Balance

Another Day In Hell
Mature Subject Matter Post Rated R... be warned

14th of Coldeven 382 ONT, Beaches just south of Hellrick

Tiril walked among the wolfships with a basket in her hand, the river eddies had gone out and she scoured the beach for freshwater clams. Every so often she would look down the beach to assure her daughter did not tarry too far. The girl held a basket identical to her own, and was quick about her work. Tiril did not have much time this morning, the Oldvik was not a forgiving man, and had little patience with those who were tardy. The thick morning fog lazily danced on the river as it slowly seeped out of the town. She pulled her furs closer around her, it was cold; and it would be late Readying before any true warmth visited Hellrick. She bent down and collected another clam, hefting her basket, experimentally, if Stina collected half as much then they would be fine she considered

“Morning Tiril” a voice called from the deck of one of the beached vessels. She turned and smiled seeing Jarl Orest. The old sea wolf was standing towards the stern of his vessel with a steaming cup in his hand and a thick bear hide wrapped around him.

“Morning Orest, you are up early” she called back to him

“It is in the early morn when the most beautiful of sights are to be seen” the old sailor called giving her a hungry appraising look

“Poetry is not your strong suit Orest, stick to weapons and ships” she said with a laugh

“Any time you like Tiril I am happy to show you my mighty weapon” he said making a crude gesture to accompany his witty words. She was about to respond with an equally crude joke when Orest stood straight and began to gasp

“Orest? Orest are you ok?” she called taking a few steps towards the ship. The old man seemed to be flailing his arms over his head trying to reach something behind him. She took another step forward, then stopped as he fell forward, revealing a large javelin in his back. Her eyes popped open wide as she looked around in a panic. Further down the beach she saw large Wolfships, three of them, with red and yellow sails come out of the mist. On instinct Tiril dropped her basket and through herself flat. She her two arrows thump into the ship behind her, and a cold hand grapped her heart as panic began to rise. She crawled on her belly back the way she had come, back to where she had last seen Stina picking her way through the tidal pools

“STINA!” she called “STINA!” her daughter did not answer her. She could her the war cry’s of the men as the jumped from their vessels; axe, sword or spear in hand with large shields as they charged up the beaches towards the settlement Hellrick. “Machra, lend me your Icey furry” she prayed as she scrambled to her feet and began to race down the beach. “STINA! STINA!” she yelled. She heard the gentle rush of air as the wolfships of Hellrick were set alight, now the city bells were ringing, but much damage would be done before her people could muster any kind of real defense. She cast her eyes about for her daughter, desperately trying penetrate the mist and the smoke “STINA”

“MOR! MOR!” she heard her daughters call, screaming for her mother. Tiril raced through the mists to find her. There being dragged by two brutes, her shirt half ripped from her chest was young Stina. A deep rage ran through Tiril as she charged her daughters assailants empty handed. They heard her roar and one turned laughing easily as she approached

“Looks like we won’t have to share after all” the one with axe said. He companion smirked easily throwing Stina over she shoulder and wielding his sword one handed. Tiril flung herself at the axe wielder grabbing his beard and pulling him down with her as she barreled into him and fell to the ground. The man staggered and flung her off, but not before she could pull the long knife from his belt. The two stood and faced off against each other. A large chunk of the man’s beard had been ripped from his face and now it openly bled. “You’ll pay for that bitch”. He said stepping forward and swinging his axe at her. She side stepped the blow and two other, her eyes always locked on the other man who was loading her daughter onto his ship. She stepped under a swing and slashed with the knife, she felt it connect likely breaking several links of the man’s chainmail but having no other real effect. The man stepped in close and balled his fist punching her in the nose. She felt it crack and her eyes began to well as blood poured freely. He followed up the maneuver by smacking her in the temple with the haft of his axe, her knees went weak under the blow and she fell, the man throwing himself on top of her and ripping at her clothes. She shook the daze from her vision and clawed at the man as she felt her breeches begin to rip.

“MOR!” she heard the distant call of her daughter, the fear in her child’s voice and felt a new strength come upon her she screamed in rage reversing the grip on her dagger and plunged it down hard, harder then she thought was possible, it went right through his steel helm and his skull. The would be rapist stared at her blankly as he slumped forward dead.

“NO!” she screamed as she shimmied and struggled to crawl out from under him. She focused using every ounce of strength she had and rolled the beast off of her. She could hear the sound of her people now, she could hear the fight taking place along the beach. She staggered to her feet, taking a moment to claim the axe of her assailant. Then off into the smoke and mists, she raced towards the ship she had heard her daughter cry from. Making it to the edge of the mighty river. The ship has cast off already and was rowing away “STINA! STINA!” she screamed as she raced along the river bank, desperately trying to catch the ship…. “STINA I’M COMING!” she cried as she watched her life sail away.

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Fixing the Chain of Command Pt 6

13th of Coldeven 11:37am 382 ONT, Ice Flows

The crew of the Champions Boot assembled on the foredeck of the ship. The only one not present was the captain who seemed to ill to get out of his bed. The officers lined up on either side of the crew as the Master Gunner tied Prancer’s hand to his rope around the mast, his shirt had been removed and he had sworn he would not untangle the ropes. Aurellia turned to him, unhappy about the situation and offered him a small dowel of wood.

“Bite down on it, trust me, it’s for the better” she knew he had been in the mines but his back was unblemished and his noble upbringing made it unlikely that he had ever been disciplined like this before. He nodded to her and took the dowel in his mouth, keeping his chin high.

The crew stood waiting as Thitmed warmed up with the whip, an item no one aside from Haturtt or Belinda had ever seen him use. His first few strokes were sloppy as he cracked it out over the side of the deck, but after a few more the muscle memory kicked in and he seemed confident he would deliver solid clean hits.

