[SE] basic building blocks of baskets
pen!
Scientist

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#1
so hold my hand & i'll walk with you, my dear
It's time to build a basket.

To which end, you do the following:

1. Leave your nest home just before dawn, bare feet tingling in the cold morning dew. It'll evaporate soon, and you want to reach your destination before that.

2. Arrive in the Oasis as the first bright rays of sun begin to peek over the horizon, slicing swathes of light through trees and casting silver shadows across the water's tranquil surface.

3. Sit and watch the sleeping plants begin to unfurl in their morning greeting rituals. Fiddleheads uncurl like stretching children; flowers yawn their petals open, reaching for the sun. Then the pollinators begin to arrive: bloatbeetles, heavy with water; bees, chorus and otherwise, bumbling out of their nests. And of course the pollinators are followed by birds, their chirped greetings telling a tale of food and predator and territory. Pretty soon the glade is fully awash with activity, which means it's time for...

4. ...wait, what were you doing, again?!
Kaimana
Wessex Theskyra
the Wraith
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#2

Which means it’s time for all good nocturnal hunters to come back to their dens. Tired or not, the sun is something that cannot be successfully fought (though if anyone would try to do so, it would be Wessex, in all her hubris and stubborn strength).

There are people who are grieving. People who cannot muster the mental or physical energy to hunt and feed there one-mouth-less family. So the Wraith is there, as likely to be good as she is to be ‘bad,’ leaving the occasional gift of meat on a doorstep at dawn. After all, as we know very well, she has no need of sustenance, herself, and an abundance of tireless energy - it now seems like hunting at night is almost too easy.

Wessex exits the trees amidst the pollinators and the unfolding flowers, oblivious to their beauty and the wonder of their roles in the natural world. Three rabbits are slung over her shoulder and she carries her bow in her hand, quiver strung across her chest. The day dawns early - not for farmers, but for others - and she is surprised to see the strange Kai at the Oasis. Waving her hand in greeting, she takes a quick detour - only intending to stay for a couple of minutes or so.

WESSEX
She whispered back, I am the storm
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#3
so hold my hand & i'll walk with you, my dear
If Wessex was expecting you to once again assault her with questions then she is in for something of a surprise. Oh, the sight of the Ascended (you're pretty sure) former-Queen (you've heard) isn't at all unwelcome - in fact you greet her with an enthusiastic smile, your grin cracking from beneath the crown of mushrooms that has sprouted up in your hair. You'd be a great hunter if you cared to do so, basically building a blind naturally by settling into one space for a while.

By the time Wessex finds you you're surrounded in dense and vibrant flora. Patting the ground next to you, you invite her to sit and watch should she care to. Upon the surface of the water a gilded lily is opening, its sweet aroma permeating the cool morning air. The flower is vibrant and glorious and terribly deadly, based on your research into the blooms. "Isn't it cool," you whisper to Wessex, "How nature's evolved to tell you it's dangerous by bein' really pretty?"

You think that's just great.
Kaimana
Wessex Theskyra
the Wraith
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#4

If Wessex were a scientist and prone to making bad dad jokes, she might have greeted Kai with something like ‘Are you a bacterium? Because your smile is infectious.’

Alas, she isn’t (doesn’t even know what a bacterium is, poor non-scientific demi-god). She does return the smile though, as genuine and full as the one she receives and picks her way over to the mushroom-covered boy, taking the offered seat while trying not to squish anything. The dead rabbits come to rest on the ground at her other side, and she eyes the fungi sprouting from Kai’s head. “Are these edible?” she asks, wondering if he would mind if she collected some to give away with her catch.

“Mmmm, very cool. The gilded lily is one of the earliest things we teach our kids to stay away from.” Leaning forward a bit, she keeps her attention on the water. “Have you seen the dream fish yet?” Just a pretty, nowhere near as deadly. One of the few things in Caido that isn’t trying to eat or distract or hurt you - indeed, they’re probably trying to help, in their own way.

