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Starflies by vmmouchas

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· @vmmouchas · (edited)
The Dragon's Head Tavern and Inn, Vorland, 1437 ATC

Kari Fullbuster-Karkaldwin soaked in her tub the same way her thoughts soaked in her mind; completely.

She was a cryomancer, a protector by trade. And she was a young woman in her twenties, with a candid complexion, icy blue eyes, and hair so blonde it looked white. Almost like a porcelain doll in appearance

 From the way her hair floated on the surface, her entire body submerged below, it might've seemed that the young mother had drowned in her bath... But as she broke the surface and sucked in a breath, it seemed she lived to see another day. Her water had grown lukewarm, though it had been near-scalding when she'd climbed in an hour ago. It was time to get out, she knew, but she didn't want to. It was perhaps the last thing she wanted to do, besides the conversation she would soon be having. With a sigh she lifted herself from the tub, water streaming down over her skin while her long, snow colored hair clung to her damp skin. Reaching out, she grabbed her green silk robe and wrapped it around herself, wringing out her hair onto the washroom floor. She lingered as she padded across the wet floor, barefoot and dripping. Exiting the bathroom and down the hall, slipping back into her room. The door was slightly open as she laid out her clothes. She sighed. ''It's just a bit longer than usual.''

''Mommy!'' The twins exclaimed as they ran into her room, dressed in their footy pajamas followed by their father, who wore pink bunny pajamas with feet and a hood. He had a party horn in his mouth and he blew it hard. '' We're having a super slumber party! Wanna join us?'' He asked scooping the twins up in his arms, nuzzling them. The twins squealed happily and smiled warmly to their mother.

She hadn't been expecting the twins to burst in, she shrieked again at Venser's party horn being suddenly blown. "Oh ah! Knocking would be good sweetie before you scare me like that!" Time to turn it into a lesson. Clearing her throat, she smoothed out her robe as Venser cuddled their, as well as their kids. "I would love to." She answered. "As long as you all learn to knock before entering a lady's room, kids. Ven." She pointed that particular word at the bunny-esque Venser, taking note of his strange pajamas. "Nice ears," She commented. "You need to buy me a pair too!" Kari couldn't help but giggle.

Traveling was one of the worst ways a girl could spend her days. Being on the road for four days now, the patron Elly was just about fed up with sleeping on the cold and hard ground, so it was with great relief that she entered the Dragon's Head Tavern and Inn. With a little pouch tied around her waist, filled to bursting with coin, the young girl made her way further inside, her small boots clicking with purpose. She stopped after she had made her way into the middle of a large room, and she glanced around to see who might be able to assist her.

Venser blew the party horn again then spat it out of his mouth. ''Goodie!'' He set the twins down and they ran over to Kari, hugging her legs. ''Just let yourself go floppy, for now this is your chance, pretend you have no bones and do the rubber chicken dance!'' Venser said picking up Lucinda and waving her about before setting her down. He pulled out a rubber chicken wearing a bowler hat and tossed it on Kari's bed where beside her. ''Dance Lord Bowler!'' The rubber chicken levitated up into the air and began to flop around with no rhyme or reason. Venser wasn't controlling it. Venser the head bartender was absent from the bar, and so the shadow tendrils manifested themselves in an old silhouette replica of the serpent eyed bartender. Complete with his battle skirt, messy hair, right shoulder cape, gauntlets, and shoulder pad. The shadow replica stared at the patrons at the bar, expecting them to order.

"Hello. My name is Elly, and I am seeking lodgings and a small meal." The young girl hadn't been away for long, and so she had barely any experience with strangers. She hadn't even had enough common sense to hide any of her belongings underneath her green dress as she was among a few other patrons, who looked like they were from the local towns much like her.

Kari reached down to ruffle the twins' hair as they hugged onto her legs. She smiled down at them before Venser's song drew her eyes upward, as did the ridiculous rubber chicken. "What in Laguna is that chicken?" She couldn't help but laugh at the dancing rubber chicken, grabbing Soarin's tiny hands to dance around the room with him. 

''I don't know! I was, something from back home.'' Venser said watching the rubber chicken with the bowler hat dance about on the bed. ''Dance wif me mommy Dance wif me!'' Lucind begged hopping up and down while Soarin giggled dancing with the white haired girl. ''I'm needed at the bar, hold on love.'' Venser said before disappearing in a puff of thick red smoke. He reappeared behind the bar and shooed the shadow replica away. ''Someone say they needed a room and a stable?''

