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Colour me Purple; an Atysian science-fiction story. - ROLEPLAY - Ryzom Community ForumHomeGuest

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Colour me Purple; an Atysian science-fiction story.

Story 1
Terror of the Deep

"Miss?"

"Yes, Floria?"

"If nobody's seen a kitin for generations, why do we still have to learn about them?"

A few giggles escaped the classroom at this obvious attempt to escape the lecture.

"Well, Floria, just because we haven't seen the kitin for decades doesn't mean they're not still out there. Remember your geography class, our lake is only a small part of the world. And you've learned about the Prime Roots, yes? We have no idea what's going on there. If the kitin ever re-surface, we want everybody to be prepared. And remember your history as well, before the Great Swarming no homin had ever seen a kitin, but that didn't mean they weren't there, and because we were unprepared for them they caught us completely by surprise. We don't want to repeat that mistake..."

Floria sighed as miss Be'Keeer talked on. She'd heard this story before. She turned her attention back to the window and stopped hearing the words of her teacher. It was a very clear and sunny day today. No day to be inside...

It's not that Floria Canan wasn't interested in stories of exotic creatures, or faraway places, or periods of history when the world was very different than it was now. Far from it, she'd always absorbed those stories like a sponge and aced all the tests on it. It's just that she was getting tired of always just hearing and reading about it. She wished she could go out there and see for herself. Specially on a day like this...

And now they even had to learn about creatures that no longer existed? That she'd never be able to see for real, even if she could go out there? Bah, boooring.

---

"Allright children, I see it's time for our lunchbreak. Go on home and I'll see you all back in an hour."

Yeah, as if, decided Floria. She stopped by her house just long enough to grab her binoculars, then ran to the edge of the city. She'd decided this day was too good to waste on school.

The city of Tryhaven was a busy place, specially at this time of day. Like all Tryker cities, it was built on water and made up of floating buildings connected by boardwalks. Unlike the old capital of Fairhaven however, it had multiple levels of boardwalks. The larger buildings in the centre were even connected by underwater tunnels as well. All so that the city would not be crippled if some of the boardwalks were to be destroyed.

Because the city floated on water, and because the rooftops needed to hold the windmills that powered the city, these boardwalks were both the roads and the only places one could reside outside while keeping their clothes dry. So they were always packed with people, wagons, goods, and activity. Floria had to dodge people and squirm through crowds as she handily skirted through the three-dimensional maze that was the city. As a Tryker child who loved to explore, she naturally knew every inch of it.

That was why she dreamed of exploring further, outside the city. But children were not allowed to leave the city, and in fact most of the adults never left the city either. The world outside was too dangerous, so she was told. But perhaps today, she could at least take a look at the outside world.

After a short walk, she reached her destination; a tall building at the very edge of the city. In front of her now were only the guard towers and then the endless shimmering expanse of the lake, stretching out to the horizon were it met a clear blue sky. She looked up at the building, which at the very top ended in a windmill like all buildings in the city. That was what she had come for. She had heard stories from some of the older children that from the top of that building, on a very clear day, you could see the shoreline. And today was a very clear day.

Like most Tryker children, Floria Canan had never seen land. The purple gleaming branches that arched across the sky in the distance were the closest to land she'd ever seen. She had turned her telescope on them many times, but all you could see up there was a long line of equally purple trees growing atop the enormous branch.

Today, with a little luck, she would finally see actual land. But first she'd have to climb to the top of this building, and without attracting the attention of any grouchy adults that would yell at her to get down because it wasn't safe. One could never tell however, which adults were grouchy and which understood that it wasn't an adventure without a little danger. (Fortunately most Tryker were in the latter category.) So she'd just have to avoid being seen as much as possible and hope for the best.

First she went up to the highest boardwalk that connected to the building. This boardwalk was mostly abandoned, as it was all the way at the edge of the city, only leading to this building and nowhere else. And Floria knew from experience she didn't need to worry about the people on the lower boardwalks, as people generally did not look up unless given reason. She decided it was best to scale the building on the side away from the city, so that nobody from inside the city could see her. On that side of the building, only the soldiers in the guard towers might see her, but they generally looked more at the outside world than at the city behind them. Floria could sympathize.

She was in luck, on that side were some crates stashed against the building she could use as a step-up. She jumped on top of them, took one last look around to see if anybody was watching, then flung herself at the flagrope arching down from the roof and used it to slowly pull herself up to the edge. The festoons of flags that decorated every Tryker building did however not reach all the way to the top, and the next part of her climb was over one the diagonal wooden beams that supported the roof.

These beams were almost vertical and not easy to climb, but at least Floria could wrap her arms around them to get a good grip. She wondered how her teacher would feel about her using the lessons from gymclass in this way. As she reached the end of the beam and pulled herself onto the thatched roof, she paused for a small breather. Now came the last part, scaling the roof itself with nothing to hang onto but the wickerwork of thin branches that covered it.

