Completed Arrival

Willjan and Des arrive in Syka

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

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Postby Willjan on July 19th, 2020, 3:02 am

Arrival in Syka

Summer, 2, 520

Willjan awoke spitting and spluttering as The Veronica lurched over an especially raucous wave over the Suvan Sea. The air below deck felt heavy and humid even before Syna had fully formed in the sky. It was their second night spent below deck, so they were expected to arrive in Syka sometime that day. Willjan wiped what felt like crusty, brined spittle from his mouth with the back of his hand and glanced over at Des to see if she had seen his short fall from grace.

Nope. Her chest rose and fell in the steady, reliable way that only seems to occur when one is unconcious. A wry smile began to spread across his face as a thought occurred to him.

He closed his eyes, attempting to gather Djed to his throat. Since his target was asleap, he took his time, humming a bit to himself; as if clearing his voicebox was a kind of incantation. Finally, in a smooth, sing-song voice he suggested, "It's time to wake u-up."

Nothing happened. Willjan had to brace himself as The Veronica hit another hard wave. Des let out a slight snore and rolled over. Willjan's smile vanished, and after seeming to weigh a few different options in his mind, decided to throw the backpack he had been using as a pillow at her, landing it square on her back.

Des groaned. "Geeze Will, how early is it?" she said, "Why are you up? We're arriving today. We don't have work duty until it's time to unload the ship."

Willjan grinned. "Why am I up?" he said, "Why am I up?" he said again, this time louder as he stood, arms widespread. Then he looked down at Des, "Because we're POOR, Des," he said, smile gone, "Only the rich live in leisure." He crouched down to pack up the bedroll he had laid out the night before.

Des rolled her eyes, but crouched next to him to help.

Last edited by Willjan on July 28th, 2020, 3:58 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Willjan on July 19th, 2020, 6:22 pm

The transition from below deck to above felt like leaving a damp cave and entering a bazaar. Willjan closed his eyes on the ascent so that he could better breath deep the salty air, and enjoy the steady breeze that occurs on a ship mid-voyage. Des moved over to the rails, tying her hair back behind her in the process.

Someone on the starboard side cried out the sight of land, and Willjan opened his eyes to admire the chaotic efficiency that occurred as crewmen scuttled over the deck and weaved between the three masts of the clipper ship, rigging the sails to adjust course. At the center of the chaos was Captain James Chaliva, who paced in an upright, intentional sort of way among the men.

Captain Chaliva was a tall and sharp-featured man with the sharp blue eyes that could only come from some amount of Svefra heritage. For that reason, and also because of the commanding presence the captain seemed to emanate, Willjan found the man an annoyance- especially hating his own begrudging respect for the him.

Willjan joined Des in leaning against the starboard rails. At first, he could only make out a small speck in the distance, but after short while, the speck grew into a small landmass with discernible structures peaking out over the vegetation and behind a large stretch of white sand beaches. The speed at which the settlement came into view surprised Willjan. The clipper must be moving much faster than he realized.

"Looks a lot more rundown in comparison to Riverfall," Des remarked.

Willjan scoffed. "That's not rundown! Those building look brand new! That's up-and-coming!" he said, "Riverfall was a fortress city that the Akalak carved from the side of stone cliffs. How is anyone ever supposed to top that?" He gestured to the growing landmass in the distance. "That right there is opportunity, Des."

Des grinned. "I thought the Akalak were quite friendly," she said.

Willjan sighed. She was pushing his buttons, "They only liked you because you could make them more Akalak. Maybe if I was a baby making machine they'd have liked me better too."

Des laughed and they fell silent for a while, watching Syka's details come into view. They could make out small fixtures dotting the beach now. Willjan squinted, trying to make the figures out. Lynched men? A warning for visitors to play nice? No...

"Are those... swings?" he asked Des.

"Indeed they are!" Captain Chaliva answered before Des could make a remark. He had come up to stand beside them on the railing. He had on a broad smile at the moment, and his eyes seemed to be laughing at the question.

Willjan straightened up. "You look like you're excited to come home, Captain," he said. He mimicked the way the rest of the crew addressed the captain, trying to keep his tone earnest and without mockery.

