Landfall (Introduction)

Antelokes arrives at 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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Landfall (Introduction)

Postby Antelokes on March 19th, 2022, 6:53 pm

1st of Spring


The fresh sweet scents of land and the jungle had begun to mix with the salty ocean smell. Antelokes breathed it all in as he leaned against the Veronica’s bulwark, staring out at the coastline that would hopefully become a home to him.

Funny concept that, “home.” People used the word so casually, but half the time it never felt quite right. Not to Antelokes anyway. It had been some few years since the term had really applied to a place for him, and that kind of listlessness wasn’t good for a fellow. It could make him reckless, make him stupid. It was better to find a place, put down roots and start to live. Too much wandering about would get a man killed before his time.

His reverie was interrupted as his eye caught the swift movement of a shadow beneath the water. A very large shadow. Antelokes nearly jumped and proceeded to stare at the ocean swells for a full minute without spotting any more movement. He glanced warily at the sailors and other passengers, but none of them seemed to have seen anything worth worrying about. He decided to trust that they’d done this trip enough times to do it without getting killed by some monster under the sea. Still, once he was ashore it might be a good idea to steer clear of the deep water…

Minutes crawled by lazily—the way they do sometimes when you’re at sea—and the Veronica approached what Antelokes assumed could only be Syka, their destination. He stared intently at the roughly built structures and the languid people ashore, the white sands backed by the startling green of the jungle behind them. Those towering trees made him shiver despite the heat and sticky humidity.

The shiphands barked instructions out to each other as the ship approached a sturdy enough looking dock. Antelokes shouldered his pack, ready to disembark. A twinge of nervousness twisted his stomach. He had no connections here. Nothing to expect. That was both blessing and curse, but the decision was made, and he was here.

Antelokes muttered a brief prayer as he finally stepped off the ship onto the firm wooden dock. Just a few more paces took him to the beach. He welcomed the solid ground with a broad smile. Seasickness luckily hadn’t taken him the way it had some of his shipfellows, but he was still glad to be on solid ground again. Turning his eyes up from the sands, Antelokes took in his surroundings which now seemed to him more rooted in reality than when he had simply viewed them from the deck of a ship.
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Landfall (Introduction)

Postby Gossamer on March 19th, 2022, 8:15 pm

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Syka was bustling. As soon as the ship hit the dock and was tied down, people came from all over to start helping with the unload. The atmosphere was festive and oddly enough the ship seemed to be teaming with children. A loose head count would give the casual observer a rough guess of a dozen, mostly unescorted. A prim lady with long white hair seemed to be gracefully shouting mostly-ignored orders at them to walk, not run, and to settle down. The children were too excited to follow any guidance whatsoever and were already all over the Syka Commons, climbing palm trees and swinging from swings on the beach.

“It’s called Swing Beach for a reason.” An older man said, the crinkles around his eyes matching his smile. He had a weathered face that spoke of casual wisdom and years spent well lived. He was rippled with muscle overlapping lean frame and had a serenity to him that seemed to ooze outwards. His feet were bare and the thin isuas shorts looked lightweight in the heat. He wore a woven shirt a few shades lighter than the shorts that was open halfway down. His hair was neatly trimmed and he looked curiously about himself.

Mathias smiled, noting the human watching the dark shapes beneath the water and approached the man as he lingered. “New to Syka?” Mathias asked, smiling gently. “I saw you noticed the dolphins playing. Don’t worry about them. They are water breathing creatures that like to escort the Veronica in and out of the slip… and they are quite friendly. They have sharp teeth, but I’ve never known one to bite. They eat fish, not humans, and often will let you catch hold of their fins and take a ride. They love towing swimmers and can fend off sharks if they need too.” He added, offering the man his hand.

“I’m Mathias Okavis, one of the Founders of Syka. If you’re staying here longer than a short vacation, I’m one of the people you need to talk too about living arrangements, employment, that sort of thing. We are highly encouraging new people to stay since we’re trying to grow a bit and get more established. He said, then pulled a folded parchment out of his pocket. There were others in there as well, and they all looked identical. “It’s a map of the settlement. Randal drew up a few for the new folks that were interested in staying awhile.” He added, then nodded to the ship. “Came on the Veronica, did you?” He asked, though it was obvious the newcomer had. “Did James tell you much about Syka? I can answer any questions you might have.” He added, glancing at the man thoughtfully.

Then he did something astonishing. He bent down and picked up a nearby crate that someone had left piled high, and tucked it under his arm. “Walk with me? We have to get this ship unloaded. We might as well work as we talk.” He said, then picked up something else, a barrel, and tucked it under his other arm. The man joined in those unloading the ship while he walked the new visitor off The Veronica and across the dock to the Commons.

