Balance

GET'EM BOYS

10th of Wealsun, 383ONT, 10:43am, the slave Pits, Honastice Province, Argyle

“… Run, Sir Thalion, run far and run fast, cause I say, when I catch you, there will, I say there will be a reckoning…. RELEASE THE HOUNDS!”

With that the impossibly loud voice ended, and the dogs began to bark as their handlers were led in various directions. Lord Marmaduke looked down, watching the slaves continue to scramble up the shale hill and into the trees on the far side of the pit. He turned to the men around him and gathered them into a huddle

“Clyde, I need you to take fifty good men and get down that hill, there aint no way that they got all my slaves, get them fire’s out and figure out what in high hell happened, I want that place on lock down and a tally of just what in high hells happened. Get me a roster of who we have and who is on the run, I want our boys in the field to know just who in the hells they are looking for”

“You got it Lord Marmarduke” Clyde said peeling away from the group to go about his tasks

“George, I was not kidding when I said I want the militia’s and farms alerted, you go wake that damn fool of a wizard back at the house, tell him in the next four hours I want all of Honastica ta know about that dirty lying thief Thalion! That he is on the run with over a hundred pieces of my property! I want a reward on his head, 5,000 Don-Tonian Golden Pieces for the bloody head of that damned elf to be returned to me. I will pay an additional thousand for the heads of his companions, The Frog, the two little girls, the goblin, and the women guard!”

“Sir, what of Mr. al-Pour and his slave? They were seen lighting fires in the corn fields” George asked

“I doubt very much that anyone working with Sir Thalion was a slave…" Marmaduke said with venom in his voice “offer two thousand for them, but I want those two alive… al-Pour is worth money to me, his family will compensate me for this trouble, of that I am sure.”

“Yes Sir” George said turning away and finding his mount

“Leroy, You take twenty five or so men; I’ll send you more when I have ‘em, ride on west towards Bridgeton, get me a decent sized posse, I’ll fill there cups for some decent work, cut off any of them fools who think they’re gonna make for the Dwarven boarder” he turned to his left to another man in the huddle “Benjamin, you do the same, but hit all them little farm towns south of here and cut off anyone who thinks there gonna slip into the elvish lands, cast me a wide net boys… I don’t want no one gettin away”

“Yes Sir” the two said tipping their hats and peeling off

“Noah, take about four or five good ol’boys with ya… you know the type…. There are always a couple special slaves, the kind with no real sense of direction, head on North and see who you can rustle up”

“You got it boss!”

“Russel, I want you to get me el’Trejo…” there was a gasp at this, but Marmaduke made a cutting motion with his hands, he was in no mood to hear it "I want him after Thalion and those wolves… I want my wolves back! Once he is after them, Call in every favour we have…. Thalion is a Captain… he is so proud of his precious little ship, ‘the Champions Fist’” Marmaduke made a mocking tone while he said the words “I’d bet every coin I ever earnt that he’s heading east for the ocean… cut him off! STOP HIM! SINK HIS GODS BE DAMNED SHIP FOR ALL I CARE! HE ROBBED ME! NOBODY ROBS EARL EPSCOT MARMADUKE AND LIVES TO TELL THE TALE! I WANT MY SLAVES BACK AND I WANT MY REVENGE! GO OUT THERE AND GET IT! NOW!” he was red faced and screaming by the end of his tirade, the remaining men quickly broke off hurrying to their mounts and about their business. To summon el’Trejo should have been signal enough, war had been declared.

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Silent Freedom Pt 1

7th of Wealsun, Lord Maradukes Plantation, Honastice Argyle, 5:15am

They stayed about fifteen minutes, they wished they could stay longer. Mordicum didn’t seem very stable and she hated to leave him, but their work would not allow that. Hikauri and Aury carefully watched another guard rotation pass. Every quarter hour it seemed, not a lot of time to move but some. Try as she might Aury could find no way to remove the collar from the Mordicum, there was no key hole to pick. She was sure with more light, time and maybe a little magic she could have him free of it, but for now they had had to look elsewhere. Fortunately the chain that connected the collar to the ground was only clasped there with a padlock. It was a decent enough lock, the flickering light making it harder still to pick, but she was the Gate Keeper and soon it fell away to her skills. They explained to Mordicum that for this to work, he would have to hold still until the fighting began, then he was to rally and meet the other werewolves at the gate. A look to Hikauri showed that they both had little faith in the dwarf to remember this, but they had no choice and soon they were on their way.

From shadow to shadow they slipped, always one at a time, always while the other looked on keeping the watch. In the last hour Aury had freed four more slaves, a half elf named Tanyl, a pair of Halfling twins named Fardulf and Bowman and a Half Orc woman named Sharn. Each had seemed to have their wits about them, and were willing to wait until the fighting began. It took almost half an hour to cross the wider stretch of road, dodging the ever churning lights and guard glances. They had freed another human who simply went by Riggs, and skipped another who seemed a little too unhinged to trust to wait before at last coming across another were.

She appeared human, with dark skin, and darker hair, wearing little more than rags about her. As the two slinked near her dog house she perked up, but did not make sudden movements.

“who are you?” she stated in a low whisper, her eyes not moving to them as Hakauri slipped into her Dog house, and Aury curled in the shadows to the side.

“I am Hakauri, this is Aury… Thalion sent us to rescue you” the child sized magus said in a breath of a whisper

“I am Selene, sworn member of Versum’s Pack, you have my thanks. As she spoke the women’s hand slowly moved some dirt, she pulled forth what looked like a dagger sized bone that had been sharpened to a shiv. “What is the plan?” she asked

“Aury here is going to pick the locks connecting your chain to the ground… in a few hours there will be a commotion at the front, link up with the other were and we will fight our way out” Hikauri said. To this Selene gave a subtle nod and moved slightly to allow her shadow to be cast over the lock. “Aury is going to need to shift forms in order to pick the lock… due to a curse, she looks like the vampire Serenity who attacked you, I assure you she is not, but if this will alarm you, we are all caught” Hikauri knew that this was a bit of a stretch on the truth, but her and Aury had agreed that for the sake of haste this is what they would say for the time being.

“A wretched curse indeed to be trapped in such a vile and horrendous creatures form” Selene said, her voice dripping with hate and venom.

“Indeed” Hikauri said, giving Aury a look not to argue. Dutifully the kitten said nothing as she shifted forms. And although Selene stiffened and clutched her bone shiv tightly, she made no move against Aurelia as the sylph freed the padlock and shifted back into kitten form. “Wait for the signal” Hikauri reminded as they prepared to leave.

The hour was at least the seventh, the sun as coming up giving an orange glow to the slave pits, they still had the advantage of long shadows, but this would not last long, they had to hurry.

