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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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[Tazrae] Of Inns and Exploration

Postby Bandin Everdance on May 24th, 2021, 2:49 am

4th of Spring 521 A.V.

He left the Veronica feeling tired from the long journey, but invigorated all the same by his conversations with the crew and the ship's captain. James and his men were full of life and whimsy; some were rougher than others, but they all behaved as if a family set to a task.

James' upbeat attitude was a breath of fresh-air for the similarly minded Bandin and his promises of a possible future for the young man in Syka did wonders for the smith's already generally optimistic mood.

Even the thought of sending for his aunt had become a seriously viable thought in his mind. She was getting up in age and Sunberth, as James had commented, was no place for an aging woman. The prospect of using the old sailor's Sverfa connections to retrieve her safely was one that seemed reasonable and like a good call to be made, providing Ruth would want to leave her long-time home.

The inn wasn't so far away from the docks and, as he'd offered, the captain of the Veronica had given Bandin a little tour on the way to it. He pointed out this or that as they went along the cobbled pathway. Bandin was surprised by the relative smallness of the community. It was little more than an outpost on the edge of wild jungle, just cut back enough to be viable as a tropical home for the various dozens who had dared to call it a settlement.

James left him at the Protea proper. The captain had his duties to do, namely supervising the unloading of cargo and checking in with the other founders. Though he invited Bandin to talk further on what they'd discussed, something the young man was starting to become more and more sure he'd be doing.

The inn itself was a quaint, moderately large, and simple construction. Its open shutters and thatch roofing looked inviting and airy. The whole operation gave off a vibe of a manageable nature that already allowed Bandin to begin to imagine a life in one of its rooms.

Everything about Syka seemed to brim with possibilities and to possibly hint at being just the right fit for him. As he entered the l-shaped building, he couldn't help but glance briefly to the nearby jungle. James had warned him of the potential danger of Syka's wilds and Bandin respected the captain's advice; still, the sailor had also hinted to him of the various secrets and odd happenings that inhabited the brush.

Bandin could already feel the jungle calling to him. He knew it was only a matter of time before he'd be within it, one way or another, for better or for worse. Though, he'd have to find a reasonably responsible way of going about that. He knew little of jungle craft and the brush looked thick indeed.

Upon entering the structure proper from its porch, Bandin was met with the strong smell of flowers and found himself appreciating the lively and bright decor. It truly looked as if someone lived within the walls of the inn and cared greatly for the others who would also be doing so.

He passed the kitchen and entered the gathering room, coming upon a small fireplace. Where exactly was it that he was to find the inkeeper? James hadn't exactly mentioned that, but, then again, he hadn't exactly asked.

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[Tazrae] Of Inns and Exploration

Postby Tazrae on May 24th, 2021, 3:23 am

Taz laughed out loud at Bree’s antics. The riding lizard, a jungle Ixam, was showing off. The young woman was standing at the edge of the guest deck, a large piece of driftwood in her hands. The Ixam, the size of a horse, was pacing back and forth in front of Tazrae down on the sand, her blue green tail whipping back and forth in anticipation. A large harlequin Imperial Watcher looked on lazily from his sprawl on the nearest deck chair just outside of a spot of slowly migrating sun. Taz leaned back, her arm holding the driftwood, and threw it with all her might. The piece of wood sailed end over end out onto the sand with the Ixam in hot pursuit. The blue-green lizard pounced on the wood, took it up in her teeth, and shook her head violently, as if killing the stick. Then she plunged into the water with it, determined to drown the stick, rather than bring it back to the Innkeeper to throw again.

The young woman had a wild mass of curling hair the color of bleached caramel. One would be hard pressed to say if she was blonde or some other color of light brown. It floated around her head in an uncontrolled storm teased by the ocean breezes that cooled the deck off considerably. She turned to the dog who seemed unmoved by the lizard’s excitement and complained good naturedly to him. “She’s not even a proper dog. You should teach her the concept of ‘fetch’.” Taz said, reaching down to stroke the dog’s long lazy head.

The Innkeeper padded over to the far edge of the deck, not yet noticing the visitor, and peered out at the Ixam again. She was now deep in the waves, having lost the stick, and seemed to be worrying some other sort of creature anew. It was a shark… a young one though. And Taz figured the Ixam would have herself a meal of the creature that was no longer than two feet. Bree dove in, chomped on the shark, and tossed it up into the waves, making it airborne. Blood filled the water – sharks blood- as the lizard aggressively battled the toothed menace and then made short work of the meal, practically swallowing the thing whole.

Turning away, Taz shook her head. “I hope she gets out before the blood in the water draws bigger sharks.” She said to Creature, the half-sleeping dog. She turned then, noticing the stranger, and offered him a smile.

“Hello there. I’m Tazrae.” She added, padding up to him bareoot to offer him her hand. The girl wore a skirt made of some light strongly woven material that waved around her legs revealing most of them. It was dyed a bright color – turquoise and green – which matched the crocheted top that left most of her mid-drift bared. She was trim but muscled, as if she did a lot of roaming around and riding. Under both things she wore a white bikini that seemed to indicate she was in the water as much as the lizard she watched was. Her skin was bronzed from the Syka sun, making her blue eyes look all the more brighter than they normally would have been in any other setting.

“Looks like you found The Protea Inn. We’re named after these big flowers here.” She said, gesturing to the oversized blooms that dipped and bobbed in the sea breeze. “I should be helping unload the ship. We all turn out for the Veronica’s arrival to assist James, but I have things in the oven that can’t be left.” She said as a causal explanation. “I’ll head over with the bread after it comes out, knowing everyone will be hungry and no one in the Communal Kitchens would have thought to make any.” She added, as if to explain herself.

Taz left him breathing room to introduce himself, before she bustled past him back into the gathering room. She peeked into the kitchen a brief moment and checked on the bread before she was back with a selection of keys. One said 5 and one said 6 on the handle. “We don’t really need to lock anything because there’s no glass on the windows, but its still reassuring to the guests. The only rooms I have open right now are 5 and 6. They are at the end off the long part of the L shape.” She added, beckoning to him.

The Innkeeper showed him both rooms, throwing the doors wide open. They were spacious rooms, side by side, equipped with a sturdy double wooden bed, desk, chair, table and access to a restroom between them. “Right now, there’s plenty of water for baths, and we have a private outdoor shower if you like that kind of thing. It’s hooked to a cistern on the roof so the water is always warm.” She said, proud that she had built the shower herself.
“You can take whichever room suits your fancy. They are a hundred and twenty gold mizas a season and all meals are included. I’m the cook. There are no real rules other than to stay out of the other guests quarters unless you are invited in.” She added, leading him out onto the deck further down then where they stood before.

“There’s clean towels in the bathroom and at the shower, soap, shampoo, and lotions if you need them. No extra charge. I change sheets once a five day or if you request them to be changed sooner, and between each guest so your linens are clean. I can help you with tours of the city and jungle, plus we can arrange for other outings with people that are specialists in that area. I know Randal teaches surfing and paddleboarding, and one of the crazier denizens does kite surfing and hang gliding off the waterfalls. If you don’t know what those are, I’m sure you’ll see before long.” She added, offering him a smile.

