Completed Beam Reach

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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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Beam Reach

Postby Marino Oceangem on June 7th, 2020, 8:55 am

Evening on the 7th of Summer, 520 A.V.


After a long, hot day out on the water, Marino was looking forwards to relaxing on the beach with Stu. So far it was just the two of them, but he hoped that more would join once they got the fire going. A fire Stuvantis expected him to get going. Looking at the pile of wood the man had gathered on the beach, he scratched his head, and asked again. “Are you sure you don’t want to do this?” Stu simply laughed, remaining where he was reclined on the sand. “You said you wanted to learn about staying here, so show me what you know about building a fire.

Nothing. I know nothing.” Marino complained, but knelt by the pile of wood, grabbing a couple of pieces off of the stack. “Try anyways.” Stu responded. With a sigh, he set two of them flat together in the sand, and grabbed a few more, putting them across in a line. Stuvantis shook his head at this and moved closer. “Stack two of them with some space between then do the next two across those.” He said putting two of the blocks parallel with a few inches in between before stacking two on the corners of those. He continued. “You want to do this because you’ll never keep the fire going without it getting some air.

Why does it need air?” Marino asked as he continued where Stu left off, stacking the blocks on top of the others. Some fell off, but he did his best to keep the pile as neatly arranged as Stuvantis had started it. “Have you ever put out a fire before?” Marino shook his head. “No.” Pausing a tick to consider this, Stu picked up a handful of sand let it fall through his fingers as he spoke. “Well, it depends on the fire, but a good rule is to smoother it. With sand for instance. If it doesn’t have air, it will go out. So when you are building it, you need to remember that.” Stu raised a hand as he finished speaking and Marino stopped stacking the blocks of wood. “Now put the rest throughout the center while I grab some tinder.

Marino did as asked, looking up when Stu returned with a small bundle of charred cloth in one hand and a canvas bag in the other. “Which is the tender?” He asked as he placed the final blocks of wood into the center of the stack. Stu handed him the charred cloth while he emptied the sack cloth bag over the stack of wood. It was filled with little pieces of wood that throughout the stack. The charred cloth was damp between his fingers and smelled strong enough that he didn’t have to hold it close to his face to catch a whiff. “Your holding the tender. The smaller bits of wood are going to help catch the fire you start on that tender.

Why does it smell so strong?” Marino wrinkled his nose, holding it out. Stu grinned, looking over at him as he gestured towards the stack of wood. “It’s soaked in oil, now hand it over and hold these.” He handed him the flint and steel he’d brought Stu earlier, and Marino quickly made the exchange. Stu put the tinder on the end of a stick and then motioned him over. “Strike those together over this and we’ll have this fire going soon enough.

How will I know if I am doing it right?” Marino asked as he moved over. “You’ll see sparks, now give it a try.” With a brief hesitation, Marino leaned over and started striking the flint against the steel. It elicited mostly a scraping sound with only the subtlest of flickers before Stu stopped him and handed him the stick. “You want to strike it like this and at an angle.” Stu said as he struck the pieces together over the tinder, quickly bathing it in a shower of sparks after a few tries. Finally it caught and Marino tensed up. “Now put it into the center, near that clump of wood chips.” Stu said, patting him on the back, and Marino followed his advice, watching the flame carefully as it started licking up the side of the pile of wood chips. Slowly it spread to the blocks of wood as Stu made adjustments to the pile, repositioning the blocks to make the gaps tighter in places where the wind was blowing. “Look at that.

He grinned simply relieved to have helped got it going. Marino immediately pulled out his pipe from the waistband of his white isuas breeches. The bowl was half packed but that was fine, his casinor was nearby if he wanted more. Drawing out the stick they used which was now properly glowing at the end. Holding it a little away from the bowl, he drew hard on the stem. The end of the stick sparked and held the pipe in his mouth as he used his other hand to block the wind. Finally the contents of the bowl caught as he drew through a pleasant smoke. He put the stick back in the fire, and took another longer draw this time, holding it in his lungs for a few ticks before offering the wooden pipe to Stu.

This is a nice fire, thanks for helping me learn.” Marino said, breathing the smoke out through his nose. “What do you think about that blend?” He followed after Stu had taken a draw. “Not bad, interesting flavor.” Stu said breathing it out and handing it back to him. Marino didn’t immediately take another pull just yet, but stood up to stretch. “I can bring you some if you want.” Stu smiled, and waved it off as he stood up too. “No, but thank you for the offer. I’m going to go check on dinner if you will keep this fire going. Shouldn’t take much, maybe a block of wood if you think it is getting low.” Marino nodded, and took another draw as Stu started walking off back towards the commons. Turning to face fire and the sea beyond, he settled back onto the sand. Tonight was off to a fine start.
Last edited by Marino Oceangem on July 14th, 2020, 9:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Beam Reach

Postby Tazrae on June 7th, 2020, 8:52 pm

Tazrae settled near Marino on a piece of driftwood, resting a pack with a machete strapped to it next to her. A gangly p uppy followed, dragging a piece of driftwood almost as long as its whole body. Tazrae smiled at the pup, reached out and took the driftwood from it, and tossed it as far as she could. The pup wagged its tail and dove after the wood, bumbling down the beach to fetch it. He jumped on it, chomped at the wood enthusiastically, and then picked it up and began to drag it back towards the small gathering.

