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ZONE - Imperial ship at sea ((Chasing Shadows - Chapter I))


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#81 Burger Warrior

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Posted 01 August 2016 - 03:48 PM

Percula groaned as she landed in a heap by Charon’s feet, groaning. Well, on the bright side, at least she hadn’t gotten any closer to that… thing’s maw. She reflected on that for a moment, reconsidering if that was a bright side, when she realized her more immediate problem. The pixie was tangled up in Caiden’s cloak… with a silver clasp somewhere dangerously close by. Saffron made a small, worried noise in her throat as she tried to see it from where she lay on the deck, finally spotting it-!
 

And then the deck went from horizontal to vertical.

 

Percula let out a panicked yelp as she tumbled along the creaking wooden boards, scrambling for some purchase. Her sudden emotional spike helped for once, though, as she froze her hands to the boards to keep her steady until the deck leveled out again. Regardless, Saffron had to take a few shaky breaths before she could dissipate the ice and get to her feet. Her legs were going to feel like jelly for a good bit…

 

-----

 

Rosette stared in awe.

 

Kye sure was making a spectacle of himself, rushing off to catch Neitha as she was plummeting toward the sea, great big… er, demonic wings flapping in the wind. He really was kind of majestic, if one disregarded his fel features and nervous attitude. Which, at the moment, the pixie managed. Perhaps fortunately, though, she was shaken out of it as the ship began to tilt, and instinctively both shrank and quickly hovered well above the deck as people were sent tumbling. At least, as far as she saw, no one was injured…

 

But it was clear the enormous monster needed to go down, and fast.

 

Taking a deep breath, Rosette attempted to hover a safe distance away from… everything, just about. No need to risk getting interrupted while peering into the spirit realm while also flying. That would end badly. But hopefully what she planned to do wouldn’t take… too much effort…

 

The pixie attempted to influence the beast, either stalling its attacks or making it flee altogether, even if it was only briefly.

 

-----

 

Percula, meanwhile, wasn’t going to let her battered dexterity - nor a silver clasp somewhere on her person - stop her from kicking (or at least freezing) some monster butt. Stumbling toward the edge of the ship the creature was still on, the pixie began to grumble under her breath, pointing her hands at the creature’s remaining eye. Whether the grumbling was some kind of spell or not was for Saffron alone to know, but regardless she did focus her arcane Gift into an attack.

 

Percula tried to freeze the creature’s eye solid.


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#82 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 06:38 AM

Rutger hesitated for a moment, before rising to his feet. "I'm not sure of how much use I'll be. I have no weapons, and no training to use any. I'll go up but..." a heavy sigh escaped him and it was clear to the Venator the man in that moment felt useless. "I'll try my best, perhaps I can drag any injured beneath the deck and attempt to treat them. Though I doubt I'll even manage that. Either way, you lead the way."

 

"It's your choice," Caiden said firmly. "If you're not trained, there's no shame in staying safe. We don't need to lose anyone. If you want a job, you can check the lower deck for leaks. After that impact, we might have some."

 

With that, however, the Venator turned to the ladder leading up to the main deck. He glanced back at Rutger one more time to give a brief, "Stay safe," just before he disappeared.

 

---

 

"My hero" she said, half sarcastically, but also with some genuine warmth.

 

Kye mostly looked ashamed and didn't respond.

 

Her decision took but an instant. "Forecastle deck!" she declared, gesturing at it in case Kye somehow didn't know what that was.

 

Where Marcus is, Kye thought. Why do I ask.

 

"We need to take out that tentacle going after the ballista" she added a moment later, to Kye.

 

Kye just nodded quietly, doing as he was told. He soared for one more pass around the ship until he could safely descend - or, at least, relatively safely. Tentacles whipped this way and that, but Kye tucked his wings in for a fast dive, only to spread them once more and slow their descent as he neared the forecastle deck.

 

He landed with impressive grace, setting Neitha on her feet as quickly as he could, as if in hopes of diverting any attention from the fact that he'd been carrying her in the first place, before he quickly resumed his human disguise... as much as he didn't want to concentrate on it right now.

 

By the time they landed, however, both Charon and Marcus were already attacking the tentacle. Charon struck at it with his dagger, causing a wound large enough to bleed - but Marcus rushed over and finished the job, hacking the tentacle off so hard the blade of his weapon sank a few inches into the wood of the ship. He got a spray of green blood on his armor, but the tentacle was severed. One end of the limb disappeared into the ocean again, while the tip wrapped around the ballista went limp enough to release it and start flopping around on the deck.

 

---

 

Katrina stabbed at the tentacle holding her, but unfortunately, that only made it tighten its grip hard enough to crush the wind out of her - but before it could tighten any worse, the beast suddenly released her. She fell back toward the deck, but she did not manage a very graceful landing, as she fell in a painful heap. It did not seem anything was broken, but she was going to be aching for quite a while from that fall (-2 HP).

 

Sarael rushed the lowermost tentacle on the mast, easily hacking clean through it. Almost at the same instant, Caiden appeared from below decks to charge toward the mast, leaping up to climb and reach the tendril coiled around the middle of the mast. Raising his blade, he sliced through it as well - although that made a squirming, black, severed tentacle fall down near Sarael's head, oozing green goo all over the deck.

 

Percula focused her magical energies, attempting to freeze the monster's eyeball solid. Raising her hands, she sent forth two frigid jets of blue ice, so quick and precise in their trajectory that they struck the monster's eye in hardly a second. The beast roared, its tentacles flailing this way and that.

 

It could no longer see to hit anyone in particular, but the mast creaked and nearly snapped in two as the monster pulled on it - but all of its tentacles released the ship, flailing about wildly. The majority of the crew managed to avoid being struck, but Marcus, Sef, and Sarael all felt a tentacle impact against their armor. Thankfully, as protected as they were, none of them received any real damage... just a streak of slime on their armor's polished sheen.

 

As the monster continued to roar and flail in blind panic, causing waves that set the ship rocking violently and made more than a few members of the crew feel dizzy and nauseous, Rosette focused on trying to calm the creature. As it turned out, she found that the beast was just that - a beast. It was merely an animal hunting for food. As such, she communicated with it, trying to soothe it...

 

But it could not be soothed. It was terrified and in pain. However, it could be frightened. When Rosette reminded it that food was not worth all its injuries, the monster began to leave.

 

It retracted its many tentacles - at least, the ones that were left - and began to sink back into the ocean, filling the air with its high-pitched, nightmarish shrieks of agony. Within moments, it disappeared into the black ocean waters of the night, leaving only a disturbance in the waters behind it... and a great deal of greenish-yellow blood.

 

 

BOSS
DEFEATED

 

Spoiler

 

---

 

As suddenly as it had appeared, the monster was gone. Captain Ritter stepped up to the railing of the quarterdeck, looking down at her ship and calling, "Report! Check the lower deck for leaks!"

 

What was left of her crew scrambled to follow orders. She furrowed her brow as she looked down at the assorted severed tentacles still wriggling on the deck, each one accompanied by a puddle of its own blood. The mast creaked ominously, the sails hung tattered, and a sheen of slime coated almost everything.

 

"And... let's start cleaning this place up," Jane added with disgust.

 

Caiden climbed down from the mast, landing so hard on his feet that Jane called out jokingly, "Don't break my deck, Blue-Eye!"

 

Kye, meanwhile, remained on the forecastle deck, still in his human disguise again. He sheathed his scimitar and swallowed hard, looking worried but trying not to draw attention to himself...

 

Particularly as the ship quickly became lively again. "Alright, some o' you grab swabs from below deck!" Big Rob called out. "You heard the Captain - this ship needs cleaning up!"


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#83 Lord_Klaus

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 11:25 AM

Marcus winced as he felt his halberd slam into the deck.  While the ballista was safe from the monster’s clutches, there was now a slim, but deep hole in the deck of the forecastle.  He knew enough (and saw no evidence seeping through) to understand that this posed no risk of sinking them, but the captain would probably still be annoyed by the damage.  “Blast it,” he muttered to himself before refocusing on the battle.

 

When Percula’s ice strike hit the creature’s remaining eye, its pained convulsions forced it to release its grip on the ship.  Marcus staggered a bit when one of its tentacles gave him a parting shot, not hard enough to do more than leave a gross streak on his armor, but quick enough to surprise him so that he missed his riposte, swiping nothing but air.  Thankfully, that was to be the last of the beast’s efforts, as it beat a hasty retreat through a tide of its own blood.  Triumphantly raising his polearm with a short, defiant laugh, Marcus remarked snidely, “Looks like the beast has had enough for one day.  Lost its appetite, I suppose.”

