Survival Games ll

Week 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 ll

Postby Madeira Craven on February 2nd, 2021, 6:28 pm

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    The grass hammock was itchy against her back as Madeira blinked open her crusted eyes. Dawn was just filtering through the thin treetops, illuminating the ugly sheen on the water. The air was sticky and hot and smelt of decay. The swamp was waking up.

    A part of Madeira had held on to the hope that once she slept the magic that had spirited her and Alice away from Lhavit and into this nightmare would put her back in the bed it stole her from. She bit her lip to keep from screaming. What was this?! What did it want from them?

    The fire was still lit, but Alice was out of sight. Madeira tried not to worry as she wobbled her way off of the scratchy hammock, eyes cast down for snakes. Now that they had their bearings the plan was to build some kind of raft and move today. They were heading towards the big black X on their maps, if only because a destination was less hopeless than standing still.

    She watched an enormous spider inch its way up a rubbery tree. If the spiders here were so alarmingly massive why were there still so many bugs? Her night in the hammock, even under a protective layer of mud, had left her with swollen, itchy bumps. As she took stock of her body she noticed with concern that some of them were decidedly unhealthy colors, and a few more had been itched to bleeding scabs while she slept.

    Enough with these bugs. She gathered her long blonde hair in a fist behind her head, found one of the four arrowheads in Alice's bag, sat down, and began sawing into it away from her neck. In the end she had a bundle of hair in her lap and a haircut that ended jaggedly just below her ears. The leather moccasins she had been given weren't going to be much help in a place as wet as this, so she pulled out their laces. She found two short branches and halved the hair, winding it in a tail around one end. She secured the hairs down with wet leaves and then tied the lace around and around as tight as she could, finishing it with the only knot she knew. Using the other bundle of hair she went through the process again, and in the end had two human-hair flyswatters that could reach around their bodies. She whipped one experimentally over her shoulder and sighed with satisfaction.

    Madeira stoked the fire, trying inexpertly to keep it alive while she waited for Alice to return.

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    Postby Alice Weaver on February 2nd, 2021, 9:54 pm

    The night was rough on the ghost, to say the least. For the first time in a long time, Alice had nightmares, ones that had them tossing and turning within the suspended reeds. The nightmares were only enhanced by the buzzing insects, screaking bats, and the deep, bellowing vocalizations of the large, scaled lizards somewhere in the murk of the swamp. It was almost a blessing when the trapped spirit was woken up by a mud-covered Madeira for their turn to watch over the fire. They bade the spiritist a restful slumber as they blearily dragged themselves to the fire that had been reduced to the barest of a smolder.

    The next few hours were a struggle of trying to keep the fire that was clearly suicidal from croaking as it seemed intent to lick at the most sodden piece of wood it could attempt to burn. And only threw their administrations of a slightly damp leaf followed by wood they had stated to stack over the fire on a simple square platform made of too large pieces of wood to burn and two-finger with sticks in an attempt to dry it did they keep their fire burning. It was actually improving as they went, the longer the fire burned the more it dried the wood, the more it dried the wood the better and burned and the better it could dry said wood.

    They more felt than saw when the day began anew. The swamp began to become more alive, the pitch of the swarms of bugs picked up, the water begins to ripple more frequently and at times splash as something lept free from its depths. As they listened to the swamp alight with an activity they began to ponder ways on how to make this raft, because, in all honesty, it was a good idea, especially if Madeira couldn’t swim. They didn’t want to have to worry about swimming for themselves as well as another person. That would just lead to them both drowning or getting bit by a lizard. They stared into the fire for a bit before they decided that they should go take a look around and see if they could find any worthy trees or other bits of debris that could carry their city-folk companion.

    Just a quick look around and maybe if they were feeling brave they would catch another snake. With a goal set in their mind, they trudged out into the sticky water, proding their every step. Not wanting to repeat the ‘stepping on a snake’ fiasco that happened just yesterday.

