Delve Deep (Tazrae)

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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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Delve Deep (Tazrae)

Postby Marino Oceangem on May 19th, 2020, 4:28 am

70th of Spring, 520 A.V.


So wait, you’re telling me you flipped it?” Stuvantis roared, slapping him on the back as they stood behind the wheel of his Casinor. “WELL, it was a small boat. I didn’t even know it could turn that fast!” Marino replied defensively, though he was unable to keep his serious expression for long as a grin cracked through. “Alright, I flipped it, but to be fair, they should have explained that might happen!” Stuvantis started laughing again and leaning against his shoulder. “I bet your mother was right cross with you” He said wagging a finger in Marino’s face.

Batting it away, he agreed. “Oh, I had to scrape the undersides of half the boats in the pod for a week. I thought I would never finish.” He said exasperated, and then gave a clever smile. “But I did sneak out on it again that night, after we flipped it over of course.” Rolling his eyes, Stuvantis walked over to the starboard side railing, looking out over the water towards the beach. Marino didn’t look over, concentrating instead on bringing them into the dock. As he’d been working all morning, he was wearing green breeches and a white tunic, with his red scarf wrapped around his neck.

Today had been busy, and Stuvantis by far had been his favorite part. After meeting him during his first days here, Marino had hoped they would run into each other again, so he was pleasantly surprised when he showed up needing to be ferried around Syka. Marino had mostly taken the sailing pretty easy, as Stuvantis had been a pretty entertaining passenger. Now that they were on their way back, he was looking forward to seeing this bar of his. According to him he made the best damn drinks this side of the world, and Marino intended to take him up on that offer.

They pulled into the docks nice and easy. He was quick about securing the ship while Stuvantis waited on the dock for him. Then together they made their way down to the Tidepool Bar. “I could have taken us right to the bar” Marino said after they had been walking for a few chimes. “I like to get some walking in. I would have done a lot more of it were it not for your ship.” Stuvantis chided with a grin, giving him a curious look.

I can take you back if you want, watch you walk from the comfort of the Seasilk.” Marino joked, drawing a chuckle from Stuvantis. “Then I would have no time to make your drink. Very well.” Stuvantis said, throwing his hands as he stopped and pretended to walk back for a few steps. Marino almost believed him till he bent over laughing and turned back to him with a face warm around the cheeks. “I’m just kidding Marino, close your mouth.” Stuvantis said, patting him on the shoulder and together they walked the rest of the way to the Tidepool bar. While he waited for Stuvantis, he took a seat at the bar, and faced the beach, enjoying the slight breeze that came across the water.


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Last edited by Marino Oceangem on June 1st, 2020, 4:06 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Delve Deep (Tazrae)

Postby Tazrae on May 21st, 2020, 1:22 am

Timestamp: 70th of Spring, 520


The note was written on a newly sprouted banana leaf which was rolled neatly and tied off with a strip of its own stem. Tazrae felt it was a clever way to send messages, especially when this one was dropped by a big-beaked bird she'd never seen before. She watched the creature fly off as Randal laughed from where he was perched on the roof "Uta huh?" She likes Tucans. I think she's been training them." He added, nodding to her note. "I take it we are losing your help for the day." He added.

"Today is a good day to come visit, if you have time. We will need to go get some ingredients, but if you can give me a half day, I can certainly teach you a few things. Feel free to bring that friend you spoke of if you'd like.

-Uta"


Tazrae smiled at Randal after reading the note and tilted her head. "Let's be honest. Will you really miss me that much?" She added, knowing her work was only good enough for some things beyond fetching and carrying... cooking lunch being one of them. "I left a big pot of clam chowder on the fire down at the beach when people get hungry. It should feed each of you a couple of bowls." She added, grinning.

Randal smiled.

"Besides, my hammering arm could use a break." She added, flexing the thin limb like it was far more muscled than it was. She indicated the message in her hand and told him what it was about. "Uta says I can come today and learn how to make insect repellant and sunscreen. I was hoping to ask for a burn cream recipe too. I think Marino - if I can find him - might go with me. He wanted to meet Uta and learn about jungle plants." She added, glancing around. She'd have to change out of work clothes, put on boots for the hike across town, and ask after Marino a few places to see if he was about.

"Stu was going out with that young Svefra today. So I would check the Tidepool to see if Stu's back yet. If he's not, you'll not find your friend easily since he'll be at sea." Randal advised. It wasn't surprising he knew what everyone was doing. The three founders stayed out of people's lives for the most part, but they did tend to be in the know a great deal.

Tazrae thanked him, slipped off to her tent to change and grab supplies, then headed towards the Commons. She passed several people along the way, greeting them as people in Syka tended to do. No one had seen Marino when she asked, and stopping by the Mercantile, Juli had the place closed with a 'back in two bells' banana leaf note tacked up on the door. It was unlocked, of course, and anyone could still shop... but there was no one about inside. Tazrae continued on her way.

On her way by the dock, she noted The Veronica wasn't tied up which meant that James had taken another trip to Riverfall.

She reached The Tidepool a good half bell later, having to stop and chat with a couple more individuals on her way. Most inquired how the Inn was doing. Someone was looking for Randal and she directed him towards the Inn. Another offered her a mango which she took gratefully and was in the process of peeling and eating as she walked along the dock and headed out onto the open water bar. Tazrae was in a fine mood that got even better when she spotted Marino perched on a stool staring out at the water.

She claimed the one next to him without comment, sliced off a thick slice of the mango, and offered it to him still pinched between the knife blade and her thumb. "Mango?" She said thoughtfully. "From Nesra. She had a bunch and gave me a big fat one. I've never had these before coming here, and I can't seem to get enough fo them." She commented. If Marino took the slice, she'd proceed to continue cutting into the mango, eating slices and offering him slices until it was gone.

"So, I'm on my way to Uta's to learn a few recipes and a go on something she calls a walkaround for plant ingredients. Interested in coming? She told me to bring you. I got a note from her earlier that today would be a good day for it." She added, indicating the backpack she'd tossed down under the bar stool and her leather boots that meant she was venturing out into the jungle.

"She was going to teach me a few things about surviving in the jungle to o as we go on our walkaround. Could be fun." She said, glancing around. "Randal said you were sailing Stu about today. Did you guys already go or are you still waiting for him?" Tazrae asked curiously. In another city, such an outright question might be considered nosey or rude. But in Syka, everyone was in everyone's business anyhow... it was probably how she knew to come here first anyhow.

"Sunscreen, Insect Repelent, and Burn Cream is on the agenda... philtering and Herbalims too. It's a lot for one day. Randal warned me that Uta's lessons could be intense." Tazrae said, grinning at him.

She shifted on her stool, leaning back, as Stu wandered by and put one of his famous house mixed drinks in front of her. Tazrae always marveled how he got the ice that clinked in the glass. She took a tenative taste, and grinned, drinking deeply afterwards.