Before the two could get very far, a trio of children slammed straight into them, causing the Founder to almost drop his burden. The children apologized and Mathias managed to resettle his load, but he frowned a little as if something about the whole thing didn't seem right.

The kids, especially a dark-haired boy with green eyes, careened backward off Mathias and slammed into Antelokes, knocking him slightly off balance. The child clutched at his arms a moment, steadying himself before he was off again. "Sorry, Mister!" The boy called back behind him, before bolting off after his two friends.


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Landfall (Introduction)

Postby Antelokes on March 19th, 2022, 11:50 pm

“New to Syka?”

Antelokes turned to meet the greeting, nodding and shaking the older man’s hand. There was a quiet strength about him, and the firmness of the grip eased Antelokes’ nerves.

“Dolphins. I’d say that’s a comfort then. Can’t say I fancy the notion of something with sharp teeth following me in the water, but if they really keep the sharks away I’d let them go so far as to nibble my toes. I don’t much like the thought of sharks.”

Antelokes took the parchment, giving it a once over. It wasn’t a fancy piece of art and calligraphy like he’d seen in a few rich people’s residences, but it looked clear and serviceable enough to him. He tucked in into his belt, noting Mathias’ clothing, which seemed much more suited to this climate that Antelokes’ own thick shirt and trousers cut from homespun cloth. He answered the founder’s questions.

“Yessir, I was on that ship not two minutes back. Her captain’s a good man. I talked with him some, but not overly so--he was about his business and all. He gave your little town quite the endorsement though. I’ve lived in one or two spots before, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard much about any place similar to this one you’ve got here.”
As Mathias bent down to pick up the cargo Antelokes stepped forward to help him, but his eyes widened a little when he saw the ease with which the old man handled the crate and the barrel that came after it.

“Of course. I was on that boat long enough that my muscles could do with a little stretching,” Antelokes replied to the founder’s suggestion that they work. He bent down and lifted a hefty crate, legs popping with satisfying discomfort in the way they did sometimes when they hadn’t been worked like they should. He followed Mathias.

Antelokes was impressed. Not just at Mathias’ strength (though he was at that), but by the tone of this place. He’d been on docks before, and they tended to be rough places. Sailors weren’t exactly a well-mannered lot most of the time, and between them, angry merchants, and the occasional slaver Antelokes wasn’t usually keen on sticking around too long after a ship he was on touched port. This time it was different. A chuckle left his lips as he saw a few children precariously wrestling for supremacy on a moving swing.

“As you suggested Mathias Okavis, I do have the intention to stay in Syka if you’ll have me. I can’t say I have much experience doing what you lot do here, but I’m a smithy by trade and I’m keen on--" as the children struck Antelokes he stumbled, almost dropping the crate but managing to steady himself before he fell or dropped the cargo. Antelokes met the emerald eyes of the offending child, like mirrors of his own. The youth didn’t immediately drop his gaze like a street kid from Sunberth would, or like one of the nervous prospective scholars from Antelokes’ native Zeltiva. The boy pulled himself up quickly and was soon off to the winds as young boys often were.

Antelokes stood holding his crate with the weight forgotten, gazing after the children for a few heartbeats before turning back to Mathias.
“Dockside hazard, eh?” he asked with a grin. “If you plan on growing, those little ones look to have enough energy to build you a whole city, or tear one down for that matter.” Antelokes adjusted his grip and continued on their path, watching carefully this time for other unexpected collisions. “I would ask though, if it is a city you’re trying to build, why here? And why’d you start at all for that matter? I doubt it’s the easiest thing in the world to do, and it’s certainly not the easiest way I’ve seen folks get rich, not that I’ve managed to do so myself.”

As they moved along the beach the jungle opened up to reveal more people and more structures, both of which seemed roughly hewn and much closer to nature that the stone buildings and more conservatively fashioned people Antelokes had grown up around. He tried to nod in greeting as much as he could, but there would be time later for learning names and faces.