A soft affectionate smile slipped across Tazrae's face as she looked at the puppy's antics. "We heard there would be singing and music. I brought my wooden flute. I'm not very good at it yet, but Stu said something about maybe drumming and that if I liked it, he'd show me how to make my own drum." Tazrae said, looking over at Marino, and patting the bag beside her. The woman was only dressed in a skirt, her bikini, and a light wrap around her shoulders more to protect against the sun than to ward off chill. The night would bring relief if nothing else, since the weather had been so hot.

Tazrae leaned over, pulled open her pack, and pulled out the flute. She laid the wooden instrument beside her and reached in for something else. Next a tin came out, large in size, and she cracked the lid to reveal flower shaped cookies. "I decided on a name for my Inn... Protea... after those beautiful flowers. I made shortbread to honor my decision and its name." She added, passing the tin to Marino. Indeed, the cookies were shaped like the big tropical flowers that came in bright shades of red, pink, yellow and coral. Tazrae gestured to it.

"Have some. I made enough for everyone." She told the Svefra and smiled at him. Marino looked like Marino... good cheer across his face and restless contentment stirring within him. She could tell he was having a good time, but she wondered what it was he was enjoying so much. There seemed to always be a slight war within Marino and she wondered if it had to do with the sudden disappearance of most of the Oceangems. Had his family stayed on this season or were they off to other places?

She glanced at the fire. "Nice blaze. Did Stu start it? I thought I saw him walking towards The Commons." She added, reaching over to pick up one of the sticks of firewood so she could poke at the fire. Poking at fires was something Tazrae loved, regardless of whether it was hers or not. The flames danced like living things and the warmth and comfort the fire brought in the wilds was unquestionable.

"I'm not even open yet, but James said he was bringing back two guests for me.... people who will stay part of the season." She said, knowing nothing more about them. "I'm nervous but happy the rooms will start to be filled." She added, then glanced at Marino.

"How is your family? Did they stay on this season or are they off to other parts to trade and hunt?" She asked, curious but not wanting to step on his feelings if they had indeed left without him. "I noticed that most of the Oceangems vanished all in the course of one day. Randal told me it was a common practice among the Svefra and that they'd be back soon enough." She added, then glanced up at him.

"I am glad you weren't one of those that vanished." She concluded, then reached in her pack again to pull out a waterskin and took a drink. After that, she replaced the skin, went quiet, and watched the fire thoughtfully.
Last edited by Tazrae on June 9th, 2020, 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Beam Reach

Postby Marino Oceangem on June 8th, 2020, 6:38 am

A flicker of movement caught his eye, and Marino glanced over to see Tazrae take a seat. His smile was quick to his lips as it always was around her. “You missed my bumbling attempt at with this fire.” He chuckled, hooking his left thumb towards the fire while carefully keeping his pipe cradled in his hand. Then, nodding towards the pup, he added. “Creature seems to be taking to Syka rather well.

Creature really was a beautiful dog. He didn’t have much experience with the animal, but the watching them play together was heartwarming. It reminded him of his own relationship with Twist, which was bittersweet. He missed his tavan deeply and hadn’t yet received word yet if he was with the pod. Tazrae spoke, and he shoved those thoughts aside.

Raising the mouthpiece of his pipe to his lips, he took a light drag off it, and slowly breathed it out. “That sounds wonderful. I love a good tune, though I could never carry one myself.” He paused and gave her a wry look. “Fortunate are those who have never heard me whistle as well.

Marino looked on with interest as she pulled out her flute, and then a container of some sort. To his delight it held cookies, and he promptly took one before handing her back the container. “That is a wonderful name.” He said, taking a bite out of the flower. Taking his time chewing the sweet confection, he considered putting out his pipe before meeting Tazrae’s bright blue eyes. “It tastes great.” He finished the rest of the cookie in two measured bites, and lacking any other clothing, wiped the crumbs off on his breeches.

With his thumb, he snuffed out the bowl and set the pipe down between him and Tazrae. He wasn’t sure if she smoked or not, so he put it within easy reach of her if she wanted to partake. “He did indeed, and a fine job I must say. It is ready for a proper party.” Marino said, following her gaze to the fire as well. It did look pretty out here on the shore, with the waves behind it. The smell of the wood burning also brought back countless fond memories from similar gatherings with his pod. He hoped his family was well out there on the open sea.

