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Jun 15, 2019 5:15 PM
Clarie Jurat rescues some small ninjas
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Earth is both more and less than what she expected.

The boy she followed from her home in Ulthar is... Less. His stories were captivating, enthralling, his eyes held the million stars he promised his world slept beneath -

He does not shine particularly bright in a world of death and blood and children fighting.

She leaves him behind. Cuts her hair. Follows whichever of the multitudinous stars seems most fascinating.

This world is beautiful, still. He was wrong about the stars. There are far more than a million, and rather than gods they are lights in the dark, other suns holding their own planets captive -

Clarie spends a while in a village, repairing things and tinkering with chemical rockets. She studied some of this in Ulthar's Women's College, the lighting of fires that will burn even without air, the creation of fireworks -

She closes her eyes at night, and dreams of dancing among stars of fire.

She wanders on eventually, into the woods, delighting in the many plants - so more here than the Dreamlands. So much more life.

...She takes a turn one sleepless night, and sees men gathered around a frightened child, their weapons drawn. The child wears armor, has dropped his own weapon -

No.

It reverberates through the air, through her mind, like a mighty bell's been struck. The men stumble, and turn, and Clarie...

When she comes to herself, the men are gone, and the child is on his knees, staring at her in awe and fear.

"Do not kneel," she says, voice soft and lost. "Do not kneel."

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"Who - who are you?" the boy stammers, climbing to his feet and backing up a bit.

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"I am Clarie. I'm here to help." She crouches, tries to look as unthreatening as she can given what just happened. (She's... Not entirely sure. There's no remnant of the men. That doesn't mean much.)

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"...I'm Itama," he says after a moment. "I - thanks. Are you an ally of my clan?"

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"I don't know your clan. I'm unaffiliated, a far-traveler. I don't approve of killing children, though, no matter whose side anyone's on."

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"- I'm not gonna tell you who they are," he says after a pause. "Or where the compound is."

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"Do you feel safe, getting back on your own?"

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He bites his lip - and then shakes his head.

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"Is there somewhere - a neutral town I could meet your family in? Or a way to send a message?"

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"I don't know. I'm - I'm just supposed to run courier missions, not - not get involved with clients... There's gotta be... Clients contact us somehow."

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But he'd have to tell her his clan name for that, which he's already said he won't do.

Still -

"I'll protect you until we can find them, then," she says, voice set.

She doesn't know how to even throw a punch. Roughhousing isn't lady-like. But she did - something - to those men, and children should not be alone.

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" - You sure?"

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"Absolutely."

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"I... Don't want to tell you my clan name..." Even though asking around about how to hire the Senju would be the easiest way, it's - it's a rule.

(...He's not sure he wants to return to the Senju. His brother Kawarama died recently. He almost died. He doesn't want to bury Hashirama and Tobirama, too, and...)

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"That's okay," she says, smiling a bit. "We'll figure something out."

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He nods, hesitantly.

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"Come on, let's get away from here for now - I can't imagine this area's very safe."

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"It's kind of not." Still, he'll follow her.

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She keeps them moving, somewhat quickly, her increasing experience with far-traveling allowing her to keep going longer than the kid. She scoops him up, continues walking, and wonders - is the distance she can go actually strange? She'd attributed it to her youth and energy, but...

The endless stars, though, hold no answer for her.

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