A sharp clear ringing sound echoed through a veil of trees, and the young smith recognized it instantly as the strikes from someone working a forge. He tried to catch a glimpse of the sound’s source. He couldn’t hope for access to a large blast furnace and extensive equipment like he’d had growing up, but that sound was a familiar note in this otherwise strange paradise.
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Landfall (Introduction)

Postby Gossamer on March 21st, 2022, 3:24 am

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“We’d love to have you, actually. Our blacksmith has… issues. He drinks a great deal and has a passion for napping all day. But I’ll be glad to introduce you. He goes by Artik.” Mathias said with a grin. “And we built a forge in the Commons that anyone can use. All you need to pay for is ingots. But you’d not have to pay for those if you are making things for the settlement. We have a great need for simple things… fasteners, hinges, bolts, nails, that sort of thing. More complex things are needed too, such as tools, belt buckles, you name it. We are isolated over here and depend on either a trip to The Outpost or for The Veronica to make runs.” He explained. “Follow me if you’d like to see it,” Mathias said, and began leading Antelokes through the Commons, circling around the lofted space and the Kitchens, heading for the forge.

“We imported the orphans from Syliras, Zeltiva, and Sunberth. We put out the word that we’d have apprenticeships here. It’s odd. We have a lot of young single people, but no babies. If the settlement is to survive, we need new blood and we need another generation or ten.” He added, grinning. “Those kids are just what we need. And what we’ve been told is without us, they’d have a hard road where they were at. Here we have a lot of food, space, and a need to teach some trades to others.” Mathias explained and glanced over at Antelokes.

They were fast approaching the Forge. It was on the outer circle of the Commons, with an amazing view of the Sea. It was open to the breezes and its shed was lined with first-rate tools. It had a quenching pool and a fairly standard forge. There could be room for a blast furnace, but it would take some doing to build one. Artik was fast at work in the forge, which was surprising to Mathias. However, he wasn’t exactly working on a project. Instead, he was beating on the anvil with a broken hammer, cussing up a storm, with his words slurred. He glanced up when Mathias approached and paused what he was doing to grin at the Founder. “Mornin’ Mathias!” He said, tossing the broken hammer over his shoulder and reaching down to pick up a bottle of rum at his feet. He took a swig and gestured in grandiose style.

“Hey, Artik. What seems to be the issue?” Mathias said, his tone patient as if this wasn’t the first time the two of them had come together for a talk.

“These tools…. are not first-class. The Sea is rotting everything next to it. We need the forge high and dry somewhere else.” Artik complained, the big blond Svefra running his hand through his tangled hair. He gestured around him, shrugging and glancing at the forge. “I can’t work like this.” He added, gritting his teeth.

Mathias looked solemnly at Artik. “We stocked the forge with good quality tools, Artik. But it rains every day here. You need to stop leaving them just laying around in the rain. I know salt air can play havoc on mental, but be sure they are put away clean and dry every time and they will last. That hammer handle broke because it was routinely soaked and dried until it weakened. You know that.” Mathias said firmly.

Artik waved his rum bottle around as if to say ‘okay okay’ then gestured it at Antelokes. “Who’s this? My replacement?” He asked, anger flashing across his face, then sorrow. “Not that I would blame you…” He said, then took another swig. “What’s your story, kid? Are you a blacksmith too? You have that look about you… and that hunger. I saw you looking at my forge. I saw you seeing the potential. There’s no blast furnace here, kid. Not like the ones you are probably used to. You have to get all your metal elsewhere. And you’ll have to depend on others to make sure it's pure. You can’t smelt it yourself.” He added, belched, then walked forward and flopped into a chair that flanked the entrance up against the front wall of the forge building. “I don’t care anyhow… I came here to get away from problems, but I’m telling you both problems just follow you anywhere.” He said, taking another pull from his bottle and then cradling it to him. After a few moments, the blacksmith tipped his head back, leaning it against the front wall of the forge, and began to snore.

Mathias glanced at Antelokes and dropped his tone significantly, almost whispering. “We don’t know what’s wrong with him. He won’t talk about it. But he’s been like this since he got here a couple of seasons ago. He’s gotten no better and no worse. Sometimes he works, but mostly he just drinks.” The Founder said quietly. “But feel free to go in and take a look around. Artik will probably be asleep for a few bells… if not more.” He said softly, almost regretfully. “We need to… find a replacement for him. He’s costing us a fortune in tools and time.” Mathias said, then glanced at Artik. “We also need to find a way to help him.” He said regretfully, shaking his head softly.

When Antelokes had a chance to look around, Mathias answered his final question. “Why here? Why on the shores of the Suvan? Here we have space, and there’s more than enough food not just for hundreds but for thousands… growing wild and running free. Before the Valterrian, Syka was a great city called Pavena. Her ruins are all around us. It was a cultural hub and a center for science and engineering. There are a thousand secrets here, Antelokes. And a gate that connects Mizahar to other worlds. A better question might be… why would we build anywhere else?” He said simply and offered the younger man a smile.

