Vivid Imaginings
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Luro stood on the main deck near the bow rubbing the back of his head. He had asked for night watch again still unable to sleep even with Gavera at their backs. The last few days still ate at him and what time he had he kept to himself trying to organize his thoughts. However after his recent conversation with Z he was reminded that he had to put in a bit more effort to communicate than he was. Thus after eating half of Jack’s nuts he left a note to meet to him on the deck at night, making sure to add it wasn’t to kill him just in case.

He owed Jack an explanation anyway so it seemed like a good idea up until he made his way to the deck, rum bottle in his hand, staring at the ocean and quietly wishing Jack had fallen asleep.

He had absolutely no idea what to say if he showed up. He realized this almost immediately after walking onto the deck at nightfall, and the last few minutes offered nothing. The extent of his conversation that came to mind was a reference to the moon, and a bad joke involving whales, that was all he had at the moment.

“Luro?” Jack approached from the lower deck, dressed in his cook’s apron that was stained with bright red splotches. A cigarillo’s soft glowing tip flared from the corner of his mouth as he wiped his hands clean with a rag. The bags under his eyes suggested Luro wasn’t the only one unable to sleep. He made a smile, or tried without dropping his smoke, as he came to Luro’s side and leaned against the railing. He draped the rag on the rail and looked up at the sky.

“Nice night,” he commented. I should chart some of the constellations…, the thought distracted Jack momentarily, his head tilting to one side as he star-gazed. Shaking his head, he looked back at Luro. “So, what can I do for you friend?”

His eyes drifted to the bottle in Luro’s hand. “May I?” he asked, indicating to the rum.

Luro jumped a bit hearing Jack’s voice and turned partially to face him, he had gotten here a tad sooner than he anticipated. He took a deep breath trying to calm himself before returning the man’s smile. On the inside however he was screaming for any kind of help from whatever forces reside presently in his skull. When nothing came to mind he could only offer a nod to Jack’s question before his eyes widened a bit as he was called by a familiar but undeserved moniker.

“Yeah it’s a nice night the, the whales have to be happy tonight.”

Luro eyes twitched and he brought a hand to his face squeezing the bridge of his nose as he handed Jack the bottle. It started good but he already messed up the joke, that regret could come later he had called him out for a reason.

“Hmmm well after speaking with Z...I was reminded there were some things I had to do,” Luro said. “I’m trying to sort out what I can from my previous mistakes, except the trying to kill thing I can only fix that by...not trying to kill you all...I think.”

Luro brought a hand to his chin clearly still trying to work through that particular aspect but put it aside for another moment before looking back at Jack.

“Unfortunately I lied straight to your face and I know I’m here to fix that.”

Luro cleared his throat and folded his hands behind his back.

“On the deck of the ship, that night when we drank together I purposely chose a different answer than my real one. So...her laugh. Her laugh was the first thing I remember when I think of her. There you go.”

Luro with a firm nod said this before taking the rum bottle back and taking a long swill from it let out a small sigh.

“So I figured I’d fix that, I got some bottles here. The night’s nice...if you’d like to ask me such questions again I can promise honesty this time...or anything else really. Well not everything, some things I still have to explain but...I owe you some proper answers.”

Jack remained quiet, preferring to let Luro speak his mind as he sipped from the bottle. The only reaction came when Luro mentioned lying; a single eyebrow raised as Jack gave him a deadpan stare from beneath his brow that’d rivel the look of his sternest mother. It softened somewhat when Luro moved to Nura. Taking out the cigarillo, he stubbed it out on the railing and flicked into the sea. He leaned on his forearms and stared out without a word for several long moments. A deep sigh broke his silence.

“Luro...if I was anyone else- Alicia, the captain, Kadi- I’d deserve every ounce of truth you have to give,” Jack turned to look over Luro. His mouth worked and he spoke haltingly, as if fighting himself in how much he wanted to say. His eyes never quite met his crewmate’s as he continued. “But between the two of us, I’m sure we’d have enough secrets and lies to sink the ship. You, at least, are trying to… be better.”

For a brief second, his eyes narrowed, as if he’d witnessed something distasteful pop out of the black sea. It vanished quickly. Jack scratched at his forehead and rubbed his shoulder.

“It wouldn’t be fair if I demanded the same. Although, truth be told, that’s exactly what I want. So, how about a deal. For every question you can answer honestly, I will… attempt to do the same.” He stopped, thinking. “Alternatively, you may request something of me if you have no questions to ask.”

Finally, the cook’s eyes raised to Luro’s. It was plain to see he was serious about this, if nothing more than in the conflicted way his body fidgeted yet his mouth set in a hard line. Jack desired every answer that plagued his nights; plagued them still, though tonight’s sleeplessness sprouted from far-flung thoughts. But since their departure from Gavera, Jack had time to reflect on what occurred. Luro’s change, and talking with Ria had… inspired him? He shook his head at that word but he realized how tired he was of his position. Even as a humble cook to Stardusk, he kept his mouth wired shut to more things than he dared to admit, right down to his simple reactions. He couldn’t speak of everything; his private nature forbade it. But, perhaps, this was a start for both of them to pay back the other.

Luro’s eyes rested on Jack, the man’s words echoing in his head for a moment. He sighed a little thankful he found people like this to sail with, he could understand a bit what Jack was saying, there were some things that weren’t easily shared. Luro closed his eyes pushing some of his own thoughts aside before he leaned against the side of the ship. Jack was even considerate making it so he wasn’t forced to answer, there was no absolute, both had the option to not answer the questions posed on them. That thought relaxed him a bit and with a nod he set the bottle next to Jack.

“I like that idea,” Luro said. “...I wouldn’t say I’m trying to be better though, I just know my habits and if I don’t break them I’ll just repeat them. I hate saying it but I’m not...good. I’m stable at the very least, I need a constant reminder to not go back to being an imposter again, the comfort knowing I’ll be killed if I do...hasn’t helped me resist either, so honesty is a good start. So yeah...I like that, let’s answer what we can.”

Luro took a deep breath before looking over at Jack.

“Okay I answered so I’ll ask I guess...How’d you end up in the Brothel in Tilea?”

“That’s one definition of being better,” Jack pointed out, taking the bottle with an added thank you. He swigged from as Luro asked his question. He stiffened, the bottle protesting beneath his clenched grip.

Wiping his mouth, he considered Luro’s question as he rubbed his shoulder. “Well, I guess this isn’t off to a great start,” he chuckled and shook his head. “I can’t answer in the way you want. Simply put, the madame knew and worked with one of my mothers, and was kind enough to shelter me until I could find a job, or a crew.”

He handed the bottle to Luro. “Alright. What’s the story between you and Lina? The full story, that is.”

Luro smiled a little at Jack’s answer, at the very least he understood a bit of how he got there if not the why. Taking the bottle he waited for Jack’s question, the moment he asked it Luro’s whole body flinched, and he almost dropped the bottle over the edge of the ship. He quickly reached forward and caught it with a nervous chuckle.

“Starting with the hard one...great,” Luro said before taking a sip. “I’m uh...not exactly ready about that. All of it anyway.”

Luro’s eyes narrowed a bit as he stared out at the ocean, it took him a moment and a few breaths to steady his nerves just to tackle the memory, much less talk about it. After a brief moment he took another sip before speaking again.

“When we were kids I made a promise to protect Lina, my first promise. After we ended up on the streets, and eventually the rest of the children we found a place for ourselves. Nura and I acting as the big siblings to everyone, trying to make sure we survive another day and prepare for winter the best we could.”

Luro closed his eyes, bringing a hand to his face he went silent as his grip tightened on the bottle. He pushed aside the feelings that tried to surface at those memories, lowering his hand as he let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding.

“There was a navy officer, horrible man. He’d kick us, yell at us, shoo us away with violence, a real piece of work. Well one day he found us and he started hurting Lily, Nura and I were out collecting food leaving Lina in charge. Apparently he pulled out a knife and Lina panicked and grabbed the pistol off his belt….a moment later Nura and I hear a gunshot and we turn the corner. On the ground was a dead officer and my sister gripping the gun, trembling with wide eyes.”

Luro ran a hand through his hair and took another sip before shaking his head.

“The other guards heard the gunshot and we could hear them on the way, I looked at Lina, steeled myself and running forward dipped my hands in the man’s blood and smeared it on myself, I took the gun from her and told Nura to get the kids away...and to protect Lina.”

A weak chuckle escaped from Luro and he rubbed his left wrist, a wistful smile finding its way onto his face.

“That day I became a criminal, constantly on the run. I became hated, and soon after a monster...but Lina was safe so I didn’t care. I didn’t care about my future anyway. I’d give it all up if she could at least choose her own. That’s all I wanted for her. Lina always hated it though, Nura told me she regretted making me a criminal and I told her it was fine. So long as Lina’s happy I don’t care what happens, I wanted her to live a full life, I stole away her home, I stole her family...I stole everything...I wanted to give something back.”

Luro held the bottle out in front of him closing one eye to see how much was left in it, using the moonlight to peer through the glass.

“Yep...good ole Luro. Gave my sister a future, let her live her own life...then I took it all away!”

Luro slammed the bottle onto the ship, breaking it before tossing the broken top behind him. He gripped his skull with his rum soaked hand, a broken laugh escaping from him, his eyes wide as he gripped his chest, his laughter only growing louder at the memory.

“I’m complete scum. What was the point?! I help her just to kill her myself! Lost in my own damn delusions! Delusions I made for her just to kill her! Lina….Lina…”

Luro laughter slowly died and he leaned forward gripping his hair as his body shook, it still hurt. All of it hurt. He had to grip the edge of the ship to keep from sinking to his knees, he felt sick to his stomach.

“She tried to make me remember….why I became like that in the first place...she saved me...gave me my own future back...even Nura...even Nura tried to call out to me...I didn’t she took it away...took away my reason to be Luro Makachi. All of that...all of it for nothing...for me to just kill her myself! What the hell did she see in me? I ruined the very thing I tried to save!”

Luro grit his teeth shutting his eyes, cursing his own weakness, his foolishness. The shame burned into his being as all he could do was hold back the screams echoing inside of his person. No amount of crying, no amount of begging would fix what he did and he hated himself for it.

“So there ya go. That’s our relationship. The one I messed up because I couldn’t stop playing pretend for five damn minutes. Hopefully that was satisfactory answer.”

Jack didn't have words, at first. He simply held his gaze to Luro and simply listened. When the bottle smashed, Jack blinked, the slightest tension coiling in his body. Calmly, he reached for his rag and offered it to Luro once the man had finished speaking. "For your hand," Jack said, indicating to Luro's rum-soaked limb. He smiled without amusement when Luro mentioned it being a satisfactory answer, but Jack didn't respond right away. He instead glanced out at sea.

"Give me a moment." Reflexively, Jack reached out and gripped Luro's arm. He wasn't sure if it was meant to be a comforting gesture, or reassurance. He gave a nod and quickly retreated below deck.

When he returned, he placed a pistol between them.

"The first time I ever fired a gun,” Jack began, “I thought I was protecting someone who was... being used, in a bad way. Someone I care for. It was the first time I purposefully took someone else's life. The first time I realized how... devastating, haki can be with the right tools." Jack's voice grated with loathing, hoarse and bitter as he stared at the pistol. His hands wringed over each other before one started reaching for his shoulder again. He checked the motion. Drawing in a breath, Jack closed his eyes. "Turns out the man I killed was being used too; he was innocent. Just like the rest of us."

He kept his eyes shut for a long moment, flashbacks swimming behind his eyelids. At last, he opened them and looked to his companion. "I get it. I do. That's why I can't offer sympathy or comfort. It wouldn’t be genuine. I won't pretend to understand your actions either because they're, quite frankly, far removed from my own. But I can see the why. So... thank you. For telling me." Jack stopped, his mouth working for a moment. He was sincere in his appreciation to Luro. He saw the pain in the man, still fresh, and knew this was far from easy. Slowly, his face softened. A clear well of emotions played beneath the surface. He chose to show empathy. "I... imagine, Lina never stopped seeing her older brother in you. Do her a favor? Don't waste what she gave you. No matter who or what stands in your way. Don't ever disgrace that."

Jack met his eyes squarely, glinting in the night's light. Whatever he felt fueled his words and there was a faint edge to them. Sighing, he popped open a fresh bottle and swigged it. After wiping his mouth, he pushed the pistol and bottle forward. "That's yours by the way. I had to borrow it for the fight with Ria, in case... well." he shrugged. "Alright. I believe it’s your turn to ask."

Luro took the rag without a glance, slowly wiping off his hand and offering a nod to Jack as he walked away. He closed his eyes not pleased that he lost control of himself, he was still learning how exactly to handle the well of emotions that plagued him, and throwing a tantrum wasn’t what he wanted. Rubbing his forehead he took a few breaths setting the rag to the side as he realized the dozens of other times he tried to calm down. Taking a moment really did not help in any way, but at the very least he could stand straight again.

When Jack returned Luro looked at him, grateful for the distraction and making sure to listen as the man shared his story with him. Luro’s eyes moving to the gun resting between them as Jack spoke of his first kill, something that caused Luro’s eyes to twitch. It was the kind of thing most wouldn’t forget, and knowing guns were a reminder for him…he couldn’t help but feel a bit for his crewmate.

Luro didn’t speak for a long moment; only reaching over to take the gun hearing it was of his own. Turning the gun over he moved it into his sleeve, grabbing the bottle and taking a long swig from it.

“Don’t need a reminder for that,” Luro said narrowing his eyes at the horizon. “I’ll repay that faith with everything I have. You have my word on that.”

Luro glanced over at Jack as another question formed in his skull but he owed Jack something before asking his question. Moving the bottle to his other hand he gave Jack a small punch in the shoulder smiling at him.

“Thank you for understanding Jack,” Luro said turning his attention forward. “…I don’t’ really want comfort…or kind words…proverbs or what have you to make what I did better. It always feels like it’s belittling what happened whenever I hear that…Z seemed to understand too. Thank you for not being that kind of person. I want to figure out how to cope with it myself…so a little pain is good.”

Luro closed his eyes at this his shoulders relaxing for a very brief moment, but he immediately opened his eyes and turning to Jack waved his hands.

“Ah but that’s not to say I don’t appreciate the kind words. I really do, everyone has been great. Knowing you guys are there really does help.”

Luro lowered his hands and took a small sip from the bottle before pushing it back toward Jack.

“….whose Harbor would you dock at?” Luro questioned glancing over at the man.

Jack’s reach towards the bottle stopped. He lifted a brow towards Luro. “Whose… harbor?” he leaned back and rubbed his chin. “Are you talking ownership or location?”

Luro stared at Jack with an arched brow before he smiled and gave a small nod.

“Ah no not that. I mean they do own it but what I mean is, where would you throw your line?”

“...ah,” Jack grimaced as he rubbed his neck. Even after all these years on the sea, his Norjan-wired brain sometimes failed to grasp sailing colloquialisms. His frown deepened when he seriously considered the question. “Well, I suppose it’d be with-- my home.” He smiled with nostalgia and took the bottled rum. “This crew, of course, is my first choice,” he said as he looked down at it, swirling the contents before taking a tentative sip. “It’s not like I can dock in Norja anyways, physically or otherwise. But, it’s my home. It always will be.”

Carefully, he set the rum down without drinking. The question felt surprisingly loaded. He’d never been asked where his loyalties lied- it was always assumed, or bargained for. Fingers danced along his forearm as he blinked at Luro. “You?”

Luro leaned forward a bit waiting for Jack’s response, though as he spoke Luro’s shoulders drooped slightly and he stared at him with a half-lidded gaze. He wasn’t sure if that was on purpose or he genuinely misunderstood. Resting his cheek on his fist Luro’s brows arched a bit when the question was posed back on him. He watched Jack for a moment reaching over and taking the bottle from him.

“…I’m going to pretend you said Alicia then tell Masu later,” Luro said turning his attention forward again. “Hmmm my home was never a home but I can understand having a place you hold dear at the very least.”

Taking a small sip from the bottle he set it between the two of them.

“In similar context… I’d dock here. Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve only caused chaos and problems. There’s no place that will take me willingly. I can count on my hands the places I haven’t done any real damage too before leaving and on one hand the few, aside from you guys, I could call ‘friends’, though I was just going to kill them later.”

Luro rubbed his wrist a small smile forming on his face as he pulled his sleeve down to look at his hand.

“If it wasn’t for the South Sea navy I might have been Worst Gen on my own,” Luro said glancing at Jack.

He smiled at him leaving it at that before pulling his sleeve back down.

“Why’d you become a spy?”

“I don’t know what you mean,” the cook responded flatly.

Luro grinned a bit before a small laugh escaped from him, he took a moment to himself until his laughter eventually faded and gave a small shrug to the man.

“Ah my mistake,” Luro said smiling at him. “I thought you were.”

Luro cleared his throat before straightening his body, he held his hand out to Jack and offered him a smile.

“Could I see your hand for a moment?”

Jack blinked as he saw the laughter, sighing internally. “Trust me, you really have it all wrong,” he said, smiling along with Luro’s amusement. He hesitated at Luro’s question, tentatively holding out his left hand as he kept his eyes at Luro’s face. “Why?” he asked dubious.

Luro offered a nod to Jack’s comment and with a smile took Jack’s hand before stabbing it with a dagger. He released eyeing the dagger that was in his sleeve before spinning it and holding the handle towards Jack. He didn’t stab deep clearly not wanting to leave a hole in the man’s hand but he did draw blood before he smiled at Jack.

“Okay now you do me,” Luro said holding his hand out.

Though realizing Jack’s question he blinked a few times at him.

“Ah I kind of acted without thinking. I wanted to stab your hand. Anyway you do me now.”

Haki blossomed a millisecond after the blade made contact. Jack’s free hand struck out like a viper, closing on Luro’s wrist, even as his face showed genuine shock and surprise at the sudden maliciousness. It took a moment as Luro examined the dagger, for Jack to reluctantly release him. He looked at his palm and the jab of blood pooling between the deep lines, before a withering look at Luro. “What, pray tell, was that for?”

His brow shot up when he was handed the blade. “Wha- no. Why? So help me, if--” Jack stopped, blinking a few times. He dropped his sentence. “What’s this for?”

Luro remained silent merely watching Jack and keeping his hand extended as he patiently waited for the response. He arched a brow seeing the man’s expression; he stared down at Jack’s hand, his eyes moving over to the dagger before bringing a hand to his chin. He supposed it wasn’t something Jack knew about, taking a moment to consider it the tradition was a strange one.

He supposed not taking a moment to explain what he was doing probably didn’t help the matter.

“Blood oath,” Luro said pointing at his hand. “You share a drink with a friend, cut each other’s hand then clasp them together. It’s an act of brotherhood. It’s common among pirates.”

Luro gave a small shrug.

“Probably should have started with that. I thought you’d pick up on it…did not think that through actually, that’s my mistake.”

“...oh.” Jack looked down at his palm again. He hadn’t known about this. The crease in his forehead began to appear. However, he shook his head, giving Luro an ironic smile when he mentioned thinking it through, and carefully took the dagger hilt first. “I guess I still have much to learn. That’s refreshing to know.”

Again, the hesitation came when he went to cut Luro’s hand. The blade struck flesh fast and light, a thin bloodline beading across the big man’s palm well before he felt a twinge of pain. Jack felt uneasy, not particularly caring for harming his crewmate, but kept it hidden and held his bleeding hand forward, as prompted by Luro’s explanation.

Luro offered a small nod to him and patiently waited for the blade to cut his hand, when it touched his skin he remained still merely staring as Jack drew blood from his hand. He offered no response save a smile and reaching forward clasped Jack’s hand tightly in his own. The two’s blood mixing together before Luro give it a firm shake making no attempt to let go.

“Let’s do our best together on the ship,” Luro said smiling at Jack. “If you ever need my help I’ll do all I can to be there.”

After a moment he released him before he realized two things.

“Huh…it’s not hard to talk to you anymore,” Luro said. “…strange…”

Reaching into his sleeve he pulled out his box before removing a small container. Smearing something over his hand he took out spare bandage courtesy of Z before wrapping his hand back up. He held it out to Jack but with his Haki he figured he’d deal with the wound himself, though he still offered.

“Also let’s not tell Z about what we just did. She might get mad if she finds out we stabbed each other.”

Jack grinned back. “Thank you. That… means a lot.” He cleared his throat and passed a hand over his dreadlocks. Whatever he expected, it wasn’t this, and he was deeply touched by Luro’s actions. A smaller smile took form as he accepted the bandage. He took time to wrap the bandage around his palm and collect his thoughts. The last time he was offered such comradeship, was when he sailed beneath the Borealis banner, years ago. He never truly believed he’d find such a crew again; one he felt at home with, and who accepted him in turn. Luro’s gesture washed away whatever lingering doubts Jack harbored towards him, and with it came an overwhelming desire to tell him a piece of truth-- how long, and how starved, he was to not feel alone anymore. He clenched his bandaged fist and looked out to the sea, until blood soaked through. His features hardened into rigid lines, eyes pinched at the corners, immediately replacing the soft, watery shine that made them glisten a second ago. He took a deep breath.

“I’d like to inquire of you one last thing.” Jack’s eyes remained on the horizon for an extra long moment, noting the faintest ombre hues lighting the edge of the waters. He turned back to Luro, displaying curiosity, as he forced a faint smile.

“Tenebrous Bodhisattva. The moniker you so kindly bestowed to me,” sardonicism hinted his words as he rested a cheek in the palm of his hand. “Why did you chose it? What’s the story behind it?”

Jack understood, to an extent, what the name implied. He looked it up one time when they made port and he accompanied Zilia to the local book vendor. He already knew what tenebrous meant: a descriptor meaning dark, or obscure. Bodhisattva, he learned, was a religious figure with the ability to reach nirvana but purposefully chose not to. Jack felt it too coincidental to be described as tenebrous, all things considered, yet the religious factor was an odd twist. When Lina told them their bounty titles originated from Luro’s childhood- apart from Sara’s oddly enough- Jack’s curiosity deepened. Patiently, he looked to Luro and waited for an answer.

Luro stared at his bandaged right hand, a strange feeling welling in his chest as he pulled his sleeve up allowing only the tips of his fingers to poke out once more. He made far too many mistakes, and said things he knew he wouldn’t keep. The weight of the oath he just made filled his entire being, it felt incredibly heavy and just staring at his hand made his entire body tremble. Luro closed his hand into a fist, his eyes narrowing as a grin found its way onto his face.

He liked this feeling, he was going to do everything he could to protect it.

Luro was pulled from his own thoughts by Jack’s voice, his eyes rising to the man before he took a place next to him once more. He wasn’t sure what to make of the expression on his face but his question drew his attention more than the clearly forced smile on his expression.

“Ahaha…him,” Luro said. “There isn’t a proper word for him in this language…that was the closest translation.”

Luro smiled a bit at this before turning his attention to the sea, his eyelids lowering slightly as he recalled the old story.

“He was a Drifter in the old tales. They were little stories that didn’t involve the Monarchs,” Luro said with a small chuckle. “The Tenebrous Bodhisattva was one of them…still how do I tell his story…well I’ll do my best.”

The Drifter was a reoccurring character in the some of the stories even interacting with some of the other Drifter’s in their tales or showing up in alternate versions of the Monarch stories.

He was a mysterious individual with an infectious smile, many people didn’t trust him in the stories and he could be a trickster depending on the story version. Many of the Drifter’s past were foggy but the Bodhisattva was even more so. Due to that there was little to no way of knowing his true intentions when he showed up in a story. He was neither hero nor villain, merely a force that came and went. Some stories however did talk of the Drifter, some believed he was a god who gave up his power to walk among humans, other say he was a demon who was punished by being made into a human, other say he was a human who cheated death in exchange for an unknown favor. In each story it was believed that he gave up his home, a place he belonged to walk with others, but the reason was always unknown and never revealed.

There were times when he was a good person in stories, and times when he was bad. That was the Tenebrous Bodhisattva.

After his explanation Luro chuckled before offering a small smile to Jack.

“When I took a good look, you seemed like someone who lost their home once. Having lost mine I kind of know the feeling…the little ticks that show. I wasn’t sure if I was right but the name just came to mind as I was staring at you one day so I gave you that name.”

Luro brought a hand to his chin.

“There was always a moral to the stories, some meaning. The ones with him were always complex yet simple.”

Jack chuckled. “Indeed? He sounds like a complex character.”

Hearing Luro’s tale was surprisingly humorous, and not a bit chilling. He chose well in Jack’s bounty title. Chuckling again, Jack looked over the ship as a finger traced the Stardusk tattoo on his neck. “That was entertaining, thank you.”

It was getting noticeably lighter now. Luro’s replacement watch would arrive soon, and Jack needed to start morning preparations if he wished to serve breakfast in a timely fashion. Chewing on his cheek, he stood up and stretched, interlocking fingers above his head as he looked down at his companion.

“Come,” Jack offered a smile and gestured with his head to the lower deck. “Come on. The captain’s relieving you now and I could use a hand getting breakfast ready.” True to his prediction, Runali surfaced for her watch shift. He started raising his hand in greeting but checked the motion when he realized it was the bandaged one. Lowering it, his gaze flicked between her and Luro.

Luro grinned hearing Jack seemed to enjoy the man, he always liked the Drifter’s story but he couldn’t help his curiosity at the Bodhisattva. He wondered if he felt that same curiosity when he met Jack, with a small laugh Luro offered a small shrug before stretching his arms above his head. He always enjoyed the old stories, it was one of the few things he could remember with little effort.

“I’m glad, I’ll tell you one of his stories sometimes. The one with the Queen is funny,” Luro said grinning.

His eyes moved to his approaching replacement as if summoned by her moniker, with a smile Luro raised his non-bandaged hand to the Captain, a yawn escaping from him before he made his way below deck.

“All right I’ll help you with breakfast, I got too much energy to sleep right now anyway. Let’s go Jack.”

“Mm hmm,” Jack acknowledged Luro as they went below, glancing over his shoulder at Runali before tapping the man’s shoulder. He lifted an eyebrow inquisitively. “ everything alright between you can and the captain? I’ve noticed she’s giving you a wide berth as of late....”
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Too weird to live, too rare to die.
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High School

Since her loss against Kaim, and Luro's attempted murder, she had been moody and distant away from everyone in the crew. Sara felt like she had failed herself and, in turn, failed the crew. As at the end of every loss, she pushed herself harder than she had before. When passed by other members of the crew, she could be heard muttering darkly to herself under her breath as she transitioned from one exercise to the next. She was angry, angry at Luro for endangering the crew, angry at the Ravens and Renegades for dragging them all into this for what Sara saw as a very stupid reason, and even a little bit angry at Alicia for somehow not training her right although Sara knew that was her own frustrations speaking. But, most of all, Sara was angry at herself. Anger at her own weakness, anger at the fact that she was the only one in the crew to have fallen and failed. Zillia, even Zillia, was able to win, but not Sara.

"Well, now that just sounds like a trap." Sara said in a low voice, leaning back with her arms folded across her chest. "Question is, whose trap is it?" She asked, as she stared up at the pirate-hunters. "Yours, or your leader?"


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Depends on the story, not all that picky about it.

Mia smiled happy that everything had come into play; with Stardusk help they had a much higher chance of success. Just as she was about to walk away she caught Sara’s comment glancing over at the woman as she arched a brow at her. She remained silent watching the woman, her expression was blank as Sara cast an accusation in their direction Rasa and Nikos didn’t seem to pay the comment any mind continuing with their duties, but Mia stared at the woman, as if she was peering into her very being. Whatever Mia was doing however faded quickly and she only offered a smile to the woman.
“I guess you’ll have to see, and of course it’s a trap silly,” Mia said before turning and walking away. “Adorable that one.”

Once the Messengers were on board and settled the three leaders convened together below deck to have a meeting. Mia making sure to speak to the Captain about it, with all that was going on none of them were in the mood to be considered enemies, there was enough ahead of them they didn’t want to watch their backs more than they already were. Nikos set his chair in front of the other two and took a seat before Mia and Rasa did the same. Mia had requested a small meeting to go over specific information, and since it was mainly to find facts she decided not to involve Stardusk until they had proper answers. Nikos had a general idea what she wanted to speak with them about, as it had come up the last time they had come together.
“All right let’s get started,” Mia said grinning at the two. “Let’s review that wonderful rumor of our leader. I think the Renegades are a good start.”
Nikos looked over at Mia a little surprised as that was a good decent place to start, he decided to speak up first.
“Each of us have had different encounters with the Renegades,” Nikos said leaning back and crossing his arms. “From different parts of the organization so let’s put that together.”
Rasa gave a small nod at his.
“Yeah it’s been some time since I spoke with Mia anyway, it’s been delightful. Shame it’s under these circumstances.”
Nikos raised a brow at Rasa before looking over at Mia who only offered a nod in agreement.
“You two knew each other?”
“Aye we’ve known each other for a bit,” Rasa said waving his free hand at him. “She was always with Lina so we met often while I was a Quill. Even more when I agreed to go against the Ravens.”
Nikos looked between the two deciding not to press the matter any further, Mia spoke seeming to pick up on his mood.
“Anyway over two years ago the Renegades started making big movements. We didn’t know they had an eye on Stardusk until Cerula. We’re still not sure where they popped up from but there was a chance they had always been around.”
“There are generally a few people who don’t like the rules,” Nikos added. “Plenty join the Ravens believing they can do what they want, only to find out we have a code.”
Rasa seemed to avert his gaze at Nikos comment and clearing his throat added his thoughts.
“Two years ago the Renegades made a move trying to destroy the organization. I got sent out often to quell their risings.”
Mia raised a hand to this to indicate she was a part of it as well before Rasa continued.
“We believed we had dealt with them, but lo and behold they now control most of the organization. I think whatever the attack was two years ago it was just a feint.”
Nikos nodded and folded his hands together remembering reports of Renegades, he and his people encountered them during their missions often.
“Which leads us to the current leader,” Rasa said raising his cup and making a grand gesture with his hands. “The rumor is that the true Leader was killed two years ago and replaced by a Renegade. They spent the following two years reshaping the organization and patiently replacing Ravens with Renegades.”

A sigh escaped from Mia and she leaned back in her seat letting the front legs leave the ground as she crossed her arms under her chest. Speaking while trying not to laugh at the glare Nikos was giving Rasa.
“The other Rumor is that the Leader actually had a puppet in their place anticipating the attack, they were believed to walk among the Ravens anyway. The Renegades kill the puppet and put themselves at the top of food chain while the Leader remains alive and well.”
Rasa took a sip from his goblet offering a small shake of his head as the other two fell silent.
“There’s no real answer to either rumor either,” Rasa said. “We’ve checked into both…with little success.”
“Same here,” Mia added throwing her hands up.
Almost falling backwards she quickly lowered the seat putting her hands on the side of the chair.
The trio remained silent Nikos closing his eyes as he took a moment to go over what he learned with the Messengers. Most information remained hidden and only spoken to the higher ups, the Quills were generally the ones who held most of the information. Mia and Rasa were different however from the other higher tiered Ravens; they understood that foot soldiers heard things too, especially in passing.
“In my reports we received word of a traitor. We’re not sure what she did…but it was clear she intended on helping the Renegades.”
Mia’s eye widened and she looked over at Rasa who brought his cup to his lips. He had dealt with a few traitors and after a bit of thought he gave a small nod.
“I know who you’re talking about. Aye her crime was never mentioned but she was helping the Renegades. We believed it was money but no one knows.”
“What else was there?” Mia asked looking between the two.
“Not much just old reports. There was one thing that stood out, the word ‘Scarlet Queen’ that was the extent of the information.
Mia snapped her fingers drawing the two’s attention as a smile rested on her face.
“Ah I know her. Lina wanted a red sounding name and Scarlet was on her list. I found the name while trying to figure out a new name for her.”
Nikos eyes lowered slightly and Rasa turned his head his body shaking as he tried to hold in his laughter.
“….did she really hate Gunpowder Princess that much?” Nikos questioned.
“You have no idea,” Mia added. “Anyway if you’re saying the name than you know who she is right?”
“…I have an idea,” Nikos said crossing his arms. “I don’t have any proof to act on though.”
“Neither do I,” Mia said with a small nod. “I’m not sure how she ties into all this…but I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
Rasa looked between the two and standing up from his chair took hold of his cane.
“…so we have nothing,” he said watching the other two stand.
“Pretty much,” Mia said.
“We know that the organization made a sudden shift two years ago, and the Scarlet Queen was mentioned in the transition. For now let’s try to figure out who that woman was, she got away unfortunately…but I have a feeling she played a big part in all this.”
The two nodded in agreement and Rasa motioned to the door with his cup hand as another thought came to mind.
“It is strange how that information has vanished however…we have information on so much, especially about Stardusk. The attack by Odin, the incident at Sunter, the fight in Tilea, their wonderful prison break. We have books of information on their adventures but barely anything on our organization…that’s always bothered me.”
“Agreed,” Nikos said crossing his arms. “It makes sense but the fact we can’t find anything is a problem.”
“…by the way Nikos didn’t you head to Jaipur to speak to Daya? How’d that go?” Mia asked.
“I believe our meeting has concluded,” Nikos said turning and quickly walking out the door.
Rasa laughed a little and shrugged with a smirk on his face.
“He’s so shy sometimes isn’t he?”
“Yeah he is,” Mia said smiling. “Speaking of which you visited the Brothel at Tilea how’d that go?”
“Oop I’m out of wine better get more,” Rasa said throwing the liquid out of the cup before making his way out of the room.
“Hehe…you still got it Mia,” she said placing her hands on her hips
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*Insert quip here*
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
Writing Levels
Elementary, Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Both are fine. I tend to be aggressive more though.
Favorite Genres
Modern Fantasy, Historical, Fantasy, adventure, romance, anime, action, etc.
Genre You DON'T Like
Depends on the story, not all that picky about it.

Nikos stared through the spyglass on Lady Luck peering at the towering structure in the distance.
The floating fortress lived up to its name, surrounded on all sides by a multitude of cannons and strangely shaped guns the size of Frigates. It was impossible to see the inside due to the amount of defenses surrounding the island. They had reports that the leader had items built from Brass Cape as well, Nikos’ eyes narrowing seeing lights move over the ocean searching for any sign of life. He wasn’t sure what the invention was but there were numerous towers on the island that apparently used mirrors and it allowed them to see through the darkness pretty far. They thought they were lighthouses at first until one of the scout ships was set on fire by the light. Thankfully they were far enough away the light didn’t reach them but the moment the assault started that would end.
“They have cannons under the water as well,” Nikos said handing the spyglass to Runali. “The place is pretty much its own country. They built and expanded on it until it grew into its own civilization….I suppose it would be akin to wandering around Jaipur and Tilea after they were shoved together.”

Nikos brought a hand to his chin as he mentally marked the distance they had to reach before they were safely out of danger.
“The outer cannons are the biggest threats, some of them hurl out Armament coated Seastone shots about the size of Man O War’s…if we’re lucky” Nikos said pointing at one of the cannons. “We need to get out of their range as soon as possible. There are also ‘fake’ shots as they like to call them. Shots meant to be destroyed; it should go without saying we should avoid hitting them. Some are full of fire which will burn the ships, others filled with poison and you’ve seen the effects. There’s no easy way of telling which shots are real or fake so the best option is just to avoid them all together. Once we get closer, at that line I showed you on the map the outer Cannons won’t be able to hit us anymore. At that point the smaller guns will fire at us, they’re still a threat as a shot from them would still blow the ship apart, but there’s no special tricks to those shots, we’ll have a vanguard in front cutting apart any approaching threats to Lady Luck. We handle that and we land. Once we take out their defenses the other ships approach and our reinforcements will deal with all the extra threats that will have regrouped at that point.”