"Indeed I am, Will," the captain said, still smiling, "You remember our deal?"

By hook or by crook Willjan had somehow convinced the captain to take Des and him to Syka on The Veronica's return voyage from Riverfall. He had even gotten the captain to agree to wave the cost of the trip in lieu of manual labor, something that, apparently, he almost never agreed to. Willjan wondered if that was true, or if that was a white lie that the captain told him in order to make Willjan feel indebted. It's what he would do, anyway.

"Yes sir, I remember," Willjan said, but the captain carried on.

"I only agreed to take you to Syka. I didn't agree that you had a place here," he said, "I want you to meet the other founders of our small community- Mathias Okavis and Randal Zor. If you two can convince them you'll be a net positive on the community, you can stay."

Willjan watched the captains features as he spoke. The laughter that was in his eyes before was now gone, and his voice was stern. Willjan wondered what exactly he was getting into with Syka, and how closely these 'founders' seemed to govern it.

"Understood sir," he said.

"Understood," Des agreed, more pleasantly.

"Do you do that with everyone, sir?" Willjan asked the captain. "Vet them in that way, I mean."

"Yes, we do," the captain responded. "Mathias and I have our own theories as to why, but for whatever reason the ecology around Syka seems uniquely diverse and fit for settlement. Despite that, there are many dangers. Only a few steps into The Maw and you'll quickly encounter a myriad of venomous creatures. I swear, I've seen some predators the likes of which would make a Talderan dire wolf tremble. You must realize, we have a population of less than a hundred, so this place can't absorb idle hands connected to open mouths. We're trying to build something with a firm foundation here."

Willjan could here the passion in his voice, and respected it. Maybe he did like the old man after all. One thing he said was curious, though.

"I understand, Captain. Sometimes a flower needs careful attention and specific nutrients before it can fend off the immigrant weed, right?... What was that you said, though. Uniquely diverse? What's your theory?" Willjan asked, hoping he sounded casual enough.

The captain nodded at the metaphor, but hesitated to answer. He didn't really know the boy. Wasn't even sure if he was qualified to stay in Syka. Why should he share such things with this kid?

Willjan held his gaze, noticing the hesitation. Trying to keep his face as placid as possible, he gathered Djed around his eyes and cheeks. While his physical features did not at all change, he tried to soften the perception of them, projecting a sense of almost childlike innocence. You can trust me, he suggested.

It was unclear whether the hypnotic suggestion had any effect on the captain or not. It was unlikely that Willjan would ever know for sure without pushing the suggestion towards some impulse out of character for the captain to have- which would be contrary to whole point anyway. He didn't want to control the man... just nudge him into trusting him.

Whatever the reason, the captain responded, "We've found a fair amount of ruins deeper in the jungle. Sometimes artifacts show up after high tide. Combine those instances with the diverse fauna..." he shrugged, "It all seems too coincidental not to be linked. That's really the gist of it."

Willjan wondered if that were really 'the gist of it', but decided to let the topic lie for now. The captain left to continue managing his ship, leaving Des and Willjan to ponder his words while continuing to watch Syka come into view. It was close now.

"That was stupid," Des said.

Willjan grunted, still mulling over the captains words.

"Didn't you hear him? Less than 100 people," she hissed, furious at his non-reaction, "A place as small as this isn't going to be like back at Kenash. If you scam someone here, you're apt to see him wandering the beach the next day. People are only going to work with you based on trust and your reputation to get the job done. If you're caught throwing your charisma around with guys like that, we'll be blackballed from the whole settlement! They'll question our intentions. We'd be lucky to be deported."

Charisma was Des and Willjan's in-public code word for Hypnotism. The two were extremely careful to keep it a secret, as Des's mother had taught. No one likes being manipulated- for benevolent reasons or otherwise. Because of that, the two of them rarely used the technique except to make subliminal suggestions here and there. As a result, despite being practitioners from a young age, their mastery over the magic was stunted. It was simply to risky to go for broke in most cases.

Willjan studied Des, his face had been shrink-wrapped in annoyance during her lecture, but when she finished, he was forced to acknowledge her point.

