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Tyler

A Crowning Achievement [Artifact]

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The white-haired woman patted Shane's shoulder once again. "See? You're adjusting already. No need to worry about your transition."

While the idiot duo continued to laugh uncontrollably, the Lady Sheathe had a troubled look on her face. Despite being a weird trinket, the crown still have some sort of political symbolism within Ursa Madeum. Letting it fall into the pirate lord's hands is the last thing any noble would want. 

As Teddy took the opportunity to knock some sensibility and sense of propriety on the two idiots, the Lady Sheathe regarded Abigail. "What now? We could still track them back into their hideout. However, it would mean we would have to go past pirate infested waters. Your call."

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"Bu-but... I don't wanna be a girl," Shane moaned weakly, in response to Middy, "Why did this happen? What happened?"

With Abigail now turned away to speak to Lady Sheathe about more important matters, Shane finally was allowed to get acquainted with her new self. And it caused her face to turn red and teeth to clench.

"You were just joking... right? This isn't for the rest of my life, not really... is it?" she looked up at Middy with misty eyes, all the things she had experienced in the last several minutes just being too much for her mind, body and emotions to handle.

 

Abigail had stepped away from where Shane was now seated, Lady Sheathe hanging nearby. The question was a legitimate one, and it would be necessary to move quick if they intended to catch Copperbeard before he reached the safety of the Pirate Cove. This crew was not a large one, but it would have to do. If Copperbeard reached the cove, then no army would be large enough to root him out.

"We need to attempt to apprehend him before he reaches his hideout," Abigail replied, "Judging by the state of this camp, the raid occurred not long ago, and it is unlikely even the fastest of pirate ships could reach the Cove from here by now. Your craft is much faster than a sailing vessel as well, so there is a chance we may be able to overtake him if we move now. But we have no way of knowing which route he took back to the cove..."

She paused and looked back at Shane.

"I guess we'll have to take her along."

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Ignoring the fresh transgender, the Lady Sheathe tried to walk on her own but failed to do so. She was instead saved from further humiliation with the timely appearance of Teddy together with the Lady's mechanical contraption that was meant to assist the handicapped.

Now settled on the contraption, the Lady Sheathe addressed the Duchess. "I think that could work as well. But that would mean we would have to intercept Copperbeard before he reaches pirate's cove. We have no information regarding the number of forces he currently has while on the run or the particulars of their equipment or weaponry."

The Lady paused to gesture to her other attendants. The white-haired woman shrugged at Holly's nonverbal commands and moved to drag the struggling Shane back into the ship. Sera and Khaki also acknowledged their orders with a nod but instead of returning to the ship, they instead began their flight forward directly into Pirate's cove.

"I propose we take a direct route to the Pirate's cove hoping we would meet Copperbeard along the way while my two attendants would scout ahead. If my guess would be correct, then we might have to fight in open sea once we caught up to Copperbeard and his forces."

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"Hey, what are you-- Where are you taking me! Hey, let go! Heeeeeey!" Shane whined as she was drug along.

Abigail ignored the background noise as she and Holly made their way back onto the ship. The Lady Sheathe brought up valid points, but the reality was that they had no choice but to try and engage Copperbeard now, while he was least protected. Once he had time to rejoin his main force, not to mention time to learn how to wield the crown's power, it might be impossible to free the artifact from his grasp.

"If we can take him in the open water, it will be for the best," she noted, "My men are trained for boarding operations, and we have the advantage of being sky-born. Likely as not, we will be able to repel down onto his ship directly, avoiding the arcs of his gun batteries."

As most sailing ships had their cannons mounted on their sides, and very few had any weapons designed to fire skyward, save for maybe a few harpoons or ballistae in the rare event of a dragon or other flying monster. It was doubtful that they'd be in much a position to oppose the Sheathe airship, however.

"Question the prisoner and find out what he knows about Copperbeard's preferred travel routes. Use whatever means necessary to get him to talk," she indicated toward both Holly and the white-haired woman simultaneously.

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Poor Shane. He was dragged around like a ssck by the white-haired woman and haphazardly thrown above-decks. He would be surrounded by Holly and the other Sheathe members. However, the white-haired woman motioned to leave and waved everyone farewell. 

Before anyone could ask why, Holly was there to provide sufficient reason. "We need to go fast and that bitch is the best energy source we have at the moment."

With the white-haired bitch out of the way, it was Holly's turn to ask the poor tranny. "Speak, lass. Tell us all we need to know about Copperbeard and his whereabouts. Spill it or I'll throw you off the ship. A mile or two drop should be very suggestive."

