laughed, shaking her head lightly. She hadn't been paying attention, but he didn't seem to mind.
"Yes, he really has. I don't know where I'd be without him."
"...I'm glad you have him. We might not have ever met you if not for Ba'ul. You might have been a completely different person than you are now."
Her lips twitched. "Ah, and what a shame that would have been," she sighed.
Yuri tossed a wave at her. "Yeah, it might have been. I wouldn't have liked you if you were an enemy." He was quiet, and then:
"Maybe it wouldn't have been a shame for you—but for Brave Vesperia, you mean a lot. Don't forget that."
Judith threw her head back and smiled. The sun warmed her face and Ba'ul was humming in her mind, singing her lullabies and uttering soft words.
He cares for you. They all care for you, Judith. I care, too.
"Thank you," she whispered.
Yuri retreated without a word, and Ba'ul continued in his gentle language. The sky continued to fly above her, and she stretched out her arms, reaching high up as she'd done when she was small and child-like and immature.
The sky beckoned her to fly.