 

As the veteran Inquisitor lifted his visor and turned to see who was still standing, his heart lifted at the sight of Kye setting Neitha on the deck, safe and sound.  Beaming with glee, he pulled his girlfriend into a relieved embrace...before wincing again and recoiling slightly as he remembered what his armor was currently smeared with.  “Oh...sorry about that.  I’m just so glad you’re alright...not that I doubted you, I just worry.  You know me.”

 

Looking over...well, more like around Neitha’s shoulder at Kye, who had, thankfully, resumed his human disguise, Marcus acknowledged, “Thank you, Kye.  Just...thank you, my friend.”  

 

---

 

As orders were given to get the ship cleaned up and on her way again, Marcus noticed that Kye seemed apprehensive, and already understood why.  He had assumed his demon form to save Neitha, and there was almost no question that someone else had seen him do so.  Given how badly Marcus himself had taken this development, he shuddered to think of how someone else would react.  Placing a gauntleted hand on Kye’s shoulder, he muttered, “Probably best to stay out of sight while everyone’s getting busy cleaning.  I’ll do my best to cover for you, but keep in mind I’m not exactly the most...subtle...member of our group.”

 

"Alright, some o' you grab swabs from below deck!" Big Rob called out. "You heard the Captain - this ship needs cleaning up!"  

Right away, sir!,” Marcus shouted smartly, accustomed to taking orders.  As he approached the burly deckhand, he added in a voice that was subdued in tone but at a normal volume, “Also, I maaay have cut through one of the beast’s tentacles and into the deck while saving the ballista.  Terribly sorry for that oversight.  Do you have some supplies for me to fix the damage, or shall I just reimburse the captain?”


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#84 Sareth

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 02:28 PM

Hardly had Kye set Neitha back on solid ground —er, wood— than the efforts of the others finally managed to drive the monster off. "Serves you right" she muttered in its general direction as the thing sank beneath the waves, screaming in agony.

 

A moment later, she looked back at her rescuer, and noticed that Kye had shifted back into his human disguise —which fact impressed upon her mind for the first time the fact that he had completely revealed himself before the entire ship to save her. It had been in the midst of a battle and all, but she wondered how many people had noticed...

 

Looks like the beast has had enough for one day. Lost its appetite, I suppose.”

 

Catching Marcus' snide remark, she couldn't help herself: "Speaking of which, I'm sorry Marcus... but I don't think I'll ever be able to look at your mother's calamari the same way again" she said with a wry grin, before he suddenly pulled her into a hug. An... unusually wet hug...

 

Oh...sorry about that. I’m just so glad you’re alright...not that I doubted you, I just worry. You know me.”

 

"Eh, I've been covered in worse. I'm sure it'll wash out" she reassured him; she was currently riding the high that came from surviving a near-death situation, and so was feeling too good at the moment to get upset over a bit of slime. It also gave her other feelings which left part of her mind wondering of the two of them could... borrow the captain's cabin for a while...

 

"And, it's alright. When we're being attack by giant squid-monsters —or other similarly large and carnivorous... things— you have my permission to worry about me" she continued with a teasing smile, before leaning forward and giving Marcus a kiss.

 

"Just don't go overboard, okay?" she said good-naturedly.

 

---

 

Probably best to stay out of sight while everyone’s getting busy cleaning. I’ll do my best to cover for you, but keep in mind I’m not exactly the most...subtle...member of our group.”

 

"Right" Neitha, who was still standing right there, interjected quietly. "I'll take him below and try and keep him out of trouble" she suggested, before throwing a friendly arm around Kye's shoulder and trying to guide him belowdecks.

 

If someone had seen him, and decided to do something about it, it would be poor thanks for her to not protect him —since he'd done it to save her. Besides, they really needed to talk....

 

***

 

They'd won.

 

Sarael almost couldn't believe it, but there the thing went, screaming in pain as it sank back down into the depths —or perhaps straight to the Underworld. The resulting surge of emotion left her standing there for several moments, tears of joy and relief silently streaming down her face. She didn't even mind that she'd have to clean her equipment all over again.

 

"Report! Check the lower deck for leaks! And... let's start cleaning this place up."

 

Her soldier's instincts snapped her back to attentiveness as the Captain started barking orders again. Right —they'd won, but there were still things that needed doing.

 

She fully intended to get a mop and bucket and help clean up the mess of the monster's blood on the main deck —she'd put no small bit of it there herself— but there was something else she had to address first: the winged figure that she'd caught a glimpse of during the fight. There were only two things she could think of that looked human-ish and had wings: vampires... and demons; either could mean trouble... it could even be a spy for the Hidden, or the Umbra Coven! But, on the other hand, she had seen it rescue someone... maybe?

 

Amidst the chaos of the fight and the ship's own thrashing movements, she had only gotten the slightest glimpse —she had no idea who it could be, nor who the person it was holding was. Still, she needed to tell someone...

 

Looking around, she spotted Stevan across the deck, and immediately headed over. "Knight Captain?" she said. "Could I speak to you a moment... in private?" she asked, gesturing towards a more out-of-the-way and unoccupied area of the deck.

 

When they weren't too close to any potential listeners, she continued: "During the battle, I caught a glimpse... I saw a man —well, a person, anyways— with wings. He —it, whatever— was flying... I think it rescued one of the people that got grabbed by that creature. I only got a glimpse, but I thought it might be a vampire or a demon..." she said, if a bit haltingly. "But I couldn't tell who it was... Sorry" she added, feeling a touch ashamed of herself —if it really was a monster she saw, then knowing who it was would be an immensely important piece of information... she should have paid more attention, battle or no. 

 

"... I just thought you should know" she finished. "So... what should we do?"


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#85 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 03:56 PM

Kye shuffled his feet a little while Marcus and Neitha hugged and kissed and went all mushy, his gaze wandering elsewhere. He was about to leave before Marcus looked at him and spoke.

“Thank you, Kye.  Just...thank you, my friend.”  

 

He just nodded, sincerely but quietly.

 

Shortly thereafter, Marcus placed a gauntleted hand on Kye’s shoulder, he muttered, “Probably best to stay out of sight while everyone’s getting busy cleaning. I’ll do my best to cover for you, but keep in mind I’m not exactly the most...subtle...member of our group.”

 

"Right" Neitha, who was still standing right there, interjected quietly. "I'll take him below and try and keep him out of trouble" she suggested, before throwing a friendly arm around Kye's shoulder and trying to guide him belowdecks.

 

Kye still hardly said two words, instead murmured something in acknowledgment and trailing alongside Neitha. He looked like a tense cat, his eyes scanning the deck. Neitha couldn't help but notice how his gaze lingered on Stevan and Sarael speaking to one side of the ship, and he swallowed hard, some color draining from his face. He promptly looked elsewhere.

 

"Lead the way," he said quietly, forcing an almost invisible, hopeless smile.

 

---

 

Marcus approached Big Rob and added in a voice that was subdued in tone but at a normal volume, “Also, I maaay have cut through one of the beast’s tentacles and into the deck while saving the ballista.  Terribly sorry for that oversight.  Do you have some supplies for me to fix the damage, or shall I just reimburse the captain?”

 

The deckhand just laughed. "It's no trouble, Inquisitor," he replied. "We'll fix it up when we reach Artorius. You needn't pay from your own pocket."

 

---

 

Meanwhile, Sarael approached Stevan and, once they had a reasonable amount of privacy, she began to speak.

"During the battle, I caught a glimpse... I saw a man —well, a person, anyways— with wings. He —it, whatever— was flying... I think it rescued one of the people that got grabbed by that creature. I only got a glimpse, but I thought it might be a vampire or a demon..." she said, if a bit haltingly. "But I couldn't tell who it was... Sorry.

"... I just thought you should know"
she finished. "So... what should we do?"

 

Stevan furrowed his brow for a moment. "All we can do is alert the others," he said grimly. "Every other Templar, and Caiden as well, in case it is a vampire."

 

He scratched his chin in thought before adding, "We should try to address this before we leave the ship... even if it has wings, it's still relatively contained here. A simple solution would be to bless everyone on the ship. Demon or vampire, it'll hurt them. And given what we just saw, I imagine some blessings aren't out of place."


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#86 Sareth

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 08:11 PM

Neitha caught Kye's reaction as he saw the pair of templar talking, and gave his shoulder a slight comforting squeeze. "Don't think about it too much —we don't know they know anything; so just keep your skin on and act natural —er, or would that be unnatural for you...?" she whispered, trailing off for a moment as she tripped over logic.

