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a piece of eight for some peace of mind

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Ambient Noise (if you wish):


Galleons Isle was an island near the cluster of islands that composed Kaznah that had a bustling port. Typically its boardwalks were busy with traders, merchants, and sailors unloading cargo or seeking out a drink and some shade to sit in. Every now and then, however, there was a quiet night between arrivals. This was one of those, and it was just right for the type of crowd Prose was trying to draw.

The experienced sailor gone wrong sat in the back corner of a tavern. From the swinging saloon doors she looked like a shadow in her black doublet, and approaching it became clear why: Prose' skin was like a thin film of clear plasma filled with black liquid. On her face there were no features, no eyes.

Picking up a dark drink and pouring the entire thing into the black space that was her mouth, the jellyfish woman set the empty glass beside her tricorn on the table and waited for those who'd answered her flier. A bartender wordlessly brought her another drink, good, just as he had been instructed. He didn't look at her for too long, good, just as he had been instructed.

"Rumors have it that, somewhere in the seas around the shattered island ruins of Kaznah, Faejarhe, there is an unfathomable treasure left by the gods who abandoned Kaznah. Whoever has it is said to be able to navigate air and sea flawlessly no matter where they are, and the most infamous of the Pirate Era were renowned to possess this piece of treasure. 

Join Prose Letariat, a seasoned pirate adventurer, in her search for the Kaznah Piece!"

@supernal @Glamses @Sirloin

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"... And when I told them to commence their massage, the miraculous creme that I said was for my crotch was nothing but barley wine!"

The chorus of laughter emerged from the corner of the tavern-- At its center, the tall, dark-skinned fellow stood proudly atop a table. In his hand was a tankard of finer ale, which he drank with a proud posture. He was a few lines deep into an example of his more expletive stories, and surrounded on all sides by old sailors willing to hear a salty tale. The kind of narrative he was no stranger to brought them around just as easily-- When he heard the rush of cold air which came through the front door. His raunchy character broke in nothing more than a moment; his gaze shuffled towards the visage of the clear-skinned individual which carved her way through the busy evening crowds.

"But that's enough, lads. You'll poke a hole through the roof if I carried on!"

A chorus of sighs and groans, as Brutus di Villanueva, author of adventurous tales and stories of debauchery, stepped down from his perch and broke away from his drunken and rowdy company. The spurs on his boots jangled with an elegant air alongside the sword which hung at his hip, the polished head of a stallion resting on its pommel. Since she entered, his gaze never strayed from the jellyfish-woman-- As a shark never tarried from their prey. Brutus knew that she was coming; the flier which he pried from the alleyway confirmed it. For hours, he made himself busy with the company of sailors until his host ultimately made her way through the swinging doors which beckoned her arrival.


"... So, you must be Prose. The papers don't say much for your... Charming characteristics." Villanueva settled himself across from his shallow-skinned companion. His face betrayed immense interest, and his eye winked with friendly familiarity. "Brutus di Villanueva. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, madam. I'm sure you have heard of me, but I am more than interested in you."

Edited by Glamses

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*"I've made enough progress that I think I could barter them down from beating me to a pulp to just a few broken bones. But this could be the job that puts us over the top. Then the only thing in all of Valucre we'll have to worry about is you and me."*

This was not a literal transcription of the communication between Ruiser Tenth and Brunhilda, his dragon mount and lifelong companion. Their connection, which spanned the whole of Brunhilda's life and the majority of Ruiser's, transcended the shackles of language. The wordless transmissions they shared were painted with the colors of their personality - Ruiser could sense her contemptuous frost even in the span of a single 'word'.


The ground of Galleons Isle loomed at them from beneath, expansive, intractable. Brun shifted the musculature across her back and spread her wings, breaking out of her teardrop shape, tearing out of the plummeting dive to complete the parabola which instead saw the two of them gently deposited along a sandbank adjacent to the tree line.

*"I love you. I'll see you soon."*

That time the two of them shared a voice.


Once inside the saloon, Ruiser looked the flyer over again. The interior was decently peopled but the crowd was not so thick as to fully shield Prose and company from inspection. He found them inside of a few minutes of his entrance and deftly navigated chairs, tables, waitstaff and the meandering drunk on his way to them. Ruiser had a travel pack with him and placed it between his feet as he claimed a chair.

