Open Arrival

Aspen arrives in Syka

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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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Arrival

Postby Aspen Coolwater on January 10th, 2018, 6:12 pm



Aspen
Swine Swells
Winter 41

Aspen was wrapped loosely in the brown linen, every inch of skin hidden from the sun’s scorching blast. Anything left exposed would eventually fall prey to the swarm of insects which buzzed around the sweaty, tired man. His feet ached with the strain that comes from walking day after day, night after night, with little rest and dwindling supplies. Aspen had stuck to the shoreline, so had been saved the worst of the tangle of trees, but still – the leering greenery above his head was almost all of the protection he could get from the heat.

Back home, trees had been scarce, rare, highly sought after items. Now – he was just sick of them. The interlocking tangle, with the rustle and shaking of whatever lived within put him on edge. As he travelled further south, the jungle only seemed to get thicker, and Aspen doubted he would have made it this far had he attempted to travel straight through the jungle.

But if he had travelled straight through – he would probably be there by then. It was too easy to idolize the path he hadn’t taken. Further up it hadn’t been that bad, as the occasional caravan or fishing boat had given him a lift further down this endless coast, but eventually all people faded, and Aspen was left alone, trudging through the endless greenery.

The sun was high in the sky – just past midday he could estimate, but there was no way Aspen could tell the actual time from where he stood. Reaching down to his belt, Aspen’s hand ran along the unfamiliar scabbard attached, and moved straight to the waterskin. As he weighed it in his hand, he realised it couldn’t be more than half full. Too low when he still had so much travelling left to go. And he couldn’t refill it till later, when the darkness would bring some small chill to this godforsaken place, and allow the dew to collect in the water trap. But until then, this is what he had. Unless he stumbled across some water of course. But so close to the sea, it was unlikely to be anything but salt, and Aspen didn’t have the tools or the knowhow to distill the sea water. It had never mattered back home. Water was the one thing they had enough of.The sea had turned brown days ago now anyway, some weird phenomena of this Southern land, Aspen was sure.


As he rounded the corner, it was the movement that caught his eyes first. There was something there – but it looked far too small to be people. Stepping slightly deeper into the treeline, Aspen carefully walked around the edge, hoping that the shadows had hidden him well. It was a tedious and slow process, as the cluttered ground was hard to tread on, and Aspen refused to speed up and risk being discovered. As he got closer, he could almost laugh with relief – no humans at all, just pigs. Lots, and lots of pigs. It had been a while since he’d eaten anything but fish or dried rations, and he could almost feel his stomach growl in anticipation. Fresh pork.

Not wanting to startle the pigs and scatter them, Aspen slowly lowered his back, carefully taking off his bow. It had been a while since he’d hunted by bow and arrow, and he suspected that these tiny creatures would be much harder to hit than the large musk oxen back home. Still, fresh meat. If he could find a freshwater stream… Aspen shook off those thoughts. Food first. Everything else can follow.
As he slowly inched forward, Aspen focused on a mid-sized pig that happened to be rooting in the edge of the jungle near him. It didn’t seem to be alert to his presence, or if it was, it didn’t care. It couldn’t be more than 10m away, and Aspen pulled back the bow string, nocking the arrow carefully in position. Aim for the head. Not realising he was holding his breath, Aspen loosed the arrow. It hit.

The squealing was a horrible sound. With the arrow firmly embedded in the pig’s side, it ran frantically back and forth, shrieking out in pain. As it ran haphazardly around, the pig crashed its way through the jungle, vanishing into the dark greenery, ducking under a bush to get away. All that was left was the faint sound of it’s squealing in the distance.
Cursing under his breath, Aspen turned back towards the other pigs. They seemed to have clustered together, maybe in protection, but none of them had fled into the jungle like the panicked one did. If they would rather risk a predator than the jungle, Aspen wondered what horrors awaited them.
Nocking back another arrow, Aspen crept forward again. This time, he would aim for the head. The temptation of fresh meat was still too strong for him to resist.
Last edited by Aspen Coolwater on January 10th, 2018, 9:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Arrival

Postby Aspen Coolwater on January 10th, 2018, 8:30 pm

Aspen
Swine Swells
Winter 41


His second hit, thankfully, was one to the head. It wasn’t a clean kill by any means, but the pig fell over prone, and Aspen advanced onwards. Taking out the game knife, Aspen roughly slit the throat, ensuring this pig would not be able to escape him. Now Aspen realised his folly – to cook the beast, he needed to make a fire. And he had no wood. Looking around him, Aspen assessed the situation. He couldn’t let any predators steal his catch, but he couldn’t lug it about with him as he went to collect wood.