Another half hour caused them to leave four slaves chained and free two Wing-Ti humans named Du Tao and Yaun Wuhan, a gnome named Clankwagic and a fellow who claimed to a former Tukin Knight named Dallan Stillard. Each were given the instructions to wait until the signal, and ever onward the two crept, winding and working their way through the third compound. The slavers seemed to have decided that the Were should not be close to one another, and so they needed to search far in each direction to try and find one. At last they came across a young women chained to another dog house. It appears the guard had come by with a slop and put it into a clay dish for her to eat, she was eyeing it suspiciously when they crept up to her.

“Greetings, I am Hikauri…” Hikauri began, but the redhead cut her off

“You are of Thalions Pack, you both smell of him… is he here, has Versum been freed?” Hikauri was a little taken aback by her revelations, but plowed forward

“Thalion will be assaulting the pits soon, we are freeing people to get them ready… Aury will free your chain but be warned, her appearance…”

“Is of Serenity? I can smell it on her, though she does not smell dead, thus she is not a Vampire… I am glad you came Aurellia… though am a little disappointed that your true form was not one of the wolf” her tone was light and not meant to offend. Aurellia shifted back and began to work on the lock

“I am sorry… did we meet last time?” Aurellia asked

“Not formally, you met my brother Berald I am sure, I was in the caves, but not a high pack member… my name is Azura”

“Well Auzra” Aurellia said with a grin as she heard a satisfying click from the lock “When the fighting happens, head for the gates, Thalion and the rest will be there to help us out of here”

“I will, my thanks to you both… but do tell, have you found Berald? Is he ok?” Auzra asked

“We have not seen your brother yet… but we will keep looking” Hikauri said as Aurellia shifted back

“Thank you my friends… be carefully” she said as the child and the kitten whisked to the next prisoner.

The sun coming up was certainly slowing their ability to move quickly. More staff were working now delivering breakfast to slaves, the guards shift had changed offering fresh troops going about their business. Slaves were being rounded up for work or assessment. They managed to free an ogre named Ik, and a human named Sevel before they opted for speed in searching for the Were.

Over the next hour they managed to track down and Free a Halfling Were named Hallec, and a Half Elf named Kodan. Kodan had already freed himself of his lock; planning to free himself this day anyway, Hikauri managed to convince him to wait for the others. The hour was getting late, near enough to 8:30 or 9, Thalion and his group could be arriving anytime between 9:30 and 10:00. The extra light was making things harder still as the shadows grew few on a bright Wealsun day. The heroes would need to decide if they would push forward and attempt to enter Zone 4, 2 or 1 with the increased light or if they would continue freeing non-were in zone 3 until their comrade arrived.

To be Continued

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Dog eat Dog world pt 2

1st of Wealsun, Lord Maradukes Plantation, Honastice Argyle, 1:34pm

“ah, you can see he is coming to. This is, developmentally, a very important time for our slaves, if you are diligent now it will save you countless hours later” Voss heard the light baritone voice as his eyes cracked opened. The light assailed him sending waves of nausea ricocheting through his body; all at once he could feel the pain from dozens of bruises across his body. As a werewolf he was not used to this feeling, his healing tended to take care of these things quickly, they must have beaten him within an inch of his life for him to still be in such poor shape. Again he willed his eyes open, he could not help but pant heavily sucking in oxygen to try and fight off the nausea. He was curled into a ball, in a small metal cage, the kind one would expect to find in a kennel. There was a ratty wool blanket on the floor and a bowl half filled with water. With great fortitude he rose his head and looked about. His cage was under an open shed, there were cages on either side of him, but currently both were empty, ahead of him was a dirt field were three men stood, beyond them was the loathsome wrought iron fence and the clay walls. He was still in the Slave Pits. One of the three men turned to his companions. This man wore a clean suit of tan, he had well-groomed brown hair and a neatly trimmed goatee. The man removed his tan jacket showcasing a tan vest and white shirt. He passed the jacket to one of the men, by his dress Voss assumed a guard, then he carefully approached Voss’s crate, keeping low with a forced smile plastered across his face.

“Who is a good boy? Who is a good boy?” the man asked in an oddly chipper tone as he approached. When he was within five feet of the cave the man stopped his approach “You are a good boy aren’t you? Aren’t you?” the man’s hand reached for the edge of the cage. Voss’s hand snaked out like lightening, but the man proved quicker, startled he fell backwards in the mud, but escaped before Voss could grab him. In seconds the guard ran up baton in hand striking at the bars. The slight charge of electricity in the baton jumped into the bars and gave Voss a frightful shock that threatened to send him back to oblivion.

“DIRTY SWINE, YOU’LL NOT TRY THAT AGAIN!” the guard cursed as he raised his baton again. But the blow did not land. The man in tan held the guards hand and was scolding him

“you ignorant fool! What are you doing?” he asked

“I was disciplining the slave Master Bladwell” the guard responded, a little taken aback

“No you weren’t, you were undoing my hard earned efforts!” Bladwell spat at the guard, slapping him hard in the face “He is in his crate! You never discipline a creature in their crate! That is HIS space, HIS safe space… NO MATER WHAT! Am I getting through that thick rock skull of yours?” he asked slapping the guard repeatedly.

“but, he was trying to hurt you…” the guard said in a confused whine

“but he was trying to hurt you…” Bladwell repeated back in a nasally mocking tone “… no he wasn’t, he is declaring his space, and establishing dominance over it, exactly what we want him to do you nitwit! Your Lord hired me to train his slaves, because he wants to expand his labour and fighting operations, you can’t just beat ogres and trolls into submission, they have to trained… or you will keep having incidents like this… so shut up and let me do my jump you incompetents nincompoop!” he slapped the guard three more times before ripping the stun baton from his hands and throwing it across the field, forcing the guard to walk off and get it. With that job complete he turned back to Voss “I’m sorry about that boy, was that mean old guard twying to hurt you… hmmmm… we don’t like him do we? Do we?” the tone of Bladwell had shifted back to his chipper infantile one as he spoke to Voss. “But we’re going to have to stop calling you boy aren’t we? Your gonna need a name, yes you are, yes you are”

“I am Voss” Voss said, clearing his throat slightly, perhaps he could make inroads with this person.

“Awwwwe, he’s trying to sound like people…” the man turned to his companion with a look of adoration on his face “That is sooooo cute… but… we are going to need a good name for you aren’t we?”

“I said my name is Voss!” Voss said anger growing inside

“Good speak, good speak!” the man said in an overly excited tone, then he turned again to his companion… “I had some figs today, and I enjoyed them so much… I think I will call him Fig”

“An excellent name sir” the third man said, his tone one of passive disinterest

“Do you like that name Fig? do ya Fig? do ya?”

“VOSS!” Voss snarled at the man

“Ohhhh I think Fig likes his new name, I think he does” Bladwell said rising to his feet. “You hold tight here Fig; I’m gonna get the training fields all set up, then you and me are gonna have a lot of fun!” again his tone was light and chipper, but Voss felt a sinister fear creep into him, this was like no man he’d ever met before.