    Soon they found themselves deeper in the swamp than they have been before, the camp hidden behind a nearby copse of trees. All the trees around here were too large for what they wanted to do with them but there was plenty of debris that floated in the waterway. It was just a matter of making sure the debris would continue to float, wasn’t home to any critter, or wasn’t a large reptile itself.

    They stood in the waist-deep water, underneath the shade of a tree as they surveyed the tiny clearing they had come to before they heard the gentle rustling of feathers above them. They craned their neck back to look up the smooth wood of the wildly bent tree they saw a bird of a bright red as a splash of color in the otherwise browns and greens of their new local. But most importantly the bird was resting in what looked to be a full nest. Their stomach growled to them as they spared a glance at the edge and after a moment of indecision they reached up to a low hanging branch and with a grunt and a slight slurping noise pulled themselves from the silty mud and thick water, causing a small cascade of ripples to splash against the water. Hand over hand followed by a few grunts they pulled themselves up the tree, once again thankful that the body they were stuck in seemed to be athletic, as they threw an arm onto their target branch and muscled themselves up, dangling over the water as they came eye level with the nest.

    The bird understandably was not enthused with how their morning was starting. It squawked, and cried as Alice reached their hand up to the nest, the bird attempted to peck at it and that is when they backhanded the bird, dazing it as it tumbled out of the nest, before righting itself and flapped away leaving behind three speckled eggs that were slightly warm to the touch as they carefully extracted them and dropped back down into the water.

    They quickly scampered back out of the water to the camp where they say Madeira was already awake. They splashed out of the water behind her and uttered a greeting while presenting the three eggs.

    “I was looking for some wood for a raft and I think we are going to have to use debris. But I also climbed a tree and found these eggs, well...more stole the eggs but the bird tried to bite me so I don’t feel bad.” They grinned happily.

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    Postby Madeira Craven on February 3rd, 2021, 12:23 am

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      While she waited, trying not to think about where Alice might be, Madeira made efforts to select a suitable stick to turn into the spear Alice had suggested the day before. It was a good idea. And while Madeira had never made a weapon in her life, she was at least familiar with arrows. A spear was just a big arrow, right? And she could carve wood without splitting the grain or her hands. That had to count for something.

      The problem was that the trees on their little haven of semi-dry ground were all so green and rubbery. Her ebony souldarts were ridged, the kind of thing that would either push straight through the target or shatter into shards, but most of the wood here bent with even a little weight. In the end she had to make do with the oldest, half-dead tree she could reach. It wasn't as ridged as she would have liked, but at least it could hold its own when she put her weight on it.

      She wouldn't waste time trying to carve the handle down smooth. She just used the hatchet to carve off the adjoining sticks and the worst of the knots. Sitting beside the fire she used the head of the ax to split the head of the spear into two pieces and shoved the arrowhead in between. The arrowhead was much too small for a weapon like this, but it was pointy, and it would have to do. Tearing strips of leather from the moccasins she tied it tight around the head of the shaft to try and hold the arrowhead in place.

      It wasn't good. It wasn't even acceptable. But it was something.

      Madeira was carding her fingers through her new brutal haircut as Alice came splashing up behind her. There was a grin on their face as Madeira turned at the waist to greet them in kind. Perhaps it was a little-known side effect of being recently dead, this kind of unflinching brightness in a black situation. The Spiritist was a good actress though, and made the effort to match their optimism, accepting the eggs gratefully. She wasn't going to let herself inflict her despair onto the cheerful Alice.

      "You're a hero", she laughed, cradling the precious eggs in her palm. "I'll help you collect the debris. Oh, and I've made you something. For the bugs." She handed them the horsetail-whip-like flyswatter.

      Well, guess it was boiled eggs in bog water for breakfast. Honestly, it sounded pretty tasty. It had been twenty-four bells and all they'd eaten so far was half a snake and some gritty water. While she was never the most vital of people to begin with, even the much more hail Alice should be feeling the effects.

