Balance

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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Faith of the Heart Pt 2

21st of Floodtime, Parvan Fields of Antioch, 4:09am

“Master Chalum… we can’t stay here… we need to go!” Ozwack called over the sizzling and crackling of the fires. The request was pointless, there was nowhere to go. Both ends of the valley had now been blocked by the flowing magma, fires raced up the valley walls. A skilled climber like Maul-Chalum might be able to pick his way through and escape, but he had about two hundred people with him, and the unconscious Curtis as well, he’d never get them all out.

“Oswack, if you and Soaz want to go, I won’t blame you, take anyone who can fly or you can carry, but there is no escape, this is where the Goddess wanted us, this is where we are” he looked around seeing the haze of heat in the air, the rise they were on would ignite soon, the death’s of the younger more fragile of their group would soon be on his hands.

“I told you Master Chalum, we will not leave you” Ozwack stated, Soaz accenting his point with a little tingle of a bell. Maul looked around for a sign, The Goddess could be subtle, did he miss a turn, a path or a cave?

“We are here! WE ARE HERE!” he cried into the night “WHAT WILL YOU HAVE US DO? THEY NEED YOU GODDESS… I need you” he said the last as a whisper.

Cough cough

“Curtis… are you ok?” Maul was by the little faun’s side, the faun nodded

“water…” he croaked. And quickly the wild elf pulled forth his skin and unstopped it. The water was warm and leathery but the faun did not complain

“Curtis… I’m sorry… I… I led us to…”

“To exactly where the goddess wishes us to be my friend” The burnt faun said

“But… but…” Tears were in Mual-Chalums eyes, he knew that death was upon them, even if his friend was too delirious to see

Please listen while reading

Curtis began to sing softly, a gently hymn to the Goddess about Faith. Maul couldn’t help but smile, he supposed if this were to be the end, then so be it, he would die with faith, as a believer. He joined into the song, grinning wider as he heard Levan and Oswack, even Soaz join up. It wasn’t long before the rescued villagers began to sing as well, even with the tree’s sizzling around them, waiting to explode into flame, still the people on this little island in a sea of magma sang out to the glory of the Goddess of the Night Wind.

It was Levan who pointed up into the night sky first, seeing the giant black wings of the angelic woman. As the beats from her wings brought fresh cool air to those below and cast out the smoke that threatened to choke them.

“I Am ARIUK, First Storm of the Goddess of the Night Wind. Fear Not Mortals! Your Goddess has Heard Your Prayers, and Wishes You Spared on This Night!” her voice swam across the breeze bringing hope and comfort to all who heard it… somehow each knew that Ariuk spoke to them, in their native tongue. The Ordinal landed stretching her wings wide as her eyes caste across those assembled. She reached out grabbing a shaven dwarf huddled among the survivors. “You dare to act as spy or traitor? I see your heart, and you will turn to the Parvan as soon as these people are free” with an easy flick of her wrist the dwarf spun head over foot through the air and landed out in the sea of magma, screaming in wretched pain until he sizzled away into nothingness. With the grim work done she looked at those assembled “Come closer now, Our Goddess loves you all, and will see you safely through this night.” With the people moving in the wings of Aruik stretched and grew as she wrapped them around those assembled, protecting them from the heat and fire and sheltering them from the falling burning debris. It only felt like a few moments but it must have been hours… or perhaps days as when she pulled her wings back, it was day. The magma had hardened to stone and was cool to the touch, the fires had long since burnt out their course leaving husks of tree trunks, the ground was coated in a thin grey ash.

“What now? Where will we go?” a villager asked

“I cannot lead you” Aruik stated, “You must follow your own mortal breeze, but were I mortal, my path would follow that of the Prophet Curtis” she said pointing to the Faun who for the first time was completely speechless. With her work done she looked above, high up a small vortex of clouds began to form, her wings thrust her from the ground and she flew into the eye of the vortex and disappeared. Moments after her departure the vortex calmed and dissipated, leaving them standing in the barren fields of Antioch once more.

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Creation

Time Unknown

Location Unkown

And so it was that the oceans of the ether roiled and churned the great tides receded and bubbled and through the turbulent surface sprang a great oak… rocketing into the sky the mighty oak was over one hundred miles wide, and ever onward is shot towards the sky branches ever snaking out leaves blossoming as it took its place in existence. As the sun set towards the twilight hours the great oak finally began to take its root and shape it solidified into a great structure filled with burrows that led to homes, to markets and theaters, to happiness. Great palaces and homes nestled within the branches of the mighty oak and took shape. In each cardinal direction a great branch shot arrow straight at the end forming a great watch tower. On top of each tower a glisten of magic and substance from the ether pulled together to create a form… to create life.

