Fishhooks and Knives (Ixtli)

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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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Fishhooks and Knives (Ixtli)

Postby Ashka on June 3rd, 2018, 7:02 pm


Ashka's eyes widened eagerly when Ixtli said she might be able to preserve a big catch. "If you could, that would be great," she said, a shy smile curling her mouth. The smile dropped away when the ocelot ran off with her fish. Was even the wildlife pranking her now? She saw Ixtli take off after the little cat, and a lump hit her throat. It was the first time in what felt like forever that anyone had taken her side over a so-called prank. She swallowed hard against that lump as Ixtli came back empty handed.

"Well," she said, forcing another, more watery, smile. "There goes dinner. Thanks for trying, I appreciate it." She did, more than she could ever find words for. These, though poor, would have to do. "Yeah, let's catch a replacement fish or two. And maybe after, start a hunting lesson with kitty-cat tracks?" She turned again towards the bait tin, and this time she wasn't interrupted. Picking out a fat maggot, she jabbed it onto the hook with shaking fingers and walked back towards the sea. At least the sea didn't take what she'd worked for, even if it had banished her during the red tide.

She tossed the hook out the easy way, without flipping the tip of the rod out and back first. It wasn't such a good cast or such a flashy one, but it got the job done, even if it landed much closer than it could otherwise have done. She let the waves carry it further out and settled herself to wait. "What was it like growing up under so many trees?" she asked hesitantly, trying to fill in time. "I never saw so many until I came here... It always feels odd not to be able to see as far."


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Fishhooks and Knives (Ixtli)

Postby Ixtli on July 11th, 2018, 3:19 pm

The Myrian shrugged; Ashka was too good, really. Back in Taloba, a failed chase was simply failed, and nobody would have taken the time to thank her for only trying. Ixtli was a little surprised, and it took her a few ticks to understand the girl's gratitude.

"Yes, we could," she answered to the hunting question, a grim smile stretching her lips. "The prints will be fresh, and it's not too late in the day… Although it might not be the best type of prey for a first hunt, I'm more than willing to try and track it down." Her eyes drifted towards the jungle edge once more. "Ocelot or not, we will find something. Monkeys and birds make for nice meals as well."

She helped herself to the bait tin after Ashka had picked hers and hooked a wriggly worm at the end of her line, then walked a few steps away from the fisher girl to throw her baited hook in the softly waving waters. Her awkward cast sent the line twisting through the air, and it pierced the surface of the waves with a loud splash. Well, that certainly scared the fish away… Good job Ixtli. She sighed at her heavy-handed approach and looked over at Ashka to see how the more experienced girl held her own line, before copying her grip and stance as best as she could.

Ticks went by in silence as they stand next to each other, gazes lost in the turquoise sea, surrounded by the song of the rolling waves and blowing winds, before Ashka's voice rose, uncertain, hesitating to fill the stillness between them.
What was it like growing up under so many trees?

Ixtli pondered over her question for a moment. Knowing only the jungle, its tall canopy and thick underbrush ever since she was a child, she had never stopped to consider that foreigners could find a dark and strange place to spend your life.

"I guess… I never thought about it that way. About not being able to see far, I mean. We all learn to move and find our way around the trees even without seeing the sun. Matter of habit I suppose." Her eyes moved from the sea to the coast, where her gaze seemed to get lost into the green maze of the Sykan forest. "There's plenty of water… plenty of game as well. Wood and plants, for weapons and medicine. Shelter, from the heat and the rain. The jungle provides everything you need," she said pensively. "This land is blessed, and with Myri's favour we have the strength to survive."

Turning back to Ashka, the Myrian's eyes refocused, gaze fixated onto the young girl.

"But living on a boat, like you did… How did you make it? There's no water to drink, nowhere to go. It must be maddening to be stuck in the same living space for more than a day."

A gentle thud from the line caused Ixtli's hands to tighten their grip onto the pole, but it felt too faint for her to try and pull a new catch out of the waves yet. While her attention and eyes were with Ashka, her body straightened and prepared for the next pull.


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Last edited by Ixtli on July 29th, 2018, 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Fishhooks and Knives (Ixtli)

Postby Ashka on July 21st, 2018, 3:15 pm


Ashka listened with open curiosity as Ixtli talked about living in the jungle, and everything being provided if you could find it. There was no welcome tug on her line, and she held it loosely and patiently. The other woman asked her in return how she coped at sea, and Ashka swallowed, staring out across the waves as if she could call a ship back to her.

"Some - those blessed by Laviku Sea-Father - are given the gift of being able to drink seawater as it is," she said softly, faint threads of grief and pain underlying her words like a warp hidden under a close-woven weft. Her gaze stayed on the distant waves. "The rest of us store water in barrels and carry it on our ships. Stop off on beaches to refill them when you get low. We learn to swim as early as walking, and if you want off the ship, you go swimming for a bit. My mother was friends with a dolphin, and sometimes we swam with the dolphin pods or with otters. The sea's full of food if you know how, and the stars show you where to go. Some deep sea fish you can dry in the rigging and store for a long time, but here it's too close to land. From the crows-nest you can see for miles, day or night, and no-one can get at you to prank you. Your ship takes you where you want to go. If it's your ship." Her mouth tightened, biting off the details and the threatened tears alike. "We didn't fit in so well, Chaya and I."

