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Culpeo-Fox's avatar

Friendly Strangers

"Why...are you doing this?"
"Do what?"
"Help us. Why? You belong to those who shot him. Who tried to kill us."
"Yes. But I not shoot."
"Yes, but..."
The mantis does a sound that might be a sigh. There is silence over the room now and for a long time, nothing but the concentrated smacking sound of its mandibles can be heard while it cleans the wound of the still unconscious Riseos.
"I...know you for very long. You and serpent friend."
Again, Tirah can feel a slight trace of mistrust creeping up.
"How do you mean that?"
"I see you, at some point, in city. Then later, in park. Then later, on bridge. I follow. I start remind where you appear, and when. I already waiting. Much secretly."
"You...watched us?"
"Secretly. Watch you. Yes."
"Were you ordered to do so?"
"No. No order. Order later."
"But why?"
The mantis now hestitates. Then, it tightens its shoulders. Within its stiff eyes, stiffer then any snake eye could have ever been, Tirah believes to see something that might be an inner overcoming.
"I...just find beautiful. Enjoy watching you. You and friend. Bird and snake. Completely different. But you: Don't care! Here...don't matter. Thinking of home. At home...does matter."
Then the mantis remains silent. Tirah as well.  There is a sudden trace of sadness appearing over the stiff insect's face and the falconet feels too afraid to ask.
"Later...order", the mantis continues. "I working for organisation. Kill others for money. Boss says: You kill middleman from coyotes. Okay. But then...middleman turning out is your friend. Kill, how? I can't. I want to warn. Want to bring you to him. But you...much scared of me. Then, he find you. You two flee with smoke-bomb. But he is shot. I follow."
Tirah remains still. She feels numb. Doesn't know what to say.
"What...what is your name?", she asks instead (and thinks to herself, embarrassed, that she couldn't even tell whether the mantis is a man or a woman).
"Name is Tespin. You Tirah, yes?"
"How do you know?", she asks, confused.
"You bringing fresh water for me moment ago, you let go his hand. Leaving the room. There, your friend whisper this name."
Tirah doesn't answer. She only gulps and nods slowly.
The mantis looks up, meeting her eyes. Although the insect's gaze is so different from hers, so difficult to read...there is something in this look that fills her own eyes with tears.
"Your friend, this man...loving you very, very much, Tirah. I mantis, he python, we very different. But I know when I see. Love always same, doesn't matter who, doesn't matter, whom. Serpent or insect or whatever. Doesn't matter."
This is where the young falconet would suddenly get up, running to the door, her arms still clenching Riseos' bloody shirt. "I'll be back soon", she murmurs. As soon as she's outside, feeling unwatched, she glides alongside the wall. The still warm traces of Risi's blood in her nose and beak, she presses her face deep into his shirt, sobbing uncontrollably.

As her crying finally ebbs away, she stands up slowly. Still clenching onto the shirt, she runs around the block (not too far), without a real focus, looking up in the sky, searching for some lonely stars.


Almost timidly, she knocks at the door. She feels ashamed that she's been away for so long.
"Come in!", a deep voice says.
All her fears vanish instantly. Instead, she tears the door open.
Riseos is sitting there on the bed, chipper as ever, wearing a fresh shirt and holding a glass in which Tespin just poured some clear water. As he sees her at the door, his eyes brighten up instantly.
"Birdie!", he shouts with glee, "come fly to me!"
"!!...Risi! Risi, Risi!"
And nothing else she does as she throws herself into his arms, flinging her arms around his neck in such a wild manner that he almost falls over.
"Risi", she whispers, "I already thought...I thought..."
The python man covers the little falconet girl's head with affectionate kisses, which she yearningly sticks towards to, partly crying, partly laughing.
"Too early", he says, "There still is so much I'm up to!"
Then, he turns to the mantis, who kept itself quiet during this, being both shy and polite. "I already got to know Tespin. She told me everything. And also a little more."
Only ardously, the young falconet girl can pull herself away from the python. Timidly, she reaches out a hand and the mantis takes it, just as timid. The falcon's eyes, in which Yarak was still seething not long ago, are now full thankfulness.

