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Rhiva arrives 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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(Gossamer) The Consequence of a Hasty Decision

Postby Rhiva on May 23rd, 2021, 1:53 am

Spring, day 83 521 AV

It was loud. At least, louder than it had been, the scurrying of those aboard the Veronica bringing the sleeping passenger to a hazy awareness. With lingering nausea of the voyage still at the back of her throat, she swallowed hastily, cheeks ashen as she glanced through the rails where she was situated. The weather-beaten wood of the corner she'd curled into had become familiar, comfortable now that she was somewhat accustomed to the ever-present sway. Even the swells, breaking over top of another and white foam cresting, brought an odd sense of peace to her, of rightness.

She scoffed as she pulled the hood of her cloak tight, throat scratching and bile racing forth. No, she didn't like the boat one bit. Wasn't sure she liked the suffocating heat that surrounded her either, but the wind that carried the beast carving through the sea subdued the humidity, and the air was different. Briny and lush rather than dirt or grass or horseflesh. She welcomed it until she was leaning over the railing once more, her thoughts only on what would happen if she fell.

It took time to make peace with her stomach, swishing a sip of water in her mouth and spitting it overboard to remove the taint. When she was sure she wouldn't hurl whatever might have been in her stomach, she turned to face the crew and passengers, noting with renewed interest that some were leaning over the side, their fingers and bodies pointed avidly towards the land. She didn't rush to their side, having staked her claim on the left side of the ship- she still didn't know port from starboard and hadn't asked for clarification- preferring to stare with open shock.

Waves broke over miles of sandy beach where the trees bristled, dark and menacing as though guarding something precious from the present watchful brown eyes. Where in the plains, all was visible that wanted to be seen, the grass yielding to the wind in its own dance of waves. The jungle before her was fearsome, something to be wary of, forbidding in the way of newcomers and their flighty tendencies. She stewed in her regret as she curled onto the deck once more, wondering why she'd done this. Riverfall could have been enough, right? It was flourishing, she could have kept Sasha close to her, could have started over, with a new life, or even returned home when she'd been ready. She frowned, eyes screwing shut and palms pressing heavily into them. No, she thought, I wanted to see the world, wasn't it? Begged the Gods for it. Oh how she'd begged them the night before her marriage and dreamed of it when she could no longer ride for the child growing in her belly.

And just when she'd accepted her fate, they'd agreed to let her go free. The toll had been far too heavy. She wished the stories her father had told her as a child had been less fanciful, that they had warned more than entertained.

It took longer than before to shove the wayward thoughts to the back of her mind where she would lock them away forever if given the choice. By the time she opened her eyes, the ship was surrounded by the forest, pushing through the inlet to meet with the dock where she would finally be free. The sun was hot overhead, her cloak only protecting her from burning if nothing else, and she gathered her meager belongings. She escaped as soon as the board dropped, her sea legs bandy as she walked with some confidence over the planks that led to shore, rising, and falling with a gentleness that surprised her, until she hit the sand.

She frowned as she stumbled and fell to her knees, stomach dropping with the sand as it seemed to move with the ocean. Would she never be free of it? For the rest of her life, would she rise and fall with no relief? She sat back onto her heals to contemplate her suffering, grimacing as she reflected on her own cowardice.

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(Gossamer) The Consequence of a Hasty Decision

Postby Gossamer on May 23rd, 2021, 4:27 pm

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There was a surprising amount of activity when the ship docked. It seemed it had been spotted coming around the Island that lay in the center of the inlet and so when she’d tied off and the planks had been thrust out uniting the land with the sea – people melted out of the jungle. At first, there was just an empty commons area and an expanse of beach with the only thing moving the palms and saw grass at the edge of the jungle. Abandoned swings hung from some of the palms and buildings could be seen tucked up into the trees.