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Landfall (Introduction)

Postby Antelokes on March 22nd, 2022, 2:36 am

Antelokes nodded along as Mathias explained the prospect of working at the forge. He fell into a comfortable smile. This place was alien to him--he’d certainly never lived by a jungle before--but smith work was something he knew.

As the two men approached the forge Antelokes marveled at the beauty of the place. There would be no acrid buildup of smoke and fumes here, and the landscape was much more interesting than the walls of any workshop he’d ever had the privilege to use. The man using the forge was another sight to behold altogether. His motions were wild and unrestrained, yet despite that Antelokes could recognize the hints of good technique. Nothing intentional of course, just the habits a person tended to pick up from swinging a hammer every day for a decade or two. That being said the man was obviously drunk as a dog and did little to hide it.

Antelokes winced when Artik threw the hammer to the ground. No wonder it needs repair, he thought. Tools were like people. They tended to be reliable just so long as you treated them right, but not too much longer.

Swallowing his initial distaste Antelokes reached out for a handshake to greet the older blacksmith. Artik brushed him off though and the younger man bristled when he went on to complain about things that should have been his own responsibility.
When Artik eventually finally turned his attention to Antelokes he met the Svefra’s fierce gaze with a hard stare.

“I don’t know you much, but I’m here to do things that need done. The way I see it I don’t have to be your replacement,” Antelokes shrugged, “not unless you stop working for some reason that is, and I guess that’s up to you, but there seems to be plenty of stuff to keep us both occupied.” He couldn’t tell how many of his words registered in Artik’s rum-addled mind, but he didn’t push the issue.

As Artik fell into his slumber and Mathias explained the situation, Antelokes began to pick around the place, carefully avoiding the other blacksmith’s snoring form.

“If there’s something I can do for Artik I will, though I don’t have much clue what that might be. You have a nice enough place here though, despite it all. I’ll do what I can to keep the equipment in good shape. There shouldn’t be no problem with doing any of the things you told me about, this place will let me work plenty hot enough for that. I won’t be casting fancy candlesticks for anybody or doing anything of that kind, but that doesn’t sound like your pressing need.” Mathias seemed content with this. The founder seemed sensible, especially for a fellow in charge. People who spent long enough in command of other people often lost touch with reality, but this one seemed solid enough from what he had seen.

The note about Syka’s history gave Antelokes pause. There was more to this settlement than met the eye at first glance. It certainly gave the place insurance against being boring, but often being boring made life a lot simpler and easier. It seemed like Mathias had good reasoning behind his thoughts though so Antelokes returned his smile.

“I take your point. From what I’ve seen so far you’ve built something good here, and I’d love to help build it up more.” He left the forge (taking care to put the hammer Artik had dropped back onto a tool bench) and resumed walking with Mathias. As he saw more of the settlement’s buildings he noted a certain natural roughness about their sturdy construction. People here might be imposing a little piece of civilization on the jungle, but the jungle was imposing more than it’s share of wildness back onto civilization. The people were not exempt from this either, and many of them looked just as comfortable and at-home on the jungle beach as the tropical birds did.

“Now I doubt the notion is that I sleep in the forge,” Antelokes began with a smile, “so I will need someplace to spend my non-waking hours from time to time. I don’t have a lot of coin, but I don’t need much in the way of…"
Antelokes stopped cold in his tracks, the words he was speaking dying in his mouth.

The world was on fire.

Or rather, the jungle was. As he and Mathias had rounded a corner Antelokes ran straight into a wall of flame that cloaked the trees from their sturdy bases all the way up to the canopy in a roaring inferno. He heard screams too, sounds that no human voice should ever be forced to make. Antelokes turned in shock to Mathias but the founder was gone. Where he had been was only more flaming jungle. Whirling in a full circle it was all the same, the idyllic beach had been completely replaced by this hellish junglescape. Antelokes singled out one of the screaming voices that sounded nearest, a child by the tone of it. He sprinted in that direction, ignoring the flames as they licked harmlessly at his skin. He didn’t find anything though. Try as he might and as close as they sounded Antelokes couldn’t manage to find even one of the sources of the agonized cries. He shouted in frustration, dashing back and forth through the trees trying to find some way to help these dying people.

A peal of laughter split the air, echoing in Antelokes’ skull.
What? Who could laugh at this? Then the same voice came again. Soft but resonant, spoken as if it were straight into his ear.

“What puny things these are.”

Antelokes recognized that voice. He’d heard it before, once, though it wasn’t one he’d soon forget. It was a divine voice. The voice of his god.

“Trees, buildings… people. What are they? What can they become? The answer is nothing. Nothing except for ASH."

