A Family For The Kingdom

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Davion, Jul 6, 2012.

  1. The ship lurched as it broke through the shoulder of the massive wave, whitewater cascading alongside the wooden ebony bow. The large masts of the ship groaned, rigging holding them firmly in place against the gale winds leaving the high elevation of the Eldurat Hills. Another large wave crested off the starboard bow, a shriek of from the rudder filling the air as the sudden torque wrestled with the direction. Some of the few passengers on board exchanged glances of worry, the vast majority of them unaccustomed to hardship in travel or in life. To afford booking space aboard the pride passenger vessel of the Merchant King’s Fleet, the “Stoic Voyager”, most passengers had to be wealthy or be serving on board. To the men and few hardy women that maintained and steered the vessel, the brisk treatment of the waves came as little surprise. On the contrary, many were lively about their work, the Stoic Voyager’s destination, Terracross, within a few hours away. They would arrive late in the afternoon, giving the passengers just enough time to unload and lodge under the setting sun.

    With a hearty whistle, one crew member, wearing traditional dress of the crew and several bandages down his arms, started to sing in a deep raspy voice. One by one, the other members of the crew joined in to form a salty harmony, serenading the deck while they went about their duties. Even the captain, a stout burly human male, standing atop the quarterdeck let out a hoarse laugh, joining in with his crew. Amidst the commotion, one man took particular enjoyment as he leaned on the chains of starboard bow, watching the coastline approach on the distant horizon. Cresting another wave, he caught a line from the foremast to steady himself, heading back towards the mizzen, stopping at the entranceway to the passenger quarters. Opening the port hole to the inside, he grinned as the delinquents, or so he would soon refer, were where he expected. “Come out, no part of this journey should be missed, and for those of you feeling sea sick, watching the coastline may settle yourselves.” The man waited as they departed the confines of the ship to join him on the deck.

    “Dalton”, as the man had introduced himself to each of them individually before, patiently watched towards the coast, one hand on the mizzenmast lines. He stood a normal human height of six feet, with powerful broad shoulders that were only amplified in their conception by the pauldrons that he wore over them. On land, he wore a gothic salade, accompanied by a wolf fur trimmed cloak that attached to the median side of each pauldron. Without it, the sea winds blew over his black hair, hanging two inches long from his scalp. His sharp eyebrows sternly lay under his brow, above his peeled jade green eyes. One scar ran three inches across the left side of his face just above the jawline. The exposed region of his neck revealed the start of a broad frame, his neck muscles appearing always tense as they held to his collarbone. His breastplate held the same color of a medium smoke that did little to stop the sheen it created under the sun. No couter shielded his elbows, nor any fauld from his waist. To loosen and unencumber his joints was his natural response, though his articulated cuisse and graves were still covered by poleyn segments that finished into a small hook at the top of each. From his sword belt of etched brass a black sheath covered a bastard sword, though he was often quick to correct by calling it a “katana”. Hanging off a small hook on the backside of his plate lay a light plate shield, polished to a nearly clean white appearance though it still bore small slivers and cuts on its outside.

    Finding a secure space between the rigging of the mizzenmast for all of them, Dalton smiled and motioned with his hand for them all to secure themselves as best they could. “I know the journey has been long for ones so young, but you will be better from it. Whether your appointment with me here today was out of debt, out of honor, martial enforcement, or under an encompassing deal of the Merchant King, knows that your past life matters little now. The Merchant King’s Domain encompasses this entire continent, to the small Syndi islands of the south, and the recently subjugated large island to the north east inhabited by the Haed tribes. As such, our lord has his business in a great many things, whether it be internal or external to the operations of the nation. Doing such, he has started to build himself small groups, task forces if you would see it that way, out of the citizens he gain rule over.”

    He took a small sigh, the salt air breathing down into his chest. “All of us are now to be a family, as I help prepare you for his challenges. Outside our borders, you may hear the Merchant King be proclaimed a dictator or a tyrant, but let your own eyes deem what you think of him. It may be his assignments you will one day follow, but in return you will be clothed, you will be fed, you will even be paid for doing his bidding.” Dalton grew silent for a moment, a smirk creasing his features. “It is the first time that we have had a chance to talk, since picking up our last family member. I want you to tell me about yourselves, ask me what questions you may, or those of each other. You will find that blood is not the only factor in what determines who your siblings are; you may not understand now, but soon enough you will.” With his last statement he grew silent, letting them speak, his fervent smile still tugging at the corners of his cheeks.
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  2. Daniel had enjoyed the long ride on the ship, and was almost sad to know that it would be ending soon. What few people had been on the ship were more interested in making sure everything else worked - they didn't ask him about much. "The night sky on the sea had always been gorgeous, and the sailors knew much about it - they could even navigate by it! Perhaps one day I'll sail as well..." He thought better of it, however. The sea air was fine, but he would soon miss the pine-scented breezes of mountain ranges.

    He needed little encouragement to come out onto the main deck, and was likely the first one to exit, standing next to the others with a meekness that did not match the young man's abilities. He avoided Dalton's gaze, his own gentle eyes examining the wooden planks of the deck. "I don't really like the thought of working for someone who's considered a tyrant by his people." He turned, glancing at the other youths out of the corner of his eye, "I suppose that I will if I need to, though. These folks seemed kind enough, I'll lend them a paw. Hand." He mentally berates himself, "They're my hands, not paws. If I start speaking like that, then people will end up thinking of me as less than human."

    He could not help but think that he might like such thoughts. It would be entertaining to surprise folks... as long as he didn't have to speak to them. He glances to the others, smiling nervously at them. He gives them each a nod, before shying away from the lot of them. He instead turned his attention out to the coast, longing for the treeline.