WESSEX
She whispered back, I am the storm
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#5
so hold my hand & i'll walk with you, my dear
You roll your eyes up at Wessex's question, as though you could possibly see the mushrooms in your hair. "Uhh... these ones are." Reaching out with your magic, you coax a line of shaggy manes to make their way out of your mane, marching them down your arm toward Wessex until they settle on your outstretched palm, ready to be plucked.

The dream fish is not something you've seen, and your shake your head emphatically to that effect. "No! I've read about 'em, though." Or maybe just been told by Oia - you aren't a big reader, if we're being honest.

Settling back onto your hands, you look up at Wessex with a carefree smile. "I didn't actually come here to see the wildlife, but it was just so interestin' an' I couldn't help but watch it. I really like watchin' things when they're just wakin' up - they're really bein' themselves, y'know?" Not trying to put on a show, or hide anything, or be anything but what they are. You wish humans could be like that more often. It's hard for you to see through the weird masks they wear. Animals and plants are far simpler to understand.
Kaimana
Wessex Theskyra
the Wraith
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Age: 40 | Height: 5'8'' | Race: Demi-god | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Nomadic
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#6

Well, since he’s offering: Wessex smiles, amused and greatful. “Thanks,” she says, plucking the mushroom and laying them on the ground in front of her. “Someone is going to have a lovely rabbit and mushroom stew tonight.” Not her, she means, and she hasn’t decided who to gift the rabbits to, yet. Whomever she come across first, she supposes.

Nodding sagely, the Wraith listens. “Even the Hollowed Ground hasn’t lost all its beauty. Caido made an extraordinary world.” Even the bad stuff, the things that can kill them - even the landsharks are interesting. From the Ground, the Greatwood, and the frozen peaks of Halo to the beaches of Torchline, it’s amazing how it’s all so different, and from what she can gather from the Outlanders, quite unusual. Nowhere else seems to have their kinds of creatures. “So whatcha doing then?” she asks with mild interest. More sketching?

WESSEX
She whispered back, I am the storm
Scientist

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#7
so hold my hand & i'll walk with you, my dear
"Who?" Who is Wessex taking food for - certainly not herself. Tilting your head curiously, you peer over at the brace she carries. "Is it your job to feed other people, even though you don't need to eat? Whaddya get in exchange?" Is this part of the bartering system Jigano tried so hard and so unsuccessfully to teach you about? And what does an Ascended even need?

"They did!" You agree thoroughly with this assessment of Caido's creative prowess, pleased to have found someone who similarly shares your views. "My Dama- they say that the greatest gift Caido gave was the ability of things to change an' adapt." Leaning back on your hands you extend your legs so your toes touch the water, splashing gently in the pool. This place couldn't have survived without being able to adapt, and the people within it too. That's an amazing thought to you.

"Huh? Oh!" Pulling your legs back under you, you reach quickly to your side and produce a mess of reeds. "I was gonna make a basket, to capture the sun like the fae do! But I forgot. I've only made a basket once before - for Jigano's companion, the one you don't like - but I thought these looked like good materials. Whaddya think?"
Kaimana
Wessex Theskyra
the Wraith
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#8

“There’s a family I know who lost their father at Fiat lux.” She’s not particularly overwrought about it, personally considering the guy a douchebag, but the idea of the rest of them going hungry doesn’t sit right with Wessex. “When I was Queen, it might have been my job. Now it’s just a gift, because we should take care of people in our community until they’re able to take care of themselves.” She shrugs, moving on to what she gets out of it. “Nothing really. A feeling like I’m still able to take care of them. Maybe a good reputation, if they figure out who’s leaving the food.”

Really, that’s the end goal. She wants The Wraith to inspire both fear and praise, depending on which side you’re on.

He’s animated again, and Wessex smiles lightly, no idea what a Dama is, but going with it anyway. She feels that’s kind of what you just have to do with Kai. Otherwise the conversation spins in so many ways, you’ll never know how to find your way back to the first couple of important questions. She leans forward and looks at the reeds, nodding in approval. “You’re right, those look great. Want to pick me some, and I’ll go get a basket to use as an example?”

