Wakandan Dreams

May 06, 2017:

Caitlin Fairchild awakens in a strange place, after being subdued by T'challa's forces.

Dreamland of Wakanda

Characters

NPCs: Wakandan Dreams

Mentions: Black Panther

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

The sun is warm on Caitlin's skin.

The scent of the grass is strong on the wind. The tawny grasslands shift with that wind, a lofty whisper rippling through the blades and life of a savannah that seems to go on forever, far through until the curtains of mist block it in the far distance. The ground is not hard, like the desert, nor is it filthy like the swamp. The dirt is warm and soft, fertile lands and not harsh, unforgiving as they said this world was. It would be easy to rest here forever.

"Hello," the child says, leaning over. "Hello? You must wake up.."

She is a young child, with round cheeks, but thin with the build of a child who spends all of her days playing outside in the sun. She is only slightly tan, with the fair complexion of someone decidedly not from around these parts, but when she speaks, it is with the clear and clipped accent of a Wakandan. Urgency flicks through her voice, and if Caitlin doesn't stir in good time, the youth will kneel, minding the knees of her pants before she gives Caitlin a brief shake.

"Come, come, wake up, or you will be late!"

"Hmmgngnffllhhggh 's not my turn," Caitlin remarks, half snoring a little. The redhead bats at her face as if trying to ward off the light, grimacing and working her brows into deep furrows. "Jus' came off monitor duty— huh?"

Caitlin jolts a little and sits up quickly, almost fast enough to knock over the girl next to her. Matted grass and a bit of dirt clings to one high cheekbone, and owlishly she tries to take in everything at once as she regains her equilibrium.

The insistency of the child gets her attention and Caitlin turns bright green eyes towards the girl, sleepily pushing her tousled, ruddy orange hair back from her face. "Whu? Huh? Late for what? Where /am/ I? Why am taking a nap in the dirt?" she asks, a little befuddled. She glances down at herself, taking stock of the contents of her pockets and state of dress.

Life feels a little more free here. Like one could run the fields for miles and would not encounter an obstacle all the way to the house of their very own Creator. The sky is higher than it was before, and the air not as thick. One could call it an idyllic existence, were it not for the urgency of the young girl next to Caitlin.

Despite her concerns for time, the young girl scratches absently at a freckle. "Um," is the best she manages at the string of questions, taking stock of her new friend with big eyes that shine a catlike green under the bright light above. Caitlin herself will find herself to be wearing something she may notice as distinctly familiar amongst .. where is she again? The clothes she wears are loose and in a mostly modest cut of emerald green, ending just below the knees and just below the elbows. They are not loose enough to be considered robes but they are far and away the tight form fit that has become vogue in many contemporary countries, with venting along some of the hemlines, secured with knotted leather where appropriate. The fabric itself that she wears is of an extravagant cut, faintly iridescent under the eye and telling stories of heartlands long past in the embroidery of a second tone of green revealed in the reflection.

There is only a single tooth in the hip pocket, secured with leather cordage and part of a necklace. It feels important, somehow.

"I guess it is one of those things," the child guesses aloud, "where it does not matter where you are, but where you are going?" With a start, she continues. "Oh! I am A'anami," the girl answers, a question left unasked but altogether important. "If you have a problem, you can just call me Anami. And I am suppose to take you to the village. You have been asleep a long time, and there's *so* much we need your help with. Okay?"

The girl, at this juncture, thrusts out her hand. It is a challenge for her to stand to even Caitlin's shoulder in height, but she has no problem with being forward where it needs. Big green eyes fix on Caitlin, A'anami's face slightly flush with both the importance of the moment and the social anxieties inherent in meeting another outsider.

"A'anami," Caitlin says, slowly and dutifully. She glances at the girl for confirmation. "A'anami?" she asks, making sure she pronounces the glottal stop. Once she has it to the girl's satisfaction, she takes the girl's fingers in her grip more out of politeness than any need for assistance, and levers herself to her feet.

"I… these are not my regulation League pajamas," Caitlin frowns, examining the fabric. "And it's not my favorite set of flannels, either." The redhead twirls once, experimentally, watching how the fabric billows, and smiles despite herself. It /is/ a nice day out, and she says so.

"Such nice weather we're having for…" she trails off, unsure of the date and suspecting in the back of her mind that the season doesn't matter overmuch. "And it's a pretty dress."

Blinking, Caitlin snaps herself from her momentary reverie, and focuses on the girl again.

