Fantasy

Kaska-Ta and the Farm

Note: The tales of Kaska-Ta can be described as a semi-fictional, metaphorical auto-biography.  It builds off of previous “Kaska-Ta” entries and will likely resurface from time to time when I wish to present situations without specific details. (It’s my blog, deal with it.) The settings/terms/names/periods are changed but the story facts are essentially true.

Indecision has been the death of many men over many years.  Even for those as strong and stubborn as Kaska-Ta, we are all as little as two steps from oblivion on any given day.  To think yourself otherwise is usually the beginning of the end for you. Thoughts like this echoed in Kaska-Ta’s head as he realized his own end lay before him… as the last glimmer of hope escaped him and he descended quite literally into darkness…

Weeks Earlier:

After speaking with the shepherd, Kaska-Ta went ahead to his farm to get a feel for the surroundings.  He was welcomed here and regained some of his strength among new friends and a few of his old tribe-mates who had indeed come from the east.  “It would be easy…” he thought “to remain here.  It feels like home used to.”  But something weighed on his mind, something felt wrong.

The shepherd had made many promises: shelter, friends and (perhaps most importantly) an abundance of supplies.  As had been mentioned, the rains had already begun to fall in a light drizzle and early the following morning Kaska-Ta travelled west to the edge of the high ground to survey the land beyond.  From this point it was easy to tell the shepherd was right: the canyon beyond was deep and irregular and would be a difficult trip under the best circumstances.  With the rains, even before the flood it would be a treacherous path, and one with no visible end in sight.  What occurred to him in that moment though, was that there was no path.  No road, no indication of recent travel.  Certainly it could be done (though judging from the canyons with a great deal of hardship) How then, had some of the villagers come from the west?

“Be careful.” The voice chimed in. “Your questions and decisions might affect more than just you.”

They ate together at lunch and Kaska-Ta asked the villagers and tribe members to speak of the western village.  With little pause, they answered and spoke of a great city beyond the village that supported and traded with it.  Many riches passed through the area and great opportunity existed for all who settled there.

“Why then… would you make the trip here?  Just to help the shepherd?” Kaska-Ta asked himself.  But he was careful and asked instead if the village was affected by the flooding.  This drew a slightly larger pause but they recovered quickly enough and assured him the village lay beyond the reach of the flooding.  The rest of lunch was small talk, Kaska-Ta already had his suspicions and it would do him no good to press the issue now.

That night Kaska-Ta found the shepherd with his flock near the eastern boarder of the farm.  The sheep could graze here but the land was already showing signs of the barren desert from which Kaska-Ta had emerged a few days before.  The sheep’s wool glistened in the soft rain under the shepherd’s lantern.  “Good evening shepherd.” Kaska-Ta greeted.  “Same to you traveler!  Glad to have you among the family.” the shepherd replied.  “What brings you out for a visit?  You should still be resting after the desert…”

A shadow darker than the twilight grew over Kaska-Ta’s face.  “I’ve come for the truth.  I know there is no village to west… at least, not that any here know of.  Why do they lie?  And what is really to the west?”

“Death.” The shepherd replied.  “For you, death lies in every direction but here.  Just as it did for for those who came before you.”

Kaska-Ta was quickly moving from irritated to angry. “Enough riddles, enough cryptic prophesy.  You know I know, so come out with it.”

“Or what?” The shepherd mused.  He was right of course, violence would serve nothing in this case.  But the shepherd continued “Those that are here have been here.  One or two arrive every third cycle or so.  Rugged adventurers like you who have survived the desert and one even reformed from the badlands.  They work the farm and live in peace here.  I asked them to lie about what I promised you before… to keep you here.  I need more than workers, I need leaders and protectors.”  The shepherd paused and spread his arms toward the farmland. “This farm will be a community and you have a place here, building it!  We can be a beacon of light in this desolate land and save all those who wander this way from what will otherwise be death. Or worse!” he gestured to toward the south where the badlands lay.

“You mean we can trick them and trap them, as you intended to do to me?” Kaska-Ta was calm and cold, he already knew what he had to do.

The shepherd was now eyeing Kaska-Ta with a gaze both condescending and full of pity.  “Think what you will of me friend, but you would have died out there.  Any of them would have.  I did what I had to do to save them, and said what I had to say to save you.  That’s the truth of it.”  The shepherd looked up at the night sky.  “Now the rains have come and you can spend them sulking in your quarters if you like, or you can help me build something great for us and those to come.  Either way, I saved you, so I think you’ll find some way to forgive me.”

