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Star Crossed Chapter 1

In a world of trivial happenings and whimsical gods join my 3 Characters Kitz, Kurzit, and Cheer.

(This story is of course still a work in progress made with music in mind. Each theme is referenced and should able to be found on youtube if you want to look them up...These pieces inspired me as I wrote the chapters and I believe enhance the experience of reading them if used as repeating background music)

The Story of Kitz


In a world of trivial happenings, where the whimsical natures of the gods are as dangerous as the mortals who follow them and bring their wills to pass; few exists that manage to appease the divine in such a way that would bring them favor. Of those who do, most have roots that place them in the most unexpected places one would look for a hero. One such hero of humble origins, whose adventures began though both kindness and cruelty and whose life’s quest began as no more than the untold weavings of mortal choice and divine whim; is Kitz. Kitz is a Hengeiyokai, a race resembling humanoid forms of various animals, they are often referred to as the spirits of the animals they resemble and can become. They often live their lives both as animal and Humanoid and freely switch between the two during their days.

Kitz, specifically, is a fox spirit born in a small village to a Hengeiyokai mother named “Kyrie” who by herself was of little note in the grand scheme. He has two siblings, the first being an older sister named “Rhiana”, and the second being an older brother named “Kurzit”. Though, Kitz’s mother met her end while Kitz was still too young to remember very much, it was this event that set into motion the whimsical wheel of events that would eventually guide Kitz and his siblings down a path towards destiny and then to each a choice. The choice was to follow the light of the gods above or to follow the dark whims of the gods below. No matter the choice, they would all soon learn just how much of a tangled web that the fates can weave.

(Music “Kyrie II”)
01 - Kyrie II.mp3

A Mother’s Words

It was an early spring day like any other, the sun shone brightly over the high valley of the spirit village of Woodhaven. The Birds sang their song of spring and everywhere one looked new life was flowing through the forests and the skies as if to shake off the stifling trauma of the previous winter. The Wind was alive with new hopes for the coming season and the distant sounds of playing children could be heard over the quiet labors of the shaman’s song. Not everyone, however, could enjoy or even listen to the song of life this day as the shaman’s song was not a song of life at all but one of death. A member of the Fox tribe would die this day and she, Kyrie, now lay in a small wooden straw bed bundled to her arms in blankets and holding her youngest child with those closest to her in life surrounding her; watching, waiting, all in silent denial of what was happening before their eyes. All in the room sat with sad complexions painted across their faces, all except one. Kitz watched from his mother’s arms with silent and curious eyes at the strange gathering, being too young to realize that the gathering was in fact for his mother, the soon to be departed.
 
“How do you feel mother?” came the low, gentle voice of Rhiana, Kyrie’s eldest daughter of 12 years, after a few uncomfortable moments of silence had passed.

“Well, enough…to hold Kitz…” Came Kyrie’s response in time with her breaths each becoming more and more difficult as seconds until the end ticked by.

Kurzit sat not far away from Kyrie with a mournful stare on his face as his head rested in silent defeat on a small table next to the bed and across from where Rhiana now sat. He was only five years old, but that was old enough to know that he was losing something he needed, wanted, and cared about more than his young mind would know for years to come. He stayed silent not knowing what he should say if anything at all.
The shaman continued his song, now and then passing by giving comforting pets and sympathetic looks to the young ones. He knew that there was little he could do for them in regards to saving their mother.

Whatever had her was beyond the power of his mastery of the divine arts. He didn’t know what to make of it when she had shown up to him earlier in the week, only three short days ago, complaining of weakness. He had checked all of the village’s food and water supply for poisons or other such things. He had looked for signs of a bite or any hidden injury at all on Kyrie. He found none, not even the tiniest scratch or any other reason why she was slowly growing weaker and weaker. Even his strongest cleansing and curative magic seemed to have no effect at all. He thought to himself ‘It’s almost as if the gods were calling for her and there was nothing they would allow her to do to keep them waiting any longer’.
 
As he sang his song that would set her spirit at ease and help in her passing to the next world, he looked at Kyrie the way she watched her youngest son Kitz. He couldn’t help but feel a ping of remorse for the cub. Kitz would never know his mother, and none of them had a father to look up to…he had been gone from them all for nearly the whole year that Kitz had been alive. He was not expected back and had long been feared dead. Still the shaman watched Kyrie’s eyes locked onto her cub with intent, it was almost as though she was trying to imagine the life in him that she would never get to know. He had seen this all too often in those too far wounded on the battlefield to save their last moments were often spent locking eyes with the closest person they could find, often himself. He never could tell exactly what they were thinking when they did this, but something told him that he was glad that he didn’t have to think of it all. It was about this time that he came to the grim recognition of the suddenly sorrowful tones that Kyrie’s stare had just taken. This was it, she didn’t have long left. As if in response to the Shaman’s silent thoughts Kyrie looked up at him and spoke as if pushing herself to speak faster.

