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Author Topic: Wrest and wrecked  (Read 215 times)

Description: Ji Yoon

Offline Lyoshka Moon

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Wrest and wrecked
« on: Apr 17, 19, 12:48:41 AM »
He wasn't supposed to be here. The unwelcome, the resistance to his presence practically screamed that he oughtn't be stepping over the threshold of Makoto no Ariake's rooms at the Conservatory. Still, Lyoshka pushed past that invisible barrier and stopped inside the space.

It hadn't changed at all. The dark blue walls, the perfectly arranged furniture, the futon where Makoto had--NO! He heard a strange, ragged noise, indistinct, out at the edges of his perception. His hands ached, arms rigid. Why did you come here? No answer. Lyoshka couldn't turn back but he couldn't make himself step forward. His black eyes moved, ticking off each familiar object. The bookshelves were arranged by size and color, a calming gradient. It should have been calming. He could feel his pulse throbbing in his own throat. A blackwood drafting table, a sheet of pale vellum with blue shell graphite, a sketchbook open to an architectural drawing: He saw Makoto bending over the pale paper, twitching it aside, iterating, his brow furrowed with concentration. The walls throbbed in time with his heart.

Lyoshka remembered to breathe. He slammed the window open and looked out over the courtyard, two stories below, and he knew what to do. Grabbed each book, threw it on the ground behind him in the middle of the hardwood floor. Some of them were familiar to Lyo, books he'd seen on other shelves in other rooms. Each meaty smack stirred the air in the room.

If life were good, if life were fair, the room would have stunk of rotting flesh, of meat filled with maggots. Fermenting fish. Something that would reflect the poison in Makoto's soul. But life didn't work like that and the room smelled warm, welcoming, like home. Cypress and sandalwood and something so comfortably masculine, something familiar. Incense and savory herbs and paper, the wet grind of the inkstone. Surreal, how the world didn't twist itself to Lyoshka's expectations.

He shoved an armload of Makoto's books out of the window. Another. Then he hooked his fingers around the back of the bookcase and pulled it down with an almighty crash. The Red shielded his hands as he tore apart the futon--there was the smell of pollution--and split the drafting table apart, pulled down the hangings on the wall and ripped them to fine confetti. The sketchbook and the drafts, those he tore from the drafting table last. He jumped out the window, landed hard in a crouch. Who cared for the twinge in the meat, the limp?

The sketchbook was well-made, and didn't come apart easily. It wouldn't have been right to use Craft to destroy the expensive thing, but it was full of Makoto's thoughts, full of Makoto's poison, so it needed to go. He shredded it in chunks that fell thickly in the water of the courtyard fountain. The ink, red and black and blue, bled into the water. It hung in slow spirals towards the still bottom of the fountain, mixed to form a cold oceanic gray.

By the time Ji Yoon found him, every book from Makoto's room had met a similar fate. Lyoshka was in the fountain, too, up to his thighs in inky water, dripping with it as he shoved Makoto under the water and held him there. He could feel the way his hair billowed around Lyo's arms, hanging thick about the surface of the ocean. Smell the cleansing salt on the water.

A hand touched his shoulder. He startled, the books springing to the surface as Lyo stumbled away from Ji Yoon.

What was he doing?






Offline Ji Yoon Moon

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Re: Wrest and wrecked
« Reply #1 on: Apr 17, 19, 01:51:57 AM »
Ji Yoon had been teaching. An anatomy seminar, to be exact. The lymphatic system. The windows in her classroom faced the street in front of the building, so she had no idea what was happening in the courtyard until one of the escort candidates from the other session came running into her classroom. “Healer Moon!” the young man cried. “Come quick! Healer Ariake’s in the fountain!”

“Read through the end of the chapter and answer the questions there,” Ji Yoon told her bewildered students. Once in the hall, she demanded. “What do you mean, he’s in the fountain? Is he drowning?”

“No, not drowning,” the young man said.

“Then what?” Ji Yoon asked.

The young man seemed uncomfortable. “You’ll see,” he said, which Ji Yoon found unhelpful and undiagnostic. They reached the courtyard shortly enough, and there was Yua, doubled over in the fountain, hands beneath the surface of the water. He was surrounded by what Ji Yoon briefly feared was some kind of animal - dismembered chickens or thereabouts - but was relieved to realize were only the corpses of books. Whose books?

She supposed that would become clear in time.

“Thank you,” she said to the young man beside her. “Be on your way.”

Whatever Yua was going through, she decided, it was unlikely to be helped by the presence of an audience. She wasn’t even sure she could help - but she had a better chance than anyone else at the conservatory, certainly.