"I cook." Was his plain introduction, in thickly accented Unii.

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A disconnect between body and mind, soul and spirit. The alchemical marriage of man and devil. That was Vassago’s existence, after fleeing society to gain complete control over his vessel and host he found himself here. The child’s mind had been mostly devoured, absorbed into the womb of darkness to form a chimera of the two beings. He had put up a decent fight. But in the end Vassago prevailed, the only remnant of the child’s existence was his body and brief flickers of human morality, like a single candlelight in the eternal abyss of hell.

Necessity had drawn him here, living amongst the beasts of the wild and nymphs of the forest was doable, but his greed filled desires needed to be quenched. This was a path of conquest so to speak. To establish for himself a stronghold for his power to be channeled past the umbral plains and into this realm after his inevitable demise. His gear was still subpar by his standards and he had yet to find a way to channel his true power or even to call upon the legions of spirits under his command, his experiments with the limit of power this body could hold we're incredibly disappointing. It was like a connection had been cut between him and his fiendish kingdom... Damn that blasted goddess. He’d vowed to one day devour her soul and become a nether god.

Entering into the sloon was an unceremonious thing. Nothing fancy or out of place, just a man walking inside leaving his war scythe at the door. The tall ebony male clad in leather armor wasn't an intimidating sight to behold and appeared to be more of a farmer than anything, certainly not a spirit from the other side hellbent on increasing his hoard of various treasures. The flier he had found was certainly enticing, the treasure of the gods, well that was something he certainly had to see for himself. Looking at the piece of paper and the several fellows centered around the shadowy woman rung all sorts of bells in his mind, this was the place, and that was Prose. 

Approaching her Vassago rolled up the flier and help it limply in his right hand. ”I’m here for work.” his words sounded strange initially, his infernal accent ringing for a word or two before his tongue unconsciously assimilated to the patterns of speech and linguistics of the others in the saloon. It was to the point, he had no desire in beating around the bush.

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Looking out at the gathering crowds in the bar, the transparent captain wondered who among them would be her answerers.

"But that's enough, lads. You'll poke a hole through the roof if I carried on!"

Swallowing another mug of the strongest ale the six seas had to offer, Prose drew her expressionless expression to the man she would soon know as Brutus fondly as he roused sailors, drunkards, and everyone in between with his story (almost literally). When Prose was still a human, captaining her own ship in the South Sea, she’d laughed and danced and got stone shitfaced with her men just like that. Loss of her crew had caused her sadness, anger, and the ultimate decease of that personality. While her passion for damn treasure and power couldn’t be dulled by a thing in the world— a quality Vassago would catch onto most quickly— the once human now jellyfish lady was, one might daresay, a touch more bitter. 

The purposeful arrival of the man who Prose would soon know ‘cooks,’ did not catch her off guard; he would be the first to reach her, the first to be met with a handshake. Her hand paused one third of the space between them. If he met the handshake, Ruiser would feel an incredibly firm grasp and a hand the texture of damp noodles. 

“I cook.”

“Good enough,” she said, her eyeless divots resting on him as electricity concordant with her brusquely feminine voice grumbled up within the depths of her black-jacketed form like a lightning storm.

“I’m here for work,” the next came directly on the tail end of Prose and Ruiser’s not tense, but casually curt interaction.

Another man came, and then another. And then...

“Brutus di Villanueva. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, madam. I'm sure you have heard of me, but I am more than interested in you."

“Who now?” She said, rising to address the ten-or-so who had come. “Never heard of ya, charmer.”

“Listen, ye fucking dogs.” 

Her brutal voice, the thunder within the black clouds that filled her jellyfish body, cracked sharply. Not just the men around them but the entire tavern went silent. Standing within her trenchcoat, placing the red tricorn with a black feather on her sparking dome, she posed a demanding presence.

“What’s it give you to work all your days for a penny, just to stay strong so you can work some more?” The manipulation of Prose’s lips was an anomaly in itself, the thunderstorm erupting within her body like a visualizer for her voice another anomaly. She pointed at the sky as she swallowed another flagon of potent ale. “While those rich bastards at the top just hang out and reap the benefits of your hard work! Screw that! Take off your master’s raggedy leashes and strangle them with ‘em! They’re weak, they depend on us. Their gold is already right in front of us every day!”