“Thank you for this…my shaman…a flower…I need a flower…any flower…hurry.”

The Shaman continued his calming song knowing that only tears awaited him should he stop now as he drifted over to a vase with a few morning roses in it. He picked up the vase and brought it over to Kyrie setting it down next to her. She immediately grabbed the vase and held onto it.
She then looked over towards Rhiana, who was speechless and nearing tears while trying to stay calm, she spoke again.

"Rhiana…Take care of them…”

She looked back down at Kitz and dumped the vase out taking a single rose from those that fell out onto the table where Kurzit’s head had been laying a moment before. She held the rose up in front of Kitz growing visibly weaker as she did. Her voice faltered a bit, but she spoke again.
 
“Kitz, be good.” A warm smile found it’s way to her face for a moment as she looked at Kitz and then continued.
 
“…you…always liked…flowers…Remember me…I Will…you…”

She then set the rose in front of Kitz on her chest and took a few deep shuttering breaths her eyes growing more distant…and her arm falling to the side of the bed. There was a light whimper from Rhiana and Kitz just stared intently as if something inside his young mind had just made since. After another few short breaths, Kyrie’s head lay back onto the pillow and rolled to the right to look at where Kurzit was standing, watching and listening with his jaw slightly ajar and his eyes darting back and forth with indecision. Kyrie opened her mouth one more time as Kurzit moved closer to make sure he caught every bit of his mother’s last words to him as gentle tears now flowed down his reddish furred cheeks. All he got when he did was a sudden panicked look from Kyrie’s face as her eyes went wide and the sound
“Kurssss...” escaped from her lips.

 Kurzit bit his lip and piped out with a sudden despairing whine. “Yes, mother...Mother?”

It was too late, though, Kyrie’s eyes slowly closed as her body relaxed against the bed and she slowly drew her last breath. The Scene that followed made the shaman want to crawl in a hole and be gone from this world, there was nothing he knew how to say that would make anything better for these children as Kurzit sat silently shuddering in disbelief and Rhiana broke into open tears. He did all he knew how to do and held the two children close. He looked up at one point and noticed that little Kitz hadn’t moved, He had just sat there calmly staring at his mother’s face with one paw lying on the flower upon her chest. Little Kitz didn’t move that day until hours later when Rhiana took him off of Kyrie’s chest. Of all of them Kitz hadn’t shed a single tear that day.

The long road ahead

Over the next years, the three of them grew and learned as children do, none of them, not even Kitz ever forgetting what happened to them so long ago. They were raised by the tribe always having somewhere to go and being taught everything that the tribe had to offer. Rhiana was the mother now, and Kitz and Kurzit depended on her for many things in life. Though Kitz and Kurzit were often at odds with each other, Rhiana could always mediate their differences. Kitz took a shine to nearly everything and everyone he met or did and usually things seemed to go his way in a great many ways. He was personally being trained by the shaman in the divine arts and had shown obvious natural talents of the arcane as well. This often outshined Kurzit, who had grown more distant from most people since the day their mother died.
 
Kurzit always wondered why his mother didn’t get to say anything to him before she died, when she had so obviously spent so much more time on the other two particularly Kitz. Had she forgotten about him? Had she not known of anything she wanted to say to him? Why couldn’t she even finish his name? These were like many questions that had always haunted him since that day. Kurzit often felt that he had no direction in life and, for this reason, he was usually a great deal harder to get along with for many of the other children in the tribe. Over the many years that passed in this section of Kurzit’s life, he grew darker natured even changing the color of his fur to black with magic.

Kurzit learned quickly what it was to use people to get what he wanted and to bully those weaker or less sneaky that he was, and both of these often included Kitz when Rhiana wasn’t around to stop him. One rather odd quirk that Kitz had developed over time was his obsessive observance of rituals regarding last rights. Whenever anything died, Kitz would obsessively try to place flowers over the bodies or gravesites even when no flowers could be easily found he would look for hours until he found some. This little habit got Kitz even more attention around the village. For the small family of siblings, things went rather well for about ten years then, until a few choices and a circumstance or two would change things once again.

