FOLKLORE


[ P ] twin soldiers
#1


ahkoris
the slow-burning ember


Morning sunlight flickered through the trees. He had been up early, sitting in a small patch of sunlight in the middle of the forest. The birds had grown used to his quiet presence and had begun to chatter with full force, as if he were not there. This was preferred. He enjoyed listening to the sounds of the moving world around him, whirring and dancing and beating like a heart. He liked this forest in particular because it was quiet in its loudness. One had to really listen to hear the life buzzing in the periphery. It was not a cacophony, but a melody, a lullaby. It was a gentle kind of living that Ahkoris could identify with.

He opened his sunset eyes, which had been closed, when a scent on the breeze caught his attention. His brother, Karnak, was nearby, and this prompted him to rise from his seated position in a fluid, almost mechanical motion. He stretched briefly, allowing the sore joints in his body to pop. He had not recovered from his journey to find Evanora, and his ribs still showed, his fur still slightly dull. He had paid little attention to his own needs when he had chased her. When he had returned, he had vowed to make peace with each of his family members. Nassar first, then to Cairo, the heir presumptive. And, finally, to his brother, Karnak.

He moved in the direction of the scent, tracking it efficiently. He had had a lot of practice. The thought caused a small, wry smile to twitch across his lips, though it quickly faded. Evanora's disappearance was nothing funny, and it equal parts hurt and angered him. He loved his sister deeply, in the way he loved all of his family, but to see her leave had been a burn on his heart that he would not soon forget. The fear that she might die alone was very real. He was supposed to protect her. How was he supposed to do that when she had run? He shook his head to clear them of his thoughts. He should be close enough now... "Karnak?"


"speak"

© DI


@Karnak
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#2
"Karnak?"

They had migrated north, moving into the everwinter region of Cyrileth. Karnak had wandered in the westernmost part of Hiâ, but never the east. The dark forest was an uncharted land for him to explore; Cairo had said she found the forest a secure sanctuary, with steep slopes of the mountains guarding the land. Within the forest itself, life thrived despite the cold and mottled snow, but he had yet to find rivers. She had mentioned that this was the birthplace of his bodyguard, but alas, she had also mentioned Sanada was tight-lipped about his home. Karnak had asked her to persuade her guard to loosen his tongue, whatever it took. They needed information and this foolish secrecy could put them at a disadvantage.

Nassar had spoken of battle preparations, should a conflict happen, and those mountainous walls would serve as solid fortifications. But were they good? He had to follow the line of the mountains to see if they indeed formed an unbroken cage, or if the walls were riddled with paths and tunnels leading to south Cyrileth. He hoped for the latter, or else they would face a threat of a potential siege, if a war happened upon them.

That was how Karnak found himself walking along the edge of the territory, mapping the topography of the forest. And that was when he heard it — the voice of his brother who ran away.

He turned, and there he was, the blinding sun (to quote Sinead). Only he was not as blinding; he was tarnished copper, with unkempt fur and near-protruding ribs. Karnak froze, whirring gears in his head screeched to a halt. His mouth moved of its own accord, “Ahkoris,” He tilted his head and frowned, remembering his conversation with Nassar not too long ago. Betrayal. Evanora and Ahkoris had betrayed them. He inhaled, filling his lungs with chilly morning air, “Where did you run off to, traitor?” To contrast his accusing words, his voice was calm, and his eyes simply harboured confusion. Yet, it was the selection of his words that betrayed the sea of turbulent emotions that would not stop rising and falling, waves of pain and frustration breaking and crashing.



“I am speaking”

Karnak Tiamat
violence behind a mask of peace


@Ahkoris
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#3


ahkoris
the slow-burning ember


He saw his brother's face materialize in front of him like a ghost, familiar features drawn in unfamiliar lines. Karnak's eyes fell upon him and Ahkoris thought he found him lacking. This was, perhaps, understandable. He did not look the steadfast warrior that he had been when he'd left. Wear and tear had taken its toll on his body, and it would be several weeks yet before he regained his old regal, steady stature. His eyes were the same, though, and those sunset eyes held his brother's gaze. “Ahkoris." A frown fell onto Karnak's lips, and Ahkoris remained unmoving under this assessment. He merely waited for the axe to drop, and in a moment, it did.

“Where did you run off to, traitor?” The words might've held more bite if Karnak's tone was not so smooth, if his eyes were not full of confusion. Traitor. Ahkoris had expected as much. He had not had time to explain his absence before he had gone, and his family was quite...attached. He found patience, pushing away the snub. "Evanora," he explained succinctly, his voice a tad flat with the memory that he had been unsuccessful. "I saw what she was aiming to do." Now it held a very clear, concise quality to it. He laid his plains out bare and honest.