    Daniel had a feral sort of look to him. Muscles wrapped tightly around his body in a canine manner. His long black hair had clearly been uncut for quite a long time, flowing like a mane in the wind - messy and quite unwashed. Stubble attempts to force itself from his face despite his youth, and his earthen-tone clothes hang loosely, made for someone quite a bit larger than he is. It was likely a few people knew why - the youth had another form, another personality.
  3. The harsh swaying of the ship lulled Theron into a fitful slumber, her young body unused to so much constant movement. She rolled over and on to the floor after a particular gust of wind hit the ship, causing her to fall out of her bunk. She whimpered and rubbed her aching skull, glaring petulantly at the innocent bed that she had claimed as her own.

    When she had first boarded the ship, she had gotten quite seasick and spent most of her time huddled up in her bunk giving the other passengers a sad puppy dog face. Being the youngest and smallest did have its perks. It took her awhile, but eventually she got used the rocking of the boat and began to wander farther from her esteemed safety zone. Much to the annoyance of the sailors of course. Having known no other way of life, Theron would steal anything she needed or thought looked pretty. Such law breaking at the tender age of ten. Not that she knew anything about laws...She barely understood the meaning of No.

    She picked herself up from the floor, stumbling around till she got her balance back and made her way to the open door. She easily slipped out between the much bigger kids and ran to the nearest railing to look at the waves below. "Ooooh!" She made small noises of excitement every time a wave hit the ship. Naturally, as a youngster, Theron paid little heed to the big man called Dalton, untill she was reprimanded by a nearby sailor for being to close to the edge. Then she sought refuge among the others.

    Questions? She was to ask questions? Well, that part she understood, but the parts about family and how her and the others were to be one was alien to her. Family had little meaning to one who could not even remember her parents. "Oh Oh Oh!" She put a hand in the air and waved it energetically. " Me names Theron!" she said it like only a ten year old could. With hyperactivity and eagerness. By now she had lost some of her shyness around the group, having been with them for the length of the trip. Her patched and overly large shirt reached all the way to her knees, causing her to sway dangerously in the wind. Any moment now it was like a very strong gust would come and blow her away.

    At the back of the passenger cabin, beyond the hammocks, Torrim Harmalk sat like a rock where the bulkhead met the mizzenmast. He had not even unpacked. Dressed in his furs and still clutching his travelling pack, he glared at the others from the shadows. "GETTIN' KILLED'S YER OWN BUSINESS! AH WON'T BE WATCHIN'!"

    There had been a few nights when they had tried to reason with him. One had even attempted to pull the travelling pack from his iron grip. But it was pointless. Torrim had rooted himself and would not be moved. Of course, he was not normally like this and some might even have called him friendly and accommodating. But such people had never seen a dwarf on a boat.


    He had been promised a waraxe. He had been told that the Domain of the Merchant King was the only place beyond the Dwarven Foothills where they could be found. But being only 34 years of age, he was both foolish enough to believe that and foolish enough to get on a boot to test that belief. Now at last he understood the dwarven terror of the sea, of the interminable and ever-changing tides, the liquid inconstancy and finite places. Like mountains flowing into magma, like beards blown in the wind, like muscles becoming weak and metal turned to ashes. His father should have warned him, in the copper pages of the lore he carved - he should have found a way to communicate the horror his son would feel. Every motion of the ship sung of the shifting creatures that waited below, stranger and more unknowable than any of the mountain depths. The sea could not be mapped. It could not be mined. It would only devour.

    If ever there was a colour for regret, it blazed now in Torrim's eyes.
  5. The crashing of the waves againts humid, creaky wood mixing with the different sounds of the others around her make young Aya shudder as she continues to pace back and forth in the room, her bright purple eyes glowing with both fear and anxiety. Her breaths are quick and panicked, and her heart races with terror as her fingers clench and unclench beneath her dampened wool cloak. This cloak was hand crafted by Papa, and this salt water cannot be good for it...it will be ruined before I have a chance to fully grow into it. Being as short as she is, the only people she beats are the ten year old child and the dwarf.

    And though she is oldest by years, she is second youngest by mind. It takes little to rile her up, and much more to calm her down. Not even Zamir can calm the young half elf down at this point, so instead of trying, the little hatchling lies curled up in her pack amongst the furred waterskins, his body radiating just enough warmth to keep Aya from shivering.

    Her muscles tighten as the human man stands in the threshold letting them know that they can come out of the room. Being half elf, the confines of a cieling are suffocating for Aya. She craves that open sky. And thus, she shoves past Dalton before he's even able to finish his sentences, bursting out of the door, down the hall, and up into the fresh salty air at a wobbly-legged sprint just as the dwarf begins to yell about everyone dying. The moment she breaks free, Aya feels the tears of relief knot up in her throat as she spreads her arms out to either side of her body and throws her head back, her long hair being tossed this way and that around her slender shoulders.

    "Zamir, it's beautiful!" she says after recovering from her outburst and looking out at the sea. Immediately after his name is mentioned, the tiny dragon stirs inside her bag and slips out to curl around her tiny waist, his face just barely peeking from beneath the cloak, silver eyes blinking blurily. His nose instantly becomes cold, and he groans at his friend in complaint, his telepathic voice entering her thoughts with a whine. -Why could we have not stayed? This area is so very cold, and I already do not like being here.- This, of course, earns a glare from the young elf.

    She turns to watch the others, apart from the screaming dwarf, exit from below deck, her dark eyes studying every movement, watching the differences between each being. Again, she feels out of place, her left hand rising to cup her slightly pointed ear self consciously. And as Dalton exits without the dwarf, speaking again, she listens to his strange gibberish only so she can get her mind from her worries. Without realizing she is speaking, she says, "What would he want with a bunch of kids? I mean, none of us seem...mentally, anyway, to be actual adults...And you would think the Merchant King would want full grown task forces. And how could we ever become a family when we know no one in our shaddy group...and no offense, but we're all very different from each other...how do you expect us to get along?"

