Solo The Fletcher in the Sty

In which Branimir tries to find his way around town

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Built into the cliffs overlooking the Suvan Sea, Riverfall resides on the edge of grasslands of Cyphrus where the Bluevein River plunges off the plain and cascades down to the inland sea below. Home of the Akalak, Riverfall is a self-supporting city populated by devoted warriors. [Riverfall Codex]

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The Fletcher in the Sty

Postby Branimir on July 16th, 2015, 5:17 pm

67th of Summer, 515 AV

All of Mizahar was small, Branimir had realized. Certainly, it had taken weeks to sail from Zeltiva to Riverfall but more importantly there had been little in between the few mighty cities he passed. Much as he had wished to step off the ship in Ahnathep and find out about the man he had once been, he could tell even from the deck that the city's glory days were long gone. He had not wanted to see that. He would stick to his dreams and fantasies instead where the Eypharian cities were concerned. For now.

All of Mizahar was small and coming to a foreign town was not necessarily something a lot of people did. THe sailors, sure, but they were a particular sort, his father had said. Some took to the profession because they sought freedom, some because they ran from something but few, so the shipwright had said, few ever found true happiness. The traders, the caravan guards, people whose profession required travel. And those who had a firm belief that a different city held something that their home couldn't offer. A better life.

Branimir, the would-be architect belonged in the latter category. He had outgrown not so much his native Zeltiva, but the university there. Peerless as its reputation might have been, it somehow had not been to the liking of a self-professed bookworm and seeker (and lover) of knowledge of all stripes. His decision to leave had actually been made the night he received the mark from the goddess Eyris. No longer was he chained to bookshelves to find the knowledge he sought. The mark on his left hand allowed him to read into everything he could touch now, and the use of that gift had become as much second nature to him as copying those books that seemed of value to him for his own needs. EVen if he had to leave those behind as he travelled.

Even travelling light was somewhat awkward. With his rulers and geometric tools and protractor and solar compass and all those things he needed in his chosen profession, the two books he stole from the University Library and a change of clothes at his mother's insistence he'd filled two sizeable crates to travel with. His books would have filled another one at least. But then he knew most of them by heart now. It would however be harder to share that knowledge without those materials to refer to. Not that he was in the business of doing so, normally. But one day he might find someone worthy of the things he knew. And did that mark on his hand not come with that price?

In the end it did not matter. There was a reason to all things. Knowing about Lhavitian pottery designs might not save his life one day, but it might impress the right person at the right time. Knowledge was never useless. Knowledge was knowledge, after all.

Branimir craved knowledge at all times. But right now, he mostly craved knowledge of his newly adopted home, and by extension the people that called it home. Though he did not actually care for said people all that much, he would have to live with and among them and therefore needed to at least have a handle on them. Everything happening for a reason, human interaction was after all a constant stream of action and reaction: A friendly greeting usually begat a friendly reply; a muted greeting might not gain any replies at all. Approach a person in the right way and you get the desired results -- at least that was his theory. The proper practice of it tended to elude him.

But the people could be dealt with at a latter date. Stepping forth from the door of Atri's Place, which certainly lived up to its reputation as the cleanliest inn around, Branimir entered the late afternoon crowd outside. Most of the people seemed to be headed right, so he chose left. His reasoning was that they were probably headed home while he had no interest in family homes. So wherever they came from must be ultimately more interesting. Out here, Syna might have descended from her peak at noon, but the surrounding rock seemed to have soaked up the day's heat and now gave back of it bountifully.

Lime or chalk probably wouldn't stick to these rocks, Branimir reasoned, and the sheer fact that the first thing he really thought of as he went to explore this alien city was of these things set his mind at ease. Buildings were buildings everywhere. Even if the Akalak apparently weren't fond of plaster. Threading his way through the crowd, Branimir saw Riverfall'S city walls loom not too far off in the distance. He might have remembered them had he not arrived at the inn after nightfall, he thought, then chided himself for not making the connection from the glow of the braziers on the wall at night.

This looked like it would be a short outing.