“Do you know what room you want?” She asked, curious, then gestured to either side of the Inn. “You are free to roam the grounds and beach, but please stay out of the Reptile Garden. I can give you a tour of it, but I have snakes laying eggs right now and I’d rather no one disturb them unnecessarily until I collect the clutches. The dog and giant lizard are part of the Inn and completely tame… so you don’t have to worry about them being aggressive. Creature is the dog… we call him Creech.. and Bree is the riding Ixam. She’ll probably be up here later to say hi. She likes to chat up the new guests.” Taz added, forewarning him of the lizard’s sentience.

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[Tazrae] Of Inns and Exploration

Postby Bandin Everdance on May 28th, 2021, 7:06 pm

"I'm Bandin," he said and took the hand; his touch was strong, but gentle. He had a swashbuckler's grin and an inventor's gleam in his cerulean green eyes. "Beautiful place you have here. I love how open it is, like it's part of the life around it and not apart from it."

Bandin chuckled a tiny bit. "If that makes sense."

"James actually showed me around a bit before pointing me over here. I think they should be mostly done with the unloading around now," he explained.

The young woman gave him the tour and Bandin respectfully followed; he gave off a relaxed air, as if he was completely at home in his own skin and the presence of a friendly stranger.

"Soaps and lotions, eh?" Bandin asked with a smile. "I've definitely had much worse. For a little jungle settlement, Syka is turning out to be a lot more comfortable than I'd have thought."

He adjusted his collar, a little gleam of sweat could be seen on his naturally gold-hued skin. He was outfitted in a spun cotton shirt, breeches, and thick traveler boots. His cloak had been thrown into the bag he wore at his back, but that didn't mean he wasn't having a bit of trouble regulating his heat. The jungle was already proving MUCH hotter than Riverfall and he wasn't altogether sure he'd taken in enough water during the voyage across the Suvan; not for a lack of it being available, the Veronica was very accommodating, but rather because he hadn't correctly gauged just how much an effect the salt-laden air of the open sea would have on him.

"It's a lot hotter here than it is across in Riverfall," he mentioned. "I'm going to have to get used to that. I think I do like the heat better than the cold, though, so that's something."

"I'll definitely be using the shower once I get settled in, though. I've got salt on my skin from the sea breeze and that's new for me. Not used to the damn itching quite yet."

When it came time to choose rooms, he did so without much fuss of a decision being made:

"I'll take number six," Bandin said. "If you don't mind."

He was a social person, but he preferred to be as far away from everyone else as possible when it came to his lodgings. There was just something about solitude that could recharge him. To all things their time and season and all that; when it was time to relax he preferred to truly relax away from any and all.

"Hang gliding? That sounds fun and a bit dangerous. My favorite kind of thing," Bandin said and flashed a flirtatious smile. "Maybe you could show me that whole set-up sometime?"

Regardless of his answer, interested or not, he'd offer her a change of conversation, politely:

"Right now, though, I'm honestly more interested in seeing a little bit of the jungle. James was telling me that there's quite a bit more out there than one might think," Bandin said, his flirty airs somewhat pulled back to show an adventurer's curiosity and it was clear to see which mood was his true personality shining through. "I'm not familiar with the lay of the land, though. I don't think it'd be too wise for me to go out there alone until I get my bearings on the wilds. Though that's more prudence talking than nature."

"You have a lot of animals, huh? That's nice. I'm not too used to having pets; it just never fit the lifestyle of going here and then there. Maybe that'll change, though. I always loved the idea of having a friend close by always."

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[Tazrae] Of Inns and Exploration

Postby Tazrae on May 29th, 2021, 4:53 pm

Tazrae nodded, handing Bandin over the key to room 6. It was all ready for a new guest, so there was nothing she needed to do to get it ready. The young Innkeeper was naturally suspicious of any sort of grin or gleam in a person's eyes, but she was a good hostess and smiled through her discomfort to study the new commer. "Thank you. It is beautiful, but only because Syka is, I suspect." Taz added.

She'd nodded at his news on the ship being almost unloaded. Regret still filled her at missing a chance to help James and join the others in something that was so much of a beginning tradition.

Tazrae nodded at Bandin's words. "Yes, but you get used to it. Or you will if you stay long. The rains come morning and evening, usually cooling things off a bit. Otherwise the heat would wilt everything. You are a bit overdressed for the place too... unless you were looking to head to the jungle." She added, offering a smile.

"I don't think you'll ever see snow or frost, or even a chilly day here. And I think that's pretty great since I spent a lot of years in Riverfall during the freezing of the Bluevein and how bitterly cold it got." Taz added.

"I mentioned Hang Gliding, but that doesn't mean I've been fool enough to try it. Randal taught me paddleboarding and that's about the extent of my daring. I'll ride a board all over the ocean, but I draw the line at flying. If the Gods wanted us to fly, they'd have given us wings." She added. "You'll have to ask the founder when he has time for things like that... with the new people here, he will be busy building..." Taz finished, offering the man an apologetic smile.

It was true though. Syka was going to be going through another growth spurt. She hoped it would bring more women to the settlement. She was a bit tired of all the single men wandering in. A family or two would be nice... maybe with some children running around.

When Bandin mentioned the jungle, Taz nodded. "Most people are curious about it. But I suspect it's not what you think. The jungle is alive, like a living breathing organism. It's disquieting for some people... unsettling. It hides its secrets well. James knows that." Taz said softly, glancing up at the man.

She was doubly sure he was a bit of trouble since he was clearing switching face masks and personalities, going from flirty to eager adventurer. He was currently just the type the jungle would swallow up whole and no one would ever hear from him again... especially if he went off on his own.

Taz inhaled softly, taking a deep breath, glad at least the man showed sense in admitting it wouldn't be wise for him to go wandering about on his own. A healthy dose of respect for the jungle never hurt a visitor one bit.

"I would offer to take you, but I'm in the middle of baking bread." It was the same reason she gave the man moments ago. Her timing was rotten but she couldn't help it. Running an Inn meant she had to keep busy. "It should be out in a bit and I can take you then. I'll be swinging by the Commons to drop it off anyhow." She added, wondering if the man would have the patience to wait or would go off exploring on his own.

"Excuse me a moment. I need to check on them." She added, darting back into the kitchen area and checking on the loaves in the oven. Taz was back in a moment, a frown on her face.

"They'll be about ten chimes. I can bake the rest later today. It won't hurt them to keep rising and get punched back. That will leave me fresh bread right out of the oven for the dinner period." She said, almost to herself.

Then she walked past him into the gathering area, pulled a large basket off the a shelf high up, and then pulled cloth napkins out of a sideboard drawer. She opened the cloth napkin and spread it out over the basket as if she was preparing to load it up with the bread that would come out of the oven.

