Balance

Encounter at Farpoint Pt 1

3rd of Wealsun 377 ONT: Kaiden Academy, Fire Nation

“Yukiko Omori.”

“What?” Hikaru blinked and looked over at his friend Natsu.

The pink haired youth only grinned and nodded in the direction Hikaru had been looking. “That’s her name, Yukiko Omori. The one that you’ve been stealing glances at while the commander was welcoming us and then again at muster for our unit assignments. Not that I blame you.” Hikaru had the decency to blush at this as he was trying to be secretive and nonchalant about it.

“How is it that you know her name?” Hikaru found his eyes drawn to her once more as she smiled and joked with a few of her friends. It looked like she was heading for the south end of the compound and he was trying to think of a reason to wander in that direction.

“It’s a secret!” The spiky haired youth laughed and dodged the playful punch from Hikaru. “I’ll only tell you on pain of a full stomach.”

“Deal.”

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“… second son of my great grandfather on my mother’s side which are known for having green eyes of all things. So in general terms we are cousins as I found out last summer at the gathering. Her family is from the north and they sent her here because this is the best academy in the Fire nation and because I was attending.” The story had taken a while to get out as Natsu spent more time stuffing his face than speaking and Hikaru had long since passed impatience. He knew that giving in to the urge to throttle his friend would only result in delaying what he wanted to know. “… doesn’t have an affinity for the elements like I do but her magical potential is supposedly quite high.” Hikaru was certain that Natsu’s true talent was talking but his affinity with fire was a close second. “…so I think I can arrange it so you two meet up.”

“Really? Thanks Natsu.”

Natsu leans back now fully stuffed and nods. “What are friends for if not for setting up distant cousins with?” Both friends looked up as their sunlight disappeared with the arrival of a half dozen other trainees. Hikaru’s mood soured when he saw who it was at the head of the group. The eldest Ishikawa, Batou towered over the others as his two years gave him a height and strength advantage. Not that the others would do much thinking on their own that he would allow, Hikaru mused.

“Someone with as much potential as you Dragoneel should know better than to associate yourself with traitorous spawn like the Yamamotos.” The six had circled the two friends and Batou actred as if Hikaru wasn’t even there. His friends, however, had eyes only for Hikaru and all he saw there was a group of bullies looking for a reason to attack. He wasn’t going to make it that easy for them. “If you’re not careful you might catch it and I’m told the only way to keep that filth from spreading is to cleanse it with fire.”

Hikaru’s eyes narrowed and he rose to his feet, fists clenched in anger. Beside him Natsu stood and placed a hand on his friend’s shoulder forestalling the violence. “Ishikawa-san, you honour us with your presence. We new cadets can only stand here in awe of your family’s exemplary record and service to the Fire Nation. I am certain your father has taught you well and as a senior member of the mounted division I hope to learn much from your actions at the Academy.”

Batou frowned, this was not the reaction he wanted and worse it was respectful enough that with the few others nearby he would lose some face if he were to press with such blatant jabs at Hikaru. “See that you do Dragoneel. And the first lesson would be in deciding what kind of soldier you want to be. A hero or a traitor.” And with that he turned gathering his friends behind him as a lord gathers his cloak.

Hikaru stared at the back of Batou while his mind relived that frightening night and he felt as if his jaw was going to crack with how hard he was clenching it. Ishikawa, Fujima, Moto, Tanaka and Kita. All important houses, all with strong ties to the Ishikawa family and at least some were complicit in what happened that night.

“Ha! Well that will make things interesting will it not?” Natsu grinned and Hikaru could only shake his head. Interesting was an understatement. It was no secret that it took more than a few tries for his name to be accepted onto the rolls as he had been blocked at almost every turn. Only his ties to the royal line and want to serve finally gave him access but the highest he could be was as an archer. It was a position that would allow him to serve but not one that would gain honour and glory in battle facing the enemy with the sharp steel of a blade. Hikaru didn’t really care as long as it gave him a chance to show that his family were not the traitors they were thought to be.

Natsu was about to say more when he spied Captain Rugenji moving towards them and thought better of it. “Tomorrow after second bell be near the dragon gate.” With a quick salute to the captain, Natsu made his escape. Unfortunately that left Hiakru with the captain and a mess of dishes. He sighed and saluted knowing that he was about to be given a menial task to keep him busy for the next few hours.