"She did not wait to be reasoned with, and I could not wait either. I thought that if I left right away, I could catch her before she...disappeared." The word was so final, it felt leaden rolling from his lips. "She did not want to be found," he finished simply, and it may have seemed a lame end to the story if his gaze was not molten with truth and pain. He had lost an heir to the throne and, more importantly, he had lost his sister. He was quiet for several long moments, and his eyes were contemplative and full of memory as they held Karnak's gaze. It would have been cliche to say he tried, which he had done. His worn body and bleeding paw pads attested to that. He could not embellish his story, and he spoke the truth. She had evaded him till the last moment, ducking and weaving and dodging, determined to throw him. Eventually she had gone where even he could not follow. What happened to her out there would haunt him.


"speak"

© DI


@Karnak
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#4
His quiet, calm facade of confusion masked the tempest that would not stop thrashing behind his ribcage. Karnak met his brother's eyes, seeing nothing but those dawn-touched irises, and did not think. His tongue had outright accused him of being traitor, but did he agree? Did the opinion of his mind align with that of his tongue? "Evanora," Ahkoris began, his voice betraying very little other than exhaustion. "I saw what she was aiming to do." Karnak felt himself growing rigid and chill was a snake slithering down his spine. Evanora... She had returned, explaining that the mountains had trapped her when the wildfire consumed the Red Wood. She had been so excited when she saw him.

"She did not wait to be reasoned with, and I could not wait either. I thought that if I left right away, I could catch her before she...disappeared." His mask of calmness splintered, and pain slipped through the cracks. "She did not want to be found," Then the cover shattered when a heavy frown fell upon his face and he retreated a step. Ahkoris truly was a mess; his body bore signs of a long journey fraught with troubles. He was not lying. He would not put himself through something so difficult and dreadful only to lie. “I-I'm sorry.” It was but a murmur, his composed exterior falling and baring his devastation for his brother to witness. He was not the traitor, after all. Evanora was. This knowledge left in his mouth a taste of bitter relief

Evanora.

She had returned that day to give him false hope, false promise of a reunited family. Only he did not know it was a lie until now. “Why?” He shook his head, “She came back, did you know? She was excited.” For a man who desired nothing but to understand minds, this change was jarring. Evanora was one who blazed the brightest, one who fought the hardest, for she had always coveted the throne despite knowing Cairo was the crown princess. Although he and his mother decided that she would be known as a traitor, he had not truly understood until now. Traitor; a word easily thrown around, especially in such a volatile family, but when the betrayal was witnessed... He had not thought a betrayal could hurt so much. It hurt more than his grandmother's treachery and Sinead's lies.

But she was gone. Out of their—his—reach. But Ahkoris was here; he had not died like Kohl had and run like Evanora. Karnak took a hesitant step forward, nudging his nose against his brother's muzzle, “Will you run away again?” Even though Ahkoris' reasons were valid, he had run away without telling them.


“I am speaking”

Karnak Tiamat
violence behind a mask of peace


@Ahkoris
Reply
#5


ahkoris
the slow-burning ember


“I-I'm sorry." Was he? Ahkoris' sunset gaze was still intent on his brother's face, searching. Karnak was disappointed in him, but this was to be expected if he had been branded a traitor in his absence. Surely the news was shocking, and so he gave his brother time to process the information without any more questions from him. Evanora's absence was still a glaring hole in his heart, and he could not think of her disappearance without a certain level of despair creeping into his body. It was like a leaden weight pulling down on him. Did she know what pain she left behind? Did she know what she would cause her family to feel? She had left so much behind.

Then Karnak asked the question Ahkoris could not answer. “Why?” He pressed his lips together, knowing anything he could offer was only speculation, that nothing could be satisfactory. “She came back, did you know? She was excited.” Ahkoris collected a breath deep in his chest and then released it in a slow, even sigh. "I don't know," he admitted honestly, his voice soft. He wanted so much to know. It killed him not to know. But he was forced to realize that there was no reconciling this confusion, not unless Evanora came back. And that did not seem likely. "Maybe she was unhappy." He said it without any real feeling. Evanora had always been in battle with Cairo, but it hadn't felt that she would do something like this.

Then Karnak moved forward, hesitantly, and leaned his nose gently against Ahkoris' muzzle. He leaned into his brother's touch, feeling something that had been tight in his chest loosen. “Will you run away again?” For a moment, Ahkoris did nothing. Then he offered a small, almost wry smile. "Not unless someone needs me to chase them again." This was as good as a "no." He paused again. "How have you been?" he asked quietly.


"speak"

© DI


@Karnak
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