 

"Remember, you've got friends here, too" she added softly a moment later.

 

She then guided Kye belowdecks, leading him to the darkest, most out-of-the-way, corner of the hold, and taking a seat beside him.

 

For a moment, she was at a loss as to what to say. Then: "Thank you" she said, quietly but earnestly. "Figured I should say it properly since you did risk exposure to save my life. So... Thank you."

 

She went quiet again for a few moments.

 

"Now, what's wrong?" she asked softly. "You've been... gloomy, almost sullen, pretty much since we left Veritshire; I found you trying to climb inside a bottle back at the mansion, and up in the crow's nest you were..." she trailed off momentarily with a sigh. "Come on, you can tell me; what's bothering you?"

 

"Or, if that's too difficult a question, then why don't you tell me what happened between you and... uh, Miss pixie"—she suddenly realized that she didn't know the second pixie's name, despite having 'met' her twice—" in the forecastle?" she added after a moment with just a hint of a teasing grin. "I mean, you went in there like a cat that'd just had a bucket of cold water poured on it, and you came out like some kind of super... man, flying boldly to the rescue. Must have been one hell of a pep-talk" she said, with a slightly expectant expression.

 

She hoped he'd tell her what was really wrong, but if he wasn't ready, then she didn't want to push him too hard.

 

***

 

"All we can do is alert the others. Every other Templar, and Caiden as well, in case it is a vampire. We should try to address this before we leave the ship... even if it has wings, it's still relatively contained here. A simple solution would be to bless everyone on the ship. Demon or vampire, it'll hurt them. And given what we just saw, I imagine some blessings aren't out of place."

 

"Right" Sarael replied. That made sense...

 

"I'll go tell Caiden then, I guess? And then... should we all meet up and do this as a unit, or just go about individually?" she asked Stevan. If it really was a vampire or a demon, and they were as powerful as people said, it would probably be best to do it as a team —or at least in twos or threes— she figured. But, he was the Knight-Captain, not her...

 

"Oh, and should we inform the Captain, or...?" she added a moment later.


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#87 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 03 August 2016 - 09:50 PM

Neitha caught Kye's reaction as he saw the pair of templar talking, and gave his shoulder a slight comforting squeeze. "Don't think about it too much —we don't know they know anything; so just keep your skin on and act natural —er, or would that be unnatural for you...?" she whispered, trailing off for a moment as she tripped over logic.

 
Kye just made a little noise in his throat.
 
"Remember, you've got friends here, too" she added softly a moment later.
 
"Yeah," he said. He said nothing more until Neitha had led him into the farthest corner she could find, and he sat down, mostly looking at the floor - at least until Neitha spoke again.
 
"Thank you" she said, quietly but earnestly. "Figured I should say it properly since you did risk exposure to save my life. So... Thank you."
 
"You're welcome," Kye replied, his voice low, as he turned his head to look at her. His eyes appeared at least slightly reddened when he regarded her, so he quickly looked elsewhere again. It didn't look entirely like it was from exhaustion this time.
 
"Now, what's wrong?" she asked softly. "You've been... gloomy, almost sullen, pretty much since we left Veritshire; I found you trying to climb inside a bottle back at the mansion, and up in the crow's nest you were..." she trailed off momentarily with a sigh. "Come on, you can tell me; what's bothering you?"
 
Kye swallowed, though not without some difficulty.
 
"Or, if that's too difficult a question, then why don't you tell me what happened between you and... uh, Miss pixie"—she suddenly realized that she didn't know the second pixie's name, despite having 'met' her twice—"in the forecastle?" she added after a moment with just a hint of a teasing grin. "I mean, you went in there like a cat that'd just had a bucket of cold water poured on it, and you came out like some kind of super... man, flying boldly to the rescue. Must have been one hell of a pep-talk" she said, with a slightly expectant expression.
 
Though he managed a small, lopsided smile, it was largely mirthless and the laugh that came out to accompany it was of the short, nervous variety. "She just... talked about how we needed to help our friends, and... stuff," he managed to choke out.
 
Kye swallowed again, looking embarrassed and incredibly choked up all at once. He sucked in a deep, shaky breath and glanced at her, his eyes now quite apparently red and only just holding back tears.
 
"I'm... I'm an idiot, that's all," he breathed, his voice a bit squeaky from trying to hold his emotions back. He sniffled and mumbled, "And - now I'm making an even bigger fool of myself, so - so I should just... probably... go hide in the crow's nest some more..."
 
Neitha felt something brush by her so suddenly it made her start, but she realized it was only Kye's tail waving back and forth as much as it could. When she looked at his face again, she saw his bright violet irises glowing out from the redness and tears. He couldn't keep it together. Swallowing yet again, he rubbed his face with his right hand and tried to breathe for a second or two.
 
Until, suddenly, an explanation started spilling out as a confusing, blurted mess of words and emotions between attempts to breathe through his sobbing and not break down even worse. "I was born in the Underworld and-- and I never knew love, or even friendship, or compassion or kindness or gentleness or happiness or trust or generosity or - or anything good, and I don't even know how old I am - I don't know how long I lived like that, it could've been, like a lifetime - or, or probably lifetimes, and I always heard about the mortal realm and how those things existed there, and it felt like a myth, and I fought and... and suffered, and... it took - it took so long, but I made it here, and then I realized everybody here already knows about demons, and..."
 
He gulped as if trying to swallow the knot in his throat. When he managed to speak again, his voice was even unsteadier and quieter than before: "And they're right - they're not wrong, I can't blame them, everything they say about demons is true - it's even truer than they know - but..." Kye stared hard at the floor. "But - I fell in love with a woman, and - I think - maybe, I mean, she seemed to - she felt the same way, but-- the second she found out the truth, she..."
 
Kye fidgeted with his left gauntlet, somehow managing to steady his voice at least a little. "She wanted to kill me, and she said... the only reason she didn't was because she thought she loved me, but she said she knew now I was just - just a demon, trying to trick her, trying to use her, and... and any other demon - or demon-kin, or anything - would have been doing that, she's not wrong, and... And I have to keep up this stupid disguise and lie and I'm always afraid and I've lived in fear for as long as I can remember and every time I am brave I suffer for it and I'm - I'm just so tired of it, and I came here to get away from that and - and find the good I used to hear about in this place, but it's not for me, I can never have it, and - and I see that now."
 
He fidgeted still worse, rubbing his right hand all up and down his left gauntlet like his entire left forearm was made of metal that hurt or itched. "Nobody can love a demon. And - and nobody should. It's not right. So-- so I just... have to keep living in fear, I'll... never have anybody, I'll never be able to live without this stupid disguise, and... And I see that goodness all around me - I see it, it's there, it happens all the time with... with mortals - like-- like you and Marcus," he admitted quietly, "but it's just not something I can ever have. I've tried, and it never works. Just seeing it was enough for me for a long time - knowing other people are happy and knowing there is happiness and goodness in the world, but - but I dunno if I can take it anymore. Even if it... looks like it might work for me, the minute anyone learns the truth, none of it matters. And even when I just try to be good - myself - be brave and help others, like - like I want to do, it always ends up making everything worse-- for everybody."
 
Kye pulled in a deep sob, but he made a valiant effort at keeping it together despite the tears that had been pouring down his face since he started talking. "And... and the part that might just hurt worst is... is that I can't blame them. I'm a demon, I don't deserve any of it, I'm tainted, and I feel it all the time and I fight it all the time and I know it and I try to hide it and I have to lie to everyone and nobody will-- nobody can - really trust me and I'm always scared and I know just one tiny slip and all those illusions that I'm ever getting close to anything good will just slip away and someone will come and kill me and send me back to that - that place, and I'll be trapped there forever, all because I was an idiot and thought a demon could ever be good - and have goodness in his life."
 
With that, he felt silent except for a tiny sound in his throat just before swallowing again, trying to cry as silently as he could and burying his face in his right hand as much as possible. He pinched his eyes shut and made an apparent effort to focus and maintain his disguise, which he largely managed to do... except for his tail jerking around almost spasmodically behind him in the shadows, in a sort of mirror image of how his insides felt.
 
---
 
"I'll go tell Caiden then, I guess? And then... should we all meet up and do this as a unit, or just go about individually?" Sarael asked Stevan.
 
"The ship's small enough that we could work in pairs," Stevan replied. "You come with me, Sef goes with Rutger. Rutger may not be a warrior, but he knows how to ward off anything unholy well enough for Sef to get the upper hand she needs until we can get there to help."
 
"Oh, and should we inform the Captain, or...?" she added a moment later.
 
