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.