"Tea and pineapple juice, and something a lot harder." She laughed, licking her lips and grinning at Stu. She raised the glass at him, drank deeply, and set it back down in thanks. The future Innkeeper had her Isuas Pants on, deep olive green in color, and a bright shirt of oranges, yellows, and olives of the same material. It was rolled up at the sleeves and gathered in a tie under her breasts. She had a binki top on under it... her usual wear these days. It was hot today, humid, and the sun was merciless. Her straw hat was on her back, hung by a braided line around her neck. She had a hatchet sheathed at her side, a machete strapped to her backpack, and looked like she was all ready for the trip.

"Tell me you have time to join us." She said, her voice excited and happy to see him, her blue eyes dancing with excitement. Going into the jungle was a rarity to her. Soo too was making medicines, treatments, and trying her hand at Herbalism.

"It won't be the same if you can't ... " She warned as if the joy of her day was held firmly in his two hands.

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Delve Deep (Tazrae)

Postby Marino Oceangem on May 21st, 2020, 4:56 am

Marino was pleasantly surprised when he looked over as saw Tazrae sitting next to him. She looked almost out of a dream dressed so differently than the last time he’d seen her. “Its good.” He said after taking a bite, and quickly took another while he thought of what to say next. Looking her over, he noticed curiously the hatchet at her side, but he didn’t pry further, keeping his eyes on hers when she started speaking again.

Rapping his knuckles on the desk, Marino grinned. “Really? That sounds exciting.” He exclaimed as he rested an elbow on the bar, and finished the last slice of mango Suddenly, her clothing made a lot more sense as well as the weapon at her hip. Then briefly glancing around for Stuvantis, he replied. “We just got back actually. He wanted to gather some stuff for his drinks. I think he called it Anise? Looked like a crusty flower.” He held out his palm as he said this, and measured an inch out with his other hand. “Anyways sounds like something Uta might know more about.”

Speaking of, Stuvantis passed by, and Marino watched with amusement as she tried the drink. It seemed almost as colorful as her clothes. “He does make some interesting combinations. My cousins pay a visit here almost religiously.” He grinned, and looked down at her bag. She really was ready for a trip. Marino thought of his own ‘preparations’ in comparison and realized why Juli had said he’d be coming back.

Of course I would love to join you, though I should probably change and grab a few things on the Seasilk first.” He said, glancing down at his own attire which was a loose white tunic , and a pair of linen breeches. He wiggled the toes of his bare feet then looked up with a grin. “Juli warned me that the more layers out there, the better, even in this heat. Would you mind accompanying me to my ship?” He asked, hopping off the stool.

If she agreed, he start off down the beach with her. “So, how has the Inn been going? I’ve been so busy I haven’t had the time to track down my cousins yet.” Though it had only been a couple of days since they had last seen each other, it felt like a lot longer. He was glad to see her now though, and found her happiness infectious. Walking beside her, he couldn’t help but glance over at her every once and a while.

Has the tent been okay?” He paused, then continued. “I mean is it comfortable on the beach?” Marino had seen it the last time they had been together, but had forgotten to ask about it till he started thinking on it the next day. He was unsure about what it was like to spend several nights in a tent, though he supposed it might not be all bad.

You can come aboard if you want, I won’t be long” He said when they made it to the dock, practically jogging up the Seasilk to board her and go down to the cabin. There he quickly stripped and put on the white isuas breeches and long sleeved shirt he’d purchased at the Merchantile. He then sat down and put on the rest, buckling on his leather boots, and sliding on a pair of gloves before getting up to leave the cabin. Marino was almost halfway out, before he remembered to grab the rest and ditch the scarf. Several chimes later, he emerged with his backpack and rucksack, and a half spear held awkwardly in his left. A blue rami cloak peaked out from the top of his pack.

So, do you think this will be okay?” He asked Tazrae hesitantly, walking in a slow spin for her while his mind tried to think of anything he was forgetting.


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Delve Deep (Tazrae)

Postby Tazrae on May 21st, 2020, 9:29 am

She grinned at his agreement to go and him voicing his excitement. Relief swept her as Marino confirmed what she hoped; Stu and Marino had just returned. Did the man ever stop doing things? He and his Svefra counterparts were always busy… going here, going there, doing… she’d yet to see them relax. “Oh! Anise! I know it. At least a little. You can do a ton of really tasty things baking with it too. I had no idea it grew around here. I’ve just seen them dried… hard. We used to get them in the market and grind them to add to all kinds of seasoning mixes back in Riverfall.” Tazrae affirmed, nodding at the little flower in his hand.

“I bet she knows where they grow or how to harvest them. We’ll have to ask.” Tazrae added, taking another healthy drink of the concoction that Stu set in front of her. She nodded when Marino mused that he needed to get changed and grab some gear. She polished off her drink rather quicker than she’d liked to so she could follow him back to The Seasilk.

He asked her a few questions which she answered cheerfully. “The Inn is coming together. We might actually get it done by the end of the season. Randal is doing amazing things with it. It’s not the overall build, but it’s the small details that amaze me. He carved these lovely flowers into the facia boards before he put the roof on. You don’t see them until you practically walk under them, but then they are so lovely and unexpected.” She said as an example, turning to smile at him. “Randal is so thoughtful. He practically forced me to learn how to use the hand saw and after that I’ve put all the decking down by my own hands all the way around the Inn. I didn’t think I could ever do something like that, but now…. now I know how to do a few things. And now I have this sense of… its hard to describe. But I can run my fingers across that decking and remember nailing it in place and I feel such pride.” She said thoughtfully, her eyes shining a bit.

“I was actually mad and scared and so sure I would fail when he made me do it. But I didn’t. And I’m going to try other things now too. I’m still trying to figure out why I was so mad. That one was unexpected.” She admitted. In a way she was glad Marino wasn’t around to see how hard she had it trying to figure out how to saw through a single deck board, let alone dozens of them to cut them to length to nail down on the deck. They were heavy and the hand saw was flimsy. She’d struggled and cussed and broken down into almost tears more than once before the job was done. But she’d figured it out in the end. Her cuts got straighter. The motions got easier. Her muscles got used to swinging the hammer and driving the nails. Torture had turned to pleasure at a job well done. She still loved that feeling. She wanted to feel it over and over again.

“The tent’s fine. It’s very comfortable. I usually sleep with half of it rolled up to catch the breeze. I never thought I would enjoy living with four cloth walls and a fire crackling outside but I do. The only problem I had at first was the sand fleas, but once I had the ashes from the fire scattered all around, the fleas went away. They bite hard enough to leave a rash.” She added, suddenly realizing a Svefra of all people would probably know about these creatures. “Otherwise, I love the beach.” Tazrae added, offering him a smile.

“I didn’t know you moved people all around with your boat. Randal was telling me that was your job. How do you like it? I bet you see different things daily. That would be an interesting life.” She added, offering Marion a smile. “Best and worst thing about your job?” She asked, curious for his explanation as they walked along the sand.

