Knot, 12 Torp

Earned 0 / Spent 8

Savings 17,361

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I thought it was a dream.

The jungle north of Kernel is a thick place, dense with vegetation and teeming with unclassifiable wildlife.  Trees wider than I am tall reached up and up all around me; everywhere a tree seemed to block the way.  There was no clear path.

When I moved, branches clawed at my face and clothes.  Sometimes I found that they’d closed a fist on my tunic and I had to tear it to get free.  Terror is beyond the usual definition of emotion.  It is a kind of fever that comes, temporarily, to debilitate you past the capability of useful function.

I screamed but the jungle was too close to give me an echo.  Like a pillow of finest mellowbird, it muffled all the sounds I made.  I ran in silence.

At some point I became aware that the Earthen Crustaceans had awoken.  The heat of their bodies wilted the thick leaves of the bonyik trees, shrivelling vines to gnarled twists of fibre.  I couldn’t see their faces because of the dripping canopy, but their limbs punched through the foliage like gargantuan shivs ten times the height of my shack on Capital Hill.  Their presence is massive, their mass incomprehensible.  To them, I am an ant.  To me, they are gods striding across this dark and frozen country.

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You know when it’s Torp in Kernel.  The ground is as hard as granite, caked with rimy frost soon worn smooth by arctic winds.  These slick white runners curve across the face of the town like blanched muscles, ribbed and sculpted, in some places dirtied by the blood of those who have slipped.

Winter here is nowhere near as harsh as, say, the Red Republic to the northeast, or at the uninhabited poles.  The cold snaps bring in wild shili from the wet regions to the south, and they stride into the fringe towns on their impossible legs, dropping rain from their dehydrating bodies high above.  These towering fish-things congregate near the water tower, sensing the moisture within its copper shell.  At sundown their skin and scales begin to freeze over, and one by one they saunter down to water again to rest their limbs in the depths.  A warmly-dressed observer could witness their bodies floating on the surface like rubber ducks, with long legs trailing behind them like jellyfish tendrils beneath the surface.

When running you can hear the frost crunching as it manifests in the creases of your clothes.  In the stagecoach the snowflake patterns spider across the glass.  Looking through it, the world is a dusted fairyland.  It is a stark contrast with the summer fertility of the rainforest.  In the month of Torp at least its relentless growth is stymied – temporarily. 

And on the other side of Terrene there is Foist, who I imagine in the warmer climes, dressed in skirts and  shawls the colour of terra-cotta.  She smiles in the bright sunlight between patches of refreshing shade.  It is the other side of the world.  On days like this I feel the distance between us and miss her terribly. 

In a few months it will be Spring, and the month of Pollinary will come with a burst and a flourish, brightness and warmth, and I will wake to the sunshine and have to close the curtains at night so that it’s dark enough to sleep.

— RSR

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