Bounty Below the Waves (Job Thread)

Iolara goes hunting for abalone

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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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Bounty Below the Waves (Job Thread)

Postby Iolara Lyada on June 29th, 2018, 4:28 pm


5th of Summer 518; 6th Bell

Iolara awoke to Syna’s touch upon the reef floor, shimmering and dancing with the current. Having secured her place with the village of Syka, the young Charoda had taken up residence beneath a large coral shelf until more suitable accommodations could be found. As a marked of Caiyha, she had little to fear from the ocean’s predators, but only a fool slept on the open seabed to risk being carried for miles and miles by the mighty sea currents. The diminutive witch swam out from under the shelf and up towards the surface, her lithe body coiling and undulating with a flexibility only achievable by virtue of having a cartilaginous rather than the dense bones of land dwellers. As she rose in her aquatic dance, slowly working each muscle to ease out the kinks of sleep, Iolara turned her thoughts towards her plan for the day.

I told Mister Randal I’d make myself useful, she thought as she maneuvered through an arch of coral. That means finding something the humans would value. Which is generally something shiny…. The young Charoda let her thoughts trail off as she twisted to run her hand along the sandy sea floor, stirring up a small cloud in her wake. What was shiny below the sea? Other than the metal coins occasionally dropped, she could think of only two things that might satisfy: pearls grown in the heart of the large bivalve clams and oysters, and the interior shells of the abalone, simple sea-snails that fed on the detritus that accumulated along the floor of the reef. This close to the shore, the water was likely too warm for her to stand much chance of finding clams old enough to contain fully-formed pearls. Abalone, however, were usually in good supply.

I must be cautious, though, Iolara thought as she circled around another large reef outcrop. Without enough of the bottom feeders, there will be too much scum and waste left along the floor. Caiyha’s balance must come first! The trick, then, would be to harvest just enough of the snails to make herself valuable to the settlement, but not so many that she caused harm to her beloved reef. Surely, a single Charoda could manage to keep that balance intact! Her next turn brought Iolara into a small meadow of sea-grass, blowing gently in the soft morning current. As if on cue, she felt a rumble of hunger roll through her stomach. Well, nobody said I couldn’t hunt for snails and have my breakfast st the same time, right? She giggled at the thought, sending a stream of bubbles floating towards the surface. Iolara had spent as much of her life in solitude as she had among her fellow Charoda, back in the grand coral city of Charbosi. That independence, along with the nurturing guidance of her goddess, had made her more lighthearted than most orphans.

Dipping a hand to pull up several stalks of thick grass, Iolara stuffed one end of the bunch into her toothy maw, slowly chewing away as she continued her hunt for abalone.

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Bounty Below the Waves (Job Thread)

Postby Iolara Lyada on June 29th, 2018, 4:31 pm


The young Charoda swam to and fro around the perimeter of the meadow, keeping her eyes peeled for the tell-tale moving shells of abalone. In a matter of chimes she had finished her small meal, her hunger somewhat satiated. Swooping in for a closer inspection of the surrounding coral, Iolara was both pleased and disgruntled to find they had been picked clean of seaweed and algae growth. While this was certainly good for the coral, fast-growing seaweed would quickly suffocate the tiny animals, it was less than ideal for finding abalone. In the ocean as on land, the key to finding any animal was to find its source of food.

Or follow what eats them! came the brilliant flash of inspiration into Io’s mind. But what sort of animals preyed upon abalone? Iolara settled down onto the sandy bed to ponder this thought. Filter feeders would certainly prey on the eggs and larvae, but she needed grown snails, not their eggs. Io scratched her chin. Hadn’t she seen an octopus in one of her earlier ventures? She was almost certain of it. Unfortunately for Iolara, octopi were rather reclusive animals, but they were at least larger and easier to find than the little snails. And with Syna rising steadily higher, any octopi in this reef would be returning from their hunts to nestle into the crevasses between coral outcrops. With any luck, the little witch would be able to get some information out of them!

