Reply to topic  [ 50 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
[WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only) 
Author Message
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 326
Post [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

orion1836 wrote:
12 October 1777

Nathanial Hutchins set out at first light, fording the icy fog surrounding the family's homestead in search of a tree that had fallen in in the middle of the night. By the sound, a massive thunderclap that had set the little one to crying, it had to have been a behemoth. Venturing into the woods of the Ohio Frontier alone was a risky proposition, but Nathan had no other choice. Winter was fast settling in and the family needed every bit of firewood he could find. His father's axe was too big for the thirteen year-old to carry comfortably, but over the past year he had grown accustomed to its awkward bulk. Joining it today, though, was something he rarely carried: the second of his father's muskets. Ordinarily, Nathanial would leave it at home - a last line of defense while he was away - but recent Shawnee attacks required additional caution.

The family's other long gun, a Brown Bess, had followed Nathan's father into war nearly two years ago. The boy wished, as he often did, that he could have followed as well. He had tried to become a drummer, but a sound thumping from his father (along with one administered to the recruiter!) had put a stop to that. On account of his age, as well as his mother and two sisters, he'd had to stay at the homestead.

Since then, they'd had only sporadic word of how the war was going, and none of his father.

While looking for the tree, Nathan figured he'd check the various traps and snares set out along the perimeter of the homestead. He didn't relish the thought of tangling with a wounded animal, but food was food, and he always had his hatchet and prized long knife, just in case. If he was lucky, there would be a nice fat rabbit for dinner today and a new fur for his sisters' blankets in a couple weeks.

The woods were quiet. Not unusual for this time of morning but for a moment, it seemed as if even the air stopped moving. The fog closed in, becoming thicker, and thicker... so dense that Nathan could barely see his hand as he raised it in front of him to ward off low branches. As he stumbled forward, the gray finally subsided, pulling back to reveal the wood. The boy blinked to clear his eyes, sensing that something was off.

The trees were... different somehow. The moss was clearly growing on the wrong side. A morning bird let out a piercing cry; it was unlike anything he had ever heard before.

Nathanial stopped dead in his tracks amidst strange blue-green grass. This was a very different forest than the one he entered, in a very different river valley.

1779 CE, 1320 SYU

Two years later...

Argent swore again as she pushed through the dense foliage. As leader, it had been her decision to bring the diral of Soroin initiates into the woods and now she was forced to deal with the consequences. They could have stayed in the clearing where the flier dropped them off, but to her mind, such an easy choice would have been a sign of weakness. The woods offered shelter, food, and materials they could use to establish camp. She just had not planned on them being this... difficult. Forging ahead, Argent tried not to think about how far she was from civilization. Their trip had taken thousands upon thousands of solon by air... it would take months to walk back if they had to.

Clutching her seii's rough handle, she made one final push... and stumbled into an improbable clearing. Short, hollowed-out tree stumps marked a rough circle around a type of structure she had never seen before. Logs - likely from the stumps around her - had been hacked into an interlocking pattern and sealed with what looked like plaster. A squat stone chimney made of river rock and the same plaster stood connected to one one side of the cabin. Looking up, she saw a thin wisp of smoke curling from top.

The Tadan girl sent a warning to her fellows. Caution... there was someone here. Someone who was good at hiding their sanzai presence.

Was this some kind of test?

Looking around the side of the structure, Argent saw stakes and racks with at least twenty animal skins in various stages of curing. A hunting cabin perhaps? She sent the thought to the others. It made a sort of sense, but this far out in Arran? Whoever lived here would need a vehicle to return to the nearest settlement, and none of her fellows could even see so much as a radio antenna.

Suddenly, the loroi's heart froze as she heard the sound of a door opening on the far side of the structure.


Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:00 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 326
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:
Two years.

Two years without seeing a human, or anything else that looked even remotely familiar to home.

Everything was still strange. The grass, the trees, the animals... completely unlike what he ever saw. And while frontiermen often came back with tall tales of strange creatures (an ape-like being, half again as tall as a man, for example?), even their stories fell short.

The first weeks were awful.

Knowing a good deal of woodlore and surviving in the wilds Nathaniel knew his first priority would be to make his provisions last until he knew what would be edible and what not. First he tried to find anything familiar.... fruits, berries, game... but no such luck. Everything was completely unknown to him.

It was a Hobson's choice - he could either starve, or try his luck with whatever even looks remotely edible. Thus, no choice at all.

There were times where he seriously considered starving, though, rather than eating anything else that made him violently sick.

After staving off immediate dangers and making himself a temporary shelter, the gravity of his situation sunk in.

Whereever he was, and how he came here, he was far, far away from home. Far enough to not to even have a remote idea where 'home' would be. So far, that even his typical ways to find a bearing (moss grows on the west side of the tree, for example) seem to fail.

Even the night sky looked different. Any hopes of finding the North Star and thus having a sense of direction were quickly dashed.

And that terrified him most. Whenever he looked up the sky, the familiar constellations were there, like old friends. The Great Bear pointing towards the North Star chiefly amongst them. Now, he looked up at unfamiliar patterns, feeling truly lost.

Three hundred and sixty five scratches on a board marked the first year since he got lost.

And he never saw any living soul. A month after wandering around and not finding any sign of civilization - he was at the point to even call an an indian tribe as 'sign of civilization' by now - and with the days growing colder he came to the conclusion that he needed a more stable shelter.

Being down to the last two bullets for his musket made a point, too, especially since he had to use the rest of the ammo to fend off some beast with decidedly too many teeth and seemingly curious enough to try how Nathaniel might taste.

Seven hundred and fourty three scratches.

The loneliness was nagging at him. Yesterday and the day before he hunted some Hoppers, as he named them, and a Sharptooth. Curing the leather, they might provide a good replacement for his jerkin that started to be a bit threadbare by now, and the meat, while not quite a taste to die for, would at leaat sustain him.

Currently there was nothing to do at the house, too. The roof isn't leaking, there's enough firewood, his bow doesn't need a new string right now... Nathaniel ticked off his mental list for something, anything he might busy himself with to take his thoughts away from the empty feeling in his soul.

Nothing.

He looked back at the musket. Two bullets left. Same as one year ago. He had sworn to reserve the last bullet for himself. That was his silent promise.

Something made him twitch. It was his hunter's instinct, honed by two years of battle between him and the wilderness.

Something is here.

Something dangerous.

He slung his bow over his shoulder, hefted the axe - now resting comfortably in his fifteen-year-old hand, after the onset of his growth spurt - and hestitated. After a moment of deliberation he reached for the musket and loaded it with the second to last bullet.

Slowly he opened the door, listening in. Even if the forest sounds were unfamiliar to him, one thing stayed the same. When the forest goes silent, there's something afoot.

Like now.

---//---

Argent couldn't believe her eyes.

Impossible. Simply impossible.

Do you see what I see? she sent.

Coldfire, one of the more promising Soroin initiates of this diral, blinked, too, shaking her head and taking another look.

If you mean a pink alien clad in these furs he most obviously cured by himself and looks like a large version of our males... then yes, we do see the same thing.

The exchange brought in the rest of the diral, and the ensuing sansai chatter revealed a wide variety of opinions.

Yummy. - You're not serious. - I am serious, if he's really the same where it matters.... - Do you think our proctors left that one here as a treat? - Maybe as a test.

QUIET!, Argent's sanzai cut through the gaggle. First, we don't know if he is part of our trial. If so, we need to find out what role he has to play. Whether he's friend or foe. And if he is NOT part of our trial we still need to find out who he is, what he is, and what by the stars he is doing here, all alone. Cover me, I'll take point.

Disgruntled assents followed her as she crept closer, trying to keep that structure - cabin, she concluded - between her and that alien.

He's alert, she sent. Watch out, he's searching for us.

He's on our side, Coldfire sent.

Argent took the chance and slipped in through the door which stood slightly ajar.

The insides looked.... primitive. A cot, roughly hewn out of wood and covered with furs, dead grass peeking out underneath them. A fireplace, currently lit, equipped with a spit and meat roasting on it. A table with, of all things, a candle on top.

And no sign of any technology. No computer console, not even electricity.

Impossible. Simply impossible, she relayed, adding the images she saw.

A male voice, exclaiming something in a harsh tone of voice made her whirl around.

The door was fully opened, and filling the doorframe was that alien, still completely bedecked in furs, lifting an elongated object which her mind quickly registered as WEAPON!, making her twitch to the side.

Almost quickly enough. She heard a loud bang, felt the stinging pain of something grazing her arm, and then the noise of splintering wood.

---//---

Nathanial circled his cabin, arriving back at the door.

And stopped.

The door has been moved.

Something is inside.

Not to alert the trespasser, he silently opened the door fully - not easy if you don't know when the door creaks and when it wouldn't - and let his eyes adjust to the darkness of the cabin's insides.

There! There he saw ... someone ... rifling through his meager belongings.

His mind immediately switched into the 'defend your homestead' mode, honed by thirteen years living in constant danger and fear of indians attacking and pillaging.

"Hey! What are you doing in my home?!"

The figure spun around with surprising grace, shocking Nathaniel into action.

He rose his musket and fired. The bullet sunk itself into the rough wood of the wall as the figure jerked to the side in the blink of an eye.

And Nathaniel got a first good look on the intruder.

It was a girl. Slightly older looking than he was, almost, or just barely a woman.

He shot a girl.

And then he noticed something decidedly off with that girl.

He was sure his eyes got fully accustomed to the dim light in his cabin, and yet, this girl was blue. As blue as the monrning sky he remembered just before sunrise.

Her clothing, if one could call that, left little to imagination about her figure. He vaguely remembered his mother calling that level of ... showiness ... 'indecent' and shooing him away whenever he saw some women in the town who weren't dressed how his mother would describe as 'proper'.

And yet, none of these women had clothing paneled with ... yes, it looks definitely metal, and this girl carried an assortment of ... things ... at her belt.

Looking back into her face, he took in her slightly slanted eyes, widened in shock, and her ears.

Pointed ears.

Then, he noticed the graze on her arm, bleeding.

Bleeding blue.

"Jayzus, Mary and Joseph...", he breathed.

Then he felt a sharp pain in the back of his head, and his world faded to black.

---//---

Argent looked at Coldfire, towering over the crumpled form of the alien, their gazes meeting.

Are you hurt? Coldfire asked.



Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:02 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 326
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:

Just a scratch, Argent calmed her down, looking at her injured arm, noticing that the wound isn't cauterized, as to be expected by an energy weapon. What in the Emperor's name was that?

Coldfire picked up the weapon the alien had dropped when he was knocked out. A weapon it was for sure - all the parts were there. There's a stock, made of wood, which could fit snugly against the shoulder, a place just right for the index finger to rest and an intricate mechanism at the top.

Though, this thing looked primitive. No housing for energy cells. No activation indicator. No heads up display, nowhere and.... she sniffed. Yes, there was definitely a sharp smell of burnt chemicals.

Preposterous, she sent with a gruff and went over to inspect the blemish on the wall. Pulling out her utility knife, she poked and prodded at the hole, until a small lead ball fell into her hand, the same acrid smell clinging to it.

Argent, curious about Coldfire's antics, looked over her shoulder.

No way. Coldfire sent. This weapon must have used a chemical propellant to accelerate this piece of metal to a speed high enough to cause damage.

Figures. Look around. I checked. The most complicated item I found is that dull knife ... well, that weapon, now... but that's it. And he's all alone. Is he an exile or do his people reject technology at a whole?

Coldfire shrugged.

You won't believe that! Poisoned Claw sharply sent from the outside, accompanied with a close-up of one of the skins on the racks.

In life, it must have been an arianesin, her namesake and the reason she chose that particular name, after narrowly surviving one attack of such a beast. A particular large beast, capable of stalking and subduing a single Loroi and putting a whole diral on edge. This one, not so much anymore.

..., Argent's sending lacked words as she looked at that unconscious male with newfound respect and trepidation.

Honor where honor is due, Coldfire sent dryly. Just think. We're sent here for exercise and our trials as a group, and he managed to survive all alone and without any technology to speak of. We have to hand it to him, that takes serious skill and determination. This isn't just a temporary dwelling - this looks as if he was here to stay!

Speaking of which..., Argent added, ...did you notice something?

Coldfire shook her head.

Exactly. He completely surprised me. And even now, if I didn't know you better, I would think you killed him with that armored fist of yours.

Come now..., Coldfire took a deep breath, readying herself for a sharp retort.

Tell me I'm wrong and you could sense his mind!

A look of concentration passed Coldfire's face, then she shook her head.

Looks like we have a mystery on our hands. Poisoned Claw, take two and move our base camp here - as a shelter, this cabin is much better than the camp fire we have. Coldfire, make sure to have another sweep over the cabin and the clearing, in case I missed something.

And you?

Me, I'll keep watch over that one and hope he proves to be talkative once he wakes up.

---//---

Nathaniel came to his senses and tried to suppress a groan and not to move for the time being, to not to give away that he is awake. Because the moment the indians know you are awake, the torture and scalpings would begin, his father said.

Hearing some activity in the distance, but no talking, he risked slowly opening his eyes and was greeted with the familiar sight of his cabin's roof, viewed from his bed.

Next item on the list, range of movement. He was prone at the moment, lying on his bed, still clothed, a slight flexing of his muscles wasn't met with resistence - his hand and feet were free to move.

'So, what happened?', he thought. He tried to piece together the last memories. Him, hearing the forest go quiet and going out to investigate.

Then, returning to the cabin, finding someone inside.

The girl.

The girl!

That strange, pointy-eared, blue-skinned girl with literally blue blood!

That impossible girl that made even stories of sasquatches in the Rocky Mountains look believable, because every man and woman he ever heard of, be it white, red, black, yellow, they all bleed red, red, RED, damnit!

Then, a sharp pain, and nothing. He fell for the oldest trick. That girl was the bait, and someone conked him over the head from behind.

But... he was still alive. And alive means he could try to flee.

Slowly he turned his head to look for the door.

Only to notice that she pulled up one of his rickety chairs and sat on it, effectively blocking the doorway. To add insult to injury, his musket is lying on her lap, her hand lightly resting on it.

And, on noticing his movement, she lifted her face to meet his brown eyes with her deep green ones straight on.

She said something in a tone of voice that sounded to him like velvet over a steel blade. Sweet and soft, but he by the gods better not resist.

The problem was, she spoke in a language he was completely unfamiliar with.

---//---

Argent looked up from the inspection of his weapon when she heard him stirring.

'Warrior reflexes', she surmised, 'assessing the situation first before giving away the surprise.'

Of course he would look at the only entrance, sooner or later. And the look in his eyes told her that he realized he's been had.

She couldn't help but smile.

"Greetings. I think you and I shall have a chat."

Her feeling of victory passed quickly as she noticed the blank look in his face.

He didn't understand a word.

She practically shouted her frustration in open sending: Just what kind of primitive, backwater dust ball does he come from that he doesn't understand Trade?



Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:03 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 326
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

orion1836 wrote:
Nathanial tried to blink away the pain in the back of his head as he struggled to understand the girl's words. He spoke English well enough, and a little French to deal with the northern trappers that sometimes ventured through his family's settlement to trade, but this language sounded unlike anything the boy had ever heard.

"Can you understand me?"

The girl only narrowed her eyes, and muttered something. Now that he could see her clearly, her features left Nathan no doubt that she wasn't like him. He'd never heard of any race with such blue skin or silvery hair. His eyes had not deceived him earlier; the girl's ears were indeed pointed, and the now-bandaged wound still seeped blue blood.

"Parlez-vous francais?" he tried. The traders would likely have scoffed at his pronunciation, but at this moment, Nathan didn't care.

She huffed in frustration, and tried speaking to him again in her own language, this time more slowly and with more emphasis on enunciation. It didn't help.

In desperation, Nathan tried the few words he knew in Shawnee and Algonquin, but to no effect. The girl was staring at him intently, and after a few moments passed, she got up from the chair and moved toward him.

The boy sat up and scooted away as quickly as he could. Nathan saw that she hadn't drawn the knife from her belt, but she moved with the purpose of someone about to attack. Before he could get his legs underneath him and dash for the door, the girl was on him. But, instead of striking, she simply seized one of his hands with both of hers.

Nathaniel froze, unsure of what to do next.

The girl looked at him intently, as if expecting something. After a moment, she narrowed her eyes in focus, then widened them in shock. Puzzled, and completely taken by surprise, Nathan simply looked down at where her hands gripped his.

Her hands are really cold, he noted.

With a start, the girl released his hands and stood bolt upright, backing away slowly and deliberately.

"Senna sanzai," she breathed.

Nathan stayed put, holding his hands up in an attempt to calm the her down. He didn't know what she was afraid of, but he did know that fear caused people to do rash things. Aside from her weapons, the strange girl had his knife and musket within easy reach. Had she reloaded it?