Marino turned to study Tazrae’s face as the topic shifted towards the inn. His own face brightened at its mention. “I still need to take a look at that water outside your Inn. I want to make sure you know when it is safe to swim.” Then a curious look crossed his face as his eyes flicked for a tick to the sea beyond. “Though having seen the changes to the tides this season, I think this might be the best time of the year for you to get your swimming in.” He grinned, a drummed his knuckles across his knee. The fact was he’d already spent some time out that way to observe the change in the tide by Tazrae’s Inn, but telling her that now would deprive him of the excuse to go on a future outing with her.

His grin tightened somewhat at the mention of his family, but he blinked past those other thoughts to answer her question. “They’re off to the open sea to make offerings to Laviku before continuing on their way.” He paused, and continued. “I sent my own offering off with them, but I am here to stay. There is still much I want to learn and do.” As he said that last part, his grin relaxed into something more natural. His eyes were still searching though. He didn’t like to admit it, but he still craved confirmation that his course was the correct one.

Dwelling on himself was not something he wanted to do on a fine night like this though so he stood up, and clapped his hands together. Then leaning over he extended a hand to Tazrae. “Would you like to dance?” He asked, feeling oddly sure of himself despite the fact he knew nothing about dancing.
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Beam Reach

Postby Tazrae on June 13th, 2020, 5:58 pm

As Tazrae and Marino spoke, others had joined the group. Two more founders pulled up firewood, and several denizens including Juli had appeared. Someone handed Tazrae a wineskin and she took a pull at it, passing it on to Marino. The tin of cookies was given to the person who had handed her the wineskin – she thought his name was Duncan? With a smile she watched the small crowd gather and to her delight more musicians joined the group. The Captian, James Chaliva, was playing a guitar and Jansen or Kalum – Tazrae was always confused as to which Akalak was which at any one given time – was singing in a baritone that was almost haunting. Rainmere was up dancing with a blond man that Randal had introduced as Kultra to her. Tazrae watched them out of the corner of her ey e, fascinated about how beautiful the pair were together.

Others began to dance as well, though she ignored them and leaned in to hear what Marino was saying. “Don’t worry… there’s always time tomorrow.” Tazrae said, and realized it was something of a catch phrase in Syka for the leisure attitude the settlement seemed to have taken on. Important things – survival things – were done that day. But things that could wait… always put off until tomorrow. “I’ll learn to swim eventually. I don’t think I have a choice, living here.” Tazrae said with a smile. She glanced down at where he’d set the pipe. She never had smoked one, but he seemed to always have his with him. “What is that thing?” She asked carefully…. “I mean I know it’s a pipe… a water pipe… but what are you smoking in it?” She asked casually, not sure if his easy attitude was actually his demeanor due to the pipe’s contents or if it was because that was part of his overall nature.

Tazrae liked the man, a lot, half because of the way he made everyday life so easy. Words were never forced between them. She never had to work to enjoy his company or draw out a conversation. It just happened. And if she were honest with herself, the aura around him made the world feel more welcoming when he was about.

She did, however, notice the stiffness to his lipline and the brief flash of pain in his eyes when she mentioned his family. One blink and it was gone, hidden away with whatever other pain he must have inside. Tazrae almost mourned the fact he tried to hide his sorrow. Sorrow was always lessened when one shared it. “You must miss them. I wish them well on their journey. Randal says they will be back soon enough, that The Oceangems are as regular as bird migrations and one could mark their calendars by their comings and goings.” She said with a smile, trying to lighten Marino’s heart if she could. In a way, though, she was jealous. It was a tiny streak within her she recognized immediately. She missed no one in Riverfall. She hadn’t had friends there, living in the shelter of her parent’s Inn and then in the almost fortress-like confines of her new stepfather’s estate. Women were allowed to go about, but men didn’t often make friends with them and other women were somewhat competitive in ways Tazrae didn’t really approve of. She wanted to be standing on her own two feet, not in competition with other females on who could get a better Nakivak Contract or marry well. She didn’t want to be any man’s well-paid broodmare that he gave enough coin to that she’d have to give her body to them whenever they felt the urge.

Men were freer than women… at least where she came from. Here though… here was different. And as all these thoughts crossed her mind, she noticed Marino’s outstretched hand. She laughed then, because it was something no man would have done in Riverfall unless he’d talked to her stepfather and had already negotiated an outline to a potential contract.

Reaching for his hand, she locked her long slender fingers in his own, stupidly proud her hands were now as rough as his were as their callouses bumped over each other in a sort of foreshadowing of what was to come. Tazrae climbed to her feet with a slight pull from Marino and kicked off her sandals. She left her wrap on the driftwood by her wooden flute and promised herself that no matter how badly she played she’d join the other musicians later.