He nodded firmly. "We should. I'll do it. Find Rutger and Sef and tell them what's going on - I'll meet you all here on the main deck once we're both done. There's no need to rush into it without all the Templars being informed and prepared. If the monster's been on the ship this long, it clearly has no intention of leaving yet, so there's still time to find it."

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#88 Dalton Kringle

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 09:15 AM

As the creature left, both Charon and Katrina breathed sighs of relief: fortunately, they had not lost too many companions...

 

---

 

As the Crew began to clean up after the monster, Charon moved over to Perky, and asked "Hey, are you alright?"

 

---

 

Katrina retrieved her dagger from the deck and stood up: she wanted to speak to Kye, badly. 

 

Whatever, or whoever he was, maybe he would be able to help her find Charon.

 

However, when she finally spotted him, she saw that he and Neitha where heading to the ship's hold.

 

She briefly thought about following them: Kye most likely needed some space, especially if someone other than her had spotted him. 

 

Besides, she needed to talk to him by herself: there were some things that only he and she needed to know...



#89 Lord_Klaus

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 09:59 AM

Catching Marcus' snide remark, she couldn't help herself: "Speaking of which, I'm sorry Marcus... but I don't think I'll ever be able to look at your mother's calamari the same way again" she said with a wry grin.

 

With a comical roll of his eyes, Marcus groaned. “Aaaand here come the seafood jokes.  Saw that coming.”

 

---

 

"Eh, I've been covered in worse. I'm sure it'll wash out" she reassured him.  "And, it's alright. When we're being attacked by giant squid-monsters —or other similarly large and carnivorous... things— you have my permission to worry about me" she continued with a teasing smile, before leaning forward and giving Marcus a kiss.

 

"Just don't go overboard, okay?" she said good-naturedly.

 

Nodding solemnly, the veteran Inquisitor suddenly thought of a joke, grew a cheesy grin, and responded, “Understood...literally AND figuratively,” motioning slightly with his head in the direction of the water, hoping against hope that her “overboard” remark was as funny to her as it was in his context.

 

---

 

"Right" Neitha, who was still standing right there, interjected quietly. "I'll take him below and try and keep him out of trouble" she suggested, before throwing a friendly arm around Kye's shoulder and trying to guide him belowdecks.

 

After quietly thanking her, Marcus went about trying to reconcile with Big Rob.

 

The deckhand just laughed. "It's no trouble, Inquisitor," he replied. "We'll fix it up when we reach Artorius. You needn't pay from your own pocket."

 

Genuinely humbled by the man’s magnanimity, Marcus gladly offered Big Rob his hand to shake.  “You have my thanks.  It’s been an honor to sail and fight with such a crew, despite whatever dangers some of my companions have steered you toward.”  

 

After noticing the Templar he’d tried to reconcile with and Captain Stevan moving off to speak in private, Marcus could not help but tilt his head in wonderment.  He mused aloud to Big Rob, “Those two seem like they’ve been through a lot together.  I’m glad the gods granted us victory here, but does it seem odd how fervently those two argued for this route, despite the warnings otherwise?”

 

Some moments passed (and probably Big Rob’s eventual answer), and the Inquisitor shook his head, muttering, “Bah, I’m probably just overthinking again when I should be swabbing.”  Giving the deckhand a two-fingered salute (Tom really had started to rub off on him), he concluded, “Thank you again, good sir.  If the Amalia is ever in need of some boring but steadily-paid Imperial work, you and Captain Ritter need only ask, and I’ll put in a good word...or a few pages’ worth...with the admiral of the Ebon Fleet.  Can’t honestly guarantee much, but I remember they were mentioning wanting some faster sails than our bulky galleys.”

With that, Marcus went to trade in his polearm for a mop...and find Caiden.  There were a few possibilities he wanted to run by his Venator friend.  


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#90 Balder

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 11:09 AM

"It's your choice," Caiden said firmly. "If you're not trained, there's no shame in staying safe. We don't need to lose anyone. If you want a job, you can check the lower deck for leaks. After that impact, we might have some."

With that, however, the Venator turned to the ladder leading up to the main deck. He glanced back at Rutger one more time to give a brief, "Stay safe," just before he disappeared.

 

Rutger gulped, still hesitating where he stood. He could figure out that whatever was up there attacking the ship was probably a sea-horror of some kind, what with that unearthly roar. Part of him wanted to go up deck, not to fight it but to record it first hand for the archives. The other half realized that was a stupid idea and was of the mind that he should do as the Venator advised and make himself useful checking for leaks. This resulted in an impasse where Rutger stood there frozen for some moments until more unearthly roars overcame his sensibilities with curiosity and he rushed to the opening up deck, promising himself he'd just get a good look at whatever was attacking them and then he'd immediately go check for leaks.

 

Unfortunately he only managed to catch a glimpse of the tentacled beast before it disappeared beneath the waves with nightmarish shrieks of agony.

 

A bare moment after it had disappeared the captain was shouting orders and sailors was rushing past the scribe to check for leaks. Figuring that it'd be better if he got out of the way Rutger quickly made himself scarce, making his way to the ships railings, observing as sailors past. He thought about helping in cleaning up the mess about the deck but realized he had more important work to do.

 

He needed to make a record of this event for the Templar archives.

 

And there was also the question of what pain had befallen their Venator, Caiden he think his name were. 

 

But records first and since his supplies were firmly locked away inside the forecastle he made his way to the captain. "Captain, just a moment. I hope it's not to forwards of me to ask to borrow some writing supplies from you seeing as my own supplies are stored away. Further I would also hope that I can borrow you desk, you see this encounter needs to be properly recorded. In addition since I myself was otherwise engaged under deck and as such did not fully observe the proceedings of the past events I'll also need some, or preferably several, people who were immediately present in order to get the right information, oh, and perhaps you'd be interested to know that your friend Caiden was in some sort of pain earlier, I'll check on that more later. Anyhow, you see this is of course of most importance and I would very much like to get started immediately though I'll accept a slight delay if you see it as proper to not start interrogating the crew immediately." The scribe excitedly rambled off before giving pause for the captain to respond.


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#91 Sareth

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 01:14 PM

Neitha was silent as Kye spoke, feeling it was probably better to let him pour it out in one go.

 

"... And... and the part that might just hurt worst is... is that I can't blame them. I'm a demon, I don't deserve any of it, I'm tainted, and I feel it all the time and I fight it all the time and I know it and I try to hide it and I have to lie to everyone and nobody will-- nobody can - really trust me and I'm always scared and I know just one tiny slip and all those illusions that I'm ever getting close to anything good will just slip away and someone will come and kill me and send me back to that - that place, and I'll be trapped there forever, all because I was an idiot and thought a demon could ever be good - and have goodness in his life."

 

But, when he had finished, and lapsed into quiet sobs, there was nothing for it. "Hey, come here" she said, reaching out and pulling Kye into a sort of sideways hug, cradling his head against her chest as one might with a newborn —not that she would know anything about that, but apparently these things were pretty instinctual, even to her... who knew?— and stroking his hair softly to try and soothe him.

 

"You're wrong" she said softly after a couple moments. "You're wrong about everything; you deserve all the peace and happiness in the world. There's no such thing as 'tainted blood' —there are plenty of full-blooded humans who aren't a tenth as kind and brave as you are, I've met some of them— there's only good, and evil, and neither has anything to do with the nature of your birth; it's a choice, and you chose to look the darkness in the face and tell it to go to hell —that is good... you are good, don't ever doubt yourself on that."

 

To be honest, up until the instant that she found herself speaking the words, she hadn't realized that she believed the stuff she was saying. She had always brushed aside 'good' and 'evil' as grand concepts —interesting in theory, but with little to no relevance to the real day-to-day world in which people lived. But, if you looked deep enough, that wasn't really true...

 

"You've been hurt," she continued after a momentary pause, "and you're afraid of it happening again —I understand that feeling. I used to have happy life, once —a loving parent; but it was all taken from me for the most vicious and stupid of reasons, and then I had nothing. I barely survived for years, and then, when I was fifteen I was made a slave —forced to fight or die— for the crime of doing the only thing I could to survive" she said.

 

"I'm not telling you this because I think it in any way compares to what you've been through. My point is... When I was a kid, I thought the world was a great place too —when I thought about it at all. But, when I discovered that it could be harsh, and cruel... Even after I finally got my freedom, I didn't think I could ever get that good, normal, life back —I didn't even want to. And, when I met Marcus... These things can look simple and easy, I suppose, to someone looking in from the outside, but they're not. There are still a couple things I haven't told him —I've been meaning to it just... never seems like the right time; or maybe I'm just afraid of how he'll react —it could bring up some painful memories of his..." she trailed off for a moment, before shaking off her own doubts and getting back on track —this was about Kye, not her.