Sighing, Ji Yoon climbed over the edge of the fountain and into the water. She waded over to Yua and touched his shoulder. “Yua?” she asked, and he stumbled away from her in surprise.

“Whose books are these?” she asked, frowning at a drenched cover. It wasn’t any textbook they used at the school, at least, but that only narrowed things down slightly. Given Yua’s apparent confusion, she wondered if he could even tell her. If he was lucid enough for that.

“Do you think… are you ready to get out of the water?” she suggested, gesturing to the rim of the fountain. ”It might be good to do that. What do you think?”







Offline Lyoshka Moon

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Re: Wrest and wrecked
« Reply #2 on: Apr 17, 19, 02:22:12 AM »
Yua looked down to the body. No, it wasn't a body, it was just books, floating on top of the water... like a body. No! Not a body. Not a... He looked up to Ji Yoon again, blinking slow and owlish at his mother as she watched him, wary and concerned. "It's... Makoto," he said. Wasn't it obvious? Didn't she see the body there, floating face-down, hands out, fingers so faintly curled, and so still? He will never hit anyone, not with his fists or with his stick or with his-- "He was in the room." The words came halting to his lips as he obediently climbed out of the fountain. Fragments of paper clung to his thighs as he hefted himself over the rim, sloshed busily a few steps away. "I wanted him... I kept smelling him everywhere. I wanted him gone. So I." He gestured to the fountain, its bloody water.

Once Ji Yoon joined him outside the fountain, he said, "You got all wet," and gestured. The Black swirled up around her, wrung the wet out of her clothes. As an afterthought, he did his own, but he could still smell the blood on him. It hung thick like a copper cloud, all about his head, his face, his shoulders. It clotted beneath his nails. "I'm sorry. Did I scare you?" He didn't want to scare Ji Yoon; she deserved better than that. Yua frowned at his hands as he picked at the stuff beneath his nails. It came loose slowly, with reluctance, but it came.

She sighed. "We have an appointment," Yua remembered, looking at her shoes guiltily.

"Yes," she said.

The adoption. Perhaps that was why he was so unsettled, why he'd been walking the halls of the Conservatory; what if Ji Yoon changed her mind? What if she thought he was polluted by the things Makoto made him do? They hadn't stopped to talk about it for long. Even Makoto's corpse, floating face-down in the fountain, didn't change all the things that happened that he didn't want to name. What if she changed her mind before the papers were signed, and he was trapped forever as an Ariake? It didn't sound like Ji Yoon, but then, he was no expert.

"I should change," he said.






Offline Ji Yoon Moon

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Re: Wrest and wrecked
« Reply #3 on: Apr 17, 19, 11:25:45 AM »
Ji Yoon supposed that Yua hadn’t really done any harm, and it wasn’t as though Makoto had any right to send for his things. Even the idea of that seemed comical to Ji Yoon - would it come in the form of an edict from the court of Aechia? Ah, yes, the prisoner humbly demands…

She bit back a smile. “I think it’s safe to say he’s gone,” Ji Yoon said, following him out of the fountain. While Yua dried them both off with a gust of the Black (yikes!), Ji Yoon skimmed the fountain with a web of Blood Opal, gathering up the sodden pages and bindings and compacting them neatly into a cube that she set to rest on the courtyard’s flagstones. It was only the considerate thing to do, she judged.

“You didn’t scare me,” Ji Yoon assured him, a gentle hand on his shoulder. The messenger had scared her, she thought, and decided she needed to prepare a lesson on precise and useful communication. Most of the students at the conservatory were scared of Yua, or at least found him somewhat spooky, but that didn’t excuse alarmist language of the sort she’d just been subjected to.

Yua seemed to be coming back to his senses now - Ji Yoon prided herself in being a grounding presence - and he remembered what they had planned for the afternoon. “If you want,” she said, looking him over. His clothes were dry and neither of them smelled like fountain water, but while Ji Yoon had been dressed for teaching, Yua was dressed far too casually for the decorum the event called for. “I doubt you’d be hurt by dressing a bit more formally. I’ll meet you in the lobby?”

Yua was alright with that, so Ji Yoon went back to her classroom and dismissed her students while apologizing profusely. This didn’t usually happen. She usually made it through classes without any interruptions. It was just… the days with the interruptions were the most noticeable. “We’ll do advanced diagnostic spells next time,” she told the class. “Read the chapter on the circulatory system’s role in healing.”