The music wasn’t slow nor was it spinningly fast. It was something happy, go-lucky, and somewhere in the middle. “I have no idea how to dance… but it can’t be that hard right?” She admitted to Marino as she looked over at Rainmere and saw that the woman had her hands on Kultra’s shoulders, but they didn’t linger there long. She moved in front of him, touching him often, sometimes on the shoulders, sometimes on the hips, almost like a seduction. She watched his face for a reaction as her hands ran gently up and down his back, holding him lightly for balance as she danced.

Tazrae wasn’t sure about it, not really at all, but she slipped closer to Marino and ran her hands around his torso and up his back to rest lightly on the clavicles of his shoulders. That put her hips in line with his as they both moved with the music. She breathed in deeply, smiled up at him, and then laughed lightly with almost no sound. “I shouldn’t like this so much.” She said, slipping closer, but having already in the span of time she met him deciding to be honest with him always… “But I do.” She added, moving her feet in time with the music and adding motion to her body to mimic the tempo. The Treble Clef on her bare back’s left shoulder glittered in its upraised magical state marking her as one of Rhaus’ children. It meant she could hear the music, really hear it, and feel it to her core. It wasn’t just the notes and tones, but the language behind it and the mood the musicians wanted to convey. She tried to duplicate it with the movement of her body – although awkwardly at first – telling him in yet another language that all was well in the world. The smile on her face, the rise and fall of her chest, the swaying of her hips and the gentle motions of her feet all spoke of happiness, contentedness, and the same thankfulness the music spoke to her of.

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Beam Reach

Postby Marino Oceangem on June 14th, 2020, 1:06 am

Marino made some room as the others joined the fire, moving closer to Tazrae. Pretty soon it was a proper party with lots of smiles and laughter as people chatted with one another. It was nice. A comfortable reminder that he was a part of something here. Gratefully, he took the wineskin from Tazrae, and took a swallow like she had before passing it on. It tasted delightfully sweet on the tongue, which was a welcome diversion from the drinks he was accustomed to tasting. Shoal seemed to think the same as he took a tug, flashing him a grin before he returned to the conversation he was having with a woman Marino didn’t recognize. He was going to ask Tazrae about the drink when the crowd attracted his eyes, and the music started in earnest. A handsome akalak with a voice full of soul joined in with the guitar and a few people paired off to start dancing. He watched it all with glee.

Mostly though, he watched Tazrae. He didn’t think he could care for someone so much outside of his pod, but he did. It felt like an immutable part of now, and as if it had always been there. Filling the space there in such a way, it was like it had never been empty in the first place. Marino liked what she said about tomorrow. It was a sentiment he could readily get behind. Life here was so full of surprises, it was impossible to fit it into any one day. Better to spread the joy around, and make the season that much richer for it. “There will be plenty of time for that. I would be happy to take you out anytime you want another lesson.

He followed her eyes down to the pipe and scooped it off the ground. “I got this blend from an Akalak passing through the southern suvan. Its got a far better flavor than what my grandfather enjoyed while he was around.” Marino paused thoughtful for a moment, then laughed. “I can’t help but think he would approve though. The stuff he smoked tasted like it came off the bottom of a ship. Would you like to try some?” He asked, extending it towards her. “Its mostly for the flavors as it isn’t particularly strong.” If she decided not to take it, he would set it back down where it was between them, rubbing the stem with the ball of his thumb as the conversation moved on.

His emotions felt like the tides as the conversation shifted. While it was easy to talk about his grandfather, the same could not be said of the living. Life on the sea had breed him to accept death as a part of things, and the Svefra in him celebrated the life that was lived instead of mourning what was lost. However when it came to the pod, things were different. There had never been time he was apart from them before, and he was finding that harder to accept than anything else he’d faced. He didn’t know what to do with these feelings their departure had left him with.

Tazrae though, seemed to sense this in him. Her words were comforting. Marino reached out to put his hand over hers. The back of her hand was smooth and warm as he held it. “Thank you for your kind words. It is easy to lose my direction when in uncharted waters. When they come back, I will throw the biggest party, and you will meet my mothers. The sun will rise and set many times for our celebration.” He said, his tone wistful as he looked into Tazrae’s eyes.

Feeling much better about life in general, he approached her for a dance. Their fingers intertwined, he helped Tazrae to her feet and couldn’t stop grinning. Leaning forward, he whispered in her ear. “Fair warning, neither do I.” He gave her a light hearted wink as they sorted themselves. Glancing over at the pair Tazrae had been watching, Marino tried to imitate the way the blond man was carrying himself. While Tazrae stepped in close, wrapping her arms around him, he wrapped her up in his arms, his hands on her lower back. Gently they started to sway back and forth with the music. Marino felt like he was caught in a trance as they moved, her body seemed to fit so well against his.

