Open A Game Afoot

A sleepless Otani's hunt for Totems

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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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A Game Afoot

Postby Onaona on June 15th, 2020, 8:50 pm

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14th of Summer, 520


The hunt for the totems had burned a hole in Onaona’s thoughts, and all her attention seemed to be leaking out the wound.

It was a few bells after her search with Marino, and after disinterestedly picking at her meal of smashed sea urchin, the Otani found she couldn’t settle down. The hunt, the game, was incomplete. She felt pulled in many directions, one to win and the other to please. She wanted her prize, so she could present it to Syka and get their approval in return. As Syna began to set and her phosphorescence began to creep up her body she gave up altogether on the idea of sleep. There were games to be had!

She had headed north last time, hugging the coast on Marino’s casinor. This time she decided to head south from the docks, navigating by the glow of her body. The light was strong enough to illuminate her immediate surroundings when in the eternal dark at the bottom of the sea, but on the surface it was only as strong as a candle. These were not ideal searching conditions, but at this point it hardly mattered. Armed with nothing but glowing hands and a fiercely burning determination, Ona began her search.

Swing Beach was quite eerie at night. Still within sight of the Docks, the hanging ropes creaked in the humid, still air, the boards and baskets beneath them hanging like dark fruit or corpses. Would there be something here? Ona grabbed one of the plain wooden planks that hung a little too low and hauled herself up to get a better vantage point. The beach itself was still strewn with leaf litter and other storm debris. Some of the more fragile basket swings had been tied to the tree trunks they hung from. The ones that weren’t looked a little weather beaten but were miraculously still standing. The water beneath her was crystal clear, though the sandy floor looked to have shifted violently since she saw it last. Where should she start?

In the distance she could see a structure built out over the water that still had opens flames burning. At least someone else was awake. She itched to investigate who but she summoned all of her insubstantial willpower to focus on the task at hand. She’s find them later. First, a search!

Shooting one last glance at the structure down the beach, she slithered back into the water. Hands out and grasping at anything dark and wooden, she skimmed over the sea floor beneath the swings, looking for her prize.
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A Game Afoot

Postby Robert Glenfeidh on June 16th, 2020, 3:36 am

"Petch, it's late out here."

Robert stifled a yawn as he stretched and leant forward, before walking down the gangplank and onto the docks proper. He raised a hand in farewell to the indistinct figures that marked some members of the Pod he'd travelled with to Syka, and shifted his backpack slightly on his back, taking care not to wake the already sleeping Anastasia nestled comfortably within.

The moonlight wasn't strong enough to fully light up his path back to his room in the Protea Inn, but it was good enough to find a sure footing with each step as he walked along the shore. He'd taken his boots off while on board the palivar, as the wooden planks had released enough of the daytime heat that they were cool to the touch. Picking his way through some of the larger debris the residents hadn't managed to clear away yet, the smooth texture of clean, dry sand on his feet were a balm to the few minor aches that were just the beginning of the consequences of a long day on foot

Robert luxuriated in the serene quiet of a seaside night, hearing only the gentle wash of the waves as they came and went, the creaking of swings, and the rustling of leaves in the cooler night breeze.

Glancing around, and seeing no one in sight, he grinned and sank his feet into the sand, slowly shuffling forward and letting the cool, smooth grains rub his feet as he moved languidly.

Swaying slightly to the rhythm, he slowly adjusted to the slow, soothing cadence of the waters of the Suvan sea, before a brief interruption in the song of the main caught his attention, and broke the reverie he was sinking into.

What was that?

A louder-than-usual creaking of a swing closest to the shore, coupled with a small splish that sounded different from the waves quietly crashing onto the shore.

He turned towards the sea, and scanned the coastline, but couldn't see much of anything except the moonlight reflected on the water's surface.

"Is - is anyone out there?" He half-spoke, half-yelled, embarrassed and feeling slightly ashamed for spoiling the tranquility.

