Completed Seashells By The Seashore I

Tazrae forages for a new food source for The Protea's guests.

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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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Seashells By The Seashore I

Postby Tazrae on August 31st, 2022, 3:14 pm

Timestamp: 85th of Summer, 522 A.V.


She stood at the edge of the sea. Tazrae had been an observer of the sea all her life, but there had never been a point before Syka that she loved it as she loved it now. It had been a backdrop to her life, something she had given very little thought about. The girl had been busy, in Riverfall, growing into a woman… too busy perhaps to learn about the land and water that sheltered them. But here, so much of what they enjoyed was provided by the sea. The sea meant food, comfort, and even in many ways the good weather. Without the warm waters and cooling breezes, Syka would be insufferable between the heat, humidity, and constant rain.

Instead, it was a place of indescribable beauty.

And so the woman with turquoise eyes stared, lost in thought, as the wind from the ocean untangled her caramel curls and twisted the now-longer hair around her face teasingly. Still, she stared, thoughtfully, always feeling a burning need to expand what she knew. Tazrae hummed under her breath, thinking of loves lost and loves found and what she needed out of life. The woman reflected on her history, where she had come from, and where she was going. That girl child in Riverfall would not recognize the woman standing here now.

Looking down, she glanced at the tools in her hands; tools for a new adventure. There was a large mesh bag clutched in one fist. It seemed like such a simple thing. There was also a beautiful necklace around her neck. She always wore it, a gift from the Founders on her last birthday. She was here to learn how to capture new food, food to use in her cooking and her Inn, to expand her recipes, and make her guests happy. So far, she knew how to chase lobsters both with traps and by hand, shrimp with both bait and by the skein, and dig for clams. But today… today she’d go after a new foe.

Scallops.

James said they were out there for the taking. He claimed looking for them in seagrass was the way to go. And where one was found, bunches were found often together. What else did she have to do today? Play with the Ixam? They’d join her or not, probably in the shallows, but not deeper out. Tazrae could build something, but she wasn’t in the mood nor did she have a need for anything new. She could train or go into the jungle, but that really held no appeal either. Taz was restless, lonely, and looking for something to fill the holes inside her. She wanted to provide something to someone even if it couldn’t be love.

The food seemed good enough.

Tazrae had some ideas for new recipes, ones that involved scallops, but she’d never actually hunted for them. She’d tried them at Mathias’ place – deep fried, baked, and sautéed. But she wanted to know the whole process, from where the food lived to how it got to her table. It had been easy enough to set some shrimp and crab traps off the dock in front of The Protea beneath the palapa before she came down here.

She knew these creatures’ ways so there would be enough of the crustations to create the dishes she wanted. And she could combine the scallops with the shrimp and lobster and make something incredibly tasty and different… if she could find the new form of bivalves.
Image
"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
Be savage, not average.
 
Posts: 1055
Words: 1501129
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
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Medals: 2
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Seashells By The Seashore I

Postby Tazrae on September 21st, 2022, 6:19 pm

The woman walked back up the beach, pausing in the shade of a palm, intending to leave her things not needed for the task at hand. An unusual shadow passed overhead, that of a large bird, though it seemed to be flying awkwardly… as if wounded. She only saw its shadow across the sand, huge and oversized, rather than seeing the bird itself. Taz looked up, scanning the trees and the horizon, even looking offshore. She doubted what she’d seen… the huge wingspan casting a shadow. No Falyndar bird was that big that she knew of. Eight feet at least… a full two feet across broader than she was tall. It had the shape of a small Wind Eagle.

Taz shook her head.

Then slowly she stripped off her clothing, leaving her sandals, skirt, and tank top on the beach well above the waterline. Her backpack she tucked under her clothing. Then naked, save for her jewelry and the mesh bag, the Innkeeper walked back to the water and stepped into the waves.

She waded waist deep and then dunked below the crystal-clear water. The necklace tightened itself automatically around her throat, becoming a choker, as she took a deep breath of seawater and began slowly overcoming the fear of drowning as her lungs changed under the magic of the necklace and adapted to filtering the air she needed out of the water. Breathing deeply once, twice, and swimming deeper, Tazrae had no need of a snorkel though she wished she had the rubbery fins she’d seen Juli sell at the Mercantile.

