Closed Dreams of Tropics and Parrots

Tailynn elatedly ventures into Syka, only to be met with unease

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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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Dreams of Tropics and Parrots

Postby Tailyn on January 29th, 2018, 9:46 pm

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Winter 42, 517
Syka

Hot, balmy winds blew in from across the sea, twirling Tailyn’s thick auburn hair into an incomprehensible tangled mess. The heat should have sent the Wind Reach bred Inarta into the depths of misery, considering the frozen land she hailed from. Tailynn didn’t care. She was far too elated to care. This was it. She was here. Finally she was here. Five years of dreaming of paradise and half as long studying and training and preparing. Finally, this was her moment. Finally she could do what she dreamed of.

Blue, a familiar weight on Tai’s shoulder, clipped her beak at the gusts of wild. The hyacinth macaw buried her beak in Tai’s hair.

“Tairynn, Tairynn, Blue!” the bird croaked. Distractedly, Tai scratched her companion’s head feathers. The bird craved constant attention, but Tai was too focused on her current task to pay too much mind to her. She wanted, needed, to get settled. She had to get started. The only thing to do was to greet the Founders, and get herself settled in her new home.

The trip to Syka on the Veronica had been pleasant. Warm weather, pleasant breezes. Tai had spent most of her time up on deck jittering with anticipation and annoying the sailors. Blue had been on remarkably good behavior, and hadn’t bitten anyone. A startling achievement. Tai had fed her a bunch of nuts as a reward. Tai had, on several occasions, considered approaching the Captain of the vessel, whom she had learned was one of the Founders of Syka. She had lost her nerve each time when she had seen how busy the man was. She didn’t know a thing about sailing. Perhaps the slightest lapse in concentration could dash the ship on some rocks. She wouldn’t be held responsible for a ship wrecking, oh no. That wasn’t how she wanted her debut to Syka to go.

She might have introduced herself when the ship docked, but the man was once again busy, and after she spent too long lingering underfoot hopefully nearby the sailors had irritably shooed her away, giving her rough directions to the Founder’s Place. Her elation grew as the tropics swelled around her. Within five minutes of her walk her clothing clung to her moist body like a wet towel and she wondered that maybe it would be a good idea to cut her luxurious long red hair down to the root so her damned neck could breathe.

There was a sudden sharp pain in Tai’s shoulder. She yelped in protest as Blue squawked and suddenly launched herself off of Tai’s shoulder.

“Blue!” Tai snapped. ”Come back here!” The parrot made for a nearby tree and sunk herself into the leaves. Tai lifted her arm up towards the bird, the trained signal for the bird to land on her arm. Blue remained a stationary blue dot in a sea of green.Aggravated, tired and still infuriatingly sticky, Tai took a few steps towards the bird, then stopped. There was something lying in the middle of the beaten dirt path of a road.

Curiosity overcame irritation and Tai left Blue to approach the object. As soon as she drew closer, her heart fell into her stomach. The creature was a beautiful white bird, with a strange, long yellow crest. It wasn’t a parrot. It’s body reminded Tai more of a stout, colorful pheasant. It was also unmistakably dead. No bird lay on its side to sleep. Also birds didn’t sleep with their eyes open. And their bodies weren’t stiff.

The pit in her stomach heated up until she was bubbling with rage. Who would kill a bird?! Every ounce of Inarta blood in her combined with her own personal mantra into a boiling cesspool of rage. Furiously, Tai scanned the horizon. There was no one around. The boiling anger slowly evaporated, leaving Tai first numb, then sorrowful. Tenderly, she bent over the dead creature, then faltered. There wasn’t a single mark on the bird. Not only that, but it was completely untouched by insects. Even on a frozen mountain, a carcass wouldn’t last long before at least some ants found it. Surely in this warm environment full of life, a body wouldn’t go any amount of time before being consumed.

Tai felt an unease fill her that bordered on dread and made some space between herself and the body. There were only two things her imagination could conjure up that could be responsible: magic and disease. Neither were things she wanted any part of. She would speak to one of the founders about the matter, then put it from her mind. Fighting her unease, Tai walked to the tree holding her parrot and extended her hand. Blue waffled for a bit before finally attaching herself to her usual spot. However, the bird’s eyes never left the corpse.

”Me too buddy,” Tai muttered, stroking Blue’s head. The woman gave the dead bird a wide berth, then started back on the road. Finally, the woman found her way to The Founders Place. Glancing around the area, the woman cleared her throat and tried to push away the still lingering dread.

”Hello?” she called out. “I’m looking for Randal Zor?"
Last edited by Tailyn on February 12th, 2018, 5:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dreams of Tropics and Parrots

Postby Gossamer on February 1st, 2018, 3:59 am


OOC :
ooc: I'm going to assume two things... first your PC comes up at his invite, and secondly that she sits down at his invite as well. If there's an issue, let me know.


Randal's bungalow was lofted. It stood amidst the trees were it could look out over the beach and the jungle with an almost 360 degree view since it had a deck that wrapped around it. A broad stair curved up into the tree house. It's had rails were carved with lizards and snakes, a simple yet elegant touch to the long vines that had been cut to form the hand rails. At the top a modest sized bungalow with three main rooms dominated the platform.

A man leaned out over the railing from up on the deck and called down. "Come on up. I'm home. I was just sitting down for a meal. Care to join me?" He said, his voice rich and welcoming even as the redhead began to climb the steps.

Shyte. Randal knew he was in trouble the moment she came into view. Her pale skin was awash in sweat but it was her magnificent hair that drew him. He had always been a stickler for long red hair and she had it in abundance. The blue parrot with her if anything made the red of her hair stick out in stark contrast. She looked Inarta, through and through, and by the bird on her shoulder he judged his first assessment accurate. Half the redheads in the world owed their coloring to the Mount Inarta brood and they one and all had an affinity to birds.

"Sit.. sit... I'm Randal. I'm just about ready to take a huge snapper off the grill. I'd gladly split it with you. It would feed about four easily... And just who might you be?" He said, rising without her agreement and hastily clearing another place at his outdoor table for a second diner. He added a cloth, plate, and a set of silver. Then he placed a ceramic mug and filled it with what looked like a juice of some sort. Next a bowl of rice was added to the table and he also moved another bowl of fruit from a lounge chair table to the main eating table as well.

The grill, set off to the side and seemingly made from what looked like a large metal barrel full of coals and suspended on iron legs to make it fireproof , was tended briefly and a fresh fish was pulled off of it. It was a huge red snapper that had been grilled on a plank that looked like it had been used more than once for the purpose. Plank and all were set down on the table.

"Dig in... no wait... one moment." He said, studying her for a second then disapearing inside. He brought out two long wooden sticks that were carved to look like feathers with the quills extended into about 6 inch pegs. "Your hair looks incredibly hot. I make these for the ladies in the settlement. They put your hair up without a fuss and slide in and out easily. Hair sticks. May I?" He said, the excuse sounding weak even in his ears.

Without her agreement he slipped behind her to the side opposite of where the parrot might be lingering and gently took up the mass of her hair. To be perfectly honest, he couldn't help himself. It was just like liquid fire and he wanted to touch it. He laid the sticks down on the table beside her and deftly yet gently twisted the mass of red locks up into a loose knot on the crown of her head and quickly without anything else inappropriate, threaded the sticks through them to hold the mass securely and neatly out of her way.