Kaska-Ta grinned but there was fire in his eyes.  “I forgive you… perhaps you did save me.”  

The shepherd’s face brightened immediately “Good! Good!  I knew you were the rational and…”

“And I’m leaving.”  Kaska-Ta interrupted. “At first light.”

“What!?” The shepherd’s composure quickly disintegrated. “What!? Where!?  The rains have come!  There’s nowhere to go!  I understand you’re angry but don’t be a fool!!”

“I’ll find my path and it will be true.”  Kaska-Ta resolved this, he realized, as much for himself as to the shepherd.

“The hells with you and your path!” The shepherd cried.  You’re insane!  Within a moon the floods will set, and another moon after that nothing will be seen but water… water and your stubborn, floating corpse!”

“He’s not lying about that…” the voice chimed in, but Kaska-Ta was already turning back for the farm.  “Thank you shepherd, I forgive you in return for the supplies you grant me… perhaps I’ll see you again.”

The shepherd said nothing, he simply stared at Kaska-Ta as he made his way back to the farm.

Later as Kaska-Ta filled his water sack and packed what supplies allowed to him, many of the tribe members expressed their regret and a couple asked him to stay despite the lies.  Logically it made sense, Kaska-Ta could make a life here.  But something deeper knew that it was not his path… not like this.  Had everything been as said, he might’ve stayed and found a reason to settle here, but as it was it was wrong going into it and three cycles thinking of that might well drive him mad.

The rain was slightly more tangible than it had been the previous day as the first light crept over the horizon.  It felt better than the relentless sun and the ground was slightly softer through Kaska-Ta’s boots.  (He was grateful he had kept them through the desert, they were heavy, but protective and waterproof.)  The rains would undoubtedly soak him over time, but with his feet dry and his long coat preserving his body heat, he would last a while.

“Where will you go now?” The ever-vigilant voice chimed in, as if it didn’t already know.  Kaska-Ta was well aware the banter of the voice was for his sake as opposed to actual curiosity.

“South.” he replied.  “Time is short, and at least there I already know they will lie to me.  I’ll use them as I need to and see the path that lies beyond.”

I don’t think I have to tell you that may not go as planned.”

“Did you have a better idea?” Kaska-Ta smiled to himself, waited through the expected silence, and continued. “It never does. But I have to keep moving and if I stay here, I’ll die for sure.”

And so the rains came, and Kaska-Ta descended south into what he expected would be darkness.  Darkness he found, but it was nothing like he had hoped.

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Interlude: Kaska-Ta, the Shepherd and the Crossroads

Note: This can be described as a semi-fictional, metaphorical auto-biography.  It builds off of previous “Kaska-Ta” entries and will likely resurface from time to time when I wish to present situations without specific details. (It’s my blog, deal with it.) The settings/terms/names/periods are changed but the story facts are essentially true.  I will return to regular programming soon.

Kaska-Ta had been in the desert many weeks now. His food had run out days ago and only drops of water were taken when necessary. The occasional rains had done little to refill his mostly-dry water sack. He knew at this rate he was very near the end of the road.

In truth, the only thing that had brought him this far had been a combination of experience, wisdom and the kindness of those he had come across; mostly merchants and other travelers that had wished him well. He had accepted what his pride would allow out of necessity, but he knew that accepting too much might doom them as well. He could accept his fate if need be, but he would not shoulder the responsibility of compromising theirs.  Despite their generosity though, Kaska-Ta’s supplies were essentially gone and the gravity of his situation sapped his energy almost as quickly as the savage desert sun.

Finally, he came to the edge of the desert, where the sand began to give away to bits of dry grass.  Encouraged, he continued on and came across a lone shepherd surveying the area.

“A bit sparse here for a flock isn’t it?” Kaska-Ta asked.

“That’s why you don’t see them here. One of them broke off and wandered out this way. I have to find her before the rains come. You’re a mess though, you come through the desert!?” The shepherd regarded Kaska-Ta with a combination of cynicism and curiosity.

“I did.”

