23 Jan


“Aku, I know you likely need more time to rest, but we really need to deal with this,” my friend pleaded with me. 

My lip twitched in irritation, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it was because of the million volts that had passed through my body. 

“Just kill him and be done with it.”

“But Aku-”

“That last attack was meant to kill. What I did was incredibly risky- I should be dead right now, but I’m not.”

“I know. I know. But think-”

“Just kill him already!!”


I glared at him. 

“Could you just please consider for a moment that we could interrogate him?! Get some answers about the king that he mentioned, and I don’t know, try to do the task the rainbow woman gave us?”

I didn’t say a word to him. 

I walked down to Arlo on the beach and dragged his unconscious ass to the water. I grabbed him by the obnoxious ratty braids that covered his scalp. I pressed his face into the wet sand and waited. 

A wave rushed in and submerged his face, right on cue. 

Arlo struggled violently against the vine restraints that bound his feathered arms, fighting me to get air into his lungs.

“Yeah that’s right, wake up you son of a bitch.”

When it looked like he’d given up and lost the fight, I pulled him up.He gasped, his lungs rasping, fighting the saltwater out. He gagged and coughed for ages. 

“Where is your leader?!” I shouted at him. 


I plunged his face into the sea again. 

“Aku! What are you doing?!” 

I smiled at my friend. “Just doing what you asked. Right, Rak?” 

Rak-Li stormed over to me and pulled my hands out of Arlo’s hair. He pulled the cloud bearer out of the surf, and he went on sputtering for way longer than I had patience for. 

“I asked you a question! Where is your-”

“Aku, there’s a right way to go about this. Let him finish,” Rak interrupted. 

“Tch.” Rak was being too easy on him, of course.

They waited. Eventually Arlo’s sputtering turned to rasping, and then to gasping. 

“Are you okay?” Rak-Li asked him. 

“Please- don’t do that again, I beg you,” he said, his voice hoarse and scratchy from the salt water. 

“We won’t, as long as you cooperate.”

“W-well, what. What do you need?” He stuttered nervously.

“Tell us about the man you call King Goltri, Arlo.”

His face lit up, and he smiled like a damn kid I swear, but that smile was short lived. He must’ve realized the implication of us asking because he started to panic. He tried scooting away from us, but the sand was soft and all he accomplished was digging a hole with his heels and making the water muddy. 

“No- why? I can’t. He would kill me-“

Rak-Li put on a big, toothy grin. I could tell he was getting impatient. “Is that so? Looks like we have to do this again,” he threatened, grabbing Arlo’s braids and yanking his face towards the water. 


Rak-Li stopped. 

“I’ll talk! I’ll talk. Let me go, don’t do this,” he said as his rapid breaths devolved into more raw, painful coughs. 

“If he doesn’t kill you, we will,” I said to him. “Use your head. Pick your battles wisely.”

Arlo nodded, painful tears slipping down his cheeks. 

“King Goltri… He's the man that led our people into ruling as the most powerful kingdom on this planet. He is Pouli, like me.”

“Pouli? What the fuck is a Pouli?” I asked. 

Arlo went to gesture with his feathered arms, but quickly remembered they were bound. He flapped his elbows behind himself a couple times. “People with wings.”

“If the warlords rule over the main continent, why are you stationed all the way out here?” Rak-Li asked.

“Well, uh… partially because I asked to be out here. You can’t tell your own thoughts from the chatter of the hustle and bustle, especially in the cities. All I want is some peace and quiet.”

I gritted my teeth. “Useless- what’s the other part? We don’t care about your life story.”

Arlo visibly flinched when I spoke. I liked that. 

“Er, uh, King Goltri has plans to expand control to other continents. His influence is massive, and his army even more so. I was stationed out here as part of the plan to invade the human isles. My job was to catch and execute survivors- but I didn’t think- we didn’t think there could possibly be any with the mark of power! Humans as a race are so weak in comparison- no wings like Pouli or Nychtera, no fur or strength like the Trichoto, no fins or gills like the Psari. A lackluster devolution that pales in comparison to the other races.”

I’d stopped listening to the pouli’s rant; he’d dug his own grave mouthing off in front of me. I was visibly trembling with rage. 

You,” I said darkly. “You are a part of why my village was massacred. I’LL KILL YOU!

My fists burst alight with flames, and I went to hit him. But suddenly I was drenched, and though I still hit Arlo across the face, it lacked flames. 

If I had looked up, I would have seen Rak-Li’s chest symbol glowing, but I was too enraged. It didn't matter that I couldn’t use flames. I would kill him with my bare hands if I had to. 

I wailed on the cloud bearer relentlessly. 

How dare he?! How dare he insult my people! They were all dead! Gone! And he was responsible!

Rak-Li pulled me off of him and dragged me away by the armpit. 

“Get off of me! Let me go!! I have to kill him!!” 

“We’ll finish this later,” Rak-Li told Arlo.

I got to my feet so I wouldn’t keep being dragged; my leaf sash around my waist was ratty enough as it was. 

Rak-Li led both of us well into the thick jungle before he released me.

“Aku, you need to cool off,” he said evenly. “There’s still so much information we can get out of him. I can’t have him swimming with the fishes yet!”

“HE KILLED MY PEOPLE!!” I screamed hoarsely. 

I sunk to my knees. I knew it wasn’t the truth, that I so wanted to put blame on someone’s shoulders so I could finally get revenge. 

I was hit with wave after wave of emotion as it finally sank in; The people of my village were gone. Dead. And They’d left this world sharing so much resentment with me, towards me, that I’d never be able to repair. That part of my life was over. 

I sobbed into my knees.

“They’re gone,” I said breathlessly. 

I heard Rak’s footsteps as he left me, going back towards the beach.
I was left alone there, sobbing for I don’t know how long. But eventually, Rak came back. 

“Aku?” He said softly, his voice edging on panic. 

“What,” I said miserably. 

Rak-Li was silent. 

I raised my head and looked at him. I was right; he did look panicked. 

“Arlo’s gone.”

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