"If you can get air on the back of your neck through all that hair - and this is the best way - you will cool down a lot faster. Up here, there's a nice breeze and that gives relief from the heat of the sand and the humidity of the jungle. That's why I lofted my bungalow to a treehouse. I've never regretted it." He said, slipping back around the table and taking the remaining place.

"Consider them a welcome to Syka gift." He added.

The snapper looked and smelled delicious. He had already cleaned it prior to cooking and had stuffed its internal cavity with lemons and lemongrass plus a few thin sliced vegetables that looked a little like peppers though it was hard to tell.

"This is how we tackle it... just dig in." He said, helping himself to some rice on his place, adding fruit, and then using his knife and fork to slice into the fish and take a bit of the filet side and moving it to his place. "I've been building all day so I'm hungry. Did you just come in on The Veronica? I can show you a bungalow that we have free to rent for a while or I can get you on the list to build something if you are planning on settling here and not just visiting." Gods, he thought, let her be settling here. She would be a lovely edition to the Settlement if she did.

"Your bird is magnificent. Feel free to share some fruit with him... her?... if it wants some. I don't think they eat fish though... but I could be wrong. If he does, by all means there's more than enough." He added, including the bird in the conversation and glad it hadn't tried to take his hands off when he had put his hands on her.

"Is that what you do? Train birds? Or is this just one of many talents?" He asked, hoping she was maybe a glassblower or something if she was Inarta. They could really use one in the settlement.

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Dreams of Tropics and Parrots

Postby Tailyn on February 2nd, 2018, 4:27 am

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The unease covering Tai like a shroud lifted a touch at the rich, masculine voice echoing from above her. Tai glanced up at the man leaning over the railing. Hoo. Well. Tai supposed that it was reasonable that people in a brand new settlement being built from the ground up would frequently come in the fit and muscular variety. She had stayed in Riverfall for a while, she should be used to handsome well built men by now. Gods help her she wasn’t.

“Sure! I’ll be right up!” Tai hoped desperately that the flutter in octave in her voice hadn’t been too noticeable. Blue clipped her beak in disapproval. Tai smushed the birds head feathers down and looked her in the eye. “Don’t you ruin this for me, got it?” she hissed to the bird. ”It’s just like we promised.” Blue clipped her beak again, and was silent. Well, it was as good a sign of good behavior as Tai could expect. Taking a steading breath, the young woman ran a quick hand through her depressingly sweat soaked hair and ascended the staircase.

Tai was immediately struck by how cozy the man’s living space was. It wasn’t large or ornate, at least not by the standards she had seen among the high ranked of Riverfall, but luxurious accommodations paled in comparison to how completely tailored this living space was to him. She didn’t even have to know the man to feel his essence permeating from the place. Every object here had its purpose. There was something comforting about that.

Randal’s introduction mingled with the scent of roasted fish, and her stomach twinged in reminder that her breakfast had been an exceptionally light one. “Food sounds wonderful,” Tai told him with a grin as she found her way to the seat offered. “I didn’t eat much on the boat ride here. Too excited to eat much, you know? That’s coming back to bite me now.” At the prompt for her name, Tai caught herself. “I’m Tailyn. I just arrived in from Riverfall. Nice to meet you.” Tai relaxed a tad as she felt her usual, chatty self gently easing in to replace her initial nerves. The man’s hospitality was refreshing, and invited her to breathe easy.

Tailyn’s eyes lit up as the food was set on the table before her. Her blue eyes glittered with delight. A veritable feast was waiting here! “Gods, you weren’t planning on eating all this yourself, were you?” she laughed. “Were you expecting company? This is quite the welcome! I’m terribly flattered.” Even Blue, who was notoriously picky when it came to what went into her stomach, was eyeballing the spread with something resembling greed. The bird made as if to step off onto the table and help herself, but Tai’s quick ‘tsk' stopped the bird. “Manners,” Tai told Blue. The bird gave Tai a reproachful look, then settled back against the woman’s shoulder, feathers fluffed in irritation.

Tai was fully ready to tear into the meal like a half starved wolf, but hesitated at Randal’s words. She watched curiously as the man vanished into the interior of his home, then returned with a pair of wooden sticks, carved to look like feathers. She was reminded briefly of the hairstyles of Wind Reach; she had happily decorated her hair with Blue’s shed tail feathers until her time in Riverfall where she’d fallen out of the practice. The craftsmanship on the pegs was remarkable, and Tai couldn’t deny how flattered she was at the subtle acknowledgement of her heritage.

Tai wasn’t quite fast enough to process the man’s offer. May he what? The answer came in a flash as Randal twisted her hair up into a bun. Oh shyte. Tai’s recovered composure was evaporating like boiling water. “That’s very, erm, thoughtful,” Tai managed, words trailing. She tried not to squirm as he finally inserted the pegs. His calloused hands left her temporarily senseless. When he finally pulled away from her, she exhaled a breath she hadn’t known she’d been holding. Whew. She touched the back of her exposed neck that was now rapidly cooling. “You know, I’d half convinced myself on the walk up here that I was going to cut all my hair off.” She touched the sticks lightly. “I think I’ll keep it though.” She shot Randal a shy smile then cleared her throat and returned her attention back to the spread of food before them.

The food was barely on her mind as she started moving pieces to her plate, but the increase in proximity between herself and Randal was helping her to keep her thoughts together. She added a few pieces of fruit to her plate, paying attention to what her bird was eyeballing, and listened to the man’s questions.

“The plan is to settle here,” Tai told him. Although she was under a hint of scrutiny now, she couldn't resist sneaking a bite of fish before continuing. Her eyes widened in surprise. Maybe it was just how hungry she was, but the taste defied description. “Gods, this is amazing! Wow, thanks. Anyways, I was born in Wind Reach, lived there most of my life. I was an apprentice hunter, but I loved birds. Little ones, you know, sparrows, wrens, pigeons. The raptors were okay but they were never really my thing. One day I got this girl, Blue, as a gift, and I fell in love.” Tai picked up a slice of fruit, mango by the look of it, and offered it to Blue. Delicately, the parrot reached out and took the fruit with her claw then placed it into her mouth and began to chew.

“I started thinking the one thing I wanted to do more than anything else was catch, keep, train, breed and sell parrots, like her. Not much of a call for that in Wind Reach, so I left and wandered a bit. I was in Riverfall for a while, then I heard about Syka so I took a trip on the Veronica and came here.” Tai’s voice sped up with a familiar pattern of eagerness as she talked about her dream. She scratched Blue’s head feathers, and the parrot croaked cheerfully through her mouth of fruit. “They’re awfully clever, you know? A well trained parrot could learn to do all sorts of things. Scouting, carrying messages, they might even be able to be trained to find and retrieve fruit or nuts.” She blushed faintly at the ‘one of many talents’ comment. “Birdkeeping is what I do best. But I’m also passable with a short bow, and fair at hunting. Oh and I’ve learned a bit about wilderness travel in the jungle...thought it’d be useful information once I’d come to live here.”
Last edited by Tailyn on February 12th, 2018, 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dreams of Tropics and Parrots

Postby Gossamer on February 2nd, 2018, 10:00 pm



Randal’s lips curled slightly. He said in a soft voice. “Don’t cut your hair. You should never cut it. It’s incredible.” Compliments from Randal Dor were few and far between but often well placed. He didn’t like to get involved in other people’s business unless they directly invited him except when intervention was merited. In this case, intervention was definitely needed. He decided Ms. Tailyn needed to lose access to anything that remotely looked like scissors or even knives, and anyone who gifted her with such a thing to enable such a heinous act as parting those locks from her head deserved to die in a slowly and exceedingly painful way. His lazy smile turned slightly predatory at the thought and then changed gears in his mind.