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Shane's mind was reeling from all of this, confusion, anger, uncertainty... but most prominently fear. A sick feeling in her gut, leftover from the temporary death experience, had left her in no position to try and act tough or defiant. And with a newly-minted female body, which was surging with hormonal changes thanks to the very abrupt realignment, her entire being was a maelstrom of chaotic emotion.

"I'll tell you whatever you want," she said finally, actually crying despite herself, "Just don't let me die again."

Her thoughts wandered back to her home, and to the family she had probably devastated with her actions way back when. Everything that she had done since that one fateful night had been absolutely wrong, and she knew it. Everything. Helping pirates, looting, doing mercenary work for criminals, trying to blow up a club, joining the cult, going back to the piracy... Had she done a single wholesome thing since she left Norkotia?

Presumably one of her interrogators got impatient (probably Sera) and knocked her out of his stupor.

"He... we looped north around Misral. It's less patrolled by warships than the southern route, and while it takes a little longer, we can sail straighter. He'll probably head back that way, if he keeps to his normal methods," Shane explained in a shaky voice, "He might have something else planned though, but he didn't share it with any of the crew. I thought I heard one of the officers mention Casper... but that could have been something else. I have know idea. My best guess is he'll head back to the Cove by looping around the northern shore again."

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While Sera would have been a likely candidate (and a very good one at that!) for bonking Shane out of his stupor, it was actually Teddy who did it. A mean bonk to the head was just the right amount of violence to jog someone's mental state and bring Shane back into reality.

As the words spilled out of the tranny's lips, the kind Lady Sheathe pursed her lips in thought. "There's your answer," the Lady spoke as she addressed Dutch Abby. "We could take our chances now and go for broke. Let's meet with Copperbeard as quickly as possible."

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"It will do," Abigail agreed, "Let us be on the move then."

Once the directions were relayed to the helm, and all the marines had boarded the vessel, they were off once more. Abigail had a map brought up and began working with the navigator calculating where Copperbeard ought to be, based on the approximate speed of a sea-faring vessel in the current conditions, the distances involved, and the approximate amount of time since the pirates raided the bugbear camp. Once it was determined where they needed to go in order to have good position for an intercept, Abigail stepped away from the map and looked at the mostly clear, starry night around them.

"I will retire to the cabin for now," she stated, looking at Lady Sheathe, "Will you join me for a cup of tea?"

 

Meanwhile, Shane found a quiet corner by some burlap sacks and crates to hide in. The high-altitude air was cold, and she didn't have a jacket. Her clothing was all too big on her now, and most of it was torn apart from the torture. Even her wounds were healed, she could feel the sticky stains of her own blood on the tattered rags she was wearing. Every so often, a marine would pass by, giving her a glance that lingered just a few moments longer than she was comfortable with. And yet, for all the misery she was in, she couldn't help but feel like she deserved it all.

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As Shane wallowed over her own misfortune, a white-haired woman would appear carrying a present. Whatever was inside that awkwardly crafted box would surely surprise even the saddest of most trannys. Not that Shane is an actual tranny as much as she is now an actual woman, perhaps not in spirit but at least in the physiological category.

"So how is it?" the white-haired woman spoke as she poked the top of Shane's head. "Actually, you haven't thanked me yet so this might be your best opportunity....boy."


Meanwhile, a woman in a wheelchair followed the other noblewoman into what seemed like a cabin. The Lady Sheathe was quite surprised that the Duchess herself would actual invite her. Of all people.

Once inside the room, the crippled woman started speaking. "I would like to offer you some tea but given my circumstances....Please accept my apologies."

"Although I am quite impressed that you would leave yourself open to someone like me."

Edited by Thotification

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Shane looked up at the white-haired woman, upon being poked. She wasn't sure how to answer the first question, as everything just felt wrong, yet the overall state-of-being was not that much different. It was hard to fathom being grateful for it, but when she thought back to those vague, foggy memories of the endless fall to hell, she realized that it would be wrong not to express gratitude.

"I'm sorry, I've just been... overwhelmed. Thank you for saving me," she said softly.

She shivered as a gust of cool wind blew by, and she glanced longingly at the cabin that Abigail and Holly had entered.

"I didn't deserve a second chance," she added, looking down again.

* * *

"Oh, of course..."

Abigail realized at once that she had made a small error in not ordering one of her servants to follow them in. It was a mistake she promptly corrected by heading back to the door and calling out to one of the lower-ranking marines. He entered, and she instructed him to locate some tea and prepare a pot for herself and the Lady Sheathe. Though it was outside his regular realm of duty, the soldier obeyed.

"Now then," the duchess sat down across a small table from Holly, "We may speak more comfortably then. In reference to your remark, while you have the disposition of a commoner, you have at least taken to your duties as a noble with responsibility. The same cannot be said for others of less-than-sophisticated dispositions."