He squinted into the darkness, feeling like a fool, as his eyes were in no way equipped to deal with the dark waters, clear as they were.
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A Game Afoot

Postby Onaona on June 18th, 2020, 1:24 am

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The Otani's search was, predictably, inevitably, frustratingly fruitless. This hunt was going to drive her mad. She wanted her prize, so she could give it away. She wanted to be useful. Perhaps that was a product of what she was- a species created as more of a tool than a creature.

She might have been there all night, slowly clouding the water with her digging, until she heard a voice call out self-consciously from the shore.

"Is - is anyone out there?"

The Otani paused, her eyes flicking upwards through the water. The rough, shimmering silhouette of a man could be seen gilded in moonlight against the dark backdrop of the jungle. Abandoning her search in light of this new curiosity, Onaona surfaced just enough to peer over the water. The glow around her body was a warm, syna-spackled gold that battled with the silver reflection on the water as she studied this new creature.

Human, she recognized immediately. Strong and compact. His dark hair blended into the night around him. Sykan. New Sykan? She recognized his accent but couldn't placed it. Transplant. She lifted herself further out of the water.

"What's wrong?" she asked, and her smile was a wicked thing. "Did you see a monster?" She found her feet and climbed ashore, water cascading off of her in sheets and her hands disappointingly empty. "I am Onaona, an Otani. Do you love your Sea-Father?" the last part was shot almost accusingly at him. She was frustrated and hungry in a way she couldn't quite explain, and it showed in the clipped measure of her voice and in the subtly un-human way she held herself.

She warily stepped closer to the man, hoovering just out of arm's reach as she stared him in the eyes like she was trying to memorize them. Which, to be fair, she was. The grey in them was confounding. She couldn't decide if they were beautiful or hideous.

"I'm looking for the lost totems. And so are you", this was less of a guess and more of a hope, or possibly a command. "Will you find them with me? No, against me. A race." She cocked her head, as if considering him for another angle would make him easier to read. "A game? Find one first and I will give you a treasure."

She wondered where he was from. The man was handsome in a northern, aquiline kind of way that was so rare this far south. But no matter what he was before, he was Sykan now. Or at least becoming one. Humans, she had learned, were marvelously adaptive, always changing. It was one of the many things about them that made her ache with love.

She pointed to the structure further south of the Swing Beach, one she had never explored before. Someone was singing on its overwater deck. He sounded a little drunk.

"The game is beginning! We will look there first. Will you play with me?"
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A Game Afoot

Postby Robert Glenfeidh on June 19th, 2020, 2:52 am

The waters shifted, becoming slightly murkier as a soft, balmy glow grew. Robert took a step back, watching it approach him slowly until -

"What?!"

He fell backwards, landing in an awkward position on his arse he scrambled back to a safe distance, eyes entirely focused on the creature in front of him dripping liquid gold that slowly transmuted itself into molten silver. His shock was palpable, and it was a few moments before he regained enough control over himself to say the first thing that leapt into his mind.

'Whoa, you're gorgeous."

What?!

He could have slapped himself for the non-sequitur. Instead, he hurriedly added on to his initial statement, retreating slowly even as she moved towards him, alchemical waters flowing down her fluid, inhuman body.

"I mean, good eventide to you, Onaona." He fell back on the manners ingrained into him by his mother. "My name is Robert."

'I... What's an Otani? Sea-Father?" A pause, and something Marino had told him earlier clicked in his mind, and he continued, meeting her stare.

"Ah, yes, the Sea-King, Laviku. I follow the Lady Priskil, but on my journey here through the Outer Oceans, I joined the Svefra when they sacrificed a portion of their catches to him. I hope He enjoyed that wineskin of whiskey." He gabbled on for a bit, finding some reassurance in the dubious fact that if he kept talking and she continued to listen, she wouldn't be too inclined towards assaulting him.

A game? A game?! Right, I'll play along, may as well do something now that I won't be able to sleep tonight.

He got up, feeling slightly better about his chances of not being drowned to death by Onaona, and brushed off the sand. Thankfully, Anastasia remained in his backpack, still soundly asleep, so he wouldn't have to deal with her meeting the Otani.

"Aye, you've guessed it. I was walking all day inland with Marino Oceangem - a Svefra sailor who bears Laviku's mark, I think? And we were looking for these pieces. I'll join you on your search - you can search the waters, I'll start with these trees and swings while we move over there."

