Tag Archive: xylem

Skeinsday, 4 Anthuary

Earned 32 / Spent 9

Savings 21,423

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The Disc created an eclipse last week, stranding Kernel in darkness. 

Sometimes the Disc appears to disappear behind the Sun, and other times it flits across its surface like a semitransparent lens, between it and Terrene.  How does it work?  Some people claim not to even see the Disc, but this we attribute to the madness that infects the worst of those locked up in The Den, or those we feel should be in there instead of out here in the muddy thoroughfares of Kernel proper.

As the shadows melted into one another, I leant out the window of my small place on Capital Hill, chin in palm.  The town is a strange place at night, a bowl of dirt surrounded by jungle.  The stillness of the empty streets is a stark contrast to the rustling, shifting wall of leaf and vine at the town’s edge.

You see in black and white at night.  It’s all black shadow and faint white reflections of the moon on the thin surfaces of every leaf and rooftop.  The jungle’s edge is like a massive scaled surface, and within are the flornae that thrive in this cool lowlight: the vegesaurs and cauliraptors, and the carnivorous pitchers and traps that wait for wandering mammals to pass into their toxic jaws.

I spent a few days watching the courtship of two xylem on the balcony outside my window.  The little things have wandered up from the houses on either side of mine, meeting in the middle to perform their leafy little dances around each other.

These were small for xylem – I could hold either of them in my hand – but what they lacked in stature they make up for in energy.  They tottered around on their two stems, smoothing back the branches atop their heads like little bouffants.  Some days they chased each other (the one with the darker bark was the male, I think) and they played games, teased one another.  They had very similar branching structure (I’m told that this is a good indicator of mating in the wild, a natural reinforcement of genetic material through breeding) and matched one another’s movements as though they were reflections.

I knew in my heart that nothing would come of it.  Both of these were domesticated xylem, probably since plantation, and they belong to other people.  Their owners soon put a stop to the playful courtship by bordering up their fences to stop them getting out.

It’s probably for the best.  These small things come and go, but for the xylem to inseminate and produce pods would not help anybody; wild xylem are a nuisance to the seed growers on which our economy relies.  Even domesticated ones are a reminder of the ancient pact they have with the maréchaussée.

Still, I feel for the two who are kept apart, knowing that they belong together.  Meanwhile the eclipse goes on.



Bloomsday, 8 Pollinary

Earned 32 / Spent 4

Savings 18,794

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There is a pagan holiday that comes every Pollinary.  The day falling the weekend immediately following the appearance of the first buds on the bonyik tree.  The next Budsday is a bank holiday, and all the shops and shutters of Kernel close to the cool morning and people fill the streets with banners. 

The long weekend was welcome, but today it was back to work as usual.  I awoke surprisingly easily, a few minutes after dawn, but only reached a low plateau of consciousness as I washed and cleaned and set out down Capital Hill to the thoroughfare.

The sun was low in the cloud-scuffed sky, drawing long shadows from my drakeroot-infested feet.  The golden needles are helping keep the ‘root at bay, and I can feel that it’s almost gone from me now.  But it only takes a single sight or smell to remind me of the shadow cast by the Disc in the heavens, the presence of which draws out the thrashing tendrils of root from my hard and cracked shins. 

A semi-feral xylem crossed the road in front of me.  The pint-sized tree-man moved stiffly but quickly through the dried mud from last night’s rain, climbed up the kerb, and turned its faceless head to the sun to photosynthesise for a moment.  Then it ran on, past my legs with a rustle of twig and tiny leaf, and around a corner.

They’re simple creatures, kept as pets by some and tools for the maréchaussée – trained sniff-hounds and translators for the suspicious goons behind the helmets.  The sight of a wild one going about its business, a small and scurrying shape as alive as I am, brings a twinge of darkness and pain to me from the psycho-sympathetic drakeroot inside me.

It’s Pollinary but not yet Spring, with the month of Frost still too recent a memory.  But this week comes with the traditional Pollinary showers; the clouds dump their heavy loads during the night, flooding the thoroughfare and making a mire of the mud and woodchip beneath the stilted huts of the Den.  Close by the jungle you can hear it beat the upper canopy like the tattoo of a furious water god. 

On all sides of Kernel the jungle is coming alive again (not that it ever stays still).  Flora big and small flourishes in the fast and frequent downpours.  A path I took on Skeinsday was overrun by thick, twining vines by Fallsday, impassable.  The trunks of the biggest bonyiks literally groan as they fill and distend. 

On Fallsday I heard of a caulirator that rampaged through the township.  Flushed with rainwater, scales bright red and green about its snout, it swept down alley and street in a delirious frenzy brought about by the storm influx.  Only the gods know what would have happened if that had been a full-grown vegesaur, which are no doubt soaking up the moisture in saturated fugues in their dens somewhere deep in the forest.

My jog took me past Anchor Point, as it does every morning, and I saw where the rotormen were frantically trying to keep the jungle at bay with their immense machinery.  They’d felled a massive sprouting bloodwood that had threatened to infect that part of the forest, and I had a clear view over the lowlands to the coastal hill.  The Castle in the Mist remained as impassive as ever, overlooking the harbour’s construction in its serene air of permanence.  I realised that a path was being cut to join the harbour to Kernel – more work for the rotormen, who were now entering their busy period.

Guitarróns twanged nearby, but I couldn’t tear my gaze from the Castle.  Even so enthralled and moved, I knew that I would see even grander sights once I left with Foist for our trip around the world.  Who knew what grand landscapes we’d see on the majestic Umber Plains, or the wonders we’d witness in the Regency of Golden Statues? 

I’ve yet to tell Grouter that I’ll be taking a long leave of absence. I dread the day that I have to tell him, but that day is a few months away yet.  There’s yet to be a twang of doubt in me about the trip, but as though I needed to steel my nerves I came across eight members of the Chaiyya on a pilgrimage from the Castle.  There these spiritual leaders of the braves operate and maintain the Castle’s lighthouse function, turning the mirror every second of the night whilst a fellow devotee tends its eternal flame.  Two of these travellers plucked at guitarróns, whilst another pair sang in low, ululating voices. 

The leader pulled back his green hood and smiled at me. ‘Are you on your way to better things, my son?’

‘I hope so,’ I said, and I meant it.