Closed Into the churn

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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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Into the churn

Postby D'Varrus Tomva on April 28th, 2022, 2:39 am

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The evening of the 65th of Spring - 66th of Spring

His heart was hammering as he loped up the beach, stomach as empty as it had been on the trip down it earlier this morning. He was frustrated, confused and his leg had gone worryingly numb about a bell or so ago. Altogether it did not bode well for his chances out here on his own. He needed to find people but how would he know if he found the right ones. More worryingly, the smell of a person was all over him, fresh as the day was young and yet he couldn’t remember running into anyone, much less clawing them. D’Varrus was beginning to wonder if it was just hunger that was making him imagine it all, or if it was something deeper.

No, he had to trust his senses. Perhaps he’d picked it up in the jungle or something like that, however that didn’t answer why there was a significant block of time missing from his recollection. He had been stalking a pig. There had been a human sound, a human smell, then he was doing what he what he was now. D’Varrus slowed to a walk, looking back over his shoulder cautiously for several long ticks before he continued up the beach at a steady walk.

Whatever had happened back there, it had affected his memory. Maybe the human had hit him on the head or perhaps it had been a waking dream, fueled by exhaustion and hunger. He’d gotten those occasionally back in Ravok. Strange visions that didn’t make a lot of sense to him at the time. Could it be that this was that?

D’Varrus pushed the intrusive thought aside as he neared the spot where he remembered finding the body and backpack earlier. Real or imagined, the whole interaction had instilled within him a sense of urgency, and it was past time he started looking for a good spot to hunker down while he figured out where he was. Fortunately, in this instance his memory was correct in that he didn’t have trouble finding where he left the body and the backpack. They were left more or less undisturbed, although because he hadn’t found a solution to the whole collar situation, he couldn’t strip the man. All he could take was the backpack, which he quickly picked up in his jaws before starting back down the beach again.

The sense of dejavu was strong on that return trip, and he kept his ears on a swivel as he padded along the edge of the jungle. He gave the pigs a wide berth when the time came, as they did him for the wind carried his scent before he even made an appearance on the swells. Just as well because he didn’t really have it in him to chase down one of these pigs with his leg aching as it was. He did eventually catch sight of a few, loitering near the edge of the water, eying him carefully. It almost felt like he could just go out there and snatch one up though he managed to suppress that mighty urge by remembering that he needed to conserve what little energy he had left. There would be time enough to hunt them later when it was dark out and he had time to rest. All he would manage now would be to lose them in the jungle when he gave chase.

So D’Varrus settled for snarling at the group, and was satisfied when they started scattering. Continuing on down the beach he found a place that looked halfway decent to sleep off the day. Jutting out into the sea he found a group of large rocks with strange pictures carved on them. At first, D’Varrus thought they might be something the survivors of last night’s ship attack might have carved in hopes to be found by a passing sailor, but the more he looked at them, the less sense they made. Furthermore, they looked very old, their grooves having long ago taken back the color of the rest of the rock.

Just to test his hunch, D’Varrus marked one of the rocks with his claw, scrapping away the outer crust and leaving a fresh thin line across it. Somewhat reassured by that information, he continued exploring the rest of the outcropping, glancing at the water occasionally till he noticed the expansive reef system just underneath the water. Now like with the glyphs, because his vision wasn’t very good in the daylight, he had to practically get right on top the the water to get a good look because at first it just looked like an explosion of color underneath the water and he’d been curious enough to see if they were fish or something else. However he’d only managed to get a few steps into the shallow water when his foot touched a deep red piece of coral, sending pain shooting up his right paw.

Hastily, D’Varrus scampered back to the shoreline, hopping oddly along the way as he was forced to occasionally put weight on his injured back leg. When he’d reached the safety of the sandy beach, he flopped down onto his side to take a good look at his right paw which was starting to hurt more by the moment. It wasn’t just like something had cut into it, but as if liquid fire had somehow been squeezed into the wound only to radiate up his arm in an intensity that increased by the tick.

