Closed Jungle Guide At Your Service Pt. 2

Tazrae meets Kamilla for some good old fashioned Wilderness Surivval lessons.

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Jungle Guide At Your Service Pt. 2

Postby Tazrae on November 9th, 2022, 2:48 am

Timestamp: 68th of Fall, 522 A.V.


When Kamilla climbed out of the hammock and out from underneath the tarp, Tazrae went about breaking up their mini camp site. As she did so, unfastening the stakes from the tarp, wrapping them up neatly, and then pulling and folding the tarp… she gestured above them. It Kamilla tipped her head up, she would see, high up in the huge trees around them, Ixam. The entire lounge that went with Tazrae and Kamilla were up there, in essence lounging on the branches, stretched out sleeping, or keeping an eye on the area for them.

Taz tucked the now-folded tarp into her backpack, unfastened the hammock, and rolled it up into a small tight tube of fabric. That went back into her backpack as well. She unfastened the half-hitch, rolled up the rope, bundled it, and shoved it in the backpack as well. Without a doubt, the thing should have been overly full by now, but it retained its lightweight feel and still looked like nothing actually was in it. Taz did all of this mostly with one hand, or both while she was gently mindful of where Khari was positioned on her chest. It was a new thing for the ranger, awkward, but she was more than willing to figure it out as she went. It was like a lot of things in her life she was working out. There were new priorities and new goals, and an overriding need for security and safety. Part of that entailed building up Syka, making it safer, and encouraging its denizens to be stronger.

She needed to be here, now, present in the moment and teaching this stranger. And she was going to do it to the best of her ability.

Once she’d packed all the gear up, Taz shouldered her backpack over the top of the baby wrap and moved them both out. She didn’t get back to the wildlife trail, there was no sense in it. Instead, she started down the drainage they were on, determined to follow it to one of the major rivers. If Kamilla got too tired, she could always call down the Ixam and they could ride home. And in that too was another lesson, though none of them wore tack today and it would be harder to manage them bareback than with their saddles.

After a chime or two moving out, Taz began to speak again. “I can tell you are a strong person, with an iron will, but it won’t be enough. To survive in the wilderness, you need to do a few things. The five things you actually need to survive are food, water, clothing, sleep, and shelter. With your magic – as long as it's functioning – you can create water, make shelter, and have a fire. What you won’t have easy access to is food, clothing, and good sleep. If bugs are eating you alive, for example, you won’t be able to sleep. If you are worried about predators, soaking wet and shivering, or starving… you won’t sleep. You can go a long time without food, though I don’t recommend it. But when you get sleep deprived, you make stupid mistakes. So, remember, do whatever you can to get good sleep. Make yourself comfortable. Barricade yourself in against predators. Create a fire that smokes to keep bugs away… spreading the ashes as I talked about. You will have to get clothing somehow, be that from killing something and taking its skin and tanning it… or weaving something from plants. Since you are a mage, I’d recommend learning morphing and changing your skin to fur so you can self-insulate without clothing… something anything. Be innovative.” Taz said as she walked, moving in and out of the thick brush, seemingly finding just the right trails and places that were open enough to pass. After a while, she drew her machete and started cutting her way through the brush when it got too thick.

“So, there’s a huge part of wilderness survival that is mental, Kamilla. Everyone thinks they will be fine… that they won’t panic or grow distraught but the truth is it’s really easy to lose your mind out here alone.” Tazrae said, looking thoughtfully at the Konti. “It's hard to explain until you experience it, but you must keep calm. You need good sleep. If you get sleep deprived, you’ll make bad choices and those choices can lead to you getting hurt and even killed. It's like out here when you walk, you must watch each step and place it with care. When you get tired, you start sliding around and not paying attention to where you walk. That gets you snakebit or scorpion stung faster than you can imagine. So, you need to keep your mind busy. If you are moving, you’ll need to schedule rests… and overnights. You’ll need to look for good places to regroup and gather your strength. Or say if you run across a windfall of fruit or food… camp by it and get your reserves built up, get your sleep caught up… refuel, and rebuild.” She added as she walked, slowing her stride for Kamilla to make sure the Konti could keep up.

“We are following the drainage downward… looking for a bigger water source than the little streams we keep passing,” Taz explained, having a general idea of where they were but not really having a destination in mind. They wove in and out of big and small trees. Above, the Ixam followed, curious. Everything they passed was technically a teaching opportunity. She’d find the next lesson soon, but she wanted it to be about food. Kamilla needed to know at least that much. Until then, she talked about psychology.

“Believe it or not, sometimes you need to imagine things…. conversations with loved ones… thinking you aren’t alone by inventing an imaginary friend… or companion. Sometimes it's enough to draw a face on a rock and talk to that rock in your camp. Tidy your camp. Dispose of your waste. Do chores. Weave fish traps… make cordage. Keep busy. If you keep busy, you won’t sit around thinking about all the things that will eventually scare the shit out of you… like finding your way home or how far from nowhere you are. You need to plan, pay attention, and note the details. We haven’t even begun to talk about direction and how to know which way you are going… orientation, that kind of thing. If you have paper, keep a journal. Even grab a stick and tick off the days on it… so you track how long you are here. No paper? Peel bark and use a charcoal sliver from one of your fires… paper and pen!” She added, coming down off the ridge they were traveling along and down finally, to where a bigger stream tumbled through the drainage, formed from the multiple smaller streams Taz had been halfway following that merged into a larger one. Once she got to that stream she paused.

It was a shallow stream, full of stones and full of life. There were no deep pools to conceal man-eating fish or crocodiles. Instead, it was perfect for other things. “There’s food here,” Taz said, smiling at Kamilla. “A lot of it.” She added, excited, as she lightly tracked down to where she splashed into the stream. Then she beckoned to Kamilla to follow. “Walk upstream with me…” She said, following a shallow riffle where a little bit deeper pool emptied. The pool was on a corner, and was no deeper than a foot, a foot and a half, with the mixed substrate on the bottom. Taz walked to the side of the stream and broke off a small tree no bigger than four inches in diameter with her hatchet and stripped it.

“I’m just making a pointer…. can you kneel down in the water, tuck your head under and look at where I’m pointing with the stick?” Taz asked, then waited until Kam did as she asked, urging her to sit in the stream with her head underwater at the edge of the riffle that spilled out of the pool. Then Taz walked up beside her, and used the length of cut tree, to gesture into the pool. She pointed out what looked like black stones sticking out of the sand and gravel, little sharp ends to the sky. They were gathered here and there, not clustered, and looked a little different than stones… some even had a bit of algae on them.

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When she was sure Kam had gotten a good look, Taz carefully stepped up and into the small shallow pool and made a grab for one. Pulling it out of the water she showed it to Kam. It was a bivalve creature that had its shell clamped tightly. It fit into Tazrae’s palm neatly so it was a good bite or two big. “This is a freshwater mussel. It’s related to clams and scallops. They are absolutely delicious.” She said, then carried it over to the bank.

Setting it up on the bank, Tazrae closed her eyes, and her hand suddenly filled with extruded Res. She coated the shell in her sunset sparkling res and flipped it, coating it again. The Res vanished, and suddenly the mussel began to steam as Kamilla realized Taz had superheated the creature, cooking it inside its shell. The thing popped open in the next moment, and Taz drew a small eating knife out of her belt and slipped it into the open shell, severing first one muscle and than the next so she could use the knife to open the muscle fully. She sliced the meat diagonally and used her blade tip to scrape out the stomach. Once it was clean, she controlled the res again, cooling it immediately, and reached out to pick up the shell. She offered the palm-sized creature to Kam.

“Try it… it really is good… and you saw how many there are. Have yourself a feast and cook it without a fire using your Reimancy. Just make sure when you find a pool like that filled with muscles, that you don’t muddy it all up. Stand downstream, hit them one at a time, and wait for the water to clear before you step again and try for another.” Taz advised while she waited for Kam to sample the meal.

“Any questions yet?” She asked, curiously, wondering how Kam felt about all of this.

