The first night in a warlord's camp was somewhat awkward for Kyky. The word warlord didn't mean much to her beyond the Xena theme song, and so she had to sort of associate it with the clearer term terrorist. Now, Kyky was a student of history and politics and knew that terrorists were not just simply that - many had a legitimate reason for their militant anger. But she also couldn't pretend she didn't feel a bit of trepidation being there on her own…
But she wasn't alone. Manfred and Hawkins were both outsiders, like herself - well maybe not just like herself, but close enough. Insisting to the cook that he give her two bowls, and dropping Marcus's name in the process, she had an extra serving of dinner to offer to her fellow escapee when she approached. She guessed that while she had hurried to the front of the line, he was waiting until the line died down.
"Come on, help me out," Kyky complained amicably, holding out a shallow bowl of stew toward Manfred as she seemed to struggle to sit down.
He made a slight face at first, before a smile curled his mouth and he took the bowl from her. “Hungry are you?” Manny teased her holding it back out once she was seated, until he realized she had brought it for him. He looked at the line of men waiting for their own rations, and then at the blonde.
Someone was bound to be unhappy about this… but he shrugged a shoulder and sat down near his newest companion. Manfred watched the outlaws? Rebels? He wasn’t sure what to call them, but he knew that their leader was worth keeping an eye on… “Uh, thank you” he said when he realized he hadn’t. If someone didn’t fit in with this motley crew (yes, I went there) it was the girl.
"Welcome, yo," Kyky said, as both an acknowledgement but also dismissal of her role here. Kyky was happy enough that she'd used her basic education to win over her fellow escapee. The truth was that she didn't know how any of this worked, but her strategy of ask-first-find-out-later hadn't failed yet, and if if did, she would just go home. So she approached her dark-haired partner as if he had more skin in the game than she did.
"Oh! Here," Kyky said, as she produced a spoon that she'd tucked into her unnecessarily ample sleeve with a smile. "I'm Kyky," the girl said, although she couldn't remember if she had said so yet. The escape had been crazy and the memories were a fuzz, and she sort of hoped that the darked-haired young man hadn't remembered her name any more than she had his. With a glance around, she whispered, lowly, "What do you make of all this?"
“Kyky” he repeated, testing out the strange name on his tongue. She seemed to smile a lot, and he gave a grateful nod for the spoon. “Manny” he replied with a little reluctance, but it seemed like the right thing to do. She was pretty with her large eyes, but he had seen her with the leader of these rough men. The thief was no fool, so he smiled back at her and coyly replied, “You tell me, my lady”.
Manny. No, Kyky definitely would have remembered that - it also sounded like a nickname, not unlike the one she had given him. She couldn't imagine it was short for something, but there were other ways to get nicknames and… oh. Kyky almost blushed.
The return of her prompt, but with the address that elevated her well above the status she usually wore in Eventyr, caught Kyky by surprise. Did she still look like a lady after all this? The dress, yes, she'd stolen it from a noblewoman for the royal party, but by now the hem was muddied as her commoner's boots and the cloak was borrowed from one of Marcus's female soldiers. Her damp hair had been a challenge to braid, so pieces were uneven. So since it was unlikely she'd been mistaken, Kyky was quick to guess Manny just didn't trust her, which made sense. She shouldn't have trusted him either, not knowing why he was escaping and all, but Kyky was willing to make the first leap.
"It's unnerving, having so little news. I wonder how crazy it got in the capital after we got out," Kyky said. Word in Eventyr didn't travel as quickly as it did on Earth, but word of mouth wasn't as slow as she'd expected and news and rumors were plentiful - but not when you were excluded from the flow of conversation out in the woods. "And how is it still raining? Is this seasonal?"
He looked over at her from under the curtain of black hair that hung in his face. “No, not seasonal….” he said quietly and glanced upward. Manfred looked back at her and sipped some of his stew straight from the bowl. An arc of lightning and the young man was suddenly closer to her.
