Closed Jungle Books

Ines takes Adeliz on an excursion into the jungle, this time following a trail to the not-so-ruined ruins of a library.

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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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Jungle Books

Postby Ines on April 25th, 2020, 10:05 pm

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"Do you see that, Ade?" Ines asked as she stared at a point in the jungle before them. Indigo had taught her how to look for game trails before, and this was certainly a trail, but when she approached she could see where the leaves had been cut. This trail was made for someone the size of a person!

"I think Nya cut this trail...she mentioned that she had a few before." The Kelvic cat worked as a ranger for the settlement, spending almost all of her time away from everyone and protecting it from outside threats. She hadn't seen her since the first day of Winter the season before which made her a bit sad since it was so rare that she met other Kelvics. It was rarer that she met someone who seemed even more reclusive than she did. The bat shook her drifting thoughts out of her head and started down the trail.

Now that she had seen the trail it was easy to follow. The bat could see where the ground foliage had worn away, where old leaves had been trampled and sticks had been crushed. It was even easier when the large plants had been pushed or cut out of the way. The jungle was only a bit quieter during the day than at night - monkeys and birds made themselves known as warnings and to find mates. A few brightly colored parrots perched near them and watched as they passed. A very large, very bright green snake, camouflaged against the bright green foliage, was curled around a tree branch and crept towards the parrots whose attention was held by the witch. The constrictor did not get his meal today, however, as at the last second, the birds flittered off to a closer branch. Ines could see the annoyance in the snake's eyes. She'd be annoyed, too, if her meal hopped away on accident.

The little bat was traveling by day, a somewhat rare occurrence for her. Usually, during the daytime hours, she was taking care of the Ashta, but she had made the executive decision to spend the day doing other things. After she shoveled their shyke, of course. Exploring was one of her favorite things to do. It brought her closer to Caiyha, and she had recently realized that Syka held far more secrets than she expected. The founders had told them all about Pavena, but it didn't click until she began hearing more and more stories from the rangers and Verusk about the things they found hidden between trees and vines.

Their travel led them over a tiny creek formed from recent rainfall, and after cresting a hill, the witch could see the edges of crumbling stone. Crumbled stone turned to a wall, and with the wall came a roof, which towered over the tiny Kelvic. It was maybe even taller than a Tskanna. Ines followed the wall with Adeliz in tow until they stumbled upon the door. She always tried to drag the ghost along with her explorations and adventures, and today was no different - something was comforting about having her watch her back.

Rows and rows of shelves lined the walls of the two-story building. Trees and plants grew, reaching towards the open light from the hole in the ceiling, and around them lay scattered tables and chairs, most still usable despite the exposure to the elements. On one table was a wooden square painted with smaller squares - black and white - and a few stacks of black or white discs next to it. It looked like a game of some sort. Along with the hole in the ceiling, lights streamed in through the glass windows. Artwork hung on all of the walls, depicting scenes of a world the Kelvic never knew, and perhaps the entire reason for the building lay on the shelves.

Books and books, scattered here and there and lined up neatly on the shelves despite the centuries of wear and tear on much of the library. Some even lay open on the tables as if the reader had just stepped outside for a moment. Ines entered, scanning the shelves but faced with the struggle that she wasn't very good at reading, especially Common. But maybe, just maybe, she could learn how all these books stayed here intact.
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Jungle Books

Postby Adeliz on April 28th, 2020, 5:07 am

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Ines had a bad habit. She called it exploring.

Adeliz knew better. She called it putting themselves in danger.

Herself, Adeliz had to remind herself. That isn’t our body anymore. It’s just Ines’.

Ines had proven over and over and over again that she would rush headlong into anything without thinking it through first. That had left Adeliz no choice but to be the voice of reason, but she was just that, a voice. There was no real way for her to stop Ines. Unless…

No. Adeliz resolved she’d keep that trick up her sleeve until she really needed it.

So Adeliz continued to be the oft-ignored voice of reason and did what she could to keep her only and favorite sister safe. There wasn’t much she could do in her ethereal form in a fight, but she served well as an extra set of eyes. While Ines had to keep her concentration on the path before her, Adeliz could simply drift through plants and trees and any obstacle in her way, allowing her focus to slip to the things around them. There was much Adeliz saw, she was sure, that Ines missed, though Adeliz knew her sister’s connection to Caiyha gave her insight into the world around her that few others could comprehend.