“This is Stupid, clearly it is not Harolds fault, I will end this myself” Miriel said angry at what was happening. Thalion put a gentle arm on her shoulder and shook her head

“This is a very old custom, if you get involved it will be much much worse” the elf said, knowing the Strix spoke out of concern and not insubordination. Thitmed stepped forward and addressed the crew

“Some of you are new to this ship, others have traveled with me for some time now, whenever you joined I believe it was made clear that on this ship, order and decorum will be maintained. MY CREW DOES NOT BRAWL! MY CREW DOES NOT SETTLE DISAGREMENTS WITH SWORDS AND GUNS! My crew works together, and has officers to sort such disagreements.” The dwarfs eyes locked with each and every crew member before turning back to face Prancer’s exposed back “Harold Forbes, you are convicted pf brawling and trying to kill a member of my crew. Your punishment is a reduction of rations and fifteen lashes to be carried out forthwith, do you have anything to say?…” he waited a long pause but nothing came from the bound sailor. “So be it… Bosun, Count the Lashings as they land”

“Aye sir” Flitt said in a subdued voice

CRACK

“ONE”

CRACK

“TWO”

CRACK

“THREE”

The crew winced as bloody tracks began to appear on Prancer’s back

CRACK

“NINE”

CRACK

“TEN”

There was a brief pause as Prancer had slumped to his knees under the blows, Thitmed was not a cruel man and allowed the sailor to settle before the next blow landed. He noted the sniffles of the crying Cabin boy and the tears being forced back from Mandy’s eyes, but stoically ignored them, there had to be order on this ship, without it, they were all lost

CRACK

“FOURTEEN”

CRACK

“FIFTEEN, all fifteen blows completed Sir” Flitt called out. Thitmed stopped and rubbed his shoulder

“I consider this matter closed Mr. Forbes, Master Gunner, release Mr. Forbes, Kempia, see to it that his wounds don’t get infected, no magical healing or pain relief is to be offered without my direct say so” Aurellia stepped up quickly and helped Prancer out of his bindings and brought him over to Miriel who supported him as he hobbled to the Priestess. “Master Gunner, lash Mr. Craw to the mast please.” Aurellia was a little less gentle with Craw as she fastened him to the mast, but she still offered him the dowel, he nodded taking it.

“Sailor secured sir” She said as she stepped back into line

“Baker Craw, you are convicted of brawling, and disregarding a duty shift. Your punishment is a reduction of rations and ten lashes to be carried out forthwith, do you have anything to say?…” again he waited a long pause, when no response came he called again “Bosun, count the lashings as they land”

“Aye Sir” Flitt offered again

CRACK

“ONE”

CRACK

“TWO”

CRACK

“THREE”

To his credit, the large man never cried out in pain, never gave more then a grunt with each landed blow, he held his feet and absorbed his punished

CRACK

“NINE”

CRACK

“TEN”

“TEN LASHES COMPLETED SIR” Flitt called out

“I consider this matter closed Mr. Craw, Master Gunner, release Mr. Craw, Kempia, see to it that his wounds don’t get infected, again I want no magical healing or pain relief without my direct order” Aurellia stepped forward and helped the large man from his bindings, she offered an arm but he shook his head and walked on his own to the Kempia. Thitmed watched the Priestess look them over “Are they ok Kempia?” she looked the wounds over once more before turning to the First Mate and nodding, she did not seem phased by this punishment. “Good” the Dwarf said “Bosun, these two are on duty until I say otherwise, hard labour for the rest of today, I will be very disappointed if I see them doing anything that is not backbreaking labour”

“Aye Sir, right away sir” Flitt called stepping forward

“Let this be a lesson to the rest of you, I will not tolerate these actions on my ship again, nor will I be so lenient next time… Dismissed” he called as the crew saluted. The dwarf coiled his whip and stalked off to his cabin, in a mood blacker then Talibs cowl

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Fixing the Chain of Command Pt 5

13th of Coldeven 10:54am 382 ONT, Ice Flows

Mandy had been underwater for a long time now, she only had another twenty or so minutes before her spell of water breathing would end, then she would have to see about getting another one, she tried to work faster but was only three quarters finished. There had been a sizeable about of damage along the stern keel with several micro leaks and a lot of drag from shards. If things were going to come down to speed later she owed it to her crew to have the best smoothest haul possible. She took out her chisel pulling off a half sundered board, she had learned the tricks of her hammer, she could not fix the ship, but when something was no longer attached, it wasn’t the ship anymore, she could then fix that piece and then reinstall it. It made the work slower but still satisfying.

“Human Child, Human Child, Ours to have, Ours to hold… under the ice”

Mandy spun around to look into the black, she fished the glow rod from her vest and held it high casting the light as far as it could… she saw nothing, had she really heard that? It had been so faint almost like the sound of wind on ice, but still… Bosun Rogard has always said ‘if your gut is telling you something, its best to listen to it’ she held her hammer high in her other hand and scanned the area carefully ready to tug her rope should the need arise.


Prancer hopped down from the mast and patted Paolo on the shoulder

“Not bad kid” he said warmly “We may just make a sailor out of you yet” the kid beamed under the praise “now head below decks and grab us both a tea or at least some warm water, once we’ve had a little break I’ll show you where we stow the emergency sails and how those work” the Halfling boy nodded and scooted off to the mess leaving Prancer a moment to stretch and look about, his eyes cast up and down the deck until they settled on Horatio and Baker. Horatio was holding a rope and staring over the side of the ship, he appeared to be fishing with a thick cord… Baker sat, he back against the railing, crossbow beside him smoking some rolled Tabaco. Figuring the two were on break as well Prancer wandered up hoping to get to know his fellow crewmates a bit better. “Gentlemen” he said nodding as he perched on a nearby crate. Both nodded back to him but little more. Prancer reached a little deeper to start up the conversation “Not too bad a morning considering we’re staring down the Don-Tonian Navy huh?” Horatio spoke first

“Not bad at all, at all, at all, I am worried but that is because I think it is good to worry, cause Mouskins needs to be safe, and I was told we were going to be safe, but I don’t feel like it is as safe as they said and…” the little guy went on for a bit. After Paolo came back with the tea he sipped his, and had near finished it when something occurred to him

“Where’s Mandy? I thought you two were working with her this morning?”