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4th of Wealsun 377 ONT: Kaiden Academy, Fire Nation (shortly after second bell)

Hikaru tried not to hurry to the Dragon Gate even though his archery practice had run late. It wasn’t his fault that someone had tampered with all of the strings assigned to him and covered his bow with grease. In truth the entire day so far had been one bad prank after another and even now he was trying to not let his boots fall off as the laces had been sliced so they came apart when he went to tie them up earlier. That was not the extent of it either and even the instructor knew someone was out to make Hikaru’s life miserable and admonished the group as a whole about tampering with the equipment of comrades and allies as they might be the only ones between you and an enemy blade. But all Hikaru received was snickers and whispers like “Its only what a traitor deserves” and “Can’t trust the untrustworthy” or “send him home before he injures one of us.”

Earlier it was a more direct approach with Batou and his cronies. It seemed at every turn at least one of the six friends were nearby and he was somehow always in their way; a foot here, and arm there or an outright shove for not moving fast enough or in the right direction. With size and years and training Hikaru didn’t have all he could do was absorb the abuse and hope someone would step in. Yet none seemed to notice or if they did were not of a mind to help the son of a traitor against the sons of powerful Fire Nation families.

So it was with relief that Hikaru reached the spot Natsu had indicated he would try to get Yukiko to meet him. Yet he was there alone, no Natsu and definitely no Yukiko. He frowned and looked around trying to see if anyone was heading towards him possibly running later than he was. But as the minutes dragged by it was becoming very clear that he was not going to have company. Well at least it had been a break from the bullying. After nearly a half bell with no sight of anyone Hikaru sighed and turned to make his way back to his assigned barracks.

“Giving up so soon?” An amused feminine voice carried to him on a soft breeze. Hikaru stopped and looked around surprised. “Another mark against you and we haven’t even formally met yet.”

“Who?” Hikaru spun in place trying to figure out where the voice was coming from. In return he was met with laughter.

“Who were you coming all this way to meet?” The voice questioned in return. “One would think if one was wanting to make a good impression one would have done a few things differently.”

Hikaru glowered and stared at the dirt. He didn’t like this game, it felt too much like the taunting and bullying he’d received from the others. “You seem to know much more than I so I’m sure you know.”

“Oh stop being such a boy and think!” The voice tsked, “Natsu said you were intelligent. I’d like to see you work some things out on your own.” There was a small pause before the voice continued, “If you do, come find me and we can talk.”

A small shadow detached itself from the Dragon Gate and Hikaru watched Yukiko leave. He frowned and thought over what had just happened and sighed shaking his head. He didn’t like these games not the ones the six played nor the one that Yukiko was playing. Yet it seemed he would have to take part in both if he was to survive Kaiden Academy and the first part of that was going to be in finding Natsu and, well things would be done and said…

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Erecting Gone Wild
9th of Sunsebb, 381 ONT, Champions Boot, Pier #17, Don Ton (late night)

Miriel looked around the general quarters, her eyes roaming critically as they took in the additions she’d erected. She felt a surge of satisfaction at her work; after bidding her fellow shipmates good luck on their hunt for the werewolves and delivery of random packages (privately she felt it was a bomb, but had not wished to “jinx” the party as Mandy called it – wise child), she’d spent the better part of the afternoon creating a makeshift aerie to nest down in the winter. She supposed after she was done she probably should have cleared it with the bosun or first mate, but did recall Harold mentioning something about it being easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission and so dismissed the thought from her mind.

Cable and canvas stretched from hammock loop to hammock loop into an off-square like tent; a brazier sat in front of the entrance, its embers glowing and warming her backside as she worked. She’d ended up stripping off the few layers she had (except for the pair of fur lined boots she had on from her cold weather gear, of course – who on earth walks around with bare feet??) and sang softly in Elven as she strung it up. Ungle had tromped in, taken one look at her – and then another longer glance which made her wonder if her tattoo was spreading further across her body – but before she could ask he grabbed something from his locker and went right back up the stairs, muttering something under his breath.

Once done with the outside of the tent she got to work on the inside, dragging the feather down mattress she’d bought from a nice halfling gentleman just inside an alley out past the harbour. The unfortunate soul had given her a deal; originally he had bought it as a reward for long months out at sea but wanted to sell it after lightly damaging it whilst merely traveling to his ship – he’d tripped on a rock and fallen on it, neatly puncturing the mattress. When she inquired about the fresh red stains, he was honest and owned up to his random nose bleeds that just coincidentally flared up just as he dropped the mattress – an old injury of his, he said, that acted up from time to time. She sympathized with his plight, thanking the gods that no one was actually hurt in the process and bought the mattress, thinking Mandy could repair the hole with her hammer power and Flit could clean it with his weirdly named spell.