The Tidepool bar was south of Swing Beach which was where the dock was all the Svefra tied up too if they didn’t just beach their ships. It was a quick trip down the sand, where she hopped lightly on board and walked up to the mast to pat it as if saying hello to the little casinor personally. She looked up, as if checking to see if all the sails were neatly stowed, and then wandered around on deck while she waited for Marino. She smiled a little, remembering the day they’d went sailing together fondly.

It felt so good to be by his side again. She couldn’t explain it, but since she hadn’t seen him in the last couple of days it felt a little like something was missing. It wasn’t like Tazrae to get attached to someone so quickly, but with Marino she’d had so many new experiences and got to be just who she felt she was not what society expected her to be. Laughing at herself as she swung around one of the lines, having a bit of fun waiting, Tazrae decided she’d overthought the whole thing and she might as well just relax and have fun.

“Hurry Marino! It took me five chimes to get ready to leave, changing out of my work clothes. You only get five chimes yourself and you’ve used three!” She called jokingly down his hatch, before she skipped over to the far side to peer off the Seasilk into the low tide water. A triangular shape with a long tail glided past above the coral but beneath the water. It looked like a kite, Tazrae, decided and pointed out the dark speckled sting ray to Marino when he resurfaced. “What in the world is that? It’s beautiful.” She said, noting the way the creature seemed to glide.

She listened to his answer, then turned and studied him at his question. “I’m not much of a judge but you look fine to me. Tall boots so snakes don’t bite you... gloves, and the ability to strip all the layers off during the day and sleep in them at night. Seems like that checks things of the things on my list.” She added, looking approvingly at his attire.

“Ready?” With that, she set off heading out across The Commons, then taking the cobbled pathway south past the Panacea southwards. There were trails leading off the cobbled path setting off to parts she didn’t know. But fortunately, there were little carved signs pointing towards what lay off the pathway. The Panacea, which served as the medical clinic, was on the pathway so it wasn’t hard to miss. But there was a trail headed west labeled Tar Pits that Tazrae longed to explore. She paused at it, glanced at Marino, and shook her head. “Another day... right? I want to see them though.” She added, as if she didn’t realize she didn’t voice her desire to see them.

There was another pathway, far smaller, that lead back towards the beach. It was labeled with a fish inside what looked like a cave-mouth symbol. Taz didn’t know what it meant, but she wanted to explore that direction as well. She’d come back, surely, on a day they weren’t expected somewhere.

Finally, after about thirty bells of walking, another path lay off to the side along what looked like a stream. It led west with a tiny little sign reading Uta on it. The future Innkeeper smiled, pointed it out, and turned down the pathway. It was a very short walk along a creek to where they found an astonishing sight. Built suspended over the stream was a large meeting area, workshop, and a dangling hanging living quarters beneath it. The place was open, airy, and very inviting. Uta herself was outside, sorting what looked like bundles of plants on a table on front of the entrance to her door. She glanced up, noted the two indivudals approaching and smiled.

“You must be Marino and Taz… welcome!” She said, smiling. The woman was in her late thirties, had a neat bob in her hair, half of which was stark white above and the other half looked dyed black halfway down. It was a nice hairdo, one Tazrae admired because it was so unusual. But the woman’s open friendly demeanor made it twice as appealing.

“So tell me both…. What kind of knowledge do you have of herbs, plants, and making remedies or little tinctures like sunscreen or insect repellent? What kind of jungle survival do you guys know? I don’t know you, so tell me about yourselves, and we can get started with the lesson today. We have a lot to pack into one day… so lets be quick about it." She said thoughtfully.

“Marino… you first. Tell me your experiences and your interests. What do you want to get out of today?” She asked, then turned to Taz…. “Once he’s explained, you do as well." The woman added.

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Delve Deep (Tazrae)

Postby Marino Oceangem on May 22nd, 2020, 9:14 am

“Of course” He said, slapping a palm on his knee. “I was wondering was wondering why he’d called it crunchy.” Marino chuckled at the mistake. “I suppose I was so focused elsewhere, I misinterpreted some of what he’d said.” Though his common was getting better for getting some use these past few days, it would require many, many more before he was fluent with it. Till then he supposed he ought to be more careful hearing to words people were using. That way he didn’t wind up doing anything silly or dangerous which was always in the back of his mind.

It has quite the particular smell to it, I would be interested in seeing what it is used with.” He mused, and tried picturing what it would be like in a bread since she mentioned baking. Watching her, he smiled as she finished her drink. His thoughts drifted from breads to the exciting day that stretched before them. Filled with energy he was eager to get dressed and ready as soon as possible.

Marino tried picturing the Inn further along than when he last saw it as she talked about it. From the details she was mention it sounded like it was shaping up to be a lovely place. He could imagine the anticipation she must feel as it neared its completion. “If you need anymore hands, I could see what I could do. I might not be any good with my hands but maybe I could bring material over on the Seasilk, or bring extra hands.” He said with a wry grin. “I’ve actually been thinking of trying to build a dock. Over by the sawmill. It would make loading and unloading a lot quicker over there. Anyways, it is just a thought for now. I still need to talk with Randal about it.

He thought about what she said next very carefully. Tazrae’s experience sounded akin to one of his own, though instead of frustration it was fear. While fear was not a stranger too him, he’d never felt it like he had yesterday. Then, looking her in her eyes, he said. “I have felt something too I still don’t quite understand after the moment was gone. I was at the Swine Swells yesterday trying to tie this knot around a pigs legs, and I don’t know. I just blanked. I couldn’t get my hands to stop shaking.” Marino hesitated, then admitted. “I’ve never felt more embarrassed in my life.” He felt a lot lighter admitting that to her. It felt owed to her since they would be venturing in the jungle today.

I’ll have to remember that bit about the tent though, should I ever find myself stranded on a beach.” He said with a strained smile, eager to forget that day and focus back on this one. “Despite that experience, I still love it. Meeting new people, exploring the waters around Syka, it is all just so fresh and knew. The days go by like that!” He snapped, grinning more naturally now. “The worst thing is when I have to haul smelly things. I have to give the deck a good bath just to sleep at night. It is good exercise though.” He said, mock flexing.

* * * * *

Coming out of the cabin, Marino hurried to her side. His eyes widened as he saw dark shape gliding through the water. “It looks like a flyer.. Er sorry, maybe a flat fish? I can ask some cousins for a proper name later.” He’d never been very good at learning about fish beyond the slang they’d used as children. Though now he had recently taken up fishing, maybe it was time he should try getting better at differentiating his fish.

Looking from her to his outfit he sighed, relieved. “Good, I’m ready to go then.” Following Tazrae now, he was quite impressed at how well she was navigating them through Syka. Their were signs of course, but their was a confidence about her that he liked. It was that same strength he saw when she was learning the lines, and swimming. His eyes followed each one, lingering on the one to the tar pits that Tazrae stopped to look at. “What goes on down there?” He asked curiously as they continued on down the pathway passing another sign that had depictions of a fish and cave across it. These Sykans sure did have interesting places he mused as they continued on for a while.