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Dog eat Dog world Pt 1

1st of Wealsun, Lord Maradukes Plantation, Honastice Argyle, 1:14am

Voss had heard the chime of the first hour; he did not move, did not open his eyes. He lay in his scratchy cot waiting. The last few days had been hard, but he was sure his tactics were sound. He had been the best-behaved slave he could, had proven his aggression but also his eagerness to please and thus had been granted status into the fighting circuit. He had now done four days of training, he was being fed better and his accommodations had been upgraded to a group barracks. The thick collar was still around his neck, and from it a heavy chain leached onto an inset ring that had been shaped into the stone floor. He had not seen Versum since they had arrived here, he knew some of his pack brethren had attempted escape already, each of them failing and being punished, others were still starving in the intake pits; the captors waiting to see what kind of trouble they would be. He had seen Trovel and Weizen had also been moved into the fighting pits.

.

The captors were smart, they never let him near his pack brethren, never gave them opportunity to talk. Voss guessed that the slavers figured they would try to escape and plan if they could speak… the slavers would be right in that assumption. At last Voss opened one eye the room was dark and quiet. He opened his other eye and risked looking back and forth. The room was silent, just he and the three other slaves he roomed with; the time was now. Silently he rolled out of his bed dropping onto the floor, he crawled under the bed and out between the lower two posts before slinking to the nearest bed. In the bed slept a little gnome, Hadnom, the fellow was apparently a very talented boxer. Voss placed his hand over the gnome’s mouth and leaned over the bed. Hadnom’s eyes shot open in alarm, Voss placed a finger to his lips before leaning close to the gnome’s ear and breathing the words

.

“Silence, tonight I escape, circumstance makes us allies, your actions now could make us friends, are you with me?” there was a long pause as he looked into the grey eyes of the little brown-haired gnome. The fellow gave a single deliberate nod and Voss removed his hand from his mouth. Voss carefully reached for a bandage from an earlier fight, from under it he produced a small bit of wire and gave it to the gnome. “I would prefer it if we were freed silently, use this and attempt to open the lock, I will speak to our other bunk mates” he whispered. The gnome lightly sprung from the bed and took the wire tiptoeing to the ring in the centre of the room. Sticking to the shadows Voss slinked around to the bed across from his, one that belonged to Rhax a large brutish lizard man. He positioned himself over the lizard man and followed the same procedure of covering his mouth as he had with Hadnom, again as the Lizard awoke he breathed the words.

.

“Silence, and struggle not! Circumstance makes us allies, your actions now could make us friends… tonight we escape. Are you with us?” the lizard man’s eyes rolled locking on to the gnome working away at the locks, then back to Voss, he nodded and Voss removed his hands. The lizard was up in moments padding his way towards the gnome. Voss crept to the last bed, a large half orc slept in the bed peacefully. Voss leaned over him placing a hand over his mouth like the others, but this time his other arm sat across the orcs neck denying any air. The Orc’s eyes popped open as he began to struggle. Voss leaned in and whispered to him.

.

“I know of you Aguk, I know you are a spy for the slavers, and that they give you food and easy fights in return for information of slave escapes…” Voss pushed harder on the Orcs neck “How many have you denied freedom to you selfish pig?” the orc struggled for breath but could find no purchase on Voss “You will not be the last blood I spill tonight, but the first of my vengeance” as he said the words to the orc he placed all of his weight on the orcs neck and watched the creatures windpipe cave in. the rocs sputtered and flailed for a few moments, but eventually the life drained from his eyes, only then did Voss let up. .

CLICK

.

The gnome could not free them from their collars, nor from each other, but could free them from the floor. Voss was attached by a ten-foot chain to Hadnom and Rhax was attached via chain to the now dead Aguk. Voss ripped at the collar slowly and quietly peeling off the head of the now dead orc. At last he freed the collar and handed it to Rhax.

“Quickly now, stealth is only our friend so far, then might must carry us through” Voss murmured to his compatriots

“Might will bring us to right” Rhax responded, eliciting a grin from Voss, it appeared that the Lizardmen had also read the teaching of the Great Mordakka. If ever they needed a God on their side it was now, and the Breaker of Chains and Lord of the Underdogs was certainly Voss’s pick. Voss worked his way to the door and put his nose to the crack at the floor inhaling deeply. He turned back to his two companions.

“One guard in the hall, Rhax, open the door, Hadnom and I will take the guard” Voss stole, the Lizardman agreed and within seconds the door was peeled off its hinges and Voss leapt out the gnome hot on his heels. It hadn’t taken much, the chain wrapped twice around his neck. The gnome as counterweight… the little man’s head popped near off his shoulders. Down the stairs they traced, gliding like shadows fearful of the moon’s dispelling glare. Rhax was ready for the next guard before Voss could signal. Again the chain was used to choke the human, and silently he was dragged up the stairs and placed in Voss’s bed. The three gathered at the front door. Voss sniffed under the door, the air was thick and humid, the sweat of slaves and guards saturated the outer walk.

“we must find my sister” Hadnom said “she is in the farm pens I am sure…”

“no” Voss whispered solemnly

“I can’t leave her…” the gnomes words were cut off by Voss’s hand silencing him once more. Voss offered a look of empathy before he breathed the words into the gnomes ear.

“I have brothers and sisters here as well, we must prove we can get out, find allies and return… I will not risk their future for a rash temporary hope, cooperate” the last word was both an order and a threat, though Hadnom seemed to understand. He nodded and the two went to the door. Hadnom had taken a dagger from the guard, and with it was able to pry the lock and open the front door.

“Through the shacks until we reach the fence?” Rhax asked in a hoarse hiss. Voss nodded

“Over the fence, then up and over the wall, we will deal with whatever is on the other side out there. Once we make the tree line I will shift, you two may ride me and we will cover ground until we find chance to remove these chains. From their, your lives are your own…agreed?” the two nodded and with only a brief pause to allow the spattering light to slip by on its meandering course they sprang into action. Voss carried his companion under one arm as his longs legs propelled him across the dirt street and into the shadows of the shanty houses on the other side. He did not pause, did not stop for breath but raced through the shanty allies and into the far clearing, then it was only fifty meters to the fence. Twelve feet tall forged of wrought iron, it glowed a feverish purple color. Rhax was quicker on his feet and perhaps three strides ahead of Voss. The lizard leapt into the air, his left hand touching the iron to throw himself to the other side.

“ARRGGHH!” Rhax could not help but scream as his hand turned to stone. The fence changed from a dancing purple light to a bright white one as the slow siren of alarms rose. Voss skidded to a halt just in time seeing what had happened to the Lizardman. He could not make a twelve-foot jump without touching the bars, definitely not while carrying the gnome.