Without waiting for him to say yes, Wessex stands and then teleports back to her shack, grabbing a small, shallow reed basket currently holding nothing of great importance. She then teleports back to the same place she’d been previously. “There we go. This should be easy enough.”

Hopefully he’s still there.

WESSEX
She whispered back, I am the storm
Scientist

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#9
so hold my hand & i'll walk with you, my dear
You listen to her reasoning, and if you were someone else you might be surprised by the motivation - to be appreciated. But it makes sense to you, because it's important to find a place in a community. Physical and emotional well-being both depend on the placement an individual has within their herd.

"Why're you not queen anymore?" You were around for this - sort of - but not particularly engaged in the goings on, more interested in the small aspects of life within the Hollowed Grounds than in the grander politics. "Didja like bein' queen?" You would not like it very much, you think, but someone who's helpful seems like the right person for it.

Case in point: Wessex is suddenly very invested in helping you with your basket, a fact you find far more interesting than the actual idea of making a basket. "Okay!" you say as she blinks away, your brown eyes wide as you stare at the place she was standing only a minute before. That is cool.

When she comes back you've got an armful of reeds, your feet wet because now you're up to your shins in the water. Juggling the branches in your arms, you raise a hand to wave as though you hadn't seen her just minutes before. "How'd you do that?! Where'd you go?"
Kaimana
Wessex Theskyra
the Wraith
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#10

“Well…” Wessex begins, taken aback by Kai’s question, but knowing somewhere that deep down, this was going to come up at some point. Best to hear it from her. “I did some things the Fae didn’t like. Opened a portal in the Mathair and in the process, some Fae died. Then Delah banned all the Grounders from the Greatwood and said that it would remain closed to everyone as long as I was Queen.” Turning her gaze from the open air in front of her, to the boy, she shrugs, able to recount it with almost clinical detachment. “I thought that no one had ever asked the Grounders what they wanted, so I offered up a vote on the matter. They made their voices heard. I listened. Seemed like the least I could do. And here we are… they wanted a Council.”

Not that anyone’s doing anything with the Council, so as far as Wessex is concerned, it’s a load of bullshit. There’s a visible flash of annoyance at the thought.

“Eh. Yes and no. It’s a lot of work. The people here don’t know how to work together and would rather show off their powers and make speeches than figure shit out. I wanted to help the Naturals, but when you add in the Gods and it was… more stress than it was worth.” No one appreciated anything. “I’m more suited to solo work.” There’s a small smile, as if to say that it’s alright, before she disappears to get the basket.

Upon returning, Kae has been successful and she can’t help but chuckle at his wet state. Putting the basket down, Wessex holds her hands out for the reeds. “I teleported. Just went home. It wasn’t far.”

Jesus, how does he get her to talk this much?

WESSEX
She whispered back, I am the storm
Scientist

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#11
so hold my hand & i'll walk with you, my dear
Huh. It's a lot of history that you've only heard in bits and pieces, and then only from the Fae. You listen intently, passing no judgment, certain that the fae did indeed dislike the proceedings but assuming Wessex had a good enough reason. She seems like the kind of person who only does things because she has a good enough reason, to you.

"What stress did the gods add?" This piques your interest keenly, because in your experience with gods (Rae, mostly, granted) they don't particularly care what humans do. "Cause'a the Voice? Everyone I've asked doesn't hate the Ascended. An' all the Ascended seemed happy to be that way." Where's the issue, then?

He passes the reeds to Wessex when she reappears, more interested in her answer than the basket. "Can all Ascended teleport? Is it an upgrade? I haven't seen any upgrades personally- d'ya have others? The ability to adapt yourself without genetic modification is so cool."
Kaimana
Wessex Theskyra
the Wraith
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Age: 40 | Height: 5'8'' | Race: Demi-god | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Nomadic
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#12

Reeds in hand, Wessex sits to continue the conversation. Cross-legged, she lays them out according to size. “The Voice’s blight was a power move, but in making a point to the Old Gods, She hurt the Ascended’s reputation here. Then Ludo told an Outlander to kill the Ascended. All of us.” She pauses briefly. “I dealt with the fallout of both, and LongNight, which is another thing that people like to demand be stopped.” She shrugs, thinking that next time someone brings up the Voice and the Monsters that the speaker should go traipsing off to her goddess and demand it be fixed. Some things aren’t that simple.  