    The moment she finishes, Aya feels her cheeks flush. She has stepped out of line, and she knows it. Again, her worries over being half elf fill her thoughts, and it takes Zamir's strangely deep voice speaking aloud to the human in a light Draconic in hopes that Dalton would understand. If he does, the words would translate to, "What my friend is trying to say is we are all different. You are pure human, and you may get along with young Theron, but what about a dragon or half elf? A dwarf? And the boy that refuses to speak? What about us strange ones? How do you expect us to enjoy each other when we are bred to...well hate each other?"

    Aya's blush deepens as she listens to Zamir's words. Finally, she clears her throat, her hand rising to rest against Zamir's serpentine body gently, speaking. "I guess before we make accusations, we should be less rude. I am Ayana, and this is my friend and brother, Zamir." And that is the last that she says as her eyes dart back to the horizon in hopes that she may once more feel earth beneath her feet, silently vowing that she will never step foot on a ship again.​
  6. A seagull flew over the deck, carried by a gusting wind that brought the scent of wild grass and diluted the overbearing salt that had filled the sinuses of the ship's personnel since they left port. Dalton's eyes followed it for a moment, a sense of longing briefly trapping his sight. Through will, he quickly dismissed it and returned to them, the smile on his face still. They would be back soon. His green eyes shone as he watched the energetic young Theron, greeting her with the same smile as the dwarf continued his verbal onslaught against the sea. "Are you quite done, Torrim?" he asks casually with peeled eyes, lightly slugging the adolescent brute in the arm for a greeting before retorting: "Actually.. The Merchant King can own the sea, this is his Gold Water Way." To Aya and Zamir, he nodded when they approached and extended a hand towards the small Zamir, one finger extended as if to lightly scratch his chin. To Daniel, Dalton said nothing but made eye contact, still holding the smile as he knew the boy's particular condition. There was after all, a reason they had each been assembled together.

    Looking around the faces before him, he could only soften the laugh that escaped his lips, answering what he considered to be the most dire of their questions. "You are all so young, yet you are already filled with notions of prejudice. It is things like this that would be best to dismiss entirely and as soon as you can manage." He faced away from them again, towards the sea off of the port side, his smile fading and darkening. "The nations outside of the Merchant King's domain like to spread lies about him, and call life under his rule hard. The truth that everyone knows under his reign is that life here is definitely hard. Our lord serves no one particular god, he accepts no one or two races, and he trades in not one, five, or even twenty businesses. That is because in every case, he accepts them all. This empire is young and strong, wrestled recently by his fathers out of the land they found. It is expanding, and with it we see no need to limit ourselves to the weaknesses of prejudice, intolerance, and specialties." Dalton stopped for a moment, rearranging his arms through the rigging that he used to support himself, and with a keen eye, grabbed the back of Theron's shirt, hoisting her next to him and placing her in the rope net to sturdy her against the wind. His tongue briefly touched the air, met with the same unbridled salt he had come to expect, before continuing on. "There are task forces owned by our lord, of all varieties. But that does not mean that anyone hired and placed together will have the true effectiveness that comes with the strength of diversity without subtracting from it's value the weight of their preconceived notions. If any of you think they are better than your siblings, as which they WILL be, then you will close your mind to what they can teach you and never be truly exceptional. Some of you in years even match my own age, for I am not as old as all the lines of my face describe, but what I do have is experience. Experience in the arts, in combat, in this domain, and enough hardships under my belt to serve as a retainer for the Lord."

    After clearing his throat, he stretched his shoulders for a moment, giving them a chance to sink in the words he had said before his next string. "Life under his domain is hard, but it is also profitable. Merchants and workers here must be skilled, to be accepted. A somewhat steep tax is placed upon all businesses and jobs within the kingdom, but their work flourishes under his trade agreements and orders. It is not cruel, for the tradesman lord pushes all to be the best they can in their craft or art. After the small tax by comparison, which is more of a tribute to continue to be part of his empire, each business without disregard makes a profit they would not turn otherwise on their own. Other nations spread these split truths to discourage tradesmen from leaving their own borders, but what they have actually done was place a filter that only let true craftsmen with the urge to be challenged to enter the kingdom. Without understand it, they have actually made the Domain stronger." Dalton let out a small laugh that held little malice, but rather a small chime of victory. "As such, our Lord can not balance perfectly the numbers of which craftsmen come to our shores, and so he requires task forces with the skill to excel at their interdisciplinary abilities. This group will be just that, paid for the jobs they complete, with the tax removed beforehand, given lodging and meals, and access to the trade network of the finest wares in the known world." Dalton finished with a smirk, casting a glance to his own Katana hanging from his belt.

    Letting go of the safety harness, Dalton strode a few steps towards the starboard rails, watching the waves in their ceaseless hypnotic pattern as they approached and crested against the dark hull. "A talented young man, who may not speak. A young aggressive dwarf complete with their traditional overlookings.." at which with a monotone motion, Dalton pointed towards the sea, "a nimble thief, the youngest sister of you all, and a half elf complete with dragon. Are each of you not the least curious, what there is to be learned from the others? Family is a bond that transcends all limitations. To get there, you will rely on each other for their strengths, cover their weaknesses, and covet their individuality." With his last statement he grew silent, nothing more to be said for the time being as he watched the waves. Before fulfilling that look, he gave one more quick glance back to the dwarf: "I only learned how to swim three years ago."
  7. True to himself, Daniel was far more interested in his companions than with the lord he was going to be working for. "It'll be interesting to see a lot of master craftsmen and help them create what they want, just as much as it would be fun to explore this continent... Still, what I'm really here for is my new pack. Friends. My new... friends." His face reddens as he once again corrects himself, embarassed as if he had said it aloud. His mind told him that no one could hear his thoughts, but another part of his mind struggled against various other natures warring for dominance in his mind.