      There was already hot water in the mug suspended over the fire. Madeira simply added the eggs and let them cook. She wondered if they were fertilized, then she wondered if she cared. She was sure she could stomach feathers as long as the fetus was nutritious.

      Most of the mud below Alice's waist had been washed off from their walk through the swamp. As they walked past her, Madeira's eyes naturally trailed down their toned legs admiringly. The new body, even dirty and bug bitten all to hai, was undoubtedly attractive. But as her eyes grazed their shin she noticed a few shiny black leaves stuck to their skin from the journey over. She almost left the ogling there, ready to get to her feet to help with the collection efforts, when she had to do a doubletake. Did one of the leaves just undulate?

      "Woah", she croaked, not knowing what else to say. They had leeches where she came from. She was almost certain all bodies of water did. But the thumbnail-sized worms that haunted her backyard pond did not prepare her for this.

      "You have some..." she nodded towards his shins, where she could count at least five pulsing, 3-inch parasites.

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      Postby Alice Weaver on February 3rd, 2021, 2:37 pm

      Madeira seemed to be in a better mood today, much more...chipper. If that is a word that can even be loosely applied to this situation. It even seemed they started to get a jump on the spear as they glanced over the crude construction, split wood and an arrowhead roughly shoved into it. It was not going to win any awards but it would do. That seemed to be the theme of the day. It would do and really, that was all they needed.

      They also noted the horrible haircut the otherwise regal woman was sporting but that was explained as they were handed a fly-swatter of sorts, and they gave her an odd look.

      “Good job?” They thought the mud was doing a pretty good job at keeping the insects off but it seemed Madeira did not like just stopping the biting pest but crushing them as well, to each their own they supposed. The eggs were appreciated however and were quickly added to some ‘fresh’ water that was beginning to boil happily over the damp fire, along with an offer to help collect debris.

      “I’d rather I was the one who trudged about to gather it, you can lash it together. There are a few pits that seem to just drop off out there and you can’t swim...You could just go out with a stick and poke the ground in front of you I suppose. Just do not fall into too deep of water.”

      As they were busying themselves examining the spear and throwing just a tad bit of less dry wood onto the fire to keep this breakfast cooking they felt Madeira’s eyes rove over their body it was an odd feeling, to say the least. They were quite used to being looked through due to their normally ethereal nature. But the eyes paused and they heard a croak.

      “Woah.”

      Their head snapped up as they stared at the Spiritist. “Woah, what?”

      “You have some…” She finished as they gestured towards their shins. Alice followed their hand gesture where their gaze alighted on five squirming tubes of black flesh, each slowly but surely draining their shared body of blood. Instead of being repulsed, though they were for the briefest of moments, a flicker of confusion passed on their face. “Leeches. But I can’t feel them? You’d think I’d be able to right?” They lookup. “You could probably lose the shocked horror look its impolite to stare at someone as they are eating.”

      Now, to deal with the bloodsuckers. They could just wait for the passengers to get full and squirm themselves off but they weren’t all that keen on being a full meal for the free-loader. So removing them seemed like the correct option, plus they could be carrying all sorts of nasty things they’d rather keep out of their new body.

      So they first tried to just tug on the tail of one of the suckers feeling its slimy and pulsing movements as it scrunched again their body and refused to come off. Firmly suctioned to the flesh.

      “Hrm.” They audibly gave a sound of displeasure at it not being that easy. Next trying a tactic they had to use against their younger brother when he decided to bit them and never let go. They pushed a finger right next to the circular mouth of the leech and slid a fingernail under the ring of muscle. They moved the finger with a steady force and after a few seconds, the leech released with a small pop. The thing was still on their skin squirming as it looked for another place to anchor. “No no.” They chided the thing as they flicked a finger against its side and sent the parasite rocketing off into the deep swamps. The process was then repeated to the others with brutal efficiency, save the last one.