Then the flames were gone. The jungle receded, and the screams faded away. The only evidence that the vision had happened at all was the faint echo of that maddening laughter in a voice Antelokes had never thought he would fear as much as he did now.

Antelokes staggered and dropped to his knees, steading himself on the sandy ground some distance away from where the vision had first struck him. Nobody else seemed to have noticed anything. It wasn’t real. The jungle wasn’t on fire, and there were no hurt children. He sucked down a few deep breaths, winded as if he’d really been sprinting. What had just happened?
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Landfall (Introduction)

Postby Gossamer on March 24th, 2022, 4:42 am

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Mathias nodded at the young smith’s offer. “Artik might just need a friend. It’s been hard cracking his shell though we’ve tried. Another Smith might make all the difference in the world. But ultimately, he isn’t your responsibility. And this isn’t his forge. It’s a community building meaning it belongs to everyone. So you wouldn’t be working for him… you might have to share space… but your working for the community. There might be people that actually want lessons, and you are more than able to give them if you want too. Plus, you can take on an apprentice from one of the children that have joined us, if you’d like. They are orphans and looking for better lives than they had in the cities where we relocated them from. It’s not something you have to do but keep an open mind. You never know what will happen.” He said thoughtfully, then moved on.

Mathias noted Antelokes picked up Artik’s discarded hammer and highly approved.

They started to walk on, Mathias planning on giving Anteloke’s a bit of a tour of the Commons and maybe show him the Inn or the Bungalows when the man stopped and his words trailed off. Mathias caught Anteloke’s under the arms steadying him when he dropped to his knees, kneeling behind him then moving around to face him dropping to his knees as well. “Antelokes? What’s wrong!” He said, concerned, glancing around and finally laying his hand on Anteloke’s forehead, his eyes closing tapping in on his marks.

“So… so many possibilities.” Mathias reeled as the views hit him from his Xhyvas Gnosis. He blinked, reached out, and physically tugged at Anteloke’s spirit form, bringing him back to the now. “That was a powerful vision, but it felt artificial.” Mathias said, then reached over and pushed up his sleeve, revealing an intricately etched trio of infinity signs on his arm. “I’m a priest of Xhyvas. He’s the God of Possibilities and Transcendence. I… saw a bit of that… just a bit. The burning… and I can assure you… we’re too wet around here to burn like that. But.. you’ve been utterly touched by Ivak… but I don’t think that vision was from him. He burns, but he doesn’t burn like that… he burns with an inner fire and the fires he causes aren’t… it just felt off…. are you okay?” He asked carefully, then gently helped the man to his feet.

“There’s been something strange going on in and around Syka since The Veronica docked. I can’t put my finger on it because there are too many possibilities, but when everyone narrows their views, we might be clearer on what’s going on. You aren’t burned, are you? Or hurt?” He asked, keeping a hand on Anteloke’s elbow even after he drew him to his feet. “If that happens again, will you let me know? Keep records or a journal of the experiences? You can pick up writing supplies and blank books at the Mercantile… because …. I just have a really bad feeling about this. Is this the first time that’s happened?” Mathias asked, looking at Anteloke’s strangely, utilizing his gnosis again.

He wasn’t exactly looking at the man, but more through him. The pathways through his soul was filled with possibilities. Anteloke’s could be a blip on Syka’s history or he could have a significant impact… and there were pathways every where in between. Nothing was fated yet though. The man had just barely set foot in the settlement. But as time passed, Mathias would get a better understanding.

“There’s a nice seating area at Kihala’s Shrine… do you want to go sit there a bit? I can grab us some drinks…” He suggested. He wanted to talk to this man further, drawn to him for reasons Mathias couldn’t exactly pinpoint yet.


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Landfall (Introduction)

Postby Antelokes on March 27th, 2022, 12:15 am


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Antelokes blinked rapidly, accepting Mathias’ support and rising to his feet. It was like waking up from a dream in that moment when you can’t quite tell which reality is the true one (and you don’t quite feel like you belong to either of the two).
“A priest,” he said, words shaky, “of the god of possibility.” Antelokes focused on Mathias’ words, doing his best to force the memory of that damnable laughter out of his mind. “I’ll try to take you at your word then that it was artificial, though it felt real enough in the moment. Thank you.”

He took a moment to assess himself, letting the adrenaline shock from the vision carry him into a cold state of analysis. “I’m not burned or hurt. You’re right… that didn’t feel like Ivak. At least I don’t think so. Pardon me if that doesn’t quite set my nerves completely at ease. Something happened there, and I don’t see many ways it could be anything good.”

