Closed Mists of morning (Naadiya)

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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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Mists of morning (Naadiya)

Postby Cleon on March 20th, 2022, 8:24 pm

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19th of Spring, 522

Cleon sat in one of chairs on the front deck, enjoying another Syka sunrise. Which was to say a dense, misty downpour that obscured the horizon as he looked upon the bay. It wasn’t so bad though, he thought as he took another pull of the wooden pipe he cradled loosely in his right hand, pulling hard enough that the bowl emitted a bright cherry glow that briefly illuminated his face before going a dormant dark red buried beneath ashes. About time to refill the bowl.

He sighed and leaned forward in the chair, resting his elbows on his knees as he slowly breathed out the smoke through his nose. The vaguely flowery scent of it was mostly lost on him now after spending much of the morning smoking the weed the lady had called blue vision, but the sense of calm remained, settling over him in such a way that he was able to acutely examine his thoughts as they came to him.

It eased some of his other concerns, while stirring other hungers but Cleon felt that the trade off was worth it. By his right leg he had an open bottle of wine to suppress those other desires if need be, however it didn’t look like he would need to this morning. He felt alright. Actually he felt better than alright, he felt fine. Despite all he had been through over the last several days, he’d actually been putting on weight, and had nearly grown an inch which was something he held onto to make himself feel better when the world felt like it was closing back in on him.

He had still not wholly mastered his feelings on the subject, but he liked to think that he was getting there. Still there was so much prejudice to unlearn. Things were different here in Syka, the people were nicer, the food better, the opportunities more plentiful and yet he couldn’t stop thinking about what he didn’t have. His body wasn’t right. He didn’t know how to do anything. He was a total fool at his job. His swimming skills were quite embarrassing, almost as much as his skill working wood.

An then there were these things he’d set out on the deck in front of him. Devices that while he generally understood their purpose, he knew next to nothing about utilizing them. Starting from the left there was an unstrung bow, followed by a hand axe, and then finally on the right, a machete. Things he would need if he was going to learn how to hunt, and traverse the jungle. How did one start that exactly though?

James had mentioned he could go to really anyone in Syka to ask about it, but over the last few days he couldn’t help but isolate himself as his illness became more acute. It was simply easier that way. Whatever this was that had been affecting him, it did more than just give him cravings. It made him more aggressive, less restrained and much to his chagrin, quite a good deal more foolhardy than he already had been. There had always been a little bit of the fool in him, preferring laughs to the opposite, though here they no longer struck the same cords as they once had.

Perhaps it was the added responsibility he felt for watching over Faye, but he found that he didn’t quite like being laughed at anymore. He wanted to be taken seriously, and not for a boy. Indeed, he’d felt like he had grown up a long time ago when he was still living underneath the unmentionables. It wasn’t even like this was his first taste of responsibility either. He’d taken care of his two younger sisters long before they ever came here, so what was different?

Maybe he’d changed in response to these cravings, or could it be in response to the physical changes he was experiencing. He did feel a lot stronger than he had been coming here and that could have had some effect on his mental health.

As he mulled over that last thought, he put the pipe to his mouth and drew on it till he cashed the bowl. A few flecks of ash got into his mouth and Cleon wrinkled his nose though he managed to resist spitting it out till he got up and leaned over the deck’s railing to do so. His hair came back slightly damp and he flicked it back so it wasn’t in his eyes as he rested for a moment against the railing.

There was a good deal of strangeness that came with the new life, but it was a strangeness he felt he could stomach as he had the rest that had come up so far. The only thing he still was having a hard time with was a point he found himself constantly pushing back into the recesses of his mind, although it was always kind of there. He’d managed to get it down to a dull, anxious pang that surfaced every once and a while. That was the best he could do for now till the next blow pushed it all the way to one side or the other.

With a heavy sigh, Cleon turned back around to where he had set his bag against the lounge chair, and started refilling the bowl of his pipe.

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Last edited by Cleon on May 4th, 2022, 3:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Mists of morning (Naadiya)

Postby Naadiya on March 25th, 2022, 10:48 pm

She couldn’t even tell what time it was, the sky was so clouded and the air made nearly opaque by the rain. Naadiya loved rainy days, the water cleaned the air of impurities from smoke and dirt and all the foul smells that life brought. Syka tended to have a freshly tilled green smell on most days but people still had to light fires for cooking, working the forge and a variety of mundane daily tasks that were so plentiful they accumulated without being noticed. And everyone shat, every single day multiple times a day. The ashta shat, the Ixam shat, everything shat.

But as she laid in bed the soft pattering of the rain falling on leaves and thatched roofed and softened soil was like a mother’s lullaby. At this rate she would never get up. Her body still ached from the previous day’s excursion into the green.

Naadiya and Artik had scouted out a spot for her house to be built and started clearing some of the area. They had thought to stay the night but things had not gone as planned and tired and lacking sleep the two had stumbled back in town in the death of night. Or had it already been morning? All she was sure of was that it had been so dark and she had felt so dizzy that the walk back to the inn had earned her several bruises and scratches on both her arms and legs.

Now I have black and blue legs to match my dyer’s stained hands… how attractive, she thought, looking in the mirror with an annoyed look on her face.

The slightest hint of energy came to her, though where from she'd no idea, and with great effort she dragged her feet to the bathroom, despite having bathed only a few hours before when she got back last night. Hot baths had a way of easing the tension she liked to store in her back like a camel with water. She was taking them almost overnight before going to bed and it seemed to have the magically healing effect of not only erasing her worries, but also erasing her penis.

