The Waters of Dawn Cove
~Story 3~

Nikoko relaxed as he was finally done with whatever people had wanted from him. And by people he meant the adults. He was 17 but knew that even one year in the future he would still be considered someone who needed guidance. And maybe he did. it was not like he wanted to look for work, he much preferred being given something to do. That way he could just finish whatever task needed doing and return to his carefree life. 
When the freckled red-headed young man ducked and crept through some bushes, he stumbled upon Kiisha, the blond, muscled daughter of Deriaki and Gejuisu, the two founders of Dawn Cove. Nikoko grinned because it was always nice to find a friend.
"Goofing off, does your mother know?" Nikoko joked.
But he instantly regretted it as he saw that Kiisha was feeling bad. The girl had never liked being in the spotlight because of who her parents were. If she could, she would swap to have been born to some lowly settlers without hesitation. She loved her parents, but she hated being thought of as the future leader of the small village. 
Today had once more driven home that point when some newcomers had bowed before her when she walked by. Why, she was just a teenager. She looked like her mother and that made it easy to spot her relation to the leaders. Probably that was why they hardly ever did the same for her younger brother. 
"I don't want to talk." Kiisha sniffled.
Nikoko sat down beside the girl he considered his best friend and held her while she sobbed. Some people gossiped that they were an item but neither of them felt anything beyond friendship for the other. They'd bonded over their shared ambition to be anything but ambitious and often just talked together. Sometimes talking about nothing in particular, sometimes uttering grievances they could not unload anywhere else. 
Zashiki found them hugging, Kiisha sobbing and Nikoko looking concerned. Zashiki, a curvy, heavyset girl with curly brown hair and green eyes was a recent addition to Dawn Cove and so far she'd loved it. To find people crying then was something that made her not know how to act. Better to ignore them and quietly slip away. 
She'd been swimming and had come upon the two slightly older teens as she was making her way back to the settlement. Her parents were away with one of the caravans and finally they'd agreed that she was old enough to stay at Dawn Cove by herself. Well not exactly, she was often checked on by some of the other people here that knew her parents. And she was expected to chip in by doing chores and to go to the school to study. But it sure beat being on the road, not knowing where you'd be camping, whether or not you'd be able to bathe or have a quiet place to urinate or defecate. As she swerved, she nearly bumped into Tohiji, a boy slightly younger than her with a ponytail and a sneaky grin. 
Tohiji steadied Zashiki so she wouldn't fall but the noise they'd made had alerted Nikoko and Kiisha that they were around. Tohiji cast his eyes down, feeling a bit guilty that he'd been following his sister. But if Nikoko hadn't found her, he would have tried to comfort her. He had been a bit lost as to how to act as well and had just waited, hoping he could sneak away later. 
"We didn't meant to disturb." Tohiji said, hinting at the fact that maybe he and the curvy newcomer had been caught in something that hadn't been the case. But it was a better excuse then admitting he'd been there the entire time, watching. 
Tohiji felt Zashiki stiffen in his arms and saw her eyes widen. He gave her that sneaky grin again and quickly drew his index finger over his lips. Zashiki seemed to understand his intention and agreed. 
"I didn't know anyone would be here." Zashiki added.
Kiisha furiously wiped her eyes and said: "I need to get going."
Nikoko let her go and wondered if he could do anything else. His mind worked overtime until he did find a solution though maybe not an ideal one.
"You would always go somewhere else." he said.
Tohiji perked. He loved to dream about travel and hoped he would one day be able to tell stories of all the places he'd visited. He yearned for adventure and danger. 
"I don't want to go away." Kiisha admitted, "This is my home."
"You can always come back. Think of it as a vacation." Tohiji said. 
Maybe he'd be able to go along.
Zashiki kept quiet, she could understand not wanting to leave here. She vaguely knew who the other three were and wondered why they were not happy when they had all kind of perks.
"There must be some way to make you feel better, it's wonderful here." she let slip.
The other three looked at her.
"Well, you have good housing, wonderful nature and the nekrats keep you safe, and..."
"The nekrats of course!" Nikoko interrupted.
Three pairs of eyes stared back at him.
"I mean, your parents wouldn't mind you going out to bond a nekrat. You'd be away and I doubt people at Lantessama would see you as any different from the other candidates from Dawn Cove. And when you return you'd be able to go away a bit more."
"It does sound nice." Kiisha agreed.
"I'm so coming." Tohiji yelled, "I want to see Lantessama too!"
"Are you coming too?" Nikoko asked.
Zashiki wondered why she'd be included until she saw the suggestive stare he gave her and Tohiji. Apparently their little ruse at the start had worked a little bit too well. But Zashiki did want to make new friends and Lantessama would have beds and sanitary equipment too so maybe a little trip wouldn't be so bad.

Stats and Nekrats:
Nikoko (m) and Swamp Jimwul (m)
Kiisha (f) and ???
Tohiji (m) and Storm Ulafar (m)
Zashiki (f) and Wave Ronswul (f)

All images found with google
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