He nodded to himself, as if to confirm his decision, and moved off, methodically walking to each tree and shaking it lightly, looking up at their crowns in hopes that he might spot a piece of the totems that some mischievous animal placed there just to inconvenience the searchers. Every now and then, he glanced over at the Otani, wondering at what she was doing and how she could do what she had done.

Onaona was unearthly. He'd seen a fair few Ethaefal back home, and they all shared an allure that set them above an average human. But Onaona? She was like that too, only more so - where they still held traces of humanity, Onaona felt closer to something that only held the near-identical countenance of a human - her tone of voice and her body movements seemed perfectly normal to him, but they still created a sense of unease within it, as if his body knew that something wasn't right.

She's not human, for sure - an Otani... I wonder, what are they? What is their purpose? Are they creatures of the sea?

As they approached the structure with no successes under their metaphorical belts, he recognised the atmosphere that it carried with him - it was a bar. Being a distiller, he'd had time to visit more than a few back in Lhavit, and though they may have been rather distinct, the feel of a bar was still recognisable to him. Besides, through an open window, Robert could barely see the the familiar shapes of bottles and glasses.

He turned to face the shore, and walked closer towards it until he was just about wading in ankle-deep waters.

"Onaona? I'm going in to take a look. Don't worry, I haven't found anything yet, so we're still playing!" The chuckle that broke out of him was not entirely forced - the sheer absurdity of playing a game of find-the-object with a sapient, aquatic creature had overcome enough of the initial fear.

"And... Do you want to come in for a drink?"

Robert was a firm believer in the fact that drinking was the best social lubricant that ever existed, and he'd be damned if he didn't at least try to invite her - human-like beings that looked half-flesh, half-water might be just a tad out of his experience, but it was worth a try.
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A Game Afoot

Postby Onaona on June 19th, 2020, 5:29 am

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Onaona was conflicted. Robert was polite, she liked that. But he put some other deity before Laviku, and she did not like that.

The man fell back in the sand and started slowly crab-crawling away even as she advanced on him, studying him in a ferocious kind of way. Like if she couldn’t make up her mind about him she might crack him open to dig a little deeper. Him with his beautiful/hideous slate-coloured eyes and his northern looks and his baffling accent and Priskil, whoever that could be. He was trying to find the totems too, he explained, babbling a little bit as the shock wore off. He had even been searching inland with Marino.

“Marino?” Ona turned the name into a question when as she spoke it. The familiarity of it seemed to punch a hole in her single-minded ferocity, and she straightened up as he rose to his feet, brushing sand off his breeches. He agreed to continue the search with her, which she celebrated with a delighted noise in the back of her throat. Having a partner gave her something to focus on, rather than being consumed by obsession playing by herself.

They briefly searched the Swing Beach before heading down the beach for the overwater structure in the distance. Ona swam, and Robert walked, the two unconsciously keeping pace with each other even at a distance. She only surfaced when he waded into the water by the bar’s long dock, telling her he was going to take a look inside, and asked if, maybe, she wanted to come in for a drink?

“What the actual hai, man.” A human was leaning over the rail of the north most rancho’s deck. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, and had the kind of rich dark tan the suggested he never did. His hair was dark and long and his eyes were a bright, cheerful brown. He was alone at the bar’s open seating area, with an array of wildly coloured drinks arranged on a table in front of him. It looked like he might have been experimenting with some new cocktails, and it looked like he might have been at it for quite a while- the man was definitely drunk. He squinted at the pair, eyes flicking between them in a dance of confusion. “Y’know what? Never mind. Come on in. Welcome to the Tidepool Bar!”

Ona swam out to join the stranger at the bar section of the sprawling overwater rancho. Climbing into one of the hanging water hammocks that sat half-submerged in the sea she kneeled so her elbows could rest comfortably on the deck by his feet. As she did she caught sight of a bucket of mangos on the other side of him. She lunged for them but he was too quick, lifting them easily out of her reach onto the table.