Still unsure of whether her affliction was triggered with the changing of the moon or its phases, her own mental well being or the water itself, Naadiya was still grasping for clues. There were too many elements, too many variables. When she’d found out about Artik’s own curse, she thought there must have been a link of some sort, as she too grew more hair now than ever before as well. But then, Naadiya got a better look at Artik, watched him for long stretches of time. Her leg hair had never grown like that. Her armpits never refilled so quickly. Naadiya was glad to be able to say that Artik had no lack of length or girth when it came to his manhood, but even that was getting lost in the constantly growing mound between his legs. This could not be the same thing as she was feeling or any type of evolution of it. Then, of course she'd begun noticing a couple other's maladies as well and soon enough, trying to connect the dots felt random if not hopeless.

In the tub, Naadiya did not take the time to fill it, and only used a small bowl to splash the steaming water in the more important parts, then rinsed her body with a couple of hot bowlfuls and toweled herself off quickly before getting dressed in a black dress made of isuas, light enough for a Sykan spring.

A faint little scent drifted in through either the opened window or door. Vaguely familiar at first, as it got stronger Naadiya recognized the unmistakeable scent of Blue Vision. Like a dog, she threw her nose up in the air to sniff out the direction it was coming from.

Blue vision, along with a variety of other smokable herbs, roots and powders were often found in cafes and lounges in Wadrass, whether they be build of adobe and stone or the more temporary structures built of fabric suspended in all manners of ways. Calling them tents was like calling a hovel, a manse.

As the aroma took her back to another life, it also took her another room. She was following the smoke and wondered who was the one puffing away. Brought to the front porch by her nose, Naadiya was less than stunned to see it was Cleon. She was going to walk over to him when she realized, you never come to something empty handed and darted for the kitchen to grab a couple of small wooden cups, a thin bottle of something strong, a few sliced limes and another small cup which she filled with salt.

When she was back out on the deck, Naadiya clinked the wooden tumblers on the bottle she held under the opposite arm announcing her arrival.

Smiling she set everything down on the closest table and gestured towards Cleon’s pipe.

“I’ll share, if you share?” She said in as enticing a tone as she could muster, while getting a quick drink ready for the two. Was it a little to early? Probably. But these were unusual circumstances.

Naadiya took one lime wedge and rubbed its raw edge on the lip of the two empty cups. She grabbed the salt and poured a small quantity in her hand. Then, using her palm as a plate, Naadiya took each glass and rolled the wet rims in the white crystals. WIth a pour of the bottle, she filled one cup, then the other. The clear liquid looked like water but the smell gave it away as much more flammable.

Taking one cup in each hand, Naadiya handed one over to Cleon, if he took it, she’d clink cups for luck then throw back her glass and bite into a lime. The liquid was hot running down her throat but it was a heat that didn’t clash to that of spring.

Rain fell hard, but where Naadiya took a seat, she was covered as long as the wind did not pick up too much.

“Ughhh,” she grimaced setting the now-drained lime back down, “it’s a bit warm, but if you drink it fast enough I promise you’ll barely notice!”

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Mists of morning (Naadiya)

Postby Cleon on March 30th, 2022, 6:07 pm

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After going through the laborious process of relighting his pipe, Cleon decided he didn’t much care for how scattered he was of late. He could have saved a lot of effort if he’d lit a piece of tinder with what was left in the bowl instead of caching it, but alas, there was little point it mulling over that now with the sweet vapor caressing his lungs.

He looked over his shoulder then to see a woman slide into frame for a few moments before disappearing. Curious, Cleon leaned forward, propping his elbows up across his knees as he took another slow pull of the pipe. He was trying to figure out what exactly her deal was when she reappeared, arms full of the sort of thing Cleon had been steadily working up a thirst for. In more ways then one he added, firmly looking her up and down before a slight smile slashed across his face.

“Sure, why not.” He said after taking the pipe out of his mouth, and watched as she prepared their drinks. Then looking at the bowl he fished out a piece of tinder from his belt pouch and lit it on the smoldering remains within the bowl before knocking out the pipe on the sole of his shoe. Then with the lit tender in his off hand, he hurriedly repacked the bowl, getting a sprinkling of dried bits all over his lap in the process which he decided to ignore presently. His focus instead was on handing the pipe to the woman who’d just finished her drink, holding it out along with the lit piece of tinder.

“Fresh bowl for the occasion.” Cleon said, reaching for his drink when she’d taken the implements, and downing it much like she had. He almost gagged before he got the chance to bite down on the lime as he quickly came to the realization that despite his current predicament, he really wasn’t that much of a drinker. At least, the old reflexes had considerably dulled since the last time he was lost in a bottle.

“That..” Cleon sputtered when he’d finally managed to recover himself. “That.. Was quite the concoction. Is that something you just came up with on the fly, or have you been saving it?” He looked then at the bottle he’d set next to the right of the chair, and impulsively picked it up, putting the cork between his teeth before yanking it out. A lemony scent subtly perfumed the air as Cleon brought the mouth of the bottle to his lips and took a quick sip. After that drink, the taste was slightly ruined but it still went down refreshing as the lemon and grapefruit flavors came through across his pallet. It reminded him vaguely of hot kettle wine, only of a far better quality. It was a comforting impression that did a considerable amount towards relaxing him further.

“Trade ya.” He said, holding out the bottle in exchange for his pipe which he took back eagerly. This had been the one way he’d found that he actually managed to get ahold of himself with. It was almost as if the sequence of actions was as effective as the smoke infusing his system. Whichever the case may be, the actions centered him like nothing else could. Especially with such a beautiful woman present.

His eyes drifted as they were want to do, though he managed to keep them above the chest level for the most part. That wouldn’t last long, or rather it would last as long as he remembered to keep himself proper but the more things he started to juggle, the harder that became. He’d.. Cleon didn’t finish the thought. He didn’t want to. It made him ache in a way that reached his core, and left him feeling particularly vulnerable. That wasn’t the kind of energy he wanted to court at the moment.