The Devotion of Love

As in any society, there is a certain age when children begin to learn about love, life, and courtship. For a Heyngieyokai, there is much to learn and learning these things begins whenever the need is felt, whether one is ready for them or not. They had to learn the hidden rules to a game that they couldn’t simply ask about. They learned of the social importance and the rules of receiving gifts and of giving them. Each day would bring a new lesson in persuasion or defense, and one could never tell when the lesson would be taught or how. Such was the life of a young hengieyokai, always busy performing one social maneuver after the other with the hopes of getting their way. While Rhiana had passed this point many years ago and was now happily settled in with one of her choosing Kitz and his older brother Kurzit were just learning about these things.

Kurzit at the age of 15 and Kitz at the young age of just 10 were now beginning to feel warm feelings from those of their female peers within the tribe. While Kurzit was a lot better at getting the attention he desired from the girls he was interested in, Kitz’s overall popularity with the tribe and his childishly innocent interest in courtship, particularly in his fascination on the feeling called love at such a young age often attracted a lot of warm and welcoming attention. This attention usually resulted in some kind of backlash on Kurzit when he was found to have mistreated Kitz in any way. Kurzit, though truly pleased to see his brother doing well, hated this fact. Once again in his life he felt like many of those that he loved and cared for were more interested in Kitz.

This teenage-like drama went on for quite some time as they both learned to rules of the new social environment that they had fallen into. Everything went well until one day…The day that Kitz met ‘her’. Her name was Pearl, and she was one of the older more experienced not to mention attractive members of the courtship game, being 16 at the time when Kitz was not even 12. Kitz fell head over heels, completely in love with Pearl almost as soon as he met her. He would always watch her and speak to her, but she would always treat him his age as the little child he was. Kurzit, however, was a much more experienced and older player in the social game, and once he learned of Kitz’s extreme fixation, he quickly moved in and laid claim.

The conflicted feelings that Kitz felt due to this were immense. He felt hurt and happy at the same time, but it only served to deepen Kitz’s devotion to the feelings of love that he had come to crave so much. Magic flew between Kurzit and Pearl as it seemed to most of the tribe that they would stick and become a permanent item. This was true until one day Kitz broke down as he could not keep his feelings hidden any longer. He approached Pearl and told her exactly how strongly he felt for her. She gently rejected him once again saying that he was a child to her and that it just wouldn’t work. Even though she refused Kitz it did make her think and shortly after, she and Kurzit were no longer an item as she didn’t want to cause hate between the two brothers who had already suffered so much in the past with the loss of their mother.

Kurzit was devastated by this and decided then and there that he couldn’t let Kitz do this to him again…First he was robbed of his attention from his mother on her dying day, and then his friends, and now Pearl who he had come to care for like none other. He felt that if he did have to go through this again because of Kitz then he would want to kill his little brother and finish the internal arguments for good. Never Before had Kurzit felt so dark and hollow inside as then. He knew it had to end, so he made a plan…

What makes a Hero

It was a cool evening, and the fall winds blew from the west sweeping over from the distant snowy peaks. It was quiet where Kitz was near the edge of the tribe lands overlooking a small mountain stream that wound its way southward and then off to the east trekking towards the great ocean. Most of the animals were quiet and waiting for the onset of winter. Kitz was here because the sound of water made him smile when he was feeling down. It had been a rough past few months since he and Kurzit had been on edge with each other over the issue of Pearl. He laid on the edge of the cliff in fox form thinking quietly to himself how great a feeling it was to be held close to someone. Kurzit found him like this and took in an audible deep breath as he walked out of the forest and into the clearing with Kitz. Kitz heard as planned and looked up to see the fox Kurzit approaching…He immediately expected a fight and stood up moving away from the high rocks where he had been laying. Kurzit stopped expecting this reaction from Kitz and Spoke in as soothing a tone as he could muster.

“Little Brother, Relax! I’m not here to fight…I don’t want to hurt you…We're family remember.”

Kitz had to admit that he was relieved to hear this, he didn’t believe that he would survive a hostile encounter with Kurzit after what happened with Pearl, and since this was the first time he had seen his brother since it all happened; he didn’t know what to expect. Kitz managed a light smile and nodded towards Kurzit but said nothing yet.

Kurzit spoke again as he took a few tentative steps forward towards Kitz, who sat down as he did, “ Listen I’ve been thinking…It took a lot of…err…well…heart to stand up and put yourself out there like that for Pearl…and uh…”

He paused as though the next line hurt to say. “ Uhm...I think, you still have a chance with her…At least more of a chance than I do."
 
Kitz didn’t know what to think Kurzit’s apparent and somewhat sudden change of heart, but he continued to listen. Kurzit continued now knowing that he had his younger brother’s full attention.

“You’re right…it was wrong of her to treat you differently than she treated me, she should have listened more to what you had to say.”

Kitz turned his head a bit to the side and looked at the ground before he spoke, “But she didn’t…I’m just a kid to her… and to the rest of them too.”