Now Prose was standing on the bench that ran along the back wall, pacing as she spoke. The bartender had grown even quieter, fearing for his life despite never having been visibly threatened by Prose.

“All you need—” she reached her hands into the deep pockets of her coat as she paced.

“Is to take it.”

Golden coins showered down on the sailors and the pirates. Some were seasoned, some were wannabes, some hadn’t even been there at the beginning of her speech— but one thing was certain: the crowd she’d drawn in the tavern would only grow. As busy as the small seaside bar could be, it was that night with people buying drinks on the jellyfish woman’s stash of unknown origins. It was a raucous party that went into the latest hours of the night and the earliest of the next morning. Perhaps it was purposeful, too, because the crowd would be much smaller once the free booze wore off and it was time to leave the next morning.

So it was that there were about a dozen of them the next morning, taking off on the ship.

pirate ship, sailing, old, vessel, ocean

All of them were handed their own duty according to what they could best help with on the ship. Now that they were sailing out of harbor, Prose approached each of them in the salty morning air.

“Don’t know about you boys but my eyes’re spry this morning! How’re ye feeling? What’s yer name?”

She asked all of them the same questions except, exceptionally, Brutus, the only one to have introduced himself.

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Brutus himself, meanwhile, was standing at a table on the deck. He had made good with Prose's acting navigator, and being a skilled man of directions himself, took to the duty of assisting the effort of charting the course. In the warmth of the morning sun, he stretched and yawned, rubbing a tired eye with a bare hand. Regardless of the circumstances of the night prior and his typical drunken antics, he was tired for want of a better sleep-- greater than that which was afforded to him in the company of Kaznahni sailors.

Ritualistically, he mechanically produced a wooden pipe, but struggled to light it; the winds carried the craft into the open sea, thought the effect it had on small flames was less than desirable. With each strike of a match, the puttering of phosphorus was silenced and choked by the whistling tune of the breezes. Try as he might with dismay, however, he abandons the effort with a ceremonious curse and a huff as he forced the device back into his cape. On his journey alongside him was a valet by the name of Cacambo. He was a lad as brilliant as his master, though of far less importance-- Primarily, he fetched the tea or the coffee, and the occasional drop of rum for either. He did good in this occupation, supplying a small kettle's worth of refreshments for the small cadre of people around the atlas which sought to guide our protagonists. The transparently-amber liquid radiated steam as it settled itself into a porcelain cup, which rocked with the primitive vessel and splashed one of the parchments laid out.

Another soft groan from Brutus.

"Damn these currents."

He was less patient and more surly by every minute at sea he spent cursing the shores of Kaznah. Then came the approach by the enigmatic Prose.

"...I can see you've wasted no time trying to meet your companions, now that they're hung over and trying the seas on for size. She's a fine brig, though I lament the lack of engines."

Brutus rubbed his nose as it was tickled by his beverage.

"Once you're through, we can finally talk about these charts. I don't know where you got them from, but if they're to be believed, we have an arduous journey ahead."

Edited by Glamses

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"I cook."
*"Good enough."*

Well that was easy.

Content, Ruiser relaxed in his seat and watched the others play round-robin with their own declarations of skill, or interest, or name.

*"Listen, ye fucking dogs."*

Ruiser blinked. The dragon-riding soldier of the lost land of Rosinder looked behind him, first over one shoulder, then the other. In the expanse of the saloon interior he found no dogs, no dog-headed men, nothing of that sort. He turned back to Prose mid-sentence to find she was addressing those gathered. He thought about the exchange for a second before remembering, with a start and the lightest, airiest chuckle, that such insults were sometimes used as fodder for dialogue.

Engrossed, Ruiser watched as Prose paced the room with the stage presence of a preacher. She knew what to say and how, when to whisper and when to bellow, and when to show them that she had the goods, that turning your eyes and ears away from her at the wrong moment would cost you dearly, as she scattered gold coins among the patrons. Ruiser's hand snaked out, caught a twinkle, and returned gripping a single gold coin. He inspected it for a few seconds, deposited it in his purse, and turned his attention back to Prose.

