Closed Jungle Parkour (Cleon)

Tazrae can't take it much longer and leads a youngster out into the jungle.

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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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Jungle Parkour (Cleon)

Postby Tazrae on March 23rd, 2022, 2:02 am

Timestamp: 35th of Spring, 522 A.V.


The sun hadn’t even hit midday yet, though Tazrae had enjoyed a full morning. There was a bonfire dinner on the beach planned for later in the day that Taz had left signs up for. Wood had been gathered and piled on the sand above the tideline. She’d dragged chairs down and with her Ixam form had moved long logs of driftwood over in a semicircle so that the guests could enjoy dinner for themselves. There were franks to roast over the fire and she’d baked buns so there was a basket of them for the guests to snuggle their roasted franks into before they topped them.

All the frank fixings were dished up already made so that Oralie could carry them down to the beach on the big tray. Taz had even cut sticks to impale the franks with so that none of the guests had to bother. She’d left careful instructions on the icebox for Oralie when dinner prep was needed. A giant bowl of fruit salad lay in the icebox chilling, and there were squares of graham, marshmallow, and chocolate for deserts. She’d even fried thin slices of potato for chips to go with the meal and had left the fried chips in a huge covered bowl on the counter.

All that extra work hadn’t helped Tazrae.

Restless didn’t begin to describe Tazrae’s mood. Even after all that, Taz still hadn’t worn herself out. She was having trouble sleeping. Her appetite had completely left her. And she worried almost non-stop about everything. And worse than anything, there was no one to talk to about her issues. After the fourth time, she’d paced the deck of the Protea, she was more than ready to spend some time in the jungle and get away from the sand and the sea for a time. Chores had been done. Breakfast had been fed to the guests. Lunch in the form of chilled meat rolls was waiting in the icebox. There was no reason to stay.

Whirling she paused when she saw Cleon lurking on the deck in the shadows watching her. He was young, but she didn’t dislike the boy. She admired the way he fiercely defended his sister and honestly thought Faye incredibly lucky to have the protector. She’d have given a great deal to have a brother or a sister like the young man. Randal or someone… she wasn’t sure who now that she thought of it… had cautioned her about him. The man had said he reminded him of an addict, nervous and waiting for his next fix. Taz could see that in his face. His eyes were watchful, nervous, edgy… but he had the same restless energy she had.

Taz paused as an idea formed. Instead of ignoring the boy knowing he’d forget her the moment she was out of sight, she headed straight for him and approached. “I can’t stand here another moment, Cleon. I know you don’t know me. My curse is that people forget me as soon as I’m out of their sight. It’s like their memory is completely erased. But I know you. This is my Inn… and I can’t sit still for another moment. I’m going into the jungle… I need to run. I need to be wild. I need to feel the sun on my face filtered through the trees. I need to move until I can’t move any longer. Would you like to come? You have ten chimes to get changed into some leather boots, long pants, and a container of water… maybe in a pack of some sort. If you want to come with me… we can run.” She said, moving with him, making sure she stayed within his sight.

"Come with me into my room… all I need to do is get better footgear and grab my pack. I’ll wait within sight for you if you want to go.” She said eagerly, glancing westward already, charting her course in her mind. There were things she could show the young man… things they could run to, jump, play with… she just had to keep him in sight.

Explaining about her curse might help. If he was off his compass rose center on his own curse, then perhaps together he’d just believe her that he actually might know her and go with her. If not, she’d run alone. “I’ll wait right here… within your view if you want to go.” She said, waiting for him to decide.

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Jungle Parkour (Cleon)

Postby Cleon on March 23rd, 2022, 3:02 pm

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Cleon had always known life to be a zero-sum game. If there was a good to be had, there was always a proportionate cost, even if it wasn’t immediately known. Such was the case with coming to Syka. In exchange for all of the advantages this place offered them they had been cursed. By what, or by whom, or how he didn’t know, but the why he was pretty sure of. It was the balance. As inevitable a force as fate ever was. There was no escaping it, so it did no good for him to fret endlessly over it.

However there was a fine line to be drawn between what he knew logically, and what he knew emotionally. Emotionally he was beyond pissed over what had been done to his sister. She’d been through two complete life cycles already, her second concluding last night with her emerging as a baby just as she had the first time. He thought he had been mentally prepared for that change. Thought that he should be glad that she was no longer old, frail and in pain, but.. Petch.. Petch all that noise. He was pissed.

So after leaving the infant Faye with Oralie, Cleon had gone out onto the deck to think, and settled his nerves with a smoke. To his surprise, he spotted a woman with her back to him and he took a quick stock of himself. He was dressed rather simply, a linen shirt and trousers that he’d borrowed from a man he hadn’t really talked to. His feet remained bare, and dirty. His hair was an unkempt mess of tangles on his head. Also there was a semblance of a beard on his face, though it was definitely patchy. The only thing he really had going for him was the fact that he’d gained a few inches and put on much needed weight thanks to the good food and exercise.

As a total package, he realized rather quickly that he wasn’t that attractive but that didn’t stop him from looking as his pipe went forgotten in his pocket. His look didn’t end up lasting very long before the woman turned around and noticed him leering at her. Clenching his jaw, Cleon took a hesitant step back as he braced for the reprimand that was certainly coming from a woman walking with such purpose towards him. He considered briefly running back into the Inn but then she was standing right there.

His jaw dropped as she spoke his name and he studied her lips rather carefully. The nervous reaction came naturally to him having used it a number of times in his childhood as a way to avoid abuse. He was trying to do that now, only there was no abuse. Quite the contrary. There was an invitation. Cleon cocked his head curiously as he dared to scrutinize the woman’s face further only to find himself unable to recognize her even a little bit. Her story while strange did ring with some truth though. He and Faye hadn’t been the only ones afflicted. Several people had in fact, each with a unique curse. So when it was between believing this was a clever con, and believing she was telling the truth about her curse, he decided to go for the later. He told himself it was because she had an honest face, but in reality it certainly hadn’t hurt her chances that she was pretty too.

“Sure.. I’ll come” He said as the gears started to turn in his mind, and he realized a couple of important points as he started following her. First, his bag wasn’t properly packed. His survival kit was littered across the floor of his bedroom along with other critical pieces he would need. The second which probably should have been the first was the fact that he’d saddled Oralie with baby Faye, whom mentioned taking her for a walk down the beach. It caused him a sudden wave of anxiety that propelled his hands along subconsciously to start searching for his pipe in his trousers. Once he’d found the outline, he started to withdraw it into the palm of his hand.

During this bit of mental gymnastics, they had arrived at her quarters where the woman already had a bag packed. Cleon stood in the doorway.

“Do you mind if I smoke here?” He asked, then a tick later almost as if he hadn’t, he took out the pipe and then digging into his right pocket, pulled out a pinch of Blue Vision that he promptly stuffed into the bowl before promptly cheeking the mouth piece and a quarter of the stem. Then he patted his pockets further as he balanced the pipe between his pursed lips before realized he’d forgot tinder as well the flint and steel he would need to light it with.

Cleon gave the woman an embarrassed smile as he slowly stopped searching his pockets and let his arms hang loose at his sides.

“So my room next?” He asked around the pipe, then wiped a bit of drool from the corner of his mouth with the back of his hand. He left the pipe there. “Do you think we can stop by Oralie’s room and leave a note?” Cleon didn’t figure that would be a problem as it was on the way, though he was cognizant of the woman’s urgency if anything else. Of course he also felt more than a little anxiety growing back within him at having her in his room in its current state, but that couldn’t be helped given her curse.