But now, as Rhiva knelt in the sand on her knees, people walked all around her, headed for the ship. Curious glances fell on her and more than one person started to stop. A tall well-muscled man waved them away as big gentle hands fell on her shoulders. “Now, we can’t be having this…” He said, hoisting the young woman to her feet and steadying her as if she weighed nothing at all. A second man was by his side. And where the first was handsome in a rugged way, the other man’s face was not. He had bold overstated features, though his size was just as large as the firsts man’s statue. The second one had strange eyes – so pale of green they looked blind – that almost didn’t fit with his thick nose and overly carved jawline. He had long hair, that fell to his shoulders, and wore what the other man wore – pale khaki fabric that looked thin and strong – far cooler than Rhiva’s own clothing.

“I’m Randal Zor. This is Vas.” He said thoughtfully, his stormy grey eyes full of suppressed humor as he stood there steadying the woman now that he had her on her feet. Vas looked thoughtfully at the newcomer as well.

“Ran, I think Laviku’s Waters and her constitution were strangely at odds. Which is odd for a Drykas, usually they take to sailing fairly well since they were raised on a galloping horse.” The second man said, his accent strange with almost a lilt to it. Normally their skin doesn’t hold that particular shade of green.” He said, not bothering to hide his mirth as a quick smile softened his otherwise harsh features.

Neither man was to be ignored. They were both presences in their own rights. Randal was by far the easier going of the two, used to no problems due to his comely appearance and relaxed attitude. Vas seemed warier, his unusual gaze studying the girl as if looking right through her. “Easy on her Randal. I think she’s been vomiting for two.” He pronounced, nodding to himself. “I’ll go get something to settle her stomach. See her up to the commons? The breeze up there will surely help her level out. And keep her up there until nothing else is rocking.” He added with a grin before turning and stalking off towards The Communal Kitchens where some of the cooks of the settlement were already laying in a feast.

“Come on… when Vas says to do something, we generally comply.” He said, smiling at the retreating back of the massive man. “He’ll do as he says and bring you something that will help with that green tinge you have to your skin.” He added, keeping a light hand on her elbow but otherwise having released her altogether. “I’ll show you to the Commons. We can’t stay here as you are likely to get run over.” He said thoughtfully, and before Rhiva knew it had drawn her with him to what looked like a large grand rough-hewn stair that led upwards. It had only been a short walk from the beach and dock, which was already flooded with people.

He gently shoved her up the stairway until she found herself on a huge platform full of tables, chairs, and well-positioned in the shade of the palms where it caught an offshore breeze that was as refreshing as the shade. Vas was back in a moment too. His big meaty paws held a tray with a frosty pitcher of some sort of liquid and an assortment of sweetbreads and sliced fruit. “When I told Juli that her father brought back a very green human she said to give you this and make you eat… that you’ll feel better.” He added, setting the tray down and unstacking three cups which he filled up. The big man then gestured to a seat at one of the larger tables near the railing protecting the people from falling from the lofted platform.

Randal smiled, snagged a bite of pineapple from the tray, and took his own mug. He drank deeply of the coconut milk and juice mixture, smiling at its slight chill. “Let me guess, Duncan was in the Kitchen, chilling and heating everything for the ladies?” He asked and laughed at Vas’s curt nod. “Indeed. Best place for a blind man when a ship is being unloaded.” The larger man said, settling on a seat opposite of where he’d invited Rhiva to sit.

“What brings you to Syka, Rhiva?” The man with the lilt asked, tilting his head curiously. Randal looked off the edge of the lofted platform causing Vas to snort. “Sit, Randal. This one needs you far more than James needs you helping to unload the ship. Half the settlement is down there already. One less won’t be missed.” He added, his lips almost forming a smile.

Randal did smile. “I know.” He said with a sigh then gestured all around. “When James brings back a load, the whole settlement turns out to unload the ship. Half the things he brought were for these people at their request anyhow. We don’t have a longshore dock here with full-time workers, so having the extra help materialize is a Gods’send. The people that can cook always start on a bit of a feast after the safe return of The Veronica… and we have a gathering here at the Commons. It’s not a ten-day celebration, but almost as good. If you weren’t looking so green… you’d be expected to help as well.” He added, looking thoughtful.