She looked at the door, and as if on command, it opened, allowing in another blue-skinned girl. This one was slightly taller than the first, and while both had extremely short hair, the new girl's locks were a vibrant blue, much lighter than her skin.

The young women looked at each other wordlessly, before turning back to him. The blue-haired one tried speaking to him, but Nathan could no better understand her than her fellow.

The first girl sighed in frustration, drawing his attention back to her. Holding up a hand to stop her friend's words, she looked at Nathan, waving to get his attention. Then, she pointed to herself.

"Tin," she said deliberately. She repeated the word, emphasizing her finger.

Nathan glanced at the tin cup from his pack, sitting near the hearth. Tin?

The girl then pointed to her friend. "Lennalein"

These are their names! he realized.

He nodded his understanding; pointing to each in turn and repeating their names. It took a couple tries to pronounce the second one, but if she was offended, she didn't show it.

"Lozen?" the silver-haired girl asked, pointing at him. At least Nathan thought it was a question, based on the pitch of her voice at the end.

"Nathaniel." He pointed to himself.

Tin blinked. She opened her mouth to try and repeat it, but her friend beat her to the punch.

"Netaneel," Lennalein tried.

Tin gave her a look, then tried herself. "Nashanal."

All the a's were short, and she seemed to struggle with the "th."

He smiled encouragingly. "How about just Nathan?" Pointing to himself, he repeated, "Nathan."

Tin tried again. "Natan."

Close enough. He smiled and nodded. "Natan," he confirmed.

====

Argent didn't think for a second that she got it right, but apparently Natan did not have a problem with her pronunciation. Bridging a language barrier was going to be difficult, but at least they had made a start.

I can't believe you just touched him without warning. Coldfire sent, undertones of shock following her thoughts.

I had to confirm for myself that he cannot be sensed. Argent relayed the feeling to the other Loroi, the utter absence of any sense of mind, even when in physical contact. She might have been touching the wooden wall of the structure. He has absolutely no capacity for sanzai.

What if he does, and he simply as an extremely powerful lotai? Coldfire replied. This seems more and more like a test. Should we contact the elders?

A test to what end? she retorted, I am not calling for help on our first day. Besides, if it is a test, then we would be failing it by calling for help. Remember what they said? 'Do not use the communicator unless the entire diral is threatened, an initiate dies, or we contact you.'

But what if he wasn't part of the test? What if they never knew about him? Wouldn't that be worth making the call? I'm not saying we have to do it today, Argent, but what happens if we wait until they contact us to report him, and it turns out that it was something we should have let the elders deal with from the start?

Argent let her frustration through the mental link between them. Then I will simply say I was following my instructions on when to use the communicator. He may be a competent hunter, but he isn't a threat, even if we can't sense him. There are forty-eight of us and only one of him, and we have his weapons. Worst case, we can always maintain a guard to keep an eye on him. Besides, she sent with a tinge of self-satisfaction, I have an idea of what to do with him.

During the few seconds their exchange took, the odd male was examining them closely, perhaps perplexed at the silence. Meeting Argent's eyes, he then looked directly at the hastily bound wound on her arm - the one he had inflicted. He made a gesture she didn't understand, and said something in that strange language of his.

Now what? she thought irritably. The wound still stung.

Look at his face... is that regret? Perhaps he offers apology. Coldfire replied.

The idea caught Argent off-guard. Why? He certainly had all right to defend his home. Confusion seeped through their link, despite her best efforts to shield it. The young Loroi did not want to betray anything but sure-mindedness to her diral and her perception of this... man? boy? was undermining her notions of how to deal with the situation.

On the one hand, he was clearly a skilled hunter who could provide for himself. On the other hand, he was also a male alone in a vast wilderness in clear need of care and protection. The competing images warred in her mind, creating a confusion she didn't want to express to her fellows.

Shaking her head, she turned abruptly for the door, seeking the known over the unknown.

See if you can get anywhere with him, she told Coldfire, I will order the diral. There is much to be done before nightfall.

Argent left without a backward glance, forestalling any objection from her fellow. Stepping into the warm sunlight, she was accosted by a wave of questions from the other girls as she closed the door behind her.

Enough, she sent, alongside a summary of what little she knew of Natan. I am still deciding exactly what to do in the long term, but for now, we must make camp and this clearing is an excellent site. This structure is not big enough for even a quarter of us, but I intend to change that. For now, I want all of you to start constructing shelters. Building them against the walls of this cabin will save time and effort. Lily, please start a fire pit near... oh, I see he's already built one. Well, stock it, and let's get a cookfire started. We need to start purifying water from the stream. Rain Shadow, Lightfoot, bring up the game you killed earlier today... I have an idea.

====

The blue-haired girl, Lennalein, understood him no better than the other one did, but at least she made no sudden moves. She kept speaking to him, slowly, in her own language. Nathan guessed that she was trying to see if anything would make sense to him.

He got up deliberately, making smooth motions so as not to startle the girl. She was just as well armed as Tin, and he did not want to start a fight. She said something in a sharp tone when he reached for his musket, but Nathan quickly stopped and motioned to a set of pegs over the hearth.

"I'm only trying to put it away."

Lennalein watched intently as he picked up the weapon. The boy made a show of keeping his hands away from the trigger and holding the musket in such a way that the barrel was always pointed at the ceiling. After a few seconds, it was back in its place, and Nathaniel turned towards the strange girl.

What now?

"Lennalein," he said, pointing at the blue-haired girl. He butchered the name again, the latter vowels giving him trouble. Nathan could see by her face that she wasn't pleased.

"Lennalein," she replied, pointing at herself. He heard the difference, but couldn't repeat it.

"Lenna?" he tried.

She shrugged.

"Lenna," she agreed.

Suddenly, the girl turned toward the closed door, staring at it for a matter of seconds. She then looked back to him and motioned that he follow. Not wanting to create a scene, Nathaniel let himself be led out of his own cabin.

The sun must have come out while he was unconscious; Nathanial blinked in the bright light. When his eyes adjusted, he could not believe what he saw.

There were dozens of them. Tin and Lenna were apparently part of a much larger tribe that now filled his clearing. While they all had short hair, the colors varied greatly... red, purple, blue, green, and white as well as the expected brown, black, and gold. A fire had been started in his curing pit, and three girls were constructing what appeared to be a large spit over it. Another group busied themselves with some kind of container by the creek. The rest were stripping leaves from boughs and carting them toward the cabin. Turning around, Nathan saw four other girls building flat frames with the branches, and stretching some kind of canvas across them. Two were set against his cabin, creating a lean-to.

Where had they all come from? Why had he never seen them before?

"Natan."

Tin's voice drew his attention. She held his axe, and one of the others carried a few pieces of firewood from his stack.

The girl pantomimed felling a tree, then splitting the wood. She then took the firewood and arranged it in a square, stacking it in such a way as to form walls. Tin pointed at him, then pointed at the cabin. Unsure, he continued watching, trying to discern what she was trying to say.

Nathan thought he saw a flash of impatience on her face, but the girl continued. She pointed at the cabin, then at him, with an upward gesture of her hands. A question? Tin repeated the motions, chopping a tree, splitting logs, then arranging them in a square. She pointed to the square, then at the cabin.

The cabin was the square.

Tin pointed at him, repeated the motions, then pointed at the cabin.

Was she asking if he built the cabin?

Nathan nodded emphatically, and repeated her motions, this time correcting them by acting out the sort of swings he used to shape the logs to fit together. Taking his axe, he carefully put similar notches in the firewood, stacking it in the same pattern as he had the cabin. Then, walking over to the corner of the structure, he pointed to the full-scale notches.

Tin smiled, and closed her fist in what he assumed was a celebratory gesture. Hurrying over to the firewood square, she bid one of the others to bring more. She rearranged the model, adding more wood to triple its length. She pointed at him, pointed at the model, mimicked his earlier actions, then pointed to the far side of the clearing.

Nathan looked at the model, then at the little shelters being built against the side of his cabin. Were they asking him to build a new cabin... for all of them? He repeated her gestures, exaggerating his motions to show how much bigger such a cabin would have to be. He hoped that Tin would understand the look of disbelief on his face.

She gestured to two other girls who had emerged from the treeline. Each carried a freshly killed hopper. Tin mimicked what looked like the act of stalking and hunting, then gestured at her fellows. She then pointed at the dead animal, the cookfire, then him in turn, with a set of motions that could only mean eating.

The girl paused, looking at him. Nathan slowly nodded, thinking he understood. 'We'll hunt for you.'

Tin continued, pointing at the trees, his axe, Nathan himself, the firewood model, and spreading her arms to encompass something the size of another cabin at the other side of the clearing.

'You build for us.'

Nathan gestured at the model, then at all of Tin's group, and drew an outline of a cabin in the dirt, pointing at the far side of the clearing. The girl nodded vigorously.

He sat down, the enormity of the project dawning on him. It had taken him weeks to build his small cabin; Tin was asking for a lodge to house an entire village.

The flurry of activity around the clearing had stopped. Nathan became aware that the entire group was looking at him.

Well, he had wanted company, hadn't he? Nathan just hadn't expected... this.

He stood, looked Tin straight in the eyes, and nodded while pointing at the model and drawing. A noise - a cheer, perhaps? - went through the group.

"I'm going to need help," he said, knowing she wouldn't understand.

Oh well, he thought, plenty of time to show them that.


Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:08 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 326
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

CF2 wrote:
The sounds of a busy hunting camp setting up filtered through the air, as the new arrivals to Nathan's little clearing wordlessly prepare lean-to shelters against the sides of his cabin. All without so much as a single hushed voice to coordinate.

Standing around half-thinking, and half-watching them work, Nathan catches quite a few of the blue girls stealing glances in his direction as they work to set up temporary shelters, presumably curious about him. Though he'd darn near shot one of their group, they didn't seem all that concerned, but then again they had probably had the chance to see that he hadn't the powder and musket balls to be a threat to all of them.

Thinking about it that way, even though they all seem to be girls about his age, they were more than dangerous enough for his liking. He gripped the stock of the axe reassuringly. They hadn't tortured and scalped him the moment he woke up, and they trusted him enough to give him his axe, but they also wanted something from him so who knows what might happen after he finished their cabin.

Who knows what they might do if I don't start working on it either.

Grimacing at the thought, the glances begin to feel uncomfortable. Right, he thought. Better at least look busy.

Walking towards the treeline, Nathan starts to mark suitable trees with a notch at their base. The forest was all some kind of softwood with broad, piney needles -- but with dark gray-green, papery bark like an off-color birch. Strange looking, but useful in all the same ways birch is for building and roofing. He would strip the bark off in sheets from trees too big to lift or roll into place as walls, and put it to use as roofing to keep the rain out. These trees however, were small enough to drag or roll into place, so he wanted them with their bark still on to keep them from going to rot.

If he was lucky maybe the... blueskins? Hm. Maybe they'd spare some of their people to help with moving the felled trees.

That didn't feel like a proper name for them. They didn't give him the impression of being nomads, or primitive natives. Assuming they ever got to understanding each other beyond pointing and pantomiming, he should ask them what they call themselves as a people. Turning to look back at the clearing, through a few yards of trees he'd been marking, he didn't see any of them looking in his direction anymore.

Maybe I could slip away.

Keeping an eye on the clearing he started to walk slowly deeper into the woods. What happens when they decide I'm taking to long? Would they really let me get away?

They could cover a lot of ground with that many people if they wanted. Would getting away even matter? How many days until first snow? How long would I have to travel to be safe from accidental discovery? How many after that would I have to prepare a shelter and food stores? Ascending the side of a small hill as the clearing was obscured by dark tree trunks and low hanging branches, Nathan moved slowly, not so much out of caution as out of uncertainty for what he was doing.

I've only got my axe and the clothes on my back, but even so, they can't have just let me wander off to work without some way of keeping track of me. Can they?

The sound of crinkling needles underfoot brought his head around to the top of the hill. An odd standoff between four pointy-eared girls and another two seemed to be silently unfolding. One of the two watching him with the look of someone minding an animal that might be about to bolt. Her partner glancing between the four standing opposite them, with an irritated expression.

Whatever was going on here, Nathan was fairly sure the two were probably out here keeping an eye on him. As for the other four, the looks they gave him had a certain edge that told him not all the blue visitors have forgiven him for his transgression.

"Just, picking out the trees you'll need for the cabin I'm making you."

Giving the axe a little heft, he picks out a nearby tree and marks it in demonstration. Though the only the one of them bothers to pay him any mind, as the others make gestures at each other as though silently speaking in a heated manner. The violet haired watcher gestures at him and then back toward the clearing.

"Alright, but I'll have to be back this way later to chop this down."

= = = =

News filtered back into the camp to Argent, as she was the one overseeing work with the alien to establish long term shelter for the diral. Natan had apparently tested his boundaries as he set about his work, the sentries to the north of the clearing having kept an eye on him and kept some of Argent's more zealous "followers" at bay.

They say they just wanted to make him understand his place as captive labor. Kite explained to them very thoroughly that you had already communicated as much. It was pretty clear they were mad about your injury though, so they wouldn't have been nice about it whatever they did to make him understand.

Thanks for stopping that foolishness Quickriver, Argent sent back. Is Natan still working?

He was heading back with a large bundle of tree bark.

Sure enough, Argent spotted the pink faced male carrying a bundle of tree bark almost as large as himself, on his back. He had used a sapling to bind it so it could be slung over his shoulder, from the look of it. Though why he had the bark at all she wasn't exactly clear on.

Calling over a couple free hands, they tried to take the load from him but he gestured for them to depart persistently. Walking over she watched to see what he was doing with them and if he would need any help, dismissing the other two for the time being. Natan set his bundle down and walked over to his woodpile, gathering an armful of small cut logs, avoiding the split wood in favor of the whole cross-sections of branches.

Catching her eye, he laid the logs out on the ground alongside each other, with as few gaps between them as possible. Then he gestured with both arms at the pile of stripped tree bark and the parallel logs, as though... measuring? Ah, he's comparing their area.

As guessed, Natan began laying the bark out atop the logs until he had a neat little stack a dozen or so strips deep. Then he indicated Argent and said something, looking for a sign of comprehension.

I don't even know what you're doing, let alone what you just said.

A confused look is the best she can offer him. Pointing to her, he says, "Tin," and then gestures with both hands to the pile of bark with his palms down, while repeating what he had said more slowly.

Oh, you need me to apply pressure?

Walking over Argent pushes down on the papery bark, glancing up to verify the alien is satisfied. He nods his head and then jogs off toward his cabin.

Can someone inform me of the alien's current actions?

It's- he is picking up a stone.

Walking back into view, Natan is carrying a large flat piece of gray shale rock. Slowly bringing it over and lowering it down toward the pile of bark. He says a few words, and Argent comprehends their meaning: move your hands. Pulling her hands away to keep them from being pinned down along with everything else. As he heads off toward his cabin again, Argent calls over some free hands and tasks them with lifting any stones he seems about to.

The helpers return laden with flat pieces of rock and in short order the whole pile is covered and stacked with rock. At last Natan seems satisfied with the task. Deciding to try and overcome the language barrier herself this time Tin speaks at him.

"Alright, we've got bark being squashed by rock. What is this for though?"

Eventually reading the confusion on her face, Natan reaches out and takes her hand. She almost pulls it away but he catches her unaware, and then... nothing. Like he isn't even there, or he's as receptive as a stone.

Puzzling over the non-experience of contact with the alien boy, Natan meanwhile pulls her along gently toward his cabin, and then speaks while indicating the roof. There under a covering of grassy soil, she spots a curling fringe of tree bark.

"I see, this must be your waterproofing. No wonder it's so dry inside your shelter. The turf must just be for camouflage or weight. Maybe both."

Natan looks at her intently, trying to puzzle out her words.

"Well, if that's what you're using for our structure, I'll have a few people follow you into the forest next time to see how you harvest it. We'll certainly need more than what you just brought back."

Glad to see you decided against running off, Argent thinks with a smile.

= = = =

A full day of marking trees to be cut down, and stripping bark had built up an appetite. Nathan had some dried meat and water around noon -- the strange people had stopped him from getting a drink at a nearby stream, instead pushing a waterskin into his hands. Yet that had only served to tide him over until now.

Their end of the bargain was to provide food for him if he had understood them correctly. Judging by the cook fires going, they had certainly managed to find enough. Though more than the meat roasting on spits, and the various unpalatable fruits they had picked, Nathan was hungry for company. Two years eating alone with only the sounds of a foreign wilderness had left him chatting with himself just to hear the sound of anybody speaking. Whatever the future held with these strangers, he could at least have someone to talk to over supper even if they didn't understand each other.

At least, that's what he had thought.

He'd entered his cabin to hang up his axe, and turned around to find one of the blue girls had followed him in with a portion of fruits and cooked meat. Handing them off to him she then made a gesture toward him and said a few words. Repeating them again as she left. He tried to follow her out and was met with her shouting and pushing him back.

The message was clear: he wasn't welcome.