Still, she struggled on, wading deeper, scanning around with her mesh net in hand. According to Mathias, she was looking for a field of sea grass, the long stuff coming up oftentimes as tall as her ankles. Tazrae knew what a scallop looked like. She’d even brought an empty shell at the bottom of her mesh bag because as a Ranger, she’d learned that Search Image in hunting was everything.

Taz moved towards deeper water, perhaps a tenth of a mile offshore now until she waded knee deep into tall seagrass. Then she plunged her hand into her net, removed the scallop shell, and tucked it deep into the grassy foliage. Then, rising up, she swam higher and circled the spot where she saw planted the empty shell.

Scallops had bright colors on one side of their shells – usually oranges and whites, sometimes greens – and dark grey on the other side of their shell. As she circled the shell that was perched upright in the grass – hinge side down – she noted that the bright side was easy to spot while the deeper grey side blended the shell into the grass a great deal. Taz continued circling lazily, watching the shell, teaching her mind and eyes what to look for as she began her search. When she was absolutely certain she had a search image.

It was something she’d learned foraging. By searching for the same target repeatedly, Taz had taught herself to become more adept at looking for that particular kind of thing – be it prey, food, or even treasure. Tazrae called it developing a "search image," because it allowed her to have a very specific visual image in mind when scanning a landscape. This was true even underwater. So circling the planted empty scallop taught her brain what to look for.

Plucking the shell up once more, Taz deposited it in her bag and swam off… to start looking. She found, initially, that scallops weren’t easy to find. But once she spotted one, collected it, and looked around… it was as James had told her. They were in groups. Where one was, others hid in the grass close. And so she spent the afternoon collecting groupings, moving on, collecting more, moving on, and collecting even more.
Image
"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."
User avatar
Tazrae
Be savage, not average.
 
Posts: 1055
Words: 1501129
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
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Medals: 2
Mizahar Grader (1) Syka Seasonal Challenge (1)

Seashells By The Seashore I

Postby Tazrae on September 21st, 2022, 6:20 pm

Scalloping wasn’t fast nor easy. It took her bells of searching to find the shells, collect them, and sometimes they even zipped away by pressing out little water jets that made her give chase. They weren’t fast enough to evade her, but it did remind her that the little creatures were living things. Each time she found one, captured it, and slipped it into her bag it was a victory. She learned to grab them from behind, where the hinge met. If she grabbed the front of them, often they’d try to pinch her fingers or otherwise get her to drop them. So they weren’t altogether mindless… just slow and completely delicious to eat.

She circled beneath the waves a long time, letting the necklace of adaptation help her breathe.

Her mesh bag strained, full to capacity, as the bells passed and she got herself quite the haul. Once she had the bag so full it was at least the size of her torso, she carried the catch to the shore and hauled it up on the beach close to where she’d entered the water. It took her a few minutes of coughing up salt water to breathe normally again. And once she could, the actual real weight of the scallops riding her back hit her hard. They were heavy and caused her to drag her feet as she moved out of the water and up onto the sand.

As she sat it down in the sand, she frowned, noticing the disturbance there. There were claw marks in the sand, where something big had paced. It made impressions like Ixam claws, but the thick depressions smoothed down to points in the sand almost like talons.

Even more puzzling was that the claw marks were somewhat muddled by footprints. They weren’t Ixam though… nor any man she knew. It concerned Tazrae. Something was following her. So she took a good look at them, as if to memorize their look. Taz leaned down by them, noting they were bigger and wider than her own. Most likely, she decided, made by a man.

Taz tracked the prints, scallop bag slung over her shoulder and balanced on her back, up the beach, across the loose sand, and to where her things were stowed. She dropped the bag of bivalves to dress, then hefted the bag to carry it on the short walk to the porch of The Protea. She left the bag hanging on the railing, while she slipped out back, took a quick shower, and returned ready to start the process of cleaning the scallops.
Image
"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."
User avatar
Tazrae
Be savage, not average.
 
Posts: 1055
Words: 1501129
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 2
Mizahar Grader (1) Syka Seasonal Challenge (1)

Seashells By The Seashore I

Postby Tazrae on September 21st, 2022, 6:22 pm

Luckily, James had clued her in. Cleaning scallops got a whole lot easier when they were cold. So Tazrae dumped the main catch into a large tub she filled with water that was fresh from the roof cistern, and then gathered two smaller buckets she filled up with scallops and topped with water. She deposited them in her icebox to chill while she gathered a bait bucket to put the discards in. The shells she’d dry in the sun and either make crafts out of – candles and such – or crush up to help line her walkways around The Inn. Her icebox wasn’t big enough to hold the huge tub of scallops, so she’d have to process them in batches.

