Charlie finally saw the thick green hedge which fenced her small cottage house in the rainforest city. This city wasn't technically a city as far as she could discern. The thick rainforest that surrounded the city was constantly suffocating the enclosed area with thick green vines that grew quickly and vastly over the ancient structures and the occasionally exotic plant that sprung up in the cracks between the human structures. Despite the surface of untidiness was a calming sense of order. The trees grew only close enough the city so that a living ceiling of branches and leaves interconnected and left spaces through which bright, contrasting yellow sunlight or mellow blue moonlight could filter through and bath the city. Wild flowers, orchids and shrubs crowded around the bases of buildings or sprouted from hidden nooks where the soil had slowly built natural pots. Unlike many the other cities found throughout the regions, this one always provided a constant damped effect that allowed the occupants both light and shadow.
The girl loved the feeling of being able to be completely visible and in just a short pace she could hide her olive skin in the darkest shadows where the canopy grew so thickly that even the rain couldn't penetrate. As she walked she took a straight path that lead her through well known "black holes" into patches of moonlight that gave her red-brown her a luminous blue outline. She paused inside a black hole, the girl had named them such when she had been much younger after having lost the contents of bag after they had fallen out while passing through one of these spots. By the time she had run back with a torch all her possessions had been stolen, no doubt by a scam-obsessed merchant.
Breathing in the damp smell of the rainforest the girl continued her confident strides to her house. She couldn't see the actual cottage from here which pleased her. She had chosen this spot carefully and spent the short years growing the hedges, already monstrous and intricately woven, into the beautiful beasts they are now. Unbeknownst to the other residents the hedges actually provided the outside for her house. They were dense and strong having withstood the ravages of the seasons which could be as harsh here as any other region and they were moist.
When she was merely a fresh leaf in this region she had wondered why forest fires didn't break out more often. The truth was that most of the time this place was wet. It rained a lot but the forest held onto the moisture like a sponge. The air itself felt like water on hot days and anytime of the year made it difficult to start a campfire with the damp branches and sodden leaf litter.
She approached her lovely hedges noting the budding flowers that peppered the hedges on vines that twisted and turned throughout the hedges. The girl couldn't wait for the monsoon rains to come when they would lift their swollen buds to the sky and peel back their green, bearing vibrant mouths full of nectar to the sky. It was beautiful to watch as each bud would suddenly spring up burst open filling the air with a sweet aroma. Her olive, nail-bitten hand, reached out tenderly to the buds as she passed skimming over, but not touching, any buds within reach.
Her footsteps passed from the cobbled street to an old paved path that lead her through the pitch black tunnel and ended in a wooden door with a single brass reve knocker. With her right hand she deftly reached out to the doorhanger, twisting the fierce head to the right until she heard the heard the lock click. When she removed her hand the embellished head sprung back into position and glared at her with dull eyes. With easy she pushed the door on its greased hinges and slipped inside before shutting it and with a thud and listening to the lock click once more.
Inside she carefully brushed her hand across the leafy wall next to the door until she felt a plastic switch. She closed her eyes quickly before pressing it and the room instantaneously became filled with white light from the well placed lights that hung from the rafters. Opening her eyes she stood still for a brief moment, both adjusting her eyes to the fierce light and scanning her room for unwanted visitors. She had never worried about anyone trying to surprise her until after that dark merchant and now she was little more than just paranoid. Something just didn't add up in her mind.
Warm brown eyes skimmed the bare walls that were scattered with only a few dark leaves as compared to the outer counterparts. Their trunks hard and thick weaved back around each other occasionally reaching out of the wall in purposefully shapes upon which things hung or stood. The ceiling was made of carefully guided branches as they had grown throughout the seasons, helped along by a vyne, until they were as thick as men and arched in a graceful curve from one side of the house to the other. They were tightly packed so that each branch formed a tight seem with the other leaving not a single gap through which water or light could fall. Smaller branches artfully crossed horizontally with the ground not too far from the ceiling forming the strong rafters from which the lights hung and the cords wrapped around.