Kurzit approached a little closer at this and tried to speak again, but not before Kitz suddenly stood and interjected, “Kurzit, you know you don’t need to apologize to me…if anything I should be sorry…you had it all…and I ruined it.”

Kurzit inwardly growled to himself at Kitz’s words and tried to speak again, but Kitz interrupted again, “I’m sorry Kurzit, I didn’t mean for things to happen as they did, and I swear I certainly didn’t mean to hurt you.”

Kurzit paused waiting for the third interruption from Kitz when it didn’t come he looked up wiping the annoyed look that had started to form on his face. He looked at Kitz from across the clearing and raised an eyebrow.

“What no more rude stating of the obvious or bringing up sore spots? Does this mean I can speak now?”

Kitz looked down as his brother’s gaze met his and briefly nodded in acknowledgment of his brother’s statement. Kurzit continued on now walking boldly up to Kitz.

“I didn’t come here to argue about what has gone wrong; I came here to help you figure out how to make things go right.”

Kitz looked up then suspiciously as Kurzit spoke, “The reason they treat you like a little kid is because…You Are A Little Kid!”

Kitz frowned but couldn’t object before Kurzit continued, “But, even still, little brother; there are ways to prove yourself to them…to make them think of you differently…even to make them look up to you.”

Kitz closed his mouth, now cautiously interested in what his brother had to say. Kurzit continued his explanation after another brief pause for an interruption that didn’t come.

“Have you ever been outside the tribal lands, Kitz?”

Kitz shook his head and responded simply, “No, the elders say it’s too dangerous for us out there.”
 
Kurzit almost laughed, then decided better of it and did, “Kitz! Listen to yourself! Do you even hear how you sound? The elders say it’s too dangerous for us out there!? Is that what you want the others to think of you when it comes time to hear it?”

Kitz spoke then looking up, “But Kurzit, the shaman says he saw a…”

Kurzit shot Kitz a disgusted look then and shook his head turning around and walking away quickly before interrupting Kitz, “That’s it! I can see I’m wasting my time here. I’ll just be going now, maybe to somewhere less inhabited by whining pups past their bedtimes.”

Kitz jumped up suddenly fur rising at the sudden insult and anger building inside his young mind. He shouted at Kurzit, “That’s not fair I’m not…”

Kitz stopped suddenly realizing what he was about to say. Kurzit stopped as he heard this, but continued looking away so Kitz couldn’t see his sly smile as he spoke darkly.

“Your What?...Not…old…enough?”

Kurzit turned around now replacing his sly look with a smug and knowing look. He looked back at Kitz, who was standing hesitantly looking in Kurzit’s direction. Kitz realized at that moment that Kurzit was right; the others did look at him as a kid because he acted like one. Kurzit, seeing Kitz hesitate spoke firmly.

“Well, I’m done here.” Then he turned away again and continued walking for the tree line.

Kitz immediately looked up feeling suddenly very small and piped out, “No Kurzit! Wait! Please! Come back!”

Kurzit froze because he had expected this reaction from his naive little brother. He then turned back around once again and strode right up to his brother who still looked uncertain. When he got over to him, he stood tall towering over Kitz and Spoke loudly.

“If you want my help then stand up tall and stop acting like such a push-over. If you hadn’t been such a coward about talking to Pearl the first time, maybe none of this would have happened…It’s your fault!” Kurzit’s voice had risen to a yell by the last sentence.

Kitz immediately did what his older brother said and stood tall in front of Kurzit doing his best to hide any weakness. Kurzit kept a strong expression as he continued.

“Good! Now, first thing is first… You have got to stop doing your ridiculous flower thing…No one understands it, and great heroes don’t go around playing with flowers all day.”

Kitz gave a sudden bewildered look at the mention of the word hero. Then before Kitz could argue or defend himself, Kurzit Jumped on him. He quickly rolled the still surprised Kitz over and pinned him with teeth bared and murder in his eyes. Kitz gave a number of fearful yelps and shivered, panicked by Kurzit’s sudden aggression. Kurzit yelled into his face then.

“STOP IT!! STOP WHINING! STOP!” He illustrated his point with a very painful bite to one of Kitz’s forearms.

Fearing further attacks, Kitz immediately pushed up against Kurzit with his legs and froze trying to look as brave as he could in this situation. Kurzit looked down at him leaning a little closer and said firmly into Kitz’s face.

"Better…”. Then he got off of him and stepped back a few feet.

Kitz scrambled to his feet and took a feral and defensive stance against Kurzit arching his back and puffing his fur as a small trickle of blood ran down his right front leg from the bite Kurzit had given him.
Kurzit spoke then sitting down on his haunches looking at Kitz with a superior glow about him.