Words: 1749
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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 Guide At Your Service Pt. 2

Postby Kamilla on November 10th, 2022, 2:21 pm

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After their much needed break, Kamilla felt she’d regained most of her strength, thanks in part to her heart of palm meal, probably. She watched as her guide began to take down their shelter, looking no less apt at it than she had been at putting up. When Tazrae gestured upward, Kamilla’s eyes followed widening in surprise and a hint of unease. Just as Tazrae had said, above them was the entire lounge of Ixam, splayed across the numerous branches of the surrounding trees. It was unsettling to think that had she been on the menu, making her way through the jungle alone, she would have had no idea that there were so many hungry eyes on her and so near too. It was to her, a very good example of what Tazrae had been saying about death in the jungle coming from anywhere but head on. She reminder herself to remain on the Ixam’s good side.

Reluctantly drawing her attention away from the lounge above them, Kamilla frowned as she watched her guide stuffing object after object into ger pack, with no sign of it growing more full. She hadn’t given it much thought, despite having been staring at the pack for their entire hike… but even the thought of the tarp, rope and stakes coming out of the seemingly light weight pack was unusual. It had to be magical, she decided.

It wasn’t long before the trio were off again, this time Kamilla was sure to cast a glance upward at regular intervals to keep track of and observe the Ixam, how they moved… Tazrae had said that, if not for Kamilla’s presence, she would be up there too. The Konti was having trouble imagining how that would be easier for the woman but given what she’d seen of Tazrae in the very short period of time since they’d met, Kamilla was certain if anyone could do it, it was her jungle guide. The woman seemed to thrive in the jungle rather than survive, it seemed almost natural to her and Kamilla realised that it was a kind of strength that she was now envious of.

Thankfully, the subject of her very niche form of jealousy had already begun the next part of her informative lecture, while Kamilla pulled another branch to use as a new walking stick, this one was a bit longer though, surely an improvement. The topic of discussion was the importance of good sleep, which the Konti could definitely relate to, when using magic one wanted to be as present and focused as possible, difficult to do when exhausted. Tazrae mentioned using morphing to create fur, that seemed like a great solution to her predicament. She was well aware of morphing and it’s capabilities, even if she had no idea on where to begin learning it. Morphing had been the deceased, cat obsessed, mage Felius’ magic, what remained of his psyche currently lived within Kamilla’s own… Felius had hoped to master morphing so that he could become a cat himself, unfortunately he’d never achieved that goal. There was also Kinapak, the gorgeous warden initiate who had saved her from an encounter with a summoned glassbeak. He had used morphing to switch forms so seamlessly that it was undeniably elegant.

”Are you skilled in morphing too?” Honestly, Tazrae’s magical knowledge was beginning to make Kamilla feel inferior, clearly she was sorely lacking. It was even worse that she’d noted Kamilla’s strong will as insufficient when it came to survival as well, but it only made her more determined to keep up.

The thought of needing to have imaginary conversations or… friends, was something the Konti would never have thought to consider, though she could definitely understand the need to keep busy. Idle minds tended to wander… and in a survival situation she was certain that wandering would only ever lead to darker places.

The terrain was still very muddy as she followed along, much easier to listen now than it had been before, but that didn’t mean it had suddenly become easy to focus on where she stepped, what she touched and committing what Tazrae was saying to memory. She did however note that writing or at least keeping track of her days would be a productive routine.

While they moved, Kamilla had noticed the increasing number of smaller streams gathering the further they progressed until they’d finally arrived at a wider shallow stream, apparently full of food, according to her guide. Following Tazrae into the water and upstream, Kamilla was very curious as to where all this food that Tazrae was talking about was. Looking around she saw none of it. Perhaps she’d meant the potential that something edible would show up for a drink of water?

Following her guide’s instructions with a puzzled look on her face, Kamilla lowered herself to her knees, enjoying the feeling of the cool water washing away whatever dirt and sweat had stuck to her skin and scales, before taking a deep breath and dipping her head beneath the surface of the water. Of course she could breathe underwater, but after the warning about how most water in the jungle wasn’t good to drink, she wasn’t about to take a chance.

Kamilla noticed that Tazrae was pointing to a bunch of unusual looking dark rocks protruding between the regular rocks and stones. She watched as the other woman snatched one from the stream, lifting her own head back above the water to hear the explanation that would surely follow.

”I didn’t even know mussels could be found in freshwater.” she commented, though it was unsurprising because clearly there was a lot that she didn’t know. Watching again as Tazrae used her res to cook the creature before expertly opening and slicing it up, while Kamilla noted the lesson about approaching them from downstream. When offered she’d eagerly take the mussel from her guide and give it a taste. As expected, the texture was squishy but the flavour, while Kamilla wasn’t sure she’d call it delicious just yet, she could certainly admit it was flavourful, definitely far more than the pulp from the palm. ”It’s good.” she commented, eyes already back on the rest of the easy meals waiting patiently in the stream. How very useful this lesson had been.

When it came to questions, Kamilla had a few. ”What happens if I muddy up the stream? And should I be concerned about predators? Both in the water and coming to it for a drink? Is this water safe to drink? And how can I most easily tell?” those were the most relevant to their current situation, the rest could wait. ”You know, I’ve barely just met you and already I know of two easy to find food sources as well as a plethora of useful knowledge. How did you learn all of this?” Kamilla wondered if the woman had a teacher of her own… if she did, they must have been quite magnificent.

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Jungle Guide At Your Service Pt. 2

Postby Tazrae on November 11th, 2022, 11:50 pm

Tazrae found herself enjoying the time with Kamilla. She was trying to decide why exactly when it occurred to her. They had no family together. They had no history together. Their relationship was going to form on its own organically and not forced by the rite of birth or with ties of blood. They could choose to like each other or not. They could support each other or not. Taz was more than willing to take the high ground and support Kamilla until she could survive on her own in the Wilderness and see what developed in that relationship. She hoped for friendship, though truthfully, she wasn’t sure what they had in common. And that was the crux of the matter anyhow. Commonalities lead to ties that could bind. Magic wasn’t a strong enough commonality. They needed more than that. Taz hoped she could find it and build a bit of trust between the two women.

The Innkeeper-turned-Ranger laughed at Kamilla’s question about Morphing. She laughed so abruptly that Khari squeaked a bit and decided to wake up. Taz spent a goodly amount of time soothing the baby and finally unwrapping her from her wrap a bit to cuddle her close and play with her to calm her down. But she did eventually get a moment to answer Kamilla’s questions between taking care of the baby while she was standing calf-deep in the stream. “You’ll find I know a little bit about a whole lot of things, Kamilla. But in knowing a little about a whole lot, I’m skilled in nothing really. But in regards to Morphing specifically, I might at best be able to grow some claws or elongate my teeth. I need to put some effort into learning more. It’s just… the Gods sometimes have other plans for us. And they derailed me from that pathway when they gifted me with an Ixam scale that lets me take the form of my companions.” Taz said, gesturing at the lounge that was scattered around the stream, some drinking downstream, some playing in the riffle above them. “I stopped practicing Morphing when the shortcut presented itself and ran with them instead. I should really get back to my studies.” She said, shaking her head. “It sounds crazy, doesn’t it? One person has two forms and not a Kelvic? But that’s me…. and I don’t regret it in any way. It was a gift from Caiyha for work I did here in The Maw.” She added, using the long stick she’d cut to brace herself as she bundled Khari back up.

The infant didn’t truly have a lot of staying power to be awake long, not after being fed. Though with Tazrae taking her out, she seemed pretty well used to being moved and jostled bundled against her mother’s chest.

“I think I am more curious than most people. I like to read. And I’m a restless person, so I don’t often sit quietly and think. I roam, seeing what’s over that horizon or what’s up that tree. I talk to the denizens of the jungle too… any of them that will hear me. And I’ve made friends with several old souls around the area that are something of guardians of The Maw. I call them the Old Ones. I find their company and their stories fascinating. And since I’m a decent cook and a fair storyteller myself, I often bring them things or trade story for the story to get them to open up.” Taz admitted, then grinned. “They are going to love meeting Khari. I hope she gets to grow up knowing all of them.” The Innkeeper added, wondering what her baby daughter was going to think of a Saltwater Crocodile Kelvic or someone like Brosh with all his giant gentle ways.

At Kamilla’s comment about the mussels being found in freshwater, Tazrae grinned. “Well, guess what else I’m going to show you? There are clams here too, but we need to get down to the river to find them. And I’ll have to find a place to stash Khari, because teaching you to forage for them is going to be a little tricky since we both need to get really wet.” She said, giving Kamilla her mussel lesson and then waiting for the questions to come. They did, and Taz was happy to answer them.