Blankets were the easiest of the items she needed to be found; rather, actually, they found her. After bringing the mattress to the ship, she decided to fetch dinner from a tavern that had heavenly smells coming from it. She had not thought much of the city in matters of honour and kindness, but as she waited for her dinner to take back to the ship, ladies and gentlemen alike seemed to be very concerned for her well-being in the storm. Blankets upon blankets they brought to her, with each person seeming more angry over the cold than the last, wrapping the blankets around her bikini-clad body; while unconcerned for how cold it was, she was touched by their concern on how she dressed for the weather, and made sure to graciously accept each blanket offering as they came, so as not to insult anyone. Armed with a mountain of blankets and her dinner for the evening, she’d whistled and stepped lively back to the ship, eager to show off the generosity of the people of Don-Ton.

Leaving open the flap of fabric that acted as a door to her cozy tent, Miriel curled up and allowed herself to drop into a meditative state that left her feeling relaxed and warm. The cheese and bean mushroom warm-bun she’d eaten, though unneeded, left her with a feeling of contentment. Ever since the faun named Curtis built an altar to herself within the tattoo on her belly, she’d felt an extra surge of power, almost divine in nature. It left her with certain abilities that not only improved her fighting and summoning skills, but also granted her immunity from the rigours of life in general; specifically not needing sleep, food, or drink.

More mysteriously perhaps, Miriel also felt that it gave her a different hunger, a hunger she could not quench, as was made apparent when an exhausted Harold appeared in front of her tent. One inquisitive look from him was all it took and Miriel surged forward, tackling him onto the floor just centimetres away from the brazier, her wing tips curling around her body until gently caressing his cheeks. She swallowed his cry with a fierce kiss, and she felt territorial as she sat straddled on the very surprised Harold; she pushed him down with force, and smiled in satisfaction when she felt his arousal straining against his breeches.

“You confuse me, Harold de’Cainia. I thought I made it clear that I like to be touched.” She brought his hands up to cup her breasts, interlacing her fingers and squeezing. “Do you not want to touch these?”

“I can assure you that I very much want to touch these,” he replied, a slight upturning of his lips the only sign of a smile.

She moved her hips in tiny circles, cocking her head at him inquisitively as he sucked in his breath at each circumference. “Do you not want to give me pleasure, Harold de’Cainia?”

“Oh, I very much want to give you pleasure, my love,” Harold assured her, his hands trembling as she pinched her own nipples with his fingers. “In fact, if you let go, I can prove it to you.”

“Oh?” she asked, the circles getting more languid. “Then why do you ignore me? I am very displeased.”

“I can fix that, I swear.” Harold pulled himself upward, licking her nipples where he could get at them. “Let me show you.”

“I do not know, Harold de’Cainia.” She gasped as he managed to move fingers aside enough to suck on the nipple. “What would your father say about leaving me unsatisfied for so many days?”

Harold gave her breast a quick bite that drew a sharp gasp from her lips. “My father…enough about my father. There’s only room for me here.”

Loud clapping at the bottom of the stairs made both of them jump; there stood Ungle again, this time clapping obnoxiously. “It is good, my comrade, to not have family over when doing the uhhh – “ he said, while making crude mating gestures.

Miriel looked at Ungle in horror. “It would be disrespectful to mate with family, stu –“

“Good night, friend Ungle,” Harold interrupted, pushing Miriel backwards into her tent. “I can assure you that friends are not welcome either.”

Ungle grinned.

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Fire Birds pt 2

Hithday the 10th of Sunsebb, Chef Stadium, 2nd Circuit 8th spoke, 2:44pm.

Hiro had not slept well the night before, the events in the abandoned market had been hard to shake, even knowing they were not if fact real, the images of his parents would leave scars. It was as such that he had not noticed the morning competition as closely as normal, he followed Hatrutts orders but went about his business methodically, allowing his mind to wonder. Hatrutt on the other hand was in a flurry of activity motivated by his discoveries last night. He was working with a giant squid and creating a new take on a beef wellington with light fennel salad and raspberry vinaigrette as topping. Hiro had had his doubts about the dish but ultimately followed the eager gnomes lead. He was not feeling inspired. The service had been hard and in the end they found themselves standing in front of Chef Graham, Chef Tosi and Master Chef Armsy. Even further to his surprise as he tuned in more clearly he heard the words from the Master Chef.

“A splendid new take on the old, it’s refreshing and light… just wonderful” he looked beside him and watched Hatrutt beam with the praise. The Master Chef continued, “Your reward, for such an inspired creation is that you may spend time with each of the Chef’s on this panel and ask them each a question about technique or cooking. Good Work, and Keep it Up” Hatrutt and Hiro bowed as they turned to leave. Hiro looked about at his competitors and noted a few unsavory types… this was the 2nd victory for he and Hatrutt, soon they would be targets if they weren’t carful.

After a quick bath and fresh clothing Hiro found himself with Hatrutt having the kitchen to themselves and Chef Armsy. They were permitted a question about cooking or technique and he was surprised when Hatrutt just dove in. “Master Chef, If I may… what is the secret ingredient that you slip onto dishes, from where is it attained” Hiro noted a cloud pass over the Master Chef’s face, but the man did respond.

