1964-07-09 - King's Men 4: Evening Reverie
Summary: A mysterious visitor and a grey bird grace Kamala Khan with a greeting.
Related: Plot: Kingsmen
Theme Song: None
ianos kamala-khan 

The door slams open, and yes it's possible to slam open a bedroom door. Teenagers are particularly good at it, it's a life skill you lose when you get older. The person revealed by the action is one Kamala Khan, a young lady whose parents are shouting up the stairwell at her at this moment, and she herself is unsettled.

"Well excuse me!"
"You are excused straight to your room! And stay there til you find your manners!"
"I'm already there!" Kamala calls down the stairs, then shuts her door firmly, snarling at her reflection in her mirror. She falls down face-first on her bed and remembers nothing afterward. Until…

Kamala finds herself laying on her back, looking at the sky. She's pretty sure that she's on the rooftop, where she likes to go for writing. It feels kind of surreal though, but in dream logic you don't question these things.

She scribbles something on her notepad, but can't read it. It's just scribbles.

The sky blossoms with colour, hinting the hour to be a little further towards sunset. Pink pops out around the rooflines surrounding Kamala's house. Scents that are familiar linger on the air — the hint of cut grass and the warm apple pie someone set on their windowsill, someone's hamburgers in the barbecue. She can hear distant laughter and the radio fuzzing along in the background. Sounds meant to be savoured for their familiarity.

The paper crumples a little. The scribbles twist and weave in pleasing patterns that have a better symmetry than English letters. They're strange, more vertical and horizontal.

Kamala feels amused, poking at the letters with her pencil as she looks around. This is the place she feels most relaxed, really. Her best place. There's almost always the scent of curry here, so the cut grass and pie are a nice change.

Pausing a moment, Kamala decides to write in Urdu a little bit, but even those words aren't really words. Just concepts, that don't really translate well at the moment. A thought about the karate guy down the block being a hidden spy, and what he'd think of her. A story idea budding, with her watching it unfold.

A little bird comes fluttering down from the sky, a thing as grey and humble as any wren or robin. It lacks much to distinguish its pale belly from its darker back or fair head. The mockingbird flaps its wings and lands on the gutter. Its small claws scratch into the shingles as it shuffles along, eyeing up Kamala the whole time. Feathers flatten from their ruffled state and it watches her with beady, curious eyes. Chirping at her, the sweet song repeats itself, a rapid little warble.

It pauses. Shuffles sideways. And then sings again at her. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMpe34Aign4>

The sketch of a karate master forms on her page, and the neat lines above seem to twist and blur on her. He's no longer just a man in a gi. He wears a robe and a pair of spiky bracers.

Kamala's eyes widen a little, though she barely knows it. Things are so funky at the moment anyway, but she sits up and offers the bird her finger while the page changes. When she looks back, she's surprised. Oh, this is good. He's not really a spy, he's a great warrior. The spiky bracers seem to fit, and she just knows that he's got a staff and he's amazing with it…but he prefers to use his hands. They make him feel more in control, more like he can … her imagination trails off, not really knowing what martial artists do aside from break boards.

Well, maybe he's breaking boards or something. She looks back at the bird, at least having an idea what they do. "What species are you, little one?"

The bird shyly hops over the roof up to Kamala. It watches her, easily spooked off by any sudden motion she makes. Holding out her hand encourages the grey avian to hop once more and flap its wings, sweeping up to land. Its small claws open wide and clutch on. The liquid warble ascends and drops into a rhythmic chirping. "«Who? Who? Who?»"

It tilts its head and a dark, clear eye considers her. "«Inininin»," it changes key, "huhuhuhuhuuuu," and the melodic rise and fall is elongated but clear "Man."

No fear, Kamala lifts her hand to look at the bird. She'd think this was odd, but this is clearly dreamtime and things have been way stranger in a lot of her dreams. Like the one where she was a lemur with wings picking raisins out of her mother's jewelry drawer. Totally odd, Ammi doesn't even have a jewelry drawer.

"Allohomma barik lana fima razaqtana waqina ath…" she starts to say, head tilting left to right, and smiles at birdieman. The prayer likely has no effect, but it wasn't meant to. "If you are a man, why have you wings? Or if I am man, why don't I have them?" She idly wonders if she can fly.