He smiled back at Tazrae when she spoke. “I feel it too.” He said softly, adding shortly after. “This is nice.” Marino for his part tried to follow her next movements, but stopped himself when he almost tread on her foot. He decided it would probably be better if he just stuck to swaying and enjoy the way Tazrae found the pulse of the music. She’d slipped in closer while they spoke and as he held her he noticed the glittering mark on her back. It was beautiful and elegant, with an otherworldly shimmer to it. Tazrae was blessed as he was, though he didn’t recognize the sigil. He was enjoying the moment too much to interrupt it with a question when what Tazrae had said earlier came back to him. There is always tomorrow.
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Beam Reach

Postby Tazrae on June 14th, 2020, 2:49 am

She declined the pipe, though not with distaste but with a sense of the pipe being something they could enjoy later. The conversation was kept light, though Tazrae could feel the heaviness in Marino’s heart. She wasn’t close to her family, not like he was with his extensive pod, but in the days before their departure, she would have to admit to herself she had gotten used to having all the Oceangems around. Life wasn’t ever dull with them about, their constant poking, prodding, and almost endless good-humored teasing. They had bottom-less stomachs as well, something she loved as a hostess. “Good… bring them around and let them stay for days when your pod returns. It’s a large regret of mine I didn’t meet your mothers. I have a feeling they would have told me stories…. of your youth, and the folly of your willfulness. Your cousins shared some with me, you know…” She said as they danced, her back arching so she could lean back and look into his eyes. He could see the twinkle of mischief there.

She noted too that he had seen what was on her shoulder, tucked neatly behind her. A handy wrap almost always covered it. “It’s a new thing….” She told him softly. “… a god mark, if you can believe that of a plain girl from Riverfall with nothing else remarkable about her.” Tazrae said, parroting something her step-father had often said of her when strangers had inquired about her status not knowing she was an inherited daughter through his new marriage with his Nakivak. “I heard the sailors singing on The Veronica. It was a beautiful song they sang often… something of the sea and the sky. It was our second day out when we were getting ready to cross halfway. I was alone on the back deck, watching the wake of the ship. There was a man…” She said softly, her eyes fading from bright to distant as if her blue gaze could see that man before her clearly. “He had years on him, but oh I could taste something about him in the air…. I’d been singing that song, you see… but singing it differently than the sailors had sung it… sadly, questioningly, longingly. He said it brought him to me… to mark me.” She offered the story to him as a gift… leaving out the details, but telling it in a way that his own mind could fill in the blanks.

“He made me a bard, one of his, saying he could feel the love of music and people within me. He said that made the unremarkable remarkable in his eyes and that it was too bad my stepfather and mother couldn’t see it.” She said softly, her voice dropping to nearly a whisper. “I had such doubts about coming here before Rhaus touched my shoulder and told me I could do whatever I wanted too with that sort of passion inside me.” She said, tilting her head to meet his eyes. “And through that mark….that simple touch… I can hear so much more now. I can hear whispers all the way across a room and find the perfect pitch to each note as I play or sing them. I can hear your Twist sometimes or creatures like him, way out across the waves when they talk to their friends in those clicks and whistles they use. I can hear a million birds singing in the jungle and the click of little beetle legs climbing all over those big trees. Thus made my world more beautiful, which I didn’t think was possible because I find the world already so incredible.” Tazrae added. “And he showed me that my stepfather and mother were wrong, telling me I’d never make it on my own out here. If the Lord of Music says I can if I want too… then I can. He is no liar.” She added, then leaned forward and laid her head on his shoulder as the music slowed down.

“But what they didn’t understand is that here, no one is truly alone if they don’t want to be. They had no idea what is here… what this place is… or who the people here are. This is a new way of being, of living, a society that shares so many things… labor, wealth, ingenuity.” Tazrae said softly. He could feel her jaw moving slightly and the warmth of her breath against his neck as she relaxed into the soft music.

It didn’t last though. Musicians traded in, songs transitioned, and someone was singing a lively Svefra tune in two more heartbeats. Tazrae laughed, lifted her head from his shoulder, and stepped back from him to dance away and spin like several of the other women were doing. She laughed, glad the mood was a little lighter, and spun again, dancing in front of him and almost tripping. The wine they’d sipped had been strong, stronger than the girl was used to having lived her whole life under the shadow of her mother’s strict rules.

But there were no rules here, and Tazrae was acutely glad for it. She halted her turns in the sand with a little thud of her heels for a moment, then clapped with everyone else as the jaunty tune ended. “They do this often here don’t they?” She said, somewhat breathless and staring at Marino as if she’d only just begun to see him. “Why? Is there some darkness I cannot see?” She said suddenly serious, as if she suspected the light of the evening hid something far more sinister, something she was blind too that everyone else knew all about. The girl had a vibrant imagination and a sense of the layers of things, but so far she hadn’t run across anything about Syka that wasn’t as it seemed. Would Marino even know if there was something? Something that caused this light? Tazrae didn’t know.