The conviction of Kaska-Ta’s answer shifted the shepherd’s expression to visibly impressed and concerned at the same time. It was obvious Kaska-Ta’s journey had taken it’s toll. “Good lord man, I’d offer you my water but I only have enough to get me through the day, and I may need it if she’s wandered too far. But there’s a farm directly ahead to the west I believe you can make before sunup tomorrow. If you’re willing to work through the rains we can put you up, feed you well, give you time to build up your strength and set you up with supplies.”

“The rains? How long is that?” Kaska-Ta asked.

A grave but amused look came over the shepherd’s face. “You really did come from across the desert eh? The rains last three cycles here. During that time the surrounding lands are flooded and un-travelable. Where we’re standing becomes a lake that borders the desert. My farm is on the only high ground to the west of this area. We have to hunker down, but fresh water is plentiful and the fish from the surrounding lakes along with my farm make for easy meals, so we’d have no trouble supporting an extra set of hands. The shepherd paused. “In fact… to be honest we could really use you. It’s like you were meant to be here.”

Kaska-Ta was intrigued… “What say you, voice?” he asked inwardly. There was no reply, just the sensation that it was indeed there, watching, but choosing to remain silent.

Kaska-Ta surveyed the lands around him; he had come from the seemingly endless desert to the east, meanwhile the land did indeed get visibly more lush and inviting on the trail to the west where the shepherd claimed his farm was. Then his gaze turned south where a faint trail of smoke could be seen on the horizon.

“The Badlands.” The shepherd had followed his gaze and responded. “You can find water there… and possibly shelter as well if you make it before the rains come. But it will cost you. The people there care little of honor or humanity, they will take you for whatever they can get from you in return for anything they give. You don’t seem like that sort of man, but to survive there you would have to be.”

“Would I have to stay there through the rains as well?” Kaska-Ta asked.

Fear crept into the shepherd’s eyes and Kaska-Ta got the distinct impression he was choosing not to lie despite himself.

“No.” The shepherd said. “Though the way back here would be blocked, should you make it through The Badlands with your soul intact, the road continues south.”

“What’s beyond The Badlands?” Kaska-Ta asked.

“I don’t know. I’ve never been and I avoid those that come from there. Stragglers have attacked the farm in the past and I’ve done what I had to in order to protect my people. I mean it when I say they are dangerous and without honor, I would be sad to see you choose that path… and honestly why would you?”

“To see what’s beyond it.”  Kaska-Ta had dealt with such people before, he was quite capable of defending himself and though he was reluctant to admit it, fitting in, but telling the shepherd that would serve no good purpose.

Instead he turned to the North to see what might be another alternative, but saw only more desert. “How far does the sand reach north?” he asked.

“I realize you have no reason to trust me, but I don’t think you would make it.” He said.

“How far?” Kaska-Ta persisted.

“I only know what the few that come from that direction tell me, and they keep to themselves.” The shepherd replied. “No less than a moon… but possibly as far as a cycle or more. You’ve been very lucky to have made it from the east, and that was… what? No more than three moons, right? Even with all that luck and more you’d never last a cycle out there.”

Kaska-Ta knew he was right. The truth was he’d be extremely lucky to last another moon even with the chance help of random travelers. “What is beyond the sand?”

“I’ve heard it’s a city of some sort, scholars or some kind of monastery. But very few come this way, and they rarely stay long or share details, so I can’t be certain exactly. They pass through my farm on the way to western tribal city. I assumed that was your destination, isn’t it?  To join one of the tribes that migrated from the east? You’d be well prepared for that journey after the rains passed, I can assure you.”

Kaska-Ta said nothing. The truth was he didn’t know where he was going. The choice seemed obvious, but he had never made a choice simply because it was obvious.

“Some of the tribe members come to help on the farm during the rains and tell tales of the eastern lands.” The shepherd said. “Should be there now preparing. They seem like good people, perhaps you know them.”

Kaska-Ta thought back to the tribes he had grown with over the years. He had been tribeless for some time now. “Perhaps… but some are good, some are not. Like any people.” He said.

“Well, the light will fade soon and I’m not going to find my girl standing here trying to convince you. But I believe you’re here for a reason, and any other way you go might very well kill you. So keep my offer in mind, spend some time and live. Seems like the obvious choice if the desert hasn’t taken your mind completely. But, whatever way you go, be safe and good luck.” With that the shepherd turned and began to survey the area.

