Tag Archive: winter


Knot, 24 Torp

Earned 0 / Spent 41

Savings 17,549

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I awoke to pre-dawn Kernel to find it in snow.  The township was blue in the non-light, glittering with the faintest traces of dawn that were being sketched across the clouds closest to the horizon.  This is Torp in Terrene, where the freeze comes suddenly and without warning: a cold snap biting at your heels even when you’re surrounded by jungle. 

The air is naturally full of moisture all around the rainforest, and when it gets cold enough you suddenly remember this fact.  The air crystallises.  You might wake in the night to the sound of thousands of trees bending and groaning under the weight of their new snow-white coats.  You can almost hear the deliquescing ice tinkle like glass across the vanes and veins of giant fern.

The giant fauna in the jungle go quiet during these times.  All those cold-blooded reptiles, be they giant vegesaurs or tiny bumbling promicroceras, go to sleep waiting for the rime to recede down the trees until it’s thin enough to be melted by rainwater.

Today is Knot, which means it’s my day off.  But a courier never stops running, even at the weekend, so I put on my best-gripping shoes and took off across the slick pavements and slushy thoroughfares of Kernel.

I saw stage drivers de-icing the wheels of their coaches.  Someone else was taking a sick-looking xylem across town in a wicker cage, presumably to the tree vet.  The creature squirmed unhappily in his temporary home, pawing half-heartedly at a scrap of blanket.  A person from the Jade Reefs, looking particularly uncomfortable in the cold outdoors, was shovelling snow away from his or her restaurant.

As I ran I tried not to think about the Disc.  On days like this, the air is clear and the sun visible if one dared to look; but so is the Disc, at the other side of the sky, turning (if indeed it turns) like a hole that bores itself into the heavens.

Another letter from Foist came yesterday.  I always relish them, these moments, and cling tightly to the memories I make myself create.  Breathe it in, savour the feeling.  She is happy, and has become more determined for us to be together in Metrodon.  In turn she has galvanised me into saving harder; together we make plans and await our reunion.  I’ve saved 17,549 in seeds, including a few nuts.  Every one is still fresh (I pay for food and rent with the old seeds and save the new).  But I need much more – almost twice as many.

In her words I sense Foist’s dedication to us, but the waiting between each letter gets longer each time.  She is telling me that I am too close, even here in Kernel; that she must not be smothered if she is to grow.  I know that I can step back if I must.  The feelings will not change, but she’ll recognize that they are felt even if they aren’t constantly put into words. 

When the moon passes in front of the sun, it casts a shadow over Terrene.  But when the Disc is low with the light behind it, there is no shadow that you can see, only the feeling of its uninterrupted presence.

— RSR

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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

Fallsday, 05 Frost

Earned 19 / Spent 12

Savings 16,975

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When I run, I run hard.  The drakeroot keeps me going, but some days it’s not enough.  It’s easy to stagger and fall on a long run.  The distance gets too much, your muscles try to give out on you but you won’t let them.  The union works me hard, runs me ragged.  I just chew more root, dust myself down, keep going.

Can’t keep going forever.

Am I to run for my whole life?  There’s more to existance than work, than a few seeds.  A heap of caraways and a nut or two will keep me in rent and food for a week, but what then?  Run more packages, earn more seeds, rent and food and chew more root…

Things are getting a little easier at the union.  Sometimes they make an effort, something I gave up on a while ago.  Keep things sweet and reinvigorates your work muscle, keeps things from getting on top of you.  In Kernal that’s too easy.  In the end, your nerves are frayed and it only takes a glimpse of a few feral cauliraptors to put you into full meltdown.

It’s Frost now.  The winter’s setting in.  The jungle never dies, but it shrinks.  The leaves grow small and tight.  Vines coil inward towards the warmth and security provided by the trunks.  The birds and reptiles hunker down during the cold nights and only fly close to noontime, when the sun is at its highest.  The Disc is a threat to them.  One eclipse during this time and the birds get a full day without heat.  I run past them, watching them sleep.  Lizards die clinging to branches and become like shrivelled dry leaves, orange and crunchy, ready to fall off at the slightest breath.

Am I good at what I do?  I’m not a board member of the union.  I’m not on the top Kernal league table.  People do what I do every day, running up and down Capital Hill, through the industrial districts, skirting The Den and the jungle and buzzing the stagecoaches on the lower paths.  I do the work.  I put in the hours.  I chew the root. 

—RSR