The Northern Citadel had a light coating of frost over its walls that were built from the great Aurora. He took the form of a man, his hair dancing with the colours of the great aurora his skin a slight tinge of blue; His eyes that of the cold winter wind… and so it was that Tuath, first of her Cardinal Winds had come to be.

To the South at the same moment the Citadel came into being, its walls a shimmer of heat as it met the cool air. She was formed of warmth, of grace, he long flowing hair her silky skin, she would be a bringer of comfort. She was Deas the Southern Cardinal Wind and she had come to be.

Great billowing clouds came in from the east, large and fluffy to form the walls of the Citadel, the clouds began to shape her as well, she would bring in storms, and push forth the rain, she would wash the battle field anew and allow regrowth to begin. She was Eir the Eastern Cardinal Wind had come to be.

As with the East the West brought in silky stratus clouds that made long smooth walls of their Citadel. The formed up large muscles and great billowing beard with long corded hair. He would fill sails and send those out to find adventure, he would push back his sister’s storms and labour to turn the great mills… He was Iar, the Western Cardinal Wind had come to be.

As Each Cardinal Wind came into existence they knew their purpose, it was clear, and each took off flying into their direction with the mind and purpose of their goddess. Their Citadels began to gently way and shutter always guarded by their essence and breeze

At the top of the Great Oak sprawled the Palace of theGoddess of the Night Wind. And at her gates a leaf blossomed and from the blossom formed a women. She was well muscled with dark hair and great wings of black that sprang from her back, spirals of gold twisted and turned as the wrapped around her body in an intricate set of tattoos. As she looked up the Four Cardinal Winds blasted her from each direction and she was filled with the love and desire to serve the Goddess of the Night Wind. She was Ariuk, First Storm of the Goddess of the Night Wind and Ordinal of her paradise. She was knew and young, she would have liked to learn of this new land, to bask in the glory of her Goddess’s creation, but that could not be, not now, her goddess had work for her to do and she was created to serve. She turned and entered the mighty Oaken Palace to find passage to the Land of Argyle, where her Goddess had business.

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Ship Life

23rd of Floodtime 383 ONT, 5:45pm, Champions Fist, Estos Ocean, Argyle.

The Hold

Taaj looked at the little area between the stacked grates of leather and sighed. A few blankets and a pillow had been brought out for him, but for the foreseeable future this would be his home. He looked over his shoulder to see Rick leaning in the doorframe looking at nothing in particular.

“Thank you Mr. Turd” Taaj offered allowing the man to leave if he wished.

“Actually, its pronounced Turid… Turid” the guard responded with a hint of annoyance

“My apologies Mr. Turid, I am well settled now, you need not occupy yourself with me if you have other pressing matters”

“Ah, no worries buddy, Captain was crystal clear, you are eyes on until further notice, you pee… I hold it kinda deal” his tone was cordial enough but his eyes implied he couldn’t care less about Taaj, his comfort or his wish for privacy.

“Well of course…” Taaj said with a disarming smile, “I was curious, do you know where Mandy…”

“Master Carpenter Doyle?” Rick interrupted in a warning tone

“Yes, do you know when Master Carpenter Doyle might be available?” he finished his request, starting to get annoyed with the guard

“Nope” he responded

“Do you think…”

“Nope” he said again, cutting off whatever Taaj’s next question was going to be. Taaj let out a breath through his teeth, at this the guard turned to him “Look buddy, I’m not here to be your pal, I was told you might be a risk to the crew; and if I end up having to stick you later, I’d rather not be on close terms when I do. Captain said you could be on the bow deck or here in your quarters, Captain said you were eyes on until he said otherwise… Captain hasn’t said otherwise to me, so stop asking me questions, cause to save time, I either don’t know or don’t care… got it?”

“ya I got it… Mr. Turd” Taaj said eliciting a glower from the guard but little else.

The Mess Hall

“Can I just say, that this might be the best ship I have ever been on?” Nathan said, taking another large forkful of steamed whitefish with kale and figs. “I don’t think I ever ate so well, and a double rum ration on the way out?” he raised his cup taking a deep pull with a grin that stretched ear to ear

“The Captain is generous with his rum” Oslow offered with slightly less cheer as he dug into his meal

“or at least the first officer is generous with the Captain’s Rum” Arlan offered eliciting a chuckle from Nathan

“To Generous First Mate’s!” Nathan toasted, Arlan was quick to clink his cup

“Actually… I am pretty sure the Captain was ok with it, he and Mr. Fargazer are SUPER close, they fought together in Amberdale, and in Harbinger…” Jesse enthused

“Yes yes, I am sure if the First Mate or Captain need a bed warmer they’ll call you” Hugh said snickering at his own joke.

“I am pretty sure that Grippli don’t take concubines Mr. Herwy” said the dour voice of Guiome from his place at the end of the table. The Hugh glared at the large sailor.