“FLEE RHAX, IF I CAN SLOW THEM I WILL!” Voss called turning and running back towards the Shanties, he made it perhaps two steps before a long silver arrow impaled into his thigh, causing him to fall and trip. Rhax, taking the advice to heart leapt towards the tall walls of clay and stone and began to climb, his way slowed by his now stone hand. He made it perhaps forty feet before the rain of arrows that fell from on high cut him from his perch and sent him spiraling to the ground below. Voss clambered back to his feet “HADNOM, WE MUST…” he stopped seeing no less then seven silver arrows in his gnomish partner, the poor creature lay on the ground blood pooling about him. Voss could see guards with long stun bats moving in.

“WROOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” he let forth a vicious howl grabbing his chain with both hands he began to spin, using his lost companion as the end of a long flail. The gnome crashed into the first of the guard and then as if alive flung back and flew over Voss’s head slamming into another. He side stepped quickly having learnt the patter of those silver arrows and avoiding another one. Flinging the gnome one way he moved the opposite prying a baton from the grip of a fallen guard and savagely beating his head with it. He ducked just in time as another baton swung for his head, then he felt a tug on his chain as several guards had grabbed hold of Hadnom. They tried to pull him in as more guards still flooded around him smacking him with their wooden cudgels. He rammed his baton through the eye of a guard with such force that it jutted from the back of the mans head. It was then he felt the shocks. Stunning shock after shock coursed through him, and assumedly several other guards, that did not cause his captures to relent.

“AAAAWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOShajffsdhdfh…” he howled again, but it was cut short as a final shock sent him to oblivion.

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The Fall of Rosemellow

1st of Wealsun 383ONT, Ruins of Rosemellow, 20k South of Lockland 3:15pm.

Please Listen While Reading

Two hundred Wyzels stood at attention wearing their snow-white breastplates. The ancient oak that for hundreds of years had been a bastion of the Guard Mice of the Waylens now smoldered as in withered to nothingness. Its blackend charcoal was being scattered by a few Scurrious slaves, the ground had been churned as no root was left intact, no seed left to prosper. Great Dull dogs were escorted in, laden with heavy sacks as Wyzels threw salt into the overturned soil. Nothing would ever again grow here.

The White clad Wyzels faced a large oaken log that had been modified into a stage. Here lording over them stood the Admiral Thrawn, resplendid in his uniform, the hulking beast looked more akin to a small bear then a Wyzel. It was said he was part of a distant race known as the Gulo. Be that as it may, he stood a clear head over any of his troops. To match his brute strength and savage fighting style was a military mind unlike any Argyle had ever seen. It was said that the Grand Admiral didn’t make mistakes. And so far, among these elite troopers the reputation was well secured. A shadow passed over those assembled. Thrawn offered a stiff salute to the mighty Lord Shepard as the dragon banked and prepared to land. The assembled troops follow suit and held their attention as the Lord of the Waylens and Wyzels landed and dismounted. Clad in armor of black the mouse approached the dais. As he did the Grand Admiral dropped to his knee.

“Welcome Lord Shepard” he said keeping his eyes caste down

“What news Grand Admiral?” Lord Shepard said, his voice soft but full of menace

“I have confirmed the death of two more Guard Mice, and the last of their BIG supporters. The village of Glenrummy has been destroyed and we are completing your work on Rosemellow as we speak. Icarus did manage to escape with perhaps two score of villagers and survivors, but none of them were critical targets my Lord”

“Excellent Grand Admiral, where did they flee to?” Shepard hissed from behind his mighty helm

“Our scouts are still trying to confirm their course so that we might bring them under your heel sire. Evidence points to the fact that they may have had external help, I have no proof you but I have suspicions of a Guard Mouse.” The Lord Shepard hands clenched with anger at hearing this, but he did not lash out at his Admiral

“Your guesses have often been reliable. Which Guard Mouse do you believe it is?” The Waylen Lord asked. The grand admiral scratched the tufts under his chin for a moment while he considered the question

“based on our intel about the Locations of the others… We know that Pickans and Palmer are both still holed up at Arbour-Portum. Guard Mouse Clove was spotted six days ago snaking into the Fur and Foot Nations eastern boarder. That would leave Tander or Thaden. Tander is more blood thirsty, his style would have been to leave traps and ambushes for my men or at least a skirmish or two before committing to an evacuation… this feels more like Guard Mouse Thaden, he is more cautious with the lives of his charges”

“Thaden of Rootwallow….” The voice of Lord Shepard sounded almost distant as he considered the words “He is a dangerous adversary, He trained under Garrow of Birchflow, and was well versed in not only Ataru blade style but also studied a fair about of Makashi. He is not one to be underestimated, and Pickens tends to give him a very long lead on his actions. If he is involved in this our entire southern operation could be thrown into disarray…” The Lord trailed off for a long moment before coming to attention “Grand Admiral, I want him found, I want to know where he went and I want him dead, or too preoccupied to be a bother to my plans. I want you to take the Goliaths, The Ashe Crew and the Tactical Relation Division… bring me his sword, and his paw clutching it”

“It will be done Sire” the Grand Admiral replied “But do we really need three companies for one lone Guard Mouse and a few score of villagers?” Shepard again paused before responding, his helm made reading his impressions nearly impossible

“The Weave tells me he is not a lone guard mouse… he has bonded with the weave to one… or perhaps five others… I sense a disturbance in the weave that I have never before felt. My instincts tell me he is very dangerous to my cause. Take no chances Grand Admiral, if you need more resources do not hesitate… I will not rest easy until I know that Thaden of Rootwallow is no more”

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Finding Her Way

26th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 3:33pm, Champion’s Fist, Estos Ocean, Argyle

In a way Hikari was grateful for the gods having gone silent on her. It game her time to continue to absorb and contemplate the dual lives she’d lived and how it was to have meaning in her own life. In a word, it was a mess, and she didn’t think she would have complete control over how she felt if certain situations were to arise. Much like how she’d blurted out just the wrong things to say during an amazing feast she’d created for the crew and their guest. Hikari still felt embarrassed over that and yet a part of her had wished to go further and somehow separate the two of them completely. It was wrong and she knew it but that did not stop her at the time. And that was what had her worried moving forward. So many memories and so much emotion wrapped up in those memories that she was easily becoming overwhelmed by them if she spotted something familiar or smelled something that reminded her of the past.

So she found solace in the silence that came with the loss of her connection with the gods and though the tattoo itched and the brand still ached she was alone in her devotions to her creators. Every night at 3am she’d seal her door and perform the ritual to Ymeri and bathe in fire to cleanse her body. And again with the coming of the afternoon she would retreat back to her room and relax trying to sleep or meditate as the book she’d picked up dictated as Pan’s time of rest. She’d enjoyed showing Flitt how to perform the nightly devotions to Ymeri and though she knew him to be a follower of Prometheus he’d changed recently and looked beyond to those who had in turn created his god.