“The little fire cracker?” Craw asked taking a swing from his water skin “she’s below working on the ship” Prancer stared at him for a minute, putting together what was going on

“If she’s below, shouldn’t you be on watch then?” Prancer asked, his brows furrowing

“Meh, the gnome’s on the rope, it’s fine…” he didn’t get any further, a brown leather boot kicked him square in the jaw.

“By Talib’s shrunken member you ugly piece of sailors skid” Prancer swore… Paolo took a step back, he had never seen the jovial fellow like this before, Horatio turned to watch the events unfold. Baker was on his feet in a flash, coming up with an uppercut that connect and sent the swashbuckler staggering back a few feet.

“You’re in it now you monster humping priss” Craw said ripping a long knife from his scabbard and squaring off. Prancer quickly drew his rapier and set it to the on guard position

“My father said you have nothing to fear from a lazy man. Now you will apologize to Mandy for your negligence and then beg for my lover mercy for your foul tongue else I will cut it out and present it to her”

“Your Love? You mean that scantily clad Strix whore?” Craw said, he was ready for Prancer, but perhaps not as ready as he thought, the one armed sailor was surprisingly good with the rapier and he quickly found himself on the defensive, and bleeding from a lucky shoulder strike.


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“Human Child, Human Child, Ours to have, Ours to Hold, forget your life, forget your friends, ours to hold under the ice” the voices were definitely real. She tugged on her rope again, still she wasn’t being pulled up. With her tool belt, hammer and supplies it made swimming all but impossible and she wasn’t strong enough to climb with all of her equipment. She scanned again, and then just on the fringe of the sea floor she saw them. Two of three creatures all sickly thin and pale, wearing shards of former clothing, with long gaunt faces and black orbs for eyes. “Human Child, Human Child, Ours to have ours to hold…” their song was sickly with an unearthly melody that made one want to give up and just surrender. Her hammer throbbed in her hand, she was scared.


Thitmed stood on the bridge his eyes locked into the spyglass watching Mirel wheel and turn In Sync with the elf and his bird. “Good” he nodded to himself, another few practices and the two might just have it, that girl Rikka might not be the most useless elf he’d ever met after all. It was then that he noted an abrupt change of course from Thalion, he had broken off from the exercise and was b lining right for the bridge. “Gods be damned” the dwarf swore, what could it be now. The eagle didn’t even land, just passed close enough to the bridge for the elf to drop off, then turned and circled the ship “Cutting it a bit short don’t ya think?” Thitmed asked as the elf steadied himself from the jump

“Mandy,” the elf said with a tone of worry “She’s in trouble, where is she?” Thitmed screwed his face up remembering as he turned back to the ship

“She’s working on repairs with… What in the Gods be damned sea?” as he turned he saw the duel taking place on the starboard deck he said nothing to Thalion who was hot on his heels just scooped up his axe and raced down to the deck.

“Mandy?” Thalion called as they approached but the elves words were lost as Thitmed bellow a terrible roar

“DID YOUR BRAINS GET SMASHED ON DUMATHIONS FORGE! BY YOLO’S AXE I WILL HAVE THE HEAD OF ANY MAN STILL HOLDING A WEAPON WHEN I GET TO THE MIZZEN MAST!” the roar thundered across the ship, causing Aurellia and Robinson on the bow to look back and quickly hurry to see what was going on. Whatever the quarrel had been between Prancer and Baker, neither questioned the first mates earnestness in his threat as both had sheathed their weapons and stepped back as he approached. Craw had not managed to land a blow on Prancer, but he had a few razor cuts for his efforts. “WHAT IN THE GOOD GODS OF ALL DO YA THINK YER DOIN?” Thitmed bellowed as he approached. He was vaguely aware that Thalion and Horatio were working on the ropes but he didn’t care just then, his focus was on these two idiots.

“Hit kicked me in the face sir” Craw said coming to attention

“He was being derelict in his duties, and he punched me” Prancer hollered back standing at attention himself

“He cut me sir, here, here and here” Craw said point to the several cuts he had received

“It’s not my fault he is terrible with a sword” Prancer shot back

“I’ll show you terrible with a sword!” Baker said stepping forward and pulling a knife, at the same time Prancer took a step forward his rope arm extending. Thitmed spun quickly the flat of his axe slamming into Bakers blade hand forcing the warrior to drop his knife, he continued the spin balling a fist and stepping into the blow landing a solid punch to Prancers nose. The human fell back under the weight of the thud.

“MASTER GUNNER!” Thitmed Hollered

“Aye” Aureelia said approaching cautiously

“If that man moves more than a hair, his hands even bleed in the direction of another weapon shoot him!”