He was not in the habit of flirting with the settlers or even letting his mind wander to such things. He was here to do a job, and definitely to support Mathias and James in their mission as well.

“Well, we eat what we cook around here, Tailyn. You’ll soon find out. I wasn’t going to give up my dinner in hopes of catching a smaller one. I actually planned on eating what I could and taking the rest to the Commons. We have several tradespeople that get caught up in their work and don’t find others dropping in with a surprise meal unwelcome. There’s a blacksmith now and we have a lovely weaver with her younger sister. All work hard and this fish would have never gone to waste.” He assured her leaning back and eating heartily.

He liked that she controlled her bird but didn’t lord over it. The bird seemed willing to be with her and took direction quite well. That impressed him. “You will find Sykan’s in general very welcoming. We are fortunate with a very good group of people here.” He said, stretching out his long legs and taking a fork full of fish dredged in rice. He chewed thoughtfully before continuing.

Randal appreciated that she dug into the food. So often women picked at their plates like birds. His lips curved upwards again at the thought. Weren’t Inarta half birds themselves? Maybe they more resembled their Eagles than the Finches the woman spoke of. Because she certainly tore into her food with gusto, a gesture that made him glad he’d taken extra time preparing this fish. Perhaps Laviku had seen Tailyn coming and had wanted to make sure she got fed and well settled when he’d gifted Randal with the big snapper. Or perhaps it was Eywaat. The Founder was religious and tended to see the Gods’ hands in most everything. This was no exception.

He listened attentively as she spoke of her past, her interest in birds, and what she wanted to do in Syka. Randal looked thoughtful because truthfully he’d never thought of parrots carrying messages, scouting, or even helping to retrieve food. “That all sounds incredibly useful. We have lovely birds all over here, even some that look like your parrot. But I’ve never given a thought to us making use of them. Yours seems to enjoy your company and being with you. I do know the scouting and carrying messages is extremely appealing to me. And I know the hunting and bow would be useful as well. I can teach you more about Wilderness Survival if you’d like. I tend to help out in that department because I do need to get away from the building once in a while.” Randal found talking to Tailyn relaxing. She had an easy personality much like some of the kelvics he knew in the settlement and hoped all the ladies would make good friends.

“I think you will fit in here. We have a lot of female unbonded Kelvics too. I would suggest …. “ He didn’t know how to quite put this without upsetting her if indeed she was a bit sensitive to the topic…. “I would suggest….” He started again, wincing slightly and just coming out with it. “… getting to know them first. There are three feline kelvics, a lion, a yowlwing which is a little like a housecat with wings, and a talderian forest cat. They are all great ladies, ones I think you will like, but their feline forms can often be seen… hunting birds for sport in an almost instinctual way. I would firmly introduce them to your lovely parrot there and make it a without exception rule that your bird is not to be hunted. I would also make sure any birds you are training are somehow marked. The girls aren’t bad people, but they are cats and if you know anything at all about cats, you understand why this happens. And I know the girls would feel terrible if anything accidently happened to one of your birds… so I would suggest a system to mark them apart from wild birds. The girls have sharp eyes. All cats do. Perhaps colorful leg bands and then an educational meeting with all three of them to stress the importance of protecting your birds especially if they are doing errands like carrying messages or looking for food for the colony.” He said, wanting her forewarned before any sort of accident happened.

Randal was thoughtful like that. He always kept the whole of the group in mind and tried to find compromises for any sort of problems that he could see cropping up. “And you are going to have to … be a little understanding if you see them being cats.” He said, grinning and reaching over to pick up a piece of fruit and slicing it with a sharp knife he pulled from his belt. He then tentatively reached out and offered the bit of kiwi to the parrot.

“Boy or girl? I can never tell though I know some of them you can by colors…. Do you think it odd most male birds are more colorful than females? I would have thought it would have been the opposite.” He said with a crooked grin, trying to lure Blue into taking the fruit from him. He’d never actually seen one up close. Randal studied the bird intently, fascinated by the claws and how well the parrot could hold on or even use them as hands.

“So lets talk housing. If you are staying and contributing to the settlement, we’ll be willing to help you build a place to live or let you rent what we do have available. I know there’s a bungalow free now. We also have small loans available for people that want to start businesses if you need some coin to startup.” He said, not sure what birdkeeping would involve and what it would entail. “I’ve never built mews or places to house parrots or even smaller things like you are talking about, but I do take direction well.” He said with a charming smile, adding the other half of the Kiwi to her plate.

“Try that. It’s Kiwi. It’s one of my favorite. I always say with the amount of fruit we have here in Syka, we hardly miss the fancy desserts found in other cities.” He half promised, knowing it was somewhat true.

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Dreams of Tropics and Parrots

Postby Tailyn on February 3rd, 2018, 6:24 pm

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Tailyn felt her cheeks heat up further under Randal’s compliment. It wasn’t as if it were the first time she’d been complimented on it or anything. People who weren’t from Wind Reach tended to find it extremely appealing, which had taken some getting used to considering how people who weren’t redheads were more unusual in the place she’d been born. Truth be told, she still wasn’t quite used to it. Not that she minded the attention, even if it did take her off guard every now and again. She touched her still bound up hair and grinned at the man.

”I’ll take that under advisement Mr. Dor,” she said, eyes twinkling.

Once more, she eyed the massive fish and shoveled a few more bites of food into her mouth thoughtfully.

”You’ve got quite the commonwealth around here, don’t you? It’s awfully kind of you to share your catch...although I suppose you might as well. What else would you do with it otherwise? You’re certainly giving me a grand impression of your settlement. Not to say Riverfall wasn’t welcoming in it’s own way it was just...different. I think I like it here better already.”

It was a bit of a challenge to quite place why she hadn’t been completely comfortable in Riverfall. Maybe it was because in spite of the politeness of the people and the beauty of the city, she couldn’t quite dash the impression that she was being sized up like a horse at auction.

Tai’s eyes lit up as Randal spoke of parrots in the surrounding area.

“I can’t wait to get a chance to go look at them! You know, I have a mind to go and see if I can find a mate for Blue. Wouldn’t that be something, breeding parrots like her! I already know that parrots like her are excellent at scouting. I still have a lot of work to do before I become really good at training them, but I have high hopes for what I can accomplish with them. They’re much smarter than raptors, and so much more social and affectionate than raptors are too. Once you bond with them, they’re a lot more likely to do things that you ask them too. They’re maybe a little bit too smart though; sometimes they don’t like what you’re asking them, and decide they’d rather not do it.”

Tai glanced towards Blue affectionately, who had finished her mango and was looking at the rest of the fruit for her next bite.

“I’m sure living here you’ve heard parrots talking too. They’re quite the mimics. Blue here doesn’t talk all that much, but I’ve seen parrots that will chat up a storm. It would be interesting to teach parrots to repeat spoken messages, but I’m not sure how well it would work. It’s worth experimenting with at least.”

Tai stroked Blue’s head feathers and scratched her underneath her wings and ate with her other hand as she listened to Randal talk about the kelvics in the settlement, nodding in agreement to his words. When he mentioned the kelvic’s hunting instinct, her face turned stark white.