Retrieving his tarp from his backpack, Aspen wrapped the pig up in it, then began to dig a hole in the sand. Well, tried too. The fine sand would just pour back down the second he managed to move it, so he eventually settled on not burying it, instead placing the pig-in-tarp a good way away from his posessions, in hopes no animal would come across it. Retrieving the wood carving axe from the bottom of his bag – he’d always meant to learn how to use it, maybe to carve a statue of Morwen in her honor, - he headed a few steps into the thick jungle.
The shade felt good on his back, he’d admit, but the jungle still filled him with unease. After taking a few steps into this greenery, Aspen realised the potential for him to get lost forever in it. Returning to his backpack, he took out a stick of chalk. Clutching the axe in one hand, and the chalk in the other, he reentered the rainforest.

There was no obvious path, so Aspen began to hack his way through the endless greenery. It couldn’t be good for the carving axe, admittedly, and he would need to sharpen it later, but for now it would do. There was a wide away of lianas and vines throughout, but Aspen wasn’t familiar with them, so decided to leave them for now. The trees were nothing like those back home, larger than he was, and impossible for him to cut down even if he did have the proper equipment and knowledge. There were a few branches scattered on the floor however, some of them so caught in the tangle that lined the floor and others home to some sort of insect he didn’t want to get involved with. Despite that however, he still managed to find some branches which looked suitable, and dragged them out alone the path he’d cleared. He hadn’t gone anyway near enough to need the chalk, but he promised himself he’d keep in on him, just in case.

He couldn’t find any stones on the beach to make a fire pit, so he started to roughly break the branches apart. Getting some of the tinder out of his bag as well as the flint and steel, he started striking away at the pile of tinder. It took a good ten minutes of striking at fire before he managed to get enough sparks to light the tinder. Lightly blowing on it, Aspen coaxed the fire upwards, until eventually he had produced a mediocre fire. Now, he turned to the pig.

His wood gathering hadn’t taken as long as he’d expected, so thankfully the pig was untouched. Now came the tricky part. Aspen had never cleaned a kill that wasn’t fish before, as the occasional hunting he had done with the Frostfawn had never involved cleaning up. Unsure of what to do, Aspen took out his gaming knife again, cutting into the flesh around the leg. When he reached the bone, Aspen wrenched it off. A leg would be enough for him to eat anyway; as wasteful as it seemed, he wasn’t sure how he would carve the rest of the animal, so this seemed like the easiest option.

Setting up the tripod over the fire, Aspen placed the leg on it, turning it every so often as he vaguely remembered his mother doing back home. Unsure of how long to cook it for, Aspen left it on there until the complexion of the meat had changed all the way through. It tasted very dry, and Aspen felt he had overcooked it, but at least it was better than it being overcooked. The relief on his face, on having fresh food that wasn’t the blasted fish, was obvious. Aspen quickly devoured the leg, and would have gone for a second, but the fire was starting to ebb, and Aspen’s head was starting to overrule his stomach. He should get moving. He had to be close to Syka, and should keep moving. Besides, if he did get lost, he could always return here.

Aspen started to pack up his gear. For the first time in his long journey, he was starting to feel optimistic about the journey.
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Arrival

Postby Nya Winters on January 12th, 2018, 1:39 am

Timestamp: 41st of Winter, 517 AV


The Talderian Forest Cat stepped out of the thick jungle, her nose in the air scenting the lingering smell of cooked pig and campfire. She emerged slowly, one enormous paw at a time until the whole of her body was revealed as roughly the size of a warhorse even though she was slinking with her belly low to the ground. Shaking her head, she scented the air again, her stomach growling since she’d forgotten to eat anything. The Talderian blinked her wide moss green eyes with their halo of purple and surveyed what she had discovered in the man’s camp.

Her brindled fur immediately rose on end and her lips peeled back to reveal teeth as big as his fingers. She uttered a low growl, seemingly as surprised as he might be to see a stranger here in what she considered Syka territory. The big cat had been out roaming, scouting the area, and had just swung north to check on The Swine Swells and maybe chase herself down a pig or two. The pigs here were easy hunting, though she was just careful to kill only the young tender males and leave the females and the old breeding boars alone. Nya knew a good thing when she saw it and wanted to make sure there was plenty of meat for her and the settlement as time passed. She knew all too well what overhunting and killing the wrong individuals in the swine colony would do.