He swallowed as he realized he forgot something else.

“Um.. Ack!” Cleon pulled the pipe out of his mouth, and coughed briefly before continuing. “You don’t have anything to write with do you?” If she didn’t, it was no big deal as he’d left Oralie with Faye a number of times already and trusted her to take good care of his sister. If she did, he would ask her to hold his pipe while he hastily scrawled a barely legible note to shove under Oralie’s door. Then they would continue on to his room where he would hastily try shoving the things he thought needed into his pack. Which was basically him trying to shove everything inside unless Tazrae stopped him. Next would come him pulling on the thick, high topped boots he’d gotten at the Mercantile before he turned around to follow her. While he didn’t feel quite as prepared as he should be, he certainly was excited to follow a beautiful mysterious woman out into the jungle. Almost excited enough to forget about his pipe that had ended up on his bed in the middle of the frantic packing. He made sure to grab before they got going.

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Jungle Parkour (Cleon)

Postby Tazrae on March 29th, 2022, 5:23 am

Taz shook her head. “Go ahead and smoke.” She said, knowing he wouldn’t have time once she got started with their run. When she realized he didn’t have any fire, Taz carefully reached out her hand and in an act of complete concentration, oozed a bit of Res out of her fingertip and reached up questioningly to his pipe and let the Res soak into his packed bowl. When the Blue Vision was completely inundated with the Res, she sparked it to life with a simple thought and lit his pipe for him. “Fire Reimancy is handy for smokers.” She said softly then took a step back, following him to his room. While he smoked, she leaned against the door jamb admiring the mess he had strewn about. Cleon had to be under twenty. His face was sharp and angled, like he’d known hunger and hardship, but he still had some boyish qualities about him. Handsome, she thought, when he started filling out and got his fully adult features. Some mother somewhere should be very proud… Taz decided as she gestured at the mess scattered around.

“The first lesson in jungle survival is if you think you might need it to survive overnight, take it. Pack everything you need to make sure you have a complete survival kit. If you don’t know what should constitute one of those, I can definitely go over it with you. Then we’ll need waterskins and I’ll grab some bars from the icebox that are made for traveling… dried fruit, nuts, grains, and chocolate. And we can definitely stop by Oralie’s room and leave her a note. You’ll need to write it though.” Taz added, gesturing across the area. “Just because I have to get out of here before these walls close in, doesn’t mean you don’t take the time to prepare correctly and that includes giving Oralie a note about Faye. I saw she was an infant again. I can’t believe how … miserable that must be for her.” Taz said softly. “I have plenty of writing materials. You are welcome to all you need. There’s a little drawer in the kitchen next to what used to be my office that has parchment, quills, and ink in it. We can stop there on the way to Oralie’s room.” Taz said, waiting for Cleon to finish packing up his bag and put on some heavy boots.

Once that was done, she led the way to the kitchen, where she got out parchment, ink, and quill and then stepped back from the counter so he could pen his note. She’d follow him into Oralie’s room to leave the note, then, with a sense of urgency perhaps only Cleon would understand with his addictions hitting him hard, Taz dragged him out the nearest door. They headed out onto the deck, and down into the green of the tropical jungle all around them. She threw him a smile, adjusted her backpack so its straps hugged her form, and checked to make sure she had her machete and the small hand ax.

“Ready?” She asked, wanting him to really want to be with her at the moment. When he indicated he was, Taz took off at a light jog. She kept her pace relatively moderate, so she could talk, and she headed straight for the cobbled path so she could cross it and lead him deep into the jungle.

“The first thing you have to know about the jungle, Cleon, is that you move here differently than you move other places. Bend, twist… move your body, ducking, jumping… we are better here if we are more flexible.” Taz said, moving through the brush as if there was a trail where there actually wasn’t one. She twisted around a tree, ducked a bunch of foliage, and then leaped up onto a log from a fallen giant and ran down its length, beckoning her companion to come with her.

“Feel it? Feel the wildness of it?” She asked, moving, but not quickly, almost conserving their strength for a longer path as she took them northwest from the Inn. “I have this bracelet…. “ Taz said, flashing up the golden bracelet encircling her right wrist. “It doesn’t come off… but this small snake charm here?” She said, jumping off the log and slowing to a brisk walk for a moment to show him… “The snake charm lets me sense the presence of snakes within a hundred feet… Dhani too. I get an awareness of where they are.” She said thoughtfully and paused… reaching out to grab his hand and drag him around another tree.

She stopped there, gesturing up, and Cleon could see a brilliantly green python curled up well past their heads. “It's an emerald tree python.” She said softly, then glanced at him. “I’ll keep us away from the poisonous ones if you stay close. I’m at home here… so nothing will attack us. But I’ll point out things I see you might find interesting…” She said, glancing around.

“Ready to go again?” She asked, digging the toe of her boot into the soft jungle soil as she glanced around as if randomly selecting a direction to start off in. “Let’s put some distance between us and the settlement.” She said, wanting to lose herself in the deep green. If he gave any indication, he was ready, she’d dart off… this time at a faster speed. Taz had learned a thing or two from Bree… traveling with the Ixam had taught her that the jungle didn’t need to be experienced in one dimension. If Ixam could run as they did, humans could adapt and do so well.

The path Tazrae took Cleon on wasn’t straight across the ground. Instead, she took him up into the trees. Which might have seemed odd, but there were access points to the levels above the ground… fallen trees, branches that were strong enough to hold a full-sized man running all-out… light jumps from boulders or stumps. Taz ran them through these obstacles, using the giant limbs as trails rather than the ground itself.

The Ixam had taught Tazrae well and she used the knowledge she’d achieved to lead Cleon on a path that wasn’t restrained to the ground. Up… then down, over, across random streams, with respites when they both got winded. Taz was in good shape, but she’d been in the jungle a few years and the fresh air, good water, and absolutely amazing diet had done wonders for her fitness.

Taz finally pulled them up at a rocky outcropping on the edge of a bunch of mounds that were just suddenly there in the jungle. The vegetation here wasn’t thick but was almost open as if this was some sort of lightly timbered meadow. She gave them a chance to breathe, then turned to him and grinned. “What are you thinking of all of this?” She asked, between breaths, ready to lead him across the mounds and maybe lead him over to visit Reclaimed Knowledge.

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"A mark of an open mind is being more committed to your curiosity than your conviction.
The goal of learning is not to shield old views against new facts, but to revise old views with new facts. Ideas are possibilities to explore, not certainties to defend. "


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Jungle Parkour (Cleon)

Postby Cleon on March 30th, 2022, 10:58 pm

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As his embarrassment shifted to curiosity, so too did his face change, contorting slightly in confusion as Tazrae extended her hand. While she was doing this she was looking his way, but it didn’t feel like she could really see him for the moment. Cleon started to wonder what was the matter, almost letting the pipe fall loosely from his mouth before his lips tamped shut as she reached towards the pipe. Then he watched as something shifted across her fingertip, then almost unnaturally slow started to drip into his pipe. Cleon’s eyes went wide.

This felt almost too intimate as he stared beyond her fingertip into those eyes that reminded him just how beautiful the sea can be. The.. Fluid was the only way he could describe it, it was difficult to pin down to any one hue, although with his mind where it was, it made him think of bottled sunlight. Like someone had taken a jar shortly before the sun went down and scooped the last bit of light off of the water. Then, with a flare of light, the moment for him was gone as he instinctively took a long pull on the stem of the pipe. It was lit alright Cleon thought as he took a lungful, then expressed it into a fit of coughs that he mostly managed to cover up into the crook of his arm. Once he had recovered himself, he had the presence of mind to look chagrined, alternating between smiling and frowning as if he couldn’t quite decide which he was feeling like presenting at that given moment.