"Right! Sorry, I'm a total space cadet today," she says, lightly smacking her palm against her temple. "People need help, huh? Well, that's what I do, helping people," she says, offering A'anami a hand to hold while the girl leads the way. "Is this the 'we have scary monsters?' sort of help, or 'Hey, come here and hold this for me?' kind of help?" she inquires, lightheartedly. "I'm pretty good at the first one, but I'm -really- good at holding things up, too," she remarks, trying to fight the urge to skip a little in the sunshine.

"That's right," A'anami replies brightly, voice quick and more than a little excited at finding an outsider who can pronounce her name. "Maybe after this, we can talk a little more. Do you like to swim? I love to swim..but, oh! I am sorry, we must hurry."

A'anami is no toddler, but she is not yet truly a teenager, at a glance. Regardless of it, it means youth can be a little hard to keep up with when they are in a hurry, and so the young girl is swift and sure, leading Caitlin through the grasslands with an insistent, but never rude, pull. There is clearly something important going on, regardless of how distracted she may become.

"I do not know, Miss Caitlin," A'anami replies politely. "Miss Aina said to run and fetch you, so I did." She thinks for a moment, running a hand through her darker red hair. "I do not think there is a monster, we have been protected for many years here, so it could not be that. I do not know if there is something that needs holding, except for our rocks when the boys across the river make fun of us," she remarks, clearly off the subject by something bothering her recently. "Anyway, what I mean to say is, Miss Aina will know everything."

That is enough for her, it seems.

Time works strangely here. Left to place bare foot to earth, the grasslands will eventually surrender a village, nestled between gently sloping hills. It is not more than a ramshackle collection of huts in the middle of nowhere, at the side of a river that seems to go on forever. "We need to hurry," A'anami explains, "Miss Aina is waiting. But she may understand a minute or two. If you are tired or hungry, I can show you around a little if you like? Where would you like to go," the young girl asks, looking at Fairchild with those bright eyes.

"What would you like to see first?"

Caitlin keeps up effortlessly, her long legs churning through the grass and leaving deep, heavy treads behind her. Even were it not for the strangely timeless nature of the grasslands, there's a sense of the grasslands in how Caitlin jogs— a distance runner, eating up the miles with no worries about how far the horizon might be.

At A'anami's question, Catilin dithers, scrutinizing the young girl with an uncertainty she tries to hide. For a moment, there's a nuance that A'nami might certainly miss: Caitlin looking for an adult, then realizing she /is/ the adult here, though she's barely in her twenties.

Protocols and customs flash through her mind rapid-fire, and she bites her lower lip before deciding on a course of action. "It sounds like you need help pretty urgently," Caitlin says, carefully. "So— if it doesn't offend your hospitality to take me straight to.. uh, Miss Aina, we can go there, and I promise it won't bother -me- any if she's waiting for us. Okay?" she asks, with a sun-shiney smile for the young adolescent. She jostles the young girl's hand and nods at the village. "Let's go find Miss Aina."

"But if we like, happen to pass by a bushel of apples or something on the way… I think that'd be all right, yeah?" she inquires, perking one brow conspiratorially.

A'anami is blissfully unaware that Caitlin is searching for any kind of authority. In the distance, people wander to and from the river, wearing colorful clothes and singing in a foreign language. Some carry baskets on their heads, others fishing rods. It is very clear that the village thrives based off of the things the river brings to it. Everything seems quite peaceful, and there seems to be no dissent at all. No sign of any trouble, or recent destruction. That's probably why though A'anami seems to be rather insistent about their ultimate goal, there is no part of her that seems scared or afraid. Almost like it cant be a part of her.

"Okay," she agrees, with a firm nod to punctuate her words and steel her resolve. For a child, even taking someone to meet someone else can be an all important task. "Let's go—"

She is cut off. A loud growl emanates from below. It sounds like more tiger than man. Luckily, it is no great beast. Just the young child's tummy. "…Ah, maybe I will take you to Granma N'Jemele's place first. It is on the way, ah, that is if you know the right path."

Right.

While this N'Jemele woman's place is not in fact, on the way to Aina's hut, it is probably something Caitlin will only pick up on while noticing the largest huts in the village are not quite in the same direction A'anami leads her. But it isn't exactly the opposite direction either, and the air surrounding N'Jemele's hut smells so sweet. 'She owns a kind of shop,' it is explained to Caitlin, and inside is all manner of trinket and bauble, but the most important thing is, she has foods that are not available anywhere near the village, and various forms of smoked meat, fruits and vegetables are all gathered sparsely for display. Nestled amongst a princely selection of colorful mango on display is the wizened woman herself, an old black woman wearing colorful robes and chatting with people as they come and go. "Ah, wily old Anansi must have had his time across the river if he were to find you," she greets Caitlin evenly, her voice warm and exotic, like the ships at sea. "And going to see lovely Bast, I bet. Oof, you must be starving to have come all of this way. Come, pick something out. I know you are without, but I will give you a deal: One piece for your first name, and the second for the name you wish to one day have. Names are an interest of mine… they have some power, you know. So one fruit for the child, and one for you. Well? Come now. What do you say?"