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A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
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Beam Reach

Postby Marino Oceangem on June 14th, 2020, 4:31 am

Laughter bubbled out of him at the thought of what stories those might have been. “Oh I can only imagine at what tales they conjured up.” He said, grinning broadly down at her. As to what stories his mothers would tell, he had a pretty firm idea. They were always quick with an anecdote when he did the slightest thing to remind them. Which was often, and he loved them for it. When he saw them again, he would make sure they knew he loved them. Being apart from him had made it clear that he didn’t tell them that nearly often enough. “I’m glad you like my family.” He said after staring into her eyes for a moment. Not everyone took to the Svefra so well, a fact he’d been shielded from until he was on the way into adulthood. Syka was different however, and so was Tazrae. It was a constant delight to get to know her more.

He didn’t have to ask. Tazrae noticed where he was looking. Breaking the silence, she told him her story. Marino leaned in, and listened carefully to her soft words as they slowly swayed with the beat. Her tale was sad at first, but it ended beautifully. His hand went up to caress her upper back as she laid her head on his lower shoulder. “You are special, even if you didn’t have a mark. I’m not surprised a god chose you out of all those other people.” Marino said quietly. Hearing her story had stirred something within him. He felt like he could open up to her if only he could decide where to start.

Before he could finish forming that thought however, the music picked up into a sprite little beat. Tazrae took to the tune immediately, spinning around and dancing like the other women. Marino didn’t know what to do for his part so he peeked at what Shoal was doing, an tried a little jig. He felt silly and uncoordinated as he hopped from foot to foot, but he was having fun. Busy watching Tazrae, he clapped a beat after everyone else when the tune ended. Then Tazrae walked up, and he though he might have his chance. Her question was a good one. It got him thinking as he looked back at her thoughtfully. “I think the world is naturally a dark place. Not evil, just implacable. The jungle doesn’t care if you or I are prepared, and neither does the sea. It is up to people like you, and me to bring out the light. The light doesn’t get rid of that darkness, but it does uncover whatever it is hiding.” He said, pausing for a steadying breath before he continued.

I don’t know what the storm of 512 was like for Riverfall, but for my pod, it was terrible. We lost so many people, it was hard to find the light again after that. We almost didn’t find it at all as we drifted, lost across the open sea. Then came another pod from the north, with a painfully lighthearted tune in their wake. Those of us who were still numb tried to ignore the cheer, but there were others among us who saw the need for the light. One by one, they joined in the tune with what means they had available, softening the hearts of the rest of us until we joined in as well. I was only fourteen at the time, but I remember drumming my hands on the rail alongside my older siblings.” His hands trembled slightly as he continued.

It was a small thing, but it helped us get going in the days that followed. For the first time in what felt like forever, we had direction again. The sea was once again a joy, and we emerged from the storm closer than ever. I think about that day often in the quiet moments before I shut my eyes at night.” He said, his voice trailing off towards the end. Taking in a deep breath, and releasing it through his nose, he released the last of that pent up emotion. With that off his chest, he felt better than he had in ages. His smile was warm and sweet because he felt able to put that dark period behind him now.
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Marino Oceangem
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Postby Tazrae on June 14th, 2020, 7:28 am

She did like his family, almost to the point there was a tad of jealousy there. They were as different from her own as night and day. Her family was smaller, darker, with secrets she'd left Riverfall before she could understand. But a sailor had said something in passing on the crossover that had made Tazrae think a bit. "Family is what you make of it, either by birth, debt, or friendship." She had thought long and hard on that topic and had decided ultimately that she could have whatever family she wanted. Creature was now part of that family.

Tazrae suddenly jerked, remembering the dog, and looked around frantically. He was asleep on her backpack, her wooden flute slack in his mouth as if he'd been contemplating chewing it. She half smiled in relief, silently chastising herself that she'd forgotten to watch him in all the dancing.

Marino was distracting.... handsome and fun... he made her forget her problems and sometimes even forget herself.

Especially when he said something as sweet as he just had... about her being special. She'd smiled a response to his words and held him just a bit tighter for a moment before they'd done the spinning dance with everyone else and continued the conversation. Her mood not really dropping though the question she'd asked him had been more serious than it should have been.

His answer made her thoughtful... and his story made her go cold. She knew that people had been caught out in the storm. 512's storm had changed the world. It had killed a lot of people too. There was some whisper behind it, as if the Gods were responsible, but Tazrae's parents had sheltered her from that talk. When the Djedstorm had hit, she'd been tucked away in the bowels of her step-father's estate, the pain of her mother letting the Inn go still smarting freshly in her mind.