 

"When I first realized that Marcus could be more than just a fling, I didn't know whether to go for it —or flee; I thought I was too broken to have that —to deserve that. It took me some time to accept —to realize— that I still had that spark of humanity in me, dim though it had grown: that capacity to live, not just survive —using booze and meaningless sex to dull the pain I didn't even want to admit was there... And you have that spark, too" she said, lightly tapping a point over his heart.

 

"The world can be a cruel place, and people can be ignorant and vicious, but you can't focus only on the bad stuff —think about what you've gained: Caiden and Percula, Marcus, Me, even Tom; you have friends —we all know what you are, and none of us hold it against you. If we can do it, there are other people out there —even girls" she continued, interjecting a slight touch of levity for the first time since she began talking "— who can, too. You just haven't met them yet."

 

"And, I can't speak for the others, but I trust you... This might sound really strange, but you're kind of like the half-demon little brother I never had" she said with a hint of a smile. "So I want you to trust me when I say that I won't allow anyone —especially not some gold-plated, self-righteous, god-bothering, jumped-up knights— to kill or imprison you simply because they can't tell the difference between what you are, and who you are" she finished, her words firm and earnest, even as her slight smile expanded into more-or-less a full-blown grin.

 

***

 

"The ship's small enough that we could work in pairs," Stevan replied. "You come with me, Sef goes with Rutger. Rutger may not be a warrior, but he knows how to ward off anything unholy well enough for Sef to get the upper hand she needs until we can get there to help. We should. I'll do it. Find Rutger and Sef and tell them what's going on - I'll meet you all here on the main deck once we're both done. There's no need to rush into it without all the Templars being informed and prepared. If the monster's been on the ship this long, it clearly has no intention of leaving yet, so there's still time to find it."

 

"Got it" Sarael replied with an earnest nod, before heading off to find Rutger first. Looking around, she spotted him up talking to the Captain; since Stevan was headed there to talk with her anyways, she decided to tell Caiden first instead.

 

Spotting him by the base of the main mast, she headed over. "Hey Caiden!" she said by way of greeting, before drawing in close and quickly whispering: "We think there might be a demon, or maybe a vampire on board —I saw a winged man flying during the fight with the monster. Knight-Captain Stevan wanted you brought in in case it's the latter. We —the templar— are planning to split into groups and try blessing everyone on the ship to see if we can't make it reveal itself" she said, rather more confidently and succinctly than her report to Stevan had been...


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#92 Burger Warrior

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 05:02 PM

Rosette descended with a sigh of relief as the monster finally retreated, landing rather heavily on the deck and sprawling out there, trying to relax. Boy, that had been… something. It wasn’t every day a pixie from the depths of a swamp ended up on the high seas and helped chase away an enormous sea monster. And encouraged a demon-kin to reveal himself so he could save a pretty lady. And-

 

Her thoughts were interrupted by a shadow falling over her, and it was then that Saffron realized she was on a suddenly very busy deck full of relatively giant humans. A few meeps followed as Rosette danced around and between boots of varying sizes, she hardly realized she was making her way rather quickly toward Rutger and Captain Ritter in her seemingly endless sprint to find reasonable cover.

 

-----

 

Well, that did it.

 

Percula let out a sigh of relief and landed heavily on her bottom, cloak still comfortably swathed around her. By a miracle, the silver clasp hadn’t touched her, it seemed, though she made a mental note to find Caiden and ask him for help with that. If she was busy stressing about some dumb moniker all the time, she’d hardly get to enjoy being big...

 

She finally got to her feet as the deck became very busy, deciding to look for Caiden and see how he was doing, when Charon came into view. "Hey, are you alright?"

 

Raising a fine eyebrow at the question, the ‘elf’ flashed him a bright smile. “Right as rain, for getting nabbed by a tentacle.” She said, looking him over. “How’re you doing? You seem okay after that mess.” Percula noted, before she occasionally glanced around in the hope of spotting where Caiden had gone to. Assuming he’d been in condition to come out here…

 

The sudden reminder of his condition darkened the ‘elf’s expression noticeably... but briefly.


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#93 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 04 August 2016 - 10:26 PM

“Those two seem like they’ve been through a lot together.  I’m glad the gods granted us victory here, but does it seem odd how fervently those two argued for this route, despite the warnings otherwise?”

 

Big Rob shrugged. "They seemed to know of something we didn't," he replied.

 

The Inquisitor shook his head, muttering, “Bah, I’m probably just overthinking again when I should be swabbing.”  Giving the deckhand a two-fingered salute (Tom really had started to rub off on him), he concluded, “Thank you again, good sir.  If the Amalia is ever in need of some boring but steadily-paid Imperial work, you and Captain Ritter need only ask, and I’ll put in a good word...or a few pages’ worth...with the admiral of the Ebon Fleet.  Can’t honestly guarantee much, but I remember they were mentioning wanting some faster sails than our bulky galleys.”

 

He grinned. "Noted, Inquisitor. I'll be sure to tell the Captain."

 

Marcus then went off to find Caiden. He did not have to search long, as he saw the muscular Venator standing near the hatch leading to the lower decks. However, the Templar Sarael was already speaking with him. Try as he might, though, Marcus could not make out whatever she was whispering...

 

Caiden's attention, meanwhile, was directed entirely at Sarael.

 

"We think there might be a demon, or maybe a vampire on board —I saw a winged man flying during the fight with the monster. Knight-Captain Stevan wanted you brought in in case it's the latter. We —the templar— are planning to split into groups and try blessing everyone on the ship to see if we can't make it reveal itself"

 

The Venator's face betrayed no emotion whatsoever. "I see," he said, his tone grim but unreadable. He glanced back at Marcus as the Inquisitor approached, before returning his gaze to Sarael. "Thanks for letting me know. I'll join one of the groups for the blessings," he said. "Until then, excuse me for a moment."

 

With that, he approached Marcus instead, briefly resting a strong hand on the Inquisitor's shoulder. "Come with me," he said. "I need to talk to you."

 

Marcus had hardly a moment to respond before Caiden led the way down to the lower decks. His tone indicated quite clearly that the need to speak was an immediate one.

 

Nearby on the deck, Percula looked over to Caiden in time to see he and Sarael speaking in hushed tones, while Marcus approached him. But, soon enough, the conversations were over - at least, until Caiden guided Marcus below decks. The Venator may have had a face of stone to anyone else, but Percula could tell from the look in his eye that he was very worried about something.

 

---

 

When Caiden led Marcus to the lower decks, Kye and Neitha were far from the immediate vicinity, given the secluded little corner Neitha had led them to - nor were they immediately noticeable. So the moment the Venator stopped by his bunk and then turned sharply around to face Marcus, they had enough privacy to keep their voices low and not be heard.

 

Before Marcus could say one word, Caiden spoke. "We have to do something about Kye," he said flatly. "The Templars are going to bless everyone on the ship. It'll hurt Kye, and he'll change."

 

The Venator looked at him solemnly for a moment before adding with a surprising amount of hesitance, "I don't know how to get him out of this one. We may just have to come clean. If we do, we should do it before they find him... Unless you have an alternative."

 

---

 

The entire time Neitha spoke, Kye didn't make a sound - except for his crying, which he made a clear effort to try and keep quiet - but she knew he was listening to every word. He hadn't budged since she started hugging him, resting his head against her and trying to regain control of himself.

 

"When I first realized that Marcus could be more than just a fling, I didn't know whether to go for it —or flee; I thought I was too broken to have that —to deserve that. It took me some time to accept —to realize— that I still had that spark of humanity in me, dim though it had grown: that capacity to live, not just survive —using booze and meaningless sex to dull the pain I didn't even want to admit was there... And you have that spark, too" she said, lightly tapping  point over his heart.

 

Kye just made another of his low little noises, but it was clear he was at least trying to believe her.

 

"...And, I can't speak for the others, but I trust you... This might sound really strange, but you're kind of like the half-demon little brother I never had" she said with a hint of a smile. "So I want you to trust me when I say that I won't allow anyone —especially not some gold-plated, self-righteous, god-bothering, jumped-up knights— to kill or imprison you simply because they can't tell the difference between what you are, and who you are" she finished, her words firm and earnest, even as her slight smile expanded into more-or-less a full-blown grin.

 

After a moment or two of more silence, Kye finally sat upright and looked her in the face again. She - no doubt - waited for him to actually speak, but when he realized that was beyond his power, he suddenly hugged her instead, pulling her against him. In spite of his meek behavior, Kye was still very tall and not a weakling, so his hugs were nothing to sneeze at - and his squeezing her briefly in his arms was tight enough to actually be rather startling.