“I’m Stuvantis Alkamar”, he introduced himself as Robert came up the dock to join them. “Unfortunate, I know. Call me Stu. Welcome to my little piece of paradise!” He extended his hand to Robert. His smile was a majestic thing, it radiated fun and welcome and a promise of summer. “You’ve come at just the right time. I can’t quite get this drink to work for me, have a taste and tell me what you think.”

He shoved a ceramic mug into his hands. Whatever was inside smelt sweet and spicy and was almost violently orange. Almost as an afterthought Stu added a little decorative purple flower.

“And who’s this little beast?” he crouched to observe the Otani hanging off his deck.

“Onaona!”

“Onaona! What a pretty name. Y’know, I try not to feed the animals, else they never leave, but I think I can make an exception a well-behaved bestie such as yourself.” He plucked another drink from the cluster on the table, some fruity smelling concoction in a ripe round coconut, and handed it to her.

Otani are scavengers, used to eating raw and rough and whatever they can find. To them food wasn’t something to be enjoyed but consumed. So as soon as that beverage was in her hand her head tipped back and she sucked it down with shocking speed, the cloying flavours of rich coconut milk and spiced rum tragically lost on her.

“Ah, now theres a girl that can drink.” He made to take the empty coconut back, until the Otani opened her mouth and hissed at him. Point taken, he retreated without argument, leaving her to try and dig out the coconut meat that still clung to the inside.

“So”, Stu prodded, leaning on the railing to keep from swaying as he addressed Robert. “I’m not going to pretend I haven’t seen stranger than a guy taking a monster on a dinner date, but I’m gonna guess this is more than that. Lookin’ for some divine help for that totem search, eh?” It turned out that even tipsy he was perceptive. “You won’t find any of them here, but tell you what, there is a cave nearby you might have better luck. Called Estuary. Ever heard of it?”
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A Game Afoot

Postby Robert Glenfeidh on June 20th, 2020, 1:31 am

"Ta, mate." Robert followed the drunken proprietor to his bar, and waited for Onaona to be seated before selecting his own, chuckling as he saw Onaona almost capture the orange-yellow fruit.

He let his fingers caress the weathered bartop with an ease born of experience, noting with approval that it was wiped clean and smoothed out for the comfort of a barhopper. Taking comfort in the familiar-not-familiar atmosphere of a bar, and in the many bottles of alcohol stored behind the counter, he shook Stu's proferred hand firmly, already feeling more at ease with the strange evening.

"Not the only one with a long name, Stu - Robert Ayr Glenfeidh. My friends call me Rabbie." Robert's smile threatened to split his face as Stu mentioned tasting a drink - it'd been such a long time since he'd had to test their brews at the distillery.

As Stuvantis chatted with the Otani, Robert examined the mug he'd been offered. An intense orange liquid that hinted at decadence and violence of flavour stared back at him. He swirled it gently, taking care not to spill any, and noted the surprisingly thin viscosity. He raised it to his nose, and closed his eyes, letting the aromas waft to his nose and sorting through them, as he had done many a time an age ago in Lhavit.

Citrus, of course. A sharp, tangy citrus that shoots right through your nose. A bit of wood and earth - might be the barrel that it was aged in. Tazrae's inn was built of something I'd never seen or smelt before, so probably an exotic wood only found here in Syka. No peat or smoke for sure. Ah! There's the saltwater - the air here always smells like this. And... spices. Stu's infused spices. Bit like mulled wine, but Lhavit's mulled wine was meant to warm our bodies, this is more of a tropical flavour to fit the climate.

He tipped it to his mouth, and took a moderate sip, letting it wash over his tongue.

There's the alcohol! This... fruit? The fruit juice's hidden the strength, but this is just right for a nice evening out with friends. Not too thick for this kind of weather or heat, and it flows clear. There's all the notes I can smell, but... there's a bit of bitterness that cuts the sweetness. A bit much, I think - it might be from the wood it's aged in, we've had a few batches that we had to fix because of that. Or is a spice?

He swallowed it, and waited a few seconds to get an impression of the after-taste before drinking more.

As Stu glanced over at him, even as Onaona savaged the coconut, he raised his half-empty mug and grinned.