She drew her line in, but it was empty of even bait. With a sigh, she replenished it and flicked it out, harder and further than she intended, so that the rod jolted in her hands. "I hope you're having better luck with your fish than me."


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Fishhooks and Knives (Ixtli)

Postby Ixtli on August 1st, 2018, 2:34 pm

Ixtli's eyes widened with Ashka's first words; the ability to drink seawater? That certainly was a blessing for a life on the ocean. She had not heard about Laviku before, but after she heard the name Sea-Father she imagined he was to the sea dwellers like Myri was to her people.

She listened in silence, learning of the various ways to thrive at sea despite the lack of freshwater and hunting grounds. She heard of sea creatures she didn't know, found out the ocean was rich with food and animals to befriend, and slowly her understanding of the world widened; she began to open her mind to other races' different ways of life and cultures, although just so imperceptibly that she would not realise it. For the traditional-minded Myrian raised in their typical belief of racial superiority, such change was no small feat.

Ixtli noticed the girl's distant gaze as she watched the endless sea, the way she separated herself from those blessed by the ocean deity when she spoke. A hint of sadness darkened her tone, and after a moment her lips sealed shut. Although Ixtli wasn't certain, she thought she heard a tremor in Ashka's voice as the blue-eyed girl talked about another and herself not fitting in. In the silent ticks that followed, she wondered about what could have happened to turn the girl's spirit so melancholic despite her young age.

The silence was disturbed once more by mundane conversation. Ixtli's eyes slid back onto her hands whose grip had relaxed on the rod. After the last tug nothing else had seemed to trouble the water around her line, and she hauled it in to check that her bait was still there.

"Not much going on here either," she sighed, casting the hook and bait away again with an awkward jerk of the hand.
"So… is that what brought you here, to Syka? A life at sea wasn't suiting you anymore?" The questions came slowly, unwilling that she was to make her fishing partner uncomfortable or bring back unwanted memories, but she had been intrigued; if Ashka loved the sea so much, why come back to live on land when she knew how to survive on the waves?


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Fishhooks and Knives (Ixtli)

Postby Ashka on August 4th, 2018, 3:55 pm


Ashka glanced sideways at the other woman when she asked why Ashka had left the sea. Yearning leapt within her and she closed her eyes before salt tears could mingle with salty seawater. "I'd go back if I could," she said after a long moment. "But I'd need a ship, and I don't have one." That was - true enough - she hoped. She focused instead on the tug on her line and pulled in a tiny fish, no more than a mouthful.

Did she have to go over the details? She didn't want to relive that moment of loss again. She heard her own voice, very quiet and flat, talking anyway. "They didn't want me. They said they could go further and faster if they didn't have to haul water for my sister and me to drink. They dropped us off in Riverfall. Mother said we could spend time on land with Father instead." Her voice didn't waver, but silent tears trickled down her cheeks. "Father never turned up."

She took the fish over to her canoe and stowed it safely away from any more ocelots. Taking out a scrap of cloth, she dried her face and sighed. "Riverfall is run by Akalaks. Blue men, like the one at the Panacea here. They pride themselves on being polite to women, but they saw us as carriers of their children, not as people in our own right. I wanted more than that for my little sister Chaya, and Syka wanted a weaver, so here we came." She sat down on the bow of the canoe, taking comfort from its touch. Her fishing pole was propped empty beside her.

She looked up at last, her face still damp, unsure what kind of reaction she was going to see. Her gaze lingered on the other woman, trying to read her body language before she asked, "And you? What brought you out of the jungle here? Alone?"



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Fishhooks and Knives (Ixtli)

Postby Ixtli on September 8th, 2018, 3:25 pm

No ship - yes, the Myrian could easily see how this was a problem for a life at sea. Ixtli herself had never been aboard one, and the only ones she had seen bigger than a canoe had to be manned by many. Surely it was no easy task to get a whole ship for yourself.

Still, what a strange decision. Ixtli never imagined herself, or anyone she knew, living anywhere else than in the jungles of Falyndar.

She watched Ashka pulled in another, smaller fish, and her own hands tightened impatiently around the fishing pole. All this waiting, ankles deep in water, with no visible sign of prey, was testing her patience. Fishing turned out to be a lot more… static than she had imagined.