Two years alone, with no one to talk to, and now here he was being shut out by the first people he'd met in this strange land. Alone surrounded by people.

Sitting on the edge of his bed, he stared in silence at the food in his hands, meat cooling on the bit of exposed bone he held. Outside the same silence as always hung in the air, yet this time it felt oppressive, because try as he might Nathan couldn't bear to start rambling to himself. It was just too piteously lonesome.


Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:11 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 326
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

novius wrote:
Being rejected.

It is a nasty feeling. Being disliked for whatever reason. Not good enough to keep around.

Two years of loneliness. Two years of not being able to talk to a living soul.

And now, whoever they are, they made clear they wouldn't want him around, too.

And that is more difficult to bear than simply being marooned in a completely strange land.

Oh yes, they do keep you around - as a slave, or a prisoner of war, he thought grimly, then stopped.

Where did that thought come from? He knew that he picked up on some things that bothered him, but he wasn't able to put his finger on it, well, for now.

Then it came to him.

No men. No boys. There is a group of three or four dozen girls, almost women, all alone in the wilds, and no man in sight. Second, these girls look all strange with their blue skin and pointed ears, but they looked too diverse to be kin.

So, if they aren't family or clan, what are they?

Are they some sort of tribe of women who capture men to do their menial labor and kill them once they get too old and feeble, like one of these fanciful stories he heard one travelling merchant boasting in town?

Absurd.

But yet... he was constantly under watch, but they keep their distance. They want him to build a cabin for their whole group. And they keep him contained in his own cabin.

Like a prisoner.

And as such it would be his duty to make an attempt at escape. That's what his father always told him. Might he shied away from that choice because on checking his makeshift calender - if a series of scratches could be called that - he noticed that, yes, it would get colder soon enough.

But if the choice is between freezing to death or working to death and getting killed like an old dog once he outlived his usefulness, he'd take freezing.

He stood up and looked to the doorframe.

Night had already fallen. Good. He noticed that the whole lot was gathered around a bonfire. Even better. First lesson: If you wish to see in the dark, look away from the fire.

Picking up his axe and shouldering his musket and makeshift bow, he slowly crept out of his cabin and towards the far side of the clearing, trying to keep the cabin and the lean-tos between him and the bonfire.

Their eerie silence creeped him out. Such a large gathering had to be loud, with people constantly chattering, joking, arguing, cajoling... but not these blueskins. They were quiet like ghosts.

Reaching the clearing unseen, he slowly crept into the forest, and as soon as he thought to be out of earshot, he broke in a run.

---//---

'He's gone!', came a clarion call via sanzai.

'WHAT?!', Argent shot back, her sanzai driving into the skull like a sharp knife.

'He's gone', Coldfire sent again, 'His axe and his strange weapon as well.'

'How could that be?! Wasn't he to be guarded at all times?!', Argent's wide-area sending rousing the other Loroi.

'Well.... How much trouble could a male make?', someone answered.

Ahhh, yes. Argent recognized the sanzai 'voice' as Firebrand's. She was one of those opposed to keeping him around and she seemed to have gathered some like minded Loroi around herself. Argent felt it best to nip any sign of insubordination in the bud.

'What. Do. You. Mean?' Argent sent, enunciating every word.

'Well, after all, he is a male, and he looked already old enough to start feeling the Flames. He'd either come crawling back or he'd die a horrible death by longing. Come to think of it, how he found it in himself to actually leave eludes me.'

Argent blinked. The Flames were an euphemism for that drawback in male biology that would require them to mate, or suffer and die. Did she really....?

'Did it ever come to you that this male is not a Loroi?'

That brought Firebrand up short, but Argent wasn't finished, by far not.

'If he is that similar to us, I'd be solons away from rounding up the whole diral and asking everyone what the tilted field happened that he would have to run away and face certain death. We'd be all regarded as utter failures if we cannot even keep one single male safe, even from himself!', Argent sent acidly, and given her impressive strength in Sanzai, maybe second only to Coldfire, her words probably reached the entirety of the diral.

Coldfire reeled back from the sharpness of Argent's words. She's on a roll. I've never seen her that hacked off.

'And, if you ever had hoped that you would get some even before the conclusion of our trials, here's the wake up call - even if it would have been an option, I think your chances are far in the negatives by now.'

Coldfire heard several sharp gasps as these words registered.

'Listen, and listen well. If you haven't already noticed, he built this cabin here, and one of these racks had the hide of a Poison Claw stretched on it. He lived here for stars know how long and did these things all alone, and we arrived on the scene, trespassed and took over his home and subjected him to forced labor. Of course he would take offense, any true warrior would have done the same! At the moment this male is more warrior than you are, and with your attitude, you'd ever be!'

That was an insult on so many levels Coldfire wouldn't even bother to count. Firebrand spluttered audibly and started to fume silently.

'Everyone, spread out! He can't be far. Remember, he has no sanzai! Do not expect to feel his presence to guide you towards him, because he has none! Now go and bring him back, alive and unharmed. Is that clear?'

Various words of assent answered her over sanzai as the assembled Loroi scattered.

'Coldfire, with me. Let's find out what happened.', Argent sent the moment she headed off to give the log cabin another once over.

She felt disappointed. She was sure Natan decided not to run off. After all, she promised him he would be taken care for. So why the sudden change in his mind?

Or did she never guess him correctly and he just waited for the right moment to escape?

Argent turned to her second in command, Coldfire. 'Did I do the right thing or did I go too far?', she sent tightly.

Coldfire shook her head. 'Firebrand has always been a pain in the butt. She could make a fine warrior, if she wouldn't be that opinionated. Worse, she already started to gather like-minded Loroi around herself, so you had to take swift action to defang her.'

'I mean with Natan.', Argent clarified.

'You did what you thought best. We see now that building that cabin would even be more complicated than we imagined, and a more arduous task. But I am not sure if that had been the ultimate reason for him to flee. Something else must have happened.'

Neither Coldfire nor Argent had an idea what it could have been.

---//---

Those girls were scary.

Indians would call out their war cries to instill fear into their foes, as well a telling each other where they are.

But these girls were silent. Completely silent. Even without speaking a word they seem to coordinate their search well enough. How the hell do they do that?, Nathanial thought.

He had to dig deeply into his bag of tricks to shake them off. Bend a few branches on the wrong path. Backtrack in the own footsteps and choose a different direction or climb a tree, then. Walk a bit through the stream.

It helped little. First there were so many of them, and second, they don't seem to be slouches when it comes to tracking as well.

They were getting closer. Nathanial had to pick up the pace.

Looking over the shoulder, he failed to see the hole in the ground. His right foot stepped into the emptiness, and he toppled over into the darkness, with a scream.

---//---

'Did you hear that? Over there!', Quickriver sent, pointing deeper into the dense forest before breaking into a run.

'WATCH OUT!', came a sharp warning from her impromptu search team mate, bringing Quickriver to a stop.

Just in time. Without the warning, she would have fallen right into the gap in the ground. Shadows and thick undergrowth camouflaged the opening, making it a trap waiting for whoever comes across.

A trap having most recently claimed a victim.

---//---

Nathanial woke up with a pounding head... again. And looked around.

Directly above him, the night sky filtered through a tangle of roots partially covering the hole he must have fallen into, about two or maybe three meters above his head. High enough to knock him out for a bit when falling into it, but not high enough to cause serious injury.

Time to assess my situation, he thought.

He seemed pretty much unharmed, save a few buises, and his musket seems in a good shape, too, save from a few additional scratches on the barrel. Relieved he took stock of his surroundings.

The walls aren't natural. he concluded. They seemed to be made of stone, and if not for the exposure to the elements, they must have been polished to a smooth shine... and they seemed to be made out of single rocks since he failed to see any cracks or seams of mortar.

Most notably, to a side he noticed an indent looking much like a doorframe... with a closed door made of the same stone. Pushing and cursing didn't help, if that was a door, Nathanial quickly concluded that it wouldn't budge.

The opening he fell through was too high above, and without any nooks and crevices in the walls he wouldn't be able to climb up to the hole.

For all intents and purposes, he was trapped.

But that had become inconsequential the moment the first blueskin face appeared, blocking out part of the night sky.

Looking back at his musket, he remembered his silent oath, to reserve the last bullet for himself. Perhaps the time has come.

---//---

'We found him!', Argent heard Quickriver's sending, 'Bring a rope, or better, climbing gear. But... there is a bit of a situation.'

Homing in on Quickriver's mind, Argent and Coldfire quickly reached the site as well as the other warrior initiates of her diral.

'Where is he?' Argent queried.

'Down there, but... be cautious. He seems distressed', Quickriver answered, pointing at the hole.

Argent wasn't sure what to expect, perhaps him being badly hurt. Or disoriented.

What she never expected was the Loroi keeping a respectful distance of the hole, and on peering down, a frightened but obviously lucid Natan.

Even less she expected him to point the dangerous end of his weapon right at his jaw. His arms weren't long enough to reach the full length down to the trigger, but he extended his reach using a branch.

"Sallan!", he said.

With a feeling of regret she realized that the first word he learned of Trade would be 'No!'. But figures, she thought chagrined, he must have heard that one often enough.

"I will get down to you", she countered, mimicking climbing down a rope.

Nathanial caught on quickly. "Sallan! Stay where you are!", he said. Even if none of the Loroi understood the alien words, save for the repeated 'No!' in Trade, their intent and him tightening his grip on his weapon conveyed the message clearly enough.

He was close to killing himself if any of the Loroi would try to approach him.

Argent sighed. How did it ever devolve to a hostage situation? With Natan holding himself as a hostage, as strange as a concept it seems? And, worse, how could she hope to resolve this if she cannot communicate with him?



Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:13 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 326
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

orion1836 wrote:
Natan's eyes held hers, and Argent saw his hand start to move, pushing the branch down against the trigger mechanism.

Pure instinct took over.

Male. In danger... made worse by the fact that it was likely her fault.

Argent was airborne before she realized it. She came down hard, but was able to land on her feet, collapsing to a crouch to absorb the impact. Springing up, she saw Natan's eyes go wide as he stumbled back, continuing to push on the trigger.

The Loroi acted fluidly, without thought. With less than a solon to act, she snatched the barrel of the weapon. Unfortunately, given the angle of her arm and the tightness of the chamber, the only direction the muzzle could go was directly towards her.

Click.

Both Loroi and human froze, staring at each other, shocked. Argent's left hand clutched the barrel of the primitive weapon, its end resting underneath her chin. Natan's left hand gripped the stock just below hers; his right still angled the stick through the trigger mechanism.

Their eyes traveled down the length of the weapon; the trigger was depressed, the hammer had fallen.

Natan blinked, let go of the branch, and took a shaky breath. Argent slowly, ever so slowly, levered the barrel to the side, away from her. Natan held onto the weapon, causing his arm to be drawn across his body, between them.

Adrenaline coursed behind her eyes, and the initiate could see the same intense look in his... so similar and yet so different. Each had been ready to meet death mere moments before. Something had to be done, she realized through the haze of chemicals, or this might turn violent. Reaching up, Argent gently laid an open palm on the side of Natan's face. His flesh was noticeably warm.

To a Loroi, it would be a grave assault and most assuredly guarantee a fight, but Argent knew that he was different, and without language she could only hope that she could somehow get him to understand that she meant him no harm. Quite the opposite, in fact. She released the weapon, and brought her left hand to the other side of his face, matching her right.

Natan flinched, but did not pull away. Closing here eyes, she focused every last bit of energy she could into her sanzai.

Ally.

Nothing... blankness. She might as well have been sending to a wall. But, after a few solon, Natan's whole body shuddered, and he let the weapon drop with a clatter against the smooth walls. He grabbed Argent's wrists, pulling them away from his face. His grip was surprisingly strong. She opened her eyes to see him an utterly shocked expression on his face.

"Ally," she repeated aloud, hoping something got through to the male.

Argent gently pulled her arms towards herself, prompting Natan to let go. He stood, breathing heavily, watching her with a wary eye.

As she caught her own breath and the rush of adrenaline subsided, the thoughts of the others crashed in around her.

Leader, are you hurt?!

Argent, what happened?

Did the male attack you?


The Loroi sent a rough summary of what happened to her fellows, along with an image of the chamber where Natan had fallen. The smooth, ever slightly luminescent cermet walls marked it as a Soia structure. There had been plenty in the town where she had been raised. Long since thoroughly analyzed and stripped of any useful technology, they were mostly used for decorative purposes. This, however, was an undiscovered site. It would need to be reported… eventually.

Now though, there were more pressing problems. Natan looked at her with the distrust of a wild animal, ready to run at a moment’s notice.

Coldfire, get the communicator as quickly as you can.

I thought you said you were going to…

Now, Coldfire.


Argent barely had a notion of what she was going to do, much less a cogent plan that she could relay to her second. But an idea was forming, and time was of the essence.

===========

Nathan watched Tin carefully as she backed away, looking up at the hole through which he had fallen. He shook his head again, trying to clear the utterly strange sensation that had filled it mere moments before. At first, nothing had happened when the girl clutched his face, but right as he was about to push her away, some… thing had happened.

The young man could not describe it. He sensed something, but it was in no way like anything he had experienced before. It was something like sight, but not sight. It certainly wasn’t sound, touch, or any of his other senses. But for a moment, amid all of his own fear, he could have sworn that he felt that same emotion from another direction… a fear that wasn’t his.

Was it her fear he felt? Could she do that?

A thought occurred. Maybe that was how these blue girls spoke with each other, only they did not have to touch each other. He had certainly seen the effects of it; they communicated and coordinated their actions without talking.

Tin gestured impatiently to her fellows outside, all the while glancing at him to make sure he… what? Didn’t attack her?

Nathan looked again at the musket. Either the primer or the powder got wet, he thought, just my luck.

But perhaps he was lucky. As his body wound down the adrenaline that had prepared him to take such a drastic action, Nathan replayed the sudden events that had just transpired. Tin had thrown herself into the chamber and risked her own life to pull the musket away from him. Had it not malfunctioned, one of them would be dead now, most likely her.

That’s not how you treat captives, he realized. There was something more here. This group could clearly survive on their own – any structure he built them would be nice, but not something they couldn’t live without. Why go so far to protect him?

Tin reached up, signaling to her fellows. Suddenly, a small black object fell from above into her waiting hands. Nathan tensed, ready to fight in case it was a weapon.

Turning to see his reaction, Tin said something in a soft, placating voice. Holding the object up so he could see it clearly, she pointed to its face which seemed to be made of black glass. Touching a finger to it made the glass light up with all sorts of bright shapes and colors.

The boy was awestruck; he had never seen anything like it. Smiling, Tin touched something else and lay the device flat between her palms. A bright light near the top of it came on, and suddenly a surface, seemingly made of light, came into being in the air over her hands.

Nathan couldn’t help himself. He reached a hand forward, touching the surface. Though he felt nothing, shadow formed where his hand crossed it, leaving a path of blue.

Tin laughed and touched something on the glass face. The blue lines he had left vanished.

She touched three symbols in sequence on the object, and they instantly appeared in the air over it, this time in green. Raising one hand, Tin pointed.
“Tin,” she said, then pointed to the characters in turn, making a “t,” short “i,” and “n” sound at each one.

It’s her name, in her language, the boy realized.

Then, she touched another spot on the object, and the surface was empty once more. Making a motion with her hand, she gestured for Nathan to draw on it.

“Tin,” she inclined her head towards the glowing plane.

Nathan struggled to remember the sweeping, curled letters he had just seen. There had been no pattern that he could discern. He tried drawing the sort of backwards “E” that had started Tin’s name when she gently pushed his hand away and shook her head. She cleared the surface and put her name back up in green, pointing at it.

“Tin,” she said, pointing at the name and her. Then, she made the surface blank again and pointed at him. “Tin,” she repeated, pointing at the surface, then emphatically at him.

Her name, but… me… he thought, but then it hit him. She wants me to write it in English!

Nodding his understanding, Nathan reached forward and drew on the surface with his finger.

T I N

The girl smiled widely, then brought the device closer so that she could examine the letters. Below the blue English letters, she placed her own version of her name in green. He noticed that it appeared from right to left. He pointed in the respective directions on both their names, and Tin nodded in understanding. She touched something else on the object, and the green characters in her own name reversed themselves.

“Tin,” she said, looking at him. Then, she touched a part of the device that made both sets of text raise further into the air. There was now black space below. The girl pointed at the space, then at Nathan.

“Natan.” She pointed again at the open space.

Understanding, Nathan drew his own name in the space, grateful for the many, many hours his mother had spent making sure that unlike many other frontier boys, he knew how to read and write.

N A T H A N

Tin drew the surface back almost before he had finished writing, studying the letters intently. Below the Ns and the Ts, she made the equivalent characters from her own name. The backwards E appeared below the T in his name, and what looked like a circle with horns fell into place below both Ns. The girl pointed at each, making the sound for T and N respectively. Nathan nodded his agreement.
Next, she pointed to the As, and what looked like a sideways Y with a dot appeared below them. She made the sound of a short “A.”