“Relax Kitz…I told you I wasn’t here to hurt you…”

Kitz made a quick glance down to his injured leg then back to Kurzit.

Kurzit responded, “You’re going to have to worry about a lot more than a little scratch like that if you’re ever going to win over Pearl."

Kitz calmed almost immediately at the mention of Pearl. ‘He’s actually serious’; Kitz though to himself as he sat on his haunches like Kurzit was and looked up at him. After a few more seconds of quiet Kitz stood deliberately putting his weight on his wounded leg for Kurzit to see then he spoke.

“Ok Kurzit, what do I need to do?”

Kurzit looked at Kitz firmly. “How far are you willing to go to get her?”

“As far as I have to,” Kitz answered without hesitation.

Kurzit, who was slightly impressed by the quickness of his response, continued, “Are you willing to face danger, hardship, and pain?”

“Yes,” Kitz spoke again wondering again where Kurzit was going with this.

“Well then, we may be able to make something of you yet Kitz…You see, deep down beneath her politeness and obvious charm Pearl likes the strongest suitors, suitors who are capable and able-bodied. She also believes it’s important to be respected. The reason she turns away from so many, so quickly; is because, from the moment she first sees you she is deciding if you’re good enough for her…and if she decides your not she moves on without a second thought…Since she is so selective, she probably won’t chose a permanent mate for many years to come.”

Kurzit trailed off then waiting for Kitz’s response. He knew that he had just told one of the biggest lies of his life, but he also knew he had to be convincing now if his plan was going to work. After a moment in wonderment at his brother’s strong nature, Kitz responded.
“How am I going to become all of that in time?”

Kurzit gave a cunning smile then and looked into Kitz’s eyes, “There is only one way…with my help…I want to see you happy little brother, even if it means I might not be for some time…I owe it to you...you know for all of the slimy things I’ve put you through while we were growing up.”

Kurzit then, over the next few hours, began to spell out the plan for Kitz. He did this all the while playing off all that he knew about his gullible younger brother. The Plan that he told Kitz about went as follows. First he would have to secretly train hard here at the village over the next few months to prepare himself for a great journey to distant lands. Second, he would leave the village one night, not telling anyone else because they would try and stop him from leaving. He would travel to the foreign lands of the south where the humans live. There he would seek to take part in doing great things. These would be things that bards would sing about and things that would make him a great hero of the land. Once he had become famous enough to be renowned across the land, he would return hardened and strengthened from his quests. Then he would approach Pearl as a hero and try for her hand again.

Once she was considering him, he would make sure that her heart felt as good as his by secretly giving her a potion that would let her share his feelings forevermore. It took some doing to convince Kitz about potion part, but Kurzit managed to win him over with the truly diabolic line.

“Imagine the feeling that you get when you look at her, the feelings of warmth you will get when you hold her close...You will be giving her a gift by letting her feel these wonderful feelings. Any one of us should only hope to be as lucky as to have someone care about us that much…enough to give us a gift like that.”

By the end of his talented brother’s charismatic speech, Kitz was in a land of dreams where the sky was as close as the trees around him. Kitz was in a romantic frenzy and Kurzit did everything he could to further these new found drives that he had helped Kitz discover.

Kitz did train hard over the next three months. As planned no one knew he was training for anything special. Kurzit took a short trip himself to the lair of a witch he had discovered and befriended about two years back. That was right about the time he began having a lot more success with his social life particularly involving females he was interested in, including pearl. From her he traded for two more Elixirs of Love. One was for Kitz to take with him to be used in “The Plan”. Then one for himself to be used as soon as Kitz mysteriously vanishes leaving him hurt and grieving for the real plan.

He gave Kitz the Potion shortly after and made him swear that he would never let anyone know what it was for because they would never understand. He gathered his belongings not long after and left one quiet night into the strange world that awaited him outside the tribal lands. Kitz never looked back and never questioned what he was off to do. He knew it would be a harsh and unforgiving path, but he didn’t care. He just set off towards the south to become a great hero and to win the heart of the girl of his dreams.

In the last moments that Kitz’s was leaving the village, and Kurzit was secretly seeing him off as the caring older brother that he was, Kitz came close at one point and truly thanked Kurzit for all that he was doing for him and all that he had taught him. Kitz briefly put his head on Kurzit’s neck in a rare affectionate display for his brother. In that very brief moment, Kurzit knew true regret. He knew that he was likely seeing his little brother for the last time and that the world outside the tribe lands was not one that Kitz would last long in. He knew that he was likely killing his brother if not so directly as with a knife. He almost called it all off but when he looked at Kitz that night; he saw a newfound purpose in Kitz’s eyes. So he didn’t say anything and let Kitz go. Kitz asked Kurzit to remember him no matter what happened to which Kurzit responded “I Will.” In the moments following as the two diverged for what could be the last time as Kurzit watched his brother charge happily headlong into the unknown. A small change for the better happened within Kurzit. A seed of hope inspired by the courage of his little brother Kitz. Over all the years since their mother died, Kitz had never looked back. Two heroes, not just one, would be born this day. The only questions that remained were heroes of what and to whom.