"It's a great drink, Stu. The fruit juice sits a bit heavy, but you've gotten the proof just right. Might want to do something about the aftertaste - it stays there too long, and the fruit's a bit too strong for that kind of impresson. The spice mixture tastes good, but there's a bit too much bitterness that more than cuts the sweetness. What kind of wood did you age the liquor in?"

Stu's eyes widened a fraction, as his natural exuberance shifted into professional curiosity and more than a bit of intrigue.

"Not bad, Rabbie - a lot of experience, eh? You're almost there, the rum's relatively neutral, but I added some cardamom bitters to balance out the sweetness."

Slightly bashful at the praise, Robert replied. "I've been working at my family's distillery in Lhavit since I was a wee lad - got to have a good tongue, what with all the stuff I've tried."

Bursting into sudden laughter, Stu slapped his back.

"So you've come here to put me out of business, eh?" He continued cheerily. "Just a joke, Rabbie. I'm glad to have you here in Syka, it'll be a relief to talk to someone who knows their stuff. Ah, the young missie's almost done."

Having missed her gulping down of the coconut cocktail, Robert stared in fascination (and some horror) as he watched Onaona digging the coconut flesh out as messily as possible, before Stu spoke to him again, making him sputter with his insinuation.

"Not a date! You've got it in one, Stu - me and Onaona just chanced upon each other on a moonlit night, and I decided," Robert placed some emphasis on the word, "to accompany her on a search. I'm new here, so I don't know much of where anything is. But who knows? Seeing double after drinking a bit might help."

Stuvantis roared with laughter, and took a few seconds to recover from the unexpected quip before continuing. "I like you, Rabbie, you'll fit in just fine with us here. The Estuary Cave's further down the beach, halfway to the mouth of a river in the south. You might miss it in the dark, but there'll be a small stream on the way. Follow it, and you'll be there in no time. Once you're there... Trust me, man, you'll see something special. And you, little lady," he motioned to Onaona, "All done with that poor coconut? Want another for the road?" He dangled one of the mangoes in front of her before placing it near her hammock.

Nodding in agreement, Robert clasped hands with Stu, and turned around to Onaona.

"Well then, shall we?"
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A Game Afoot

Postby Onaona on June 23rd, 2020, 1:08 am

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Ona watched Robert sip his drink as she savaged her coconut. It was hard to think of that action being as fascinating as it was, but she couldn't look away. There was something in his expression that was... focused, enchanted. She watched the bob of his adams apple and the movement of his tongue through his stubbled cheek and wished all the more that she could rip him open to see how this baffling creature worked. What went on inside his head, where she couldn't see it?

She stayed silent as the two men went on about something she didn't understand. She thought she had a good grasp of the common language, and she was pretty sure she understood what all those words meant separately, but the two of them were stringing words together in ways that she couldn't follow. But she did catch one word between the volley: Lhavit.

She fit the word against Robert's accent and his pale skin and dark hair and found them to be a perfect match. Yes, Lhavit. The mountains on the edge of the world. She had swam in their port before, though the city itself was a few hundred kilometers out of her reach. She simmered into what was left of the mutilated coconut, feeling accomplished to have put together one piece of the vast puzzle.

"All done with that poor coconut? Want another for the road?" Stu had turned to her again, and was holding out a ripe yellow fruit. The Otani snatched it out of his hand like it might be taken away.

"Ta, mate", she cheered, holding the fruit above her head in a strange kind of salute. She blew Stu a kiss as she slipped off the deck and back into the water as Robert and Stu clasped hands.

"Well then, shall we?", her searching partner turned to her. Ona mirrored his smile.

"Lets go!", she cried, dipping below the surface of the dark waters and shooting back to shore, her frustrations burning away in the light of this new lead. She climbed onto the sands and attacked her fruit as she waited for Robert to join her, and this time she walked beside him on the soft sand between him and the still black ocean. Leth was bright enough to see by this time of year, but her own luminescent glow didn't hurt as they hunted for this mysterious cave,

"Tell me a story", she finally spoke, throwing the pit of the mango back into the sea. Her face and chest were sticky with juice. "Tell me a story about Robert. Robert Aye Glenfeidh. Rabbie. Which name is your real one?" She licked the palms of her hands clean as she considered. "What made you leave your mountain?"

