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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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The trouble with chances III

Postby D'Varrus Tomva on May 16th, 2022, 8:56 pm

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71st of Spring, 522 A.V.

“If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place.” She growled before she made herself hobble up the ramp, wincing every time she tried to put pressure on her right foot. To his surprise when he was in reach, she caught herself on his shoulder and pulled herself up to him, then proceeded to climb him like a tree which was quite the feat with her not using her right leg at all to do it.

He decided she must have a good deal of upper body strength if she could manage to do that by herself, and was almost in awe as she climbed the rest of the way out of the pit using his shoulder as the final push she needed to pull herself up over the side. D’Varrus turned around and looked up at the top, wondering how he was going to get over the side when Indigo popped her head over.

“Hand me my machete.” Indigo demanded.

Rolling his eyes, D’Varrus bit back a comment as he hopped off the ramp and pulled the machete from the wall before walking back to hand it to her. The holding out his hand, he expected her to help pull him up but she disappeared as soon as she had her machete.

“Hey now, don’t make me transform and track you down for leaving me in this pit.” D’Varrus threatened, and heard Indigo’s bitter laugh from a few feet away from the edge of the pit.

“As if. I doubt you have any energy left to climb out of that pit, much less transform.” Indigo remarked, and D’Varrus felt a pang of anxiety. She was right of course. He didn’t feel like there was much left in the tank for either option unfortunately which left him in a rather delicate position. Even if he could survive the night in the pit without something preying on him, whoever had dug this pit would likely be coming back in the morning and he didn’t want to be here when they did. This was likely supposed to be a trap, a pretty good one even without the stakes and they wouldn’t take to kindly to a kelvic in their pit.

Before he could really work himself up into a lather about it though, Indigo appeared over the edge of the pit and threw a vine down. D’Varrus looked at it skeptically for a moment, giving it a couple of pulls till he was certain it was secured.

“Come on we don’t have all night.” Indigo complained, and back to feeling frustrated, D’Varrus didn’t say anything as he pulled on the vine before bracing against the wall with his feet. Slowly he climbed his way up, using his hands to switch to a handhold further up the vine before using his feet to walk up the near vertical slope of the hole stopping for breaks in between. Then when he was near the edge of the pit, Indigo extended her arm towards him and hesitantly he took it and she helped pull him out the rest of the way.

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The trouble with chances III

Postby D'Varrus Tomva on May 16th, 2022, 8:57 pm

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Back outside the pit, he rolled onto his back where he lay panting for several long chimes beside Indigo whom was similarly indisposed. Eventually when both of them had laid there for long enough to catch their breath, Indigo sat up and turned to him, fixing him with an even look.

“Well jungle explorer. Go ahead and lead us out of the jungle like the big, brave man you are.” Indigo said, her words dripping with sarcasm.

D’Varrus sat up and didn’t deign that response with a reaction. Looking ahead of himself instead at the gloom of the jungle around them.

“Well I would if you hadn’t gotten us lost by making me chase you. Really, I have a hard time believing a word you have said to me because how could someone who has been here longer than anyone else get lost as easily as you did? Is your name even Indigo?” He asked, looking over at her as he asked that last bit.

Indigo’s eyes went wide. Her nostrils flared and before he could register what was going to happen she slapped him. Hard. The pain was subliminal. The rage was not. D’Varrus was on her before she had a chance to brandish the machete, pinning her arms down to the ground with his knees while he sat on her stomach. Then he smacked her hard across the face. Once. Twice. Her legs wrapped around his midsection and flipped him off of her. D’Varrus stumbled back into a tree, banging the back of his head off its trunk. Grasping the back of his skull he tried to crawl away as Indigo leapt onto him, kicking him in the gut, legs, and arms as he brought them up to shield his head while curling his knees in to protect his midsection from further attack.

The attack ended as quickly as it began with Indigo storming off, and letting of a primal scream as she stalked away to sit about ten feet away on the opposite end of the clearing. D’Varrus slowly picked himself up off the ground, brushing off leaves, dirt and other debris before settling himself against a broad tree trunk with a grunt.

Aside from now being covered in an assortment of aches and bruises he now had a particularly sharp sting around the back of his head that he touched gingerly before casting a scowl over at where Indigo was sitting with her back to him. To make matters worse his stomach felt like it was about to eat itself as it growled loudly every time he twisted about, and D’Varrus thought he could smell blood.

Sniffing around, he brought up his right hand and saw that he had a little on his fingertips from where he had touched the back of his head. D’Varrus clenched his jaw shut, looking again at the woman who had yet to move.

They spent quite a while like that until finally Indigo broke the stalemate by taking off her pack and rifling through it. New smells broke the are, and among them were a few that made his stomach knot painfully as she broke out a bit of jerky to munch on.