    He turned, looking at the dwarven youth. He knew little of dwarves, other than their beards, gruff attitudes, and that they lived within mountains. "Dalton's right, though. I bet he's actually seen dwarven kingdoms." He smiled a little, letting his mind imagine an underground world. Dark caverns that went on for miles, far from the sun. Lakes filled with pale, sightless fish under grand waterfalls, stale air with naught a breeze to be found - the warmth of the earth, lit only by phosphoresent fungus. Just a few caverns away, the sound of steel among a city carved into the stone itself. He sighed to himself, imagining himself among such a scene... it was not an environment he was used to, but even the imagined world in his head seemed breathtakingly real. A part of the world he would be happy to experience. "I guess I can understand Torrim's dislike of the sea. The ever-changing waves seem so opposite the endurance of stone... Wish I could do something to make him feel better." He strained himself thinking of something to do or say for the youth, but it was for naught: he lacked the courage to speak, and he certainly couldn't change the environment.

    He turned towards Theron. A part of him considered her a runt not worthy of his attention when he saw her, but Daniel had quickly squashed that idea. "Even if she is small, she has enough energy to be the equal of several much larger creatures. There's wisdom in curiousity... I bet she even surpasses me, or will surpass me, someday." He entertained the thought of the young girl as a puppy, barking and dancing across the deck, tail wagging. The mental image was enough to make him snort in an amused manner.

    Finally, he turned his attention to Aya and her draconic companion. "I wonder what the dragon said..." He opens his mouth, as if to speak to ask, before fear grips his heart. She closes his mouth once more, nervously shaking his head. She had called the dragon her brother earlier. His brows furrowed as he looked her over. "Could she be like me? Does she hide behind the flesh of humanity? Maybe she's even bigger than I am, but the magic hides it." His mind focuses on her form, imagining what the young woman would like like as a dragon. Finally, his mind settled on a form combined between her actual appearance and a dragon, with great wings. "A were-dragon?" He considered what turning into a dragon would feel like... he expected it started from the heart outward. The magic of the dragon's breath spreading through each muscle as scales forced their way out... He shivered, changing that train of thought with another one: wings normally meant flight. Skyward: a place he might never get to go. Dancing among clouds, feeling the warmth of the sun - freedom to go anywhere in the world.

    He continued to look towards the sky, "I don't think this will be that bad. Who cares what jobs I have to do, as long as I can experience this world. Maybe not as Dalton here did, but it'll be nice to be a part of everyone else's story."
  8. Poor Theron, all the big words went over her head. What was prejudice? Was it something you drank, like water? She didn't know nor cared to know. What she did know was that the deck of the ship was suddenly below her and she was in the air! She pouted and struggled a bit before she was set down on some netting, preventing her from being blown away. She stared at Dalton with awe, and with a little bit of mischievousness in her eyes went from the rope net to hang on Dalton's shoulders playfully.

    From there she listened attentively as he described the group's responsibilities and how as a team were to do tasks. As he went on speaking, she took the opportunity to really look at the others. She knew a little about them, as it was in her nature to find threats before said threats became threats. Half-elves and Dwarves were strange to her. All she saw was a male a little taller than her and a girl with somewhat pointed ears and a very pretty pet.

    When Dalton began walking, she dropped from his shoulders and watched from the safety of the group as he went over to the rails. Now, what was he saying about a man who might not speak? She looked at the group around her and found the one that the phrase fit, after all he hadn't said a word the entire trip! But of course it would be the one she got the feeling of waryness from! And the thief, she knew who that was! That was her!

    After her excitement died down, her thoughts returned to family, and how they were to be one. A puzzled expression came across her features and with an intensity born of the need for survival, looked at the others. What was it like to have a family? Was it where you had a mother and a father? Perhaps brothers and sisters too? She had seen many families before, and often watched them interact with each other, always with a longing in her heart for something similar. Finally she asked her question, "What is a family?" it was quiet and she looked expectantly at the person nearest her for an answer, the girl with the pretty pet.
  9. "A FAMILY'S YER OON BLOOD! YER OON ANCESTORS!" Torrim yelled. Through the cabin doorway they saw him still sitting in the dark, arms crossed, fully clothed, clutching his pack. He still hadn't moved an inch. But he almost did when he caught Daniel staring at him. "WHATTA YER LOOKIN' AT MONKEY-BOY?"

    Silence followed his outburst and he looked away, glaring at the ground and muttering. "A dwarf makes fine use of his prejudice. It's his best armour."

    The talk of craftsmen had him even more disgruntled. With this many professions there were bound to be guilds carving up the Merchant Kingdom, throwing their weight around and mistreating their apprentices. It would be his childhood all over again. The ghost of his father would be on every street corner, pontificating about the need to have a profession in life. As if having a profession was the answer to every cosmic mystery. He was going to hate the Merchant Kingdom - he could tell already. Full of arrogant humans waving their trinkets in his face and sailing around on their boats.

    And that half-elf had no business having a dragon as a pet.

    He kicked a nearby rat, which had been lulled into a false sense of security by the dwarf's stillness. As it squeaked and ran away Torrim sighed. He had to calm down. Just breathe... the key was to breathe... the ocean couldn't last ever.

    Could it...?

  10. At the finger, Zamir recoils, a lip rising above his tiny, razor teeth as a growl echoes from deep inside his throat. Aya backs up a step, purple eyes glowering at the thought of another touching her precious dragon. The words that begin to come from Dalton's lips only seem to make her confused, angry expression grow deeper and deeper, her thin lips frowning more and more with worry. Life in this group shall be hard. And she is not looking for hard. She is looking for simple...she wishes to get back on her feet, and right now Aya does not see this as the way to do so. Getting on this ship was a mistake, and as her legs tremble from the work of keeping her steady on an unsteady surface, her grip on Zamir tightens slightly to keep her mind on more comforting thoughts.