This was a curious captain.

# # #

Ruiser had a drink the night before, but not very many. He knew he would have to rise earlier than most of the crew to make sure their breakfast was ready, and he did so before the ship shoved off so that they could keep their on-ship provisions untouched until the very last moment.

Today's breakfast was a hash of eggs, bacon and cheese. Once the crew was fed Ruiser sat down for his own meal. He ate outside, looking to the skies as the ship moved towards a wider expanse of sea. Once he himself was fed, Ruiser joined the others for the discussion of what lay ahead.

"Captain, before land is too far to swim, I want to ask."

Then, in his accented Unii, Ruiser proceeded to chart out the nuances of the rights they could expect while flying under Prose's flag. In particular he wanted to know that every man got a vote and that their ship was run by fair process, with equal title to fresh provisions and liquors and a fair share of the loot (officers and captains were expected to get more, but how much more was a sticking point).

Once those fundamental concerns were addressed Ruiser went on to ask if they could gamble while on ship or only while ashore, if they were under a curfew, and how disagreements would be resolved between crew members.

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Upon hearing Prose’s thunderous voice a fire was lit underneath him, having such a captain would change the dynamic of this from simple work to an adventure all on its own, and when gold coins were flung into the air he could only wonder what kind of riches this woman had bestowed upon herself. In less than a second she became an object of curiosity in Vassago’s eyes. She reminded him of another demon who went by the name of Clauneck, he was a rather unpredictable fellow with a knack for finding gold. Should Prose stumble into the plains of the damned she would certainly be in good company. Vassago slept well that night, dreams of treasure and grog dancing about in his mind.

Coming on board the first thing that struck Vassago was the sheer value of such a vessel. Not that he was surprised though, this was a woman whom the night before had thrown gold throughout a saloon. Upon her approach he smiled just enough to be noticeable, though this appeared much more in the matter of a smirk. However, the mention of name briefly worried him, generally speaking if he didn’t have to go by an alias he wouldn’t, no one around looked like a paladin or holy man to him so that relieved him a little of the stress “I am doing well captain, oh my name, Vassago.” Upon saying his name the air around them would chill ever so slightly, his tongue twisting in an unnatural way to say his name.

Above all Vassago had a certain excitement about him, the seven seas, open air, riches, and the constant threat of imminent destruction. It was certainly nothing that Vassago hadn’t gone through before. As for work he had been chosen to glass ahead, making sure that the ship didn’t come into harms way without alerting the rest of the crew, and after he set to eating his breakfast that is what he did, climbing along the mast and into the crows nest manning the spyglass mounted their. Now all that was left was to wait.

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Through the sparkle of her gold that night, Prose watched the men who either tempered themselves against the availability of libations and weather its effects, or lost themselves in the shimmer and got wasted. Those of the latter group who made it out the next day were obviously worse for the wear, and their habits showed even deeper in the sweaty wrinkles on their brows the next day. Those who could weather its effects either carried the hearty slur of a natural drunken sailor or the seasoned brawn to match, and those who saved their free investments were likely the ones who’d been up early and were moving most spryly.

“I am doing well captain, oh my name, Vassago.”

“Welcome,” Prose clapped the threatening man on the shoulder, fighting the slight urge to stay away from him just to exchange pleasantries. “What group are you in?” she asked, referring to which position Vassago had been assigned to on the ship. (They had all been assigned duties based on the things they said they were best at).

Most of the early afternoon was spent drafting pirate’s rights on the ship with Ruiser playing a surprisingly instrumental role in introducing the process. If the crew was going to succeed on this mission it had to be tight-knit, its constitution even tighter. Ruiser would find that, one-on-one, Prose carried none of the dirty mouth or as much of the raucous nature she had in the tavern one night earlier. Her act had been just that, her diplomacy a more accurate representation. It might even seem she had more of a penchant for legal vessels than this.

"...I can see you've wasted no time trying to meet your companions, now that they're hung over and trying the seas on for size. She's a fine brig, though I lament the lack of engines."

“Yes,” responded the captain, her black form retaining a slick appearance despite the heat as she looked ahead of them, bearing the maps to which Brutus was about to refer. “I’ve learned quite a lot!”