(Music “Track 15” Kitz Playlist)
15 Track 15 4.mp3
The Story of Kurzit
A last Glimpse

It had been a full week since Kitz departed the village, Kurzit now sat alone at his home. The forests outside were alive with his village mates as they looked in vain for the lost cub Kitz. Rhiana had led the frantic search of the surrounding areas when Kitz was first missed over five days ago. She and Kurzit had searched for hours at a time when the “news” first spread that Kitz was missing. He had played along rather successfully, even working up a few tears on his brother's behalf. In truth, some of those tears were far too easy to muster and a few times during the past few days he had actually found himself truly wanting to cry.

“I better toughen up if I’m going to win Pearl back,” he thought aloud to himself as he sipped a cup of minty tea that one of the shamans had made up for him to calm and sooth the pain of his loss.

It was quite good and despite his newfound feelings of remorse the tea still tasted like a victory to him. He didn’t have long left to wait now, so he sat and watched out the window of his families home as the first snows of the cold season blew in. He often did this at times when sleep could not find him or when the lonesome chill of empty hearts seemed too much to bear. This time however, was different. Today he was waiting to make his final move on Pearl. Any minute now, the villagers would give up the search for the day and they would all, Pearl included, come back into town to get inside for the night and rest to perhaps begin again on the morrow. He would then sneak out of his home and wait in the snow by Pearl’s window until she went to her room. Then, just like he used to do when they were together, he would knock on the window and stand outside looking pitiful.

Pearl was a kind soul and could never resist him when he used to do that. Even if it were far too late for proper visiting, she would always seem to enjoy improper visits even more. Once she inevitably invited him inside out of the cold, he would seek her comforts from the horrible world that he has been in since they had been apart. He knew she would likely resist his advances at first. Much to his dismay Pearl had not taken Kitz’s disappearance very well and felt somehow responsible for the young one’s vanishing. He chuckled to himself lightly as he turned to look for the door where his heavy blanket was.

“Heh, if only she knew how right she was.”

Despite all of this he knew that her resistance wouldn’t last long once they both had a drink in Kitz’s honor. After that, she would be all his once again. This thought brought a smile to his face as he got up and picked up a pink heart shaped vial from the window sill. He walked over to the door and calmly wrapped himself in his favorite blanket. Suddenly from the window came a loud whisper.

“Kurzit!” said a quiet, young, and normally shy female voice from the window that he had been looking out.
He spun around a bit startled by the fact that he was suddenly not alone. He immediately recognized the culprit. She was a young girl by the name of Cheer; almost four years his younger, she had just turned 13 recently. She was a cute little thing despite her age. Right now she was wearing a small brown vest and loose hanging breeches. She had a single bag on her belt and far too few clothes for the weather as it was. She was short and had lithe and narrow features and always a disarmingly innocent smile. Her smile and the wide variety of cute expressions she tended to make had earned her the nickname of “Cheeks” to him. It usually made her smile brighter and more importantly shut her up for a second when he called her by it.

She had often followed him around town during the past year or so. It was a bit annoying most of the time. She seemed to like making a game of not being seen or heard when she did. This last week she had been almost intolerable, turning up almost everywhere he did. It was almost as though she were watching him. Though, like most situations that bothered him he had once again found a way to make use of this one to further his own plans with Pearl. He shook his head and palmed the potion in his hand to keep it out of sight as he slowly wiped away the surprised look from his face and took a few steps toward the window.

“Cheeks!” he said with a smile as if in confusion as to why she was here.

She sat there at the window with a dancing smile her brown eyes darting around the room taking note of things. Then her eyes locked onto his closed fist for a second before she looked up.

“What’s that?” She said in her usual cute and excited tone.
He did his best to feign confusion as he looked down at the hand he held the love potion in.

“What’s what?” he said lightly.

She looked at him with an amused sly smirk before speaking again. “The Heart shaped bottle in your hand of course. It must be something real important for you to wanna hide it like that.”

Kurzit stood shocked for a moment in amazement at the young girl’s well-played observation. Then he turned the hand over and opened it to show the bottle to her and looked up slowly at her.

