Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In The Works (Vignette)

Daivarru climbed down the brightly lit ventilation shaft past jagged thorncicles and serated bladevanes until he reached the section of the shaft’s internal ecology where everything had been smashed flat and smooth by the death throes of the wounded glide-nodule. He paused on the periphery of the packed-down detritus and debris. The translucent pod-like object was still there. It looked safely dead. But Daivarru knew better. Machines usually couldn’t lie to him, not without going to extreme measures or using capabilities that many of them lacked. The heavily damaged glide-nodule was sleeping, deep-code repair routines running softly at the very threshold of sentience or thinkability. No one would notice it unless they knew where to look for it.  He was one of those who intuitively knew where to look.  He was good with machines.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Tributary Gate: The Red Marshes

Just past the island of green egrets and the Bridge of the Six Fingered Glove, there is a small, sluggish channel that leads to a Tributary Gate.  The world on the otherside of this gate is registered as simply Red Marshes.  It was documented originally by a Siluroi canal-scavenger who was viciously mauled by a nastyjelly bloatslime that ruptured nearly a third of their exposed tissues when it injected a good deal of itself into her flesh.  That being how the bloatslimes kill their prey--injecting themselves into another creature through a fast-acting pressurized form of kinetic-osmosis.  They literally insert hundreds of microcappillaries into your body and then force themselves right on in, rupturing cells, ripping-apart blood vessels, and exploding muscle tissues.

She was fortunate to survive the encounter.

Her offspring have become very adept at hunting, trapping and taming a wide array of nastyjellies and they are specialists at handling bloatslimes.  It has become their family business.

The Red Marshes get their name from the deep red color of the ultra-humid skies, the red-tinted clouds, the predominently red chlorophyll of the plants, and so on.  The air is so humid that the glare from the sun makes it impossible for most people to discern where the water ends, the land begins and the sky seems to just swallow everything.  It's a misleading and disorienting place to those not used to it and even then it can be treacherous.  The Siluroi and Lutrin, Venduu and various turtle-descended species have established raft-camps, pontoon-towns and a few unregistered enclaves past the Tributary Gate.  The Siluroi might take you out to one of the known locations, if you can name it or give good directions, but they aren't likely to volunteer information to outsiders, and especially not for free.

You'll want a good Guide out in the Red Marshes; the nastyjellies aren't the only things that might try to get at you--there are some fairly wicked leeches, razorflukes and freshwater urchins to consider.  Some riverfolk have taken to saying that there are gavials, slasher-fish, hooksquids, devilfish (oversized freshwater pirahnas) and bad garfish out in the Red Marshes as well.  Things that might eat a person whole as soon as spit them out.  Then there is the matter of spawning pools.  No one wants to trespass on a Venduu spawning pool.  You might not be afeared of fish, invertebrates or poisonous crustaceans, but you sure as anything won't want to go mucking aroud in a Venduu's spawning pool.  You'd be wishing you'd ran into a big ol Gatorbear, a whole pack of hungry gatorbears, if'n you blundered into a spawning pool.

Nope, if you're going to visit the Red Marshes, you'll be wanting a Guide and your boots are the last thing you'll need to worry about.  And don't forget your copy of the River Almanac.  There's a recipe in there for sucker-spine crawdads that is simply out of this world.  Them's good eatin' y'know.  Or at least you would if'n you read the Almanac.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Twilight on the Zonges River (Vignette)

On a clear twilight in the early summer in the Northern Hemisphere of Seleucis, you can hear the frogs singing and the insects whirring while you fall asleep on a lily-pad raft poled along by Liteng river-guides. The lampbeetles and flylights have all been shooed-away, back into their baskets and tinted jars along the edges of the lily-pad raft so you can better soak-in the luxurious jade of the deepening dark. The humidity isn't so bad, once you get used to it, and you never knew that trees could be quite so fragrant. Now you know why scentificers from Noss are known to come to Seleucis seeking after rare scents and aromatic herbs. You drift off to sleep as the River Zonges laps against the lily-pad raft, gently rocking it like a cradle. Maybe you shouldn't have had that third shroom-beer, but it was oh so good. Night descends and so do you, into a deep, relaxing sleep. What dreams might come to you in a place like this?
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