“Sorry.. I, you uh, just caught me off guard. Thats um a neat trick you got there.” Cleon said, and was more than willing to leave it at that, verbally and consciously for that matter. He didn’t know what that just was, or why he felt about it the way he did. The only thing he was certain about was he didn’t want to delve into that now, certainly not now, and perhaps not ever.

His next draw from the pipe went way more smoothly as they walked to his room, and he presented Tazrae with his haphazard organization. It left a lot to be desired. Something Tazrae didn’t have a problem with pointing out which oddly didn’t irk him like it would coming from someone less.. Attractive. Instead he found he actually kind of liked that she was running the show.

With his pipe balanced precariously between his lips, he went over to start packing when he realized perhaps he didn’t know quite what he needed to grab. The kits came to mind, the tools, the- well shyke there were a lot of things actually that he might want to include.

“So um, about that offer, what all do I need to keep in this overnight bag?” Cleon asked somewhat sheepishly before puffing his pipe nervously. He didn’t want to think about the other thing. Not that. Not quite yet. Faye, well it had been undoubtedly more rough on her than it had been on him, and he was still more than a little tender about it. It lingered like a raw wound that refused to heal, and before too long it would get infected if he allowed it to fester but he wasn’t up for that challenge just yet.

As Tazrae walked him through what all needed to be included in his bag, he softened up on this point feeling more than a little bit amiable towards the woman now. He’d even gone so far as to put his pipe temporarily away so he wasn’t blowing smoke in her face while they worked together.

“Thank you for your concern about Faye. Everyone has just been so nice about it, but I know it is wearing on her. I’ll be glad when we can come to some sort of solution for this whole mess.” Cleon mused, partially to himself, partially opening up to this woman he felt like he’d only just met even after she’d explained her curse to him. Odd thing that, were emotionally he hadn’t quite caught up with what he knew mentally to likely to be true. Internals had always been funny like that, and he didn’t begin to pretend he understood any of it. As he packed the bag with her instruction, he’d try to steal a glance every now and then, to mayhaps catch her eye although he managed to restrain himself from wandering where he looked upon her. Poor woman had enough to deal with, and didn’t they all as a matter of fact?

Cleon almost let out a bitter chuckle, but sufficed too chew on the end of his thumbnail which had already been chewed to the quick earlier. There wasn’t much left aside from a thin ridge of skin at this point. It gave him a measure of focus though which he sorely needed at this point as lost he felt.

With his bag packed, he decided quickly to put the pipe back upon his bed as he realized exactly what this trip meant and didn’t want to lose the valuable device trampling through the jungle. So without so much as a sigh, he shouldered his pack, following Tazrae in the kitchen where they stocked up on a few odds and ends while Tazrae gave him leave to pen his note. He kept it exceptionally short and simple.

“Going out. Take care.” Cleon scrawled in large ungainly letters across the parchment, having to redo his lines a few times when the ink didn’t quite carry through a bold mark on the page. Then lifting it up, he frowned as the letters stopped running and froze for a moment before he started frantically blowing on it. He was self aware enough to laugh afterward, but it was a brief, bitter thing that vanished as quick as his smile as they moved to Oralie’s room to leave the note.

No sooner had he done that then he was being ushered out quickly outside where they stood for a long moment in the jungle scrub. He blinked several times, adjusting to the change before his eyes focused on Tazrae, and he gave a slow, but firm nod.

“Lets go. I’m interested in seeing what this jungle is all about.” Cleon said more glibly than he felt at that point, but he didn’t want her to think any more less of him than he already thought she did. Then she started jogging and Cleon did his best to carry on after her. While he’d done his share of running in his past, they were usually short experiences that lasted about as long as it took him to avoid getting caught, or alternatively, get caught. There wasn’t much reason to otherwise as he hadn’t had much of a social life growing up. This was, well it was a new experience obviously as they weren’t exactly running as fast they could. More like, they were traveling faster than they could be walking, which he supposed made sense given her urgency.

Whatever this was, he didn’t actually mind it. Maybe even he could find it a little fun, though he was left with more than a little trepidation as they crossed over the path and into the thick jungle. His heart was pounding steadily as they reached the next part, which was something he was more familiar with given his experiences with reasons to run. Even if the environment was drastically more different. Still, he made an honest effort of copying her through the jungle as he worked his way around the tree, crawled under a low hanging bunch of leaves, and then hopped unsteadily onto a log that he carefully tight rope walked across to reach her on the other side.

“I see what you mean.” Cleon said breathlessly as they slowed somewhat for her to explain something else to him. With all that had just occurred, the sequence of events as they were, he couldn’t help but be captivated by her every word standing wide eyed and slack jawed for most of the part about the snakes, and secretly hoped she just figured he was catching his breath.

When she took his hand, he didn’t know quite where this was going as they had only just started on their journey, but he followed her willingly enough. Then, obediently he cast his gaze where she pointed and after a long moment of staring at the spot, he managed to see the snake and felt his skin crawl at the realization. He remembered well now Jame’s words on the subject. It gave him an inkling about just why this jungle was so dangerous for the inexperienced and he was suddenly very glad that Tazrae had decided to take him along on this jungle jaunt. He needed this if they were going to survive here.

“For sure, after you.” He said with a slight bow, at a loss for words about anything else for the present moment as he started following her again through the jungle. How foolish he had been thinking that this was as hard as it got as Tazrae picked up the pace and started incorporating vertically in their movement. This was where Cleon’s fledgling experience left him as this was a far cry from climbing onto a ramshackle hut, or running up piles of debris. This required coordination and fitness that Cleon simply didn’t have although he did make a concerted effort to push himself as hard as possible in keeping up with her.

He’d never been so focused on something in all his life, or at least that was what it felt like as he trailed the woman carefully up gigantic branches as they crossed streams and other obstacles on the ground. She made it look almost effortless while his chest heaved like he’d run full sprint across Sunberth. As he labored for breath, he took their brief respites like a man lost at sea takes to fresh water. At a certain point quickly into their increased pace he gave up all pretense of being a more capable man than he was. His lungs burned to a degree that it made his eyes water as his heart hammered madly in his chest. It was all he could do to lean against a tree during their little rests to keep from passing out.

Clothes clinging to his skin, he’d keep trying to troop on while he wondered at this woman who continued to surprise him.She was certainly a very capable individual that had adapted to this strange environment.

He found himself briefly envious of her, then that feeling fluttered away as there wasn’t much room for feelings at the pace they were keeping. When they finally got to the next break point, Cleon put on a brave face as he struggled to keep up right and stop himself from breathing like a wounded animal. Then as he was hastily catching his breath, he looked over at her to give her a wide grin.

“Its a lot more to take in than I thought it would be. This.. Whew… its well, this spot is breathtaking.” Cleon said with a little chuckle as he leaned away from the edge of the outcropping, and letting his eyes roam over the thick jungle beyond. Stretching out his arms above his head, he rolled his left shoulder back briefly before he reached down to open his waterskin and take a quick swig.

“You.. I mean, do you do this everyday?” He asked more curious now that he had a moment to actually think, and he flexed his toes. Physically he felt better than he thought he would while in the process of their little run, and that surprised him a bit, though he didn’t doubt he would be feeling all of this later. He really needed to start getting out more.

“I..” He stopped, and smiled. “Thank you.” His eyes meeting hers before he steeled himself for whatever was next on their itinerary.