A twinge sparked in her soul at that thought, and for a moment, the steadfast love for her sister was replaced by sharp, bitter hatred. She, Adeliz, had had the same connection to their Goddess. Once, she had experienced the world as a witch, spoken to the plants with the tongue of a Goddess. And all of that had been ripped away from her, from Adeliz, but not from Ines. The living sister had been allowed to return to life as she knew it, one body with one mind and one soul, both basking in the blessing of Caiyha. Adeliz glared at the back of Ines’ head, and for a moment, she wished-

She wished? She wished what?

Adeliz shook her head and calmed her sparking mists.

Not a damn thing, that’s what. Ines was her sister. No matter how much Lhex had spurned her, Adeliz would not wish ill on her sister. What Adeliz did wish was that she could enjoy life again, but if her short existence had taught her anything, it was that such things were not meant to be. Dead was dead. There wasn’t any coming back from that.

No. She wouldn’t wish ill on her sister, but it hurt Adeliz to watch how easily Ines had picked back up her life. Death had not been so easy for Adeliz to pick up. It was terrifying, empty, lonely. Sure, Ines tried to keep her distracted from the somber monotony of her existence, but the little bat could only do so much. She was living, and the living had to sleep. Adeliz was dead, and the dead did not, could not. That only left her with time to think, and thinking was a poor pastime for a ghost.

Adeliz remembered seeing things through Ines’ eyes, experiencing them the same way she did, so when Ines pointed out the trail they were following, the ghost couldn’t help but remember learning those things, learning them as Ines had before the two were one.

“Nya’s a ranger. Rangers usually travel out into the wilderness where there is danger. Shouldn’t we turn around and go back toward Syka? The Ashta will be missing u-” It was difficult for Adeliz to not speak of the two of them as the same person, even though several seasons had passed since their… separation. “The Ashta will be missing you.”

Ines didn’t listen, not really. She always heard Adeliz, but she never listened. It was impossible to keep her reined.

The wilderness had lost much of its appeal since the severing of her bond to Caiyha, and so Adeliz missed much of the scenery that passed them by. While once it had been beautiful and intricate, it was now just a façade of life to distract the unwary from the dangers it contained. Soon, though, something different, something interesting, arose. Slowly, a ruined building bled out into the surrounding jungle, or rather, as these things tended to happen, the jungle had bled into building to reclaim it for Caiyha.

Like some long dead creature, the remains of the building took shape, only the skeletal foundations and occasional walls still present along with the spirit of the place. It was like her, half there and half not, the spirit not forgotten but the body long since left behind.

Art was interspersed here and there, but the true treasure littered the walls. Books, tomes, journals, scrolls. The place was alive with the wonder of the knowledge it held. Or at least, it would have been if Adeliz know how to read well. Ines hadn’t spent much of her life prior to their existence dedicated to the art of literacy, and that frustrated Adeliz. Here was an entire storehouse of time waiting to be wasted, and Adeliz couldn’t use it.

Ignoring the books, her focus drifted to the white and black square of squares and the odd, flat discs that were stacked next to it. To her, it looked like a game, and games, she knew, wasted plenty of time. Mist was her way of working and manipulating the world around her, but Adeliz was so freshly dead that she was not well-versed in the art. Demanding the clouds of it around her to still and flood into her palm, the ghost pressed her hand from underneath the table until it found the bottom of one disc and hoisted it. In life, this weight would have been inconsequential, but with no body, it took all of her might to hold it aloft and steady as she swung it over the board. It was white, so she placed it on a white square. One by one, she moved the discs, placing them in an alternating pattern around the edge of the board, each disc matching the color of the square beneath it.

Adeliz was disappointed to find that she had run out of discs before she could make it all the way around, but she felt she had won the game. Proudly, she called to Ines who was busy looking at the shelves of books to show her sister her handiwork. “Hey, look, Ines. I think I won.”
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Jungle Books

Postby Ines on April 30th, 2020, 3:51 am

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Ines could make out simple words along the spines. "The", "book", "love". The few things she had learned to read in common would have been enough for a children's book, if she could find one. Something with pictures, something that she could piece together. Now that the Kelvic was older, she wanted to know how to read - the trouble came with doing that. And Adeliz couldn't help her because she knew just as well how to read as Ines did. Barely at all.