When they eventually made it to a sign with Uta, Marino smiled with Tazrae and was surprised to see how beautiful the place was. He followed Tazrae closely, waving a greeting to Uta in his turn. Raising an eyebrow, Marino considered the question while silently wishing she had ask Tazrae first.

I don’t have any experiences with jungle survival. Can’t even start a proper fire. As for plants, none either unless eating them counts.” He said with a slight chuckle, though he quickly regretted making the joke. “I want to know more about that though. Like what kinds of wood are good for fires, which plants are edible, what can some of the sea plants be used for, stuff like that.” Marino quickly supplied, eager to put his joke behind him.


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Delve Deep (Tazrae)

Postby Tazrae on May 25th, 2020, 2:52 am

Tazrae filed it away in her brain that she’d need to bake something with Anise for Marino. The thought brought her pleasure. She knew several great recipes tucked away in her mother’s cookbook. The future Innkeeper tilted her head and thought for a moment about how there were ties slowly linking the two of them, points of contact and experiences that were gently binding each of them to one another. Is that what friendship was about? Tazrae could truly say she’d never had a friend so this was a whole new experience for her. Was the whole settlement like that? She had ties binding her to Randal now. The Founder had forced her to become a sort of carpenter in training even though that had never been her intention or calling in life. How many more would she have? Juli? Some of the others she met?

Tazrae hoped so. It was a good feeling… being part of something.

She was glad Marino had done his work for the day and was able to go. They stopped by the Seasilk and gathered his things. Tazrae was disappointed that Marino didn’t know what the fish was. She was really wanting to learn more about the sea. If anyone should know something about it, a Svefra was the prime candidate. But perhaps she overestimated their mastery of the sea. Maybe some were prone to knowledge elsewhere.

His idea about building a dock sounded like a good one. “You should. I’d like one for the Inn eventually too. I know how to plank it now.” She said, grinning. “I don’t know about sinking pilons, but a fully floating dock wouldn’t be hard. Randal might help.” She said, thinking about how much the Founder knew about building. “In fact, I’m sure he would. He loves building projects… he’s almost obsessed with them.” She added.

When he said something about his experience at The Swine Swells, she said nothing. She simply reached out and put a hand on his shoulder, squeezing it companionably. There was nothing she could say, other than that the reaction would have been scary and she would have felt the same way. “I wouldn’t be embarrassed. The pigs don’t care.” She said thoughtfully, then smiled.

“It’s been a lifesaver… the ash.” She said thoughtfully, then smiled in agreement about his loving the people and loving the Settlement. Tazrae couldn’t agree more. “And I can’t imagine the smells!” She agreed, laughing at the images her mind conjured up. By then they were walking down the Cobbled Pathway and passing offshoots and little signs.

“Tar Pits is what the sign says. But I have no idea what that really means. I haven’t explored that path yet.” She said, shrugging and not imaging anything pleasant involving a pit and a bunch of tar. “I know they seal docks in Riverfall with tar… so maybe that’s a source of it here? That’s why the big dock the Veronica ties up to smells so oddly. It makes it waterproof. I only know that because Randal put tar on the subframe of my deck… all the posts, support beams, joists, noggins, and the rims. He said it would prevent rot and that everything rots close to the jungle and sea.” She added, laughing lightly. “After all the work it was to build, I’m into anything that will help it last longer.” She said, increasing her pace.

They arrived at Uta’s Place and introductions were made all around. Uta was pleasant to talk to, friendly, and had a forthright manner that made Tazrae more than willing to open up around her. She asked them questions and Marino answered promptly. The girl listened to his words, nodding at his answer thinking it about on par to her own. He listed off what he wanted to know and Uta nodded, as if making a mental checklist. She smiled when he was done and nodded.

“I can definitely help you with the jungle knowledge and I know some tidal things. Deep sea plants you’ll have to find a Konti or Charoda for that information. But I can assure you that we’ll have a lot to do to begin with.” She added, then turned to Tazrae, as if expecting her to answer.

The future Innkeeper looked thoughtful. “I was born in Riverfall to a couple of Innkeepers. I did a lot of laundry and cooking, took care of guests, and always lived in a city. I know virtually nothing about the jungle or how to survive in a place like this. But I don’t want to be helpless or dependent upon others… not at least after I’ve had a chance to learn. And while I can cook and am a decent one, I want to know where things come from… food, medicine, and how to make remedies and things that we can’t just go to a market here and get. I want to be able to supply my guests with things like insect repellent and burn cream… I get burned a lot at times. James is bringing me back bees on his next trip so that will be something else new for me… being a beekeeper here. Because we need the honey and wax. But beyond that, I really want to just be able to walk through the jungle and hope to survive the experience.” Tazrae said, looking completely serious at her response.

Uta nodded. She looked thoughtful and amused all at the same time. “I have great recipes for both of those things, but we’ll have to get ingredients from the jungle and in the case of the burn cream from the sea. And to teach you the right way… we’ll have to learn to make coconut oil, cocoa butter, and distill essential oils from the herbs we gather. That means I need to take you into the jungle and to do that we need to talk about survival gear and what you’ll need to go out with me. Once in the jungle, we’ll need to go over navigation, finding your way, how to move, how to look around… all kinds of things. This will take more than one day… for certain. I suggest a trip to gather supplies… some I have but some I’ll need. And I’ll need Sea Buckthorn from the Svefra. It’s harvested in Kalea up in the mountains…. oddly enough. We don’t have it here, but it works amazingly well and most Lia’s keep a stash on hand for trading.” She added, nodding towards Marino, indicating he could get some hopefully for their endeavor.

“I don’t mind showing you two some of this… so you can someday do it for yourselves. Its just a first step though down a slippery slope. Doing one thing leads to another leads to another. It’s a vicious cycle. A taste of the jungle and you’ll want more. Be careful. Only go escorted until you’re ready to be on your own.” She said thoughtfully, then looked at both of them to make sure they were all on the same page.

“So, we’re going to learn a bit of philtering, cooking, herb gathering, jungle survival, and a whole host of other things while we are at it… and at least two recipes. Marino, do you want to add anything to Tazrae’s list?” She asked, then turned and beckoned them both to head past her labs and into her living area. She retrieved a pack and set it on a low table flanked by two couches.

“I thought we’d have a look at my pack I always take out into the jungle. It’s a good idea to have one of these and get something together much like it on your own journeys.” She said frankly. Then Uta set about undoing the ties of the backpack and taking items out of it, scattering them around the table for the two to look over. “When you go out into the jungle, plan for the worst. Plan to spend the night outside. Plan to get stuck, lost, or hurt.” She added, then began to show the pair what she had.

“You need to plan to stay out in the cold… jungles can get very cold and wet at night. You need to have something to fend off predators… and a way to cook yourself a hot meal or harvest fresh fruit. One thing you need to remember, most humans can’t live off fresh fruit wholly. You’ll need meat for the energy it brings. Be prepared to get that meat somehow… a bow and arrow is a great way, a knife, knowing how to make deadfall traps and snares. They all work. Sometimes just a good old-fashioned machete like Tazrae has works wonders. And you’ll need a way to cut things to make a shelter. That’s why at hatchet or axe is always a great way to go.” She added, then began to go through what was in her pack.