“Did sailing not agree with you?” He asked carefully and made sure he pushed the tray closer, urging the ailing woman to eat something now that she was on solid ground. James’ crossings only took about three days, but if you spent all that time heaving out your guts and curled in what was left of the mess, it wasn’t a fun time for anyone… and strength needed to be regathered.

“I’m also the one you talk to if you need housing, work, or any sort of arrangement for a loan to get started here,” Randal said, studying the woman. “I didn’t see much gear with you, so I assume you aren’t planning on camping on the beach. Would you like me to arrange a place to stay for you?” He asked, curious and careful. He didn’t want to look like the two men were ganging up on the woman, but they both indeed wanted to make sure she was well.

Vas, meanwhile, poured himself a glass of the frosty juice and sipped it watching the people unload the ship. His strange pale green eyes didn’t seem to miss much as he nodded in satisfaction to see certain items unloaded that he’d hoped James would be able to acquire on this trip. Mathias, the other Founder, suddenly strode into the clearing, barked a few good-natured orders, and then was seen returning the other way, a huge crate in his arms. Everyone, its seemed, pitched in to help. The two men with her were not exaggerating.



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(Gossamer) The Consequence of a Hasty Decision

Postby Rhiva on May 25th, 2021, 4:03 am

Ears ringing, she hadn't heard the approach of two men whose shadows suddenly cleaved through the brightness. She knew his words weren't mumbled, but the sounds were distant, and her breath caught as she was heaved to her feet. In a moment, she was standing, still swaying like the palms so high in the sky with the breeze. Her hood fell from her head, and she made no move to fix it as her neck cricked to look to the men around her. When the words filtered through her mind, the pieces fitted together until they made some sort of sense, and she understood the gentle nature and decided to be unafraid. Of them, at least.

She took them in quietly, nodding to their introductions as her worn boots seemed to sink deeper into the grains of sand, piqued at the comment of her constitution. Her lips pursed, nearly contrite, but she declined to comment. Vas spoke of food, which paled her another notch further, but Randal's gentle hand guided her elbow towards what was apparently called the Commons. She hesitated at the stairs, but a shove in the direction of them propelled her upwards and she soon found herself no longer in need of her heavy cloak. She shrugged out of it, allowing herself to be guided towards a table that was set. She eyed the fruit, swallowed down her fear with rationalization-- they'd insist-- and nibbled. She'd eat slow and hope it didn't come back up.

“What brings you to Syka, Rhiva?” The man with the sea loam eyes asked, and she settled deeper into her seat. With the cotton released from her ears, she couldn't ignore the question she'd been outright asked, but her history was complicated. How was she to tell someone that her family died of pox? She doubted she was contagious, the sickness never touched her, which only spurred her into further irritation.

She choked down some of the drink, the nature of it sweet and bitter at the same time, before she spoke just over the din surrounding them, "I always wanted to see the world. It... It was spoken highly of in Riverfall, and I soon found myself aboard the Veronica."

The two formidable yet, now that she was learning them better, approachable men ribbed each other for a short moment, speaking to their companionship. Her breath came easier, her eyes lost the frightened foal twist to them, and she managed another sip of the drink. It settled her better than the food, but the insistence of eating was clear as the tray was gently pushed towards her again. She pulled a sweet roll into her hands and ripped a small piece off, chewing as she was asked once again of her constitution.

She frowned, gently, turning back to his earlier comment of Dyrkas and horses, "We may be born nearly onto the back of a horse, but to ride a horse is not to ride the waves. I think Laviku may have had some interest in teaching me the difference."

“I’m also the one you talk to if you need housing, work, or any sort of arrangement for a loan to get started here,” Randal said, and she found herself nodding along, her hand rising unbidden to her single carved earing as he studied her, “I didn’t see much gear with you, so I assume you aren’t planning on camping on the beach. Would you like me to arrange a place to stay for you?”