Confused, and in a massive amount of pain, D’Varrus started hobbling as quickly as he could manage down the beach because further down in the distance he could see the blurry outline of what looked like huts along the beach. At least he hoped that was what they were, and not more rocks. As much as he loathed to put himself at the mercy of yet another group of humans, he knew whatever was happening to him now was very serious, and he just had to hope that there were people there who could help him. He’d tried striking it out on his own, he’d failed so now it was time to swallow his pride before things got any worse for him.

The blurry brown dots where in fact not rocks but houses built over the water on stilts. An odd comfort that knowing that there must be a settlement nearby, but not knowing what sort of people populated it. He hadn’t forgotten his strange encounter this morning either, and the very real possibility that whoever he encountered this morning was a part of that settlement. In fact that seemed almost guaranteed if it wasn’t a dream, which he continued to doubt as he continued to smell her plain as day.

So it was with more than a little bit of caution that he approached the Overwater Ranchos. However when he found the outermost one empty and didn’t hear any activity nearby, he hastily limped across the dock and into the hut. Within just inside the front door he paced in a tight circle for a moment before walking into the adjoining room where he found a bed made. Taking in a deep sniff, D’Varrus reassured himself that he was alone before hopping onto the bed to lay across it.

Thanks to the searing pain in his paw, and dull ache in his flank, D’Varrus really didn’t sleep as much as lay there with his eyes closed, panting. As he lay there wondering what exactly he was going to do next, time dripped pass like molasses and pretty soon there were no thoughts, only the pain. Sharp burning pain. Then after some time had passed, enough so that the sun was once again low in the sky, D’Varrus heard voices.

He strained to open his eyes, and then afterward roll onto his belly. The moment he put weight on his right paw, he uttered a panting growl that quickly filled up the quiet Rancho. For a moment the humans stopped talking, then continued in hush tones that D’Varrus barely had the concentration to make out.

“See, I told you. I was cleaning out the Ranchero’s and there was a petching jaguar just laying on the bed.” A young male voice said.

“Alright Julian, no one is calling you a liar. Just.. Stay out here for a moment while we go check this out.” An older male said, and D’Varrus listened as several sets of footsteps made their way up the dock to the Rancho. He just froze, staring out the door that lead into the bedroom and then turned his head slighly as a pair of faces appeared in the window. One appeared to be an older man with white hair and a salt n pepper beard while the other one was younger with the same sort facial hair, only his hair was thicker, and colored a dark brown.

D’Varrus tried to let out a low growl again but could only manage a rasping pant as he suddenly rolled back onto his side. There voices and actions then became a muddle then, something half remembered as his consciousness struggled to keep track beyond the pain. Something was placed over his mouth, cinching it closed even though he could hardly have spared the effort in that moment. Then they were carrying him. It was not the most pleasant journey, as their strides bounced across the beach, each jarring prompting a fresh shock of pain. He kept his eyes closed for much of it to avoid getting sick from the trip. Pretty soon they came to a stop, and there was a woman’s voice as D’Varrus finally passed out from exhaustion.

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Into the churn

Postby D'Varrus Tomva on April 28th, 2022, 2:40 am

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He awoke to the rich, tangy smell of raw pork laid out before him on a large wooden platter. Unable to stop himself even if he had wanted to, D’Varrus immediately started scarfing down the meat as something flew by the door to the room he was in, shouting “Big kitty awake! Big kitty awake!” It slowed him down all of the tick it took him to take in the room and make sure he was alone before he continued biting off great gulps of pork that he couldn’t swallow fast enough to sate his gnawing hunger.

In briefly looking up, he had learned that he was in a relatively small room which was empty save for the platter and the large cushion he was currently half laying upon. There was no door to the room, just a doorway that opened into the rest of the house. There was also a large window in the room, also open, and when he had downed nearly three fourths of the platter, he decided to spare it a more careful consideration. Through it he could make out the tops of several palm trees, and the edge of a building of some sort although it was hard to make out through the searing daylight. His sleep cycle was seriously petched up, something he would have to fix sooner or later. Naturally, he much preferred to be awake during the night but the situation was what it was. He wasn’t going to complain after getting a free meal out of it.