“Thank you.” Kaska-Ta said. “For the information, as well as the offer. I might well see you soon.”

“Hope so.” The shepherd said as he waved and walked away. “You’d be a lot less useful dead and washed up on my shores during the rains.”

And Kaska-Ta was alone again.

“Not alone. We’ve been over this.” The voice chimed in.

“Which way then?” Kaska-Ta asked, but as he expected his question was met with silence. Such was the way with the voice, it was always right, but it shared it’s wisdom on it’s own terms, not his.

“You will die if you linger here too long.”

 “There’s a good chance I’ll die regardless.” Kaska-Ta replied. “The obvious path takes valuable time that I don’t have and the other two may kill me anyway.”

No. So long as you keep moving, you may suffer, but you will survive this.”

 “Great.” Kaska-Ta sighed to himself. “The all-knowing voice predicts suffering… that’s regardless of the path I choose?”

Suffering takes many forms. You’re better at some than others and it will change you in different ways regardless.”

 “You’re no help.” Kaska-Ta replied. But he was glad for the banter and understood that the point was for him to make this choice on his own.

And it came to pass that the sun was low in the sky and the ground was still soft enough with sand to lie comfortably. Kaska-Ta set up his crude tent to provide shade from the last of the sun and lay down to rest and ponder his direction. In a few hours, when he had regained a bit of his strength, he would allow himself enough water to motivate him to move again, make a choice, and take the first step.

Look at my package!

Yes, I mean my package.  The awesome piece of manhood that’s been chilling between my legs since before I was even born.  Look at it, and if you like, tell me it’s great, fantastic, amazing.

So where the fuck did this come from eh?  I was self-analyzing earlier and thinking about how I look at people, especially women.  I’m big on eye contact, I take a measure of somebody’s confidence and a bit of their soul (though admittedly I catch myself looking away when they sustain eye contact sometimes… It’s instinctive, I don’t like it, I’m working on it…)  The eyes only last a moment on most stranger though, and after a quick take of their face, I immediately do was the majority of men (and a fair amount of women) do: go straight to the boobs or the butt.

Ellen understands.

Ellen understands.

I’ve covered this before in that I’m not really particularly a boobs or butt guy, I sort’ve take the whole.. err.. package into consideration.  But what I noticed is that while I am very conscious of being respectful to women, I’m still actively checking them out on a sexual level.  Granted when it’s a stranger passing by, there isn’t much opportunity to look much deeper and I’m certainly a physical / sexual person, but it still made me think about wether or not it was “disrespectful.”

Let’s be clear that I do not cat-call, make any sort of serious / misogynistic comments (nor do I think them…) or even make it obvious that I’m checking anything except their eyes out.  I’m not sure if I’m comfortable labeling myself a “feminist” (because the definition seems to change depending on who you ask…) but I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that I think women are pretty much the best thing ever and are in every way equal (or better…) than men.  But the fact that I’m looking or noticing on a physical/ somewhat sexual level was enough to make me think about it.  Very rarely (if ever) am I actually even considering/envisioning any sort of sex act with them, it’s more like a matter of admiring and moving on.  I suspect a lot of people do it, but I don’t think a lot of them think about it.

I do the same thing to men, but it’s a totally different category.  With them it’s a matter of comparisons.  What do I like about them better than on myself.  Sometimes I get ideas for haircuts, facial hair, or sometimes it helps motivate me to get my ass in the gym.  It’s not a direct competition, but I have to try and make sure I stack up in the crowd right?  It’s all a part of my dissection process.  I do it to everyone, even if I only see them for a few moments.
ca902c31c968804da9672625eb288201
I came to the conclusion that what I notice and how is okay as long as it’s not making them uncomfortable and I’m not being overbearing or obnoxious about it.  But then I thought about it further: “If they don’t know I’m doing it, I wonder how many people do it to me…?”  It turns out I was really, really okay with that.  In fact, I wish I knew how often and how I stacked up.  I realize, of course that a lot of it would probably be nasty… but by now you probably know that I can handle that.  So I decided that I hope I’m being checked out.  I’m okay with strangers looking at me sexually and thinking about me in that manner.  Hell, I’m even okay with them fantasizing, it’s flattering and it’s not hurting me.