“Oh Gods I did not consider that. I assumed there might be some wild predators around, but an unlocked cage won’t stop a kelvic will it? Blue is always with me so I’m less concerned about her, but the others…” Tai swallowed and tried to be open-minded. They were kelvics. It wasn’t their fault that their instinct lead them to hunt birds. Even if her every instinct railed against the thought of killing birds, at least in their case it wasn’t out of cruelty.

“I will definitely have a talk with the ladies as soon as possible. Colorful leg bands sound like a good idea.”

Suddenly, her mind flashed back to the dead bird she had seen on the road to Randal’s bungalow. Could a kelvic be responsible for that…? But no, the bird had been unmarked. Cautiously, Tai decided to speak up. She had intended to bring it up with one of the Founders anyways.

“By the way, on the way over here I found a dead bird on the path leading to your bungalow. It seems it had been dead for a while, but as far as I could tell it didn’t have any marks indicating death, and there were no insects on it. Blue wouldn’t go near it. Do you have any idea what that’s about…? There aren’t any strange diseases here that affect birds, are there? If so, I think I should know.”

As the conversation moved back to Parrots, Tai relaxed slightly.

“Blue is a girl,” Tai said with a grin. “Figured it out after she laid her first egg. Was a bit of a surprise! It is funny about males being more colorful, isn’t it? Blue’s breed looks the same regardless of color. Parrots usually aren’t sexually dimorphic, but there are a few exceptions. There is a type of parrot where the females are red and blue, and the males are green and red.”

Tai watched carefully as Randal offered Blue a piece of kiwi. She eyeballed the piece of fruit and reached out with her beak. Tai shot Blue a warning look, and the parrot croaked and took the piece of fruit with her feet and stuck it in her mouth. She turned away from Randal so that her back was facing him, then spat the piece of fruit on the floor. Tai frowned. With a sigh she stood up and picked the piece of fruit off the ground and returned it to the corner of her plate. “Sorry. She can be a brat sometimes. They’re basically toddlers.”

As Randal turned the topic to housing, Tai listened carefully as he listed the options. “I have a tent and enough stuff to stay comfortable for a while,” Tai told him.

“I’d like to have a place built eventually, but I’m more interested in having a set up for the parrots first. I’ll do just fine with the tent for a while. I’m going to need some cages; I suppose building them like mews would work best. In addition that that, I’ll need perches. I brought most of the other things I need, falconry gloves, tethers, stuff like that.”

Tai looked at the fruit, called a kiwi, with interest. She cut off a slice of it herself and took a bite. She brightened immediately.

“Wow. That’s very tasty.” She cut off another slice and offered it to Blue. The bird took it without hesitation and started chewing it. “See, she’s a brat.” Tai scratched Blue’s wing. “You’re a brat, aren’t you?” “Brat.” Blue muttered through her full mouth.
Last edited by Tailyn on February 12th, 2018, 5:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Dreams of Tropics and Parrots

Postby Gossamer on February 11th, 2018, 10:24 pm

“Randal.” He corrected her immediately.

“You are in Syka now. There’s no such thing as formality. It’s something you’ll have to get used too. It’s a good day if everyone is fully dressed and sober. The settlers have adopted a loose dress code and have really gotten into making fruit wines that are sometimes more powerful than say Riverfall’s aged mulled classics.” He said with a laugh, warning her ahead of time. “Especially around The Commons, The Mercantile, and Swing Beach. If you check out any of those spots, you’re likely to get fed from whomever is cooking whatever on the commons firepit … a lot of roasted pig happens here. And you will definitely be offered juice, some of it fermented. So mind yourself. No one here will take advantage, but there is a casualness to Syka that’s uncommon other places.” He said, crossing his bare feet under the table. It was just another example of dressing loosely.

“I’m sure that you’ll find some things not to your liking. For one, there’s bugs everywhere. While your parrot Blue might enjoy them…” Randal said, eyeing the parrot and then glancing back at Tailyn. “… I’m not so sure you will find them welcoming. Then it gets hot. Everyone sweats. That’s why we shed clothing like some birds molt in the early spring. We swim all the time, which makes hair like yours tangled and crusty. Uta, she’s our herbalist, will make you up some special shampoo for it. She makes some stuff from coconut oil and shea butter that’s fantastic. But if you don’t use it, you’ll have a snarled mess. Then there’s the jungle. Snakes, predators, spiders…. mud. The list goes on and on. Don’t let me paint you too flowery of a picture. Syka is beautiful. The people are lovely, but there are dangerous things here too. The settlers will help you learn what those are. I’ll help you out too.” He added, confident she could get through it.

“I would suggest taking babies from nests if you want to gather parrots. The wild ones are fierce. Some of them are friendly, like the smaller parrots, but the big ones can be rather protective. I’ve gotten dive bombed a few times coming too close to a nest. But I’ve also seen them grow to the point they start to get feathers and tumble out of their cavity nests. Those are the ones I’d start with. You can gentle them down easily with food, I’d say, if you can get to them before predators do.” He added.

“They talk too? Seriously? I’ve never heard one do that. I’ve heard them imitate monkeys though. They are rather quite clever at it.” He said, glancing up at her to make sure she wasn’t pulling his leg and then glanced at Blue. “I don’t know either. I just know what I’ve observed. I’d be willing to help with anything I can though… and I wouldn’t discourage you from giving everything and anything a try.” He said softly, then smiled. “I run across those babies a time or two. I’ll bring you them when I find them.” He said, glad to have something to do with them. It bothered him leaving them but he knew the way of the wild and the jungle often was a harsh place to survive.

He said as much. “I’ve seen them before but no one has had any sort of expertise to raise them. I’m glad I will have a place to take them to if your open to the idea.” He said, smiling slightly, taking more fish and digging in. Randal had a large appetite, but then he was no small man. Maintaining fitness like he did required solid calories along with hard work. He was unashamed about both, eating heartily.

“Don’t let me put you off towards the Kelvics. They are good ladies… for the most part. Just understand them and work with them. Firm boundaries go over well with that whole race…” He added, chuckling and hoping he didn’t inject some fear in them where there shouldn’t be any. “One of them keeps threatening the few children we have in the settlement, but so far she’s not acted. I think it’s a ruse.” He said, shaking his head and taking a moment to enjoy how the sunlight played through Tailyn’s hair. By the Gods… her hair. It almost distracted him again, but she was saying something. He refocused on her words and caught up.

“There is a young lady and her little sister… Askha. I would talk to her about weaving the bands out of something the parrots can’t chew through. I’m sure she can help you out. She’s our resident weaver.” He said, then sketched out quick directions on how to find Ashka’s tent on the beach. Askha was a lovely girl, who Randal suspected had a tragic story, one he didn’t quite understand because she put the P in Private.

The topic change made him a bit uncomfortable, but he was at least honest with her. “We’ve been seeing a number of these things in the jungles. We don’t know why. Its been along with lights in the sky, strange noises, and a whole host of weird things we haven’t been able to explain. This is something new this season, something we don’t understand. But believe me we are looking into it.” He’d pause if she had questions, but there was really nothing to say.

“I don’t know what killed the birds. We’ve found other small animals and even some large ones too, dead, without a mark on it.” He said thoughtfully. Randal looked worried for a moment then seemingly shrugged it off. “We’ll get to the bottom of it eventually. In the mean time, anything you see would be great if you reported it to me. I want to gather as much evidence as I can. Maybe we’ll get to the bottom of this.” He said gently, forking over some more fish to consume. Together they were making a big dent on the grilled snapper.