She had been too far away to hear the squeal of the dying pig or to realize the man was armed with a bow. Nya feared very little, but ranged weapons always made her cautious. Sharp eyes scoured the landscape and noted carefully that he had one. She’d also seen the destruction he’d wrought on the vegetation around him, hacking his way to the beach and back into the interior to his little camp. It made her uneasy. He was someone she didn’t know from the settlement and she had no idea how he’d gotten there. Drinking in the air, his scent was unfamiliar though she was hard pressed to pick it from the thick barbeque smoke that lingered low to the ground in the deep humidity.

Nya examined his clothing. He looked overdressed and overly warm. His hair was a strange coloring though she knew he was not kelvic for one of her kind always recognized another of their kind. This man definitely wasn’t Kelvic. He had gear too, though she wasn’t sure how prepared he was for the jungle judging by the clothing he had and the way she could smell the sweat on him.

The Kelvic eyed the rest of the meat on the pit. It looked burnt, like he’d let it roast too long. Ewh. Her appetite turned. Raw was so much better than happily charred. She knew some people liked their food like that, but she didn’t happen to be one of them. Deliciously tenderly cooked was the only way to do pork, in her opinion, and this man obviously didn’t understand that.

The Kelvic moved closer, her tail lashing about as she settled at the edge of where he made his encampment, wrapping the great fluffy thing around her legs. She sat on her haunches, studying him, wondering what he would do or say. She remained cautious of the bow and arrows he carried, knowing she’d take action if he did but wanting to feel out his personality first.

She kept her gaze stoic, eyes narrowed, watching his every move.


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Nya Winters
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Posts: 749
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Location: Syka
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Arrival

Postby Aspen Coolwater on January 12th, 2018, 4:57 pm



Aspen
Swine Swells
Winter 41

Aspen stifled a laugh. Now he was seeing things that weren’t there. He’d had no idea how long the wild cat had been there, but with it looking so comfortable…it had problably had ample time to strike. The thick fur made it look as out of place as he was in this humid hell.

We’re both outsiders here… He thought to himself.

Cursing himself, he decided it must have been the smell of the meat which had brought it towards him. Although what was a Talderan beast doing this far south? No sudden movements, Aspen muttered to himself, slowly reaching back to hold the bow. His sword was nearer, of course, but he’d never trained himself in it the way he’d promised himself he would. But that said, he doubted he would have time to notch, aim and fire on such a great beast. Although if he could just put up enough of a fight… he might easily be able to get it to turn its attentions to one of the pigs up shore. Much easier prey than a human.

Moving slowly, so not to startle the beast, he reached out for the remenants of the burnt pig, chucking it lightly in the direction of the cat. The throw fell a bit short of where he was aiming admittedly, but he didn’t want to anger the cat by chucking things at it. It could be a kelvic of course, but they were rare outside his home, and what would one be doing in this godforsaken jungle anyway?

Aspen shifted from one foot to the other, mind rushing as he tried to work out his next move. Running might provoke chase, and how long would he last without his gear anyway? A day at most. But if it was a Kelvic…civilization might be near. He’d lost count of how many days he’d walked, but if it was a Kelvic. It could still be a hallucination of course – maybe one of those biting insects had something toxic in its fangs, but it wasn’t like he had anything to lose by trying.

“Hello?” Aspen said hesitantly, finally grasping the bow in his right hand. The quiver lay discarded on the floor a few metres away, and Aspen cursed himself for letting his guard down. It probably was just an apparition – or maybe a sign? Maybe he should head home to Taldera. But he’d tried that. It led to certain death. But what if it was a sign from Morwen?

If it was a Kelvic, it meant civilization. A whole new set of problems to be solved, true, especially if the Kelvic had read those signs at every crossroad… he could be in even more danger.

If it was some lost wild animal, well, Aspen felt pity for it. It was in the same position as him. Just trying to get back to where the world made sense. He wished he could help it, but that wasn’t an option.

If it was an omen or a mirage, it would go after a while. Fade or something. He’d sleep on it, see if anymore omens came. If they did, he’d head north. But if it was just some tropical illness… hopefully the scarce medicines he’d brought would be able to cure it. But he doubted it.
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Arrival

Postby Nya Winters on January 12th, 2018, 7:29 pm

]


He surprised her. Instead of having a knee-jerk reaction and grabbing a bow, the man looked her over cautiously and didn't actually do anything stupid. That took her off guard because humans were stupid and reactionary by nature for the most part. It was a rare person that thought before they acted.