She headed down to the lobby. Yua was already waiting, dressed in a Dena Nehelian outfit that was not quite a suit. Ji Yoon offered him her arm and led the way out to the driveway and a waiting carriage.

“Excited?” she asked.







Offline Lyoshka Moon

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Re: Wrest and wrecked
« Reply #4 on: Apr 18, 19, 12:30:56 AM »
Yua took solace in the fact that Ji Yoon hadn't been frightened. He curled his fingers around her hand on his shoulder, humming soft approval at the gentle contact between them.  Ji Yoon would never do him wrong or hurt him. Perhaps that was why he'd responded so well to her, why it was acceptable to him to attach his name to hers. He wanted to fold himself into her arms and hide there for a while, but there wasn't really a reason to do so right now. Makoto was gone, as she said. All the bits and bobs of him were compressed into a tight cube.

While she went to dismiss her class, Yua returned to his room. It had been extensively cleaned, scrubbed, the furniture webbed clean of the scent of sex and despair. The floors had been refinished, the walls taken down to the studs and replaced, repainted. Still, sometimes the light struck the futon platform wrong and he could almost taste Makoto on his tongue--but it didn't matter, it didn't. Today he had his clothes for the meeting with the Priestess laid out on the platform. He changed into them, straightening the collar of his shirt before hurrying down the stairs.

Excited was a word for the way he felt. He wrapped both arms around hers, content to be lead where-ever Ji Yoon wanted to go. "Worried," he said, once they were in the private of the carriage. "I want to change my first name. I read that I can do that at the same time, if it's okay with you. I don't want them to find me again so easy. I want them to have to work. Can I?"






Offline Ji Yoon Moon

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Re: Wrest and wrecked
« Reply #5 on: Apr 18, 19, 02:16:38 AM »
Ji Yoon nodded - she’d been half-expecting him to ask something along those lines, although he’d never asked her to call him by anything besides Yua. “Sure, we can,” she said. “To Lyoshka?” It was what all his Dena Nehelian friends called him, anyway, although she wasn’t wholly sure of where it had come from. She was also confused by his objective. So who couldn’t find him again so easily? Certainly not the Ariake…

Maybe it wasn’t worth interrogating. Yua thought a lot of people were out to get him who weren’t actually a demonstrable threat, and Ji Yoon didn’t want to pick that fight. Only a mind healer would ever convince him otherwise, and his sessions with Lady Graveworthy were on hiatus.

“Do you want me to change what I call you?” she asked, still on that train of thought. They’d never discussed it… but he also hadn’t brought up wanting to change his first name until just now. Maybe it had taken a while to work up the nerve just to ask that much. And Yua was attached to so much trauma… “I could do that. For you.”

Her father had cautioned her against this - that the Ariake weren’t worth it, that Yua would be dead in a century, that she would grieve. None of that had dissuaded her yet, for it wasn’t mentorship she aimed to provide, nor was that was Yua wanted from her. He would be hers to fuss over, to care for, to protect. Yua needed someone looking out for his best interests, and who better to do that than Ji Yoon?

“Why are you worried?” she asked, wondering if it was something separate from his request. “I’m not going to change my mind now.”







Offline Lyoshka Moon

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Re: Wrest and wrecked
« Reply #6 on: Apr 19, 19, 01:35:25 AM »
"Aleksander," he said. Four syllables. It was the name from which Lyoshka derived, with a meaning that he cradled near and dear to his unworthy heart. Defender. He wanted to be someone who could live up to that name. Even if he didn't, it gave him a variety of names to use as he chose. A near dizzying freedom of self-expression, really, because if he thought about it there was really no way to break down Yua or build it up into something. And Yua was someone he didn't want to be anymore, no matter what he said to Ji Yoon. Aleksander Moon was someone who belonged in Dena Nehele, who belonged to Ji Yoon Moon. "Lyoshka is a derivative. And Aleksy. And Lyosha. I think it's... pretty." There was more to it than that, but he wasn't going to try to explain. Not now.

He inched sideways, along the bench seat, until his arm pressed against Ji Yoon's side. "You could," he said, very quiet now that he was back on the thought of Ji Yoon turning against him. "I'm not well. You know I'm not. And what if you decide one day that you want a real child of yours? One that's going to live a thousand years at least? I'm... I'm going to get old, and you're not going to change at all." He didn't want Ji Yoon to regret him, or to wish she'd never met him, or any of that. "And it's going to make the Clan very, very angry with you."