Kicking off the seabed with both feet, Iolara made her way to the outer edge of the reef. The coral outcrops grew smaller and more sparse as the underwater mini-metropolis gave way to the vast, unforgiving desert of the open sea. She floated there for a tick, then two, scanning the sandy bed for the characteristic undulation of many arms. After five ticks, something caught her eye at last. An octopus, and a large one at that, was gracefully flowing across the sandy floor back to the shelter of the reef. Thank Caiyha! Iolara’s thoughts exclaimed as she dove down to meet the many-armed creature.

Sensing her presence, the octopus slowed, then gently rose from the sea floor. Iolara peered into its bulbous eyes, allowing her Gnosis mark to make the emotional connection between them. Nura was unlike any other language, spoken as it was with more emotion and pictures rather than actual words. From the octopus flowed a sense of recognition, and the familiar triskelion symbol of the Creator of Life. Iolara’s mouth split wide open in a toothy smile, her tentacles floating free and waving with joy. She doubted she would ever tire of this ability for true communion with her fellow denizens of the deep!

For her part, Iolara pictured the same symbol, and imparted it with the true joy she felt, as well as respect. Octopi were long-lived animals, and a specimen this large was surely decades older than her. The greeting established, Iolara turned to business. She needed to find abalone. With her mind and eyes fixed firmly on the octopus, she formed the image of the snails she sought, as well as an impression of hunger. Where do you hunt, Mister Octopus? thought the young girl. Recognition flashed back, but before a picture or location could be formed, there came another emotion: fear. Fear and danger! Without further warning, the connection was broken just as a large, sinuous form flashed from the edge of her vision.

Blood and ink filled the water before her as the tiger shark took its prey. Iolara gasped and floated in shock. Grief wracked her mind, paralyzed her in place, suspended between the undulating surface above and the smooth sands below. She couldn’t take her eyes off the red and black cloud where just moments ago had floated one of the most majestic creatures of the reef. Beneath the waves, tears didn’t form easily, but Iolara managed a few wrenching sobs as she realized this had been her doing. The ocean was a brutal domain, one where everything was either predator or prey, and often both. I’m so sorry, she thought. Even after eight years of bearing Caiyha’s mark, Iolara struggled to come to peace with the inherent violence that came with life below the waves. But even still, her hunt had to continue.

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Bounty Below the Waves (Job Thread)

Postby Iolara Lyada on June 29th, 2018, 4:55 pm


Iolara floated in the current, her tentacles dropping and listless as she struggled to process what had just happened. The ocean was a violent place, true. And it was her job to ensure balance within her realm, of course. But somehow, none of that made her feel any better about the fact that she had just inadvertently caused the death of another creature. Certainly not in so visceral a manner. But is removing abalone from their homes, taking them above where they will be pried open for their nacre any different? The thought rankled her mind. Life was still life, no matter how small. And yet, it was a fact of nature that life must end so that other life could prosper. Such was the vicious but beautiful cycle of nature, caught up in an intricate dance of predator and prey. Lady Caiyha, prayed Iolara, is this the wisdom you wished me to find this day? That in order to serve life, I must know how and when to end it?

Her thoughts were met only with silence, though this didn’t trouble Io. She had been touched by her goddess, and even now could feel Caiyha’s presence in the world, though she was not nearby. Even still, that knowledge of presence was comforting to the young Charoda, though she dearly wished her goddess were at hand to guide her. Selfish, came her self-admonition almost as soon as the desire was realized. Certainly the goddess of nature had more important things to tend to than the fragile emotions of a young girl! Iolara shook her head and attempted to clear her mind. Deep breaths followed, her tentacles picking up life, though with a calm purpose rather than nervous energy. She needed to be calm and still, like the tidal pools near the shore. Even in those small microcosms, life could thrive, and so must she.