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The trouble with chances III

Postby D'Varrus Tomva on May 16th, 2022, 8:58 pm

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Feeling a surge of irritation, D’Varrus squeezed his eyes shut and tried to focus on getting out of here. He didn’t care about bringing the woman along anymore. Getting back to Syka alive was his top priority now, and if anyone asked he had never heard of an Ind-

Something slapped against his chest, and surprised he looked down to see it was a strip of jerky. Picking it up between two fingers, he gave it a hesitant sniff as he looked from it to her circumspectly.

“Well? Are you going to eat it or not? I’d hurry up if I were you because we been here far too long.” Indigo said. She was facing him now with her arms draped around her left knee which had been pulled up to her chest. In the fragile light that made its way through the canopy, she looked haggard, and her skin glistened where the mud had been rubbed off in their scuffle.

D’Varrus belatedly realized he had more than a little bit of that on the palms of his hands now, but he didn’t bother with wiping it off. Instead he took a begrudging chunk out of the jerky, and chewed quickly. As much as he was loathe to admit it, Indigo was right about their situation. They had been here too long, and made too much noise. Something would be coming to investigate. Probably more than one.

Finishing the jerky in three hasty bites, he then used the tree behind him to pull himself up to his feet before turning to walk slowly over to Indigo.

“Thank you for the jerky.” He said from between his gritted teeth. “Now do you have any advice for getting us out of the jungle?”

Indigo stared hard up at him with her mouth set into a firm pressed line before she nodded her head slightly.

With a huff, D’Varrus extended his left hand to the woman which she took after a moment so he could pull her up to her feet. Indigo made a sharp grunting noise as she rolled onto the wrong foot, and D’Varrus caught her under the arm, pulling her towards him but she stopped him by pressing a hand firmly against his chest.

“If I have to lean against you, you are going to put on some clothes.” Indigo said evenly.

“I already told-” D’Varrus started to say exasperated when Indigo stopped him with a raised finger. He shut up, and watched as she fished through her pack before withdrawing a long poncho.

“Its the only thing of mine that will fit you, so it will have to do.” Indigo said as she handed it over before pulling away from his grasp to stand on her own. Not wanting to plunge into yet another argument with the woman, D’Varrus dressed without comment, pulling the poncho up over his head so that it hung off his body.

Because he was taller and broader than she was the poncho was a little snug around his shoulders but it did have enough of a hang to it to cover him to about upper thigh which was enough to hide the bit he was sure she was trying to avoid accidentally touching. He tugged on the end just a little bit until it was as far as the poncho would go down and then looked at her, cocking his head slightly as he extended an arm.

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The trouble with chances III

Postby D'Varrus Tomva on May 16th, 2022, 8:59 pm

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“Well, this suit your sensibilities?” D’Varrus asked.

For a moment Indigo looked like she was about to argue, but then she slightly nodded and took his arm. D’Varrus guided her closer so she could put her arm around his lower back while he held her up with his. Then together they started to hobble out of the clearing.

After a few chimes, D’Varrus decided to break the silence against his better judgment.

“So, any idea of how we can get ourselves out of this mess?” D’Varrus asked, and when Indigo didn’t respond after several chimes, he repeated the question.

“I’m thinking!” Indigo exclaimed loudly. D’Varrus rolled his eyes but he left her to her silence. Several more chimes would pass before Indigo finally spoke up.

“We need to find a river or a stream bed to guide us towards the sea. If we find that, we can just follow it to the sea and you can navigate us back to Syka from there.” Indigo said finally. There was something that didn’t sit right about what she said with him, an inkling that he should have found that last bit more than a little passing strange. However this had been a strange encounter from the start so it was difficult to pin down just one thing that was out of the ordinary with the woman. He also didn’t want to provoke another argument because that would just waste more time, and time was something that they had precious little of at the moment.

“Okay, and you want me to help you find that? Any signs I should look for, or direction I should be heading?” D’Varrus asked testily.

Indigo looked up for a moment then made a frustrated sigh. “I don’t know. Can’t you just smell the water?” Indigo sniped back.

D’Varrus shook his head. “You are being soo petching difficult. I might have been able to track an animal down for us that might have lead us to water but because of you I don’t have enough energy to manage another transformation.” He growled, and Indigo tried pinching his side which he just shrugged off. “Careful now. I don’t mind letting us both stay lost in this jungle.”

Indigo stopped trying to hurt him, and kept quiet for several more chimes until till she stopped him by pressing her hand gently against his chest.

“What?” D’Varrus asked.

“Mangos. Do you think you can climb up far enough to reach a few?” Indigo asked, pointing above them where he noticed a bunch a yellow fruits making the tree’s branch hang low, but still a few feet out of his reach. D’Varrus considered the tree for a moment before turning to Indigo with an incredulous look.

