A star falls from the night darkened skies of Ginevra, just as the industrious folk along the equator awoke from the heat of the midday Sun, such a show in the sky, a rare treat leading up to an important holiday.
Aalis watches them, along with those others far and away who are likely much more inconvenienced by it. Her cousin Ayo had set her to task this holiday season, and she has neglected to deliver. Preferring a certain entertainment that was, a bit hotter.
Ayo was not happy with her. But Gino was if anything a little too happy with her.
It was not the most sensible decision to acquiesce to her own whims before such an important holiday, but Aalis could hardly be blamed for that. She wasn’t all that worried about Natyra’s Wrath, even as apposed to her own failings.
Still, she didn’t much like receiving her cousin’s either.
“How did you manage forgetting the Kouchu root? It’s the wet season!”, Ayo chastised, the entire season’s preparation had been a boon to her ego. Aalis’s failure was not.
“It’s that late in the wet season?”, asked Mati, the latest to rise and the last to get a clue, to wit Gino asked with concern, “How did you manage to miss the year, Mati? You haven’t caught the plague have you?”
“No, I don’t believe so. I think that would be most memorable.” Mati deadpanned.
Gino cracked snickering as much at Mati, as at Ayo’s glare. Aalis was relieved that the focus was off of her.
“Yeah that's real funny Gino, you’ve got a real sense of humor for a Lad with no follow through.” Ayo said, very much done with this entire interaction.
Gino being every bit an Arse kept Cackling.
Aalis seeing some manner of salvage in this situation asked Ayo, “Why don’t you put us both to work? I mean I failed but that doesn’t mean you don’t have other responsibilities; it might even get Mati into the holiday spirit!”
To that Ayo, with a sinuous curve to her movement, said, “You know what? for once you’ve actually said something useful, Aalis. You can do it with Mati, since you need a chaperone!”
Aalis was livid, but it was better than doing any of it alone.
So Mati and Aalis were sent on their way, Aalis griping about her Ayo all the way, “My cousin is such a sow! I share some inclination, but she has no manners. Why aren’t you angry over that? Ain’t it a bit mingy to treat your friends like that?”
“Do I really need to explain it to you?” Mati asked, rather unhappy herself as she always seemed to be.
“What makes you think you can just skate your responsibilities? I might be chronically bored, but why take a job you won’t do?”
So they were quiet after that. Half the day out on the leisure of transport in fact before they found the appropriate growers, Aalis at least was surprised by the relative Vitality of the area.
Mati’s response was arguable, but at this point Aalis was certain, that’s just how she is.
“Its curious that, a week early and there’s such Vigor." Mati said, and she was right. The hustle and bustle were unexpected, being as it was about a week early for ‘spring thrashing’ But Mati only seemed curious once she saw the crash site.
A deep pit of scorched earth, glancing downward from the forest’s edge, force broken by the trees.
The ‘meteorite’ as the farmers dubbed it was actually a vehicle, something so similar to a falling star that the distinction could not be made without further investigation.
The town folk who’d found the crater had nothing but good things to say regarding their discovery. A Lad certainly, had fallen from the sky fully clad in such a manner that all his body was meant to be obscured.
“What a precious thing to witness before our great Moa’s blessing.” One such farmer had said, as they both perused the area. The ship was unlikely to be pulled free, at least, not without a clean bill of health for the creature who’d resided in it.
Aalis didn’t like thinking about the crater, what it meant, while Mati if anything seemed fascinated.
Aalis disturbed by this went on her way for the Kouchu root, which was not the co-badger arrangement that Ayo wanted, but Aalis couldn’t bother herself with such interests.
The thought of a rock from the sky falling so close to where they all lived wasn’t comforting in the least, but Mati didn’t seem to share that most sensible outlook.
As she had left Aalis to the shopping, while she went to the farmer’s cabin to bother the creature. He didn’t exactly grow anything integral to the season, so Aalis doesn’t follow.
She wasn’t scared.
Aalis went about her business, and the farmers were more than willing to accommodate her later than altogether sensible order.
“it’s pretty late for some things, but thankfully we have enough on stock.” Was the polite overview, and Aalis was thankful that they’d caught it without a markup.
It still took longer than it would’ve earlier in the season. Aalis could only hope that precuring the other materials was as easy, had she forgotten Prielwyne? Or was what papa had on stock enough?
Was there enough Therin Weed dried? Or would they need to pray on last years?
Who was it that supplied Nousha Oil anyway? Rendering the pitch was oft the work of professional’s, but she wasn’t sure that she could trust delivery enough for their entire neighborhood on such short notice.
It’s after this small conniption that Aalis walks off to the farmers cabin, not too far away from the relevant growers, but old enough to mostly run-on subsistence.