“A very good use of a reward, perhaps the best use I have ever seen.” As he spoke he pulled the familiar jar from his pocket, and held it up. “in here is ground phoenix feather, but a single filament on a dish will give it new life, reawaken flavours and cause them to burst with the absolute best of their potential, it is a godsent for any chef to have in his arsenal. I will not tell you where I get my supply from, it is incredibly difficult, rare and expensive to get only the freshest of ingredients, but I am being truthful in what it is, and I expect that I can rely on your discretion”. The two nodded vigorously. “Now, let me show you how it works”

To be continued

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Fire Birds

Yoloday the 5th of Sunnsebb 381 ONT, 6:12pm Champions Boot, 18 miles form Don-Ton Harbor

The Captain sat back in his chair ushering Hiro to sit as he considered the question. His hands carefully pack his long elegant pipe as his eyes stared off.

“An interesting choice of study Master Suberu, the Phoenix is not a common creature on any plan, and rarer still on Argyle. A few thousand years ago, the great Sun Priest known as Golhan was tricked by the God Talib into releasing three Dark Phoenix onto the plane, the dark ones burn all the flew over with a foul fire of negative energy not only destroying what was their but making all left behind scared, never able to grow of give life again. It was Ra and Damie, the God of Sun and Healing who came together and awoke the true Phoenix, it fought and killed the dark ones and wept for their destruction, its tears rejuvenated the land and it made its home on Argyle once more.” He paused taking a few moments to light his pipe before blowing a simple smoke ring, he inhaled deeply again and this time the smoke flew from his mouth in the shape of the great mythical bird, shifting constantly to match his words as it swirled and flew around his cabin. “Although all phoenix are avian in form, their specific features vary greatly from region to region. There is only one phoenix at any time, but once it arises anew it will take the form depending on where it was reborn. In arid plains and desert lands, where phoenix most tend to make their homes, they tend to resemble enormous hawks and eagles with sharp, hooked beaks and piercing ruby eyes. In the dense jungles and outlying savannas of the south, the mythical firebirds have the smooth-crested heads and resplendent feathers of the region’s various tropical birds. In some arid lands that border close enough to vast, primeval forests, such as the Evermoors rare owl-like phoenixes with huge, violet eyes and crushing talons have appeared and aided the elves in shepherding the ancient woods.” The smoke bird dissipated and the Captain took another deep inhale before letting out more smoke, now many people appeared, as well as a great bird. “After the great war, much of the land was scared and wounded, so much evil pent up energy, places of death and masacars that the demons and devils had forged. It was the wizards Illiate, Erindale and Calista who came together and sought out the great phoenix. Once again the mighty creature was roused and once more took pity on the scared land of Argyle flying over it and healing it from its twisted misshapen nature. Those were better times… your people, young Master Suberu, revered the Phoenix, and held great feasts and celebrations in its honour, coaxing it to make its home in the Fire Nation when its work was done. For several generations it did just that, but in time the people grew less thankful, and saw the great beast as a pet more than a friend and benefactor. One day it could take no more, and decided to leave.” He paused again gaining more smoke to tell his story “It was the Fire Lord Kasai who tried to deny the beast its right to depart and swore he would have it killed if it tried to leave. A great battle ensued with the Fire Lord chasing the Phoenix ever northward until it crossed into the lands of Eiradun. The bird continued to fly, but the army was met by the Lioness Alana of Eiradun and a thousand of her Dentoni. They clashed and fought, but she held the famed blade Shieldbreaker and no man could stand against her. The Fire Nation was turned back, but their soul had flown away free… since then, they have been a land lost of direction, a people of great intellect and wisdom, but lacking the heart to propel them forward. Many believe the Phoenix was an avatar of Ymeri herself, and that her people have lost favour… but that is more conjecture than fact” the Captain took another long pull from his pipe and with it, the smoke figures drifted from form becoming just a smoke filled cabin once more… the silence stretched as Hiro gathered his thoughts for his next question.

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Stirings Pt. 5

Yoloday the 5th of Sunnsebb 381 ONT, 2:12pm Macey’s Buns & Bakery, 3rd spoke – 6th circuit, Don-Ton

Cassidy Stout hurried up the stair of the bakery into the resistances safe house. He heart lit up when she saw Gavroche, sitting there eating bread and olive oil. She stopped a moment to smooth her frizzy red hair and wipe her hands on her dirty dress. Before approaching the Gnome.

“Hello Gavorche…” she said as she approached. He looked up and gave her a half smile

“Hi Cassidy, what news from the docks?” the gnome said to the Halfling girl, as always getting straight to business. She was sad a moment, the gnome lived only for the resistance and had no time to be friendly with her, no matter how much her heart might yearn for him.