Now, let’s be clear that this is a touchy subject and I am not encouraging anyone to objectify anyone else.  I might be cool being an object, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for everyone else.  Part of the point of this writing was to question whether or not I was, in fact, objectifying women with my habit of checking them out sexually.  But I decided that because I already know I don’t see women as objects and I in no way act in a manner that makes them feel objectified, I’m probably safe.  But with that said… look at my package if you want to, I hope you see something that impresses you.  I’ve said before that I’m not huge, but I’m not small either, and even soft, god knows the folks at the gym see something they may or may not want to see when I’m on the crunch ball, incline, or bench pressing.   (Lets not even get into my running shorts…) It can’t be helped really.

Let me clarify further, that this business about what somebody is wearing making somebody do something is garbage.  Sure,

Like photoshop for your brain...

Like photoshop for your brain…

part of the point of this particular blog is the habits and thoughts that come naturally, but the difference between thoughts and actions is also the point.  If you can’t control your actions when you know better, then you’re worse then any animal out there (because they generally don’t.)

So go on, look at it. (No, I’m not posting it here you pervs.)  If you see me on the street and want to think of me in all sorts of sexy, fantastic and crazy ways, I’m cool with that.  Fantasy me is actually your private matter and frankly none of my business.  I’m not saying I won’t have a problem if you try to make it my business, but otherwise get down with your/my bad self inside that sick little head of yours.  But do me a favor and add some really killer abs too (I love my food a bit too much in real life.)

Interlude: A Personal Fairy Tail (Part 3)

The Tale of Kaska-Ta – Part 3: The Enlightened End

(*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 posts first.)

Weeks passed and things seemed to return to normal for Kaska-Ta. It was fall now and that brought arguably the best weather of the year in the south. To strengthen their bond with both the local tribes in the southern topics and their tribe leader The King of Trees, the Prince of Stories would make many trips lasting several days. Sometimes he took some of the elder students with him, others he went to train with his seniors. The only way to become a king was to continue learning from those who were kings or were further along than he was. So he often had to make the trip to the north in order to be sure he was learning and growing properly. As a result, older warriors such as Kaska-Ta, The Lady of Diamonds, The Lord of the Butterflies and The Roman would take turns leading the younger warriors in drills. Sometimes this went very well for all involved, but the absence of the prince was missed in many ways.

It was said that to become a king, you would be judged by the quality of your warriors, and most importantly the leaders among them who make future princes, princesses, generals, kings and queens. Most who were present at the time believe that this pressure, along with a declining economy among their tribe caused a great level of insecurity that was taking hold in the Prince of Stories. The leaders in the north did their best to reinforce him by also visiting often (especially since the Gull General had fathered a child with one of the women of the southern tribe.)

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Ouch. Unfortunately it happens.

However, as time went on the insecurity in the Prince of Stories manifested in many ways. Some of the warriors, especially the prodigy Mockingbird, were coming very close to the Prince of Stories’ ability in combat. When they would spar in the circle as was the custom, it would start out beautiful and elegant as it should be, but the Prince of Stories would become frustrated when he could not clearly best his student (who was now, in actuality the student of the Gull General, and many others…) As a result he would change the tone of practice without warning and become overly-aggressive, ending the training with some sort of unexpected violence. Everyone could feel the mood of training drop, and as time went on, though he was not to the same level of ability that the Mockingbird was, he too was the subject of this aggression.

Rumors surfaced that the Prince of Stories was having personal issues with his wife. This was not the tribe’s business (though his wife also trained with them occasionally) except that many believed it was serving to increase the insecurity that was now blatantly obvious in their prince.   Some of the warriors had turned to the Gull General and the the King of Trees to speak to him about these things and find a solution, but whatever the meetings spoke of behind closed doors, they did not provide a solution. Kaska-Ta was becoming increasingly aware that the culture of Kappo Aera was not actually conducive to functional long-term relationships. During his time there he had seen some formed, but they all eventually fell apart. Indeed those that existed when somebody joined the tribe seemed destined to end. There were a couple of exceptions, including the Lord of the Butterflies and his would-be wife known as Dagger. But they were the exception and carried a different mentality than typical for the tribes of Kappo Aera.

Judgement Day.

Judgement Day.