OOCIt's official, I suck at titles. I also have no intention to actually do anything with fletchers or sties in this thread.
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The Fletcher in the Sty

Postby Branimir on July 29th, 2015, 7:04 pm

Turning around on his heels, Branimir soon found that going the other way, with the flow of the crowd, was a much easier thing. But neither smooth nor effortless. People in Riverfall, it seemed, had the same peculiarities as people in Zeltiva. Which was to say, the same blind selfishness, the same daft lack of awareness for their surroundings and the same ignorant surprise when they suddenly stopped or turned or veered in mid-flow of the herd they were a part of and someone ran into them. The fact that most of these people were armed to the teeth only made the matter more grating.

More grating but in no way impressive. Despite some vague awareness that his human (and more relevantly non-Akalak male) self didn't count for much around here and the blindingly obvious fact that he was unarmed, Branimir never felt the urge to apologize or simply shrink when it happened. They stared, they squinted, they flared their nostrils... Branimir just met it all with a mask of indifference, well-practiced on the streets of Zeltiva which were just the same. Not reacting had the same effect on Akalak that it had on other people, it seemed. They seethed, cursed or yelled threats after him as he pushed past. But they were left with a faint crack of doubt in their confidence. What, they'd wonder, what did that boy know or have that made him immune to their animal-like chest-thumping that worked so well on their fellow sub-people? A good thing they'd never know the answer. They might cry, and Branimir might hurt as a result.

It was about as far as he understood people's mindsets. Calm and collected always made a better impression, and it left those whose blood ran hotter than his puzzled as to how the young man could shrug off the things that infuriated them. To Branimir, it was a matter of efficiency, plain and simple. While he would probably have enjoyed explaining to these people just how exactly their impoverished mental faculties were beneath his own, he knew it to be wasted time and effort. He wanted to get to know this city. That was the goal he had set for himself, and while there was space for attending to personal gratification, this was neither the time nor the place for wastefulness.

Besides, and the shadow of a smirk crossed Branimir's face at how clever that thought seemed, for all their faults, nobody would ever be able to accuse an Akalak that his parents had been related. Being a race of men only did have its advantages, it seemed. For the lack of females of the species alone, he might have envied them. Not for their architecture though.

Which wasn't to say that the towering structures he passed weren't pleasing to the eye or that the domes capping such buildings weren't artful in and of themselves, to say nothing of the chambers that surely rested underneath. But the language these buildings spoke was different from the one that the rest of the city spoke. And even that city was not homogeneous in outlook.

By now, Branimir had had the time to double back, pass his inn and then take a left onto a bridge high across the Bluevein. Squeezing himself against the railing, he stopped amidst the flow of people and looked down and out across the river, and to the waterfall it raced towards. And out towards two halves of a city, its houses crowding around the water, their shapes and styles yet discernible on this long summer's day. The city was built on rock, around a river. Strategically, it was a sound choice in so far as the sea blocked attacks from one side almost completely, and even then attackers would have to fight uphill. On its landlocked side, however, the city was only as defensible as its walls. These being solid and well-guarded, the city was safe and being safe, it had turned to increasing the quality of life in its walls through squeezing greenery into any nook and cranny they could find. That much became quickly obvious to the architect's eye on this brief stroll.

But, Thematan the Elder had written extensively on Alahean city-planning and he'd remarked that seaside cities should be laid out to the north or east so as to minimize the amount of sun reflected off the water during summer times. And herein lay the first failing of Riverfall. Moreover, the tendency to beautify their edifices with large domes and other towering structures robbed the builders of the ability to plant roof gardens. If they wished to add more green to this place, they were robbing themselves of that chance at the same time as they desired it. Presumably, being a race of armed men was not such an envious thing after all if they ignored such common sense in favor of their grand displays of rounded feminity and towering masculinity, respectively.

By the end of Summer, Branimir thought, he'd be able to present the rulers of this city with a radical plan on how to make the most of what they had. Even as he thought it, though, he doubted that they would recognize its genius or its necessity. The young man looked about, then allowed himself to join the flow of people around him once more and be carried all the way across the bridge by its currents. Maybe he'd yet find that his initial analysis was hasty. He doubted it, however. He rarely if ever found fault with his thoughts and ideas.

As he pushed off the railing, the architect let his marked hand feel the railing under his fingers and tasted frantic despair. It gave him something to wonder about as he moved along. The locals must have really needed that bridge. Or maybe someone jumped here, fleeing some terrible thing. Or maybe it was just the mood of this place that was made for moving across and past, not staying.
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