The Clan. Not his Clan. He wasn't an Ariake anymore, or at least, he wouldn't be soon. Soon he would be Aleksander Moon, or Yua Moon, or whatever name Ji Yoon wanted to put down on the paperwork. The magic would take hold and wrap around both of them, and when he touched Ji Yoon he would feel that same shiver of recognition as he once felt with his birth mother. But it would be better, now, with a mother who cared about him... provided she didn't want to choose some unknown Healer, far in the future, instead of short-lived and broken Yua no Ariake.

"I don't think Yuki would let them hurt you," he reassured Ji Yoon. "But it wouldn't make Prince Corro's life any easier."






Offline Ji Yoon Moon

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Re: Wrest and wrecked
« Reply #7 on: Apr 22, 19, 11:02:53 AM »
The only objection Ji Yoon could make was that she’d wished Yua had mentioned this sooner, because it would slow things down at the altar, but if it was what he wanted then it was what he would get. Yua no Ariake was being reborn in Dena Nehele into a form of his own making, and she supposed his choice made sense. The name Lyoshka had been given to him as a slave, but he was making it his own. Giving it its context back. Or giving it new context. “It is pretty,” she agreed, deciding the slight inconvenience at the altar as the documents were amended would be worthwhile.

Ji Yoon raised her arm accommodatingly, sliding it around his narrow shoulders. The reasons he gave were all fair concerns, especially when one was as naturally anxious as he was. She decided to handle them in turn. “First,” she said gently, “I know you’re not well, but you’re getting better each day. Second, why should my having another child preclude you from my heart? Besides, I… I don’t know when that will happen. Or if.” She was taking things slowly with Akira - he’d thrown himself back into his music, and she saw no reason to stop him. Ji Yoon hadn’t even told him about this. They hadn’t exactly had any serious conversations lately.

Involving Akira would have made what they had seem far more - dizzyingly more - serious.

She shook herself from the thought. “Third,” she continued. “Who better to take care of you? I can be there for you your whole life. A constant.” And she’d outlive any of those natal children he was so worried about, too, if she had them with Akira. A hundred years or a thousand, it made no difference. It ended the same.

“And lastly,” she said, voice rising, “hang the Ariake. I’ve got no patience left for them.” Not after they’d sicced Makoto on him. Not after she’d seen what a monster Makoto was. It was only by Arkadie Graveworthy’s grace that the clan would even exist after this generation, and Ji Yoon disagreed with the Queen’s decision.

“I’ll outlive all of them, anyway. And so will my father,” she added. “Blood feuds never last more than a century, I think. That’s how long it took my father to forgive the Kagen, and Queen Killing’s a worse crime than… whatever this is. He hated them when I was a child, and now he serves side-by-side with Hinata-sama and I follow his example.”

Though she hoped his example was not quite so intimate as her interpretation of it.

The carriage slowed to a stop, and a quick glance out the window told Ji Yoon that they’d arrived at the altar. “Do you want me to call you something else now?” she asked, waiting for the driver to undo the door. “Lyoshka, like the mainlanders do? Or Aleksy?”







Offline Lyoshka Moon

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Re: Wrest and wrecked
« Reply #8 on: Apr 22, 19, 01:28:08 PM »
Ji Yoon didn't seem certain about the arrival of future children, but Yua knew there would be children. At least one. Maybe more. He'd seen them in his dreams, when he walked the paths Black Widows did, fluttering past his watching eyes like ghosts. Those children were people not yet born, people who maybe never would be born, who spoke without voices and listened without ears. And it was easier to think about them than it was to think about Ji Yoon's reassurances. Her certainty made his heart pound in his chest, almost deafening. Her anger on his behalf was like a breath of fresh air after too long in a sealed room.

He hadn't given further thought to his name beyond claiming it for himself. Aleksander was someone who had never been to Tacea, who could leave all that behind and just... be who he was. Not in a Court, not in an anything, never responsible for anything he didn't freely take onto himself, he'd be free and would've always been free. Yua... Aleksander. "Aleksy will do," he said, softly. Aleksander adjusted his collar, pulling it up to cover the scars from Garen L'Voide's collar, and followed Ji Yoon out of the carriage.

The altar was different to the Tacean altars in which he'd grown up. Windows of high, arching stained glass scattered light in rainbows of color across the stone floor. There were pews, and children--street children, judging by their clothing--scattered across them, laying on their stomachs with large-printed primers spread before their faces. A low murmur accompanied their attempts to sound out the words before him. The Priestess presiding over the whole to-do was an old woman with a ready smile and wispy white hair. "The Healers Moon," she called, chortling at her own cleverness. Her students were evidently used to such interruptions, and didn't even look up as Ji Yoon and Lyo followed her into the office.