“well… who knows what the First Mate needs, he did hire a legless sailor… lot of help you were up there.”

“Easy Hugh” Nathan jumped in “Guiome’s legs got broke, during the fight, not much he could do”

“That’s just my point Nate…” Hugh said taking a large bite of food while he talked “In every fight were going to have to be worried about the cripple and the kind of trouble that brings upon us, instead of defending ourselves or the ship… he splinters the twig and he is useless”

“I was ask you came over here and said that?” Guiome said in a warning tone… those assembled ooooohed at the threat

“I don’t know about this, Mr. Fargazer is not really tolerant of brawling on his ships” Jesse piped in, but Hugh had already stood up and was walking towards the cripple at the end of the table. A murmur of coins exchanging hands quickly rippled through the room as Hugh approached, leering over the cripple and grabbing his cup of water.

“what are you gonna do about it crutchy?” Hugh leered as he poured the water over Guiomes head, as the first drops hit the large black-haired man, his hands grabbed his plate and flung it out smashing it into Hugh’s groin, as the sailor doubled over Guoime grabbed him and flung them both onto the floor quickly offering a series of well placed punches.

Maddax had just come down the stairs and quickly registered the chaos in the Mess Hall, he readjusted his spear and was about to dive in when he felt a hand on his shoulder, he turned to see Flitt

“give them another minute, it’s good to let them establish their own pecking order… when things get serious then break it up”

“Aye Aye sir… the goblin said, a little uneasy”

Cannon Deck

Willhym pulled his hand out of the fifth cannon and pulled a lumped hunk of black sludge out.

“EWWWW” Deborah said as he dropped it into the bucket. “are they all like that?”

“Fair amount of water splashed in on the starboard side, I suspect the other two will have the same troubles… we’re gonna have to get them all cleaned up and dried”

“But didn’t the wizard say she could just dry it for us? Why do we have to do it?” she asked. Willhym rolled his eyes before responding

“Please put your left hand on the cannon Deborah” she looked confused but did as he bade… he slammed his fist down on her hand eliciting a yelp of pain

“Your on a ship now Deborah, and you report to me… The Captain will judge me based on your behaviour and attidude, and I only like being judged well… so if you have a question, we are gonna answer it right, else your gonna get a thump… the question you wanted to ask was ‘Didn’t MASTER ANAKAMOTO say she could dry the powder for us SIR?’” there was a long pause while Willhym stared at her, at last in a long mumbled garble game the new question

“Didn’t Master Anakamoto say she could dry the powder for us sir?” Willhym nodded and turned back to the cannon, pulling another handful of sludge out

“That she did, but we may not always have the good wizard with us, and you will need to know how to do this on your own and quickly… usually in a battle the Wizard has better things to do then be drying powder… now pass me that rag” he said reaching out. She grabbed the rag beside her and passed it, he stopped and looked up, she caught on quickly giving a slightly sarcastic but still acceptable

“Aye Sir”

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A Promise Kept Pt 1

23rd of Floodtime 383 ONT, 10:15am, Pardwell Crossing Fields, Cainia

Sir Horace let loose a series of four tight fireballs and then dropped to a crouch allowing Rand to step off his back and jump high enough to fire two arrows into the Gnoll Commander. The agile Ranger hit the ground in a roll coming back up with an arrow knocked but he held it, Sir Horace’s men had the enemy in a full route. The Ranger turned back to Horace with a grin on his face

“That was kinda fun” Rand said lazily firing his arrow and dropping a fleeing gnoll on the fringe of the battlefield. The knight regained his feet and stretched unable to suppress his own grin

“I would agree”

“You know you’re going to hear about it from the Queen right?” Rand said. Horace raised an eyebrow putting a mock innocent look on his face

“Her Majesty ordered me to escort these men to Don-Ton for the rebuilding of our embassy… I was told to get it done in under five teleport jumps… can I help that three of them just happened to be in Cainia? And that we just happened to land in a group of hostiles?”

“Very unlucky” Rand said in an attempt to look solemn

“I know right? What are the odds?” The knight said

“Enough that you are going to be in trouble when we get home” Rand said, a note of seriousness in his tone, but the knight would have none of it

“I believe a certain Ranger once told me that it’s fun to be in trouble” both of them broke into chuckles

“it is isn’t it” Rand said once again taking an appraising looked… they were eighty feet from the walls of Pardwell… there were clear signs of the Mercenaries there freaking out and trying to figure out what to do about this hostile force. “I guess we should get ready for the next jump?” Rand offered

“No…” The Knight said “I think we will take a four hour break here… let the men rest and regain their magical energies”

“Right here… 80 feet from the wall of the keep?” Rand asked incredulous

“Seems like a nice spot… with a good view” Horace said turned and dramatically scoping the little field

“You’re such an asshole… I love it” Rand said as they both laughed

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