Belated he realized he’d lapsed into a sort of awkward silence, not really responding to anything for several moments till his eyes refocused and he realized he’d been trailing down her body again.

“Apologies. Its uh.. Its been a long morning. Are you staying at the Inn?” Cleon said as he worked his jaw slowly, handing over the pipe and setting the pouch of Blue vision between them. Gripping the edge of the chair, he rocked back in his seat as he let the sounds of rain pattering across the roof wash over him and briefly closed his eyes to entertain the brief blissful feeling.

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Mists of morning (Naadiya)

Postby Naadiya on April 2nd, 2022, 4:28 pm

“Thank you very much,” she said with a grin and a facetious hand fluttering to the base of her neck. Naadiya took the pipe in her hand and gratefully accepted the light as well, letting Cleon hold the burning tinder as she took a couple of puffs.

Smoke ran down her throat and filled her lungs, not bothering to linger in her mouth long at all. She had once been a very well practiced smoker and the sensations were neither novel nor foreign to her. Yet, it had been quite a while since the last time Naadiya’d had a smoke, over a season, and her lungs felt a bit tender to the heat. Holding her smokey breath in, Naadiya quickly poured a little more of the drink and raised the cup to her lips, this time taking just a small sip to soothe the throat.

Her exhales came out sharp, almost a coughs. Well, not 'almost'. She was coughing and each cough seemed to heighten the effect if the herb. Alcohol was never as soothing as you’d expect all beverages to be after a smoke. Her facial expressions ranged from the comical to the sickening, condensed into a few seconds. Naadiya tried to smile at Cleon but it was too soon for her eyebrows to relax and she almost looked like she was smiling at the sun.

“Hah! Oh no, I don’t brew. I imagine any attempts on my part might only be useful to clean shoe leather. It was a gift of sorts from Stu, the local holy barkeep, have you met? Interesting man, Stu is… very different than most other priests I have ever met. Chasing your drink with salt is a desert custom, I suppose. I think it came from superstitions about drowning ironically… take the salt to make sure you are dry enough inside that you won’t drown from all the alcohol you drink… I never really understood the logic behind it but then, I suppose tradition and logic don’t always mesh so well together.”

They exchanged pipe for bottle once more and Naadiya took a sip, staring out into the rain. It rained so often in Syka it was a wonder the soil wasn’t always waterlogged. The Cobbled Pathway was most useful when it rained, being barely affected by the downpour unlike the surrounding sands and soils, and being slightly raised, the water rarely pooled where you would actually tread.

I was going to just to a river stone path, but maybe I should actually ask Duncan to extend the Cobbled Pathway to where my new place will be.

Planning for her new home had become something that greedily ate up Naadiya’s time almost every day. If she wasn’t taking notes, working out details in her journal, she was day dreaming about where each rug would go, or what she would do with the drapes.

“Where did you find this? I haven’t smoked in so long I almost forgot how it felt.”

The euphoria was trickling in like rain through a leaky roof, and she giggled feeling the hazy blur spread from behind her closed eyes.

“Has Juli been holding out on me?! You know… pretty much everything takes root and grows in this soil… We should get a bunch of seeds and start a Blue Vision plantation! Can you imagine! We would be rich! If the flowers grow only as abundantly as the isuas fibers we would have more than we would know what to do with!”

Thoughts running wild and creativity spilling over, reality was barely necessary. She was a little high.

Naadiya had never farmed anything and knew little of what it took to cultivate such a plant, but at that moment, everything seemed possible. And from a tradesmen's perspective, such a cash crop would have as much of an affect on the settlement as the textile fibers had.

With a long relaxed sigh, Naadiya grabbed the arm rests and let herself slide back into the chair, her neck resting on the very back and her head angled to look up. Whatever Tazrae had done to keep the roofs of the inn watertight, she would have to have done for her place as well, such a wet place needed these specialized building methods and she was always nothing the differences between how people adapted to life in the jungle versus the desert.

She glanced over when Cleon apologized and realized the strap of her dress had slipped off. Leaning over the small table, she adjusted the strap and packed another bowl for herself. That was another huge difference between her time in Syka and wandering Eyktol, the attitudes towards human body being bared so often as a reaction to either heat, moisture or both. The isuas fabric, her boss loved so much and continued to produce at such large quantities, was more often than now, so thin and sheer it could hardly be called modest.

“Don’t worry, everyone is like that when they get here,” she said as she cleared the pipe and filled it again, “you’d be surprised at how quickly the nudity will desensitize you, although, up until now I hadn’t seen a child in the whole settlement, I suppose their being here might influence people to cover up a little more.”

With the tinder lit, she took another series of inhales. These came much easier than the first, needing nothing to chase them as she held in the smoke with delight.

“This is good,” she said, her voice very low as she exhaled, “very floral.”

Setting the pipe down, Naadiya took a deep breath of fresh air nodding, “Room 6. If you hear weird almost mechanical type of noises, it’s probably me, I have a loom set up in there. But hopefully not for too much longer, I’m seeing if I can get a little place of my own built here sooner than later. The Inn is great, don’t get me wrong, and the food seems to never end, but there is just something about having your own space, you know?”

Her gaze fell from Cleon to the table and she realized they would going through the tinder rather quickly.

“I’ll be right back,” she said standing up, “Do you want anything from inside?”

It did not take long for Naadiya to find a candle once she passed the threshold. First, she saw an iridescent oyster shell filled with white wax, and was going to settle for that one when her eyes landed on a small conch with a pillar candle stuck in the opening. Both were unlit, it being so early in the day, but Naadiya figured one more bit of tinder would not be a waste if they could leave the candle lit between puffing and passing. She grabbed the conch, a bunch of grapes from a fruit bowl in the kitchen and if Cleon had requested anything else, she got that too, before returning to her outdoor seat.