“Y’know, this is kinda cool.” Runali reached out for the spyglass. “Going head first into danger, challenging some ‘elite’ force to be reckoned with for vengeance and justice…?” She peered out of the spyglass, searching for a moment to actually find the right position. “And by cool, of course I mean, close to insane.” The addition was met with a chuckle. “Not the greatest of scenarios here. I’ll chalk this as a top five in our list of dangerous things that we’ve done.” Moving the spyglass, she glanced over at her crew, plus the additions before looking back out at sea. “So, stealth until we can’t. Fight until they cant.” She tilted her head towards Nikos. “And I suppose as long as no one gets lost, the size of this place isn’t really an issue, but that’s what you guys are for so we should be fine.” Her hands tapped on the edge of the ship and she fell in thought. Despite the many times and the many ways she simplified the plan, she went through each step in detail in her head. There wasn’t much room for error, especially now that the real battle would begin and with how much their guests spoke of the island and all its defenses, the crew wouldn’t be leaving without a few bruises. Runali wasn’t doubting the plan, but she did take into consideration, as she always did, a backup plan and different ways to retreat should they need to. Their safety was far more important than whatever mission they were on and as their captain she had to make sure of that.

“Any other notes before we get any closer? Speak now or y’know, hold your peace until we get outta there.”

Nikos sighed taking the spyglass back from Runali at her words, he disliked the fact she was correct but he supposed her easygoing nature in these moments was handy. He glanced back at the others noticing Luro was humming to himself while making adjustments to his gun. Tari seemed to writing something in her book, and judging by the stern expression on her face he could only guess it was her Will. At least he would have if he didn’t know that she wrote that shortly after formally becoming a Stardusk.
“It’s going to be so much fun,” Mia said rubbing her hands together. “I’m glad Runali see’s the good in all of this. This is one of those ‘last battle things’ where two forces clash for the last time to see who the victor is. Going up against something like this really gets my blood going.”
Mia grinned her eye sparkling like a child causing Nikos to sigh as Runali spoke to the others.
“Nope I’m ready to go Captain,” Luro said moving his rifle to his back. “I’ll do all I can to ensure Lady’s safety.”
“I’ve made adjustments to my Will so I’m ready,” Zilia held her note up with a small nod.
“Oh so she was messing with it,” Nikos thought closing his eyes.
“It’s imperative we act fast,” Nikos said looking at his people. “Stay with your partner and attack quickly. We don’t have time to let them regroup from our assault. If they do we’ll be forced to retreat if it’s even an option at that point. Our ship will be trailing a little bit from Stardusk, we must ensure we make it to the island so this ship must make it. If worst comes to worst and the ship is destroyed Rasa is nearby along with our people to get everyone on our ship. At that point however the mission will be considered a failure…we must avoid that at all cost.”

Nikos spoke the warning before taking a few steps forward, making a motion with his hand the Messengers lined up and raising their left hands made fists before resting them on their chests standing at attention as Nikos folded his hands behind his back.
“Crew as of this moment we are no longer the Red Messengers, the black sheep of the Red Ravens. We are the Vermillion Prophets!” Nikos exclaimed. “We have gathered from different places, carry different beliefs, and for some of us were once foes. We have withstood countless trials and stood up when others chose to stay down. We have suffered at the hands of many including ourselves and shame itself is burned into our skin, a constant reminder of our transgressions, a stigma we must constantly carry.”
Nikos pulled up his sleeve revealing the Red Raven on his wrist before extending his fist into the air.
“However! We will not lament our path but forge one worthy of our names! Though we stand against what we called home, what once was our place to belong we will not hesitate! We are not Ravens, we are Prophets and your place is here with your fellow brethren. I am not your leader but your comrade! We ride alongside those who have chosen the same thorny path as us, one filled with despair, pain and regret! I will not permit you to shame their efforts by staying your blades! Step over their dead bodies just as they would step over yours and march forward! We are the Vermillion Prophets and this is your home!”
Raven slammed his fist onto his chest the Prophets extending their chest as they continued to stand attention in front of Nikos.
“Our goals remain are the same,” Nikos said staring at his crew. “Eliminate the Red Raven Leader and come back alive. Dismissed!”
The Prophets nodded before Nikos lowered his hand and looking at the other ships noticed one of the Clipped wave at him, turning Nikos looked at Runali.
“We’re going to set out soon, I’m going to have my people down below to help protect the ship with their Armament. We won’t be able to dodge everything after all.”

Kaim walked up with a smug grin and placed his arm on Nikos shoulder shaking the man slightly with his other hand.
“Oh man I can’t wait Nikos…but seriously Vermillion Prophets…I mean I like it butttt you’re knack for naming is…eccentric as always.”
Nikos knocked the man’s arm off his shoulders narrowing his eyes at him.
“I gave you all your names when you joined, you didn’t have any complaints then.”
“Well I mean…I don’t mind the name but…what is a Gentle Fiend?”
“It’s clearly in the name.”
“Well yeah I get the oxymoron but it’s…I don’t know weird.”
“Wha- the name’s fine you’re just being picky. No one else minds their names, right guys?”
Nikos turned towards the others only for them to promptly turn their heads away from him, he blinked a few times moving his hands to his hips as the others made an extreme effort not to meet eyes with him.
“…Is…is my naming that bad?” Nikos mumbled bringing a hand to his chin.
“No no it’s not bad…just…you know…it’s very…Nikos. We like them really…right guys?”
The others nodded which seemed to relax Nikos a bit.
“Ah…good. I was thinking of giving us new names since we-”
“That’s not necessary!” Kara exclaimed waving her hands. “We should keep our names…as a uh…reminder….yeah.”
“O-okay…if that’s what you guys want,” Nikos said.
“It is,” Kaim said before backing away from him. “Let’s get ready to go.”

Hearing that her own crew was ready, the captain gave a nod and a simple thumbs up, but before she could say anything, her attention turned to Nikos and the rest of his crew. She raised a curious brow as he gave his speech only to hide a grin behind her hand. As Nikos reconvened with Runali, she cleared her throat and her grin turned into more of a smirk with a look of obvious teasing. Fortunately for Nikos, Kaim got to him first but that didn’t stop Runali from chiming in as the other ‘Prophets’ scrambled to keep Nikos’ nicknaming at bay. “Heh, y’know I can’t tell if it’s supposed to be a theme or you’re just really into the color red. Not my favorite color per say, I’m more into purples and greens… but you don’t see me naming everything after it.” She chuckled and stood by Nikos, watching his crew basically scatter away. “You’re so dramatic. Ever try doing theater? Might be a good thing for you.” Her arms crossed and she laughed again. “Maybe let the others try out naming themselves. They might have fun with that.” With her own crew still on deck, Runali casually patted Nikos’ arm. “Don’t forget those glasses of yours. Not everyone can pull off fighting blind you know.” She couldn’t help but snicker as she walked over to her own crew.

“I can’t one up that flair but,” She gestured over to where the island was. “Any hard feelings and pent up anger,” Runali glanced over at Sara for a brief moment before continuing, “You can take it out on everyone on the island. And y’know, don’t die.” Her calm expression turned into one a little more serious as she added. “If things get too bad, head to the ship. I’d rather you all alive than worrying about some guy hellbent on trying to kill us.” With that, she gave a nod before smiling once more and patting Zilia’s shoulder. “Oh and maybe bring extra bandages. For… just in case.”

Nikos glared at Runali as she joked with him but ultimately sighed and pulled out his Pince-nez, he didn’t have the energy to deal with her, keep the troops together and deal with his favorite headaches.
“Kaim’s terrible at naming things and why is every word out of your mouth somehow annoying Lev,” Nikos said. “That comment refers to your crew as well. We have unfinished business so none of you are allowed to die.”
Luro stared at the scene ahead of them his eyes narrowing at the island in a distance before he took a deep breath in and released it. His body was trembling and he wasn’t sure if it was excitement or anger, Zilia’s trembling was pretty honest though and he pat her on the shoulder as some form of comfort. At the end of it all they were here because of his mistake and it was hard to really get into it with that fact at the front of his thoughts. Instead he merely stared silently at their objective before his gaze moved to the Captain. He smiled a little glad she wasn’t going to throw a bunch of flair at them, he gave a small nod liking that it was short and simple.
“Easy to understand and do, aye Captain,” Luro said before looking forward again.
“ I had Mia give me half of their supplies just in case, I’m ready for the worst. Hopefully I can return the half but I doubt that’ll be the case…” Zilia held the note towards Runali hanging her head a bit knowing how these things ended.

Soon after the ships started to move forward Lady Luck joining as they all approached, Nikos kept his arm up as the other ships slowly approached, it was important that they all stay in formation or at least as close as possible so they were waiting for the signal before dropping all sails. Kaim and Nina were below deck being two of the strongest Armament users, they were to protect Lady Luck should she take any attacks to the best of their ability, the two were patiently waiting for the same moment the remaining Prophets were.
Ultimately they were waiting for one particular sight and Nikos swallowed hard as the moment got ever closer as they approached.
It was silent at first with no response coming from the fortress, but the moment they crossed the invisible line the lights of the fortress flipped on and the floating fortress roared to life.
“Hold on tight!” Nikos yelled. “Full let’s go!”
All sails dropped and all ships pushed by an additional gust headed toward the island at full speed. The other ships in the distant darkness came into view as they approached the island form the other angles, all matching the movements of the main group, a unified assault. The cannons on the fortress seemed to shift and turn before the area filled with their loud voices, shots filling the sky as chunks of rocks the size of the ships came hurtling towards them. Without rest the cannons continued to fire large black boulders which slammed into the sea, throwing the ships all around, any unfortunate ones to get hit dead on breaking into pieces with little resistance. Nikos grit his teeth as one got closer and he motioned to the wheel.
“Hard to Starboard!”
The shot narrowly missed the ship hurling water onto the deck the ship shaking and tilting sideways causing Zilia to lose her grip, Luro reached out catching her by the wrist before pulling her back as the ship straightened itself out.
“I got ya Z!” Luro said ensuring her feet were planted before letting go.
Zilia nodded before stabbing her dart into the wood and wrapping it around her arm to ensure she wouldn’t fall off the edge again.
Fire exploded from one of the ships alongside the Lady Luck, embers filling the air almost catching their sails on fire in the process. Flaming boulders fell from the sky crashing into the extra ships, setting them on fire, a few of the ships moved over slightly to keep the fire from spreading but still managed to retain the formation somewhat. The air became filled with flaming orbs and dark spheres threatening to destroy all they touched.
The sea shook constantly throwing the ship around, though the rounds missed the sea seemed closer to taking them than the actual shots, another boulder flew above and Nikos watched as the boulder was destroyed by one of the Clipped.
“No don’t shoot them!” Nikos yelled.
The boulder cracked open and medium sized flaming boulders fell out crashing into numerous ships including Lady lucky trying to set it on fire, Luro kicked one of the boulders off the ship but there were numerous ones scattered on the deck.
“Hey let’s get these off before they set the ship on fire!” Luro yelled.
The ship continued to rock and Luro had to place his hand down to keep from going over the edge, he grit his teeth before a boulder slammed into the spot directly in front of the ship. Luro looked at the tidal wave of water in front of them before pointing at it.
The water slammed into the deck Luro flying back and crashing into the back of the ship, he grit his teeth before rubbing the back of his head looking down at the water now at his ankles.
“We’re almost to inner line! Hold steady!” Nikos yelled.

Runali was practically a statue as they approached the island. Her gaze stayed on it, waiting for the fortress to come to life with all of the horrors of Nikos’ stories. Much to her dismay, the group of ex Ravens had been right. The moment Nikos gave his signal the fortress began it’s onslaught to get rid of them. “Right on time I suppose.” She grumbled, only for her eyes to widen at the size of the hunks of rock that were heading their way. She stilled her instinct, instantly ready to attack. She was almost sure that with her armament or even one clean swipe from Alicia, they could get rid of them. But there were always traps.
Boulders that got too close for comfort caused the ship to rock back and forth in a way that made Runali freeze and tense up. The distinct image of wild waves making the Stardusk lose control of their ship replayed in her head. “..Not again…”

Hearing Luro’s yell made her snap back to reality. Runali whirled around to see Zilia on her feet and secured to the ship. There wasn’t a moment to relax because the ship lurched and tilted yet again. This time, she allowed herself to slide into the mast, making sure to grab on and not go falling off the edge. The moment her hand reached it, she grabbed the rope hanging off and tossed an end to Jack. The opposite end, she gave to Sara. “Tie yourselves down or hold on to something sturdy!” She was about to sprint towards the others as well, but the sudden bits of fire caused her to stop in her tracks and use her armament haki so she could grab the burning rock and toss it off the ship. Already, they were much too close to losing Lady but she mentally applauded Kadi’s steering. “I’m sure fire is the least of our worries considering-” The captain’s words were cut short as a large wave towered right over them. She couldn’t react fast enough, so when the sudden wave collided she was washed over to the helm of the ship. It didn’t last long, but the moment the wave passed, Runali jumped to her feet scanning the deck to make sure everyone was still onboard. Standing next to Kadi, she heaved a sigh. “...Better than fire I guess…”

A light passed by Lady touching one the other ships, the moment it did the ship exploded into flames Nikos’ eyes widening as the ship was torn asunder by the strange light. The light was inches from the Lady Luck when it narrowly touched the end of it, setting part of the wheel on fire in the process.
Nikos grit his teeth as the ship passed the inner line, he glanced up confirming they were out of the main cannon’s range, sure enough the cannons were no longer pointed in the direction. There wasn’t time for relief as the inner cannons were now focusing fire and a plenty of them were locked onto Lady Luck’s position.
“We’re not out of the woods yet! Get aggressive Prophets!”
Nikos spoke before a cannon fired, Luro quickly ducked his head before a harpoon stabbed into the spot where his head had been piercing the mast. He blinked a few times as the thing was almost as long as the front mast and noticed the cannon was aiming at them again.
“All right slow down!” Nikos screamed and motioned to Runali. “Let the others pull ahead a bit!”
The moment Lady Luck slowed a bit two other ships pulled up alongside and Nikos gave a nod.
“Vanguard gather! Protect Lady Luck with everything you have! Tari you’re in command!”
“Aye!” Tari exclaimed as Nikos hopped onto the other ship, Ria hopping onto one of the opposing ships.

Shortly after something flew out of the fortress, looking up flaming arrows suddenly covered the sky and started falling towards the ship, Luro looked ahead as a cannon was fired in Stardusk’s direction alongside the barrage from above but Nikos’ ship was in the right place and drawing his sword he cut the ball clean in half causing it to miss the ship.
Judging by the position of the ship though he wasn’t stopping any more as more shots started to fire towards the ship, some hitting the water.
“Kaim port side!” Tari yelled before a shot slammed into the left side of the ship, Tari ran over to the side checking the damage. There was some bend in the wood but Kaim had managed to cushion the blow with his armament.
“If you see a ball get close yell the direction and Kaim or Nina will protect that side!” Tari yelled back towards the others. “They can’t protect the mast or sails! That’s on us!”
Luro was firing up at the arrows blasting a few away with the L.A.S.S. but the arrows continued to fall towards the ship, some sticking into the wood threatening to set the ship aflame. More Harpoons fired narrowly missing the ship, some drawing a bit too close for comfort, and one impaling the lower part of the ship.
Tari’s gaze rested dead ahead and she blinked before her eyes widened.
“Nina! Protect the bottom! Stardusk p-prepare to f-fly!”
“Fly?!” Luro exclaimed.
An explosion echoed under the ship and Lady Luck was propelled into the air, Zilia felt her legs leave the deck but her grip remained steady as the ship flew over the ocean, though Luro was in the air his grip slipped. He noticed a Harpoon at the height of his climb flying under the ship as the ship continued to ignore the ocean. Tari had her staff dug into the deck to keep from flying, but a cannon shot fired directly at her and her eyes glowed before her aura flared destroying the ball when it slammed into her.
The ship crashed back into the ocean and Luro found he was still in the air but the ship was no longer under him, he looked ahead at Lady Luck and gritting his teeth grabbed his rifle. A burst of fire exploded from the gun propelling him forward and over the ship once more. He landed on the deck sliding and grabbed back onto the mast tying a rope around himself a bit tighter.
“I almost met Davy again!” Luro exclaimed looking back where he had come from.

Up ahead the vanguard team was cutting through the defenses, ships had been sent out to head off the crew but the vanguard tore apart any front attacks towards the ship. Nikos gripped his weapon and with the smallest twist something passed over the enemy ship. He narrowed his eyes watching as the approaching ship broke into two pieces a sigh releasing from him seeing it out of commission as he turned to look at Ria.
Spinning her sickles she hurled them forward cutting through three of the enemy’s masts with a single swipe, stopping the approaching ships dead in their tracks, their ship tearing apart the dead ships with cannon fire as they passed. She continued this action cutting through any ships that approached, Nikos nodded and stepped his hand lingering near his sword once more, his eyes narrowed and the ship in front of him exploded breaking into numerous pieces leaving little but scattered wood left.
“We’re almost there…just a little longer.” Nikos thought his hand gripping his sword once again.
Soon the firing on the ships came to a stop and Lady Luck pulled up to the docks, the vanguard team already on the island and helping to get Lady Luck tied up. Rasa hopped off one of the ships joining all the others.
“We made it,” Nikos said crossing his arms over his chest. “This is where the hard part comes in though. Let’s meet with the leader and bring an end to this. The shots can’t hit our ships but the enemy won’t just sit here and leave us with a way out. Rasa it’s on you to protect Lady Luck.”
Rasa smiled and twirled the liquid in his goblet.
“Aye I’ll ensure we have a ride home, just finish quickly I want to have my celebratory drink as soon as possible,” Rasa said with a grin.
“Noted. Stardusk if you’re ready let’s go.”
Zilia was on her knees her forehead touching the ground as she took a moment to confirm she was on something solid before she climbed to her feet, giving a nod to inform she was ready to go.
Luro merely stared up at the fortress offering little more than a nod to show he was prepared as well.

The moment things started to shift in their favor, Runali was up front. Tari yelled about protecting the mast and sails and Runali whistled over at Alicia. “That’s your cue!” Turning, she yelled over at Jack, “Help me with this one!” She pointed at the harpoon in the mast as her armament Haki formed on her arms. As the two worked to remove the harpoon, she kept an eye out for any more flying in their direction.
“Surely there’s nothing more to prepare fo- wait, fly?!”
The last time she was sent flying through the air was when the crew met the Nova pirates. That was fun. It was safe. They had reason. This time, none of those things were true. Runali hadn’t actually tied herself down since the start of the attack, so when it was airborne, her feet left the deck and she was much higher than she would have liked. When everything crashed back into the ocean, she managed to grab onto some of the rigging, before tumbling to the deck and hopping to her feet. She was a bit unsteady at first, but she quickly gained her balance again and watched as enemy ships were destroyed in front of them.

“C’mon, c’mon, c’mon.” Runali chanted when they neared the docks. They were so close and yet one wrong move could cause everything to go wrong. So when the ship safely docked, Runali heaved a sigh of relief and leaned over the edge. “Alright, noted. Ship upgrades where ship upgrades are due.” As they joined each other, she patted Kadi’s shoulder and gave an appreciative nod before herding the last of them off.

“Meet with? Sounds a little too formal for my taste.” Runali stood by Nikos’ side but stared at Rasa. She didn’t mind his unworried disposition. She only cared that he kept his promise. “Keep my ship safe.” Runali enforced before turning her attention to both the Prophets and the Stardusk. “No time like the present. Let’s get moving.”


Vivid Imaginings
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Realistic fiction, romance

Jack sat behind Ria and observed the looming structure through a half-lidded gaze. He was dressed in his long black coat, bristling with knives, a finger brushing along the elephant brooch pinned to the lapel. He felt calm as they watched the battle inch closer and closer. There was no turning back now.

He tore his gaze away to look at his crewmates. They looked ready; as ready as they could be given the circumstances. He worried about Sara. She’d taken Kaim’s forfeit hard and it was clear hard feelings remained between the gladiator and the Ravens. He would see if he could talk to her later, though by the thoughts on Zilia’s face, he wondered if he’d been beaten to it.

Nikos’ commanding address caught Jack’s attention. He hid a smile. “Vermillion Prophets?” he whispered loud enough for Ria to hear. “How quaint.”

Their leader’s flair amused him, and he caught Runali’s eye with a similar nagging grin as she gave her group a thumbs-up. She gave them a very different spiel; one Jack felt more inclined to follow. He nodded to her orders as he stood, turning to watch the island approach.

Before the first attack hit, Jack’s hand gripped a rigging and he planted his feet. His stance was firm as the boulder caused the ship to tilt and jerk in protest. He glimpsed Kaim and Nina heading below deck. Holding still, eyes narrowed, he concentrated on the pitching deck, getting a feel for how the broiling waters below made it move. Between the peaked tilts Jack let go of the rigging. He half-slid, half-trotted along the deck, resecuring a firm hold when he sensed the ship about to make another move. Jack made it to the mast- intent on aiding Kaim and Nina- when the captain threw him a piece of rope.

He blinked at it then passed his end to Alicia. “Captain!” he yelled over the ruckus of the sea and opening fire, about to explain his intention.

The wave flooded the deck. Rushing cold water knocked his feet from underneath him, and he nearly lost his grip on the rigging. Struggling to regain his footing, Jack felt his heart leap into his throat when he saw Runali had vanished from her spot. He looked around wildly and exhaled with relief when he saw her pop up on the deck.

The fight escalating as their allies peeled forward to protect Lady Lucky, Jack’s goal of helping below wiped away. He rejoined Runali when the harpoons struck the mast, clambering on top of it like a tree branch to only break it with Armament. Her exclamation was his only warning to when the ship suddenly launched upward. He felt his body leave the harpoon remnants to become weightless, and flashbacks of his and Zilia’s free fall in the Alley filled him with dread. Any sound he would’ve made died in his throat as the world around them froze at the peak of their escape from gravity. The earthbound force quickly recaptured them; seconds later Jack belly-flopped on the deck, the breath whooshing out of him.

He was still rubbing his sides when they, at last, made it ashore. “Finally,” he muttered as the crew and self-named Prophets clambered aboard. He looked to Rasa as the captain ordered him to protect the ship. The cook’s thought on their latest addition were suspicious at best; his touches of wealth had made him frown at first, not understanding what one dressed as such would be doing affiliating with pirates, but his knowledge was extensive as Mia’s, and there was no time to question it. So the cook gave a last, worried glance across their ship, her fancy defender, and their mottled group and pushed it from his mind. They were nearing the last push.

Once everyone was assembled and ready, Jack turned to Ria and bowed. “Ladies first?” he asked, indicating for her to take lead into the stronghold.
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A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
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Elementary, Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Both are fine. I tend to be aggressive more though.
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Modern Fantasy, Historical, Fantasy, adventure, romance, anime, action, etc.
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Depends on the story, not all that picky about it.

Also Rasa yaayyy
Alicia silently followed the plan as it was laid out in front of them, mentally repeating it through her mind and dissecting the information in order to keep tabs on the exact kind of situation they were in. She stood at the back to the right side of the captain, her arms folded as her eyes moved between each individual who spoke up in turn. She couldn’t say she was thrilled with the plan, a lot of it felt like it was relying on luck and perfect timing, neither of which was reliable as far as she was concerned. When the conversation slowed and there was mention of partnering up with one of Nikos’ team, Alicia eventually spoke as her eyes moved towards Runali.

“Captain, although not yet demonstrated... I have the ability to cleave through ships and as you know I’m able to redirect and repel projectiles. I feel I might be best placed at the front of the fleet where I can put these skills to use during the approach to the fortress” she spoke softly before waiting for a response.

Mia and Rasa seemed to review something amongst themselves, only glancing over at Alicia at her comment. They said little only offering a smile and glance at Nikos before returning to their conversation. Nikos was eyeing the map, moving the pieces around the fortress a hand resting on his chin as he remained silent for the most part until he picked up Lady Luck and set her a few feet back.
“That’s ill advised Alicia Tashigi, you’re best suited on the Lady Luck alongside the others during initial approach. Being at the front of the fleet would be hazardous and ultimately meaningless.”
Nikos spoke keeping his attention on the map but made sure to speak before the Captain could offer a response, seeing little point in an answer to a bad option.
“Deviating from the plan will only create problems, save such energy for the final push.”

Alicia perked her brow as her eyes moved to regard Nikos as he answered for Runali. “Meaningless?” She repeated softly, her tone still calm and gentle. “Forgive me, but taking steps to prevent needless casualties isn’t something I would call meaningless, I’d call it prudence”.

She paused for a moment before adding, “If the front of the fleet is as hazardous as you say, allowing me to defend it surely strengthens our chances, not to mention making the front line less of a death sentence will increase morale in your subordinates” Alicia replied before falling silent once more, content with her response and reasoning. There was a lot on the line in this engagement and the swordswoman would measure every step to ensure they achieved their goal. It felt very similar to Kane’Artem, though in this instance Alicia could see herself as expendable if it assured victory.

Nikos closed his eyes as Alicia spoke but kept his calm demeanor, he remained silent his eyes resting on the pieces as he patiently waited, listening to the Swordswoman’s opinion. Once he confirmed that she had spoken her peace he offered a small nod and moved some of the ship pieces over towards the fortress, making a circular formation around it before he spoke not raising his attention from the map.
“Your reasoning is just and relatively sound,” Nikos said. “What I’d expected from you Tashigi.”
Nikos spoke in a casual tone, and with the same tone he gave to his people and those around him.

“However your prudent steps will only be harmful to our assault. Your actions would only lessen our chances of survival. Your abilities are welcome in this engagement but they serve no purpose in the opening assault. If you are so determined to cleave ships and be useful, you may join the second push, but until then you are to remain in the back with Lady Luck.”
Nikos spoke this moving Lady luck back into the middle of the formation, his eyes glancing up at her.
“Save your energy to keep your friends safe, that’s the best you can do here,” Nikos said before lowering his eyes back to the map. “I can assure you the morale of my men is fine as well, but I thank you for concern.”
Nikos raised his body and looked at the Raven piece bringing a hand to his chin, though he looked back at Alicia figuring she wasn’t finished. He stared at her silently giving his attention in case she wanted to add something else to their discussion.

“Determined to cleave ships? ...No, I am determined to keep the loss of life on our side to a minimum” Alicia replied, closing her eyes for a moment as she released a small sigh, beginning to suspect her intentions were misunderstood by the Raven. “If you’re insistent that I remain on the Lady then I’ll waste no further time trying to convince you otherwise. However I would feel more at ease if you at least discussed your engagement plan with me, with the success at Kane’Artem I may have insight to offer you”. With more time Alicia could have perhaps sent a request home for Feian warships to assist this assault but she doubted they would reach them in time to join the assault now.

“Your good intentions are known and acknowledged Alicia Tashigi, I am aware your ‘cleaving’ is from a desire to protect,” Nikos responded calmly. “I’m merely informing it’s unnecessary during the first half of our assault.”
Raising his body Nikos ran a hand through his hair lifting his gaze to Alicia as she seemed to at the very least understand he was set on her place in this assault. At the mention of Kane’arteum Nikos closed his eyes seeming to take a moment before he spoke looking back at Alicia.
“I appreciate your insight Tashigi and under different circumstances I would take it, but this is not Kane’arteum. I can’t trust what you applied there to be successful here and I do not intend on allowing that risk as well, especially since you are unaware of this particular enemy. ‘May have’ is not good enough here. Please remain on the Lady Luck with Stardusk. You are here to protect your friends, you have the ability to do so, there is no need to unnecessarily complicate such matters. I appreciate your well meant intentions but I have told you and everyone everything that affects you, the rest is our business, please respect that.”
Nikos offered a small nod before turning and walking away from the woman.
“I would also prefer you not at ease, be prepared for the worst possible outcome and act accordingly.”
With that Nikos walked out of the room closing the door behind him.

Rasa rubbed the back of his head as he watched the others file out of the room; he looked over at Alicia a small sigh escaping from him.
“Tashigi…as long as you keep it secret I’d like your input,” Rasa whispered as he stood next to her. “Meet me in the lower decks so I don’t go getting in trouble. I think it’s at least fair you hear the overall plan.”
With that Rasa gave a small nod before turning and leaving the room humming to himself as he swirled his wine.

The swordswoman once again closed her eyes and exhaled a short breath through her nose as Nikos replied and took his leave. There was a lot about this that she didn’t like, being left in the dark being a big part of it. She would have voiced her opinions on this to Runali had Rasa not whispered to her with his offer of more information. Alicia inclined her head towards him respectfully in acknowledgement of his request that the meeting be held in secret, “Thank you, I appreciate transparency even if I do understand Nikos’ hesitation to some degree” she replied softly.

Rasa patiently waited for Alicia, even procuring a chair for her as he waited below deck. Once she appeared he offered a smile before making a motion to the seat. Putting his goblet down on another chair he dug in his pocket and took out a small leather pouch, opening it he poured water on the deck in a horizontal line, taking a few steps back he poured another line before putting the cap back on and setting the pouch down a little bit ahead of the third line. Clapping his hands together Rasa motioned to the first longest line.
“That line is the outer layer, it’s where we’ll be coming in from,” Rasa said before pointing to the second line. “That is the inner line, which is our goal and this…”
Rasa trailed off pointing to the pouch with his cane.
“Is our overall objective the fortress.”

Feeling he had represented the map well enough Rasa walked back over to the farthest line before tapping the outer later with his cane making a motion as he drew invisible circle, both to draw attention and act as representation of their ship.
“If I’m being honest this isn’t really an assault,” Rasa said. “It is but it’s more of a…deceptive assault. In short we have to avoid drawing too much attention in the outer layer. We had numerous ships built to resemble Lady Luck hidden in each of our formations…and let me tell you how fun that was.”
Rasa gave a small shrug at this before pointing to the outer layer.
“It is imperative that we avoid drawing too much attention to ourselves in the outer layer. The fortress won’t be able to recognize us clearly until we reach the inner layer thanks to the cover of night. However they’ll be paying attention so we have to ensure Lady Luck remains hidden away. If they identify us in the outer layer, the mission is failed. We’re posing as a weak assault so the Quill’s don’t feel a need to get involved and they don’t focus fire onto our side. We’ve divided their focus in all direction to ensure survivability.”
Rasa said this his eyes narrowing before he took a step and tapped the inner layer.
“Once in the inner layer things get serious, they’ll be able to identify us and will focus fire. This is where the Vanguard kicks in. Nikos mentioned it earlier remember? The Vanguard’s duty is to…well put simply, destroy ships, stop projectiles and protect Lady Luck in the final approach.”
Rasa motioned to the outer layer.
“We can’t do that in the outer layer due to the cannon fire. The Red Ravens have trapped some of the ammunition, if the wrong thing is cut or touched it’ll crack open and long story short we’re dead, and if too many shots are stopped the Quills step in and…well…that’s bad. Since there’s no way to identify them we need to just avoid until the inner layer.”
Rasa motioned back to the inner layer.
“In the inner layer they don’t have as many tricks; it’s just straight up regular ammunition. So we can act aggressively here and we’ll have too because the other Lady Luck’s will get wiped out soon and all focus will fall on us, by then however…we’ll be too close and they won’t be able to attack the ship anymore.”
Rasa said all this before tapping the pouch.
“Honestly I think you’re insight would be best suited for the Vanguard, Nikos was going to ask you to be a part of it…but since you two got into it a little up there…he probably won’t bring it up again.”
Rasa motioned to the three lines.
“First we lie in wait with our hands near our weapons let the enemy believe it has the upper hand, then once we’re close we show our hand and respond accordingly then we dock.”
Rasa said this before folding his hands behind his back.
“That’s the general plan. Though there are some extra bits courtesy of Nikos’ hand to ensure safety and success but…I want to hear your opinion before mentioning those. If there’s any conflict with said plans I’ll clear it up for you. Oh and keep note that a large part of our assault, the actual assault is lying in wait for the defenses to drop.”

The swordswoman silently and patiently listened as Rasa explained each step, her eyes drawn to each line giving small indicators of understanding as he went through it. It became more clear now why Nikos didn’t want her to defend the front line, more so if the projectiles are trapped to make interception more difficult. When he was finished she turned her attention to him and nodded, “It’s a very well thought out plan” she admitted, having to credit the level of deception often performed by seasoned veterans of battle. Using deception wasn’t a foreign concept to her given a degree of it had been used in the assault on Kane’Artem when they had hid some of their warships to reinforce the escape after securing the prisoners inside.

Her brows furrowed slightly as she looked to Rasa with wary curiosity as she asked her first question. “Those stationed on these… decoy ships. They’ll undoubtedly be killed when we engage the outer layer, I have to stress my discomfort having people suicide themselves in order to keep us safe” she said, folding her arms across her chest as she spoke in a tone conveying concern. True though it may be she didn’t know these people and they had caused them a lot of hassle in recent times, but nevertheless the weight of it would sit heavily on her conscience knowing what was sacrificed for their sake. Of course she was hopeful Rasa had something to ease that worry.

Rasa gave Alicia his full attention and offered a nod at her concerns, the fact she was able to pick up on everything in one explanation was impressive as well. His eyes moved to the outer layer for a moment as she expressed her discomfort. He offered a kind smile to her and his eyes moved back to the layers, for a moment the man was silent closing his eyes and tapping his finger on his cane.
“You’re a kind young lady,” Rasa said before opening his eyes. “I can say you’re not alone in that feeling. Regretfully Ravens are prepared to go into battle dying, every mission we’re prepared for that, no exceptions so talking them out of isn’t really an option.”
Rasa said this before looking over at Alicia, he smiled at her before he started to pace back and forth.
“This stays between us but Nikos actually made a plan to minimize casualties knowing this fact. He hid it well but I think he was offended you thought he didn’t consider the lives of those he once called family,” Rasa said winking at Alicia. “In reality most of these ships are empty.”

Rasa tapped the floor with his cane.
“Nikos ordered me to build as many ships as possible in a day. To make them seem real with as little resources as possible…which was a pain but I realized why he needed them. You see the formation is the way it is because only one of the ships is actually manned, with the minimal amount needed on the ship to make it function. The rest are ships being dragged by a detachable chain. From a distance however they look like real ships but you could push these things into the water. They’re decoy’s for the decoy and if the main ship is destroyed a place to fall back to.”
Rasa grinned at this before coming to a stop and folding his hands behind his back.
“The Clipped flocked to us for this mission because they felt indebted to Nikos, who had not only guided but saved some of their lives and their loved ones. Alicia these Ravens are not here for you guys, they’re not fighting for any of Stardusk. They’re fighting on behalf of us, to bring an end to this. You all honestly have nothing to do with it. That’s also why Nikos didn’t want you in the lead, you would be a reminder of the ones they lost not a beacon of hope to the members. They don’t die for Stardusk…they die for Nikos.”
Rasa said all this his smile slowly forming into a sad one.
“…that’s part of the reason why he refused your input. These lives are for us to bear, not you all. The lives lost here will rest on our actions, our plans, our hopes. You Stardusk are merely here to aid in the final push. So you need not bear the weight of these lives, they do not fight for you, they fight for Nikos and themselves, these are our people. With all that said….”
Rasa offered a smile to Alicia.
“Do you still want to add your input?”
The eccentric man said this staring at the swordswoman, feeling he had gotten his point across but he did seem genuinely interested in her opinion.

As she listened to Rasa she was both relieved and saddened by the situation of the Clipped Ravens, knowing all too well what it felt like to have everything you’ve known threatened by another power. She briefly reflected on the night after the invasion, the thousands of lit candle lamps released into the night sky, each one carrying a written message for their lost loved one. “In that case, we mustn’t fail” Alicia replied firmly, finding new determination in learning that they fought for more than just to clean a mess made within their organisation.