And then everything escalated. One day Kaska-Ta was approached by his friend, the Red Lady. She had been the same friend who had been uncomfortable months before when they had made the pilgrimage to Krawen. After much dancing around the subject, she confided in Kaska-Ta that she had been talking intimately with the Prince of Stories. Kaska-Ta was by no means foolish enough to believe this was one-sided, and easily connected the events of this and the Prince of Stories’ marital issues. There was a long discussion that ended simply with Kaska-Ta advising against it and warning her that there was absolutely no possibility that it could end well.

In the weeks that followed things simply spiraled more out of control. His marriage issues became pubic and the Prince of Stories became desperate. It leaked into every aspect of the tribe. The elder students began to unravel and were pulled away from the tribe by both personal and professional reasons. One night, Kaska-Ta helped the Prince of Stories to his temporary home away from his wife and children, and they talked for many hours under the moonlight about how abusive and angry she had become. All the while Kaska-Ta (unbeknownst to The Prince of Stories) was aware of his quickly diminishing involvement with the Red Lady. He had used many sweet words to woo her, but he could not make a definite decision to leave his wife. The desperation and the situation were quickly causing her to reconsider her involvement. Regardless, Kaska-Ta didn’t care. Perhaps it was his experience in Krawen, or perhaps it was what he had seen from countless other elders and historical accounts, but the Prince of Stories was basically another book in that page. He was just a prince, a leader of a tribe, who had taken to a woman who trusted him as a teacher and betrayed both her and his wife.

Whether it was the work of the gods or simple circumstance, Kaska-Ta was seriously injured in a very simple training exercise a short while later. About this same time he was given an opportunity to study and work under a very different type of leader. He was called a Grandmaster, and he hailed from the lands far to the east. He did not leave the knights of Kappo Aera right away, but as the Prince of Stories became more and more desperate, the tribe fell into greater financial issues and many of the elder students whom Kaska-Ta had bonded with, were gone. While he was healing, Kaska-Ta could not train physically for a long time, and so he fell into visiting periodically, less and less frequently. His time was done… almost.

capoeira-por-do-solA few months later Kaska-Ta was able to spar again and was called to the ocean where the leaders from the north had gathered after the previous day’s ceremony (which he had missed because his new Grandmaster had needed him.) Because this event drew in those Kaska-Ta had bonded with over the years, Kaska-Ta decided to attend. At some point during the festivities a sparring circle was indeed formed, but Kaska-Ta was called out. They performed the rite of initiation that meant Kaska-Ta would receive a new rank. One by one each leader and master came into the circle to battle with an exhausted and rusty Kaska-Ta, and when all was said and done, he was publicly given a new rank, one that meant he was only one rank away from becoming a lieutenant, a true leader among the tribes.

But Kaska-Ta knew he did not deserve this new rank. He thought to himself that he might work hard to earn it, but he knew the truth. The tribe needed to expand in order to save itself from its economic issues. He, and many of the other elder warriors were being recognized in order to promote them to be leaders in hopes they would stay and draw in more people to the tribe. The King of Trees knew the situation was desperate. Later down the road, when the Prince of Stories was given the rank of General despite losing so many of his loyal warriors, Kaska-Ta was genuinely upset, but he was already gone.

That day at the ocean was the final day Kaska-Ta officially spent with the tribe. Though he would visit from time to time, he had a new journey and a new Grandmaster to attend. He kept in touch with many of the elder warriors that he had spent so many days with so long ago, but the more time went on the further away he drifted until he’d been gone longer than he was there. The integrity of the new, strict, eastern Grandmaster, and the Master underneath him reassured Kaska-Ta that this was not soley a warrior’s culture, but one that is perpetuated by specific cultures of specific people, many of whom were attracted to the history and ideals behind Kappo Aera. It was about freedom, and expression and far more sensual than other warrior clans, but unfortunately many twisted that to their own desires, and often to the detriment of the females involved.

History of Freedom

History of Freedom

The longer he was away, the clearer this was to Kaska-Ta. Even as some of his old friends asked him back, and the King of Trees himself migrated to the tropics and asked Kaska-Ta to return, he could not. He knew how the leaders of the tribe saw him, and perhaps a part of him wasn’t able to let that go, but he also believed he shouldn’t have to. There we some with a similar mindset in Grandmaster’s Tribe, but they were not typical, and were not encouraged to be as they were in the shadows. They would cause Kaska-Ta some level of conflict in the days that followed, but none had any power over him as the leaders of Kappo Aera had.