Heh, changed, she was one to talk. It seemed that most of them had become something more, something different than what they started out as. And Hikari wondered how much more they were going to change before the fickle threads of fate were done with them. Hikari hoped it was a long way off for she had only just begun to live. But she’d defied fate at least once now and would continue to do her utmost to carve her own path through life. And maybe, just maybe she’d find a way to get back to the Fire Nation and save her… Hiro’s family and nation. Her, no Hiro’s mother would not recognize her and though she could help the changes had made it all but impossible for her to be the one to lead the Fire Nation out of the dark and back into the light of Ymeri.

Speaking of which, she needed to meet Tar Di in the galley…


“Why are we here?” Tar Di looked to Hikari in confusion, “I thought you said we were going to practice more magic today. You’re not going to make a cake analogy again are you? I think I have an idea about turning a bad guy into a piñata instead of confetti so their stuff falls out when you break them open.”

Hikari laughed and motioned for Tar Di to join her in the kitchen area. “I’m sure the captain would like that one a lot. Ze was not so happy when Alyss was completely destroyed like that. But no using it here and now.” She kept digging through the spices and stowed items seeking some specific items to create something quite unique. “No, I need your help because I was inspired the other day by a memory from Hiro’s life and I want to see if I can combine my skills in cooking with some magic to make something truly unique.”

“And yes, it is a magic lesson at the same time.” Hikari did not stop adding ingredients to her pile or look at Tar Di as her apprentice groaned, “But a fun and tasty one that will I hope inspire you the right way.”

“If you say so.” Came the sullen answer and Hikari handed Tar Di a small utensil and some vanilla beans.

“Here we need to make an extract and that starts by getting into these little sweets and collecting it into that small pestle. Then you get to grind it up into a paste.” Hikari gave some more instructions before starting in on the main component herself. First she started simmering some milk and mixed in a generous amount of sugar. While this was happening she took the cream she found and began to whip it into shape. While doing this she used magic to prep a small keg and clean it thoroughly before setting it to the side. There was still some of the chocolate left from the Mandy sculpture mold thing which she set to melt in a small pan. Soon enough the cream was taking shape and the milk and sugar had condensed nicely. She took the paste from Tar Di, the chocolate, condensed milk and whipped cream and folded it all together into a sweet smelling mass. Then she, with Tar Di’s help poured it all into the keg and after sealing it applied her cold magics to it. Then she placed it into a crate and coated the inside with more ice to keep it below freezing until she wanted it.

“Well… What is it? What was I supposed to learn from doing that and watching you?” An annoyed and frustrated Tar Di spoke up at last.

“That was an experiment. It was built upon a solid base though of skills I’ve honed and knowledge I’ve gained.” Hikari set a small bowl in front of Tar Di and nodded hading her the spoon to try it. “If it works out then it will be a sweet and tasty iced treat. If not then it will have been fun to try. After all not everything that can be eaten or drunk has been created and so as a chef I try things or change things to see if I can make something better or different. And a lot of times I do it whenever the mood strikes me. Much like how you chaos magic wants to work.”

The first bite was cold and Tar Di made a face but then, as it melted the flavours hit her and she could not help but smile at the vanilla, chocolate and sweet cream. “Mmmm, I like this. What is it?”

“Chocolate and vanilla iced cream. Though we could find other flavours to add to the base I suppose.” Hikari shrugged, “It’s the start of a larger endeavor but no less needing some creativity. And just like learning magic I needed to learn what happens to cream when you whip it or how one can combine sugar and milk together and with some gentle heat create something else that adds flavor and depth to a dish. So too with magic do you learn how to light a candle or send a message before you can throw fireballs or compel others to do your bidding. And also like cooking magic has no limits. What we know now is but a small sampling of what could be and we continue to experiment and learn to create new spells using what we’ve gained before.”

“Much like you piñata idea actually. Chaos has a wont to do whatever it decides at any given moment but as a wielder you can influence the outcome. Your wants change what it does and how it comes into existence. So we build you understanding and control of the fundamentals so that it does what you want it to do in your own chaotic way rather than letting it act as it will.” Hikari grinned and pulled out another empty keg she’d found. “Now how about we whip up another batch with a flavor of your choosing before dinner tonight? You can think on this and we will look at what you can do later. Oh and we will continue to work on your language and writing skills too with a list for Bronwyn for the second part of my grand scheme.”


The nice thing about being the ship’s wizard and chef was that she no longer had to work the rigging or sit at the oars or run around at the bark of an order. Nope, she got to train her apprentice and make meals and otherwise study her magics as she would. Which left her small opportunities for things like practicing the pan flute she’d picked up in Lockland. Her original plan was to practice in the extra dimensional space where no one could hear her but with the vampire living in there with his foul concoctions that plan was quickly kyboshed. So instead she played it whenever she was between other tasks and had to pretend to not care how bad she was when others wandered by and were unfortunate enough to listen to her play.

Over the course of their fifteen day journey she did get better but was still a long way to go to being good. The captain of the Champion’s Boot had spoken foten of wanting his officers to learn to play and she’d wanted to learn at the time too but their time had been short and her work with the crew had left her with no time to devote to the subject. Not that she had thought of a good instrument until after her birth… But they would work well once she figured them out as they would not interfere with her dancing and both were required by Pan for certain rites. Speaking of which she did need to speak to the captain about obtaining a few bottles of Elven Red for any possible holy days or moments that might come up….

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Ship Life 5

27th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 1:12am, Champions Fist, Estos Ocean, Argyle.

The Bow

“So then we come to the bow deck, areas I want checked are: over starboard rail, over port rail, over front gunners position, check to assure powder and weapons lockers are locked, and that lantern oil is filled” Maddax said to the assembled guards. He had been working through what the hourly sweep of the ship would look like and was assuring his team was on the same page. “Ok so we are going to run a few pop quizzes here: Douglas… you are doing a sweep of the bow area, and find a crew member slumped on the ground in a puddle of blood… what do you do?”

The big human scratched his head in concentration for a moment before answering. “I grab my med kit and see if there ok?” is answer was shaky. Maddax face palmed

“No Douglas, you blow your whistle raising the alarm, and secure the Captain… an invisible intruder, and mark my words on this ship there will be invisible intruders, often use a body as bait to take out another guard… raise the alarm, secure the Captain, only once that is done, do we go forward and offer aid”

“um…. I have a question Ser Maddax” A younger human named Terry called out, hand up and eager. Maddax rolled his eyes

“It’s just Maddax Terry, I am not a knight, and as stated before, you are not a guard, so I’m not sure why you’re here”

“Well… sir…” Terry began “I am off duty now, and wanted to learn so I thought I might tag along… my question is… if we don’t offer aid immediately, don’t we risk someone dying while we are raising the alarm?”

