[Featured thread] Survival Games

Weekend challenge (Alice)

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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Survival Games

Postby Madeira Craven on January 31st, 2021, 9:15 pm

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    The nature of Madeira's madness was such that when she threw a rock, she never expected it to hit the ground. In her mind there were equal chances it could float away, or combust, or grow legs and walk away, because living two decades in Ionu's playground had reduced her concept of predictability to rubble. She was one of those people who understood the laws of reality and logic to be pliable, negotiable, and unreliable.

    So when she went to sleep in her feather-down bed and woke up on a slab of moss with her arm flung over a man she had never seen before, her lungs filled with the stench of humid decay, her mind skipped neatly over the shock and questions and landed somewhere in the realm of oh petch.

    The air around her and the mystery man was humming with a constant low drone of buzzing insects, punctuated by the sharp cries of animals she couldn't see. Daylight was slicing through the thin canopy of bendy trees, illuminating shallow-looking brackish water choked with plant matter and debris. Little islands rose out of the muddy water, here and there connected by marshy and unstable bridges of scrubby grass. Everything was wet. Water dripped constantly from the trees and dewed on the bark and in Madeira's lungs, and it felt like she was getting closer to drowning with each dragged breath.

    She sat up carefully and pressed a hand to her chest to chest to check that she was indeed still alive, and it was then that she realized she was naked. This didn't alarm her too much, as she had gone to bed naked, but there was something she was missing that sent bolts of panic down her spine.

    Where were her rings? Her necklace? Her gloves? Turning her left hand inward, she saw even the embedded djed stone she was certain she had fallen asleep with was gone. Without her trappings of magical artifacts, without her rings and the soulmist inside, she felt naked and vulnerable in a way that hit soul deep.

    She wanted to sit down and cry, to give in to the hopelessness for even just a moment, but she was a Craven, and she had shyke to do. So she wiped her sweaty forehead with her sweaty hand and stood, taking pains not to disturb the man passed out beside her. He was naked too, and by the rise and fall of his lean, ropy back she concluded he was still alive. She might have been mortified to be naked with a stranger, but her civil sensibilities were being roughly recompartmentalized. At least she wasn't alone.

    Hanging on a thin, rubbery tree on their island were two burlap sacks. They were the only man-made thing in sight. With fumbling scar-thick fingers she untied the bag and looked inside. There was flint and steel, a rough stone axe, a pair of moccasins, and a short stake and several coils of wire noose that she belated realized was a snare. At the very bottom was a thick piece of parchment. A map, she realized as she opened it. A crude one, even to her wildly untrained eye, marking the rough shape of the land around them and a legend of foreign and decidedly scary animals they will presumably find there. It was marked with a big X that drew her eye. It seemed to expect her to follow it.

    How nice. Someone wanted them to survive. Or wanted them to last long enough to be entertaining. This wasn't her first or even second death game with a god (and this was to do with a god, she was sure of it) but if this was something new, if this was some idiot god's idea to release a man and a woman into the wild like rabbits and hoping to breed a race of swamp babies she would-.

    That thought stuttered and stopped, and she squinted back down at the man. He was her age, with a whip-like outdoorsman build topped with tangled, scruffy black hair. But beyond that, into him, where her eyes couldn't reach, she thought she could sense something else. Was he actually dead? No. He was possessed. But this possession was tangled so deep it was almost... symbiotic.

    Getting back down on her knees, she rolled him over by the shoulder and shook him roughly. Oh please, she inwardly begged, oh please be one of mine. Don't leave me here alone.

    "Jomi?' she gasped hopefully. "Alice? Autumn? Oh please, we're in trouble. Wake up!"

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    Survival Games

    Postby Alice Weaver on January 31st, 2021, 10:09 pm

    Ghosts do not tend to sleep. They hover really. Drifting between awake and slumber, recharging as they turned their mind off to process what they did in their pitiful existence. So when Alice settled down to rest she expected to do just that. Becoming briefly unaware before waking up where she settled down but it seemed Fate wished to pull a dirty trick.

