#1 [fr] 

Keeping an even mask. Resist the urge to put on your helmet and let your emotions flow. More on that later.

Right now, there was no room for that. He had duties to fulfill, people who relied on him. He couldn't crack. Not now, he couldn't.

The respite had been short-lived. For a few weeks, he had believed that hope was allowed. A few weeks of pure happiness, when he had allowed himself to dream. Kamis don't like dreamers, he'd known that for a long time. Overnight, the situation had deteriorated, and then... And then the inevitable happened.

Haokan's memories were hazy, and he had no desire to explore them. Zhen had been sick. Probably some of the junk he was taking. Haokan worried that her husband's discomfort wouldn't pass, and how do you deal with drug addicts overdosing? You might as well ask another junkie. Feinigan being the closest, he went to see him, leaving Zhen in the care of the bartender...

Feinigan was in no condition to answer any more questions. There was a letter by the bedside, with his name on it. It had taken Haokan a moment to see it. How long had he stood there by the bed, transfixed, tetanized by the macabre immobility of his friend, holding that too-cold, too-stiff hand in his own? An infinite time, that's for sure. It had been painful to move again, to take his eyes off the tryker's face. That expression on his face would haunt her nights.

He'd taken the letter, certain that Feinigan had found one last joke to play. If only the little twerp could wake up screaming "surprise!".

But there was no chance of that happening.
Lettre de Feinigan à Haokan
Sorry, sweetie.

I turned it every which way, but I told myself that you'd be even more upset with me if I disappeared without you knowing where I was, or if I let someone else take care of it. Besides, you're the only one I really trust. Family is nice, but mine aren't the type to respect last wishes.

Don't let my seed of life fall into their hands. In anyone's hands. Just you. She called you Mayu'kyo, if you remember; and only my favorite mayu'kyo can understand. I've warned other people, you'll probably have allies, but don't really trust anyone. I don't want to be the butt of this kind of joke, but you know the people I've teased over the years; some might find the opportunity irresistible. Or worse, think they're doing the right thing.

Don't hold it against Canillia. Thanks for picking her up, by the way; I'd have been too disappointed to leave this world without tasting one of her cocktails. She could make a fortune as a dealer, if she abused her products a little less. Her stuff would have given me the boost I needed to finish what I had to do. But Gami wasn't going to wait forever for his due. You have to pay a little sometimes...

I won't abandon you completely, I promise. I've left a chest in your closet, in the back, behind your old clothes that you can't bring yourself to get rid of... That should keep you busy for a few years. Open it when you've got rid of my body. Don't wait years either.

As for the rest, there's everything you need in the cupboard near the entrance. I'll leave you to rummage. If you read the letters I've planned for the others, make sure you re-seal them, eh? So they don't get the impression you've been indiscreet.

I didn't suffer. I promise. You know me, I'm not that stupid. It was Nejimbe who gave me the idea. She told me a terrible joke the other day, I thought I was going to die laughing, and then I realized it was the right death. Dying of laughter is the best. And I'm sure no one bet on that kind of ending! And don't blame Zhen for giving me something to laugh about right up to the end; he didn't know what I had in mind. If you want to laugh too, ask Néjimbé to tell you the joke. But don't leave her alone with me, eh? She's capable of anything.

I have a last wish (in addition to funeral arrangements, we talked about that, you know what to do). In fact, it's my last order. Stay away from the Void Promontory. If it tickles you, have a beer in my memory, okal?

And don't abandon the children. It's not their fault, they still need you, even if they're getting old enough to do their own thing. But they still need a Wawa to comfort them when they get burned playing with fire.

I love you, sweetheart. I wish I could make you happy for years to come, but that's Zhen's job now.



Zhen... Zhen sick at the bar... But he wasn't going to die (and as he thought this, Haokan felt a terrible anguish come over him; was he going to die too? Was this the return of his curse?). Zhen was going to have to fend for himself on this one, assuming he'd swallowed all the junk from the Black Circle, the Illuminati and who knows what other bunch of drug addicts.

Haokan had mechanically prepared the body according to instructions received long before. It had taken him several tries to incant the spell, but he'd managed. Then he tidied up the apartment and cleaned up. Where Feinigan had indicated, he had found a pile of letters and a few sheets of various instructions. All he had to do was follow them, no questions asked. The usually messy tryker had been a model of organization on the subject, for which Haokan was grateful. He knew how to stop thinking, and that's what he needed at the moment, especially as there was nothing new in all this. Sinking into a great nothingness, the mask empty, putting off emotions as long as possible...