"So what brings you to Syka, Sir?" Tazrae asked curiously. "If you plan to stay a bit, I always tell my guests to swing by the Mercantile and pick up a few things. You'll need some new clothes. They carry Isuas Cloth there. It's thin but very durable... you'll be a lot cooler. You'll need bug spray, a kukri or a machete, and probably a survival kit if you don' have one already." Taz advised. Then she rumaged through another drawer and pulled out a slip of paper that had a written list of "Things you'll need." on it.

"The Mercantile can sell you the lot in a kit I think... Juli makes them up. And even if you go into the jungle with someone experienced, you'll need your own supplies. You can't count on their expertise or the fact they will always be there to help you. Things happen." She added, bustling around.

The thing about the Inn was that since it was so open, the very few walls concealed very little and allowed Taz to move around easily leaving Bandin to take in her conversation as she checked the loaves one more time and finally took a seat on one of the comfortable couches in the open aired room.

The woman blew out a breath, which caused one of her curls to fly up out of her face, and laughed.

"I'll tell you the biggest lesson I've learned since moving here. Its not about your strength, your possessions, or even your skills. Surviving here is a mental game. You have to master fear, worry, sheer panic, and be in control of your mind. You can't let boredom overcome you wherein you start overthinking things. You have to keep busy, keep making plans, and if you can do that, you can survive here without any issues." She added, glancing at him and wondering if he would take her words seriously.

Taz didn't look like much. Most men and women would discount her as fluff since she didn't wear weapons or cosmetics, and didn't much care what others thought about her. She liked her kitchen and had chosen her companions carefully. None of her true friends were actually humans like she was.

"Do you have any interests around here other than the jungle?" She asked him, curious. Some men only liked danger. Others were curious for the sake of their brains thirsting for more information. Taz tended to discount the former and enjoy the latter. What category would Bandin fall into?

When the bread was done, she pulled out the six loaves and left them to cool a few minutes, then excused herself to go change if they were going to head to the jungle. She'd wear what she had on if he'd decided to wait until another day.
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[Tazrae] Of Inns and Exploration

Postby Bandin Everdance on May 29th, 2021, 6:43 pm

Bandin noted that the inkeeper's smile didn't quite go up to her eyes, so he pulled back a little bit, becoming less flirty. He wasn't trying to make anyone uncomfortable, not at all; it was just all part of feeling out a new person and some people were less immediately familiar, he noted. He'd match her mood a bit more and see if he could get her to drop her guard a little bit; he could use a friend.

"Definitely overdressed," Bandin admitted and pulled his collar one more time; he didn't say that suggestively--far from it, he was now settling into a realer, more friendship oriented vibe.

The conversation ebbed on about the cold and snow. "I spent this last Fall and Winter in Riverfall and only a bit of the Summer."

"The Sea of Grass is beautiful and I love the snow, despite what I said, up until exactly the moment that I don't," he explained. "I run cold easily, or at least I thought I did until we docked here. I saw a lot of beautiful things there in Riverfall, though, and the library is simply amazing. We never had anything like that in Sunberth. If there's one reason I'll never regret leaving that place, among others, is because of all the things I've gotten to see and learn."

Bandin wasn't too bothered by the rebuff when it came to hangliding; he'd be more than happy to go and look for someone else more inclined some other time, it just gave him a chance to meet different types of people. "I understand that. I'm not altogether sure I'd be the kind of person who'd like it, but, then, I sometimes think the gods gave us the minds we need to do the things we couldn't."

He smiled. "Maybe even shouldn't."

He didn't go as far as to mention paddle boarding; he wasn't a pushy man and he sensed a bit of tension when the topic of the jungle came up. Though, the woman did offer to go exploring the wilds just a little bit; he figured that meant she was still giving him a chance.

"No worries. I'm not in any particular hurry," Bandin said. "James showed me around a bit before pointing me in this direction. I'm not settled in yet, but I got a good glance at the forge here. It's got quite the backlog; after today I'll probably start working down it. I'm happy to help bring something to the table here; I don't feel okay just sitting around, no matter where I am. I need to be moving, working, or I'll go mad."

The conversation flowed to his being in Syka.

"I'm a smith, as I was mentioning. I've been going from place to place for a few years," he said. "After Riverfall I wanted to go somewhere different, less built up and less hierarchical. As much as I loved the good nature and straight forwardness of the people and the work I did there, well, a man like me was never really going to be a part of the culture proper, you know? I'm just not one of them; nothing against them or anything, I understand why they're like that."

He listened closely to the inkeeper as she went over what he'd need to survive. He was grateful when she gave him a look at the list, something he'd be hard pressed to sort out on his own. "I appreciate the advice. I don't want to be a burden on anyone and I'm pretty used to getting the feel of new places. Still, it always helps to have a good person get you up to speed."

The whole thing went back to the jungle, eventually. "It's not really about the jungle itself. It's more the idea of what might be out there. James mentioned things that we can't craft today that the people before us could."

"Making things with my own hands, it's just... it's where I feel free. It's not the sweat or labor that I really enjoy, it's more the learning how to do new things that gets me. It sounded like there might be a lot to learn hidden out there," Bandin explained. "I'm not looking to run into danger, but some risk might be worth it eventually, if I ever had anything to go on about something worthwhile out there."

"The biggest thing was that he mentioned he thought this whole place might've used to have been a city, ancient and around before the world burned even. Other places are like that, Zeltiva even in spots, but none of it's been left untouched that I've seen," Bandin explained his reasoning. "I don't know if you're interested in that sort of thing, though I think most people love history at least a little bit, so I don't mean to ramble, but can you even imagine what it'd be like to just know more about where we came from? For its own sake."

Bandin paused, looking for the right words. "There's something magical about that."

He'd wait politely when she'd mention she wanted to change clothes. He had everything he owned on him, already. When she returned he'd mostly let her lead the show; he wasn't entirely sure of what was out there yet.

"James mentioned somewhere called Stairstep Falls? Not sure if you'd know the way or not, or is there anywhere out of the way that you like to go to?" he asked. "You've seen that I'm entirely new. I don't know my way around the cobble path, let alone the more off of the beaten way spots."

As they went on, he'd begin to chat a bit more, enjoying the calmness movement brought to him. "What about you? What brought you out to Syka? You mentioned you've been here a while and I imagine that inn took a little bit to get set up; it's one of the bigger buildings that I've seen here. You've obviously got some baking and managerial skills, so you could've set up shop almost anywhere, right?"
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[Tazrae] Of Inns and Exploration

Postby Tazrae on May 30th, 2021, 2:29 am

He was easy to hold a conversation with, that much was for sure. Taz didn’t run into any barriers involving things he didn’t want to talk about or privacy he felt she was invading. That was good. She didn’t mind boundaries in topics, but it was hard to know what those were. Bandin was coming across as an open book.

She nodded about his time in Riverfall and about what he said about the Sea of Grass. Everyone loved the first snowfall, but the tenth time the water froze or one couldn’t move more than staggered oddly spaced steps because the ice was three inches thick on the cobbles in the streets one really did grow tired of the cold. “Riverfall could be very pretty.” She agreed, knowing there were good things about the city.