Randal just laughed at Blue’s antics. “At least she was polite enough to do it behind your back.” He said, finishing the rest of the Kiwi that hadn’t hit the ground on his own. “Just more for me, Blue.” He said with a gentle laugh and took another fruit.

The youngest Founder nodded at Tailyn’s laundry list of needs. “Well, Alona just moved in and she can help you with the perches, or I would suggest you just collect driftwood and use them. They are nice smooth things mostly, and I can help you fasten them at the levels above the ground if you need me too. I can help you build mews, no worries. We have strong wire that we can weave for parrots… but we might want to test something first to see if she can chew through it. I wouldn’t put it past them with those strong beaks. I can start around the 60th… I should be done with my current project then. Would that work? I can also stop by wherever you decide to claim land and see if I can do something to help you out temporarily until you get your facility up and running.” He said, finishing his thought and hoping she’d draw out some ideas for her mews since he had no idea what parrots really required. “Some sort of sketches would be amazing help too. I have paper and charcoal on my desk. Your welcome to drop by and make some anytime. Just leave them on my desk and I’ll know who they are from.” He invited, hoping with a half grin she’d drop by when he was home so maybe he could cook something for her or spend time with her as she was sketching.

His eyes went to her hair again and he sighed slightly, wishing he could get to her project sooner.

“Blue’s not a brat…. She just seems like a typical woman. Picky.” Randal chuckled, half teasing the newcomer. “So how did you meet Blue? I’d also love to hear your favorite story from Wind Reach. It’s a place I’ve never been and one I’d love to visit sometime.” He said, trying to steer the conversation back to her. He was a little greedy to learn more.

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Dreams of Tropics and Parrots

Postby Tailyn on February 12th, 2018, 8:32 pm

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Tai could feel her cheeks warm once again as Randal insisted on informality.

“Right...Randal,” Tai smiled.

It seemed like just as she started to relax again, he’d say something that would get her flustered once more. Not that she was uncomfortable with him or anything...far from it. Something about the casualness of him put her very at ease. Riverfall had been uncomfortably formal in a way that she couldn’t put words to, and even Wind Reach had been strict in its own way when it came to caste dealings. She felt like she could finally stretch her wings here, maybe for the first time ever.

“Fermented juice huh?” she said with a playful grin. “Sounds like fun.”

Her comment was half bravado. Although she was looking forward to the informality of Syka it might still take some getting used to. Her ears perked a bit at the ‘loose dress code’ bit. If that meant what she thought it meant then it might take some real getting used to. But Tai was nothing if she wasn’t adaptable, and she had been expecting a considerable cultural difference when she chose to come here. It was a small price to pay if it meant following her dream.

Tai listened further as Randal spoke on what life was like in Syka. The bugs would definitely not be fun. The heat: also not fun, but at least she had expected that. Swimming; now that could be fun! Blue loved water enough that she could be part duck. Tai hadn’t had nearly enough chances to expose her bird to water in the past places she’d stayed. She listened carefully as Randal told her about the special shampoo the herbalist made and nodded as he explained.

“I’ll definitely go to see her,” Tai said, adding the herbalist to her mental list of things to see to. After all, if her hair elicited this sort of a reaction in Randal, it was something she wanted to take care of. A little butterfly fluttered in her stomach at the thought.

She nodded as Randal listed the dangers of the jungle. All things that she had expected.

“I should be able to defend myself and my birds from some of the smaller predators,” Tai said with a cautious optimism. “I was a hunter after all. Do the big ones invade the settlement much?” She only had a vague idea on what sort of beasts might be roaming the jungles, but she was positive the larger ones would be well beyond her abilities.

As Randal spoke of taking babies from nests, Tai was already nodding before he had finished talking.

“I brought some climbing equipment with me just for that purpose,” Tai told him. “Sometimes the parents lay too many eggs, and wind up with more babies than are easy for them to take care of. So taking one of the babies will help reduce the burden on them, and help the little ones left in the nest survive. The parents may not appreciate my snatching them, but it’s better for them in the long run. Imprinting them would be better, but unless I’m raising eggs up that’s not really going to be possible, and I think it’s a bit beyond my skill level. Getting little babies just starting to fledge will be my best bet.”

She grinned as she listened to his disbelief about the parrots talking, then smiled warmly as he offered to get babies for her. “If you run across any babies, I’d be happy to take them,” she told him. “They’re noisy little things though, so mind that you don’t draw the parents attention as you take them. They probably won’t appreciate it. Give them a bit of fruit and it’ll shut them up long enough for you to get them out of there.”

Tai laughed as Randal talked about the kelvic threatening the children.

“Sounds like something our Wind Eagles would do!” she said cheerfully. “When I was still a Yasi I once annoyed one so badly that he hung me out over the cliff until I apologized to him!” Tai still wasn’t really sure to this day whether the bird had been serious or not about dropping her. It was probably better that she didn’t know for sure.

Tai nodded some more as Randal talked about the weaver and added her to the metal list of people to see as well.

When Randal spoke carefully of the animals dying and the lights in the sky, Tai listened with a intensity that mingled with both fascination and horror. Her initial thought, that magic was afoot, was halfway confirmed in her mind.

“I’ll be sure to tell you if I see anything,” Tai said uncertainly. Birds were her realm of expertise, not this. But the least she could do was let the man know if she found anything. Better to leave it to the professionals, after all.

She felt a twinge of relief as Randal didn’t seem upset with Blue’s behavior. If the bird had done something like that in Riverfall, she might have had to worry about someone being insulted.

Alona, huh? Another name to add to the ever growing list.

“The driftwood sounds like a good idea to start out with,” Tai said thoughtfully. It couldn’t be too difficult to drag some up off the beach. “I suppose I could use some of the smaller pieces for chew toys as well. Parrots love to chew things. Ah, and it’d be wonderful if you could start on the 60th. I’m not much of an artist, but I suppose I could draw up something very basic for you.”

Tai listened as Randal asked her about herself. Ah yes, the butterflies were back. Tai rode the feeling.

“I worked with smaller birds when I lived in Wind Reach,” Tai explained. She couldn’t help the smile that lit across her face. “My favorite was a pigeon. His name was Night and we went everywhere together.” Half lost in memories, Tai plucked another piece of kiwi from her plate and offered it to Blue. The bird took it carefully in her mouth and began to chow down. As she ate, Tai stroked her parrot on her chest. “We were inseparable. But one day when I was out hunting, he was caught and killed by a wild hawk.” It was an old memory, but it still held weight for her. Tai wondered if grief flashed across her face, if even the years old pain shone in her eyes.

“I was pretty devastated for a while. My friends offered me all sorts of birds to try to cheer me up, but I refused all of them...until my teacher brought me Blue.” Tai smiled at the memory. “She was so ridiculous looking! You’ve seen baby parrots so I’m sure you know how strange they look. They’re like little monsters, all beak and half feathers. She was pink and blue and terrible looking. I thought she had some sort of feather disease!” Tai laughed at the thought.

“Well, I fell in love with her. She looked so lonely and sad and I just wanted to give her a home. And she helped heal my heart. Sorry that must sound so cliche,” Tai laughed. “But she did! And I started taking her with me everywhere soon as she finished fledging. Taught her to fly. Played with her and taught her tricks. And she made me love parrots. So here I am now.”

Tai combed her fingers through the few strands of hair that had escaped from the hair sticks Randal had given her.