Edited 2 times | Last edited by Haokan (2 weeks ago) | Reason: correction de coquilles

#2 [fr] 

He hadn't said anything to Zhen at the time. He'd dragged his demon husband back to his apartment, with a hot water bottle and a full pot of tea. The Enlightened One wasn't in a position to realize the kamist's trouble, anyway.

To the pile of izams to be sent, Haokan had added a letter for Gicha Cirinia*, asking one of their number to come and deal with her dear husband's excesses. Zhen had squealed against this abandonment, but it wasn't possible to manage everything in parallel. Once he was well again... he'd explain.

The hardest part had been telling the children. All the others were adults, the letters Feinigan had written beforehand would suffice (and the kamis knew what kind of horror he had written to some of them...), but the children... He'd gone to Crystabell's house, gathered them together, explained to them as soberly as possible, further resisting his urge to put on his helmet. He owed it to them to hold on, to show them serenity and stability. They'd cried a little, all of them, and asked awkward questions.

The worst had obviously come from Grigri:
- Can we see it?
- Born. It's not a pleasant sight.
- I can imagine, Wawa. But it's just... it's hard to imagine.
- We'll... we'll see, ukio? I'll have to take his body on one last trip, so maybe we can get together on the beach and those who want to can say goodbye before we go.
- Where are you taking it?
- I can't tell you, Grigri. It had something to do with his religious beliefs, but he didn't like the uninitiated to know about such things.
- The Dragon, pfff, I know. He said I'd be a high priestess too, one day!
- May the kamis save you from this fate... in the meantime, it's born. If you really want it, it'll be a ceremony on the beach, but that's it. And I don't want to argue any more.

Then he had to start all over again at Pyr's house, promising the children who lived there another ceremony at the Forge. The old fyros who kept an eye on them had taken him aside, before he left:
- You're going to... do what he wanted?
- I'll try, yui.
- I'm not in great shape to run and help you, but I can ask one of my little nieces to help you, for the Fire.
- It's just that...
- She's a pyromancer, someone reliable, who knows the Ancient Rites.
- No offense, Xymolaus, but I don't have a lot of confidence in... yours.
- Enough to trust me with kids, but not enough to burn a body?
- Neither... But I don't have much choice about the kids, and Feinigan trusted you enough for that, so I'll settle for that. The rest can't be that difficult.
- You've never lit a real fire, Zoraï. Much less mastered it. Take the help, if you don't want to start a new Coriolis... or end up looking like an idiot.
- ... I'll think about it. I've got other things to do first, anyway.
Note HRP
* Gicha Cirinia: Leader of the Illuminated tribe.

Last edited by Haokan (2 weeks ago) | Reason: correction de coquilles

#3 [fr] 

The Family, as Feinigan called them. The people of the Shadows. Smugglers, spies, thieves, schemers, blackmailers, drug dealers; a whole fauna of the shadiest but some of the most respectable appearances. There was officially something for everyone. Rangers, marauders, various tribes, all nations. People whose faces were quickly forgotten, others who were rather well known. No doubt there were a few honest people among the lot; though by Fei's standards, they were all "honest". Just with a very specific conception of morality and standards.

Following the letters, they had gradually come to greet the body, one, two or three, rarely more at a time. Some paid their respects to Haokan, a few stared at him like a curious beast, most simply ignored him. Those closest to him showed genuine sympathy. Wieny even offered to "help him write a great epic on the life of my huluberlu of an uncle, that will make all of Bark laugh". It was a good idea, but Haokan didn't really feel like laughing at the moment. Maybe later.

Néjimbé had lingered, while others came and went. They had talked a little, in between visits. Haokan, on this occasion, understood better why Feinigan had always passionately loved this icy, almost inhuman Zoraïe. He knew that kind of mask. He knew very well how much the tryker had had to scratch to break that coldness... to the point of going too far.

Curiosity prompted him to ask the hominin:
- Have you forgiven him yet? Or do you still hold a grudge?