      This one was spared the fate of its siblings as they pinched two fingers against the back of its mouth, approximately where a neck would be, and lifted it up. Taking the time to note its slimy, blackish-green flesh. Its small, triangle-shaped mouth hidden at times by the sheet of rubbery flesh that closed and fluttered open. The way its eyeless head was thrown around in the air in confusion was almost...cute.

      “It’s kind of adorable? I mean. It’s so ugly it’s cute? Like some dogs I suppose.”

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      Postby Madeira Craven on February 4th, 2021, 4:56 am

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        Madeira raised an eyebrow. "Cute? Then you'll just adore what I pull out of my clogged shower drains."

        Her tone was teasing, but her eyes flickered with concern to his shins. There was barely any blood, no more than a single fat drop per circular bite, but it was still bleeding. She hoped those leeches weren't as filthy as they looked. An infection of any kind here would be unlucky in a way she didn't even want to consider. She scratched at a bug bite on the back of her hand, noting its swollen, purplish color with unease. The mud might be preventing the worst of the bites, but she had a feeling the lack of hygiene was its own problem.

        "If you're going back into the water take this", she thrusted the butt of the homemade spear at him. It wasn't much, but it was pointy and gods knew what else they'd run into in that cursed swamp.

        They split the eggs when they were done, one and a half each. It tasted like a chicken egg, if a chicken egg had been soaked in mold. Madeira didn't care. She choked back the water too, with her lip pulled back like she had just taken a shot of pure spirit. It felt like the lackluster sustenance was being pulled instantly from her stomach and into her blood, like a shot of caffeine. She had never paid much attention to her body before. She had a habit of skipping meals, shaping it with corsets, cutting it and drugging it as she liked. Now that it was all she had to rely on she was beginning to understand how delicate the complex machinery that kept it alive really was. She should have taken better care of it when she had the chance.

        The goal today was a raft and a way to pilot it, and soon after they separated into their separate tasks. Alice wanted to collect deadwood but they had nothing to lash the rotting logs together. The moccasins could be cut into strips, she supposed, but it wouldn't supply enough leather to tie a two-person raft together. Madeira cast her eye around the hillock she was stranded on, trying to inhabit her son's logic-heavy mind to reason out what they could work with. The trees were nice and bendy, but even the most pliable wood wouldn't move like she needed it to. Not unless she could somehow treat it and cut it thin enough with a stone hammer to make fiber, which she had neither the skill nor time for. The tree roots, however, ran close to the surface of the ground in a latticework that could potentially work.

        Her eyes trailed upward to the parasitic vines that hung in great dripping lengths from the canopy. These were not like the fragile vines they had at home, the ivy's and the morning glory's. They even had their own mossy parasites. Some were too big or too brittle to make decent ties, but the young ones, the ones still green and thin?

        She considered her options carefully. Then, taking the stone hatchet in hand, she worked on cutting down and stripping as much strong young vines as she could.
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        Postby Alice Weaver on February 4th, 2021, 2:42 pm

        “Do not judge me.” They pouted at Madeira for her questioning the leeches being cute. “It’s not ugly it can be considered cute and now you won’t have to pull hair from the shower drains with your’s cut. At least if Moritz doesn’t clean himself while a goat…”

        The spear was roughly shoved into their hands which they caught with a slight grunt and gave it a few experimental swings and stabs. They listened to it as it whistled through the air. It felt heavy, awkward, and imbalance in their inexperienced hands. As well as the fact to call the spear ‘well-crafted’ would be an insult to anyone who ever carved anything in their lives.

        “When we get out of here I should practice with something like this more. Because apparently, I can’t even rely on my ghost abilities, which have been stagnating anyways. Always easy to look back and hard to look forwards I suppose.” They grumbled to themselves, affirming to practice and grow their own abilities physical, ghostly, and magical when they survive this thing. Yes, when they survived this, not if.