 

But he quickly eased up and then released her, sniffling and swallowing again, wiping at his eyes with his right hand. "Sorry," he mumbled, sheepish, his voice still weak from the crying he was only just getting under control. "I've, um... never really - you know - hugged."

 

Kye took a deep breath, looking Neitha in the eye as he said simply, in as strong a voice as he could force out, "Thank you."

 

---

 

"Captain, just a moment. I hope it's not to forwards of me to ask to borrow some writing supplies from you seeing as my own supplies are stored away. Further I would also hope that I can borrow you desk, you see this encounter needs to be properly recorded. In addition since I myself was otherwise engaged under deck and as such did not fully observe the proceedings of the past events I'll also need some, or preferably several, people who were immediately present in order to get the right information, oh, and perhaps you'd be interested to know that your friend Caiden was in some sort of pain earlier, I'll check on that more later. Anyhow, you see this is of course of most importance and I would very much like to get started immediately though I'll accept a slight delay if you see it as proper to not start interrogating the crew immediately." The scribe excitedly rambled off before giving pause for the captain to respond.

 

Captain Ritter blinked at the overload of words, but she replied quickly enough. "You can use my cabin and write your records, if that's what you were saying. Whatever you need to use in there is yours. Except for the bed or the bath, obviously," she added wryly. "And as for talking to anyone about it, I think it'd be more courteous to let everyone get their bearings again."

 

Rosette, meanwhile, rushed across the deck in an attempt to get out of everyone's way. Rutger saw something from the corner of his eye - something moving along the deck nearby. It was very small... and when he looked again, he saw quite plainly that it was, of all things, a pixie.


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#94 Harry Monster Princess

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Posted 05 August 2016 - 12:43 AM

DeWitt said nothing. Adriana DeWitt said nothing for a long time. She had believed the honesty in Neitha's voice but DeWitt's nerves were still as frayed as the end of an old rope after learning of Kye's true nature. Departing onto the ship hadn't helped matters either. It'd been a long time since she'd been on a ship, and an even longer time since she'd had to be in the general open bunkers of the crew. Without any privacy Adriana just couldn't get... comfortable. The stress of the encounter with the Prince of Pain and the sleep deprivation had left her in rough shape. In another time DeWitt would have eagerly rushed into battle when the angler fish beast assaulted the ship. But in her immediate state Adriana felt she'd hardly be able to keep herself together in a fight. So she sat huddled in a hidden corner, ashamed of how pitiful she was being. If only she could get some sleep...

 

After the sound of the battle died down, and they were still afloat, DeWitt assumed the crew and her party had won the day. One thing she knew about the terrors of the depths though, was that they always, always left a gargantuan mess. She rubbed her eyes, trying to chase away the pull of exhaustion and got to her feet, heading above deck to aid with the cleanup. She grabbed a  couple brushes and a bucket along the way, and when she reached the top deck she was immediately greeted with the remains of a severed tentacle, still squirming and twitching. 

 

"Eeuugh," she nudged the appendage with her foot and it twitched in response. "Yeah I'm not picking that up," DeWitt muttered, giving the tentacle a solid kick. With a few more kicks she was rolling it across the deck and right back into the ocean, where in landed with a satisfying splash. "Sharks'll eat good tonight," she mused.

 

Adriana grabbed a spare rope and tied it to the bucket's handle, lowering it down to the sea and hauling up a full pail of water. With a huff she hefted the bucket back onto the deck, setting it down next to her. Then she dunked the brush in the water, got on her knees and started swabbing the deck. She smiled to herself. This brought her back to when she was a lowly deckhand. Didn't improve the stench of the slime at all though. Adriana left the spare brush next to the bucket, inviting anyone to help her clean.


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#95 Balder

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Posted 05 August 2016 - 04:06 AM

Captain Ritter blinked at the overload of words, but she replied quickly enough. "You can use my cabin and write your records, if that's what you were saying. Whatever you need to use in there is yours. Except for the bed or the bath, obviously," she added wryly. "And as for talking to anyone about it, I think it'd be more courteous to let everyone get their bearings again."

 

"Ah, yes, recent traumatic event, I'll keep that in mind. Thank you very much Captain I'll-" His attention was at this moment grabbed by something in the corner of his eyes and when he looked again, he saw quite plainly that it was, of all things, a pixie. As always his mouth registered it before his brain did. "My word, is that a Pixie", he asked rhetorically loud enough for anyone nearby to hear, pointing directly at the little figure for everyone to see.


Edited by Balder, 05 August 2016 - 04:06 AM.

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#96 Lord_Klaus

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Posted 05 August 2016 - 05:54 PM

Marcus did not have to search for very long as Caiden found him instead, briefly resting a strong hand on the Inquisitor's shoulder. "Come with me," he said. "I need to talk to you."

 

Marcus had hardly a moment to respond before Caiden led the way down to the lower decks. His tone indicated quite clearly that the need to speak was an immediate one.

 

Before Marcus could say one word, Caiden spoke. "We have to do something about Kye," he said flatly. "The Templars are going to bless everyone on the ship. It'll hurt Kye, and he'll change."

 

The Venator looked at him solemnly for a moment before adding with a surprising amount of hesitance, "I don't know how to get him out of this one. We may just have to come clean. If we do, we should do it before they find him... Unless you have an alternative."

 

Of all the bloody nuisance…” Marcus trailed off, pinching the bridge of his nose in disquiet.  He had wondered what the Templars were up to, and if anyone had noticed Kye in his hidden form, but this was a nightmare scenario that he had not been able to plan for.  His mind raced frantically as he considered their options, but nothing feasible seemed to be emerging.  He hated snap decisions like this.

 

I have two,” he said with hesitation, “But I don’t think you’ll like them.  ‘I’ don’t even like them, and they might just amplify the results we’d get if we just tell the truth, but here they are, anyway.”

 

“When we Inquisitors are about to accuse someone, there are two things we don’t want to deal with: discrediting the accuser, and mob rule.  Both mess things up legally and in general, and if one or both emerges, the investigation is stopped, sometimes indefinitely.  I don’t know Templar procedure at all, but manipulating either circumstance might get them to back off.  Or it’ll convince them we have something to hide, which we do, and just make them try again even harder.  Like I said, I don’t like it either.”

 

Tugging nervously on his own chin, the veteran Inquisitor reflected in a hushed tone, “I’m sure you noticed my disagreement with the younger Templar lady, she hasn’t given me her name yet.  Captain Rolf seems trustworthy, but he seems to trust her a great deal more than anyone else.  I gather she’s a driving force in this investigation judging by her whispered talks with you and her captain.  It’s strange to me how interested she seems to be in thinning our ranks before we even begin our mission in earnest.  Whether she’s one of the coven agents you mentioned or not, I can’t prove, but if the suspicion is there, any other accusations she makes could be “fruit of the poisoned tree,” as the tribunes call it.”

 

Breathing heavily, Marcus continued with trepidation, “Option two, and possibly the most liable to backfire: mob rule.  The crew undoubtedly noticed the Templars wanting to take this route that got some of us killed, and now, instead of helping to get the ship back in order, they’re starting a proverbial witch hunt.  I’m no expert on blessings, but it’s possible we can gain the support of any Nordling or Southron worshippers who may not appreciate being forced to take part in an Astran ritual.  Even some of our fellow Imperials still haven’t accepted their religion.  We could even tie it in to the first option, but if I’m wrong about the girl, and I somewhat hope that I am, then we’ll be spreading terrible lies for the sake of our friend.  Worse, if Kye gets discovered anyway, either by the Templars or someone else later, we might end up joining him at the bottom of sea.  In one piece, if we’re lucky.”

 

Sighing and slumping against the nearest wall, Capulet groaned, “Those are the best plans I can come up with to get them to stop their search completely.  Distracting or sidetracking them might buy him time, but if the Templars are as judicious in their work as we Inquisitors, they won’t stop of their own accord.”

 

Looking back at Caiden with more than the usual worry in his eyes, he concluded, “Counterattack, cause a riot, or come clean.  I never thought I would need to make battleplans against one ally for the sake of another, but whichever path we choose, if it fails, we’ll probably have the same result: defending Kye from the Templars.  There’s just one variable I’m unsure of, one that could justify whatever action we decide on…”

 

Staring into Caiden’s eye intently, the Inquisitor asked, “What will they do to Kye if they catch him?”