    The dragon looks up at his dear friend with concerned silver eyes, nudging her side slightly before looking back at Dalton to listen to all he has to say. Theron is lifted and placed in netting to keep her from getting hurt, and the dwarf is still stuck in the room, now glaring at Aya as if she has done something wrong. All seems to be unravelling even before anyone in the group can grasp the strands and hold tight. But then the human begins to make sense...after all of his senseless gibberish about profit beneath the Merchant King, he begins to draw the young dragon's curiosity. And if his curiosity is called, then Aya must feel the same way. And indeed she does, her dark eyes searching each person in the group, studying them, hoping in some way that she could get to know them at least a little. Against all she's ever known, she actually wishes in a way that she could ge to know these people. The girl is adorable and makes Aya want to smile even in her darkest moments, and she barely knows her. The dwarf's senseless rambles are funny, as all dwarves are known for, and the young half elf begins to feel as if she could get to understand those rambles. And the shaggy boy...whether he is human or not is a complete mystery. He is the dark and silent type, and that alone intrigues her.

    Slowly, Aya begins to relax, if only a little. Her curiosity is her savior, and somehow she knows that this is right. Who cares about some king? Who cares about his lands? How hard or profitable a life beneath his rule really is? What matters is the people she will meet, the things she will do. She has 200 years of life ahead of her, and she wants to live them to the fullest.

    When Theron breaks Aya from her mind's rambles, the elf looks down at the child curiously. "A family?" she asks in a breathless voice, eyes tearing up slightly at the harsh memories of childhood. "Well, um....I would guess it is a group of people that care about each other. In all ways that matter, they are brothers and sisters...people who do things for each other just because they care. At least...that's what I would think it is." She looks up at the human for a little support in hopes that he can back her up. After all, Aya only had her Papa, and she was not even related to the old elf. In the sense of the word, she never really had a family...but she knows that she can have one. All she has to do is open up.

    But it must come slowly. In bits and pieces. And as she thinks this, she begins to smile slightly at the child, crouching and raising her hand in a motion to high five. "I think that's exactly what it is...and I think that is what Mr. Dalton is trying to get at. So what do you say, Theron? Wanna be a family?"

    Zamir looks up at the girl, his body now revealed to the cold from the lack of a woolen shield. His silver eyes shimmer slightly as he whines and tightens around Aya's stomach. -Too cold, Aya. This is not a good idea. Families bring heartbreak...And I do not wish to see my dearest friend go through that.-

    In response, Aya thinks at the tiny dragon. -But Zamir, we are already family. What's a few more? Besides, I like Theron...and Dalton isn't too bad...though a little too serious for my tastes.-

    Then, the half elf remembers that the girl she is now looking at is a wonderful thief, and she allows her smile to grow slightly in a sheepish manner. "One condition I have for you though...we need to make a deal. You don't steal, and I won't sic Zamir on you." Granted at this stage the worst the little dragon can do is gnaw on Theron's fingers. But in the case of keeping her things safe, the scare tactic will just have to work.​
  11. Dalton swept a hand through his hair, small drops of sweat jumping overboard into the sea. When he turned around to see them again, the curiosity building within them was apparent, many of them silent in thought at times. He could have predicted it coming, he should have, but young Theron's question caught him off his guard, the corners of his eyes stinging slightly. Taking a few steps to Theron and Aya, he knelt down next to them, smiling at Theron. "Aya has it exactly right. A family is any group of people that care about each other. They take care of each other and feel safer with them." Placing a hand on his knee, he pressed himself back up to a standing position before walking over to Torrim. Speaking loudly so they could all hear him, though directed at the dwarf, he continued. "A new family starts with two people that aren't related by blood, there are such things as orphans and adopted children, why would it matter that blood be common between them? The parents of nearly any generation have as little shared in blood as any person here does with the others. A half elf and a dragon seem to have no reason to quarrel, why should anyone else?" Daltons fist gripped tightly, relinquishing its grasp a few seconds later as he heaved out an audible sigh, glad to turn the conversation away from base matters that were too close to his heart. Taking a few more strides back to the starboard railing, he cast a glance back at Ava. "It's just Dalton, by the way." He cleared his throat and resumed addressing Torrim.

    "Principle is the main reason why. You seem to think that when I say a high tax, that he is starving the people beneath him? Hardly. The tax is comparatively high to those regularly imposed on other kingdom's, but the wealth of these upcoming and master craftsmen is greater. The Merchant King will always be a merchant first, king second, as per his own words. As it turns out, that mix makes for a very strong empire, with a great deal of loyalty from business men to another, who just happens to be king." Feeling little left to say, Dalton watched Torrim for a moment, wondering if he would leave the small cabin that Dalton could not help but see as symbolism for his traditions, then looked to Daniel to glean a bit of his thoughts before returning to the sea.

    After another minute the blue depths gradually lightened to the inviting azure waters nearest the coast of Terracross, causing Dalton to check the horizon as they had come much closer, the largest structures of the city within sight, land much more discernible. As he watched the color, a few bubbles rose to the surface and quickly popped. Blinking several times, Dalton scanned the timid waves of the outer bay without luck of finding anymore. As another minute passed, he sighed again and put it to the back of his mind. He glanced back to the rest of the deck, watching the sailors, who were in fact pirates, go about their duties. "It's funny to watch preconceived notions melt before you. If the pay is good, and their skills are right, even pirates can be satisfied with jobs for transport, as long as they find a bit of adventure in it."