    The first thing she noticed was not the sounds of the buzzing insects nor the light that was flickering down on her closed eyes but the feel of a sticky and warm substance underneath her, as she dug unfamiliar fingers into and , felt it squeeze out from between her fingers. As the mud was disturbed she next smelt rotting vegetation drift up and burn her sensitive nostrils, cloying and thick as it sought to choke her out.

    This is not right. Why can I feel? I shouldn’t be able to feel. Her chest sped up in fear and she felt a heart that beat within her chest speed up as she heard the rushing of her own blood within her. Alice screwed her eyes shut tightly and prayed. She sent a desperate prayer to all those above that it is all a bad dream. This is not true. This can’t be true, can it?

    Then she felt a weight shift off her body and something stood up next to her. From the sounds of it, it sounded like another person as they quickly padded away and she heard the ruffling of cloth and canvas before they paused, possibly unhappy with what was in it? But the ghost digressed and focused inwardly at trying to calm her new racing heart as it threatened to try and beat out of her chest. The sensation bloomed through her body. The heat, the sounds, the smell, the taste of the rot. It was all too overwhelming for the ghost as she just tried to curl into herself to collect her thoughts. Too much. It’s too much! She cried to herself inside, as she desperately tried to throw herself out of whatever hell she was trapped within. But no matter how much she pushed and struggled the prison of flesh held her tight. Claustrophobia rapidly crested. Just one more thing added to the already overwhelming pile before the ghost even cracked open her eyes open or tried to stand up.

    The supposed partner she was here with seemed oblivious to her struggle as she once again heard the feet pad over to her side before fingers hooked into claws dug into the bodies arms, rolled her over, and shook her, which sent Alice’s head snapping back and forth, cracking into the soft mud once as she heard a familiar voice plead with her.

    "Jomi? Alice? Autumn? Oh please, we're in trouble. Wake up!"

    Finally, she worked up enough courage to crack open her grey eyes, filled with tears at the rough treatment amplified by her sensitive body, instantly recognizing the figure and roughly shoving them off her.

    “Maderia,” Alice choked out, “Stop, please. It hurts. Everything hurts.” She gulped down a breath and pushed herself off the ground on wobbly legs as she looked past Maderia as once again her heart accelerated. She took in the slime of the place, the rotting plants, the stagnant water, and the buzzing insects. “Where- Where are we?” Her voice tremored as she flinched before she slapped at her neck from the searing pain the blossomed there, pulling the hand back as she watched a mosquito twitch it last. “Maderia where are we! Who did you piss off! And why can I feel!” Anger and fear blazed in the words as she bored a hole into Maderia before her eyes went wide and she directed her eyes to the side as she glanced at the second bag hung on the tree. She felt her face run hot with a blush “And why are you naked…”


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    Survival Games

    Postby Madeira Craven on January 31st, 2021, 11:22 pm

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      Madeira blinked up at the strange man's watery eyes. Was her mind playing tricks on her, or did she recognized that colour? More than that, the possessed man recognized her. And while Jomi would have laughed at her nakedness and Autumn would have fallen back on seventy years of motherly instincts, this one surfaced from their panic long enough to look away and blush. And since he had yet to bust into panicked tears, that was not Emma, which meant it had to be-

      "Alice?", tension melted out of her shoulders in the presence of the familiar soul.

      But this was not Alice like she knew her. He- wait, she, was walking like every step brought them pain. Why can they feel, indeed. Madeira looked again into their unsettlingly familiar eyes and concluded this was not a normal possession.

      Her partner had questions for the universe, and was working themselves up to an angry, sensory-overloaded panic. This, at least, Madeira could deal with. She was a woman who excelled in planning and management and people. She was outmatched in a fight and useless on the ground, but wasn't every monarch? If they were going to get out of here they needed to play to their strengths, and hers was leadership and a cool head in chaos. Madeira stood, her face rearranging itself into stern lines.