 

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#97 Sareth

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Posted 05 August 2016 - 09:01 PM

Kye's hug was... unexpected, but Neitha was mostly just glad that he'd stopped crying.

 

"Sorry. I've, um... never really - you know - hugged."

 

"And now you have" she replied. "See? The world's getting better already" she said with a grin.

 

"Thank you."

 

"You're quite welcome" she responded softly.

 

"Wait here a moment. I'm just going to check up top and make sure we don't have a problem, 'kay?" she said after a brief pause. "I'll be right back, I promise" she said with an encouraging smile, giving Kye a comforting pat on the shoulder.

 

With that, she got up and headed towards the stairs up to the deck. But, before she made it, she stopped, noticing Marcus and Caiden talking in a different corner of the hold. As her boyfriend had appointed himself 'cover for Kye' duty, she headed over to check with him, though she didn't quite catch what he was saying to Caiden before she got there.

 

"Caiden" she said, acknowledging the other man's presence, before turning to Marcus. "So, dear, are things good, or..." she trailed off as she noticed the unusual amount of worry in his eyes. "... Not so good, then? What'd I miss?" she asked, her gaze flicking back and forth between the pair.

 

***

 

"I see. Thanks for letting me know. I'll join one of the groups for the blessings. Until then, excuse me for a moment."

 

"Of course" Sarael replied, but Caiden was already going. Turning, she saw him head over to the mustached Inquisitor —Marcus— and then the pair headed below.

 

Looking around, after a few moments she spotted the last of her comrades, Sef, and headed over to the other Templar woman.

 

Leaning in close, she quickly conveyed the situation —by far the most-succinctly yet: "We think there's a demon or a vampire on the ship. The Knight-Captain wants us to bless everyone onboard to force it to reveal itself; he wants you to pair with Rutger, but we're going to meet in a few minutes anyway just to make sure everyone's on the same page" she said quietly, gesturing back towards the spot where she and Stevan had spoken. "So, yeah. Be ready" she said, before turning and heading over to wait. The other female Templar was rather quiet... in shock from the monster fight? Or maybe she just didn't talk much...

 

But, as she headed back across the deck, Sarael noticed one of the members of their expedition —that she'd hardly seen around— down on her knees scrubbing at the deck. Since she had at least a few minutes before they were going to get started, she figured she might as well join her; she had intended to help clean up after all...

 

"Hi" she said simply to the other woman ((Adriana)), before picking up a brush that was lying on the deck and started scrubbing at the stains of green monster-blood —doubtless making a slightly funny sight, down on her knees cleaning the deck in shining, if a bit slimy, plate armor.


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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#98 Harry Monster Princess

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 10:28 AM

"Hi" said another woman, approaching Adriana. DeWitt was focused on a particularly slimy bit and didn't look up, but judging from the sound of her armored footsteps it had to be on of their party. "Hm, glad to see you warriors aren't above some good old fashioned menial la-" Dewitt froze as she finally looked up and saw the woman was a templar, decked out in the full golden regalia. DeWitt was stunned for a second before the gleaming Templar picked up the brush that was lying on the deck and started scrubbing at the stains of green monster-blood. That's not something you see everyday.

 

DeWitt started scrubbing again, trying to figure out what to say. Generally speaking, Inquisitors were weirdos and Venatori were freaks. Had to be for a lifetime of chasing mages and trying to take down monsters, she understood it. But Templars just made her... uncomfortable, and she had a hard time not letting that show.

 

"Not that I don't appreciate the help, but aren't you afraid you'll soil all your fancy holy raiment?" DeWitt grimaced through an awkward smile.


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#99 Maverick-Werewolf

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 11:40 AM

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"Ah, yes, recent traumatic event, I'll keep that in mind. Thank you very much Captain I'll-"

 

Captain Ritter paused and looked down once Rutger did. Some color drained from her face.

 

"My word, is that a Pixie", he asked rhetorically loud enough for anyone nearby to hear, pointing directly at the little figure for everyone to see.

 

Two other crewmen dropped what they were doing - one of them literally, in shock - to come over to see. Jane just made a face and carefully scooped up the pixie in one hand, looking at her fearlessly.

 

"Well, so it is," she said casually, discreetly shooting Rosette herself a glance that very much said 'please don't do anything crazy,' before promptly cupping her hands together like she had just caught a delicate insect. "I'll just have to go consult our local monster hunter, I suppose! Wouldn't want to have an infestation of these little things. As you were," she said pointedly to the quiet but wide-eyed crewmen trying to steal a look at the pixie. Turning back to Rutger, she added, "I'll unlock my cabin on the way to see Caiden. Feel free to use it."

 

With that, and with the pixie still in hand, Jane strode off.

 

"I'm quite glad you didn't get stepped on," she muttered to the pixie under her breath.

 

---

 

"And now you have" she replied. "See? The world's getting better already" she said with a grin.

Kye somehow managed a slight grin in return, for once.

"You're quite welcome" she responded softly. "Wait here a moment. I'm just going to check up top and make sure we don't have a problem, 'kay?" she said after a brief pause. "I'll be right back, I promise" she said with an encouraging smile, giving Kye a comforting pat on the shoulder.

The disguised demon-kin just nodded quietly, staying right where he was.

 

---

 

Caiden listened, mostly in silence, to Marcus's suggestions. As usual, his face betrayed nothing of his opinions, but he threw in a comment now and again.

 

Tugging nervously on his own chin, the veteran Inquisitor reflected in a hushed tone, “I’m sure you noticed my disagreement with the younger Templar lady, she hasn’t given me her name yet.  Captain Rolf seems trustworthy, but he seems to trust her a great deal more than anyone else.  I gather she’s a driving force in this investigation judging by her whispered talks with you and her captain.  It’s strange to me how interested she seems to be in thinning our ranks before we even begin our mission in earnest.  Whether she’s one of the coven agents you mentioned or not, I can’t prove, but if the suspicion is there, any other accusations she makes could be “fruit of the poisoned tree,” as the tribunes call it.”

 

"I trust Stevan," Caiden said firmly. "I've known him for years. He's bled for me, and I for him. If he trusts her, I'm at least willing to give her a chance. From what I saw earlier, they went through something together in that swamp. Stevan isn't one to ever show worry or fear - he was in the Legion. Whatever happened to them, I doubt there were many survivors."

 

Breathing heavily, Marcus continued with trepidation, “Option two, and possibly the most liable to backfire: mob rule.  The crew undoubtedly noticed the Templars wanting to take this route that got some of us killed, and now, instead of helping to get the ship back in order, they’re starting a proverbial witch hunt.  I’m no expert on blessings, but it’s possible we can gain the support of any Nordling or Southron worshippers who may not appreciate being forced to take part in an Astran ritual.  Even some of our fellow Imperials still haven’t accepted their religion.  We could even tie it in to the first option, but if I’m wrong about the girl, and I somewhat hope that I am, then we’ll be spreading terrible lies for the sake of our friend.  Worse, if Kye gets discovered anyway, either by the Templars or someone else later, we might end up joining him at the bottom of sea.  In one piece, if we’re lucky.”

 

Caiden said nothing, though he did set his jaw briefly.

 

Sighing and slumping against the nearest wall, Capulet groaned, “Those are the best plans I can come up with to get them to stop their search completely.  Distracting or sidetracking them might buy him time, but if the Templars are as judicious in their work as we Inquisitors, they won’t stop of their own accord.”

 

"They won't."

 

Looking back at Caiden with more than the usual worry in his eyes, he concluded, “Counterattack, cause a riot, or come clean.  I never thought I would need to make battleplans against one ally for the sake of another, but whichever path we choose, if it fails, we’ll probably have the same result: defending Kye from the Templars.  There’s just one variable I’m unsure of, one that could justify whatever action we decide on…”

Staring into Caiden’s eye intently, the Inquisitor asked, “What will they do to Kye if they catch him?”

 

"They'll kill him," Caiden answered almost flatly and without hesitation.

 

He didn't get to elaborate - though Marcus wasn't sure he was even going to - before Neitha came over.

 

"Caiden" she said, acknowledging the other man's presence. Caiden gave her a respectful nod in return.

 

Neitha then turned to Marcus. "So, dear, are things good, or..." she trailed off as she noticed the unusual amount of worry in his eyes. "... Not so good, then? What'd I miss?" she asked, her gaze flicking back and forth between the pair.

 

"The Templars are working on a plan to try and find what they believe to be either a demon or a vampire on this ship," Caiden answered. "If I know Stevan, he'll work things out with Jane, and make sure..."

 

Right on cue, Captain Jane Ritter appeared, flashing them all a friendly smile before holding her hands out to Caiden - and moving one away to reveal Rosette.