“If you work upstream, you shouldn’t ever muddy it up… just walk up the flow from lower in the stream to higher. The place where the stream runs into a bigger stream is called a confluence. A place where the stream originates either a spring or melt-off or something is called a headwater. The natural flow of the water will carry the kicked-up debris downstream past you always keeping your water clear. If you work downstream from upstream, you’ll never harvest a single mussel. You won’t be able to see them. And that leads me to another thing…. a safety thing. If you have to cross a stream that’s raging… and that will happen at times… never plan to cross straight across the stream. It won’t ever work out that way. People drown crossing some of these flooding streams. I am serious, Kamilla. Take stream crossings seriously.” Taz said, walking out of the pool into the shallower stream water where it was riffling across gravel and only about 4 inches deep.

“This stream… let's use it as an example and as practice. It gets really deep here. Remember those debris nests I told you to watch for?” She said, gesturing with her stick at some of the tangles of broken branches, captured leaves, all twisted in bunches up in the tree branches on either side. “Those tell me this stream gets over my head at times. So … I need to teach you how to cross it safely or at least more safely in a mindful way than you would normally cross it. Right now, we can see the water… we can see boulders and logs in the water… and avoid them. But when it's flooded, you can’t exactly see those things can you?” Taz said, glancing around, pointing with her stick. There were a few bigger rocks, but in general, the riffle was calm and there were no hazards.

“But when it's flooded… you can’t see hazards. Those could be deep deep pools, boulders, strainers, undercut banks, or bends in the water where the current gets fast and deep. If you slip and fall, you are going to have a hard time standing back up. You’re going to take a wet violent ride, more often than naught. Even a light current can drag you miles downstream. And you don’t know what the current is going to push you up into. There’s something called a strainer. It’s a log or bush in the stream that the water can pass through but you can’t. Maybe you are bigger than the opening the water rushes through… or there’s a mass of branches that let the water go through but won’t let you pass through. You can get easily pinned against a log, amidst branches, and held down.” Taz explained.

Then she went on. “Cross downstream of strainers. If there looks to be a boulder or other danger, avoid it. The safest place to cross is slow deep water. Shallower swift water can be super dangerous. Cross where water is slow. Getting wet is better than getting drowned. There’s something about water that creates more force. It gets heavier and denser the faster it rushes, so be mindful of that.” Taz added, then demonstrated a technique to Kamilla.

“When you cross, cut a walking stick for both hands if you can. Then cross streams one step at a time. Streambeds can be ridiculously slippery if they have stones and crazy deep with mud if they don’t. So pick your foot placement carefully, move one foot at a time and keep two points of contact at all times. If you cut both your walking sticks, move one, then move a foot, then move another foot, then move another stick. Use your sticks to poke the terrain before you, making sure the mud doesn’t deepen out or something. If you are crossing alone, face upstream, and plan your route to angle diagonally. Don’t cross your legs ever. Move one foot over towards the far shore, plant it firmly, then move the other one to join it. It’s a weird way to walk, but it’s a very safe way to walk. Make small careful steps. Walk sideways upstream and lean into the current. Be secure in your steps and firmly plant your feet before moving again.” Taz added, mimicking the walk. She looked like a human crab moving across the stream.

“Lean into your sticks and into the current. If the current gets too strong, let one pole go and use the remaining one two-handed. Sometimes when the current is too strong, it's better to use one pole rather than two… you can stay more stable. And if you have at least three people, you can use one person to break the current and cross in a triangular formation.” Taz said. “Just have one person be upstream, and have the other two behind and downstream of them…. they will break up the water pressure and make it easier for the two people behind them to cross. This is good for a strong person and two weaker ones… say a mother with two small children… or a man with two women, that sort of thing.” Taz added. “You can cross in pairs with the strongest upstream and the weakest beside them downstream… pair crossings aren’t as easy as triangular crossings but you can still do it.” Taz added. “Just feel your way across and be sure of each step before you take it. Remember debris builds up behind boulders and gets scoured out in front of them… “ She mused, then gestured.

“We aren’t very far from the confluence with the Syka River and this stream. Let’s walk along the bank on the far side until we hit the river and I’ll show you how to get clams.” Taz said, beckoning to Kamilla to cross with her and start the downstream walk. “Any questions about water crossings?” Taz asked, discarding her stick as soon as she was up the bank on the far side, and turning to walk downstream along the stream.

Words: 1744
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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
Be savage, not average.
 
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Jungle Guide At Your Service Pt. 2

Postby Kamilla on November 14th, 2022, 3:20 pm

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The Konti was caught off guard by her guide’s laughter, especially since she didn’t understand the humor in her question about morphing, but clearly the other woman had found it somewhat amusing. Kamilla watched as Khari woke up, enjoying the way Tazrae held and soothed her in her arms. She took the time to cast a glance towards more of the freshwater mussels, had she had a bag she might have taken one home for Jehu, she wondered if he’d already tried them.

Tazrae eventually answered the question, once again surprising the Konti with how little she knew about her guide and simultaneously how much there was to know about her. For starters, even the skill to grow some claws appealed to Kamilla on some level, mostly to her desire for knowledge and power, but the revelation that she could also become an Ixam was an incredibly intriguing one. Of course, her reasoning for falling behind when it came to morphing made complete sense, now that Kamilla knew Tazrae already had the ability to fully change her shape. ”I’d very much like to see that too, sometime.” she said, realising she’d said the same thing when her guide had mentioned roaming above with the rest of the Ixam… suddenly the previous comment from the woman made a lot more sense… as well as her apparent affinity for the reptiles.

As for whether Kamilla found it crazy… ”You know, before coming to Syka, I might have thought it hard to believe… but not so much anymore.” she said, feeling that she owed Tazrae a bit more of herself now as well, in return. Of course, her guide hadn’t implied that she was sharing the information as part of an exchange, Kamilla had just developed the habit during her time on Sahova, where nothing was free. More than that, she wanted to share. ”But perhaps I’m just biased since I kind of share your circumstance…” Not that hers had come as a reward from any god(that she knew of) but still, Kamilla did possess two different forms.

There was a brief flash of light and where the Konti had been standing with pale skin and hair, purple eyes and iridescent scales… now stood a tanned skin woman, one inch taller with dark brown eyes and long wavy locks of dark hair. ”This is my true self… the Konti form was a result of the fall of 519… I don’t know if you were here but all the residents woke up that season as they would be, had they been born to a different race. Of course when the season ended everyone I know of returned to their original form, whereas I… for whatever reason, retained both.” It wasn’t exactly a secret, anyone from Syka who’d known her prior to that season was aware of it… though it still felt like something worth sharing. ”It’s definitely not as impressive as becoming an entirely different creature, but it is an unexpected gift that’s kept me alive in several instances. So much so, that I’ve kind of grown attached to it, it’s as if they’re both me now and I want to spend equal time in each form.” she shrugged, she’d never really thought on the reason she’d spent most of the season in her Konti form instead, it had just become comfortable to her.

It seemed that as well as their dual forms, Kamilla and Tazrae also shared a curious nature… but the way in which they explored their curiosity was quite different. Tazrae described feeling restless and wanting to get up and explore, befriending ‘old souls’ as she put it. The new mother went on to mention how she was eager to introduce her baby to them… something that, to Kamilla, really revealed the extent to which her guide trusted these ‘old souls’. She wondered if they were ghosts or something else.

Kamilla hadn’t realised but she’d been smiling at the little display of motherly love, warm skinned arms crossed over her chest. ”It seems we differ there, I prefer stillness… to be left alone with knowledge. To read and understand a book unbothered… though, perhaps I’d be different if I had as easy a time surviving the wilderness as you did.” she added with an amused tone. ”It sounds like there’s a lot of interesting places around Syka… what would you say has been the most interesting?” Kamilla had never considered what could be just beyond her reach within the jungle, it would certainly serve as further motivation to improve her survival skills.

Their brief moment of sharing aside, her guide was back in full swing, mentioning them foraging clams as well as giving her a very helpful course in crossing moving water. At the mention of stashing the baby away, Kamilla frowned, a look of concern at the thought of leaving a newborn baby to fend for itself… especially around the Ixam which Tazrae mentioned would eat almost anything. Of course, she was also very aware that the mother was far more knowledgable than she was when it came to survival, and with the revelation that she was also a part-time Ixam, their habits as well. She wouldn’t be surprised if Khari ended up cozy and more protected than they were.