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Jungle Parkour (Cleon)

Postby Tazrae on March 31st, 2022, 4:51 am

Taz let the young man breathe. “Yes, I do this every day.” She said softly, giving him a smile. “And I’m going to teach you what I know.” She said with a smile, glancing around. “I love this place… this green expanse. It has a lot to offer a person if you just let it. Day or night, Cleon, the jungle is still the jungle. The only thing that changes is perspective. It’s the same with on the ground or not on the ground… perspective. I told you a bit about movement… loosen your hips, roll them, let your stride be loose and controlled. Deliberately place your footfalls.” She coached, then smiled, lifting her hand up and pointing out past them.

“Never stare at the person you are following. You don’t really see where you are going that way. It could be so easy out here to blindly follow me off a cliff, Cleon. You never want to do that. Instead, you have to learn to look at what’s ahead of you. Look past me, well and far ahead. Jungle travel is hard… probably the most difficult travel you’ll ever have. There are cenotes out here, cliffs, pits, all kinds of things you can’t see until you are literally on top of them. The vegetation will either give you no clue at all or scream that a pit is there. I should have made you wear gloves… your boots are solid. The gloves you need to protect your hands from thorns, scratches, bites, etc. Wear boots, wear gloves, and look ahead.” Taz said taking a breath.

“I have a pattern to my sight. I look ahead, further ahead, glance down, check behind me, and then I always look up. The biggest predators out here will come from above and you won’t even see them if you don’t know to look at them. You can’t get lost in your head out here. You can’t be overwhelmed with the idea that you are hungry, thirsty, lost… scared… wanting a smoke… wanting to put your cock into something. You have to be here, Cleon… here in the moment every moment or the next moment might be your last.” Taz cautioned him, being open and forthright. She didn’t want to shock him but she wanted him to understand how important what she was saying was.

She reached over and planted her hand on his shoulder… giving it a gentle squeeze. “These mounds are unusual. They are a landmark. If you know where they are in relation to the settlement you have suddenly found yourself unlost.” She added. “People think it’s a vast expanse of green… but it's not really. It can be and that can be completely overwhelming. But what you need to do is build a map in your head. Learn the land. There are paths out here that are bigger and more well-traveled than the Kabrin Road through Sylira. Animals use them though, not people, and all those animals are hungry and you are always a potential meal. So don’t forget that.” She added, then figuring his breath had been caught, she darted off at a jog, moving deliberately fast, pushing his endurance, wanting him to build up some strength.

“You’ll need a hand ax or a machete,” Taz said when a bit of time had passed. She’d circled them around the jungle mounds to the east, keeping them closer to the settlement. The ground here was flatter as if once upon a time this had been a vast field. There was almost no contour to the land other than the mounds that they passed. And it was odd that very little but low brush and forbes grew on them. A few trees had taken root, but they were smaller things as if there wasn’t as much to nourish them under the ground.

Taz took out her machete and handed it to Cleon. “Hold it loosely, like it's an extension of your arm. Loop the loop over your wrist so if you accidentally drop it the blade will fall but won’t be lost in the underbrush. Then when we get to this thicker vegetation coming up, I want you to start cutting your way through it with me. Don’t hack away at everything though… don’t always carry a weapon to do so with because it's tempting. Save your energy for the really thick vegetation. You don’t want to tire yourself out. Wait for the impassible vegetation and then hit with upswings, not downswings or side cuts because you will use a whole lot less energy. Also, it doesn’t take much to cut most vegetation out here. One cut is not violent hacking away, does it? Sound carries a long way out here so you don’t want to draw undue attention to yourself. Predators might mistake your hacking away for the thrashing of a distressed large animal… and that means food.” She said with a grin. “For them… not for you.” She said, demonstrating the slashing techniques with the hand ax she carried since she had handed him her machete.

The Innkeeper turned Wilderness Guide had slowed her stride to a walk so she could have the conversation with him. This was the most basic of basic information for being in the jungle… but she knew he was from the land of streets and buildings so basic is where they had to start. “Survival out here is mental, Cleon. If you lose your bearings, stop, refocus, and stay calm. If you find you start to feel afraid, tamp it down viciously because fear will cause you to do stupid things and you need your common sense.” She added, then tilted her head.

“If something is stalking you… climb.” She added, glancing up. “There were layers and layers of the jungle and the humans of Syka only utilized the very bottom of them. So many things climb here too, Cleon, but if you climb, you can eliminate about half the things that might want to eat you… so you are making your odds better. That’s why I’m teaching you to run at various levels, both on the ground, higher, and over logs, up in the trees… all of it. It’s all open to use. And when you get up in the trees… where we are going next, you can break up your scent trail… jumping, leaping, crossing water… go even higher if you have to.” She said, then did just that.

The woman sheathed her ax, let him decide what to do with his machete, bent her knees, did a light jump to catch a big vine hanging from a tree, and began to climb. She wasn’t a competent climber, but it wasn’t hard once she had her feet against the tree and was using toeholds as well as the vine to get up to the next level. Once higher in the canopy, Cleon could see branches going out all directions and trees touching each other via their branches like great arms extended outwards. Taz took off running in the general direction they’d been heading, away from the mounds and directly down one of the bigger branches.

She jumped to another where it intersected the one she was on and Cleon found himself heading instead of away from a behemoth directly towards another ancient tree. Using this method, ducking some branches, jumping lightly over ones crossing the main branches they were using as pathways, Taz was more than able to keep leading him through the jungle. Her run was more of a light jog and she stopped to point out things to him… mainly growing plants that lived like parasites on the big trees… they had pools of water in them that were fresh and pure… completely drinkable.

And both of them quenched their thirst as they caught their breaths again.

Taz moved haphazardly up here, sometimes zigging north, zagging west, and backtracking south occasionally. It was one of those detours that Cleon might have realized she was guiding them around dangers he could not sense, but perhaps the magic she wore could. They’d literally run through about fifteen trees by now and were probably a good half-mile from the mounds. “Sometimes… up here the view is amazing… and its actually easier travel than on the ground. And I want you to think… and see firsthand, Cleon, that if we can be up here looking down at what’s passing below…”

She breathed, gesturing down towards the ground and the multitude of trails on the ground. “What’s actually up here looking down at us when we are down there looking ahead or back but never up?” She pointed out, then grinned… giving him a break and a chance to absorb what she’d said as she leaned against the nearest vertical structure, which seemed to be a random trunk.

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"A mark of an open mind is being more committed to your curiosity than your conviction.
The goal of learning is not to shield old views against new facts, but to revise old views with new facts. Ideas are possibilities to explore, not certainties to defend. "


Garden Beach Syka The Protea Inn

"Listen to the wind, it talks. Listen to the silence, it speaks. Listen to your heart, it knows."
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Jungle Parkour (Cleon)

Postby Cleon on April 1st, 2022, 3:37 pm

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Cleon ran his hand across the left side of his scalp, brushing the longer strands of hair back behind his ear where they clung to the side of his sweaty head. He wasn’t just out of shape. He wasn’t used to this heat. Of course he’d thought he’d known hot in Sunberth but that had nothing on this steaming jungle. Combined with their brief little jaunt, he felt like he could drink a lake though he resisted that impulse for the moment. He didn’t want all of that water sloshing around in his belly while they were running. Especially after the morning he’d had.