Her eye widened, and she turned to look back to the boat, "I was in such a hurry to get off the boat I didn't even think about it. My packs must still be on the ship. I've a tent and small odds and ends," She struggled to pull her eyes away from the craft, cursing silently at herself for losing sight of such precious provisions as she clasped her hands together, "I would appreciate any work you might have to offer, though. I'm not particularly skilled, but am under the presumption that a warm body would find use here."

She hoped, at least. Her skills were mediocre at best, and she'd been warned that she might not have what it took to live in the nearly uninhabited lands. At least, that's what the trader at Riverfall had said, the lofty man in his lofty silks staring down his nose at her. His introductions to her hadn't been without empty promises, and it had been the only was she could see to end the conversation. The idea that she couldn't make it only spurned her on, fire in her eyes with the challenge.

Now, though, sitting beneath the shade of the trees and watching the community come together, she wouldn't say at all that the place was uninhabited. In fact, the sight set a pang to her heart, her hand pressing into her chest at the sight of people come together in such a familiar way. It reminded her of home, and the pain, and the anger, and so she stomped it down and returned to the conversation, her decision to be as forthcoming as she could.

"I just needed to get away, to live, I suppose. I can manage some decent traps, small animals only, and I may only be of average height, but I'm strong. Besides, my father always said that those who want to learn are those who do learn. That's what I'm here for. I need to know myself and what I'm capable of," she shut her mouth with a snap, her fingertips tingling. She'd hardly ever spoken aloud so often in her life, her family falling to her mother's silent way of speaking more often that their mouths. It struck her as odd, then, that she hadn't raised her hands to speak once through the conversation. She twisted on her earing a bit, but let it free to bring another piece of fruit to her mouth.

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(Gossamer) The Consequence of a Hasty Decision

Postby Gossamer on May 27th, 2021, 12:24 am

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Both men smiled at her words. Though neither one was a sailor, both knew and respected Laviku. Undoubtedly the young woman was right, for the God of the Sea often had a sense of humor. And he’d been known to resent the fact that The Drykas called their plains The Sea of Grass. Sometimes… just sometimes… he wasn’t too kind to those of this young woman’s blood taking to his waters without sacrifice. Vas spoke up about it. “I think you say what you say in jest, but if you ever take to the Sea again, Sacrifice to Laviku. The trip will go easier for you. He has a … certain resentment… of your people and enjoys their misery. He does not like what you call your homeland. The Sea Of Grass.” The big man with the odd green eyes explained.

Randal nodded with a soft ‘ahh’. “I hadn’t thought of that, but I suspect you are right.” He added, backing up Vas’ thoughts. The Gods, if nothing else, took long-standing grudges to heart. Both men sat there relaxing in the shade, enjoying the breeze, and waiting for the young woman to recover somewhat.

Randal nodded. “There is work aplenty here. You just have to decide what you’d like to do and what you are particularly good at. If you are, as you say, relatively unskilled, a great many of the opportunities to make money here will teach you if you agree to help. We have everything from buildings to clean, farms to tend, shops to help tidy and stock, and even more nonconventional things. I’m sure you can find a way to earn some coin just about anywhere you look. We’d be glad to assist in that as well.” He said, smiling gently.

“If you are one to work hard and have ambition, there’s good coin to be made here and incredible skills to be learned too. You just have to be able to sus out the opportunities and see them for what they are.” He added, spicing what Randal said with a bit of word flavor of his own.

Randal nodded at her words about needing to get away. “Sometimes we can’t really get to know ourselves living in the shadow of the familiar and under the wings of family. It’s good you came. The air here and the spaces between all things gives you room and quiet to really start to think about things in new ways and get to know yourself.” The younger man nodded. Randal Zor, for all he was the youngest of the Founders, was wise for his age.