“Aye Sir” She said pulling her pistol and pointing it at Bakers Head

“Robinson, hold Prancer, if her struggles crush him!” Thitmed ordered

“Aye Sir” The Half ogre said, pulled Prancer to his feet and pinning his arms in a bear hug

“Fighting on my ship, with weapons! In all my years, I can’t believe anything so stupid, we are staring down the gods be damned navy of Don-Ton and yer brawling on my deck! CABIN BOY!” he yelled as his tired hit new heights! The Halfling boy stepped forward nervously “go to me quarters lad, on the wall there is a large dusty whip, get it for me quickly” the boy nodded and took off. Thitmed glared at the two idiots who were both still breathing heavily

“Craw, brawling on my ship doesn’t happen, you try it again you’ll be swimming home, got it?” Craw glared at Prancer, but nodded his understanding to the first mate. “Good, Prancer, I expected better of ya, where was yer father’s wisdom on brawling like a village simpleton?” Prancer merely hung his head in shame, the First Mate continued “Craw, 10 lashes for brawling. Prancer 15 for starting it and drawing blood with a weapon, and since you both have so much energy you can be damned sure that you lost your rations for the next two days! This is over, understood?” both men mumbled assents


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Mandy felt the creatures getting closer, she was feeling the urge to untie her harness and join them, to just give into their song “Human Child, Human Child, Ours to Have, Ours to Hold…” she was picking at her harness, trying to get it undone when she felt herself being lifted… “no…” she didn’t have the energy to fight it, she felt kinda strange, but she didn’t want to leave either. She felt herself break out of the water and was being lifted towards the deck, she looked down at the icy blue and saw the creature staring back at her

“Soon, human child, soon”

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Fixing the Chain of Command Pt 4

13th of Coldeven 10:13am 382 ONT, Ice Flows

Mandy watched has Miriel, Thalion and Eltheron took flight once more, they flew low along the ice flows until they were well out of view of the Don-Tonian Navy ships, then began a series of aerial maneuvers. She had seen them talking carefully with Mr. Ironbraid and Ms. Ananke and knew they were practicing for some kind of special assault. She wondered briefly why they were sticking around instead of running through the Ice Flows, but assumed that the Officers knew what they were doing and had a plan of some sort. She shook her head straight and went about her work, presenting herself to the the Kempia for the spells.

“It is not a preferred action of mine to prepare spells associated with water young Doyle, please do not make this a regular occurrence” The Kempia said in a tone that donated razor thin tolerance

“It won’t be, I just need to check the keel plating to see how bad it was banged up when we launched the ship” Mandy responded. She headed over to the main mast where the majority of crew were assembled for the day.

“Morning Mandy, bit chilly today no?” Flitt greeted her, she had learned he wasn’t a fan of the cold. She smiled back at him,

“I’m ok, who do you need for your roaster today… I could really use Prancer and if Ms. Ouellette has time, her as well” Mandy offered

“Sorry Mandy,” Aurellia said with a frown, “I am still sighting in the bombard, and those muskets that were left in poor condition, beyond that Thitmed has Robinson and I on standby for some master plan of his, we are training on the bombard all day to get our reload time down”

“Rough take Mandy” Prancer said putting his hand on her shoulder, “Bosun just ordered me to take Paolo up and down the sails and show him how to re-secure when it’s torn… nice to be on your pick list though” he said offering her a winning smile. Mandy took a deep breath seeing things going a little sideways from her plans but forced on a smile

“That’s ok Prancer… ummm… Flitt maybe you could give me a hand, I am working on the keel after all and…” the Grippli was already shaking his head

“Bity and are ordered on a scouting mission, there isn’t much under the ice, but if we can find anything to eat we are gonna grab it and bring it back… I’ll try and poke in on you when I can though. Oh and make sure you have a spotter too, you never know what’s creeping around down there in the dark… ouch” he grimaced as Aurellia punched him in the arm and shot him a glare, Mandy was quick to intercede

“That’s ok, I’m not afraid… I guess I will work with…” she did a mental calculation of who was left “ummm Mr. Riley and…” she couldn’t help let out a small sigh “Mr. Craw” she noted he at least looked equally unhappy.

The Bosun finished his duty briefing and the team broke apart, many were lagging, half rations sucked, Hatrutts thrice used tea bags were beginning to wear thin as well. This was the worst time for rationing, when there is still lots of food in the hold but everyone is going with less. She headed over to the starboard side with Mr. Riley and Mr. Craw and went about organising her ropes and systems.

“ok, I will be heading underwater to inspect the keel line, starting at the bow and heading steadily stern. Mr. Riley, you are my rope man, if you feel me tug three times please pull me up in a hurry, understand?” Mandy explained

“I can pull ropes, I am very good a pulling ropes, all you have to do is tug the rope and I can pull it, everyone says I can pull the ropes cause I am good at pulling them…” she listened to the gnome mumble a few times more about his rope pulling skill and took that as a positive before turning to Mr. Craw

“I need you to please be my spotter, who knows what’s down there. Have your crossbow ready to fire on anything that looks menacing, if you’re unsure, pull me up, I would rather be interrupted then eaten” she said working hard to keep a positive tone

“Sure, whatever” Craw said, rolling a cigarette, she waiting a long moment seeing no action from him

“So… get your crossbow please” Mandy urged, a hint of annoyance in her voice. The large human glared at her as he finished rolling his cigarette, he took his time for a long slow drag before casually heading towards the locker and pulling out his crossbow and leaning against the railing

“At your ready sweet cheeks” Craw said in a fake nice tone. Mandy ignored him, put on her harness and secured her tools before stepping over the side of the ship and signalling to Mr. Riley to lower her down.

“Good Luck” the little gnome offered as she disappeared into the dark cold waters

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Fixing the Chain of Comand Pt 3

13th of Coldeven 8:19am 382 ONT, Ice Flows

Mandy sat beside the Captains Bed wiping is brow and cleaning it off the sweat that continued to form there. He was so pale, so weak, she was scared for him. In the past when she had had a problem the Captain had always been there to listen to her, now she wasn’t even sure if he was awake.