He didn’t seem to mind she didn’t want anything to do with hang gliding. It wasn’t her thing. She didn’t mind the water though and would be sure to offer him the use of the paddleboards Randal had made when the time was right. Guests could borrow them freely from The Protea, which was something Bandin could find out about soon enough.

She nodded at him being a smith. “It’s going to be good to actually have a Smith here. I don’t think anyone that’s met Artik can claim he’s much of one. He’s a nice enough man when he’s three sheets to the wind, but he’s surly when he’s sober. I suspect that it’s because he’s often hung over.” She added, chuckling at the memory of the time’s shed seen him completely without liquor in Stu’s trying to remedy the situation.

“I understand about making things with your own hands. I feel the same way.” She added, glancing a moment at the kitchen, before moving off to tap the loaves out of the pans and fill her basket. She quietly excused herself then for a moment, off to one of the rooms no doubt, and returned a chime or two later re-dressed. The young Innkeeper wore light cotton pants the color of sand, a white tank top that was also made of thin material. He could see a bikini top under it. Tall thick leather boots were laced to her legs, rolling well up over her knees. She had an armband shaped like a snake around one forearm and a charm bracelet on the other bare wrist. She tossed a backpack down, strapped a machete to her thick leather belt, and then pulled what looked like a compound crossbow and a sparsely populated quiver out of a side cupboard. Taz then shouldered the pack, slung the bow around her shoulder, added the quiver to her other hip.

A hatchet was laced into the side of her pack, which looked fairly light. Taz slipped into the kitchen and began loading a few things into it that looked like food. She could forage in the jungle well enough, but it was nice to have a few things to eat that didn’t require finding or killing. Her wilderness survival pack also consisted of a large waterskin that was stuffed in before the woman shouldered the pack and stuffed a leather hat on her head that fit well enough now that she had her mass of curls tamed back into a ponytail.

The girl grabbed the basket of bread then smiled. “Ready?” She added, slipping out past him.

Her dog was laying sprawled on the front porch. It’s black and white harlequin pattern standing out against the darkly stained wooden deck. The lazy thing made no indication of moving though Taz paused to give his head a scratch. “We’ll be back after a while, Creech.” She added, heading out.

Taz smiled at Bandin at his comment about it not being about the jungle but more about what the jungle was concealing out there hidden. He had dreams of riches perhaps, or finding lost cities. The truth was, they were living in a lost city… the city of Pavena. But Tazrae wouldn’t speak of that now. It was something he needed to discover on his own. People who came here slowly awakened to the concept. They couldn’t be shaken awake or shocked into knowing. They had to just realize it as they walked among the ruins and slowly began to feel the long dead city’s ghostly influence on everything about the settlement.

“Stairstep Falls is quite a distance away from here. And once you get there, its almost impossible to resist the urge to climb the falls and look out over the lake and the ruins in the middle of it.” She said thoughtfully as they stepped out on the path that led to a bigger pathway of cobbles. The trail from the cobbled pathway to The Protea was just a modest sand one, though it was littered with all kind of tracks. “We can go see it if you like, but if we do it today it will be all in a rush.” She said thoughtfully, thinking she knew of closer places with more interest than the falls. “I was thinking of taking you somewhere closer.” She added, glancing at him for a moment. The woman turned south as soon as the sand trail spilled out onto the cobbles, her basket clutched in her hands.

They talked as they walked. Taz had a long loose-hipped stride that betrayed the fact that she was used to walking places and didn’t mind doing so.

“It will be nice to have a real smith here. Artik tries, but I think something haunts him because hes not truly happy unless he’s drunk. It’s… something I’ve seen before. Its like he is wounded in a way we cannot see and he medicates himself with brew rather than see a healer to ease the pain.” Taz commented almost off-hand. Artik’s pain wasn’t her business. But she could see it nonetheless. And the fact that Bandin was a healer seemed to warm him to the Innkeeper. That meant he’d be possibly taking over the forge or building one of his own which meant not having to struggle for nails whenever something was built.

Something large moved through the brush on one side as if making its own pathway and leaving the trail for the humans. Taz only spared a momentary glance in that direction before smiling gently. “That’s Bree. Evidently, she’s coming along too.” The young Innkeeper said, shrugging. “She’s a jungle Ixam. They can’t resist actual jungle time, I suppose.” She said, knowing the man had already spotted the large lizard she’d been playing fetch with when he’d come upon her up on the deck.

“I can imagine a human male would not do well in Riverfall, not really. You can be a citizen, but not much more and never rise above that rank.” She said, nodding thoughtfully. “Believe it or not, it's much the same for human females. The Akalak only ever value us for one thing and if we aren’t interested in that one thing, they consider us almost burdens even when we pull our own weight.” She said thoughtfully, then shuddered. “I grew up being grateful I was human and not Kelvic there.” She added, glancing at Bandin.

The cobbled path opened up to The Commons with trails splintering off everywhere and the cobbles themselves starbursting out. Taz placed her hand to her heart as she passed Kihala’s shrine, flashing a momentary glimpse of the intricate tattoo on the bottom of her wrist. Then she turned, headed towards the kitchens, and laid her breadbasket on the table where others were dropping off contributions to dinner. She called a greeting to several people and several more stopped to chat a moment, but each she politely excused herself from indicating Bandin and the fact she was escorting him to see a bit of the jungle.

“I thought I’d take you to see our own library. We have one here, you know.” She said thoughtfully, then offered him a smile. “That is if you’d like to see it.” She added. “The trail out to it starts behind the Community Pool, which you need to know where that is anyhow. It’s a fairly level hike, just two water crossings on smaller streams, and we can be there and back by the time dinner is served here.” Taz added, pausing at the Commons to give Bandin the choice.

“As to your earlier question… I grew up in Riverfall. I was the daughter of Innkeepers. My father took ill, and my mother sold herself to an Akalak as a Nakivak. He later married her and they had other children. She pressured me to go into the program, but I refused. James was an old friend of my Father’s and once he understood the situation, he offered me passage to Syka and to help start an Inn of my own. Randal built most of the structure last year, but I did the dock and shower… by myself. He came by and helped with the Reptile Garden since I’d never built snake cages before in my life. But I can honestly say I laid every plank on the deck and cut every piece myself. It’s a tiny Inn, I know, but I’m proud of it.” She said thoughtfully and kept walking.

The young Innkeeper had led them north, upon no track at all, until they came out of the brush to a set of completely unnatural looking pools that steamed with water. Bathers were taking advantage of the water, lounging around or some in the process of scrubbing themselves. The water appeared well-circulated so the dirty soapy water washed downstream in an almost unseen current within the series of pools. “This is the best place to relieve that itching skin after the crossing tonight. We can stop for a bath on the way back before we eat. I brought spare clothing in my pack, but Duncan who runs this place would probably loan you shorts for afterward if you wanted.” She suggested, waving at the people who greeted them as they passed by the pools. None of them had a stitch of clothing on, males or females, and it seemed to bother no one.

