It was quiet off the beaten path. The yearly trip to Ilyanor was always dreaded, but the scenery was something he often yearned for. The only thing he missed about his home was the rolling hills of soft grasses and wildflowers, the stretches of uninterrupted forests dense with vines and the scent of dew on blossoms. Everything here hummed and pulsed with life in its purity, tingling his skin and carrying whispering melodies into his ears on salty breezes. He'd forgotten how vibrant the colors were compared to the mainland. He always did until he touched down and darted into the lush curtains of the willow trees at the edge of the sands, careful not to be seen. This was where the blue-haired angel would commune with nature and refresh. Placing his blanket over the warmth of a leyline, he seated himself and tied the ribbons circling his wrists to the thin willow tendrils nearby, lacking the family connection but pretending he wasn't alone and disjointed from most of what the holiday entailed, much the same way as he was disjointed from his race in general. Disjointed from everything, really.
If it wasn't for the positive effects on his magic and soul, Kiigan would never grace these rainbow pebbled waters of Fleuve'ir's river. It wasn't the ritual itself that bothered him, but rather, everything else that went along with it. If he could just meditate and cleanse in solitude, everything would be fine. But no, they all had to share a spiritual realm and treat it like an overly crowded family reunion. Somehow, despite the endless expanse of shallow water and perfect sky, you could never just be alone there. Even without the ribbons to let them enter together, it was as if this realm knew to try and put family and friends together. He'd yet to be able to avoid them the whole time, no matter how hard he tried.
Kiigan closed his eyes and cleared his mind and the next time he opened them was on another plane of existence.
Sure enough, there they were, a vision as predictable as any other memory he held of home. A massive group of shimmering, proud angels, with those he wanted to see least right in front. A shorter man with black and white hair was clapping a tall, oil-slick headed man on the shoulder with a proud grin. The two shared brilliant peridot eyes that were crinkling the exact same way as they wheezed those goofy laughs and started horsing around, looking more like brothers than a father and son. A taller woman with blue hair stood frowning nearby, arms crossed to appear detached, though the twinkle in her amethyst eyes betrayed her own satisfaction. Harm lived up to their expectations, clearly. They hadn't noticed him, but Kiigan knew better than to think his stooping behind a nearby forest of dryads would save him, because he didn't see her
. His grandmother.
None of the Youngblood clan looked like they aged over the human equivalent of thirty five, but his grandmother barely looked older than her grandkids. "You're behind me, aren't you?" he asked without turning, and sure enough, a lilting chuckle sounded. "Of course. A grandmother always knows when her littles are being sneaky. You're even worse at it than your cousin Dallia's brood."
With a sigh, he turned to see her, pale skin, pale blue and eyes. Of the whole lot, he found her to be the most palatable. She was gentle and never had a harsh word to say. She always listened, which was important to him. The pain of reuniting with her was a different kind, more guilt than anything. As he turned his crimson orbs on her, as usual, her expression turned wistful. "Just like your grandfather's," she said for the millionth time, reaching up to pat his cheeks. His grandfather had died at the end of the war and was likely the reason the whole family disapproved of his decision to live outside Ilyanor. He felt guilty for always reminding her of the man he never met, and also for living amongst races responsible for his death.
"Come dear, everyone would love to see you," she said, reaching down to grip his hand with shocking strength. She was gentle and patient, but she could toss men twice his size a country mile. This happened every year.
"You know that's not true, móraí," he said, though already defeated. There was no escape.
Making various dismissive noises and quieting him with words of comfort, he was dragged from behind the meditating trees and to the buzzing hive of relatives. Each step added weight to the stone in his gut. As the pair neared, the three he'd been watching went silent and turned to look at him. Luckily, the children running around kept the rest of the family occupied.
"Nice of you to join us, brother!" Harm chirped, grinning in spite of the tight expressions his father and mother were sporting. "This has been a very interesting game of hide and seek. I've gotten close a couple of times, you know, but you keep slipping away. Next time, for sure!"