“I always carry with me first and foremost something to start a fire with. Flint and steel works well, but you have to remember everything in the jungle is wet. So dry easily burnable tinder is a must. I always start with a big pot that fits in the bottom of my kit to boil water in… then inside the pot, I roll up a hammock, wrap cordage around the hammock bundle to hang the hammock with… and then next in goes a waterproof tin filled with dried tinder soaked in oil… highly flammable oil. Even pre-charred isuas blooms work well. I always throw in a whet stone to sharpen my life.. a big bowie and a small butchering knife are always in my pack… you need things to clean kills with.” She added.

“Dull knives are dangerous, so don’t skip the whet stone.” I always throw in a waterproof oil slicker or poncho. I add in fishhooks, fish line, and lures if I have them. I throw in a small first aid kit with bandages, a sling, sutures, cloth, and antibiotic ointments made of honey. I throw in a tin of insect repellent, needle and thread, and then I stuff the top with a bedroll. I strap a hatchet and machete to the pack and be sure to include a waterskin. Inside the bedroll I keep some dried fruit or some sort of dried meat… but remember dehydrated things don’t always work well in the jungle. They can spoil fast. So be sure you wrap whatever you are preserving tightly or put it in a waterproof tin. Your whole pack minus the weapons should be less than ten pounds.” She added, then pulled out a few other things.

“I also add a long metal hook that I can use to hang my pot to a tri-pod… and I take an extra bag to gather herbs in. If you are below the weight I want, you can put in extra clothing, especially socks. In the jungle, you need to keep things dry… your body, and especially your feet. You will get foot rot – a nasty fungus – if you don’t watch things carefully.” Uta said, then sat back.

“Well… knowing all that, how much of this do you have in those packs of yours?” She asked, knowing both Marino and Tazrae had packs, both of which looked like they contained items of interest.

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Delve Deep (Tazrae)

Postby Marino Oceangem on May 25th, 2020, 10:44 pm

Marino listened with interest about her assessment of the tar pits. It seemed like something he ought to explore soon given the time he spent on the water. Perhaps he would learn more about it when he approached Randal about the dock. “I hadn’t known that about the buildings here but I suppose that makes sense given how..” He searched for the word for a moment, “wet this place is. Things have a tendency to go off in water quick.

After arriving at Uta’s, he listened to Uta intently. As Tazrae spoke, he wondered if there were any Konti currently in residence at Syka. He was reasonably sure there weren’t any Charoda though they were a shy lot. He felt a little loss as she started breaking down all that they would learn, and was relieved when she mentioned that this would require more than one day as he was sure he would not be able to retain everything shoved into an evening. “Of course, I’ll ask Lia Diondra about it. How much do you require?” Given that they had recently made a trip to that region, he was positive the Lia had a good supply of it. “What is it used for?” He asked curiously, wishing he’d been involved more on that side of the pod’s endeavors while they were up in that region but he had been having fun sailing with his siblings.

Marino nodded at her advice. “I will make sure to take the utmost care.” He knew what it was like to get cocky when you got a bit of knowledge under your belt, and seen a few svefra pay for that little pride. That would not be him, as his mothers constantly hammered into him that he should think more before he acted. While he didn’t always follow that sound advice, he would where this jungle was concerned. He’d seen enough on that beach to make him cautious for some time.

Following Uta into her living area, Marino scratched the back of his neck as he thought about anything he’d missed. “I suppose I’m curious about how to shelter in the jungle, and find the right water with the sea so far away.” He didn’t imagine they’d be spending the night in the jungle anytime soon, but he hazarded a guess that it was one of those things you didn’t always plan on. His eyes flickered from Tazrae to Uta as she put down her pack.

He considered his own weapon as she got to the part about hunting. Would this be good in a hunt? Marino hadn’t really considered it before now, figuring he could always just fish. Now though, he realized that was foolish as there might not be a source of fish within the jungle, and even if there was, how would he find it? As he chewed on that, he paid careful attention to her mention of traps which seemed like his best chance of learning to get game.

The big pot was a good idea and one of a number of things he was quickly learning that he lacked. While he carried flint and steel he certainly didn’t have tender soaked in oil so that was something he needed to keep in mind as well. Her knives were also nothing like his eating knife so he’d have to rectify that as well. If it was necessary for life in the jungle, he would procure it. At least she mentioned fishing supplies which told him that there was at least some bodies of water in the jungle for him to fish within. He wasn’t a good fisherman but he didn’t feel as daunted about learning that as he did hunting.

When it came time for him to produce his backpack, he felt more than a little trepidation and casting a look over at Tazrae started to empty his backpack. First he set his blue ramie cloak on the table before taking out a small bundle and unwrapped it. It had some tackle, small jar of bait, as well as a length of fishing line. Next he took out a white shirt and unwrapped it to produce flint and steel, as well as his eating knife. Digging a little further, he too out his bundled hammock and a small spice box that was empty. After a brief consideration, he leaned he half spear and waterskin next to the small pile.

So I’m missing quite a few things I’m realizing now.” He said, looking at the pile a little embarrassed before looking up at Uta. “Do you think this might be good enough to keep tinder in though?” Marino asked pointing at the spice box. He usually kept his pipe and a smoke blend in there but he figured it might be useful if he wanted to bring some plant back with him. Now though, he was wondering if it would be useful for other reasons. “The rest I’m guessing I can find at the Mercantile?


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Delve Deep (Tazrae)

Postby Tazrae on May 28th, 2020, 3:16 am

Uta smiled at Marino. “Sea Buckthorn is such a misleading name. Its this lovely small shrub that grows high up in the Kalean Mountains. They have these neat little yellow berries that are good dried or fresh. We use the berries, leaves, and seeds of the plant. I’ve tried to get them to grow here, but it just isn’t cold enough…” She said thoughtfully. “It’s a very special ingredient. You can make amazing creams for the skin. It has healing properties on rashes, burns, and when people have skin that flake due to their own bodies acting out against them. We call that dermatitis. But its one of those foods that has everything in it. Legend says it was a gift from Rak’keli to high mountain barbarians to give them a steady food source filled with nutrients that allow them to stay healthy even when all there is to eat is meat, ground animals, and the goats and sheep they hunt at those high altitudes. She probably talked one of the other Goddesses into creating the plant just for them. Now it is widely used throughout Mizahar due to your people and how often they trade. They give dried fish and fish oil to the people of Kalea – which is another thing they need in their diets – and receive it in trade.” Uta said, rising up and beginning to pace.

She reminded Tazrae of someone who perhaps couldn’t sit still long periods of time.