One couldn’t see it, but Brutus would know she was grinning as she spoke, the lightning inside her body a consistent symbol of her speech.

“Once you're through, we can finally talk about these charts. I don't know where you got them from, but if they're to be believed, we have an arduous journey ahead."

“No engines,” said Prose as she turned her head to assure they were far enough out from the Isle’s harbor. “Yatari runes.”

“Sheetmen, raise the sails!” she barked, six men splitting between three stations, utilizing a magically enhanced pulley system to raise the ship’s sails.

Now that their ship had been undocked conventionally, a necessity that would come to bear later in their journey, the runes could accelerate their speed. Without ever visibly slowing and without jostling forward, the ship’s speed picked up at a swift clip via runes on the ship’s hull pushing water by underneath them until it danced atop the waves and wind ran through their hair. 

“Your stomach alright?” she laughed over the wind, looking back at Brutus from the prow as the sun began to redden in the afternoon.

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--Two days of relatively smooth sailing later

Intan is the greatest of all the pirates out here,” said Prose, the whole crew gathered around for a late midday meal courtesy of the stolid cook. There was a slightly higher quantity of fresh-caught ingredients in the galley, but supplies were by no means low. All of them had grown a little closer over the last couple days, a very low constituent who couldn’t jive with the rest of the crew dealt with judiciously.

Now, like many nights, Prose and her mates exchanged stories of the sea. 

Only tonight, there was a special edge in the air. Thanks to the Yatari-adapted runes on the ship’s hull and relative simplicity of the route on Prose’s charts, they were able to do most of the journey much faster than they’d originally thought. The spot marked ‘X’ was stretched somewhere in the blue expanse ahead of them, this their last and most hearty meal.

“CAPTAIN!!!” came the cry from the bird’s nest, slicing through the reverie. “ROUGH SEAS AHEAD!— APPROACHING!”

“What!?” Prose shot into the standing position, four incredible lunging steps taking her over two crewmates, from the top deck to the prow. The ocean had been calm like glass an hour ago and the skies were clear, but the whole stretch of sea before them now frothed with some kind of living anger— there were no waves, but the surface not only frothed but raged toward them!!

“MAN YOUR STATIONS,” now Prose’s voice ripped across the decks like a thunderstorm. The sound of the  “MEN! BRACE FOR CONTACT!”

Rushing water roared right up to them, fizz and angry foam grueling up on them, and then all was silent, perfectly still.

Looking out at the waters that had suddenly grown calm, most of the crew looked at the scene and one another in disbelief. Had they been watching from a bird’s eye view, they might have known what was about to happen….


Looking back, they would see a disgusting, rotting octopus creature sucking onto one of the men’s arms in the back. Blood sprayed from his forearm where he was being bitten, the monster’s tentacles long enough to lash around the man and constrict in on him. With a gross maw of jaws where a normal octopus’s beak might be, and tentacles long enough to resemble a squid, it would lash at the lush’s soft spots until he fell to the ground in a pool of blood where they had just been enjoying food moments earlier.

The super-aggressive creature was not alone, either. In the silent moments they’d spent standing there, a pod of twenty-or-so of the creatures were already climbing up the ship’s sides. Now they began jumping over the side rails and attacking the crew. One singular metal rail ran around the ship, and Prose set her bejeweled hand upon it.

“Step away from the rails!” she shouted.

Electricity superheated the railing around the ship and made grilled sushi of the first Suckerpus’ that followed. There were still about a dozen of the monsters unharmed and seven more who were operative in some way. 

The ship was suddenly at war, and not in the way one might expect.

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... Meanwhile, Brutus had retired early from the watch, with the course set and the crew buckling down the last leg of their travels. It was a calm night, from what he could muster... From the bottom of a bottle of rum. He snored loudly on one of the bunks below, cradling his drink like a baby and wrapped in furs likewise. Around, a few sailors took the same opportunity to catch the warmth of the freshly-burned galley, breaking the whistling sea breezes beneath the cover of the deck's hulls.

Then, he stirred once with a twitch of his chapped nose. It was a deadly intuition which shook past the layers of comfort around him. He felt the tides shift beneath the ship. He felt the churning of his stomach and a snore escape him as he broke through the veil of sleep into consciousness.