Feeling a little more secure on his feet, Antelokes looked up to meet Mathias’ gaze. Those soul-searching eyes penetrated him, and in that moment Antelokes doubted there would be many secrets he could keep from this man. He didn’t mind. Too many people pretended to be what they weren’t. And if Mathias was right about the vision not being from Ivak, then apparently one of the gods (or something like them) was engaging in the practice too.

“Yes, I’ll let you know if that happens again, but lets both pray it doesn’t, eh? This is the first time anything like this has happened, but I wouldn’t mind it being the last. And drinks… sound nice. Thank you.”

As they walked across the beach towards an impressive fountain and statue display, Antelokes checked the map Mathias had given him, trying to connect real locations in his mind with the names he saw on the paper. Once he was close enough to the shrine to get a good look at it, he forgot the map altogether. Most of the structures he’d seen in Syka were functionally simple, content to let the natural scenery provide the beauty. The shrine was different. Here the two elements of craftsmanship and nature blended seamlessly in an immaculate expression of both.

A few people were already at the shrine watching the bright fish and picking fruits off a large tree. One of them made eye contact with Antelokes and flashed a bright smile.

“Ho there! You look like a newcomer. Catch!” she called, tossing one of the fruits to him. Caught off guard, he caught the fruit with both hands. Where he’d come from people didn’t tend to share food with strangers. Especially not in such a carefree manner. But then again, Mathias said earlier that Syka had all the food it could want.

“Thank you,” he replied, doing his best to return her grin while simultaneously examining the fruit. It didn’t look like anything he’d seen before. He took a tentative bite. It was odd, but tasted delicious all the same.

As he chewed, a thought struck Antelokes. This place was idyllic in many ways, but there was no paradise in this life. No matter how much fruit was here or how optimistic and laidback the people were, there had to be drawbacks. The vision he had seen might be one. Mathias had mentioned strange things were happening across Syka, not just with him.

“What’s wrong here?” he asked Mathias. “You have a wonderful community, I won’t be one to dispute that, but nowhere is perfect. You seem honest, so tell it to me honest. What are your problems? What keeps folks awake at night from fear? I assume not everybody sees visions of the rainforest burning like I just did, but everywhere has its flaws. I’ll be living here Mathias, and I will help however I can, but I want to hear it like it is.”


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Landfall (Introduction)

Postby Gossamer on April 7th, 2022, 3:07 am

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Mathias nodded. “The jungle is incredibly wet. The soil might as well be mud and is thin. With all this green nothing would burn. It’s a feat of incredible ingenuity to get a fire lit most times. The condition of drought such a fire would require would be unheard of here. It rains multiple times a day…. “ He assured Antelokes. “I’m sure it felt incredibly real. I often think the best course of action is to go with my gut feeling. If something’s right it feels right. If its off, it feels off. Look inside. You’ll get some clarity. Ask Ivak as well, if you look to him. Something’s going on though… something we’ll figure out. You… are not alone in having issues. We just have to figure out what has come to Syka’s shores.” He said softly, his deep blue eyes troubled.

“Have you looked to Ivak long?” Mathias asked, curious. “We have a Firedancer here that does as well. She’s asked me to keep my eye open for anyone else of Ivak’s faith. She’s a friendly sort… Rainmere. I’ll introduce you.” He said thoughtfully, then offered Antelokes a smile.

“I do a lot of praying. I don’t mind making this one more thing on my list.” Mathias agreed, then laughed as one of the residents tossed a fruit to Antelokes. He sensed the disquiet about the young man and knew immediately that he was a scholar and intellect. Most people didn’t want to be identified as such, so Mathias held his tongue. But it made him more and more curious about the newcomer.

When they got settled in the shrine up against the big stone seats and Antelokes asked the question he asked, Mathias thought it was about the most direct and valuable question he’d ever been asked. And as such, he took a few minutes, composing himself before he answered. “James and Randal and I were charged to come here by our deities and start this Settlement.” He started out slowly. The man wanted a direct answer, and that was his intention in giving, but he didn’t want it given in such a way as to be offensive. “We weren’t told all the things we’d have to deal with when we got here, but we understand now why we were directed to do so. Syka is built on the bones of a far older city. It was a center of science and exploration. They had a way to connect to other worlds… something called the World Gate. It’s here… and its fully functional. We believe that our deites wanted us to start Syka as a way to revive the old city of Pavena which was here before. I firmly believe that we are here to protect the World Gate and guard Mizahar from anything that might come to this world through it. Kihala, the Goddess of life, has staked a claim on the city and installed guardians in it… and is in the process of choosing a force to be able to run the guardians. They are stone statues at the moment, but they can be activated by those trusted by the Goddess, and when that happens, they transform to living things and become far larger and more formidable than their real non-magical counterparts.” He said softly.

