"Clailip, look over here!"
"No, over here!"
"You two, stop fighting over Clailip, look, he's upset." A woman that looks to be in her early twenties scolded the two teenagers currently playing with a two-year-old boy, they both were fighting over the boy's attention, causing the tot to start tearing up out of stress.
The woman took the toddler boy—who immediately reached for her—into her hands and started gently comforting the almost-crying child. In just a few moments, Clailip finally started to calm down, and pulled out of the tight hug he was giving his mother to look at his older siblings, who happened to be twins. He had an indescribable aggressive look on his face clearly directed at the twins, unfit for his bubbly and young face.
He looked at them in the eyes for a few seconds then stuck his tongue out at them, seemingly to say 'Ha! I have the high ground! Unlike you guys, Mama can carry me! Jealous? Thought so!' Clailip started giggling as the two teens looked to be confused for a whole three seconds before one of them, the girl, finally reacted.
"Ah, Mama, I think Clailip still wants to play. Can I hold him? Clay, do you want uppies?" The teen accompanied her words with affectionate movements, trying to help Clailip understand what she's saying.
Seeing this, Clailip's triumphant face morphed with terror as he clung onto his mother. If he could speak he would most likely say something like, 'No! NO! The last time you gave me an uppy, I was launched way high into the air!' he refused to let go even with his mother's coaxing so they just let him be.
"Wow, Kila, you must've given him some trauma after you launched him two meters into the air the last time you were holding him." Another teen, the boy, said.
"Shut it Rungan, he definitely liked the uppy! I mean, he wouldn't have passed out mid-air if he didn't! He was definitely v-" Kila suddenly stopped speaking after feeling an ominous presence behind her. Rungan smirked as their mother grasped his twin's shoulder very tightly.
"Kila, after I put Clay to sleep, can you tell me more about this 'uppy' you gave him?" The children's mother smiled, but her eyes showed no amusement.
After this whole incident, Kila was never allowed to hold Clailip ever again.
Clailip woke gently to the sounds of birds tapping on the windows, they chirped and sang as they curiously tapped. As Clailip slowly got up from the comfortable bed he was laying in, he basked in the gentle warmth of the morning sun. He smiled as he thought of how relaxing the sun's rays are, and how much he loved getting up in the morning just to feel the sunlight on his skin.
After a few seconds of basking in the golden rays of light the sun was giving off, he finally looked around and saw that, like always, his parents are nowhere to be found. Of course, that is only a given, his parents are both important figures in the village. His mother was a chieftain while his father was a head teacher, so naturally they'd be busy this time in the morning.
Clailip stretched in place for a few seconds, he made sure to stretch out every joint in his body and did his best to make sure he was fully ready for the day. He got out of the warm silk blanket he was wrapped in with a jump, and went on to a nearby chest containing his clothing, he changed into his everyday casual wear and dumped his sleepwear in a woven basket near the window. As he did, though, colorful birds caught his eye and he stared at them for a while. He loved birds, they were so cute and they sang amazing songs. Though, being originally from earth, he knew what the songs were for, but he tried not to think of it while he and the other children would dance to the tunes of the vividly colored birds.
He was absolutely mesmerised, the birds were beautiful, they were colored very brightly, purples and greens made up their bodies while their wings resembled a blazing sunrise. Their feathers glistened in the morning light and they tapped on the window with a certain rhythm. This kind of thing was something Clailip quickly learned to appreciate, he didn't realize how beautiful birds really were during his past city life. This would've gone on for well over an hour if his older brother, Rungan, hadn't come into the room to tell him about his cooling breakfast.
Calilip's feet pitter pattered on the wooden flooring of the house as he ran up to the dining room. He didnt want to accidentally flare up his siblings' overly doting nature by forgetting to eat. The next thing he knows he might just suddenly be spoon fed by them when he was perfectly capable of doing it himself. The infantilization kills him on the inside but he's learned how to just take it, after all, if he whined and told them he could do it himself it might get even worse. He's read about family members who dote on a child even more when the child expresses a desire to be more independent.
He took a seat on a comfy wooden chair and started eating his breakfast. It was a sticky porridge-like meal made with a rice-like grain that the village cultivated. It had poultry in it and several herbs and spices that Clailip couldn't identify. It did taste amazing, though, and Clailip wished he was allowed to prepare food alongside his siblings. He loved cooking in his past life, and he was amazing at it too, even winning the cook-offs that his school would arrange here and there. So he wanted to learn about the ingredients of this world as soon as possible so he could recreate his favorite foodstuffs.
"You should eat first before watching the birds play, Clay." Rungan sternly said, "It's not good practice to put off meals, you might get sick or your tummy might ache." He added.
"As much as I'd rather die than say this, Rungan's right, aren't you scared of the giant worm that would burst out of your stomach?" Kila made an overly-exaggerated gesture that one would use to scare children.
"Mama told me you were just trying to scare me into eating." Clailip stuck his tongue out at her brunette sister.