      "We need to get out of here, find civilization, and get home", she laid out the facts in simple, achievable terms. "Focus on that. The why and the who is irrelevant."

      Her posture softened and she smiled then, her hypnotism pulsing through the switch between support structure and comfort, magically enhancing her efforts to calm the riled ghost. "We're going to be okay. You're not in pain. I think you might be... adjusting. To life. Look," she jumped in before Alice could linger on the implications. She thrust the map out in front of their face. "I think there's something out there. Here", she tapped the big black X with her index finger. "And something is better than the nothing we currently have. We just need to find it, and survive long enough to get there."

      She took a step forward, approaching Alice like one would a wild animal, and placed a careful hand on their chest, feeling the bounding pulse of their heartbeat. Their breath stuttered with the unfamiliar and possibly overstimulating sensation before picking up again. "There are a lot of things we don't know, so lets focus on right now. So breath deep, let the air fill every corner of your lungs, then exhale, and help me figure out what to do."

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      Postby Alice Weaver on February 1st, 2021, 12:50 am


      Madeira, always the cool and collected one, moved quickly to confirm the ghost. The certainly at which she spoke that they would get home and that they would make it out of this waved through the spirits frayed nerves. Slowly the panic started to receded from Alice’s eyes like the outward moving tide.

      Madeira spoke with honeyed terms to her that seemed to carry more weight than they should have as even more relief washed over Alice unaware of the string of Djet that had briefly connected the two. She was further distracted by a map that was thrust under her nose as she was told they needed to go to the X as well as survive till they got there. For whatever reason, while she looked at the map something at the bottom of her mind stirred. It wasn’t whoever she was possessing, they seemed to be long gone or strongly repressed, but a wealth of knowledge ingrained within the body began to trickle to the forefront of her mind.

      While she was slipping back to the land of the sane Madeira cautiously put a hand on her...no their chest, she’d treat it as if this was a Graceful Possession, it was the closest thing that could compare. The warmth that bloomed outwards from that contract was delicious, they’d never thought they would ever feel a living touch again and the thundering heart slowed and calmed. Syncing its rhythm to Madeira’s own heart. They followed the Spiritist instructions, as they eased their eyes shut and took a deep breath, felt their lungs expand to their max as they held it there and Alice took a plunge. She took a step off the edge and spiraled down into the empty knowledge that was this body, let it wash over her. For whatever reason, she knew this was their best chance at survival for her, the body, and Madeira.

      When they next opened their eyes they were different, a mix of Alice’s and someone else, someone who seemed to have the knowledge that was fed by Alice’s ambition, latching onto the want to live. They would make it out of here, it affirmed. Finally, they exhaled and pushed the burning sensation behind them to the back of their mind.

      “I’m here Mads.” They decided to use a nickname for comfort as they spoke in a tenor voice, deeper than Alice’s usual voice, as they cocked their head and gave an Alice smile with the new face. “I am sorry. I was overwhelmed. I will better handle it.” Though they seemed unsure of themselves and a tightness still roamed over their body as they flinched as bugs pinged off their skin, each strike feeling like the drawing of a razor. “There is another bag.” They pointed simple, as they took slow and measured steps to the bag as they adjusted to the sensations and impacts of walking as well as a male body.

      Softly running a hand over the rough cloth they lifted the flap and noted a flint and Steel, four stone arrowheads, a clay mug, and a rabbit pet, another map, and resting at the base of the tree was a crude bow.

      They slung the rough bag over their side like a messenger bag, wince and screwing their eyes shut as they rough canvas drug over their skin before returning to Madeira. They gave her a quick listing of what was in the bag they now wore, bemoaning the fact that it was just arrowheads and not arrows.

