The Tale of Kaska-Ta – Part 2: Tragedy and Doubt
(*Note: This is a continuation of what can be described as a semi-fictional history. The settings/terms/names/periods are changed but the story facts are true. In order to get the entire story it is suggested you read the previous post first.)
The land of Krawen is a dangerous land often covered in shadow and inhabited by many kinds of demons. On this night, as it was well past the witching hour when the demons are most plentiful, it was foolish for Kaska-Ta and the Owl Princess to linger outside the protection of a palace. As they were speaking a band of four demons passed nearby, but did not to seem to take notice of the carriage or it’s inhabitants. As it turns out, that was only a clever act.
Before either realized what was happening, a loud smash hammered the side of the carriage where the Owl Princess was sitting, the four demons approached, each with deadly fire-sticks in their hands. These projectile weapons were known to give great and lethal power to those who otherwise had none, so, especially with the princess to think about and four on one, even a warrior like Kaska-Ta had no chance of recourse. The demons pointed the firesticks, at the two of them and commanded them out of either side of the carriage. Kaska-Ta was quickly thrown on the ground and a firestick put to his head while the other demon scoured his pouches for riches. Kaska-Ta had no intention of fighting until he realized the other two demons still had the Owl Princess on the other side of the carriage. In that moment, when he thought of what they might do to her, he resolved that he might die that night. He pleaded with them not to harm her, but they told him to be silent and dug the firestick harder into the back of his head. Despite that he knew he could not allow the demons to violate her and do nothing.
Kaska-Ta’s calm compliance turned to anger and his own inner-demon that he normally fought to restrain began to surface. He knew he had to surprise the one that held the firestick to his head, and that if he could not act quickly it would be the end right away. He was certain he had no real chance, and that he would probably be killed unceremoniously, but he had already resolved to act. However, in that moment, before he acted, he heard the other two demons approach, and the Owl Princess was put on the ground next to him unharmed. Any resolve to fight faded, and after seizing what they thought were all their valuables, they jumped into the Owl Princess’s carriage and sped away into the night.
As Kaska-Ta and the Owl Princess picked themselves up off the ground the others made their way out of the palace. Mockingbird said he had seen them jump in the carriage and leave… but Kaska-Ta could hardly hear him. He was both enraged and defeated while the Owl Princess broke down in tears. They were separated and the city guards were called to investigate the incident. Eventually they went to the guard captain’s headquarters with the Gull General. He was quiet, but did his best to calm the Owl Princess and Kaska-Ta while she was recounting the loss of her carriage to the guards.
By the time they returned to the Gull General’s palace it was morning, and Kaska-Ta was scheduled to travel back to the southern region that day. It would’ve been a simple enough matter to have a member of the tribe take Kaska-Ta to the airship landing by carriage, but the Gull General could not be bothered to make such arrangements and none of the other Princes or Kings thought to make a point of it. The truth was, he was livid at Kaska-Ta for endangering the Owl Princess, and he had his own mission in mind that day. He dropped Kaska-Ta at the nearest transport station and left him to travel the long road to the airship landing with the masses. But before he left the carriage, Kaska-Ta said his goodbye to the owl Princess. He told her to be strong, and not let the demons win, and then he kissed her, briefly. It was not romantic, they had bonded through trauma, but at that moment they were close. The Gull General was certainly displeased, but neither of them cared.
The one fortunate turn was that they had not managed to steal Kaska-Ta’s money. Somehow, in their haste the demons had missed his pouch which contained an unusually high amount due to his traveling. So though he was exhausted, had no personal means to send messages and was still recovering from the situation itself, at least he had funds for the long journey. When he arrived his tribe was there, supportive and sympathetic.
Over the next few days after Kaska-Ta arrived back in the southern tropics, the tale became easier to tell and things began to feel normal again. He heard from the Owl Princess and she was having a harder time recovering emotionally, but she was getting better by the day. If anything her concern was to the many rumors floating around of what happened and why. Many stories had been told, including recounts of how the Gull General had heroically set out alone on his mighty steed the same day Kaska-Ta had left. Scouring the realm of Krawen in daylight, he eventually found the cave in which demons that had attacked resided and had summoned soldiers to arrest them and retrieve the carriage.
Kaska-Ta had avoided mentioning the Owl Princess in his recounts because he also didn’t wish to perpetuate the spread of rumors, but those who were present (such as Mockingbird) also knew what had transpired, so it was impossible to keep completely quiet. Regardless, days and then weeks passed and the memory of the incident faded.
Until a private message arrived for Kaska-Ta from the Gull General, it read:
“I wanted to wait a few weeks to make sure that what I wrote was free from all emotion. Initially I was nothing but anger and I needed to let that go. Your actions and behavior in my palace were the topic of discussion for days after you left. None of the men in the house could understand why you acted the way you did while you were here. So that we are clear I am talking about your leaders and kings. When you set your sights on the Owl Princess we were all just a bit confused. After speaking to her and hearing her side so that we were not just basing our judgment on what we saw, we were sure that we were confused about your intentions. It appears that you were interested in her and made some very bad decisions and actions.