Kari obliged, taking Lucinda's little hand and making a ring with the two of them. She spun them around, singing some little nonsense song to fuel their dancing. "What do we do with a drunken Venser? What do we do with a drunken Venser? What do we do with a drunken Venser early in the mor-nin'?" She spun with them as Lord Bowler danced, eventually scooping up both twins and blowing raspberries on their chubby little cheeks.

A strange furry creature popped out from a tiny chaos portal underneath a set of barstools, waddling out into view and trying to make a beeline towards Venser and clinging to his leg, looking up at him with two big yellow cat eyes. Much to everyone's shared confusion, looking around the semi-crowded bar area and listening to everyone.

The bearded man sorted through the room cards and set a key down in front of the girl, scooping up the payment. ''Right hall, second door on the right.'' He said looking to the rest of the bar. ''Anyone need anything else?'' Venser paused and looked down, prying the furry shapeshifter, Silca off his leg. ''Hmmm... I think you'd make a great gift for my kids.''

The twins giggled and squirmed in Kari's grasp. ''Can we go ouside?'' Soarin asked in his tiny voice.

 The strange small furry creature flailed her tiny arms while being picked up, the tiny shapeshifter fluffing up now.

 "So late? Well, yeah. Just like the party last night." Not minding that she was still in little more than a green silken robe, Kari nudged open the door with her foot and carried both twins out into the hallway. Knowing Soarin liked to run everywhere, she lowered him to the floor and let him blaze the trail to the front door while she carried Lucinda on her hip. She still hummed her little tune as she escorted the children out into the cool night. The stars were shining, and a few lone fireflies drifted here and there. One settled on Lucinda's nose while a few others twirled around Soarin, as if challenging him to a race.

''Yes, yes. We have some stables beside the tavern.'' Venser said setting Silca down and looking through the room cards again. ''Occupied... Occupied... Roselie's room... Occupied... Ah.'' He passed a woman a key. ''Right hall, fifth door on the right.'' He then turned around and grabbed a metal tankard, filling it with ale. ''Three silver.'' He said setting it down in front of her.

 Silca hid behind his legs while holding onto a coin that had been forgotten beside the barcounter wall. Holding the small piece of shiny silver close.

''Moe... What are dey called again?'' Lucinda asked crossing her eyes, smiling in awe at the hovering, glowing bugs. Soarin laughed and was chasing one around, trying to catch it as he ran around out front.

"They're star flies! Sometimes called fireflies." Kari answered, touching her nose to Lucinda's cheek for a moment with a grin. "They glow, like stars. Except these you can touch." Reaching out, she snatched the one from Lucinda's face and held it out so she could see, the tiny bug lighting up between her fingers in a soft pulse. Barefooted, the white haired girl followed along behind Soarin with Lucinda still on her hip, not letting her boy get too far ahead.

 Silca started to waddle off in search of more coins or even some food crumbs. Waddling passed an oddly dressed stranger with a large hat and even making her way passed a witch with closed eyes, not even paying attention to what was going on save for the fact she was hungry.

 ''Where dey come from?'' Lucinda asked poking the glowing bug, it flew away from her and past Soarin. Who jumped up and caught it in between his hands. 

''Yes!'' He uncovered his hands and he had crushed it on accident ''... Oh...''

''Silca?'' Ven asked raising a brow pointing to the little cat creature munching away at the  coin on one of the tables.

Little Silca would fluff up her thick red and black fur upon the mentioning of her name, slowly turning her silver gaze on Venser and the woman in question, giving a very eerie stare as she did so her teeth would take a clean bite through the coin now.

The bearded bartender looked away from Silca, then to one of the patrons, a woman from the town nearby, before picking up the glass and refilling it with wine. ''There ya go.''

 "Well... Like, some people think they're tiny little pieces of stars themselves that float down and grow wings." She watched it fly away before it met its early end by Soarin's hand. Moving over, she gently peeled off the bug carcass from his palm and dropped it into the grass. "Careful now, sweetie," she murmured. "You have to be careful..." Another starfly drifted over their heads and she guided Soarin's hand upwards, gently closing his fingers around the bug. "Like so..."

The static and chaos energy would gather in her thick fur just enough that the tiny furry shapeshifter would begin to float off of the table and away, bouncing up and down as she did 

''What happen to it?'' Soarin asked in his tiny voice looking down to the crushed firefly on the ground. Lucinda looked down to the firefly and tightened her grip around his mother.