Taking in a deep breath she refocused on the discussion of plan and gave a nod when asked about her input, taking the Saya of her sword to use as her own method of indicating areas and positions. “As you mentioned, we have the cover of night which gets us that much closer. However I might have an idea for an additional hinderance that might increase our chances further”. She motioned to the space between the outer layer and their approaching fleet, drawing a semicircle around their fleet towards the outer layer. “In previous Feian naval warfare, we often produced our own fog to prevent the opposition from securing accurate fire on our ships. Our warriors would strike the surface of the water with heat to produce it, increasing the dispersion field of incoming cannon fire. A similar method could extend the amount of time we have to use the decoys, which means when the Vanguard engages we’ll have more bulk to punch through the second layer with” she brought the tip of her saya back to her feet as she looked to Rasa, “Would that work?” she asked.

Rasa smiled a little seeing the young lady seem to understand the weight they carried. He remained silent as she still chose to add her input, he smiled a little seeing a little bit of Nikos before he looked down at the lines listening as she described a possible tactic. Rasa brought a hand to his chin taking a moment to weigh the pros and cons of the plan. After a moment he straightened up picking up his goblet once more.
“When the Vanguard get to the inner layer they’ll detach the decoy ships and speed past the other ships,” Rasa mumbled.

Taking his cane he tapped the middle of the outer layer mentally measuring the distance.
“We wouldn’t be able to use it from the get go, the dumber we play the less on guard they’ll be…however we could deploy it midway through the assault to give ourselves a little extra time and at that point we can show a little bit of our hand.”
Rasa reached up and rubbed his head.
“…yeah we’d have to use it in the middle. If we used it early they’d just use that light of theirs to destroy us or they’d resort to Observation Haki to target our ships. The Quill’s…hopefully shouldn’t get involved seeing the sudden fog as well.”
Rasa tapped his cheek with his finger holding the cup a small sigh escaping from him.
“It’s risky…really really risky…but hell what do we have to lose besides everything I guess. I’ll discuss it with Nikos,” Rasa said looking over at Alicia. “I doubt he’ll disagree but he’s going to call you a nosy busybody.”
Rasa grinned at Alicia before his expression turned a bit more serious, a strange and sudden shift in the man’s demeanor.
“Before I do so…do you mind my asking why you’re bothering to help? While I appreciate notion out of the goodness of one’s heart…I need more of a reason than that to put my people in more danger.”

Alicia was pleased that he was willing to include her idea, confident that it would benefit their push towards the fortress. She wasn’t sure how many Ravens were able to superheat their weapons to strike the water surface, but she’d be capable of managing the feat alone of necessary, after all the swordswoman seemed to have a degree of affinity with the element of air likely inherited from her father's side. “It seems I’ll owe Nikos another apology then” she replied with a small smile, implying she intended to rectify the unintentional insult at assuming he’d not consider the safety of his people in the assault.

When Rasa became more serious and posed a rather fair question to her she took a moment to contemplate how to respond before she gave a small nod, seeming to be content with how she’d choose to answer it. “The threat to my home and family should be enough to bring me here, but honestly… it is more than that. Many years ago my mother walked the world, able to protect entire nations with just her name alone. She had the respect of her enemies and the admiration of her allies through her actions, not just her strength. She made changes in the world for what she believed was right, preventing wars and sometimes ending them, stopping those who needed to be stopped and liberating those who sought freedom. I aspire to follow that example and hopefully, possess the ability to change the world in the same way”

“The Renegades pose a threat to innocent people everywhere, this cause… ’your cause is one worth fighting for. And even if my captain had chosen not to help you, it’s likely I’d still be standing here. They must be stopped, and together we’ll ensure we do not fail” Alicia finished, content with her answer as she exhaled a short breath before she closed her eyes for a moment, giving a small amused smile before adding. “It is strange to be helping those who might eventually try to kill me… but doing what is right doesn’t always place us in the most opportune circumstances”.

Rasa listened to Alicia offering a small nod as she explained her reason for aiding in their assault, to bring change to the world as her mother had done. These were the actions and desires of a good person, someone he expected would aid in their cause and due to that seemingly pure hearted desire would more than likely stay by their side so long as their goals align. From that standpoint there was little point not to accept the aid of Alicia, and Rasa’s stern expression faded the smile returning to his face.
“Hm I like that reason,” Rasa said before taking a sip from his goblet. “I’m not the kind that likes to make things difficult. So I like answers like that.”

Rasa setting his goblet down took a seat in the chair, setting his cane in his lap he leaned back and folded his hands together. His smile faded however and his eyebrows drew down slightly as concern painted over his features.
“…I don’t think the soldiers will accept that reason though,” Rasa said. “To them this fight is personal. Every soldier has lost something to Ravens, have been unable to protect what they held dear and fight together to ensure that doesn’t happen to another. On that front the intentions are the same, ridding this world of the evil that the Renegades can do but the reasoning is different.”
Rasa closed his eyes and with a heavy sigh turned his head to the ceiling.
“Most of soldiers will think your reason is cheap. More focused on your own beliefs than theirs. The navy would do the same thing for the same reason, innocents being involved they’d step in. There’s plenty who would use your reasons to help, why listen to the advice of someone who merely seeks to aid off their own desires.”
Rasa lowered his head back to Alicia and leaned forward a bit.
“I think your reason is a good one, and your desire to aid us is appreciated especially with us once being your enemy and as you say more than likely returning to it. The soldiers however more than likely won’t use your strategy for a reason like that. It feels like something you’d offer to any person in danger, as if their issues is just another problem that needs to be solved in the world, it’d be an insult to accept your help.”
Rasa leaned back a bit crossing one leg over the other, a small laugh escaping from him.
“They can be a pain to deal with but they feel very strongly about this matter and they won’t make exceptions. In their eyes all you’ve lost Stardusk is time and maybe a little sleep at night. You still have everything you care for, if you go home your family and home will be there, and your friends remain by your side. They need…more than that to accept your words. They need to feel you’re on the same level with them. Otherwise your help will be ignored. Hell I’m sure if you tried that fog thing they’d shoot themselves in the skull just to avoid your assistance, that’s what we’re dealing with.”
Rasa lifted his goblet and peered inside at the liquid.
“They’ve been wronged for many years. Can you provide something more than that in your desire to help them?”

Alicia released a small sigh as she too sat herself down in a seat opposite the older man, sitting neatly with her sword rested across her lap. “So it would seem I must be forthcoming with the more personal nature of this venture” she said partly to herself as she looked down upon the Feian pattern embedded into the black saya of Shusui, running her fingers along the finely cut silver engravings for a moment before looking towards Rasa again, “Very well then”.

She considered how to explain it before thinking maybe it was better to simply start at the beginning. “I’ve had the fortune of living through a rather privileged upbringing, given who my parents were. I’ve never known poverty or the struggle and worry of where my next meal would come from, but what many don’t understand is what it costs to bare my name, the name Tashigi” she inhaled and corrected herself in her seat a little before continuing. “During the first invasion of Yula Fei, I lost my childhood friends upon the beaches of Hurasai. Being a closed off, reclusive and peaceful nation we lacked much of a military which meant we were the last line of defence at that time”.

“A good friend of mine gave his life to save mine as the invasion fleet bombarded the beaches before the arrival of their reinforcement. Of course we succeeded, but at the time it didn’t feel much like a victory to me. The second invasion was no better, this time it cost me my father who agreed to engage a duel if his opponent agreed to use his power to cull the invasion infantry which was starting to gain it’s momentum against our own. Odin almost killed my sister, my mother… well you already know her story”.

Alicia leaned forwards a little as she exhaled a long sigh. “As the years go by I find myself losing more and more of the ones I love and it starts to make me wonder how long it might be before I lose someone else… again. Now you could argue that if I hung up my sword and looked for a quieter life that I might avoid such a fate, but ultimately it would never end there. The name Tashigi incites challenge, Odin was a good enough example of that and I can already tell you he wasn’t the first or the last”.

“Now here we are readying to assault a fortress and back home I have two sisters, one of blood and one not whose lives are threatened by a power whom have already gone above and beyond to prove they can get close to the ones we care about. So you see it’s not what they have taken from me, but what they will if we fail. I cannot… will not let them take them from me, Rasa I would see this world burn to keep them out of harm’s way” as Alicia spoke she hadn’t realised how tightly she was gripping her sword, her knuckles white as her hands clenched around the saya of her sword.

Rasa listened intently to Alicia, his mouth forming into a thin line as she explained to him the more personal reason for her venture. He occasionally nodded to show he was listening as some of what she had told him was in their records. The first battle was hard to get information on but the second they had a bevy of information, they knew the cost that came with that victory and Rasa closed his eyes as she spoke the name of one of them. Rasa opened his eyes accustomed to the costs of war, and that even walking away victorious the feeling was sometimes hollow. This battle may be one of those situations and it was a concern that plagued his mind and the others.

Rasa made sure to give Alicia his attention to the end, he reached a hand out but stopped remembering distance. Instead he cleared his throat and gave her a moment, what she said was clearly hard on her, and he could understand her feelings on the matter, more than he cared to admit. Taking a moment Rasa took a few sips from his goblet, replaying her words in her head a few times, his brows furrowed slightly as he sat silently in thought.
“To protect what remains…some of that would resonate with the soldiers,” Rasa said with a small nod.
He went silent again his eyes shutting as there was unfortunately a painful truth he was well aware of.
“What you will lose is insufficient,” Rasa said staring at his goblet. “Why would I care what you want to protect when you’ve taken away what I wanted to keep safe.”
Rasa didn’t seem to be speaking to Alicia, more reciting the words of someone else.
“… most of the soldiers won’t accept that,” Rasa said raising his head. “Because all of Stardusk are in the same position. Runali Lev, Luro Makachi, Jack Kunal, Mikchail Arcadius, Sara Masuma, Kai Keelson, Zilia Vilimar, Raymond Skalter, Nolan Fischer, Marcos Abeille. Their names are a constant curse of being hunted, even if they were to cease being pirates and return to their normal lives the Renegades would never cease the end of their lives and the ones they care for….and I’m sure they’ve all lost people as well.”
Rasa set his goblet down folding his hands back in his lap.
“They will question what makes what you protect more precious than there’s and that your reason is the same as everyone else here. So where’s the significance in heeding the advice of someone, the guidance of another here with a reason akin to all the others. Your word carries about that much weight.”
Rasa brought his hand to his chin his eyes narrowing.
“The soldiers view you as an outsider and cling to their beliefs with all their strength. Willing to die for them if need be. I’m sure you know that feeling well, consider that a bit in your answer.”

“I suppose the truth is there is no difference between me and them, or any of us for that matter. We are all protecting something, all fighting for someone or something we value closely. Whether it’s someone we’ve lost or stand to lose” she sighed, “Except instead of heading home to ensure my family is safe, I’m here trying to make sure we have every possible advantage so that we won’t lose, losing isn’t an option for any of us” she simply shrugged as her grip loosened on her sword. “In this goal there is nothing special that distinguishes me from the next person out there, only our beliefs differ”. She gave a small smile and a soft exhale through her nose to accompany it, “Who am I to ask anything of them when they’re facing the same situation as we are. Would it be too much for me to ask for a little faith? … perhaps so” she fell silent for a moment before adding, “Hopefully through my actions I can earn it from them when we reach the critical moment, after all actions speak louder than words, no?”.

Rasa rubbed his chin as Alicia spoke, offering a small nod as she mentioned the limited differences between them, a small smile resting on his face as she continued, speaking of the meaning of actions. That was one of the many problems that came with her offer of help, and something that he was sure Nikos considered. He sighed a little and leaned back in his chair, she was right in many ways, and wrong in others. Finding a ‘correct’ answer in all of this was rather difficult.
“I believe that lack of difference in current circumstances is why they are willing to fight alongside you,” Rasa said with a small nod. “We have a similar enemy, and things to protect so they put that hate aside, that heavy feeling in their chests to fight side by side.”
Rasa gave a few nods at this.
“However they do need more reason than that to follow the advice of another. There has to be a deeper understanding of some sorts. They didn’t exactly listen to me either, but sailing with them, losing with them, my words carries just a little extra weight now.”

Rasa squeezed the bridge of his nose at the memory, but he smiled a little remembering the fun times he had with the others, even if they were rude at first.
“Here sadly those words are not the case,” Rasa said lowering his hands. “Actions aren’t enough. We are those who live by the Code. By the code our actions are guided. To act first and think of the code second is the act of a Renegade.”
Rasa said this with a small nod.
“Trying to show your meanings through actions will only create more distance,” Rasa said with a small nod. “They may stop their ships if you were to act in that moment.”
Rasa leaned forward and tapped his cane on the ground.
“Your words must carry more weight than your actions, and your actions must reflect your words. To act in any matter shows no respect for the code, and those who cannot respect the code may as well have no tongue. To offer guidance but not respect what guides them is meaningless.”
Rasa grinned a bit at Alicia and rubbed the side of his head.
“They have no reason to offer you their faith. Not the smallest of reasons. They gave their faith once already…and it cost them dearly. They require much more reason to put their trust in your words and actions than that. Those wounds are still fresh after all.”
Rasa lowered his hand and folded his hands in his laps.
“…hmmm though I do have a question. Do you believe any of what I said is real and not some ploy to learn more?”
Rasa spoke this with the same casual expression but judging by the silence following it he seemed intent on an answer.

“It crossed my mind, which is why in this entire conversation I have only mentioned your name once. It wasn’t a dramatic ending statement, it was a warning meant for you when this is all over. If my family are threatened by your people, if they are in any way harmed. I’ll be coming for every last one of you” she gave a soft smile after she spoke. “As for learning more, I’m not opposed to potential enemies knowing more about why I do the things that I do… when I confront an opponent I like them to at least know why they’re standing in front of me and who it is they have chosen to face”.

A grin found its way onto Rasa’s face and he lifted his goblet up a laugh escaping from him, he seemed beyond ecstatic and it took a moment for his laughter to fade before he looked back at Alicia.
“Gahaha scary scary. I like that answer,” Rasa said before taking a long drink from his cup.
He chuckled a bit but still leaned back in his chair swirling the liquid in his cup with a grin.
“That’s why I enjoy you guys, so full of energy. Still if you don’t mind then just be honest in the first place, it’d save so much time.”
Rasa shrugged before a content sigh escaped from him and he folded one leg over the other.
“Still is that your answer? If you suspected it then do you believe what I told you is a lie? A clear concise response would be appreciated.”
Rasa rested his cheek on his fist arching his brows a bit.
“It is my last question after all so humor me.”

Alicia’s smile remained as Rasa laughed and gave his response. Despite the subject and despite their circumstances she couldn’t say she didn’t enjoy the company, the conversation proving quite stimulating thus far. When he posed his question again she gently shook her head, “I don’t believe what you’ve told me is a lie, it feels too… how you say, genuine. It makes too much sense to me to believe otherwise. Then again we’ve not long known each other at face value and you could be quite an articulate orchestrator of lies. You were a Quill after all… “ Alicia appeared to be partly talking out loud to herself as she spoke, observing him for a moment before giving a light shrug, “No, I believe you are telling the truth”.

“Correct Alicia Tashigi!” Rasa exclaimed holding his goblet into the air. “What I’ve told you is actually true.”
Rasa smiled and crossed his arms over his chest, giving a small nod to the woman. What an interesting bunch, he felt a little guilty that Nikos and Mia got to interact with them long before he did. He sighed a bit knowing if he didn’t die tonight he’d just get sent away. Then it was back to business.
“If I was my old self I would have lied, but what’s the point in asking for a bit of trust if you can’t show any yourself.”
“My sentiments exactly.”
Rasa’s whole body twitched and froze up, his eyes going wide before they slowly moved to the door.
Nikos stood at it closing the door behind him with a rather serene expression on his face.
“N-Nikos…w-what’re you doing here my friend?”
“Mia wants a meeting so I had to come find you.”
Nikos took a few steps forward his eyes moving to the makeshift plans on the floor before his eyes moved to Rasa.
“…I was flirting with her.”
Nikos’ eyes narrowed slightly and Rasa hung his head with a sigh.
“Fine I’ll tell you.”
Rasa gave a very brief overview of the two’s conversation making sure to leave out anything particular sensitive but still explain Alicia’s strategy pointing to the diagram below as he did so. Nikos kept his attention focused on his comrade offering little more than a nod in Alicia’s direction to confirm that he was acknowledging her existence.
“That’s about it.”
Nikos removed the pince-nez from his face and squeezed the bridge of his nose, a small sigh escaping from him.
“How are you this much of a headache?”
“I’m your friend, friends always give each other headaches.”
“Remind me to give you one later with my blade,” Nikos said putting his glasses back on. “That aside.”
Nikos looked over at Alicia for a moment; he seemed to be searching for the right words as he stared at her.
“I don’t need to know your reason but if you’re that determined to step in I have to request you not feel guilt for those who die in battle today. You may lament their deaths as fellow living creatures as any person would, but to feel sorry for the reason of their deaths is an insult…if you can do that I’d be willing to hear you out.”
Nikos closed his eyes.
“Please keep your answer somewhat concise as I am in a bit of a hurry and rather not have Mia roaming Lady Luck.”
“Huh but I already-”
Nikos glance at the man stopped him from talking, though he did puff his cheeks out in rebellion as Nikos gave his attention back to Alicia.

Alicia raised an eyebrow at Rasa when his expression suddenly changed before casting her look over her shoulder towards the door, her other eyebrow raising at the realisation that had been caught, although Rasa’s attempts to conceal their meeting amused her for a moment and more so at the small exchange between the two of them. When Nikos made his request she inclined her head respectfully, “Rasa has kindly given me clarity on the motivations behind why your people fight, so with that in mind I’ll withhold any guilt or pity I might have otherwise felt” she replied. “Additionally, I’d like to apologise for earlier. It wasn’t my intention to imply you weren’t considering the safety of your subordinates, I meant well”.

Nikos glanced over at Rasa seemingly surprised that the man had taken the time to explain such things to Alicia, though he didn’t seem pleased they had the conversation at all. He glanced back at Alicia at her response and took out a small handkerchief at her apology. Wiping off his pince-nez he responded to her.
“We come from two different worlds and understand very little about each other; a few harsh comments are expected. It wasn’t my intention to demean your contribution either; I had my reasons as well so I also offer my apologies.”
Nikos put his glasses back on only for his eye to twitch seeing the grin on Rasa’s face, he gave a small nod motioning to the two of them.
“This…this is good. This is how the healing starts,” Rasa said. “See how nice it is when we all get along.”
“You’re not out of trouble,” Nikos said with a shake of his head.

Nikos took a few steps forward grabbing the container on the ground before placing it in the middle of the outer layer, digging in his pocket he pulled out a small bornw pouch before digging into it.
“Your idea of creating fog is useful but we can’t use it in the outer layer,” Nikos said. “Mainly because this will happen.”
Nikos tossed a mess of coins onto the ground some of them hitting the container in the process.
“They have ammunition that once struck expands over a wide area, if we conceal our ships they’ll rain hellfire among other things over the sea which will put us more at risk. By having them individually target ships and not revealing that we know their trap we can avoid extra casualties. That and if they have to try to hard the Quill’s will get involved sooner.”
Nikos walked over and started to pick up his coins, but as he did so he placed the container in the inner layer.
“However…they don’t have that type of ammunition protecting the inner layer and the Vanguard ships are going to pull ahead anyway. Since the main objective is to protect Lady Luck, we can use the fog there to not only conceal our quickened approach after the detachment but make sure some of those shots miss the ship. It would allow those in front more time to deal with the ships and any shots that have a possibility of hitting the ship.”
Nikos dropped all the coins back into the pouch.
“I had been considering additional options for our final approach, you’ve saved me a lot of time in that regard, so I thank you Tashigi,” Nikos said.
“What about the troops though?”
“The soldiers are adults who can think for themselves, they’re not going to randomly listen to the advice of someone especially a former enemy that they barely know, no matter their reputation or title,” Nikos said. “That’s just common sense…this isn’t some weird fairy tale.”
Rasa brought a hand to his head realizing they were back at square one.
“However…Alicia Tashigi has made it abundantly clear that she will feel no guilt towards the losses incurred due to their fighting. If I inform them of that fact it will show a general understanding of the cause they fight for. That will be enough for them to at least listen.”
Nikos looked back at Alicia.
“I can’t promise they’ll use the fog but that’s the best we can do here. Some may willingly use the tactic but that’ll be at their own discretion and we just have to respect that. At the very least I’ll inform the men that will be riding alongside Stardusk to keep an open mind if you’d like to use it, but the others will have to decide for themselves, which I think is for the best.”
Rasa crossed his arms but gave a small nod as Nikos returned his pouch to his side.
“You can guess where we’ll be, don’t be late,” Nikos said turning and walking away from the two. “If you’re late I’ll let Mia come next time.”
Rasa smiled a little as the young man walked away.
“…Hah…I’m really glad Nikos is here to do all the hard work,” Rasa said standing up. “If that works for you Alicia then let’s get out there and make some good old fashioned history.”

Alicia respectfully inclined her head once Nikos finished, offering a small smile as thanks for his inclusion of her suggestion. She didn’t add anything else to the discussion as he took his leave, turning to Rasa and giving a single nod. “We’ll be ready” she replied simply before following them both out of the room, content with the knowledge of how the meeting went. Additionally she had some things to think about after this, although mostly to do with how she might look to deal with their temporary allies when and if they come after them again. She’d seen what some of them could do and it would be foolish to think dealing with them as enemies long term would be simple, however she would not waver from her previous comment to Rasa, which would mean she’d have to endeavor to overcome herself once more.


*Insert quip here*
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
Writing Levels
Elementary, Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Both are fine. I tend to be aggressive more though.
Favorite Genres
Modern Fantasy, Historical, Fantasy, adventure, romance, anime, action, etc.
Genre You DON'T Like
Depends on the story, not all that picky about it.

Luro stared up at the fortress and took a deep breath in to calm himself down, now wasn’t the time to get lost in his thoughts. He was going with Mia so he had to start moving, just as he was about to turn he froze as a pair of eyes rested on him. Something screamed inside of his chest not to look but the warning came a moment to late. His eyes rested on Luro, a small smile on the man’s face as he stood a few feet away, hands folded behind his back. His eyes glanced at the others and seeing no one paying attention to him gave him all the answers he needed. He focused his gaze back on the other him only to see the imposter's hand grip his face. Peering at the smiling face between the fingers he froze in place, his body rigid as he screamed in his head to step away.
You’re not real. You’re not real. “You’re not real.”
“You said that last one out loud buddy.”
Luro’s eyes twitched as Luro spoke to him, his fingers were cold and he sang such a gentle song with his eyes, he was getting pulled in again. This was real. His mind was starting to fog over, his vision slowly breaking apart.
Mia pushed Luro and he turned to face her, beads of sweat pouring down his face as he took a few deep breaths slowly straightening up as he turned to fully face the woman who stared at him with an arched gaze.
“You okay?”
“Ah…y-yeah…just zoned out a little,” Luro said rubbing the back of his head. "Thanks..."
“Right...anyway the others have already left we should go.”
“Right…right…let’s go.”

Once inside Luro was surprised by how massive the actual Fortress was, there were countless paths, rows of barracks and if he was looking closer a few stores. He saw crowds of Ravens running around below his eyes narrowing as it really did seem like a town, even if it was in chaos.
Mia had led them up a ladder and the two of them were moving on one of the upper paths, which circled all the way around the fortress, there were multiple higher paths the two of them stopping whenever Ravens would run on one of the opposing ones. The place seemed like a maze when he took a good look, and though he could see the other side of the fortress there were a multitude of structures along the way, along with a few towers in the center.
“This place really is like a town…” Luro said.
“People live here for the whole year, so it has everything you would need to survive.”
“How do they get goods in?”
“The Quill’s bring them in,” Mia said. “We considered trying that option as an approach…but there’s a very specific way of approaching, and we’d not only need the ship itself, but the signal, the code to inform when we were close, and the power of the Quill. On top of that it’s normally only three ships at a time.”
“Which if they found us out….”
“Yeah that’d be the end of it right there. If it wasn’t one specific Quill we more than likely would have used that option…oh speaking of which we should avoid that Quill as well. She’s not fun to deal with.”
“Got it.”

The two made their way down a long corridor after making their way inside the fortress, Mia taking the lead since she had memorized the map, making a left during one of the forks. Luro looked out the windows of the Fortress to the outside, smiling a little as he noticed a few of the others making their way through. However when Mia was about to make a right Luro grabbed her wrist stopping her.
“There are people that way,” Luro said.
“Huh? No there’s not, that way should be clear, the exit’s the other way.”
Luro just stared at her which caused Mia to close her eyes and take a moment, she opened her eyes immediately after and leaned against the wall motioning for Luro to do the same. A few Renegades ran from the right path towards the left.
“They must have changed patrols…that’s going to be a pain,” Mia said before looking back at Luro. “Good catch, I had to look for them.”
“I’m used to it,” Luro said giving a small nod. “When you live in the forest you become prey pretty quickly if you don’t pay attention.”
The two continued down the right path as Mia reminded Luro that they were taking out the reflector up top, the item itself was relatively powerful as it could set ships aflame as it passed over them. A row of ships would be made useless in one sweep, but apparently whatever they used to make the light dangerous was hard to obtain so it was only used if need be. Thankfully they only used it on them at the last minute but the reinforcements would get wiped out by that light if they allowed it to remain active.

“So…Mia do you hate me.”
Mia turned to Luro as they made their way back outside, she arched a brow at the man as he took the rifle off his back seeing they were getting close.
“That’s…sudden,” Mia responded.
“Haha well it’s been on my mind, I decided to just put it out there.”
“Well let's I hate you for killing my friend and Captain…” Mia said bringing a hand to her chin. “That’s a tough one.”
Luro’s shoulders slumped a bit and Mia smiled before punching him in his shoulder.
“Calm down. I can’t say I forgive you but I don’t hate you. Besides Lina did what she believed was best, I have no right to judge her decision like that, not as her friend. I mean I did almost kill you in Gavera but…I’m kind of glad I didn’t. However if you really wanna make it up to me…”
Luro blinked a few times before Mia slammed her fist into his face sending him stumbling back into the wall as red splattered onto the stone floor, Luro held his nose as Mia shook off her hand with a small laugh.
“There…now we’re even,” Mia said. “I’ll apologize to Lina when I die, that one was for me. Now come on I’m sure that place is guarded so it’s going to get rough.”
Luro gave a small nod and after fixing his nose sniffed a few times before following after Mia.

When the two made it to the tower Mia rested on her knee next to Luro and drew her weapons seeing the amount of Renegades standing guard, the two stared at the scene from one of the roofs Mia taking a mental count of how many they had to tear through. Her eyes narrowed not pleased with how many had gathered in such a short amount of time, her gaze moved to the top of the tower at the mirror above. The mirror was protected by some manner of glass, if she had to guess they were covered in Armament so shooting at it was meaningless.
“They must have gathered their troops and moved them to protect key areas,” Mia said standing up. “I’m guessing this one was close to some barracks. We got unlucky.”
“So…about a hundred?” Luro said looking over at Mia.
“There’s over a hundred there Luro.”
“No I’m asking how many you intend on taking down.”
Mia chuckled a little looking into the distance to see more Renegades were organizing on the other side.
“We don’t have time to deal with them and take out the tower. Reinforcements will come and I’m pretty sure the Quill’s will check this area. We don’t have too much time.”
Luro looked up at the tower than over at Mia before his gaze fell to the troops below.
“…then you head up there and take care of it,” Luro said climbing to his feet. “I’ll be a distraction.”
Mia glanced over at him and opened her mouth to say something but staring at his tense expression she just turned her attention forward again.
“…I can disable it in seven minutes, just last that long,” Mia said.
“No promises,” Luro said hopping down.

Luro walked towards the group resting his rifle on his shoulder, the Renegades immediately drew their weapons upon seeing him and Luro glanced to his right seeing Mia climbing along the side of the tower, the Renegades attention was on him so she’d be able to get in easily enough. Luro stared at the hooded figures in front of him and rubbed the back of his head wondering what exactly he was thinking.
“Well may as well see if this works,” Luro said clicking a button on his rifle. “Worst case it backfires and I die no big deal.”
Mia reached the top of the tower and walked over to the rotating mirror tapping it with her weapon. Smiling armament surrounded the wheel in her hand before she moved her arm in a small arc. Putting her weapons back on her waist she watched as the mirror cracked and fell apart. Raising her foot she crushed a few of the pieces with her boot before turning. She started to make her way down to help Luro when a bright light glowed from below. A moment later a loud noise filled the area, fire exploding up from below.
Mia’s eyes widened and she ran over to the window, a torrent of fire filled the area slowly rotating until a tornado of flames appeared directly in front of the tower. Mia stared wide eyed as the flames drew in everything around them, including the Renegades below, they screamed as they were pulled into the fire, flames engulfing them as they struggled trying to escape the flaming death trap. The glass seemed to glow for a moment before it bursts causing Mia to take a step back. Stabbing her wheels into the ground she closed her eye as bits of flames danced in front of her, holding on for dear life trying to keep herself from being pulled into destructive force with the others. The tornado eventually dissipated Mia pulling her weapon out of the ground as she walked to the edge, peering down at the floating embers below for any sign of Luro.
The entire area was covered in a spiral of scorch marks, almost everything around melted or scarred by the flames, save a lone man who stood in the center of the spiral. Luro stood in 'eye' of the circle trying to brush the flames off his arms and legs not aware of the fact the back of his hair was on fire.
Mia hopped down and unscrewed something off her leather pouch before hurling water onto Luro putting out most of the flames, she licked her fingers putting out the fire in his hair before putting the pouch away.
“T-thanks,” Luro said. “All I carry is rum and I learned the hard way that makes it worse.”
“S’fine…but you wanna explain what that was?” Mia said motioning to the black marks on the ground.
“I could but that was kinda big wasn’t it?” Luro said. “Won’t they come after seeing that?”
“That is true…all right explain it later.”
“Sure…if I can. That was not what I intended to do,” Luro said turning and following after Mia.
“Well if we run into a Quill do it again.”
"I uh...probably won't survive if it happens again."
"I'm counting you."

Zilia peered around the corner Kara peeking out from over her as a group of Renegades ran past them. The two had been assigned to deal with the harpoons which were controlled by a mechanism inside the fortress. Since Kara didn’t want to be seen and Zilia had little desire to get into a fight with half a city the two made quick progress through the fortress. Eventually the two came upon a long corridor with multiple paths, Kara walked ahead leading them through the winding insides until they came to a wooden door at the end of a long hall. Kara put a finger to her lips at Zilia and taking a step back kicked the door causing it to fly into the room taking out one of the Renegades inside, the two women rushed in, Zilia knocking one of the Renegades into the wall as he reached for his pistol with Kara quickly dispatching the two on the other side.

Kara walked up to what looked like a pulley, her eyes moving to a stack of large harpoon’s in the corner, which were being periodically loaded into a small chamber above them. Her eyes followed the turning gears until her eyes rested on a large mechanism at the bottom, taking out her dagger she stabbed it between the gears, stopping the mechanism and ripped out the gear.
“Now to make sure they can’t use it again,” Kara said digging into her pocket.
She held the small custom explosive towards Zilia to indicate she was going to use it which caused the doctor to leave the room, Kara lit the fuse on the small ball before dropping it into a small hole. Turning she ran out of the room as the explosive detonated, fire pouring through the pipes running every which way. Kara continued to run as the fire burst out of the room towards the two, Zilia quickly chasing after Kara the duo trying to ignore the fire biting at their heels as they ran. Both dived out of the long hallway the fire bursting past them and burning the Renegades unfortunate enough to check the noise.
“You could have warned that was going to happen!”
“I didn’t expect that,” Kara said standing up and brushing off her outfit. “I guess the pipes were connected to a few other things…more than likely explosive.”
Zilia shook her head and made her way out of the fortress, they had to regroup and thanks to that explosion a Quill was probably on the way.

Once the two were outside Zilia turned to see a large red tornado in the distance, she blinked a few times seeing swirling fire on the other side of the fortress her eyes narrowing a bit. Her eyes traced over seeing that Stardusk were making the presences known everywhere. That brought her a bit of comfort; the Quill’s would probably check the other ones first before coming to see hers. Just as she was starting to walk away she quickly spun catching Kara’s wrist, the woman's dagger inches from her face. Kara stared at her with a narrowed look, Zilia returning the stare before she released her the two taking a step away from each other.
“…I doubted that would work.”
“Pretty sure your boss told you not to attack us.”
“I knew you’d stop me,” Kara said putting the dagger away. "I may still be a little upset at you. I apologize for that, my body acted before my mind could stop it, won't happen again."
Zilia shook her head lowering her notebook, just as she was about to turn however Kara spoke to her.
“Why do you do it?”
Zilia paused and glanced back at Kara, her feet were planted firmly on the ground as if she was confronting a force large than she was. Her hands gripping the bottoms of her dress and something desperate in her stare.
“The world is still gray…so why?”
Zilia returned the woman’s look for longer than she liked before she wrote in her notebook and held it out towards her.
“Someone has too.”
“This goes beyond our oath Zilia…I can understand why you’d save them. My friends aren’t exactly on the right side of things either but I wouldn’t hesitate to treat them…you know what I mean.”
Zilia averted her eyes from Kara turning her notebook back towards herself, she started to write in it again but paused the moment she touched the paper. Her mouth twitched to the side and instead flipped through the notebook, back towards the beginning. She showed Kara the page, watching as she took a few steps forward to read the small writing.
Kara stared at the page for a long time, her shoulders slowly relaxing as her eyes moved over the passage, Zilia turned the notebook back around before she had a chance to finish reading.
“I’m a simple person, there’s not much to me. I just do what I can when I can. The state of the world isn’t my concern. My job is to ensure that the people in front of me are okay.
With that Zilia turned around and Kara watched her back for a moment as she walked away from her, a small smile forming on her face as she followed after Zilia.
“It’s a little annoying we actually have something in common…but I’m glad it’s that.”


*Insert quip here*
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
Writing Levels
Elementary, Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Both are fine. I tend to be aggressive more though.
Favorite Genres
Modern Fantasy, Historical, Fantasy, adventure, romance, anime, action, etc.
Genre You DON'T Like
Depends on the story, not all that picky about it.

Also Rasa yayyy...​

Rasa watched as the cannons fell, explosions formed from the inside of the fortress and fire filled the confines of the structure flaring up towards the sky. He grinned seeing that bothersome light was gone as well, what was once a mighty bastion of the Renegades was now little more than a broken toy and it brought no end of joy to Rasa as he watched the fortress fall apart with each passing minute. Turning Rasa picked up a small explosive and lighting it hurled it high into the air, shortly after a bright red explosion filled the skies and Rasa moved his hand over his eyes as numerous ships suddenly appeared on the horizon. Laughter slowly escaped from the man as he watched his forces sail towards the fortress at full speed.
“There’s the reinforcements…they did it. Not that I had any doubts of course,” Rasa said turning back around. “Good job guys.”
His eyebrows arched as he picked up footsteps as multiple Renegades flowed into the docks. Rasa set his cane against his body and start counting the heads of all who appeared, mouthing the number as more appeared.
He knew they were here to stop his troops from approaching but they’d probably destroy Stardusk’s ship in the process.
“Okay so…I’m going to give you a chance to walk away! I know you won’t but-”
Rasa stopped as five Renegades sprinted forward, the man sighed and dipping his fingers into his goblet flicked the liquid at them. The moment the small droplet’s collided with the Renegades their bodies went flying backwards, Rasa’s clothing fluttering as the five slammed into the distance fortress with a loud crash, their bodies going still as their fell forward, what remained of them lying contorted on the ground.
“I wasn’t finished talking,” Rasa said sighing. “Fine I’ll keep it simple.”
Rasa grinned at the troops as his ships loomed behind him, Clipped hopping off the ships in droves.
“Step forward and die.”