Her reason for harvesting mussels, starting downstream of them, made complete sense. Wouldn’t be much help if the water was too muddy to see… something simple yet very useful to know. Kamilla nodded along to the information as well as the instructions on how to safely cross both with or without other people to assist her. She was offered a lot of information, confluence, headwater, strainers… a visual representation of the ‘bird nests’ that indicated how high the water in an area could be at times. All of it Kamilla did her best to commit to memory, noting that every last bit would be useful to her. Since she was most often alone, she paid extra attention, hiding her amusement, when Tazrae demonstrated the safety crab walk.

Despite feeling silly, Kamilla did her best to follow along, mimicking the unusual stride her guide had taken to cross the river. She could certainly see it’s value. When they reached the other end and Tazrae discarded her walking stick, Kamilla did not, holding onto it in case she needed to push more things out of the way. ”I don’t have any questions on crossings… except perhaps… can you think of any magical solutions to it?” she said as she tried her best to keep up. ”Oh… and if I am caught in an area that’s flooding and need to wait it out… what would be the best option? Perhaps climbing a tree?”

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Jungle Guide At Your Service Pt. 2

Postby Tazrae on November 15th, 2022, 12:47 am

It was odd how Tazrae thought Kamilla and herself would have so little in common, but it was turning out they had a lot of parallels in their lives… not just with magic, but with magical doings. As they walked and reviewed more Wilderness Survival lore, Taz felt more and more comfortable in Kamilla’s presence. The woman had far too much class for Syka, that much was evident, but that fact didn’t get in her way of learning. Sensing Kamilla had the same deep driven passion for knowing things, Taz tried to share as much as she could with her.

“I’ll shift and show you sometime… maybe when we are in the river. I can stay drier as an Ixam and still show you clams too.” Taz said, then paused when Kamilla suddenly blended from a Konti to a human in a flash of brief bright light. Taz’s jaw dropped open and she stared. “I wasn’t here then. I didn’t come to Syka until 520 in the spring. That would have been amazing to see. Why do you think you retained your form?” She asked, curious. No one ever mentioned a season where everyone was another race, but then again, no one tended to mention the cursed season now either. It was very rarely spoken of.

“Mine has kept me alive as well. We…. We actually have a lot in common, Kamilla.” Taz said softly, shaking her head. “I believe my Ixam ability because I live it… but it's so hard to believe in someone else, even if I just witness it. Which form do you like better? You are stunning in either one. Do you feel at home in the Konti now like you do as a human? Of course, they are both you… our souls don’t change. That much I know for a fact. Regardless of how we look, we are always who we are… by choice.” Taz told her smiling. “Pretty hair… I’ve always wanted long loose curls like that.” She admitted, reaching up and grabbing one of her wayward spirals and giving it a tug. “Instead, I have… a mess.” She laughed, her hair bouncing.

“You say it's not as impressive as becoming a whole different creature, but to me it is. Your Konti self can swim underwater and have a whole host of gifts your human form doesn’t have. Being a human myself, I often feel like we lack a lot in regard to the other races. We make up for it in intelligence and ingenuity, but it's still, not the same as having racial… gifts.” Taz said thoughtfully, still watching Kamilla.

“When we go for the clams, you’ll want to take your Konti form. You won’t mind the wet that way.” Taz advised, smiling, as she bent down to kiss Khari’s head again and nuzzle her daughter. She’d been telling Kamilla about the Old Ones and how they were scattered throughout The Maw. She herself wasn’t so different from them now. Though, she supposed, she could live a bit of her life with Syka before time and space pushed her away.

“I have a twin that is like that. Her name is Kamrae, and she works at the Panacea. I’m the nervous fidgety always having to be moving one. She embodies stillness and patience. You’d like her. I call her Kami for short, though I hate anyone calling me Tazi or Tazzy. Odd how that works. Many people call me Taz and I don’t mind it though.” She offered, then thought about what Kamilla asked.

“The most interesting is Pavena’s old library which we call Reclaimed Knowledge. I’ll take you there sometime if you want… maybe we can stop and visit with one of the Old Ones on the way. They like meeting mages.” Taz added.

“The library still has relatively unscathed books, a ghost who thinks she’s still the librarian, and maps, paintings, the artwork of all kinds really. There’s a whole room of Silas Journals there too. I did a bunch of research on the Monsters of Mizahar… and Reclaimed Knowledge had a ton of information on Pre-Valterrian terrors… but nothing after the Valterrian. It fell to ruin before then. Talia, the librarian there, keeps mentioning something about a Mainframe. I need to go do more research about it because it sounds like another sort of monster. I talked to the Mulgon about it, and he told me that the huge dangerous mainframes were all gone except in a place called Sahova that’s far from here. He said the mainframes and the golems that ran them were frighteningly powerful. I’d like to know more about them. I guess the one in that place…. Sahova… is a woman named Drainira.” The Innkeeper said.

“It’s funny… I’m fighting a monster in my life… something I’m trying to discover its origins and what exactly it is… and I keep running across more and more monsters out there that are not the ones I’m fighting, but it keeps leading me down more and more pathways of knowledge. Now I have all this lore on monsters – I literally know most of what’s out there intimately – but not that one. I even filled an entire journal on monsters Post-Valterrian and gave a copy of that book to Talia so her library would include post-Valterrian monsters… but I have this burning desire to understand mainframes and supervisor golems now. “ She said what a shake of her head.

“I’m sorry… that’s probably beyond what you want to hear. You are, after all, here to learn Wilderness Survival, not about my obsessive hobbies of research.” The Innkeeper apologized and got back on topic. There was a lot more she could tell Kamilla about food, and she should probably cover the basics as they walked the edge of the stream looking for its confluence in the Syka River.

Kamilla’s last question brought a smile to her face. “If it was a last resort, sure climb a tree. But try a hill first, if you think you have time. Get higher… as high as you can before you climb. You never know when a tree will have its roots undermined, even if its ridden out many floods before. Remember, that last flood it made it through, whatever tree you climb, didn’t have to hold your weight as part of its survival. Even in a Konti form, stormwaters can drown you. They are often violent. And climbing a tree gets you exposed in the elements where you will be hard to retrieve… lofted just exposes you to wind, and rain, but if you get in that situation, maintain your body temp in a bubble of Reimancy. Try not to get yourself in a situation where you need to be rescued. Be smart and you can avoid vulnerability. If it starts dumping rain, especially in the jungle, get out of these drainages. This V-shaped area we are following downhill and downstream? That’s drainage.” Taz added, as she turned them downhill and was following the stream down.

As they walked, it gave Tazrae more of a chance to talk about food. “So let me go back over food… you are hungry, naked, no weapons… alone.” She said, getting into the spirit of what Kam wanted to learn and her list of requirements.

“I said avoid clear or white berries. Avoid yellow berries too… except if they look like yellow raspberries. Eat those.. they are delicious and called cloudberries. They taste a little like apple pie… cinnamon included.” Taz added.

“We talked about mushrooms… a lot is great for you, but don’t trust them all… because more than half can kill you dead in seconds. So don’t handle them, don’t eat them, and don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth after touching them. Oh… avoid plants with thorns. Another good rule of thumb is shape and texture. Plants with glossy shiny leaves are often poisonous. And leaves that come in groups of threes…. poisonous… even to the touch. You’ll get a nasty rash with most of them. Don’t eat any plants that have flowers that look like umbrellas. Oh, and milky or discolored sap is also a warning sign of a plant being toxic. Seed pod plants… or plants with beans… toxic. So avoid all things that look like beans, even peanuts. Oh and there’s one more thing. If you smell almonds around anything, avoid it. Almond is bad out in the wild.” She added, pausing for a moment as the stream took a turn.

Taz had to figure out how to get them off the mountain and down into the river valley where Syka was without getting them killed. But the brush was getting thick, as it always did alongside good-sized streams. So, she pulled her machete out and began swinging it, slicing plants off on their stems with the level of her wrist, using minimum effort for maximum return by cutting downwards and using her whole body to engage the swing of the blade fluidly. When the path was easier to traverse with the green growing things cleared out a bit, Taz turned to Kamilla, grabbing a breather for both of them and rubbing Khari’s back to soothe the babe from the swinging motions of her braking trail with the machete.

