Closed Shore of the Untamed

Kristoff's journey aboard the Veronica from Riverfall to Syka

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

Moderator: Gossamer

Shore of the Untamed

Postby Kristoff Cuhl on March 11th, 2020, 3:59 am

Spring 3 520AV
464 words

Kristoff tried not to panic in the grasp of the Suvan, even though it had been gentle with him so far. Dreams of storms and of being swallowed beneath the waves had plagued him for the last few nights even before boarding the Veronica. A man of the land, Kristoff struggled to shake off the nervousness that he'd join the many unmarked graves in the depths below. "Is there a trick to making the rocking of the ship soothing instead of unsettling? Or does that just come with years of being at the mercy of the swaying?" Kristoff asked Captain James Chaliva. "I used to think ships were a strange kind of magic, they look so majestic on their way out of the docks, but this voyage is really teaching me how tenuous that the alliance between ships and the sea truly is."

Syka waited somewhere beyond the horizon, a place where Kristoff could forge a new future for himself, far from the slowly sinking ship that would have been his life in Riverfall. Kristoff was still unsure of whether his parents would have been upset with him for abandoning the remnants of his family, or proud of him for blazing his own fresh path. He at least had the solace of knowing his siblings understood why he wanted to leave, especially since Kristoff's portion of the inheritance left much to be desired.

Peering over the edge into the waves below, Kristoff could see the shifting shadows of fish. He had been trying very hard to find things to focus on to avoid asking the maddening question always at the tip of his tongue, 'How long until landfall?' Pushing that thought away, he wondered if a better fisherman might be able to catch some while the ship traveled. Their darting figures reminded Kristoff of the night before, seeing an apparition of a young girl. It had given him a startle, Kristoff thought his younger sister had smuggled herself aboard, but when he called out to her, the figure vanished. Once he had recollected himself, he reasoned that he'd only imagined it.

"Captain James, you said I should be safe on the beach and to avoid the jungles unless I was with someone who knew their way about, just how many poor souls have ventured out never to return?" Kristoff could recall more than a few others he trained with who would suffer such a fate for their pride. Sometimes that pride was useful, but for a fair number of his peers he saw that it lead to an early grave. "Is there anything on the beach I should try to watch out for and avoid?" It was still hard for Kristoff to wrap his mind around what the denizens of Syka might be like.
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Kristoff Cuhl
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Shore of the Untamed

Postby Gossamer on March 15th, 2020, 3:38 pm

Captain James Chaliva turned from where he leaned on the rail, gazing off the waters. He automatically glanced up at the mail sail from where he was leaning on the forecastle deck rail. He was watching the water speed by which had steadily grown shallower in places, so shallow in fact, coral could be seen beneath the water. But the man at the wheel seemed to know where he was going and navigated the clipper effortlessly in the steady wind and bright sunny weather.

James offered Kristoff a smile. "Ships are a strange kind of magic. What else could glide over so much distance in fair weather without much effort? Walking to Riverfall - if such a thing could be done - would be a lot more effort. As to the rocking, its not the ship itself that's a rockin'. It's the waves, the wind, the roll of the sea. The Suvan is alive. She's a restless lass with a lot of moods. You have to understand that sailing her waters is a lot like riding other creatures - horses, women. They like to buck and roll beneath you and that's just something natural for all of them. It's why we make offerings each time we sail; both to Laviku and to The Suvan herself." He added, his voice slightly accented with a lilt that wasn't normal in Riverfall but was common among the Svefra.

"We'll be there when we get there. Putting time and day on it ruins the fun for me. Let The Veronica and The Suvan talk it over and decide between themselves when they are going to get the job done. Zulrav is giving us a hand now though. It's nice when the God of Winds gives us a steady strong breeze in the right direction." He added, smiling at the wind tossing his overlong hair around. James needed a haircut for sure. And once he got to the Settlement, he'd see to a trim from Juli, his oldest daughter.