“All is well, the union has quietly agreed and is stowing supplies to barricade the streets and keep anyone from getting to the ships. They have even identified a couple galleys they may be able to take, that would give us cannon support. Now they merely wait for a sign” Gavoroche smiled at her and patted her on the shoulder causing her heart to beat a thousand times per minute

“That is great news Cas! Covafac will be glad to hear it… well done” she smiled at him happy that she had made him happy; it was then though that the gnome continued. “Cas… we’re friends… right?” he asked tentatively

“Of course” she said a little to eagerly

“I wanted to ask a favour… but as a friend… if it is too much then please just say so…” he said, seeming unsure of the ground he was on

“Anything Gavroche, name it and I would be happy to do it” she said smiling ear to ear. Her smile was infectious and soon he was grinning with her.

“Thanks Cas, this really means a lot to me…” he reached into his coat and pulled out a letter “you see Cas… I meant this girl, and she is the most beautiful women I have ever seen and she’s perfect and we’re in love and…” he kept talking but Cassidy could not hear him, the resounding sound of her heart breaking was all that hit her ears. She held the same grin plastered to her face as Gavroche told her about how perfect this other women was and how her dreams were never going to be. She shook her head realizing he had stopped talking.

“Ya?” she offered hoping to cover for not listening… the gnomes smile grew even bigger

“Excellent, thanks again Cas… now just take this note to the inner circuit, I have the address marked and make sure Fantine gets it… she needs to know how I truly feel” with a robotically dead arm the little Halfling took the note from the gnome, she bobbed her head and auto pilot gave her the appropriate words to say as she left the bakery in a daze. Her feet began to take her to the inner circuits as tears welled in her eyes. She was delivering her own death certificate; for what was life without Gavroche

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Posiden aint got nothing on this PT 2

12th of Ready’reat Champions Boot, Eastern Ocean, 42 miles off the St. Elmo’s Shoal

“Get everyone up, if we’re gonna drown, ya might as well be awake and see it coming!” Thitmed shouted over the pelting rain and booming thunder. Thalion could only nod as the dwarf continued to holler as he wrestled with the helm “it’s gonna get bad Thalion, real bad” his face showed genuine concern, there was not boasting to be seen. They had been trying to outrun a storm for the past three hours, with less and less success, unfortunately as they had heading out around the shoal the found another storm coming in, they would be slammed between the two systems and it would be worse than anything Thalion had ever seen. “Cut yer bird free, if he wants to make a go fer shore, it’s about 42 miles ta port.” Thallion could see the concern there and nodded, the dwarf, past the sombre moment pushed on “I need Jonathan re-lashed, thar aint enough rope for the whole crew to be on safety lines, and they’d get tangled right quick as ya worked, put them all together and lash up the frog, he on watch and rescue. Anything that can be stowed, cleaned or cleared get it done, Get Hatrutt workin the pumps to… it’s gonna be messy down below… and last thing” he looked Thallion in the eyes to bestow the depth of seriousness “I gonna need Leslie and the Captain up here just to keep us pointing into the waves, Keep tha crew safe down thar, and listen fer the orders” things had never been formal on the boot, but Thallion felt the weight then and there and instinctively straightened giving the first mate a proper salute

“AYE AYE SIR” he said as he turned briskly and headed down from the bridge. When he arrived at the deck port to head below he was stopped as Master Kenko climbed us assumedly cursing in Wing Ti. The Ship Wizard stopped to see the clouds around them and the storm coming in

Rock-The-Boat.Still008.jpg

“Talib meet our souls with grace” he said quietly. The wizard threw back his shoulders with purpose and headed to the bow where he began casting. A knot began to build in Thallions Stomach, if the wizard was working it meant it was very serious. He sighed almost knocking over Aurellia as he again tried to head below.

“What’s going on? She asked climbing onto the deck and huddling in her coat from the storm”

“Things are getting bad, I need the crew on deck, right away please” Thallion replied “Get them wearing warm clothes and… “

“BOSUN!” Thitmed was shouting down from the bridge “THA CAPTAIN NEEDS MANDY… NOW!” Thallion waved acknowledgement, get Mandy for the Captain while you’re at it, I will meet the rest mid ship once I am done with Eltheron”

“AYE Bosun” Aurelia said

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Poisiden ain't got nothing on this PT 1

12th of Ready’reat Champions Boot, Eastern Ocean, 42 miles off the St. Elmo’s Shoal

Mandy woke from her hammock in a start, her senses were bombarded immediately and it took a few seconds to catch her bearings. Ms. Ouellette was standing over her; one hand braced on the bottom of her hammock, the other on the wall. The lantern hanging in the room was swinging wildly as it appeared the ship was pitching from port to starboard badly