Luro and Mia stood in front of a large steel door with a large Raven painted red across it. Mia stared up at the door as Luro turned to the others, raising a hand to his crew and the Prophets as they caught up. Minus a few scorch marks on his clothes the shipwright seemed no worse for wear. His gaze move to Zilia who was brushing dust off her outfit, which had a few rips in the cloak attached to her back, Kara had a few rips in her wimple and dress but the two seemed relatively fine.
“I’m guessing you guys didn’t come across any Quills?” Luro asked.
Nikos shook his head as his eyes went up to the door.
“No we didn’t…which means they’re probably in there. Which was a possibility, but certainly not the worst one. They’ve played themselves in a corner, our reinforcements are filling in the fortress and will catch up with us and we’re all together.”
Mia placed a hand on the door noticing it wasn’t locked, that more than likely meant the leader was expecting them.
“Well an animal is most dangerous when it’s cornered,” Mia said.
Her tone was a bit more serious than usual, her hand tracing over the metal of the door.
“…that’s why you should always watch your back! Renegades now!”
Mia turned and pointed at Stardusk, Luro’s eyes widened and he reached for his rifle every Prophet going for their weapons as Mia stared at the group, her mouth a thin line as she stared at the group with a piercing glare.
What seemed like a full minute passed before Mia’s twitched, a chortle escaping from her before she moved her hand over her mouth and turned her head to try and contain her laughter. Luro slowly straightened his body as Mia waved her hand at them.
“I-I’m just kidding…oh…oh man the looks on your faces,” Mia said leaning forward and holding her stomach her laugher fully escaping from her.
“Seriously! I almost stabbed you!” Nikos exclaimed.
“I’m sorry I’m sorry it’s just…when Sara went ‘Yours, your leader’ back on the ship I just…I just had to take advantage of it. I couldn’t pass it up. I mean come on could you imagine if we had a trap like that waiting here, that would be so bad. ”
“That’s a terrible joke,” Nikos said shaking his head at her.
He tried to ignore Kaim’s laughter behind him the man trying to hold it in knowing Nikos was mad.
“Well sorry for trying to lighten the mood a little,” Mia said wiping a tear from her eye. “We’re not trusted anyway, what’s the harm in a little fun? We lose nothing and we can take advantage of a bad situation.”
“You almost lost your life!”
Nikos squeezed the bridge of his nose.
“…I have new respect for Lina, putting up with your antics for all these years.”
“Oh if you thought this was bad you should’ve seen when I-”
“Could we…just go in,” Luro said pointing at the door. “The Leader is on the other side of the door right?”
Mia looked over at Luro, his expression seemed normal but his clenched knuckles revealed his real emotions. The woman gave a small understanding nod to him before looking back at the group.
“All right fun moment over,” Mia said waving her hand in front of her face. “Are you relaxed? More tense? Either is good cause the guy we’re looking for is on the other side of the door if our reports are correct also it…kind of is a giant door and bad people are normally behind giant fancy doors ever been to a noble’s home?”
“Mia,” Nikos said narrowing his eyes at her.
“Right right is everyone ready?”
The Prophet’s nodded and Luro’s hand moved to the strap around his rifle as he offered a nod.
Zilia took a small step forward as her answer Mia looking over at everyone else.

Much like the others in the crew, Runali wasn’t too much worse for wear. If anything, she was tired from the sprint through the island- but that was something easy to recover from. The idea of getting through the island as quick as possible was important, so when they all managed to reconvene together she gave an affirmative nod. Like everyone else, Runali examined the door with the raven symbol and rubbed her cheek. “You guys… are aware ravens are black, correct?” She still wasn’t over the ‘red’ motifs and themes. “Bah… this silly organization doesn’t deserve to be ravens. More like seagulls. Those birds are the most annoying-” In the midst of Mia’s ‘attack’ Runali was mumbling more to herself about annoying birds she had seen and… missed the sudden threat. Well, she saw it, but she didn’t react in kind, only raising a brow and looking at the door again. “Careful Mia, people are a bit jumpy in dangerous situations. Don’t wanna lose your head by the wrong person and all.” She chuckled though and pushed forward through the group. “I think more tense though. It’s not the greatest of situations to play and Nikos doesn’t have the best sense of humor as it is.”

Once more Mia stalled with questions and annoyed Nikos, so when asked if they were ready for what was up ahead, Runali moved towards the door and pushed it open. “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

Nikos was just about to explain why the Ravens were red when Kaim slammed a hand on his shoulder casing the man to pause.
“Please don’t tell her that history, you already made us sit through it,” Kaim said.
Nikos eyes narrowed at the man but he took a step forward figuring there was little point in explaining to Stardusk, especially if they were about to be destroyed.
Mia moved her hands behind her head glancing towards the door as Runali walked towards it.
“A little danger is good for you…it helps you grow. Let’s see what kind is waiting ahead,” the woman said following behind the Captain.

The door opened to a large circular area that seemed like a half finished arena from first glance. Luro looked down as his boots crunched in red sand, his eyes narrowing a bit as he raised his gaze up again looking for any signs of the leader.
There were rows of seats a few feet off the ground on the right and left of the group, though they didn’t circle completely around to the door. Numerous hooded Renegades sat together their attention forward until the group fully entered. The door slammed shut behind the intruders and all the Renegades turned in unison to view the newcomers, their faces hidden by the darkness of their hoods as they remained still but focused on the entourage.
“I hope that’s rehearsed because if that was on instinct that’s kind of creepy,” Kaim said.
“Not helping Kaim,” Nikos said resting his hand on his sheath.
Luro leaned towards Kaim moving his hand to the side of his mouth as he whispered to him.
“I thought the same thing,” he said before the two men nodded at each other.
Another large steel door rested on the other side of the makeshift topless dome and behind it seemed to be the remains of the fortress, the deeper confines of the structure that even the Clipped didn’t have information on. A large structure towered above the group in the distance past the door, a lone figure standing at the top garbed in a dark robe, their gaze staring down at the fathered forces.
“Is that the leader?” Luro said pointing up.
“No…” Mia said. “That’s a Quill.”
“Wait those guys who want to kill us right?” Luro questioned lowering his hand. “That’s…kind of bad right?”
“No he’s the Nice One,” Mia said. “He shouldn’t stop us, he would have attacked us by now if he had any intentions of being violent. No one attack him, if we’re not violent towards him he won’t be violent towards us. He’s known as Nice, he acts off his own will than the Ravens…we don’t want him involved. It’ll get…really ugly if he steps in. He’s just watching though, I’m sure he just wants to see how this all ends too.”
Nikos looked over at Mia before his eyes moved up to the Quill, offering a nod he turned his attention back towards the area looking for the Leader. If Nice wasn’t going to be a problem then they could deal with him later.
“That one less Devil Fruit to deal with, let’s leave him be,” Nikos said. “Tari keep an eye on him just in case.”

The opposing steel let out a loud click, slowly creaking open as a strange presence suddenly started filling the arena. It slowly overshadowed the existence of the Renegades in the stands, a bright aura echoing from the distance darkness slowly fading as a figure clad in a dark red cloak walked with a slow gait into the arena. Luro’s hand moved to his rifle as the person got steadily closer. A low chuckle escaped from the new Raven as they raised gloved hands and slowly started to clap as they walked towards the group, the Renegades in the stands joined the Raven in applause, the clapping slowly escalating until the entire area was filled with applause and whistles, some Renegades hopping in their seats. The only Raven not applauding was Nice who stared down at the group in silence but his gaze seemed fixated more on the newcomer than the group.
Luro’s eyes narrowed as he stared at the new Raven, their head lowered as they walked forward hiding their face from the group. They stopped a fair bit away from the others, on the other side of the large circle the group was in. The Raven had a strange way about him, his presence felt…different from the others. They stood out in the area, and it didn’t seem to just be from the cloak surrounding their body, Luro could feel something pressing on his body just from staring at the person.
Nikos couldn’t see the face of the leader but he felt like he was staring in the direction of a predator, a chill ran through his body, the Raven’s body was relaxed but he could almost feel his hostility from where they were standing.
“The Leader,” Luro mumbled.
The Raven stopped applauding at this and offered a small shrug before hurling something towards the group, Luro quickly caught the object as it nearly smacked him. A second later swords of light fell from the sky stabbing into the earth, Zilia’s eyes widened as a line formed between the swords dividing the groups from one another.
“This is the same light that stopped us from pursuing Lina,” Zilia thought before looking at Luro. “I thought that was-”
Her attention was taken from the leader however as her eyes rested on Luro’s face, he was staring at the object in his hand his entire body trembling, his mouth half open as he stared at the ‘gift’ from the Leader. A bead of sweat fell down the side of the man’s face and the object nearly slipped out of his grasp as Luro stared, eyes the size of bulbs at the object unable to voice the words caught in his throat, his body refusing to move as it took everything in him not to collapse.
In Luro’s hand was a pocket watch with a bullet shaped indent in it.
Luro quickly raised his head to the leader who grabbing their cloak pulled it off their body as loud laughter escaped from them.
An innocent smile on the face of brunette beauty met them and grabbing hold of her brown skirt she gave the group a small courtesy lowering her head before she straightened up with a laugh and offered a wave to them.
“Hello again Stardusk. I’m glad to see you’re well.”

“Honestly, you’d think they’d get tired of being so dramatic…” Runali muttered under her breath as they walked into the ‘arena’. Everything about them was more annoying than impressive. Sure they knew way too much, sure they put the group through the most tiresome chase, but why did they have to do it so… Runali huffed, deciding it was better to complain about it later when they were on a ship far, far away from this place. In her inspection, she watched the crowd- their audience- checking to see if there was any threat. Well, any outward threat than being surrounded by the enemy on all sides.

’Alicia and… Tari could clear out the sides pretty quick. If Nikos and Luro cover the front and back we could probably make a quicker retreat…’

Various other scenarios went through her head until the mention of a ‘Quill’. Hearing that he was ‘nice’, made her scoff. “S’pose there’s a miracle to that one. But that’s a story we can pry at some other time. We’ll take our blessings as they come.” Runali was still in the front of the pack, her stance shifting when a new hooded figure appeared. The new figure appearing wasn’t what caused Runali to tense- at this point, people in hoods were just the uniform of the makeshift island. What made her tense was the sudden, almost overbearing aura that surrounded the newcomer. Her fists clenched a little tighter and her eyes stayed on the shadow where the person’s face should have been. It hadn’t been until something was thrown that she turned to look behind her and see what it was. Luro’s face gave away more surprise than answers, so when she turned around to see the face of the leader of this whole operation she… looked confused.

“Lily?” Runali echoed Luro’s words, but with much less surprise. Runali’s arms crossed, her gaze looking from the pillar of light to the woman in front of them. “...Lily.” Confusion still laced the name, but now Runali raised a brow. “Now you’ve lost me.” She took a slight step forward. “You’re the one behind this whole goose chase?” She rubbed her chin. “Can’t say I see the connection here… I mean, good on you for being so secretive but I dunno. Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.” Runali shook her head, waving her hand in front of her. “More importantly… Why?” It sounded like Runali had more to the question but instead she just gestured to their surroundings and then at Lily figuring she could understand it.

Lily remained silent offering a small shrug to Runali when she mentioned connections, if Stardusk knew the connections then there would have been little point in secrecy. The woman stared at the faces of the ones rebelling against her people with a smile patiently listening to Runali as Luro remained frozen staring at the face of his friend, one who had cried at the graves of the people they cared for. Lily’s gaze moved up to the Ravens in the stand and she made a motion with her hand causing them to sit down and settle before she folded her hands together in front of her.
“It’s pretty simple actually Captain Lev,” Lily said. “Potential.”
Lily said this raising her hand and motioning to the people in front of her.
“You Stardusk have a lot of potential. We’ve watched you for a long time. I’m genuinely surprised you weren’t made Worst Gen just from your actions at Waterdeep. You save the City of Splendors, a major trading route and vanish into the shadows. You saved the economy and livelihoods of many people with your involvement. You saved Yula Fei and its people, you drove the Red Pirates from Yakone, you went to a world that supposedly doesn’t exist and that’s only some of your accomplishments. You Stardusk have a penchant to make the impossible possible.”

Lily started to walk forward, continuing to speak and answer Runali’s question.
“I believe you all have the ability to change things, an ability not many pirate crews much less the Navy even possess. The rest of the world may not see it, but anyone paying attention to what you’ve done can see that the kind of potential you can have in our world.”
Lily raised a hand and placed it on her chest.
“I have the same potential as well, I’ve taken countries and made them my own, have changed the social structure of entire towns with a whisper and have made what’s real false with a few words.”
Lily stopped directly in front of the light barrier folding her hands behind her back once again.
“Long winded explanations aren’t you cup of tea so I’ll keep it short. I want to bring change and you have the ability to do the same. Inevitability we were going to get in each other’s way.”
“…like in Cerula,” Nikos said.
“Exactly,” Lily said. “I wanted a full fledged war with you, but the Clipped got in my way which wasn’t fair I must say. I just decided to speed up the process and make you come to me. I even had you kill some nuisances that were in my way.”
The pocket watch fell from Luro’s hand and Lily smiled.
“Ah that face almost makes it worth it. I’m the cause of Gavera, I had my Quill tail Lina and Nura as well so they couldn’t be honest with you either. You were supposed to kill the Messengers as well…but I’ll just do that myself today. I do thank you for getting rid of those traitors though.”
Luro fell to his knees as Lily turned her back to the group and walked away from the light.
Nikos slammed his sheath against the barrier only to get thrown back, Kaim catching him as light sparks ran through the man’s body.
“You killed my brothers!” Nikos yelled. “For what?! Some sick desire to rid the world of Stardusk!”
“Of course not Nikos,” Lily said coming to a stop. “I did no such thing. I merely wanted to see who had the right to bring change…me…or Stardusk. I just got rid of the ones who didn’t believe in that goal.”

Runali watched Lily, daring to step closer to the barrier between them. Her brow raised curiously as Lily listed their accomplishments. “I’m always flattered to meet fans.” She commented, letting the woman talk. She could feel the wave of emotion behind her from Luro and from Nikos, but she didn’t spare them the glance. Her eye was fixated on Lily as she spoke. “I see… You’re at an… impasse is it?” Runali’s brow furrowed. “Fear of possibility. Not fear of change, no… You want that. But Stardusk… we’re too unpredictable. You fear that our lives and your plans will collide and ruin what you have?” She shook her head and sighed as Lily walked away, “But you’ve already made some mistakes in this plan of yours. But you know that, don’t you?”

Lily spun around a laugh escaping from the woman before she extended her arms to the sky.
This woman was beyond insane; there was no trace of humanity left in her gaze. She spoke gently but there was an emptiness that echoed from her stare.
“I’ll probably die here today though. I’ve regretfully already seen how this plays out. It’s unfortunate but I die here and Stardusk walks free, that’s how it works. I wasn’t strong enough to stop you, it really makes me sad. All those friends of yours getting in my way…though I had a feeling I’d fail. I even sent the Quills away so we wouldn’t be interrupted.”
Lily flexed her fingers two daggers falling out of her sleeves and into her hands.
“Then give up!” Nikos said steadily standing straight. “We have you surrounded and there’s no way out!”
“Now Nikos…that won’t do. Stardusk wouldn’t back down in the face of impossible odds; if I was that weak then this organization wouldn’t have risen to where it is. Stardusk you will kill me here or I will kill you, it’s that simple. Will fortune smile upon you as it always does and allow you to survive this encounter and walk away as legends once again…or will you fall here to the desperate struggle of an old friend. I can’t help but feel a little excited seeing the ending.”
“…this is some sick joke…” Luro mumbled under his breath.
His arms hung loosely at his side, his head lowered as he remained unmoving.

“Steel yourselves.” Runali’s warning went to Nikos mostly, but she spared a glance towards Luro. “Save your breath for battle. Put it where it counts.” Lily was right though. Time and time again the Stardusk accomplished something insane only to come out of it with scars and stories. The fact that Lily was prepared to die made Runali all the more cautious. No one boasted about change and power only to accept death so quickly. There was always a back up plan. There had to be.

“I’ll give you to the count of three Stardusk. Then I’ll have my Quill lower their barrier and we’ll get started.”
“…I wanted to change…but I still have to kill what I care about…hah…haha…why am I surprised. The world has always been this harsh.”
Nikos looked over at Luro noticing droplets in the sand under him, his hand moved to his blade but his gaze remained focused on the fallen Shipwright.
“Oi Luro. Get to your feet. We don’t know what she’s hiding,” Nikos said glancing between him and Lily.
“One!” Lily said holding up one finger.
“I know it’s not worth much right now everyone but I swear…on everything that I will stop Lily,” Luro said climbing to his feet.
“After all I’m a terrible person; one more sin isn’t going to mean much.”
Luro raised his gaze and Nikos flinched at the blankness behind the man’s eyes, his gaze almost hollow as he reached for the gun on his back.
“Luro what are you-”
Luro looked over at Runali and smiled at her, a sad smile on the weighted shoulders of the red head.
“I apologize for this Captain.”
The moment the barriers vanished Luro burst forward throwing up the Red Sand in the process, Zilia and the others raised their arms at the act though Luro was already close to Lily.
“Oh you want to finish what we started in Utsukushi!” Lily exclaimed. “Perfect!”
Luro glanced back at the others and flicking a switch a blue mist filled the area before a glacier of ice burst out from behind him blocking the two from view. Nikos grit his teeth and rushing forward cut through the ice, but the two had vanished through the steel doors in the distance which slammed shut.
“Damn it!” Nikos said. “What is-”
Nikos brought a hand to his face deciding not to let himself get lost and merely took a deep breath before turning to the others.
“…it’s not a problem, we considered this possibility…not this exact one but it’s not over yet. The reinforcements can buy us time. We’re going to plan B; we’re dividing into three groups. One group will fall back secure our exit, and help Rasa in defending the ships, he can only protect one side after all. The second group will remain here and help the reinforcements stall the Renegades, the more time we can buy the longer our third group can push ahead after Luro and Lily.”
Zilia’s gaze moved to the ground noticing the pocket watch was gone, her eyes narrowed a bit and running forward she pointed ahead towards the doors.
“You want to go in after him,” Nikos said.
“Knowing Luro he’s not going to walk away unscathed.” Zilia held up her note with a nod.
“…fair enough but a large group can’t go in there. Its uncharted territory so we need to move as a small group to get in and out quickly. I’m going to head in myself…Lev what do you want to do with your people? I would like your help but my Prophets can handle cleanup if you want everyone to fall back.”

The countdown started and Runali changed her footing. She judged the distance, knowing she was fast enough to get to Lily. But her concentration broke when Luro was to his feet. “Luro…” Runali warned. “Luro, don’t you-!” She flinched away from the sudden icy wall, only to sigh and watch her breathe form in front of her. “...You’re not making my life easy Makachi.” She grumbled and turned to the group.
There was no time to argue with Nikos’ planning- not that she would’ve, but she looked at her crew. “Kadi, Jack, Sara, clear a path, head to the ship and protect Lady. Alicia help the Prophets, keep them away from us. Once it’s clear, you head to the ship too.” She looked over at Zil and nodded. “S’pose it’s a good thing you brought extra supplies.” Armament haki crawled up her arms and she turned back to the ice. “Luro does a lot of stupid things. I’m not just gonna let him run off to fight that crazy woman on his own.” She reared her arm back, punching the ice. “And if I learned anything in this hellish trip, it’s that doing otherwise would be a terrible idea.”


*Insert quip here*
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
Writing Levels
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Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Both are fine. I tend to be aggressive more though.
Favorite Genres
Modern Fantasy, Historical, Fantasy, adventure, romance, anime, action, etc.
Genre You DON'T Like
Depends on the story, not all that picky about it.


Jack dashed at the light barrier with armament. It threw him back. Tumbling head over heels, Jack braced himself back on his feet and attacked it again. The moment the words "I swear on everything" slipped into the air the hairs on his neck stood on end. Luro's words seeped into his bones with a cold chill, colder than anything Lily could have thrown at them. He knew what his friend planned. Just like when he went to attack the Renegade ships, even in the midst of that dual-voiced roar, Luro would make the first strike to right the wrongs and protect what he cared about. The cook started calling for him but it fell on deaf ears. So he attacked the barrier. Anything to reach Luro and make him stop from chasing Lily alone. Armament met burning, white-hot light more than once before the countdown ended.

When it started to rise, Jack shifted his attention from Luro to Lily. A throwing knife sang through the air when Luro made his dash and Lily laughed. It broke against a wall of ice.

Jack swore in another language, under a tight breath that barely restrained broiling feelings. He squeezed his eyes shut and fought for control. They didn't open until he heard Nikos designate the groups and their goals. He balked at the thought of having to go back. Not at the trek itself: the path he and Ria followed to the southern canons had been of relative ease, one that imprinted a newfound appreciation for his former foe's skills, though he'd never quite rid of the prickling unease of remembering those chains lash out from a mask of death. But to have to go back, instead of forward towards Luro, was appalling.

With a hard swallow, the cook abruptly turned and approached Runali. "Captain." His voice was soft but something hard flashed behind his eyes. He carefully avoided eye contact with Nikos, his simple appeal for his leader alone. "Let me come with you. Please."

Runali didn’t expect the door to break so easily. As of late, nothing was made easy for them. Just as she was about to strike the door again, she paused and turned her attention to Jack. “Wh-” The armament faded and she turned completely to face him. There was a look to him that she couldn’t quite read, but she understood it enough to sigh and turn back to the ice. “Nikos send one of yours back to the ship, we need to make sure we’ve got a clear path when we drag Luro out of here. The rest of you get moving!”

She glanced over at Jack and proceeded to gesture in front of her. “I’d question your motives, but we’re short on time aren’t we?” The armament went back down her arm and she used a finger to scratch a large enough ‘X’ in between them. “Hit there on three. Feel free to explain as we go. One, two,” She reered her fist back and on ‘three’ she punched through the steel door with him.

Dust shook loose from the ceiling as the steel doors shuddered.

Jack grimaced. “What is there to question?” he asked as they struck again. “I’d rather help Luro then go back to the ship. Isn’t that enough?” His voice sounded calm but the words came out harsher than he intended, partially from the angry effort of breaking down the doors, and another part underlying agitation.

Taking a step back, he grunted and kicked it with Runali’s final strike. The doors swung open and hung loose on abused hinges.

The captain opened and closed her fist, gesturing for Nikos to lead the way now that they could go through. “I mean, it would be enough, yes, if that was all there was to it.” She fell in step, or quick jog with Jack, keeping an eye out for anyone who would’ve tried to stop them from reaching Luro and Lily. “But that’s not the case is it?”

He thumbed the line on his palm. His mouth worked as he debated what to say but it came out in a frustrated sigh. “Yes-- I mean, no. I… just can’t go back.” Jack muttered and averted his eyes from his captain. “Not without helping him first.”

Runali watched him for a moment before running fingers through her hair. “Sure, sure. He'll be…” She stopped herself from finishing that sentence. For as long as she had known the crew she remained as honest as she could with them. As the word ‘fine’ started to slip from her mouth, she paused and frowned a little. Luro was… far from fine. “Guess now he'll need as much help as he can get.” If Lily was as strong of an opponent as she made it seem… No. There was no time for doubts now, they had to see this through. “We'll get him out of there in one piece.” She gave him an affirmative nod and a determined look. “Just make sure you don't do anything as reckless. Z's around for one badly damaged dummy.”

A sly, lopsided grin returned Jack to his usual self. “Of that, captain, I assure you I will do my best.”

Nikos glanced over at Runali at her words his eyes moving to Jack for a moment before he sighed, he knew firsthand how stubborn these people were. He called Tari and asked her to readjust as need be informing she was in charge while he was gone. He sighed a bit realizing just how much he had changed, the old him would have never chased after Luro. Though his real reason was to make sure Lily didn’t get away, the fact making sure Luro didn’t die crossed his mind during his thought process wasn’t something he was pleased about.
He glanced over at Zilia who seemed to smile at him; his eyes twitched wondering if the woman had read his thought before she held a note towards him.
“Thank you for your assistance.”
“Ah…don’t worry about it. Our goals are still the same. Let’s keep moving.”

Though Zilia wasn’t sure how much she could do she helped the two break down the door with all her power, even Nikos punching the door with his armament fist, a wave of relief flowing through her when then they broke through making their way inside.
A voice called out from behind the group, Ria stood a few feet away her back to the group, twirling one of her sickles as more Ravens fell down in the arena.
“….make sure…to return safely…”
Ria held her hand out causing one of her masks to appear in it.
“…I intend…on finishing your mask…I’ll make sure…the way back is clear…”
A yawn escaped from the woman and she wiped a bit of sleep from her eyes, she glanced behind her with the same half-lidded gaze and spoke in the same sleepy tone but there was something in her eyes that made it clear she was serious.
“Thank you for taking the harder job Ria,” Nikos said. “Fight as long as you can, Gravekeeper is a last resort…are we clear?”
Ria nodded and the mask dissipated in her hand, she turned to the approaching Ravens and swung her sickle cutting through the approaching troops before pulling the sickle black and throwing the blood off it in one quick motion.
“…none of you…are making it through while I stand…”

The inside of the door was shrouded in darkness, and the way inside was a straight path filled with lanterns that provided the only light, a low stone ceiling above them. Eventually a bright light formed in front of the group and when they went through it the pathway opened up revealing the group was on a large cliff overlooking a wide area below.
Zilia walked closer to the edge peering down at it, there was a whole town below, that seemed to stretch far off into the distance, but the town itself seemed desolate, broken beyond repair. Every building below was either shattered or half finished; the streets were torn apart revealing the stained earth under them. It was hard to even call it a town, whatever destroyed this place left a lasting impression, one the place clearly hadn’t healed from. Filtered light fell in through the cracked ceiling above them casting its light on the shattered town and providing the only light for them.
Nikos took a lantern off the wall and pointed down below, traces of ice were there and it was clear Luro had passed through. He then pointed to a path left of them that headed down.
“Let’s hurry and make our way below,” Nikos said. “I know you want to help your friend but don’t rush ahead. You guys don’t know our traps, no sense getting yourself killed trying to save someone else.”

The bottom of the path had a dirt trail that led into the city, but Zilia ended up pausing as she caught sight of something that was on the side of their path. Numerous metal cages were resting on the ground, and a few hung above their heads. The cages themselves weren’t what gave her pause, or even the skeletons that were in some of them, it was the small shuffling of movement from within one of them. Zilia walked a bit closer and knelt down in front of the cage, Nikos held his lantern over it revealing a name at the top of the cage.
“…Pira,” he mumbled. “She was someone who tried to fight against the change…though execution is generally the act for that not imprisonment…what kind of sickness is this?”
A woman in a Raven cloak sat inside the cage breathing heavily, her gaze moved up resting on the strangers, Zilia’s eyes narrowed as she took a look at the pale woman’s expression.
Nikos looked back at the others.
“Sorry please hold on for a second.”
“…she hasn’t had any sustenance for a bit,” Zilia held the note up worry playing across the woman’s face. “I’ve seen this before, fed just enough to survive but not enough to fill,”
“If we free her…will she survive?”
Zilia shook her head and pointed to the woman’s legs, they were basically twigs at this point, she wasn’t getting out with help and even then it was doubtful she had much longer.
Zilia’s eyes twitched as the woman spoke her eyes moving to Nikos, tears staining the edges of them. Nikos shut his eyes, her shaking hand rising to the strangers.
Zilia opened her mouth but something cut through the woman chest, and she fell to her stomach going motionless. Zilia looked up at Nikos whose hand moved away from his sword, she didn’t see the strike but it was clear he was the one that did it.
“…did you know her?”
“…Yeah…she was one of the good ones….she didn’t deserve this…”
Nikos walked ahead his hand gripping his sheath just a little bit tighter.
“My apologies let’s hurry ahead.”
Zilia glanced back towards the woman, her eyes moving to the faint smile that now rested on her face. She folded her hands together closing her eyes for a moment before chasing after Nikos.
A large rumble filled the area and a large cloud of dust appeared north of them, dust and debris raining through the air.
“I’m guessing Luro is that way.”

The moment Runali saw the cliff, she wandered to the edge next to Zilia just to see what was down there. She started to say something, but she decided against it. The destruction and remains spoke for itself, Runali could see clearly that any life that could have lived there was no more… At least that’s what she thought. The captain followed Nikos down the path, not arguing against rushing ahead- the last thing they needed to be in were more traps. When Zilia paused, she did so as well, raising a brow to the cage nearest them. The sight alone filled Runali with dread, almost as if she knew what was in store for this woman she never met. ‘Seeing Death’ at this point was less of an exaggeration... and it made her wonder if the ‘Reaper’s Eye’ had been real, would it be a painless death to give someone who needed it.

Seeing Nikos step forward, Runali took a step back and looked down the path. She waited quietly, a new fire burning inside her at the situation. It wasn’t until Nikos told them to keep moving did she give him a quick sympathetic nod before following him down the path.

Seeing the debris made Runali speak up. “Unless this island is crumbling apart which I wouldn’t write off…”

Jack had nodded to Ria, promising her he would, feeling thankful for her presence. When they came to the cliffside, Jack toed a piece of rubble off the edge and listened to it fall, seeing how far down it went. It appeared to him the island fortress and had been built on top of these ruins, making him wonder if this place once belonged to someone other than the Ravens, or for what reason did they abandon this section so long ago. The hairs on the back of his neck started prickling, and he quickly shuffled forward to the group.

He watched with sad eyes as Nikos ended the woman’s suffering. When Nikos stepped back, Jack placed a hand on the cage and muttered something soft, almost sounding like a prayer. Anger and pity welled up as he shook his head. No cage holds you now, he thought as they continued on.

He couldn’t help agreeing with Runali as he walked forward, moving some of the debris aside to clear a larger path for the group. He coughed and peered down the path, with his eyes as much as his ears, trying to determine if Luro and Lily battled nearby.

“How far does this go down?” he asked Nikos, putting a shoulder against a large timber that had fallen on their path.

“That is a possibility,” Nikos said continuing forward into the town. “It’s the only real lead we have so let’s just head that way.”
The town didn’t look much better up close, it was clear that decay had set in some time ago, moss grew in random spots as nature tried to reclaim what little remained of this place. The further they went in however the more signs that people had been there started to show, there were fresh footprints in the dirt and some of the broken windows had been covered by tarps, more than likely by people who chose to reside in this place. Nikos wasn’t sure who it could possibly be as he only saw more cages the further they went in, most of them toppled over bits of skeleton inside, but some of the cages looked new, with little signs of wear on them.

His attention was pulled from one of the buildings when he picked up Jack’s question.
Walking over to the man he put his body against the timber, Zilia joining the two as Nikos spoke.
“We’re not entirely sure. There are no records of this place, at least in any of the recent reports. My guess is it’s been here for some time. The Ravens have been around for a bit, my guess is this was their old base decades ago and they just built on top of it.”
Nikos eyes narrowed and he pushed against the timber as he racked his brains for answers.
“I heard rumors that the Ravens had built a city, a nirvana for the downtrodden who had no place in the world...if this is the place…then it’s where the Ravens started…only fitting it ends here.”

Once the timber was cleared Zilia brushed off her torso before her gaze moved to one of the buildings, her eyes widened a bit as she noticed a mural drawn on it. She walked a bit closer reaching up and brushing a bit of the dust off as she got a closer look. There was a large Raven at the top of the drawing with light shining off it, and a mess of people were below all of them running to the left weapons drawn, trying to attack something. The end of the mural had been destroyed by something so whatever story had been written was forcibly ended.
Nikos gaze moved over to Zilia and his eyes widened before he dashed over to her, grabbing Zilia by her cloak he pulled her backwards as a dagger stabbed into the spot where she was standing.
Moments later Ravens crawled out of the buildings and fell off the roofs, within a few seconds the group were surrounded by countless Raven’s stretching as far as the eye could see.
The large group were dressed in tattered robes, torn apart and muddied and their weapons were no better, if they weren’t rusted they were broken or little more than hilts. They eyed the group some staggering a bit as they took steps forward. Nikos watched one of them drop their sword, their hands twitching before they knelt down and picked it back up. With his back to the others he looked around at the crowd of Ravens, they were clearly not in the best shape; even through the cloaks it was easy to tell they were basically skin and bone.
They were weak but the problem was with each passing second more and more of them were coming out of the buildings, the numbers seemed endless and Nikos hand moved to his weapon but he hesitated as one coughed in front of him and fell to their knees.
“…they aren’t even warriors anymore…” Nikos mumbled.
Zilia was in stance but the Ravens didn’t move, they only stared at the group in silence.
“…what are they waiting for?” she glanced back at the others with her note.
“…for one of us to make a move,” Nikos mumbled. “They’re basically starved animals at this point…but they’re still Ravens.”
One of the Ravens coughed and green liquid fell out of their bodies splashing to the ground before burning through a bit of the stone, Nikos eyes widened.
“Those sick-” Nikos cut himself off as his fist trembled. “Don’t cut them. They have poison running through them. If that gets on your weapons much less your hands it’ll burn through it.”
That explained why they were so sluggish and barely able to stand, Nikos grit his teeth.
“Take them down without cutting them, and avoid the green blood,” Nikos said taking his sheath off his waist. “It shouldn’t burn through Armament.”
“Well that doesn’t help me…” Zilia thought.
Nikos tossed Zilia his weapon and the woman looked over at him, Nikos raised his fists letting Armament surround them.
“Attack with that so you don’t physically touch them,” he said his gaze moving back to the Ravens as they slowly moved towards them.

“Not even a fair fight…” Runali watched as the Ravens began to appear out of nowhere. She examined them, seeing just how frail they were. “To die by this… cause is baffling but,” She looked between the three. ‘It started here, it ends here.” Runali wasn’t sure if she was doing any of them justice by ending their suffering or helping them end their mission. Whatever it was, they were between her and their own goals.

Noticing some of them spitting out green blood made her wrinkle her nose in disgust, but she nodded. ’Of course they were filled with poison, as if they weren’t suffering enough. She thought. “With how weak they are, we could easily clear a path… With how many there are, well.” The armament went up both Runali’s arms and she took a step forward. “Might take longer than we want.” Runali leapt ahead, jumping into a group of Ravens and slamming her fist into the ground, causing it to cave inwards. As they fell in, she dodged slow attacks and watched as the others began to move as well. “C’mon!” Her yell was replaced with a ‘blech’ noise as she took more steps back to avoid poison being vomited near her.

Jack stayed close to Zilia as the Ravens moved, Runali having made the first move. He grimly dodged, punched and kicked the unfortunate souls with limbs of Armament, more of his haki deviated to the bottoms of his boots so the blood wouldn’t burn them. I hope Lily and the rest of them suffer for this, he thought while grabbing a wrist that held nothing but worn handle, the blade rusted off sometime ago. The Raven spat and writhed, his wrist breaking in Jack’s grip. Jack wrenched the Raven towards the ground. He punched the man in the back of skull and he fell. He didn’t get back up again.

Face contorting with disgust, Jack blocked a throwing knife aiming for Zilia’s back. He found a broken-off pipe on the ground and grabbed it just in time to parry a scimitar with its tip broken off. The blade hit the pipe awkwardly and broke. Jack finished off its wielder with a blow to the chest.