Actually, more than that he realized as he cautiously flexed his paw and hind leg, feeling no pain at all. Looking them both over for a long moment, he didn’t see the fresh wound that he knew should be there. Instead along his flank there was a chunk of fur missing, but the rest of it had been washed clean. His right paw similarly looked unmarred. Whoever had rescued him, they were better at their job than any healers he had known back in Ravok.

They’d also gone through the effort of removing his collar which pleased him. From the smell and sound of it, they housed quite a few animals here other than himself with more than a few birds among them. Satiated as he was, he really didn’t feel like hunting them now. No, he wanted to hunt for answers instead, to figure out exactly where he was before he did anything else.

So standing up from the cushion, D’Varrus stretched and took a step out into the next room when he heard a woman’s voice that he distantly recalled hearing last night.

“There, there everything is alright. Nobody wants to hurt you here.” She crooned softly, and he saw that in her hands she was holding a large cutlet of fish in one of her hands. Expectantly, D’Varrus sat back on his haunches, licking his lips as he eyed the fish keenly. Even though he had just eaten several pounds of pork in the last few chimes, he wasn’t about to turn down an additional treat.

On her shoulder a white cockatoo chirped. “Big kitty. Big kitty awake now.”

“Hush Robby. You’re not helping.” The woman chided gently as she slowly bent forward to hold out the piece of fish towards him. When she tossed it, he took a slight step forward to catch it in the air before hastily dipping his head to place it on the ground so he could hold the piece there with his paw so he could rip off a bit.

As he gnawed apart the mouthful, he gave her a surreptitious look, swallowing slowly before he leaned forward to take a sniff at her. To his relief, she smelled nothing like the woman in the jungle, and given they were treating him so well, he was starting to think that maybe he actually had made it all up. He studied the woman for a few more ticks before he decided in a sudden flash of light to address her.

“My thanks for the meat, and treating my injuries. I assume that was you?” He asked more than stated as he pulled himself from where he had been crouching on all fours. To his slight amusement, this startled the woman more than him roaming her halls on all fours, and she took a step back as Robby took a dive at him, squawking:

“What the petch! What the petch!”

Dodging neatly to the side, he turned as the cockatoo flapped past to land a ways down the hall where it hopped to turn itself around.

“Robby, no!” The woman said tersely, raising her voice as the bird looked about to take another pass at him. The cockatoo wisely heeded her command as it folded its wings and proceeded to despondently waddle down the hallway for a few paces before giving him the eye. As it did, it eeked out a plaintive “Why not? Why not?” before shutting up entirely as it flew out of a window.

“Sorry about that. I.. I didn’t know you were a kelvic.” She said softly, and unconsciously D’Varrus found his eyes drawn to the fish she held slack in her hand.

“Its fine. Where are we?” D’Varrus asked, forcing his eyes to meet hers as he ran a tongue across his front teeth.

“Syka. Um.. How did you get here if you don’t mind me asking? You arrived it quite bad shape.” The woman asked.

D’Varrus squinted briefly, rubbing at his eyes before taking a deep breath at the end of which he released a long sigh.

“D’Varrus.”

“Excuse me?”

“That’s my name.”

“Oh, mine is Nora Dyserian. Pleasure to meet you D’Varrus.” She said hesitantly.

“Now that I have introduced myself I would like to know where my things are being kept.” D’Varrus said in a clipped tone.

“Your things? Oh right, they mentioned they’d found a bag near where they found you. Of course no one imagined that it belonged to you- Uh. I think Matthias has it. He should be here any moment now.” Nora said stroking her long blond hair as she eyed him nervously.

Seeing that, D’Varrus forced himself to relax somewhat as he glanced about, then at the remainder of the fish still in her hand.

“Mind if I finish that while we wait for him?” D’Varrus asked, holding his hand out. The woman accepted by placing the piece of fish in his hand which he readily took a bite out of while he listened out for the man she spoke of. His ears weren’t nearly as good in this form so he found himself looking around quite a bit to make up for it as they relaxed into an uneasy silence until a few ticks later there was a knock from somewhere behind Nora.