"Uh- erm… Well Mama just doesn't want you to get nightmares. That's why she said that, why do you think she always insists on you eating at the right time? Because the story is true!" Kila tried convincing his little brother. She had a firm logic and valid argument, if Clailip was a normal child then he would've believed her immediately. Unfortunately for Kila, Clailip was far from a normal four-year-old.
"Kila, Clay's too smart to fall for your tricks." Rungan told Kila off as we all proceeded to eat.
As Clailip ate, his mind drifted to his current life now. He only realized this a week ago but he wasn't actually a human anymore. He always thought that the differences in human culture and customs that he was used to was really only because he's from another world. He hadn't considered the possibility of becoming an inhuman race.
The thing is he was a divorakk. It was a race that was completely foreign to him, no light novels nor games from his previous world ever mentioned anything about them. He had no idea what he's supposed to be like and had zero information about how his race worked. So he asked his mother some questions here and there and found out some things about his current race.
These things are more or less the basics, like how divorakks were in perfect sync with mana and magic, and how the glowing mark on his left cheek was akin to a fingerprint in divorakk society. He hadn't learned much really, those two were the only real information he currently had about his race.
His mind drifted once more and he fell into a shallow melancholy. He had also found out that divorakks were considered toddlers up until their eighth birthday, considered children until their nineteenth birthday, and were only seen as proper adults after having 'matured' and reached the age of twenty-five. Though, he knew this was all because divorakks were a long-lived race, and as such, they age extremely slowly. 'I mean, I look like I'm barely three years old despite being already four. Daddy mentioned that Mama was hitting her eighties, but she looks like she's in her early twenties.' He thought, he grieved over the next dozen or so years he'll have to endure being mollycoddled and treated like a baby by his family.
He appreciated the food to the best of his abilities despite being sorrowful over the next decade or so he'll be pretty much babied. This was another one of the quirks of divorakk culture—unlike where he grew up, where dinner time was a time when a family could converse, catch up, and bond, divorakks were silent eaters. They viewed food as nourishment, and as something they should appreciate as much as they could. It was extremely disrespectful to talk while eating.
After eating, the three chatted away. They gleefully planned for the day, it was Clailip's fourth birthday, after all, and the twins wanted to make this a special day for the child. They each suggested an activity or two, Rungan offered to take him on a small trip to another village by the rivers to watch the fireflies that would be showing up soon. While Kila offered to take him to another neighbouring village, this time to watch the Magical Invocation Ceremony that would be conducted there.
"I honestly just wanna stay home this year…" Clailip declined the offers of his two siblings; he was definitely tempted to go on a trip to watch the dances and the fireflies. But he was waiting for certain people here at the village, and he didn't want to be missing on the day of their return. "Our grampas and grammas are still not home, I wanna wait for them here."
Rungan and Kila looked at him, disappointed that Clailip had declined. But they didn't say anything else and just smiled at the boy.
"Well, Grandpa Lindsay DOES dote on you. It won't be a very big surprise if they manage to get back from the north today." Kila said.
"That's true, and hey, maybe they have a gift or two for you. Are you excited?" Rungan said, trying to get Clailip riled up for their grandparents' return. Though, this statement got him a particularly harsh elbowing from Kila, who looked at him with eyes that tried to tell him to stop. After all, they weren't supposed to let Clailip know of his grandparents' surprise birthday gift.
The fourth birthday of a divorakk is the half-way point between toddler and child, so it is customary for a magical medium to be given at this age. Especially since this is also the age when they would normally start learning magic, and the next year being their Magical Invocation, a magical medium is most often given on a divorakk child's fourth birthday.
Rungan and Kila both knew this, and they knew that their grandparents were trying to get their hands on a high-quality, Ice-attribute, medium to best fit Clailip's core attributes. Their grandparents told them to keep it a secret from everyone, and they've been doing well so far, but Rungan's statement endangered all the hard work they've done keeping it a secret. Which is why Kila's elbowing was particularly harsher than her usual harshness.
Though Rungan knew it was for good reason, he couldn't help but pick a fight with his twin sister. And as the two argued and fought, they didn't realize that Clailip had slipped out and already went outside their house to take in more of the morning sun's glory.
"Ah, this is heaven." Clailip's orange mark, which looked like a spiral encased in a triangle, glowed even brighter. It let out Clailip's mana, which mingled with the tiny wind sprites in the area; they greeted Clailip by sending gusts of cool wind toward him. Clailip, in turn, used his mana to communicate his appreciation to the sprites for the refreshing gusts of wind.
He felt the green grass still damp with morning dew under his feet, he loved the cool feeling it gave him. He basked in the warmth of the sun, mingled with the cool wind, and dug his feet into the grassy ground. He was dissolving in pleasure, it was all so pleasant and relaxing. This life was miles better than the life he previously had. Sure, most modern comforts weren't available. But this kind of slow life in a forest was something that he'd consistently dreamed of ever since he was a little girl on Earth. And now that he had it, he didn't want to ever let go.
He breathed in, relishing the fresh air as it passed through his nostrils, it was extremely fresh and pleasant to breathe in, not to mention the smell, it was heavenly. He couldn't describe it very well, but if he was prompted to, he would describe it as dry petrichor.