“We are actually really close to the Inn here. These pools are probably the nearest neighbor to The Protea.” She added, before selecting something that didn’t even resemble a goat trail to head off into the brush.

Taz glanced at Bandin, trying to decide if she should teach him something about the wilds while she was out here. Someone had taken a lot of time to show her around and how to do things. It would only be fair to return the favor, passing the knowledge on to this newcomer. “Would you like some lessons while we are out here?” She asked, pausing just after they walked past the pools and onto something that vaguely resembled a marked trail.

Still heard but not seen, the young Ixam seemed to be following them.
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[Tazrae] Of Inns and Exploration

Postby Bandin Everdance on May 30th, 2021, 7:05 am

Bandin smiled at the mention of Atrik.

"I think we'll get along just fine," he admitted, talking of the other smith. "I gave my aunt quite the run for her money growing up. I was wild as can be; I was a mess. Even then, you've gotta keep your wits about you in a place like Sunberth, even when you're so drunk up that you can't even begin to explain what a wit is. Still, there's fun to be had as a youth there; there's good bits about everywhere from what I've seen."

"I'm still not above a good drink or a little party," Bandin admitted, returning to his point. "I'll find some way to get through to him, even if I need a case of something to do it."

Bandin eyed the weapons that the woman had loaded upon her. Well-prepared girl. He wondered what the weapons' songs sounded like; he flexed his hand instinctively. His own glaive was strapped to the side of the pack that he wore.

"You've done this before, eh?" Bandin commented. "Had it all on hand about, it looks like."

"Good boy," the smith commented to the Imperial Watcher as he passed after Taz; better to start befriending the very large canine sooner rather than later.

He nodded along as she mentioned just how far Staristep Falls was. He put up his hands momentarily as if to accede to her points. "I'm deferring to you. You're the expert here. No reason to be running around from place to place all wild like on a pretty day like this."

She mentioned being of a mind to take him somewhere closer.

"Yeah?" he commented, seeming pretty okay with the idea; he didn't prod all that much further. He liked a little surprise; he figured he might ask in a moment after that if the conversation lulled.

Bandin ruffled his scruffle a bit, as if working away a few memories of his own when Taz brought up Artik's possible demons; he almost regretted his former comment about bringing along a keg to share with the Svefra. "I, uh, know a little about that. Had some friends fall to it. Honestly--"

He exhaled. "My worst nights are why I've calmed down a bit. I never had too many demons, but drink can be a demon in of itself. Poison yourself senseless one too many times, in the name of fun, and you'll learn moderation for yourself, if the spirits haven't seeped too far into your bones by that point."

He paused, as if giving the topic due respect. "I got lucky."

Bandin's ears picked up at the sudden ruffling in the bush. Flashes of past near-tragedies flew across his eyes for but a single second; no one traveled in Mizahar without picking up a quick reaction to the sound of unannounced movement.

He felt his djed stirring across his palm. He swore he could almost feel his glaive hum on his back, even though he wasn't touching it and completing the circuit of magical interchange--he almost swore, anyway.

They were so close to the settlement, though. Still on the cobbled path proper. His half-shock only lasted for the briefest of half-breaths. Very quickly he was back to his oh so calm self.

"No worries," he smiled on the Ixam's behalf and calmed himself with it. "No harm in making someone else's day and if she's happy to come along with us then whose to argue?"

Bandin began to suspect why Taz hadn't reacted very well to his initial mood when she went on about the Akalaks only wanting one thing. "Eh, yeah, no, I imagine that's altogether worse by a fair margin. I couldn't imagine that. I would've left a lot sooner if I'd been forced to."

The idea of just being a tool for someone else's ambitions. It was sickening to Bandin.

The smith noticed as the conversation calmed a bit when they passed the same shrine that he had admired with James. The captain had told tale of marked guardians of the life goddess. He only barely caught a glimpse of the markings on Taz's wrist; that, combined with her passing deference to the locality had Bandin wondering a little more about this maybe not so simple innkeeper.

He almost asked. Almost, but then she mentioned a library.

His face lit up. "A library? No, I didn't know."

"James mentioned paper not doing too well here? I imagine just being careful could solve that though; it's not like things fall apart by mere proximity to climates, not if they're protected through foresight and care," he mused.

His hand had gone back up to coax at the growing beard upon his jaw once more; he had to catch himself doing it, realizing he hadn't given her an answer. "I'd really love to see it. Is it large?"

He listened to her story about her life as the topic came up naturally. He couldn't help but feel a sort of sadness for her; the idea of being pressured into what amounted to a breeding program. He felt a chill of discomfort. Her choice of words when she said "sold herself had Bandin thinking Taz felt a similar feeling of unease around the subject.

"I know what it's like to lose people. I don't much remember my mother."

He smiled softly and shrugged. "I mean, I have glimpses up here in this head of mine. I can see her laughing sometimes. I don't know why that stuck with me and really nothing else... I think her laugh used to make me really happy."

He cleared his throat, realizing the subject was a bit dour. "My aunt raised me after she left for... well, whatever it was that she left for. Ruth is an amazing woman; she taught me everything I know and she... she's as much my mother as anyone's could claim to be."

"I'm sorry about your father," he offered. "A lot of things in this world aren't fair."

"James is a good man. I haven't known him long, but I'd be shocked if I ever found that he weren't," Bandin offered. "Especially having helped a nice girl like yourself. Though it sounds like you did a good bit of the work to get settled in yourself. I'm impressed. Nervous too, considering I think I'll have to do much the same if and when I get settled in. If I'm staying I'd like a more proper workshop and, I'll admit, I don't know a single thing about building one."

"I can tell you're the self-reliant sort," he said with a smile.

He was a bit taken aback by the sight of the pools. "This place is a bit more than I thought it might be. Syka I mean. What made those basins?"

He felt a wonderfully cool breeze soothe his sweating skin somewhat. The mention of a bath felt like a blessing. "I'd love that and thank you. You've been an amazing host so far, beyond what I'd expect from any stranger. Seems to be a trend here with you Sykans."

He kept his ears perked as they followed onto the smaller trail. The sounds of the Ixam, contrary to his earlier reaction, actually comforted him somewhat now that he had them well-placed in his awareness. The riding lizard was a jungle-thing and he expected she'd do well to warn them of any other such, not as friendly, beasts.

"Lessons?" he asked when the topic was brought up. "Well. I guess everyone needs to start somewhere."

He looked around as they walked and then looked at her with a face that said 'why not give it a shot?'. "Where did you have in mind for us to?"
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[Tazrae] Of Inns and Exploration

Postby Tazrae on May 30th, 2021, 3:27 pm

Tazrae was feeling a bit more charitable towards the newcomer. Perhaps charitable wasn’t the right word. She felt more open towards him, at least, withholding actual judgement until she had a chance to spend more time with him. Bandin didn’t seem like a bad man. He seemed young, ambitious, with a side of wanting to have fun. His plans were encouraging. The settlement needed a true smith, not a drunkard, but only time would tell.

