The next thing they knew, the dancers were bowing, adults were clapping, and young children were carrying bowls of stew out to Klimans all over the tree. Dozens of skillful, grinning young faces, overjoyed by simply being helpful. Many of them raced each other to see who could deliver the most wooden bowls to the various homes on a bough. Many children even intercepted the recipients of the meal by giving bowls to the residents of a platform that dangled between two branches, stealing the opportunity of the children on the other branch from delivering the food. Chroma chuckled as she watched. … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 10
The last rope bridge sloped downward, but not enough to bring it all the way to the forest floor. Instead, it sloped downward just enough to rest among the branches of a tree as wide as it was tall. The diameter from the northernmost to the southernmost leaves must have matched that of a small town. The massive tree formed an expansive clearing beneath it, holding back competing trees and blocking sunlight to the plants below.
Between its boughs, countless meshes of planks and organic matter formed platforms where people lounged, worked, and played. The central crook of the tree was in sight, and had been partially hollowed out and lined with stones to form a large fire pit, above with hung a collection of spits as long as a hull of the Gladiator.
The color orange was everywhere: in the watercups that grew along the branches of the tree; in the paint coating the wood and various wooden bowls, toys, and instruments of Klima; in every single person’s clothing; and in the large banners hanging from the side of each bridge leading to the town. … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 9
Emerging one by one from the large mouth of the cave, they stood on the inward side of the mountain. As Klyra and Chroma blinked repeatedly, desperately, the scene unfolded in front of them. Like a rolling sea, a homogenous sea of treetops stretched just below them. The clouds spilling over the lower mountain pass to their right were letting a curtain of rain fall even as they watched, making it look like the gray bodies were smearing downwards. A few rainbows caught the yellowing light of the afternoon from behind the tips of the mountains, forming colorful bridges down into the treetops. A flock of birds took flight from just beyond the storm, and the girls watched as they began making their way around the gigantic bowl as large as their entire home island.
“The bridge is down there,” Yim said, starting her trek down a steep, grass-coated path towards a decrepit, fallen tree that was connecting the middle of the canopy to their mountainside.
“I kind of wish Flor was here to see this,” Klyra breathed.
“Yeah, if she was here we’d have time to stop and see it,” Chroma agreed, beginning to follow Yim down the less-dense path that was evidently too steep for anything to grow.
“I — I can’t believe my eyes,” Klyra said, not budging from where she was.
Chroma glanced behind her, and then back at the view of the entire inner island of Klima. “Yes, it’s far better than the sketches my uncle used to bring me. Our journey’s going to be full of sights like this.”
“Aren’t you the least bit impressed?” Klyra demanded, half-laughing. There were tears in her eyes.
Chroma glanced away. “Like I said, I’ve seen sketches before. Being a princess has its perks. Now come on, we’ve got a teammate to save, and we’ve got plenty of time to come back here. You need to watch where you put your feet.” … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 7
When they rounded the trunk, they found themselves at the maw of a brown-stoned cave. A few lichens were creeping partway to the entrance, and a few vines draped over rocks near the inside, but the place seemed otherwise devoid of sunlight and life. It was as if someone had taken a torch, shoved it into the plants, and burned a hole in the jungle.
“Some of these tunnels lead directly to town,” Yim told them.
“We’re going through the gaping dark hole instead of the well-known pass with a lovely river?” Chroma asked emotionlessly.
“The Greens are likely waiting for you there. But when they figure out we’re taking the tunnels, they won’t know which one I lead you down. That’s why we’re not using torches.”
“I wasn’t complaining,” Chroma responded. “I’m just glad that if we get separated we’ll be in a dark labyrinth with no idea where the light of day is.” … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 6
The child turned around and dove into the foliage as Chroma frantically followed. The shouting behind them faded almost instantly as Chroma followed the child’s path through the growth, slightly uphill. Finally, between the brown and green brushes snagging at her body and hair, they came to a grove overtaken by the shade of the canopy of a single large tree. The ground was flatter, and Chroma had no trouble sprinting after the child as it deftly leapt between the gray, low-hanging branches to reach the safety of the bows. Chroma clambered up with ease and then held still as the child covered her mouth with a single, tan hand. … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene 5
I’ve dedicated nearly my whole life to becoming a voyager, and in the last few years it looked like I could even be on the First Contact voyage. Sailing uncharted waters with a competent group of adventurers. But no, apparently the system doesn’t work like that. They didn’t put the best travelers out there first. No, they put the princess and the translator who can’t even show up on time. Do you honestly think you were in the advanced class because of your skills? Or that you’re here because you deserve it? No. You’re here because you just so happened to be born into the family that violently conquered all of Cambia. … More The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima — Scene #4
“They follow the orcas following the whales,” Gane finished. “Do we know how far behind they’ll be?”
“Dol says no one’s sure. It’s never happened before, and communication isn’t easy when visitors can’t speak.”
“Mmm,” Gane hummed. “Tell everyone we’ll be staying here until the Cambians arrive. Forage and hunt, but on the seaward side of the mountains.”
“Gane, what about the girl? Shouldn’t we keep searching for her?”
“If the girl escapes, we can manage. But if we allow the Cambians to reach the town? Unequivocal disaster.” … More Old “Alloland” Draft — “The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima” Scene #3
Last week, I published a longer piece on the discovery vs outline writing debate. In that article, I mentioned that I “lean towards” discovery writing. That got me thinking: what does “lean towards” mean?
“We are gathered here to make history,” the woman announced, stepping forward. “I don’t need to remind you all what this graduation, and the graduates’ journey, entails, but it is our duty to keep you always mindful of the consequences.
“Being the first people to sail the sea in a thousand years was no small feat, nor was being the first civilization to make contact and establish relations with the endless others out there. But we paid a price for our openness with others, and now we aim to pay our debt and stave off the threat of the March. What will be truly impressive is finding the solution out at sea. Allies willing to defend, hosts willing to take settlers, scientists willing to share technology…” She let the words hang in the air. “The possibilities are limitless, but urgent.” … More Old “Alloland” Draft — “The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima” Scene #2
Long ago, our ancestors used the stars of the night sky to voyage across the vast oceans. But when the stars disappeared, our islands were separated. The peoples of each island have drifted in different directions, each culture developing different technologies, each society using the power of the Sperk plant to grant them different abilities. Once the people of our island, Cambia, united under one queen, our sights turned beyond our shores. We learned how to follow the orcas in their travels across the depths of the vast ocean, and began exploring the innumerable islands of our world. We traded technologies with our strange but friendly neighbors. We shared the secrets of voyaging with everyone we met, hoping to create a better world. But then, we stumbled across the island of Mara, which was eternally locked in an arms race…until they met us. When we told the March of the vast world beyond their small island, their hungry eyes looked past the horizon. Using weapons capable of destroying entire civilizations, the March attacked us and began using our secrets of voyaging in their conquest of the seas. We send these voyagers to you to share our discoveries and establish an alliance for the coming war. We are the people of Cambia, and we come in peace. … More Old “Alloland” Draft — “The Hundred Foot Drop of Klima” #1