“There’s something called an edibility test you can do on strange foods out here. Do you want to hear about it?” Taz asked, curious, as she took another break for Kamilla’s benefit. They were about halfway to the river, so there was plenty of time to talk. Taz just needed to know what sorts of things Kamilla was interested in learning. If it was everything, that was fine too.

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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 Guide At Your Service Pt. 2

Postby Kamilla on November 15th, 2022, 8:16 pm

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It seemed their conversation had briefly swayed from the path of wilderness survival, though Kamilla certainly took no issue with it, happy to learn more about her guide and her ability to change forms. It was interesting, to think that they’d have more than a few things in common was quite a surprise… but definitely the pleasant kind.

Tazrae asked about why she thought she’d retained her Konti form and Kamilla could only shrug in response, ”I honestly have no theories on it… as far as I know, none of the other mages retained theirs, so that theory is out of the window. Perhaps it was just sheer luck… regardless of how it happened, I’m grateful it did.” Despite being the type to want to know the answers and reasons behind anything magical, Kamilla could certainly live with not knowing if it meant that she got to keep her second form.

As for which of her forms she preferred… ”Of course my human form is the one I could never give up, it’s the one I’ve known since birth and it’s the gift I got from my mother and grandmother and therefore priceless… but of course, practically speaking my Konti form is a lot more useful… just as you said, it’s still a part of me, just a far newer one.” When it came to the compliment on her appearance, Kamilla could feel a genuine smile spread across her face, one she was not able to prevent. Of course she was no stranger to compliments… from men… but very rarely from other women, especially anyone as interesting and impressive as Tazrae. ”Thank you… it’s funny because neither my mom or gran had this kind of hair, theirs was lighter.. I only found out fairly recently that it came from my father… he was chaktawe.” Perhaos she was oversharing, after all, the only other person that she’d told had been Jehu, though again, it wasn’t exactly a secret.

When Tazrae went on to call her own hair a mess, Kamilla could only frown… ”I don’t think so at all… since I’ve gotten to see how you thrive out here in the jungle, I can only think of your hair as a perfect representation of you. Wild and free. I can only imagine how adorable she would look when she’s older if your Khari has it too.” It was slightly more complimentary than she would usually be, but it was definitely genuine. Tazrae’s hair, to Kamilla, was just an extension of the woman’s nature.

”You are definitely right about the racial gifts… it seems we humans did get the short end of the capability stick… yet we’re still the vast majority from what I’ve seen. Interesting isn’t it?”

Kamilla cracked a smile and chuckle, what were the odds that Tazrae had a sister both similar in name and temperament to herself. She was sure that she hadn’t met the woman yet, surely she’d have been memorable if she were related to Tazrae… Taz… she corrected herself, she would have to make a conscious effort to be less formal and use the woman’s nickname.

When it came to the topic of Pavena’s old library, or Reclaimed Knowledge as it was apparently known… The mage’s eyes visibly lit up, the thought of a library full of ancient knowledge holding her full attention. From there Tazrae… Taz… seemed to just keep sweetening the pot, offering to take her there, meet one of the mysterious ‘Old Ones’… it was beginning to sound like the field trip of her dreams. Taz went on to explain her interest in researching monsters mentioning several more things Kamilla found interesting but what grabbed her attention most was… ”Sahova…” she said out loud the magical isle still fresh in her memory… ”I was actually an apprentice there, before they evacuated all the pulsars…” she paused, ”living from the island, allegedly due to a toxic hazard. I heard a few stories about Drainira while I was there from some of the other animators… I don’t know if I have any useful information on it specifically but as an animator myself, I could probably answer some of your questions.” she offered, relieved to have found a way of potentially repaying Tazrae’s training. Of course, discussing those kinds of things in the middle of the jungle seemed less than ideal.

At Tazrae’s apology Kamilla let out a warm chuckle, amused by how wrong the woman was. ”Trust me… you’re speaking my language… I’d love to hear all about it… and perhaps even read your book if you’re willing… some day.” she was reminded that while all these things sounded wonderful, her main goal was to survive long enough to solve her own problem. Once again, it seemed the two of them had something in common… but she would keep that bit to herself a bit longer.

Then, just like that, the two mages were back on the topic of survival, first on how best to avoid floods and storms, followed by another lesson on the types of foods she should or shouldn’t eat. All the while, Kamilla did her best to keep up with Taz as she sliced through the jungle creating a path for the both of them. Her fatigue quickly returning.

Avoid mushrooms and anything that was white, clear, had a sticky sap covering it, smelled like almonds… honestly it was A LOT to remember but Kamilla welcomed all of it. She needed to be prepared for any environment, so the more she knew the better her chances were.

When Tazrae eventually came to a halt, Kamilla was once again out of breath, hands on her knees as she gasped for air, though she realised in her regular body it felt a lot easier. Perhaps because the longer legs allowed for easier strides? Or was it perhaps because her chaktawe heritage made traversing longer distances slightly easier? She had no clue, but either way, the woman was still covered in sweat from head to toe, her waist-length locks of dark hair clinging to her body and around her face. ”You make this look so easy.” she managed to laugh out, still catching her breath.

Eventually she stood up, chest still rising and falling at a rate higher than that of a calm person, ”And yes please, an edibility test sounds extremely useful.” she said, taking the moment to conjure her own drink of icy cool water above her finger, the small blob of liquid pouring itself slowly down her throat. It was beyond refreshing and she immediately felt energised, splashing her face with the last little bit. ”I couldn’t wait till the river.” she explained, fully expecting another useful lesson on survival that would be against needlessly wasting her djed. In fact, she could already see why it wasn’t the best idea herself.

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Jungle Guide At Your Service Pt. 2

Postby Tazrae on November 19th, 2022, 1:22 pm

There was one thing that was true about this trip for Tazrae. Kamilla kept getting more and more interesting the further the Innkeeper got to know her. Not only did the beauty have two forms, magic in spades, and a well-traveled life… she had the confidence that Taz admired other women and would like to see cultivated everywhere. She decided, talking to Kamilla, that she wanted – almost desperately – to strike up a friendship with this woman. She wanted Khari raised around such creatures. Her children and their happiness needed to be first and foremost in her mind… and being surrounded by such role models would be optimum. Plus, Kamilla made it easy for Tazrae to open up and just talk. She learned like a sponge soaked up water, so the Innkeeper didn’t mind sharing what she knew with the woman. It made her duty as a ranger go quickly and she was upholding a rule that The Founders saw for the Settlement; mentorship.

“Have you prayed about it? Sometimes just asking a God or Goddess can reveal a lot of answers.” Taz suggested, raising an eyebrow at Kamilla. Most people she knew were not religious in the traditional sense, but Tazrae was absolutely devout. “I’m grateful for my second form as well. It’s been nothing but a blessing for me. Though, to be honest, I don’t think men find it too favorable.” She added, with a little chuckle, and a shake of her head. “Though, I suppose the fact that I’m a mother just adds to my list of negatives as well now.” Shaking her head, she glanced at Kamilla.

“I think it's such a good thing you see your mother and grandmother in your human face. That’s a lot of generational love right there. There is true power in the family, whether it is by blood or by choice. I wonder if you yourself have kids if you will have a human or a Konti baby?” Taz looked thoughtful, tilted her head, and mused on it. “Or maybe even something no one has ever seen before.” She added as if that thought struck her as well.

“I have heard of the Chaktawe… but I honestly know nothing about them. Well, nothing other than they have strange eyes right? All black no whites?” She asked, frowning, trying to remember. She glanced sharply at Kamilla’s eyes, but there was nothing amiss about them. “I could be mistaken. We had odd visitors to our Inn in Riverfall once in a while with odd eyes. Desert people. That’s all I remember. I think I was fairly small.” Taz added. “It’s interesting how we come to be the people we are. My mother and father are from two different tribes of Benshira and that almost never happens. And I wasn’t even raised with either of them… in the desert. I was raised in Riverfall.” She added, smiling up at Kamilla.