“Yeah, I guess it is kinda important. It belonged to Kitz. It’s one of the few things I have left of him,” he looked down sadly at the floor as he stopped in front of the window.

“Awwww…I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry,” was the response he got with a shortly quipped afterthought.

“Much,” as the girl stood taller to get closer to the window.

After about three seconds, she continued speaking. “I’m glad to see that you're doing better, you didn’t look too good earlier out there in the fields by the old mill.”

He looked up with a stern but inquisitive look on his face then and spoke quickly to cut off the follow-up comment that he knew she had prepared.

“You saw that huh? Yeah, I’ve had better days. You know days where people you care about stick around and don’t go and die or vanish on you.”
 
Cheer’s expression soured a bit at the gloomy viewpoint of Kurzit’s day. Then quickly brightened up again as her next words came to mind.
 
“Well, at least not everybody forgot about ya today! I got what you wanted me to.”

He looked down at her and couldn’t help but smile a bit; her tail was sweeping back and forth excitedly like it was on fire or something.

“Did you?” He said lightly still smiling as he leaned down on the window sill to get closer to her.

She nodded up at him seeming impatient and wrapping her arms around herself shivering slightly. She hopped in place looking up at him once again as he watched her.

“What’s with the ups and downs Cheeks?” he said not being able to take his eyes off her cute display.

She seemed annoyed again, “I’m waiting for you to pick me up Silly! You aren’t just gonna leave me out in the cold to freeze are ya?”

He shook his head and leaned down to grab her. As soon as he did she jumped up and latched onto him with her arms around his neck. He stumbled back and scooped her up into his arms at the sudden unexpected move.
 
After a moment of standing there holding her she made no move to get down, she just smiled at him…finally seeing that he was being toyed with he dropped her legs and she swung down to the floor letting go of his neck.

“So let’s see it,” He said looking at her expectantly.

She nodded and quickly reached into her belt pouch and pulled out a silver bottle with a rosebud laced cork and the image of a mountain stream painted on one side under the name ‘Pearl’. She held it out to him, and he took it nodding slowly. Cheer spoke again seeing the pleased look on his face.

“Yup, Last night I waited until everyone was down in her living room and I snuck in through the side window of their sunroom. From there I just had to sneak past them while they ate and go get it from her room right where you said it would be. Nothing to it, Piece of cake.”

He looked up from the flask satisfied at the job little cheer had done getting Pearl’s Wine stash from her room. “So I guess you’ll be wanting your payment now?”

She looked up at him licking her lips and smiling again tilting her head slightly.

“Yeah, I will…But first why do ya need it…?”

He looked away from her looking out the window to make sure no one was watching then replied.

“It’s sorta personal, it’s a surprise for her, I found some of her favorite wine in the cellar here a while ago, I was going to refill it with that. I think a light-hearted surprise like that might help make her feel better. You now get her mind off things, Gods know what I would do for someone to get my mind off things right now.”
 
Cheer quipped then.
 
“Well, I’m here!” as she gave an over-exaggerated smile wagging her tail behind her again.

“I can ‘cheer’ you up in any way you’d like?”

She continued turning her head slightly to the side again, now adding a sly smile with a slight twinkle in her eyes. He narrowed his eyes at this sudden outburst and pretended not catch the underlying intentions behind the second comment. He had suspected for some time now that little Cheeks was more of a hormonal and infatuated stalker than a simple curious kid; this just confirmed it.

“Nah, that’s alright Cheeks, there isn’t much a good rest, and a nice bath won’t fix,” he lied.
 
Cheer seemed obviously disappointed but looked up with a matter of fact smile rolling her eyes and spoke again in a more mocking tone.

“Well, even you know, that your wrong there, I can think of a few things those don’t come anywhere near fixing…but ok, Suit yourself…”

She almost seemed to pout at the last words.

By now Kurzit was growing more and more uncomfortable at her suddenly less than innocent undertones. If she was a few years older it wouldn’t be a big deal, he might even be overjoyed at such an unexpected turn of events, but as it was now he couldn’t even humor the idea.

So he turned and said, “Well thank you very much for doing this for me Cheeks, but I have some preparation to do before the others get back…”

He began to escort her towards the front door when she stopped and wouldn’t budge.

“Hey now! Aren’t you forgetting something? My reward perhaps?” she said sternly narrowing her eyes up at him.

He looked at her and nodded motioning around his house at the trinkets strewn about everywhere.

“Alright fine…Anything you want that’s what we agreed to right? Ok, so pick one thing you see here and it’s yours.”

He caught his mistake a split second too late as Cheer put both her hands on his shoulders. He spoke forcefully then.

“What, you want me? As your reward?”

He looked furiously down at her as she nodded a shy confirmation up at him.