Suddenly the Otani stopped on an innocuous patch of beach, which had become harder and more clay-like as they walked, and her head tilted like she was listening to something. Sensitive to saltwater currents just like all of Laviku's marked, she noticed when it was interrupted. Her pupiless eyes swiveled to her feet and then towards the jungle. She could feel freshwater running beneath them, emptying out into the lighter salt sea like a heavy cloud.

"Water water everywhere, and not a drop to drink", she sang. "A river runs beneath us."

She followed it up the beach, but stopped as the dark, Leth-less jungle blocked her way. The jungle did not love her. The green, growing smell was suffocating. She hated the foreign sound of whispering trees and the chatter of the unseen animals, how every branch became a claw and every vine a trap. The second she lost sight of the sea she lost sight of herself, too.

The Otani fidgeted for a moment, her face blank but the slits of the gills along the sides of her torso wide and gasping as she steeled herself. Finally, she turned to Robert and motioned him to follow her as she plunged into the trees.
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A Game Afoot

Postby Robert Glenfeidh on June 26th, 2020, 3:11 am

Robert hastily stifled his chuckle as Onaona repeated his earlier turn of phrase.

I think I like her.

Descending the last few steps to Stuvantis' bar, Robert walked over to where Onaona was waiting, before the twain moved off. He glanced at her every now and then; it was the first time he could actually see the entirety of her body. Her phosphorescence, with the vaguely human shape she was currently wearing, gave an ethereal tint to his perception of her, and stirred memories of a time gone by.

He had had the privilege to witness a performance of the Lhavit Philharmonic some years back, where a solo pianist had played several unorthodox melodies in the intermission. One particular piece evoked impressions of cascading waters, of brooks gurgling, and of a lone stream winding its way from the mountains down to the sea. Onaona was not a creature of alpine spring and glacial meltwater, but the soft light of Leth and the faint shimmer of the stars lent something of the music's quintessence to the Otani.

"A story?" Caught up in his reminiscences of Lhavit's peaks, and the streamlets that flowed from melting snow, Robert ruminated on her questions, before speaking again, borrowing some of the loftiness and loneliness of the mountain paths he had trodden time and time again.

"All these are my names; Robert, for one of my forefathers, and Ayr, a word that my family uses for the Amaranthine River. We were distillers, makers of whiskey and spirits, so every one of our names had something to do with water. After all, to many, whiskey is the water of life - or at least it tastes closest to it."

Almost lost in his memories now, Robert failed to give much attention towards Onaona licking her hands clean.

"I left because there was nothing left to do back home, I think. My sister, her daughter, and my father were safe and well-off enough, and I heard from a Svefra friend while sharing a drink with him that Syka needed a brewer. Syka, Falyndar, the jungle - all of these sounded exotic to me, promising a rich bounty from nature and suggesting the unknown - ideas that I couldn't have known if I didn't come here. And so I left, sailed the Outer Oceans, and rounded the tip of Falyndar to arrive here."

"I..." Robert struggled to find words, turning over possibilities before settling on them.

"It's a strange place, Syka. Sometimes I feel kinship with the waterfalls and rivers and the sea, for the waters are the closest thing to home; even if I never returned, Lhavit will always remain with me. And oh! I am glad to have sailed Laviku's waters with the Pod to come here. There's a sea-longing that stirs in my heart when I hear a seagull cry, or the voice of the open waters; almost an everlasting echo of some great music. It is perilous, I think - the unquiet of the deep."

Robert remained silent for a time, content to listen to the gentleness of the waves. He quirked an eyebrow at the Otani's little song, and looked at the beach beneath them. He couldn't verify the truth of her words, only that the white sands had shifted to something approaching clay.

'Are you alright?"

He questioned, seeing that she had stopped, the slits on her torso opening and closing in some semblance of unease, before she entered the darkness.