Nathaniel shook his head, and made a long "A" sound.

Tin tried to follow him, but what came out sounded like “eehhy.” Maybe she didn’t have that letter. “Ah,” he agreed, and the sideways Y characters stuck.

Now, only the H sat alone. Nathan pointed at it and made the sound. Tin only stared at him. He tried again. She shook her head… another one they didn’t have? The boy made a waving motion, hoping she’d understand that it didn’t matter. He pointed at the T, made the sound, then pointed at the H, making that sound, then pinched the letters together with his fingers, making a “TH” sound.

Tin blinked, completely lost. Looking away from the letters she tried to mimic the sound.

“Sh?” she tried inquisitively.

Nathan shook his head, and repeated the sound.

Tin tried, and failed miserably, even going so far as to spit a little as she struggled to emulate “TH.”

The boy couldn’t help but laugh. She looked at him sourly.

“Natan,” she said with a huff.

“Natan,” Nathan agreed. She reached over and closed the five strange characters together under the six English letters, then touched something else that made them reverse themselves in order. She smiled as she realized that she didn’t need to; they were the same in either direction.

She pushed something else on the object, and the lighted surface went away. Looking up at him, Tin’s face grew somber. She said something, indicating the both of them, and pointed toward the entrance. She pantomimed climbing, and walking, presumably back to camp. Then, she held up two hands, talking to each other like sock puppets. Nathan wanted to laugh at the spectacle, but the girl was serious. She continued, holding one hand toward him, and gestured in a back and forth motion.

Come back with us, and we will learn how to talk to one another. Nathan was fairly confident that this is what she intended.

Nathan nodded, and turned to pick up his musket, for once glad that it has misfired. Tin and her kind were difficult to understand, but he was confident now that they did not mean to enslave or abuse him, or at the very least, Tin did not, and she seemed to be in charge.

Besides… it was not as if he had any other options; if the powder was wet, then that meant his store of it was too. He may have one round left, but no way to fire it.

Tin looked at him but made no motion to take away his weapon. She nodded and turned back to the entrance, where a rope made of twisted creeper was being lowered down.


Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:15 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 326
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

orion1836 wrote:
The group was subdued as they walked back to camp through the dark woods. While silence was normal for them, Nathan noticed subtle differences. They moved like a group of children that had just been severely thrashed by their parents.

The glow of the campfire was a welcome relief as he emerged from the forest. Tin's group had apparently left in a hurry; half-eaten food was left smouldering on rocks by the fire or on the logs they had drawn up around his curing pit for seating.

Two girls ran ahead to stoke the fire as the rest moved carefully back to their seats. Gone was the jovial, if quiet, attitude he had seen earlier that night. Now everyone stole quick glances at Tin and him.

Nathan started to walk around the circle toward the door of his cabin when a sharp call from Tin brought him up short. She shook her head and pointed emphatically to an open seat at the end of one log... the very seat she had occupied earlier that night. The boy looked around - every other set of eyes in the camp was glued on him.

Self consciously, he walked over to the log and sat down as bidden. A sharp glance from Tin at the girl next to him sent her scurrying, allowing the silver-haired girl to take the spot. She then reached forward to the still-warm shank of hopper resting on a stone in front of him, and purposely handed it to Nathan.

This was her portion, Nathan realized, seeing a couple of bite marks on the shank. He was about to refuse, thinking of the food they had left for him in the cabin, but in catching the intent stares of the rest of the girls, Nathan felt a sense of ceremony, or other type of tribal rite. It felt like something the Shawnee would do.

He gingerly took a bite, and the reaction from the group was palpable. Nearly all looked away, but almost instantly, they looked back, their eyes darting to Tin.

Was she reprimanding them?

Slowly, the rest returned to their hastily abandoned meals, looking at him guiltily as they did so. It was hard to see in the firelight, but they seemed a much deeper blue than before. Are they... is that how they blush?

Perhaps the reason he was shuffled off into his cabin earlier had nothing to do with their view of him, but rather some... he couldn't think of the word. Maybe it was a religious thing... his father had told him of all sorts of groups that had settled in the colonies, some who were more strict than others. He had met a Quaker family once on a trading trip with his father, but other than the man pointing it out before they met them, he hadn't noticed anything particularly different about them.

The boy froze as he contemplated that. Did I run away for nothing? I could have ended it all because I came to the wrong conclusion... An ice cold pit had opened in his stomach, and his skin crawled as he stared deeply into the fire.

"Natan?"

Tin's voice brought him out of his reverie. Looking over, he saw the girl Tin had kicked out of her seat return, carrying the food they had left in his cabin. Tin took it and tucked in with gusto while looking at him, motioning for Nathan to do the same.

Setting aside his musings and doubts, Nathan ate the portion he had been given as heartily as he could. Even after all these years, the food here still did not sit well with him, but he found that if he ate it slowly and steadily, he could control his body's adverse reactions to it.

What he wouldn't give for a corn cake and a hank of grilled rabbit fired with green onions.

The silver-haired girl nodded approvingly, juice dripping down her chin as she tore into her own hopper. Dainty, these blue girls were not.

Slowly but surely, the rest of the group returned to normal. Now that he thought to look for it, Nathan could see glances and gestures between them indicating conversations that he could not hear. Nearly all of them looked or motioned at him from time to time; he expected that he was the topic of conversation. Tin scowled at her fellows, but seemed not to intervene. Instead, she polished off the rest of her meal and turned in conversation to the girl with ice-blue hair that was always with her... Lennalein? He resolved to get their names right, even if they could not pronounce his.

=======

Fatigue hit as he tossed the now clean shank into the fire. Nathan groaned as he rose; the day had been exhausting, the little incident in the woods notwithstanding. He bid the group good night, even though they wouldn't understand. Tin and Lennalein rose immediately behind him, following the boy even as he slipped through the door of his cabin.

Nathan had barely stored his musket, axe, and other tools when the door swung open. Either the blue girls did not understand the proprieties of a closed door or they did not care. Ignoring his protestations, Tin strode over to the room's one chair and set it against the wall opposite the door. Lennalein stoked the fire, added a log to last the night, and stretched out on the floor before it.

Tin's short silver hair glowed orange in the firelight. She said something he couldn't understand and gestured to the bed, then leaned back in the chair against the wall, locking her gaze on the door. When he didn't move, she looked back, expressions of annoyance and compassion flickering across her face. She stood, took him gently by the elbow and led him to his bed, all but guiding him down into it. When he lay down, she smiled and nodded, returning to her chair and her vigil of the cabin's entrance.

Was she making sure he didn't leave? If so, Nathan thought she'd put the chair in front of the door. It was clear she was staying up to guard the room; perhaps she and Lennalein would trade places in the night. If she wasn't there to keep him from leaving, was she there to keep him from hurting himself? Or perhaps was she guarding him from the others?

Nathan couldn't know.

Tin fixed his eyes with hers, and pantomimed the act of going to sleep. The boy couldn't help but laugh at being mothered by a girl smaller than he was.

Well, as tired as I am, you don't have to tell me twice, he thought as he rolled over into his pile of furs and let slumber take him.



Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:17 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:38 pm
Posts: 326
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Originally posted here.

CF2 wrote:
After Argent had dressed her down, Firebrand had seethed. Yet now? Now she felt triumphant.

If Argent had wanted for the diral to treat the alien the same as they would a Loroi, then she had erred badly in breaking with taboo and eating in his sight. All her insults and reprimands rang hollow with that, and it wasn't only Firebrand who felt that way. Looking around even Argents little, dear-leader fanclub was giving one another uncertain looks that betrayed the type of private conversation they were having. Her supporters on the other hand were not nearly as quiet, making open conversation of the taboo that had just been intentionally ignored. Firebrand for her part let others do the talking, it wouldn't look good if she were heard from just yet.

That wasn't any accident. Eating in front of a male isn't allowed.

She invites bad luck on all of us.

Argent explained it was to make sure he ate, that he had attempted to harm himself.

Where was there such an exception to the taboo? Nowhere.

How can she lead if she doesn't heed our own instructions?

She stated her reasons, and that's more than we need to complete our trial!

You bootlicker. Are you hoping she'll take notice of you if you praise her enough?

The diral's chatter had begun to group into factioned thinking. Standing up, Firebrand called out for everyone to fall silent, before productive doubts turned to useless insults. There is nothing to be gained from arguing further tonight. Everyone should rest, I'm sure Argent will address our concerns tomorrow. Even if you feel restless about her actions you should try to sleep, it's the pragmatic thing to do in preparation for when the alien next leads us on a blind chase through the woods at night.

A few wry laughs, and reluctant agreements signalled the end of the night's activities. Tomorrow would likely see the same discussion appear with renewed vigor and outrage.

Argent could try to keep the status quo -- Firebrand hoped she would -- but she didn't have the authority to break with something they'd all been forbidden from doing. Which really only left her a few options: forfeit her leadership of the diral, in order to keep treating the male as one of theirs to be protected -- or declare it to be alien and thus the taboo and other restrictions don't apply to it.

Firebrand didn't mind how it turned out for the alien either way. Argent was right about it being a skilled survivor, so it really was a waste to confine it to camp. The shelter would be good once it was done, but trophies from hunting would be of greater value to the diral's assessment. In the meantime, he could help her take Argent down a few pegs and raise Firebrand to leadership. She just needed a hunter's patience.

= = = =

Coldfire watched the flames slowly climb the front of the log from the embers beneath it, while Argent watched the door and the alien. Though the diral outside were keeping most of their chatter between them, the two picked up enough of it to know the trouble that awaited Argent in the morning.

Firebrand wants to lead, sent Coldfire to Argent.

She wants recognition. It would work out badly if she were in charge. Argent spared a glance for her friend, You know this too.

I do. Though you know you can't treat him like one of ours, right?

He tried to kill himself, Lennalein. I didn't see any of tonight coming, how can I just leave him be to try it again?

Get others to watch him then. If it's just you, you'll wear out and the diral will suffer for it.

There was more to it than what Coldfire put into words. Those who saw the alien as a male would not look kindly on how close she kept to him, or how much time she spent with him.

I'll take first watch, you rest, she sent to Coldfire.

Thinking about it, she could assign members of the diral to watch him and learn how he's working and surviving. They wouldn't have to be told that they were keeping an eye on him, and he wouldn't need to think of it that way either. That should keep both sides from feeling burdened with the other.

That didn't really address what needed to be done about his standing. She'd face censure if she insisted on treating Natan like a Loroi male. Yet she was concerned about what some in the diral might do if he were declared a valued prisoner instead. For that matter she wasn't even sure what Natan would do in reaction to any of this. Alien or not, her heart went out to him when she thought about what could have pushed him to such a point as tonight.

She wanted to look out for him as much as any member of the diral, but-

That's it! Initiation.

Initiation was the answer! Gender aside, he was more than capable, and around their age. It would mean that the others would look out for him without it feeling like a task that kept them from more important work. Even better, it would mean that they could count his efforts toward their assessment as a whole, rather than having it seen as assistance.

There weren't clear rules on this sort of adoption, since a diral's trials were secluded from others simply by their nature. Yet that just meant his initiation had to be acceptable to everyone. The others in the diral could stipulate the conditions, that way there would be no dissention. Even that heel-kicker Firebrand would have her say so she couldn't cause a fuss about it later.

Looking at the alien boy sleeping atop the varied collection of animal pelts, one pulled up over his back, Argent just hoped she could teach him enough to communicate what he'd need to do and why. With her awareness cast outside toward the camped diral and sentries beyond, she waited for the log to burn half its volume, then woke Coldfire and got some sleep herself.


Sun Jul 15, 2018 7:18 am
Profile

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 624
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Firebrand was not having a good morning.

Sure, it started out pleasantly enough. The discussion from the evening before wasn't quite forgotten, but the heat had been taken out of it. She could sense it. Front lines were drawn, between those who still stood by Argent, and the others who might come around her way of thinking. It would just need some careful prodding...

But then Her Ladyship herself showed up with that hopper-brained scheme of hers.

Does she really think this male would pass the warrior trials like they would? Yes, she does, she answered her own question in her mind.

The moment she put it up to proposal was like hurling a stone at a nest of chabi buzzers. Something every Loroi child may be tempted to try once, but never a second time... unless said child is good at running.

---//---

'Perhaps you could have handled it better.', Coldfire sent to Argent.

'If so, I have no idea how', Argent sighed.

It must have been hundreds, maybe even thousands of solons of reasoning, arguing, cajoling, and coercing and sometimes threatening to make these initiates even consider the idea of a male being their equal as a warrior, in all respects.

They already encountered some species where the male gender seems to have a more active role in the society, and Natan did show an aptitude at survival and beating the odds.

Then the thought came up, that he is a male, and as thus destined for a singular purpose. Coldfire blushed as she remembered having entertained that particular line of thinking as well.

Argent reiterated her argument, stressing that a Loroi male might already have perished to the Flames, yet he survived and continued struggling with the environs. So he simply cannot be measured with the typical 'Loroi male' scale.

Then the thought came up that never had a diral taken up additional members once the seclusion started, much less an alien.

Surprisingly it was Poisoned Claw who countered that bit. Argent felt relieved that there do seem to be Loroi already trying to defend her position. Poisoned Claw stated that there had been an incident with two dirals who were decimated to brink of survivability, and in a rare show of cooperation, they merged and took on a wholly new name for themselves, working under a twin leadership. It had been a tough sell to the proctors during the trials but in the end they actually succeeded, with high commendations.

Though, yes, she had to admit that taking on a singular person, even an alien, was never done to her knowledge. But there are no rules and taboos barring that.

Technicalities aside, the concerns turned towards more immediate concerns. What would be the benefits for the diral to keep him around?

Unsurprisingly it was one of Firebrand's get that brought up that thought, Argent realized.

Cute, Argent thought to herself, she lets others do the talking, so that she wouldn't face the full brunt of the opposition.

'Well, for starters, let's go with what we can do to not keep him around. We could either let him go and we will NEVER speak nor think about him anymore, because if someone, anyone finds out that there is an alien on Deinar and we didn't take any steps to at least keep watch, we would be regarded as utter failures in our duty to fight and protect our worlds.'

Well, that already caused quite some murmurs, but Argent wasn't quite finished.

'Or, we do not let him go and make his body disappear. The beasts of the wild would surely make sure of it.'

That stirred them up quite nicely, thought Coldfire as she witnessed the outrage. Killing a male, or letting him come to harm because of inaction, that was something no right-thinking warrior would ever tolerate.

'So we have to keep him around. Either as indentured labor... and you have seen how this works out... or as an ally and equal.', Argent concluded.

'Nice speech', Firebrand sent slowly, 'but you didn't say where our gains would be in that.'

Argent gestured to the rack with the Poisonclaw hide stretched out. 'This. If he manages that alone, it means we have lots to learn. Face it. I am sure if it comes to a fight, he might need us much less than we might come to need him.

And if it's trophies you are looking for... An alien, alive and unharmed, is quite the catch, especially if we showed the aptitude of teaching him our ways and customs in exchange for him teaching us his survivalist skills?'

Score one for you, you do drive quite a bargain like a Mizol. Fireblade thought.

'Fine. Keep your pet alien for now. But if it ever puts passing our trials in danger, it will be your skin on that rack!' She sent, fuming. 'Come.', she directed the Loroi near her before stomping off.

Argent watched Firebrand and about ten more initiates leave, with several more casting uncertain glances from Firebrand's retreating back to Argent, and then back to Firebrand.

Seeing the matter as settled - for now - the crowd began to disperse.

Coldfire turned to Argent. 'Do you have any idea what you just did?'

Argent sighed. 'That we have about two tozons to teach him everything what we learn in eight. Starting with our language.'

---//---

Nathanial woke up with a start and looked around.

It was morning. The fire did burn down to glowing embers, and more noticeably, the chair and the place on the floor was deserted, only a few scuff marks on the packed-dirt floor denoting that someone slept on it.

Softly padding towards the door, he opened it slowly... and stopped.

Because on peering through, he saw a large number of the blue girls - maybe all of them - assembled right in the clearing. Tin and Lenna right in front of the cabin, backs to the door, and being the center of attention of the rest of them. To his front left, somewhat separated from the main crowd, he saw a smaller group of these blueskins noticing him and casting him some rather ugly looks.

It didn't need hearing Tin's words, after all, they never said a word. The shifts in her stance, and those of the assembled girls, told him she must be addressing the crowd. And as with any large gathering, there are always some hecklers intend on stirring up touble. And on said smaller group leaving in a huff before the others started to move away as well he got a good idea who the troublemakers would be.

He heard the weary sigh escaping Argent's mouth. Whatever it was, it had taxed her.

Nathanial already had a good idea what this gathering had been about. For some reason, his presence seems to cause some dissent in the group. Yet, if they had wanted him gone, the last night would have been an excellent chance to get rid of him.