Continuing to block and attack with single hits, Jack found himself back-to-back to Nikos. “We can’t stay here and fight them all!” the cook said over his shoulder. The longer they stayed, the greater the chance of Luro suffering serious injury… or worse. Seeing something fly towards them, Jack grabbed the back of Nikos’ clothes and yanked them both down as a small hatchet axe passed inches over their heads and embedded into the wall past. Jack scooped a rock from the ground and pelted it at the assailant. She fell without a sound, three more filling her vacant spot. Jack huffed. “Any ideas?”

Zilia knocked away the Ravens with a smack of the sheath, barely dodging some of the green liquid as it sprayed out from one of the Ravens. She stepped back giving a nod to Jack as thanks for the assist before kicking away a Raven that tried to approach Runali. The Captain was right as they couldn’t stay and deal with these people, no matter how many she knocked down more just crawled out of the tarps. Everywhere she looked there were more of them; it felt like they weren’t making any real dents.

Nikos ducked under one of the strikes slamming his knee into the Raven, turning and bringing his elbow across the face of another before he blocked the strike from a broken sword. He grit his teeth tripping the Raven an slamming his fist into their face rising back up as Jack spoke his eyes narrowing as he noticed even more of them were crawling out of the holes in the ground.
“Agreed this is taking far too long,” Nikos said. “The fact we haven’t seen the two of them in all this time is also concerning.”
There were no openings to break through, each time he cleared out a few of them the others just stepped forward filling in the holes. They were like water constantly shifting no matter how much they pushed, reshaping with little difficulty.
When he was pulled to the ground he grit his teeth realizing they were running low on options to get out of this quickly, Nikos raised his fist blocking a strike aimed at him and Jack before punching the Raven in the chest sending them flying into the crowd.
“…I have one,” Nikos said climbing to his feet. “Stardusk brace yourselves.”

Nikos stood straight up his hands closing into fists as more Ravens leapt at the group, Nikos eyes widened slightly and something in the air shifted, an unseen force echoed out of the man, an invisible shockwave flowing out of his body slamming into everything in the surrounding area.
Zilia fell to her knees as something crash into her being, her vision going blurry for a moment as she almost lost consciousness. She blinked as it seemed like someone had punched her with immense force, her whole body trembling as the wave washed over her and out towards the remaining Ravens.
The ravens that leapt at them fell to the ground immediately, their weapons slipping from their hands. It was for a brief moment but the world seemed to stand still as the Ravens stood perfectly still their hands gripping their weapons before Nikos relaxed a bit.
The remaining Ravens fell to the ground seconds later, groans escaping from them as every person around the group fell to the ground, some of their hoods falling off their heads, revealing the whites of their eyes and green foam coming out of some of their mouths.
Zilia slowly climbed to her feet almost falling a bit as she held her legs to steady them, her eyes moved to the Ravens who were still but breathing nearby. She didn’t notice any coming towards them and her eyes moved over to Nikos as he took his sword back and returned it to his waist.
“Forgive me,” Nikos mumbled lowering his head slightly.

Zilia barely had time to pull out her notebook when a large fiery explosion came from further north of the group. Nikos turned towards it his eyes narrowing before he stepped over the unconscious bodies of his comrades and ran in the direction. He was going to make sure every Renegade paid for this, Zilia looked over at the other two but quickly followed after him. Where there were explosions there were Luro.
A bit further ahead Luro and Lily were fighting each other, the two fading in and out of sight as they slammed into each other, a fragment of the city breaking apart each time the two traded blows. Lily appeared hurling her daggers at Luro and the man ducked under them before she appeared behind him catching the daggers, her tongue running over her lips as one of the daggers went into his shoulder. Luro grit his teeth and quickly spun grabbing her wrist, stopping the second one from hitting his neck.
Luro’s clothing was a bit torn and red spots were everywhere on his white shirt, Zilia didn’t need to look closely to see he wasn’t doing very well. Lily had a few tears and scorch marks but she clearly had the upper hand, Luro was only stopping and dodging her attacks, the woman wasting little time attacking him again sending him flying into one of the buildings.
“Ahhh your pained face is the best Luro!” Lily exclaimed running her fingers up one of her daggers. “You need more than that to kill me.”

Runali was thankful Nikos was right about the poison not affecting her armament, but that didn’t she was any more enthused about it touching her. She fought- if it could even be considered a fight- through several of them but no matter how many died more of them showed up. Eventually, she was pushed back with the rest of the group. “We could always try running through…” Runali said through gritted teeth, taking another step forward. However she paused when Nikos spoke.

She didn’t have time to ask questions because there was a sudden force that sent a small chill down her body. Seeing the crowds collapse like flies made her raise a brow but when Zilia staggered, she was by her side and helping her to her feet. It took her a moment of assessing the field for her to figure out what had just happened and what she felt. Something tried to knock her to her feet, but it didn’t seem to strike true. Instead, it was just an uncomfortable push that was otherwise, just a nuisance. And the moment she realized just what it was, there was an explosion that interrupted.

It didn’t take long to find the source of it, spotting Lily and Luro trading blow for blow with the former obviously at an advantage. Her fists clenched tight and that fire inside burned even brighter. Her hand went to the circular blade at her hip and she tossed it. It was enough to pass in front of Lily’s face and boomerang its way back into Runali’s hand. Nothing to cause damage, but enough to get her attention off Luro. “If you wanted to die so badly, you should’ve just let Luro shoot you. Would have been a lot quicker.” She motioned for Jack and Zilia to go and check on Luro. “If you want Stardusk dead, then you need the proper opponent for that. C’mon, that’s how it works right? Kill the source and get rid of the whole thing- I mean, that’s why we’re here after all.”

Jack, still feeling shaky after Nikos’ attack, hovered near Zilia and Runali as they approached the two combatants. Relief slumped his shoulders at the sight of Luro. He took one step forward with Zilia-- and paused. He looked back at Runali. His gaze slowly shifted to Lily while Runali made her taunt. He returned to his original position by the captain’s side. Four of them- five, technically, though Jack remained skeptical of Luro fighting as a group- and she had to taunt Lily like she was the only one around? A quiet snort emanated Jack’s thoughts as he took out a fistful of knives, ready to throw at the slightest twitch from Lily.

Zilia ran over to grab Luro at the Captains request, Lily’s gaze moving over to the newcomers as her smile grew just a little wider. Luro held a hand out to Zilia as he climbed out of the rubble as a silent indication he was fine. He also didn’t want Zilia to get too close, as Lily had little reason not to fight all of them. Luro stepped out of the rubble brushing himself off, paying little mind to his injuries.
“That does sound pretty good actually,” Lily said turning fully to Runali. “Luro’s not fighting back at all. I wanted a good fight not something boring that ended too quickly. Why build all this up just to have it end so quickly right?”
Nikos eyes narrowed his hand moving closer to his sword as Lily’s eyes widened a bit her smile turning into a wide grin.
“You’ll be a bit more entertaining.”
“…don’t attack Lily…”
Nikos gaze moved to Luro hearing his voice, watching as he looked over at the others. There was a surprisingly stern expression on the redhead’s face, his calm gaze moving between the four before returning to Lily. Her brows arched as Luro returned his rifle to his back his hand digging into his sleeve.
“…you understand I’m trying to kill you correct? You and your friends, if you don’t attack me I’ll kill you.”
“I’m sure you would,” Luro said glancing up at her. “I still don’t want them to attack you. I know that was a lot to ask so I came in by myself.”
Luro sighed a little as he stopped digging.
“I am glad they’re here...but I promised so I gotta keep it. Please don’t interrupt guys.”

Zilia blinked a few times as Luro pulled his hand out of his sleeve, she had to take a moment to make sure she was still staring at the same person; Nikos seemed to be having difficulty with this as well but he was speaking calmly while bleeding from several places.
Luro pulled out the pocket watch before holding it by its chain towards Lily, the woman stared at it tilting her head a bit as Luro held it out towards her.
“Is that supposed to stop me!”
Lily hurled her daggers and Nikos stepped forward but Luro’s gaze caused him to hesitate, the glare on the man’s face and his piercing stare actually made him pause for a moment, as if he had just met eyes with a starved predator. That moment was enough for the daggers to stab into Luro’s torso, Luro grit his teeth placing one foot back as the blades stuck out of his body, blood trickling down his chin. Luro didn’t stop holding the watch out towards Lily even as she flexed her hands drawing more. Zilia tried to step forward reaching towards her sleeve.
Luro yelled glancing at the others causing Zilia to stop.
“Please! Just…just wait.”
Luro looked back at Lily the smile slowly fading from the woman’s face; she spun the knives in her hand glancing over at the others.
“…do you really intend on dying in front of your friends? I mean I’m fine killing you in front of them, though I was saving you for last.”
“…I trust them,” Luro said keeping his attention forward. “…I need them to trust me…please guys…put your weapons away….let me do this.”
Luro’s body was trembling, and his white shirt was essentially a red shirt now, but Luro remained standing, his gaze locked on Lily who casually spun one of her daggers in her hand.
Nikos eyed the man watching his chest heave as he breathed heavily sweat pouring down his face, the color was draining from his face but he stood firm in front of a bored looking Lily. Nikos’ eyes narrowed his hand still lingering near his weapon as he stared at the woman who had caused all their woes, he wanted to kill her pay her back for all the pain she had caused him and his people, that feeling burned inside him threatening to consume his entire being.
Nikos grit his teeth coming to a decision and raised his body up crossing his arms over his chest.
Zilia straightened her body as well but gripped the sides of her outfit glaring at Lily, Luro ran in with clear intentions…that wasn’t like the old Luro so she knew which one she was staring at.
She wasn’t sure what he had planned but she could see he was reaching for something.

A devious smirk turned into a noticeable frown when she was told to stop. “As many times as I’ve been told not to fight you really think…” Runali’s voice trailed off when she looked at Luro’s stern expression but her frown only deepened. “Wants and needs are a little outta place right now don’t you think..?” Runali grabbed both of the blades off her hip, but she didn’t move. Though by her stance, she was definitely ready to. Had he not yelled after being pierced, she would have thrown the blade at Lily but instead she was left clutching them a bit tighter and standing her ground.

“You can’t just…” Her words died in her throat and soon one blade after the other was tossed into the ground with enough force for them to stand upright. Runali knew if she held them any longer she’d end up using them. Her arms crossed, as she was trying to be as ‘trustworthy’ as Luro made them out to be. She was starting to really hate how ‘trustworthy’ Luro made them out to be. More importantly, she didn’t like how much she was trusting Luro to do whatever it was he was doing when she- or Nikos could have easily fixed the problem. If not easier, then much much faster. With a steadying breath, Runali took a step back and watched the scene ahead of her.

Starting from the toes of his boots, a trembling began its way in Jack. It weakened his knees and his arms tensed; the faintest tinkling of blade-on-blade whispered from clenched hands. Jack bit his lip hard and blood beaded on his lips. Not again, not again… He didn’t think he could stand by and watch his friend get hurt again, on his own concession or otherwise. Luro was no captain; if she hadn’t been here, or thrust her blades to the ground, Jack knew he’d cast aside Luro’s heed and attack Lily head-on just to save him from the extra pain. Even now, the desire tempted sorely. His eyes flicked to Zilia and Nikos. They were backing off, same as Runali. Nikos’ own stayed hand was enough of a tell to Jack. Eyes slowly shifted back to Luro -- to the knives in his chest and the painfully determined face and the broken pocket watch- before Jack forced himself to look away.

“Don’t make me lose another one, Makachi,” he rasped in a muted voice so only those closest may have caught the words.

Pivoting on one heel, Jack made a half- circle pace around the scene. The throwing knives remained in his fists but the he’d be damned if he wasn’t ready to act once Luro’s idea came to fruition… or failed. As he paced in the background, his face grew tight and cold, eyes narrowing into pale slits in the semi-darkness. He paused off to Lily’s right and hovered not far from Zilia.

A small smile found its way onto Luro’s face as everyone heeded his request, he could see what he asked was painful and he was already thinking of ways he could repay them for this kindness as well. Zilia was biting her lip and glaring with so much hatred she almost seemed like another person. The Captain was rarely at a loss for words and he could see Jack’s body shaking, he honestly felt terrible even for Nikos who watched with a calm gaze, but he could see the fire burning in the man’s eyes form here.
“…I know I say it all the time but you guys really are the best…thank you,” Luro said to the others.

Zilia looked at Lily she expected the woman to be delighted that no one was standing in her way, but only fury was written on the woman’s face, her entire body was trembling, her eyes twitching as she glared at Luro who matched her gaze his smile fading and his eyes falling onto hers.
“What is wrong with you?” Lily questioned taking a step towards him. “You’re fine dying here! You want me to kill you!”
“Not really…my friends might get mad if I go dying all of a sudden.”
“Then why aren’t you fighting?”
“…cause you got the same eyes as me Lily.
Lily’s whole body twitched and her hand tightened around her dagger.
“You scream out and make yourself a monster…cause that’s the only way to fight the harshness of this world…it’s easy to be the bad guy after all. It’s easier to be hated and take all the blame, because you feel you deserve it. I-”
“Don’t talk like you know me!” Lily screamed armament running up her daggers. “If you won’t fight then I’ll just kill you here!”
Luro grinned at the woman and held his arms out in response, Lily grit her teeth and rushed forward, Zilia’s eyes widening as the woman dagger slammed into Luro’s chest. Nikos’ flinched as well but Luro and Lily’s face remained lowered the two unmoving. Lily grit her teeth as she kept her firm grip on her dagger. Zilia started to step forward until something landed on the ground between the two old friends.
The woman spoke, the strength in her voice gone, her body shaking as she held the dagger hilt facing Luro against him, her voice that of a child’s as the droplets continue to fall onto the stained cobblestone.
“…this isn’t how this is supposed to go….fight me….hurt me…kill me…that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
Luro smiled a bit at the trembling woman in front of him.
“Haha…sorry to disappoint.”
“…I hurt you…so hurt me back…please.”
Luro shook his head resting his hand on Lily’s head, a gentle smile playing on his face as he pat her.
“I won’t do that…I’m tired of hurting the people I care about.”
“…I hope you mean physically cause emotionally you’re draining.”
Luro looked over at Nikos who was reading Zilia’s note out loud.
“Haha…I guess I kinda am. You guys are friends with me though and accept me so you gotta deal with it.”
Zilia’s eyes twitched as Luro grinned at everyone.
“…thank you for always dealing with it.”
Luro nodded at the others before looking down at Lily.
“You’re a handful too you know. One of these days you guys are gonna kill me ya know that.”
“Stop being dependable then…”
Luro had to hold in his laughter a bit seeing Lily puff her cheeks at him.
“Ahh…I’m kind of late on that one…I’m sorry for not noticing earlier when you were with us. I’m supposed be a professional bad guy after all. I even know you’re terrible at doing bad things…you always wanted to return the bread we stole. Even though it was thrown out.”
“…stop making fun of me.”
Luro grinned and wrapped his arms around Lily pulling her towards him, she flinched a bit at the sudden embrace but made no attempts to back away as Luro moved his hand to the back of her head.
“…you’re not allowed to be the bad guy Lily. You got Mary to go home too. I’m a pirate so that’s kind of my job you know.”
Luro looked over at Nikos who arched a brow at him.
“I know it’s a lot to ask Nikos…but you’re going to capture her right?”
“That’s why I’m here.”
“…could you not kill her?”
Nikos stared at Luro his eyes moving over to Stardusk for a moment before resting on the shaking young woman in front of him, clinging to Luro like a frightened child. His eyes narrowed a bit but ultimately a sigh escaped from him and he ran his hand through his hair.
“I can stay my hand but I can’t speak for your friends.”
“My friends are great, they wouldn’t kill Lily I don’t gotta ask them.”
“You’re faith in us is really painful Luro…” Zilia thought bringing a hand to her face, pulling the dart back into her sleeve.
“I also know they’re aware I sometimes don’t think things through. I didn’t doubt for a moment they’d come after me,” Luro said giving everyone a thumbs up.
“You are the most idiotic person I know,” Nikos said squeezing the bridge of his nose.
“Hey everyone’s allowed to pull at least one Alicia. Well half of one I guess I expected you guys to come and help so it wasn’t a full one.”
“I’m telling her.”
“Please don’t she’s still mad at me,” Luro said holding up a hand to Zilia.
Zilia smiled at Luro and Nikos shook his head turning it from the others, though a hint of a smile played on the man’s face as well. This annoying man somehow found a way to make moments like this light with that annoying attitude of his
Luro smiled but he eventually leaned forward and Lily stepped back catching Luro as his body slumped over.
Lily lowered her body setting Luro on the ground and Zilia ran up to him as Lily held onto Luro shaking him slightly as his eyes shut. Zilia immediately started digging in her bag as Lily looked over Luro’s body in panic.
“Luro…I’m sorry…I didn’t want…why do you always have to be the hero and help us…”
“Haha…silly Lily…I’m the bad guy…remember…” Luro’s voice come out weak, one eye opening as he looked at Lily.
“…not to us Luro…not to us…”
“…that’s sweet…but I didn’t think that hug through…it pushed the daggers further into my body…Jack…I have paintings in the Rum room…please burn them before Masu steals them…if I die today...if I don’t forget what I just told you.”
“Please die here,” Nikos said bringing a hand to his face.
“I’m depending on ya…Z,” Luro said looking over at her before he closed his eyes, his body relaxing slightly.
Zilia made a motion with her hand to Lily getting Luro on the ground and started getting to work immediately, Lily stood up staring down at the motionless Luro her gaze rising to the man’s rescuers. She didn’t say anything knowing there was little she could and instead just held both her hands out. Nikos didn’t speak only walking up to the woman and pulling a bit of rope off his belt wrapped her hands up.
Zilia tore open Luro’s shirt revealing a myriad of scars on the man’s body, her eyes twitched a bit as she pulled one of the daggers out. Whip marks, burns, torture for each crime the man’s committed creating a map of old mistakes and narrow escapes. Lily stared down at the scars on Luro her head lowering a bit reminded that most of those were their fault.
“Don’t make that face,”
Lily looked at the note from Zilia after she pulled out the last dagger.
“He’s proud of them. It’s a reminder he’s helped you guys. Each one is a story apparently. Just don’t listen to the ones on his back…he can get mad at me later for showing you, don’t really have time to ask you all to walk away.”
Nikos pointed at a mark on Luro’s side as Zilia held a hand up for someone’s help.
“I left that one,” Nikos said. “…first clean hit I got on him…I got Lily. You guys are gonna want to carry your friend right?”
“…I won’t run.”
“I know you won’t but I’m not full of forgiveness like Luro there. Long as you’re compliant we won’t have a problem. I just promised not to kill you.”

Zilia closed Luro’s shirt wiping sweat from her forehead, she had treated what she could and wrapped his wounds but there was no way Luro would have made it out of here on his own, even now it was going to be a stretch depending how much the way was cleared.
“Hah…he jumps headfirst into things whenever his friends are involved. Least that part hasn’t changed.”
Zilia stood up and held her notebook out as she wrote another note.
“I did what I could here. The daggers thankfully missed fatal spots so he should be fine… the real journey is getting back to the ship…it’s a damn good thing we came. He wouldn’t have been able to walk back out.”
Nikos glanced over at Lily at this, but whatever thoughts came to mind were pushed aside.

Runali watched the scene for as long as she could. Luro smiled at them and Runali looked away and huffed, not wanting to continue frowning at him. She was ready to leap into action when she saw Lily start to move, but she dug her nails in her arm and stayed put. The brief moment of stillness made her tense but her eye narrowed when the dagger fell between the two. Runali grumbled something too low for anyone to hear and she looked at the ground again.

She was the last one to step forward when things began to calm. Picking up both of the blades, Runali heaved a sigh and carefully placed them back on her hip, purposely moving slow. The frown disappeared and fell into a more annoyed look the closer she got, but eventually she joined the group with a raised brow as yelling became light banter... as if Lily hadn’t been planning to kill them all before. “Hmm…” For most of it, she didn’t want to say much of anything. There were a lot of things she could have said sure, but most of it would have probably been yelling at Luro for doing something so ridiculous. And probably at Lily. But instead she rolled her one eye and commented, “If Z doesn’t tell her I will.”

The light hearted moment she had barely slipped into was cut short when Luro’s injuries finally caught up to him. She was already worried, but instead of rushing forward, she gave Zilia room to work. There was nothing she could do in this moment besides not be in the doctor’s way. And unlike the others, she didn’t take the time to look at his scars. Runali didn’t want to.

“Probably better for him to pass out now honestly…” She didn’t mention the fact that she’d have done it herself for all the stress and worry he’d been causing as of late. “S’pose it’s an easy out for him though. He’ll wake up with enough people berating him…” The idea that they had to carry him back did make her frown a little. “Ah- maybe the better punishment would be just to leave him here…” It was a lighthearted joke and she patted Zilia’s shoulder. “Thanks doc. Good to know he’ll live to sail again.” She offered a nod before looking over at Jack. “Annnd thanks Jack for tagging along because you get to help carry the giant.”

For the life of him, Jack didn't know why the blades didn't hit Lily. He saw her move; he threw them; they struck harmlessly on the far side of the area. His breath caught in his throat as he waited for Luro to fall, believing Lily had actually ended it. It took moments before their words wormed their way into his ears. Were they... bantering? With a rush, he exhaled, having forgotten to breathe in the last moments. He inhaled deeply... and released a long grumbled stream of half-common, half-foreign angry words. His voice stopped when he walked forward, only after Nikos bound Lily, but his eyes and face clearly showed his thoughts.

He paused in front of Lily. He stared at her, his face automatically shifting to a cold emotionless mask. Hands clenched over bared knives that had yet to be used.

Slowly-- too slowly-- Jack sheathed his blades. When Runali spoke to him, he didn't respond, almost as if he was considering of belaying her order. Quietly, he said to Nikos, "Whatever you do with her, I hope it answers for every life that was lost today."

Kneeling down, Jack gripped the remains of Luro's shirt and hauled him up, gripping the giant beneath the arms and leaving Runali to take his legs. Jack grunted from the weight and looked down. "I'll wait ‘til you're better before killing you," he told the unconscious man.

Zilia offered a small shrug at the idea of leaving Luro here, she was tempted herself but she didn’t put herself in danger just to leave the guy here, and getting another shipwright would be troublesome. Though at Runali’s thanks Zilia just held a note out towards the Captain.
“Well he is my friend…though I also didn’t want to explain that his last words were ‘please destroy my more than likely perverse collections’ as well.”

Nikos glanced back at the two women as he gave Lily a small shove causing her to start walking back towards the entrance, matching the pace of the others. His eyes glanced over at Jack when he spoke to him.
“I intend on making her answer for far more than that,” Nikos responded glancing at the woman in front of him.
Zilia took the back so they had all sides covered as Nikos lead the way out of the underground town, just as they were about to leave the small area they were in Nikos’ eyes moved over another set of cages, though unlike the others they seemed relatively new. He ended up glancing at the one of the name freezing in his steps, which caused Lily to stop as well. Swallowing whatever words were going to surface back down Nikos continued forward, he decided not to look at the row of cages, mainly because he saw his own name on the top of the first one.
“Let’s just get out of here.”


*Insert quip here*
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Tari turned towards the entrance to the lower fortress her hand gripping her staff just a little bit tighter as the group had yet to return. They had cleared the area of Renegades and pushed the fighting away but it was only a matter of time before they got overwhelmed again. Nina and Ria had moved to the upper sections where all the fighting was at its worst. The reinforcements had essentially taken care of the lower floors.
“They’re taking far too long,” Tari said sighing a bit. “I’ll have to move the troops too-”
Tari cut herself off as she picked up a few prescenses from up ahead, she quickly looked back at the entrance to see the infiltrating group coming out, with Luro and Lily.
Tari’s shoulders relaxed a bit and it took a bit of effort to maintain her composure and not smile seeing that their leader had returned safely.

“Where do we stand,” Nikos said the moment they got close.
“The way is clear for you all. The exit is clear too. Rasa is currently sitting on a mountain of bodies waiting for you guys. He said he’s getting tired of beating down people so hurry.”
Nikos sighed and pushed Lily forward causing Tari to grab her arm.
“Prophets full retreat,” Nikos said nodding at her. “We’re getting out of here.”
With a nod Tari pulled out a small explosive and lighting it hurled it high into the air, a purple explosion filled the air above them and Nikos noticed Ria and Nina moving towards the docks offering a small nod.
“Get your people Lev,” Nikos said. “We’ll meet you at the docks.”
The two with Lily in town ran towards the docks down the cleared path, paying little mind to the fighting still going on above them.

“You’d think with how quick they were with everything else, they’d know to stand down.” Runali’s comment went to no one in particular as she hoisted Luro’s dead weight. Seeing Tari waiting for them made her quiet her complaining to listen. “Ah, there is good news- most of them should be at the ship!” She called out as Tari, Nikos, and Lily hurried off. “We need to get Alicia.” Runali looked between Zilia and Jack. “I’m sure she’s fine but I don’t know if she headed to the docks yet.” She pulled Zilia closer and replaced herself in holding Luro’s lower half. With a step backwards, she scanned the skies. A familiar silhouette eventually made its way into view and she whistled to get its attention. “Y’know, it’s real useful that we kept that bird.” She commented before once again trading places with Zilia.

CP landed on the doctor’s shoulder and the captain ushered the group forward. “Scan the island. If you see any of the Stardusk, point them to the ship.” She waited for the bird to chirp in response and fly off before picking up the pace. “If Sara and Kadi aren’t at the ship, we’ll more than likely pass by them and collect them as we go.”

Zilia didn’t appreciate the extra weight but she took it without complaint, almost falling to her knees at the extra weight. She didn’t know if she’d be able to make it to the ship so hearing that CP was going to handle the round up brought her no end of relief. There was no time to waste; her back and their lives were in danger. She ran forward with all her power towards the docks where their ships and hopefully the others were waiting.

The docks were covered in the body of Renegades to a point where the ground could no longer be seen. Zilia stopped realizing they had to step over the bodies of Renegades but three Clipped ran up to the group and motioned to Luro. Kaim walked up to the group raising a hand to them as he took Luro’s legs from Zilia with a small grunt.
“We’ll get him on the ship; make sure you got your people Stardusk. Boss said he had to talk to you guys as well. Lily had something interesting to say once we got her to the ship.”
Kaim took Luro not bothering to listen to the group, the other Clipped grabbing Luro before tiptoeing him over to the ship.
Zilia looked back at Runali and Jack offering a small shrug before she started stepping over the bodies of the Renegades. The place looked like a battlefield long after the battle, which made the fancily dressed man sitting on small pile of bodies in front of Lady Luck all the more strange. Sipping from his cup Rasa looked at Stardusk and raised his free hand motioning back to the still intact ship while smiling at them.
“You guys took so long!” Rasa said standing up. “Half the fortress came out trying to destroy your ship you know.”
Rasa grinned and raised his goblet, spreading his arms and twisting his hips a bit as a loud laugh escaped from him.
“Thankfully you had me protecting it! Gahahahahaha! Ahhh I amaze myself sometimes. Rasa…you’ve done it again!”
“…I want to thank him but it feels wrong. Can we just get on the ship and leave Captain?”
Rasa continued to guffaw his hands on his hips until he spilled some of his liquid causing him to stop and quickly straighten his cup, Zilia brought her hand to her face trying not to look at the man in front of her.

While Runali had seen plenty die before, it was safe to say she hadn’t seen this many bodies in one spot. The island had become a graveyard- if it hadn’t been already. She didn’t make much effort to respond to Kaim when he collected Luro, only offering a nod. However, towards Zilia, she did huff slightly, bending down a bit to mumble. “I questioned that man the moment I saw him.” Straightening up, she added now to Jack as well, “Head to Lady. I’ll catch up.”

Runali waited at the docks, stepping over bodies in effort to go back towards the island. Fortunately, she didn’t have to wait too long for the last of her crew to file out of the forest. CP followed behind, only to land on the captain. “Good bird.” Runali counted for her crew, double checking to make sure they were all there. “For a handful of pirates, it’s hard to keep track of them all.” The bird on her shoulder didn’t pay mind to the captain’s comment as Runali climbed the ship. “Alright.”

Once her feet landed on the deck of Lady Luck, she slumped onto the nearest barrel. “I can’t imagine what else needs to be said, but let’s get this over with so we can put this,” Her hand gestured to the island behind her. “Far… Far behind us.”

Rasa retreated back to his ship waving to Stardusk in the process, Zilia wasted little time climbing onto the ship watching as Kaim walked out of the door that led below deck. He motioned to the Clipped who ran and leapt off the ship. With a grin he waved a hand to Stardusk motioning towards the door with his head.
“We set the big guy downstairs in one of the beds,” Kaim said. “I’m…pretty sure it was one of the guy’s if not sorry for the intrusion.”
Kaim waved to Stardusk as Nikos hopped on the ship, his gaze moving around the deck counting the number of heads. His eyes narrowed until Kaim whispered to him pointing towards the door, which caused Nikos to nod whispering something back to Kaim who saluted and hopped off Lady Luck making his way back to the Prophet’s ship.
“I’ll be accompanying you for the time being Lev,” Nikos said. “I have something interesting to share with you.”
“I’d like to accompany you as well!”

An extra voice filled the air and Nikos took a quick look around before something was tossed onto the ship from below, crashing onto the main deck causing the wood to creak slightly. The item was covered in a brown cloth and square shaped hiding its contents. Nikos reached for his sword before a cloaked man leapt onto the ship, landing on top of the covered object, taking a step off it and onto the deck.
He held his hands up and pulled his hood down revealing the face of a young man with short blonde hair, though Zilia remained tense Nikos’ hand slowly moved away from his sword.
“Hey Nikos,” the newcomer said raising a hand to the man. “Permission to come aboard Captain Lev?”
Nikos straightened his body and looked over at Runali.
“Leo is one of my old men…he left my group after your friend Nolan left the ship becoming a messenger…oh a literal one not one of us. He dislikes violence so it suits him better.”
“I would also prefer not to fight as well.”
The man smiled at the crew and Zilia found herself slowly relaxing as Leo kept his hands raised, she was well aware this man was a possibly enemy but there wasn’t a trace of malicious intent coming from him, and for some strange reason she got the feeling he wasn’t lying. She wondered if it was her imagination when a bird landed on the ex-messenger’s shoulder, Leo looking over at it and smiling lowered one of his hands letting the animal rest on his finger.
“Hi there pretty bird,” Leo said waving at the small animal who happily chirped in response.
“He hasn’t changed at all,” Nikos said sighing before looking at Runali. “…Leo does get around so he might actually have information that is helpful.”

Runali’s head rested in her hands. This was the first moment of peace… of somewhat relaxation that they had in hours- or days. Runali wasn’t keeping track any more. Sitting down, she didn’t realize how much of a toll all the running and fighting was taking. Not everyone could pretend to be invincible after all.

Kaim’s declaration only made her raise a brow. Her room had a desk in it so it should have been obvious not to drop him in there. Everyone else, well, they’d be fine. When Nikos spoke, her eye fluttered close and she responded with a sigh. She realized she was doing a lot of that too. “I don’t know your definition of interesting, and after all of this… Let’s hope so.” The more voices that spoke up, the more Runali realized ‘peace’ wasn’t coming just yet. Especially not when a stranger’s voice mixed with the others. She opened her eye again to inspect who was joining their party and her brow furrowed when she didn’t recognize his face.

“Hmm…” She wondered how Nolan was doing. Hopefully he had his restaurant and a peaceful family life. ’I’ll have to send him a letter sometime…’ The captain straightened up and pushed strands of hair out of her face. “Permission… reluctantly accepted. Partially because you’re already here.” Her gaze stayed on Leo while Nikos spoke. He seemed cheery, a nice change of pace in their hectic lives- but unfortunately he showed up at the most inopportune time… Trust wasn’t so readily accepted. “Helpful… how? Helpful in a ‘we can leave and go on our way’ helpful? Or helpful in a ‘this will probably be something to deal with later’ thing? Because I can assure you, that wouldn’t be very helpful at all.”

“I’m hoping the former myself,” Nikos said.
“I can guarantee it’s the former,” Leo said with a small nod letting the bird fly off. “I also thank you Captain Lev. I’ll explain everything once we get moving, I’m sure you all want to put distance between yourselves and this place. Oh and it’s good to meet you all…ah except you Alicia we met at Iurin remember?”
Zilia wasn’t sure what to take from what Leo just said but agreed with the notion of getting the ship moving, Nikos and Leo stepping into help. Once the ship started moving and the fortress was in the distance Leo took a seat on the edge of the ship and Nikos crossed his arms looking at the relaxed face of his former comrade. Zilia’s gaze moved between the two men before falling on Nikos curious what he wanted to share with Stardusk which he wasted little time getting into.

Nikos pulled out a small notebook before looking back at the crew, running a hand through his hair as he looked over the notes he had just received once again.
“We learned a few things and I felt you needed to know,” Nikos said. “That’s why I’m here.”
“I’m here to fill in the blanks,” Leo said folding his hands together.
Nikos looked over at Leo who only offered a small nod to Nikos, the Prophet seemed confused by the man’s words but turned his attention back to his book and flipped through it looking for the specific information they had obtained from Lily.
“Lily after we escorted her out told us…that she wasn’t the one who sent the Renegades after you,” Nikos said looking up at Runali. “I don’t believe her but once we were a bit away she became a little more talkative. I also can’t help but think back to Luro’s previous actions.”
He glanced over at Leo who only smiled resting his cheek on his hand.
“What do you think Lev? I don’t want to believe it…as that means we’re right back to square one…”

The news wasn’t exactly what Runali was expecting, but she couldn’t exactly say she was surprised. For a moment, her gaze fell to the deck. “Hmm…” Her foot began to tap, until finally her hands moved to her lap and she hopped to her feet rather quickly. “First off, that’s not interesting news at all. That’s bad news. But,” Runali began to pace back and forth in no particular direction. “I think that’s terrible news, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s yet another thread tied to all this. You all- and I do mean all- have been like those… myths that I’ve heard stories about… Hydra I think they were. Cut one head and two more appear?” She waved the thought away dismissively. “Anyhow, I think, it’s possible that there’s someone else that has the wheel of this messed up organization. Whether it’s jumping from person to person or maybe there’s still one missing puzzle piece that we’ve all missed.” Surprisingly, Runali didn’t sound as exasperated as she felt about the situation. Her words were calm despite her pacing back and forth after seeming so tired before. “Hell, could be another play of deception. That one,” she pointed at Nikos. “Could be double crossing everyone again. Or would it be quadruple..? What’s after quadruple? Doesn’t matter. Even this one,” This time she pointed in Leo’s direction. “Could be apart of the elaborate grand scheme of things that we don’t know about. It’s not like any of us know him. But would we know?”

Finally, Runali slumped back onto the barrel she started on and heaved a sigh. “Not until it tried to kill us, no. So what do I think? I think it’s possible. But I at least think that whoever’s pulling the strings has lost a good chunk of their cards because they played too much into complexities. Honestly, if someone wanted to kill us, they should have done it the easy way and just pointed their weapons and declared a battle. It’s clear, it’s straight to the point, it’s-...I’m rambling.” Runali realized and then once more waved her hand dismissively. “Sorry about that, carry on.”

Zilia listened to the Captain nodding at her as she responded to Nikos query, she agreed with the Captain’s observation as it seemed the more they learned the less they really found out. Something was either a lie a catch making it hard to believe if there was any real truth to it. Looking at the faces of the two Ravens they seemed to agree with Runali Nikos offering a small nod towards her, he knew firsthand how the organization could be and he wasn’t surprised by the information himself, but he disliked that it was possibly true.
“Well we tried to face you formally and we saw how that went,” Nikos said moving his hands to his hips. “So I think that option was removed a long time ago as well.”
Nikos shook his head before turning a page in his notebook.
“Regretfully I agree…it is a possibility.”
“It is true she’s not the problem though.”
Leo spoke up standing up from his spot and smiling at the group, reaching up he grabbed the cover and pulled it off revealing a cage. Nikos flinched a bit recognizing it from the underground city. Leo motioned to it with a smile and Nikos looked at the name on the top of it, his eyes widening a little as he noticed ‘Lily’ was written on the top.