Vas had something else to say as well. “Back where you are from, people will have put you in all sorts of boxes. You were someone’s child, someone’s friend, a representation of those that came before you surrounded by the familiar and held down by tradition and expectation. Take a moment here, Rhiva, and realize here you have choices. You are a blank slate. You get to decide who you are and what you can become. The Akalak who runs the Panacea will take an apprentice and teach them healing. The Mercantile needs extra help. The sawmill wouldn’t mind someone helping out with the Asha… the small elephants they use to haul heavy stuff here. The Innkeeper needs someone to help her because she has far too many guests for one person to handle often. There are a dozen people who fish that would like to have extra hands and wouldn’t mind teaching them the secrets of the sea. But there’s room for more. Blacksmiths, weavers, those who seek the secret pathways in the jungle. You need to take some time, Rhiva, and look at the future and decide how it calls to you. Syka is about fresh starts. Don’t waste this one falling back on something you know. Seize the possibilities and try something that calls to you.” Vas advised. His green eyes sparkled with excitement. “It’s a rare opportunity.” He added, looking thoughtful.

Randal nodded his agreement. “Camp on the beach a few days. Take a walk around and see the bungalows and Ranchos. Rent a room at the Inn. There’s coin to be borrowed here from us Founders if you have a business idea and want to start something. We’ll help you. But none of that needs to be decided today. Today you should rest… relax… take in Syka. I’ll go fetch your bags and leave you to Vas for a bit.” He said, nodding to the older man and setting off across the Commons headed towards the stairs down and ultimately back to the ship.

Vas nodded to Randal and glanced at Rhiva once more. “You’ve a lot to think about.” He said in a tone that said he didn’t envy her. “I haven’t been here long… just a season or two… but is there anything I can do for you? Answer any questions?” He asked in a careful tone. There was something about the man, something contained, as if his form was condensed down and somehow lesser than it needed to be.

“I dropped in to visit Mathias… you’ll meet him later. He was the crazy man that circulated fliers in Riverfall about colonizing Falyndar and talked a group of people into coming over and doing just that. I thought I’d find carnage when I got here. It was a decided possibility for that party’s future. Instead I found a thriving settlement that I find is just my speed. I don’t often like to be out and among people, but here they bother me less than I usually am bothered.” He admitted, smiling at the girl.

Then he waited, seeing if indeed she asked anything of him including any questions.



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(Gossamer) The Consequence of a Hasty Decision

Postby Rhiva on May 27th, 2021, 1:59 am

Vas's words of Laviku's mischief rang true, and it burned, a coiling aggression building in her stomach that wouldn't be quenched with a sip of her drink, though she certainly attempted it. She had offered nothing to the God of the Seas, and knew better, though at the time the distinction between forgetfulness and rage had been blurred. She hadn't thought much of the Gods while in Riverfall, hadn't thought much at all, preferring to forget the ideals that she had been raised with as she wandered the streets of Riverfall in hopes of answers she hadn't expected to receive. Of the pantheon, he was one to be respected, and more the fool she for doing nothing except bungle her way to the new territory.

She scrubbed her jaw, studying the fruit in front of her rather than the men who listened avidly, "It wasn't a complete jest. It's a wonder I didn't fall into the depths hanging over the rails half the time as I was. I know better." For all that the Gods had taken from her in exchange for the mockery that was her freedom, a life of a traveler outside of the Grass Sea, she supposed she should feel lucky that her life, too, was not claimed.

The direction of the conversation flowed back towards work, and she didn't stifle her relief as her body sagged to rest against the back of the chair. Randal's words of opportunity to thrive, of shadows and space to grow, had her nodding along, thoughts churning. She listened intently, though also silently, as Vas expanded, and she wondered at the novelty of a blank slate and the opportunities that she was presented. She felt the brightness of his words, a gentle smile caressing her face as absorbed it all.

"Thank you," she said, "For the welcome. The last few months have been a challenge," An extraordinary understatement, she thought as she fidgeted, unsure that she wanted to share more. She'd run away, after all.