“ALL HANDS ON DECK” Ms. Ouellette called, not harshly, just to be heard over the thundering waves that were crashing into the boat. “DRESS WARM AND DRY FAST AND GET UP THERE!” she hollard. Mandy nodded rolling out of her Hammock, she landed ankle deep in water, her heart jumped into her throat, were they sinking? She looked around to see what was happening. Mr. Fargazer was up and already dressed, Prancer was getting dressed quickly, a worried look on his face. She moved to her box and started pulling out clothing and getting changed. The door opened at the end and another flood of water cascaded into the room. Hatrutt waddled in, wearing a thick waxed leather coat with a hood, he was soaked through and much of the coat was icing up as well. He carried an odd device and several hoses.

“Prancer, soon as yer dressed lad, help me get the pump set up, we need to get this water outta here. Mandy, Captain needs ya on the bridge as soon as yer dressed. Flit and Aurellia, Bosuns looking for ya on the bow deck soon as ya can” the little gnome declared as he started flaking out hose. Prancer pulled on his coat and joined him as Flit and Aurellia quickly headed out onto the deck. Mandy dressed as quick as she could and followed.

She climbed the deck, losing her footing twice before she could made it up the stairs. Looking out onto the ocean her timing was perfect as the sheet lighting set a white glow across the clouds showing a raging sea with massive swells. Several of the incoming waves seemed larger than their little ship

“Kelezandri save me” she swore unconsciously, immediately resigned to her death. She saw the Bosun and Master Gunner by the mast huddled with Ms. Ouelette, Mr. Fargazer, and Ms. De’Jairi. She could hear the Bosuns strong voice carry on the wind

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“First Mate says ropes are too dangerous for most, will get tangled in your jobs, Flit, you are rescue man, we have three hundred feet of rope secured here with the other end on you. Perch here and keep eyes on the crew, anyone goes over, you go over and get them>”

“AYE AYE BOSUN!” The little Grippli called over the storm

“Mirel, please help the Master Gunner secure Jonathan, extra lashings, he’s tak….”

BOOOOOOOOOOM

The very ship rocked with the blast of the thunder, Mandy was sure she may have wet herself a bit, never had she heard thunder like that before

“taking a real beating up there!” the Bosun finished “Watch the deck all, it’s slippery as hell… Aurellia….” Mandy turned back towards the bridge, remembering her summons. She carefully made her way across the deck towards the bridge, it was slick, the rain was coming down in chunky bits of ice, freezing with anything on contact, the entire deck was a skating rink constantly being doused with more water. She made it to the stairs as a wave washed over the deck. She was underwater, and freezing, she was going to die, she couldn’t hold on, and then she was on deck breathing…. She had been lucky enough to hold the railing as the wave had washed over her… she couldn’t imagine how she was going to carry on. She coughed and sputtered as she climbed the steps coming up onto the bridge. As she did a pair of warm hands grabbed her and pulled her aside. She could see Ms. Featherfoot, tied to the rail grab hold of her and offer and very scared smile, the kind meant to comfort idiot children who couldn’t tell that they were doomed. Mandy knew she had to be brave so offered the same smile back, hoping it gave some comfort. She looked back over the deck and was shocked to see the ships wizard out near the bow, he was glowing a sickly green and seemed to be firing of spells to dissipate the larger waved that threatened to capsize the ship. She could see the entire crew working at one thing or another and turned back to the bridge. Mr. Cane and Master Ironbraid were working together wrestling with the Helm to desperately try and hold a course on the ship. Even the Captain seemed to be hurrying about adjusting bits and pieces of the ship, when he wasn’t helping the other two hold the course. He saw Mandy and their eyes locked, with a skip that would put the finest of acrobats to shame he soared across the bridge landing in a crouch in front of her. He leaned over and spoke into her ear, his tone conveyed importance and urgency but also confidence, as if this was little more than an inconvenience, worthy of attention but not worth getting worked up about.

“Mandy my dear…” he said speaking directly into her ear, using her real name sent a shiver down her spine “I am going to need my lute please” she pulled back and looked him in the eye assure he hadn’t gone completely mad. The Captain gave her a look that made her feel a deep sense of shame and she leaned in to hear further instructions “in the dresser, by the armor stand in the third drawer are a set of strings, they will be a dark green in colour, I need you to please, carefully, unstring the loot and put the old strings in the drawer, and sting it with the green strings, top to bottom darkest to lightest in colour, understand?” he pulled her back to look her in the eyes, his were clear, he seemed here in the moment, she nodded her understanding.

“MAN OVERBOARD! MAN OVERBOARD STARBOARD BOW” a call arose from the deck below.