She grabbed a large bowl that she also filled with fresh water about halfway up to put the cleaned meat in she would save. Then she grabbed a big woven basket that she used for crab and lobster shells and rested in near where she decided she’d sit. Then Tazrae was ready to start.

When both buckets in the icebox were chilled, Taz retrieved one and sitting on the back porch began the cleaning process. The chill had opened the scallops up, making them far easier to clean. She had a thin knife, one with a razor sharp blade that was flexible enough to conform to the shape of the scallop when inserted. So she held the scallop in the palm of her left hand, inserted the knife into the shell, and cut both muscles away from one half. She pried the shell open, then scraped the guts away from around the muscle dumping them into the bait bucket. The muscle in the scallop was HUGE! Taz was impressed.

She cut it away cleanly from both shells, and dumped it into the large bowl half full of clean water. The shell went into the empty shell basket and she took up another scallop. It was obvious to Taz the task would take time and it was incredibly smelly. The bait bucket filled up faster than she liked, though there were gulls and small Ixam there waiting to clean it out periodically as she worked. Taz didn’t mind them doing that. By the pile before her, she’d filled the bait bucket several times before this cleaning session was done.

When one bowl was cleaned, Taz refilled it with soaking scallops, placing it in the ice box and retrieving the second one to clean while the first cooled down and the shells opened up. Three bells later and the huge mess of cleaned scallops to cook, Taz was happier than she imagined knowing this was a new resource for the Inn. With the shells taken out back, spread out in the backyard to dry, she tucked the bait bucket under the deck to use in the crab and shrimp traps in the next day or two.

Going back into the kitchen, she stowed all the raw meat in the ice box except for a small bowl so she could run some cooking tests. Then she filled the stove with wood, lit it, and got it warming up. She made a small fire in the bake oven as well, so she could both experiment with heat from direct heat from below and radiant heat in the oven. Taz studied the bowl of meat, deciding each scallop was just a small bite of meat, rich, and one that needed to be savored. She decided immediately to try to fry them but felt a batter would be too heavy.

So she mixed up some spices in a very light breading of flour and dusted them. Then she put them through a quick trip in coconut oil in a shallow fry pan that was hot enough that little bubbles were bubbling up. She left them in a few breaths only, cooking them only a few at a time so the oil didn’t cool prematurely. She tested more than one, letting them fry until the centers were barely hot, then draining them on a towel and eating them right away.
Image
"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."
User avatar
Tazrae
Be savage, not average.
 
Posts: 1055
Words: 1501129
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
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Medals: 2
Mizahar Grader (1) Syka Seasonal Challenge (1)

Seashells By The Seashore I

Postby Tazrae on September 21st, 2022, 6:24 pm

Taz also experimented with no seasoning, just rolling them in melted butter and broiling them in her oven for a couple of chimes. She tasted the results and decided it would be delicious in a meal with them tossed into pasta with garlic and olive oil. Taz also nibbled them raw, liking them, then decided to marinade them in lemon and lime and serve them in a salad.

This she liked less, not because it wasn’t good, but it just turned the scallop into a bite of lemon and lime flesh, rather than keeping the integrity of what the scallop uniquely tasted like.

Once her experimentation was over with, Taz took out one of her hand-written recipe books, flipped to a blank page, and got pen and ink from her desk. She tapped her chin and thought about what she wanted to do to elevate the new food source for the Inn. Taz loved this part of her job… experimental cooking, looking at creating recipes to feature at the Inn. She only hoped a few people would drop by while she was experimenting, so she could get some feedback on her creations.

Glancing through the open air of the Inn, she noted that the beach was empty, and there was no one coming down the pathway. All she heard above the breeze and the sound of the greenery around the Inn blowing in the ocean breeze was the distant cry of what might have sounded like an Eagle well above the Inn, more than likely hunting. She gave it no thought, the tracks on the beach and the trail leading up to her things were a memory tucked into the back of her brain. She had more important things to do. Taz tapped her chin with her quill, then began to write.

Words: 2635

Image
"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."
User avatar
Tazrae
Be savage, not average.
 
Posts: 1055
Words: 1501129
Joined roleplay: May 3rd, 2020, 2:02 pm
Location: Syka
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 2
Mizahar Grader (1) Syka Seasonal Challenge (1)


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