Floria took another look around. Was anybody watching her? It didn't look like it. She felt sure it helped that her clothes were almost the same colour as the building. She tried to pick all her clothes in brown colours for that very reason, and it was nice to think it paid off. After a slow difficult climb, in which she slipped and slid back and had to start over a couple of times, Floria finally reached the highest part of the roof that one could climb without a ladder. To go any further, she'd have to climb the smooth, almost vertical wall of the windmill that the roof ended in, and that was all but impossible.

Now that she'd reached the highest ledge of the building, the base of the windmill, she seated herself on the ledge and took a look around to catch her bearings while she also caught her breath. In the direction behind her the higher buildings in the centre of Tryhaven blocked her view, but in all other directions she could see out across the lake for what must've been many miles. Countless boats drifted in it's waters, of all shapes and sizes, both near and far away. From her lessons, Floria recognised patrol boats, fishing boats, farming boats, cargo boats, passenger boats...

The darker patches of water around the farming boats gave away the presence of the kelp farms, though the kelp plants were impossible to distinguish from this distance. And following the course of the cargo and passenger boats, Floria's eyes found the outlines of some of the Tryker villages that lay further out onto the lake. They all looked very similar to Tryhaven, only much smaller. The same buildings and boardwalks, the same windmills and cranes, the same boats circling around and balloons hovering above. Floria peered at those with a slight envy, she could only imagine the kind of view she would have from aboard one of those blimps.

She knew one day she'd be going aboard one as part of a school trip, but it wouldn't be for several more years, and she couldn't wait. Flying ships were an explorer's dream. Just the view alone would be worth it, but imagine if you could go further. If you could do more than hover above a city, if you could actually travel around in them, high up in the air and safe from anything on the ground, you could go anywhere. You could not only reach the shore, but even cross the land. Currently the balloons the Tryker could build weren't capable of journeys, but Floria hoped they would be by the time she was grown up, and then she could become a pilot...

But being grown up... she definitely couldn't wait for that, she wanted to see land now! Normally Floria might've been enchanted by everything she could see from here, and might've examined everything closer with her binoculars for hours, but today she was anxious to see land, and that was the one thing she couldn't make out.

Maybe if she knew where to look... she scanned the city behind her towards her left until she'd found the main gate, with it's many guardtowers and soldiers milling about. From there, her eyes followed the Dryland Road, the miles-long boardwalk that connected the city of Tryhaven with the shore. As it disappeared into the distance further than her naked eyes could discern, she peered through her binoculars to follow it further.

And then she saw... yes, there was definitely something purple at the end of that bridge! She focussed on it and thought she could make out an arch-shaped construction that could only be the gate at the other end of the bridge, flanked by two shapes that could be guard towers. And beyond that.. it looked to be more purple trees. A forest moving in the wind. Floria felt the excitement at seeing something she'd never seen before, but there was also a tinge of disappointment. Was that all? She'd hoped to see... mountains maybe, or some creatures. But even with her binoculars she couldn't see beyond the first lines of trees, and there was nothing but more water to either side of that small forest either. She remembered from her geography classes that Dryland Road touched the shore at the tip of a long narrow peninsula, which sort of formed a natural continuation of the bridge.

That ofcourse meant her chances of seeing any land animals were slim too. Why would any animals happen to walk all the way to the tip of the peninsula? Floria sighed as she continued to gaze. Still, she had seen the land... most Tryker never saw it until they were adults... wait, there did appear to be something moving there! Tiny shapes appeared from the trees... or did it just look that way? No, there were definitely moving shapes moving out of the forest and onto the bridge....

An alarm horn sounded, causing Floria to peek up from her binoculars to see where it came from. It looked like it came from a boat that was floating out on the water to her right, some distance away from the city. The next moment, alarm bells started ringing in the city below her, calling all Tryker to evacuate that part of the city post haste and then stay inside. Floria too knew what the alarm meant, as did any Tryker child. It wasn't anything too unusual, happened once every few weeks. It meant some dangerous animal or animals were heading towards the city. Usually Floria hadn't even been near the outskirts of the city when it happened, so the alarm had never been particularly alarming to her before.

Now however, she was not only on the outskirts of the city, but also in a place she could not quickly get down from. She saw the boardwalks below her emptying out as all the Tryker rushed towards the center of the city, and decided it was probably safest if she just stayed were she was. Dangerous animals were usually aquatic or amphibian, she had learned, but never flying, so they'd not be able to reach her up this high. Had she gone to class that afternoon, she would have known some kitin could fly, but she still would never have considered this might be a kitin attack. Kitin were extinct, right? In any case, her decision to stay was probably in no small part because she'd really, really wanted to see some strange animals today. If she wasn't going to see any of them on land...

She peered out again towards the boat that had given the alarm. From the corner of her eyes she saw the soldiers in the guardtowers below move to man their guns, as other soldiers started pouring out into the boardwalks further down. They were clearly expecting something here, coming from the lake, but Floria didn't see anything. Maybe it was underwater? She squinted at the glimmering surface, but it was hard to see anything underwater at this angle... suddenly she saw a large shadow appear near the surface, some 100 meter out, closing in fast. Soldiers shouted and fired their guns, and a barrage of small torpedoes flew in the direction of the shadow, splashed into the lake, and exploded underwater, sending large streams of water into the air and causing a rumbling like thunder across the city.