Sitting down, she lit the candle and made a fanciful displaying gesture to the new addition to the table, “Just have to be careful to not let wax drip into the pipe but I think this will be easier than lighting a new piece of tinder for ever puff.”

Popping a grape in her mouth, she set the rest on the table away from any scattered ashes. “Help yourself,” grabbing a couple more of the little pale green bulbs.

“You and you sister, did you come to Syka as a trip, or had you planned on staying?” Her tone was light, not interrogative. Naadiya had heard so much of Syka being such a hot spot during the warmer seasons but she hadn’t experienced the the settlement feeling crowded just yet. Surely the kids would fix that soon enough, children always made spaces feel smaller, as if they took extra roaming and grazing room like a horse.

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Mists of morning (Naadiya)

Postby Cleon on April 6th, 2022, 10:23 pm

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It didn’t take long before Cleon actually found himself smiling with a twinge of amusement. He’d never met anyone like Naadiya before, and to be honest, he wasn’t exactly sure of what to make of her. She seemed like she was between places, much like him, and that was enough to relax his guard somewhat. Of course the blue vision and abundant drink also helped, warming his cheeks to the point he could not be sure whether he even felt embarrassed anymore about looking over at her body. That which remained on show at least. His heart beat a little faster.

“Here’s to desert customs then” He cheered before taking a bitter bite of liquor and biting down hard on the lime until the urge to sputter left him. His throat felt in someways raw, and he could already tell that later he might have a hard time talking above a whisper. Smoking along with this sort of fun did not a fine combination make. Still, he was reluctant to give it up as he took another puff, bringing him more fully into that hazy twilight of being. The rains song a chaotic staccato beat against the wood over their heads.

He didn’t have to look over to know that she was enjoying herself similarly. There was an almost physical mood to the air, relaxed and prone to idle thoughts chasing one another which his did between points of conversation which made everything feel temporarily more solid, like they’d come across an island in the middle of the open sea. Cleon turned over this new thought in his head. Chuckling a little to himself as he mused, he rolled the bottle of Bluevein gold in his hands.

“I found it in the Outpost without really even looking for it. I don’t suppose it would be hard to find seeds there though I don’t much of a thumb for growing.” Cleon laughed, and rocked back in the lounger as he pulled his legs up close to his body. His eyes were on the rain now, but his mind was far away. Not at the outpost. Not quite anyways, but beyond it, thinking of all the many places it must connect to. Then he shook his head for the thought was too large for the moment, and he was not to the task of considering it in his present state. No, he wanted to think of something a little less serious, and a little closer at hand.

A warm spread down from his gut as she pulled up the strap, and his apple made a slight bobbing motion as he reflexively swallowed. A bit ashamed, a bit confused, but really just petching thirsty, Cleon shut his eyes for the moment it took him to look away, and breathed out slowly through his nose, letting the motion relax his body piece by piece. He really was a mess, wasn’t he? Running his hand through his long, lanky hair, he swept it up behind his ears before he dared to look over at her again.

“So I keep being told. I guess it hasn’t quite stuck.” He said wryly, as he chewed on the edge of his thumb nail, and let his gaze pan slowly across the Commons they could make out through the downpour. Cleon wanted to say more, but he didn’t want to kill the mood with his suspicions. This place was changing him alright, and not quite all for the better. The best he could manage lately was to straddle the murky middle between fulfilling some compulsions to the point he could ignore the others, and hope not to get sick in the process. A delicate process that he was not altogether very successful at.

He nodded, only half paying attention at first till the last part drew him in. “I get you there. I’ve got a mind to do the same.. Once I get other things sorted.” Cleon said, rocking forward in his chair as he did, and balancing on the edge so he could stretch out his legs. The thought got him feeling a little restless, though that was tempered somewhat by Naadiya’s open offer.

“Bread if theres any left.” He said simply, going back to watch the rain until she got back. Although he didn’t feel very hungry in that moment, he knew it would do his stomach some good to have something on it if they were to continue on as they were, which he had every intention of doing now that it had some momentum to it. When she came back, he welcomed the sight of the tray with a smile as he pinched off a pair of grapes and tossed them back into his mouth. He didn’t immediately bite into them though, instead rolling them over on his tongue before tentatively squeezing them between his teeth till the skin broke. When he realized how soft they were, he readily munched them down, a dribble of juice running out the corner of his lips before he swiped the back of his hand across his mouth.

“A lot of interesting fruit here, yeah?” He said as he gave the candle a shot, holding it at an angle to the pipe like he was pouring water out of a pitcher so it didn’t dump its contents into the bowl. It was a lot easier after that to manage than the tinder, though it changed the flavor a little, but not enough that he could readily pick out through the hazy that currently clouded the contents of his mind. He enjoyed the smoke much the same as he always had, before reclining back with a couple more grapes in his palm.

“We’re going to stay. I found myself a decent job over at the Surf shop, and Faye is going to get some experience helping around the settlement till she finds something she likes. What about yourself? I know you said your getting a place but what brought you here? Me and Faye were traveling until we came to somewhere I thought we’d have a good opportunity. That’s here I guess.” He said somewhat non-commitally as he looked out onto the sea.

“What do you got planned for the rest of the day?” He asked as the beginnings of an idea formed in his mind.

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Mists of morning (Naadiya)

Postby Naadiya on April 11th, 2022, 10:50 pm

Cleon had been yet another person to mention the Outpost and Naadiya mentally kicked herself for not having explored the market-city’s streets yet. Now she had a whole other reason to visit the merchants. Had she been even a tiny bit more like her father, it likely would have been the first place he would have visiting upon hearing of its existence, but alas she hadn’t.