        They noted that Madeira had already moved off and was eyeing the vines that hung thickly from all the trees around. They thought they would make great bindings and Madeira apparently thought the same thing. The idea for rope secured all that was left, arguably the worst bit, was to once again wade into the murk and try and drag bits and pieces of floating wood back to their little island. Before they stepped into the water they gave their plan to Madeira.

        “I want to try and be able to leave by tomorrow and start the trek before we get even hungrier and more bug-bitten, if that means the raft can only carry you I guess I will just have to pull it since I know how to roughly swim. Not the best but we’ll make do.” And with that, they once again stepped into the viscous water and felt it wrap around their legs, stinging and pressing at the leeches bites. A very real concern that the blood in the water would attract more of the parasites splashed across the fore front of their mind. Nothing they could do about it however so they should move quickly.

        They trudged through the water as they felt the rotten bottom mud layer shift wildly under their feet, a few times the sudden shift sent their arms windmilling as they fought to keep their balance, the spear making it a momentous task to not stab themselves, not throw the spear, and not fall into the water entirely, but they managed...barely. They haven’t yet stepped on anything which they were grateful for. The slight bit of noise they were making carving a path through the water and the insistent poking of the spear into the mud three feet ahead of them appeared to do its job of keeping the toothy and/or venomous creatures away.

        The trudging soon came to an end after about half a bell of slowly circling farther away from the center mud flat where their base of operations was staged. The way they found the log was a bit less than graceful with it catching their hip with its blunted tip and tore a yelp of fear from the spirit’s throat. They thought they just happened to run into one of the cow-sized lizards and was about to become a mid-morning snack. But after they cracked open an eye that had been screwed shut and made sure they were still very much alive, a quick investigation revealed it to be a log trapped just beneath the surface of the water, wedged in between a tree’s net of roots it stood on like stilts.

        A laugh of triumph was had as they began to try to unwedge the large piece of wood, pulling too and fro as they struggled against the grasping roots. A few chimes ticked by slowly and full of exertions as they stepped away for a few seconds and realized they were not going to win a fight against nature. Time to be smart and out-think a tree! Hopefully not a tall order…

        They decided if they can’t get at the log from the water level they may as well try from above the water level as they mounted the slippery mass of roots and tracked the shadow of the log from above the surface, giving the newer looking roots a tug as they found the shifted. It seemed nothing in this swamp was firmly rooted to the ground. They worked at it from above, grunting and pulling, before they pulled the last root and everything shifted! The log, already straining to be free from under the water, exploded from the last few vines restraining it as it blew to the surface, sending Alice tumbling of their precarious perch and after the log as they bruised their back against the mass of roots.

        Quickly they resurfaced from the water, slicked their hair back, and began to push through the water the buoyant piece of wood, about the length of their body and a forearm wide with rough gnarled ends but coated in a thick slime that seemed to keep the wood from rotting, go figure.

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        Postby Madeira Craven on February 7th, 2021, 6:14 am

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        As Madeira pulled down and stripped vine after vine, always looking up, some at her feet moved. It moved in a single hard plop, like a stone dropped in water. She sucked in a startled breath and jumped back, already halfway to calling for help, but it was only a toad. The thing blinked at her one eye at a time. They were the only part of its dull, moss-colored body that could be seen among the foliage.

        And perhaps it was a sign of her body's deteriorating state that the first thought she had was, Is this edible?

        Snakes could be venomous, but frogs and toads, she was pretty sure, could be poisonous. She approached it cautiously, but the thing didn't even twitch as she scooped her hands beneath its bloated belly and lifted it in both hands. The thing was enormous, and filled her cupped hands like liquid. Her mouth watered with memories of frog legs in garlic sauce.

        Whatever. Either they died of poison or starvation, and at least poison would do it faster. She tucked her unresisting passenger under her arm and as much stripped vines as she could carry and made her way back to camp.