"The jungle is beautiful, Kristoff. Make no mistake. But she's as deadly as she is beautiful. There is an abundance of life in the jungle. It's hard to tell someone about it who's never seen it. The trees grow as big as the towers people build in Riverfall… even taller. And while you can walk around on the ground, that is just one layer to the mix. The ground is made up of thin rich soil that grows almost anything – and grows it large. The predators are fierce, deadly and huge. The animals that can survive at ground level are not fragile, none of them, even those we eat. There are even land crabs that are the size of most pigs. They will take a hand off in a pincer if you let them get a good grip. Then the trees… they form three more layers above the jungle. The understory is the section of trunks that rise to the sky… but you can’t see the sky in the jungle. The canopy covers it. It forms a thick layer of green that blocks out the light casting the life below in a sort of semi-gloom. And there are trees that grow even taller still we call emergent. They rise into the sky like gods. You will never feel so small as you feel walking into Falyndar’s jungle.” James commented, then met Kristoff’s eyes.

“Each tree is like its own world. Each species grows other species, supports them, houses them, works in harmony with them. Each layer as you rise up has new things, things that aren’t found below or above it. And the canopy? There are animals that live there that we’ve never seen. We’ve only heard or seen the shadows of leaping through the air from branch to branch. There are so many birds you’d think they out number the stars in the sky. And the bugs – especially beetles – are the same way. There are spiders and snakes that are so poisonous that even a nibble from the newly hatched of their kind will kill you. In the east, we are some of the most dangerous creatures that walk the world. In the west, we are nothing more than food.” He added, offering Kristoff a half smile.

“But you grow to love it. You grow to understand it. And you know it has become home when you miss it being away. The jungle has a heartbeat, a rhythm. It’s not for everyone. It rains all day and there are seasons where everything is wet. But where the settlement is, the sun shines often and dries things out. We have the best of both worlds – the land and sea – because we live where both come together. It’s beautiful, and it’s a bit more tolerant of either sides. You’ll see. You’ll either stay a season and have enough of it, or you will truly grow to love it and be here as an old man.” James added, then looked thoughtful.

“We’ve never lost anyone that I’ve known of. But then again, up until recently we’ve thoroughly vetted those we’ve let stay. If one lacked brains, we sent them on their way. Now, there is no more free land, no more assisting people to settle. And we are letting tourists visit. It’s turning into a good thing because everyone wants to see the jungle, but no one wants to live there. It’s understandable, in its own way. I expect we’ll lose a few now. But they come here at their own risk.” He added, knowing it was the truth.

“The beach always has strays that wander in from the jungle. We try to keep the main area of the settlement clear, but it doesn’t always happen. Snakes… there are a hundred varieties, all poisonous. And some live in the sea and venture to the land as much as they swim in the waters. They have some of the most toxic venom of all. But they have bright colors, Kristoff. If something is colored brightly, avoid it.. the coloration is a warning. The beach also gets predators from the jungle too… spiders, scorpions, millipedes, and a whole host of biting insects that are horrible. Sand fleas after dark on certain beaches are deadly. You’ll most likely be covered with bites your first night. Go see Juli in the mercantile for insect repellant first thing. You’ll need it. She makes it herself… she’s my oldest daughter.” He added.

“The waters have sharks and they come in fairly close. They have spiny fish with poison in their fins… lion fish we call them… and the coral can shred your bare feet if you walk on it. Try not to walk out into the water and step on anything. Skates and Rays – some of those have spiny tails that can sting and pierce that have poison. It’s a beautiful place. You’ll get used to it. But there’s a lot to worry about at first.” He seemed confident in the truth of it.

“The good parts of Syka is that you’ll never see such beauty. There is literally food everywhere and it grows year round. Hunting is easy. The waters are full of fish if you are a fisherman. And you can gather clams and all kinds of food from the shore and water if you know what you are looking for. We have something called lobster that’s amazing. If you like crabs, we have more than any one person could ever eat in a whole lifetime. The fruits are always fresh and we have no winter. Grow used to everything else and you’ll find yourself glowing with health. There’s something about the sun, the sand, and the jungle that provides.” He added, cocking a hip to lean on the rail and watch Kristoff’s reaction.

“What about you? What’s your story? Why Syka? Why not stay in Riverfall? Someone said you were from there you’re whole life.” He questioned, curious about the newcomer to Syka.

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