While Harm made light of it, his father kept glancing at his wife, who grew more annoyed by the second. It quickly reached a head and the mother and son commenced their yearly scowl-off. "Kiigan, quit being a plank and come home," she demanded, voice a bit deep for a woman's, but lacking the general warmth of that half of the species.
"Can you lot not just sit in the water and quietly cleanse? Do we have to do this again?" Kiigan grumbled, arms crossing defensively. He was already counting down the time until it felt like he could break meditation, which was the activity being largely ignored.
The tall bluette bristled. "Enya..." his father rumbled under his breath, but his only acknowledgement was a sharp "Piss off, Malone!" as the woman basically squared up to her wayward son. "Yes, and we'll keep doing it until you come to your senses. Harmon heard a rumor that you burnt down a bar?!"
Kiigan's head jerked to the side, glaring at the smiling angel covered in tattoos. "Snitch."
"I told you I was close," Harm shrugged.
"If you keep on this way, you know what will happen." Ah, mother. Straight to the point. The source of his fear, yet he'd heard it so many time from her that it meant nothing. All it did was make him feel like running all over again, giving into his rebellious ways to be free.
"Well it ain't yet, so I know what I'm doin'. Mind you're business for once, yeah?"
"This is a happy time of reunion,” the matriarch tried to sooth, but neither hot head was having it.
"Great River save me, you're just like him
," his mother spat.
“Enya!” Kiigan’s grandmother exclaimed, her own pretty features scrunching in disapproval at her daughter.
She was taking about his grandfather, of course. Seamus Youngblood, husband of Brie, a great warrior angel. The man responsible for most of Enya and Kiigan’s grumpy faces and fiery tempers. It was nearly impossible to speak about the man, and thus all he knew was that he was a lot like someone that had died long before he was born. Someone that caused his grandmother tears to think about and enraged his mother at the mere comparison only made him bitter. It always had and it always would. Apparently he was notoriously stubborn.
“You weren’t always this way."
"Why can’t you go back-"
"-to the sweet Kiigan? The one who helped mine healing quartz and fell in love with--”
"Don't bring her up."
"But you were happy!"
“I was numb! I had a problem, remember? I couldn’t get through one day here without blowing out my brains with some sort of stuff up my nose.”
“Better that than roaming around, playing chicken with sin.”
“You would rather...” he started in disbelief, then pressed his mouth into an angry and betrayed scowl. His own mother would rather him take what the mainland called drugs to stay within the lines than be himself and happy. Granted, it was natural Gaiyan stuff, but it was the principle of the matter. Fake happiness only put off and compounded all the negative stuff for once he was sober.
“Oh, don’t look at me that way. It’s better than the alternative.”
“I’m starting to think death would be preferred.”
Enya looked more tired than as taken aback as a mother should. “Wouldn’t it, though...” she mumbled, but hadn’t realized it’d been aloud until he was gone.
The ferocity of which Kiigan's consciousness returned to his body had the ribbons ripped from the trees before his eyes were even open. Willow limbs, ivy, and flower petals were left snapped and discarded on the abandoned blanket as he tore free from the planet's embrace and immediately took to the sky. Screw them. Screw all of them! It was more of the same, but it never got any easier. They all seemed so unbothered that Scott was dead. They never even talked about the loss, and it was apparently a better fate than the possibility of turning into an Eldritch. They never listened to his reasons for leaving. They didn't care. Never had. His stomach twisted in knots and he was so distracted that he didn't even realize he was flying in the opposite direction of Avalon Islands, where he was expected at a party.