“I never have enough on hand because I literally can use it in anything. Its very healthy to just flat out eat. It can really help people with bad hearts. It can also be used to treat people that have disorders involving sugars of the blood. It can make a weak child or a frail elderly person have a stronger body that fights off infection easier. I will often put someone on it who has a chronic condition they aren’t able to shake off like another person might. It helps against when a body has issues with their liver. I’ve used to to ease women through their natural changes as they age. I’ve seen it help older people with joint swelling. But most of all… it’s very precious for healing the skin and soothing the skin. The Sun here in Syka isn’t kind often. People don’t realize how brutal Syna can get. So, I keep it on hand. If your Lia has a good supply of it, tell her I will make her any medicines she might need to supplement her own apothecary on board in trade for the raw components. I’ll take as much as she’s willing to part with.” It was not a toothless boast. Uta was very good at her creams and salves, and just having her offer was a huge bonus since medicines made by someone skilled could last longer and be more potent than just a person following a recipe or dabbling.

Tazrae felt like she should be taking notes. She’d seen blank books for sale at the Mercantile and decided before bed she’d swing by and talk Juli out of one or two in order to take notes in. The information was too good to just be heard and later forgotten.

The future Innkeeper glanced at Marino. She had no idea he had interest in this type of thing. She wondered if he’d mix and grind with the best of healers or if he was only being polite by his questions.

The converstation moved on and Uta responded promptly to Marino’s questions. “The jungle is full of water. You just have to know where to find it. I will show you. It rains daily here, so the problem is not water, its more a problem of staying dry and warm especially at night. Here on the sea you don’t notice it, because we are so worried about cooling off. But deep in the jungle, the temperatures can plummet and if you can’t get dry and warm, you’ll get the chills that kill.” She said, speaking of hypothermia. “One of the best ways to shelter in the jungle is to get up off the jungle floor. The floor of the jungle is where the moisture gathers, where insects lurk, and holds easy access to snakes and predators. That’s why I often carry my hammock and cordage to hang it with. A hammock is a fast way that doesn’t expend energy to get yourself up off the ground where you can rest. If you travel with someone you don’t mind cuddling up too, a bigger hammock is the best because shared body heat can often get two people through the night. If you are trapped somewhere longer, I can show you how to build a shelter, but often with a hammock all you need to do is layer a lean-to over where the hammock is suspended and you can stay out of the rain. This is where an oilskin tarp is also handy. You can throw one over the hammock and secure it after you’ve slipped in… to keep yourself and your hammock dry. Also many hammocks hang down and rain can be directed to slip down your ropes holding the hammock and soak your shelter. I can show you how to redirect rain from washing down your cordage and doing this. Jungle survival is about the little things.” She added, making a lap of the living area, thinking deeply.

“In terms of water, you want to drink only from seeps and springs. I can show you where these are and what they look like. They are often found along rivers and streams as natural oozing water flowing from higher up on the bank or slope to trail down to join the main body of water. These are always the purest most filtered sources of water and you can collect and drink right from them. There are also trees you can cut down and hollow out the trunks and the basins there will fill with perfectly wonderful water. There is also water vine… it’s a vine you can gut that will stream water out of each section that is pure to drink and has a slightly minty flavor. It’s one of my favorites.” She added, smiling.

“Most of this you will need to actually learn as we go. Me telling you about it is not the same. But honestly the best source of water is rain. Drink from broad leafed plants that naturally capture rainfall… create a rain catcher that will gather your own fresh water. There’s all kinds of ways to get water. Water is easy in the jungle. Its…..what that’s hard?” She asked.

Tazrae perked up and answered immediately. “Staying dry and warm.” She chirped, having been paying attention and listening intently. Uta smiled and nodded. “Good.”

They looked over Uta’s gear and Tazrae shook her head. Then she emptied her own gear, knowing she lacked things, but had other things. “This isn’t fair. Juli supplied me with a lot of this and I had no idea why.” The Inkeeper admitted. She didn’t want Uta to mistakenly think she knew more than she did. Taz didn’t. She just listened and had packed what Juli had told her she would need.

The girl lacked a good pot as well. But she did have a Survival kit with prepared tinder and the fishing stuff needed, though she hadn’t thought to bring it. She hadn’t packed her hammock either, but the backpack had her slicker in it. The Survival kit that Juli had gotten together for her contained the basic essentials for a surviving in the wilds of Mizahar. It included a simple first aid kit, flint and steel, 2 simple snares, a waterskin, and a simple tent. It also contained a small compass, a small roll of fishing line and 6 basic fishhooks, 2 candles, a blanket, a needle and thread, and a small, simple knife. Tazrae also had a small blank journal and a few lead sticks to sketch with in case she wanted to take notes. It was wrapped in a bit of hacked off oilskin tarp.

She looked over her gear and frowned.

“I need to get together something for prepared tinder, bring my hammock, and I feel like I might need more medical supplies than I have… which is nothing but insect repellant and burn cream.” She said thoughtfully.

Uta nodded. “All and all, you two aren’t bad. If we do this more than one day, I expect tomorrows bags to be packed better with everything you need. Marino, I see Taz has a hatchet and machete. You’ll need something like that… either or both… as well.” She added.

She took the spice box Marino indicated, examined it closely, and nodded. “That should do nicely. A coating of wax on the inside and along the seams will make sure you have it as waterproof as possible. Blubbery wax is the best… “ She added, then turned to the group.

“We’re starting off simple today. We’re going to go get coconuts for the coconut oil and cocao beans for cacao nibs to make cocoa butter with. Both those things we will need. And it’s a bit of fringe jungle travel for all three of us that doesn’t require you to bring those bags since I’m going to use you as pack mules to carry back the coconuts and cocao fruit with.” She said with a grin. “So repack your bags, leave them here, and take these mesh bags.” She said, gesturing for them to clean up their strewn out messes. “Take your waterskins only, the mesh bags… and follow me.” Uta said happily, waiting until they’d repacked their stuff to set out.

“One last thing as we go… footwear. Always wear tall boots that cover your calves when we go into the jungle. Snakes are everywhere and you want your calves, ankles, and feet protected. If you are going to get bitten, that’s where its going to happen. The rest of it, I will instruct you on how to not be in danger of getting bitten any other way.” She said thoughtfully as she set out.

The Herbalist lead them from her abode upstream along a trail that wove in and out of clearings that were somehow planted with tended crops of herbs and plants. Tazrae recognized some of them – namely mints – and a few cultivated berry plants and other things she didn’t recognize. Deeper jungle looked to be ahead, but Uta stopped before the trail grew smaller and went into dense vegetation fringed with a small new bamboo patch.

She gestured to Tazrae and the hatchet on her belt. “This bamboo here is great. It’s fast growing and it makes for a good walking stick. Cut one for yourself and Marino.” She said gently.

Tazrae nodded obediently and pulled the small hatchet from its sheath. She looked over the bamboo, tested it for strength and selected two tall lengths just slightly smaller than her wrist. She cut one, handed it to Marino, then cut another length. Uta borrowed her hatchet for a moment and cut a third.