“Lily was another hostage, forced to play her part or suffer the consequences, which was the life of young Mary,” Leo said taking a few steps forward. “She had to put on a display, welcome Stardusk with open arms, and play the leader…but ultimately the woman was little more than a puppet, locked in her cage until it was time for her ‘part’ in all this. She tried to speak against the organization, to stop the movement of the people but the Quill’s threatened her forcing her silence. Even while with you she was watched by the Quills.”
Leo folded his hands behind his back his eyes moving to the cage.
“Consumed by the guilt of not being able to stop the actions of the Ravens who were tricked into rallying around her, she sought to destroy them the only way she could… by having you remove the leader from their position. Ultimately however she wanted to be saved and who better to ask then the infamous Stardusk, the pirates who can make the impossible possible,” Leo said with a small nod. “That’s the truth of the situation. Thankfully Luro saw through the charade and that kept a life from being needlessly taken. Since she couldn’t…you know say ‘help me’ without getting those precious to her killed. She spoke up because the Quill’s have stopped watching us.”

Nikos stared at the cage a part of him not sure what to say in response to Leo’s sudden explanation. The cage did appear to be from the decimated city and he supposed Leo brought it with him to help explain the situation. What bothered him the most was how he exactly knew this information.
“Also Captain Lev, the answer is actually pretty simple on whose fault this all is,” Leo said nodding at her. “Once you figure that out, it’s easy to understand what’s going on. No trick’s, no complexities, it’s all a simple answer, has been since the beginning.”
“…it’s Luro’s right?” Nikos said. “I mean we got the posters and I know for a fact he helped with that part.”
“Nope,” Leo said smiling. “Luro funny enough had nothing to do with the Raven’s attacking you. It was just easy to pin the blame on him, even he believed it was his fault. Simply put Stardusk, it’s your fault the Ravens are hunting you. Each one of you caused this problem. It’s easy to place blame on another than on oneself, that carries much weight here.”
Zilia stared at the man named Leo who offered a small nod to the group of gathered pirates; she was genuinely confused what the man was going on about.

“Yeah you guys did a terrible job at it.” Runali quipped when Nikos commented on their fight. She would have said something else, but her attention turned to Leo when he revealed whatever he brought on the ship with him. “...Hm. Not the problem, but… a part of it.” The comment was to herself, but anyone close enough could have heard her. The annoyance now was moreso because she couldn’t be completely upset with Lily. Or, she could but it wouldn’t be as satisfying. It was hard to be mad at a group if she didn’t know who to be mad at and hostages were just too… easy.

Runali pushed the thoughts aside, deciding to hold her sympathy for when it mattered. “Bah, I say complex, you say simple. Say that when you’re the one being hunted down.” Her head rested in one hand while she listened to Leo, the look on her face becoming more and more confused. “You’re saying it’s our fault that we were attacked by people we didn’t know?” She glanced at Nikos for a brief moment. “I’d have an easier time believing it was Luro’s fault… What are you saying? If we hadn’t gone after the ones that tried to kill us, we wouldn’t be in this situation? What, we were supposed to just turn the other cheek and ignore it until they attacked us again?”

Leo gave a small nod seeing that Runali understood that Lily wasn’t the problem, only a part. He looked up at everyone else wondering if they seemed to understand. Though when Runali brought up being hunted, Leo only offered a smile in response to her comment, it fading off her face as she repeated what he had just told her. He offered her a nod moving his hands to his hips as she spoke to him his brows arching a bit before the smile returned to his face.
“I suppose that would be easier, believing the clues left in front of you is easier to go for than the real answers,” Leo said nodding. “Also of course not, defending yourselves is a perfectly reasonable response…but I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve fought people you didn’t know. I recall you fought some bounty hunters in your homeland who were strangers.”
Leo nodded at this before pulling out a notebook and flipping through it folded one hand behind his back as he started to pace back and forth across the ship.

“The sad part is you have no choice but to respond to it. I’m not sure if you were told but the Ravens are organized a certain way. Most of the members act on their own without guidance,” Leo said. “No matter how you responded you would have ended up in this situation.”
Leo looked up at Runali offering a sympathetic look to the Captain and the crew before lowering his gaze back to the book.
“That’s just how it is Stardusk. You were attacked because of what you’ve done…I suppose if I had to choose specifics….”
Leo trailed off flipping through the pages of his book.
“Captain Pars of the slave ship who you stopped. The Kraken Skull pirates, pretty sure you didn’t get all of them. Ikaros Ryu he really hates Luro and Alicia. Oh and of course any people Bow Black have beat up, such as those guys who attacked her in the tavern after she beat Elise. Oh and didn’t you let some guy go during the battle of Yula Fei. The second one anyway and I’m not sure if any of those pirates retreated but good to keep that in mind. Let’s see here…oh right Sara killed Captain Kars and his crew is very much alive. They don’t like you or Zilia, and all the people who you cost money. Jack and Kadi…well I’m sure you guys can pick the names of people you’ve angered as there’s a list here, if you can’t the Miners in Brass Cape don’t like you for killing a few of their own. Zilia you got a few patients you couldn’t save here…oh right and Simon Ira he really hates you all. Kane’Artuem as well…”

Leo continued going down the list naming people that for one reason or another could hate Stardusk or want revenge, people they’ve killed, lives they spared until eventually he stopped.
“The Ravens heard these woes, recognized this hatred and acted on it. I’m sure some of them were people you’ve killed or harmed in the past. I’m sure you cut down someone you spared before. So for why they attacked you…all of you have wronged someone, or spared a life that wanted revenge and the Ravens respond to such things. They didn’t attack you because of some secret meaning.”
Leo slammed his notebook.
“They attacked you because you are who you are. The only difference is the number really. Ultimately there was nothing you could do to stop this, so long as you're pirates, so long as you sail under the black flag so long as you carry the name Stardusk this will keep happening.”
Leo put his book away offering a nod to the Captain and crew.
“You already have an entire organization after you named the Navy so this shouldn't be new. You guys rose in the food chain so now you’re dealing with bigger threats as expected. The Ravens were just the beginning of all this, from here on things will only get worse; you’ll deal with bigger and bigger gatherings. I mean take a moment to think about all the lives you’ve been involved in, your enemies are just going to keep coming Stardusk, bounty hunters who want your heads, the Navy and just people who want you dead or your spot in line. The Ravens are a prelude…I suppose they were the response to your actions in the past, maybe the present as well.”
Leo folded his hands behind his back.
“The Ravens were just an organized group who attacked you…I guarantee they won’t be the last.”
Leo said this with a nod.
“You know this already though…I mean you are Stardusk after all. So yeah…simple answer. Hopefully that cleared up any misconceptions.”

There was a look Runali gave that easily read as her wanting to say something towards his response. But she waited. She waited and listened with her hands steepled in front of her face. For the longest time, Runali didn’t give a reaction. Even after Leo went so far into their past, her expression hadn’t changed, her gaze fixed on a particular board on the deck. Besides the quiet waves of the sea, for a brief moment, it fell silent.

And then, the silence filled with laughter. Runali doubled over, nearly falling off the barrel she was sitting on as her laughing got louder. Tears formed in the corner of her eye and she wiped them away. “Oh- oh man… So this whole time you mean to tell me, this group has been tailing us because of a couple of people we’ve upset?” The ridiculousness of it only made her laugh more. “Because we’re Stardusk…” When she could contain herself, she ran fingers through her hair. “Not just because we’re pirates, no because if that was the case, there wouldn’t be that many around would there?” She sat up and looked over at her crew. “Not just any pirates, but the Stardusk pirates. We’ve done nothing out of the ordinary really. Help some royals, stop a war, fight people because they were in our way, but for some reason we do it so well, that there’s an entire secret group that once to keep us at bay.” Once more, she stood up. “And you know what, maybe that is the best news we’ve gotten all… week? We’ll go with week. You say we’ve raised hell and I say,” She paused and tapped a floorboard with her foot to grab a stash of rum from it. “I say, we’re just good at what we do. You’re right. We have rose through the ranks. We’re considered the fourth most dangerous pirate crew in the world- fifth if you count the Pirate Lord herself! I suppose it’d be an offense not to come after us with everything they’ve got!”

There was a mix of emotion as she spoke, but it was hard to read the more she carried on. “Thank you. This clears up…” She waved the bottle in front of her. “Eh, enough. Enough for me to have a reason to celebrate that it’s over. Maybe not over forever, but hell, it’s over for now and y’know what?” She shrugged and looked down at the rum in her hand. “...Celebrate the little things. Besides, I’ve got a Pirate Lord title I’m headed towards and if this isn’t raising my bounty it’s wasting my time.”

The moment of silence was enough for Zilia to try and piece together what the man named Leo had said but it was cut short by the Captain’s laughter. Nikos and Zilia seemed confused by the Captain’s sudden outburst but Leo only smiled seeming content with the response. He was glad the Captain had a good sense of humor, and even laughed a little himself.
“That is a good way to look at it Captain Lev,” Leo said. “Stardusk you are very interesting people.”
“Why are you laughing?! This isn’t a good thing! This is bad! That means we’re going to be dealing with worse things!”
Zilia held the note out towards the Captain seriously confused why she was laughing at the concept of them being in even more danger because of their actions but Leo spoke up seeing the panicked look on the doctor’s face.
“I don’t think it’s a bad thing,” he said nodding at her. “You have allies as well due to your actions. Lina and Nura both helped someone they cared for and his friends, Yula Fei is fond of you and I’m sure a few people in Yakone like you as well. I'm sure there are a few of Thorn's fans who still like her and there are a plethora of people rooting for you. Another group came to your aid and one of them had never met you. You’re not alone in your journey, there are plenty of friends who will have your back just as you have each others. Even former enemies.”
Leo glanced over at Nikos at this who averted his eyes from the man. Zilia lowered her note shaking her head, she could see his point a little but they had far more enemies than allies. She put the note away knowing in the end it didn’t matter, Stardusk caused trouble, that’s just how they were.
Leo reached back and pulled his hood back on his head, and digging in his pocket handed a note to Zilia before doing the same to Runali.
“I look forward to watching your story Stardusk and I hope to see that Chronicle when it’s done,” Leo said pulling the top of his hood down a bit. “Also no thanks necessary Captain Lev just doing my job. We as people seem to search for complex answer out of habit, overlooking such simplicities.”
Nikos looked over at Leo who grinned.
“…Leo…what is your job?”
Leo glanced at Nikos then back at Stardusk and with a small smile slammed his elbow into the cage knocking it over the edge of the ship with little effort.
“Many years ago a part of the Raven’s broke off forming an organization. One that enjoyed finding information and writing it down. I suppose you could say we’re people who choose to record history, I mean when the next Sakuya comes, someone finds the black compass, travels to a rumored land or takes the mantle of Pirate Lord someone has to write it down right?”
Leo took a step back standing on the edge of the ship.
“We don’t normally get involved with such things, choosing a neutral stance to let history flow naturally…but my boss made a small exception for you Stardusk. Just this once though, don’t expect easy answers next time. We owed you one…just repaying the favor.”
Leo gave a small bow to Stardusk.
“We’ll be watching Stardusk so continue to be you. They say stars shine brightest before they die…I look forward to you proving that wrong.”

With that Leo stepped over the edge and Nikos quickly ran towards Leo peering over to the sea below, the young man and the cage were gone by time he got there. Slowly backing away from the edge Nikos sighed not pleased another organization was out there…but he supposed at least this one wasn’t trying to take over half the seas.

The Man O War started to approach Lady Luck and Nikos looked towards it, the Prophet’s waving to the crew before Mia fell off the top and landed onto Lady Luck with a grin, which ultimately meant it was time for him to depart.
Nikos looked over at Runali, the man stared at his former foe and reaching up pushed his glasses back on his nose as he approached her.
“Lev. I dislike losing…and so do my people. We intend on finding our own way but one day we’re going to settle our score, because of that we all agreed to wait. I’m fine losing to the future Pirate Lord but not to some pirate who gets stabbed by someone petty wanting revenge.”
Nikos took a step forward and held his hand out to Runali.
“Should you need help the Prophet’s will aid you…for a price as we do owe you one,” Nikos said. “We’ll get stronger each day and wait for you to reach the top. We’ll meet you there and finish what we started then. Don’t go dying early and making us look bad.”

Runali gave Zilia a goofy smile and pointed over at Leo. “Yeah, see? We’ve got friends too. We’ll be fine.” She gently patted the doctor’s back and saluted Leo. “Yeah, sure. Favors for favors. All that good stuff. Keep an eye out, you’ll probably see us again in the papers pretty soon.” And with that, Leo disappeared. “Hm, what a happy guy… Kinda reminds me of Nolan.” She shrugged a little. “Cept I trust Nolan.”

She started walking over to peer over the edge of the ship, only to look up and see a Man O War sailing towards them. She simply nodded towards those that waved before focusing on Nikos. She blinked for a moment and looked from him to his hand before chuckling a bit and shaking his hand. “Yeah, yeah, Phoenix. You’ll see me again, I may actually give you a good fight, you’ll lose. And we’ll do this allll over again.” Runali gave a cheshire grin and added. “Don’t disappoint, remember that oh so sage advice I gave, and celebrate with your crew that you guys aren’t dead.” She gave a mock salute to Nikos, walking off before he could respond.

“Good to see you in one piece, Patches. Guess this makes us official allies now, yeah? If you need us, there’s a chance we’ll be able to help.” She chuckled. “Unless we’re in our own mess…” She saluted Mia as well, giving them all final goodbyes before turning to her own crew. Runali smiled a tired smile and raised the bottle still in her hand. “Hm… To another successful… uh, adventure?”

Zilia watched the Man O War pull off Mia and the Prophet’s waving to Stardusk as it vanished in the distance. Nikos after sighing at Runali’s response informed them they Clipped would deal with the Renegades from here, and he’d have some of his people put near a few of their loved ones until the matter was fully resolved. Mia laughed since that meant Emil wasn’t leaving Yula Fei anytime soon, but she kept that part to herself.
Once the ship had vanished Zilia looked back at her Captain staring at her raised bottle. If she was being honest there were still things she wanted to know, but it seemed Leo only intended on answering the simple question, her eyes went to the letter in her hand since it seemed she’d be figuring out the rest on her own.
“I have a feeling this is only the beginning of our woes…but at the very least it’s one problem taken care of.”
Zilia raised her fist with a small smile on her face, she couldn’t cheer but she was relieved at the very least that they managed to solve one problem.

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Too weird to live, too rare to die.
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A hand gave Sara a small smack on the shoulder before Kaim walked around in front of her offering a grin before he shoved his hands in his pockets and made a motion with his head towards the Fortress.
“Good to see ya again Sara, sorry I didn’t say hi on the ship. Ya seemed lost in your world so I didn’t want to bug ya,” Kaim said offering a small nod. “I’ll be your partner for this, you feelin’ excited? Teaming up and taking on what’s basically a country. I’m all kinds of ready right now!”
Kaim made a fist and grinned turning towards the fortress.
“Anyway let me know when you’re ready and we can head towards our target. We should leave soon though; if we get surrounded we’ll be in a bit of trouble. Especially if the Quill shows up early.”

Kaim looked up at the fortress a bright smile on his face, the idea of fighting against his former comrades and a mess of First Tier hunters got his blood boiling. On top of that they had to deal with the Quill’s to allow the team to slip through, and Nikos had informed him he was allowed to go off a little bit if he wanted too. He also got to go with Sara as well, he couldn’t get their future fight out of his mind, and now they’d be fighting together, he’d be able to see how much she had grown in their time apart; he had been training everyday for their rematch. He knew how much she could learn in a short time so he couldn’t help but chuckle a little, he hoped it was a lot of progress.
“Oh man…this is going to be so nice….” Kaim said moving his hands to his hips.

Sara stared at the island, frowning, her gut churning. She had a bad feeling about working with those who swore to forever stand against her, much less willingly going into an island filled with more of said sworn unknown enemies. It is not how she would have done it, but this was the plan that they were going for. She turned her head slightly, her only response was a grunt before she turned her head back. After their fight, Sara was distant from Kaim, never approaching him for conversation but never isolating herself away from him.

“Oh going for the strong silent type today, that’s nice too,” Kaim said with a firm nod.
The man raised his gaze to the towering structure moving his hand over his eyes, the thing was extremely tall and he couldn’t help but grin a bit at how many people were probably waiting for them inside. Lowering his hand he turned to look at Sara before pointing at the top with his thumb.
“All right it’s a good thing you got good upper body strength, cause we got the fun entrance.”
When Kaim spoke two grappling hooks went flying upwards before attaching to the top of the fortress, the Clipped below gave the hooks hard pulls before waving the two over. Kaim grinned making his way over to ropes.
“They told me we could go in through the bottom, but what’s the point in that right? Where’s the challenge. So I chose this one. Let’s get going!”
Kaim grabbed the rope and wasted little time making his way upwards, laughing as he did so.

Once at the top Kaim hopped over the edge onto a platform that rested on the other side, he looked back up making sure Sara dropped before his gaze moved to the distance. Taking a moment to search he grinned before pointing past Sara towards few objects that were within walking distance.
“Our job is to take out the upper west cannons, those huge things right there,” Kaim said. “They’re not that far, the only real problem is them.”
Kaim pointed to the approaching forces and a few of the ones that were standing guarding the distant cannons from intruders.
“They haven’t organized yet so all the hunters are over there. So we can tear through these guys and go deal with those guys over there. The big dogs are scattered so we should destroy them quickly and move, so we can buy time for the others without getting surrounded…though that does sound fun it’d be bad here.”
Kaim watched as the Renegades drew closer, grinning a bit at the crowd of soldiers in yellow cloaks trying to catch up to them.
“It’s just a couple dozen, this shouldn’t take too long,” Kaim said rotating his shoulders. “How many you want for yourself?”

It was a tough climb, made tougher by the action and violence around them, but Sara made it to the top without any real worries. Narrowing her eyes at the presence of the enemy, she stood up, taking out her shield and spear and holding them out ready. She didn’t share Kaim’s nonchalance, one person coming to kill her was dangerous enough let alone a few dozen at the same time.

Kaim grinned raising his fists up but hearing only silence from Sara he glanced over at her, arching a brow. She seemed way more talkative than this, but then again she wasn’t in the mood to talk when they were punching each other either. He decided to just relate it to that and shook his hands off as the footsteps of the soldiers got closer, their weapons glinting in the moonlight as they slowly got within striking distance.
“Uh…okay I’ll just leave you half then,” Emil said rotating his arm. “It should go without saying but don’t drop your guard, a weak one can still stab you, now for some proper fun.”

Kaim rushed forward slamming his fist into one of the approaching troops sending them flying back into the others; he weaved his body in-between the strikes of the Renegades slamming his fist into them with each dodge. His body shifted to and fro leaving only traces of his presence as sent the Renegades either to the floor or over the edge with each calculated movement. A grin rested on his face as he ducked under another sword; there was nothing better than this rush in the moment. He let a few swords get a little bit closer as he fought, putting his chin out to get a bit of scruff off. Kaim reached the other side of the troops glancing at the ones on the ground, his gaze moving to the ones that were jumping at Sara, he did a quick count.
“Yeah that’s half! It’s all you Sara, I’ll help clear the path ahead,” Kaim said continuing forward.

As they charged, Sara leaped towards them to close the distance, her clenched fist, her fingers wrapped around the hilt of her gladius, shooting out to meet the face of the lead soldier. What she expected was that he would be knocked back, possibly missing a few teeth. What she hadn’t expected, and what had subsequently happened, was that his face had spontaneously caved in. He flew backwards, knocking back his comrades onto their backs, his neck broken from the force of the impact. Sara, not expecting this, stumbled forward with the momentum. She paused, shocked, as she looked down at her bloodied fists and at the small splinters of bone embedded in her knuckles. She flexed her hand, experiencing the pain of the shards moving before closing her fist again and slowly looking up at the soldiers rising to their feet.

Kaim had made his way to the cannons grinning at bit seeing the Hunters turning to look at him, he brought his hands to his sides preparing for a fight, and turned to look for Sara only to see her back with the other soldiers, and the result of her attack on one of men. He blinked a few times turning fully in her direction as the soldiers she had knocked down climbed to their feet, looking behind her he noticed more of them were starting to approach her. His eyes narrowed slightly at this ignoring the hunters that were drawing their blades behind him.
“Sara! What are you doing! Don’t stay in one place you’ll get surrounded! Keep pushing forward!”

Kaim pointed behind her showing that more Renegades were running at her weapons drawn, the ones in front of her were shocked by the strange force but judging by the fact most were picking up their weapons they had little intent on relenting.
Kaim crossed his arms over his chest wondering what she was doing, they didn’t have time to stand still, he brought a hand to his chin wondering if he should go back and help, his attention more focused on the woman then the approach Hunters.

Sara snapped out of whatever she was in at Kaim’s words. She blinked, looking back from her hand up at the soldiers slowly rising to their feet. She unsheathed her gladius and took a few steps forward.

One of the soldiers, quicker than the others, swung a cutlass aiming for Sara’s neck. From her perspective, it was like he was fighting underwater. It was easy, so easy, for Sara to lash out and grab his wrist before it could even cross his shoulder. His bones cracked but, to his credit, he didn’t cry out in pain or scream for help instead just slowly turning pale, a face white as a sheet that turned a bloody crimson when Sara smashed her shield into his face. Then, she was among the rest of them like a wolf locked in a chicken coop. Bones snapped, limbs were torn, and the screams of the dying soon punctuated the air. Their swords shattered, their strikes hitting nothing but air, the soldiers were now easy prey for the powered up Sara. Soon, very soon, they were all lying on the ground in puddles of their blood, either dead or about to be, with only a blood-stained Sara standing in the very center. She breathed heavily, her chest taking in lungfuls of air, as she twitched with the almost uncontrollable intoxicating power flowing through her.

Kaim started to step forward but the moment she slammed the Renegade that attacked her Kaim went still. He crossed his arms over his chest watching as the woman tore through the people in front of her, moving much faster than she typically did, his eyes moving to and fro as she took down Renegade after Renegade until there was nothing left but the woman standing in the center of the destruction. Kaim’s eyebrow arched a bit and he grinned watching her, even a normal person could tell there was something different about her.
“Now where was this on Gavera,” Kaim said giving a small nod. “That much change in just a few weeks. That’s what I like to see.”
The Renegades behind him jumped swinging their swords at him only to cut through the air, Kaim stood behind them and slammed their skulls together, using his foot to kick one over the edge.
“I’m busy watching this,” Kaim said. “Sara! We still have to destroy the Cannons! Also good job! That was fun to watch from start to finish!”

Kaim turned and made his way over to their objective, there were three large ones with small clockwork mechanism’s attached to the side. Ultimately destroying the Mechanisms would stop the cannons from firing and more than likely cause an ensuing explosion going off if the reports were anything to take note of. Once that was done they were free to return to the others, so long as a Quill didn’t show up, which the longer they took the higher that possibility would get.

Once again, Kaim’s shouting brought her focus back to the real world. For a brief second, she blurred out of existence as she charged the cannons and the group of soldiers guarding them. She was untouchable, simply being everywhere except where they were trying to hit. As she felt the strength and power flow through and out of her, she didn’t hold back in using it. Bones splinted and skulls were split as she ripped and torn her way through to the cannons. She felt invincible, she was laughing as she took a step back to pull out her pistol and aiming it at a barrel of gunpowder, stored nearby for the cannons. The ensuing explosion lit up other munitions and stores, triggering a chain explosion and scattering almost everyone to the ground. Somewhere, past the sharp haze of ultra-focused reality, Sara heard laughter and screaming, shouting the same three words over and over. It took her a moment to realize that it was her own voice.

“Kill! Maim! Burn!” She was upon the scattered survivors, slaughtering them where they stood with brutal ease. “Kill! Maim! Burn!”

Kaim’s eyes narrowed a bit as Sara started to move faster, not so much because she was dealing with the guards that saved them time, but there was something different about the woman as she ripped through the Renegades. The look in her eyes were different, the way she moved was concerning, he could feel immense power flowing out of her and probably for the first time in a while a serious face rested on the easygoing man’s expression as he watched Sara.

Seeing her pull out a pistol his eyes widened seeing what she was aiming at and he raised his arms as the explosion filled the area, he watched soldiers fly over his head as he lowered his arm, looking at his now flaming sleeve before he patted it out with a sigh.
“That’s going to be a pain to get out,” Kaim mumbled.
That explosion mixed with Sara screaming at the top of her lungs was going to draw the wrong kind of attention, Kaim looked over at the cannon’s and gave a small nod seeing that they weren’t in any kind of working order, that meant they had to move.

“Sara! Sara! We have to go,” Kaim ran over to the woman dodging the bodies that came his way.
Kaim glanced back seeing more Ravens coming, his eyes narrowed a bit as he was sure he saw a figure in a yellow cloak for a brief moment walking behind the approaching forces. His eyes narrowed as he wasn’t sure if his eyes played tricks on him, it was probably best not to risk it so he just reached towards Sara.
“Come on we have to move!”

Sara gritted her teeth tightly, her chest heaving, as her eyes swivelled to take in the area around her, easily dodging oncoming blows. With how sluggish their attacks seemed to be, it was like, from her perspective, that they were fighting while drowning in syrup. After parrying a sword strike with enough force to shatter her opponent’s arm, and driving her own sword in and out of his chest did she notice that, through all the red haze, Kaim trying to get her to move. Why? Why flee at the moment of their victory? They were fleeing before them, they shouldn’t have to stand there and watch them get away, they should be among the cowardly wretches, punishing them for daring to flee the battlefield while Sara was still here. She watched them go, running as fast their legs would let them, as the red mist parted if only a little bit. She wasn’t here for slaughter, she remembered that now. They had a mission, she still had her duties, duties that others were depending on her for.

With a shakey exhale, and a modicum of self-control restored, she faced Kaim and nodded, her eyes twitching. “Okay, let’s go!” She unintentionally shouted, still struggling with controlling the power that came from within her.

Kaim nodded though he leaned away a bit as she yelled and offering a hand to help her up quickly ran in the opposite directions of the cannons, making sure Sara was behind him as he put distance between himself and the others. The moment he felt they were far enough away a burst of light filled the area they were in moment before. Kaim held his arm up as the pillar of light, watching the brightness as it consumed everything within it. The light tore apart everything in the area, the bodies unfortunate to get pulled into it disintegrating as the light burned them to nothing. A moment later the light faded and little was left of the area save a large smoldering crater.
“Hah…good we got out of the way just in time,” Kaim said nodding at the sight.
He had run to the other side of the fortress making sure to get out of range of the attack that was probably coming and as expected the Quill’s wasted little time responding.
“If I left ya there I’d be bringing ash back to Stardusk and they’d be all kinds of mad at me,” Kaim said grinning. “I also wasn’t in the mood to become dust in the wind either, armament would do little against that.”

Kaim glanced over at Sara at this before he moved his hands to his hips and leaned towards her a bit.
“So uh…before we head towards the meeting place. Would you like to tell me what exactly that was all about?”
Kaim said this arching his brow at her.
“I felt immense power flow from you but you didn’t seem…yourself I guess if that makes any sense. Like you were moving on instinct or something? When we fought I could tell you were focused and in control but the look in your eyes back there…was different.”

Sara stared at the pillar of light coming down, that was drawing everything in and obliterating all it touched. She stared at the display of destruction and thought to herself that she could do better. As the red mist lifted, she felt some, but not all, of her aggression ebb away. When Kaim stopped to talk to Sara, she continued walking past him. “Do you ever stop talking?” Sara responded, irritated

Kaim looked over at her and grinned shoving his hands in his pocket and jogging a bit to catch up and match her step by step. He supposed she didn’t intend on telling him about it, he couldn’t really blame her, people were allowed to have a few secrets to themselves. He stretched his arms above his head as their mission was done so now all remained was going to meet with the others. He supposed he’d find out one day, whether she liked it or not so he was fine leaving the questions alone for now.
“Only when I’m asked nicely,” Kaim said smiling at her. “Sometimes anyway. Let’s get back to the others, I’m itching to really get things started.”

Sara didn’t respond back, she instead kept walking faster. Dripping behind her, she left a trail of blood and gore that was dripping down from her clothes, hair, and hands that had small white chunks of bone and tiny bits of broken teeth impacted in her knuckles and fingers. Her hair, once straight and brown, was now ragged and dyed with crimson. Her eyes kept moving non stop, scanning every shadow and every alley, just waiting for something to pop out for her. As she took every step, still twitching with spiritual energy leaving her cells and dissipating in the air as a light steam, she felt her muscles grow more and more weary and tired, yet paradoxically, but still filled with energy. She felt a deep ache as if she worked out too hard if that was even possible.


*Insert quip here*
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Zilia walked to the lower decks of the ship with a lantern, opening one of the doors and walking into a large open area near the bottom of the ship. Her eyes moved to a nearby crate and with a small smile she took a seat on it, her eyes twitching remembering her feet didn’t touch the floor. She made a small mental note to bring a proper chair down here.
A few days had passed since Luro had run off to do what he called ‘Luro stuff’ he didn’t really go into what it was just that it was something he had to take care of. He ended up leaving with Mia the two vanishing relatively quickly, leaving no trace behind save the one eyed woman’s laughter.
Zilia had been against him leaving since he was still recovering but to her misfortune she understood why Luro was departing, and didn’t have the heart to say anything else. One of the few things Luro was good for was not dying to things that would kill normal people so she just had to hope for the best. It still didn’t stop her from waking up in the middle of the night like tonight, worried about one of the few people on the ship who walked around either on fire or with sharp implements sticking out of them.
A part of her couldn’t deny it was also weird not to see Luro doing his rounds, every day he’d wake up, walk the whole ship, take notes then work on something before returning to the main deck. His job was the one thing he actually took somewhat seriously and it felt weird not seeing him staring at the main mast and scribbling in his notebook.
Staring at the empty spot in front of her she smiled a little bit, this place had plenty of memories too, though one stood out the most in her mind.

A few days after Gavera

Zilia held her notebook in her hand, tapping the tip of her pin against the paper. Morning had come on another day and there was still a strange feeling in the air that bothered her. She found herself staying in her room longer than usual, finding it hard to look at the faces of the others. She made an effort to break that habit and come out at her normal time only to find Luro was still locking himself in the rum room. She had picked up his footsteps late at night which seemed to be the time he did his usual rounds, but as of late she noticed he had been doing them during the day again.
He had barely been talking to the others and she found she wasn’t instinctively flinching when he got near anymore, not out of fear but more his habitual kidnapping when he went to work below. Instead he worked on the ship alone, making no effort to lift her up and carry her below deck as she tried to wiggle free.
While she was happy not to be kidnapped anymore, she didn’t necessarily mind the conversation afterwards. With that in mind Zilia decided for the first time she’d come down willingly, take a seat and speak with Luro. By doing so maybe he’d talk more to the others and maybe he’d come a bit more out of his shell, which might make things a little less awkward.

With that being said she was now here and staring at a blank piece of paper.
“…A…Awkward….this is really awkward… I can’t think of what to say. I’m just sitting behind him staring at his back while he works on stuff. He’s not saying anything either….how did he make this look so easy?!”
“Z could you hand me those nails?”
Zilia jumped at Luro’s voice and met his eyes when he glanced back at her, but hopping off the crate ran over to comply, he offered a smile and nod as the nails were handed to him before turning back to his work, Zilia taking a seat back on the crate.
However the moment the silence fell between them again Zilia put her face in her hands.
“I wasted the opportunity! That was a perfect time to bring up something! Why am I so bad at this?!”
“Uh…Z I think you’re trying too hard.”
Zilia raised her head to see Luro looking back at her; he offered a weak smile before turning back to his work.
“I get it…you’re checking on me but can’t figure out what to say right? It’s surprisingly easy to understand you Z.”
“It shouldn’t be that easy…Luro you pretty much know what I’m going to say from a glance, that’s not normal.”
“You’re pretty open about stuff so it’s easy to guess what you’re going to say.”
“So you can guess what I’m going to ask…”
“…unfortunately,” Luro said. “…you want me to be honest right?”
Luro glanced back at Zilia seeing her half lidded stare he sighed and offered a small shrug before turning back around.
“I’m not okay Z…not by any means. I feel terrible, I betrayed everyone’s trust, and I’m not on the best of terms with everyone right now.”
Zilia gave a small nod not really have time to be impressed that he had guessed her question.
“I’ve been a part of the old guard for a while Z…I joined the Captain…a few weeks after she first left home. About…two or three weeks after she first set sail I believe…that used to be a moment of pride for me, now it’s just a reminder of how long I’ve been lying.”
A weak chuckle escaped from Luro and running his hands through his hair he glanced back at her.
“Now I can’t speak to anyone without it feeling fake.”
Zilia flinched a bit at the forced smile on Luro’s face, her mouth twitched as the grip on her pen tightened.
“A part of me feels I should leave but that would just be running away especially after I was allowed to stay but if I’m here I’m just putting them in more danger…ever option in front of me is either cowardly or will just cause more trouble. Sometimes…sometimes in the night I feel I should just leave a note for the captain, take the dingy and leave. At least that way I’ll stop being a bother…I hate such thoughts but staying…just feels selfish. I think-”
Luro stopped talking as he felt something wrap around his neck, he blinked a few times as Zilia hugged him his body tensing for a moment at the sudden embrace. His eyes glanced back at her before immediately focusing forward realizing it wasn’t his imagination. Crossing his arms he took a deep breath in and let it out.
“A...Awkward…this is really awkward. What is Z doing? How am I supposed to respond to this?” Luro thought his eyes twitching slightly.
A note was held in front of Luro and he took it in his hands reading over it, his eyes slowly widening as he read Zilia’s message.
“Not long ago such thoughts filled my mind as well, I wanted to accomplish my own goals…but I almost allowed my fear to consume me and ruin the one opportunity I had been looking for. During that time an annoying touchy feely carpenter would randomly hug me whenever I tried to run and would drag me under the ship forcing me into long conversations where I couldn’t leave…thanks to that Carpenter and a small push from Sara I wasn’t able to depart and found a place here. Even if that man from back then was a liar he still helped me, in his own weird way as always. So I can say at least one person would prefer if that liar stayed even if he brings trouble….I’m also sure he can think of a few more people that wouldn’t mind his presence here.”
Something wet dripped on the small note and Luro brought a hand to his face, clearing his throat as he felt his chest tighten. A small laugh escaped from him, unable to find his own foolishness at least a little funny. He had been listening to the voice in his head a bit too much lately, and went deciding the feelings of his friends from his own observations instead of theirs. He opened his mouth to speak but feeling Zilia trembling behind him he smiled and held up the note.
“I get it Z so you can let go now,” Luro said glancing back at her.
Zilia happily did so taking a few large steps back, she shivered a bit opening and closing her hands trying to get them to stop shaking.
“You have to get over hugs Z.”
“Don't make jokes…because I’m about to kick you for making me do something so bothersome.”
“I-I got it Z please don’t hit me,” Luro said holding his hands up.
He laughed a little at the glare on her expression, she really tried hard on that one and he appreciated his friend a little bit more. He shoved the note in his pocket causing Zilia to arch her brow at him.
“I’m going to keep this in case the other me tries to tell me that wasn’t real,” Luro said grinning at her. “You’re right Z. I figure I should at least make an effort and talk to the others…even if they don’t like me we’re crewmates…I’ll hear it from their own mouths…even if it’s painful. That way I can’t go making up the truth like I’ve been doing.”
Zilia offered a smile to Luro and nodded before holding a note up to him.
“We all let you stay for a reason Luro…don’t forget that at least. You have a place here, and I’ll always support that.”
“…thanks Z that’ll help. I’ll talk with the Captain and Jack first I think. You three were the fastest to accept me, it almost doesn’t feel real so I should probably start with them as it is really hard to believe.”
“You’ll see they don’t mind you being here either Luro. Talk to everyone and find the answers properly. I know the pain of trying to change yourself…it’s something only you can do…but it doesn’t mean you have to walk it alone. It’s always nice to have friends with you to help pick you up when you fall.”
Luro grinned and gave Zilia a firm nod.
“Got it Z…I’ll do my best to find myself. I can’t make up for what I’ve done but I’ll make sure Stardusk has a future with every ounce of my strength.”
A bright smile formed on Luro’s face and Zilia smiled herself as she crossed her arms, that seemed like a real smile and it was much brighter than any of the ones he had shown them before. So long as he kept that up she didn’t doubt he’d find his way.
Her brows arched as she noticed Luro look back at her.
“Wait Z are we having a moment right now? This is a moment right?”
Luro took a step forward holding his arms out only to hunch over as foot slammed into his stomach; Luro fell to his knees with a groan holding it.
“It was painful enough once and now you’ve ruined the moment.”
“Ugh…worth a shot.”