"You're right of course. I'm grateful you're here to put me in my place," he said, putting his arm on her shoulder, "But still, I think the reason things didn't work out in Riverfall was because we didn't take enough risks," he turned to look back at Syka, now only two or three kilometres away, "This time we do, or we die."

Des brushed his arm away. She didn't like it when he got like this, and suspected he was merely placating her with the gesture of gratitude. She sometimes wished the two of them would be the type to come to Syka simply to enjoy those white sand beaches that looked so nice. After all, those swings looked comfy!

Do or die, huh? Such a cliche. But when she looked to Willjan, whose eyes were still fixated on Syka - she could tell that he meant it.
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Postby Willjan on July 23rd, 2020, 8:41 pm

Syna was high in the sky when The Veronica finally slipped in to dock. Even before a full stop, dock lines were tossed over the railings to sailors already onshore. Captain Chaliva called out orders to connect the gangway to the starboard-side deck where Des, Willjan and others had already prepped the ship's cargo to unload.

Willjan had been especially curious about the cargo. Bringing it above board, he eyed each barrel, crate, or cage before he picked it up, trying to make out its contents. Most were well fastened and opaque so he could only really discern the most obvious goods: sacks of vegetables or grains (apparently not locally sourced), fowl, and the clinking crates of Riverfall wine. Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the shipment was how small it was. Also, unless they were in those closed containers, Willjan could see few luxury goods other than the wine. A surprise, given Riverfall's notorious gem trade.

He also noted that as they continued to work, locals would appear out of the trees, greet the sailors and immediately pitch in. Des was right, he thought, A small community for sure. This event also meant that Captain Chaliva hadn't been fibbing when he said he didn't usually exchange passage for labor. Why would he? He had all the unskilled labor he wanted right here. At least, for unloading the clipper he did.

. . .

Willjan licked his lips, not sure if the salt he tasted came from the sea air or his own sweat. Despite the breeze from the open sea and the humble amount of cargo, both he and Des had soaked through their clothing by the time they had finished helping unloading the ship.

He took a moment to lay flat on the dock and splash a bit of the seawater onto his face. It was lukewarm, but better than nothing. At least the breeze on his cheeks felt a bit cooler for it. Des was taking the moment to take a deep swig from her waterskin.

"Willjan! Des!" Captain Chaliva called out to them from the other end of the dock. Apparently he had joined in helping organize the provisions as well because he too was soaked through his linen shirt. Unlike the two of them, though, he seemed unfazed and was breathing light.

The two of them waved back an acknowledgement and jogged over, falling in line next to the captain- who had already began walking.

"We're going to Mathais'," the captain said when the two of them had came up beside him, "Do you have your sales pitch ready?"

"I was just using the Sea as a mirror in which to practice it, sir," Willjan said.

The captain gave a small smile, "Good. His place will be around the bend there, to the east," he explained with a gesture, "To the west, past the swings you saw earlier is the Guest Quarters- you can stay there tonight as a temporary shelter until you get yourself situated. Past that is the Tidepool Bar, where you can buy food and drink, and talk to Stu, who loves meeting the new residents. Just bring him a good story or two," the captain explained, "A bit north of there is The Syka Commons area. My daughter and I host the Mercantile adjacent to it. We'll be having supper there tonight, in celebration of the safe voyage."

They rounded a slight bend in the beach. The captain looked sideways at his companions to check if they were listening. Des' cheeks were flushed beet red. She pushed her long hair back and out of her eyes and it clung there, plastered exactly where she left it. Willjan's linens were beginning to show streaks of salt.

"There's also a community pool a short trek east of the Mercantile where you two can bathe," he said wryly, "Duncan may be there to welcome you, but if you'd rather just take a moment to yourselves, he'll probably give you a quick tour before realizing suddenly that he has an obligation he absolutely must attend to. "

He finished, and they arrived at a wide, beachfront bungalow. Thick support columns raised the dwelling up to connect to an expansive deck that extended all the way out to meet the sea. There were no windows- only open frames that seemed to have shutters rolled up above. Willjan noticed that each support fit snugly into the other. Any nails that he could see were hammered flush, the planks were sanded smooth, and almost everything exposed seemed to be treated with something; maybe a finishing oil or a wax. Refined workmanship, he thought.

