• Completed • [North Woods] Connection (Graded)

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Rokas
Approved Character
Posts: 74
Joined: Wed Sep 30, 2020 6:57 pm
Race: Human
Profession: Muscle
Renown: 20
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Wealth Tier: Tier 7

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[North Woods] Connection (Graded)



Cylus 4th Arc 721

As always, Rokas woke early in the morning, sky still dark and temperatures still cold. During Cyclus, that meant very little, but the birds were yet to start their songs, and if the North Woods had chickens, the roosters’ tone-deaf cry would not ring out for quite some time.

Like the other days spent at this camp, Rokas lit no fire. The stone firepit still contained a mound of ashes and charred pieces of wood, and though he could make a flame appear if he called its name, it could not sustain itself without proper fuel, be it ether, oil, coal, or logs and tree branches. Though the heat would certainly be welcome, cleaning the pit and gathering firewood proved too much a hassle. Letting a flame burn in mid-air would tax him too much, fire’s hunger not tempered in the slightest, despite Rokas feeding it ether rather than flammable materials.

So instead he wrapped himself in layers of thick clothing, wools and furs, sat himself down on a tree stump at the center of the loggers' camp, ate a couple hard biscuits and drank some water while listening to the quiet. To the voice of earth and wind, their whispers and shouts. Focused on the rustling of leaves and the whistling of air rushing through narrow gaps. To the creaking of the earth as it spoke in cold and frozen tones, voice growing softer and warmer towards the middle.

Time passed, birdsong began, it grew marginally warmer in the forest, and the darkness remained. Rokas, with a patience he only could muster for the elements, sat and listened statue-like as the wind once more gushed about its plans to go east today, see what it could find there. Oh, but it would stay close too, of course, not limited to existing in multiple places at once. The earth, for its part, complained about the frost clawing into its skin, hardening otherwise soft soil. It wouldn’t be going anywhere today. Though it –like its gaseous sibling—existed just about everywhere, unlike the wind it did not travel to and fro, but the creatures that walked upon its body sure did.

Joe stepped out of one of the cabins, very little of his skin showing. His scraggly grey beard and the deep sockets with hollow eyes peeked out from underneath and above the coils of a colorful scarf. Most of his hair hid underneath a knitted hat that also covered his ears. Noticing Rokas, Joe planted his shovel into the earth, and waved with a gloved hand. Then he gathered a waterskin and some rations, heading off into the woods to go dig his holes.

Rokas had never followed the old man, nor had he gone to take a look when Joe wasn’t in the area. The earth knew what happened to its massive body, aware of changes and alterations, and one day told Rokas about it. Not to complain or get Rokas to make Joe stop. The earth rarely did mind being dug into or mined from. And when it did, it could easily undo what alterations it did not enjoy.

Some people thought of the earth as stubborn and unyielding and unwilling to change. Those people were wrong. The earth was just slow and dense, requiring aggressive prodding before it noticed requests for change. Rocks did not break when slapped like water’s surface, but it did when smashed with a massive hammer. Boulders did not move when blown against, like the fickle air often did. You needed to put your back into it, grit your teeth, work your muscles, and push.

Yet, when those requests were heard, the changes made often lasted. Neither wind or water or fire could be shaped for very long. Air and water always filled voids created and never held a new shape for more than a couple moments, always returning to their original form, their preferred equilibrium. Still more cooperative than fire, which bit at those that tried to alter it. But earth? It remained. Buildings, statues, caves and holes, anthills and mountains. From a pile of sand to an exquisitely carved artwork. Earth relished in change, and worked constantly to endeavor it.

Rokas wriggled on the stump, shifting position a little as to alleviate the building ache in his buttocks. Soil and sand and pebbles that had crept up his legs during his sit-down tumbled down and scattered, though they recovered within the span of a few minutes, rolling back towards his boots as if beckoned by magnetic force. For his part, Rokas did not resist earth’s advances or shut out the soft whines for attention that came with it. Unlike when the witchmark first manifested, he no longer believed it dangerous. Now he knew earth simply chose to show its affection in this way.

Focusing on the earth alone, Rokas noticed --and not for the first time—the disparity in voice depending on what part of the element he listened to. The childlike mumbling of the phenomenon created by his witchmark. The soft rumbling of the layers deep below, nearly inaudible if he didn’t actively concentrate, which vibrated within his bones. The hard and curt sound of rocks and boulders, the echoing hollow sound of caverns, and the steep noise made by cliffsides. Drowsy words spoken by desert sands napping in the suns, and the excited, playful yelling of the grains thrown around by winds and storms. A parent’s soothing coos, gentle encouraging, nurturing – fertile soil. The measured, calculated and sometimes strained sentences of man-made structures that tried to hold on to their new shape, or make attempts to return to a more relaxed state.