"Cacambo--" He cried out for his partner, opening his eyes and the bottle of rum shattering on the floor. Water dripped onto him, and the ship rocked before the alarm bells commenced ringing. A cacophony of creaking as boards began to give way to rushing water. The lower deck flooded as the sea began to rush down the steps and through the top of the cabin. A chorus of footfalls, cries deafened by the sea... And the wet slapping of something climbing the hull. The drunken, dazed adventurer looked to his companions, his face betraying confusion and fear. He placed his boots onto the ground as his gaze was fixed on the stairs that stretched beneath the trap-door that led to the deck. The others were no doubt moved to action, but Brutus was frozen in fear.

The trap-door sprung open, and Cacambo's familiar red-topped sea boots hammered down the steps, before stopping suddenly as his waist came into view. One step followed another, same as suspicion began to mount. The familiar melted away towards the obscure, and into the alien. His knees were the first to give way as the young valet's face was frozen in a dumbfounded look, and a strange sound of suckling broke through the unintelligible cries of havoc from outside. His lifeless body slumped over as one of the beaked invaders which terrorized the watch on deck bored into the back of Cacambo's spine, helping itself to a buffet of bone marrow. Brutus did not know what to say. He drew his pistol, a foreign, ornate make with three carved barrels and an ivory handle, from the holster which hung from his coat nearby.

The stale calmness below was broken by the deafening shot which rang out-- Then another, then another. One bullet splintered the wood of the hull, and another tore into a tentacle through to the lifeless valet's shoulder. The last one dented the head of the squid before spilling its entrails over the body of his now-deceased companion. Brutus' frills shuffled in the wind as he broke the barrel of his weapon, hot cartridges of brass foil flying over his shoulder, smoldering from the volley. Carefully, his numbed fingers planted replacements into their chambers. His sword, a needle-like weapon as beautiful as it is deadly, surrounded him with a biting rasp as it flew from its scabbard. He stepped over the corpse of Cacambo to make it to the bedlam outside.

"... All watch, ahoy! To arms! Form up along your captain!" An invading squid flew at his hind, which he swatted away with the stallion-headed pommel at the handle-end of his blade. Another quick movement, and the blade flashed down to sever a tentacle from another attacker. From where he stood, he was quickly overrun by several of the squids which sought to make a meal of him. One grabbed on to his leg from some distance away, and another flew past him as its appendages wrapped around his left forearm; the one which held his blade. Another loud gunshot rang out, as the third which would have taken him crashed into him, lifelessly. His shirt had torn at the seams of his shoulder at the stress, as he yelled in terror as he was grappled on all sides. He looked towards the Captain at the far side of the ship, and across the deck for the others. He was in danger. He knew no ships passed through these waters often-- Now, it seems that they will learn why.

Edited by Glamses

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The days which followed were uneventful, which is how Ruiser preferred to spend the large portion of his time at sea. He liked uneventful days, days without mystery and intrigue. His life was a tapestry of interesting events, one after another, chaos piled atop bedlam piled atop pandemonium. He had come to cherish peace and quiet for the twin treasures they were.

When serenity finally broke with a chorus of bells, Ruiser responded in his minimal way. He already had a knife in hand, its surface streaked with citrus juice and traces of scallion. He took it with him as he stormed out of the kitchen, through the mess, and across the cargo hold. He could make it onto the deck faster from the front of the ship but his final destination would be easier reached from the back.

Ruiser was a soldier at his core, had spent years as a rider for Rosinder's dragon corps, and the events preceding his being lost to the ravages of planet Valucre were no less exciting. His ability to improvise and his grace under fire were not innate talents but learned skills, honed over time with endless repetition at the cost of his life. Adrenaline had its uses but he preferred avoiding scenarios which ended with him as a rat in a corner, whose only remaining arrow was to lash out in desperation. His heart did not pound. His hands did not shake. His vision did not narrow into a focused tunnel. The looming threat of death and violence was not novel. It was as familiar as an old friend. Who got nervous meeting with an old friend?