She gestured with it after she returned the weapon. “The jungle soil is slippery. It’s often wet and prone to mud. Having a walking stick is helpful, the taller the better. It can be a weapon and a useful tool in the rules I’m about to give you. The first rule is simple. Touch nothing with your hands. Wear gloves if possible. Use the bamboo or whatever walking stick you have to move brush out of the way or touch things. Plants here have thorns, poisonous secretions, and literally every stinging insect and biting snake looks like the vegetation around it. If you use your walking stick to balance yourself as you walk and move aside vegetation, you are giving yourself an added level of protection against bites, stings, highly toxic plants and potential injuries from falls.” She said, then moved out leading them deeper into the jungle.

“Now… when you walk, don’t walk like a human. It doesn’t help you navigate the jungle any better. You need to loosen your hips, undulate them, bend and twist with the vegetation, and slide through it. Walking upright will just make you have to work harder to clear a wider swath with your machete or hatchet.” Uta demonstrated by ducking elegantly under brush, bending around branches that hung over the trail, and basically moving in ways Tazrae hadn’t seen anyone move before.

She tried to practice what the Herbalist was showing them, loosening her joints, thinking as if she were water undulating around the growth. She found the movement through the verdant green easier, more smooth and actually a whole lot faster than if she would have plowed straight through. Sometimes she simply had to duck right or left, but often she’d drag her walking stick for a moment as she bent under something at a crouch and kept moving.

Uta was right. The trail was slick and more than once she was thankful for her walking stick. Once, Uta halted them and gestured just off the trail at what Tazrae thought was a fallen mud-colored vine. It turned out to be a rather large snake basking in a patch of speckled sunlight.

They walked for a good quarter bell before Uta brought them out into an opening that looked like it was a grove of strange trees she’d never seen before. It was a clearing in the jungle over looking the sea. Taz had no idea they’d climbed for part of their walk. She could identify coconut trees among the other strange grove… a grove that looked planted there deliberately but was surely far older than the Settlement. Tazrae was momentarily confused by this, and thought to ask.

“Is this deliberately planted? It looks like an orchard of these trees ringed with palms… carved right out of the solid jungle.” The future Innkeeper said. Uta nodded.

“It is… and these trees are hundreds of years old. I stopped here because these are cacao trees and we need their fruit… and we can get coconuts here. Plus there’s a new windfall at the end of the grove I want to show you… it exposes the jungle without fringe vegetation. “ She said, beckoning them to follow her. She led them across the grove to where two huge palms had fallen and taken out the underbrush leaving what looked like a slice of jungle exposed.

“Tell me what you see looking at this… and up this…. if you are to survive in the jungle, you need to understand it.” She said, taking a break to let them talk… before showing them cacao trees and how to harvest the fruit and how to acquire coconuts.

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Delve Deep (Tazrae)

Postby Marino Oceangem on May 29th, 2020, 5:15 am

Marino’s face brightened as Uta began to share about Sea Buckthorn. He was not used to strangers being so forthcoming, though he was fast learning that Syka was different. The people here cooperated in a way he didn’t see elsewhere. It was part of the reason that attracted him here in the first place. A sense of community that was both familiar and foreign to him. His pod was different then what they had here, but he saw a few similarities that comforted him in this strange environment.

He followed along for the most part with what she was saying. The word Rak’keli was unfamiliar to him, as well as the other proper names, but he got the gist. It surprised him just how many uses this plant had. He could see now the wisdom of the Lia keeping this on hand, and even figured it might have been used on him once without his knowing. Regretfully, his curiosity was a late bloomed thing. Much of his youth had been more concerned with chasing pretty svefra than learning about the world around them.

Uta’s offer was a welcome one, and it showed clearly on his face if his broad smile was any indication. “I will be sure to visit her soon then. The offer will be much appreciated.” Even he could see the value of her offer. Good medicine was hard to come by, while the aches and sprains were many. Life at sea was satisfyingly rough.

He payed careful attention to what she said next. Marino had never had to worry about water in his life, thanks to his mark. So it had come to a great shock to him when he found himself contemplating venturing inland. Imagine him, goofy Marino, venturing into the depths of the jungle with no sea in sight. It was ridiculous, until he thought of Tazrae. She encouraged his curiosity, and his desire to experience new things. Even if that meant venturing out into a land with no water.

Fortunately, Uta reassured him that it was not the case here. His steady fears of dehydration subsided somewhat till she went into more detail. Then the bloomed into full bore dread. How the petch was he supposed to remember all of this? His mother would have suggested he put it to song, but he had no sway with verses. He learned better by doing, which was just something he had to hope they’d get to today.

More proper words that he didn’t understand came as she continued on. Not that he paid them much attention. He was still worrying at that first one in the back of his mind. In any case, it seemed that she planned on showing them all this which would hopefully plug any gaps in his understanding. He understood water, danger, warm, and dry well enough. The rest would come with more experience working alongside these people with their common tongue.

Marino perked up as Tazrae spoke, his brief tangent of a thought interrupted. Hard to keep dry and warm he mouthed to himself as he watched the woman unpack. She’d brought an interesting assortment of items, some of which he strongly considered looking for soon in Juli’s supply shop. Particularly, the two weapons Uta had pointed out. He might not understand their use just yet, but any Svefra could see the worth of metal tools.

Might I find some of this wax at the shop, or do I need to prepare it myself?” Marino asked Uta as they examined the box together. He was glad it would be useful to store the tinder. Maybe he could find something larger for his rations as well. After all, he was a less than capable hunter or forager for that matter. Out in the jungle he would need to rely on the rations he brought heavily.

He was quick to obey Uta’s next request, stowing his things while he looked over excited at Tazrae. It looked like they were finally going to venture out into the jungle to collect some materials. Feeling giddy, he stowed his things and grabbed a mesh bag, as well as his waterskin.

Marino’s smile faltered somewhat at the mention of getting bitten. Looking down at his own boots, he hoped they would be able to stop whatever critters she had in mind. His isuas breeches were long but he didn’t have faith in them stopping any teeth. Leg armor might very well be in the future once he’d gathered enough coin.

Suddenly a lot more attentive, he set out with Uta and Tazrae, watching them carefully. It kind of took him back to when he was just toddling around the deck. He fell and he fell, but he also watched. Eventually his legs caught up to what his eyes saw the other svefra did. With any luck, the same would happen from watching Uta. Naturally, watching her walk while trying to do the same with his legs made him feel like trying to swim in sand, but it was a start. He also didn’t trip, which he was counting as a win for now.

When they stopped, Marino took a tick to look around at the jungle before flicking over towards the plants Uta mentioned. “Thank you” He said to Tazrae before taking the stick, and planting it against the ground. It was a lot lighter than his spear, that was for certain. Despite that, it felt sturdy as he cautiously leaned his weight against it. He wasn’t sure how it felt because he was wearing gloves, but it looked smooth to the touch. Hesitantly, he shook it back and forth before trying to hold it like Uta was holding hers.