      “I- It’s like I am in a Graceful possession but it’s not. There is no one else home. It’s just me and some knowledge. Though they appeared to have some idea of how to survive with the basics. As well as some competence with the bow.” As they hold the warped bow up within a hand and grimace with distaste. “It is apparently not a very good bow.”

      They take another deep breath. “Mads. We don’t know what this body can do but you know what you can do. We need you to tell us everything that could be helpful, please.” They ask gravely, the oversensitivity pushed to the back as something other than Alice speaks, in her place is the instincts developed over months of working within the swamps and other areas, instincts that would keep their borrowed body alive.

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      Postby Madeira Craven on February 1st, 2021, 2:32 am

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        Alice came back to themselves in a gentle release of pressure. Through her palm Madeira felt their heartbeat slow down and even out, and when they spoke again Alice's vaguely female inflection had deepened, though it hadn't lost that Sylirian clip.

        “I’m here, Mads.”

        Madeira smiled with relief, removing her hand. "You were gone for a moment there, Alice. Welcome back."

        Alice explained their bizarre condition as like Graceful possession, but not. Affirming that whoever owned that body, if anybody did at all, they weren't there anymore. But what they had left behind was a strong body and some idea of how to survive. That was good. They were going to need both those things.

        Alice asks her to tell her everything that could be helpful. Madeira considered this. What did they need? What was most critical component to continue living? The question stumped her a little bit. All her life she had never struggled for the necessities. Her life of luxury had left her unequipped to dealing with survival. Besides, she was more familiar with keeping the dead dead than keeping the living alive.

        She showed them her own bag, and the basic supplies therein. "I'm out of my depth here. I'm a competent marksman, but I've only ever practiced with crossbows. I have some extremely rudimentary carving skills. I can possibly try and make some shafts to go with your arrowheads. And I'm a-" her body rebelled against her giving away her secret, but she pushed through, "I'm an excellent hypnotist. I've used it to scare away pack animals and bears before. I don't know... I don't know if it'll work here but its an option."

        That was all their options laid out. It was not much.

        "We need... water", she reasoned after a short silence. "Drinkable water. We'll boil it over a fire." She'd heard somewhere that boiling water makes it clean. Would dirt boil away, too? Gods knows. She slapped at a mosquito instinctively, leaving a smear of her own pilfered blood across the colourful tiger tattooed on her chest. "I'll do that. I at least know how to start a fire. Then we need a shelter. And a way to keep the bugs off of us."

        She almost warned that the last time she was beset by bugs she had contracted a disease that paralyzed her left leg for half a year. Then abruptly decided to keep it to herself.

        "If we just get through today, we can talk about moving tomorrow. I don't want to get caught out in the dark. We don't even know what time of day it is."

        The trees above them were thin enough to see the sky, but it would take time to know which way Syna was moving, and it felt like every chime was another grain of sand trickling through the hourglass of their lives. As she pondered further her eyes drifted to movement. There was a log floating in the swamp. Did that mean there was a current? Just as she was thinking about possibly following it to a river the thing passed their hammock, and she stifled a horrified yelp. The log had scales! It was not a log at all but an enormous lizard, at least four feet long. What looked like a random array of teeth protruded from its bottom jaw, which itself was nearly a foot long. It passed them with a lazy paddle of its tail, not even bothering to glance back at them.

        She watched it go, and suddenly everything seemed that much more real. They were strangers here, and nature had absolutely no love for the likes of them.

        "Take the hatchet", she turned back to Alice, speaking around the lump in her throat. "Maybe try starting a shelter. Something to keep us off the ground and covered. I'll... I'll try and make a fire to boil water."

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        Postby Alice Weaver on February 1st, 2021, 3:58 am


        As Maderia laid out their options it seemed they had some useful abilities. They’d feel much better when they had solid arrows in their hand, at this point it was a useful skinning tool and the bow a blunt weapon. Why they knew that they had no idea. At Maderia’s admission of her special skill they raised an eyebrow.