Manfred pulled the hood of his cloak down lower to protect his face from the rain, and to blind himself from the lightning slightly. “Eventyr is upset, the very sky and land. It’s all wrong…” he grunted, getting his more horse-like instincts under control. He worried about his siblings and parents and peered over at Marcus. “What do you know about your companion, Kyky?”
When the lightning struck, Kyky had the same instinct and ended up bumping shoulders with her companion when she, too, moved closer. The warmth was nice when they were both damper than preferable, and Kyky did the opposite, pulling her hood back a touch to glance curiously up at the sky at his words. "It does feel like the sky is crying," she said, softly enough that much of the sentiment was drowned out in the drops of rain and consequent roll of thunder. At least the treetops kept the worst of the rain away.
Manny's next question broke her trance, though, and Kyky followed his gaze over to Marcus. "Oh, umm," Kyky said, ready to answer, and then caught herself and glanced around. Most others were either waiting for food or socializing near it yet. So, she proceeded, "Not a lot. When we met, he lied to me. I mean, I would have, too, if I was trying to save my friend's life…" Kyky forgave that easily, but it did mean she was very much in the dark, save one conversation that she knew she could never share. Then as if to dismiss that and instead offer her confidence, Kyky said, "But then, you know, running for your life brings people together," and the thought brought her attention back to her dark-haired companion.
He glanced around them, “Maybe…. Or maybe we wouldn’t be running for our lives because of them”. He shook his head, “Allesandra shouldn’t have died and neither should have the King… it’s all wrong, has been for years since…”
Manfred suddenly shut his mouth, and glanced up from under his hood as some of Marcus’ men walked by. “...Since the queen passed, maybe even before that” he continued at a whisper. “Have you not felt it, Kyky?”
"Which came first, the chicken or the egg? We're still eating both," Kyky said, shrugging off Manny's question. Even though it was valid, the truth of it wouldn't help them resolve or even understand their current situation. Kyky's words might have been dismissive enough to avoid being branded an outlaw for life, but Manny's situation was more precarious, she expected, and so her dismissive words - once Marcus's men had moved on - pursed into more of an understanding expression. She had been there for most of it and even she didn't totally understand what had transpired or why…
Kyky wanted to shrug off his question about the queen. She hadn't arrived in Eventyr for her first time until a year or so after the Queen's death and hadn't known the stability of that era that her companion had. But as a prospective and blossoming politician in her own right, Kyky had taken note of the local tone and wondered what it meant. "Even if I did, at the end of the day, it was one woman's death," Kyky reasoned, but quietly, almost secretly, and in honest inquiry. The Great War had been caused by a single assassination; and if Pearl Harbor hadn't pulled the US into World War II, nuclear bombs might well not exist. The Butterfly Effect was real, but Kyky didn't see the strings connecting here, and there was a curious sort of fire behind her inquiry as she leaned in, peering past the shadows to find Manny's eyes. "How could that disrupt so much?"
Manfred’s brow furrowed deeply in confusion, “Chicken, eggs? I don’t understand…” He assumed it was some local saying, but Kyky didn’t strike him as a farmer. As a matter of fact she seemed like she might be from the Eastern realm, but he couldn’t really place where she was from…. Perhaps a native of the King’s city?
“One thing out of balance, sets off an entire scale. Like pieces of a game, the first falls and then the rest follow”. He sighed and peered from under his hood again to watch the people around them. He blinked and then looked at the young, petite blonde next to him. “I’m just a….thief…” he admitted and shrugged his shoulder against Kyky’s.
Manny's words brought the image of toppling dominoes to Kyky's mind, and she nodded. It hardly made sense to her, but then this world had magic and vampires and why did it feel like a reach to suppose there could be supernatural storms, too? "I hope it dies down, though. I'm getting sick of being wet and cold."