    Watching the horizon for a moment, a pang of understanding burst within his head. Green eyes watching now the clouds, Dalton found what he sought as he picked the small black speck out of the sky. Only seconds later, it began a sharp dive towards the deck of the ship, swooping through the slack in the main mast sails and landing on Dalton's shoulder. It was a black raven, with curious intelligent eyes watching the lot of the young before peering back at Dalton. With a small chuckle he scratched the top of it's head, welcoming it back. "Hello Jack, you came out far this time."
  12. "Family..." The youth's eyes glazed over. His eyes were a deep grey that could easily be mistaken for silver, unlike the young dragon's silver eyes. He sighed, thinking about his own family. He remembered his adoptive father fighting against the lycanthropes, the man Daniel knew to be gentle revealing a savage underside that terrified him. He remembered the look on the man's face as he learned of Daniel's own opposite side - that was the end of their relationship. He gazed at the rest, hoping it wouldn't be the same for them.

    He chose to forgive the dwarven youth for his outburst - people do rude things when they're afraid, which was an emotion Daniel could understand. In a rather inopportune time, his stomach growled: at the talk of blood - family or otherwise. The two had nothing to do with each other, it was simply a problem with timing. He really hoped no one noticed.

    Perhaps they'd be distracted by the sudden appearance of the raven, Jack. Daniel took a hand out of his pockets, scratching at his stomach to prompt it to be silent. Almond-shaped claws finally making themselves visible. He sighed, wondering when they'll be eating next. "Maybe the Merchant King will have a banquet to greet us." Wishful thinking - the four were just kids, after all. His hand returns to his pocket, turning to look at the coming coastline.

    His eyes closed, seeing his companions in his imagination. The mental image of Torrim wielding a shield twice as big as he is, the word 'prejudice' scrawled across it as he defends himself against the sea was enough to make Daniel's lips move into a smile. He imagined Aya's "dragon form" coiling around the lot of them in a defensive manner against the sea, until the young Theron dove past the two of them, grabbing a gem out of the ocean's watery body - causing it to splash into nothing. He chuckled a bit, wondering about various adventures the small group would have. Even if they were just in his head, he rather enjoyed them.
  13. At the dwarf's yelling, Theron looked back into the cabin and looked askance at him. Family is one's own blood? That made little sense to her, but she supposed that if you had a mother and a father, then their blood would also be your blood. It still didn't make much sense to her, so she turned back to Aya and listened impatiently for an explanation. It came in words and sentences she could understand.

    Theron cocked her head to the side, her eyes wandering over each and every one present. A family.... Would she like a family? To be part of this small family? She turned her eyes back to Aya and for a moment looked uncertain, then Dalton came over and confirmed what Aya said. The advantages of a family were slowly increasing in her mind, family meant protection, family meant having a reason to steal things for more than just her.

    She nodded and smiled, she would claim this little group as hers. Woe to anyone who said otherwise. When Aya tried to make a deal with her, Theron's smile fell a little, and a look of pouting took it's place. "But it's fun! I don't want to stop!" she whined giving Aya her best puppy dog look. The threat of having a small dragon sent after her sounded fun, but it certainly didn't make her want to stop stealing!

    A raven coming down from the sky to land on Dalton's shoulder, held her attention briefly but not for long. She had seen weird people walking around with birds on their shoulders or flying nearby before. Those people were always a challenge to snitch things from. Those animals were always on the watch.... She went back the the present and paid the bird no mind.

    If this was going to be her family though, it meant that stealing things from them would be a no no, unless it was bad for them. She wouldn't them to be hurt because she wasn't doing her job! Inwardly she was cataloging every movement, every word spoken, every action. A good thief never sleeps, especially when they had something to guard and protect. To fullfill that, she needed to know their habits, when they ate, how they moved, how they talked, when they slept and other smaller actions, all so that she wouldn't be caught unawares when something went wrong.

    Theron went over to Daniel, wobbling slightly because of the wind, and stood in front of him. "If Aya says we can be a family, then that would make her my...sister? And you would be...a..."she paused and thought for the word she wanted, "Brother! You would be my brother then? And Torrim too?"
  14. "FJHR SRSJ!"

    The mixture of outraged consonants was all Torrim could manage when Theron suggested he was her brother. He was about to launch another tirade when the ship dipped again and made his stomach sumersault. He thought better of retorting. The human, Dalton, had that silver tongue that his mother had warned him about. Men were wiry, inconstant creatures, too fat or too thin, and they couldn't be trusted. They were always wriggling - that's the word his mother used - wriggling for a cheap betrayal or a quick silver or a shirked responsibility. And, even worse, they took pride in their wrigglyness - in their ability to get out of things and avoid a fair fight.

    Some family, Torrim thought, as he glared at his three companions. A girl, a half breed, a lizard and a mute. He would be a laughing stock if his elders could see him now.

    But at least no one was telling him what to do. This wasn't like the mercenary guild, where seldom a minute would pass before some elder ordered you to adjust your helmet or carry this crate to that wagon. Even Dalton refrained from issuing demands, which was as refreshing as it was suspicious. For all the faults, frailties and folly that screamed so loud from the sight of his companions, there was one feeling here that permeated the whole... one impression that gave Torrim a spark of hope, even on the roiling seas.


    He sunk lower in his furs, still clutching his travelling pack. A raven had landed on Dalton's forearm, silhouetted against the backdrop of the Terracross skyline. A city full of silver tongues awaited.

    Torrim hoped the waraxe was sharp.
  15. At Dalton's mention of just calling him that, Aya grumbles slightly, as she is still uncomfortable around him. It is understandable, considering she has only just met the man a few hours before. She has just met all of these strange characters. And as the ship comes in towards the port, she returns her attention to Theron a moment, smiling warmly. "I don't want you to stop, little one. You are a fine thief, and your abilities are going to be needed. But you can't steal from family. It's not right. And not stealing is the first step."