        “Interesting. If we live you’ll have to teach me that. Animals tend to be pretty single-minded so it should be easy to scare them off. Most things want an easy meal and if you are too much trouble they’ll leave you alone. The same goes for people.” Glad that Maderia was straight with them and making a mental note to watch out for that later on.

        Madeira seemed to go through the same checklist that they had gone through in their mind. Food, Water, Shelter, and a way to keep the damn bugs off of them. While the bugs were a bother to Maderia they were like the crack of the whip against their sensitive skin, causing their entire body to jump as if struck. As they slapped away at the bugs assaulting their body their feet squished in the mud did the back of their mind tingle with an idea.

        Dropping to one knee they began to toss and rub the sticky mud across their body. The natural intuition of this body telling them that this was the right call. It was degrading and they felt silly rolling around in the mud like a pig but when they stood up, after being careful to keep it out of their eyes and mouth, did the caking of mud prove its worth. No longer could they feel the stinging mandibles of the insects but they were blunted and few were getting through the layer.

        “You do the same, Mads.” They said with a smile. “Time to act five again and play in the mud!” They laughed as they slung a good chunk of the mud at her chest before grabbing the offered hatchet and looking for anything that resembled building material.

        Just beyond their little island of muddy land was a patch of willowy reeds not but thirty feet in shallow water. Just as they were about to tentatively step into did they hear Mads gasp and watched as the toothy log traversed by them without giving them a second glance. The hesitation was written in every vein of the Spirits body before they yanked a nearby stick out of the ground, one that was nearly as tall as them with a sickening thunk and began to poke the water as they walked out to where the patch of reeds was. Shuddering as the viscous water wrapped around their calves, before traveling up till it was mid-thigh, the silty bottom engulfed the tops of their feet. Another thought came unbidden as they poke the water head of them and they began to talk to Maderia as they walked out.

        “So Maderia if I die in this body do you think that's it? I’m done. What if I am done, done. As in even Dira doesn’t want me anymore and decides to not take my soul? I have been pretty rude to her in my thoughts and actions.” They give a rueful chuckle. “It’d be just my luck to be thrown to the insidious realm for my hubris. Also, I am rambling to let the animals know I am coming. I'd rather not be bitten in half by a surprised lizard that is the size of a cow.”

        And as they finished speaking they reached the willowy reeds that stood their waist heigh but were plentiful. They seemed the perfect material to elevate them off the ground with a mat. Easy to do as well, just line them up and tie them together with some vines which hung on any of the nearby trees.

        So the hatchet rose and fell as they began the mess work of harvesting an armful of the reeds while casting nervous glances around. Was that shadow a predator or just tree shade? They’d find out if it tried to eat them they supposed…


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        Postby Madeira Craven on February 1st, 2021, 6:28 am

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          "You must be joking", Madeira deadpanned as Alice got down on their hands and knees and slathered themselves with mud. "Wait, don't-" She wasn't quick enough to dodge the projectile. The mud splattered wetly on her chest, and oh gods it was foul. Her face wrinkled and she snorted hard. "What kind of feral childhood did you have?", she growled, but did as she was told. Scooping up handfuls of silty mud as swiped it over her skin, and almost at once the prickling of the insects lessened.

          Huh, maybe that body Alice was wearing was more competent than she thought.

          As Alice waded into the water Madeira considered her options for fire. She didn't know these strange, rubbery trees, and it was all so wet. She said she knew how to start a fire, but starting a hearth fire and whatever they were doing here was miles apart.

          "Dira will always take your soul", Madeira replied immediately and confidently to Alice's rambling. "She's not the judge, she's the messenger. It doesn't matter what you've done. Death is impartial like that." The memory of Dira's cold, fathomless eyes still made her shiver. Madeira considered praying, but somehow this situation, this place, didn't seem to belong to any of her gods. "Those cow-lizards might be too. So watch your step, okay?"