She had sworn to make herself useful, and she could not let this sorrow overtake her, or dissuade her from her course. So long as balance is kept, Iolara thought as she kicked her feet in the direction from whence she had seen the ill-fated octopus returning. If she was lucky, perhaps she would find what she was after. The octopus had, after all, recognized his dinner just before he himself became dinner.

Thankfully, Io only had to swim for a handful of chimes before sighting the octopus’ hunting ground: a thick growth of green and brown seaweed sprouted from the sandy floor, reaching up towards the shimmering surface. This was the sort of forest Iolara was accustomed to, albeit much smaller in scale. Diving down towards the bottom, Io’s tentacles practically leapt from her head dancing with glee. There, amidst the thick stalks of algae growth, were abalone of all shapes and sizes! Some clung to the larger stalks, while others had extended their fleshy bodies from their shells, to feast on the scraps floating by.

Caiyha be praised! Iolara took a brief moment to turn her eyes towards the surface, overjoyed that her intuition of following the food chain had not led her astray. Indeed, it had led her to a rich food supply for herself, as well as a rich ground for harvesting the valuable mollusk! Checking her kelp-mesh nets at either side to ensure there were no rips or tears, Iolara prepared to set about accomplishing her goal for the day: being useful to the settlement.

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Bounty Below the Waves (Job Thread)

Postby Iolara Lyada on June 29th, 2018, 5:24 pm


Iolara swam with grace through the small field of seaweed, plucking first one, then two adult abalone from their perches to be tucked into her meshed net. As she worked, she began singing a child’s tune her father had taught her when she was little. Melodic and lilting Char floated along the current and through the algae stalks. It felt like forever since Iolara had sung, and the rhyme was one of a somber tone. In a way, she could very well have been singing a dirge for the now devoured octopus, whose death continued to weigh on her heart. One verse in particular struck a chord of sorrow within her young heart, her voice cracking slightly as she struggled to continue the melody:

“He circles and stares
With a broken-glass grin;
His body’s a dagger,
He has lion’s tongue skin.

He slides through the water,
Like a rumor, like a sneer.
He’s a quick twist of hunger,
He’s the color of fear.”


The subject, of course, was not the octopus, but his cause of death. Early in childhood, Charoda children were taught a healthy fear of sharks. As a witch of Caiyha, that fear still lingered, though there was a newfound respect present as well. Sharks were perhaps the only creatures of the sea that had nothing to fear from anything below. Alone, deadly. In a pack, they were skilled strategists driven by a single goal: eat, eat, and eat some more. Not so different from these abalone, really. Iolara thought as she stuffed two more into her net. All animals, at the end of the day, existed to feed and reproduce. Such was the way of nature; the cycle of Caiyha’s design.

Iolara continued her harvest in solemn silence, stopping occasionally to satiate her own hunger with the same seaweed upon which the abalone fed. In the distance, away from shore, she could see a small pod of whales, distant enough that the leviathans themselves appeared the size of minnows. The young which smiled at the thought of the whales singing to each other. Would they understand the words to my children’s song? she mused. Likely not. Whales were intelligent, and Iolara’s life had certainly been saved more than once by following their lead. The gentle giants of the sea knew fear only when separated from their families. As a group, a unit, they were nigh invincible beasts!

Much like the settlers, after a fashion, Iolara thought as she inspected her nets. All in all, thirteen abalone of various shape, size, and color had come to rest within. That’s probably enough for today, she concluded. Only one thing more remained, for it wasn’t the animals themselves the humans valued,but their shells alone. She supposed the meat might serve them as well, but the true value was the nacreous tissue within. Much to Iolara’s dismay, she was not done with death this day. Turning back towards the shore, the young Charoda continued to ponder the similarity between humans, Charodae, and the great whales of the deep blue sea.