When he spoke of his own shortcomings in the gardening world, Naadiya had to admit she had no such skills either. In her mind, Sykan soil seemed so fertile they would only drop the seeds in the ground, sprinkle a little water or just wait for the rain and come back the next day to a full grown crop. Her family had never been one of the few that were permanently stationed in one spot in the desert, and so never focused on the growing of crops. Her appreciation for things that grow, however, became all the stronger for their scarcity. But this lack of the fundamentals of farming, combined with the shocking lush that Syka threw in one’s face every waking moment, made Naadiya think that the divinely touched soil did the job on its own.

“No…. I’m no farmer either. If the seeds are cheap enough, though, I might just get some and sprinkle them around and hope for the best…. These all grew phenomenally fast and there was no one who actually came and planted and water and cared for them,” she said, gesturing to the protea flowers that bordered the inn from all sides. It was hard to look outside without seeing the bursts of pink and yet there was no need of fertilizing, pruning or watering.

They certainly have no need for watering… she thought, looking out into the current shower. But would the blue vein seeds think it was too much water?

The two continued to converse but also let long periods of silence fill the air. It was neither an awkward or tense silence as their hazy minds drifted off on their own, occasionally being pulled back to reality by the invisible tide.

She nodded when Cleon mentioned the local fruit, taking a few grapes herself. After she’d chewed and swallowed a couple she yawned absentmindedly, “not just fruit. There are all sorts of vegetables, flower and even grains. Syka seems to lack for nothing that requires rich soil, water and sunlight.”

The surf shop had been a fairly new addition to the settlement, Naadiya could recall watching it being built, though she lacked the skills to actually help raised the shop. Surfing seemed a little too much for her. Naadiya could barely pull off floating in water, the deep blue posed too much of a risk for her to consider the aquatic leisure activities some of the locals enjoyed. She couldn’t remember who had suggested that she should try to paddle board, but the idea hadn’t left Naadiya entirely.

“Can you surf?” She asked, knowing it would, of course, not be a requirement for working at the store.

“If Faye has any interest in weaving, send her my way, Dawn, the local weaver-extraordinaire, hasn’t been feeling well.”

Naadiya considered not answering his questions entirely, letting the non-answers speak for themselves, but a combination of the smoke and the drink loosened her up enough that the woman shrugged as she replied.

“I left the desert looking for my father. I didn’t intend to stop here, but the ship I was on decided this was as far as my fare would take me. At the time I was pretty broke and couldn’t afford any other options but staying. I suppose, now I have the coin to leave, but I don’t know where to go. I don’t know how I thought I would find him with so little to go on, and returning to Eyktol now just seems like failure. I keep telling myself it’s going to take time and patience is generally a trait I have well in hand… but sometimes….” She trailed off

“You’ve probably found the right place, opportunities and exotic produce are both things we have plenty of, over here.”

Naadiya helped herself to one final puff, mentally patting herself on the back for the candle idea. She held the smoke in as long as she could before letting it out in a cone of white swirls. With eyes closed, she let herself enjoy the heady feeling for a few moments before looking over at Cleon.

“I was hoping to go to the site my place will be built on. I noticed several very interesting looking flowers and the whole area smells like a someone plopped a bakery inside a flower shop. I thought I could maybe track down Uta to help me make sense of what is what. She’s pretty good at knowing what you can touch and what will poison you. Actually would you want to come? An extra set of eyes, ears and hands is always helpful. I just wanted to wait for the rain to clear up a little, it’s a little too heavy right now.”

Seemingly in response to her words, the rain lightened.

“Oh… well, if there was ever a sign from Makutsi…” she started getting up and gathering anything she’d need to bring inside. “I’m going to start getting ready. The drizzle is getting lighter and lighter, maybe by the time we get ready it would have even cleared.”

Back in her room, Naadiya got dressed in a white isuas long sleeved top and pants of the same material and color. Gloves had been stuffed in a left side pant pocket and a small knife in the right. She swept her long dark hair back and held it secured in a tight bun with a collection of tiny pins.

Naadiya grabbed a bag and threw a few other things inside that she thought might be useful including her journal, a couple of charcoal sticks for writing and a few small jars in case she wanted to take something to look at later. When she was ready, Naadiya went to Cleon’s room door and knocked a couple of times before trying the door handle.

“Hey, are you ready? I was going to wait by the front door.”

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Mists of morning (Naadiya)

Postby Cleon on April 14th, 2022, 4:26 pm

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It was pleasant. This was pleasant. The smoke, the drink, the company as the rain pelted down onto the roof above their heads. He could’ve almost forgotten about what he planned to do today, and simply relax there on the deck with Naadiya. Perhaps he would do just that, at least for as long as she stayed because this felt better than anything else he was used to over the past several days. He chuckled at the idea of him being a gardener, a role he couldn’t see himself feasibly fulfilling ever, although it was fun enough to entertain while they were tossing ideas about.

“I’m learning. Its not all that bad actually, although Randal doesn’t trust me on the sea just yet. He warns to water is too dangerous around this time of year so I’m practicing in the community pool for now.” Cleon said. “I’m not much of a swimmer either, but I can keep my head above water.” The comment was quickly followed by a chuckle as Cleon stretched out his legs, limbering them up so he could feel a little less stiff around the knees. Sitting down for such a long period of time apparently did not agree with him so well.

“Faye would love that, I’ll let her know. I hope everything is alright with Dawn, she was nice enough when Faye came around to pick out clothes.” Cleon said, and avoided thinking too much about that day by taking another sharp tasting drink that made him grimace slightly. It was hard to really get used to that burn, no matter how hard he tried. He had never been to the desert, their route didn’t take them that far, and to be honest, it wasn’t like he had much of a desire to visit. In fact he’d never known anyone from that land or headed in that direction although he knew of it vaguely as he’d been asked on the trip if he was going that far. He felt for her journey however. It seemed like a lot of Sykans he had met here so far were looking for something, a piece of themselves that they hoped to find here, or maybe that was just him projecting.