“He doesn’t listen to me, he just sees me as a cabin boy, I think they all just see me as Mandy the cabin boy, sure they are happy when I fix things, but to them I am stuck as a little girl… I don’t know what I should do… Mr. Ironbraid and the rest of them are so busy, I feel like I would be bothering them with this… I don’t know” Mandy wiped his brow again, and to her surprise the Captain began to speak

“Florem iuvenum flos cito cupis My sweet young Elora, non esse naturae donis concessis, but it is time and experience that are what truly make a sailor, scit enim cantavit et hic sensus est. Camus is of another land, he hails from a human education and sees you as lesser because of this. Et fortis æmulator est Elora, Dux autem vobis, quia unus dies of the North West Feather and he will always be a rigger. Those who do not understand potential often fear it and seek to snuff it out. Ne per media sua sunt dryadalem eris iniuriae civium, you are of the proud line of Cailana; per flumina, per venas quam quod faciunt contra terram. In a few short decades he will be old and grumbling by a fire whilst you lead your crew across the seas to find the long lost horizon. Omnia sperantibus Elora, Omnia Serantibus…” the captain drifted off there and Mandy scrunched up her face in frustration, her elvish wasn’t that good yet and she had only caught about every other sentence.

In the past when the Captain gave her advice he often spoke in parables and metaphors, but she wasn’t sure that he was even speaking with her, she looked to his wall where the portrait of Elora Cailana hung, Captain Folas’s youngest daughter, Mr Ironbraid had told her, she had died during the great invasion and had gone down with his ship the North West Feather. She closed her eyes and wept for her Captain. Elves were supposed to be immortal, she could not imagine world without the captain in it… was it selfish to hope that he hung on for just a few more decades? She wouldn’t live that long, not compared to what the Captain considered a blink of an eye… not the way Sir Thalion or Ms. Ananke spoke. She felt a lump of shame stir in her stomach, and hung her head. How many humans, halflings, gnomes and dwarves had the captain stewarded in and out of this world? Nobly protecting them and allowing them to leave with the peace that he was there taking care of things, and now she wanted the same. He had no family left, they had all died in the war, it was just her and this little crew. NO she decided, she would take care of him, he would be treated with honour and respect, but he would know that they would be ok after he was gone, that at least, no matter what happened Mandy Doyle would be here looking after things. That meant not complaining about little problems anymore, putting her head down and getting the job done. no matter how mean some people were.

She stood up placing the captains tea pot near his bed so he could reach it if he woke and was thirsty. Then she reached into her pouch and pulled out the roll she hadn’t eaten at breakfast, it wasn’t much of a meal today, but she’d been an orphan and was used to dealing with less, the Captain needed to get his strength back. She placed the role beside his tea pot. Wiped the tears from her eyes and kissed the sleeping elf on the forehead. She was the Master Carpenter of the Champions Boot, and her Captain needed the ship fixed, even if she had to fix it all by herself, she’d get it done!

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Fixing the Chain of Comand Pt 2

13th of Coldeven 6:45am 382 ONT, Ice Flows

The ship had been a rustle of activity since last night, Belinda didn’t know what was going on, but the new girl Rikka seemed to have hatched a scheme and she, Thitmed, Miriel and Thalion had been back and forth in several meetings throughout the night.

“Come along Paolo, I need your help in the rear store, I want us to go over the rice count again.” The little Halfling boy groaned but followed with his shoulders slumped. She pitied him he was homesick, his cousin had been sent off on the Backward Thrust, and his rations were scant, all in all he was having a miserable time. Belinda had taken him on as a personal helper, the crew were too busy to be formally training him and too tense and quick to snap at his ignorance, it was better he helped her and learned a bit of the ship until the bosun could start his formal training. The two their way across the bow deck towards the stair below when she caught the tail end of an exchange.

“Mr. Craw, I needed these planks cut an hour ago, why didn’t you do it” Mandy said cheeks flushed red

“I told you an hour ago little Miss, that I wasn’t following yer orders, cut your own damn planks” Craw responded with a sneer. Belinda stopped and leaned against the mast to watch the scene unfold. She watched as Flitt, recently finishing working with Aurellia to reinstall the Bombard on its bow stand came hopping along the deck.

“Problem?” the Grippli asked as he was heading by

“Just trying to get these planks cut Mr. Fargazer” Mandy said with a note of anger. If Flit caught the anger he didn’t show it

“Mandy, Aurellia wants you to take a look at the bombard stand and make sure the casings will hold, Baker, get these planks cut for Mandy”

“Right away Bosun” Baker said with no tone of malice and a quick salute, Mandy glared at him all the more as she gathered up her tools and dragged her feet over to Aurellia. Flitt seeing all running smooth headed off to his next task. Belinda sighed, come along Paolo, let’s get those rice stores counted.

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Fixing the Chain of Comand Pt 1

12th of Coldeven 7:15pm 382 ONT, Ice Flows

Mandy wiped the sweat from her brow as she oversaw another long plank wedged into place. They were making good progress, another few hours and the entire oar line would be operational, another day and it would actually look good. She looked around and the group assembled.

“Ok team, that looks pretty good there, Mr. Ward if you could please head up on deck and man the ropes, I can get the tar cooking. Mr. Craw I am afraid I am going to need you to please head over the side once it’s ready and tar the seams” she said the latter with an apologetic tone, it would not be a fun job, but it needed to be done. The sharp nosed human glared at her, and she unconsciously took a step back

“No” he said with a slight edge of menace in his voice. Mandy wasn’t entirely sure how to respond to that, suddenly there was a lot of tension in the air

“Ummm… Mr. Craw? We have all been taking our fair share of the crummy jobs, and I think it’s your turn, so if you could please head up on deck with Mr. Ward I would sure appreciate it” Mandy tried again, and gave him one of her winning smiles, the kind she usually reserved for Belinda or Hatrutt when she was in trouble. This time the large armed human took a sudden step forward, she hated that she flinched, he leaned in right close

“I said no, I didn’t sign on to be taking orders from a little girl…”

“Whoa Whoa Whoa…” Robinson perked up with a forced laugh “Things got a little tense all of the sudden, I don’t know about you guys, but I know I can get a little cranky when I’m on half rations… don’t you guys… huh” The big half ogre tried to make eye contact with both Mandy and Baker, and where Mandy gave him a little nod, Baker didn’t break his stare or his scowl “We’re all in this together… right” Robinson added

“She wants the ship tared she hang her boney ass over the ice and tar it” Baker said, his tone still hostile. Mandy was mad, but she didn’t know what to do.