Unknown to him, his father was coming his way, he had asked for permission to be absent for the day as it was his youngest child's birthday today. He got closer to Clailip, who basked in the sun's glory with a satisfied look on his face, and scooped him up into an embrace. The boy's internal alarms went haywire, he instinctively tried to push away the person scooping him up and tried to fight back, scratching, kicking, yelling, and biting at the person. He quickly stopped, though, after realising that it was just his father cuddling him.
Clailip's father is a very kind and doting parent, he was very soft and affectionate. Last year, when Clailip's core attribute finally manifested and he accidentally blew away a small bird that was trying to perch itself on his hand, Livan, his father, started crying tears of happiness and yelled for my mom to come and take a look. When he had manifested his second core attribute, Livan and Clailip's grandfather, Lindsay, were both crying.
Clailip's mother was exactly like him too, but she at least knows how to control her emotions. Though, if Clailip was asked whose affection he was more wary of between his two parents, he'd immediately answer his mother's. Though his father was consistently very affectionate, it was nowhere near the affection that Clailip's mother gives him in bursts. If his father gave him hugs and kisses whenever he saw the boy, then his mother would smother him with cuddles and only let go after a few minutes has passed. He didn't want to admit it but he liked the attention they gave him, it was something he never really experienced in his past life as far as he could remember, so he appreciated the fuzzy feeling he gets when they cherish him like that.
And so they cuddled for a bit, the father and son duo talked about Clailip's birthday. They were animated in doing so, making lots of facial expressions and exaggerated gestures. Whatever kind of energy his child put in his actions, he copied, and then they laughed at their own silliness. Clailip asked for permission to go play in the forest with his friends, his father gave him a thumbs-up of approval before walking inside the tree that is their home.
And so Clailip played for the whole day in the forest. He played catch with his friends and chased numerous spirits around. By lunchtime, he decided that he had enough and came home absolutely drenched in sweat, earning him a scolding from his mother who took an early leave from work for his birthday.
The day went on and Clailip celebrated, after being given a bath by his mother, he spent the rest of the day taking a nap. And at night, he absolutely gorged himself on the food that his parents had prepared for him.
Unfortunately, to his dismay, a letter was given to them by a fairy his grandmother, Lisa, has summoned. It seems that they would be in the north for a long while longer, and that they wouldn't be able to attend this year, nor Clailip's birthday next year. The earliest they could be back was by his sixth birthday. They promised the boy a load of gifts though, to compensate for their absence.
"Fly, f-fly away, Gust. And uh—D-Droplets of hope bead at my hands, Dew." He chanted, practicing his magic for the performance that he was supposed to give as part of his fifth birthday.
"Uhm, then… mix the two to create ice… what was the incantation again?" He thought long and hard as he concentrated on maintaining the ball of elemental manifestations in his hands. It wasn't that hard, but it was definitely not easy either. It was like trying to keep a wriggling basketball in place using only your hands.
"Ice will form as the cold bites hard, Frost." He watched as the ball of wind and the large drop of water mingled and absorbed with each other, dancing between his cupped hands as it slowly started to freeze into a ball of clear ice.
He looked at the ball of crystal clear ice with wonder, he's been practicing for around five months now and this has been the culmination of it. A perfect ball of crystal ice. Sure, it's beginner stuff that any mage can make, and some of the kids in the village have said that he was taking way longer than others did, but the sense of satisfaction he was feeling right now had the little boy almost bursting at the seams. He was giddily jumping in place and almost vibrating with sheer excitement.
After a while of celebration, he quickly calmed himself and then melted the ice back into water, he then proceeded to drink the tennis-ball-sized sphere of water. He didn't like wasting anything at all, it was against his beloved Goddess's doctrine to be wasteful, so he always tried his best to be as wasteless as possible.
That said, he has been lost in the forest for a couple of days now, he only really survived because the spirits hunt, forage, and lead him to water. So he makes sure to thank them with all his heart each time they bring him something. He loved the spirits, and their small acts of kindness never went unappreciated. Though if he had to be honest, he found some spirits here and there to be a bit creepy, especially with their featureless faces.
Fortunately for the tiny boy, he finally found a way home. He walked toward it as he practiced his magic, he could feel the nervousness lump at his throat. He gulped. He knew that his parents would absolutely never let him go into the forest at this point, he didn't even know how he got lost, he was just playing with spirits when he suddenly couldn't find his way back anymore.
And so he stepped out of the luscious green growth with tightly closed eyes and stepped into the village. He took a deep breath and waited for the yells of his fellow divorakks.
But they never came. He then noticed that the fresh air that he loved carried the scent of burnt wood. He opened his eyes in curiosity, were they creating some sort of bonfire for the fire sprites? Unlikely, the fire sprites in the forest were healthy as far as he knew, so they didn't need to provide them a place to recuperate.
"W-Well, isn't this one hell of a birthday gift." Clailip's voice cracked, despair dripped from every word that left his mouth.
The village was burnt down. Clailip teared up. And two spirits behind him fidgeted in guilt.