As restless as her words had made him, he felt primed to see this land Naadiya talked about, if only to get moving and on with his day instead of wasting away on this deck all morning. “Of course, I’ve been meaning to see Uta anyways and this would give me a convenient excuse.” Cleon admitted, recalling that she was one how James had mentioned sometime ago to help him get acquainted with the area. Gods only knew he needed it, as there was still so much about the jungle he had yet to understand, and he wanted to be prepared before he went off bumbling into it.

With that agreed upon, Cleon returned to his room to find Faye had wandered off, likely to Oralie’s room if he had to guess. He decided not to worry about it too much for now as he didn’t expect this trip would be a long one, and walked around the room to gather a few things. His supplies were a bit of a mess actually, stored haphazardly about the room although he did his best to pack most of which he thought he needed into the bag, and some of which he probably didn’t but decided to bring anyways. He was still packing when he heard a knock at his door. Then he heard the latch and turned about to see Naadiya there in the threshold.

“I’ll be just another couple of chimes, I’ll meet you by the front.” Cleon assured and quickly started stripping into a plain linen shirt and trousers he had borrowed sometime ago but couldn’t quite remember now from who. Whomever they belonged to, they hadn’t come back to Cleon for them, and they were far more comfortable to wear than his old clothes. Of course he had the ones made of Isuas that Oralie had bought for him, but he wasn’t yet comfortable with the idea of wearing those clothes, so the linen ones were his go to choice for now.

When he came outside, he had his pack on his back slightly eschew with the handle of an axe protruding from the top flap while the machete was tied across the side of the pack. He wasn’t sure what all he needed so he figured it was best to come as prepared as possible for the journey. Out front he found Naadiya whom he favored with a slight smile as he nodded. “Alright, I’m ready to go. Where to first?”

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Mists of morning (Naadiya)

Postby Naadiya on April 27th, 2022, 7:26 pm

Surfing was far beyond what Naadiya felt comfortable with. While she had continuously told herself she would need to learn to swim before trying to even paddle board, it had never happened. She had remained very much a creature of land.

Where is that Svefra lineage when I need it?

Naadiya had even thought that swimming would have been one of those things that just instinctively came easily to her. All that was necessary would be a plunge into the ocean and the blood in her veins would trigger sudden buoyancy… or something to that effect. Her experience in the water so far seemed to prove otherwise, however.

“Dawn doesn’t have it as bad as some of the others, but don’t tell her I said that. As long as she doesn’t touch the material she is fine and since Tony is in a similar predicament, if they just got someone to take all the potentially allergens out of the house, they could consider this a vacation… Of course Dawn won’t see it that way though… maybe she will fill her time caring for the kids in some way, she seems to have the mothering trait. "

It hadn’t taken them long to get ready, and once they were, the two headed out of the inn with only slightly sluggish steps.

“So…” Naadiya started, as they walked down the Cobbled Pathway, “I haven’t actually been to her place before, Uta’s I mean. But Juli kind of told me how to find it…”

Heading west, the route they took, while less scenic than the beach, was much faster as the solid ground quickened their pace.

“She said we could reach it from the beach too, but that it would be easier from the path,” Naadiya thought out loud.

They went passed the docks, and beyond the Commons and when they reached the Panacea, Naadiya turned to Cleon, “Almost there.”

Ahead of them the path forked to the right but Naadiya remembered Juli’s words and kept going forward. It was the soft far-off sound of running water that alerted Naadiya that they were very close now. “Her place is built over a stream, so we find the stream, we find Uta. I hope she is home…”

The brook came before them, spilling out into the ocean to their left. Looking at the incline between them and the shore, Naadiya quietly thanked Juli for suggesting this path instead of the beach. They turned right and headed upstream and before she had expected it, Naadiya saw the platform that hung over the water.

Looking further up, she saw smoke and smiled, “I think she is home.”

At Uta’s front door, Naadiya gave a tap-tap knock but heard no response and knocked again, “Uta?”

The wooden door swung open inwards and Naadiya hesitated for a second, not recognizing the woman in front of her. The asymmetrical and dual-toned hair style she had been known for having, in the settlement, was no longer there. Blonde hair was bundled in a mass she had swept to the back of her head.

“Uta?” Naadiya repeated, realizing she had never had an opportunity to study the woman’s face and had relied on the hair more than anything else.

“Yes…?” Uta answered, impatience peaking it’s ugly head.

“Uh, Juli said we might find you here” Naadiya said, recovering and thankful she could fall back and blame her initial hesitation on not having formally met the botanist yet. “I’m Naadiya, this is Cleon. We were hoping you would be able to help find out what some of the plants near my new building site are. People say you are the best.”

She could feel a movement in her pocket and slapped at it, not looking to see what kind of bug it could have been.

“There are these wonderfully fragrant orange blooms that are speckled like a jungle cat, those I’m pretty sure are harmless but there were other patches of growth I was too scared to touch unaided.”

A soft slicing sound was heard and before she could even see what had happened, Naadiya’s knife had slit a hole in her pocket and flew at Uta, tip-first.

The botanist’s eyes flashed with fear but she slammed the door shut just in time. Naadiya’s blade was stuck in the wood and she reached for it, trying to pull it out and looking over at Cleon, “I swear I didn’t do that! You saw me! It was in my pocket!”

The groan that came from behind the door seemed angry at the universe more than Naadiya specifically, “it’s not you… I don’t know why but certain metal objects have been doing that of late. I had to have people help me bury all my metal things just in case.”