As she turned about to answer it, D’Varrus followed, hastily scarfing down the rest of his fish as she opened the door. It was with a mouth half stuffed with raw fish that he saw the face of the older man he had seen the night before, if this was indeed the next day he thought it was. Unlike Nora whom was wearing a breezy white dress, Matthias wore thick tan trousers, and a creme colored tunic with long sleeves. Where Nora chose to wear sandals, he had come wearing boots. An slung over one shoulder was a familiar backpack that he started to unsling the moment D’Varrus met his eyes.

“You must be that jaguar we rescued last night” He said as he walked inside, backpack hanging absentmindedly from one hand.

“I am, and that is my pack.” D’Varrus said, taking away the pack with a quick jerking movement. It was old, bloody, and stained a dark brown across the bottom. There could be no mistaking that it was the one he had salvaged from the beach. Matthias gave him a brief stern look, but continued calmly.

“So it is. I had an inkling you were a kelvic after we found you like that in the Overwater Rancho. We also had a report of a jaguar behaving oddly earlier so I just put two and two together. You’re lucky Julian was cleaning the Overwater Rancho’s yesterday or we might not have found you in time.” Matthias said.

“Yes. Of course. Thank you. Where am I exactly?” He asked carefully.

“Syka. We’re a newish settlement on the Falyndar coast. Riverfall is the nearest city, a few days away by boat. May I ask how you came about the predicament we found you in last night?” Matthias asked.

D’Varrus took his time mulling over that information, looking from Nora to Matthias as he worked it out. “I was traveling by ship when our boat had an accident. I think I was the only survivor.” He said simply as he opened up the bag, and started looking through the contents. It wasn’t as full as it felt by weight, and that was mostly because of the battered sword that had been tucked away inside. Along with the short sword, there was a set of travel worn clothes which included a shirt, trousers, cloak and a pair of boots. Also in the bag were some toiletries and a waterskin. Dropping the bag on the ground he started with pulling on the pair of woolen trousers, and then tugged on a shirt, leaving the rest in the bag.

“Was your ship attacked?” Matthias asked leadingly.

“It was. By men and women with blue eyes, and sun kissed hair, but I wouldn’t worry about it. They had it coming.” D’Varrus said as he pulled the bag taut and slipped over his right shoulder.

“Why do you say that?”

“Because, they were slavers.” D’Varrus said, fixing the older man with a hard stare. To his surprise, Matthias didn’t back down from that stare, and even smiled at him.

“Don’t worry. You don’t have to worry about any of us slapping a collar on you. As far as I’m concerned, your slave days are done. More than that, you’re welcome to stay here if you want, but you’ll have to find a way to pull your own weight. Everyone here contributes to the community. Its how we survive and even thrive on the edge of the jungle. We don’t have much use for coin here, its mostly barter so your not out of luck there. So long as you work hard, you’ll have no problem setting up a comfortable life for yourself here.” Matthias said.

D’Varrus nodded slowly. “Okay. So what, you need help hunting or anything like that?” He asked.

“How about I give you a tour of the settlement first and then we can talk about what you want to do while you are here. We can even look at a few places that you can stay at. I believe the inn is full up at the moment, but there are plenty of other housing options to choose from.” Matthias said, leaning easily on the door.

“Okay. Lead the way.” D’Varrus said after a tick.

“Alright. Thank you Nora, I’ll be seeing you later, yeah?” Matthias said as he started to walk out the door with the woman.

“I’d like that. Same place?” Nora asked.

“You bet.” Matthias said. D’Varrus followed them out, and watched as Matthias gestured for him to follow him across the white sand to the nearest building. He took one step, then hopped back onto the cool wood of the door sill, gingerly rubbing the sole of his foot from the burning sting of the hot sand. Slipping off his pack, he brought out the boots and hastily pulled them on before stepping a short ways out onto the sand and slipping back on his pack.

He looked up to see Nora giving him a curious look paired with a friendly smile. His own mouth twitched into a slightly amused upturn as he tilted his head slowly towards the woman. “Thank you for your services.” He said quickly before crossing the sand over to Matthias.