“I loved Wind Reach while I was there. It’s the only place I’ve ever been where you can feel the sky; really feel it. On Skyinarta you can look out onto the horizon and see the the cliffs and sky and horizon meet and blend together. At sunrise everything turns pink and purple like a painters palate. And there’s always the dark spots of the Wind Eagles against the mountains, always circling. The sky goes on forever.”

Tai blushed, realizing she was going on a bit. She had slipped into her old Nari accent as she spoke of Wind Reach. She may have moved here for her dream, but it wasn’t as if she hated her old home or anything. “I still love it of course. But you can’t raise parrots on a mountain. I think Blue might have died if she stayed there any longer. They just aren’t made for that kind of environment.” Tai turned to her bird and gently stroked her head feathers. “She’s had such a turnaround since we’ve come to warmer lands.”

Self conscious, Tai turned back to Randal and turned the conversation to him. “What about you?” she asked. “I know you’re a founder here in Syka. What inspired you to come here? I have my parrots. What brought you?”
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Dreams of Tropics and Parrots

Postby Gossamer on February 13th, 2018, 10:53 pm



He was finding she was a joy to spend time with. Randal hadn’t had such a relaxing afternoon in a long while, namely because he took on so much work and put a lot of the settlement’s housing square on his shoulders. Hearing his name on her lips was nice too. Randal. The Founder had to restrain himself from spontaneously asking her to say it again. He did ask her too in his mind though, and it softened his features as he imagined it.

Syka could be a fun place. She was right. But it could also be dangerous. Randal decided along with every other thing he took upon himself, he’d try and make sure people like Tailyn thrived in Syka. He really wanted the new city to be a safe place for women like her… women who came here alone. It took a lot of courage for her to make the move, not knowing for sure what she’d find on the other side of the world.

Randal was trying to make sure she had a great welcome.

He tried to mention all the settlers he knew. Tailyn should feel like they were approachable and real people. And how nice would it be for her to halfway feel like she knew who everyone was before she met them? He wanted her forewarned and walking among them friendly and approachable. That was the best swiftest way she’d integrate… to succeed. And Randal really wanted her to succeed.

“We’ve had some invasions… I won’t lie and say we won’t. But we have several really good people now. We have a security guard too. You can’t miss him. Buraga Shamzen is a huge man, but he is a gentle soul. He’s really well versed in Unarmed combat and I’m sure he’d be willing to teach you a few moves. With him around, and the kelvic feline pride, I think we’re in better shape than we have been for safety for a while.” He said with a chuckle. “I’m not a fighter either. I’m a carpenter and I have a lot of training in animal husbandry. I can hunt, but my favorite hobby is surfing. I’ll have to take you sometime and show you how. Blue can come too if she doesn’t mind the sea.” He added, chuckling slightly.

“Do you know how to climb? I don’t. But if you have any ability, I’ll trade the surf lessons for climbing lessons… that’s a useful hobby.” He said, finding Tailyn rather surprising in her resourcefulness.

He laughed in an uninhibited way when Tailyn cheerfully related her tale of woe in Wind Reach. “I would be interested in meeting a Wind Eagle, especially that one, though any if they all have that sense of humor.” He said, seeing the birds actions more of a schooling move than aggression. Raptors were intelligent.

The conversation ebbed and flowed, but he nodded at Tailyn’s reassurance that she’d let him know if she saw any more uncommon death. “Get the Kelvics to help you gather driftwood. Nieve has endless boundless energy so she’ll bounce around getting the chew toy sized and Nya has the strength to haul the really big pieces. You’ll enjoy their company and frankly if you train birds, maybe some of that coaching and mentoring will rub off on them.” He said, again trying to match her up with more residence. It wasn’t that the cats were bored, it was more that they needed jobs… more than their current employment gave them. He was drawing ties, binding the colony together, wanting everyone to understand how much every member was needed and useful.

He listened to her convey bits and pieces of her history, his face interested and thoughtful. His warm gaze turned sorrowful when she talked about her pigeon Night. When was younger he had a dog he’d felt similar feelings towards, one that had died tragically.

“Blue is lucky to have you.” He said gently, eyes settling on the beautiful bird on Tailyn’s shoulder. She really did seem to be a very genuine person when it came to the animals and he appreciated that more than Tailyn would ever know. “And if the parrots here are any indication, I suspect Blue will thrive. I’ll help you out and I know so will the others until you get your mews going. Its exciting to have another birder here. Perhaps I can interest you in an early morning walk sometime. I often walk the settlement and the birdsong that’s out there is amazing. I can point out some of the names of the birds I know. I don’t know them all, but it will be something until you can talk to Indigo… another of our residents who knows a great deal about the animals around here.” He added, looking thoughtful.

Her next question surprised her.

“I used to live in a city called Denval. Many people here have not heard of it. It was on the Kalea Coast but the west side. When the Djed Storm of 512 happened, something long buried in the place was set off, and the city was destroyed. Many people died, my wife and children included. The remainder of the city took to ships. It was a massive flotilla that set off for other places… some went to Sylira, some went south. I was with a smaller group that got blown off course during another storm that wasn’t related. We were picked up by James and The Veronica. He saved my life. Then he introduced me to Mathias and he was always talking about his dreams of forming his own city. When he found the location to Syka, it seemed too good to be true. I needed something, because I was in a dark place in those times… and that something was just an idea to believe in. So I caught the bug… as Mathias called it. And the more I learned about Syka, the more important I felt it was. Until… I just realized that everything in my life was leading up to here. Here, I can make a difference and really help people. In Denval I was just an ordinary man. I worked for various people doing various things, but here…. I have such a blazing core purpose. I owe a lot to Mathias and James. That’s why I’m here as their brawn. Those two well aged bottles of wine are the brains.” He said, chuckling deeply.

“Tell me… and this is none of my business… but I feel like I have to ask. Why alone? Why did you come all this way by yourself? Was there no… husband or … “ He trailed off, asking a whole host of questions without asking them at all. But she couldn’t help but know what he wanted to know without fully vocalizing it.

And as if to cover his discomfort over the invasion of her privacy, he stood up and started cleaning up. If she tried to help, he’d shush her and let her keep sitting while he worked, wrapping the remaining fish in banana leaves to walk to town and drop by the craftsman like he’d promised. And when she was done answering, he’d have more to say.

“I’m not sure but I think its time to walk you back to town. Ready to go? And I can talk to you about some of the loans available along the way. As lovely as this meeting has been, I have work to do and must get back to it or I’m going to decide to nap the afternoon away and a roof won’t get put on that I had planned to put on this afternoon.” He said with a grin, trying to lighten the mood once more.


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Dreams of Tropics and Parrots

Postby Tailyn on February 14th, 2018, 1:10 am

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The food had been amazing and for the first time since she had left Riverfall Tai began to feel as if she were full. Her bites of fish and fruit were becoming slower until gradually they stopped completely and she was happy to simply lean back in her chair and talk with Randal. Blue was reaching her limit too, evidenced by her close scrutiny of each piece of fruit before she took it into her mouth. Excitement was too close at hand, but had the circumstances been even slightly different Tai was pretty sure that she’d be sleepy at this point, she was so relaxed, comfortable, full and at ease.

A little bit of that ease fluttered away at the talk of invasions.

“Invasions?!” she started. “Like, people invasions? Not animals?” Could anyone possibly live out in the wilderness that hadn’t been comfortably carved like Syka had been? She listened to him seriously as he explained the situation. She would take anything he said very very seriously. On Skyinarta, there were threats everywhere outside the comfortable confines of their mountain. She had expected dangerous animals in Syka, not dangerous people.