From the helmsman's quarters on the lower deck, up the captain's quarters on the upper deck, up the aftercastle, up the ropes to the mizzenmast, up the mainmast and, all the while struggling against the ship's wild convulsions as it was coveted and groped by a leviathan, finally reaching the crow's nest. The nest occupied by a trembling spotter. Ruiser pushed the man to one side so he could claim the vantage for himself.

Now with the high 'ground' claimed Ruiser gained a general's perspective of the battle; he could see the choke points plain as the daylight they fought in, and addressed them.

The first and most urgent of them was Brutus.

The spotter near at hand was familiar with magic and would later admit that perhaps the fog of war confused matters but he heard Ruiser make no chant, saw him make no sign. The cook braced himself in the nest and simply had in his hands a longbow with a metallic body and mother-of-pearl finish. Ruiser twanged the string and from the empty air materialized a lance of light which punched through the air soundlessly until it caught . . . the deck. The second clanged off the railing. The third, fourth and fifth, however, caught two squids between them. Seconds later these arrows faded from sight, the damage done the only evidence of their existence.

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Fried squid scent filled the air as Prose’s improvised crew fought off the creatures. Most captains are known to travel with at least one right-hand-man, maybe two; Prose had none. In demonstration of her reason why, the ornate rings decorating her hand that superheated the ship’s railing were warped and discolored with the shock of energy that fried them, embedded gems cracked within their blackened gold. 

Captain Letariat could either focus her energy on grilling anything that came over the ship’s edge or decimating that which had already done so.

With deftness that betold prior knowledge of the beasts, Prose left her hand on the prow’s railing to generate a devastating effect on all squid aberrations that fried the tentacles that lashed onto it for support to launch themselves on-deck. This eliminated virtually 70% of the bloodsucking target that approached, but the explanation for their aggression was unknown.
One hand on the bright-blue-illuminated railing, one hand on her sword as she slashed at a badly burnt squid creature that lashed at her with its charred alien appendage, Prose sliced off each tentacle bit by bit as it encroached on her. The creature’s water-like blood sprayed from its wounds as it attempted to close in on the skilled captain in its death throes.

Suddenly a moaning sound broiled up through the water and filled the salt breeze. It grew as loud as the ears could bear, not just impairing but utterly torturing the squid creatures into undulating retreat. With the final whips of their damaged tentacles the dozen-or-so creatures that survived fled into the ocean to the chorus of deep bass rising up from the depths.

Seas around the ship were calming from the froth even as it centralized around the vessel itself, but nearby from the fulmination of the deep bass, there appeared a boiling broth culminating in a bent pipe ending in a scope protruding from the water. Shortly after that, as it rose, was a screw-off valve and the upper hull of an ancient-looking submarine. The valve and attached scope hissed as its hydraulic seals released, swivelling as the cap opened and an old bald man with long wiry white hair on the sides of his head emerged from the porthole.

“Good Gaia, who the feck are you!? You didn’t see the Suckers!?” 

Looking all around, it was immediately clear the sonorous sound emanating from the emerged submarine had driven the monsters away.

“We saw them,” said Prose, her hand off the fried railing. Lightning centralized around the crevices where her eyes would normally be in a gesture of intimidation. “We’re looking for the Kaznah Piece.”

The elder poking out from the submarine soured at her expression for a moment before softening in a sense of forgiveness he appeared to have felt many times before.

“Kaznah Piece, eh?” he said, stroking his stubble as he sized up the crew peering down on him. Finally he gave way before retreating into the entryway. “Get in, ye fools.” 

Only a few of them would enter as the others necessary to the ship’s function tarried above sea. If the others hadn’t returned in two days, supplies dictated that they must leave the adventurers behind and return to port for supplies. After that, they might be lost at sea forever unless this codger could get them back.

Brutus, Prose, Ruiser, and Vassago were the only to enter the submarine. It was a cramped space of corridors and control centers, gauges in green zones lining all their walls.

“You guys were almost sea food there! Lucky my radars found your ship before you got swallowed up by those Suckers. Call me Benny,” said the crazy-looking old man as he led them through the sub’s tubes. “I’ve been down here for years documenting what’s going on! Buncha sucker squids defending a mother and her little base.”