        The first thing that needed to be dealt with was the toad. She wasn't typically squeamish about killing small animals, but the thing was just so helpless. Kneeling beside the fire and looking both ways, she self consciously said a little prayer to Dira before turning her flyswatter handle-down and bashing it between its protuberant eyes. She had never cleaned a toad before, but she tried her best. She slit the thin skin from between its legs to its head with an arrowhead, and reaching inside scooped out the viscera. Flinging the mush into the swamp where she had chucked the snake parts, she was about to turn away before she realized she had disturbed something in the water. Ripples flared out from its source but the water was too cloudy to see.

        Please just be a turtle, she inwardly begged. Please, our luck isn't running great as it is, we deserve one thing.

        Alice came into view just as Madeira was turning back. And catching sight of her partner she yelped and almost dropped the carcas. For half a tick, that slimy log they were towing looked very much like the giant lizards that she'd been seeing skulking around the hillock.

        "Oh gods, Alice. Heart attack", She wheezed, and waved off her reaction with her toad-loaded hand. "Excellent find. Drag that up. If you can get me a couple more we'll have a proper raft." She managed an uncertain smile. She wasn't sure what they were going to find at the X, but she was just grateful for the destination. At least there was a goal to focus on.

        "Toad for lunch", she announced. She wasn't sure if it was necessary to skin a frog. And right then she was too hungry to care. She skewered the thing and set it leaning over the fire before meeting Alice at the waterline to help carry the log.

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        Postby Alice Weaver on February 7th, 2021, 3:43 pm

        “Sorry?” Was their only response to Madeira’s announcement that their appearance caused her a bit of a panic, “I’ll make more noise next time?” They spoke as they heaved the log up onto the ‘dry land’ feet slipping and sliding as they struggled to pull the log up the minor incline. They only fully got it up when Maderia pitched in with their weight as it thudded into the muddy island.

        “Toad for lunch.” They were told by Mads as they skewered the said toad over the fire and began to roast it.

        “Aren’t toads venomous or something? Like I was always told to not lick them because you could get sick if you touched their skin…” They trailed off as they revealed more of their lower upbringing, expecting to get strange looks at admitting kids that they knew, and possibly themselves, licked toads. Totally a one-off thing and had to deal with curiosity about what a toad tasted like...it was a rough dare, to say the least. “Anyways!” They interjected into their own thoughts to move on topics. “I’m going back out to find another log and when I come back we can have...toad. There is plenty of scrap wood floating about and I haven’t run into one of those larger lizards yet, maybe a few splashes but I’ve avoided those areas. We should be able to get a sizable raft done by today. At least enough to carry you since you…” Their eyes went up and down Madeira’s body, “Don’t weigh a lot.”

        That statement made they turned on their heels and had a controlled slide down the muddy banks of their base. Once again, with a tsk of displeasure, slid into the thick, rot laden water.

        Logs, logs, logs. All I need it logs. Not logs with teeth but tree logs. Blessedly unliving logs that won’t take offense to me trying to carry them back. Don’t think about what you just stepped on or if you felt something squirm against your leg. Just get walking. Head high, hum to let them know you are here, and keep poking the ground with your pointy stick. A pause in their thoughts as they took in the spear they seem to be entrusting their second life to. It would struggle to kill a rabbit much less an armored lizard. It the thought that counts, no? It really was. As they held the spear, alone in the murky waters with the insect’s drone in the air and the cry of strange animals in the distance, the crude weapon gave a sense of stability, safety even. They now understood why so many people rested a nervous hand on the hilt of a weapon when stressed, it was indeed comforting in a strange way.

        With the solidity of a weapon in one hand and hope in their heart, this swamp seemed just a bit less overbearing and the water just a bit more knowable as they pressed on. They took the same path this time, a slow spiraling path as they perforated the ground with the spear to not step on any more toothy creatures.

        They found the next log much like the first, this time it was but thirty meters south of their camp as their foot collided against a buried object. They splashed wildly away from it before they realized that they were repeating themselves as they felt around in the waist deep water and felt the spongy wood trapped within the muddy bottom.