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Bounty Below the Waves (Job Thread)

Postby Iolara Lyada on June 29th, 2018, 5:55 pm


With the added weight and drag of the abalone in her net, Iolara’s return to the reef took longer than she’d expected. Syna had crept further into the sky, and already the water near the surface had warmed considerably. Greeted once more by the vibrant colors and displays of life within her beloved reef, Iolara made a brief stop at the shelf beneath which she had taken to sheltering. Kneeling on the sandy floor, Iolara bowed her head and prayed with steepled hands: Lady Caiyha, bless and strengthen your servant. Guide my hand to serve your cycle, not to thwart it. Let my actions bring balance to nature, and not disrupt it. Lady Caiyha, have mercy on your lost child!

Satisfied in her prayer, and with her emotions more calm now that time had been allowed to flow between them and the untimely death she had caused indirectly, Iolara steeled herself for what came next. Now she would not be bringing death inadvertently, but with purpose. Glancing to the net filled with abalone, Io felt a tinge of dismay as she gathered them up and headed for the surface. As the sea floor sloped gently upward to bring her out of the surf, Iolara was surprised at how heavy her water and snail laden nets had suddenly become. Using both hands to drag them out of the sand, the young witch set about finding a suitable spot. Syna’s heat was already in full swing, forcing Iolara to drag her quarry further up the beach, into the relative cool shade beneath the jungle’s fringe.

Two things were needed now: the blade of her knife, and a large flat rock. To her surprise, Iolara was able to find two stones that were suitable. Resolved to make every part of the abalone useful somehow, Iolara decided to use one stone as a shelf for the meat of the animal, while the other would have the valuable shells stacked upon it. However, she needed also to ensure the animals did not suffer needlessly under Syna’s gaze, far away from their watery home. Iolara grinned as her mind wandered upon a solution. Using her webbed hands, the Charoda dug a wide bowl into the soft sand, placing the largest abalone in the center to gauge the correct depth, packing the walls tight with the round shell.

With the depression in the sand created, Iolara’s tentacles went slack as she focused her mind. Holding out her hands, Io willed silver-green wisps of res to flow from her palms into the depression, swirling and writhing as they filled the sandy bowl. The feeling of ecstasy came first, as it often did. Her old mentor had warned her that Reimancy, and in truth, all personal magics, could be incredibly addictive; she was not wrong. Iolara maintained her focus, filling the depression with extruded Djed while resisting the urge to let out more than she needed. Once satisfied, a second act of willpower transformed the res into water, creating a small puddle in which she could keep the abalone. It was surely not as salty as the sea, but at least they wouldn’t be cooked alive while she worked.

Satisfied, Iolara let go of her mind’s focus on her own djed, and retrieved her belt knife to be set on the first stone table. Emptying her net into the small pool, Iolara retrieved one snail and held it firmly against the stone. Wedging the blade of her knife into the opening beneath, Iolara pried open the mollusk. Though it took effort, she was eventually able to crack the shell open, depositing the slimy meat onto the second stone, while the iridescent nacreous shell halves were stacked together before her. One down, twelve to go….

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Bounty Below the Waves (Job Thread)

Postby Solstice on July 8th, 2018, 3:50 am

Grades are here!

Iolara Lyada

XP Award:
  • +3 Foraging
  • +5 Wilderness Survival
  • +3 Observation
  • +1 Investigation
  • +1 Singing
  • +1 Philosophy
  • +1 Meditation
  • +1 Reimancy

Lore:
  • Foraging: Warm Water Doesn’t Usually Contain Pearls
  • Wilderness Survival: Sea Grass for Breakfast
  • Wilderness Survival: The Key to Finding an Animal is to Find Their Source of Food
  • Octopi Eat Abalone
  • The Wilderness is a Dangerous Place
  • Abalone: Prized for their Shells
  • Foraging: Removing Abalone From their Shells

Note: I never realized how little I knew about sea life. Great thread! Lots of fun to read. Let me know if you have any questions or I missed anything!
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