“Really? You want me to go up in that tree to get fruit? Don’t you think we have more important priorities right now. There has to be easier food to get near the ground.” D’Varrus derided.

Indigo pushed him away from her, glaring at him as she hobbled backwards towards the tree on one foot.

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The trouble with chances III

Postby D'Varrus Tomva on May 16th, 2022, 9:00 pm

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“Look if you can’t do it, just say that, but we need those calories so do you want to help me or not?” Indigo said, and hissing out a breath through his teeth, D’Varrus hesitantly nodded. Walking over to her, he started to bend over.

“What are you doing?” Indigo asked sharply.

“I’m picking you up?” D’Varrus remarked, hesitating though before he wrapped his arms around her waist.

“Like petch you are.” Indigo exclaimed, taking a step backwards.

D’Varrus shook his head.

“Listen, I don’t have the strength nor the dexterity to reach those mangoes otherwise. So its either I pick you up, or we go hungry.” D’Varrus said in an even tone. Indigo didn’t respond but eventually she did give a shrug and didn’t move as he went to pick her up. Then angling backwards so that she could reach the mangoes, he held her there for a few chimes.

“Okay. Let me down now.” Indigo said eventually and slowly D’Varrus let her back down onto the ground. Close up, he couldn’t help but notice she smelled like it had been a while since her last bath and he had to wonder how long she had been out in the jungle before he found her. Given that apparently she didn’t have much food in her pack, he had to guess quite a while since she didn’t seem the type to leave unprepared.

He took a few steps back while she loaded several of the small yellow fruits into her bag before cutting one open and handing him half of it. They started to eat as they walked along.

After taking his first hesitant bite, D’Varrus ended up devouring quickly what was left of the sweet yellow fruit which managed to quench some of his thirst, but not enough to satisfy him. While he was busy trying to suckle the juice left on his fingertips, Indigo shot him a disgusted look that he ignored before handing him her water skin which was about a quarter full.

Opening it, D’Varrus took a cautious sniff and took a little bit of pleasure about how it appeared to irk Indigo before he took a small pull from it and handed it back. After a handful more chimes had passed, D’Varrus cleared his throat.

“It was a good idea those mangoes. Thank you for the water.” He admitted begrudgingly though Indigo continued not to say anything as they walked along. Things remained that way for a long while, with Indigo occasionally producing a mango out of her pack to split with him while spending the rest of the time enduring this indignity in silence.

That all changed when they came across an animal path, a well traveled one by the looks of it, and Indigo looked hopeful for the first time. Indigo extracted herself from his grasp to crouch next to the ground on one knee as she appeared to try to study the soil. Then she pulled on his hand until he got down alongside her.

“I cannot see very well. What is this track here look like?” Indigo asked and peering closely D’Varrus thought it looked like a small paw print. Getting down lower to take a good sniff, he thought he could smell that more than one animal had taken this path though it was hard to be sure with this nose of his. He looked back at Indigo.

“I’m not sure. It looks like something with a small paw. I can’t make out any toes because its not that good of a print.” D’Varrus said, and Indigo let out a long sigh. “It does seem like quite a few animals frequent this trail though from the smell though it is hard for me to be certain.”

Indigo appeared to take a measure of reassurance from that as she pointed down the trail.

“I think we are going to have to follow this trail and hope it leads to a water source. I don’t think we have much of a choice otherwise.” Indigo shrugged, pulling herself up on him before returning to their previous position. D’Varrus for lack of a better option decided to follow the trail but kept his ears, nose, and eyes alert for trouble. After a few chimes had passed, Indigo spoke again.

“Normally I would try to keep to the canopy as much I possibly could to avoid running into predators. Petch we really are in the shite walking down here.” Indigo said, and D’Varrus found himself nodding along with her assessment. It wouldn’t have been his first choice but it made sense. It was also a pretty good place for such a predator to ambush them.

The thought made him feel a brief up swell of panic as he looked up into the trees and didn’t quite relax even when he failed to spot anything.

“I’ve been watching the trees, but my eyes are different from yours as much as your eyes are different from your jaguar form.” Indigo said slowly, in a quiet voice, wary about how her voice might carry in the jungle. A silence lapsed between them for a chime, then Indigo leaned against him slightly as she squeezed his arm.

“We should have brought one of those sticks.” D’Varrus suggested quietly.

Indigo burst out laughing for a brief moment, confusing him until he caught a glimpse of her face and realized she had been crying. With the mud mostly gone from her face now, he could see the wetness that glistened around her eyes. D’Varrus went still on the inside.