It was almost as if he knew she was Kelvic or had been around enough strange Kelvics to know when an animal was acting wild or when another person was just wearing fur. She tilted her head, flicked her tail, and watched him even more curiously. Nya's eyes locked onto his gaze and he only broke contact to throw her the rest of the meat.

She caught it neatly by surging forward off her haunches for a moment and then carefully set it down at her feet while sitting down yet again. Her fluffy tail flicked once more and wrapped back around her body. The Kelvic wished she could speak while wearing her fur, but lacking that ability, she started to purr.

The man was reaching for his bow. Maybe it was a comfort. Maybe he was just being cautious. Nya wasn't sure which. When his voice broke the silence between them, Nya finally decided she'd make the choice and change her fur for skin. Her form dissolved in a swirl of colored lights until instead of a cat sitting on its back haunches, he faced a thin sun-bronzed woman resting on her butt with her hands wrapped around her knees. The Kelvic rested her chin on the top of her knees and grinned at him.

"I would thank you for the food, but I don't think its edible. Raw would probably be better." She suggested, not that beggars could be choosers, but the jungle did provide and provide in an abundance. Her voice was a rich alto, melodic and friendly.

"I will thank you though for not shooting me. I might have to eat you." She said with a crooked smile and then looked around at his camp. "Hello yourself. How come I don't know you? We are pretty far out from Syka for you to be fresh off the Veronnica. Plus she's not due in for a day or two.. unless she came to port early." Nya supplied, filling the silence between them with words. She'd been lonely again, wandering The Maw and its extensive coastline. The Kelvic didn't know what she was looking for, but someday she hoped to find it out in the wilds.

"I'm Nya." She offered, standing up in one swift motion and walking over towards the newcomer. The Kelvic didn't seem to mind that she didn't have a stitch of clothing on.

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Nya Winters
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Posts: 749
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Arrival

Postby Aspen Coolwater on January 12th, 2018, 8:24 pm

For a second, Aspen thought the huge cat would leap out and devour him where he stood. But the mottled cat suddenly morphed into a human woman, sitting in front of him with a curious smile on her face. Completely naked. She didn’t seem to mind that however.

Aspen however, did mind. He stared awkwardly at the ground, eyes going anywhere than from the woman’s body. He couldn’t help wondering how quickly it would take someone to succumb to frostbite wearing nothing at all back home. But there was no home. And here, everything was different.

A Kelvic. At least he wasn’t going mad. Unless he’d imagined a Kelvic? Aspen visibly relaxed as the realisation he would not be eaten today washed over him. Yet, a creature from Taldera? Just seeing something from home, even if it was such an uncommon, wild creature – could it be a sign? Aspen resolved to keep a look out for any further signs, or anything from home. Maybe someone was looking over him. Maybe he wasn’t as alone as he had thought. His eyes flared with green and grey specks as he pondered this.

He ignored her comment about the food; too full of pride to admit that he had charred it as the only other option was risking food poisoning. Kelvics tended to like raw food, he remembered, so maybe it was fine? Even though Aspen knew deep down it was charred and dry, he stubbornly tried to convince himself otherwise.
The second she mentioned Syka, his heart soared. He couldn’t be that far off, especially if had no supplies with her. But then the true meaning of human contact dawned upon him. Cowl around the head. Don’t make eye contact. No-one will have to know. “I’m sorry, were these pigs yours?”

“I’ve just arrived in the area.” He shuffled, cheeks reddening, and dropped the bow. Threatening a woman! How low he had sunk. “Do you know the way to Syka?” He was convinced the woman wasn’t aware of his bounty, or at least hadn’t recognised him. She wouldn’t have changed form if she had planned on claiming her 1000 mizas. Unless this was a trap? A very well set up trap. He had lost all his tails long ago, but was anything showing.

Aspen patted the cowl lightly. Sweaty, smelly with probably a few crushed insects thrown in there for good measure. But still standing. He must have looked a sight, a dead man walking, and the linen clothes he had spent the last few days in felt like a second skin. The plain colors had paled in the sun, and he was impressed that they had held up this long.

“I, um, have a cloak. In my pack. It’s fur, but if you would like, it might help?” Aspen said, shifting uncomfortably.
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Arrival

Postby Nya Winters on January 13th, 2018, 2:18 am



Nya laughed. “Those pigs belong to no one but themselves. We call the place Swine Swells because those lazy pigs just hang out on that beach all day and play in the water. It’s an easy source of meat as long as you don’t take too much. If you hunt there again, kill the older males and younger males, and leave the females so they keep the population going. If you see one wounded, you can kill that one as well.” The Kelvic advised, reaching a more comfortable chatting distance to him and settling down on the ground with her legs folded beneath her.