"Swings, community pools, bars, and now a seaside bungalow," Des remarked, "The sea-facing side of Syka seems quite friendly."

"Well for now, there's only one pool and one bar, but yes. It can be idyllic here," the captain nodded, looking up at the bungalow. Through one of the glassless frames, he could make out 3 shapes in the shade, "It'll be nice if you two are able to stay," he said.

They walked up the entrance steps and entered.

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Postby Willjan on July 28th, 2020, 3:57 am

It was probably about 10 degrees cooler in the shade of the bungalow. The entrance opened immediately to a wide living area with a hardwood dining table in the left-hand corner. To the right was a tea table surrounded by what looked like wicker chairs and a bench. Peaking behind a wall in the back corner was some counter space and a hearth. The view past that was blocked, but it was clear that the bungalow stretched back deep with at least a few more rooms. Willjan let out a slow, quiet sigh, wondering if his elevated heart rate was due to the heat or his nervousness.

Three figures stood over what looked like a map on the dining room table. The leftmost figure was a man who seemed carved from the same hardwood as the dining table he stooped over. He had oily, finger length long hair that drooped past his eyes when he looked down; a strong chin and short-trimmed stubble. He wore a loose linen shirt that did nothing to hide his rippling, muscled torso and leather pants covered in sawdust and soot.

The rightmost figure was a young woman, lithe and tan. She held a serious face covered in streaks of paint, tumbling black hair, and deep brown eyes. She was pointing to the spot that the leftmost man seemed to be stooping to see.

The center figure was another man, maybe 20 years the other's elder. He had white receding hair and grey eyes. He too maintained short stubble over a strong chin, and was frowning over the map with his arms folded. When the captain and the others entered, he looked up and clasped his hands together.

"Ah, Captain James Chaliva, back from a successful voyage!" he said, "And I see you've brought Willjan and Des with you. Perfect!"

Willjan blinked at the recognition, but said nothing.

"Well informed as always, Mathais" said the captain, embracing his friend.

"Good to see you back safe, James," said the man on the left, smiling.

"That'll enough for now, Indigo," the man on the right, Mathais apparently, said, as he began rolling up the map, "Thank you for your help."

The woman nodded solemnly and exited the bungalow with a light step, giving Des and Willjan a curious glance as she did so.

"Come! Sit," said Mathais, moving over to the living room area with the wicker chairs, "You all must be exhausted after your trip. Please have a seat, and we'll discuss what I understand you've come such a long way to discuss - you're stay here in Syka." With that, he sat down heavily in the center chair, gesturing for everyone else to do the same.

"As you probably know from James, I am Mathais Okavis, one of the three founding members of Syka along with Randal Zor," Mathais waved his hand towards Randal, who was sitting to his left, "And Captain James Chaliva, who you've seem to come well acquainted with."

Willjan shook Mathais and Randal's hands each in succession, "I am Willjan and this is Des," he said slowly, "Though, it seems you know that already."

Mathais nodded, as if that were a given, "Yes. I've heard you're interested in settling here, correct? I presume James has told you about the requirements."

"Yes, that's correct," Willjan said.

There was an awkward pause. Randal lay back in his chair, studying the beam fastenings on the ceiling, and the captain wiped sweat off his brow. Des swayed back and forth between her heels and toes. Mathais simply waited, face unmoving.

When meeting someone, Willjan usually like to let the other do as much of the talking as possible. Almost everyone liked talking about themselves more than they liked listening. He would only bring up his own experiences as an off-beat reflection of the other (the experience needed to be offbeat or different in some way or else his reflections tended to come off as mockery or creepy). That way, he could validate the other person's experiences, and make them feel like he was cut from the same cloth. Mathais, however, seemed to be all business at the moment, so Willjan tried to engage him on those terms.