For the rest of the night, though, she doesn't leave his side anymore. Almost unremittingly, she presses her face against the python's shirt and chest, sticking towards his neck, hugging his tail and nestling into its soft coils; and he also keeps her close while chatting with Tespin.
"Birdie, my dear", he says with a soft-spoken voice at some point, "you know, I can't live without your warmth, but I believe I do need some cooling're glowing with heat!"
"You unfortunately have to burn then", she replies and only embraces him  tighter. He laughs, moved over her stubborn reaction which yet unveils nothing but defiant and honest love. "Well, you got me. Cool air is overrated anyway."
Tespin makes a sound that resembles both laughing and crying. It is hard to read her insectoid face, but Riseos has a notion of her traces. Joyful melancholy is surrounding the mantis.
" there for each other. Always caring for each other", she whispers. "You...never betray...yes? Yes?
Riseos smiles. Then, his expression turns serious.
"Never betray", he says. "Upon my life."


Riseos, Tirah and Tespin.

characters and story (c)
:iconskia: & :iconculpeo-fox:
Image details
Image size
711x596px 629.68 KB
Shutter Speed
10/300 second
Focal Length
50 mm
ISO Speed
Date Taken
Jun 13, 2018, 4:18:18 AM
© 2018 - 2022 Culpeo-Fox
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Gulliver63's avatar
Woodswallow's avatar
Ich find's großartig, dass ihr von dieser Geschichte so Häppchen preisgebt! Vielen Dank dafür, das macht wirklich Spaß zu folgen. Und ein Insektencharakter, wie großartig ist das denn?
Grumpy-Goose's avatar
dhDingo's avatar
your writing is very beautiful, I really like these characters and the pieces of the story you've translated so far :) :) :)
Excellent piece and story, love it all!
hmcshroom's avatar
Akane-Kurayami's avatar
is this traditionally made?
Culpeo-Fox's avatar
The sketch was photographed and touched up a little, but the colours were added digitally. :)
uzelok21's avatar
Simply but very awesome *-*
Radicaun's avatar
PYTHON: "Did I or did I not specifically ask for Perrier bottled water, light on ice with a slice of lime? This is clearly from the tap and warm at that!"
MANTIS:  "Dude, chill out! No need to bite my head off."

:iconwaiterplz: :iconbottleofwaterplz: :iconsnake-plz:
perfesser-bear's avatar
Excellent narrative and the perfect illustration. I understand so much more about these two, now, thanks to Tirah.
SongCoyote's avatar
And lo, within that long-forgotten place
Three people, each quite different from the rest
Did find that, as they searched each other's face
That fear could fade when warmed at love's behest

And so they whiled away the midnight hours
Discovering the ways that they could learn
To face the world together, all their powers
Bent t'ward their common challenge and concern

Within that room, they found a new approach
That went beyond what they had once felt true
For love can even transform hate's reproach
And when it wins, one's healing can ensue

A bird, a snake, a mantis found the way
To carry hope into the dawning day


Offered in adoration of what you create, Skia and Culpeo.

Light and laughter,
SongCoyote's avatar
You continue to inspire me :D

I only hope my offerings do the same for you! <3

Light and laughter,
NikkiPikkiPencils's avatar
D'awwwwww, I love this so much!
I thoroughly enjoyed the story, and I love the picture too.... aaAaaAAA!
Now I wanna know more about these guys!! >:''3
MrGheesfellow's avatar
Tespin seems like a great addition to the whole setting. Hope to see more of her in the future!
DerpyGold's avatar
There is a Snake, Mantis and a bird? It's great 👍
LetFreedomReign2's avatar
Oh... how beautiful!
NishNushTLV's avatar
This is so cute!
Sturmvoqel's avatar
Nun liebe ich die Welt in der sie leben noch mehr ♥
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