Robert followed, trusting that Onaona would provide sufficient deterrence to the creatures of the night. As they walked, the undergrowth grew thinner almost suddenly, indicating the presence of a trail that Robert could not see, only feel. Squinting in the darkness, Robert could just about make out the desire path that marked the passage of people. Onaona, presumably, followed the underground river unerringly, never hesitating in any changes of direction.

Soon, they noticed a light that grew larger as they approached it; the babbling of a stream broke through the ever-present cacophony of the jungle, and Robert gaped as the Estuary Cave revealed itself to him again, though in a different light.

Bioluminescent algae had crawled from the waters to the walls of the cave, creating strange formations and patterns of gentle blue light that hummed in contrast with the Otani's own glow. Robert stirred the shallows of the pond with the tip of his boot, and marvelled as the plankton within, excited by the disturbance, glowed in their own colours.

"I never knew this place was like this..."
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A Game Afoot

Postby Onaona on Yesterday, 9:19 pm

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The two didn't travel far before the jungle ground opened beneath them and rock curved far over their heads. And before long the Human and the Otani stumbled upon the Estuary cave.

Suddenly the Ona wasn't the brightest thing in the dark. Algae glowed along the cave wall down into the stream and up the side. Fish of many different species, some freshwater she had never seen before, moved lazily and unthreatened through the clear water, the light flashing off their scales. Robert disturbed the water with the tip of his boot, and the agitated plankton flashed like stars.

"I never knew this place was like this..." Robert said, his voice hushed like they had stumbled upon something holy. And perhaps they did. Ona's eyes were wide with wonder as she stepped onto the sandy bank that followed the cave wall. It must have been centuries since she had seen something so beautiful.

The fish and crustaceans didn't seem terribly bothered by their presence. Even as Ona slipped into the water, leaving a trail of swirling plankton behind her like a comet, they simple moved aside for her. The wonder bubbled from her in a breathless laugh that bounced off the walls. Above them part of the cave had collapsed, letting in the moonlight and a handful of stars.

Between the enigma of Robert and the beauty of the cave, Ona had completely forgotten about their quest for the totems. She ruminated on the story the man had told her about his life instead. He had worked water into much of it, speaking of whisky as waters of life and how the Syka waterfalls and rivers reminded him so much of home. She wondered if that had been for her benefit. Perhaps he was relating himself back to the water because that was the only thing the monster understood. The thought bothered her. She had spent her whole life trying to understand people, but she was made to observe, not experience. So much of them were simply beyond her.

A thought struck her. She didn't understand Robert, that was true. So she would just have to turn him into something she did. Through weeks or seasons or a lifetime she would turn Robert Aye Glenfeidh into a true follower of Laviku. A creature of the water just as much as she was. He was already making efforts to relate, she just had to push it farther. She would make him worship the water like all of humanity should.

She turned to him, only her chin showing above the water. "Look what our god gives us! We've been blessed to see such a sight. How will you show your thanks?" She looked him up and down, studying him with uncomfortable intensity while she judged him. She was going to teach him about Laviku.

"Weak gods are worshipped with wine and flowers, a real god required sacrifice", she explained with casual blasphemy. "So what is beauty worth to you? Is it worth a secret, a coin, a drop of blood? Laviku's love is not gentle, but is as wild and fierce as the sea. We must pay it back in kind."

There was a proper way to sacrifice. The what was never as important as the why. A poor man giving his last miza was worth a thousand times more than a wealthy man giving away a pile of treasure. She wondered what Robert would choose to give. There wasn't a part of her that even considered he would not do as she was all but demanding.

"Do you know what an Otani is?" she suddenly asked, head cocked as she tread the water, remembering their first conversation. "We were created to serve Laviku and those who bear his mark. I am his tool, his eyes and ears. I came to Syka to watch this city build up and up and up! To watch like the old days, when humanity was regrowing everything they lost." She smiled, a delighted keening sound rising from her throat. "Don't you see? Lhavit is not in the rivers and waterfalls. Do not miss your Lhavit, because it is gone. But your god is here! He loves you! And this city will be your new home."
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Onaona
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Joined roleplay: October 12th, 2017, 3:09 am
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