“Gods, I hope she has straight hair. Her fathers was long, straight, and black.” She added, bending over her chest to tease at the already curling caramel swirls on her daughter's head. “I don’t think I’m getting my wish though.” She added as the baby shifted, looked up at her, and grinned toothlessly. “I hope that she thrives here, though… as I have. This can be a good place if we make it stronger.” Taz said thoughtfully. She’d flushed a little at Kamilla’s compliment about her hair. It wasn’t the best part of her body, not by far, and wasn’t something she did more than wage war with daily.

They spoke further, the topics straying to this and that. When Taz mentioned her current interests, Kamilla surprised her further. She’d actually been to Sahova. “You’ve actually been to Sahova?” She said, her eyes widening. “Who are ‘they’ that aren’t living but evacuated all the living? Is there non-living things there that have sentience?” Taz asked, curious and puzzled in an odd combination of emotions. “I ask because of Reclaimed Knowledge. The ghost there, Talia, keeps referring to the Mainframe and that it stores things, knows things, etc. She consults it a lot, but I have no idea what it actually is. I was told that Drainira was part of the mainframe in Sahova, that’s how I know that name… one of the last living ones… and that’s why I was seeking information out. This might prove to be yet another type of Monster I don’t know about.” Taz said, not wanting to be lacking in her education. “I’m trying to develop a sort of expertise on Monsters… one’s plaguing me.” She added, but not elaborating on the story for the moment. It was complex and probably best handled over wine.

“I’d gladly share information with you on what I know of them... the library has a lot of resources as well. And if you read it at my place, you’d be more than welcome to read my journal and what info I’ve amassed.” She added, then laughed. “We’d better get back to the Wilderness Survival training, right?” Taz asked, shaking out her arm gently, giving Khari another kiss, and starting back down the drainage, heading towards the Syka river. She’d promised to show Kam how to dig clams, and on the way, she could tell her about the edibility test.

“It’s honestly just time in the jungle, Kamilla. Your body tightens up, gets stronger, and adapts to living here. Once it does that and your fitness is up there, you have far less problems and you’ll find swinging a machete through the jungle as easy as breathing.” She added, and smiled as Kam got herself a drink and splashed her face. “Hydration out here is also super critical. Drink often and as much as you want.” Taz added, knowing after the river, she’d have to feed Khari again… the baby would be more than ready.

“So out here, when you get lost or you need to survive, you can go without food for upwards of thirty days. It’s not pleasant, but in the jungle its not necessary either. There are green growing things all around you. The bird and animal life are abundant. And of course, there are insects galore which are your best sources of food. I’ll talk more about that later. But as I said before, so much of what’s out here haven’t been tested, named, or even the properties explored. We just can’t because the jungles are so vast and we are just too few people. If you are out here, without food, you will weaken and your critical thinking will be affected. You’ll start showing very poor judgment and make terrible decisions that might cost you your life. But to make up for that, we have what’s called an edibility test. You can consider this test universal for any area, region of the world, or type of survival... it's not just for being out in the jungle.” Taz explained.

“What you need for this test is patience. It takes time … a lot of it… but it could save your life. What it does is breaks down parts of a plant and test them over a period of twenty-four bells. It’s a pain in the ass to perform, so only do it if you have a plant that’s readily available and growing all over. Don’t do this test for something that is just one of a kind or has a small patch. You don’t want to take the time to see if that plant is actually mint, for example, only to have two sprigs of it to eat when all is said and done. That won’t keep a bunny alive let alone a full-sized human being. You want something that’s all over the place… abundant… that could fill your belly.” She explained.

“To prepare for the test, you want to fast for eight bells ahead of time. Water is fine… and encouraged, but don’t contaminate the test by having other things in your stomach. This shouldn’t be a hard thing because if you are doing this test, you are desperate and probably lacking any real food anyhow.” She said with a grin, slowly moving down the hill, following the creek, and passing through green that didn’t require much machete work.

“The first thing you do is separate a plant into all its parts. Some things are edible and delicious… lets's take Rhubarb for example… that’s a stalky plant that’s stem turns red? The stem is utterly edible, but the roots and leaves? Toxic. We eat rhubarb all the time, but we rarely realize how dangerous the plant is when it's in our garden. So you want to divide out the roots, stems, and leaves, and if it is flowering,… take the flowers off, buds too… and separate everything out. Check it all for parasites... worms, bugs, that sort of thing. If there are things inside like works, toss them. Bugs often mean the plant is damaged, dying, ill, or rotting.” Taz said.

“That’s the first step. The second step is about contact.” She added. “If it makes you break out on your skin, it will absolutely twist your stomach and guts, maybe even kill you. So, crush each of these parts, and rub them on your skin. The back of the wrist is where I prefer. Once you do that, wait for eight bells. If you have any sort of breakout, rash, or reaction don’t eat the plant. It’s bad.” Taz grinned.

“Next step? Cook it. Some very toxic plants are actually just fine to eat after you cook them. And by cooking them, that usually means boiling not frying or roasting… always boil in some sort of pot of water… or even a bit of water in a clamshell with Reimancy… whatever you have. I suppose with mastery in Reimancy you can make your own pots easily enough. Do that and once its boiled, place it upon your lip for three chimes. If it burns, tingles, blisters or breaks out, throw it away. If it's fine you move on to the next step.” The Innkeeper said softly.

“That’s the taste test. Place the same part in your mouth and hold it on your tongue for fifteen chimes. If anything bad happens or the taste is not something you can stomach spit it out. Rinse your mouth with water. And honestly, burning and tingling don’t always mean toxic. Lots of medicinal plants cause that sort of reaction and aren’t toxic, but that doesn’t mean you want to use them for food. If nothing bad happens, on to the next step.” She said, having to pause a few moments to hack at some vegetation to clear a trail further lower in the drainage. They were almost to the river now. “The next part is chewing, swallowing, and chowing.” Taz grinned.

“If you get this far and nothing bad has happened, chew that sucker after its sat on your tongue for fifteen minutes. Don’t swallow. Hold it in your mouth for fifteen minutes. If nothing happens, you can swallow it. If something does, spit it out immediately. And that something is burning, tingling, or any sort of numbness.” Taz elaborated, tilting her head to think. “If you make it this far with the part you are testing… eat it… don’t eat anything else for eight hours… just that small bite.” She added. “You can have water, of course, but no other foods. You don’t want to contaminate the test!”

“Now, if it makes you sick… as in you feel sick, your stomach hurts, or you get say nauseous…. make yourself throw up. Two fingers pressed into the back of your throat should make you throw up easily enough.” Taz suggested. ‘If nothing happens, gather a quarter cup of the exact same part of the plant, and prepare it the same way you did the little piece… eat it… and see how that works out. If twenty-four bells pass and you aren’t sick… you have something edible on your hands!” She said with a smile.

“It takes a long time to do one of these edibility tests… days in fact, if you go through all the parts of the plant, you are doing a lot of research and killing a lot of time. But remember how I told you that half of survival is mental? This is part of it. You need to keep busy, have projects, and do things to keep yourself from going crazy. Half of this is falling in love with your environment… being part of it. These tests can be pretty important.” Taz smiled at Kam, as they came out on the bank of the Syka River.

“Finally! We got back down to it. I can show you where freshwater clams are now.” She added, excited.

The other woman could tell that Tazrae really loved the jungle. The mud, the rain, the lounge of Ixam subtly trailing them… none of it bothered her. She seemed as at ease in the thick of the green as she did in the tame calm of the Settlement.

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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
Be savage, not average.
 
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Jungle Guide At Your Service Pt. 2

Postby Kamilla on November 21st, 2022, 9:14 pm

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Despite being exhausted, sweaty and mildly scathed… she’d noticed a few small scratches and cuts on her arms and shoulders, nothing too serious in her opinion… Kamilla had to admit that she was kind of, enjoying the lesson. Of course, the mage loved to learn, but at the same time challenging herself to hike through the jungle, something she would never have done by choice… if it hadn’t been essential to her continued existence… was turning out to be quite cathartic. She’d been so filled with frustration at her circumstances and the lack of direction or solution since she’d returned and it had been making her more and more miserable, but now, struggling home through the jungle with Tazrae… she was putting her energy and focus into something else, too tired to obsess over her lack of progress on her curse.