“Ummm… fine I guess, Mr. Ward would you mind working the ropes for me, while I tar the seams?” Mandy asked looking away from Baker Craw

“No Problem at all” Robinson replied, happy that the tension had been averted.

“Good” Baker said as he turned and left Mandy and Robinson to clean up the tools and finish the job.

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Do or do not, maybe we can try...

12th of Coldeven 6pm 382 ONT, lost at sea.

The ship was too small for there to be much in the way of privacy and when one is leaning over the side ‘feeding the fish’ with the little she’d eaten since boarding the Champion’s Boot she’d overheard almost all of what was going down with the Don-Ton warships and the state of their food supplies. None of it was good news and Rikka was feeling more than a little useless since coming aboard beyond being another mouth for them to feed.

Not even Alyss would see her yet, still grieving over her lost love and probably angry that Rikka had taken all of her pointy object away. She was a Honalian though and magic dropped from their very essence so if she’d really wanted to end things there was not much Rikka could’ve done. No, Rikka wanted to comfort her and give the woman an ear willing to listen and hear the story of their lives together and their love. Someone who could remind Alyss of the good they’d had and that giving up would be an insult to the sacrifice he’d made for her. Well that and apologize again for not getting back in time. She’d been cautious fearing to be caught again and thrown in another suit. It meant the knight had died.

‘It won’t help. Apologizing to her I mean. She needs time to come around on her own and you made the choice that had the best chance of getting you and the knight out of there in one piece. No one else stayed to help him.’ Rikka could only nod glumly as her sword intruded in on her brooding thoughts. It was comforting in its own way. ‘The fact that you dwell on it so much shows how much you cared but it won’t change what has been. Show them you are not just baggage they’ve been saddled with. Show them what only you can do and come up with.’

Ok, it was mildly inspirational and enough for Rikka to pull her thoughts back to the matter at hand. They were being blockaded in the ice by the Dontonians and running out of supplies to the point where they might not all make it even if they managed to get past the blockade. “I need a drink!” Rikka exclaimed and went back below deck to do exactly that. She’d had some of her best, and worst, plans while drinking and the mess with a splash of whiskey in hand was as close to a tavern as she was going to get for a while. It was also warmer and cozy with the lantern light making the shadows dance around her.

She began by making a mental list of all their assets both materiel and otherwise in her head and trying to fit the pieces together in a way that would form the key to unlock the puzzle and lead them to an escape where they didn’t all die. It wasn’t until Robinson’s large frame blocked the lantern light that she finally had her epiphany. “Hey big guy, you busy for the next little bit? I’m in need of your brain to help me solve something.” He looked tired but nodded and Rikka smiled, “Great! Here, have this.” She slid her drink ration over to the half-ogre sad to see it go but knowing it was sacrificed for the greater good. She’d mourn its passing in the proper way when they reached port safely by drowning her sorrows at its loss by consuming an entire bottle herself.

“I’ve become very interested in boats since I came on board this one,” “Ships,” he interrupted and Rikka waved it off in her excitement to explain herself. “So yeah ships like this one and the ones the Don Ton navy use. They’re very different in appearance and layout but I was wondering how different. And you have been on both. So I was hoping you could tell me about how they set up the inside of their ships like where do they eat, sleep, store their food and other goods that aren’t gunpowder and the like. I’ve got a plan and if it works we won’t have to fight them at all and they will go home on their own.” A dangerous plan but it was the one that offered the greatest reward for a calculated amount of risk.

It took a little while to get what she needed from Robinson but then it was off to find their resident flyer, one Miriel by name and strix by birth. There wasn’t many places one could hide with wings like hers though when Rikka found Miriel she was staring at the tattoo on her stomach as if something on it would move if she looked away or blinked. It was a well done and intricate tattoo to be sure but Rikka didn’t really think it was more than that. She’d seen the eidolon summoned and the spell to greatly enhance the Strix’s ability to carry used and once her patience had worn down enough to clear her throat and ask Miriel more about what kinds of magic and spells she could use suddenly Paprikka’s plan got that much closer to being a workable thing. One last look over the manifest of magical gear she’d made and Rikka was ready to bring it to the First Mate’s attention. The dwarf was going to be a challenge given the way he stormed about the deck like ‘Chīsana amagumo’ her sword suggested and she nodded. But the worst he could really say is no and they would be right where they are now.

So off she went to find him and find she did in the same dour modd she’d yet to see leave his features. In fact if she had to say he only had three expressions; annoyed, mad and really angry. So far he was only at annoyed. “Mister Ironbraid sir,” Rikka finished climbing up to the bridge and hesitated as his expression darkened towards anger.

“You’ve got ten seconds to get off me bridge before I throw you off the ship.”

“But you rarely come down and I need to speak to you.”

“Six seconds left. Port or starboard?” The dwarf cracked his knuckles and stepped towards her.

“Even if it meant losing out on a way to not only resupply but send the Dontonian ship running for home without firing a single shot?” Rikka stood her ground but the words of a spell were going to be the next on her lips if he continued any closer. But her words caught him curious enough to listen and he stopped.

“You’ve got my attention until something comes up. Then I toss you off my bridge if I don’t like what you’re saying.”