Naadiya bit her lip. Even Uta had been hit with whatever had plagued many of the others. She yanked out the blade from the door. “Where did you bury everything else?”

If Naadiya had been asked such a question in Uta’s own position, she would have remained tight lipped most likely. How else to dissuade potential thieves? But in Syka, any theft would be quickly nipped in the bud the moment it was noticed and Uta’s reply came without pause.

“Ten yards down the stream, you are going to see a rock that is almost entirely covered in moss near the tree that is basically only being held up by the strangler vine around it. Under the stone.”

It sounded like a treasure hunt, but at the end she would receive nothing and indeed would lose her knife. Worst treasure hunt ever.

“Do you have anything you want me to put with the rest of the metal while we are with Uta?” Naadiya asked Cleon. She would offer to take it for him before coming back if he wanted to use that time to talk to the botanist.

She’d had to make very rough estimates when trying to eyeball the distance she had to walk before finding the stone. The dying tree was a phenomenal marker, as it had clearly been large at one time, but the vines that grew around it dwarfed even their host tree. Under the stone, Naadiya saw that Uta might have been trusting but she was no fool. The chest she found contained some trade tools, some cookery and a few tools for venturing the wild but Uta had been astute enough to hide her gold elsewhere.

Lacking any metal, Naadiya returned to the house and waved both hands in the air as if to say ‘I’m clean’. When she saw Uta, the woman had slipped on a boiled leather cuirass over her top and matching leather guards around her thighs, her neck similarly wrapped protectively.

The blonde came out of the house and looked at Naadiya with a nod. She had given Cleon a blade made of carved ashta ivory and handed Naadiya a similar one. “We can use these if we need them but I don’t have anything we could use to cut out way through the jungle that isn’t metal.”

Naadiya took the ivory blade and strapped it to her belt, her sliced pocket effectively useless, “We won’t need to, Artik and I cut a path through just yesterday, it can’t be too difficult if we use the same path.”

When she said his name, Naadiya realized that was who Uta was reminding her of. The mass of blonde hair haphazardly stuffed in a bun that stuck out for some reason. His was constantly gaining length while hers only lacked any king of styling but they both showed their owner’s recent distress.

Naadiya and Cleon, walked back the path they had taken, this time with Uta following behind them, the latter looking almost ready for battle in her leathers. Once they passed the Community Pools, the group veered to the left heading north until the recently cleared path revealed itself. Even though they were still close to the town center, Naadiya felt a little uneasy having only an ivory knife for protection. She was starting to wish she too had battle leathers protecting her more sensitive spots.

We will make this a quick and quiet trip into the green. No unnecessary risks. Just taking inventory of the nearby plants would be good.

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Mists of morning (Naadiya)

Postby Cleon on April 28th, 2022, 2:37 am

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Cleon nodded. “It definitely has turned everything around. I honestly don’t know what to expect from Syka when we’ve got all of these curses sorted out.” He considered before leaving to go get ready. Once they were underway with talk of their curses properly behind them, Cleon didn’t find it particularly difficult to ride out the rest of his high as they walked along the pathway. Perhaps that was why it took him so long to say something about Uta’s when he knew the way all along.

“James gave us a pretty through tour of the settlement when we first embarked but your memory is good, Juli must have given you some decent directions.” Cleon said as they went along, adjusting the straps to his pack as they went. He hadn’t quite grown used to the weight, and although he was eating considerably better over the past several days, that hadn’t caught up to him yet beyond putting on several pounds. There was still a sufficient lack of muscle mass that he hoped would come with his work at the surf shop.

It wasn’t exactly a far trip all things considered. There was still much of Syka he didn’t visit on a daily basis because often he was too tired to stray far from the commons. This however wasn’t so much of a hike as it was a long walk that went by quickly thanks to his current levels of intoxication. The long walk had a dual purpose of allowing him to sober up somewhat before they arrived at Uta’s, something that the heat also helped with as he practically sweat out what was left in his system.

Crossing to Uta’s place was a lot more spectacular than he was expecting. She had chosen the location for her home well as they had to take a rope bridge across which left him only slightly uneasy until he had made his way safely to the other side.

Naturally, Cleon let Naadiya lead the conversation as he was pretty sure he would just petch it up and he was more or less along for the ride at this point. However, like Naadiya, he noticed something very peculiar as they drew near. Namely a tugging from his backpack that grew more insistent the closer he got to Uta. He was about to check just what it was, worried that some animal might have dropped into his bag when there was a flicker of motion and a profound thud against the door.

Cleon was just as stunned as she was, staring at the blade embedded in the door as Uta explained her particular malady. Suddenly it made a lot more sense about the movement in his backpack as he knew that he had packed a hatchet and machete, along with a few coins just in case. When Naadiya asked for metal, he carefully took off his backpack, setting it on the ground away from Uta before reaching in and making sure he had a firm grip on each implement before he handed it over to Naaidya for safe removal. Then when the woman had gone, he was left standing there with a very disheveled Uta, wondering exactly what he should say to this woman he had been sort of anxious about meeting.

“So, uh James mentioned that I should consult you about going into the jungle sometime. Just to see what its like you know.” Cleon mumbled.

“Sure, uh what is it you exactly want to do?” She asked after taking a moment to compose herself.

“I guess just learn how to travel across it, what to watch out for, what I should be doing, y’know, just in case I need to.” Cleon said.

“Okay, yeah I’ll show you how to put together a pack sometime, and we can go on a short trip to give you some pointers. Maybe wait till I figure whatever this is out though.” She waved ambiguously at herself before nodding at the door. Naadiya had come back. Cleon turned towards the woman, inclining his head slightly as he slipped back on his pack.