Ashka's voice rose again over the soft lapping of the waves, quiet and distant, almost as if the girl was reminiscing to herself. Ixtli learned of the sisters' lot, being left behind first by their mother, then their father. Myri's blade! What of family bonds? What of the sacred connection between mother and daughters? How could they have simply dropped them off in a foreign place? Ashka seemed like a healthy girl, and Ixtli was completely bewildered by the mother's decision. In Taloba, only the ones deemed too weak to survive were abandoned. One more proof that outsiders truly are barbarians, she thought, as a scowl darkened her features and her eyes narrowed angrily.

"I can't believe…"

But the story did not stop there. In the following ticks the Myrian was briefly introduced to some aspects of Riverfall society and Akalak mindset, and of what she heard she didn't like one bit.

"It seems like you made the right decision. I cannot believe your mother would leave you in a city run by men. They cannot be trusted to take care of girls… What a shame." The reproach rang loud in her voice as she spoke, the disapproving frown still creasing her brow.

As Ashka's voice kept unwaveringly neutral, Ixtli didn't notice the tears rolling along her cheeks until the girl looked up from the rig of her canoe were she had sat; her blue eyes gleamed from the sadness the memories had brought back.

Ixtli's reproving frown melted into a much softer expression, and her grip on the fishing pole relaxed. It seemed the girls were just on the receiving end of their parents' poor life decisions and trying to build themselves up on their own. Hopefully Syka, with its budding community and promising opportunities for growth, would prove the right place for them to do so.

She sighed quietly; the Myrian herself knew something of searching for a place to fit in. Ashka's next question could not have been more timely. What had brought here?

"Well," she began hesitantly, "I am not too sure when it all started... But there was this feeling, this longing that called me to search for... Something else? There was nothing wrong with life back home. Taloba is the greatest city there is, Myri bless. But after some time, I felt the need to find my own... Calling, I guess." The words came out slowly, Ixtli putting them together as she untangled the web of her thoughts. "And back there, it's so hard to find time to just think-"

A bubble bursted unexpectedly at the surface of the turquoise water a few feet from where the baited hook plunged underneath, interrupting Ixtli's speech and making the Myrian jumped a little. Quickly it was followed by another one, then many more, and suddenly her line stretched tensed. Ixtli gripped the pole tight, pondering for a half tick whether to haul in or not, but whatever was under the surface took a faster decision and pulled harder. Soon Ixtli was bending backwards against the taut line, her expression a painting of startled surprise, feet moving to hold her balance against the strange force pulling on the other side of the line.

"What in all the-"

-Snap-

The strain was too much for the line to hold and it quickly gave up the fight, snapping and sending the Myrian tumble backwards from her momentum. She stumbled in the shallow water and almost fell back, eyes wide open in stunned astonishment.

"What... What was that??" She turned to Ashka in her canoe, seeking in the eye contact her acknowledgement of the strange incident. "It started bubbling and... Did you see it?"
Warily, the Myrian moved a few feet back, stepping onto firm ground where she felt much safer with the touch of dry sand under her soles. While keeping an eye on the deceiving waters, she reached and grabbed the end of the fishing line where it had snapped. The thread, although solid, had broken very neatly. She wondered at the quality of her equipment first, and second at the kind of creature strong enough to rip off a fishing line but also stealthy enough to get that close to the shore unnoticed.

Ixtli glanced at the water again with a nervous look, then at Ashka.
"It looks like I'm done with fishing for the day," she said with a low voice, holding up the bit for the other to see, bait and hook gone along with part of the line. "I'll make do with the other one for now. I'm sure they have some more hooks at the Mercantile."

She furrowed her brow, looking both pensive and serious.
"Do you have any idea of what this was?"


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Fishhooks and Knives (Ixtli)

Postby Ashka on September 15th, 2018, 4:19 pm


Ashka looked up to see reproach and disapproval on Ixtli's face, and what was left of her heart and courage shattered at the sight. She looked down and away as her face crumpled and she groped for enough shards to go on when no one wanted to take her side. Not at sea. Not even here, in a place where so many were healing and rebuilding. She felt beyond redemption. But Chaya needed her. There was no doubting that. Chaya needed her to keep going, keep existing, keep trying. Her shift of focus meant that she missed most of the softening of Ixtli's face. She didn't realise that the reproach was for the Akalaks and her family. She'd lived so much of her life as the disapproved one that her mind jumped to that assumption without thinking.

She tried to focus on what Ixtli was saying about needing to find something, to have space to think. It was a distraction from the ache where her heart used to be. The bubble and snap of the line caught her by surprise and before she could react, the fish had broken free and fled. "I saw it," she confirmed, her voice slightly husky from tears. "I didn't see what it was, though I'd guess something big. Some kind of shark maybe, there are some out there." She waved a hand towards Sharktooth point.

She packed up her fishing gear with shaky hands that took her twice as long as she wanted to do everything, tucked it away in her canoe, and went to see what she could find where the ocelot had vanished into the trees. There was the nick in the tree trunk where the kukri had hit. There were marks of different shapes and sizes in the dirt, some round, some longer like a human foot. She crouched to study them, absently shifting her dagger on her belt to get it out of her way.


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