"Tin?", he quietly called out, trying to get her attention.

Operative word, trying. The white-haired girl jerked around, clearly startled, and launched into a rapid-fire speech, until a pointed glance from Lenna seemed to calm her down a bit.

Note to self, they seem to be easily startled, Nathanial concluded, as Tin found her composure again, looking slightly chagrined.

"What was that all about?", Nathanial tried, making a gesture encompassing the clearing where the girls had gathered.

Tin blinked, with a remorseful look, looking back at the now empty clearing, then at him, opening her mouth, but no words coming out of it, shaking her head slightly in exasperation.

Perhaps too complicated for her to convey to me right now.

She sighed, and mimicked talking with her hands, pointing at herself, Lenna and him, then reaching for his arm to guide him towards the logs near the burned down bonfire.

Looks like class is in session again. She's really intent on teaching me that language of hers.

---//---

The sun crept along the sky and Nathaniel quickly noticed that she was intent to learn English, too, as well as teaching him her language.

For a number of things, it was rather easy. She scooped up some water from the stream, and said "memal". As well as filling his tin cup with water, pointing into it, saying "memal" again, then looking expectantly at him, gesturing to his mouth. On repeating the strange word, she shook her head, in the same manner as she did when he copied her letters.

She wanted to hear the English word.

"Water."

She smiled. "Waa...tah."

"Water."

"Water.", she repeated, her diction having improved.

On repeating the same procedure with fire, Nathanial noticed something. "Lein.... Fire." He pointedly glanced towards Lenna, then tried it again. "Lenna....lein? What is Lenna?"

Tin smiled brightly. "Lenna.", she repeated, then mimicking shivering.

"Lenna means .... cold?", Nathanial tried.

Tin repeated her gesture, enunciated by blowing into her hands, as if for warmth. On seeing the dawning comprehension in Natan's face, she nodded.

"Lennalein.... Means Cold Fire?"

"Annen!", she exclaimed, brightly. "Lennalein", she repeated, first mimicking freezing from the cold, then a flame with her hands, pointing at the fireplace.

This sounds like an indian tribe... they do have descriptive names as well. Like Black Morning Cloud, Prancing Horse, Great Bear... What would 'Tin' mean?

"Tin means....?", he voiced the question.

Tin looked somewhat touched by his interest in her name, and looked around, visibly searching for something, but coming up empty. She made an apologetic sound.

Yet, the idea about the indian tribe pulled up another question in his mind. It might be a long shot for him to convey the meaning but he had to try.

"Tin.", he said, gesturing to her, "Lennalein.", he gestured in the direction where she disappeared to. "Her, her, her.", gesturing at some of the girls busying themselves with one of the lean-tos, and then making a gesture encompassing all of them.

Tin looked askance.

"Natan.", he pointed at himself. "American."

"Tin.", he pointed at her, "Lennalein.", he repeated the gesture, then the one encompassing the other girls, and then, pointing at the side of her head, and mimicking the pointed ears with his fingers.

"Ahhh.... Nathan... Amercann...", she pointed at him, "Tin, Lennalein, Arianesin, Leinnessan...", she mimicked referring to herself and the other girls, "... Loroi."

"Loroi?", Nathanial tried the word.

Tin nodded vigorously.

"Loroi."

So, these girls call themselves 'Loroi'... I've never ever heard of such a tribe.



Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:42 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:32 pm
Posts: 186
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:
[Without Words]

1779 CE, 1320 SYU

With the construction of the new cabin well underway Nathan had adjusted to the routine working and living with the Diral. Even prior to his initiation, most of the members proved to be great company. They were effective hunters bringing in plenty of food, they helped him to learn Loroi Trade - their spoken language - laughing and kind heartedly correcting him when he made a mistake, and showed him which plants and roots could be eaten and how best to prepare them. Some new plants and roots were disgusting but he also learned that the seeds from the tree he used to collect bark from were a welcome supplement to his meals. He noticed the Loroi ate just one time a day, gathering around the fire pit despite performing heavy labor all day. He taught them how to maintain and wet the blade of his axe, ensuring they kept it in top condition.

“Look, it’s important you become a member of our Diral”, Tin had told him.

Nathan understood that he could be adopted into their tribe by learning Loroi, and by successfully passing a fire and iron test, which included hunting with weapons that he had to make from scratch. Tin had pointed at the metal blade of his axe explaining the iron part. Between sunrise and sunset he was expected to bring in enough pray to feed the entire Diral of 48, including himself. Then a still undisclosed part of the ritual would cement his membership into their tribe.

Tin didn’t need to point out that not all members were enamoured by the idea and wanted to see him fail.
She patted him on the shoulder though.

“I already know you’re a good hunter, you could catch another Arianesin and you’ll be fine”, she grinned.

Great, going out with a knife, or perhaps a lance, capturing a beast that had stalked him and nearly killed him the first time round? To feed the lot he’d have to catch perhaps more than one. Where would he have to find metal to forge a blade? Perhaps he could make a longbow and arrows with tips from fire-hardened heavy wood, just to have a longer range weapon.’

Looking at the faces and body language of some - a group of about seven to ten - made it clear that joining the evening meal would remain troublesome, at least until passing his initiation. The girl called Firebrand, he referred to her as Troublemaker, and her companions continued to behave sullen, never helping him, refusing to eat together with him or even talk.

Things came to a head when a large beam was hoisted in place onto the roof of the Diral cabin. Nathan was standing on one of the walls, directing the hoisting of a large support beam that would hold up the roof.

“Move! Danger!”, Nathan told Troublemaker in Loroi words.

Troublemaker looked at him with a blank stare. She didn’t move an inch.

“Move!” He angrily wavied at her adding in English while pointing at the beam, “Or you’ll be squashed like a bug!”

Then, with a sharp whistle he held up his hand, to signal the other Loroi to stop lifting the beam.
Groaning the team that helped to lift the heavy load stopped moving the load. Firebrand was still standing right between the polls of the ramp they were using to lift the beam. With a really stupid defiant look on her face she sabotaged the entire process. One of the ropes was already fraying and Nathan thought is was wiser to stop.

From the corner of his eye he saw things go wrong. Without thought he jumped sideways from the wall toward the Troublemaker, pulling her out of harms way safely between the polls but losing his own equilibrium in doing so.

The rope failed, the load had been too heavy to bear for the other teams and the beam rolled downward, it hit his shoulder and his head.

He woke up in his cabin with a giant headache, flanked by Tin and Coldfire. Tin had her hand on his forehead. In his mind he could hear many voices, and also feel her genuine concern for him. Without words.


Last edited by Zarya on Tue Aug 14, 2018 2:08 am, edited 4 times in total.



Wed Jul 18, 2018 7:39 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:32 pm
Posts: 186
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Argent felt what had troubled him for years. It wasn’t loneliness or anything related to the Diral, but the weight of responsibility he felt for a family far away. She even saw their faces, the forest where he had come from, a vision of a large moon in the sky, and a large man - his father! - on the back of an animal, and the path he had taken before ending up here.

He was supposed to take care of his next of kin and the feeling that he couldn’t festered within him!

Argent shook her head. A culture in which the men had that amount of responsibility? She could relate to the feeling responsible part though. She looked at his face, her hand still on his forehead. Looking at her and without words he showed her that he had backtracked all his steps to the area with the Soia structure. Returning many times he had marked trees and had also discovered partly overgrown stones with intricate patterns on them. They were very near the cavity he had fallen into and from which she had recovered him. Argent knew from the context he sent with the images that Nathan had chosen that direction because he associated it with his homestead.

Don’t worry, we will investigate that Soia construction’, she conveyed to him.

Soia? Were they a tribe?’ came his response.
And then with a sense of confusion ‘I am here for a second time. Is that... Troublemaker girl all right?

She’s all right in the sense that she’s still alive’ with that she also sent information that Troublemaker would be disciplined for endangering a male and initiate to the Diral. The only difficulty - and that statement came with the mental equivalent of a deep sigh - was that, technically speaking, he wasn’t a Loroi and no-one had ever initiated an alien male that looked like a Loroi into a Diral.

She smiled though, ‘can you try and get up?


Last edited by Zarya on Sat Jul 21, 2018 10:28 am, edited 4 times in total.



Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:52 am
Profile

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 624
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Argent watched Natan trying to stand up, with a worried expression, but the moment he lifted himself up she saw that he wouldn't keep his balance.

Serious concussion, she dared a diagnosis.

'Stop. You need to lie down. You've been hurt, badly. Can you look at me? Grab my hand?', she tried for simple thoughts.

True enough, as he squeezed her hand, she noticed him lacking his strength and his eyes going out of focus.

'Coldfire, help me get him back onto his bed. And, please, watch over him. He needs rest, but do not let him sleep for the next five thousand solons, lest he could fall into coma!'

With a short thought of assent, Coldfire reached for his legs, while Argent put her hands under his armpits and using her own body to support his head. Thus slow going, they managed to get Natan back on his bed, Argent's clothing soiled with this strange alien red blood seeping out of an ugly looking head wound. Whatever she felt from Natan became more and more blurred - his brain was shutting down.

Coldfire turned to Argent. 'I'll keep watch. Poisoned Claw!', she called out, 'Fetch me the med kit, stat!', then she turned back to Argent.

'His wound does look serious, but head wounds usually look worse than they actually are. I'll watch him. You go deal with Firebrand.'

'Shred this, I will!', Argent sent sharply before storming off, most certainly in search for a specific Loroi.

She didn't need to search for long. It seems like most of the diral took offense on her endangering a male - alien or not - and the moment she tried to make a run for it after seeing the ramifications of her actions, they seized her. To her credit, it took three other initiates to hold her in a lock while she was still struggling.

'What's the meaning of this?!', Firebrand demanded, as she saw Argent.

'You know very well what this is about. It was your actions that endangered a valuable member of this diral...'

'A WHAT?', Firebrand cut her off, 'You honestly think him to be one of us?!'

Argent narrowed her eyes.

'Would you like to be punished for endangering a member of this diral or would you like to be punished for endangering a male?', Argent shot back.

Firebrand blinked. Quarrels within a diral are tolerated, and resulting injuries may hurt the assessment, but a warrior willingly hurting a male is reason for court martial, and an initiate could surely be dishonorly discharged from training and kicked back to civilian life.

'He brought it on to himself with pushing me out of harms way, letting that log fall on himself.', she tried for a different tack.

Another initiate cut in - Poisoned Claw, who just got back out after delivering the medkit.

'YOU STUPID BINT! Without him it would be YOU lying on his cot, and not only with a head wound, but most certainly with a crushed ribcage! And from what I hear he did warn you, repeatedly, and you refused to get out of the way!', she exploded.

Locking her gaze with Firebrand, Argent quickly realized that there would be no immediate resolution. Firebrand dug her heels in, too prideful to relent.

She sighed. 'Quick River, Shining Star, Wandering Sands... please restrain her and take her away. Don't let anyone near her. Especially not me. Because if I see her face again I might do something I'd come to regret later on.'

'Aye.', the three Loroi agreed, pulling a squirming Firebrand away.

Shaking her head, Argent turned back towards the cabin, entering the dim room.

'He's awake, but just barely lucid. And, his Lotai seems to get back into place, slowly but surely. Might be the primary effect of the concussion caused it to collapse, but now, since he's healing....', Coldfire reported

Argent heaved another sigh. 'So we know that his species do have sanzai, but behind a Lotai strong enough for us to not to receive anything from him.'

Coldfire nodded.

'It would make things so much easier. Sure, he can follow simple conversations and speak about simple matters, but there is still much to learn for him which we cannot explain by pointing at something and saying the word.'

'Would it?', Coldfire countered. 'Remember your own sanzai training. We all had to learn to keep foreign thoughts outside, and if his Lotai were to drop, he'd face the thoughts of fourty-eight Loroi all at once without warning. We better hope his Lotai is in place before he goes mad.'

Valid point, Argent concluded. 'Help me. What do you suggest? Shall we let him fall asleep to let him escape our thought until his Lotai is fully back up or keep him awake because he could fall into coma otherwise?'

Coldfire fell silent, for a long time.

'I may have a different idea in mind, but I'm not sure you will like it.', she sent, slowly.

'Anything. We brought it on to him. He survived all alone until we came along. I cannot bear the thought that we - and I as the leader - could be the source of the misfortune and injuries that befell him.'

'My idea is to give his mind something to latch on. To focus itself on, helping to tune out the background chatter. It should be someone he came to trust.'

'Meaning, me, or you.', Argent concluded. 'What do I need to do?'

'Stay with him. Close. Preferably with skin-to-skin contact, and for maybe a whole cycle.'

'Close, you mean.....'

As an answer, Coldfire's eyes flicked to the bed Natan is resting on. Argent followed Coldfire's gaze, catching up on its meaning. '....Exactly.', she confirmed Argent's suspicion.

---//---

Nathanial woke up with a pounding headache and blinked. His stomach felt queasy. What happened? He tried to piece together what happened.

Him, trying to heave the log upon the roof frame, assisted with some of these Loroi on the top, using a rope and pulley to provide additional strength. Firebrand, not getting out the the way. Firebrand, in danger of being crushed.

Voices. Lots of voices. Drowning voices, tearing his thoughts to pieces. Then, a single, soothing voice like a siren call.

He felt something stirring next to him and quickly realized that he wasn't alone in his bed. Startled, he turned around, and froze.

Tin - 'Argent', his mind cut in, how did he learn that? - was right next to him, the fingers of her hand laced with his, and on the verge of waking up herself, judging from her fluttering eyelids.

Finally, her eyes opened, her blue sorrowful eyes meeting his own rather shocked ones.

'Good morning. Can you hear me? Can you answer?', thoughts, but not his own, flitted across his mind. No words, just the ideas behind the words. The question whether he can understand and respond.

"I... Is that you?", he tried the question in her language.

'Try it like this', the alien thoughts stressed.

'Is that you?', he tried thinking the question, focusing on Argent.

Her eyes went wide in an expression of pure wonder.

'Yes. YES!', came the jubilant thought - her thought, he concluded - 'You can use sanzai!'

Sanzai? Wasn't that one of the first words she used?

'Is this what you call ... this? Sanzai? Speaking without using the voice?', he tried asking.

'Yes, it is. Do you hear just me, or others, too?', she inquired.

Now as Nathanial knew what to watch out for, his thoughts turned inward... and found silence. The drowning voices were gone again.

'Just you.', he related the thought.

A wave of relief washed over him, lifting the shroud of worry he just now felt was encompassing him.

'Good. The blow on your head must have caused your Lotai to break down, exposing you to the thoughts of all of us, causing your mind to almost break apart...'

A wave of nausea washed over Nathanial. 'I'm ... still unwell. Please, go slowly. Sanzai. Lotai. What... what are you? What is this place? These ruins?'

'Rest now. I'll stay with you. You still have the after effects of a concussion. I feel you being unwell. When you wake up, I'll explain.'

Sanzai. So that's what they call this eerie silent speech., Nathanial thought before fading back into a more restful sleep.



Thu Jul 19, 2018 6:30 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:32 pm
Posts: 186
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:
“I could try and knock you on the head again” Argent had joked. They both laughed it off as a bad idea.

The roof structure of the Diral cabin was ready about a week after the incident with the beam and Nathan felt well enough to oversee and check the waterproofing. His ability to hear the Loroi and communicate with sanzai had tapered off. Fortunately he remembered words, many thought fragments, feelings and most of the information that Argent had conveyed to him. This literally opened a new world for him and had established mutual understanding and a strong feeling of trust between Argent and himself.

Firebrand was in purgatory. She had been put on notice and found herself in the position that she had just a single chance to rebuild the trust of the other members. Failure would lead to dismissal from the Diral and end her career as a warrior. Her groupies had dropped her like a berai root, fairly decent Loroi-food notorious for its hideous odour prior to cooking or roasting. Firebrand could win back standing during the trials, but only when exhibiting exemplary behaviour throughout. For her this was plenty to worry about, hence she had set out to contribute, dutifully helping with the preparations for the initiation.

A more compact project than the cabin was the construction of a dizoin oven on the clearing. This would be used to melt iron which could be found in deposits throughout the forest. Scouts sent out by Argent had searched for meteor impact sites, specifically looking for the nickel-iron they might contain. There had been plenty of useless sites but more nickel-iron than they could ever carry was discovered close to the already known timo Soia, which was a two hour walk from the clearing and the group’s shared homestead. Trodden by many feet over the course of the last four nanapi pathways now meandered through the forest between their homestead the meteor impact site and the Soia ruin.

The impact site was fresh, not much older than two or three years. The excursions to it provided the opportunity to better survey the wider area and to document visible features of the place that Nathaniel had wandered through when arriving on Deinar. The features exposed to the surface were utterly baffling.

“Looks like partly overgrown tiles, or tiling in the forest floor and it is laid out in a large pentagon shaped pattern.” observed Coldfire.