She walked up to be let in by the farmer, lowering her head a bit as it was his home, “hello, my friend is here on visitation.”
“Ah, right. That silly Lass. She is speaking with the poor fellow in the far room over there.” he sighs in that muttering happy way that domestic sorts do, “They seem contended to blather all day.”
Aalis holds to that thought, finding the notion of Mati being enthused about anything a bit confusing, “Thanks then” she says before walking past.
It was a short walk to the room he’d been referring to, large enough for bedding and someone of common size to maneuver themselves comfortably.
The creature at rest was not so conveniently sized, sat up to respond to Mati’s interest in him, at least as she could see from the doorway. It was late in the day when she finally looked upon the creature’s face, calm only in his attention towards Mati.
Sleek disordered features, over-contrasted eyes, a rude propensity to stare as Mati spoke animatedly toward him.
It was a long few minutes before she’d found the will to speak in it’s presence, “Oy, I’ve got the Kouchu. Are you ready to go?” she said, through the doorway.
Mati looked straight at her face warm and bright from whatever she’d spoken to the creature about and said, “No, I’d rather not.” Before turning to the creature to say, “this one is Aalis. She has little follow through like Gino!”
Aalis was rather upset at the admission, as it was supremely rude given their actual objective that day, in any case she left Mati to her conversation with the creature while she went to the farmer hosting it.
The farmer was rather perturbed by the implication that his charity was quickly becoming the lurid fantasy of a Fine Lass who should be keeping herself for “spring thrashing”.
It was only after the farmer went in and spoke to her that Mati left the creature be to recover from whatever could knock a star from the sky.
Considering the time, it would be the next day either way by the time they got home.
Mati took her time with her goodbyes when actually leaving, getting a hug from the Creature, before going home with Aalis, and seven bushels of Kouchu Root.
They were yet again quiet the entire way back, though this time it wasn’t over an argument. Aalis was simply too tired to bother scolding her. Mati had abandoned her to entertain some ugly star-parched monster, and it made her sick to think about.
It was nearing morning when they finally got home.
“Look at you, walking in so early. Did you get the Kouchu like I asked?” Ayo greeted them, while serving breakfast.
Mati responded, “of course, we got seven bushels! We’ll be able to bum off some if we want!”
“Oh really? Tell me how’d that go?” she asked surprised that Mati was so chipper.
“Well, some of it was damaged apparently. So we got a reasonable discount.”
“Oh, that’s nice. I’d not expected that kind of follow through. Between you two, responsibility isn’t really much of an option is it?”
“Why wouldn’t it be?” Mati asked, disregarding what she’d actually bothered doing the day before. “I don’t exactly take up causes I don’t plan to accomplish.”
Aalis wasn’t as affable to that nonsense, “you know what? I never want to hear about ‘responsibility’ from you again!” she said, finally snapping.
“Oh, she took a bite too? What a little virago!” went Gino, praising Mati. Which just made Aalis more angry.
“You’d say that, but she’d gone and abandoned me for a Falling Star Lad!”, she said, stealing Gino’s AjinEddy.
Gino wasn’t happy about this, but to spite his usual antics backed away on account of Aalis’s mood.
“Falling Star Lad? What was Mati romancing a roadside attraction?”, went Ayo, a quip toward Mati’s most likely object of affection. “It’s not as if anyone, Lad or Lass, could come directly from a Falling Star, right?”
“That’s where you're wrong! There are crash landings that far inland, and the Farmer was worried that she’d do something untoward to him!” said Aalis, a bit inaccurate but it didn’t quite matter to her.
“Oh, really?” She asked Mati directly.
Mati defended, “I’m not that comfortable with Natyra’s wrath, I was curious is all.” She wasn’t the type to break celibacy before thrashing apparently, she just wore away the years without any effort. Which was of course ever so responsible.
“Curious? They talked for the entire visit, he couldn’t speak a word of Ginevran, but she managed to spend all day with him!”, Aalis retorted, “that isn’t normal curiosity!”
“It seems like it was if we’re talking about Mati,” Ayo pointed out simply, even if Ayo wasn’t sure if it was accurate, “besides there was very little the Farmer could’ve done if you’d left her behind.”
Aalis, very done with her cousin’s perspective, left the house with the rest of Gino’s AjinEddy. Ayo of course made him another, while Aalis ate the rest of her stolen breakfast treat.
Aalis quietly shuffled away after that. She didn’t really want to go back and forth for Ayo anymore knowing how judgmental she was about these sorts of things. She hadn’t seen Mati’s face the day before, she couldn’t know her state or manners with the creature.
Aalis told Ayo later that day, and what was left to do was set on Mati’s shoulders, in spite of her supposed utter disinterest. Mati for her part seemed very much in toon with her late year responsibilities, even if she wasn’t planning to participate in any of the festivities.