Years later the eventual conclusion Kaska-Ta reached is that neither philosophy was right. One used the concept of freedom to excuse that which should not be excused, the other was so strict it sought to strip away many things that made people individuals. Kaska-Ta, after many years and many stories with the Grandmaster’s tribe, would again become a wanderer. But he was not exiled, he was finding his own way. And that, is an entirely different story.

Interlude: A Personal Fairy Tale (Part 1)

The Tale of Kaska-Ta – Part 1

(*Note: This is what can be described as a semi-fictional history.  The settings/terms/names/periods are changed but the story facts are true.) 

Long ago in tropical lands far in the south, there lived a warrior known as Kaska-Ta. Years before this story, he had been a lonely, exiled traveler going by a different name. But a group of knights had taken him in and given him a new name. The Knights of Kappo Aera taught him the ways of song and dance and war, and became his family.

Early on these knights lived under the rule of a mad king. This king was not evil, but arrogant and violent to some.   Thus, for this and perhaps some other reasons in the shadows, the Prince of Stories who led this particular band of knights separated himself from the kingdom, causing much divide and resulting in a feud that would be forgiven by many but never forgotten by all.

Tropical Lands

Tropical Lands

For a time these Knights of Kappo Aera remained autonomous, the Prince of Stories who now led them called upon some of the elder knights (including Kaska-Ta) to help him train the younger warriors properly. Overall their band was happy and Kaska-Ta enjoyed spending time with and helping his peers where he could. Often, when sparring with the Lady of Diamonds or the young prodigy known as Mockingbird, he could not help but smile. In those times there was synergy and peace, even in combat.

However, the Prince of Stories who now led newly separated tribe knew he was not yet prepared to be a king, and so over time his uncertainty grew until a general from a different tribe he had met in his travels invited him to meet his own king. This king was far departed from the prince’s previous king. Though a giant physically, he was calm and serene much like his name. This man was the King of the Trees. After much discussion an arrangement was struck in which the Prince’s tribe would join with that of King of Trees and his Gull General. Thus began the golden age for the knights of Kappo Aera who would now be recognized as warriors.

It was during this time that the Prince’s Tribe was the most active and many locals came to join the tribe of warriors in the tropical south. The King of Trees and his Gull General hailed from a much colder climate and so made the trip to visit the young warriors often. Kaska-Ta was happy, and enjoyed the company of his tribe both new and old. But as everything must, things would change.

Fierce! But...

Fierce! But…

The traditions among all the tribes of Kappo Aera carried heavy tones of misogyny and disrespect for the female members of the tribes. Though the more progressive members of the tribes didn’t believe in such things, and it was often brought up only in humor, the fact remained that it was very real occurrence as evidenced by behaviors specifically at social gatherings. There was a saying that a true lord among the warriors of Kappo Aera would have a woman in every land that they traveled to. Combined with that was the Kappo Aera tradition of deception as a battle strategy. It was very often said that the sparring circle in which they trained battle was a reflection of their outside lives. As such, this deception made it’s way into many of the member’s actions. Thus was eventual bane of Kaska-Ta.

Kaska-Ta was well liked by the tribe, and especially so by many of the female members. He was kind, flirty, and humorous and made them feel at ease, especially when others were far more aggressive and overbearing than he was. Though not initially problematic, Kaska-Ta began to hear whispers from other warriors (both male and female) that some of the higher ranking warriors were displeased at the attention he was receiving. Of course, Kaska-Ta knew not all of these whispers could be entirely trusted either, but among the many there was some truth he could confirm himself. He resolved though, as long as he had his people, he would simply carry on.

The time came to make a pilgrimage to northern climates. It was the summer months so the weather was very agreeable. One of the great kings from the far off lands in which the tribes of Kappo Aera had originally descended would come and bless all the warriors under the King of Trees.   The prince and as many of his southern tribe as possible made the pilgrimage in order to strengthen their union with the warriors under the King of Trees.