Instead he paid close attention to her words while looking out across the jungle as much as he dared. He remained cognizant of the fact that he had to keep her in his field of view as he observed what he could. Curiously the area was rather plain across the large, rolling mounds that seemed incongruent with the rest of the jungle. Carefully Cleon bent at the knees and gingerly felt the ground while Tazrae spoke. Pressing his fingers into the ground, he realized that it was just a thin layer of moss that came apart easily between his fingers. He let that wash over him as his eyes roamed over what else he could see from their vantage and disappointingly he wasn’t able to make out any of the potential hazards Tazrae spoke of. The only thing he really managed to notice was the large number of green trunked trees that skirted the edge of the mounds although he didn’t study them too carefully as he wanted to keep Tazrae in view.

“I’ll make sure I grab a pair to keep in my bag.” Cleon said, standing up as he studied Tazrae now. There was a lot more to this woman than a nice pair of tits. Her pinky was more equipped to survive out here than his whole body. As he caught himself admiring her, she placed a hand on his shoulder and he felt becalmed somewhat by the touch. Resisting the urge to grab he hand where it lay on his shoulder, he repeated her words silently too himself in an effort to keep himself focused on the task at hand. This was no playground. It was just as dangerous as having your back to someone. Perhaps even more so.

They took off running again, and Cleon tried to incorporate what she said. While he hadn’t been certain what she’d meant by loosen his hips, he tried to not be stiff about his movements as they circled the jungle mounds. In the process of trying to keep in mind the placement of his feet as he watched the jungle around him, he noticed again the strangeness of this area compared to the rest. He almost asked about it before he bit back the question, again not wanting to look ignorant in front of this woman. Instead, he did his best to dutifully follow while looking but not looking at her so he could pay attention more to where they were going than just following her. That was a piece of advice he had no problem holding onto as it fed into his natural paranoia. On the surface he didn’t think she would leave him stranded in the jungle, but there was always the chance that she could change her mind. Pushing past that dismal thought he relaxed his limbs again as they loped along, keeping most of himself loose as they propelled themselves along the loose litter of the jungle floor.

As they went, Tazrae produced a familiar blade. It reminded him of the one he had purchased which he belatedly realized he had forgotten to bring along. As Tazrae instructed him in its use, he did as asked, looping it over his right wrist before grasping it in an overhand grip. He paid extra careful attention to her words, and spared a wary look at the upper reaches of the jungle which might has well have been an opaque wall for as much as he could make out through the canopy. Relaxing his tight grip on the handle, he did his best to mimic her strikes as they went along, going with short upswings as they slowed to a walk.

This woman had so much momentum with the way she moved and talked that Cleon didn’t have a hard time listening to her. Her confidence was refreshing, soothing even. Beyond that, it felt good to relax from the role he had assumed for so long to just be here. It was nice. Cleon smiled.

“How come this space is different from the rest of the jungle? Are you clearing it to build upon?” He asked as he looked about for some thick vegetation to test this machete on, and almost turned her out of sight before he caught himself, then adjusted so that when he looked about she was still in view. Then he took a healthy at one of the larger trees as she mentioned climbing.

“I’m not uh.. Much of a-” Cleon started as he watched her hop onto the vine. “Climber..” Taking a big gulp, he fitted the machete across his pack before he took hold of the big vine Tazrae had just climbed up. Tugging on it, he looked warily up the way Tazrae had went before walking slowly up to the trunk and placing the flat of his right foot against its base. He took a step forward much like she had but before he could get the flat of his left foot against the trunk, his right foot slid down and he scrambled against the tree for several moments before he finally managed to get a toehold against the trunk. He realized quickly that this would probably be easier to do if he could actually watch more of what he was doing without trying to keep the woman always in view, and if he had a little more upper body strength, but alas, he wasn’t so fortunate on either count.

Gripping the vine he walked up the next rung with his hand the strain not so bad when he was doing a good bit of the walking with his feet up the trunk. He only had to reach for the next handhold whenever his feet got close to his mid-line which lessened the effort considerably. That said, he could feel the muscles in his neck and arms bunching up as he walked up the trunk, straining along to keep his weight properly portioned against the tree as he scrambled up it.

Finally when he reached the branch she was on, Cleon crawled across it like it was a piece of flotsam on the windswept sea and clung to it for several moments before he worked his way to a standing position on its broad trunk.

“That was.. Enlightening.” Cleon said breathlessly as he managed for a moment before trying on a nervous smile as he met Tazrae’s gaze.

Then they were off again along the broad limb going towards another massive tree. Up here Cleon wasn’t quite as certain about where he placed his feet so he took the extra moment to make sure of where he was jogging across to avoid any mishaps or stumbling into any of the dangers Tazrae had mentioned. When it came time for a brief respite, Cleon’s features were awash in relief as they drank deeply from something he wouldn’t have looked twice at on his own. It looked quite alien to him, although most things did to him in this jungle so that really didn’t come as much of a surprise. The fact that she called this thing a parasite though did give him a little reservation though until he watched her drink from it, and he was too thirsty to argue at that point.

It was probably the most refreshing water he’d ever drank in his life. Well, aside from the ladle full he’d gotten at the shrine, but that was beside the point. He soaked in how quenched he felt, and felt almost invigorated as they continued on through the canopy. Here there course deviated quite a bit, enough so that Cleon found himself looking around more than he had for the whole of their journey as her words came to mind. He noticed pretty quickly that they were not taking a straight shot through the jungle even though one was definitely possible, and tried to find the reasons for that, however if there were dangers she was avoiding, he couldn’t see any of them. Of course he considered that they might be landscape hazards they were avoiding that she knew of because she was a lot more acquainted with this land, but he got the inkling that it was more than that. It wasn’t a sure feeling, just one spurred on by her previous mention of being able to sense snakes in the jungle. It made him wonder what else she could sense, and wonder also how was he ever going to survive her on his own without someone so capable to guide him. James had been right. This jungle was petching dangerous for the unwary.


As Tazrae stopped for another break, Cleon took the opportunity to look as she gestured, trying to take it all in and feeling quite overwhelmed at the same time as he panted hard. She was very right about that. He didn’t look up, almost never, and at a tingling across the top of his scalp he did then though he didn’t notice anything above him besides the sunlight streaming through the trees. It made him feel quite vulnerable, and a growing sense of panic that he quashed before it could gain any traction. Instead he focused on looking at Tazrae once more.

“I’m.. Um.. I’m quickly realizing why James gave the warning he did. I would have never took the way you did to get to where we are. I don’t think I spotted even one dangerous thing in this jungle so far besides that boa you pointed out. There are.. I’ve got.. Its just so many questions, how did you learn it all?” Cleon asked, attempting to lean as Tazrae had done in order to feel a little more relaxed than he was currently. This was as exhilarating as it was terrifying as all the possibilities occurred to him. He’d never felt so distinctly out of his depth in his life.

“I’m glad I came to Syka. Its like the missing piece, although I’m worried that..” He trailed off, then chased off the brief uncertainly. “I’m afraid that me and Faye brought these curses with us somehow. Like we aren’t meant for this place and that is the reason we’ve cursed this settlement.” Cleon rubbed his index and middle finger across his sweaty brow then, pinching his right eye shut as he grimaced then shook his head.

“Nonsense I know.” He coughed then looked around. “About how far are we from the settlement from here. I’ve been trying to keep track in my head, but well the crossing back and forth has made it difficult to paint a clear picture in my head about where we are.”

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Jungle Parkour (Cleon)

Postby Tazrae on April 5th, 2022, 3:32 am

His question about the Jungle Mounds brought Tazrae up short. “No one’s cleared it that I know. It’s just different. Mathias and I once talked about it and Randal said we should dig into one of the mounds one of these days to find out what they actually are. I don’t know why things tend not to grow on them.” She answered his question carefully, not really having an answer. “We haven’t done it yet. Maybe it’s something you could help with.” She added, offering him a grin. Then they were off again.