When her companion told her that he was a thief, Kyky's brows raised, "Oh." But then a pleasant smile crossed her face. There were a lot of terrible reasons he could have been in that dungeon - murder, rape, assault - but thieving was generally a non-violent crime born out of necessity, and the information soothed the worries Kyky hadn't allowed herself to dwell on. "You should teach me some tricks! At least how to not get robbed." And then she joked, thinking of her two-hundred dollar textbooks, "I'm a student, and it happens all the time…"
The young man looked at Kyky for a moment before he draped one side of his much heavier cloak over her shoulders and huddled closer. Much like his equine brethren, even in human form Manfred pumped out slightly more body heat.
He shook his head and grinned, “How about I teach you something more useful, like how to pick a lock?” Then if she got caught by the king’s men she could at least try and free herself. His brows arched slightly and he smiled a little wider at her. “I don’t think these are the type of lessons a lady should be learning”.
Kyky let out a sigh of relief when she was pulled in to Manny and felt so much more warmth enfold her. This was quite a stark change from her tropical home in Parkland, but there was something to Eventyr so much more compelling and it brought her mind back to Marcus's words: I'm sure it gets harder to go back every time. She had wondered why that was the case up until the moment she was shoulder-to-shoulder and quickly nose-to-nose with someone who made any thoughts of her vestigial phone or her dormant instagram a distant memory.
"I'd love to learn to pick a lock!" Kyky declared, comically defiant of the gender roles Manny mentioned. "Come on - what good did piano or embroidery ever do a lady? That's just shit they teach women to keep them from figuring out how to matter."
Manfred’s brow arched slightly and his mouth curled into a crooked smile. “Firstly I fail to see how you can compare music and art to manure” he replied with a bit of mock affront at her comment. “I like a good concerto” he said with a cocksure grin.
He leaned in almost intimately close and divulged in a prideful whisper, “My mother can play the lyre and pick the locks of the Southern realms treasure chambers”. Manfred’s face turned away for a moment, as he clearly watched some of the marauders warily trying to judge which were walking closer than he liked.
“I’ll make you a trade….I’ll teach you to pick locks if you….” he hesitated and looked to find Hawkins in the foray of men. A familiar face if only recently in acquaintance, he liked the sailor just as he liked the petite blonde beside him, something in their nature he supposed. “...If you help me to read better, my scholarly talents are basic at best”.
Kyky made a rather unladylike face, rolling her eyes and sticking her tongue out, at the idea of classical music. Her mother loved that shit and forced Kyky to to take piano lessons as a girl and go to Handel's Messiah sing-alongs at Christmas and these were the most boring things ever. While she had stopped resenting them after surviving a massacre, she still had plenty of good-natured complaining to do on that front…
She didn't flinch when Manny leaned in, and found her eyes appreciating his pale skin, dark locks of hair, and the quirk to his lips, and the warmth in the places where their bodies casually met. A joking smile spread solidly across her face as Kyky responded conspiratorially, "Let's make your mother Queen!" #Mannysmom872
The request caught her ever-so-slightly off-guard. Kyky read all the time - she was assigned like fifty pages of reading a night - but she had never tried to teach someone. Not that she was unwilling! How hard could it be? She offered a hand to shake. "You've got a deal, Manny," Kyky promised, but quickly realized they weren't exactly sitting in a library. "Assuming we can get our hands on anything to read or write…"
His brow arched slightly at Kyky’s proclamation to crown his dame as matriarch of the realm. Clearly it was a jest of some kind, although he didn’t understand it. But when she smiled, it made this miserable place more bearable… and it made Manny smile back.
He took her hand and held it, “Don’t worry, Kyky. We can always steal a book”. Manny’s smile widened at her, and he reached up with his hands to rub her shoulders. “You’re cold, we should find some shelter”.
Kyky's shoulders relaxed under Manny's attention, and she hadn't realized how tense she was. But there was plenty about her that was more excited than anxious, and her hand gripped Manny's in return as she nodded. "Good idea," she said with a smile. "Let's go warm up."