A Krawan Demon Prison

A Krawen Demon Prison

The Gull General existed in a dangerous part of the northern lands known as Krawen, but offered up his palace to most of the travelers from the south. However, Kaska-Ta was given different arrangements and was sent to be hosted with one of the students and families who trained under the Gull General. Though this family was very accommodating, very friendly and he had excellent arrangements, Kaska-Ta did not like being separated from the rest of his tribe. One of the newer females in his tribe had become close to him (intimately for a short time, but that time had already passed) and sent messages that she was uncomfortable among all of the generals and princes. Kaska-Ta expressed his desire to re-join his tribe, and the next day was allowed to stay in the Gull General’s palace (later he would learn this was much to the dismay of the General.)

The ceremonies began and all seemed well. Kaska-Ta marveled at the amazing talents the guest Kings, Queens and other royalty exhibited both in music and in combat. His extended family of warriors from the northern tribes of the King of Trees were equally impressive. It was an overall a joyous occasion filled with much learning and positive energy, which was what Kaska-Ta had always loved about the Kappo Aera tribes. In the evening he and some of his tribe-mates new and old were taken to largest city on the continent to marvel at the many towers and castles filled with mystic lights and great paintings. The day had truly been great.

The next day was another ceremony for another local tribe who was allied with the King of Trees. This tribe’s leader was a great scholar of his art named Onaib. Though not yet a king, he was well on his way and was truly a professor of the art and beauty that was the culture of the Kappo Aera tribes. Kaska-Ta was familiar with this teacher from a previous ceremony in which he had traveled south and personally tested Kaska-Ta (among other young warriors of the southern tribe) in combat. He was good natured and skilled while sparring and greeted each student with a combination of vigor and gentleness. He sought to test, not to punish the younger students and Kaska-Ta respected him greatly for it.

Her Namesake

Her Namesake

Transportation to Professor Onaib’s event was arranged for Kaska-Ta and his tribemate Mockingbird traveling in the wagon of a student of another small local tribe known as the Owl Princess. She mused that her and Kaska-Ta had similar hair color and they got along well early on. One of the wheels broke along the way, but Kaska-Ta and Mockingbird were both skilled at such repairs and before long they were traveling again having bonded some through the small circumstance. They made the ceremony right on time and all was well.

During the ceremony, the Owl Princess remained close to Kaska-Ta and would often mess with his hair or rest her head on his shoulder. He enjoyed the attention, but it drew the attention of both his tribe’s Prince of Stories and the Gull General, whom Kaska-Ta was unaware had their eyes on the Owl Princess. As the day progressed the ceremony completed successfully and after further celebration many of the warriors (including the Owl Princess) made their way back to the palace of the Gull General. Immediately after the ceremony, during the after parties and dinner, Kaska-Ta had noticed the attention of the Owl Princess was being intentionally diverted away from him, to some extent by the Prince of Stories and then aggressively by the Gull General.

Once at the palace, the Gull General disappeared to the tower, and so too did the Owl Princess.   During this time, the Mockingbird, who had long been adopted as a second son of the Gull General warned his tribe mate Kaska-Ta that the reason the Gull General had pulled the Owl Princess away was because she had long since been “one of his girls”. Kaska-Ta replied that she had told him she was without a dedicated mate, and was somewhat surprised because the Gull General had recently impregnated one of the southern tribe women, though it was not established they were dedicated mates either. “It matters not… you know this.” The Mockingbird replied. Yes, Kaska-Ta was familiar with the culture, even if he didn’t agree with or follow it.

69e8746bf35ce80eec33946f36cbb38141afaa66473df48c35c0f5fdfe727d32Later, after the festivities had died down, the Owl Princess approached Kaska-Ta, who had been distant and asked him why. Irritated at her deception, he asked her why she had not told him of the Gull General, but she did not answer and instead became defensive, denied her involvement and moved away again. However, when the witching hour had passed, he once again approached her to say goodbye as she intended to return to her home and kingdom. At her request, Kaska-Ta agreed to escort her to her carriage. When they arrived at her transport, away from the ears of the palace, she asked him to stay with her a short time so she could speak with him. Kaska-Ta agreed and for some time they spoke of her family and then her involvement with the Gull General. She was sad, and said that he confused her by sometimes treating her as a princess, and then other times ignoring or even berating her. She knew that he paid attention to other women, but sometimes when he was with her, he would be so tender that she felt he truly cared. Kaska-Ta was irritated by this as he had heard such things many times before.   But he listened patiently, trying to cheer her up and convince her  that the fault was not hers. Unfortunately, during this dialog disaster struck…