His sympathy at her father’s death caused her pause a moment though, derailing her current train of thought.

“Truthfully, I was always closer to my father than my mother. She was a very cold woman. He was warm and friendly and everything safe and comforting. When he died, most of the joy went out of my world. My mother ran the Inn into the ground financially and I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven her for it.” Taz admitted softly, then had to smile at Bandin’s fond memory of his mother laughing.

“If I had a son…” Tazrae started out. “I would be very much pleased if in fact he only remembered the sound of my laugh and how much he loved it because it made him so happy. Time fades our memories. I think she’d be very pleased to hear that no matter how much time has passed, you still remember that about her.” The Innkeeper said softly.

She hadn’t commented on his concession of knowing a bit about what people would hide behind and the pain that often drove them to escape into things like drunken hazes. Taz hadn’t experienced much hardship in her life. There was no abuse, no sad story of slavery or unsafe conditions. She’d lived very comfortably while her parents had owned the Inn. Between James and her new father-by-marriage, both had come to an easy agreement to see her over to Syka. She hadn’t even minded that there existed two half brothers now. They wouldn’t grow up knowing her and she doubted she’d ever know them. Her life was here, and Taz was indeed a person who lived or the moment or tomorrow not looking back at yesterday.

It was a sort of peace. And Tazrae hoped Bandin would find something similar in his efforts to build himself a home and business here.

“You should probably let go of any preconceived notions about the library. I could thoroughly describe it from top to bottom, front to back, and all the literature it contains… but it would not do it justice.” She added, offering him a smile. “But if all goes well and the jungle is kind, you’ll see it in two bells for yourself… then we can talk more about it.” She added, her expression a bit of a mysterious smile.

Reclaimed Knowledge, as they’d been calling it, wouldn’t be what Bandin expected. But if he loved history as much as he claimed, he’d appreciate her taking him there instead of to some silly falls anyone could explore anytime. “I’m sorry about your mother.” She added, meaning it. Taz should have said it earlier, but her mind was so busy thinking, working in its circular busy way when her hands weren’t cooking and her attention wasn’t diverted elsewhere.

“You are lucky you had an Aunt. She sounds like someone I’d like. Doing for people is one thing, but teaching them to do for themselves is completely above that.” Taz admitted, chuckling.

“The Founders here… Mathias, James, and Randal… are amazing people. I feel like I gained a couple of fathers and an older brother. Wise people say that you can’t pick your family. You are just randomly born to whomever you are born too. But they were wrong. They haven’t lived here. The Founders are my family, Juli too… and Uta… and others I hope to introduce you too. It’s a close circle… and as the seasons pass, it gets closer.” Taz offered, smiling to herself. It was a happy contented smile.

When they got to the Community pool and walked past them, Tazrae chuckled at Bandin’s question. “Not what, who. His name is Duncan and he’s a Reimancer; an elemental mage. Water loves him and he loves the water. But he also works with stone and made these pools. He lives in the stonework behind them. There are caves of his making.” Tazrae said thoughtfully. “You should get on his good side. He’s handy if you have a stonework project that needs done. He swam all the way out with Bree and solidified my pilings for my dock when I was setting the posts. They won’t rot that way.” She added, then turned to offer him a grin. “I often make sure I have plenty of food for Duncan on hand. He never pays, because he’s my closest neighbor and I make him feel welcome. He tends to rebuild my ice block in my icebox on a daily basis so I have a cold place to store food for the guests.” She added, knowing iceboxes were popular in cities that had rivers that froze over like Riverfall. The blocks were harvested at great labor in the winter, stored in caves, and hauled out to keep things frozen all summer. Duncan made icehouses unnecessary for Syka in general.

The way Tazrae said his name gently informed Bandin that Duncan was another family member. “He also did the smooth stonework on the shower floor because he didn’t like the rock I hauled up with Bree to use to stand on.” She added, laughing lightly.

His compliment made her smile. “I’m trying to be. I learned from my father how to accommodate people. He was the best… made everyone’s visit feel personal. He always wanted everyone to leave his Inn feeling like they would regret not being able to stay but also feeling refreshed and recharged.” She said, nodding to someone she knew who lounged in the pool. It was Rainmere whom Taz only knew casually.

“That woman is an incredible firedancer.” She whispered to Bandin when they were passed. “She dances sometimes at night at the Founder’s request. I like her, but I don’t know her that well. She spends a lot of time tending some of the crops we have started acknowledging are crops here. Including the Isuas plantation. That’s the tufted plant we make fabric from. I suspect sometime long ago, it was developed for its lightness and strength by the people that lived here before.” She said, looking thoughtful because she paused at the sheer jungle that hugged the Community Pool margins on a trail so narrow it was barely a trail.

She unshouldered her pack and took out what looked like a large yarn ball, though the ball wasn’t made of yarn but of approximately one inch wide bright red strips of red fabric. Each strip was about two foot long and they were rolled into a ball. Taz handed the ball to Bandin.

“The first lessons I learned here about jungle travel are simple. They might seem over simple to you, but they are really important. The first is that you move differently here in the jungle. I walked stiffly, moved with purpose, kept myself rigid coming from Riverfall because that’s what you did. Here… you will use up so much energy doing that. Here you must walk loosely. You must bend and twist at your hips, keeping your whole frame light and your steps flexible. The jungle doesn’t grow in straight lines. And if you force your body through a trail at a straight line, you will burn a lot of energy and take a lot of cuts. You need to move like a wild thing. And all your motion needs to come from here.” She said, stepping closer to him and laying her hands on his hips. “Remember, bend, twist, be loose and broken at your hips.” She said, gently tugging at his waist and hips, rolling his pelvis gently.

Then she stepped back, gesturing at the ball of strips in his hands. “If in doubt mark your trail. Always carry something in your pack that’s bright and designed to mark the trail. This is the easiest thing I’ve found… cut-up bandages or simple cotton dyed bright red. Then mark the trail every ten to twenty feet depending on the line of sight. You must be able to see where you hang your markers going forwards and backward. It makes the walking slow, but it will save your life if it prevents you from getting lost.” She added, then turned and drew her machete out of its sheath and took a step off the trail. She seemed to be looking around until she found what she was after – a pair of small saplings about two inches in diameter. She cut the saplings, stripped off its branches and leaves, and also handed one of the newly made staffs to Bandin.

“You think the destination is more important than the jungle. You said you cared what the jungle hid more than you cared about the jungle itself. You can’t think like that. The jungle is alive. Everything here is life piled on life. Each branch you reach for might not be a branch but an eyelash viper coiled and snoozing in the sun. If your hand touches it thinking it touches wood, you will be too late to react before its fangs sink into you and you start having trouble breathing. So, beyond how you move and marking your trail, the lesson should be to never touch anything with your bare hands. Use a walking staff to move branches and foliage out of your way, to probe the ground before you, and even a machete or kukri to hack the vegetation back in the places you want to walk.” She added, knowing he hadn’t purchased those things, but suspected after this trip he would.