        It was harder work to remove this one from the bottom as it was suctioned to the floor through the power of mud and it took them diving underneath the water multiple times to pop it free, resurfacing coat in filth but accompanied by another decent sized log. Since they were still in sight of their base they sent it drifting atop the water towards it with a gentle shove as they resumed their search.

        Every fifteen or so chimes another log was brought back by a more slime coated Alice as they moved with dedication available only to those that resisted the call of the afterlife to stay behind.

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        Survival Games ll

        Postby Madeira Craven on February 7th, 2021, 7:42 pm

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        Madeira watched Alice trudge back into the swamp with one pale brow up in her hairline. Why in the world would it have been necessary for Alice to be told not to lick amphibians? She shook her head at the mystery and got back to work. Her arms were sore from holding them above her head so long to cut down vines, but worse was her left hand, which pulsed with heat.

        She studied the back of her hand. Most of it was in atrophy, the translucently pale skin clinging tight to the bone goulishly, but there was a coin-sized circle around the purplish bug bite that looked to be swollen. Clear fluid was leaking from the puncture. Holding her opposite palm over it she could feel heat radiating, like all the blood in her body running underneath.

        Madeira shook her head and looked away. It didn't stop her using the few working fingers on that hand. Right now that's all that mattered.

        She sat and tended the fire and the toad while she braided the vines together to make them stronger. Weaving them one over the other, she managed to weave in shorter pieces to make several sizable ropes.

        As the logs were brought back Madeira set herself the task of tying them together. But the logs were slimy and porous. Lashing them together wouldn't work, as the handmade rope would just slide off. She could drill a hole to feed it through, she supposed, but the logs looked fragile and she wasn't sure how. If there was some kind of stopper at the other end...

        Possessed by a sudden idea, madeira looked up to make sure Alice wasn't looking. Taking the hatched and one of their hard-won logs, she took a couple of hard whacks to split it in half. The exercise jarred her weak wrists and her swollen hand, but in the end she had two small logs. Useless for carrying either of their body weights, but maybe...

        Laying out the two sturdiest logs, she placed the shorter ones at either end to make a kind of frame. The rope wouldn't slip off if it was pulling in multiple directions, right? She had a limited amount of vine rope to work with, so she tied the frame together as well as she could with the one knot she knew, cutting it into sections and wrapping it around all four corners. After that it was merely a matter of using her skinny, overtired arms to pile the logs onto the frame one and a time and tie them down.

        And like that, they had a raft.

        Was it seaworthy? Madeira stood back and looked over its rotting body. It was large enough to carry a single adult on their belly, but she wouldn't try stressing it out by putting the weight of two people on it. It was rather shakily held together. They would have to cut down and braid more vines as the current ones wore away. And some of those darker logs looked about ready to disintegrate. So no, it wasn't seaworthy. But with luck and no disasters, it would be able to navigate the swamp.

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        Madeira Craven
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        Survival Games ll

        Postby Madeira Craven on February 7th, 2021, 10:16 pm

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        When Alice came back Madeira forced them to sit down at the fire with her and come up with a plan. They shared the slightly crispy toad as they did. It wasn't enough for either of them, but they were starting to get used to the constant gnaw of hunger.

        The X on the map didn't seem terribly far, but it could have been on Leth for how easy it would be to get to. They poured over the map that neither of them could really read, noting an enormous tree halfway to their destination that seemed to be recorded as a landmark. They decided to head there first, to reduce the risk of them getting lost. They argued about risks and logistics well into the day, and that night followed the sound of more toads for an easy meal. That night they slept in turns, almost daring to be hopeful. Tomorrow would be their third day since they woke up in this haihole, and they were still alive. First thing they were going to start travelling to that mysterious X, and maybe, hopefully, find some answers.