Zilia sat on her crate smiling a little at the empty spot ahead of her; she closed her eyes and folded her hands together. One of the reasons she had also let him go was because he had something when she confronted him about it.
“This might sound a little weird but…just because I’ll be alone doesn’t mean I’m fighting alone. I also think I’ve gotten you all roped into enough of my past. I’m gonna handle this one, so I’ll be back in no time! Promise!”
Zilia hopped off the crate and turning made her way back towards the door, it was hard to say no to a smile like that, and Luro would handle his old regrets in his own way. Zilia glanced back at the crate and with a smile closed the door.

(These are extra stories that have little to no bearing on the main story, only being put up since it’s a ‘free’ period. Read at your own discretion... you have been warned).​

Kaim stretched his arms over his head and made his way below deck of the Prophet’s boat.
Nikos chose not to use any of their old connections to acquire it, not wanting to owe any favors to the remaining Ravens and they wanted to get a ship on their own. With some work they managed to get a galleon for themselves with Nikos aiming to either build on their current ship or acquire another one in the future, but for the time being it was a place they could call home.
It took some time to readjust but everyone had settled in well enough, Emil and Aira had returned and at least knew what the ship looked like getting to set up their own rooms and the like. Kaim couldn’t help but grin seeing a small living area that Nikos had constructed below deck, similar to their old hideout. He found his comrades sitting there most of the time and save for the fact it was on a ship it really did seem like their old home.

He knew Nikos had to pay extra to get their furniture back but he played it off as he usually did as not being a big deal. Everyone knew he hiding it however as he had cut back on eating his favorite fruit which he always got when they were at port, which meant he was a bit broker than he put on. Kara thankfully bought some since he was being stubborn and she had extra from her recent job.
Their new life was a strange one, building trust as a group took time but they were slowly being recognized in the current area and someone had actually come to them for help recently which was a step, a small one but a step.
Unlike with the Ravens everyone got to have a say in whether they took the job or not, no orders from above, everyone spoke about it and accepted or declined. Kaim had to admit he definitely preferred this way, and Nikos still led them but Kaim noticed he seemed far more relaxed as of late.

“Hey Nikos can we talk for a moment? I need your advice.”
Nikos raised his head from his desk as Kaim entered into his small office, he motioned towards the door causing Kaim to close it and setting the papers he was working on to the side, he folded his hands on the desk and gave his friend his attention.
“What’s going on Kaim?”
Kaim brought a hand to his mouth, stroking his chin as he clicked his tongue trying to find the right words for what he wanted to talk about.
“I feel…I feel like I’m the only one trying to commit to a relationship right now…and it hurts a little. I’ve put some work into it, I’ve tried but…nothing’s come out of it. We used to joke but now it’s just…weird. There’s this wall there that came out of nothing.”
“I didn’t know you were dating someone Kaim,” Nikos said his brows arching.
“Dating? I’m talking about fighting.”
Nikos mouth twitched to the side and grabbing his papers he went back to his paperwork.
“Hey hear me out Nikos! I’m pouring my heart out here!” Kaim exclaimed placing his hands on his desk.
With a sigh Nikos set his papers to the side and made a motion with his hand to continue.
“Nikos...I don’t think…I don’t think Sara’s the one. It’s been bothering me for a bit but after the fortress it stood out more.”
“…well this is actually rare what happened?”
“Hah…it feels like our talks were meaningless. We agreed our fight wasn’t a big deal, even before we traded blows on Gavera we made terms before the fight, till one person couldn’t fight anymore. It was a fair bout. Then I get a report of her conversation with Alicia afterwards…and Sara believes…that I stopped fighting because I felt sorry for her. What’s up with that?! Why’d she put words in my mouth like that? What kind of assumption is that to make of a person. That’s an insult to me as a fighter; she thinks I’m that kind of person! I couldn’t believe it when the reports mentioned it.”
“Well you two do barely know each other, assumptions come with that kind of relationship,” Nikos said.
“I get that and I’d understand it, in some way I probably messed up too. What I don’t get is why she made a big deal out of it when she didn’t want too! She said one thing than did another thing. What was the point of even talking about it if she takes it that hard! If you lose and you’re still alive, get up, brush yourself off and get back to it…I thought she was stronger than that you know. It bothered me a bit. Still I could let that go, I could let that go Nikos…but this whole time you guys got something out of your fights…all I got is some moody lady who thinks I wronged her without hearing my side at all! I was already a third wheel anyway, on our fight on Iurin she ignores me to watch Alicia’s fight, and even after all that she stands with Alicia…hah…is it me Nikos? Am I problem? Am I not good enough?”

Nikos pushed his pince-nez up on his nose and standing up placed a hand on Kaim’s shoulder.
“Kaim don’t say that, if Sara can’t understand how great of a person you are than that’s her fault. You extended the hand of rivalry to her and she smacked it away that’s on her not you. I also know it hurts on some level because you cared…but I also know you’re curious to see how far she can go still.”
“…yeah…” Kaim mumbled hanging his head.
“Then its fine, you got to know Sara and she’s not exactly what you’re looking for in a rival, that’s okay it shows you’re growing as a person. Not every fighter you meet is going to be the one…you want to beat on. One day you’ll find someone who matches you, someone who is your partner in battle. I’m sorry it wasn’t her.”
“…I’m sorry too,” Kaim said nodding. “I get you though Nikos…I suppose I did jump the gun.”
“You have a one track mind when it comes to love…of fighting,” Nikos said pulling his hand away. “You still want to fight her but…it’s more on friendly terms than competitive right?”
“…yeah I don’t hate her just…I met her, she ignored me, and now there’s this thing between us and she didn’t even take the time to hear my side and I’ve tried to understand her. She just won’t let me in so…I guess that’s it.”

Kaim sighed and sat in the nearby seat, Nikos sitting in his own chair.
“Just don’t forget this is a good thing Kaim. Now you know that you like Sara cause she fights but you don’t like like her to where you want to fight her as a fellow warrior,” Nikos said motioning to him.
“Hah…you took the words right out of my mouth…so that’s how I feel huh…man…I hate this,” Kaim said running a hand through his hair.
“Don’t let it get to you, it comes with having different partners.”
“Yeah…man it’s so hard dealing with women Nikos. I forgot how painful it can be, right man?”
Nikos flinched a bit his gaze moving to his closed door for a moment before he cleared his throat.
“…Due to the presence of our comrades and out of politeness I can’t answer that,” Nikos said with a small nod.
“Oh come on it’s just between us; the lasses can be hard to deal with. It’s not a bad thing, it gives them character but you know…sometimes you kinda wish it’d be a little easier,” Kaim said leaning forward a bit.
“…I suppose there are a few instances I can recall yes.”
“Right that’s what I’m on about. It can be painful.”
“ some cases yes they can be…trouble.”
Kaim nodded in agreement and made his way to the door.
“Thanks Nikos…I needed that…oh and-”
Kaim opened the door to reveal the female members of prophets standing at the door, a smile resting on Kara’s face as she held up her dagger, the remaining women drawing their weapons.
Nikos whole body flinched before he glared at Kaim who grinned at him.
“…how long Kaim?”
“They’ve been there a few minutes, after the like like part.” Kaim responded.
“They’ll kill you too.”
“Then consider my last words to be ‘worth it’.”

“Thank you all for gathering here for this special training session,” Nikos said folding his hands behind his back.
Kaim, Kara and Ria stood a few feet in front of Nikos, sweat running down the faces of each member as Nikos offered a smile to his comrades. The three couldn’t return the smile however as they were more focused on the giant geyser of lava exploding a few feet away from them. Kaim took a small step to the side as the Lava landed where his feet where and clearing his throat decided to say what the three of them were thinking.
“Nikos…why are we in an active volcano!”

At Nikos request the group had left their comfortable new home and climbed into an volcano, settling in a small pocket inside the deathtrap that Nikos somehow knew about. Putting aside the sweltering heat that was dizzying and the smell of what he hoped was burnt earth and not burnt corpses, but he did find a hand earlier so he had a feeling it was the latter. The path back up was behind Nikos and glancing to his right he could see a large lake of molten lava which would occasionally burst upwards as the volcano rumbled, shaking the ground in the process.
Kaim and Kara were doing their utmost not to show their discomfort and Ria…was being Ria yawning and wiping a bit of sleep from her eyes.
“We’re here to train; you said you wanted to join me during one of my sessions right?” Nikos said arching a brow at them.
“We did say that…” Kara said holding up a finger. “We just…didn’t expect this.”
“This is why Nina and Tari declined didn’t they?” Kaim though bringing a hand to his face. [/i] “They could have warned us!”[/i]
“We passed this place and I found myself coming here and getting some training in,” Nikos said. “It’s a good place if not a little tame so I thought I’d surprise you.”
“Well…you’re not wrong we are surprised,” Kara said lowering her hand with a weak chuckle.
“I want to question him on what ‘tame’ means but thinking back to our other training sessions I have a good idea,” Kaim though sighing.

“Okay so let’s not waste time,” Nikos said pointing to the lake of lava. “Every few rumbles a chunk of earth burst out of that lake. This is offensive defensive training. You want to destroy the chunk of earth while avoiding the lava at the same time. Oh and for extra fun don’t use your Armament.”
“Are you trying to kill us?!” Kaim said throwing his arms up.
“It won’t kill you, it’ll just burn. If you fall in it will kill you,” Nikos said. “Well actually there is a good chance you could die here but that’s the point. Every fight your life is put on the line, so your training should reflect that. Each missed strike, each ‘accident’ means your life can end, so perfect your strikes and style to the best of your ability to lessen that possibility.”
Kaim looked over at Kara and Ria before looking at his hands.
“…I don’t use a weapon though; I’d have to actually punch that burning rock.”
“That sounds like a personal problem,” Nikos said arching a brow at him.
“This is how you’re killing me isn’t it? You just won’t say it out loud.”
Ria raised her hand and Nikos pointed at her.
“…can we…make it a contest?” Ria said lowering her hands.
Kara and Kaim’s gazes shot over to Ria and Nikos gave a small nod before bringing a hand to his chin.
“I like that idea Ria. Okay the person who destroys the most rock with the least amount of damage done to them will only have to swim ten laps around the island instead of twenty.”
Kaim and Kara got into stance immediately turning towards the burning late.
“Allll right! I’m gonna tear it up,” Kaim said slamming his hands into his fist.
“Those ten laps are mine,” Kara said drawing her dagger.
“…that’s the spirit,” Ria said gripping her sickles.
Nikos stood next to the others moving his hand to his sheath, the three looked over at him and he smiled.
“Well I can’t make it easy,” Nikos said moving his hand near his sword. “Don’t fall behind or no one wins.”
The others smiled and turned towards the lake as chunks of earth burst out and fell towards them.


Vivid Imaginings
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Private Convo Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week, Slow As Molasses
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female, Primarily Prefer Female, No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
I'm willing to do either, but may lean more towards the passive side.
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, magical, modern, medieval, horror, dark fantasy, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi, adventure, action, anime
Genre You DON'T Like
Realistic fiction, romance

Raven’s Departing

Once Jack and Zilia settled the unconscious Luro on his cot, Jack resurfaced to pull Nikos aside. He handed the Prophet leader a bulge of papers. “This isn’t charity,” he told him bluntly, the day’s events wearing Jack’s civility thin. The cook did speak quietly to avoid everyone from hearing. “Think of it as...a job opportunity. Or a bargain. If the day comes you should need help finishing off the Ravens, or get tired of taking simple mercenary jobs.”

Jack insisted Nikos take them but if the man refused, it made little difference. They’d wind up in Ria’s possession instead, to make their way to the Prophet leader if a time ever called for it. Jack did ask for one strange request: to burn them after a year’s time, if the Prophet’s never used them.

After saying his farewell to Ria in person, offering the others a simple nod, Jack vanished below deck. He returned to Luro’s room. It was silent, except the natural sounds of the ship, and he wanted to watch over the sleeping giant for a time. He groaned as he slid down the wall next to his cot, pulling out a cigarillo and match.

“Well, big guy,” the cook murmured as he released a long smoky exhale. “You’ve certainly thrown us through a loop, haven’t you? At least it’s behind us now...isn’t it?”

Few Days Later, Post Luro’s Departure

Jack sanded the edges of the captain’s desk, patiently waiting as he applied the finishing touches of his repairs. He took a step back and ran his fingers across it. The new patch of wood held a vibrant contrast to the rest of the desk, having no Luro to help him find the right wood type to match the captain’s desk.

“Not the best, but it will do,” he commented to himself.

After everything that happened, Runali had been a little antsy on the ship. Luro’s disappearing act didn’t help much, but she kept relatively calm about it. Over the course of the trip- and she was avid on keeping to course until she was sure they covered enough distance from every Raven stamped island they had been to- Runali had taken a lot more night watches, paced around the ship a little more than normal, and constantly shooed away concerns with a quick ‘I’m fine’.

And she wasn’t technically lying. Runali was fine. She was just wrapped up in thought about… well, the future. The small details of it wasn’t something she ever considered. But it was son becoming a constant reminder; from the new threat of being Worst Gen to Luro’s… proposal. She was still having a hard time believing the latter happened and it was probably best to mention it… or talk about it… But she brushed it aside. Runali could work up the nerve to face people that wanted to kill her but couldn’t work up the nerve to talk. It was just one of the many things she was bothering to occupy her mind with.

To refrain from pacing a hole into the deck of the ship, she headed back to her cabin. It had been long enough and after a few requests- and maybe a complaint, she opted to stop at the nearest island Jack recommended. She had started to mumble something in her native tongue only to freeze when she realized he was in her room. Her head tilted a bit. “Why…?” Her eye went from Jack to the desk and she blinked. “Oh right, I almost forgot that was broken.”

Jack blinked back, looking between her and the desk, then chuckled. “Well. That should hold up well enough. You shan’t have to remember it again.”

Brushing his hand together to dispel the sawdust, he walked towards the cabin’s door and picked up a basket nestled beside its frame. He turned back to the captain. “Are you ready? I know it’s a tad late but I assure you, it’s worth it.” He said, glancing at the porthole. The soft orange glow illuminating the space promised a few hours of daylight left.

Runali moved a little closer to inspect the wood and she patted the desk. “Thank you.” Her smile turned into a small smirk. “Even though you were the one that broke it. So I s’pose thanks for that.” She leaned against the desk and watched him walk off, straightening up when he turned back. Her one eye trailed down to the basket and then back to Jack. “Hm..” Runali stood to follow. “Might as well since we’ll be here for a bit.” She rubbed her shoulder and gestured him forward. “Lead the way Jack.”

He beamed at her. “You won’t regret it.”

Taking a step ahead, Jack led her off the ship. He kept a casual pace but there seemed to be an excitement radiating off him. His steps were light and the grin appeared genuine as they returned to the deck. They went to the long boats and Jack piled in the basket, then lowered it, and kept it steady for the captain to climb in. Once they pushed off, he grabbed the oars and made for the beach of the island. It was relatively large for an uninhabited island, the low rise of a dead volcano rising in its center, shrouded with jungle greenery.

“I hope you don’t mind, it’s a bet of a trek,” the cook commented as he steered them to the beach. He hadn’t explained what ‘it’ was, keeping it a teasing secret. “Hoshi North- my mentor- first brought me here years ago. A place hardly anyone knows about.” Jack paused to look at the captain. He knew for the last few days she’d been...unsettled. Pacing a lot more, waving concerns off with a casual hand. He felt a change when Luro left-- but what it was, exactly, escaped him. He hoped this little moment would take her mind off whatever worried her.

Runali remained relatively quiet, but curiosity was etched on her features as Jack lead them to the island. It wasn’t often she could easily see Jack being so excited for something. She didn’t realize just how grateful she was that the island was uninhabited until she stepped off the long boat and heaved a sigh. It was peaceful. The volcano was a new sight for her, but she trusted that it was the last of their worries since Jack of all people suggested it.

“Nah, I could use the walk,” She admitted. Being off the ship had already started to quiet some of her thoughts as she focused on the new scenery. “Maybe a clue to just where we’re going… but I s’pose I can be a little more patient.” Her expression went from curiosity to genuine surprise as he explained just how special the place was to him. “I-” Unsure of what to say, her voice trailed off for a moment.

“Well, I’m honored you’d show me,” She ended up saying in a softer voice. “Whatever it is?” Her brow raised a bit and she pointed to the volcano. “Is that what you’re showing me? I’ve heard stories of those and I don’t think… from a ‘Jack view’, that’s the safest thing to go exploring.” Usually, she’d be more than eager to go jumping into the next wild adventure, but now it felt best to keep things easy. Just this once at least.

A brow raised at her. “Wha--” he stopped, glancing where she pointed. His expression cleared. “Oh no,” he laughed as he pulled the longboat onto the beach. “That’s farther away than it looks. But don’t worry, tt’s heart has been cold for quite some time. Or…” he reconsidered as he grabbed the basket, and handed Runali a bottle of rum. “At least in the time I’ve known of it.

“There’s a cave near the beach on the western side, so we’ll be walking along that way. Unless you desire a trek through the jungle, it should be a boring venture,” Jack added. Once the boat was secure, he set off, letting Runali set the pace. The sun was nearing its crest with the horizon, turning the turquoise waves into a muted indigo. Jack lifted his face to the warm breeze. It was quiet for a time; the sound of the waves and bird calls the only ambiance.

“Have you heard from him?” Jack asked, keeping a light note in his voice.

“Ah. And here I thought you suddenly had a taste for danger.” Runali raised the rum bottle in thanks, giving a light chuckle. When her feet finally hit sand, she looked between the jungle and the way Jack mentioned before, deciding to opt for his way. No reason to make a detour if he had a plan in mind.

She couldn’t help but smile a little at the setting sun. It was a pretty sight that she somehow managed to graze over despite how long they had been on the ship. The rum bottle was still in her hand, unopened, so she decided now was as good a time as any to open it.

The bottle stopped at her lips when Jack posed his question. There was a slight moment of hesitation where Runali looked towards the ground but soon after took a drink. “Hm… Luro? No. I didn’t expect him to keep in touch. M’sure he’s too preoccupied..” The silence after didn’t last too long as she pushed the conversation forward. “A shame how many islands like this get ruined because of people. Lotta beauty to this… Even the sand seems a lot nicer than other beaches I’ve been to.”

Jack’s eyes slid over to her, noticing the quick change of conversation. He nodded. “Indeed. Although, we anchored on the nicer side. The other half of the island,” he gestured in the volcano’s direction, “faces a trading route. Some crews use it as a waylay; a pit stop to catch a breather, or hide away cargo… sometimes drop off castaways and prisoners. No one gets this way much… people tend to disappear in the jungle.” His voice adopted a wry note. “Hoshi dropped me after she adopted me from my former crew-- the first crew I ever joined. Wanted to ‘test my merit’ by having me reach the other side of the island. Through the jungle, I may add. She posted people around the beach to make I wouldn’t cheat. Ah, careful. It’s gets slippery here.”

Slowly, their lush beach transformed into a rock bed black as iron from the sea spray. Small rocks peppered the white sand at first, then became smooth slabs that folded over each other until the Stardusk pair were climbing on cracked, dark rock. Spritz of greenery creeped their way through the rock. On their inland side, the ground rose at a faster pace, quickly until it became a small cliffside. It broke up the black rock but more could be seen clinging to the cliffside. Jack kept close to Runali as they picked their way, the ground proving to be as slick as he predicted. He tapped her arm when they reached their destination.

A large crack split the cliff they’d been following, revealing a cave that led deeper into the island by the dying sun. Jack gripped the rock wall and peered in. “It should be safe, just watch your step. We won’t be going too far… I hope you don’t mind bats.”

Stepping back, he gestured to her with a bow. “Ladies first.”

Runali listened with interest, not realizing the trip entailed learning bits and pieces about his mentor or his past. “Well you seemed to have turned out just fine to-” One foot moved a little too quickly from under her but she immediately caught her balance. “ Right, well. Thanks for the warning.” It was new terrain, not just from the beach to where they were trekking through, but Runali wasn’t sure she had seen things of the sort. Maybe she just didn’t pay as much attention as she thought she did. She became a little more focused on not slipping, with her eye on each place she planned to step. There were a few times she over stepped or under stepped and slipped, but Runali kept from falling. “So how’d that ‘testing merits’ go for you? Didn’t end up starving to near death, did you?”

Fortunately it didn’t last very long and the two were looking into the mouth of a cave. “Tch, can’t watch much if it gets too dark.” For emphasis, she tapped her eyepatch and a brief laugh followed his bow. “Don’t worry, my hearing is better.” She made her way into the cave, slowing down a bit and keeping her hand against a wall. With her lack of depth perception and the dimming light, Runali didn’t want to make any wrong moves. “Never seen a bat before. A lot of firsts visiting this island.” Her voice was low. She’d never seen bats before but she knew enough to know that spooking them into swarming- or flying wildly wasn’t a good idea. “I guess, this isn’t a place you come to very often.”

“A few times. But no, not often.”

A rush of heat suddenly wafted the captain's back and bathed the cave's entrance with soft orange light. Jack grinned at her as he held a torch aloft, stamping out a match as he did and picking the basket up. "I won't leave you blundering, captain."

"As for my trials on this island," Jack shrugged, talking softly as their voices bounced off the cave walls, "there was a period of hunger but I wouldn't say starving. My knowledge as a cook helped me identify safe plants to eat. Hunting was a challenge... as was knowing what trees were safe to sleep in. There are wild boars and a small panther tribe here, like as not once cargo washed onto these shores from one unfortunate storm or another. They liked prowling at night."

The path they followed paralleled with a small bubbling stream that dumped its contents into the ocean. Overhead, hanging greenery and bright red blossoms cascaded down in a natural tapestry, clinging to the moist walls. Moss and mushrooms crowded for residence at their feet. The farther they went in, the more noise started surfacing. The stream grew broader and louder; drips from pointy stone outcrops overhead fell into small puddles. Beyond it all, the faintest chittering. Jack glanced up when a sudden rustling flapped over their heads but the bat's dark fur kept it from sight.

He tapped Runali's shoulder and instructed her to the right. A space in the cave's wall opened up to a small clearing covered in moss and greenery, from the spongy floorbed to the wide opening in the ceiling. Tangles of purple vines intertwined with brethren sporting tiny white and pink blossoms as stranger flowers spined in blue made homes in holes and corners. From their vantage point, the sky was a dark purple, no stars yet to shine. At the center of the clearing, an abandoned campfire revealed the first sign of other humans having been here once.

Jack shimmied around Runali and walked into the clearing. “This is it. We’ll have to wait a bit before it happens. We can talk in the meantime.”

He gestured for her to get comfortable while setting the torch down where its flame wouldn’t extinguish. He opened the basket, revealing a bundle of dry wood, and a small canvas bag of dried fruit. He tossed this to Runali and started on building a small fire for them.

“My hero.” There was an obvious teasing in her voice, but with the new light source she nodded her thanks. The last thing she wanted was to fall.

“Ah, right. Cook first, wild adventurer second.” The mention of panthers made Runali perk up a little. The only large cat species she came face to face with were the tigers that stalked through the forests of Jaipur. It was so hard to gain the trust of one tiger. It made her wonder if panthers were any different. She doubted they'd run into any though.

“Whoa.” Runali's voice was still soft as they entered the clearing. She took a moment to study the area and admiring the flowers. “A place rightfully kept hidden.” Her gaze turned to Jack and she raised a brow, watching him set up a campfire. There was something about this moment that made her laugh softly, but when Jack looked her way Runali just shook her head and took a seat. “Nothing, nothing. Just…” She gestured around her and laughed again. “Thinking of how we always poke fun of Sara and Alicia for running off.” There was a brief pause as she ate some of the dried fruit he gave and then leaned on her propped leg. “It is nice though… Thanks by the way.” For a moment, Runali stared at the sky trying to find a star or two but when she couldn't, her gaze fell on the fire and she sighed.

Jack watched her from the corner of his eye. The campfire now crackling merrily, he folded neatly next to her and grabbed a handful of fruit. Her comment regarding Alicia and Sara caught him off guard; he coughed a laugh and smoothed the top of his head. “Ah, well, you are welcome… even if I wouldn’t say it’s exactly the same thing…” hearing her sigh, his voice dropped off. His attention completely shifted on her, studying her for a moment. Jack’s hand twitched up for a cigarillo he didn’t have.

“Captain, what’s on your mind?” he asked softly.

It was easy to see Runali trying to figure out an answer to his question. For a moment, almost on instinct, her hand went up to wave away the question just as she did every time she was questioned on the ship. But instead, her hand turned into a fist before falling back to her side. “We could have had… around 13 people in the crew, you know? Maybe a few more.” She shifted so her hands were in her lap. “Most have gone off to finish things… build lives... But one’s dead. Two technically.” She frowned at her words before sighing. “I’ve come to terms with it though… I just…” She shrugged and scratched the back of her head. “Some of them promised to come back- even Raymond, but…” Her voice trailed off and she shrugged.

“Just worried I guess.” Runali gave a weak smile. “Hard to be a top notch crew if we don’t have a crew, y’know?” For some reason or another, Runali started to clam up a little and she waved her hand in front of her. “But Luro’s… Luro. I don’t question his loyalty- and I question a lot of things about him.” Runali worrying about her crew wasn’t new and she quickly felt like she was rambling so she quieted down. “Yeah, just worried I suppose.”

“Cap- Runali,” Jack said tentatively, fingering the rum bottle in his hands. He held it out to her. “He’ll come back. I know that doesn’t stave off the worry, but he will. He-- I doubt he has anywhere else, you see.” His fingers reached up to trace the Stardusk symbol on his neck as he glanced out towards the cave’s stream, beyond their sanctuary. “If...I may be so bold, I reckon that’s not the only thing on your mind. You’ve been acting off ever since the Ravens departed, before Luro left too.”

It was always more often than not, her crew called her by her name when things were serious- or if they were using it for terms of endearment so she noticed. Unfortunately, it was the former. It made her eye stray away from the fire to Jack. And when she couldn’t hold his gaze for long, it went to the rum bottle in his hand. She started to take it, her hand moving a bit slower than it should have. His declaration made her pause and raise a brow at him. She came close to suggesting that her crew could be anywhere they wanted to be should they choose, but that idea sounded as if she was just letting them all go- the opposite of what she wanted. So, instead she hummed in acknowledgment and offered an, “I s’pose.”

“Force of habit at this point-” Runali went rigid. It wasn’t for very long and it was fairly subtle, but nonetheless Jack’s perceptiveness caught her off guard. In hindsight, it shouldn’t have. She was learning more and more about Jack as they adventured together but one of the first things she knew was that this man always had a careful eye on things. It’s why he was the most fun to gossip to. Unfortunately, his critical eye was turned to her.

“Hah,” The breath she let out was a little unsteady until she gathered herself and straightened up. Before she answered, she took a drink. “Can you blame me? I mean, getting sent on a wild chase from one place to another only to learn everything was lie with each place we went? Not being able to help people that you want to? Sudden emotional weights that change nearly everything and yet nothing at all-” While she spoke, she was using one hand to gesture absentmindedly, but towards the end her hand closed into a fist and she cleared her throat. “With… nearly dying from a few bad decisions on my part of course.” It technically wasn’t a lie. She had made a few bad calls as a captain that put them in such a dangerous situation, but she knew he’d catch onto her. Not if he hadn’t already at this point. “...Define off?”

He'd noticed since he sailed with Stardusk, their captain was rarely forthcoming with emotion. That wasn't to say she showed none-- he'd seen her frustrated, delighted, worried and even angry. Except the times she was elated, they were muted. A dismissive gesture or expression before she moved to the issue at hand. Jack understood that was the way of remaining calm and in control of the situation, and her crew. But since they left the Ravens behind, he wondered how much those unreleased emotions festered in her recent restlessness. The comment of 'sudden emotional weights' caused the slightest twitch in the cook's brow. That worried him, because he didn't understand what it implied. Runali quickly moved on; he kept the concern to himself, for the time being, not wanting to ruin her sudden talkativeness.

The smallest smile greeted her question. "Why? Do you desire to keep a better check on yourself?" It was a light tease but Jack suspected truth to it. He paused to poke at the fire. "You're a very assured person, Runali. At least that's what you project. You've been restless these last few weeks, constantly roaming the ship, taking late night shifts when it's generally just Luro and I who take them. You tend to use your hands more, too, when you are flustered, nervous or worried." He looked pointedly at her fist.

"I know you and Luro are... close. Don't say you are the same to all of us; I have a hard time imagining you put the same care of words in defending Sara or Kadi like you did when I... had doubts. Not to say you don't care about us all," Jack rushed to add. He pushed back his hair and sighed. "You've had to put a lot more effort in Luro though. Keeping him in line, ensuring he's trusted and can trust. These last few months have tested that, haven't they? What I'm trying to get at... you're dwelling on something, constantly running in circles with it. What is it?"

“Ah.” Runali gave a nervous laugh and ruffled her hair. “Maybe I wanna know for enemies’ sake...” She looked down at her hands after he pointed out her nuances and behavior. Even she didn’t realize her own gestures at times.

As Jack continued, Runali seemed to grow colder, practically shuddering when he asked for the truth. Apparently the truth was just a cold, blunt subject at the moment. Her fingers fiddled with the jade necklace her mother gave her, waiting for Jack’s words to stop echoing in her head. There was no use trying to hide it. She could probably tell him to stop prying, but what use would that be? She’d continue her pacing and her worries and then she was sure at some point the whole crew would notice- if they hadn’t already. She had hoped the night watches would have been taken as a kind gesture for them to relax. Guess this meant she couldn’t use ‘captainly duties’ as an excuse either. More excuses ran through her mind until she finally stopped. She stopped her thoughts, her hands, and just took a breath. Her hands were shoved in her lap and her eye closed for a moment. “I admire your talents, y’know.” The statement was light, almost as if she completely ignored the subject at hand. “Not just your cooking skills.” Runali added, leaving it at that. Slowly, her shoulders started to sag back down and she sighed. “You’re right though, I do care for you all. In very different regards since you are your own people. Wouldn’t try to treat Zil the same way I treat you or Kadi.” Her legs crossed and her hand started to tap on her knee.

“...I guess it would be considered dwelling, huh? It’s more disbelieving if anything.” She frowned to herself, looking at the fire. “As a captain, it’s surprisingly easier to keep a handle on things. Keeping things somewhat controlled and planned. ‘Pirate Lord’. That’s the goal. That’s where I’m headed as a captain. But as myself? Surely I thought it was one and the same. I didn’t have to worry about anything else. It was just one easy to understand goal. And then I- he changed that.” Her hands ran through her hair and she stole a glance at Jack. “Not necessarily the goal. But how I see it. How I see everything really... But it wasn’t just him. The Novas mentioned it before too and I didn’t understand it till recently.” As she spoke, she was less and less wrapped in her own mind and soon enough just letting the words flow as they came. “How can you be a great leader if you only focus on your crew?” Runali mocked Robin’s words and huffed. “Wasn’t just about fighting prowess I realize. I don’t know if it was ever really about fighting prowess- pfft, I could take all of you down if I wanted. ” The teasing eased her own tension some.

“I thought I was aware of where all of you stood in regards to this crew. Sara’s hesitant and isn’t as emotionally attached to being a pirate. But she does enjoy the crew, which is fine until her ego gets the best of her. Zil likes us too. Far more into the idea of being a Stardusk now than before. Hah.. can’t believe she thinks I kidnapped her…” Runali smiled a little and continued. “As distant as Kadi is and as hard as it is to read him, he’s loyal. If anything, he shares the same sentiment Alicia does when it comes to loyalty after helping them with such large requests. And even you’re warming up to the idea of being with this crew, but that one’s obvious.” Her smile dimmed ever so slightly. “Luro… I don’t question his loyalty. I don’t question that he loves being in Stardusk. I question…” She trailed off and her hand waved in front of her when she didn’t know what to say until she gave up and decided to just outright say it. “He asked me to marry him.” Runali didn’t necessarily feel a weight lifted off her shoulders when she admitted it to Jack. But there was something about saying it outloud that made it feel more real than it had before. It made the idea of it being a fever dream less of a possibility. “...I didn’t give him an answer though. I, uh, told him to wait. To give me time to at least process… all of that.”

Jack choked on the rum, coughing into his arm in as he quickly tried to cover it up, not wanting to spook the captain. There were plenty of things he expected coming into this conversation-- a proposal fell about as far down as Runali confessing feelings for the Vermillion Prophet Nikos. Wiping his mouth, he looked back at her. He saw the confliction on her face. Obviously it hadn’t been something she was prepared for, and as one with her sights on being the next Pirate Lord, that little surprised him.

“...and?” he prompted gently.

Runali’s hands went up when Jack started coughing. “Exactly!” She turned a bit to face him. “Completely outta the blue! After the whole Raven fiasco and everything!” She shook her head and started to say something, only to deflate a bit. “...and?” Her attention turned back to the fire. “That’s the problem. I don’t know. No plan, no warning, no nothing. Marriage is a big deal! You wanna know the last time I considered anything close to marriage-” She paused, “Unimportant actually. The point is, this was so sudden. I… want to give him an honest answer but I don’t know what that is.” Runali slumped down. “And he was so sure and understanding too… ‘Marriage is the best commitment a man can offer’ he says. ‘I’ll always be there if you need me’ he says.” Recalling that day made the blush return to her cheeks and she rubbed them as if that would make it go away. “By the way he said if he had the chance he would have considered a pass at you. But he doesn’t think he’s your type.”

“I’m flattered,” was the dry reply. Rubbing a hand over his face, Jack sat up and crossed his legs. A glance upward revealed stars beginning to shine. He looked back at her as he propped an elbow on his knee, chin resting in the palm. “He’s right though, amusing as it would be to consider.”

Frowning, Jack began picking at the moss beneath them as he considered this. “Do you love him?” he asked at last, meeting her eyes.

With her hands still on her face, Runali groaned. “I was hoping you wouldn’t ask me that.” She rubbed her face, pushing her eyepatch upwards and stared at the cook for a moment. A few times, Runali started to say something only to close her mouth and look at the ground. “Love’s confusing Jackie, if I knew that you probably wouldn’t be so concerned would you?” There was a slight pause and she shrugged. “Tell me, what’s your outlook on it? Love, that is.”