The older man was waiting for him by an upraised structure, the majority of which seemed to be held up in the air.

“This here is the Merchantile. Normally you’d go here to get outfitted with any odds and ends you can’t get out on your own, but well, you’ve just got to catch the shop at the right time as the one who normally runs the Mercantile has been having issues with her hearing.” Matthias explained. “For now, James does what he can to mind the store, but if there is no one there you can try to run one of us down to help you find what you need. There is also the dovecote which I’ll show you later that opens up into the outpost where you can find a great deal of goods and services not available here.”

“If you keep going down this path you’ll see that we have a community pool set up, an many more things besides. We’ll wrap things up going down that path, but for now I’d like to show you the commons and the other half of Syka as you’ll likely spend most of your time on this side if you choose to stay.” Matthias said was he walked down the cobblestone path a short ways till it opened up into a much larger space that was packed with all sorts of structures.

“This raised structure here is a gathering place of sorts that will keep you cool and dry. We built initially as a way of encouraging the people here to come together from time to time so that the settlement felt a little less lonely. Now that we’ve grown a bit, its one of many places that Sykans like to gather as our population continues to increase. Over there we have the forge, the kitchens, a fish cleaning station, a kiln, and finally water storage. Feel free to use any of the stations, they’re built to be used by anyone in the community, so if you’ve got the itch, go ahead. We like to see people make good use of them.” Matthias explained as they walked out into the great open area, pointing out this and that.

D’Varrus remained looking at the massive tree that dominated the commons, with a few ponds nearby and what looked to be a living sculpture of a woman’s face. “What’s that?” He asked as they drew near.

“Oh that’s Kihala’s shrine. She protects the settlement and in return we built this shrine up around where she first appeared to us. There are also four animal statues scattered about the settlement, guardians she’s blessed us with to serve us in our time of need. That’s not to confuse it with the one that Eywaat blessed us with that enables the birds here to speak broken common. I suppose you noticed that already at Nora’s place.” Matthias said.

“Yeah.. It hadn’t really registered, but okay.” D’Varrus said quietly as he considered these names the man was throwing about. Its seemed this settlement was more than appeared which didn’t exactly sit right with him. He knew he had to be cautious with how he approached things here, and now he knew how important that was with such powerful individuals running about. If he wasn’t careful, he could end back up in a collar or worse, no matter what reassurances Matthias gave him to the contrary.

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Into the churn

Postby D'Varrus Tomva on April 28th, 2022, 2:41 am

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Quietly, D’Varrus followed Matthias up from the commons to where he pointed out a few more locations. First was a house that belonged to one of the founders named Randal, then the storm shelter and dovecote quickly followed as they rotated back across the beach rejoining the cobblestone pathway where it met the Panacea. Past that, following the cobblestone pathway closely, Matthias briefly pointed out the paths to the estuary cave, the tar pits, and Uta’s place whom he recommend he could come to if he wanted to learn about surviving in the jungle.

That peaked his interest more than a little bit, and he made a mental note to drop by as soon as he was settled. When they had crossed back to the other side, passing the Tidepool bar and Swing beach on their way, Matthias showed him to the dock and the Protea Inn, although they stopped aways away. More like D’Varrus stopped, and then Matthias stopped afterward.

D’Varrus had stopped because he saw something, or several somethings that he couldn’t quite tell if they were predator or prey. They looked like giant lizards, and if D’Varrus had been in his other form, his hackles would have been raised. As it was, his nostrils flared as his eyes went wide studying the figures with more than a passing interest.

“I wouldn’t worry about them. If you don’t bother the ixam, they won’t bother you. An I don’t mean to put you on the spot, but that’s not going to be a problem is it? I mean-”

“I know what you mean. I won’t hurt your pet ixam.” D’Varrus interrupted, and broke off his stare to look at Matthias who was studying his expression quietly.

“Well they’re not pets, they run pretty wild over there but they are well fed by Sykans so they aren’t particularly aggressive with Sykan’s. We actually have another kelvic that stays at the Inn and they don’t seem to pay her much mind, although still I would be wary. It could be that they don’t find the smell of Ocelots particularly offensive, but yours they might. They would know both scents from your wild counter parts in the jungle.” Matthias said.