Taking a step forward she glanced over the sparse furniture of her house. A single set of stairs run up the far right corner into the rafters where her bed could be seen like a taught hammock filled with soft furs and reve feather pillows. Directly in front of her the lounges, chairs and rugs where arranged in a circle. They formed a large nest that rested in an indented floor and was the main sleeping area for the few pets she kept at home. There dozing bodies peacefully draped across the chairs or hid under the fur rugs that slowly rose and fell as they slept on.
Her paleo took a last sniff of the air and made a content chuckling noise, leaping into the air and gliding to land on an overstuffed tan rocking chair. Carefully the red and white raptor made a full circle on the spot and tucked itself up into a ball while stretching it's back legs out to avoid hurting itself with its deadly back claws. A tiny insi clicked in annoyance as it extracted itself from underneath the blissfully ignorant paleo and scrambled up the feathery hide and made a new bed in the crook of the paleo's back.
Smiling to herself, Charlie let herself relax and released a pent up sigh. Taking the left route to the kitchen that rested against the corner at the back she carefully took her shoulder bag of and hung it on a gnarled branch that protruded along this wall where most of her knick knacks were stored. Cutting across the open space behind the lounge she arrived at the opposite facing wall from which clothes hung and a doorway opened into a short leafy hallway to the bathroom and pet enclosures.
Walking along this wall she acquired her favourite summer dress that she wore any time of year that hung from a ceiling branch. The dress was getting old, not from age but from overuse. The right strap was pulling apart at the seam where it attached to the dress and the bottom was a little tattered from exploring. A little further along this wall she pulled a large black towel from inside one of the many crevices that lined her house as well as underwear from another smaller crevice. These crevices were rather rectangular in size with a flat bottom yet were completely composed of intertwined branches like everything else.
Swiftly stripping of in the warm, well insulated house the girl securely walked down the hallway to the bathroom were she showered in her rather modern, out-of-place shower bath. A small natural vent where the branches didn't overlap each other as thickly allowed the steam to escape rather than accumulate and destroy the wood. The girl scrubbed her feet which she always left bear even while exploring and now sported hard, thick pad like heels. Her long copper brown hair reached past her belly button and provided a great deal of effort to wash and then comb through. Pushing on the two-way glass door she emerged into the cold, ventilated bathroom followed by a fragrant smell of spring flowers.
A quick rub down with the towel and in practised ease she wrapped her hair up with the cloth. Quickly she dressed and removed the towel from her hair which was only slightly drier than before and proceeded out the wooden door and down into the enclosures which extended in tunnels under her house. Like all storage areas in Aywas, the enclosures actually took up a lot more space than appears from the blueprints. This section of the house should extend for miles but instead everything, the free-run areas, the cages, and the storage areas were contained neatly under her house in only one level thanks to the compressing technology of this world. This technology played with space, compressing and expanding areas beyond reality yet it was real and widely used.
Unlike the ground level of her house, the enclosures were made solely from compressed rich, brown earth. She had had the leisure to build overly large sized cages which housed two to three pets at the least and fill them with all many of toys to occupy them. Each cage was composed of three dirt walls and a front wall that held a glass window that reached from halway to the celing. In this wall a similar glass and wood door was positioned in the dead center.
She walked along well-light hallway until she was standing in front of a large, mesh door. Inside the room she gathered all the supplies she would need for the daily tasks inside of medium cart. Most of her supplies consisted of fresh meat, vegetables and grains for the animals while a pitchfork and mop were attached to the side. Double checking the contents of the cart and feeling satisfied she wheeled the heavy cart out of the double doors.
Pulling the cart behind herself she approached the first line of cages which housed the oakls. She went past the first few cages and stopped at number six-eight-six-eight. Unlocking this cage she stepped inside and was greeted immediately by a wet tongue. The red oakl with heart markings flicked its ears back in a content expression as the girl rubbed it's side viciously. She then retreated back to the cage door with the oakls neck under arm, guiding it into the hallway. The girl attached the halter to the oakl and they began their rounds, cleaning, feeding and interacting with the hundreds of pets under her house.