She crouched and with her finger she drew a pentagon in the soil teaching him the new Loroi word.

Nathaniel nodded, “and there’s six smaller ones within the large one.”

“You’ll be surprised but this is a known shape. We have found depictions of it in other timo Soia, but never a full sized structure like this. The shapes together form half a dodecahedral net she said, filling in the smaller pentagons in the drawing.

“So what does it do?”

“We don’t know. It’s a geometric shape and we have only seen it depicted as reliefs and in mosaic form. This site is not overly large and completely overgrown by trees. It will be impossible to see from above.... You passed it and may have entered here during your first night. Perhaps that is what it does?”

Nathan sighed when he and Coldfire stepped within the boundaries of the larger pentagon shape to study the tiled surfaces that covered the smaller pentagons.

Touching the tiles with her fingers Coldfire looked up at Nathan, “These patterns are not shown in any of the depictions we know from other timo Soia. It is almost like those were meant as a symbolic representation for this type of structure”.

Nathan noticed that the tiles covering the smaller pentagons lacked a regular shape but together formed complex repeating patterns with contrasting colours. There were no seams between them. Inspecting the pattern on his knees he was inclined to call the entire surface glazed over. It was also extremely hard. He tried to scratch and hammer it with one of the heavier metal meteorite fragments. It didn’t leave a single mark.



Tue Jul 24, 2018 8:35 am
Profile

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 624
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

"Wait! What are you doing?!", Coldfire exclaimed, her voice one of profound shock.

Whoops, Nathanial realized that he must have performed a major sacrilege, or something like that.

"No matter. It looks like it was built to last. What are these markings, anway?"

Coldfire took a closer look, her brows furrowing in concentration.

"I'm no Listel... but this does look like an ancient version of our Trade script. As to the exact words... no idea. These look more like ... designations to me. Here. This one in the center pentagon means 'SGJ'. This one here, in the smaller one, means '44730A', and that one means '44854A'."

"You lost me.", Nathanial admitted.

Wandering around, Coldfire noticed that the large pentagon containing the smaller one was a part of even a larger set where the center piece of said larger set was a single pentagon in itself, featureless, except of another small marking.

"What does that one say?", he asked.

"Just 'ANE'.... Look.", Coldfire turned to him, with a pleading look in her eyes. "I have no idea what these markings mean, and given that this is probably the first time we've seen this pattern in its natural state rather than iconic pictures of it, perhaps no one has. I'm sure it has something to do with you being here out of nothing, but...", Coldfire trailed off.

"...but let's get back to camp with the meteorite iron and we can come back better equipped to survey these ruins.", she swiftly changed topics.

Lacking a better idea, but having the clear impression that there is something Coldfire feared to discuss, Nathanial agreed.

---//---

The whole time they had already spent together, no one really addressed the proverbial elephant in the room.

Nathan learned the names of many Indian tribes. Apache, Sioux, Ute, Shawnee, Cherokee, Comanche, to list some of the more reknown ones. There are many, many more, so it its possible that there is some yet undiscovered tribe named 'Loroi'. And... that name wouldn't sound too out of place for a tribe.

But, he never ever learned of any indian... or anyone ... with blue skin and pointed ears. And bleeding blue, too, as hew saw again when one the these girls got wounded in a hunting accident.

He felt reminisced of one specific time he was in town with his father, before going back to the frontier. A wandering circus came into town, too, featuring a 'freak show'. Conjoined twins, a woman without the lower part of her body, a man with so much hair in his face that he looked like a bear....

Nathanial had nightmares for the following week.

But... these 'freaks' were unique, each and every one of them. Here, there are four dozen girls, almost women, sporting the same features.

Which brings him to the next question.

On asking Argent where the elders are she told him that this is a rite of passage for them - survive two 'tozons' in the wilderness, and then a trial afterwards.

Nathanial shrugged. Sure there are tribes having rites of passages for their children to pass into adulthood, but usually this is an individual thing, and not a group affair. Well, chalk it up as another strangeness.

But, that wasn't his intended question.

"What about the boys and men?", he asked.

Argent's ear tips turned a darker shade of blue, something Nathanial found quite cute, for an unfathomable reason, and he was sure he felt her getting a bit uncomfortable at this question.

"They are taken away at birth and become wards of the state", Argent said, "The next time we'd be supposed to see a male again would be ... when we pass the trials."

Wait, did she say 'wards of the state'?, Nathan blinked.

"What kind of state is it that locks away half of its citizens?" he asked, his consternation and ire rising.

"Half? We wish. Only one in eight Loroi births are males. Is a one to one ratio usual with your....", Argent's eyes went wide and she broke off.

"My... what?", Nathanial pressed, definitely getting the feeling from her that she was about to say someting huge, something that would turn his world inside out.

Nathanial felt like watching an oncoming avalanche in slow motion. It is a grand, majestic sight, the sheer display of power, but also the herald of impending doom.

"Natan. You named yourself American once. Is that the name of a group, or does it mean your people at a whole? Not animal, not plant, not rock, but ..."

"No. America is the country I'm from. What you mean is 'human'." he stated, the foreboding increasing tenfold.

"Human", she tried that word, "... And we're Loroi. Not human."

Not human.

Not human.

Not human.

That thought echoed in Nathanial's head, bouncing back and forth, like a pebble in a particularly violent stream.

Blue blood. Blue skin. Pointed ears. Cold to the touch.

Their strange thought-talk. This sanzai.

Not human. Not just an undiscovered tribe of indians, but not human.

Perhaps the tales about Bigfoot are true, too...., his brain formed one last thought before it shut down.

---//---

'Argent! What happened?', Coldfire sent agitatedly but stopped short on seeting Argent watching Natan sitting by the stream, motionless and seemingly completely oblivious to his surroundings. 'Is he....'

'Physically he is unhurt, but he went into a state of shock.', Argent admitted.

'What? Why? How long?'

'It is my fault. I didn't want to break it to him, but I wasn't sure.... As for how long? Twenty bials, I guess now.', Argent trailed off, replaying the minutes leading up to this in her mind to Coldfire.

'....you tried.', Coldfire sighed, 'This must have come as a profound shock to him. I hope...'

'I'll watch over him. I have to. I need to be there when he comes out of it again.', Argent stated.

'I almost spilled to him that... as crazy as it sounds... these ruins must have sort of transported him from Soia knows where here on Deinar. I caught myself in time. But we had to break it to him, sooner or later, that he most certainly is not on his own planet anymore.'

Argent sighed. 'When he got the blow to his head and we were linked.... I had a good look at his mind, too. Coldfire... the very idea that every star in the sky is like their central star - the 'Sun' - is still controversial to these 'humans'. He doesn't even have the idea that other habitable planets could exist. As far as he is concerned, he is far, far away from home where nothing is like he's used to, but with a good amount of traveling he would get back to familiar regions.'

Coldfire sighed. 'He's right, but he'd be sorely mistaken on the travel time... It doesn't make it any easier. If you insist on going through with your plan to have him initiated as a warrior, he needs to learn the layout of the local group, too, and that includes its species and the concept that different planet exist and we travel between them. I think that's far more difficult than teaching him how to use our technology.'

---//---

Alone, again. Isolated.

Yet, this time he simply didn't feel the urge to begrudge the girls. These ... Loroi. When he was confined to the cabin, he felt that way because he thought they'd be still human, like him. Deformed, crippled, or maybe an obscure tribe, but still human, someone to connect to on a primal level.

Now, Argent took that away from him by telling him that they are no more human than the hoppers he brought in, or the occasional grass-stomper, or that overly large beast with too many claws and a nasty attitude.

Until now, he held out a kernel of hope that somewhere his own folks may wait for him. Just far away, and he had not even the faintest idea if he would walk into the right direction, were he to start walking.

Now he wasn't even sure if he would ever find his people... his family, other humans, again.

He jerked up when he felt a hand creeping up his left shoulder and turned around, looking straight into the face of a particular Loroi, a rather waifish one with doleful blue eyes, dusky blue skin and dark hair.

His eyes flicked to the hand still resting on his shoulder. He already learned - rather quickly - that they usually very meticulously minded their private space... and her hand on his shoulder would be a rather bold move.

Poisoned Claw. Arianesin., Nathanial recognized her. Incidentally the Loroi Argent shooed away when she offered him her seat on that fateful evening around the bonfire.

And the one he learned to have spoken up rather vocally in his favor.

Her gaze flicked to his cabin, then back, meeting his own eyes.

"She is in there. She is hurting, too. She thinks she has failed you.", she simply said.

Had she? When she offered him the unvarnished truth of his existence rather than keeping up with palatable falsehoods?

Nathanial realized that with his brooding he gave these girls too little credit. They may not be human, but they do feel and express joy, sorrow, fear and ire much like a human would do. He saw them around the bonfire at a joyous occasion, and he saw them being subdued after Argent must have chewed them out. He saw them laughing, and arguing... and he saw some of them being as foul and petty as any human could be.

Or feeling guilty., his mind added.

"Thanks...", Nathanial offered before rising to his feet and slowly making his way to the cabin, followed by Poisoned Claw's long, probing look.

"She likes you.", she said softly in an almost-whisper. If Nathanial heard that, he gave no indication.



Thu Jul 26, 2018 12:21 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:32 pm
Posts: 186
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Argent was sitting on the side of his cot and was already looking up when he entered.

He walked over, sat down next to her, gently wrapping his right arm around her and gave her a hug. Then he held up his left hand with his fingers spread wide. Argent brought up her right hand and laced her fingers into his as they had regularly done for almost a nanapi until their sanzai bond didn’t appear to work as before.

Thank you for being honest with me and for being my friend in this place.’

His message was simple and she felt the full depth of it because it also carried insight, sadness, acceptance, affection and concern for her wellbeing.

In turn he sensed her relief. A short struggle with some tears that welled up. And that she felt secure being with him. As a leader and a warrior she wasn’t planning on showing any weakness within the Diral, or toward anything or anybody else for that matter. But sometimes the burden of responsibility, especially the loneliness that came with it, would weigh on her. Now here was a person who had more experience with loneliness and feeling responsible than anybody on Deinar or within the Loroi empire.

In a different way he had become important too. A revelation during his recovery from the head injury was that, when in touch, she didn’t need to guard and shield her thoughts for other Loroi. While he had been recovering this peculiar effect had allowed her to think things over twice without effort, it had helped her to rest and stay sharp, to improve her decisions and to grow. She wanted to find out how that was possible! Strong, impossibly warmblooded, brave, practical, clever, Nathan had become very dear to her. Argent rested her head on his shoulder sharing heartfelt gratitude with him.

Tomorrow she would lead the challenge of forging meteorite iron to create the best Diral blades ever made.


Last edited by Zarya on Sat Jul 28, 2018 2:33 am, edited 2 times in total.



Thu Jul 26, 2018 5:11 am
Profile

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 624
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Argent woke up with a start and looked around, regaining her bearings.

We must have fallen asleep..., she gathered. She felt a bit ashamed at a memory that it took them until his recovery to notice that humans seem to need much more sleep per cycle than Loroi do - roughly around a third of a cycle. She remembered being scared when he didn't wake up on his own volition the first few times, especially with him having had the concussion.

By now it had become sort of usual for her to wake up long before he does. And while on the last occasions she chose the moments to rise up and prep for the following day, now she found it reasonable to have a bit of a lie in, alone in her thoughts, under his strange Lotai.

She noticed that their fingers are still laced together. Not even asleep they let go of each other. And this...

These must be his dreams... or memories , Argent concluded when the images started in her mind. Images of an alien landscape, hilly and forested, every single plant and animal completely unknown to her. Two older humans - his biological father and mother? Possible, there is some resemblance between Natan and them after all - a human girl slightly older than himself and an infant.

Of course he felt alone. If this is how humans are raised, I can guess that he felt isolated from his folks.

Argent wasn't sure if it was because of her thought or something else, but his dream shifted to a completely different topic.

The images were less clear, maybe because of his brain filling out the blanks, but she saw ... herself, completely unclad... of course his brain must be improvising on things he never saw, because that picture did miss the small scar she had on her left thigh.... but it was close enough.

Argent felt her ears heating up on what she witnessed. Stars, Natan really has some vivid imagination and already a decent grasp of the mechanics involved....

And that might explain something different, too.

Throughout the cycles she noticed Natan's face color on the oddest occasion, then him trailing off in a sentence and pointedly looking elsewhere, sometimes even saying something like "Excuse me..." and wandering off.

He was already maturing when he got to Deinar, and that was two tozons ago... and ... we're similar enough to humans for him to find us attractive? Or do they have something like The Flames as well?, Argent concluded.

But... he doesn't want us to know... why? Is it a strong cultural selan forbidding him to even discuss such a thing with us?

Argent took a deep breath, his rather vivid images starting to affect her as well, too.

I definitely need to talk to him as soon as possible. If humans mature that slowly and he's feeling the onset of The Flames just now... Perhaps I was mistaken and human males need to mate regularly, too... I will not stand aside and let him waste away just because a selan forbids him from asking for our help.

And, come to think of it, she didn't find that idea too abhorrent....

With that thought and Natans rather vivid dream having come to a close, she turned around to put her free arm across his chest and settled down in a restful nap.

---//---

Nathanial's eyes fluttered open on him waking up and feeling an unfamiliar weight across his chest. It took a moment for him to realize that this weight was none other than Argent's arm and head on his chest, eyes closed and with a serene smile on her lips.

Hot color rose up in his cheeks in embarrassment as he remembered bits and pieces of his dream, painfully aware that she did read him the night before when they linked hands.

God's mercy, please let her not have picked up on this, I'd never live this down, he pleaded.

Seeing no way to disentangle himself without waking her up, he resorted to watching the sleeping Loroi, taking in her alien, but undeniably female looks and the picture of serenity, far different than the poise and bearing she was presenting her diral.

She needed that, too, he realized, She has responsibility for fourty-seven other young girls. Coldfire is a help, sure, but everything stands and falls with Argent. This... could be the only place where she could truly relax.

His thoughts were stopped short by a knock on the door - thanks God he introduced the Loroi to the concept of knocking! - and then the door being opened, revealing an agitated Coldfire, her eyes going wide as she took in the tableau.

Thankfully the commotion woke up Argent, too.

"Argent! Everyone thought you were gone, or.....", then, Coldfire's eyes flicked to their still linked hands, even after Argent sat up, "...it is his Lotai?"

"Wait, what?", Nathanial tried, "Please explain", but it was Argent who answered. In his head.

'She thinks your Lotai made me invisible to the others, too. Can we let go of each other for a moment?'

Nathanial nodded and they separated their hands, immediately followed by a sigh of relief from Coldfire.

He recognized the intent stares between Coldfire and Argent now - they were having an intense discussion, one that he wasn't privy of, without having skin to skin contact to Argent, but then Coldfire nodded.

"I am sorry. I shouldn't have intruded like this - but her ... disappearance had put the whole diral into uproar. But how come that your Lotai started shielding her from us?" Coldfire stopped, glancing over at the scene once more. "Did you have a..."

A rather intense, shocked, almost terrified glare from Argent stopped Coldfire short. The same sort of glare he remembered his mother giving Emmeline - his older sister - when she asked her "What is a slattern?".

True to form, Argent's ears turned a darker shade of blue, the color rising in her cheeks as well. Whatever Coldfire was about to ask, Argent was truly mortified.

"...I guess not, then.", Coldfire answered her own question with a more subdued tone of voice.

"His head wound. And his recovery. I must have sort of ... bonded to him.", Argent concluded. "When we touch, we can use sanzai, but only between us."

"...I see.", Coldfire hedged, "This is interesting, but we have other concerns. The blades and the iron, now."

"Perhaps I can help you with that, too", Nathanial cut in.



Sat Jul 28, 2018 1:35 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:32 pm
Posts: 186
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

The large meteorite found by White Thunder’s group contains a high proportion of iron, almost 19 out of 20, the rest is mostly nickel and we’re lucky to have traces of vanadium and tungsten. This is ideal for what we want to achieve over the next six or eight nanapi when we work the material to make the blades for your falcata or eides, and - if you’re ambitious and when we all make good progress - there is more than enough raw material to help you make *both* weapons as part of our trial.’

Nathan listened in to Argent’s speech in sanzai holding Coldfire’s hand. At first sh had been stunned when Argent proposed to try this but curiosity had quickly won from the time honoured selan to forego physical contact.

Nathan had contributed to the next part, but Argent brought it in a far more eloquent way than he ever could.

Normally we would need to save time during the tozons of the Diral initiation and we would simply cast the talli and leave it to cool off, while learning more about the precise properties of the metal and our oven. Now we have already built our Diral’s cabin and found such a large supply of perfect metal to work with, Natan proposed we spend a part of the saved time making a better anvil, which is his word for the talli. The anvil will be largely cast, as is also our tradition, but we will improve its properties with heat treatments, much like we also do with blades. We know how to do this and it will take us slightly over a nanapi extra to do it.