To tell her that you were upset about the amount of time that she spent with me is an insult. You were a guest in my palace, and you were upset with a woman you had just met about how much time she spends with me, in my home. That makes no sense. If a woman spends time with a man who is your host, you back the fuck up. Under different circumstances, like had he not allowed you to stay in his home, do what you want. I take this as a personal insult to my kindness for allowing you to stay and you are not welcome in my palace again. After the Princess told you to back off and insulted you, you persisted in your efforts. Under the guise of asking for a short ride to an airship landing that is 90 minutes away you persisted in trying to talk to her.
You took her out of the safety of my palace to the outskirts at well past the witching hour. Even further you followed her to her carriage and stayed. In effect not allowing her to leave because you were in there, and still talking about a ride to the airship landing. You took advantage of her kind nature by continuing to ask her and sitting in her carriage knowing she would not send you away. Even had the demons not attacked, this is unacceptable behavior for a man. We wondered what kind of sex act you were hoping for her in the carriage. As men we know what we do, we persist until there is no hope of conquest. You never had hope in this situation, but you persisted until the end was past and tragedy struck. To say that you never should have shown romantic interest, weather blatant or covert, is an understatement. From the beginning she was not interested but you never gave up. As a man you broke a cardinal rule of manhood. Never put a woman in danger. Not even in the south would I sit unprotected in a carriage so long past the witching hour with a woman. So why do it in these lands with a princess as she is?
You asked to be attacked. Of course I blame the demons, but they only work on opportunity, which you gave to them. Take the following as lessons: Never put a woman in danger. Never persist where you are not welcomed. Take no for an answer. Do not take advantage of the kindness of others. And never disrespect a man in his own palace. When your prince left you here, you were his representative, so what he says to you about this incident has nothing to do with me. As a member of our tribe, what you do on a journey such as this reflects the rest of the group. What the King of Trees says to you about this incident has nothing to do with me.
As a General in this tribe and the man you offended I would never cross a line and use a training circle to show you my anger. My anger is gone, I will not go after you in sparring, I will not try to hurt you in any way. I told you what I needed to say to you, and now it is done. Reply to this or to just let it go. I will let it go and we do not need to discuss it further unless you choose to.
Again this was from me personally, I will visit your tribe in 2 weeks and I have no intention of discussing this with you or acting towards you with any anger.”
Kaska-Ta was shocked. Not so much by the Gull General’s anger or banishment from his palace (he had no desire to return there ever again anyway,) but by the statements made in the letter. He, Kaska-Ta, had persisted in his efforts? Unwanted!? He had taken advantage of her kindness!? He was “hoping” for a sex act!? This was simply not the case. He could understand the conclusion given his… liberal reputation among his tribe, but that had been the last thing on her mind that night, and he’s known it. The Gull General had a story that had not transpired, and this disturbed Kaska-Ta greatly. Now, the leaders of his tribe had this judgment of him, a judgment that was false. It was true that he’d had a part in endangering the Owl Princess, but he had not understood the danger, and his ignorance was indeed his fault. But the other accusations… they made no sense. Had the Owl Princess turned on him so easily? He supposed it was possible, she lived within the Gull General’s territory, and so it would be much easier to feed him a story in order to make peace there.
Kaska-Ta sent a reply essentially explaining that he believed there were many misperceptions, miscommunications and possibly two different stories being told. He accepted responsibility for being recklessly foolish about the timing, but also knew that was the only place that conversation could’ve happened as the Owl Princess did not wish the Gull General or any of the others to overhear her laments. He was thankful, and hopeful that perhaps Mockingbird would back up his side of the story as he had been there for much of it. Still, Kaska-Ta had doubts. Many false stories had been been floating around now.
That evening, Kaska-Ta sent word to the Owl Princess of the message he had received. He asked her what she had told the Gull General and if the things he said were what she truly felt. When her reply came it seemed much as he’d expected. Immediately after his departure the Gull General had cornered her and demanded she explain herself to him. Though she denied saying the things the Gull General wrote about in his message, Kaska-Ta could easily understand her desire to protect her own situation, especially after a recent trauma such as she had endured. In the end, somebody was lying, and it came back to him either way. Kaska-Ta wanted peace, so he did not push her, nor did he instigate with the Gull General after he did not respond.
A few days later the Gull General arrived. It was exactly as he said it would be in his message; no signs of malice or unusual aggression when training. When not training he and Kaska-Ta more or less avoided each other. Neither the King of Trees or the Prince of Stories said anything further. The matter was done and Kaska-Ta had his peace. But in addition he had learned an important lesson about the mentalities of his superiors, and though he would continue with his tribe, this lesson would stick with him and remind him every time he saw similar situations transpire. This was the end of his golden age. The beginning of doubt.