          It wasn't just the giant lizards she was worried about. It was only when she was standing still that she realized how nothing else in the swamp did. There were things in the trees, crawling across the ground, sending ripples out of the water. The swamp was watching them, she could feel it.

          She wasn't scared of death. She was slowly accepting the fact that this situation was not the kind people like her walked away from. But there were other things to fear.

          "Nobody knows where I am", she realized aloud. "I'm just going to... disappear. They won't know what happened to me. Moritz won't know why his mother left. Jomi won't know why his master abandoned him. Emma, Infinity, Spooks, Chiona... They'll all think I've left them behind."

          That was her greatest fear; being alone, cast aside. Now she was going to inflict it on them. The thought hollowed her out, sat heavy and low in her belly. These people she loved would never know what had happened to her.

          "No", she shook her head like she was clearing it of water. "No, that's enough. Don't listen to me, Alice." She breathed deep, tasting that damp air all the way into her lungs, and began to work.

          There was nothing dry in this place. The wood and the moss and the grass, even her, it was all damp and misty. She tried to start a fire like she knew how, with broken branches leaning over a bed of moss, but it wouldn't catch. It smoked fretfully for half a chime before dying with a cough of black smoke.

          Trying to start it on the wet mud was a problem. She tore down more springy branches and tore up rough handfuls of bladed grass to make a raised bed to set her fire upon. She tried to use dead leaves as kindling, when that didn't work she stripped the bark off of a tree with an arrowhead. It took time. Too much time. Syna had inched well across the sky and before she cursed in shock, leaning back on her knees with her flint in her hand as the damp wood started to smolder in earnest.

          She fed it bits of grass and the dryest vegetation she could find, purring to it like she was coaxing a puppy.

          "Come on, come on, you can do it, a little more..."

          A tongue of flame sprung from the branch and licked hungrily at the logs atop it. Slowly, painfully, the smoking logs caught and started to burn.

          "Hah!" Madeira crowed in triumph. Snatching the clay mug from Alice's pack and scooped the least filthy water she could find within arms reach of their land and suspended it over their fire between two sticks. The victory electrified her. She was doing it. It was working!

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          Postby Alice Weaver on February 1st, 2021, 3:21 pm

          As they chopped at the reeds the ax felt heavy and unnatural in their hands, the water and mud made each swing more clumsy than the last. They were not helping themselves with the fearful glances they cast around themselves. So instead they focused on Maderia’s words.

          “Dira will always take your soul.”

          Well, that was nice of them. So even if everything doesn’t work out in the end, even if they believe that they would make it out of here, they would be accepted back. Maybe with just a firm talking to about the cycle of life and death before being thrown back into the said cycle. Even if Alice and the body she was inhabiting had accepted the fact that they may not make it out of here alive Madeira was less keen on the thought. Fair. Alice had already gone through it once so it made more sense that she was more inured to the idea. They decided, as they finished gathering up a bundle of reeds in their arms, that Maderia had calmed them so they should calm her. They spoke in a flat voice that was purely factually as if everything they said of correct, borrowing Moritz’s tone, a slight smile pulled at their face as they saw the wisps of flames lick out from the wet wood underneath the Spiritist’s hands.

          “I know you are here Mads. And you won’t just disappear. I won’t allow it. I’ll be the one to take the risks here. I’ve had my chance and you have people relying on you to get back. I will take the fall for you, no one will miss me.” They stated simply, “And if worse comes to worst I’ve become a ghost once before. I can do it again even if it is for such a simple task of telling Moritz what happened. I owe him that much at least.” Then they paused as they grimaced slightly. “Now. Not to alarm you but I just stepped on something’s head that is trying to bite me.” The calming tone of their voice never changed as they froze within the water.