“Well Terry… the Guard, not you, but the guard have certain priorities on the ship, Rick what are those?” Maddax asked turning to Rick

“Captain, Officers, Crew, Guests, Ship then Cargo” Rick rattled off without much interest

“That’s correct” Maddax said “Captain first, then if you have to choose we save the officers, they are best able to save the others so we do what we can to keep them on their feet and moving, then we save our companions and crew members, after that lives in general are the responsibility. We all die if the ship sinks so next is the ship and at last if we can we save the cargo. Yes one crew may die following our procedures but if our throats are slit while providing aid, then the alarm isn’t raised and everyone dies… so we raise the alarm and secure the Captain… anymore questions?” he asked… seeing none he waved them forward “Ok then, we are heading to the bridge, we’re going to learn how to do a security check without getting in the way of the officers running the ship… follow me”

Cargo Hold B (Mandy’s Workshop)

She wiped the sweat from her brow as she peeled away another sliver of wood, the whole task was a bit ridicules, she would much rather be working on her forge or spending time with Taaj, but instead she was stuck trying to carve legs for a legless sailor.

“Mandy, you’re a carpenter right, you can just whip up a couple legs for Giuome can’t you?” she said in a mocking imitation of Flitt’s voice

“Sure Flitt, I’ll just take all my personal time and make whatever you want cause you want me to and I’m an idiot who never says no” she grumbled back to herself putting down the chisel and beginning to sand down the piece of wood. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to help but she had a project that was consuming her, she desperately wanted to keep working on it. In addition to that there was poor Taaj, being hustled around under guard like a common crook. She was mad that the Captain didn’t trust him like she did, but also it bothered her that she was mad at the Captain, that had never happened rally before… the whole thing put her stomach in knots. She continued to sand down the leg and turned it over in her hands… it wasn’t fancy but it would be durable and comfortable, it should allow him to get around on the ship until they could find better materials in a port. She placed the leg down and picked up another piece of wood, time to start leg two.

Captain’s Quarters

“I think without a doubt I can find the extra leather we need in Honastice. I should be able to do it in about three days if that can work for you Captain” Bronwyn said putting a few marks in her notebook.

“That will do nicely Ms. Penrose… thank you” The Captain said looking to the others assembled around the table. Aurelia, Flitt, Teagan and Hakari, Miriel and Bronwyn made for a crowded room. They would likely need to close the mess hall if they were ever going to meet with the entire command crew at once. Thankfully Mandy was working in her shop, and Willhym had the bridge with Ku-Aya being on the deck crew. “Who among us has ever been through Honastice?” the room was quiet as only Teagan and Bronwyn raised their hands. “Ladies… can you please tell us what to expect?” Teagan stood to speak first

“It’s definitely resting on its laurels from days gone by” Tegan began, venom clear in her voice “It is filled with the architecture and trappings of the ancient order of knights, but now is little more than fat rich men trying to become fatter and richer”

“The grain and corn fields have become the breadbasket of the eastern Dwarven Empire which has made the land owners very rich. Since they use slaver to work those fields it is the cheapest source of food on Argyle.” Bronwyn put in

“That means there are a lot of parties and events and festivals to keep people occupied while the slaves work” Teagan said “They have moved away from the ancient jousts or melee’s and now it is all about slave fights, small and intimate fights to the death with big gambling rings about it” Teagan added

“A lot of the slaves are of monstrous races, you see a fair chunk of humans as well, usually branded and a good mix of Halflings. Elven slaves are not rare but are less common, being this close to the elven court there are often raids for treasurers done by wealthy nobles, if they bring back a few slaves… so be it, it’s not like the elves are sending anyone to investigate.” Bronwyn said eliciting an eye roll from the Captain

“Essentially dwarves are the only none touch race, the Empire will not tolerate any of its citizens being a slave; it is also firmly against slavery, but won’t move to stop it as long as it stays neatly in Honastice Boarders. Most of us will be fine walking about the city and such, but anyone not of a ‘regular’ race… no offense” Teagan said looking at Flitt “should be sure to have their ID marking them as an employee of the ship with them at all times”

“Let’s make sure that the entire crew have ID before we get into Port, Bronwyn can you handle that?” Thalion asked eliciting a nod from the Quartermaster who made another notation in her book

“So tell me about this place that my friends have bene taken to, what can we expect?” Thalion asked.

“Most of our information shows they were taking to his main estates for processing, The main keep is more of a mason or villa sprawling along the lower end of the Stoney-Baynard Plantation, that would be about three days journey south and west from the city of Honastice. Longer if you are going on foot. If they are being kept for the fights then there is a good chance they will be somewhere on the plantation itself. If however they are being used for mining, which I would assume they wouldn’t waste a Lycan on farming… then they would be another day west of the plantation in the quarry. If you spring them violently that is a lot of open fields and a lot of time that you would need to be out in the wind before making it back to the ship.” Bronwyn said all business

“Even if we made it back to Honastice with them, it’s not like the City guard will smile favourably with us “stealing” a bunch of slaves” Flit put in.

“If we broke them out, we would need to find a way to smuggle them overland and through the city, or make our way south far enough to a new harbor… we don’t have charts onboard for all the elvish coast lines, but we can check how feasible that is once we arrive in Honastice” Teagan put in.

“Ok, I want everyone thinking on this over the next week, let’s get brainstorming folks” the Captain said

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Ship Life 4

25th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 10:12am, Champions Fist, Estos Ocean, Argyle.

“…So there I was, me and the boys heading out for a craic, and we get to the cart and she’s peeled, wheels gone foggerty so we has to walk. And as were staggering down the street, remember we been deep in our cups all afternoon and near langered, so we see this whore, and she’s nuttin you want to be a part of, all caked up with a face like a blind cobblers thumb… ya’d have to be a blind deaf stook to want to snog her. Anyway, she’s out on the corner poormouthing us like a Rale Don-Tonian on a funny bend. So Jamie is there, and he wants to oaf about and take the piss out of her for a tic, normally I’d have a gas with him, but I was starving ya see, could’ve ate the three sirens, so I tell the whanker to leave the whore be so I can get some eats. But she is having none of it, she is screaming that me mate got her plugged and rawny himbo don’t pay up, then she’ll be calling down the mighty lord upon his house… she seems mad as a box of frogs and is letting anyone who’ll hear have it… at this point I’m just standing there itching to find some eats when a clean on lass comes a sauntering out of a shop down the street. Well I’m cut to the onions with all the drama so I toddle off on Jamie and head to the glad eye…”

Flitt rolled his eyes, forty minutes ago he had asked Cassidy why he’d gone back to Lockland, he still had no idea, and was entirely unsure what the vampire was talking about. Cassidy didn’t seem to need someone to talk to when he got going, Flit carefully backed out of the room, to see if the vampire would notice his departure.