It didn’t take them long to get back on the path they had just came down, and then they were off to wherever Naadiya had decided to stake out her claim. The idea had him thinking about where he might want to stake out his own claim one day when he got the coin for it. He couldn’t really picture it now, but the thought of him and Faye having a nice place of their own was a warming thought. Faye would certainly like a room of her own, he knew that without even having to ask her. As they settled into their walk, Cleon found himself looking forward to seeing the spot Naadiya had picked out.

“So what sort of place are you thinking of building?” Cleon asked after several chimes had passed.

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Mists of morning (Naadiya)

Postby Naadiya on May 10th, 2022, 8:23 pm

As they walked away from Uta’s place, Naadiya led the way again, with the other two not far behind. Soon, orange joined the green around them and Naadiya could tell by the blooms that they were getting closer. With gloved hands, Naadiya grabbed a stem and sliced into its side with her ivory knife. It was not as smooth of a cut as she would have gotten with a steel blade, but it was better than using her finger nails. Holding the stem of flowers she held them out to Uta after taking a deep whiff of the speckled petals. A tiny orange beauty mark was left behind on her cheek from where the flower’s stamen had kissed her.

Uta’s jaw dropped slightly, an almost horrified look reaching her eyes. She reached into her bag and pulled out a gauzy mask and slipped it over the lower part of her face. She fabric was sheer and did not impede her speech as she shook her head.

“If you keep sniffing every plant we come across like that, we may end up having to drag your twitching body back to the healers, stupid child.”

There had been no malice in her tone and indeed Naadiya didn’t feel insulted, she only paused at the word ‘child’. It was true that there was a difference in how Uta held herself and the hint of a rasp in the back of her voice that made Naadiya thing the woman had been older than herself, but ‘child’. Surely there could not be such a gap between the two. Or maybe she had only been mocking the girl for being foolish?

Uta took the stem between careful fingertips encased in fabric and peered at the petals for a few seconds before shrugging.

“You’ll be fine, I’m sure these are just tiger lilies. Some people get allergic around them but you literally have pollen on your face and haven’t sneezed. These won’t give you any anaphylactic shock, but there some plants in these jungles that will… so no more deep whiffs of yet unidentified specimens, please!”

She looked around at the multitude of lilies in full bloom and reached into her bag for some spare masks, then handed them to the other two if they wanted.

“Spring time in Syka. We may come across a lot more pollen, not all of it is guaranteed to be harmless.”

Naadiya took the mask and wiped her face of the orange pollen before slipping the white gauze on and tying cords behind her head.

“Another note, no touching things you don’t recognize unless you are gloved up, we have a variety of local plants that are as beautiful as they are poisonous and not all of them even need to be eaten to cause their damage. Absolutely do not let any part of an unknown plant touch your bare skin, let alone your face.”

Uta continued to walk and Naadiya went along, though now, it was the botanist who lead the way.

“The tiny colorful frogs, I’m sure you’ve seen one here and there… they are just adorable aren’t they? Blue ones and red ones and striped one and spotted one! Adorable! With their tiny beady eyes and their little toes! Adorable! They are all poisonous! Do not touch! In fact, great rule of thumb when it comes to small animals in the rainforest, if they are colorful, do not touch! Of course, its always best not to touch anything regardless of color, unless you already know what it is or have protection, but bright colors in particular…poison dart frogs, Sykan wasps, ever heard of a Cow Killer? These little bright red fat ants, we have Ashta Killers here… they are a little bigger…. We are going to want to avoid those….”
Naadiya swallowed hard. She had definitely seen the tiny adorable frogs before and had definite been tempted to try to befriend one. Syka had a way of disarming you with its beauty and comforts and then very quickly smacking you with a deadly reality.

“Keep your eyes open and alert but often in the forest, your hearing is just as important if not more in terms of warning you of what’s to come, and often, of what you can’t see. Keep your ears open for any sounds… and look out for Gympie Gympie…. I recently found a couple of patches closer to the river and…. Well, we don’t want to touch that at all, they don’t call it The Suicide Plant for nothing.”

Having never had heard of this plant before, Naadiya immediately clenched everything in her body that could be clenched. With a hint of tension seeping into her voice her asked, “Uta… what does this Gympie look like?”

“Green leaves… often close to the ground but sometimes it can creep up if its growing by a tree or rock formation. Sometimes you can see the tiny little needles but not always…”

“Needles?” She asked, more uncertain than before. Green leaves that could be close to the ground or not… how descriptive… they were surrounded by green leaves. Uta did not seem hesitant of where she walked, but now Naadiya became much more conscious of trying to step just where the blonde had placed her feet.

“Well, hairs really… but they are they are hollow inside and filled with toxin, when you touch it the hairs are so fine they pierce the skin and break off inside. I’ve been told the pain is excruciating and akin to burning hot needles pecking at the affected area… And the hairs are so fine and weightless, they can even be carried by the air. Imagine what could happen if you inside them or if they come into contact with your eyes… not pretty. Oh yes! That reminds me, try to avoid touching your eyes as much as possible, you never know what could be lingering on your fingertips! I have a small waterskin in case we need to wash anything off, but be warned that it will do little good as a remedy for anything.”

The clearing opened up a bit to reveal an area where the canopy parted to reveal sky. A large burnt tree lay on its side having been struck down by lightning before Artik had ever found the spot. She and Artik had already started clearing some of the fallen dead debris from the tree and moved it further away where it would decompose and return to the earth but the majority of the trunk still lay there.

Syna protect me, this place is much more dangerous than I thought She gave a silent prayer looking up at the patch of sky with the sun shining down on them. The hole in the canopy would be good omen, she had decided. An auspicious place to build her home. The skies had sent down lightning to mark a spot and cleared the line of sight of the sun goddess.

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