“I’ll be very careful,” she told him. “And I’m sure learning a bit of unarmed self defense couldn’t hurt.”

“Surfing?” As she said the word Tai tilted her head, not unlike a curious bird. “That’s where you put a plank of wood out on the water and ride on it right?” She had never actually witnessed someone doing it before, only heard about it before. “It’s for fun right? Like cliff-diving?”

Tai was no stranger to extreme hobbies. It seemed as though a good third of Skyinarta spent their free time climbing up the sheer sides of cliffs. The Endal were the worst with it, leaping from the tops of mountain peaks only to be snatched from oblivion by their sky eagles just before impact. The eagles were just as bad with their canyon races and aerial stunts. Like with most dangerous activities, it was usually just males trying to impress girls. It may have even worked...for Tai at least once.

“I’m afraid I’m not as good at climbing as I had...planned on being before coming here,” Tai admitted with an awkward smile. “I expect I’ll be doing a good deal of falling down until I start getting the hang of it. I’ve got the drive but not the skills. But ah, I’ll figure it out!” she grinned at him. “Can’t know till you’ve give it a try right?”

Tai searched her memories, wondering what she could offer the man in exchange. She wasn’t even entirely sure what surfing was or how it worked, but the thought of spending more time with Randal was far too tempting for her to pass up.

“I could teach you about parrots,” she offered weakly, then laughed at herself. Even she knew that parrots weren’t high on the list of practical skills that she imagined Randal would appreciate. “I could also teach you the basics of using a short bow. I’m no master by any means, but I could teach you enough to get by. And you know, archery competitions can be fun!”

Tai smiled as Randal laughed about the Wind Eagles. “They’re amazing. I never spent much time around them after I got chosen for my hunting apprenticeship, but you see them around everywhere you go. They’re just like people. Some are kind, some are playful. Some aren’t so kind. And they’re awfully fierce. You do have to watch yourself around them, even if you’re an Endal, one of the Wind Eagle riders.”

Tai added even more people onto her mental list. She half felt like she knew all the residents already! Perhaps she’d even be able to greet them by name without having met them. She grinned silently to herself at the thought.

As Randal told Tai that Blue was lucky to have her she could feel herself color slightly. She glanced over at the bird on her shoulder who was busy grooming her feathers with her beak. The bird stopped and croaked as she saw Tai looking at her. Blue looked at Tai out of one eye and tilted her head in a silent question. Tai just gently tickled the bird underneath her wings, prompting a happy chuckle out of Blue.

“A walk sounds lovely...and I’ll be sure to talk to Indigo.” Her eyes sparked in amusement at the person’s name. “They’re not a parrot too, are they?” she grinned.

As Randal told her about his history, she was struck speechless. It was one thing to lose a family member or a child. Such things happened often enough in Skyinarta. It was a hard city to live in. People died. But an entire city? All at once? Everything you know just being…gone? She might have left Skyinarta, but Skyinarta hadn’t left her. What would she do if she heard that one day it had just vanished? She listened in somber silence to the rest of the man’s story.

“I’m sorry that you lost your family and your people so violently like that,” she said slowly, trying to figure out how to formulate words that would express what she felt. “I’m not sure if I’m really capable of understanding what a loss like that would be like. But I’m sure it was terrible. I’m...glad you were able to find Mathias and James. It really sounds like them and Syka helped you to find your purpose.”

Tai glanced out over the balcony of Randal’s open air bungalow and into the expanse of trees and vines stretching their way beside a line of blue sea shore. “Syka sort of feels like it’s more a person than a place, doesn’t it? Skyinarta was like that. It’s sort of like it has its own breath to it.” She smiled, hoping her bit of imagination didn’t sound too childish.

As Randal brought the question back to her, Tai hesitated. It was a personal question, and one that she supposed she didn’t have to answer. But after all, he had just revealed something huge and personal about himself. And part of her wanted him to know. As he moved to clean up, Tai moved to help him but found herself shushed back into her seat. It was probably for the best; action would make it hard for her to articulate herself.

“I um...no husband. That’s not extremely common among the Skyinarta unless you’re an Endal. We’re kind of casual, um, when it comes to that sort of thing.”

Having come so recently from Riverfall, Tai had learned well how impressively formal marriages could be. She wasn’t really sure how Randal would take the lackadaisical nature of commitment among the Inarta and she wasn’t entirely comfortable giving him a full rundown of it.

“I didn’t have anyone special there either. I mean, special in the way a husband would be.” Tai’s fingers spun her hair strands into curls. “I hadn’t for a long time. I have a brother...a twin brother. But we’re not all that close. He had his falcons and I had my pigeons and parrot.”

Tai hesitated, gathering her thoughts. “It must seem wild, a woman running off on her own to join a settlement in the jungle just for the parrots, huh?” She smiled, but the smile didn’t have much humor or warmth to it. “I don’t know, maybe it is. I loved that mountain but there was something missing. Purpose maybe? It seemed so easy to just keep doing the same things, day in and day out. The habit got ingrained in me. I wasn’t unhappy but I wasn’t...happy, either.”

Tai glanced at Blue. The bird’s yellow eyes met hers. “Blue gave me a bit of happiness, more than I’d really felt before. For the first time it was like something was right. I wanted to chase it, even if it took moving to a foreign land to get there.” She laughed and pulled at her hair strands. “I’m a bit of a pariah now, I think. People don’t really leave Skyinarta. I don’t think I’d be happily welcomed back if I wanted to return. So this is how it is now.”

As Randal finished cleaning up and packing up the fish for the road, Tai sprung to her feet, prompting a startled squawk from Blue.

“I hadn’t meant to keep you so long,” Tai laughed. “But I greatly appreciate the meal. And I would further appreciate a walk back to town and discussions on loans.” Tai quickly moved down the stairs leading to the bungalow and stopped, embarrassed just at the edge of them to wait for Randal. She didn’t exactly know her way around yet. Best to let him lead.
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Dreams of Tropics and Parrots

Postby Gossamer on February 22nd, 2018, 11:44 pm

Randal could tell he had lulled his guest into what he called the post food pre-nap decompression. And for a moment he almost took back what he’d said about having to get going and thought about inviting the young woman to stretch out in his one hammock and take a nap in the warm Syka sun. That’s what almost everyone did in the high heat of mid-day. He wondered if she’d be offended if he pointed out that he only had one and she’d have to share it… with him. A soft smile played across his lips. It had been a long time since he’d had someone curl up with him, certainly years, to the point that he almost forgot what that felt like. A thought like that a year ago, certainly two, would have brought him sad memories of his wife and family in Denval. But time had muted the pain, mulled it, and as Mathias had pointed out would eventually happen, he was open to new things now. It was a feeling that really surprised him since he’d long rejected his mentor’s comment about it at the time.

Was it actually just the time passing, or was it because it was Tailyn? Randal wasn’t sure.

She’d smell good, that much was for sure because the breeze had carried her scent to him across the table and it reminded him of warm rum and vanilla. And the sun would paint her bright hair a brilliant copper that would only be muted by the leaves of the tree casting shadows across where they would be curled up in his Hammock beneath it. Gods. Just the idea of the flickering of sunlight and shadows across that hair possibly fanned out across his bare chest while Tailyn used his shoulder as a pillow…

The man quickly diverted his thoughts.