Coward, her sister's voice echoed, but she shut it down by sitting up taller and thanking Randal for gathering her forgotten belongings, refusing to berate herself further. For the moment, at the very least. She had self-recrimination to spare if anyone wanted to take some of it off her hands.

Vas's tone was gentle as he asked for any question, and she bit her lips together as she struggled for the words. To say that she was exhausted was but another gross understatement, for it clawed through her sore muscles down to her very bones, and yet the excitement around her was incredibly tangible. She studied him, from the exotic pale green of his eyes and the length of his hair to the strangling broad jaw. He seemed... she didn't know, only able to describe it as though there should have been a radiance surrounding him. She shook it off by biting into the sweet roll, her hunger rising as the nausea fully retreated.

She glanced into the jungle that surrounded them, sucking in a breath, "Are there... I've never been outside of Cyphrus, and a jungle is the opposite of the plains. What would you say are common dangers? Which paths should I avoid, and which are safe?" She paused as she realized she'd been signing with her words, clasping her hands together to prevent it. No one but her family would understand the strange motions, one with a distinct vocabulary that she would never use again. She straightened, pulling her shoulder blades tight, letting her anger force words past her lips where her sorrow would not, "Do you have a suggestion for where I might camp? I don't want to settle onto anyone's territory, but I need to have some privacy. I agree that I have much to think about, and yet the darkness of the trees troubles me far more than self-reflection ever could."

She paused to take a steadying breath deep into her belly, the final question tumbling from the back of her mind and spewing from her lips, "What Gods, or Goddess', do I approach to thank for the hospitality? I'd rather not make the same mistake twice if I can avoid it.”

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(Gossamer) The Consequence of a Hasty Decision

Postby Gossamer on May 27th, 2021, 3:12 am

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While Randal was gone fetching Rhiva’s things, Vas studied her and thought about her questions. “Randal would be the better to ask. He often teaches about the jungle. I can share some of my observations with you though, having been both here and where you are from.” He said thoughtfully, bowing his head briefly as if gathering those said thoughts.

“Say you’ve only known one color your entire life… black, white… whatever color of your choice. Falyndar herself is like an explosion of all the colors that have ever been bursting into existence at once. Where you can ride for miles on the Sea of Grass and never see another living thing other than the rolling grasses… here you cannot move an inch without life being everywhere piled on top of each other, dependent upon each other. That is the explosion I speak of... the every color. The Sea of Grass is a singular plain….” He said, flattening his hand so his fingers and thumb were even with his palm and he sliced it across his chest horizontally. “Whereas Syka is a vertical expanse of life that has no plain. The jungle has its ground floor… its leaf litter… higher up is the understory of the trees. Still higher up is the canopy… and even beyond that higher is the emergent zone… the tallest of the tall trees that stretch up to the sky and touch it.” Vas took a breath, his eyes shining. “Kihala has touched everything here. She is everywhere. Life. And while life isn’t always pretty… here it takes on an even new twist. There are large plants in the canopy that fill with water during the frequent rains. There are species of frogs that live in those plant water pools… and spend their whole entire lives there, never touching the ground.” He said softly.

Vas took a deep breath, unsure how to explain it to this woman who was just as much an outsider as he was. “Mushrooms… toadstools… across the sea you might see a dozen varieties there. Here? There are more than a million species. Can you understand how many that is? It’s like counting the grains of sand on a specific beach. This Commons area is about an acre of land between all the buildings… maybe upwards of two. In the jungle.. which we call The Maw around here, there can be anywhere from twenty to fifty tree types… but guess what? You might find only one or two of each type. That’s because Falyndar is vast and unbroken. The varieties spread out. The animal life is less diverse, but when you speak of insects… its perhaps even more diverse than the trees. The settlers here once ran smoke up into a tree which killed butterflies and beetles. They got so many different kinds falling from the tree upon the dropcloths they laid that they stopped counting after two days. There wasn’t enough paper.” He added, shaking his head.