        The third day arrived in a blaze of light, and they got to work. Using the grass sleeping mats they covered the body of the raft. Piling all their supplies into one of their burlap sacks, they cut the other into strips and tied it around the sturdiest, driest branch they had drying by the fire. Dipping the head into the firepit, they made a torch. No matter what, they decided, they had to keep the fire burning. It was their only source of clean water. Madeira tied the strings of the second burlap sack across her body. She would be riding on the small raft, and so would be in charge of the fire and all their possessions. Alice would be in the water, pushing and swimming the raft out into the stagnant water. They carried the spear to feel their way, and to defend themselves, if it came to it.

        With a last laughing petch you! shouted at the hillock they had first landed on, they pushed the raft out into the stagnant water and set off. The raft was unstable and Alice's footing uneven, but they found a rhythm they could manage, and made their slow progress between the trees and deeper into the swamp. They made camp that night on a hillock so similar to the one they just left that for a horrified moment they both wondered if they were running in circles. They didn't manage to catch anything that night. They set up the fire and a watch, and went to bed tired and hungry, and that little bit of hope that got them through the morning died in the night.

        The fourth day Madeira noticed that the bug bite on her hand was beginning to leak cloudy fluid. The swollen area was no longer coin-sized but was affecting her whole hand, and was crawling with red veins. It was clearly infected, but neither knew how to treat it. Madeira cradled it in her lap as they travelled that day. They couldn't find a hillock dry enough to sleep on that night. They found a tree with large roots that reached out of the water and the person on watch sat uncomfortably upon it, while the person who's turn it was to sleep laid uncomfortably on the raft. Soon they realized that spiders as large as their hands lived in the twisted lattice of the overhead branches. Fearing a bite, they left before first light.

        The fifth day they noticed that they were getting weaker. What little bodyfat they had was beginning to burn away. It was most noticeable on Alice. Weight loss had added new, hungry lines to their joking, almost nihilistic smile. It was getting harder to summon the will and the energy to bat away the biting insects and push through the worst of the swamp debris. By midday, though the pair's pace was slowing, they managed to find the landmark tree. It was unmistakable. It's canopy nearly eclipsed the sky, its roots stood high out of the water, supporting a twisted trunk like looked like a dozen trees wrapped together. They could hear creatures in the canopy high over their head, and turtles and frogs sheltering in the roots, but nothing seemed ready to bother them. They set up a hammock between the highest roots and slept in shifts, feeling relatively safe for the first time since they arrived. In the night Alice shocked both of them by successfully stabbing a toad in the dark. In the morning they tried to wash the body cavity out as best they could and cooked it over their torch. They ate it ravenously.

        On the sixth day the fire went out. It fell out of Madeira's weakening hands and into the swamp, and no matter what they tried they couldn't start another. They travelled during the day, slogging along in the humid heat, and when it came time to make camp they found another toad and ate it raw. That night the fever Madeira had been battling finally burned through her, and she spent the night alternatively shivering and panting on their mossy hillock.

        On the seventh day she had a fever dream of her childhood god. Her cracked lips stretched in a tired smile. "I was expecting someone else", she admitted. Ionu just nodded. "I know."

        On the eighth day the fever broke. Alice had managed to light a fire while her partner was delirious. They drank as much boiled bog water as they could stand and continued their journey. Alice's skin was angry and bug bitten, their legs and feet cut and sore from walking and swimming in the unpredictable and scummy water. At night the leech bites wouldn't stop bleeding, and they'd often wake up with flies lapping at the blood. In a week their strong, healthy body, their godly gift, was in tatters. Madeira was fairing no better. This was going to kill them if it went on much longer.

        "Cant be far now", Madeira encouraged in her rough disease-wracked voice, though she wasn't sure if she was speaking to them or to herself. She hoped they remembered that they promised to find Moritz when she died, but it seemed cruel to bring it up now. "We're almost there. Just a little farther."

        That evening, inch by painful inch, they finally reached their destination.

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        Madeira Craven
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