“You’re right. We should have.” She said, and for an even longer period of time now she went quiet while they followed the animal trail along as best they could. Unfortunately it didn’t last long. It whittled away until they were back in the bush and Indigo had to hand him her machete to help clear the way.

D’Varrus wasn’t familiar with the tool but he was acquainted with the basic concept. He started hacking away at the foliage before Indigo quickly stopped him.

“Go for the bottom. Make your cuts nice and short with plenty of power behind them so you don’t get it snagged on something.” Indigo counseled him, and nodding, D’Varrus did as he was told going for short smooth strokes as he navigated his way through the dense foliage.

D’Varrus could have cried when they eventually heard the sound of running water nearly fifteen chimes later. It turned out to a minor stream which ran lead into a river that Indigo looked pretty excited to see.

“I’m pretty sure this is the Syka River. If it is all we have to do is follow it to the sea and- oh gods please let it be so.” Indigo practically begged as the started to follow the river, keeping it on their left as they worked their way down it.

The going was significantly easier here, and now that it felt less likely that they were going in circles he felt confident about picking up the pace though not so much that it caused unnecessary pain for Indigo. Despite their differences, he didn’t much like hearing her cry out in pain occasionally when she lost her footing and had to step on her bad ankle. So he made sure to not go any faster than what she could easily keep up with as they walked along the river bank.

Pretty soon they were greeted with another blissful sight. An opening through the thick tangle of jungle and through that opening, the sea. At such a beautiful sight they both were laughing quietly to themselves as they hobbled their way to that sandy beach where D’Varrus collapsed onto his knees and dug his fingers into the sand, relishing the feel of it after such a tense journey.

Indigo remained standing on one leg, eyes closed and head tilted up to the sky as she seemed to revel in the breeze that came off the see, blowing her inky black hair so that it whipped about her head. She cut quite a picture like that, offset by the dark silvery sky. Strangely beautiful.

“I suppose we ought to be getting back now.” D’Varrus said after the silence became to much for him. He was starting to feel a bit conflicted about the woman, and he didn’t want to think about what had transpired. Really, he just wanted to be back in Syka and get something to eat.

Indigo opened her eyes after he spoke, looking vaguely disappointed as if wherever she had been it had been a place immeasurably more beautiful than the one she had opened her eyes to come back to.

“Sure. Lead the way.” Indigo said simply, and D’Varrus did just that, keeping the sea on his left as he walked them down the beach. The pigs of course had their chance to taunt him, but he promised them silently that he would be back very soon. Tomorrow even perhaps, though maybe not. He could use a bit of a break from this side of the jungle after that little trek.

It was a long walk back, and a longer silence still stretched between them until finally the crossed by Sharktooth point.

“I’m sorry for what happened back there. It has been a difficult season, and I don’t like having to rely on somebody else. Something I think you can relate to.” Indigo admitted quietly, in a soft voice that was almost lost in the noise of the waves lapping against the beach. D’Varrus blinked several times, wondering if he understood her correctly when Indigo continued as if she hadn’t been quiet for the chimes that ran in between her words.

“I just got so tired of being stuck in Syka. I wanted to get back out in the jungle, but who wants to go with someone who gets lost after going a few feet in any direction?” Indigo asked, before going on to say angrily, “I will torture whoever laid this curse upon me and make it last triple as long as the curse they laid on me lasts.”

They both ruminated on that silently for several long moments, with D’Varrus wondering again about these curses, and why she seemed to think someone was behind them. There was just so much to unpack from what she said, but what really stuck with him was what she had said about him. She said she thought he could relate. It struck closer to the mark than he would have liked.

“I wasn’t on my best behavior either, and I can’t even claim a curse as an excuse.” D’Varrus said, pausing for a moment to take in a deep breath and let it out through his nose before he continued. “Listen I know its probably not something you want to hear, but have you tried asking if people will take you out into the jungle? The worst they can do is say no and then you can move on till you find someone who will.” D’Varrus said as he watched Indigo’s face carefully.

With the light of the moon, half of it was illuminated by the silvery glow, and he saw that half wince briefly at his words before her expression turned steely.

“If they all say no, come find me. I’ll take you. You can give me advice, and I’ll make sure we don’t get lost.” D’Varrus said firmly.

Indigo glanced at him, and for a heartbeat her expression seemed to soften before it sealed back up.

“Looks like we’re back in Syka. There are the Overwater Ranchos.” Indigo stated flatly.

D’Varrus hesitantly nodded, and let it go at that. He had said his bit. Now it was her turn to decide what to do with it.

“So we are.” D’Varrus said. They parted ways soon after that, with him leaving Indigo in the Commons with a woman named Nesra before heading back to the Overwater Rancho to pick over whatever food he had stored away. It was going to be a while yet before morning, and he had time to kill.

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