While far from having a good grip on it, it wasn’t hard to grow used to using it. What was hard was walking like Uta wanted. It ran counter to everything he learned from walking a deck all his life. Except for the loosening your hips part. That at least was something he was familiar with. Like Tazrae, he gave it an honest effort, quickly realizing the value of the stick. When you had to move like this, in jerky fits and starts, something steady was awfully helpful at keeping his feet under him. He still managed to hit every other brush, but he was giving it his best to mostly avoid it. Every time something touched his shoulder he was glad Juli had insisted on long sleeves, even if it was hotter than shite.

The rest of the trip went about as smoothly as could be expected. There was a bit of a fright when Uta pointed out a huge petching snake just lounging without a care, but it didn’t bother them as they passed it by. He was still thinking about that beast when a quarter of a bell later they arrived at a strange sight in the jungle. Well, stranger than everything else was because of the symmetry to the trees that was lacking in the jungle behind them.

At first he’d missed it, his eyes lingering on the sea he’d felt all along their trek, while his mind mulled over how high they’d come. Then Tazrae spoke, and his eyes flicked over to the woman, his brow knit in slight confusion. Uta responded, and Marino spoke without thinking. “That is amazing.” His eyes were now focused on the grove before them. Readily, he followed Uta across the grove and to the break in the jungle.

Studying the spot she mentioned, he didn’t know really what he was looking for. It was strange to see all the tree’s without the underbrush clogging his vision and from this angle he could see clearly up to the canopy above. Scratching the back of his head, Marino looked to Tazrae. “I’m not sure what I’m seeing. I can see a few of the trees better now, and petch are some of them tall.” Squinting his eyes, he added. “They look kind of different from each other, not the same like the ones in this grove. What do you think?” He asked Tazrae, hoping she saw something more helpful than his bland observations.


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Delve Deep (Tazrae)

Postby Tazrae on June 1st, 2020, 1:44 am

In regards to the question of wax, Uta had good advice. “Use what you have. Any wax will seal it well… but some waxes can go rancid fast. I would suggest beeswax because it never goes bad. But we are out here where supplies are limited, so if you have to use tallow then you have to use tallow. Just be prepared for it to smell after a while. The mercantile carries various types.” She added, then went on with the lesson.

The lesson continued and they moved through the jungle. Tazrae loved how they were doing it, and somehow, she felt more like a jungle animal than a human moving like they were. She daydreamed a few chimes – something Uta had warned against – and in her daydream she was a jungle cat or maybe a python… accepted by the jungle, part of it. She felt a bit silly, especially when she tripped over a root she hadn’t seen due to her daydreaming, and righted herself swearing to pay more attention.

The thing she’d labeled an orchard was astonishing. It shouldn’t be here at all. That it was shocked her, and she hoped Uta would elaborate more on it. Instead, the herbalist pointed out a section of jungle fully exposed like a cake whose innards had been revealed by a slice being removed. The windfall exposed layers. Marino didn’t seem to know what he was looking at either, which reassured the future Innkeeper enormously. She didn’t want to be the only one looking naïve before the herbalist… though she knew Marino was far more wise to the world than she was.

“I’ve never seen such huge trees. I had no idea they were that big…. and…. “ Tazrae frowned, looking closer, rising up on the tips of her toes and squinting. “None of them look like the same kind. Not like this orchard here…” She added, glancing at Uta to see if that was the proper answer.

It was an answer, but not the one Uta was looking for. The woman sighed patiently and shook her head. “Life here is so abundant that you need to understand that you can walk in a straight line a mile and probably not see two of the same kind of trees… even plants. There is so many types here… every inch of the world here is full of life. I stopped you here because I want you to see the layers of the jungle and only here can we step back and get a big view.” She said thoughtfully then glanced at them both.

By now, Tazrae was intrigued. Layers? She turned to study the exposed jungle once more. “The ground we walk upon is layer after layer of leaf litter. It’s a dark and thankless place. It has a fancy name, but that name isn’t important. The ground is full of rot and death. But the ground is home of the large creatures, the predators, things like the Ashta… and all sentient life. This is a very dangerous place… the ground. Snakes and spiders, scorpions and a whole host of other bugs live here. Floods rage here. Its all around us. The next layer up… see where the vegetation is layered up to about sixty… sixty-five feet? That’s considered the Understory. Its dark there too… though occasionally speckles of sunlight reach it. It’s a whole different world… there is food, smaller animals, flowers, and the plants are abundant. Its strange to say this, but you can walk across the decay of the jungle floor and be sixty to sixty five feet below where most of the food is.” She added, then paused to let them look.

“Are those ferns growing on trees?” Tazrae asked, confused. “I thought plants needed soil to grow?” She added, glancing at Uta.

The Herbalist laughed. “Epiphytes. They are plants that grow on other plants. They aren’t parasites though. They are ferns, orchids, cacti, and even mosses and lichens.” She added, smiling at Tazrae then glancing to Marino to make sure the sailor was following. “We also have aroids… they are unusual plants that start out growing on the ground, but reach up trees and other things… cliffs, etc… and then put down roots and usually get detached from the ground eventually. These types of plants are important because they often form a sort of roadway up and down the layers of the jungle for insect and small animal life.” She added, then gestured upwards…

“The next level is the canopy… its above the sixty-five foot level and can reach up to a hundred, a hundred and a half feet. It has sunlight that fills it, making the plants there very different than the ones in the Understory. The Canopy shades the ground below, eating all its sunlight and making it the dark moist place the ground is.” She continued her lecture, pointing out each layer of the jungle as she did.

Tazrae listened, fascinated. She could now see the layers as Uta pointed them out. And it caused her to realize how blind she was… as blind as she was to snakes… before she’d had one pointed out to her. She took a breath to answer ask another question, but Uta was talking again.

“Finally, there are Emergents. That’s above the Understory and Canopy… and can stretch to two hundred… two hundred and seventy feet above ground. The Emergents are just those oldest, wisest and biggest trees that poke above the canopy and stick out forming their own little worlds.” Uta replied. “There’s life in the Emergents, but not as much as in the canopy. But within the layers, you have to understand other things…. “ She went on, pausing dramatically, and then leading them past the windfalls and into the main jungle itself. She didn’t take them far, just inside far enough so that they were surrounded by cool dark jungle.

“Every acre… every one… can have between twenty and fifty species of trees.” She started out. “And you won’t find many repeats. The animals scatter the seeds far and wide, so these groves aren’t natural…. But I think planted by people that lived here long ago. Any time you find something that isn’t as diverse as I’ve described, you are looking at something cultivated… a crop or something similar. Most are food items, but I’ve found groves I think produce magical components too.” Uta said, looking thoughtful.

There she paused, smiled at both of them, and asked them another question. “Would you like to learn how to harvest Cacao and make cocoa butter or would you like me to walk around and point out what some of the various plants are and their uses?” She asked, giving them a choice. She didn’t want the lessons to grow boring and she wanted them to know a thing or two about the jungle.

Tazrae thought for a while. “Both sound exciting… I’d rather get to the Cacao today and do the walkaround a bit later when I can concentrate on the individual plants and take notes. But if Marino wants to do the walkaround first, I’m open to that.” Tazrae said, smiling thoughtfully.

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Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
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Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
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