”I’ve never really asked the gods for anything… I’m kind of reluctant to draw attention from anything with that amount of power, I’d prefer my odds on my own… when I’m in control.” she confessed, not sure about how Tazrae would take such a confession considering she was seemingly quite religious, or at least, as religious as one who’d been blessed with the ability to shapeshift into a lizard by a goddess. Kamilla reciprocated Tazrae’s laugh about her man problems, ”They wouldn’t would they… not many men are comfortable with a woman who’s more dangerous than they are. It makes them anxious.” At least that was her own experience, ”Doubly for a mom, I would guess… a woman with something she’s fiercely protective of. But I don’t know, Syka’s men seem to be both tough and relaxed…” she paused briefly, contemplating asking further, ”What about her father?” she hoped she wasn’t prying too much, she certainly wouldn’t push further if it made Taz uncomfortable.

Next, Tazrae said two very interesting things. Firstly that there was power in family… her mind immediately latching on to that comment and wondering if there could be such a thing as a generational curse. What if her vanishing had never been a random occurrence like the many that happened in Syka? What if it was a result of her lineage, not that her mother had been a mage at all, but her grandmother had been very magical, powerful. And as she herself had said, powerful women tended to draw attention, often negative.

Her racing thoughts came to a screeching halt at her guide’s follow up question, Kamilla’s jaw dropping in shock. ”Shyke. I hadn’t given it a single thought… but you’re right. Not that I’ve ever really considered having children, but it’s definitely something important to take into consideration if I ever do. Do you think it would be safe for me to shift? Can kelvics shift while pregnant?” For someone who had no interest in having kids, she found herself very disconcerted by the possibility.

Thankfully, being in the middle of the jungle and fighting for her life against the foliage that hindered her every step, Kamilla was able to temporarily push the intrusive thoughts of a potentially hybrid baby aside… choosing to latch onto her conversation with Tazrae instead. ”You’re not wrong. They are basically just desert people with pure black eyes… they’re also heavier than the average person, according to Jehu they have an organ that stores water… kind of like a camel, I guess. And really sensitive hands for finding water underground, I think.” she had felt weird about asking the Chaktawe too many questions about his biology and deser lifestyle, despite being extremely curious.

”What can you tell me about Benshira, I can’t say anything at all. I suppose your hair and beautiful skin are perhaps common traits of your people… I also assume you don’t have any special abilities based on our conversation earlier.” Of course, her biggest interest was that she’d said they were also desert people, though clearly different from Jehu’s. ”Riverfall is a lot more spectacular a city than where I grew up, it’s filled with culture and magic… whereas in Sunberth… magic is lynch-worthy.”

Kamilla found it amusing that Tazrae felt so strongly about her daughter’s and her own hair, when she found it so beautiful… like a mane befitting a lion ”I suppose straighter hair would be a lot easier to manage… I can’t tell you how little upkeep my Konti form requires. But, the thought of a beautiful little girl with a mane of hair running around the beach seems fitting.”

As their conversation naturally swayed towards Sahova… Kamilla was happy to answer any questions Tazrae had about the Undead Isle, it wasn’t something she’d ever really gotten a chance to talk about since leaving. “Yes… they’re called Nuit… basically souls that jump from corpse to fresher corpse, making them functionally immortal. They smell as dead as they are, don’t eat, sleep, breathe… as for the Mainframe, if it’s anything like Drainira, then it’s also a golem created by an animator. I suppose a master level animator could create a golem capable of limitless learning and without the very human limitations of emotion and…” she paused, eyes widening in realisation, ”…morals… it would entirely depend on its directives… rules for the golem’s existence that it can never change.” In the back of her mind, Kamilla realised that she needed to resume her animation studies as well. ”Sahova was basically an ancient island of nuit doing magical research on all sorts of subjects… but perhaps now isn’t the best time to discuss it.” she said after taking a slap from a leafy branch. Kamilla certainly wanted to know about this monster that was plaguing her guide, but it didn’t seem like the best time, nor did she want to pry. ”I’ll definitely take you up on that though, I’d love to learn and share what I know with you in return… as I’m being plagued by a figurative monster of my own.”

At Tazrae’s suggestion that they get back to her survival training, Kamilla nodded, still eager to learn. Where before they’d barely been moving, now they were marching again, the muscles in her body protesting the increased exertion. She hoped her body would tighten up and strengthen sooner rather than later.

The edibility test Taz was describing, in detail, seemed invaluable in the wilderness… and now that she’d heard it, Kamilla realised it made complete sense. Simply slowly testing something piece by piece and giving her body time to react. She would definitely need to commit it to memory.

”Fast for 8 bells, separate the pieces, skin contact, boil, lip contact, taste, chew… swallow.” she muttered under her breath, summarising as best she could. She had no doubt that this would be useful in any survival situation where food was scarce,

It seemed the edibility test had also reinforced Tazrae’s stressing the importance of the mental game, as Kamilla slipped and slid toward the river, having been so concentrated on listening and understanding the lesson that the difficulty of the hike had almost been on autopilot. Though, she supposed that would be dangerous on her own, with all the dangers around. ”So initially you warned me a lot about snakes, spiders and all sorts of other creatures that could probably kill me…but I haven’t seen any during this hike… have I not been looking closely enough?” she added, coming to stand beside an enthusiastic Tazrae and scanning the river, ”And how do I know if a body of water is safe to enter… creature wise?” She’d already learned how to judge safety based on the water’s movement itself and on how to cross it, but thoughts of creature’s lurking beneath the surface to strike at her made her uneasy.

”So tell me, if falling in love with your environment is the key… what is it about the jungle that you fell in love with?” she asked curiously. Of course it was evident that Taz did indeed love the jungle and she clearly thrived in it… perhaps her insight could make it easier for Kamilla too.

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Jungle Guide At Your Service Pt. 2

Postby Tazrae on November 22nd, 2022, 4:39 am

Taz looked thoughtfully at Kamilla as she confessed not asking the Gods for anything. “I think there are times you could legitimately ask, Kamilla. You never know what the motivations of the divine are. And sometimes they act out from boredom, out of spite to other Deities, and all kinds of other reasons. Your concerns are very valid, but you might just find they will help if you get to a point where you cannot find any other direction.” She said thoughtfully, not willing to pressure the other mage, but wanting her to know they were always an option. There were comfort zones, and Kamilla’s were utterly valid. She knew people that hated the Gods – truly hated them – but she was not one of them. Taz had a deep and profound love for many of them… Rhaus, Kihala, and Caiyha were among her favorites. She’d ask how high if any of them needed her to jump, and she’d do so without question. That wasn’t because she was blindly loyal. It was because they had earned her loyalty.

The conversation continued and swayed into a less comfortable place for Tazrae. But she’d promised herself she wouldn’t keep any secrets, not really, and it wasn’t as if Kamilla was asking her to reveal deep dark secrets. “Their father has many qualities, but I do not think being uncomfortable with strong women is one of them. He helped me become stronger when I needed something to occupy my life with.” She added, looking thoughtful. “He is not one of Syka’s men though. He lives far from here. I hope one day he will come to Syka though. Maybe he will stay. He’s Benshira, like I am, and I’ve been told many of my clan will come here… in the future. It is come here or die in the desert for them.” She said softly, reaching up to cup Khari’s head a moment, stroking the soft downy hair there that had started to curl already. The conversation wandered to the Chaktawe, then onward, deeper into the desert.

“Our only special abilities are that we are survivors. We love our weapons and our games of power, and take to magic like most take to breathing. There are seven clans of Benshira, all divided and gifted with various things. Mine is called The Kois. We are known for our horses… we breed some of the strongest swiftest horses Eyktol has ever seen. We are also known for our singers. They say we fight and as we fight, we fill the air with battle songs. I was raised far from my tribe, but Khari’s sire has taught me many things about our people. They have a stronghold in the desert, a Quas, called Gold Lake. My grandfather is chieftain there. My mother, his daughter, is a warchief among them. I have never met her.” Taz added, her voice slipping into that tone she used when she was telling stories or reciting tales. “I was raised in Riverfall by my aunt. I’m a twin, my mother and aunt were twins, and even Khari is a twin. Her brother is with her father.” Taz said softly, hoping that was the truth. Blinking, as if her mind had traveled on swift wings south, the young Innkeeper stopped to meet Kamilla’s eyes.