“Right, well here it goes.” Rikka took a deep breath and launched into her plan. “So I had Robinson go over the internal layout of the Dontonian ships as to where they keep their foodstuffs and the easiest ways inside. With the frist light of the morning, when the sun is low on the horizon have Ser Thalion and Elthoron harass the ship from the sun side. This’ll make it difficult for them to hit and they are both well versed on dodging from what I saw fleeing the castle. While they have the attention of the Dontonian ship, Miriel and I will slip on board invisibly and flying. We’ll head down below and right to where the food is kept. One ant haul spell, some large netting and her ability to portal away later and she has all their food and winging back to the Champion’s boot. I get out with what I can carry and we solve our food problem. They can’t keep up the blockade without food and turn back to resupply and seeing as how the other two ships just left they won’t be thinking of sending any other ones out here for a few days and we escape in that window of time.”

“Now, things could go badly too and that is why we’d have Mr Flitt and his shark below the surface to intercept us or any food we might toss over if needed. I’d use the rod of the Aboleith to help swim away if that was the only way and the brilliant helm for the interesting powers it has if we had to fight our way out. Miriel would blast out their ship from within using that ring if she needs to and I also have my euphoric cloud spell to fill the hull with a hallucinogenic to keep them confused. If they have a war wizard we hit them with the force bead and trap them inside while we escape. Miriel and the food would be the priority and I would cover their escape. Ser Thalion could signal the Champion’s boot to bring some firepower into the mix if things are really and truly desperate and with Miss Aurelia at the cannon it would not take long for them to decide a retreat was in order. And once away with the food they cannot follow us in here and can no longer wait for us to come out.” Rikka paused for a moment going back over things in her head wanting to not miss anything and added, “In the end, with Miriel’s ability to port away you are only truly risking me and that loss would mean more food for the others. Not that I want to be caught or die or plan on it but I believe the risk to your crew to be minimal and the possible reward to be more than worth it. it also keeps your passengers safe.”

“Also the wizard Ser Thalion and I met with back in Don Ton said he would be popping in for a visit to read something if we made it out of the harbor so there is still the chance that he will and can be convinced to send us some food or something. Though I thought he was lazy and too well off to be all that reliable.”

She watched close for a reaction from Thitmed and was ready to jump back off the bridge rather than be thrown to the waves. The water was cold enough she felt she’d probably only a have a few minutes at best before she froze to death. “So, what do you think?” She knew it was a lot to take in and she was not a known entity to this group so their trust in her would be low. But Rikka was a doer and this was something she could do.

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A Girl and her Blade

10th of Coldeven 3:45pm 382 ONT, Below Deck on the Champion’s Boot

Paprikka sat on a smaller crate in the hold with the array of items she’d collected from Don Ton on their way back from the consulate spread out in front of her. The mundane items, minus an apple core she’d tossed earlier sat neatly sorted to one side. A small chest held the coin and gems on the other side. In front of her was the majority of the magical items and she made small notes on each in a ledger she’d found hanging on a nail. Save for the judge’s armour now covered with an extra blue cloak as it made her shudder to look at, she was just about done identifying it all.

The priestess, Kaho Homura, sat nearby saying little and staring hard at Rikka. Beyond describing the properties of the items she held the priestess had said not a word to her. It made Rikka nervous like that dream where you show up somewhere and then realize too late you’re naked and everyone is staring. Only Kaho wasn’t laughing and Paprikka was certain she was wearing clothes, right? A glance down confirmed it and she sighed setting down the ledger. This was going to be a long trip to who knew where and longer if the priestess was going to do this the entire way.

“Kempai, is there… is there something I can do for you?”, she offered. It was also unclear to Rikka whether or not she was still under contract with the priestess as she’d held off the guards as Kaho ran.

Kaho blinked seemingly coming back to herself and shook her head, “No, not at this time. I am only tired. Thank Ymeri you are safe.” Thitmed was shouting and calling for the officers and Kaho almost looked relieved. She stood brushing dust off of her clothes as she did. “I must see what Master Ironbraid requires.”

“Oh, ok.” Rikka bounced to her feet and then awkwardly bowed to the priestess as she’d been taught while not falling over from the unstable roll of the ship. Kaho did not seem to notice as she vanished through the opening back towards the mess and left Rikka staring at the place she’d sat.

‘Well that was certainly interesting.’ Rikka glanced towards her blade and stuck out her tongue. “For you maybe. I’m the one who got stared at the entire time.” ‘I’m sure it was only the shock of seeing someone she thought was dead and gone alive in front of her again. It will pass.’ She sighed and sat back down. Rikka was not feeling as confident about that statement. Close to useless on the ship she’d only get in their way unless battle came upon them or they needed someone to cheer them up with some dancing and music but she’d need to find someone who could play an instrument then.

‘When will you introduce me to the others?’ her blade pushed new thoughts into her mind. “Umm, how about never?” It was weird feeling an inanimate object stare at you but somehow the link they shared made it feel that way regardless. “What? Just because you can speak and see and hear doesn’t make you a person. You’re not even as useful as the Giant Eagle on deck.” More staring and mental pressure. “You realize they might just toss me off the ship as a crazy person right? Hey everyone, I’m Paprikka Anake but you can call me the Great and Powerful Rikka! Oh and this is my partner and never ending annoyance Baka Black Blade.” ‘Really? Baka? If you are going to insult me at least be original about it.’

“You don’t get to choose your own name. I’m the Magus and that makes me like your guardian or bearer or whatever so I get to choose. And the name you decided on is way too long. Ashita No Yukusoku No Ken does not come close to rolling off the tongue easily. Baka does.” More staring and silence. “Keep it up and I’m sure you can spend time in the weapons locker while I take this perfectly good sword here out for a spin.” ‘You wouldn’t dare!’ Rikka smiled tripumphantly, “Try me.” ‘Fine, I won’t say a word unless you ask me to.’ If a sword could grumble Baka did and Rikka knew he’d be a bit more of a pain to talk to for a while. But he’d be her pain and not scare the bejeebus out of anyone else.