“Go now Mandy, and hurry, our lives are in your hands” the Captain said, turning her around and ushering her to the stairs, he then turned and yelled to the men on the Helm “BRING HER AROUND! HARD STARBOARD HARD!” the Captain did not wait to see if his orders were followed, he dove over Mandy taking all the stairs in one go and rolled across the deck towards the mast. The ship lurched hard to the right, causing Mandy to near lose her footing, giant waves crashed over them. She waited until they abated enough for her to slide down the stairs on her but and find the refuge of the Captains Quarters.

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Dreams, The Yummy Ones, Part 2

8th of Ready’reat 481 ONT, Galley of the Champions Boot, 7:23am

Hiro looked down at the elderly gnome cook and saw the deep worry lines on his face and something more? The way he looked at Hiro suggested he had something to say and was unsure how to broach the subject. It was more than odd since signing on as a cook’s helper the two of them had gotten along very well in the cramped confines of the ship’s galley. This meant to Hiro that this was either really bad news or Hattrutt wanted something big from him. “I was thinking that we could do some sort of egg over noodles or rice with green onion and some spices in a broth to warm the crew up today.”

Hiro opened the hatch to his entrance to the kitchen and crawled through. Whatever was tied up inside the friendly cook would come out in due time and standing around would not get the food ready nor free the words from Hatrutt’s head. Popping through the other side he grabbed a smock as Hatrutt answered, “I think we’ll keep it more traditional and simple today. It’s a long journey to Don-Ton and we need to make things last.” Hiro merely nodded and went about his part in the preparation of the morning meal. It was a good break from the thoughts and dreams that were twisting through his head.

Eventually the crew began to show up and the food was dished out with the normal early morning routine of talk and banter. But as it came to an end Hatrutt turned to Hiro and clearing his throat asked for the biggest favour he’d asked in a long time. “Hiro, I’ve an opportunity in Don-Ton to train with the greatest chefs of this Age and though I’m no spring chicken I want to do it. Imagine me, a galley cook getting this chance to rub elbows and learn things from the best. Now this doesn’t mean I’m leaving the Boot, only taking the time the Boot should be in port to good use. But I need a Sous-Chef, someone who knows my cooking and knows me well enough to be a help not a hindrance.”

“How long will it take?”

“Just the four months we should be in Don-Ton for and then it’ll be back to our normal routine after that. I could train someone in Don-Ton well enough but that would take time away from learning and not leave as good an impression on the masters.” Hiro was honoured that Hatrutt would even think him competent enough to help when true master chefs were involved. He was also feeling more and more tied to the crew and the Champion’s Boot when he should be out finding information about the Phoenix and seeking the path to its lair. Four months was a long time in port and he doubted there would be much extra time allowed for research. But at least he would have a chance to try and that was more than his previous travels had given him. Or he could say no and spend all his time seeking his own answers.

Hiro knew his answer and that was the one of honour to those he considered friends and crewmates, those who had taken a chance and welcomed him in. After all how bad could it be? Cooking was a lot less dangerous than delivering silver in the middle of the night or saving a town from a despot. A small voice in his head kept reminding him that he would have around two and a half years remaining by the time they left and he still ahd no idea how long it would take or if it was even possible to find what he sought.

“I would be honoured to help and doubly for it being you Hatrutt. Let me know what you need of me and I will do it both of time and effort to make it a success for you.” Hiro wanted to ask him for aid in his own research but held off knowing that to learn from masters would require all of the elder gnome’s attention and his own efforts would be sufficient. At least he hoped so. Don-Ton was supposed to be a great place to gain knowledge on magic or magical things.

The remainder of the meal went well and cleaning was done with the return of the good natured banter. Hiro was happy to see Hatrutt had a renewed vigour and energy about him and when he left to go do his daily maintenance on Johnathan he found himself humming an old Fire Nation tune. The gnome had given him a rundown on each of the possible master chefs they might encounter and even an idea of what they liked to make. Hiro was impressed and hoped he too could pick up some useful skills in the process.

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Dreams, The Yummy Ones, Part 1

7th of Ready’reat 481 ONT, Galley of the Champions Boot, 10:08pm

Dearest Chef Nooduleh

It is our decision (after much debate) to allow you the opportunity to apprentice at the Connaught in Don-Ton. This is a four month intensive course where you will study and learn not only form the Great Master Chef Armsy, you will also have the opportunity to have your dishes judged and critiqued by some of Don-Ton’s and Argyle’s greatest food experts such as Master Chef Graham Elliot from the Dwarven Empire, Chef Christina Tosi from the Elven Court and international restaurateur Joe Bastianich, who owns award winning restaurants in High Port, Rehume, Eriadun and of Course the heart of the worlds culinary expertise… Don-Ton. As stated before tuition for this course is 3,263 Don-Tonian Golden Coins, due upon your arrival in Don-Ton. Please present yourself to master Chef Armsy with your owed tuition and a suitable Sue-Chef by the 16th of Sunsebb 381 ONT, 9am. Failure to do so will result in your spot being given to another more worthy candidate.