“I’ve heard tales of Sunberth. It couldn’t be an easy place to live.” She added, shaking her head. “Riverfall has magic, that much is true. But it’s a subtle behind-closed-doors thing. It isn’t like Syka, where it’s out there to see on an almost daily basis.” She said, thoughtful on this for a moment as the two women spoke. She smiled at Kamilla’s visual image of a girl running on the beach and nodded. “Indeed, it does sound fitting.” She said softly.

When Kamilla launched into her explanation on Nuit, Tazrae’s skin was crawling. She laid a hand protectively over Khari and listened in what she could only consider ‘horror’ at the description Kamilla provided – complete with smells and behaviors. She also raised an eyebrow at the way Kamilla described Drainira and hypothesized about what exactly a Mainframe was. Taz learned more in five chimes from Kamilla’s very concise but precise description than she had all day trying to comb through Reclaimed Knowledge’s lore. She did pick out the keywords ‘Animation’ and ‘Directives’ and the fact that golems had rules they couldn’t change. Blinking, Taz realized Kam had delivered what was the ultimate teaser and laughed.

“You should have been a bard. You gave me just enough information to have me hooked and certain we are going to get together in a more civilized setting to discuss these things further.” She said with a laugh.

Then she launched into her very detailed very lengthy discussion on the edibility test and how to perform it. The whole discussion was akin to an ashta wallowing through a hip-deep mud swamp with how long it took to perform and how delicate its chance to yield edible food could be. She much preferred her plant tester and quality time. But Kamilla might need the information someday and it was information that could save her life. So Taz gave it, gladly, grateful Kamilla seemed to retain so much o

Then, at Kamilla’s question, Taz grinned. She stepped closer to Kamilla and beckoned. The two women walked a small circle, trampling the green living things around them and finding the cover dense beyond where they stood. Then Taz opened up her senses, let her awareness stretch out, and began to turn leaves back, point out crooks in three branches, upturned rocks to reveal tarantula nests, and long-legged spiders that hung in the light like jewels. She reached down into the tangled vegetation at their feet and came up with a snake that she kept well away from Kamilla. The bright green eyelash viper wrapped around Tazrae’s wrist but didn’t offer to bite. In exchange for the courtesy, Taz lifted the little snake into the nearest tree, letting it crawl from her hand and onto a branch.

“I speak their language… though I didn’t when I first came here. Caiyha marked me. And now I’ve been steering you to avoid them.” She said, bidding the snake goodbye, but moving three feet away and pulling more vegetation away to reveal a huge colony of ants crawling everywhere. They seemingly vanished into the verdant underbrush in their comings and goings from the anthill. Concentrating further, she gestured downstream. “There are denizens everywhere, Kamilla. You’d do yourself a favor by training your eyes to see them. Look for the detail, but don’t miss the bigger picture when you are focused on what’s right in front of you. As you walk through the jungle, you need to see in front of you and behind you… so you are familiar with the path you are taking. Look around, ahead, behind, around again… if you keep doing this, you’ll have an idea about what path you’ve taken.” She added, then glanced at the water.

“Without something like Nura or a way to sense danger, there’s no way to know what’s beneath the water. There could be a python, a crocodile, or even fish that eat flesh. Most of these things are drawn to splashing and noises. So, my only suggestion, without another way to sense them, is to be quiet and move quietly. Observe carefully before you enter the water… and remember, bubbles trailing to the surface might indicate something resting below waiting on a meal.” Taz said, gesturing out on the river.

The Syka river was beautiful. It was a slow-moving thing, with gentle waters, that looked like it got deep in places where it crawled in sinuous twists and turns through the jungle. There were trees and brush alongside it in places, but there were also shallow pools and little beaches. It was to one of those little beaches, that Tazrae escorted Kamilla down to. She rigged up a little hammock to stash Khari in, safe above the water and safe not resting on the ground. Then she gestured to the water. “Ready to go in? I’m shucking my clothing to do so. It should be safe right here…. we just need to wade into the water and carefully cross to the far side where it's deeper. There are clams there, I am willing to bet.” She added, getting ready to shuck her clothing and head into the water.

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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 Guide At Your Service Pt. 2

Postby Kamilla on November 23rd, 2022, 8:41 am

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Tazrae made a valid point by suggesting she could always try turning to the gods as a last resort, not that she knew too many, who would one even ask about a Vanishing Curse? Perhaps who didn’t matter too much though. She resolved to swallow her pride and pray for answers if she could not find any other solutions… but only as a last resort and no sooner. She wondered what Jehu would think, he mentioned the Chaktawe’s patron gods were Eywaat, of birds and ingenuity… and Makutsi, of rain… though she hadn’t seen him pray to either, though perhaps it was just something he did in private.

Hearing about Khari’s father and Tazrae’s people only made Kamilla’s curiosity grow. She wondered if the father had been in Syka for the conception or had Tazrae been travelling? There was also the possibility that they’d met at the Outpost. It felt wrong to ask, at least under their current circumstances, after all, they’d only just met… even if Kamilla was thoroughly enjoying their discussion. It seemed there was no shortage of mystery and intrigue when it came to her guide, the woman was so full of surprises and interests and knowledge that Kamilla couldn’t quite recall anyone like her… except maybe her grandmother. ”Why is it your people will need to leave the desert if they’ve been surviving in it for so long? I wonder if the Chaktawe would need to too… but also, would you not like to visit your grandfather before then? Since discovering my own Chaktawe heritage I’ve felt a desperate pull to travel to Eyktol and discover my roots. I’ve asked Jehu about them, but there are some things he can’t tell, he says stories are sacred and only those who know them flawlessly are allowed to share, that way they don’t get lost in translation.”

Tazrae’s people being singers didn’t surprise Kamilla one bit, the woman’s voice was honestly without a noticeable flaw. It was consistent, smooth, melodic and very pleasing to the ear, not unlike James. It gave off an air of effortlessness that she assumed could only be a result of being well trained. ”Though, since gaining my Konti form… I’ve felt the exact same pull to learn more about them as well, it is a part of me now, after all.”

Hearing that Taz came from a long line of twins and that even Khari herself was a twin, Kamilla stopped in her tracks, a frown on her face… ”That must have been very difficult for you… leaving your son behind.” Of course, Kamilla didn’t know anything about the mother’s circumstances, but having seen how much she loved her daughter, the emotion quite visible in everything from her gaze, body language and voice when she interacted with the adorable baby, the thought of her having to leave another behind didn’t register as something the woman could have done easily. Then again, she had only just met Taz, clearly there was still a lot to learn about her.

At the woman’s suggestion that Kamilla should have been a bard, Kamilla let out a small chuckle of her own, the thought of singing or telling stories to large groups of people was very amusing to her… in that, she’d always been more of a loner and a recluse… preferring one on one contact over anything more. ”Well, I certainly hope so. It seems we have a lot to discuss without the threat of a venomous death looming over our heads… or just mine.” she said, stepping carefully around an odd looking plant with fine hairs covering it’s leaves.

After they’d reached the river, Kamilla was shocked to see just how wrong she’d been about the predators, how oblivious to their presence she was. It sent shivers down her spine. Spiders, ants and a particularly nasty looking snake that Kamilla could feel in her bones would probably be a death sentence from a single bite. Tazrae had been right, they were indeed everywhere, but the fact that she could find, communicate with and handle them so effortlessly was nothing less than awe inspiring. ”I don’t say this often… perhaps even ever… but you are truly impressive… Taz.” she said genuinely.

Taking her guide’s advice, Kamilla stood at the edge of the river in search of anything that looked to be dangerous, trails of bubbles as Taz had suggested, anything at all. Having seen how much of the jungle’s dangers she’d been completely missing, she strained and stared and scanned the river in hopes of at least spotting something, all while her guide set up a hammock for her baby. ”It’s really unfortunate that reimancy can’t make things like tarps, or natural ropes, more flexible structures for survival. I suppose I might need to learn to weave as well.”

In a flash the Konti had reappeared, though Kamilla certainly wouldn’t be changing forms again anytime soon. Although she was nervous to get into the potentially dangerous waters, she was comforted by Tazrae’s presence, having complete faith in the woman’s ability. ”I am… Will Khari be safe there?” she asked, gesturing toward the suspended bundle. She supposed the Ixam would protect her from any potential dangers, or at least Bree would.

Kamilla considered entering the river first, her Konti form thirsting for the refreshing coolness of the water on her skin and scales, but ultimately decided it safer to wait for Tazrae’s lead.

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