It's a detour, not a delay, and Caitlin sticks that firmly in her mind when she suspects that A'anami's hunger is also a deciding factor at play here. She smiles brightly at the old woman in the shop, an expression that would be considered suspiciously engaging were it not so naievely sincere.

"Hi! It's nice to meet you," Caitlin tells the woman, with real sincerity. "That's very kind of you, ma'am. My name's Caitlin," she says, and offers her fingertips to the storekeeper in the gentlest of polite handshakes, ducking her head slightly in a modest gesture of deference to the much older woman.

"I… gosh, a future name,," she says, brow twisting into thought. She nudges A'amani to pick out a snack for the both of them, clearly deferring to the girl's experience, and with a crestfallen expression, shrugs her shoulders at N'Jemele. "I'm sorry, I had never even thought about it," she apologizes. "I'd just be pulling something out of my— hat," she says, minding her manners at the last moment. "I've been trying to think of a codename for years, and I mean, Carol and Kara call me 'Red' sometimes, but—" she tousles her ginger hair. "That's kind of, y'know, too easy, I think? I'm sorry," she apologizes. "If I think of one, I'll let you know?"

N'Jemele smiles, her hand warm when clasping under Caitlin's. "Red will do just fine for now," she assures her, before patting the top of the tall woman's hand with her other, her skin rough from years working at the page and the loom. "Whether she knows it or not, a woman always has a second name she is destined for. We are born as formless clay, but in our deepest memories, we know who we must be. For some it is Queen. Others, it is Mother. We hear ourselves called many names over our lifetimes, but the moment we hear our true name is lightning, and after, we know who we were all along. The journey to find out, that is what makes a woman. For men, it is not like this."

In the background, A'Anami holds up a pair of strawberry papaya, tossing a questioning glance to both N'Jemele and Caitlin, seeming somewhat choice paralyzed by the abundance of fruit on display. The smile the old woman gives to Caitlin so freely is paired with a consenting wink for the young girl, which in its time blooms into warm laughter for both.

"You are both young," the old woman N'Jemele advises, returning her hands to fold them in her lap. Her robe smells of rich incense. "Plenty of years yet to find the pages on which your story will be written. Plenty of years yet to gather the ink. I wish you both fair winds and good travel.."

Outside, the young girl offers Caitlin her part of the bargain. "Thank you so much," she says, using a small tool not unlike a pocketknife to split and seed the pink flesh of the fruit, before offering the small tool to Fairchild as well. Theoretically they will be back on track shortly. "There are a lot of people in our village," she explains between bites of the mildly sweet and buttery fruit. "But Grandma knows them all, just like we know her."

Caitlin listens with rapt attention to N'Jemele's words, a low warmth prickling her skin at the honeyed wisdom being given to her. The profoundity of it touches her spirit deeply, and it's only when N'Jemele bids them farewell that Caitlin finds her voice behind a somewhat slackened jaw.

"Er… gosh, well… thank you so much," she says, clearing a whisper from her throat. "Er, thank you," she tries again, more clearly. "For the fruit and… the kindness," she says. Impulsively, she offers the old woman a hug, because she looks like the sort who would appreciate it.

Waving farewell, she follows along with the young girl, splitting the fruit with a careless disregard for the blade's sharp edge. "I bet she does. She probably knew everyone when they were in diapers, huh?" Caitlin inquires, playfully. "I … don't have a grandma," she says, a bit wistfully. "I mean, I /do/, I guess, but— she was dead and gone long before I was born. I think. It's, er, complicated."

Her brow furrows a little at that train of thought. She -assumed- she had no living relatives, because… Caitlin, blinkingly, realizes she'd never thought about it. At all. The thought of distant aunts and cousins thrills her for a moment, but she flickers away the butterfly thoughts and focuses on A'amani again.

"Okay. Sorry. Focused! We really should find your Aunt as soon as possible, I don't want her to think I'm being rude," Caitlin remarks, trying to eat the fruit as delicately as possible.

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