“I think we’re all pretty happy, though. Once we get used to it.” There’s an adjustment period, certainly, that the other races don’t have, but overall the good outweighs the bad.

Before answering his next question, because the Wraith is oddly invested in this basket, she begins to place the materials together - reed on reed on reed. “Hmmm, no, as far as I know I’m the only one who can do that. But you’re the only one I know who can grow mushrooms on themselves. I think we like to choose unique things. Ummm… I have a couple of other upgrades. Like I can read any other language, I’ve got some metal talons in my hands and arms. But these latest ones seem to just appear. I don’t have to go to the Voice and ask.”

Slowly but surely, she’s working the reeds into a flat, but slightly rounded shape. Over and under, over and under, while they’re still wet and flexible.

"What else can you and your sister do? What's Rae like?"

WESSEX
She whispered back, I am the storm
Scientist

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#13
so hold my hand & i'll walk with you, my dear
You sit down, too, settling back into the grass next to Wessex, your legs folded up beneath you. Criss-cross-applesauce, like a proper little student. A little mushroom flits between your fingers, dancing over the ridges as you listen raptly to the Wraith. "Why is LongNight so different here?" you ask, furrowing your brows. This is one change that seems to serve no real advantageous purpose for any of the denizens of the Hollow Grounds, regardless of species or race. "It's not like that in other places."

Wessex's other upgrades are all supremely interesting to you, especially the ability to read any language. "Maybe I should ask Dama if we can learn to do that," you pipe up at that point in the list, making a mental note. As for other things you and Oia can do? You shrug thoughtfully. "Uh, well Oia blends with the environment if she doesn' move for very long. An' she can make illusion worlds that are as real as real life, to run experiments in. An' she can stop time around animals, an' some humans. An' things like growin' near me, an' I can make organic matter animated - like this mushroom - an' make 'em more sentient, too." This is as complete a list as you are currently aware of; you state it all as matter-of-factly as you might describe the physical attributes of a spruce tree.

"We're still learnin' what we can do, though," you add after a moment. "We haven' been around for super long, only a few Flowerbirths." Eight? Nine? It's hard to know, with your faulty memory. By now you've completely forgotten the question about Rae.
Kaimana
Wessex Theskyra
the Wraith
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Age: 40 | Height: 5'8'' | Race: Demi-god | Nationality: Natural | Citizenship: Nomadic
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#14

Hoooo boy, here we go. Wessex pauses in her crafting, truly loathing that question and wondering if she can get away with not answering. On one hand she hates explaining her Lady’s faults, but on the other hand she feels duty-bound to offer the first explanation so he doesn’t go searching for it elsewhere. Her jaw clenches. “LongNight is different here because of the Voice. When she was trapped, she wanted to… continue her work with upgrades. I don’t know exactly how she made them, but the Monsters were way to get bodies to work with. They killed people. Took their corpses somewhere… and we haven’t been able to find a real way to stop them.”

An idea occurs to her, and once it does, Wessex realizes she’s surprised it hadn’t occurred to her before.

“Kai… do you think if the demi-gods work together, that we could try and… get rid of the Monsters? With Oia’s illusions, Ronin’s star powers, Delphia’s soul-stuff, my… authority – and I’m just guessing here – over the Voice’s creations… do you think Rae and the other Old Gods would be willing to help us, with that?” Would Ronin be willing to come back and play the hero again? Could they actually all work together? That might be the bigger(est) question.

Could they survive the attempt?

Whilst she puts forth the proposition, Wessex keeps her hands busy, threading the final reed that brings the basket into a higher angle, now properly able to hold something.

WESSEX
She whispered back, I am the storm


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