She took her time answering, her mask absolutely inexpressive:
- He needed to run. And not to stay too close to my stuff. But... I don't think I resented him for long. He was hard to really hate.
- You mean, the whole debt thing, the threats and all... it was all in fun?
- To keep her busy. It worked in part. Still, I'm relieved that he returned the various documents he'd stolen. I didn't want to really torture him. The energy it would have taken to get him to talk and make sure he told the truth, without any nasty surprises...

Haokan wasn't at all sure she was joking. Only Feinigan could see the humor in that kind of statement. Which reminded him... He asked her what kind of joke she'd told Feinigan shortly before her death. It didn't ring a bell with the zoraie, until he gave all the details he had.

- This... declared Néjimbé. A joke... Kind of. For someone like him.

She then told him what had happened.

Last edited by Haokan (2 weeks ago) | Reason: correction de coquilles

#4 [fr] 

Néjimbé had arrived in Crystabell one fine day. After a few questions to the guards, she was directed to a beach where, no doubt, the tryker was bubbling. She went there. He was fishing, or something like that. He seemed to be doing pretty well.

She had thrown the report at his feet:
- What does THAT mean?

Feinigan had looked at the booklet, glanced bubbly at Nejimbé, obviously oblivious to the temperature which must have dropped below zero since her arrival, and smiled:
- Shall I read it, my ice cube?
- Read on. And explain yourself.

He'd taken the document and gone through it, smiling more and more. Then he had a fit of giggles, which degenerated into a terrible cough. Néjimbé thought he was going to die, for real, so hard had the tryker struggled to catch his breath, coughing up a mixture of blood and what really looked like goo. She couldn't understand how Haokan and Zhen could stand the smell; Haokan especially with his kamist "I don't touch those things" side.

(At this point in the story, which she told without sugarcoating, Haokan pouted, but didn't interrupt).

When Feinigan had finally caught his breath, long minutes later, he had declared:
- Never... believe... drug... addicts.
- It's confirmed.
- I'm not talking about myself. Of course you don't believe me, you're not crazy. But Canillia... your spies told you she was injecting her product, didn't they? She gave us a demonstration. Very impressive. It completely froze Haokan, and I think he wiped it from his mind right away, it was so crazy. She probably wanted to convince us of the harmlessness of her product. Can you imagine if I'd done the same with everything I've sold over the years?
- Feinigan, you as tasted everything you've sold over the years.
- Yeah, but long after I stopped selling it. Therapeutic, you know? Nah nah nah, a good dealer doesn't take his own product unless he wants to have a very short career.
- Don't divert the conversation. The result.
- Look, if there's goo in my medicine, it's not my fault. I'm crazy, okay, and maybe even a little reckless sometimes, but I'm not a complete idiot either.
- It's because I don't trust your reasoning abilities that I'm here. Nor in your word. Where's your syrup supply?
- Ask Hao... he usually brings it to me, and as far as I know, it's direct from the Theocracy's healers.

Then he laughed:
- He's poisoned me on occasion, but not with this kind of stuff. He's too uptight about goo. Nah, my guess is Canillia just hallucinated and mistook sap for goo or something.
- I'm going to run a few more tests of my own. If I find out you're deliberately poisoning yourself, I'll sell you back to the Black Circle.
- Hey, easy there, ice queen! I'm telling you, I had nothing to do with it. Not only that, but I don't believe for a second that there's goo in my syrup. Especially active goo; who puts active goo in a drug? Unless you're dead wrong. It's an apprentice alchemist's trick who thinks it works like that, but they don't usually last long. And even if that's what Zhen brings me sometimes... Hao goes back, he'd have snorted if there was any goo or anything. You Zorais are superhuman at spotting this stuff.
- From the smell around you, Feinigan, no zorai could tell if it's from what you're taking or what you are. In the Theocracy, you would have been banished from the cities a long time ago.
- I know, I know... it's a good thing I'm not there, huh? Here I can go to the bar, and most of the homins aren't even bothered. Only the zorais wince. And there aren't many of those in Crystabell. But test my vial of the day, go and ask Hao for more samples... you'll see. Canillia's product is stronger than she sold it to me. I'm not unhappy about it, it's given me a hell of a buzz! I've been able to make progress on a lot of things that were slipping! But I think it also finished activating the goo. Well, that's probably irrelevant. Who cares? Anyway, she said "no hallu", but I promise you I got some, and it was fun. I felt like I was growing wings, ready to ignite the bark and all. I even wrote some great poems on occasion! But when I got back down, I realized that writing them in the sand AND underwater wasn't quite as good an idea as it had seemed at the time.
- We'll see.
- Poems? Not a chance.
- Goo in your syrup!