Taz had been taking them in a generally northeast loop and had started working more north to head back towards the west to Reclaimed Knowledge. The library would impress him, she thought, if for no other reason than to drive home the point that they weren’t the first humans here. The Innkeeper was impressed with Cleon’s stamina. He was panting like crazy, protesting that he couldn’t do things then ended up just doing them… and was generally keeping up. Stamina would come later. Endurance would build. And he’d grow more confident in a multiple dimensional pathway as time progressed. They moved another mile and Taz pulled up for another break, not wanting to tax the young man too much.

“I learned because I went out with Uta and Randal a lot. They cut a lot of trail and marked a lot of safe passages from one sight to another in their duties as Rangers. They let me come help. I grew up…. very alone. I was stuck in a position of a maid and cook a lot. I never went outside. I never got to roam. Here… here there was such a sense of freedom. I roamed far and wide when I first got here and in many ways I have never stopped. There might be something just out of sight I need to see. I don’t want to miss it… not a moment of it. And the fresh air agrees with me. I used to tell myself it was in search of all the exotic flowers I have growing around The Protea, but that’s just a bunch of shyte. I went because I loved going… still do… still go. It’s a pleasure to share this with you.” She said sincerely.

Taz kept Cleon walking and only paused when they came to the bowl of a huge tree with a flattened-out branch. There, she squatted and sat, dangling her feet off the limb of the tree and gestured below them. Trails came in from everywhere, intersected, and took off in all kinds of directions. She brought him here deliberately, to this vantage over one of the multitude of intersections of the animal roads that passed through the jungle.

“You didn’t bring these curses. They might have come on The Veronica with you… but this is something sinister. This is an attack on the settlement. I don’t think anyone else sees it yet… but I do. You came here for a new life. It’s beyond all reason that you’d sabotage your future.” Tazrae said firmly, almost vehemently. “It can be nothing else.” She added, then glanced around. “We’re a few miles from The Sawmill and we’re going to be headed west towards a place I really want you to see. The Settlement starts out on the south side of the maw, with the cobbled pathway running up the beach to the east then it swings north and doubles back towards the west. There are miles between the cobbled pathways between that are all jungle… The Maw….” She added, then pointed down.

“Relax a moment, Cleon. We’ll get running again after you’ve caught your breath.” She said, still pointing downward. “I want to talk to you about game trails through the jungle. They can save your life.” She said softly, swinging her legs, almost childlike. Tazrae was alight with interest in what she was talking about. He could tell she loved the jungle, thrived in all the green, and growing things. The wet didn’t seem to bother her, and the moisture of the humidity mixed with her sweat just made her skin glow.

“Trails animals make always run from water to water or food source to food source. Sometimes those two things are one in the same. Sometimes they are mixed and matched, running from food to water then back to food. You understand what I’m saying. IF you can get on a game trail and follow it, you’ll cross something that will lead you to civilization. And that thing is usually flowing water. You want to always follow water downhill… walk the direction the water is flowing as you follow it. That’s downstream. Small streams often feed into larger streams that feed into rivers that in turn flow into the Ocean. If you can find flowing water, you can follow it out of the jungle and onto a beach. Here, in this area, you know that means closer to Syka. While you are here, walk the beach in Syka often… from the furthest tip north at Sharktooth Point to Treasure Point in the south. Get familiar with Stairstep falls. Learn what the beaches look like… so if you ever get lost in the jungle, recognizing where you come out at along that length will save you.” She said softly, bringing her legs up and wrapping her arms around them. Taz rested her chin on her knees, and inhaled deeply. “If you go upstream, you will head deeper into the Jungle Wilds. It’s a fast way to die and an even faster way to lose yourself.” She said softly.

Taz said that with a funny inflection in her words, as if she longed to do just that.

“How’s your hydration?” Taz asked him suddenly, peering over at him. “You thirsty?” She asked, suddenly pulling a waterskin off her pack and offering it to him. “You need to keep hydrated out here. Drink deeply and often from the plants above ground. If you don’t have a source of water like that… bamboo can be cut down… it often has liquid in the center. Coconut milk will do in a pinch and is very good for you. I can show you how to break into a coconut later if you’ve never had the chance to do so.” Taz said thoughtfully.

“Dehydration will kill you. Thirst is the first sign, but there are others. Muscle cramps is another sign. If your skin gets dry and cold in this heat, that is a major issue. When you are dehydrated, you’ll stop sweating when you should be sweating. But you can get fever, headaches, chills… anything. Your mouth can go dry. You can’t spit and you can’t breathe deeply enough. There are dozens of signs. How are you doing now?” She asked, suddenly swinging up so she was crouched on her feet.

Blinking thoughtfully, Taz studied Cleon. She’d moved but she didn’t seem inclined to get running again. “Promise me if you get tired, you will stop and rest if you are ever out here alone. Sometimes if you get really tired, and you mix that with being lost, hungry and it will cause you stress. And by stress I mean you’ll start getting emotional. You need to tamp down the feelings. Being out here is dangerous. You realize it almost immediately. You know that you could get lost, eaten… fall… starve… its stressful. If you start feeling yourself breaking down like that… stop. Rest… regroup. Even being alone is stressful. Adverse weather could come barreling down on you. Anything. If that happens, you need to freshen you perspective. You need to calm down, laugh a little, have a bit of fun….” She said thoughtfully. “Mostly though, just rest. Exhaustion causes stress.” She added.

“Cleon, half of learning what we are talking about right now is about survival. Myself, I’ve just trained hard enough and keep training hard enough that surviving becomes like a sort of muscle memory you can do in your sleep. Listen to me. Don’t get scared. If you have to stop, do so. Build a shelter… start a fire… eat some rations or food you’ve found along the way. When we are out here like this… don’t stop harvesting food and foraging.” She said with a grin, then gently opened her backpack and reached in. She immediately pulled out a hand of bananas. She pulled a finger off the hand and handed him the ripe delicious fruit. “Go ahead. Have a snack.” She added, then rose, reshouldering the backpack. She ahd enough fruit in there to feed five times the two of them… she’d been plucking things as she passed them.

“Let me know when you are ready and we will set off again.” She said, rising to her full height.

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"A mark of an open mind is being more committed to your curiosity than your conviction.
The goal of learning is not to shield old views against new facts, but to revise old views with new facts. Ideas are possibilities to explore, not certainties to defend. "


Garden Beach Syka The Protea Inn

"Listen to the wind, it talks. Listen to the silence, it speaks. Listen to your heart, it knows."
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Tazrae
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Jungle Parkour (Cleon)

Postby Cleon on April 7th, 2022, 2:39 pm

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Cleon was running on pure desperation at this point. He didn’t want to stop because stopping meant thinking, and thinking had become unpleasant. So he clung to things that normally wouldn’t have concerned him, anything to keep abreast of the sea of doubt that wanted to swallow him whole, lurking in the corners of his mind, just out of frame.

“Just let me know the time and place.” Cleon commented about the mounds a little bit more cavalier than he actually felt. He didn’t know why, didn’t have a reference point for the emotion he was feeling just then, but he felt a bit odd about the suggestion of digging into these mounds. It could be related to some old Sunberthian superstition that was evading his conscious thought or it could be deeper than that. Altogether, he wasn’t exactly comfortable yet with the idea of cracking one of these mounds open. Curiosity had a way of eating the cat.