    Standing, Aya allows her wool cloak to return to its mostly closed position, her smile growing as she listens to her little dragon sigh, feeling his grip around her loosen to a more comfortable position. "You're not going to be able to stay down there, you know," she mutters to him playfully, hearing a growl in response. Ignoring the dwarf's anger, she turns and looks out towards the growing coastline, suddenly feeling herself relax. Land...she is almost on land. The salty air begins to smell with hints of pine and cedar, and she can see grand trees growing across the land.

    And just as she allows herself to revel in the idea of once again standing on land, a crow makes its call, dipping from the sky to land on the human's shoulder. Her brow furrows a moment, and she glances at him curiously. "You have a pet, then?" This is said with the utmost of curiosity before a small giggle escapes her. She is gleeful suddenly. After all, an elf on a boat is not the greatest thing in the world...especially when that elf has only ever been on a boat once before.

    Zamir crawls around her waist, curving up to climb to Aya's shoulder, his head snaking out from beneath the woolen cloak while the rest of his body remains under cover. It begins to warm slightly, though to him it is still much colder than it should be, and his silver eyes glaze over as his lip rises in protest. The crow makes the little dragon want to hiss, but he does nothing of the sort, as they are the same size, and Jack could do much more damage with that penetrating beak. He looks at Aya, his thoughts filtering to her mind. -Oh, wonderful. We have a crow. Now I shall become bird food. Thank you, filthy human...-

    ((Sorry it's so late and short...it's been busy around here...and there really wasn't much for little Aya this round.))​
  16. The black crow sat idly on Dalton's shoulder, preening and rustling it feathers though remaining somewhat stationary otherwise in it's endeavors. Dalton ran a finger over the top of its head, causing it to caw a bit. At the somewhat dirty glances cast towards Jack, Dalton gave them little thought. Crows were generally regarded as thieves attracted to shiny objects, carrying with them plague, war, and bad omens, but it was mostly superstitious nonsense. Giving them one eye, his expression unreadable as he continued to gently scratch the top of the birds head. "Jack isn't an ordinary raven, he is my familiar here in the Merchant Kings Domain. I wouldn't imply he's my pet, because we share a small bond of empathy. He understands what I expect of him, and in return he is more than happy to be sheltered and fed."

    The gradient blues had turned to teal as the ship had continued to voyage into the bay, the sprawling of the outer city limits encompassing the shore lines. Most were small cottages and occasionally busy commerce centers filled with visitors and traders leaving or entering from the main thoroughfare within the city walls. The long docks of Terracross laid into the bay, with the Stoic Voyager's crew scrambling to align the sails as they slowly began the process to embark. The ship's hull creaked as momentum left its body and the long wooden plank bridges dropped onto the dock with loud crashes. A general fanfare from the docks erupted at the arrival, many from salty sailors in their own right, greeting their comrades in return, some from welcoming parties to the well-off quickly scrambling off the planks. Of the workers on the dock, the majority were human, though two dwarves sat amongst large barrels holding large tankards in their hands, and one half orc stood guard at the neck of the dock structure, one hand holding up an inventory list, the other on a large sword holstered against his waist.

    Strolling with a grin up to the plank, Dalton hopped up the small gap to the ledge and began the walk across, waving the others to follow him. Once settled on the dock, the group leisurely approached the bay gate that led to the Merchant King's Inner City, composing roughly half of the inner city. The half orc gave Dalton and the followers a quick glance as they approached, quickly checking off one small mark on the list after scrolling through a few pages, nodded and immediately put his attention elsewhere. Once within the inner walls, the land was vivid among the majorly marble and granite buildings that they would soon spend their time inside. Trees blanketed all roads within the compound by design, with guards posted in pairs at every major entrance and gate. Within the inner compound, the majority of passers were either heavy laborers leading to the dock, or some form of nobility strolling, often with an assistant or some form of record to their business, making transactions or conducting negotiations.

    Dalton quickly gave them a tour of the surrounding buildings, pointing out the soldiers barracks, training grounds, the merchant king's compound, and most importantly the building within which they would be staying while they trained these first years. The entrance way was shrouded in trees that were groomed to allow light down onto the passage. Inside a large foyer greeted them that funneled around a large grand staircase, leading to five different floors. Davion assured them that each floor was a mirror of the others, and that their group would all preside on the second floor. After ascending the stairs, the floor separated into two directions, left or right. The boys would be staying to the right, and the girls on the left, each with their necessary commodities, large beds in the same room, and in a room at the middle of each floor where the stairs converged for that level, a small dining room that was often refreshed with food and drink for their needs.

    Then Dalton stopped and brought them to the girl's quarters, stopping outside the door. "I may have forgot to mention to you all, one of your group was already brought here before we arrived, you all still have to meet her." Bringing a key from his pocket, he unlocked the door and opened it, silently swinging it open and heading inside to check for the last remaining accomplice.
  17. Daniel looked down at the young girl, hair rising on the back of his neck. He opened his mouth, then closed it - repeating this several times, the nervous youth could do little but vocalize a simple, "...Rrrou?" He coughed, blushing profusely. It took him a while to really consider Theron's words. It wouldn't be so bad, being family with these folks. At least, it's better than being family with nobody. So, he smiled at Theron: the canine teeth exposed as he did so were quickly covered up again, "Smile with lips, not teeth. Showing teeth alarms people."

    Attempting a different gesture, Daniel placed his hand upon Theron's head, nodding in response to her question. "Why not? I'll be 'big brother' for you... though I think Torrim might be a bigger brother." He turned to look at the dwarven man, somewhat relieved at his own wordless vocal noises. Took just a little bit of the edge off. Returning his gaze to Theron, he considered it... "Can I really protect her? I don't think I could even keep up with her."