The little bird grips Kamala's finger easily and it chirps again, though this time the chirp makes sense. Dream logic doesn't follow normal logic. She should understand because she does. It hopefully flaps its wings once and tucks them against its side.

"Hello friend." Its dark beak preens over its shoulder and then sits up. "I have to travel far with the seasons to find my food. What do I call you? I have never been to this house before."

Kamala Khan shakes her head gently, not worried about scaring the bird because she isn't. "Migratory birds tend to avoid this area, the smog is normally too thick this time of year. My name is Kamala, but you can call me anything you like." She doesn't know what she's doing, so she lays back and holds the bird against the backdrop of the sky.

The bird speaks in chirps and warbles, but the meaning is clear. "Kamala. Well met, cousin Kamala."

It looks down at her and the warm rooftop at her back feels softer than shingles, and a fair bit cooler. It might well be grass, though not the sort of the manicured lawns all around her home. Thicker, gentler sedges and mosses instead. Gone is the laughter, replaced by the rolling surf, and the clouds overhead are streamers of limitless grey and blue that spool like ribbons.

She still holds the mockingbird, but the mockingbird is not alone. There are faint grey shadows just out of her frame of vision from lying back, and the soft thump of footsteps.

"I'm cousin to a bird," Kamala say/thinks. Unworried about the change in venue. Why would she be? She does sit up a little, to try and peer around, but not too hard. If it's meant to be seen, it will be seen. Some things stay out of your vision and you forget them in the morning. Others become stories.

"Are you really there, bird? I was mad at my parents and fell asleep, I think, so I'm dreaming."

She's cousin to a bird, a chirpy and content little thing. When she sits up, the scene is terribly different from her roof. Water thunders onto a rocky beach, the greyish breakers matching the hue of the bird's feathers. That plumage in turn looks very much like a low stone building roofed in slate, something old that might bring to mind cottages and fishermen or Vikings. That house is fair off in the distance, but it's so flat nearby that she can easily see its outline. Nothing stands between her and the house save an awful lot of green turf and several very large standing stones spaced out equidistant, more or less. They aren't like Stonehenge. Each of them is oddly shaped and badly weathered, transformed from blocks into chunks with their tops angled off, or jaggedy bits closer to stony fangs than actual upright boulders.

It's then she might see her errant squiggles on the page before she started making the spy-martial artist correspond to shapes drawn in the mossy clefts and cracks on their faces. They don't actually mean anything to her, precisely, but they do line up.

Sadly, the fellow standing there in the bracing wind isn't the karate master. He looks old enough to be a retired professor of some kind, and he even wears a grey jacket and a deerstalker, the kind of hat Sherlock Holmes and Scottish gentlemen going deer-hunting like. "Oh, it certainly is. Not something I thought to wander so far from home, and here you are."

Kamala understands nearly nothing that the man says. Not from anyone's fault, he's just not saying words that explain the current situation to her. So she assumes that it's not supposed to, and looks at the stones. Touches the runes a little, wondering if they're gaelic. Not egyptian, she'd recognize those.

"I don't understand," she says, because it needs to be said. Not sure why, but there it is. "Is this a message? A warning?"

They might be Gaelic. One curiously looks Arabic. Another is decidedly not Urdu but something even older. If she recognizes Sanskrit, that's present. There's a twisty line, and many straight, all those features coming together. When she touches the runes, they start to glow. Each has a different colour to them, a different sound, like notes in a musical composition.

The gentleman looks puzzled for a moment. He whistles, and the bird comes back to land on the stone nearest to him. He hasn't entered the great circle, but stands between two of them. "Forgive me. I thought you had called for me. I heard you as I was passing." He gestures to the bird that preens its feathers. "You asked if it was really here. The bird is, yes. So am I. As are you."

He looks a bit stumped for a few seconds. His pale white eyebrows are hardly visible but they don't hide the twinkle in his eyes. "This makes things a little different if you didn't intentionally call in my direction. Hmm. Ah, I know. I'm a caretaker for a site like this. Make sure that people don't ransack it or do harm to it. Try to understand it. Little bit of everything, really." He sounds decidedly British. "Most people haven't the time of day for the rocks. You're the first I've seen in a long time who went right up and touched them. I think, cousin, any message they have is for you and not me."

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