          The water around them was rippled and flexed weakly as something writhed and flexed at the bottom of the waterway, occluded underneath the thigh-deep flow filled with rot and silt. They could feel the ropey and rough scales of something smoothly wind up their leg as the tip of a tail crested out of the water, wrapping tight around their waist. Now a slight tinge of concern was beginning to break through their calm demeanor.

          “We can look at it two ways. Either A. I am about to get bit by a poisonous snake or B. I am about to kill a snake. Wish me luck.” They gave a grin before they took a gulp of air and slowly lowered themselves into the water, as to not move their foot. The murky water closed over the top of their head as they dug blindly at the silt using their foot as a guide.

          They took it slow, they had the breath and rather not put their hand right into the snake’s mouth for that would be embarrassing. Slowly they crept their hand through the murky and felt the cool triangle-shaped head stuck under their foot as it shifted. They with as much haste as they could, while they slid their foot back and quickly, wrapped their thumb around the back of the serpent’s neck and curled their other fingers under its slippery throat.

          The creature bucked and thrashed as they both exploded from the murk in a crash of white water as they gasped for breath, a five-foot-long squirming serpent in hand. The snake was the standard dark olive-brown color with black circles splashed across its scales but its most striking feature was its hissing maw that revealed a cotton color flesh inside that the snake viciously displayed.

          They grinned nervously at Madeira, catch still squirming within their hands. “I see why it’s good to take a stick and poke the ground in front of you now, not just for the lizards but for the serpents as well.” They let out a breath as they quickly with a few bounding strides made it back to their little island, snake and reeds in hand. Hatched balanced precariously atop the bushel of woody plants.

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          Alice Weaver
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          Survival Games

          Postby Madeira Craven on February 1st, 2021, 7:13 pm

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            Madeira looked up as Alice spoke, her expression complicated beneath the mud. She's heard similar words before. Lani had promised to aways been her protecter. Allister had always said he would die for her. Neither of them were with her anymore. But when Alice said she was willing to find Moritz, even if he might be an old man by that point, and tell him where his mother went, Madeira belived her. She blinked into the fire and pretended that the moisture in her eye was from the heat.

            "Thank you."

            Alice wasn't done. They had news to share. In a calm voice they informed her that they were stepping on something that was actively trying to bite them. Before Madeira could even begin to process this and think of what to do, Alice had dipped below the water.

            "Alice?" Madeira breathed, scared of what might overhear. But as the water began to froth she jumped to her feet. "Alice!"

            In a spray of filthy water the possessed man surfaced, grinning and carrying aloft a writhing snake that was long enough to still be trailing in the water. He was still carrying their building supplies under their other hand as he bounded up to meet her.

            There were no rocks to hand, so Madeira pulled one of the weightier sticks from her pile by the fire.

            "Hold it down", she demanded as Alice climbed ashore. The snake was twisting around Alice's arm, trying to pull itself free, its mouth still wide and angry. As soon as it was pressed to the ground by Alice's thumb Madeira placed her stick down right in front of it and rolled it down the creature's head like a rolling pin. The bones of its head were surprisingly flexible, but with enough pressure they crackled with a sound like breaking eggshells. The snake's body uncoiled from Alice's arm as it died.

            Madeira let out a breath only once she felt its soul leave its body. Then, without warning, she pulled back and slapped Alice's crusted face.

            "Stop being so... So petching flippant", she shouted. Now that the anxiety was gone her anger reared hot and strong and lightning fast. "You could have died! You could have died and left me here alone! I need- I need you, okay? You. Not your ghost. Not your corpse. You. This isn't some big cosmic joke! Don't just run out there like you have nothing to live for!" She stared them in the eye, willing them to understand. She didn't want them to take the fall, she didn't want them to laugh at the danger and give up the body just because they'd done it before. They were in this together, they were surviving this together, and someone would miss them when they were gone.