With grace and dignity,

John Paul, Personal assistant to Master Chef Armsy

Hatrutt folded and unfolded the letter once more running his hands through his hair. He had not expected to be accepted, he had not expected this at all, but what an honour… imagine him, a humble galley cook, cooking up a storm in Connaught, in the heart of Don-Ton… imagine all the things he could learn from Chef Armsy and the others, it would be a dream come true… the Captain mentioned they would likely have to winter in Don-Ton, we wouldn’t even have to give up his post. He recounted his coins. What with the take from the Silver, and his entire life savings… and assuming that Ungle paid him back the 30gp he was owed… he would almost exactly enough to afford the tuition. He was grinning like a gnome a third his age… he was really thinking about it… going back to school! He reread the letter again and his smile fell, he would need a Sue-Chef… where would he find one? And someone who knew his recipes? What was he going to do? He dropped his head on the counter and sighed a bitter sweet sigh knowing his dream was coming to an end before it truly began when he heard a voice behind him

“Morning Hatrutt… I woke a little early, and I know the Master Gunner isn’t supposed to be in the kitchen, but I figured you could use a hand” Hiro said.

Could he? Dare he ask him? He just didn’t know

To Be Continued By TCHAKTULI

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Songs of the Sea

7th of Ready’reat, the Eastern Sea, Champions Boot, 1:03am

Thallion stepped up onto the deck and relieved Prancer from his watch. His report had been the same, all was quiet. The night was clear and starry but very cold. Thallion was thankful he had put on his extra warm clothes, he nodded to Prancer and did his first rotation checking the bow and mid ship first before heading up onto the bridge. As he approached he heard a tune dance across the breeze and smiled, it appeared that the Captain was manning the tiller tonight. The music was soft, but joyful Thallion stopped to listen hearing the melody exclaim the beauty of the water and the journey ahead.

“Na ’Aear, na ’Aear! Mýl ’lain nallol,
I sûl ribiel a i falf ’loss reviol.
Na annûn hae, ias Anor dannol.
Cair vith, cair vith, lastal hain canel,
Lamath in-gwaithen i gwennin no nin?
Gwannathon, gwannathon taur i onnant nin;
an midui orath vín a dennin inath vín.
Trevedithon ’aear land erui ciriel.
Falvath enainn bo Mathedfalas dannol,
Lamath vilui vi Tol Gwannen cannen,
Vi Tol Ereb, ned Bar-in-Edhil i Edain ú-gennir,
Ias lais ú-dhannar: dôr en-gwaith nín an-uir!”

As the refrain began once more Thallion continued his journey and climbed up onto the deck. As he approached the Captain finished his song

“Ilvanya,” the Captain greeted informally “the stars bless us with a clear path” Thallion nodded to the Captain as he approached. He looked back to the west and noted he could no longer see the shore the look of nervousness must have shown on his face for the Captain spoke to it. “The current is better out here, and the stars hold our course, come here please Ilvanya” Thallion did as he was bade joining the Captain at the helm. “The Champions Boot in an elven ship, and she often craves an elven touch.” He let go of the helm and allowed the knight to take it “Feel her, feel the pull of the current, the breeze in your sails the give and take of her timbers as she glides forward. You are a part of her and she of you, and she will always find her way… see that star there?” he asked holding up his hand in an odd position, Thallion mimicked his motion and nodded “That is the great Star Quenya, she shines the way in the northern lands, on tonight’s course Quenya stands at odds with Nimrodel” he pointed to a star just above his pinky finger “Nimrodel is a passionate star, and so we must keep at least a hand span between them at all times, this will hold our course, and we will have kept the peace among the stars for another night” Thallion made the hand motion again to practice, allowing the captain to correct him until he was sure he had it right. Then the Captain stepped back, leaving Thallion on the helm as he walked over to the port side of the bridge and looked out to the sea. “The other races do not understand their gift, to be so short lived, to live in ignorance… it will be a lonely time soon. I suppose all must eventually grow up. The young races will no longer have the elves to parent them… they will need to learn self-control, let us hope that the final lessons we teach are truly worthy of us, and let us hope that they are listening” A long silence held while he looked across the dark sea. “You need practice Young Ilvanya, I will take the watch, you keep the peace between Quenya and Nimrodel” with that the Captain climbed down from the bridge and left Thallion alone with his thoughts.

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