Sythyry (sythyry) wrote,

Ro-Ro-Ku on Kyspert (96/170)

Ro-Ro-Ku on Kyspert

Ro-Ro-Ku and Dze-Ts-Kwy made their way through the cracks and spars of the Bher, the scoral island Roroku had picked. I got a running commentary, which I will summarize thus:

  1. Travelling by foot is in no way preferable to travelling by wing. Having nine or eleven feet does not improve the situation over having four.
  2. The vegetation on Kyspert is quite variable. One set of plants grows on the tops of scoral; a wholly different set grows on the sides; a third set grows underneath. (Later on she and Itharieth would figure out that the concept of ‘plant’ is not quite right for Kyspert: scorals have some characteristics of both the plants and animals of normal worlds, and the wild variety of non-scoral growing things all should be categorized in the usually-modest categories of epiphytes and parasites. I am not sure why anyone but biologists should find this exciting, but they do, so I will mention it this once in case you are one.)
  3. It is inconvenient to travel along the spiky surface of a scoral. One must climb from here to there, taking care that at least two or three of your feet and tentatails are holding on at every instant. Once Ro-Ro-Ku and Dze-Ts-Kwy had to get from one point to another one five yards away, but they were five yards of air, and the actual path wandered some eighty or ninety yards along scoral surfaces.
  4. As they got closer to Nwa-Bher, such gaps tended to be bridged. Kysps are very careful about making bridges, perhaps because they have to make so many of them out of such inferior materials. A typical bridge is made by fastening a preserved treetrunk to both sides of the bridge with preserved leather or bark bands. (“Preserved” by considerable shellac. Kyspert is a very wet world, and unprotected wood rots fast.) Then exactly nine ropes are strung parallel to the treetrunk, at a convenient reach from it. Not that any kysp uses one claw on each of the ropes; it is a tradition. But having many independent strands of bridge is important! Every kysp can expect to have one strand of bridge fail under them in their lifetime — it is so common as to be a dozen proverbs — so, as the first proverb goes, “nine talon-holds is life.”
  5. Being a small mammal clambering through cascades of huge ferns, and seeing scoral islands twinkling in the distance though the endless void of Kyspert, is a rather glorious thing. [The void isn’t actually endless, as I’m sure I will explain sometime, but even a dragon’s eyes cannot see clearly for more than a mile or so through such humid air, so it looks endless.]
  6. But climbing isn’t glorious. It’s awkward.

Eventually they stopped climbing, after an epic voyage that must have taken them at least a quarter of an hour. Scoral islands are not very big. Neither are kysps, and of course “the straightest path lacks sufficient claw-holds”, as Dze-Ts-Kwy proverbed at Ro-Ro-Ku more than once.

“Now we are here, in Nwa-Bher, in the center of Bher,” said Dze-Ts-Kwy. The city didn’t look all that big at first. It was a cluster of immense lacquered pods or gourds, leather tents, and peculiar wooden polyhedra, stretching between dozens of thinner spars and spikes of scoral. But it probably held about 20736 people.(⌘) A flat-world city would have needed land for 144 × 144 people, which is a lot of land. A three-dimensional city only requires space for 27 × 28 × 28 or so, which means it can be much more compact. (Actually many Hoven cities on the flattish world of Hove do this with very tall buildings where many hovens live packed tightly. They’re usually not very nice, and the hovens who live there hate it. (Also the landlords are generally dreadful people who make promises of good service that they never fulfil. I didn’t enjoy the week or two I spent in one of them.) But kysps naturally live in a three-dimensional state of mind, even if they have to cling to the sides of things rather than levitate.)

(⌘) That’s 124; Jyothky insists on duodecimal in all things. 20,000 is just as good an estimate. The actual number might be anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000, and that only if you trust Roroku’s powers of estimation. A census taken by the kysps some years later, after several population-modifying events, came up with 47,228. —BB and Jʸ.
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