 

"Your pixie friend nearly got stepped on," she said. "At least, I assume she's the pixie you told me about. Unless you have two? Maybe they're multiplying in there."

 

Caiden's face went blank before he simply furrowed his brow in annoyance. Jane's face lit up that she had managed to embarrass him even in the tiniest capacity.

 

"Here," she said, gently setting Rosette one of Caiden's enormous shoulders. "That talkative Templar scribe saw her, and two of my crewmen did as well, but maybe they won't make too much of a fuss. I said I was going to let the professional handle it. Besides, we have other worries."

 

"Thanks," Caiden replied, glancing at Rosette, as Jane had placed her on his right shoulder so he could actually see her. "Jane..." he started, but the Captain held up a hand.

 

"Sorry, Caid, but I really have to run," she said apologetically. "The ship's a mess. I'll be in my cabin if you need to speak with me."

 

With that, she turned and hurried off. Caiden growled low in his throat like a bothered animal.

 

"Jane will submit to whatever the Templars want," the Venator said, looking at Marcus and Neitha again. "She and Stevan have a long relationship... even longer than mine with her. They're almost family, and the Templars saved Jane's own family once. She trusts them, and not without reason."

 

He crossed his arms. "Kye's in serious trouble. But as much as I know Kye's our friend, Stevan's my friend as well. I don't want to wrong the Templars. With anyone other than Kye, they'd be right to do what they're doing. If we come clean, I might be able to convince Stevan, at least enough to keep him from killing Kye... but I don't know about the others."

 

---

 

Stevan, meanwhile, reappeared on the main deck at the same moment Captain Ritter emerged from the holds. The Knight-Captain gave her a nod, and the two headed for the quarterdeck, moving past Plexaura as they did. The channeler paused long enough to shoot them a suspicious glance.

 

"You've got your serious face on, Steve," she remarked. "Why's that?"

 

The Templar turned to face her, and Jane waved him off, whispering something about taking care of it herself and shooting him an encouraging smile that made Stevan clear his throat in mild embarrassment. As Jane headed up to man the ship's wheel again, Stevan turned to Plexaura.

 

"There's trouble on board," he said. "It's my job to handle it."

 

"You sound awfully sure of that, for so many monster and mage hunters to be in one place," Plexaura said teasingly, arching a thin eyebrow.

 

"Let's just say it's a Templar specialty," Stevan replied darkly.

 

Plexaura moved a bit closer to him, and the two began to whisper, though Stevan did not seem to entirely approve of the lowered tones. But the channeler discreetly took his hand, leading him off toward the forecastle deck, where they could speak with at least a bit more privacy.

 

Captain Jane Ritter, however, had no time to pay attention to this or any of the other interactions going on on the main deck, as she stepped up just behind the railing on the quarterdeck and started speaking loudly enough that everyone would both hear and pay attention.

 

"It has come to my attention," she said with uncharacteristic seriousness and worry, "that something more than a giant man-eating sea monster was seen around our ship last night. We now have reason to believe there may be a monster of another nature on board: a demon or a vampire. If they're hearing this and want to run," she shrugged, "that's fine with me, to put it bluntly, especially since there's too much sea between us and land for anything to survive. But you're welcome to try."

 

She stood up straight and put her hands on her hips. "You all know the nature of our mission: to find and defeat the Umbra Coven. They are not without spies, and this creature in our midst may very well be one of those. That is why we must find them, and we must work together to do so. For all we know, the monster in the waters between us and Artorius could have been something the Umbra Coven themselves summoned here to prevent us from interfering." She shrugged. "I've heard less far-fetched things.

 

"But, ridiculous or no, the very real threat of a spy - and, worse, a spy that is an evil creature that corrupts minds, feeds off human blood, or both - on board my ship is something I will not tolerate. This is why everyone on board will submit to a private inquisition. When your name is called, you will enter my quarters to answer some questions from our Templar allies. Once we are sure you are who you say you are, you may leave and return to your duties or hobbies, as you see fit."

 

She sighed. "I do hate inquisitions and other such annoyances on my vessel, but I will do what has to be done. Since everyone on board already agreed to this mission knowing full well who their allies are and who they are taking down, I trust everyone will agree that this is a necessary precaution, and I thank you for your cooperation. We will be in Artorius in just a few more days - and hopefully this will be the very last of troubles we see before we dock. When you hear your name, simply step into my cabin. As for all you Templars, you should proceed to my cabin now, as we will begin momentarily."

 

With that, she motioned Big Rob to the ship's wheel before descending from the quarterdeck again and stepping into her cabin, herself. For now, she left the door open for all other Templars to join her there.


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#100 Sareth

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Posted 06 August 2016 - 09:20 PM

"The Templars are working on a plan to try and find what they believe to be either a demon or a vampire on this ship. If I know Stevan, he'll work things out with Jane, and make sure..."

 

Neitha swore angrily under her breath, and was about to say something when the ship's captain showed up, handing the second pixie over to Caiden. She waited somewhat impatiently until the captain had left again, sparing the pixie nothing save for a slightly annoyed glance —the tiny woman had the worst timing imaginable.

 

"Jane will submit to whatever the Templars want. She and Stevan have a long relationship... even longer than mine with her. They're almost family, and the Templars saved Jane's own family once. She trusts them, and not without reason. Kye's in serious trouble. But as much as I know Kye's our friend, Stevan's my friend as well. I don't want to wrong the Templars. With anyone other than Kye, they'd be right to do what they're doing. If we come clean, I might be able to convince Stevan, at least enough to keep him from killing Kye... but I don't know about the others."

 

"Shouldn't they listen to you?" she asked Caiden, a touch desperate and angry. "And you?" she continued, turning to Marcus. "I mean, in the grand scheme of things aren't you all comrades in the great fight against things-man-wasn't-meant-to-screw-with?" —there was a joke in there somewhere, about taking that phrase too literally and Kye's parentage, but now was not the time for humor.

 

"... Maybe try and keep his name out of things until you can tell whether they'll go for it or not?" she suggested, resignedly, after a moment. "It might buy us a little time to try something else..."

 

"I'll... I think I'll wait with Kye while you two try and convince them" she said after a brief silence. "He just saved my life... right now, I don't think I could be calm trying to argue why they shouldn't murder him" she continued, snarling briefly at the end. "I'd probably just hurt your guys' argument so, yeah, I'll stay with him. He probably shouldn't be alone, anyways —in case things don't go well..." What she'd do then, she didn't say, but she was stone-faced and her tone was grim; she had some ideas, most of them violent. 'Stevan' wasn't any friend of hers... and she'd made a promise.

 

"He's counting on you, and so am I" she said, addressing Caiden. "Both of you" she continued, turning to Marcus, before leaning in and giving him a quick peck on the cheek. "You're a good orator" she whispered in his ear. "Make me proud."

 

With that, she turned and headed back to where she'd left Kye, taking a seat beside the demon-kin once more. She'd tried to put a smile back on her face, but if Kye was in any condition to notice, he could probably tell by her expression that things weren't great.

 

"So... I've got good news and bad news. The bad news is the templar know someone on this ship isn't what they seem, and they're planning to bless everyone in sight until they find it. But Caiden and Marcus are going to come clean about you, and Mr. Eyepatch thinks there's a slight chance his templar pal may be okay with you."

 

"In case that that doesn't work, I suggest you hide in the bilge for the rest of the journey and I'll claim you... I don't know, teleported away using magic or something" she said, thinking quickly —trying to reassure him by coming up with a backup plan: a poor backup plan, maybe, but there weren't a whole lot of options on this ship.

 

"But Marcus and Caiden are going to argue like hell —er... well— on your behalf, so hopefully it won't come to that" she said, trying to believe it herself. "And I'm staying right here, come what may" she said, patting Kye on the shoulder. "And now there's just the waiting..."

 

***

 

"Not that I don't appreciate the help, but aren't you afraid you'll soil all your fancy holy raiment?"

 

Sarael paused her work for a moment, looking down at herself in contemplation for a second. "... It's kinda slimy from the battle, so I'm going to have to clean it anyways" she replied simply, before resuming scrubbing.

 

"... As for all you Templars, you should proceed to my cabin now, as we will begin momentarily."

 

She looked up as the Captain announced their plans, before turning to the other woman: "Sorry, I've got to go" she said with a slightly sheepish smile. "But, uh, if you're still not done later, I'll help you finish" she added after a moment.

 

Leaving the brush, she got up and headed to the Captain's cabin with her comrades.


"This means I will not have to regret sending back their envoy short a few limbs."

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