When they got back to trekking through the jungle, he was happy enough to get back at it as the motion had a way of putting those more questionable thoughts behind him even as his body screamed for a reprieve. They only had just finished their rest break and already every muscle, every tendon was begging him to at least slow down, so he did, gradually till his jog really wasn’t a jog anymore. His body was just so thoroughly unused to this sort of strain that even with them taking plenty of breaks, he felt his strength flagging, especially in this staggering heat. Sweat had soaked his clothes damp, dried, and was well on its way to soaking them again while the salty remainder chaffed away at his crevices. When they got back to the inn, if he had the strength to, he was going to have a long, relaxing soak that would probably last several bells.

While they were at it though, he gave it his best, remembering occasionally to loosen up his stride and shift his step so he wasn’t just rubbing one side of his foot raw. The bounce was gone from his loping strides now, and it was down to a more committed plodding along that was mostly driven by a sheer effort of will at this point as he struggled to put on a good showing for Tazrae. He wasn’t sure if he would have been capable of doing the same if she wasn’t also a beautiful woman, but alas, like she said earlier, those thoughts could wait for a time they couldn’t get him killed. Probably.

A stitch had started to form across the insole of his right foot, and he gritted his teeth past the pain, continuing on for a little while longer till she stopped them for a break again. Catching himself on his knees, half hunched over he was slowly catching his breath as he listened to her carefully, as his exhausted body was almost beyond thinking at that point. The way she recounted her experiences felt almost like a dream, not unlike the dream he had coming here with Faye before all of the chaos. However there was something else to her words, something deeper that lurked just around the edge of what she said. It could have just been the subject matter but Cleon felt it went beyond this curse business. It was a gut feeling he’d learned to take seriously after suffering years of abuse at the hands of his father. Something his sister had gotten good at as well. Not Faye thank the gods, but Farren.

He’d become quite perceptive of people’s emotions, one had to be in an abusive household. From the way people spoke, the words they used, their tone, their mannerisms, it all added up to a whole that could generally allow you to predict what they might say next, or the action they would take if you didn’t know them quite so well or the subject matter was new to you. While it was far from exact, it was the sort of intuition that got more accurate the better you got to know that person which seemed stupidly obvious in retrospect.

Cleon got a taste of that listening to her speak, and beyond that he didn’t need his intuition to tell that she really did care about the wellbeing of Syka. This place. This land was clearly important to her, and it was always easier to listen to someone who was clearly passionate about what they had to say. He could tell that she cared deeply about the people here as well, and perchance that was why her particular curse was hitting her so hard. A part of him wanted to ask, but he knew it wasn’t his place. He was yet a stranger here, so what would she care for what he had to say.

“And I appreciate it, all of this. I hope we get those curses sorted soon so I can properly show you my gratitude for all you have done for me and Faye.” Cleon said, pausing for a moment as an idea struck him. “You know, I’m going to learn how to make one of those surf boards with Randal sometime soon. Maybe I could make you one, and then we could practice with it together.” Cleon blushed then looked away as he hadn’t quite intended for it to come out that way. “My curse.” He mumbled quietly before shaking his head.

“So you were saying game trails? I mentioned to James that I’d like to learn how to hunt. You wouldn’t happen to know someone I could ask? James mentioned I could approach almost anyone here about it but I haven’t quite worked up the nerve yet.” Cleon asked. It was plainly a deflection, but Cleon would have done or said anything at that point to get away from the thoughts that had sprung to life with his previous suggestion.

He took the waterskin gratefully before hastily taking a pull from it. Several actually as his thirst was not nearly quenched with the first tug and it was pleasant enough on his dry, swollen tongue. While he drank, he made a mental note to bring plenty of water on future outings, and try to remember those strange plants that clung on the trees.

“I’m starting to feel like I should be jotting all of this down. Maybe I should bring some parchment along with me next time. It is a lot to consider on top of everything else.” He admitted plainly. He felt no need to mince his words with this woman. Then more solemnly, “I promise.” He said it without any hesitation. Tazrae was motion, moving from one thing to the next as seamlessly as if jungle survival had become a unfiltered stream of conscious for her. It was impressive, and Cleon could only hope that one day he would be as fluid as she was in this environment.

He took the banana without much fuss, glad for the break as he peeled it apart carefully and bit off the tip. His pulse had relaxed some what, and he was no longer struggling for every gasping breath but the muscles in his arms, legs burned fiercely along with the rest of his body. He felt about ready to fall apart, but as he considered it, he felt a certain amount of resolve about continuing on. While his body might protest, mentally he needed this.

Once he had finished with the banana, he tossed the peel onto the forest floor. Then raising his arms far above his head in a broad stretch he held that position for several moments before dropping his hands back down to his sides where they hung loosely.

“Well, I’m ready. Mentally at least.” Cleon chuckled.


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Jungle Parkour (Cleon)

Postby Tazrae on April 10th, 2022, 5:33 pm

Tazrae studied Cleon intently. This was the most normal she felt in a long time. Taz didn’t know if this was because she felt she had a real purpose out here teaching him or if it was because of the human company. And Cleon was good company. He hadn’t complained once, made reasonable comments, and had asked questions. And she’d taken him high… oh so high… and still he followed her. That took a lot of trust, and she appreciated that. So Taz did what she could to thank him. She took him down, out of the trees, via a calculous route of branches that were lower and lower until they could climb down using a vine. Once they landed lightly on the jungle floor, Taz stopped for another lesson. “Randal or Indigo can teach you. I think Randal is not as good as Indigo, but he’s far more approachable. They both know how to bring down big game though. You can learn a lot from them.” Taz said. “I don’t know much about hunting, but I can always take you to Swine Swells to hunt a pig. It’s not really hunting… they are as tame as dogs. But its an easy source of protein.” The woman told him, grinning slightly.

Taz took him on another run, just to keep his muscles loose and his body warmed up. She didn’t climb any hills or take him down into any deep valleys. Instead, she kept the path easy and light, the jogging more to get them moved rather than to eat up ground. After ten chimes, she slowed, drastically trying to decide what to teach him next. The environment would guide her, she decided.

Then she continued moving, slower this time, letting him build up to the next phase of things she wanted to show him. They’d been on the ground now for a while and Tazrae had lead them to a small grove of trees just growing up, in a small clearing where a larger giant had fallen. Sapplings surrounded them. It was the perfect place for another lesson.

“You don’t need to write things down. You just need to do things and if you do them, you will remember things.” She said, offering him her hatchet for a moment. “We’ll stay down on the ground now… for a while. I want you to cut a walking stick for yourself. Find something strong… a bit half as wide as your forearm and about as tall as you. Any one of these sapling will do. Cut it down, strip it, and make sure it has a comfortable place to grip.” She instructed. Then paused, waiting for him to do it.

As she watched, she studied him thoughtfully. “I admire you, Cleon. You told me what’s been bothering you… the cravings. You told all of us at the Tenday. But I bet its harder than you made it out to be. And… you’ve been watching over Faye, protecting her… and she’s not your child. She’s your sister. She’s very lucky to have you. You know that right?” Taz said softly, reaching out to gently take her hatchet back from him. She shook her head, laughed, and got back to the lesson. She started talking as she re-hung the hatchet on the hook on her belt.

“That walking stick gives you three points of contact to the ground. I taught you how to move in the jungle… how to loosen your hips, undulate and weave back and forth as you move, but the walking stick will make it so much easier. Those three points of contact give you so much more balance when you walk.” She added. “It gives you a protected reach to move things like snakes off your path, knock down spiderwebs, push branches out of the way and probe to see if mud is too deep or firm enough for footing. It will also allow you to use it as a depth staff if you are crossing a stream. You can probe the water before you to see how deep it goes before you commit.” She said, mimicking each gesture before she made the suggestion as if she held an invisible staff herself. “Eventually you wont need it, but I still cut them when I am crossing rapidly moving bodies of water or are in thick brush without a machete.” She added, grinning at him.