            "Give me this", she growled, ripping the snake out of their hand. Shockingly, she did know how to skin and clean a snake. It was only ever nonvenomous snakes, and only for the purposes of separating their pieces for embalming, but it was a transferable skill if nothing else. She held the creature from below its pulpy head as she looked it over. Was it venomous? Was it edible? She wasn't sure, but they would have to take the risk and eat something eventually, and she would sooner eat the meat from this swamp than any of the plant life.

            She knelt by the fire, her brows still pulled into angry lines beneath the mud, and sawed off the snake's ruined head below the neck. The stone tool left a ragged mess, but it was enough to find the body cavity and saw down its length.

            The tool was too rough to do this cleanly, and bugs started to accumulate as the creature's torn body started to bleed. How was she going to get rid of the viscera? There was no convenient bucket and accommodating manor to get rid of the excess, and leaving it around seemed like an especially bad idea. Not knowing what else to do she threw the bloody clump into the swamp as far as she could. After that she worked her fingers under the skin to separate the connective tissue, and pulled the skin off in one long piece, working in fits and jerks. Rinsing the meat with the boiling water from the mug, she speared it with a stick and held it over the fire herself.

            The heat was enough to keep the bugs away. She rolled it between her fingers, trying to cook it evenly. If raw beef could make them sick, she didn't even want to think about was raw snake could do.

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            Madeira Craven
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            Survival Games

            Postby Alice Weaver on February 1st, 2021, 8:53 pm

            The slap stung, no it exploded across their face. Stars danced in their vision as they reeled back from the strike, not having expected and unable to ready their hypersensitive nerves. As they blinked away tears they could hardly believe their ears. Madeira cared about them. She worried about the ghost. Perhaps it was only because surviving together was the only chance or something else. She did seem genuinely touched that Alice promised to find Moritz for her but the other words were not expected.

            They stood dully a few feet away from Madeira, eyes slightly distant as they mulled over the words as they watched Madeira skin the snake. The body gave a slight jolt of approval as it watched her technique and winced at the sad throw to dispose of the internal organs.

            Madeira seemed to have the snake on the ropes with cooking it over the flickering fire, more smoking the sinuous flesh but it would do.

            They then moved away in precise, mechanical motions as they claimed a spot about ten feet away from the fire and began to lay out the reeds, cutting them in half and placing them into about two foot wide sheets and six-foot-long mats tying them together in a continuous pattern with vines ripped from a nearby tree. Their hands moved on their own as they called upon the knowledge stored within their body, prison, whatever you wish to call it. As they wove they spoke, not looking up from their work.

            “I thought you hated me.” They began. “Everything I want is anathema to what you believe in. I want to live. You want me to die. I rebel against the cycle that you embrace. I do not know what my relationship is with you. You curse what I stand for and what I am trying to achieve with one breath and yet beg for me to stay in the next. I’m just...confused. I feel when I am about I cause you pain to be around. Which might be true for being around most ghosts I guess. But it’s such a twist of fate that the one that can help me is the one that most hates what I am trying to do.”

            And they trail off as they return to their weaving. In and out, in and out. The endless repetition was soothing and took them back to their home in Syliras and it brought them a bit of joy. The mindless yet complex nature of weaving a mat calming their stinging cheek and frayed nerves.

            Slowly but surely they wove as the mats came together, crude up sturdy things that no only gave a solid place to set items on or lay down on by they had strung a vine on either end of the mats that could hopefully allow the mats to be suspended between two of the bendy trees so they could rest off the ground, above the snakes, lizards, and mud.

            They stood up with the mats in hand dragging one to Madeira and setting it beside her. “Use it to keep off the mud and when we go to bed down we should be able to suspend it between the two trees.” They speak quickly and curtly before laying their’s out on the other side of the fire and pulling their knees to their chest, gazing over their legs to watch the weak flames attempt to roast the snake. “So tomorrow you want to try and travel? Maybe before we bed down tonight I’ll make a spear or something. It’d be easier to put an arrowhead on the spear instead of making a proper arrow.”

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