“Our library is northeast of here. Start walking. I’ll cut the trail as we need it and go first. But you’ll need to mark our trail so if something happens to me you know the way home. It might look freshly cut, but a bell past now, you might not be able to see where you came through.” She added, smiling, and gestured at the ball of flags so the man could start marking their trail. Then they’d continue roughly northeast while she taught him what she knew of the rules of the jungle.
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[Tazrae] Of Inns and Exploration

Postby Bandin Everdance on May 30th, 2021, 8:22 pm

"Having your joy taken away," Bandin paused. "I've never really felt that, but it sounds horrible. Maybe a part of life, but that just sounds like a worthless platitude. I don't know."

He seemed to keep a calm mood as he listened to her and talked; he wasn't getting bogged down in the sadness of the conversation. He was just letting her speak, vent maybe, and just be a person--and he was doing the same.

"I've never really had that kind of joy you're talking about. Maybe. I'm not sad. I'm happy most of the time, content for little moments here or there, but rarely consistently happy with staying still. Maybe because I never let myself deal with things that I don't want to; I just leave," Bandin got a bit more introspective. "I've never really thought about it that way, but maybe it's true."

He looked forward, gazing into the jungle and likely his own thoughts. "I'm just always reaching for something. Not meaning itself, I'm not sure that exists, but maybe the feeling that people tried to name with that word. Can't seem to get it right, though."

He was taken aback a bit when she said what she did about being happy if a son of her own had remembered her as he remembered his own absentee mother; he hadn't meant it like that when he'd described the woman, he began to realize that he hadn't really know what he meant now that he was forced to revaluate the statement about remembering her laughing.

His naturally charismatic façade broke for a moment. An almost nervous laugh came out, as if he was uncomfortable with touching such a tender topic as his abandonment. No, maybe not uncomfortable, but exposed by having an opinion on it that was not one of his own which he had armored himself against over the many years.

"I don't know," he repeated the line from earlier. "I've gotten over her leaving. It doesn't bother me anymore, but you can't help but wonder about that sometimes, when you're alone with your thoughts."

"For what it's worth, though," he changed the subject, "I don't think you'll be running that inn into the ground anytime soon. If nothing else I'm sure the baking will keep people coming back; I didn't get to taste it, but it smelled amazing."

He tilted his head to the side in feigned acquiescence; his eyebrows raised in a returned good humor. "That could be the three days on open water talking, though."

If nothing else, Bandin was very good at returning to a calm, happy center. It was his armor against the world and his place of dealing with it.

He was caught up in the mischievous smile that she gave him when talking about the library. A smirk formed on his own face in response. He'd just seen a trait he'd most liked in people within her cryptic response: whimsy.

Her hinted familiarity with the library also made him a bit more inclined to think they had some things in common.

"Okay," he said, relaxing into the moment. "We'll just have to see together then."

Bandin found himself still agreeing when she mentioned family. "My uncle passed away before I was even born. Ruth was my only blood. I made family in the streets and in the pubs. That taught me that you do get to choose them. From then on I've just been doing that all over."

He smiled remembering all the faces. It wasn't a smile caught up in longing, but rather the best moments of memory. The conversation continued to ebb as they came upon the pools and he made his initial comment about just how they'd been made.

"I can't pretend I know much about that sort of magic," he said when she informed him that Duncan had made the pools. "I can only imagine how useful being able to control fire could be in a forge, though."

He smiled along when she told the story about the man finding flaw with her shower rock and then fixing it. He continued to do so when she revealed a bit more about her father; it was clear how high the woman held the man in her memory.

"Well, I think he'd be proud," Bandin said honestly. "I've met a lot of friendly people out there, despite what you might think with the state of the world, but only the most so would strap themselves to the gills with jungle gear and take a newcomer out on an adventure last minute."

He raised his hands to indicate the growing wilds all about them as they went.

He tried not to get to caught up on the mention of the Isuas cloth. Crafting materials, no matter the kind, always peeked his mind. He just loved discovering the secret, rare things about the world, especially if they could be used to make new things. "That's actually really interesting. You all seem to take a lot from the past."

He felt his heart peak up just a tiny bit when they reached what appeared to almost be the edge of the cut back brush. Taz confirmed his suspicion by setting her pack down. He watched patiently, figuring he'd figure out what she was doing momentarily.

When she handed him the ball of red strips he rolled it in his hands, accepting it and still waiting for an explanation.

Sure enough, she quickly went into one: speaking of moving like an animal and not a man. Bandin indeed walked stiff and strong, like a traveler used to the road, but one that was always concerned with cutting from point A to point B as efficiently as possible.

What she said made sense, if a bit conceptual at first.

When she put her hands upon his hips, Bandin remained calm as can be, as if he was more than at home with others being in his personal space. He gave her a friendly, almost goofy grin, and met her eyes for a moment when she first came up upon him. "A wild thing, eh?"

He allowed her to move him about, his mind refocusing on trying to get a feel for what she was doing. "Broken at the hips. Got it. And loose. I'll give it a go, but no promises that I won't be louder than our Ixam friend there. Might take me some practice. I always stuck with the caravans when I was out and about."

His air of gentle amusement became a bit greater as the woman moved from her explanation to so naturally hacking down a damn tree. She seemed more than familiar enough with the blade and Bandin suddenly felt a bit more of a healthy respect for her. A wild thing, indeed.

He took the staff she handed him and shifted it into his free hand. "Thanks. Just to make the walking easier?"

Her explanation about jungle snakes and the jungle itself being something worthy of being the main preoccupation of his mind followed. "I guess that's a good point. I've always been more of a destination person, even if I've enjoyed the journey the most at the end of it."

He'd listen to her warnings about marking the way behind them and the path being deceivingly hard to follow once you'd left it behind. She even mentioned something bad happening to her. "Well, I hope it doesn't come to that. I've only just met you."

He did his best to loosen his stride as they went. It was a bit unintuitive, but he tried not to try too hard all the same. Of all the times he'd been a fresh student of this or that, he'd always discovered that trying to learn too hard could be just as bad as not trying hard enough. He'd keep the instruction forefront in his mind and he'd do his best to allow time to flow it into his body.

"The jungle really is that dangerous, huh?" he asked; he was no stranger to respecting the wilds, even despite their beauty, but Falyndar seemed to pose a certain sort of special danger; it was simply teeming with life, from the small bugs to the faraway song birds. Even the air hummed with a certain latent energy, but he couldn't place exactly what it might be--perhaps it was just the newness of it to him.

The young man probed limbs with his stick, before carefully placing down the strips as they went. He found himself admiring the woman's handiwork as they'd go; she was in deceptively good shape, he noted as her thin and strong shoulders flexed this way or that, despite her lean frame. He actually began to suspect that she was quite a bit stronger than she looked.

He did his best to keep up with her, making small talk and catching the occasional look at a butterfly there or even a blue'ish monkey here. The jungle was so foreign; he was finding himself enthralled by the experience.