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In one moment, a rain of arrows saved Villanueva from the wrath of a handful of octopeds, A single arrow tore its terrible path through its mark, buying him the time he needed to tear free of its bloated tendril. With a wag of his sword like the flash of lightning, the razor-sharp blade effortlessly split his remaining attackers in two and splattered his surroundings with foul-smelling guts and viscera. He was drenched with seawater and sweat, his shirt torn by his movements, and his arms bleeding as his skin lay torn from the tireless grip of the invading creatures. Standing with renewed resolve and of stoic face, he rolled his shoulders with a wet pop as he flashed a glance upward to the darkened mast where his savior sat perched. A small wink went his way, as a sign of endless thanks.

When the horn of the newcomer had sounded, effectively ending the attack, Villanueva leveled his gun at one of the fleeing creatures. It exploded as it inched closer to the bow, lead slug tearing through it-- Then another, and another. The repeated gunshots echoed loudly across the vast expanse surrounding the ship. He stomped the deck in a tantrum which drew upon an immense well of rage. His teeth foamed as he huffed in fury. With a sharp kick, a metal bucket went flying with a dent into the rigging. With a deep breath, the display was over, and Villanueva began to compose himself. As quickly as he appeared only a moment prior, he disappeared below deck. He emerged some time later in his full ensemble, a different shirt, and a dour look of confidence.

By the time the command had been given to file into the submarine, Villanueva radiated an aura of impatience and agitation. When Benny spoke, he finally broke his silence.

"... I mean no disrespect, Captain Benny, but you would have done well to publish your charts once in a while. Either that, or our own captain should have done a bit more studying of her own. Maybe then, we wouldn't have suffered loss to... Negligence. If you don't mind, Prose, I'd like to talk to you in private."

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Ruiser couldn't see Brutus's wink from this distance but the bold strokes of the other man's gesture made it across. The soldier waved a hand in recognition, braced himself against the lip of the crow's nest, prepared himself for further violence. Then lost his footing when roiling waters rocked the ship and fell to his doom, saved from death by a stretch of canvas from the main sail, a tangle of ropes that slowed his fall, and the forgiving wood of the deck which broke it.

Ruiser was stunned, winded, a twitching mess as his body tried and failed to move him around so that he was at least a less appetizing target than one which stayed perfectly still. He could sense Brunhilda becoming aware of his pain and desperation, responding with assurances, Ruiser modulating the stream of his emotions from fear to resolve, his own assurances to her that there was not a need for her yet. He trusted the capacity of his crew mates to keep him alive at least a few seconds, already feeling his wits gather and sharpen, and moreover knew that on his person was enough magic to get him by.

And then Ruiser was on his feet, not only alive but looking fairly capable despite nursing one arm close to his body. A metallic groan caught the attention of everyone on board - intrigue from the crew members, abject fear from the creatures who fled the suggested premise of a larger predator and so had to adapt or die.

Introductions between the parties were practical. Sparse. During the preparations to board the submarine the onboard physician set his dislocated shoulder, marveled at the fact his bones were not shattered, and set the arm in a splint, mostly for the man's comfort. Then Ruiser went to the kitchen and had a kitchen-hand help him pack his tools and provisions. While he did so, Ruiser took the time to verbalize his concerns to the others.

"I think that most people are decent, they are fine. But right now we are in a race against the world for a great, great richness." Ruiser made a face as he thought over his Unii word choice. "Great, great wealth. These might be friends, or they might be enemies, or they might start as one and end as the other and we will not know which until the end."

Despite his caution, Ruiser clarified that he did not feel a particular sense of danger. The space was small, the researcher alone, but they would be entirely inside of his domain and that was worth underscoring.

Still the captain remained bold and Ruiser had signed to her crew for the very purpose they continued towards. He went along. And introduced himself to Benny as introductions were doled out.

"Yes yes, very, very lucky. Benny, you have your own cook, yes?" He signed to chef for one crew, not two.

*"...I mean no disrespect."*

Ruiser nodded at Brutus, untroubled by the sudden but restrained interruption. He knew that Brutus had lost more than most in the skirmish. He took a breath to suggest that perhaps that man's means could not match his intentions - and then held the words, knowing too little about Prose and even less about Benny to conjure reasons on their behalf.

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