“Counterparts? You mean there are other jaguars in the jungle?” D’Varrus asked quickly. Matthias had just said a lot that he wanted to pick apart, but he chose to start with the detail that interested him the most.

“Why yes, they’re usually solo predators that keep to themselves out in the jungle. We try to avoid them when we can, and generally they try to avoid us as well.” Matthias explained. D’Varrus thought about that for a moment as he scratched behind his left ear. It wasn’t exactly what he had expected to hear or feel at the news, his excitement quickly dissipating into the overwhelmingly bemused feeling he’d started to get since leaving Nora’s. This was too much, too fast, and his feelings simply couldn’t catch up to the information so he simply nodded.

“Okay. Where to next?” D’Varrus asked.

Next was taking the path down by the community pool so Matthias could show him the Isuas grove and the Bungalows, giving the Protea Inn a wide berth in the wake of his reaction earlier to the ixam. Then as they came upon a familiar sight, the Overwater Ranchos, they emerged off the path that wound through the jungle and out onto the white sand beach. There a few people had gathered. A few men that D’Varrus didn’t recognize and Nora. They had a fire going with a pig roasting on a spit, and a few sticks with skewered fish leaning up against it. Logs had been dragged out onto the white sand for seating, and more than a few drinks were being passed about.

D’Varrus hesitated at the edge of the gathering, and Matthias turned to look at him. “No need to be nervous, we’re all friends here.”

“Its not that.” D’Varrus said. It wasn’t that, no there was a larger problem. He smelled something familiar, as if maybe.. No, it wasn’t any of the people here but something they brought with them smelled a lot like the human he had run into yesterday. With his senses limited, it was hard to tell just what, but he knew he suddenly didn’t want to stay here if that person decided to show up.

“Then what is it? Not a fan of fires?” Matthias asked confused, and behind him Nora started to walk up.

“No, I’m.. I’m just tired. Its been a lot today. Is there a place I can stay?” D’Varrus asked quietly.

“Uh, yeah sure. You can stay at one of these Ranchos or at one of the Bungalows we past. Whichever you prefer.” Matthias said.

“What, you’re not staying for the party? I’m sure there are people here that would like to meet you.” Nora said with a slight smile.

D’Varrus shook his head. “I’m tired, but I’m not going to be far if you need me. I’ll stay in the Rancho you found me in if that’s alright.” D’Varrus said.

“Yeah, okay. You go ahead an rest then, and come find me tomorrow so we can get you sorted out for work.” Matthias said, patting him on the shoulder. Doing his best not to react, D’Varrus nodded slightly at both of them and moved to pass when Nora caught his arm.

“I know how hard it is to get a fresh start, to break from the life you knew and try something different. We all do, and so a few of us put together a little coin to get you by until you get settled. Here, take it.” She said, pushing a large pouch into his hands that jingled softly as he hefted it in his grip.

“Uh thanks, but I’d rather not be in debt to anyone.” D’Varrus said, and tried to give it back as Nora moved away from him a few paces.

“No, you keep it. Its a gift, not a debt. Your free here. It might take some time to get used to that, but you are. Feel free to come by my home anytime by the way.” Nora said before turning around to walk over to the gathering. D’Varrus stood there for a long tick before walking past the gathering, and down the dock to the last Rancho on his right. Going inside he was reminded of the events that transpired the evening before. They’d managed to clean it back up the shape it was in when he first laid eyes on it, and taking a second better look at it this time, he thought he could maybe even get used to living in such a place.

He placed the coin purse down and his backpack on the small table, then started stripping off his clothes. When he was bare, he crawled into his bed without transforming, and just simply laid on top of the sheets staring at the ceiling for a long time as his belly growled. There was so much of this place to get used to, so many questions, more than he could answer in one evening. Eventually despite himself, he fell asleep, only waking up briefly in the middle of the night to see a covered plate had been left just outside his Rancho. After scarfing down the charred pork, he went back to sleep, a state he would stay in until sunrise.


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