"Is that how you play that game?" The bat asked, turning around and seeing how Adeliz lined up the little discs. "I've never played it before." She approached the table the game was on and poked around at the pieces. There weren't enough pieces to cover each square. It looked like it was made of wood, too. Maybe Lars would know how to play, or he could help her carve one up just like it. Then again...she might just get bored putting the discs in their spot.

The bat pushed all the pieces off the board and started lining them up, opposite color on the opposite color. "This is kinda fun, I guess." Piece by piece she filled up the board. It was effortless for her corporeal form. "I feel like we're missing—" The bat's eyes went wide when she saw another figure approaching them from across the library. But this figure didn't look upset, or angry, just sad, incorporeal eyes and a slight, wispy smile. "Another ghost!" She shouted, happy as ever to see someone that Adeliz could maybe be friends with, or maybe relate to. The ghost seemed to stick around by herself as far as she knew, and it made the bat sad, too. Unless she led a secret life behind the scenes, where she had tons of friends and partied at the Tidepool bar every night.

Said ghost solidified in front of her very eyes, taking on a human-enough likeness that the bat struggled to remember if she had only imagined the soulmist. "Do you want to learn how to play?" asked the mysterious figure to both of them. Ines was certainly interested. The figure sat in the chair across from the bat. "This game is checkers."

The bat nodded slowly. "I think Nya mentioned that before." The jungle cat Kelvic had briefly mentioned that she'd played a game with a ghost in the library. All the facts matched up. The non-Adeliz ghost started placing the white discs on the dark-colored squares, and Ines thought she'd won until she started placing the black discs on the dark spots, too. The bat watched before her eyes as the board was set up - three rows of white discs, three rows of black discs on the opposite side, and two blank rows in the middle. But what was the point of the gaps if nothing went on them?

The black discs were on the other ghost's side. She slid one in the middle diagonally to one of the empty rows. "Now you pick one and move it." Ines picked the one symmetrical to the ghost and the game was started. After a few more turns of sliding the discs around, the ghost smiled. "This...is called capturing." She picked up her disc and hopped it over three of the Kelvic's, and then removed all of the pieces that she hopped over from the board. The bat looked at the ghost incredulously, and then to Adeliz. "What was that?"

The ghost laughed. "It's how you win the game. You must wait until there are empty spaces, and then if your piece is able to hop over another's, you can capture it. You win when your opponent doesn't have any more pieces." The bat still looked annoyed that so many of her discs had been taken off the board. "When one of your pieces reaches the other end, you can make it a King, and it can go forwards and backwards when it captures pieces." A few turns later, she proceeded to do exactly that. Ines had her ass thoroughly beat in a matter of chimes.

The bat stood up from the chair. Despite losing, she wanted to play again - but Adeliz just watched them play the whole game, and she wanted to give her a turn, too. Her sister was the one who was more interested in it, anyway. "Adeliz, do you want to play?"
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Jungle Books

Postby Adeliz on May 14th, 2020, 3:33 pm

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“Another ghost!” Ines exclaimed happily.

Adeliz could see no reason why that was a good thing. Ghosts were dangerous beings. None of them stayed around for good reasons. Well, maybe Adeliz herself had, but she was certain she was an exception to that rule. Generally, something bad had happened and not just bad. Bad bad. Terrible, even. People with that kind of death didn’t stick around for good reasons. People like that didn’t cherish the living.

Ines was in danger, and she was excited about it.

Damn it, Ines! Adeliz moved toward her sister’s side protectively.

“Do you want to learn how to play?” the new ghost asked. “This game is checkers.”

She took the chair across from Ines, playing at living, a normal human action meant to put everyone watching at ease, convince them she was safe. Adeliz didn’t buy it, but despite her hesitations, she watched the other ghost place the pieces and make up a game on the fly. Grudgingly, Adeliz had to admit the other ghost’s game was better than hers. There were intricate movements, and competition drove the game. It was meant to be played with someone else, or perhaps this was the other ghost’s way of holding them here, of distracting them.

At the mention of capturing, Adeliz’ ghostly hackles rose in a sudden sparking of her soulmist. She was certain it was the other ghost’s way of hinting at her intentions. While Adeliz was wary, her curiosity drove her to continue watching. Ines, Adeliz could tell, was not very good at this game, but with the chance to watch the game being played, Adeliz convinced herself she would be good at it.