All different voices, different feelings, yet one and the same. Melting together to form the whole that was the earth. Not one solid, uniform being. Yet not divided either. A collective, a colony. Several separate forms belonging to the whole. Multiple consciousnesses that combined into one, different fragments of the one same mind. Individual parts that were the earth on their own, yet weren’t until viewed as one. Both forest ground and desert dunes were the earth, yet neither of them was the earth. Together they were the earth, yet they needn’t be grouped up to be the earth. All were one, and one was all.

It confused Rokas when he thought too deeply about it, but somehow made perfect sense all the same. It wasn’t something he consciously understood, but a sensation that injected understanding within his mind when he attuned to the elements. A truth told by the earth itself, a consciousness that reached everywhere simultaneously, but limited itself to Rokas’s vicinity – even though it didn’t.

Rokas reached down and placed a palm on that beautiful contradiction, on packed and frozen soil. Loose grains tumbling closer to bury his hand under a small pile of dirt. Eyes closed, breathing steady, he simply touched and let sensations flow in. Fragmented snippets of the memory of an ancient element, constant and unchanging, yet young and always in motion, ever in the process of altering its shape. Its voice rumbled from deep below, the top layer mumbled in its frost-induced sleep. Vibrations tickled his fingertips, crept up his arm and projected a story within his mind.

A tale of growth. An account of creation and destruction, of how the giant collective of earth shaped the form of its individual parts, both by its own power, and with the help of its siblings. It spoke of the formations of mountains, pushing two parts of its body against each other until they tented upwards, peaking into the sky. It recounted of how it created ravines with water’s aid, letting it carve beautiful snaking canyons into its body, then drain the water. Of how wind and earth worked together to produce the elegant arches of seaside cliffs, or the mushroom-shaped rocks in stony deserts. With fire to form lakes of blazing, liquid stone and smoking calderas.

It remembered creatures seeking out its protective embrace, requiring shelter from weather and temperatures both, from the earth’s siblings, earth itself, and of the searing glare of the suns. Furry creatures that walked on four legs, naked apes that used but two. Early humans that enlisted its help, crafting huts of mud and clay, flocking together in large groups. Spreading and spreading, tendrils stretching out far beyond the original core. Alongside rivers, near lush and bountiful forests. Eventually tilling soil, planting crops. Evolving their craftsmanship, creating more elaborate dwellings, more grand, more resilient.

Yet sometimes it brought them down, unsatisfied with the new shape of its body. Not quite comfortable. Desiring change. Or, working deep below the surface or in a far away corner of the world to ease the formation of a new feature. Thrashing about and shaking parts of its body, causing fractures and ravines to form, structures to crumble, and mountains to erupt. Never truly malicious, largely indifferent to the miniscule creatures, those life-forms that existed for just an eye-blink’s time. Speaking only to a selected few it became aware of, though it hadn’t always been this way. Yet it hadn’t existed in silence before. No, it’d spoken from the start. Rather, the earth and its siblings weren’t heard until very recently--

A sudden growling erupted from within, stomach loudly demanding to be fed, not unlike fire whenever Rokas listened to that element. He glanced up at the sky visible through the barren, skeletal canopies. Still dark, still studded with stars, all moons cruising along their elliptical paths. Still cold too, barely a difference between night and day. And yet, so his stomach assured him, midday had arrived.

Sighing, Rokas stood. Shook off the earth’s grasp on his feet, stretched his spine, flexed his smarting buttocks, and headed for the pantry.


Last edited by Rokas on Fri Apr 16, 2021 7:03 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 1662
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Jackalope
Posts: 420
Joined: Sun Feb 28, 2021 7:34 pm
Race: Human
Renown: 0
Wealth Tier: Tier 1

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Re: [North Woods] Connection


Experience: ETA: +10 xp Sorry! Copy/paste error.

Knowledge:

Skill
Endurance: sitting still for an extended amount of time
Meditation: Sit and listen to the elements
Meditation: Thinking on the nuances in the different voices of the earth
Meditation: Trying to achieve a deeper connection with the earth
Meditation: Letting the earth's memories sweep you away
Meditation: Easily interrupted by a protesting stomach

Skillplay: Appropriate to level

Loot: None.

Injuries/Overstepping: None.

Renown: None.

Comments:
Quick admin note #1: The point of the Magic Experience question is to ask if you wish to claim/request any points. So answering it with: “Yes…though probably doesn’t warrant any points” is a bit confusing. I agree, btw, that this doesn’t warrant any points, for all that it’s a good read.

Quick admin note #2: Current arc is 721, not 720. Please edit the timestamp in your thread, and note it in your thread list.

As before, you do a fantastic job describing Rokas’ interactions with the elements, and the personalities those elements have. In particular, the impression that earth has of all the mortals and creatures scurrying across and digging into its surface is memorable. Having read what eventually happens to Joe, I can’t help feel a bit sad reading about him digging his holes.

Writing a thread that was mainly about the visions Rokas had while meditating, without any particular dramatic events, could have been challenging, but you manage to make it smooth and interesting. It was actually a fairly quick and entertaining read, I found.

Enjoy your rewards!
word count: 263
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