Then things quieted down again. Was that it already? Had they killed whatever animal it was? Phoey, and she didn't even get to see it. Floria didn't have time to finish that thought before it was interrupted by an ear-shattering crack as something tore through the perimeter boardwalk. The guards who had been standing on it were flung to the sides, pieces of wood flew off in all directions and some whistled just past her head, and amidst the mess of breaking wood and splashing water, Floria thought she saw a row of glistening yellow spikes disappearing back into the water.

For a moment the only sounds were the creaking of wood and the splashing of torn off debris hitting the water, before the soldiers recovered from the shock. "It's inside!" "Down there!" "Shoot it!" Then the crackling sound of dozens of waverifles being repeatedly fired into the water. The miniature tornadoes whistled as they erupted from the barrels and splashed into the water, continuing as tiny whirlpools towards their target. But it didn't seem to slow down the underwater shadow that Floria now saw heading towards her building. Before she could think of getting away, a loud bang from underwater caused the building to shake violently, making Floria loose her grip and slide down the roof. She managed to grab on to a railing before going over the edge, but was very aware she was now hanging right over the water where that... thing was.

The soldiers were now aware of her presence too, judging from the shouting. "Oh shit!" "Save that girl!" One soldier grabbed a large paddle and hurried across the boardwalk to as close as he could get to her position, where he stuck the paddle into the water and began waving it back and forth. "Hey! Over here you big beast! Come get me!" Looking down, Floria could see the shadow under the water moving in his direction, it's increasing size indicating it was coming to the surface, until a huge reptilian head, glistening red and covered in more yellow spikes, emerged from the water at great speed and swallowed not just the padle but the entire boardwalk the soldier had been standing on. The soldier himself had jumped out of the way just in time.

This time the creature was prevented from immediately submerging again, because it's teeth were sunk into the boardwalk, and it took it a second to tear loose. That second was all the harponeers in the towers needed to finally find their target, and powerful shockwaves propelled harpoons larger than pikes with such speed that they seemed to cleave the air itself, before piercing straight through the creature's natural armour and impaling it's head. That was either enough to kill it or just the final straw after the explosions and rifle fire the creature had already endured. With a low roar it's head hit the water and then it lay still, the rest of it's now-dead body floating up from the depths.

Floria was spared this gruesome sight as she, in the meantime, had managed to climb around to where she could safely drop down from the roof. She was immediately caught by another soldier that lifted her over his shoulder and quickly carried her away from the scene. As she looked back over his shoulder, she saw more soldiers arrive from other parts of the city and cordon off the area. "We lose anyone? No? Anybody who received any injuries at all, over here. The rest of you, start burning that creature and everything it touched, rightaway." The voice of the corporal died down as the soldier carried Floria further into the city.

"I'll have to take you to a healer rightaway, little girl," spoke the soldier through his helmet, "we have to make sure you didn't get infected." Floria nodded, even though he couldn't see that. "What was that?" she asked, still a little shaken. "Vorax" replied the soldier "beefed up and mutated to be aquatic. One of the most dangerous things they sent at us, but lucky for us even mutated vorax still haven't lost their solitary nature. Didn't you learn what a vorax is at school? They used to be the alpha predators of the Prime Roots, fabled monsters of the deep, or so I remember from what I learned there."

Vorax... yes, Floria had learned about those, and seen drawings of them. Of what they'd looked like before the world had changed. But she'd learned about so many animals, and this was the first time she'd seen any of them for real. It was so different from seeing a drawing, and she was too excited to really think.

Another bell sounded, coming from the direction of the main gate. "Another attack?" Floria asked the soldier, startled, before she already realised this was not an alarm bell. "Nah, that's the bell to announce a caravan is coming up the Dryland Road." said the soldier, echoing her thoughts. "Most likely bringing another shipment of goods from the Fyros."

A caravan, Floria thought to herself, so those were the shapes I saw moving on the shore before... "Do you think there's any Fyros with the caravan?" she asked. The soldier chuckled. "Haven't you seen enough odd creatures for one day, girl? It's not likely, the Fyros can't come here, no Tryker has seen a Fyros since I was born at least. The only reason we know they're still alive is through the stuff they keep sending us."

And after a pause. "They should've taught you that at school, too. Maybe if you'd actually go there instead of skipping out to hang around on rooftops..."

Floria felt her cheeks turn purple. "Sorry..." she said meekly. The soldier chuckled again. "It's okay girl, a healthy lust to explore just means you're a real Tryker." Hearing that from this soldier, for some reason, instilled in Floria a feeling of pride in who she was for perhaps the first time in her young life, and she chuckled too. "Some day when I grow up..." she said dreamily "I'm going to build myself the best blimp ever and become the first Tryker in a generation to see a Fyros."
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