 "It went to sleep.'' Kari answered simply. "A very deep sleep. It's very peaceful, and very soft." She felt Lucinda's grip tighten on her, and in return Kari gave her a soft squeeze. "When he wakes up... He'll be somewhere much nicer. A big field where it's always nighttime. Always warm. Where the stars can reach down and play with him. It's called Summerland." It was all very romantic, she knew, and strange and sad. Describing death to children. ''Summerland is where we all go in the end.''

 Venser grabbed a metal tankard, then walked over to a barrel filled with neon blue liquid. He dipped it in the passed the girl the tankard. ''Blue Lagoon. Strongest thing we have.'' He said handing her a key too. ''Right hall, fourth room on the right.'' 

Soarin opened his hands a little, looking to the small fireflies in his hands and blinking his big, grass green eyes.

 ''When's it gonna wake up?'' Lucinda asked looking up to Kari, blinking the same icy blues she shared with her mother.

"It's already awake somewhere else. In the place where the stars play." The lightning bug glowed weakly before its light went out, the tiny shape disappearing into the darkness without the light it provided available to catch the eye. "It's a complicated sort of thing," she said simply. "Like, it's easier to understand when you get a lot lot older."

 ''Is Grandma Lucia there?'' Soarin asked looking up to Kari as fireflies swarmed around them, lighting up his grass green eyes. ''We haven't seen mommy in a long time.'' Lucinda said.

She knelt down in the grass, hugging Lucinda close to her side as she pulled Soarin in as well, pressing a kiss to his temple. "No, loves... Grandma hasn't gone there. Just because... You haven't seen someone in a long time doesn't mean they're gone forever." 


Two louds squeaks were heard behind them, and Venser stood there holding Lord Bowler in one hand. ''Hey. Trying to catch fireflies?'' He asked with a smile. The twins didn't say anything and had sober expressions on their faces. ''Uh, kids? Kari?''

 Silca darted into a chaos portal before stumbling out of another in front of two children and woman, thick fur now covered in dust and dirt.

Kari, too, was a bit too sober. What had once been a super sleepover had come to something... Much more serious. At Venser's bidding, she shook the more dire thoughts from her head. Tonight they needed to have fun. "That's right," she answered, pecking Lucinda's cheek and Soarin's hair. She pepped up her tone a bit, trying to enthuse them with her words. "And now we know where they come from! Right?"

 ''Where what comes from?'' Venser asked as both twins took notice of the little furball. ''Kitty!'' They exclaimed at the same time, prompting Soarin to run for it.

Little Silca didn't know what was coming her way as she sat up and dusted herself off, rubbing her eyes free of the dust. Emitting several unhappy hrrs and mrrs as she cleaned herself up.

''Starflies.'' The white haired girl answered. She hadn't noticed the furry little creature before, but as both twins screeched and Soarin darted after it, she let Lucinda go so she could join in the fray. "We.. We need to talk," she murmured, once the twins were out of earshot. Kari cast her eyes down to the grass, where the dead firefly lay. "Once they're in bed."

Soarin picked Silca up and began to stroke her fur roughly. ''Kitty! I like kitty!'' He said happily as Venser's daugter joined her brother. ''It's soft!'' Lucinda exclaimed petting Silca's head, sctratching her behind the ears. ''Talk about what?'' Venser asked raising a brow looking to his oldest lover.

Little Silca's fur would begin to gather static as she was petted. Her ears wiggling about as she got scratches.

 "... Me leaving.'' Kari answered simply. Softly. "At least for a little while." The knot in her stomach seemed to grow, as did the lump in her throat.

"... What? ''Where are you going Kari?'' Venser asked after several long seconds. Lucinda giggled, stroking Silca's tail before yanking on it as hard as she could.

Little Silca would suddenly give off a bright flash of light as she changed into her much older and bigger form. Her ears laying back as she stared the children down for a moment, booping each on the nose and saying. "No pulling tails hrr."

''Well I mean not forever sweetie. I said it wrong.'' She paused, watching the twins play with the 'kitty' before it seemed to make a full-flegded tiger. Kari blinked, but it wasn't the most outrageous thing she'd ever seen. "It's just, as much as I love spending my time with you and our twins... Like, I just need a little break. To go on adventure too, honestly. And not just be the protector of my own village. Marvella and the locals can handle it for a while.''

The for year old twins screamed at the transformation and that it spoke in a weird voice and booped the noises. ''Daddy!'' Lucinda exclaimed running over to Venser. He bent down and scooped up his daughter in his arms, standing up while Soarin ran in circles around Kari. ''You can remember here.'' He said frowning.