Eventually, rapidly, Ines’ discs diminished and vanished completely. Adeliz could see her sister’s growing frustration throughout, but Ines surprised her sister by offering her a chance.’

“Adeliz, do you want to play?”

Despite seeing that Ines was dying for the chance at a rematch and to regain her wounded pride, Adeliz accepted, though she did her best to act uninterested. It was a failed attempt.

“I guess I’ll play your made-up game.” There was too much anticipation in her voice.

“It isn’t made up, child,” the librarian chided her, “or at least, no more made-up than any game is, but this is the game this board was designed for, and trust me, it was made-up long before I had the chance to do so.”

Adeliz shrugged. “Whatever you say.”

She helped to set the game back up the way the other ghost had initially but found she was far less adept at it than the other ghost. In the space it took Adeliz to move a single piece into place by careful manipulation of her mist to project against the individual piece and exerting considerable force, the other ghost had placed the rest and waited patiently for her to finish. Her wariness grew. She was painfully aware that she was young. She hadn’t lived long, and she hadn’t been dead much longer. This ghost easily outclassed her in every aspect, and that terrified her. If this other ghost decided to do anything to Ines, Adeliz would be powerless to stop her, so knowing nothing else to do, Adeliz played into the stranger’s hand.

“You may go first,” the other ghost offered, as if granting her some huge favor.

Adeliz prided herself on being a quick learner. It came from dying so young. She’d had to grow up quickly. She had watched Ines and this ghost’s match, and she had learned what she thought was the only strategy to the game. From what she could tell, one needed to protect their own pieces from being captured while forcing their opponent to move their pieces where they could be captured. That was exactly how Adeliz began to play, keeping her pieces moving up the side of the board or forward one after the other to protect each other.

Feeling very off balance with this newcomer’s sudden arrival, Adeliz played at conversation to learn more about their host or captor, whatever role it was she truly intended to play. “It’s rude to interrupt others without introducing yourself.” Her tone carried a lofty admonition that shifted to a benevolent generosity as she offered the introductions she had thought they had been owed. “I’m Adeliz, and this is my sister Ines.”

The stranger was old, far older than Adeliz understood, and easily deflected Adeliz’ harsh accusation, turning it back on the far younger ghost. “I forgive you, Adeliz. It was kind of you to introduce you both. I’m Talia, and do not worry. You weren’t interrupting. This is a library, and libraries are meant to have visitors. They are meant to spread knowledge, to teach, but they cannot do so if no one inquires, if no one enters and reads.”

Frustrated that Talia had apparently missed her meaning, Adeliz went quiet and put her full focus into the game. It didn’t take long for her strategy to come to fruition. Talia winced as she was forced to put a piece where Adeliz could capture it.

The younger ghost did so with a victorious smile, her confidence building with her apparent first step toward victory. “So this is your library?”

Shaking her head, Talia considered the board and her next move for quite some time. “Not mine. Everyone’s. I’m merely its caretaker. That’s something you must understand about a library. It’s not just here for those who tend to it. It’s also not here just for each individual that comes seeking its knowledge. It is here for everyone, and it’s here for the world.”

Talia moved again, another piece of hers falling into the trap Adeliz had set up. Smiling even broader, Adeliz looked to Ines. “See, Ines? This is how you play the game.”

Taking the piece, Adeliz watched Talia’s face fill with frustration. After several more moments of careful consideration, Talia moved a piece again, and Adeliz practically chirped in joy, taking it quickly. What happened next happened too quick for her to follow, but in the end, Talia was removing three of Adeliz’ discs she had jumped with one of her own. Angrily, Adeliz jumped the offending piece, only to have Talia jump two more of hers. Things spiraled quickly out of control after that, with Adeliz reacting more than thinking, and soon, the board was emptied of Adeliz’s pieces.

She had captured more of Talia’s pieces than Ines had, but that didn’t feel like progress to her. She had still lost, and that made her bitter. “You cheated.”

Talia smiled and corrected her. “No. I read you. It wasn’t difficult. You actually made it quite easy.” Turning her gaze back to Ines, Talia gestured to Adeliz’ seat, offering it to the one living one among them. “Ines, do you care to try again, or was there another reason you had come here today?”
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