He grew serious at her question about the invasion. “I’m not sure, to be honest, Tailyn. We’ve caught glimpses. They don’t look exactly human, but seem sentient none the less. There’s a lot about this settlement you don’t know. And I don’t know if it is my place to tell you. But I will say that if you are in any immediate danger, I will straight out tell you. And right now, we just don’t know.” He said thoughtfully, watching her come to grips with the fact that things weren’t safe. But he didn’t want to scare her off completely either… so he gave her a little more info.

“You may have heard of the Kelvics… those people that can shapeshift from human to animal? They weren’t a race created by the Gods like most of us. They were a race created by man. Just before the Valterrian, a set of twins lived in the world. They were part of the Suvan Empire. I believe they were the great grandchildren of the Goddess Morwen via her daughter The Goddess Yshul. Yshul didn’t have the raising of them though. Morwen did. Their names were Marcus and Myrna. Marcus crafted the Kelvic race, but his sister at the time was far more famous than he was. She was something called a Worldwalker. She passed from this land to other realms and other worlds by the way of something called The World Gate. It’s here, Tailyn, just outside of Syka. This used to be her home. In the jungle beyond the shores of Syka…. there are ruins. There used to be a …. Facility here. We’d call it a city for it was huge and whole families lived here to support it. But it was called Pavena. And it housed The World Gate,w hich was a device Myrna used to travel to other places, Tailyn. We think these… invaders… are using the world gate to come through and visit. We aren’t sure if they are hostile or not.” He added, thinking perhaps if they were, it would be something they’d have already found out. And certainly, not in an easy way but in a painful oppressive way. He didn’t mention that their weapons seemed superior.

He was glad when she asked about Surfing. “It’s like flying over the water. I’ll take you with me sometime just to show you. Its so much more than riding on the water. Its not easy to describe. It’s one of those things best experienced.” He added, smiling slightly. “I’ll take you. I promise. Especially if you can swim a little. If you can’t… we’ll start there and work our way up.” He said, chuckling lightly. Tailyn was talented, so he wouldn’t be surprised if she could already swim. If she couldn’t, he was sure she’d be a fast learner. “Plus, if you don’t exactly take to surfing, you can always grab a paddle and just balance on the board and take it all in. The water is crystal clear and you can see a whole new world just standing over it.” Randal’s eyes clouded a bit and she could tell he loved the water… the sea… and living here so near it. “Yes, its for fun. And for the rush. I have cliff dived before too.” He added, liking the sport, just not having many places off Syka to do it. The rocks had to be tall and the water had to be calm. Sometimes the tide would cooperate, but not always.

When she admitted she had no skill at climbing, he nodded. “Just tell yourself you can… and then want it hard enough… and it will come. A lot of the things I’ve learned in life weren’t learned from teachers, but from just trying over and over again. Maybe I’ll see if James will pick me up some climbing gear and we can make plans to try it together. Nothing tall though… not at first. I’m not sure how I feel about hanging from a cliff by just a rope.” He added, laughing slightly. “Then again, maybe I don’t want you to see me doing something I know nothing about. I can be fairly embarrassing until I figure things out.” He said gently, nodding to himself as if he was deciding something in his own head. And really, he was. He’d speak to James about that equipment and see if he could get ahold of some.

“I enjoy animals, Tailyn. I would certainly like to know more about parrots. There must be a reason you love them. I’d like to see them through your eyes and not just through my experiences.” He added, unsure if she’d understand what he was saying. She spoke of wind eagles and people at Wind Reach and it made him smile. He enjoyed conversations with other well-traveled people. They had something in common, for sure, both being displaced. Him by force and her by her own nature.

They started into town, Randal carrying the remainder of the fish, and laughing when Tailyn asked if Indigo was a parrot. He shook his head. “Indigo is half Myrian and half Dhani. She’s a follower of Bala, who comes and goes as she pleases. I’ve seen her disappear into the deep jungle for weeks before she puts in an appearance here. She has dark hair and always has an indigo mask painted on her face. She’s fond of snakes and likes to keep a few with her. I’ve often went to compliment her on a necklace choice until I’ve seen it move.” He chuckled, then shook his head. “I know she’ll know more information for you and will be willing to help.” He added, as they moved down his stairway, onto the trail, and headed for the main settlement.

“Thank you.” He said softly at her condolences. It wasn’t something he liked talking about anymore, but the truth was …. Well he just said what the truth was. “Sometimes I feel like I shouldn’t ever talk about them. But when I remember them, I feel like they become more real again… perhaps live here in this realm for a short time when I recite stories or fun things that happened during their lifetimes. I’m sorry they didn’t make it either. It was a very brutal time for Denval. But they did not suffer either. Of the whole city, most died. We think.. there was some sort of pre-valterrian artifact stash there that was set off with the djed storm. If you have to lose loved ones, I am so thankful daily that it wasn’t illness that took them. And yet I can’t help but think of how unfair it was to my son and daughter that didn’t get to live, or even grow old.” Randal took a deep breath then and glanced at her. There was a vulnerability in his gaze for just a moment, then it was gone, replaced by that same slight humorous smile.
‘Yes, Syka feels a lot like a real person, someone just awake from a really long nap. She’s stretching and licking her lips and thinking about opening her eyes, but she’s not quite ready to do so yet.” He added, shifting the fish packet from one arm to another to reach out and push an overgrown branch out of Tailyn’s way so the trail was once more clear. He didn’t want her snagging her hair on it and loosing any of it to an abrupt pull.

He looked interested when she didn’t seem to mind answering his highly personal question. “I hadn’t known marriage wasn’t common among the Inarta. It doesn’t seem that families are close either, at least from what you say.” He said softly, looking slightly pained. “I want a family again, someday… a close one. In Denval we all married young and had children and everyone was just close. It was hard to escape family. I don’t know what I’d do if my daughter would have grown to your age and took off to some settlement in the jungle. I think it would have really scared me.” He admitted.

“But then again, she was smart. I’d taught her a lot in the five years I’d had her. She was decent with a weapon and great in the wilderness. I can only imagine she’d thrive here. Maybe she’d be a little like you too… fearless.” He said softly. Then he reached out suddenly, plucked a lock of her hair off her shoulder, and ran it through his thumb and forefinger again… like he’d done earlier. He stepped closer then, met her gaze, and said softly….

“You should be happy. Very happy….” And then he leaned down, pausing just before his lips touched hers, and said…. “Speaking of happiness…. I will never forgive myself if I don’t do this. And if you have a dagger hidden somewhere on you… please don’t gut me while I’m distracted. Because even though I will have deserved it, I am needed here and do want to live.” He said leaning even closer, smiling against her lips now, his touching hers and then parting to steal a very soft very gentle kiss. It was featherlight, hesitant, and the type of thing that reminded Tailyn of a Wind Eagle that was barely restrained by its rider. She could sense so much more beneath his soft touch, like he was reining himself in fiercely, not wanting to scare her but not able to resist what he was doing in that moment.

He took a step forward, pressing her backwards, until the length of her back gently bumped an upright tree. Randal made a soft sound in his throat, ran his free hand across her cheek and down her neck, and then suddenly released her.

“I’m sorry. No, not really… I’m sorry I didn’t ask…. No, I’m not really for that either. I shouldn’t have done that.” He finally settled on, forgetting to step away and forgetting to release her. “I should move too. Common sense is telling me that I’m going to scare you, but no part of me is really listening to my voice o reason right now.” He admitted softly, reaching up with his free hand to again touch her soft coppery hair.

“You are very beautiful. And I have no right. But say its okay anyhow…” He said softly, wanting just one more before he released her to continue their walk into the settlement.
Gossamer

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