He wasn't exactly in a party mood, now was he? Maybe it was that, or maybe it was the reminder of life at home that had him flying straight to acquire the very thing he'd sworn off not long after leaving Ilyanor. Floom. It was a delightfully natural bloom that grew on trees to the north near Dragonspear Peak, coming in a rainbow of colors and full of glittery pollen that induced a euphoric state of mind. He hazarded a guess that it could be used as an antidepressant on the mainland, and maybe it was, but the side-effect was quite unpleasant. When addicts came down from the joyous, numbed high, all the problems they were escaping still awaited them... and it all felt worse than if they'd just endured it in the moment. The payment for soaring highs was cavernous lows, the likes of which felt bottomless and inescapable. After a while, even the induced happiness felt hollow, but for those content with running from their problems, it was all a small price to pay.
Though he could have picked his own, he realized what he was doing before that. In its natural state, the pollen only works while the bloom is still on the tree. Would there be a year of Lunar Cleansing bullcrap he could get through without getting some kind of wasted? Wavering on whether he wanted to walk this path again, he swerved and headed for an old acquaintance skilled in harvesting and preserving Floom for more long-term use. The blooms could be shriveled before they released their pollen, formed into dried balls, and stored in mesh bags. Adding a bit of magic to the dried bloom would reinvigorate it and release a dose of dust before it reverted, allowing for repeated uses before a new bloom would be needed. It felt like defeat purchasing such a thing after so long without it, but... his mental state was scrambled. All the conflict and rejection and guilt, his own mother entertaining the idea that being dead like Scott might be better than his current existence? Kiigan wasn't good for anyone like this, so it was better to be safe than sorry. It was better than being himself, right?
With that business concluded, his powerful white wings carried him across the ocean toward the islands far on the horizon, though he hardly noticed the journey. His mind was anywhere but on what he was doing, and the more he thought, the more agitated he became.
By the time he landed on the edge of the crowded sands, he was barely more than a seething beast. His wings sealed away and he jammed his hands into his black trunk pockets, stalking along the edge of the rowdy moondance festival like a monster pacing a cage. He didn't have to worry about anyone seeing he was an angel, because everyone was looking at the sky... why? He whipped his head around, took in the double moon for a moment, then scowled harder. And just what omen was this supposed to entail? Good or bad? Right now, it felt like neither would have much effect, yet he felt some sort of added dread. Maybe it was some sort of sign that his mother was right and sin would catch up to him, and death was a preferable fate for all involved. Or that nothing would ever change and this was all there was to his stupid life.
Turning his back on the phenomenon, it only took him a few minutes to locate his friends, thanks to one really loud 'witch', but... there were several things that only worsened his mood. Nudging through a couple of people blocking his way, he saw them at a short distance. All of them, though hopefully, they didn't see him. The shard of hope that sparkled for a second upon seeing Jen, who reminded him of her
, exploded upon seeing that counterfeit Wes from the Singles thing hovering at her side like a gnat on some bad potatoes. Real Wes was also nearby, looking down at Emi, who was....
Well, let's just say the Gaiyan joke, while he was usually very good at rolling with them, fell quite flat... like a bomb on solid ground. Too soon, not that she'd know that. She didn't know about what he'd just endured, nor did she even know he was, in fact, one of the Gaiyans she mocked. Did the others laugh? Kiigan didn't care, though. His eyes blazed luminous red beneath the windswept blue hair mussed with pieces of flowers, leaves, and twigs. The hands below the shackles of torn ribbons balled and his jaw kept clenching as if barely holding back a rant or scream, yet he was silent, as usual. This was just one more person to poke at what he had no choice but to be, another invalidation he would never be able to overcome, more confusion about who he was and why he was here. Basically, he was really sensitive right now... to everything
. Approaching now would be the worst decision. He'd take it out on everyone who even looked at him, and that wasn't what he wanted. No, he wanted to start a fight, an all-out brawl with strangers he didn't have to think or care about. Taking a slow breath in through his nose, he turned his back and stalked back to the edge of the waves to pace and decide if maybe leaving was the best option, and if he did leave, where would he go?((OOC note: The only person I need to have noticed him is Wes, since Wes knows about the angel thing. Kii just needs a quick moment with Wes and then we'll be down to party lmao))
[wc: 2518 || total: 10,968]