“… so then she’s telling me about how her boyfriend is an equalizer at a temple to Aleau, so I have a nugget of a notion about how we can have some fun; I tells her that I could eat the entirety of the holy pantheon, and she says she knows a place to nibble, so were off… gendering back to see the rumbly muffin still ranting at Jamie…”

Flitt backed out of the room, it appeared the vampire was now telling his story to the canary, so be it. He hopped up the steps to the crew cabins. Alyss’s spell was slowly wearing off, it appeared he was growing an inch a day, making him almost four inches tall now. That made getting around the ship tricky sometimes, but he figured he’d be back to normal in no time.

“Take aim…. and Fire!” he heard a voice call from one of the cabins… curiosity over took him and he hopped over to check it out. Along the door way he found several Chippious, Scurrious and Hedgies holding tiny short bows firing arrows at a chalk outline drawn to be man sized on the far wall. Flanking the archers he saw the two Lutrea holding spears protecting them should they be charged. Walking in front of the line was Thaden speaking to the group. “Your arrows may not penetrate the thick hides of the BIG’s, but that is not the point, BIGS are naturally fearful of their faces being hurt, they will shelter their eyes and faces from your onslaught, the blindness will allow the glue team to move in… GLUE TEAM GO!” at his command from under the bed two young Scuirrous youth came running across the room, they approached the chalk feet each slapping the end of a cord to the wall. “The glue won’t hold under much pressure but the cords are tied together and in this case to the bed, in battle a tree rock or anything at least twenty times larger than yourself will do. The goal here is to trip the BIG, to make them fall, it is not a long term solution. Archers, you’re going to keep firing until such a time as the glue team is back to cover, as long as they are out there keep shooting… If a BIG sees them they will be squished.”

“Are we not getting a little grizzly here Master Guard Mouse?” a Scurrious women asked from her seat with a few other littles up on the bed. Thaden turned to her with a slight bow

“With respect Sierra, War is grizzly, and my business will not allow me to stay with you and protect you always, your people need a militia and need to understand how to keep each other safe…” he turned back to the assembled archers “NOW, when the BIG falls, what happens?” he asked. A chipious man holding a boy raised his hand and answered

“We charge?” he asked

“That is right Frederick,” Thaden said with a tight grin “You charge… in clusters of four, target the eyes, or the soft parts of the throat or the holes in the ears… stay away from everywhere else… you will only have about six seconds from when they fall to when they get up, you need to rush in and get those targets… if a BIG goes down, you cannot allow it to get up again with sight intact… that will be the end of you… am I making myself clear?” there was a series of mumbled accents when Thaden noticed the onlooker. “Master Fargazer” The guard mouse said bowing to the Grippli; to the rest he said “Take a short break everyone, when we return we will discuss charge and fade tactics” with that Thaden strode out to speak with the First Mate.

“Building an army Thaden?” Flitt inquired as the Waylen approached

“Hardly my friend, I am trying to teach them how to take care of themselves after we part ways… there are no longer enough of the Guard to assure their safety.” Flitt scratched his head.

“Well if you need someone to aid you with lessons… I won’t be small long, but I am happy to offer my services while I can… I am pretty good with a sword and have had my share of fighting creatures larger than me” Thaden scratched his chin nodding

“That would be a… pun intended… BIG help, the archers need a lot more of my attention, and the spearmen are missing out because of it… anything you could do would make a large difference” Flitt grinned at the Waylen

“I am heading up for a Duty Shift, but I can come back down in about five hours and offer some time… I’ll see you then”

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Ship Life 3

24th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 4:32am, Champions Fist, Estos Ocean, Argyle.

“Good Morning Master Herwy” Hugh rubbed the sleep from his eyes and was shocked to see the bearded face of the Bosun inches from his own. It was a little too intimate for a man in his hammock before the morning claxon.

“Mornin Bosun” Hugh mumbled wincing a little, his eye was pretty swollen from yesterday’s brawl and the First Mate had ordered that no magical healing was to be ‘wasted’ on such injuries “what time is it?”

“It is an hour and a half before the morning horn Master Herwy, please dress yourself quietly and meet in the mess hall, you have five minutes” with that the Bosun offered a slight bow of his head and disappeared from view. Hugh sighed and rolled out of his hammock beginning to dress. Truth be told he was not surprised, he had figured he’d gotten off easy last night, and now that Bosun would come and give him a beating for brawling and make sure such things did not happen again. Hugh had served on enough ships to know that you take your hits and move on, he would not offer complaint, and at least this Bosun seemed willing to do it in private instead of in front of the men… that was something. Hugh pulled on his breeches and tunic, slipped on his shoes and shuffled quietly out of the rowing cabin and down the hall into the mess hall. He was a little surprised to Guiome there, he had figured the cripple would get off light, apparently this Bosun was not above beating on a legless man… that seemed fair in a sick kind of way to Hugh.

“Bosun…” Hugh said, clearing his throat as he came in, he turned and nodded to Guiome as well… sometimes these things go easier if you can show no hard feelings… truth be told Hugh did feel a little bad… sometimes the rum did more talking then he did.

“Master Herwy, please, have a seat” The Bosun said pointing to the bench opposite him at the main table. Guiome was sitting down at the far end, there were only three candles lit, two in front of the Bosun and one by Guiome. Guiome appeared to have ink and parchment as well, and was scribbling something down on paper. Hugh took his seat and looked up at the Bosun

“Sir?” he asked unsure what was to come

“You see Master Herwy, I am a big believer in peace among the crew. When crew members fight it creates discord, and keeps us from achieving oneness. As Bosun I take it as my task to create Harmony and oneness among the crew, and so, in order to make my task easier, I would ask… what are your hobbies Master Herwy?” Hugh cocked his head to the side…this was not the lecture he expected, nor was he ready to be asked about hobbies

“hobbies sir?”

“Yes… what is it you are good at?” the Bosun asked patiently folding his fingers together in front of him

“well… Drinking I guess, Sir” Hugh said with a bit of a chuckle, but looking up he found no mirth on the face of Ku-Aya

“No Hugh… you are not good at drinking, or we would not be in this situation, try again, what is something that you excel at, that brings you joy?” Hugh leaned back and thought about it, he hadn’t really considered such a question in a long time

“Well Sir… I used to be a fair hand at whittling, wasn’t a master or anything, but could make a decent dog or cat for the nieces” Hugh said a smile coming to his face at the memory. He was surprised to see a large grin on the Bosun’s face as well

“Whittling, what a great choice… finding the thing that the log most yearns and wants to be, and helping it achieve that being… I could not have picked a more splendid metaphor if I had had to choose myself… this will be most illuminating Master Herwy” the laughter and smiles from the Bosun were infectious though Hugh could not figure out what was going on

“So… if that is all, I’ll just get back to bed then Bosun?” Hugh said, slowly standing up.