A hardened steel anvil top won’t deform and is easier to work on. It ensures that everyone will have excellent weapons from the first to the last blades we work on. This is the shape of the talli we will make..’ and she conveyed an image of a simplified anvil. It would have a large face, rounded as well as sharper corners and a pointed head that could be used as the horn. At the same time Argent showed how they would harden the top, indicating how much time the various steps of the heat treatment process would take.

Sanzai is amazing’, Nathan realised, ‘in English it would have taken me the better part of an hour to explain this.

This thought triggered giggles from Coldfire, and, strangely enough, also from some bystanders in the group around them, including from Firebrand who stood nearby and hardly dared to look at him. Also Coldfire started to draw curious looks. She couldn’t be sensed holding Nathan’s hand while clearly standing within their midst in the group.

Lots of things going on here’, Nathan pondered, again causing ripples around him.

Through Coldfire, Nathan clearly felt that Firebrand was still feeling guilty and that she couldn’t hide it.

Take it easy girl, listen to the boss’ he thought and he immediately saw her eyes grow wide, face and ears turning to a darker shade. And again many heads in the wider group turned towards him, gawking at him. Noticing this Nathan felt his own head turn red too, beads of sweat welled up on his forehead and upper lip, while bravely mustering all his concentration to focus on Argent who was about to wrap up.

Now that went well, but he was casting surprisingly loud’, Argent confided to Coldfire and Poisoned Claw after finishing up and ceremoniously lighting the dizoin. ‘First thing we need to teach him is how to keep personal thoughts private.’ Also thinking that it was a good thing that the changing way his lotai functioned only now became manifest.

Without any prior training it may take us a while to work this out’, Coldfire responded.



Last edited by Zarya on Thu Aug 02, 2018 12:04 pm, edited 7 times in total.



Sat Jul 28, 2018 3:53 pm
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:32 pm
Posts: 186
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

They are playing hide and seek by touching Natan’, reported Poisoned Claw.

True enough! Argent noticed how various members of the Diral popped in and out of sanzai reach together with fragments of thoughts coming from Nathan who was obviously trying his best to show discipline. He was focusing on making a frame for curing skins while surrounded by a group of playful Loroi who were teasing him a bit, wondering about the strange lotai effect.

Argent smiled at that, but also asked ‘Don’t they have anything better to do?

The larger group had been divided in thee units, Red, White and Blue. Red was headed by Coldfire, White by Poisoned Claw and Blue by herself. Nine initiates from Coldfire’s group were now tending the dizoin oven and making casting molds. The rest had just returned with food and prey and were testing Nathan's lotai. Argent’s own group was retrieving more metal slices and fragments from the meteorite, while Poisoned Claw’s fifteen were dispersed around the camp, also stretching along the route towards the meteorite impact site, partly on guard, retrieving wood for the oven and extending the sanzai range to keep in touch with her Blue group.

Natan knows that he is broadcasting nearly all his thoughts when being touched’ reported Coldfire. ‘He is learning fast and is trying to focus his thoughts on mundane tasks’.

That’s good Coldfire’, Argent sent, ‘I’ll walk over and see what I can do to relieve him. I have a couple of ideas on how to help him focus even better, but have to touch him to do that. Keep in contact with the wider group when I can’t keep track of them myself. Let me know when there’s anything going on.’

Argent headed to the back of Nathan’s cabin, her imminent presence enough to disperse the group of six.

”Natan, I like to show you something, let’s move into the shade”, she pointed at the trees bordering the clearing.

He nodded, wiped off his forehead with his sleeve, and they both walked to the treeline from which they could also oversee the clearing.

Before she touched him she said, “We have all been trained on how to use sanzai. We will teach you how to better control what you send to others and how to send to someone in particular”. She grabbed hold of his hand and sent the same to him in sanzai, adding visuals of herself as a child, sitting with others practicing sanzai.

He nodded, looking serious. ‘Can I be heard by all right now?’

Not all of it, fragments, some of your thoughts and emotions, part your inner life’ Argent sent. ‘Fortunately only when you touch a Loroi, but then it’s good to focus on something, which you’ve already been doing. While almost impossible to hide thoughts when in direct contact with someone, you can still control your sending to all. Don't worry, we all went through this’.

Suddenly tumult broke out amongst the Loroi on the clearing. Something was obviously wrong and Argent let go of his hand.

'Blue group is attacked by Arianesin. Two of them!'



Last edited by Zarya on Thu Aug 02, 2018 9:38 am, edited 2 times in total.



Sun Jul 29, 2018 4:28 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:32 pm
Posts: 186
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

“Stay here!”

Within a couple of heartbeats Argent scrambled most of the Loroi, who set out armed with knives, sticks, as well as the medikit. In an instant the clearing was left almost deserted.

To find out what was happening Nathan ran towards the dizoin oven which was still tended by a single Loroi. Surprised to see Firebrand who had been working on casting moulds, he noticed that her hands and knees were covered with clay. That and the smear on her cheek reminded him of Cinderella, one of the stories his mother used to read from the Mother Goose Tales.

He touched the bare skin of her wrist..

What's going on?‘

Argent’s Blue team at the meteorite site is under attack by two arianesin’, was her instant response, greyish purple eyes looking into his.

Nathan froze, then sent an image of two lances he had made and stored behind his cabin. Two birir, he had even discussed the Loroi trade word with Coldfire. He proposed to pick up one of them, also showing her how he intended to use it.

I have been ordered to stay here’ Firebrand replied with an anxious undertone, still coloured by shame that she had hurt him before.

Me too, but you’re coming along, I need your help.’

Wait! We should also bring the firestarters’, Firebrand shared an image of the long metal sticks for lighting coal and wood in the oven.

Perfect! Now let’s go!’

They hurried to the back of Nathan’s cabin to retrieve one of the lances he made after earlier trouble with an arianesin in an attempt to find a solution to fend off the beast when having to go without gunpowder. He had thought about its behaviour. It was a large animal - twice the size of a bear - and would stalk prey after initially trying to surprise it. It would also track prey relentlessly, only temporarily stopping after cornering it. Then it would charge and rip it apart in order to fix its next meal.

His arianesin hadn’t counted on a gun. He had managed to shoot it through the head while it stormed towards him. The idea was that a lance - when properly applied - would provide some stopping power as well as a safer distance from the claws. Firebrand looked at the lances, nodded yes, lifted the pointed end of one of them on her shoulder and they both started running on the path leading to the meteorite impact site. Running behind Firebrand he noticed that she also carried the heavy firestarters.

After a long run, she stuck her hand in the air.

Halting, they both noticed the forest was utterly silent. Firebrand shifted backward, now carrying almost the full weight of the lance on her underarm. Silently clasping his hand with her free hand she showed him that nine Diral members of White group were still in the direct area. Two of them hurt, but safe and tended by the others.

This wasn’t over yet. They learned that the predators were now roaming just outside sanzai range beyond the meteorite impact site. At the same time Nathan sensed through his link with Firebrand that there were no Loroi between their current location and the far side of the impact site. For a moment he felt worried about not sensing Argent’s presence, but Firebrand pointed out that she also missed Coldfire, Poisoned Claw and the others.

There should be thirty eight outside sanzai range at the far side.’

Feeling Firebrand’s struggle with the weight of the lance, he sent ‘I’ll better carry the birir and you the firestarters’.

She acknowledged, released his hand, taking the firestarters in her hands while both continued ahead towards the impact site.

Upon reaching the crater and the wider clearance in the forest caused by the force of the meteorite impact that had toppled and blasted over many trees, they found equipment scattered around and silent witnesses of the fights that had taken place. Smears of blue blood on backpacks for carrying ore, broken branches and also large paw prints.

Nathan gestured to Firebrand with his free hand. She understood, freed up a hand and grabbed hold of him again. Together they sensed the thirty eight Loroi, and captured what these were sending to each other: one arianesin killed, at least seven Loroi hurt. The remaining arianesin was furious and about to attack another group of seven.

Nathan and Firebrand both started to run, struggling over fallen trees and, after leaving the impact area, wading through dense undergrowth. There were no paths here, only scattered signs of fighting: part of a Loroi breastplate, broken twigs, blue stains on trees and the handle of a broken utility knife.

A stone's throw away from the location with most Diral members they heard shouting, a deep growling and thumping sounds. Both Firebrand and he stormed ahead, Nathan tightening his grip on the lance, the warrior girl raising both firestarters.

At a clearing close to a high granite rock they saw how the group of seven was pinned at that location, two of them clearly wounded. The large creature at the other end was roaring while harassed and distracted by Loroi from behind and from the side. The beast was manoeuvring to avoid getting hit, lashing out at anything that dared come close.

In a better position to move between the Arianesin and the group of seven, they pressed forward. Nathan bringing his lance in position, while Firebrand ignited both firestarters holding nothing in reserve. The combination of its unfavourable position, the light and hissing sound of the firestarters were the cue for the animal to start its stampede directed at them both.

‘One chance to aim for the head’, flashed through Nathan’s mind while positioning the rear of his lance against a solid rock. At the last moment Firebrand stormed forward, drawing ire from the arianesin who slightly changed its direction toward her.

“No, no, no!” Nathan shouted. “Here!”

Thanks to an incredible stroke of luck he saw the sharp end of his lance disappear deep in the neck of the arianesin, right under the head, and this started to deflect the animal away from Firebrand and him. The enormous stress in the wood bending his lance until the tip gave way with a loud pang. While the momentum of the animal carried it past them, Firebrand had instinctively positioned herself in such a way that her body shielded Nathan. He could however still see how she planted one of the firestarters in an eye socket of the beast. It started to fall and was about to roll over. With the stench of burning hair and flesh already in the air she finished the job sinking the other firestarter in its chest.



Last edited by Zarya on Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:17 pm, edited 12 times in total.



Tue Jul 31, 2018 9:19 am
Profile
Moderator
User avatar

Joined: Thu May 12, 2011 8:38 am
Posts: 561
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:
Blackrune grunted in pain as she came to, the feeling of hands, Copperspike’s tending a painful wound to her shoulder. Memory came back in dribs and drabs, setting out at the start of the day, gathering ore… the arianesin.

She started at the memory and earned a scolding glare from Copperspike. The group’s medic was always tetchy when someone under her care tried to move.

'Copperspike, the Arianesin…!' she sent.

'Dead, both of them,' Copperspike replied placatingly.

Blackrune breathed a sigh of relief. She remembered the first one being felled by the group before being struck in the shoulder in a running battle by the second one. The fact that it was dead and she was still alive was a relief.

'How did it die?' she sent.

'Natan and Firebrand, with a birrir and a firestarter,' replied Copperspike, just having finished cleaning the shoulder wound.

Blackrune’s eyes went wide as the details became clearer to her. She had studied Natan’s weapon and found it crude but effective, something that would allow one to fell an arianesin with only a modicum of luck and skill.

Though she may have had some doubts about Natan’s ability to hunt without it, the image of him holding a birrir against a charging arianesin dispelled that doubt entirely. She had full faith in Argent’s leadership and judgement, but there had always been that nagging feeling to hold Natan back in camp and protect him as was only proper. Him charging to their rescue was almost embarrassing.

Almost, until she remembered something crucial.

'Copperspike, where is Argent? I must see her, now!' sent Blackrune urgently.

'She is with Natan and the others, why?' replied Copperspike even as she finished the last of the stitching for Blackrune’s wound.

'Arianesin hunt in only two ways. Alone or in packs. These were only scouts!' she telepathically shouted at the prospect of having to fight an entire pack of arianesin.

'There are more?' sent Copperspike, her alarm clearly ringing through the sanzai.

Blackrune forced herself to be calm as she tried to recall everything she knew about arianesin.

'The scouts for a pack tend to range far from the main group, about two dozen strong, and usually in threes. If we haven’t killed the third one by now, it has already begun returning to the main pack and it will lead them all back to our position. If we are lucky, we have two, perhaps three days to prepare before they strike.'

Copperspike did not waste further time interrogating Blackrune.

'Go, find Argent, she must know of this now and there are other injured to tend to. We will need everyone if you are right.'

_________________
Image

Spoiler: show
This is my Mod voice. If you see this in a thread, it means that the time for gentle reminders has passed.


Tue Jul 31, 2018 11:27 am
Profile

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 624
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

Argent felt a sense of dread when she felt one other Loroi - Soepoii, she recognized - approaching... no, running towards them with a sense of agitation and urgency in her thought.

Only after catching her breath her sanzai became clear and coherent enough to be understood, and she felt as if the ground opened up and was about to swallow her. Scouts? A herd of them, about two dozens strong. Two, or three days.

"Moio sinol...", she breathed. Natan never yet learned the exact meaning of the second word, but Argent's thoughts alone were explanation enough.

'Recall everyone to the camp! We have to prepare...', though at the moment Argent wasn't even sure what to prepare for.

News about the impending attack spread like wildfire. Nathanial's half-trained mind starting to build up a headache because of the agitated sanzai chatter. The threat was met with diverse reactions. A large group opted to stand and fight - they didn't build all of this for nothing and they would not cede everything to a pack of animals.

But that wasn't the only group. About six other Loroi - mainly part of Firebrand's old bunch - argued for fleeing. Far and fast. What could they do against twenty to thirty of these beasts, except dying?

And five more sat around, staring into emptiness. Nathanial saw that look on the war veterans in town. The look of someone who lost all the fight, when living and dying wouldn't even matter to them anymore.

Nathanial wouldn't have any of it. Arriving back in camp, he quickly sought out Blackrune, extending his hand to her.

She looked askance.

"I need to know everything about them. How they live, how they hunt... all of it. I don't want any misunderstandings. I know this is ... uncomfortable.", Nathanial paused, searching for the correct word, "But we have to."

Blackrune blinked, her eyebrows furrowing, but after a long moment, her hand quickly latched itself on to his wrist.

'I see your point. What do you want to know?', her thoughts came crystal clear.

'They send out scouts, so they can act in an organized manner... How do they live? Are they nomadic, wandering from place to place, or do they have a den?'

'Nomadic. They usually hunt a place empty before they move on. First, they hunt rather solitary, but when pickings get slim, they use the group strategy to bring down larger prey.'

'Not good. Nomadic means that all of them are mobile. But perhaps nursing mothers or animals too old and too infirm might not commit themselves to hunting', Nathanial mused.

'Perhaps. But they'd be still too many to fight them.'

'We might not need to fight all of them. What happens if he kill the pack leader? Will the others back off if he's killed?'

Blackrune shook her head. 'Her. The pack leader is always a female. And killing her might throw the others into a frenzy.'

'Got it. Killing the pack leader, not good. But what would their primary motivation for attacking? Just hunger or would they be out for our blood because we killed the two scouts?'

Blackrune's eyes went wide. 'Are there really animals which would take revenge?', she sent disbelievingly.

'I heard a story about a bear. A bunch of moonshiners were accosted by a brown bear and her cub passing along. They managed to kill the cub and wound the mother bear. But she came back and killed the moonshiners one by one and wrecked their equipment. Not only that, but the bear returned again and again for the oncoming months and killed everyone daring to set up shop again.'

'No...', she shook her head, 'Areanesin are known to even eat carcasses of their own.'

'That could help. If we manage to ward them off and scare them away long enough so that they see we're not easy prey, they might head for easier picking. We have to disabuse them of the notion of us as food. I think we can do this...'

---//---

It took a lot to get the scared and dejected diral back into shape. Natans plans did sound feasible. Several rows of birrir, stuck at a fourty-five degree angle, facing outwards into the earth. Onrushing animals would get skewered on them. They didn't need to be well-made, branches and small tree trunks large enough, sharpened to a point, would do it.

Or just broken off, that they might cause even more grievous wounds.

That's what disturbed Argent most with Natan's plan. His intent was less to kill them, but scare them away, and if they make it for the arianesin a painful prospect to reach the diral cabin, he said that it serves the goal pretty well.

And that explains the trench, too, Argent thought.

Natans idea was to cook the fats and oils out of the meat of their catches. They already did this - oil is a good medium to quench the steel for their blades, after all, but his idea would take up all the remaining oil they had and then some.

The trench was to be dug between the first and second row of the birrir, so when the animals break through on a broad front, they had to cross the trench... which would be filled with hot oil, and perhaps set ablaze.

Argent winced at that thought. Oil burns hot and sticks to the skin. If they aren't already deterred with the prospect of being skewered by more of the poles, they'd be in a world of pain by being burned.

In addition, if time allows, Natan even envisioned a trench or a series of pits around the outer perimeter, covered with branches to form a pit trap, preferably with spikes at their bottom.

Coldfire picked up on Argent's stray thought. 'I never imagined Natan to be that ... vicious.', she sent.

'Me neither. But from what I picked up humans can be downright ruthless if they see the ones they care for in danger. And, get this, with them it is the male's duty to protect their female and their offspring.'

Coldfire shook her head. 'The male's....? Inconceivable!'