Then she started walking, leading him, as they wove in and out of the green, up and over logs, down and across water. They arched up northwards and westward, coming out into a clearing that Tazrae had never seen before. She stopped, startled, and looked around. They stood before a wide set up steps that lead up to a huge raised dais that almost looked like the ancient base of a building such as a solid foundation or something. Taz jogged up the steps and looked around at the vast platform. She started pacing the length and breath of it, exploring it. “Do you see this? What do you think it is?” She asked, almost in awe. Taz paced back and forth, noting nothing grew on it and the sky was completely open to its top. She paused a moment, then sang a single note, utilizing her Audius to check the platform, echo sound through the stone, and see if anything sounded hollow below. It didn’t. It seemed solid by the sound reflux. Then she called up djed and pooled it in her eyes and scanned the area looking at the aura of the area. She looked carefully, pacing out the length and breadth of the platform as she did so.

The Steps and Platform :
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“This is beautiful.” She said, releasing the mage sight and glancing back at him, her eyes luminous blue for a moment before the djed drained out. “Can you imagine bringing someone here to see the stars at night or even using it for dancing or some sort of ritual?” She added, pausing, taking in the new site. “I don’t think anyone from Syka has seen this yet. But I’m not surprised. You could walk by and not see it being right next to it. You must be lucky for me.” She said, grinning, knowing that the others – especially the Rangers – would love to hear about this place.

“What do you think?” She asked, curious. “It needs a name.” She added, wondering if he wanted to do the honors. "You should name it... we are the first ones here for a long time I think." She added, waiting for him to explore and think on what he'd call it.

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"A mark of an open mind is being more committed to your curiosity than your conviction.
The goal of learning is not to shield old views against new facts, but to revise old views with new facts. Ideas are possibilities to explore, not certainties to defend. "


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"Listen to the wind, it talks. Listen to the silence, it speaks. Listen to your heart, it knows."
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Jungle Parkour (Cleon)

Postby Cleon on April 12th, 2022, 12:28 am

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Although Cleon wasn’t exactly uncomfortable with heights, it still came as a relief as they made their way down. It was so different traveling up there comared to the relatively flat city scape he had known in Sunberth, and he knew it would take a long time before he got used to looking at traversing in a three dimensional way. He certainly wouldn’t have had enough confidence to do it on his own which only made him more thankful upon reflection, for which there was plenty of time on the way down. The journey down to the jungle floor was just as wild as the journey up had been, and before it was through Cleon would come to regret a bit the view such a vantage point had given them. Skipping across the broad limbs that would lead them ever downwards, occasionally even leaping to a closer branch, Cleon felt a surge of exhilaration as he looked down at the forest floor. Of course he would have felt half so confident if the branches had been a bit thinner or slick underfoot, still the thought was enough to caution him from taking any risky missteps. An unfortunate side effect of his recent Illness was that he really didn’t experience fear in the same way he used to and often felt an over confidence in his abilities which was something he had quickly learned to be wary of. There was only so many times you got to step into shyke to learn your lesson and usually one was enough. He wasn’t going to give even one misstep a chance out here though as he knew such things could and would be fatal.

Out here, for the first time ever, he felt like he had left behind everything from Sunberth that had been holding him back. Almost a clean sort of feeling though he knew better than to think that the feeling would last. He would savor it while it did, then weather whatever came afterward as he always had.

He broke from his introspective mood as they climbed down a vine which took all of his facilities. Doing much as he was watching Tazrae do, if a bit more conservatively, he clambered down feet first, holding the vine tightly as he shimmed his way to the forest floor. When his feet were on the ground, he shot Tazrae a relieved smile as he took the moment to look around.

“I’ll make sure to ask. I heard that Sykans were doing their part to keep the children’s pavilion fed, and I just want to do mine. Plus anything I bring that they don’t need I may be able to barter.” He suggested more confidently than he felt. Truth was he hadn’t put much thought into it just yet aside from the basic idea that he wanted to do something for the orphans. They were sort of birds of a feather, he and they, even if his parents weren’t really dead. He just wished they were.

They returned to their run at a bit more sedately pace this time, moving at a light jog that his hips and knees would’ve thanked her for. It was enough to reignite the burn along his thighs and calves but the pain was manageable. Breathing in through his nose and out through his mouth, he started taking longer strides, as long as his legs would allow comfortably without changing the posture of his upper body.

He followed her until they reached a bath of new growth, one that filled him with an almost unexpectedly serene feeling as his eyes beheld all of the new trees growing in the gap the old fallen titan had left.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen something quite so beautiful.” He said softly as they approached, searching for the words even as he said them. “I couldn’t think of a more appropriate depiction of life if I tried.” He mused, taking in the scene carefully as they settled in closer. It had a lot of parallels with his own life, the new roots they were laying here in the gap their old lives had left, but this scene was so much more than that, and he knew that he would remember this moment for a long time to come.

He took the offered hatchet, still half in that place in his mind as he hefted it carefully in his hands and unconsciously stroked the grip. “You’re right, I just.. You.. I tend to compare myself to others and end up trying what I think makes them successful to mixed results instead of going with what I know to be tried and true.” He said, and when he finished he walked slowly over to the saplings, reluctant to pick any of them at first till he realized they all weren’t going to make it. Most of them probably wouldn’t in fact, there simply wasn’t enough space so he picked one on the shorter side but still tall enough for his purposes.

Grasping it near the base, he bent it away from him slightly as he started hacking away at the sapling. It took several good strikes but eventually he’d managed to chop the sapling down without the hatchet slipping out of his hand, and then proceeded to strike off its fledgling branches, then wore out a place near the top to make it more comfortable to grip. He almost stopped in the process of all of this though as Tazrae’s words hit him hard in the gut. Try as he might to keep the pain from his face, the tension was clear as he answered slowly in a low, soft tone of voice.

“I had.. Have another sister y’know? Farren. She wasn’t so lucky. I let it all happen to her so when Faye came she was just lucky I didn’t have the stomach for seeing it all play out again..” By the end of his words his voice was starting to break, and his eyes were wet. Rubbing at his eyes with the back of his hand, he got back to work more quietly, more than a little eager to put this moment behind them if she would let it.
He tried to internalize her words as he used the staff and occasionally thought back to that beautiful moment seeing the clearing. Eventually though all of that would be washed away from his mind as they stumbled across an altogether unexpected sight.

A raised platform rising out of the jungle, overgrown but instilling within him a sense of countless possibilities.

“Who do you think built it?” He asked as they walked along the steps, and eventually ended up paying more attention to her than he did this strange place as she continued to act very curiously. Her eyes in particular drew him in as she turned to him, the luminous hue fleeting yet memorable. “You uh.. How did.. You don’t happen to know Laviku do you?” He asked before recalling that she had used magic to light his pipe earlier. This must be something along the same vein, but he would have felt foolish to walk it back now.

Cleon blushed at the compliment, and looked away to take a good look at the place again while wondering what new thing would eventually sprout from this old gap. “How about Dias of the Forgotten?” He asked after he mulled on it a bit. He’d considered tomb, and sanctuary as he speculated as to the origin of this place but in the end he settled on something he could readily understand and see with his own eyes.

An what a wonder it was to behold.

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