“What about Ashi-san? It could be a better nickname.” ‘Why can’t you take anything seriously?We are pact-bound together and our path is one and the same.’ “I do, I can’t help but be serious when people are trying to kill me. But being serious all the time puts lines and wrinkles on your face and you might miss out on the simple and beautiful things in the world while worrying your life away. And it is not like you are really all that open with where our path is destined to go.”_ ‘And for someone who gets distracted looking for double rainbows, is it that much of a concern?’_ Rikka glared at the black blade beside her. “Hey! That was the guards not me. And so what if I like shiny things? Is that a crime?” ‘It should be.’

Annoyed, Rikka didn’t respond and instead went about cleaning up the items so that they would be easy to go through but secure in the hold. Once that was done she checked to ensure no one was nearby and stripped out of the clothing Ser Thalion had given her. It was very pretty but a little too tight in the chest and worth more than Rikka could afford. She quickly changed back into her drab and functional clothes. A few cleaning cantrips later and both her outfit and Ser Thalion’s were spotless. She folded the red fabric and laid it beside the magical items. Glancing towards the door once more Rikka wondered if she would be needed at all or if she should stay out of sight below.

“I’m sure they’ll come find me if I’m needed to clean something or if I’m in the way. How about we give you a good cleaning and polish then Ashi-san?” And so she sat back down cross legged on the floor and began to clean her blade hoping that these strange people who’d saved her life were out of danger and good to keep her on board. After the incident with the rowers she wasn’t so sure how secure her place was.

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Im Sailing Away Pt 4

10th of Coldeven 6:18pm 382 ONT, the Ice Flows of the Northern Sea

BOOM

BOOM

BOOM

“Easy that, good lads, I think that’d be the last of ‘em then” Thitmed called down through the pipes to the Bosun. As they made one final turn around a larger iceberg giving them protection from the large Navy Ships. The last hour or so had been very tight with Aurellia trading shots with their forward facing cannons; and once they had entered the Ice Flow things had become a little more sticky. The lanes clear enough to for the ship to pass snaked left and right, and where the Navy Ships had been unwilling to enter the Ice Flow themselves they had been more than willing to fire their cannons at the Champions Boot while it tried to navigate. They had taken some damage, but had made enough distance now that they were beyond real threat of the cannons. Thitmed navigated the ship a little deeper into a wider opening and then dropped anchor, it was too dangerous to move the ship without the entire crew on the ready, and they had just had the longest day of their lives, some rest and repairs were certainly in order.

12th of Coldeven 5:14pm 382 ONT, the Ice Flows of the Northern Sea

Eltheron landed lightly on the deck allowing Thalion to spring from his back gracefully. The Mate of the Champions Boot double timed it up to the bridge where Aurellia, Thitmed and Flitt stood huddled together… it was cold here, damn cold.

“That is another ship it just relieved our original captors… they are going to guard that exit until we starve or come fight them” Thalion said with a note of disappointment

“Blast! BLAST!” Thitmed slammed his fist down on the railing “There sitting pretty and resupplied and were left to fondle Annamachara… BLAST!” Flitt looked nervously at Aurellia, unsure of the wisdom of using the Ice Goddesses name in vein while trapped in the ice flows, the Master Gunner gave him a slight headshake warning him from correcting the agitated First Mate. “Fine… they want it to be hard, I can do hard… I LIKE hard. I am Clan Durin…we know a thing or two about it being hard… let me tell you…. HA…” concerned looks passed among the three officers as their First Mate appeared to be cracking, but no one spoke “Alright, so we got three weeks’ worth of food, if we find us some fish and the Kempia can keep magicing the gruel we can stretch for another week or two. We got a sick Captain and a slightly crippled ship… fine… FINE! That can be dealt with…. We can try and run through the ice to see if it will let us out further east… but that ship will see us if we try to cross back into the Taelms… so we can run the Ice even further east and try crossing in the open sea…. Or… push north towards the mouth of the Raitilien River, and sail into Caliber and clear lake” the dwarf stopped, no one was sure if he was actually talking to them

“Won’t the Raitilien be frozen if it’s further north?” Flitt asked somewhat skeptical

“Ye’d think that wouldn’t ya…” Thitmed said with a little fire coming back into his voice… but that’s no ordinary river… it’s that Raitilien!” the three stared at the dwarf uncomprehendingly

“AH by Selwyns Perky Tits, read a gods be damned book! The Raitilien was the river blessed by the Necromite, the river always flows fast and cold so that all in the north would have some protection from the dead who walk… if it be flowing, it can’t be frozen now can it.” He looked at them all, but no one was willing to argue. “Fine then… if we get lucky maybe we can find the mouth of the river within two or three weeks, then off to Caliber, and from there just a few weeks into Chistles Point”

“Sir? How far is Cailiber from the mouth of the River?” Thalion asked, picking up on a vital math issue

“Ah… I’d have to check me charts, but I am supposing at least two, maybe three weeks depending on the current and how well we do heading up river”

“and we have only four weeks of food at best right now? If we are lucky with rationing?”

“Aye, Thalion, I see where yer gettin’. It’s gonna get tight, very very tight, but I don’t see another option, so talk with Belinda and Hatrutt about rationing as far as we can… Bosun I want a guard on the kitchen any time it’s closed from now on, and I will be severe with theft. Any tricks you or yer mounts have to help with the food would go a long way… I am open to them… but aside from that I hope you all ate well, as we won’t again until Caliber.”

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