“Nice try Master Herwy, please sit” The Bosun said, losing none of his good humor. Hugh sat back down and waited for the shoe to drop “Since you seem to have too much time on your hands, and trouble bonding with others, you and Master Dela-Vega Del-toro will be spending the foreseeable future in very close proximity. To begin I am very excited to share that Master Wyson is beginning an early morning stretching and exercise program that he is calling ‘greeting the dawn’. I am very impressed, it involved getting up an hour before morning bell each day and doing stretches and mucele control exercises to prepare one’s self for the day. These are strictly optional for the crew of course… save the two of you who will be the most excited volunteers until I say otherwise. In addition to this it appears that Master Dele-Vegga Del-toro is a Master in the art of calligraphy, I nearly lost art I am afraid. I love how the letters swell and rise and fall like waves on the ocean, coupled with the correct prose it can bring tears to ones eyes. In his free hour three nights a week Master Dele vegga Del-toro has kindly agreed to host lessons in this art form. I will be making arrangements the young Suli, Tar-Di, Deborah to attend these lessons until each can be considered competent in the art, you will be taking these classes as well and work as Master Dele-Vegga Del-toro’s teaching aid. Only when you and all three of your students have met my expectations of your potential will these lessons stop” Hugh let out a groan, this was going to be terrible, up early every morning and lessons in writing for an hour three nights a week. He tried to keep the fake smile plastered to his face as to not insight the Bosun’s wrath and further. “… In addition…” Ku-Aya continued “…You will be teaching whittling to our three apprentices and to Master Dele-Vegga Del-Toro for an hour three nights a week as well. Again these lessons will remain mandatory until such a time that I feel your students have become competent in their craft. I want you to know that I am very excited about this Master Herwy, I feel like this will put us on our path towards oneness, and also give one cause to reconsider quarrelling needlessly to crew members…” The Bosun stood and stretched looking around the room “As you can see, Master Dela-Vegga Del Toro has already begun working on his lesson plans and equipment requests, I will speak with the Quartermaster once you have your requests for your first lesson, but work quickly, our first work out begins in about ten minutes” with that the Bosun offered a small bow to each of them and turned walking softly to the stairs to head up on deck. Hugh let out a long breath, what kind of crazy ship had he signed onto?

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Ship Life

24th of Floodtime 383 ONT, 9:32am, Champions Fist, Estos Ocean, Argyle.

“Thank you Mr. Turid, that will be all” Captain Thalion said, releasing the guard from his quarters. The guard saluted crisply and departed the Captains quarters. The Captain sat at his small table, Taaj al-Pour sat opposite him. Little Suli hopped between both Captain and guest filling their tea cups before she too was dismissed. The two sat in silence for some time, the Captain adding some Layota Honey to his tea, curtesy of Bronwyn. Taaj on the other hand sipped his tea black. The silence stretched for nearly half their cups before Taaj at last broke it.

“Your overhaul on the Never Moist has come along well, one would hardly recognise the ship” where the words could have been construed as accusing the tone used was congenial.

“Indeed, I took a page from General Forester’s book on taking something and then making it your own” Thalion quipped back. At this Taaj lifted his tea cup in a tiny salute and sipped it quietly once more. “Mr. al-Pour, we are going to have to find a way to work together, to build some trust, I can sense the same connection as you, but do not think I am so foolish as to just trust you blindly because of it.” To this the half elf slowly inclined his head, he seemed to contemplate his words very carefully before speaking.

“How would you suggest that we build trust Ser Thalion?”

“You could start by telling me more about the ship that is chasing us, and what they know of our crew and plans” the Captain said. To this Taaj frowned and lowered his gaze, seeming disappointed with the Captain

“How could that possibly build trust? You have put me in an impossible situation…” he took a sip of tea “If I tell you of my brother or his ship I am betraying my family and friends, not exactly the act of a trustworthy man? But if I tell you nothing I am withholding from you and again can’t be trusted… I see no clear course, and so I choose no course at this juncture” the Captain sat back and scratched his chin at this.

“Family and friends? When I saved you from the deck below they did not appear to be so friendly? Are these people worthy of your loyalty?” The Captain asked. He was surpised to see a flash of anger run across the Half Elf’s face.

“Yes, and you did not save me from them, I was saving you… my brother was trying to fire ordinance that would have scuttled your ship and possibly sunk it. I was unwilling to let that happen while Mandy was onboard, so I had taken the activation wand, they would not have harmed me, merely pinned me and taken it. Hopefully too late for them to act. You are the monster who jumped onto the ship and murdered four men, two of them had served with our family for decades. Rafeeq and Kaleem deserved better than that”

“They were attacking my ship!” Thalion fired back, red coming to his cheeks “I will do what it takes to protect my crew”

“You put your crew on a stolen ship! And then sauntered into a major port, did you think that was going to be left to stand?”

“That ship was taken while at war with Cainia, a country your people illegally invaded and stole!” Thalion said rising to his feet

“Cainia was seized legally AND if you stole the ship as part of a Cainian resistance why is it not being delivered to the Cainian Navy?” Taaj said matching the Captains motions and leaning over the table to yell his point

“SINCE WHEN IS MURDERING A MONARCHY LEGAL? YOUR PEOPLE ARE MONSTERS I SAW THEIR BUTCHERY IN FAURTHUR PORT!”

“HA! YOU WANT TO BRING UP FAURTHUR PORT? THE PLACE YOU AND YOURS BURNT TO THE GROUND! TELL ME CAPTAIN DOES ANYONE YOU SAVE ACTULLY GET TO LIVE OR DO THEY ALL JUST BURN IN YOUR WAKE?” the words were like venom spat from a saade snake. Thalion saw red, his honour would not allow him to take such insolence and harassment from the likes of an Omar. With two large steps he was around the table his hand quickly grasping the silken shirt of Taaj and his hand came up to deliver a blow, but as it raced towards the half elf’s nose he stopped. There was a force there something deeper than his very honour that could not allow him to hurt Taaj. Twice more the Captain fought to overcome the feeling, but he could not, he pushed Taaj back into his chair in frustration

“Goddess” the Captain cursed.

“It is infuriating no?” Taaj asked as the Captain slumped back into his chair. “I cannot knowingly allow you or any member of the five to come to harm… much like you I am sure are obligated to protect us… It is so strong that I turned on my own crew to prevent them from retaking this ship. I love Mandy, love her more than anything I have ever felt before, and I feel a need to assure you and Aurelia and Flit are safe, I can’t stop that. But don’t think that I will offer my brother, my family or my friends to you because of that… I won’t betray them” Taaj said, slumping into his own chair. The Captain reached to the table and picked up his tea cup taking a long sip.

“I guess we will start from there Taaj al-Pour, and see what can grow of it… there will be a guard or an officer with you at all times, and we will talk again before we get to port… but for now… that will do” Taaj nodded at the Captains words and sipped the last of his tea before standing.

“Thank you Captain, I am sure Mr. Turd will be excited to hear that”

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