She met Marino's blue eyes and watched the memories and pain cross his gaze. What must it be like trapped out to sea during that monstrous storm? Magic touched everything... changed things... and so much had been lost. Her imagination went wild a moment and she wondered what lost meant. Death? Were they changed? Did Laviku take them home?

She didn't ask. Tazrae had no right too. She only took his hand and squeezed it reassuringly. "I'm glad the other pod came when they did. It sounds like your Laviku was trying to help by bringing your people together. I hope you remember the song and can sing it for me someday." She added, really wanting to know it. Songs had power... true power. Most people didn't understand that... but Marino seemed to understand.

"Riverfall has a great many Konti... and they are about half and half healers and seers. There were riders from Syliras days before the storm. We were all warned about the storm from both the seers and the riders from Syliras. It... was a frightening time for me. I was 15... but I was safe, in my step-father's basement. Riverfall had no losses because of the early warnings. Even the outlying businesses and folks that were on the other side of the gates survived as far as I know." She said, wondering now if there had been deaths but she hadn't been told.

Tazrae tried to shake off the mood. Life was too short to look behind at the past too often.

She smiled at him then laughed as a sudden thought occurred to her. "I'm older than you are. A year older! When's your birthday?" She asked, then voluntarily gave hers. " Mine's the 35th of Winter, in 497. I'm 22." She added, laughing. "You can't be older than 21!" She chirped... in the tone of an older sibling discovering their power to boss a younger sibling around just by virtue of the date of their birth. Her grin was wide and wicked and her voice teasing.

"Did you ever picture yourself someplace like this at 21?" She asked curiously, and then reached out and took his hand. She was tired of dancing and was letting him know in a not-so-subtle way. Tazrae tugged at him, leading him back across the sand to their seats. She released his hand then, and reached down to carefully pried her wooden flute out of the sleeping puppies mouth and wiped the dog drool off it.

"I never even thought of being in a place like this.... among people so different than I am used too. My stepfather put lots of pressure on me to become a Nakivak. It's the only way a human woman can get any real status of merit in Riverfall. We can become full citizens, but that route wasn't for me since he wouldn't let me learn a weapon or unarmed combat. The Akalaks are big on battle... and to become a recognized citizen there, you have to have a competency at a weapon and pass a test with it." She said thoughtfully.

Then she told him a little more about herself.

"The only other route to being anything other than a slave or non-person is becoming a Nakivak. It's like a hired broodmare. The Akalak men like to write up fancy contracts for women. The contracts include payment for a child... how many times the man can visit her to make her concieve, what she can wear or eat... or places she can go while under contract. Some even state that they must move in with the male and be at his beck and call. My mother became my step-father's Nakivak when my father died.... and we moved in with him. Their marriage came later. She needed the money but later decided she loved him. She's pregnant now. And human women often don't survive the births of Akalak children, so I don't know if she will live through the experience." Tazrae said thougthfully.

"I don't want to see her get hurt, but its what she wanted. She wanted it for me too... wanted the money it would bring." Tazrae added somewhat bitterly. "I never cared about the money, but the status situation bothered me. Here... there's really no status or hierarchy at all except for the Founders.... I like that." She added, then glanced at Marino.

"Do the Svefra have a hierarchy in their pods?" She wondered, knowing almost nothing about his culture.

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Postby Marino Oceangem on June 14th, 2020, 11:51 pm

That rings true.” Marino said, thinking about what she said about family. He was making a new one of those here, with all of these people he came to know. Then Tazrae looking around drew him from his contemplations till she settled on the pup. Immersed in the conversation as he had been, he’d forgotten about Creature who now seemed to be resting contentedly. Then he noticed the flute which brought an amused smile to his lips. The dog was as every bit as mischievous as Twist, if not more since he could go on land or sea. Marino wondered if they’d get along when they met. Would he need to teach the dog how to swim? That might be an interesting proposition.

It was a pleasant thought as he held her close, the slow song winding to its end. A picture of them all swimming together was slowly replaced by something more lively as the tempo picked up. In the wake of that beat, he found a way to express himself. He shied away from too much detail, but he admitted how much it all had effected him in the end. That storm had changed everything. It had struck down people in different ways without any reason behind it. The scars it had left behind had taken a long time to heal. They had healed though. The Svefra were nothing if not a hardy lot. Loss on the sea was not unexpected even in the best conditions.

Marino took comfort in Tazrae’s words, giving her hand a squeeze back. “I will work out the words to sing for you someday soon. As soon as I have given my voice some practice. I am afraid I’m not much of a singer.” Marino grinned faintly, enjoying the chance to slip some levity into the conversation. His eyes shifted focus to hers as she mentioned the warning. “We had something of the sort as well. Though as swift as our Avikki are, it did not leave us much time to gather everyone. Still I am grateful for what we did receive. It saved a lot of lives. I am glad to here that you weathered the storm safely.