She keeps no partner, why would she? But she did at least entertain herself while she made the finishing touches to Ayo’s plans. Fixing up all those little things that Aalis had neglected, all while visiting the creature every time she needed something from the farmers.
It was rather odd to witness.
Mati would leave as early as she’d bother to, marching off to the growers, and she’d come back without much to say but noticeably happier.
Aalis wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d actually gone about with that Fallen Star Lad and told nothing of it. As a Lass of leisure, she found this to be most probable. Mati’s mother if she understood correctly had kept many partners, and really it seemed odd to Aalis that Mati never seemed as interested as that.
Maybe it was all Mati’s unresponsive nature, that made her this annoying.
In any case, all the trappings were prepared by thrashing day, which meant Mati had managed where Aalis had failed. It was a less then pleasing thing to realize, even with Gino’s less antagonizing attention.
Ayo to spite her grumbling was more than happy with the current arrangement, both in regard to Gino, and Thrashing day.
She wasn’t as angry about it all as Aalis wanted to think.
But she was still a task master when it came to these things, so there was no fun to be had before the day of. Which was fine by Aalis, even if it was absolutely frustrating.
But it was at least a little strange when Mati didn’t appear to greet the attendees as they walked up to their house for the festivities. Ayo didn’t even seem to know what was going on, but it wasn’t something she was especially concerned over.
Aalis on the other hand wouldn’t have been surprised if Teva had eaten her, after becoming too annoyed.
It was late, almost the second quarter of the day, when Mati finally appeared walking down the main path, leading a strange over-tall creature behind her. Her parents, a bit upset at her friends ran up to greet her first which she didn’t seem at all worried about.
“This is Teva,” she introduces, “he will be observing with me, since I don’t plan on whipping anyone.”
“of course,” said Ayo, while cuddling up to Gino.
One of Aalis’s parents broke out the Prielwyne, so they could discuss the previous year. Aalis explained her intrusion on Gino, while Ayo and him explained the restructuring of their relationship.
It was a bit tense, explaining that they had the same tastes in spite of their differing character. No one amongst their relations were surprised.
The creature- Teva had nothing to say, Aalis wouldn’t be surprised if he couldn’t, but she could hold her tongue for the rest of the festivities.
But Mati spoke well of her strange friendship, “I don’t think I’ve ever been close to anyone before. Or really felt far from anyone.” The creature stared at her hands as if to avert his gaze from everyone, but she continued, “I’ve- I’ve had trouble perceiving time as it is, slow. And fast. At all. I don’t really have anything else to talk about.”
It was such a strange thing to hear. But Aalis, couldn’t really relate. She wasn’t close enough to Mati to know if she should be hurt by it either.
Mati attempted to encourage Teva to speak, but he wouldn’t. Preferring to simply watch his surroundings carefully.
Mati seemed happy with that.
As per usual, fruit and spicy food was served, a rather excessive meal filled with Ajin root and Blazbasjom, and Abzari paste. Everything was, but it was scarcely an hour before they bought out the Therin Weed in the third quarter of the day, dried and braided for the thrashing.
It was after a short prayer that they disrobed and went about choosing their braids. Mati and Teva simply watching.
A solid minute in, and there was a tingling crack against her back, as Gino laughed, and Aalis turned to chase him down with the intent of giving more than she got. To wit Ayo swatted her again, guarding Gino for a moment before Gino swatted Ayo also, which led to him being chased all over the yard for the better part of an hour.
Their friends and neighbors faired much the same, petty rivalries between those who wouldn’t regret last hours or rubbing Nousha oil into their skin.
But it wasn’t long before they were tuckered, laying out on the ground set with cloth so they could be at all comfortable. Mati for all her unresponsive nature, was very considerate when she thought to be.
It was a little later that she noticed Mati and Teva as naked as the rest of them, laying out in a similar state. Mati looking rather itchy, while Teva seemed if anything at ease looking up at her.
Like she hung the stars.
Like he wanted to eat her.
Nousha oil was finally brought out, and Gino to match the order of conquest applied some to Aalis first. Then Ayo, it was really just them in their case, the supplicant warmth of the rendered pitch leaving her mind to float.
Feeling the heavier thoughts of the year fall away.
Feeling her cousins wrath burn away into that fondness of common tastes.
Feeling Gino’s loss of sense, at what the sweetness they shared was.
Aalis can’t imagine never feeling this way. She couldn’t hope to understand it, never feeling the Moa past her skin and in her lovers. Never knowing what it’s like to really feel these things.
Maybe that was why Mati was so strange. So disconnected.
Aalis let go, and felt the world buoy like water around her thoughts. She woke much later, the center star pulling itself on invisible strings, Gino draped rather dramatically across their blanket.