She shook her head softly, still not looking to Venser. Her eyes were focused down on Soarin's running in circles. "... I can't. There's like, a word but I kinda lost it. I just feel like I need a break. Some alone time sweetie. You know how full our house always is and it's growing and it's good but... I just... I can't even explain it. It'll only be for an extra week you'll have the kids. I know you got Sanna and your new daughter their own room in the tavern and you're still doing all you can to get the farm...''

Older Silca would give a maniacal grin before returning to her much smaller, innocent form, and giggled. Fixing her fur and her little as she messed around with the children. 

''Mommy! Big kitty! Big kitty!'' Soarin exclaimed clinging to one of his mother's legs. Lucinda nuzzled Venser's chest as he looked to Kari. ''And so you're just going to wander? Look for some bounties?''

"Big kitty, yes." She reached down to ruffle her son's white blonde hair, the same color they shared, watching the 'big kitty' turn back to its smaller form. "For a bit, yeah Ven." Kari confirmed, looking up to Venser who was a few inches taller than her. ''Explore. Relax. Just... Some much needed alone time.''

''I understand. I suppose we all need some at times.'' The bearded man rubbed Lucinda's back as she buried her head into his chest. "Will I see you at home?"

Little Silca would give a confused squeak before sitting down in the grass and hugging her tail tightly.

She couldn't bear to be parted from the twins any longer than that, but Kari really needed some alone time after having such a full house lately and a lot of other things to deal with. She bent down to scoop Soarin up into her arms.

Lucinda let out a yawn as her rested against her father's chest, and after that Soarin let out and hugged her mother tight. ''I think we should get the twins to bed.'' Venser suggested.

"I think you're right." She hugged Soarin closely, pressing a kiss to his temple. She would lead the way back inside, nudging the door open with her hip and carrying one of the two sleepy twins upstairs, past the few patrons inside, on their way to the twins' bedroom.

Venser recently had the sheets to their bed switched. Soarin's bed now had royal green silk sheets, and Lucinda's were light purple silk sheets. He laid Lucinda down in her bed and tucked her in, brushing some of her raven black hair to the sides. He gave her a loving smile, and she returned it.

Silca curled up into a ball and rolled back into the tavern, making her way to a corner where no one would hopefully bother her.

Kari likewise did the same for Soarin, making sure he was tucked in tightly. As she did every night when the kids were with her, she took his hand and brought it to her lips so she could press a kiss to his palm. A kiss for him to keep, to use when he needed it... With their time together, each twin would have quite the collection.

''Goodnight, my little moonbeam.'' Venser said kissing Lucinda on her forehead. ''Goodnight daddy. I love you.'' His daughter said in her tiny voice as Venser stood up and walked over to Soarin's bed. ''Good night speedster... Wildheart.'' And then to their mother. You should sing to them.'' He said to Kari. "And I'll go get my guitar." 

He disappeared in a puff of thick red smoke, and then reappeared wielding his bine white guitar, taking a fee seconds to tune it.

Having switched sides with Venser so that she could give Lucinda her Kiss-To-Keep, she flushed at Venser's suggestion. But, perhaps if it were her last night with the twins for a while.... She nodded. Settling down on the edge of Lucinda's bed, she knew just the song to sing. Soft and sweet, and surprisingly beautiful, her voice filled the room with a quiet lullaby. "You must know, I'll be here waiting. Hoping, praying that this light will guide you home..." Her fingers combed softly through Lucinda's raven curls as she sang. "When you're feeling lost I'll leave my love... Hidden in the sun... For when the darkness comes...."

 Venser and Soarin craned their heads to listen to their mother''s sweet singing, and Lucinda curled up under her blanket and smiled warmly at her while she sang

She repeated the song twice, each time slower and softer, until her words were nothing but a soft hum that would help to lull the children to sleep. Only once they had did she stand up from the bed, her cheeks wet with the few tears that had slipped free while she sang.

Venser tilted his head to the side, curious of the song's word choice. The twins found it beautiful, as did Venser.

She caught the gesture and shook her head softly. The song, like most of the memories from lives long passed, had become nothing but a slight blur in her mind. The source was unknown. She remembered it being sung to her, of course. She remembered, even though it seemed to be the oldest memory she possessed. Motioning for Venser to leave the room, she didn't want to talk and wake the twins. Kari kissed them both on the forehead, and then she stepped out into the hallway with their father.

''It's just...''

''So no more love.'' The bearded man said leaning down to kiss Kari sweetly. ''You just... You enjoy your vacation.''

Vacation. That was the word she was looking for! The white haired girl smiled brightly.

''Thank you Venser. I'll be home before you and our family knows it.''
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