- So what? Someone poisoned his syrup?
- I know you'd like to find someone to swing that axe at, Haokan. But no, there was nothing. Either it was just the sample Canillia got, or Feinigan was right, she did her tests completely drugged and abused herself. This is probably the correct hypothesis.
- I'd hate to have to suspect the Theocracy of goo trafficking.

Néjimbé had no answer to that. She doubts the zorai is as naive as he claims; he's been around long enough, and done enough snooping, to know that the relationship between the Theocracy and the Scourge is highly ambiguous. She's not here to talk politics, anyway. But, in this particular case, it wouldn't have made much sense for the Theocracy's remedies to be poisoned.

Unless, of course, someone had wanted to make sure Feinigan didn't escape.

Last edited by Nejimbe (2 weeks ago) | Reason: plus de coquilles

#5 [fr] 

"What does he want from me, that one," she grumbled.
Without even bothering to open it, she placed the sealed letter on her table, which began to mop up the previous day's spilled byrh.
"And toub," she grumbled, removing it from the table. She proceeded to shake it lightly dry, while she pondered.
If he's writing to me, it's probably because of a desperate situation. And if he wants me to help him treat someone, he need only contact 'Yum, directly. Or Tao-Sian, since the other one can't be found. In fact, I'd have to find out where 'Yum is. Anyway, I'm the worst healer in the whole bark, barely able to make a few potions whose composition I've memorized...

She put the letter down on her work table to finish dressing. A non-functioning arm made it difficult to put on a kostomyx, and she worked as hard as she could, cutting and re-cutting old armor to come up with a system more suited to her physical condition. Jazzy had promised her a new ry-fabren, when he had time between marital crises, but she soon realized that she wouldn't be able to put it on as it was, and would need some adjustments.
Then taking out a dagger, she finally opened the letter, scanning it with her eyes, before sitting down, seized by a flush of sweat.
So that's it. One more to succumb to the plague. One more careless person. Though at his level, it was beyond reckless. How to know...

Eeri sat still for a moment in her new apartment, which already smelled of byrh and shooki. She put down the letter and grabbed a vial of oxyx that was lying around, uncorking it with a flick of her teeth.

"I'll never know now if you were really in love with me, my little Feinigan... That day we left for the Old Lands, when you kissed me... The question will now remain unanswered..."

Her voice echoed in her too-empty apartment. Eeri felt a strange, embarrassing sensation, as if she had seen and heard herself uttering these words, from the outside.
She stood up and took a sip of oxyx.

Of course not, pure provocation. And anyway, it wouldn't have been reciprocal.


"Quand on a le nez trop près de la bouteille, on ne voit plus le bar"

#6 [fr] 

The letter had taken a long time to find her. Or maybe it was the other way around. But still, what an idea to address mail to her at her apartment rather than at the bar, eh. It must have been Hao's idea: either he hadn't wanted to face the laughing crowd at the bar, or he had lots of letters to send and hadn't thought about the habits of the recipients. Anyway, it wasn't as if this kind of mail called for an urgent reply either.

Krill reread the letter once more. Fei hadn't even bothered to specify that he would be definitively dead when she received it. At the same time, it was no surprise given the content of their last discussions, and the look on his face for several years now. Besides, she knew how to read between the lines. And even if she hadn't tricked Zhen into spilling the beans earlier, seeing Grigri with his stuffed yubo in public was a pretty sure indication that there was baldusa under the skin.

The long list of sycophantic adjectives at the beginning of the letter was typical of the honest businessman. His shameless recharacterization of their agreement regarding the girls even more so. Krill chuckled: "Forget it, Fei. I said they'd have shelter to heal their wounds if they needed it, and advice if they asked for it. As for the rest, you can go brush yourself off..."
Still, the idea of pestering Zhen or Hao at either of their homes was tempting. Fei had at least kept her word on this: she had the addresses and the keys. She laughed to herself. Then she put the whole thing away on a shelf: the girls would have to be in a lot of trouble for her to decide to involve the two energetics, who were just as counter-productive as each other, even if not for the same reasons. Damn Fei, he'd managed to pass the buck to her...


Peu importe que la chope soit à moitié vide ou à moitié pleine, tant qu'on a le tonneau.
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