"How long does it take to get used to all this?" he asked as he laid another red strip over a sturdy looking vine; he made sure that he could glance back and see the last one, though he noted to himself that it was getting a bit far away and he might want to pay a bit better attention to the effect of the varying foliage on the markers. "This isn't like Syliras or the Sea of Grass at all."

"I mean, yes, they're dangerous and alive, but this place is packed so close with everything that it's almost overwhelming. I'm almost surprised anyone's cut out of a life here at all," he commented. "I'm surprised we're mad enough to try."
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[Tazrae] Of Inns and Exploration

Postby Tazrae on May 30th, 2021, 9:43 pm

He took all she said with stride. That was half the battle. Taz was somewhat expecting raised eyebrows, scoffing, perhaps even disbelief. But Bandin, if nothing else, had an open mind and was willing to hear what she had to say. It would help him a great deal here, to learn quicker than someone with a closed mind for sure.

“I don’t know exactly. I loved Syka at first sight. There’s never not anything going on. I knew I was in the right place when I ….” The story was personal, one she might not have shared, but she took a chance. “My first night. I was camped on the shore, above the sand, and heard all this scuffing and scraping. It sounded like little miniature battles going on. I took my lantern out of my tent and sat, half scared of what I’d see. But it turns out there are terrestrial crabs everywhere. Some of them are no bigger than my thumb but some of them grow huge… almost as big as one’s head. They look like ocean crabs, save they only have one enormous claw. They burrow in the dirt, in little carve outs and under fallen trees, driftwood, whatever they can find to make a burrow out of. " Taz took a deep breath, then gestured with her walking stick at a hollow under one tree. "Crab burrow." She explained then continued.

"And after dark, they all come out looking for food and patrolling their territory. They have these battles… over territories, females, food… that’s what all the noise was. They wrestle with their one huge claw. I sat all night and watched them, rooting for one or the other, watching some lose everything while others gained bigger burrows or more females. I… it was so much fun.” She said with a grin. “You can see them from the deck. I can put out torches to light the grounds and beach and you’ll see what I mean… tonight if you are interested.” She added, laughing a little to herself. She had her own champions, mostly underdogs, she rooted for around the Protea. Some didn’t survive, but others had risen through what she considered the crab ranks.

Shaking her head and getting back to the business at hand, Taz studied Bandin’s marking technique.

Quickly, she corrected his draping the cloth ribbons over things. She made him TIE them, even if it was with a quick crisscross with the ends pulled together. “Birds steal things… for nests. Monkeys are curious and will investigate and pilfer them away. Make them secure… in a crisscross or even a knot if you can manage it without touching the branches.

Soon enough, it was clear why she wanted him to touch things only with his staff and not his hands. Taz’s sharp eyes started pointing out thorns that were razor-sharp, trees that oozed sap she claimed would burn his bare skin, and even small bright colored frogs that she said contained deadly paralytics in the slime on their bodies. One-touch… and he might lose control of muscles, collapse, not be able to move for bells. She affirmed him he would get eaten by something before he regained movement. And she of course swore him off eating them forever… “Bright colors are never to be eaten… the rule goes for anything. If it's blending into the environment, they are more likely to be delicious.” She added.

Multiple times she showed him snakes – ones he might not have seen otherwise – clinging to trees or slithering along the ground. Tazrae seemed to have a feel for where they all were, even a time or two moving leaf litter to reveal a glimpse of brightly patterned scale before the thing slithered off deeper into the underbrush. The no-touching made more and more sense the deeper they got into the jungle. There were also spiders the size of his hand, some she claimed were venomous and some she admitted were just very beautiful.

At first, the going was slow and quiet, with just their voices to keep them company. But the deeper they traveled, especially once Tazrae pulled out her machete and began to cut deftly and efficiently to open more trails, the more the jungle came alive with noises of all sorts. Howls, bird calls, the whistles, and chittering of insects. They once halted so she could point out a line of leaf cutter ants winding across the trail. Each tiny creature was carrying a stout leaf in their pincers with the overall effect looking like upright leaves marching across the jungle floor.

Birdsong of every sort filled the air. Parrots called rudely, larger higher up creatures screamed like terrorized women, while occasionally groups of monkeys chattered or threw things down at them. Taz deftly avoided the monkeys, changing course twice to navigate around them. Even the insects made noise, so much so, that the jungle was actually loud. Life teamed everywhere, with plants growing on top of plants and hosting all sorts of habitats for smaller things. Taz showed him what she saw more than once. There were even blooming orchids hanging from trees with no soil at all to root into.

When she seemed to grow bored of pointing out dangerous things, and once hesitated to pull something from her pack – a small cotton bag and a silver hand shovel which she used to dig up a small beautiful flowering plant – the young Innkeeper let what she knew of the jungle pass to him.

“There are quite a few rules. I don’t know if there’s an order to them or not. But I’m lucky just to be able to recite a few of them at all. The first involves when you travel in the jungle. Always travel during the day, never at night. Nighttime is when the big predators are most active… the leopards, tigers, and even the biggest snakes. During the day they are bed down, digesting their nights meal or caring for their young. It’s during the night they are out hunting. If you travel during the day, you can see where you are going, where you’ve been, and most importantly what might be coming at you. You can follow clearly hung markers if you’ve been diligent about hanging them, and you can navigate easier since you can see the sun, which side of the trees moss grows on, and see the flow of water.” She added, glancing at him to make sure he was understanding her.

“Water flow is important too.” She added, knowing he probably already knew this. “If you ever get lost, follow water downstream. Tiny streams lead to bigger streams which lead into rivers and eventually the ocean. Settlements are on rivers and at confluences. The ocean is more densely populated than the interior. Just following a stream down can sometimes get you unlost.” Taz added, having never taught anyone anything about the wilderness before. It struck her as strange, suddenly, and she laughed a little.

“I’m not a very good teacher. I’ve amassed a bit of knowledge about the jungle… but it feels odd telling someone else what I know.” She confessed, and shook her head. Her curls were already escaping her ponytail and creeping out from underneath the canvas hat she wore.

She had been going slow, pausing often, allowing him to hang his markers and had thought he was doing a good job with them. She could see the trail heading off away from them in a most satisfactory way.

“Looking back at your good marking job, it reminds me of another rule. When you are traveling the jungle, just don’t always look forward and side to side. Look back as frequently as you look forward. You want to note landmarks and recognize the path backward as clearly as you do the path forwards. The markers will help, but you won’t always have that kind of tool with you to use.” Taz knew that was a hard thing to do, but it wasn’t impossible. It was about being a good observer and noting what was all around oneself. “If you keep note of how the trail looks behind you, its hard to get snuck up on too.” She added.

“We’re getting close….” She noted, glancing around.

"Not yet, Taz... it's still about a mile." A voice called from the denser jungle off to the right. Taz nodded, unconcerned.

"That's Bree. We must be moving slower than I was thinking..." She admitted, picking up her pace a bit. They were doing too much talking and not enough walking.
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Tazrae
A warm welcome in paradise awaits you.
 
Posts: 487
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Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
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Mizahar Grader (1) Syka Seasonal Challenge (1)

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