Ji Yoon explained the matter of his personal name, and the Priestess nodded her understanding as she made the edits. Her White Jewel flashed and glittered as she pulled ink from the page and replaced it, steady and sure. It arced when she poured the communal cup of red wine, as she bled some small amount of his blood and Ji Yoon's into the dark red already there. The wine didn't change color, but something about the air felt charged with White, with Blood Opal, with Black.

"When you sign this paper and drink from this cup," she said to Ji Yoon, "Yua no Ariake becomes Aleksander Moon, the son of your body and your blood. As if you had carried him inside you and given birth to him yourself, so it will be." As an aside, breaking from the tones of ritual: "I made the edits to make it clear that Aleksander renounces all claim to the family he's leaving. Common enough for the aristo adoptions, isn't it?"

Back to the ritual. She looked to him next. "When you sign this paper, you are no longer a child of your birth family. They will feel no call to your blood. This cannot be undone, Healer. Are you sure this is the path you wish to take?" He nodded, leaning eagerly forward for the pen. "Ah ah! Your mother signs first, and drinks first." The old Priestess nodded her head to the heavy silver cup. "Lady Moon?"






Offline Ji Yoon Moon

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Re: Wrest and wrecked
« Reply #9 on: Apr 23, 19, 02:06:40 AM »
Ji Yoon took the pen in her steady hand. The priestess’s words, your mother, had sent a little thrill down her spine and brought a smile to her face. She was ready to be someone’s mother again, and to be Aleksy’s mother in particular. She’d been something close for him for months, and it was not as though one could adopt a sibling. This was not only the best she could do, but it was the only thing she could do.

“Yes,” Ji Yoon said. “Clear and common enough. And, of course, the same goes in reverse.” Of course the Ariake would be upset, but their claim would be severed. Noriko’s daughter would cease to exist, replaced by Ji Yoon Moon’s son.

The Ariake didn’t deserve Aleksy. But maybe, if she spent the next eight decades being very, very good, Ji Yoon could.

She bowed her head and signed as directed. She raised the cup to her lips and drank. Then, it was time for Aleksy to do his part, and for the priestess to do hers, and—

Ji Yoon could scarcely hold herself back any longer. As soon as it was proper, she reached for the younger healer beside her, grabbing first his hands and then pulling him close, wrapping him in a hug, pressing a soft swak of a kiss to his hair. The craft was swift. She could feel their new connection - it grew stronger with every passing second. It was a familiar feeling, but one she hadn’t felt in a very long time.

“I will always be there for you,” she promised, voice soft enough that only he could hear. “I will always fight for you. You’re my son. I’ll do anything you need from me.”







Offline Lyoshka Moon

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Re: Wrest and wrecked
« Reply #10 on: Apr 23, 19, 09:47:55 AM »
Ji Yoon signed and drank, and Aleksander signed and drank. He'd anticipated that the Craft of the adoption would feel underwhelming. Nothing would change, he'd told himself, except the legalities: Yua no Ariake would cease to exist. He would be Aleksander Moon, a legal stranger to the Ariake, legally a Hanwa with, perhaps, slightly bluer blood than the average member of his tribe, but he would still feel exactly the same. He'd told himself that, but in the moment that the Priestess worked her Craft, he felt... Lighter. Safer. In Tacea, the blood bond was a sacred obligation. One was bound to honor their ancestors along those lines. And though Aleksander didn't think that he would ever renounce Kaede no Ariake, the moment his new bond to Ji Yoon Moon took effect he shed four generations of old Ariake women. They were no longer his weight to carry.

The things Ji Yoon whispered into his hair were things that Aleksander already knew. Had she done less than fight for him, she wouldn't be where she was at that moment, and the strength of their new blood bond wouldn't be singing through their veins on the Priestess's Craft. He buried his face in her chest; his shoulders jerked once or twice. Then he lifted his head, scrubbed his hands over his face, and smiled. He was free.

He didn't say anything until they'd returned to the carriage, the old Priestess sending her delighted farewells after them. "Aleksander Moon no Corro," he said, trying out his new name. "Aleksander Moon no Corro." It seemed strange to have adopted a man's name without his permission; he doubted, in the strange clarity of the Priestess's Craft, that Seung Corro would be pleased with the results. But it was too late now. He beamed at Ji Yoon. Now that it was done, he wasn't sure what to say; his anxieties hardly seemed to matter. He was free, it was done, and the only matriarch he had to honor now was Ji Yoon.

It was just the first step, but one he was glad he'd taken.