“No!” He shouted, but she didn’t let go.
 
“That wasn’t part of the agreement,” he continued.

“It was by my hearing…you said anything…” Cheer countered.

A silent moment passed as neither of them spoke and he just kept glaring down at her as she stood there motionless looking somberly back at him. At this, she looked at the floor with sad eyes wiping away a couple of tears and spoke.

“Ok, you win! It’s clear from your reaction that you don’t like me, nobody does… But I like you…So listen for a second.”

She wiped away a few more tears as she looked up and continued, “In a few days I’m going to be leaving here for some stupid town that’s far away. My parents don’t think it's safe here anymore, so they're gonna take me to some school to live with other children that are nothing like me. I’m never gonna fit in, and I’m gonna grow up without knowing what ‘things’ are like.”

Kurzit was broadsided by her story and stood looking down at her not knowing what to say. All he managed to say was “Things?” with a quirked eyebrow.

She chided on looking away shyly, “Yeah, you know…’Things.'”

Seeing his further hesitation she spoke on, “I don’t really expect much, I know showing me everything I want to know is too much so how about this, Just let me feel what a really real kiss feels like…you know a good one…A kiss like you used to give Pearl…”

She looked down suddenly seeming angry with tears still in her eyes.

“And if you think so little of me that I’m not even worth that, then…then I’m gonna tell Pearl’s father what you made me do!”

With that, she let go of him and backed away flinching as though she expected to be struck. Cheer knew what a low blow she had just dealt, but she also thought that it was the best possible way to get what she needed.

Kurzit was once again shocked at the boldness of young Cheer. He felt like throttling the girl for threatening him like that, but as he thought about it over and over again, he slowly realized that despite himself, he was actually impressed. So after a few minutes of standing motionless across from her as she stared at the floor seemingly awaiting judgment, He thought to himself, ‘Well why not, what could it hurt…I certainly can’t have her ruining my plans with Pearl’. Then he nodded to her and said calmly…

”Ok.”

Cheer looked up at him suddenly seeming to brighten a slight bit.

“Really?!” She said with a weak smile.

“Yeah really…A kiss, it’s not you, I just don’t know if I feel right with anything more than that.” He said softly.

Cheer Nodded and whispered, “Ok…like you were kissing Pearl, a real kiss ok.”

He nodded slowly with that and stepped up close to Cheer looking down at her. She simply looked back up at him licking her lips. The two gazed into each others eyes for a number of minutes, Kurzit lost to those green eyes that he was gazing into and disarmed by the warm, loving, and gentle stare that he had never noticed her to give before. He guessed that to this girl who was about to be pulled away from her home and everything she knew this one kiss seemed to mean everything. He determined that he would make it good; he could at least do that for her.

He finally took a deep breath and closed his eyes imagining that Pearl was standing before him. He wrapped his arms around her in a gentle embrace, squeezing her body to him as tightly as possible as she did the same following his lead. Their lips met, and they kissed while lightly rubbing at each others backs and necks as they did. After a few moments, they both pulled apart from one another. Kurzit not knowing what had come over him and Cheer still leaning heavily against his chest dazed with her eyes half open completely lost to the bliss of it all.

Kurzit ended up staying there holding and soothing her for a few hours thinking that his plan for Pearl would have to wait until the next day. He told her stories of the wide world and of all the wonderful things he had heard about from travelers he met over the years. She just lay quietly and dreamily against his chest listening. After the short few hours were up, she thanked him for everything and for taking the time to make her feel better about leaving the tribe lands. After that, she left him to grapple with his own thoughts once again. What had just happened he couldn’t say just that it was something that he couldn’t quite figure out. His thoughts passed after a while, and he fell into a contented sleep. As Unfortunate fates would have it, that would be the last true contentment with himself that poor Kurzit would see for some time to come.

Across the Village only a few minutes later Cheer walked alone through the snow still wrapped in Kurzit’s Blanket. She slowly walked along the edge of the tree line on the north side of the village until she saw what she was looking for. She approached a shadowy figure on the edge of the woods yawning to herself. When she got to the figure, she looked up and said.

“Ok…I got what you wanted, one stealing kiss and a touch of bliss.”

With that, she reached into her belt pouch and pulled out a small pink heart-shaped vial and unwrapped herself from the soft warmth of Kurzit’s blanket. She wrapped both up together and handed the bundle to the shadowy figure. She shivered in the bitter cold as she did. The shadowy figure then packed the items away before turning back to Cheer.

A dark whispering female voice came from it then.
 
“So I guess you’ll be wanting your payment now?”

She looked up at it shivering and smiling again.

“Yeah, I will…But first why do ya need it…?”

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