Her thoughts were immediately drawn to a pair of recently deposed drow who had no business being considered nobles, but who had somehow obtained the title under Taen's rule. 

"And you have performed your part of this expedition admirably thusfar. I respect that."

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The white-haired woman had to chuckled at Shane's words. "Everyone deserves a second chance."

Sitting on the empty space beside Shane, the woman continued speaking. "Before I start the counseling, let me introduce myself. I go by many names. The Madame Linda Linda. The Mistress Blackhead. Nanny Ravenbush. Fraulein Silverbush. Middy Ochre. Or You can just call me Linda."

"Although your recent transitioning is a complication even I have no idea how it happened."


The Lady Sheathe narrowed her eyes. "I never wished to be a noble either but I will never shy away from my duty."

Then she paused to gesture to the servant. "Not tea. I would appreciate if you can fix me a mug of coffee."

Returning her attention back to the Duchess. "What about you? Who is the Duchess pass her nobility, pass her duty to her land?" 

"I am deeply concerned of your wellbeing in the far future if something dire happens to your land or your status as a noble."

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"Linda, alright," Shane nodded, "Uh... nice to meet you Linda... I'm Shane."

She listened silently as Linda described the complication that she didn't understand, which all but dashed what little hope Shane felt she still had.

"So... that means... that means there is nothing you can do to reverse it... I take it?" she said softly, pulling her legs closer to herself, as if to try and hide her own body from herself further.

* * *

"My duties as the Duchess of House Karradeen are my life. Every of my youth from the moment my brother was born was spent learning and working toward that goal, because the title was mine, and I was going to be worthy of it no matter what."

She shook her head as she glanced over to see how quickly the marine was getting those hot drinks ready.

"There will be no situation where I am not the Duchess of Karradeen, because if there is no Karradeen, there will be no me; I'll be dead. The House will not fall so long as I am alive to rule it."

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The woman named Linda motioned to stand. "There is a way but it takes time. You might also have to die more times than you can count."

Chuckling, she leaned a bit to pat the top of Shane's head. 'There, there. No need to be so worried. Whatever your body is, only you can define your gender."

With that, the woman slowly walked away from the little guy leaving the present she brought beside Shane. She was satisfied that she gave a great speech but somehow it felt more disturbing that Shane had warranted for. Still, Linda had more stuff to do especially with going back to the ship's core. The airship might be flying well now on auto-pilot but this moment won't last long. The woman is the true power source of this ship and she needs to be back on her chair as soon as possible.

Then she paused and turned a bit to eye Shane. "If you ever need help, don't hesitate to call me."


The Lady Sheathe smiled at Abby's words. "I..I admire your devotion to your cause. Somehow you remind me of my friend Ilyana, you know, that religious chick from the Uldwars?"

"Such strong resolve and purpose can be quite endearing."

Edited by Thotification

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Shane looked up at Linda as she walked away, uttering a soft "thank you" as the white-haired woman vanished again into the cabin. She wasn't sure what to make of that whole "dying more times that she could count" thing, which left her just assuming that she was being messed with and that really, there was no way back at this point. 

Letting out a light sigh, her green eyes slowly turned and centered on the wrapped package that Linda had left with her. Apparently it was meant for her, though she hesitated in uncertainty for a second. After shivering a moment or two in the cold, she finally reached out and pulled it too herself, then began removing the wrapping to see what was inside.

* * *

"Yes, I remember Ilyana, I didn't realize she was your friend," Abigail stated, "My sympathies."

The marine finally brought them their tea and coffee respectively, and Abigail didn't talk for a moment as she sip from her cup.

"But yes, resolve is ones greatest asset. Even if all things align against you, your unwavering perseverance will still pull through. My father would have had me married off to one of his squires while my degenerate half-brother became duke, if he had his way. I was not about to just let that happen."

She took a casual sip of tea, noting to herself that it may sound suspicious that she seemed to claim responsibility for why her brother was not duke, when ostensibly the boy's death was due to a random pirate raid.

"Though sometimes you just have to be ready when outside forces unexpectedly aid you, of course," she added casually.

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If Shane ever tried to open the package, he/she would see a coat inside. That's the only thing inside the parcel. A single article of clothing. 


Meanwhile, back in the Abby's cabin, the Lady Sheathe can be seen sipping coffee as she mulled on the noblewoman's words. "I didn't realize that either. As much as I hate religion and the concept of worshiping a deity above me is alien to me, I sort of become fond of that Uldwar woman."

Then she smirked as if remembering something. "Gods...I remember the days where we used to hunt them..." then she sipped some more coffee in an effort to drink away the bad memories.

"Your talk of resolve reminds me of the white-haired woman you met earlier. It's funny to think that you and her share the same core values."

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