    His reverie interrupted, he turned to look at the city... his mouth opened in awe at the variety - the sights, the sounds! "I wonder what it all would smell like if I..." He shook the thoughts off, unwilling to strain relationships that haven't even been entirely built yet. The massive estate where they were staying, however, was terrifying. He had little trouble outdoors, but this: a building the size of an entire farm - barn and all. He shivered nervously as he stepped through, jumping at the slightest sudden sound. It was barely enough of a distraction when they reached the dining room (though he did take the time to sate himself).

    The shaggy child looked in wonder at Dalton - yet another "brother"? Normally it took a few months for a family to get bigger, but this one grew at such a rapid pace it would put mice to shame. At the thought, Daniel caught Theron out of the corner of his eyes. "Little mouse." He rose a clawed hand to his mouth, stifling laughter.
  18. The walk from the dock had been a slow one and the tour of the buildings longer than necessary. This was due in small part to the awestruck adventurers, and in large part to the Dwarf amongst them, who had to stop every few minutes to hug the ground.

    "OH, THREE GODS BE PRAISED!" Torrim roared now and then, inbetween kissing the ground and stroking the cobblestones. His legs seemed wobbly and colour was only, very gradually, returning to his cheeks. When he wasn't ingesting half the gutter he was slumping against the marble outcrops of balustrades and buttresses. "THANK YE! OH, THANK YE GODS!"

    So glad was he, in fact, to be on dry land, that he almost forgave the architects of Terracross for their shoddy stonework. The buildings here had that flimsy, unseasonsed feel of new stone, unweathered and untested. He doubted any one of these buildings could withstand an artillery strike. And what was worse, there were flourishes - little embellishments on the eaves and guttering, the occassional family crest, hanging baskets, historical freizes and even a garogyle or two. All of it was damned unnecessary. Like the little illustrations his father would carve on the corner of copperplates to keep the younglings amused. The stone was patronising. But at least it was stone.

    It was only after Dalton had entered the quarters, leaving the children outside, that Torrim cleared his throat to get their attention. He was stood by the dining table, chewing on a haunch of meat, which he put aside as they looked at him. "Ahem... I...er..." He straightened his clothes and wiped his beard. "I... um... I'm sorreh for ma behayvour on that ship. I was just...er... We Dwarves aren't sea-faring folk! It is neh natrual. And er... well... I apologise to ye all."

    He looked away and finally put his travel pack down on the floor.
  19. Well to have the one empty room suddenly filled with such.. character was alarming. Still Joane stood from the claimed bed and hood lowered, messy self-cut sandy hair in remarkable disarray for such shortness offered a smile as the words to introduce herself failed to come. She was grateful to the dwarf for grabbing attention and straitened her robes, all she had brought with her as he spoke.

    "I'm afraid I missed that." she said knowing the dwarf wasn't talking to her but using it for as an excuse to enter the conversation. Hands hidden in her sleeves she looked at those who had entered so far. The apparent leader, who had unlocked the door who seemed to have equipment from several cultures, the dwarf who should be remembered did not take kindly to the sea and.. she didn't think she'd seen one of his kind before.

    "I am Joane." she offered the group as a whole trying not do be nervous but failing. "I am happy to finally meet everyone." being formal was her natural fallback, it always seemed to get her through most of the time, though with this assortment, things could get... interesting.
  20. "Shush yourself," Aya says quietly to the little dragon, touching his pointed nose with a long, slender finger, smiling almost brightly as the ship begins to slow, the waves becoming smaller and calmer, shading brighter and brighter as a dock stretches out along the side. Land...oh, sweet land. The plank clanks against the wood of the ship, and Aya watches briefly as Dalton makes his way off, quickly following, glad to have solid ground beneath her feet.

    But this is the first time she has been inside a city such as this, and as her violet eyes watch others stare, she wishes she had pulled the cloak hood to cover her ears and her dragon. The stares are embarrassing, and she can already feel her cheeks flushing a deep crimson, eyes beginning to flicker silver as she tightens the bond with her dragon instinctively. Zamir lowers his head, watching as a low growl escapes him.

    And then, the people begin to fall away, the stares becoming fewer and fewer as they near the walls of the inner city. A sigh escapes both half elf and dragon as the tension eases, if only for a moment. But that moment lasts only that as the gates open and they enter a new world entirely. The trees are not natural, and there are strange guards everywhere. The buildings are like prisons, and very little sky can be seen. There are most likely no stars at night in this place, and the thought of it brings back more of Aya's inner panic.

    And it gets worse as they enter the building they will be staying in. A roof...just the thought of it scares the poor half elf, for in her fourty years of life, she'd never spent a night under a roof...until she got on that blasted ship...and look where that got her. Her breathing becomes erratic as the smell of trees completely disappears, replaced by stone, wood, and cleaning supplies. No animals. No nature. Nothing...just...humaniods. All she has of her life as an elf is what she has on her back.

    So as Dalton goes to unlock the door for the girls' room, Aya speaks up, her voice slightly shaky with uneasiness. "Umm...Dalton, I have a question....how often will we get to go...outside of the city?" It might not be her place, but she wants her life to be as comfortable as it can be. And indoors to her is completely opposite of comfortable. Zamir nods, though already eyeing the canopied beds with pleasure, knowing he can have a comfortable hammock made from those canopies. With those thoughts, he doesn't even notice the woman that has stepped into the conversation.

    Aya, however, jumps at the new voice, barely stifling a squeak. And so, she is the first to speak, her voice even shakier than before. "Ayana.....and Z-Zamir. A p-pleasure...." Damn stutters. She always hated having those when she was nervous...but it's not like she can just get rid of them...right?​