"You must be expecting me to give my sales speech now," he said, glancing over at the captain, "But the truth is, I'm a businessman at heart. I'd be a fool to make a pitch now, without knowing more about your settlement. Des and I have survived four years together, travelling from Kenash to Riverfall - making our first shot at business there - and so our experiences and what we can offer, are varied. Tell me: What does Syka need and I'll give you a more persuasive 'pitch'."

Here still, Mathais' face showed no reaction, but at the request he reached over to table stand by his char, opened a drawer, pulled out a scroll, and tossed it onto the tea table in front of them.

Willjan picked it up. In broad, cursive strokes the top read, "Syka's Help Wanted: What We Need for Sustainability." What followed was a list of employment positions that, presumably, the settlement needed. Willjan poured over the list. Animal Healer, ...Gardener, ...Mason. Willjan didn't know anything about these trades. Chef?, he thought, That's a dead end if I've ever seen one. Might as well just go back to Riverfall. He saw the word 'Blacksmith' written with two lines underneath and gritted his teeth, thinking of his grandfather.

A prickly sensation began to run down his back, and he could feel his cheeks flush. He came to the end of the parchment and immediately started reading it again, from the bottom up. There, he thought, That I can work with.

"Food preservation," Willjan said, jabbing at the scroll, "You need someone who'll preserve food for you. Des and I often needed to preserve our own supplies for Winter in Riverfall. We even started a business there doing so. We'd be perfect at it."

Mathais considered the proposal. "Syka is not like Riverfall," he said, "We do not need to stock up for winter the way they do there. On shore there's a fairly steady supply of fruits. Less so of vegetables, but we make do. We have a few good hunters here - Indigo, the woman you saw earlier is one of them - so we have access to meat often enough. We mostly need someone versed in food preservation so that we don't have to eat everything when Indigo makes a big kill."

The founder nodded, "Yes. I suppose if you want, you could fill that need." He shrugged and glanced over at Des, who had been uncharacteristically quiet during the whole exchange. "What about her?" he asked, " preservation will really be a one-man job. We don't need that much right now."

"Des is with me," Willjan responded, louder than he intended. "She will be my partner in this... and with all due respect sir, I think you're thinking too small. You're underestimating what Syka can be." Willjan took a breadth then, trying to read the room. Randal had finally brought his gaze down from the ceiling to look at Willjan. Mathais leaned forward, stony faced. Captain Chaliva's blue eyes were blazing.

"You say you're flush for fruit - that's perfect. Riverfall is not. Dried mangos will be like candy to the Akalak during any season. But you all have far more than mangos here. From what I've heard, you've got an incredibly diverse set of crops that can be ground, dried, and bottled not only for the locals here, but as luxury exports. Any surplus you have at all will be prized in Riverfall- or anywhere for that matter. Send these goods off with Captain Chaliva and money will be flowing into Syka. Money that you can reinvest in the settlement. Who knows, maybe advertise for a proper blacksmith?" Willjan paused for breath, "In regards to meat- you were just now looking over a map of Syka and the surrounding area, yes? You're scouting the surrounding area? Cured or dried meat will go much farther to satiate a scout than fruit. Not only that, but fruit is heavy. Dried rations will make your expeditions far more efficient."

When Willjan finished, Randall barked a laugh. Captain Chaliva's eyes were smiling again. But Mathais responded, "You tried to start a food preservation business in Riverfall? You have experience in this matter?"

"Yes and yes, sir," Willjan responded, "I'm your man."

"Then why did it fail?" Mathais asked, "It did fail, right? Why else would you be here?"

Willjan cursed under his breath. He should have seen that rebuke coming, "Barrier to entry, sir," he said, "Everything is already established in Riverfall." He paused then, considering his audience and everyone he had seen up to this point, "And Riverfall doesn't have what Syka has. Growth. A diversity of both ecology and peoples. The Svefra. In a few hundred years, Syka could be bigger than Syliras. How about this: put me on probation. Let me get started here for the season, and if I disappoint- ship me off the way I came. But I think you'll be surprised. Investing in me will pay dividends."

At this last speech, Mathais smiled broad. "Alright, Willjan. You've got a deal. Let's see what you can do this season," he said, clasping Willjan's hand, "Welcome to Sykas."
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