Then he thought about things. “Everything here will kill you. Snakes in the jungle, jaguars, the weather, exposure to elements, getting lost, getting bitten by insects… even diseases. The jungle is merciless and will make you incredibly tough or incredibly bold if you actually live through it.” He said softly. “In addition to that, we have Myrians and Dhani constantly fighting, and while we are staying neutral to this, either side could try and pull us in at any moment.” He explained.

“Couple that with the fact that we are cut off from basic supplies like flour… without the Svefra and the Outpost we are vulnerable. We are slowly gathering a good group of people that mean we can take care of ourselves independently, but its slow going. We are only two years old officially. We are doing well for that, but we are also gaining attention. And it eventually won’t be attention of the good time. Greed is rampant in the world and people will come here looking to mess up what we’ve built. But we have to keep going. We have to grow. We even have children as of this trip, and more will come. Life finds a way. We are moving forward. “ Mathias said frankly, then watched Antelokes to see what his reaction would be.

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Landfall (Introduction)

Postby Antelokes on April 14th, 2022, 7:12 pm

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Antelokes stood still, listening in silence to Mathias’ gentle voice. He stared into the man’s eyes, trying to discern whatever he could about this man. He liked Mathias, but it had been a long time since he had trusted anybody. He needed to be sure about this. Even as he reminded himself of the need for temperance, his pulse quickened. This was a work that needed to be done. He had come here searching for purpose, hadn’t he? There seemed to be plenty of purposes in this place. Not the least of which was staying alive. Antelokes continued to search Mathias’ gaze. Yes, this was a man he could follow. This was a place he could be loyal to.

Mathias had now stopped talking. Antelokes held his gaze for several more seconds, then looked at the shrine.

“Thank you for answering honestly,” he began, voice low. “Too many people don’t. Even about small things.” He turned back to meet the founder’s stare. “This isn’t a small thing,” he said, making a sweeping gesture with his hand, indicating Syka as a whole. “You’ve made that plenty clear. Because of that, I’ll be as clear to you as you’ve been to me.” Antelokes felt his chest tighten. He’d kept himself pretty closed off while growing up in Sunberth. Opening up went against his instincts.

“I don’t have a ton going for me Mathias,” he said. “I can work a forge, yeah. And I’m no sucker in a street fight either, but I’m not the kind of talent people go looking to recruit. I don’t have much of a family left either. None that want anything to do with me anyway.” Antelokes tried in vain to mask the wave of sadness that washed through him with that particular admission. He still missed his father, though thanks to the disease that had killed him he’d known for some time before his death that the inevitable was coming. His mother was still out there somewhere, but she had long ago made clear that she had no interest in her son. That wound always seemed fresh, no matter how long he waited for it to heal. He swallowed, forcing himself to continue speaking.

“I’m telling you this so you really know who I am, and so you understand what it means when I say what I do.” Antelokes straightened his shoulders as best he could, almost like he imagined a soldier might. “I don’t have too many cards in my hand Mathias, I’m about at the end of my line. That means when I say I’m betting myself on Syka, I’m going all-in. I don’t have a backup plan, and I can’t much afford one either.” Antelokes heard his own words and felt the weight of them. He’d never been one to break a commitment, and this was a big one.

Glancing down, Antelokes ran his thumb over the bright gnosis mark on his opposite forearm, remembering the day he had received it.

“You asked about my service to Ivak? I’ve heard his name my whole life, but you could never say I followed him until a few years back. Life was rough, and I did some things I wish I didn’t have to do.” Antelokes’ voice dropped. It wasn’t a whisper, but it was close. This was not a story he was used to telling. He didn’t want to go into details. “I hurt some folks… killed them. I’m not a violent man Mathias, but I do what I must.” Antelokes fought back the memories of that day—doing his best to forget the wretched scent of immolated human flesh that.

“He—Ivak—came to me, helped me understand what I’d done, and what I could do… what I should do.” Antelokes closed his hands into fists. He met Mathias’ eyes, his face hardening into a mask of determination. “He wanted me to find purpose. To do something with my life other than just finding a way to eat and sleep until I die.” A warm gust of wind ruffled Antelokes’ hair, carrying with it the sweet scents of the jungle mixed with those of the ocean. Birds sang in the background, accompanied by the rhythmic beat of the crashing surf echoing up from the beach.