When the subject shifted, Marino took to it instantly, his face brightening. He didn’t like to dwell on such things. Especially on a fine night like this in the midst of a celebration. “The 20th of Summer, 498 AV” Marino replied, wearing a wry smile. “I’ll soon catch up to you, if only for a little while.” He chuckled. This was nice, here by the fire where the laughs came so easy. He considered her question for a tick before forming his next response. She pulled them back to their seats as he spoke. “I can’t say I did. For most of my life I’ve known nothing but the open sea, trading with the vessels that crossed there. It is only in the last few years that I feel like I actually have been experiencing the world, and I love it. Love this place. There is more than I ever dreamed here.

He listened carefully to her story, shifting uncomfortably when she got to the part of the Nakivak. Marino found it hard to think about a woman in that position. It seemed so cruel even if there was compensation. In his mind, no money was worth the loss of freedom that entailed. He was glad that she had escaped that fate. A spirit like hers shouldn’t be caged by a contract. “We do. Every pod is lead by a Lia. The Lia is always the most capable woman among us. This is as it should be in my experience. Where men are brash, women are wise.” He said, and then added. “I can’t imagine what life must be like on the reverse. I think you made the right choice coming here, for what its worth.
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Beam Reach

Postby Tazrae on June 24th, 2020, 2:58 am

Tazrae ran her hands across the flute and looked thoughtfully at Marino. Her hands were busy with the flute, but she’d kicked her sandals off and reached out with a bare foot and stroked the sleeping pup with wiggling toes. She had a soft smile for Creature in that moment before she nodded to him. “I’d very much like to hear your song.” They did that… the Svefra… they sang things sometimes. Their watery life didn’t lend itself to the written word – something that a storm or rough water could destroy – but songs were important to them and preserved something of their history. She’d seen it first hand since she’d come to Syka. And to her, Marino offering to make her a song was a big deal.

“I’ll remember your birthday. You’ll need someone to bake you a cake anyhow. Do you celebrate births in any special way or is it just a general party with presents like most of the rest of the world?” Tazrae asked, already thinking about the sugary monstrosity she’d make for Marino. It was summer already… and she knew that thirteen days wasn’t a lot of time for planning. Tazrae would have to see Juli immediately and get extra sugar and flour for the cake. And perhaps she’d practice a song for him…. if she could swing it. Maybe one on her new flute? Taz wasn’t much of a songbird, but since her trip over on the Veronica… she thought that perhaps might change. The gnosis mark burned on her shoulder and she smiled fondly at the memory of meeting the God.

The conversation moved on, and Tazrae found herself fascinated by the Svefra and the fact that they were led by women. “I think that’s amazing… women leading. Your people are so strong, Marino. I see so much of it in them when they debark here and hang out. I liked my life in Riverfall, but being a woman among so many men wasn’t easy and my parents sheltered me terribly. I don’t know if you figured that out, but I didn’t leave the Inn much and I knew almost no one. I had tutors to teach me the basics, but I never even went shopping for what we needed for the kitchen or anything like that. Being here… is so different. It’s hard, in a way… very hard. But I enjoy it. And people really have taught me a lot without giving me a hard time for being somewhat …. well a whole lot naïve. But people here are generous with their knowledge. I’m learning how to shoot a bow… a composite longbow… and how to handle a machete and hand axe. I can’t even remember being able to touch a weapon in Riverfall other than a kitchen knife. I envy you, Marino… whether you know it or not. I envy your freedom and how much of your life you’ve gotten to live. You might be younger, but I suspect you’ve seen and done a lot more than I have in your life.” She smiled at him then, and shifted so she faced him on the big driftwood log they were sitting on.

She started to say something else when Juli came laughing by. She stopped when she spotted Marino and Tazrae, and unslung one of just many waterskins she had over her shoulder. “Hibiscus Peach Wine!” She said and thrust the large waterskin into Marino’s hands. “For you and Tazrae. I have others, and I’m passing them out to really get this party started.” She added, even as Stu settled near Marino’s other side and pulled out what looked like a large hand drum. Juli left him with a waterskin too, no doubt filled with something highly alcoholic, and then challenged him to play for them… something foot stomping.

“Hibiscus Peach Wine?” Tazrae asked, curious. The girl didn’t drink much, but she did use wine to cook with. She was about to ask more when Stu rolled off a drumbeat and began playing his drum in earnest. It was loud, beautiful, and Tazrae began clapping in time to his beat. Others did too, and suddenly everyone was singing a common song that the Innkeeper had never heard before.

“Let me try it!” She said, holidng out her hands for the wineskin after Marino had a chance to take a pull or two from the skin if he so desired.

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