“Competition is fierce. Weakness fails. The jungle isn’t safe for you unless you take someone like Randal or one of the other Rangers. Stick to Syka proper… anything off the Cobbled Path with a marked sign you can safely travel too. There are even distant beaches of wild pigs that you can walk too on marked trails and things should be fine. But even then, there are snakes about. Always mind your feet. Insect bites can be bad too. If nothing else, stop by the Mercantile and get a jar of insect repellent. Uta makes it and it really will keep you from loosing your mind after dark. And if your curious, she will teach you how to make it yourself. Even on the beach, without protection, the sand flies bite.” He added, smiling sightly.

That was about the time Randal returned. He dropped Rhiva’s things carefully at the end of her seat, making a nice pile, before taking a seat again. He glanced at Vas and then back at Rhiva. Vas spoke up once more. “Where’s the best place for her to camp, Ran?” He asked, curious himself.

Randal looked thoughtful. “I’d camp right on the beach or at the high sand mark under the palms from Mathias’ place which is the first big bungalow on the beach north of here to Stu’d Tidepool to the south.. .anywhere on Swing Beach or behind the Tidepool… don’t go further south of that or further north of say The Protea Inn… when Taz fills all her rooms she sleeps in her tent on the beach. You could camp there too. She has an outdoor shower she’d let you use. And we have the public baths just north of there too. All free. A mage named Duncan runs the baths. He maintains the pools. You supply the towels and any soap you need.” He added, looking thoughtful.

Vas laughed. “If you aren’t sure what Bungalow Mathias has, just look for the one with the huge deck with a bunch of greybeards fishing off of it and telling bullshit stories.” He added, speaking of Mathias and Captain James like they were ancients.

Randal laughed at Vas’ comment and nodded to him. “If you want some practical fishing advice, or a few pointers, just grab some gear at the mercantile and join them. They will turn you into their project for the day.” He said, laughing softly. It almost seemed like he spoke from experience.

Vas nodded enthusiastically and both men exchanged glances. “As for the Gods… she wants to know what Gods are here?” Vas said thoughtfully. Randal, who was in the midst of helping himself to a glass mug of juice – having procured a mug from somewhere – took pause. He looked uncomfortable for a moment, then shrugged.

“The way I see it… quite a few are taking interest in this settlement. Kihala herself appeared not long ago and challenged the settlers. She spread pieces of statues all over the jungle and settlement and had people go find them. Those that were able to find the pieces and assemble them became masters of them. There is a fish, an elephant, a parrot, a monkey… and a panther. They can control them… they uh… come to life when those that control them feel the settlement threatened.” Randal explained, scratching his head. “The rest of the time they are just statues.” He added, pointing out towards the dock where a very prominent stylized fish statue rested.

Vas interjected. “Caiyha is here too. We feel….” He said cautiously. “… that Syka is something of a prize for them and there are several vying for control over it. There are others that are here… just watching, curious. There are things in the jungle… forgotten things of power. This place used to be something different before the Valterrian. It used to be a place of … experimentation and learning. A research facility. Sometimes we hear rumors of old things, creatures too unique to be normal, that are older than the Valterrian roaming the jungle. Be careful, Rhiva. But understand too, when something seems unusual to be here… like groves and groves of fruit trees that keep us well fed and healthy… there is always a reason behind it. We learn more and more each day.” Vas added, causing Randal to nod.

“I’ll show you all the places you can gather food. It might be the type of food you’ve never seen before, but it will be delicious and nutritious. Bananas, mango, pineapple, passionfruit, tropical grapes – the list goes on. You won’t go hungry here. And there’s a lot of fish if you have a taste for it.” Randal added. “Oh and clams, crabs, muscles in the river, that kind of thing.” He continued. “You’ll just need a local person to show you.” He concluded.

Randal took a long drink while Vas studied Rhiva seemingly to gage her reaction.
.
Gossamer

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