“My god didn’t tell me to come here Mathias, not like yours. I don’t know much about Myrians or Dhani, and I certainly wouldn’t know about a ‘World Gate.’ But if the gods have found this place important enough to send you here to build, then it’s my best shot at a place Ivak would like me to be. That is, somewhere I can do something worth doing.” Antelokes waited a moment in silence, as if hoping some external force would give him some confirmation that this was in fact where he was supposed to be.

After a few seconds, Antelokes tossed the fruit in his hand up and down a few times in his palm as if appraising it. His mind wasn’t focused on the fruit though, he was thinking about Syka itself. Or what it had used to be… Pavena.

“I don’t like not knowing what’s around me and how it works,” he said eventually. “I want to understand it. The jungle—of course—but if Syka is built on the ruins of an old city… especially one the gods think needs protecting?” Antelokes raised an eyebrow to Mathias, “then I want to know exactly what’s out there, along with every imaginable way it could kill us. I’m not some learned professor or brilliant mage, I’m a working man. But I like to get things done, and that seems to me like a job that needs done.”

“I am what I am Mathias,” he continued, “I don’t hide it. I’ll do my job, and I’ll do what I say I’ll do.”
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Landfall (Introduction)

Postby Gossamer on April 28th, 2022, 12:43 am

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Mathias didn’t interrupt Antelokes. He simply leaned back in the stone bench and listened with the attention of someone who really had an interest in what the other man had to say. He nodded when Antelokes said a few of the things he said, being able to relate himself to feeling such things. “I don’t have anything to hide, Antelokes. And if I can or if I know, I will tell you if you have questions. My deck is always open to anyone that wants to come sit a spell and maybe do some fishing, talking, or just have some company. I also have an extensive library you can borrow from if you want to learn anything while you are here.” He said, then looked Antelokes over.

“You are quick to say you haven’t much to offer, but I’ll be as quick to beg to differ. You are a young strong man with a valuable skill. All we do here lately is build. You can’t work fast enough or hard enough over a forge to keep up with it. People will want to know you and will genuinely feel gratitude by what you make. There’s something to be said about being needed in a community and being a valuable member of it. You said you are estranged from your family. It happens. Some people here don’t have a family at all. They are all alone in the world. And there are other people here that have some pretty powerful families and all they want to do is stay out in a corner of the world where those families won’t find them. You have your choice here, Antelokes. You can pick your friends and even your family here. If you want one, people will manifest. That’s how the world works.” He added, then offered a smile at the other man.

“That you can fight is a good thing. Kihala here gave five guardian statues to the city. They are totems that you will find scattered throughout. The fish is at the harbor and you might have seen it on the way in. These … guaridans come to life and grow life sized or bigger, becoming fierce fighters. She picks among the people here, Antelokes. And she gives Guardian Marks to those who decide Syka is worth making a stand in. I am not privileged to have one. Nor do the other Founders. But I am a priest of Xhyves, the God of Possibilities and we can see what could happen… what frequently will come to pass. In almost every scenario of you remaining here, I see one of those marks on your wrist. Those marks aren’t a commitment to Her, though they can turn into that certainly. Rather, they are a commitment to Syka and her defense. You see… I say this a lot, but by coming here, you’ve courted two additional ladies in your life you cannot dismiss easily. The first is Syka herself. She’s a living breathing thing and though she goes by Syka now… she was Pavena. And you’ll have to get to know each of her aspects. It sounds like you have the curiosity and willingness to do that. And how you do that is by first courting Falyndar and learning how to act around her, the second of the two ladies. Once you’ve come to an understanding with Falyndar, then Syka will start giving up her secrets. It’s a long journey you have ahead of you, with a lot of immediate challenges… but I can see it working out many good ways, Antelokes… if you let it.” He added.

Then he offered the man a smile. “We’ll set you up with some employment. If you want a loan to build yourself your own personal forge you don’t have to share or a home, or even both just talk to us. We finance that kind of thing. And as for a place to stay, I might as well arrange that for you as well. I think our Inn is fairly full at the moment, but we can rent you a bungalow or one of the Ranchos that is out over the water. They are very reasonably priced for a season and you can still grab meals at the Inn or the Tidepool, though Stu has better food later in the afternoon and just snacks before noon.” He added, then looked thoughtful. “We also let you camp on the beach if you’d like… especially if you are planning on buying a piece of land or building later.” He added, deciding this was a good place to start.

“I really think you should take a loan out… we don’t charge interest, and pick a pretty spot and build a forge and a place to live on that. It would be your best option and after it’s done you wouldn’t have to share space with Artik.” He mused, then gave Antelokes a knowing look. “I can even suggest a few places. And with Standing Tall going in, a place could probably be built by the end of the season.” He added, wondering what the younger man thought of all that.

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