“You just arrived? How did you get here? I’m assuming you came through Syka and just got lost…?” Nya asked, knowing sometimes the Svefra dropped people off, but usually they used the deep water dock The Veronica occupied when she was in port. Dumping stray travelers out here in the fringe of the Maw wasn’t something that allowed for survival much. There were too many big cats around like herself that always picked easy targets.

“I do indeed know the way to Syka. I can take you if you’d like.” She said, looking him over thoughtfully. She watched him carefully, noted his slight nervousness, and took a closer look especially when he offered her his furred cloak. The blue highlights of unusual color in his hair gave him away. Vantha. And it explained his nervousness more than her nudity or kelvicness could.

“If I wanted fur, I’d change my skin for it. You’d likely roast in a fur cloak around here. It doesn’t even really cool down after dark here unless we get a strong breeze coming in from the sea.” She said, rubbing her hands on her knees and tilting her head at him. Nya had a long waterfall of brindled hair that covered almost everything that would make him blush sitting the way she was.

“You are Vantha.” She said quietly. Nya knew about the bounty. Everyone did. But she also knew Stu, who had come to Syka bringing the word of the proclamation… but since he’d been here he’d settled in, built the Tidewater, and hadn’t seemed inclined to do much about it. “I could give a hairball less about the fact you are though. Here, no winter doesn’t mean much. There wasn’t much of one anyhow. Others in Syka might feel different. But I can’t, for the life of me, think of anyone that would give a thought to a thousand mizas over having an extra set of young helping hands.” The Kelvic said candidly.

“You look like the jungle ate you and spit you out. Are you okay to walk to the city? It’s almost a full day away if we keep to the beach. I don’t mean to offend you but I would feel bad letting someone who didn’t immediately raise a bow to me die out here just because he’s tired.” The Kelvic said, then glanced down at her form.

“And you’d better get used to seeing skin. People wear very little in Syka because of the heat. And there are quite a few Kelvics among us. I’m sorry if it makes you uncomfortable but its hard to drag spare clothing anywhere. If we leave now, we can be back by dark… and find you someplace safe for the night. If you don’t think you can walk it, you can ride… and I can get us there in a few bells.” The Kelvic said, unsure of why she offered him her back. She wasn’t inclined to do it much, but when she did carry a rider, it was usually for an important reason.


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Nya Winters
Let the winds in my heart blow...
 
Posts: 749
Words: 780527
Joined roleplay: June 7th, 2009, 6:53 am
Location: Syka
Race: Kelvic
Character sheet
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Medals: 5
Trailblazer (1) Never Say Die (1)
Donor (1) 2017 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)
2017 Top NaNo Word Count (1)

Arrival

Postby Aspen Coolwater on January 14th, 2018, 5:43 pm



“Walking.” Aspen gave a wry grin. “Lots of walking.” Relaxed now, or at least more so, he packed up the few final items of his gear. Luckily it was nothing of value, those were deep down in his bag thankfully, but he still didn’t quite trust the woman who was before him. Realising his cowl had come loose, Aspen readjusted it, so no hair at all was showing. Getting this far just to be caught would be a nightmare.

“But if Syka’s nearby…than I’ll have to walk some more.” Aspen caught the kelvic looking at his hair. Realising too late that he should probably shave what he could before he reached civilization, he made a mental note to do it as soon as possible. One less sign that could potentially identify him. Now if only he could do something about the eyes… The gnosis mark thankfully was hidden out of sight. A small blessing.

When she said the word Vantha, his heart stopped. She might not care – could he really trust her word? But they knew here. Even in this remote, godforsaken outpost in the middle of the jungle. Was there nowhere safe?

“A thousand mizas is a lot to someone who’s hungry…” He trailed off. Maybe it was worth less out here. What could you even buy that was worth that much here? He still wasn’t sure if this wasn’t a trap or not – it was a chance encounter of course, but still… Was he becoming paranoid? Maybe it was something the jungle did to you. “But hopefully more people have your way of thinking.”

Her hair thankfully covered her body, and Aspen focussed on her face, worried that any simple movement would reveal something else. He wanted to say something, to not make her feel bad about her nudity, but the entire topic embarrassed him so greatly he simply wanted to move on.

Finally finished scraping up all his gear, he hiked the backpack up onto his back. Even though he knew logically it weighed less than before, it still seemed to weigh more, and Aspen finally realised how tired he really was.

“You say via the beach? Is there not a quicker way?” He questioned. At this point, he would be desperate for any kind of shortcut possible.
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