'He saved even Firebrand's life! Sure, she finished it off, but he drew that beast towards him to get impaled on the birrir he planted against the ground. You know there was little love lost between the two, and still he risked his own life for her.', Argent stressed.

'So, overall we need to make them attacking us a painful prospect while at the same time offering some easy pickings to them somewhere else.', Coldfire summed it up.

'That's the general idea. If we manage to scare away a good part of the pack, perhaps the alpha, they may think twice about attacking us again. Even apex predators know that they best avoid fire.'

'I hope that Blackrune is right with her assessment', Coldfire hedged.

'You and me both. Our life depends on it.'

In fact, Nathanial's ideas set most of the diral aflutter. Some of the Loroi echoing Coldfire's thoughts - planning and setting up defenses are a warrior's job, not that of a male - and other argued that building something is a Gallen's job, not a Soroin's.

Argent had none of it.

'Right now we are neither Gallen nor Soroin, we are initiates and a diral. We WILL do what is required of us to survive and pass the trials. When we get out of isolation - granted we survive - what do we want to tell them?'

Undecided murmurs followed her sanzai.

'We could tell the proctors that we tucked our tails in and fled from a pack of animals.'

The murmurs got louder. Some would go for it, causing some dissent, but Argent wasn't finished.

'Or we could tell them that we took on two dozen arianesin's and there are the trophies to prove it!'

That brought everyone up short. And one by one, Argent felt their wordless assents.

'Then let's shore up our defenses and show those beasts what Loroi are made of!' Argent finished.

The following wave of 'YES!' stung in Nathanial's head. He was blinking away the spots in front of his eyes when he felt a hand creeping up from behind on his left shoulder. Turning around, he was surprised to see Firebrand, head held low.

'...Can we talk?' She sent. 'I wish to ask for apology.'

'?', came Nathanial's wordless query.

'I... did see you as a male and an alien with no place amongst true Loroi warriors. The male's duty is for encounters, the warrior's duty is to protect them. Easy enough, right? You being here turned the way things were upside down. You did save me from that arianesin - if not for you and your birrir, I'd be severely maimed, or dead. If that's not an enlightening experience, what would it be?'

'Uh... my pleasure...', he sent with a reassuring note, 'Eh... what do you mean with the male's duty is for encounters?'

Firebrand blinked in surprise. Stars, he cannot be that ignorant. He looks definitely mature enough...

'Perhaps...', she started slowly, '...perhaps it's best for Argent to explain it to you. I've seen the looks you gave her when you think she wouldn't notice.... And the same looks she's giving you, too....'

And Argent should do it quickly. I'm still not convinced that your species don't feel The Flames, too... You saved my life, I am sure about it... if Argent doesn't save your life in turn, I will do so. Firebrand thought to herself.

'Alright...?', Natan sent hestitantly, puzzled about her evasiveness.

Firebrand hestitated for a moment, and Nathanial got the impression that she was considering to place a brief kiss on his cheek, but she simply smiled and fixed his eyes with hers.

'If there is anything you need, just ask', she sent with a note of seriousness, then she pulled back her hand and slowly walked away.

Nathanial looked after her, completely flabbergasted. What was that about?

"Girls...", he shook his head, before going back to the task of gathering more straight branches and small trunks. They'll need a lot of lances.



Thu Aug 02, 2018 1:46 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:32 pm
Posts: 186
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:
Quickriver and White Thunder had been oozing unhappiness about the current state of readiness and work to improve the diral’s stronghold. Although participating in preparing all defences, both had lost confidence in the effectiveness of only a static line of barriers when they were digging the trench. On behalf of most other initiates they had formally conveyed their concerns to the diral's leadership.

Argent’s rallying call earlier on that day had helped with morale, but a terse comment by Copperspike, who had taken a short break from tending the wounded, about ‘that ditch and a bunch of toothpicks that won’t even stop the cubs’, reflected the wider group’s consensus. Late that evening nobody felt secure enough to sleep except Nathan who’d otherwise have fallen over. The cause of all anxiety was that, despite hard work by all available hands, it would be a stretch to expect that the barrages and ditch could stop a determined assault by even a handful of arianesin, let alone a pack of thirty on a desperate hunt for food.

Unfortunately arianesin were smart. Working in a pack the animals exhibited a large degree of altruism between siblings and a strong loyalty to the matriarch. They were driven to fully capitalise on any sacrifices made by individuals in the pack. Natan had been right with his own early assessment that arianesin would coordinate their actions. Known to be relentless, especially when hungry, the animals would try, fail, iterate and try again. It had set them apart as a product of suspected bio-engineering and natural selection on Deinar, which had never provided plentiful food that would help sustain large carnivores.

The darkest scenario was that, at the cost of perhaps four or five, the arianesin would trash the barricades with their bodies. They would lose two or three more in the handful of pits with spikes or in a direct confrontation. After that the rest could penetrate the clearing by crossing the ditch that the diral initiates had dug with so much effort. There wouldn’t be enough fuel to keep the fire in the trench burning long enough to outlast an arianesin’s patience. Known to wait it out for well over a nanapi, especially the “burn-it” part of the plan felt delusional. There wouldn’t be enough material on or near the clearing to sustain a large fire for more than half a day, perhaps only a little longer if they’d take apart the log cabins.

Arianesin on the clearing would clearly be an end game because the diral would be as good as defenceless. And while absolutely none of the initiates considered running or calling the Elders a viable option, they still needed a better plan to stop any animal from breaking through the perimeter around the clearing.

Working all night and exploring the options Argent had called in Blackrune again, whom in turn consulted Copperspike. The latter’s extreme honesty about casualties and wounds after fighting just two arianesin had triggered a wider debate that had also involved Coldfire and Poisoned Claw and some of the smiths from the dizoin group. The discussions in sanzai were shared within the entire diral while Nathan was sound asleep.

Blissfully unaware that the static defensive concept to which he had contributed and in which the Loroi had already invested a lot of effort would be supplemented with an attempt to make offensive weapons as well, Nathan woke up with the sound of Loroi that were placing something on the roof of his cabin and was greeted by the noise coming from blasters that fed oxygen into the raging fire of the dizoin oven. Also recycling the CO and CO2 combustion products, feeding those back through the molten iron in the oven, the group had finally started to produce its own steel.

Two large crossbows for launching pikes that should cover the clearing and the treeline were under construction. The plan was to assemble them on the roof of both cabins. Initial tests to fire them all failed because the wood wasn’t flexible enough to withstand the tension of a fully stretched bow. With tension reduced the contraptions were ineffective as a weapon.

During the night the group at the dizoin oven had cast a small steel talli anvil that would cool off more rapidly than the larger normal talli. From remaining material the group had produced long thin ingots and eighty sand-cast sharp metal darts with fins for use in handheld crossbows. Everything was left to cool slowly to retain ductility, but nobody knew whether they would ever be able to use the metal in time.

A still sleepy Nathan found himself looking at one of Blackrune’s prototypes for a handheld crossbow. Also here the problem was to find a material that wouldn’t break when the bow was streched, while it should still be able to fire a dart with sufficient mass and velocity to kill an arianesin.

“So, did you have the chance to find types of wood or materials flexible enough under a large load?” Blackrune had asked him in Loroi trade.

“Only for a hand bow” Nathan had responded, he retrieved the one he had made to allow her to study its construction.
"I need to learn a couple more things about arianesin", he then asked her.

Walking over to Argent a little later, he found her looking pale and exhausted when he greeted her.
“Hey, I thought I’d been clear yesterday about trying to keep them away, rather than having them test our defences?”

Argent absorbed it with an absent minded look. Nathan gently placed his fingers on her hand.

‘I've learned from Blackrune how little arianesin eat. They only need three hoppers a day to stay nourished! The idea is to pull them away from the homestead by feeding them elsewhere’.

‘Feeding them?’ she sent totally surprised.




Sun Aug 05, 2018 4:08 am
Profile
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:32 pm
Posts: 186
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

“Look at that! I’d never have imagined this!” Coldfire exclaimed in Loroi trade, caring to also share her thoughts with Nathan.

Coldfire, Nathan and Argent were looking down at the pack that currently counted eighteen animals gathered in the natural corral at roughly an hour walking distance from the diral’s stronghold. Group White and Blue were extending sanzai reach to the stronghold, while also hunting prey and collecting coal. It had taken some effort to organise an extra daily catch of roughly 60 hoppers and other small game, but it was easy enough to build this into their routine.

Two pregnant arianesin are given extra food’, sent Coldfire. ‘we’re handing it to them from above.

The behaviour of the pack was remarkable, as if the animals had been domesticated for generations. Well fed they didn’t exhibit aggression, showed no inclination to wander off or to wreak havoc. They liked being taken care off! From their high vantage point they were looking at the peaceful family life of a species that only days ago would have razed their entire stronghold.

In sanzai Argent sent to Coldfire, ‘Finding this out must have been part of our trials. And I totally missed it’.

Don’t be so hard on yourself. We all missed it. Most dirals geared for battle would. Be happy with the turn of events!’

Both girls looked at Nathan who was staring pensively at the animals in the corral. With a grin he turned his head towards them upon noticing they were watching him.

Wow’ sent Coldfire.
Cut it out Lennalein!’ Argent replied, though answering Nathan's grin with a very big smile.

Walking around the cliff some moments later, Nathan looked sideways at Argent’s face. He had never really felt left out when the girls in the diral were using sanzai amongst each other, but it would be nice to be able to listen in and also talk with them without touching. He felt self-conscious about broadcasting his thoughts to the entire diral when touching Argent. And awkward about the prospect of leaking intimate thoughts and emotions when touching any of the Loroi.

By now he could imagine where the selan to avoid physical contact came from! You could’t keep the slightest thought or feeling to yourself! He had shown more restraint in touching Loroi, but the truth was that he was longing to touch Argent again.

Glancing at her he saw how happy she looked. How the sun made her hair sparkle and he felt funny and excited inside. He had grown to like her beyond what he ever conceived possible. It was an overwhelming feeling, too much and too big to find the right words for it. And he needed to distract himself lest she suddenly touched him. Perhaps cooling off and swimming would help to celebrate the taming of the arianesin?

“There’s a small lake nearby, can you swim?” he ventured, perhaps disrupting a silent conversation between the two diral initiates with his spoken words.

Argent decided to tease him a bit, “What makes you think a Loroi warrior can’t swim?”

“Hah, I never said you couldn’t. I meant to ask if you would like to swim”.
Nathan’s head started to colour. He had doubled down and upped the stakes! What was he doing?

Coldfire shrugged and spoke up in Loroi trade again “I would, but I also want to talk with the dizoin team at the stronghold”.

“I’ll come along with you to this small lake Natan”, Argent replied.

His heart almost skipped a couple of beats when she said that.



Tue Aug 07, 2018 3:11 am
Profile

Joined: Tue May 26, 2015 3:33 am
Posts: 624
Post Re: [WP] New Frontiers (Story Thread Only)
Quote:

The lake, Nathanial knew, was a bit downstream of the rivulet where the diral gets the water from. In fact, he knew of that lake even before the Loroi decided to settle in this place.

Come to think of this, settle they did. A herd of arianesin in a pen, who would have thought? What next? Do we need to breed hoppers to keep them fed? If they're that much like rabbits, it should be easy enough..., he tried to distract himself from Argent's presence as she closely followed him through the underbrush.

By now, Argent herself was sure that there has to be a very strong selan around many aspects of relations between human males and females. She wasn't blind - she saw him colouring his peculiar red hue in his face whenever he had a good look at herself or, to an extent, one of the other initiates and she saw some other ... physiological reactions on him, especially when he was sleeping. That one dream she caught from him had definitely not been a singular instance.

When we arrive at the lake, we'll see, she judged.

That made her think. How do humans go about encounters and offspring? With Loroi, it was easy. Apply for an encounter, get it approved, pick your priority list from a list of eligible males, and there you go. But, from the pictures she had seen in his mind, and the subtext, it seems that human males and females form long-lasting partnerships to raise their offspring - and not just a single one, but several, one after another.

How strange. How would they go even considering a potential mate if they can't even look at each other? She puzzled.

The path Natan took distanced them a bit from the rivulet and sloped downwards, but after a sharp turn she realized why.

The rivulet was cascading down some steps and widening into a sizeable pool, overshadowed by a number of large trees. On the far side, thick undergrowth extended into the water, but the near side offered a bank smooth enough to get into the water with little hassle. The water itself looked crystal clear, and looking at the slope, Argent was sure that the pool was large and deep enough to swim comfortably... well, if there are two, or three persons inside, but not the whole diral, for sure.

Nathanial watched Argent stopping, and just simply looking in awe at the scenery. Seeing the pure joy in her eyes made him feel... invigorated. This is what he longed for. To see her happy, to care for her, to....

His thoughts trailed off. He had vague ideas about what he wished, but no words to describe it.

"Ready to get in? The water is a bit crisp, though.", Nathanial spoke softly.

Argent beamed. "For me it would be quite right, then? And even if not, there is someone who can warm me if it gets too cold...", she teased.

That hit, dead center. Argent saw the color rising in his face again, and she filed that away as another piece of the puzzle.

Then, Nathanial saw another snag in his idea.

Loroi obviously have little to no idea about modesty.

He already sort of got accustomed to their usual clothing which was already quite shockingly form-fitting, but nothing prepared him for Argent simply starting to disrobe herself in plain sight. The time his shocked brain kicked back into gear she was already topless.

Argent saw him taking a sharp breath, getting even redder than she had ever seen before, and swiftly turning around, almost losing his footing.

"What are you doing?" She asked, genuinely concerned.

Incoherent mumblings, even less understandable because he turned away, came from him, and it took several attempts for Natan to form an understandable sentence. "You-you... you're getting naked."

"This is a problem? Is it forbidden to see each other naked?" Now Argent became really worried.

"No... YES!... It is....", Nathanial trailed off, at a loss of words.

Definitely a strong selan, even against seeing each other naked? How could a species even survive like that?, she wondered while shedding the last pieces of her overall.

"Is it... is it alright, if I step into the water and get under the cascade? Then, you don't need to look at me.", she asked, trailing off with a decidedly dejected tone.

"O-okay... I'll just... follow you then."

Argent didn't need to wait for long. As promised, she waited under the cascade, luxuriating in the feeling of the water dropping down on her scalp, as the shift in the currents told her he was approaching. She held out her hand.

"Are you sure?", he asked.

"Coldfire knows where we're off to, and we're far enough away from the diral. Even if we touch each other, there'd be no risk of your thoughts leaking out."

Nathanial nodded and gently laced his fingers with hers.

'How I missed this...', neither could say whose thought it was, but it was wholeheartely shared between the two. The past moments flew through the mindscape, and Argent saw that his hestitation was not because of herself, as she feared, but because of a deeply ingrained cultural conditioning. Humans, as it seems, are much, much, much more restrictive than Loroi are.

And she felt something else.

Try as she might, she had never guessed how deeply committed Natan feels himself to the diral, but that paled next to the depth of his commitment to her. She glimpsed at the pictures of herself in his mind, and by his reckoning, she was the most exquisite, exotically beautiful being he ever encountered in his life.

Argent felt some subtext to this picture and followed it to a memory in his mind. It was a bit unclear, which was common for aging memories, but she saw a rather populous settlement of wooden buildings, humans milling about to and fro. Natan's attention was drawn towards a particular house at the outskirts, garishly decorated and featuring a red lantern next to the entrance... and a rather skimpily clad woman in front of it, the bustline of her bodice, if one would call it that, barely enough to cover the essentials. Said woman must have noticed Natan's interest and she addressed him. "Whoo, what a strapping young lad. But aren't you starting out a bit early?". Natan himself had no time to answer, as two large (to a child's perspective) hands quickly covered his eyes and a sharp female voice - his mother's, Natan's mind provided - commanding "Nathanial Hutchins! You get away from these ... floozies ... THIS INSTANT! I thought I raised you better than that!", and him being led away in a different direction.

What a strange culture. Overly sexualized behavior on one side, and strictly forbidding on the other, Argent mused.

Neither Argent nor Nathanial knew how and when the simple linking of their hands turned into a full fledged embrace. She must've floated around and closer to him, and ended up astride on his legs, a deep green set of eyes locking gaze with brown ones.

Words were not needed. Fully formed sanzai was not needed. She felt a primal desire welling up in her, washing over both of them, back and forth. A wordless question formed in her, and an equally wordless consent was given.

She pulled herself closer, skin meeting skin, and her lips closing in on his, sealing them in a deep kiss.

---//---

Coldfire almost dropped the tools she were holding as a wave of unbridled bliss washed over her.

She let out a shuddering breath and tried to gather her thoughts. Stars, Body-play has nothing on that. I hope it was because I'm the strongest of the lot in sanzai and closer than everyone else to Argent and Natan. Else the whole diral knows now what they did.



(EDIT: Added scene)


Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:02 am
Profile
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Reply to topic   [ 50 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group.
Designed by STSoftware for PTF.