His eyes drifted away. The corners of his lips tugged upwards, faintly, but the corners of his eyes pinched. For a moment it seemed he was lost in memory. “Love is… like a summer wind, to me. Capable of bringing the sweetest of days, or the coming thunderstorm. It’s unpredictable. Exciting.” His cheeks warmed and he scoffed at himself. “But it’s also not the same for everyone. What I love most won’t be what you love most.”

Jack’s expression changed. The happiness he showed, the excitement from when they first came to the island, vanished. His lips pulled into a hard line and he took a moment to look up at the sky, organizing whatever emotion threatened to surface. In spite of the calculated blankness, vulnerability flashed behind his pale irises. “So if you want to take from it me, you take all the time you need, to decide what it means to you and if you have it. And if it’s don’t let it go. Don’t ever let it go.”

The captain watched Jack with a raised brow. His answer wasn’t one she expected, but it was welcomed with a smile. Even as Jack’s expression changed, Runali kept the soft smile on her face. “A… crazy giant once told me that I should take the advice I give.” She chuckled. “Maybe he’s right. But maybe you could use that too.” Runali patted his leg in reassurance. “Thanks. For all of it. I think I have an idea of what it means, but I’m gonna wait a little longer. Just to make sure. I rush into a lot of things- this definitely won’t be one of them.” The sudden shift with Jack didn’t go unnoticed and it made her nudge his arm wit her own. “By the way Jackie, what were you supposed to be showing me? Didn’t mean to steer the trip so far off topic.”

Another nudge shook Jack out of his reverie. “Hm? Oh.” He frowned. The stars were all out now, their little cave creating a natural skylight to the heavens. His gaze worked its way back down, analyzing their clearing, even turning to look over his shoulders. The flowers and moss appeared unusually vibrant against their campfire and starlight, but otherwise the cave remained unchanged. “That’s… strange. The sun should have set by now. Maybe if I douse the fire…?”

Talking to himself, Jack leaned over to poke the fire, then stopped. Outside the clearing, the small animal chitters nearly drowned by the stream’s bubbling, suddenly crescendoed. High clicks echoed against the rock and the fluttering of wings overlapped to create a dense orchestra of wildlife. He peered into the darkness, listening close. A wicked smile crept across his face. As the the noise came closer and closer, Jack turned and kicked out the campfire then politely grabbed Runali’s arm and pulled her up. “We’ll want to be over here,” he helpfully explained as he pushed them both among the vines.

No sooner had they flattened against the wall, a torrent of bats burst into their clearing. Pitched squeals hurt their ears as the hundreds of small, furry bodies flapped past, their wings whipping hair and snagging clothes as they cycloned upwards, towards the sky. Jack closed his eyes against the hectic flurry. His heartbeat raced as he tried not to flinch against the bat wings even though he knew what to expect.

Abrupt, soft silence signified the last of the bats’ departure. Jack cracked open an eye, leaning back as a few strays flapped by, and slowly smiled. He tapped Runali’s arm. “This is what I wanted you to see.”

The entire clearing glowed with internal light.

Purple vines that tangled in their hair slowly transformed into glowing fuschia ropes creeping upward. The small white and pink blossoms shined their natural vibrance as blue-coded petals striped their corners. The squishy moss coating the floor bed pulsated a deep green, fluctuating from their curves and grooves, and the steps of Jack and Runali as they peeled from the cave wall.

Jack caressed a vine as it reluctantly slid from his shoulder, admiring the plant’s luminescence with silent awe. He never tired of this. Brushing a nearby flower with a finger, he looked to Runali, anxious and excited to see her reaction.

The sudden barrage of bats made Runali shut her eyes tight, but she couldn’t help but laugh. A snarky comment would have followed had she not been keeping herself from getting too roughed up by wings. When silence fell and Jack tapped her, Runali began to smooth out her hair and open her eyes.

Curiosity turned into immediate surprise. Her eyes widened as she slowly stepped forward to inspect a few of the vines in front of them. “Whoa…” It was all she could think to say. Moments before they were in a simple clearing and now- “It’s like magic!” She spun around to face Jack, still carefully holding onto one of the blossoms on the vine. Runali looked back down at the glowing flower in her hand, carrying it as if it would break with the slightest movement. And then she noticed the ground underneath her glowing as well. Runali moved one foot, then the other, seeing her footprint glow for a brief moment until it faded out. Letting go of the vine she trapped, Runali began to walk around the clearing inspecting everything with a sudden childish glee. Not once had she seen nature suddenly begin to glow like this. “I’ve never seen something so pretty.”

Jack chuckled at her glee. “I’m glad you appreciate it. It is magic- I think, anyways. You travel around enough, you can come across little wonders like this. Natural phenomenons that are the only remnants of what magic used to be.”

He walked around the cave, taking time to touch the vines and flowers. He paused at one small, white bloom sporting four petals no bigger than his thumbnail. He smiled at it, plucking its from its stem.

Still enthralled by the sight, Runali offered a hum to let him know she was listening. The idea of old magic made her think of stories she heard as a child. With the wildly new things she discovered as a pirate, she wouldn’t have been surprised if the wildlife here had been magical. “I'm glad you showed me.” She reciprocated the sentiment and finally looked his way. “Have you brought others here before?” It was innocent curiosity and a quiet hope that such a beautiful place would remain untampered with. She wasn't sure if she'd ever get to see such a place again, but having a chance alone was nice enough.

He nodded absently. “Only t-two though,” he coughed, covering up his brief hesitation. Rubbing the back of his neck, he returned to the captain and gave her an awkward grin. “I would like to show the rest of the crew tomorrow, before we leave… unless you wish to keep it yourself?” he teased.

“Hm.” It was a simple sound, but it and her expression conveyed that she caught onto his hesitation. But as she told him once before, Runali decided not to pry. “Oh, I think they’d enjoy it too. And,” Her fingers brushed against a few flower petals. “It’s nice to make… newer memories in places like this. Y’know, sentimental values and things.” The glow of her footprints made her smile a little again and she made her way to Jack’s side. “I mean I certainly have newer… nicer memories of the temple back on Jaipur.” She offered him a shrug. “It’s not as nice a place as this. But the tiger’s nice once you get to know her though.” Her tone was light and a little playful again, much different from when they first got there. She didn’t forget the stress and worry that had been biting at her before but it did feel easier to manage now.

Still, per Runali’s request, the two stayed a little longer. It was nice not to have to face the responsibilities of being a captain or of anything really. At a point when she realized it was probably best to head back, she spoke up, “Hey Jackie,” Gently, she tugged one of his dreads. “Let’s keep this to ourselves, okay?” She started to walk forward before turning to face him. “The conversation, not the place. A, uh, need to know basis and all.” Turning away, she chuckled. “Kinda like with the things you share.”

Jack automatically lowered his head at the tug, looking at her with a raised eyebrow. He smiled with understanding. “Of course, Runali. I wouldn’t dream of it.” There was another hesitation, as if he was about to say more, but ultimately decided against it.

Instead, he plucked a blue-and-white flower and offered to it to her with a bow. “A keepsake, hm? It’ll lose its glow within an hour but it’s a nice reminder. It also symbolizes sincerity,” he said as an afterthought.

“I’ll have to find a way to keep it preserved, but for now,” Runali happily took the flower and tucked it in her hair. “This works just fine too.” She appreciated the gesture and further appreciated that he would keep his word. But, Runali figured she thanked him enough at this point and motioned ahead of her. “I’ll follow your lead back.”
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Capt. Blu

Fake it til You Make it
Original poster
Roleplay Invitations
Not Taking RP Invites at this Time
Posting Speed
A Few Posts a Week, One Post a Week
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced, Adaptable
Genders You Prefer Playing
No Preferences
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Adventure, Scifi, Anime, Steampunk, Heroes and Villains
Time Since Last Adventure: Two Months and Three Days
Location: Finnigan Island*

Finnigan Island: Home to pirate and marine alike. It’d be classified as your average port island had it not been for the rise in conflict between the two parties. Low grade marines were sent to deal with the issues that the ones on the island couldn’t, but the more trouble that was caused, the less anyone wanted to intervene, as it was a waste of resources and a detriment of losing men. Fewer marines live on the island than before, and those that do keep a low profile, sending information out to the Navy in order for them to stay up to date.

Currently, it’s classified as a ‘problem island’ - an island overrun and directed by criminals. In this case, pirates. Depending on the risk, ‘problem islands’ are dealt with post haste- this island, however, is currently seen as a lower threat and not in need of immediate attention. Yakone would have been labelled a ‘high threat problem island’ had the marines been notified of what was going on. Other than the sudden self imposed dictatorship of the island, the townspeople live relatively normal lives, going about their time doing as they normally would.

*Location: Finnigan Island - Claimed and Conquered by the Tankered Pirates
Current Time: Second full day on island, arriving late at night the day before

The crew spent a considerable amount of time at sea. While normally Runali would have considered stopping on more islands in this time, she was very clear about getting as far away from all of the Raven sighted areas they had been to. And that meant taking a considerably long trip. Of course, they couldn’t keep going if supplies started to dwindle so Runali finally made the decision to stop on a more populated island.

The Stardusk crew docked late the night before and opted to rest on the ship until the next day. Late morning had set in and the town began to bristle with life. Seeing a pirate ship docked made a noticeable amount give uneasy looks, but no one dared approach it. The town itself looked rather bland, the most noticeable thing about it being the scratched out town sign. Something indiscernible was scribbled across the old name, but all anyone could read was ‘Tank’.

Runali sent the crew off to their own devices after breakfast, free to gather supplies, relax, and do as they wanted. It had been awhile so Runali- and several of the crew- decided it was best to use it to their advantage. “Don’t go too far! I still want to go over the new plan back on the ship! Come back by noon for lunch!” She called out as they began to break off to see the town.

Before Kadi could wander off on his own, she roped him towards a specific store; one that sold various books, papers, navigation tools, and whatever else Runali couldn’t think of. She figured there’d be less trouble if she took a buddy that was less prone to cause trouble and more knowledgeable about the stuff in the store than she was. But she did keep the invitation open should anyone else want to join her trip. “I took a quick scope of the place last night and overheard some guys talking about a treasure map that points not too far from this island. Figured to try and find it in the easiest place first before hunting it down the hard way. That and I had a question.” Runali adjusted her eyepatch as she talked. “So I’m not saying we’re gonna go back to that icy hellscape we tried to go through before,” Runali pushed open the shop door and wandered in. “But hypotheticals. Say we go full circle following the hemisphere north to north. What would we need for a trip like that? Specifically for the cold parts.” She fiddled through a few loose maps, some being empty shapes with no landmarks. “Or perhaps we turn around at the halfway point to avoid the southern pole…”

Before Kadi could finish his response, the shopkeeper stumbled through a backroom with papers and pens in hand. “I’m here! I’m here! What can I do for you fine…” The shopkeeper, an older man with wildly curly gray hair and glasses that looked much too big for his face, stared them over. “...pirates.” He finished and quickly straightened out the contents on his counter. “Not the… friendliest place for you to be. Or the safest.” His voice was hushed and his eyes darted towards a far off window, as if expecting someone or something to appear.

“Ah- is it the eye patches?” The Stardusk captain leaned against the counter and tugged at her own. “I thought of them more as a fashion thing than a pirate thing. Y’know, also to keep stuff from going in there.” Runali looked from Kadi to the shopkeeper before leaning on the counter and chuckling. “No need to go tellin’ the authorities, we’ll be outta your hair right after we get some supplies.” She eyed the shopkeeper’s weary gaze as his eyes darted between Kadi and Runali before finally ending at the map on the counter.

“Sure, sure.” The shopkeeper said, giving them a firm but accepting nod.

The peculiar interaction between the captain, navigator and the shopkeeper weren’t the only odd Stardusk interactions. Each crew member, no matter where they visited, were greeted with cryptic warnings that could have been considered threats had the people done anything other than look around nervously. No one ever picked a real fight, but it was clear that the Stardusk pirates weren’t welcomed. It was hard to say if they had already overstayed their welcome just getting there.

And much farther off, in the town’s noticeably abandoned lighthouse, a gangly woman hurried her way up the long spiraling steps up to the very top. “Captain,” She smoothed her poofy green dress out. “Sir, we’ve received word that another pirate crew found their way to the island. What are your orders?”

In front of the woman a man stood in the shadows, peering into a large telescope that was aimed directly at the Stardusk Flag. A puff of smoke came from the stout man and soon after his gravelly voice followed. “We welcome with open arms, of course.”
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*Insert quip here*
Roleplay Invitations
One on One Roleplays
Posting Speed
A Few Posts A Day, One Post a Day, A Few Posts a Week
Writing Levels
Elementary, Intermediate, Adept, Advanced
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Both are fine. I tend to be aggressive more though.
Favorite Genres
Modern Fantasy, Historical, Fantasy, adventure, romance, anime, action, etc.
Genre You DON'T Like
Depends on the story, not all that picky about it.

Sara laid in the bed of what was considered to be the doctor’s office of the ‘Lady Luck’, patiently waiting for Zillia to finish santising her tools. She was dressed in a clean white patient gown, her old blood-soaked clothes burning in a brazier outside on the deck, she watched the curls of black smoke rise from the nearby window. As she did, she grimly thought to herself how many more clothes of hers were going to be irreparably wounded. She hoped that the next time won’t be soon, she was starting to grow attached to her new clothes. Her hair, long and raggled, lightly stained the sheets and pillow covers lines of red. She had cleaned most of the blood from herself with a rag and bucket of water, but not to the standards that she held herself to. She raised an arm, wincing with the effort, as she examined the thick bandages wrapped around her hands, sighing before placing it back down on the bed to rest.

Zilia stood by the side calmly preparing to take a look at Sara, at this point she figured that she needed to do checkups of Stardusk everyday. She was almost impressed how they managed to get themselves injured in new and exciting ways, somehow acquiring the same wounds with fun catches. She was glad at the very least they were accepting treatment, she got tired seeing them walk up to her with a wrapped up wounds waving off the pain. These people were going to be the end of her one day.
Her office was a small little room on the lower deck that she requested Luro built after she joined, it was clearly a place meant for a single patient at a time which is what she preferred, a few doctors tools were placed neatly around the room, along with bottles without labels placed on nearby shelves. The bed was about as comfy as she could make it given what they had, it was nice enough to sleep in which is all she cared about.
Turning to Sara she held a note out at her.
“Okay before I start digging around in there, why don’t you tell me everything that happened so at least I know what I might be dealing with. If anything hurts or feel’s funny tell me that as well.”
Zila sat in the raised up chair and folded her hands in her lap, she generally had to ask these questions first as she couldn’t ‘talk’ once she got started and having to stop, clean her hands and ask questions afterwards took up time.

Sara, when asked that question, seemed unsure of her answer. “Well, I got really really mad and then I started hitting them really really hard. That… about sums it up. My hand hurts like hell and I can feel things moving about, tiny little things, when I try to flex my hand. That’s why I came to you, Zillie.”

Zilia nodded calmly writing down Sara’s response, every little bit helped though she seemed to stop writing for a moment when she mentioned ‘little things’ only to continue writing.
Offering a nod Zilia set her notebook in her lap and taking Sara’s hurt hand gently lifted it, she held it for a moment, gently squeezing it and raising it slightly, her eyes lifting to check Sara’s reaction as she observed her hand. There were a few things she figured it could be, the only thing that bothered her were the Ravens, it wouldn’t doubt her if they coated their skin in poison just to get a point across.
“I’ll get started then, I’ll give you something to numb the pain if you’d like.” Zilia wrote before undoing some of her bandages and grabbing her tools.
She set a few notes near Sara for her to read as she started doing her rather eventful job.
“You got really really have been a bit out of sorts lately Sara. Aside from mumbling to yourself you’ve clearly been stressed, or at least something has been on your mind enough to bother you. I didn’t approach at the time as you all are adults and can talk when you want too...but if your emotions flared to a point that it caused you to do...this...then I kind of have to invade your privacy a little.”

At the prospects of being sedated while in surgery, Sara brightened a little bit. “Yes please!” She let Zillia examine her hand, taking in a sharp intake of air between her teeth when she squeezed her but otherwise did not complain. As she unwrapped the bandages, it became clear by what Sara meant by ‘little things’. Splinters of white bone and chunks of teeth were embedded in her hands, with some pieces visibly sticking out and others shoved in deeper. Blood oozed from those sockets as every motion disturbed the slivers and caused more blood to come out. “Not… the prettiest of sights.” Sara commented as Zillia unwrapped the bandages. “But it looks worse than it actually feels, thankfully. And Zillie, I do appreciate your concern, but I think that this might be between Alicia and me.” She smiled, showing that she sincerely did appreciate Zillia.

Zilia looked up at Sara and reaching back grabbed a small bottle setting it on the table next to her, she was glad Sara wanted to be sedated since after unwrapping the bandages she noticed what exactly her earlier comments meant. She stared at the pieces for a moment with a blank expression her eyes rising as Sara spoke to her; she gave a small shake of her head and held a note up towards her.
“I’ve seen worse thankfully or I’d be reprimanding you right now.”
She reached for the bottle but stopped mid-reach as Sara answered her final inquiry, she remained hand slightly outstretched for a moment glancing over at Sara. Her gaze moved to the floor a moment and her eyes narrowed a bit but the doctor merely took out her notebook before grabbing the bottle.

“Sara…whenever Stardusk leaps into trouble, and comes back in sloppily wrapped bandages, or holding their sides it’s a concern for me. Because I care about each and every one of your health and well being. The moment you get injured Sara especially like this it involves me, whether you want it to or not. It involves all of us because we care about you.”
Zilia smiled at Sara before holding up her second note.
“I’ll respect your privacy for now but just remember each time you get hurt it unintentionally involves me and everyone else who wants to see you come back safe. So hurry up and fix what’s going on between you two so I can stop worrying. If you really want to keep it between the two of you then stop coming home with injuries, then I’ll have no reason to worry and I’ll leave you two be.”
Zilia took the bottle and brought it to Sara’s lips holding up a note.
“It’ll null the pain but you’ll remain conscious, if you want something stronger let me know.”

Zilia sat back down and got to work wasting little time dealing with Sara ‘little things’. She honestly wanted to inquire further, it was too late to just view Stardusk as another ‘patient’ at this point so each new wound bothered her, each cut, each stab, each bullet she treated meant her friends made a mistake, or someone was just a little stronger. Each new thing she treated was a reminder of that, she mentally sighed wishing her friends would take note of their mortality a bit more. That didn’t stop her from taking every wound seriously though, it was her job to ensure they could go back out there and do this all over again, which meant she had to treat them to best of her ability.
Due to that she chose to be a friend first instead of a doctor.

“Well, I guess it helps that the only person that was capable of hurting me was myself.” Sara laughed, as she took a mouthful from the bottle, grimacing at the awful taste. She, very patiently, then let Zillia extract all the shards of broken teeth and bone, wincing when she pulled out especially large pieces but otherwise sat perfectly still. “And me and Alicia are going to work on it together, to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“Best medicines are bitter,” Zilia turned one of the notes up seeing the look on Sara’s face. She generally always had that one ready for when her patients made faces, she could make them sweet but that was for nice people who didn’t get hurt all the time.

Zilia didn’t respond at first to Sara’s words instead focusing on removing the shards, but she did offer a nod to show that she was listening to her. When she mentioned she was going to work with Alicia the doctor’s shoulders lowered a bit as she relaxed a little knowing she was at least taking precautions. It took a moment but Zilia eventually stopped and turning washed her hands off, wiping a bit of sweat from her forehead she took one last look over her work.
The shards were thankfully out and she made sure to apply some medicine to her wounds before wrapping up where she was injured, and she made sure she was thorough in case Sara got an arrow in her back and ignored it…which wouldn’t be surprising.
“I’m finished and the next time you can only hurt yourself do it less,” Zilia held up the note and shook her head with a somewhat defeated look.

Though after a moment she smiled and helped Sara off the table before holding up another note.
“It might be a little sore for a bit but you should be okay, time will handle the rest. I’m trusting you to handle this with Alicia, so for my sanity do that and try not to come back with more wounds like last time. If you’re injured I’ll treat you, but don’t look in me in the eyes and pretend you’re not injured. At this point it’s impossible for any member of Stardusk to go out and do something without coming back with some kind of injury.”
Zilia turned and went back to cleaning off her workshop; she had a feeling she was going to end up using it again soon.
Sara looked at Zillia in surprise. “What? When and why would I do that? I’m not one of those idiots who hides their injuries and then drops dead a week later while eating because his wound went septic. It’s my role to take and deliver hits as it is your job to sew them back up, denying that reality out of a stupid sense of pride is beyond retarded. Any injury I get, and you’ll be the first to know.”

Zilia stared at Sara for a long moment after her words, the island incident popping out first in her mind but she just closed her eyes deciding to let it go. She learned a long time ago Stardusk were going to be Stardusk, and she felt Sara was being at least a bit serious about what she was saying.
“I’ll hold you to that Sara,” Zilia held the note up before turning it around. “I couldn’t be your doctor in the arena but I am here, so go out there, be Sara as much as you want, just come back and let me be Zilia when you’re done. Go on and do what you gotta do.”
Zilia gave her a light pat on the back before turning and returning to her workshop.

“Actually Zillia… I have another favor to ask.” Sara looked down at her bandages and the subsiding pain. In a few days or so, she’d feel like she would sport some new scars on her hands but would otherwise be in top condition. Sara spoke again, somewhat awkwardly. “I… noticed that you had a, well, a thing for hair, you keep staring at Alicia, Runali, Luro, my own, and sometimes Jack. Which, to be fair, they and I all have really good hair. Except now.” She grimaced at her blood-stained locks but kept going. “So, what I want to ask is - How good are you at cutting hair?”

Zilia was halfway to putting her tools away when she picked up Sara’s voice; she turned around her brows arching a bit at the change in Sara’s tone. Though at the mention of hair she ended up averting her eyes to a random spot in the room. She brought a hand to her mouth a little embarrassed that she had made it so obvious, but she offered a nod to both confirm her comment and show she was listening. The moment Sara brought up her own hair, Zilia’s eyes shot over to her and the doctor closed the distance between them at almost inhuman speed taking Sara’s hands into her own. Zilia’s eyes sparkled like a child after receiving a new toy but remembering that she was asked a question Zilia backed away and calmly took out her notebook. However her hand shook while writing which caused her to take a moment to actually write the note.

“Y-you mean…y-y-you’ll let me…s-style your hair…for free. I’m great at it! I mess with hair all the time, I’m always messing with Luro’s and I took care of my friends hair when I was traveling so I’m used to both cutting and styling. I even worked as a barber for a time. I’ll make it beautiful!”
Zilia held the note up with trembling hands though her eyes widened and she pulled it back holding up another note.
“If you don’t mind of course it is your hair…but yes I can say I have proper experience with it.”

Sara was surprised, even a little bit frightened, at Zillia’s strong reaction. She thought that she had never seen her move that fast. But Sara took it all in stride. “Yes Zillia, you have my permission to cut and style my hair as you see fit.” She smiled. “And if I think you’ve done a good job, I’ll even leave a tip.”

Zilia brought her fist to her chest and almost jumped in the air her body lowering slightly, but she looked at Sara remembering she was there and promptly straightened up, brushing imaginary dust off the front of her clothing before taking out her notebook, doing her best to keep her composure, though the smile on her face betrayed her stern body language.
“My tip will be the cut itself…I’ll get my scissors and we’ll get started immediately! Oh…I know five that would look good on you, or maybe something a bit more daring…subdued…no no daring.”
Zilia grinned moving to get her scissors, admittedly it’d be painful to cut Sara’s long hair but in its current state it would probably be for the best.
“This…is going to be a good day. I can’t wait to comb my fingers through it and…I’m writing all this down, why am I writing this down. Composure Zilia composure.”

“I insist, Zillie. Good work deserves a just reward.” Sara leaned back and closed her eyes, sitting quietly at rest while Zillia did the job that she enjoyed so much. She reminded herself that, if it turned out bad, to not be too harsh at her.

Zilia spun the brush in her hand her eyes resting on a potential masterpiece in front of her, a small smile formed on the doctor’s face and taking a step forward she got to work immediately. The movement of her hands were a blur, each movement she made calculated and precise, her hands directing an invisible symphony as bits of hair touched the floor of the makeshift shop, it was as if an visible wind was gently pulling at Sara’s hair shifting left then right. Zilia switched tools on the fly, moving around Sara her eyes constantly moving, a snip here and snip there, a gentle brush when needed, a bit of tickle on the neck but finally after her mad dance ended she held both her hands up, her eyes moving to the ceiling as she finally finished.
Bits of tattered hair decorated the floor, an honorable sacrifice in her eyes to what remained and Zilia spun the twin pairs of scissors in her hand slamming them into the holsters attached to her waist and grabbing the mirror on her counter. Walking forward she she held it towards Sara letting her view the style.
In the midst of her cut she was hit by a stroke of inspiration and ended up cutting Sara’s hair short, but she made some adjustments to her bangs, a look that drew attention and a style to help keep it, peer behind the cu rtain to what lies within, pulled into a tantalizing web where there’s no escape. Zilia had created a monster and she loved every minute of it.
“What do you think?”

After what was possibly the wildest haircut she had ever received, Sara looked at the mirror and eyes opened widely in shock. She raised a bandaged hand to her mouth, utterly speechless as she gazed upon her new look.

[Image for reference -]

“I think that expression is enough of an answer,” Zilia wrote before brushing her hands off with a smile. [/i][/b]
She was happy Sara seemed okay with her work, it was definitely going to turn heads up top, for a time she would be a goddess walking upon the earth, a beauty that stands above all things, flowers will turn their heads to keep her from gazing upon lesser things.
Zilia brought a hand to her face and closing her eyes took a moment to calm herself down, she was going to start reciting poetry if she didn’t stop herself. She didn’t need more poems in her room, not after last time.
“Well…don’t just stand here Sara. Go out there and show it to the world! Go make somebody jealous.”

Sara suddenly wrapped her arms around Zillia’s body to plant a hard kiss on her cheek, not before hugging her tightly. “Oh Zillie, this is wonderful, far far better than what I expected!” She kissed her again on the cheek before letting go, taking the mirror and admiring herself some more. She never had a haircut this short, usually preferring to have it hang long and tied back into a ponytail, but after seeing herself like this she decided that she looked really good. “Zillie, I’m promoting you. In addition to being the ship’s doctor, you’re now my permanent hair stylist.” She reached for her brown leather money pouch, which was ontop of bedside table, fished out a few coins, and shoved them into Zillia’s hands. “You deserve it, I won’t take no for an answer.”

Zilia closed one eye at the kiss and flinched a bit at the sudden hug, but returned it with a smile before backing away placing her hands on own hips when Sara took another look. She beamed a bit at her sudden promotion giving a small nod as she reached for her notebook; it was moments like this that made it all worth it. The smile on Sara’s face was the best payment she could ask for.
“I’m happy you enjoy it Sara and of course, anytime you want I’m happy to style your hair.”
When the coins were shoved into her hands she stared at them for a moment looking back up at Sara and with a small shrug put them in her pocket, she didn’t want to fight her on it especially seeing she was happy, Zilia just made a note to use some of it to get something for them to share later.
“I’ll take it but next time the hug will be enough. I like having you all in here for reasons other than treatments after all.”


Too weird to live, too rare to die.
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Sara wasn't a big fan of the typically cold greetings that awaited them at every port, but she especially wasn't a fan of this port. Upon being granted permission to do whatever they wanted until lunch time, Sara decided to take this time to explore the town and possibly even do some shopping. Unfortunately, she didn't find much. As she wandered through the market, past what felt like the umpteenth stall selling dead fish whose lifeless eyes stared back at Sara, she found it difficult to tell who stared more at her; the fish or the people. Being in their presence for too long made Sara's skin crawl, as well as killing her mood for shopping. Bored and feeling like she wasted a perfectly good morning, she made her way back to she ship to discuss further plans.
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*Insert quip here*
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Depends on the story, not all that picky about it.

“Thanks for helping me get some stuff Z,” Luro said as he stepped off the ship.
Zilia offered a nod following Luro into town, though she had offered to help him shop for some extra supplies, mainly for changes on the ship it was mainly to keep him out of trouble. When Luro returned he didn’t necessarily announce himself, she woke up to him working on the ship one morning as if he had never left. For some odd reason he chose not to go too much into what he did aside from handling some old business. She didn’t really like what that meant but left the matter alone as he was still alive, and surprisingly seemed less tense than before. At the same time it also made her uncomfortable still leaving him on his own, especially since he almost blew up eight dummies.
“…is it just me or are we getting random judgmental looks.”
Zilia took a quick look around after handing Luro the note; the people did seem intent on not getting too close to them, and the sideways glances were getting a little worrying. She looked over at Luro who only offered a shrug and continued forward.
“You gotta learn to get used to random judgmental looks Z we’re pirates after all.”
“I think getting used to them is bad Luro. Keep your guard up.”
“Hey! Hey you I need directions! Why are you walking faster? Hey wait for me!”
Zilia put a hand over his face watching Luro chase after the fleeing townsperson.

Luro and Zilia walked into a small store full of all manners of wooden knickknacks, he took a look around the shop, giving a small nod as he approached the counter. The man stopped wiping off the wooden desk noticing customers and looked up only to close his mouth as his eyes landed on the tattoo on Luro’s chest. Luro arched a brow as the shop keep’s eyes narrowed a bit at him and he slowly pulled his hands back.
“Ah I know that face,” Luro said walking up to the counter. “That’s the ‘are you going to kill me face’ I know that one all too well. Don’t worry I’m a pirate but I’m trying to kill less. You have nothing to be concerned of.”
Zilia held a note up to the men shaking her head slightly.
“We’re really not a threat, we’re just stopping here shortly after a long voyage.”
Zilia’s note seemed to calm the man down and taking a moment to look at the two he offered a nod and rested his hands on the counter.
“…how can I help you today?”
He didn’t try to hide his clear suspicion of the two but as neither had yet to pull a weapon on him, he relaxed a bit.
“I’d like every wooden object in here, oh and any spare wood you can spare,” Luro said.
The man at the counter stared at Luro who offered a smile to him, realizing he was serious his eyes widened and he took a look around his shop motioning to one of the walls.
“Um…I can’t just-”
Luro dropped a large pouch on the counter which surprised Zilia and the man, the two looking at Luro.
“That’s enough right?”
“Why do you have that much?”
“What you guys don’t save your money?”
“…far as I know not everything we’ve gotten into has gotten us paid so I have all manner of questions.”
Luro arched a brow at Zilia not sure if she was serious but the man finished counting the money and though he couldn’t believe it he made a motion towards the walls and informed Luro to take what he wanted.
“Much appreciation,” Luro said taking something off the wall.
“Why do you need this much wood…”
“It’s always good to have extra since I can’t always get high quality wood. I can easily make it better but eventually it’ll decay. Oh and I have this thing I want to do with my rifle.”
Luro took his rifle off his back and motioned to one of his generators, as he did his finger hit a switch and a red bullet fell out of his rifle, the moment it touched the ground the two looked down.
“Ah-” Was all that escaped from Luro before the bullet exploded, fire spreading through the shop busting out the windows.
“Can you go give minutes without destroying something!”

The two managed to drag the now unconscious shopkeeper out and Luro looked at the fire inside the shop. The inside of the building was engulfed in flames, Luro grit his teeth and dug in his sleeve.
“Zilia help him, I’m going to help put out this fire…though it has nothing to do with me.”
“It has everything to do with you!”
“No one is at fault in an accident Z,” Luro said looking back at her.
“Yes…yes they are. You’re at fault!”
“You’re being a terrible accomplice right now Z.”
Luro took out a flask and decided to try and retrieve the money the man probably had behind his desk, running inside he brought his sleeve up to his mouth, lowering his body a bit to try and avoid some of the smoke and flung the contents at the fire. When the flames flared he took a step back and looked at the leather pouch.
“Whoops this is rum.”
Luro took out another pouch and flung it at the fire only for it to flare upwards again, part of the ceiling crashing down next to him.
“Whoops that was also rum.”
Something hit Luro in the back of his head and turning he saw a pouch with Zilia pointing at it.
“Thanks Z! I’m pretty sure the third one would have been rum as well!”
“Then stop using them!” Zilia thought before returning her attention to the unconscious shop keep.

With a bit of help from Z and remembering he could just shoot out water the two managed to put the fire out. Luro stood in front of the nearly destroyed shop next to the now conscious man who stared at his shop with wide twitching eyes. Luro clearing his throat pat the man on his shoulder.
“I’m very sorry about what happened, that’s wasn’t my intention. Oh but at least you didn’t need most of the stuff inside anymore, and I’ll still take what’s usable.”
“Please…just take whatever and leave,” the man muttered.
Luro nodded and motioning to Z ran into the shop and took what was salvageable before turning and making his way back to the ship. He stopped halfway setting down the wood in his arms and digging into his sleeve held a smaller pouch towards the man.
“What I gave you probably isn’t enough for a store so you should use this too.”
The man didn’t respond his attention still focused on his wrecked shop.
“I’ll uh…just set it here then…you get that whenever you want.”
Luro sat the bag at his feet looking up at the man one last time, and taking a few steps back made his way back to the ship.
“So…who wants to explain that to the Captain.”
At Zilia glare a weak laugh escaped from Luro.
“I’ll uh…I’ll explain the accident.”


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Jack turned his most charming smile onto the shopkeeper. "Please, sir, I'll pay you for the extra--"


"But these won't do. I need something longer, and thicker."

"These only ties we have."

"Surely it doesn't long to make a new one? I have the money here--"

"You don't like what we have? Then go somewhere else, or get a bloody haircut!"

Jack's eye twitched as a dreadlock slid across his face. Sighing, he pushed it back and lit a cigarillo on the street, right outside the tanner's place from which he'd been dislodged. The cook had a singular mission this portside trip: new hair ties. His tenure with Stardusk permitted his dreadlocks to grow from his mid-back to waist, little beads pockmarking them to keep the worst of the frizz at bay. He enjoyed the length despite the extra hassle, but only thanks to the long, tough leather cords that kept his hair up and away from his face. Originally starting with three, the last finally broke two days before making port. In Jack's mind, it was the simplest of requests, one that should have taken less than half the time he'd spent wandering between the tailor's, the barber and finally, the rather rude tanner. At every turn, the townsfolk took one look at his hair and weapons, and turned the other cheek. He didn't even sport his bandolier; a waist pouch held a few throwing knives while his butterfly swords returned to his hips, as his hair was continually getting pinched by the holster without anything to hold it up.

Jack surveyed the street from where he stood. In spite of his dilemma the palpable tension that hung over this place didn't avoid his notice. The awkward side glances and cold shoulders came from near every person that passed by, making him feel alert and oddly vulnerable. The body language- especially the shopkeepers- suggested fear over hate. But fear of what?

Closing his eyes, Jack remained still, listening to the flowing pieces of conversation passing him by, when an explosion caught his attention. He looked up sharply as dead silence abruptly fell over the crowd, all looking towards a plumage of smoke appearing from the west.

"....Luro." With a heavy sigh, Jack reluctantly started towards it. "...maybe Zilia will have something I can borrow..."

Capt. Blu

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Location - Finnigan Island - Market Place

“Yeesh, what was that guy’s problem?” Runal held a new map in hand with a particular island circled in red. She was examining it as she spoke, only to realize what she had said and raised a brow at Kadi. “Think it’s the Worst Gen thing? I guess we would be more recognized now. Heh, s’pose they don’t meet a lot of big shots on this island.” It was neither here nor there for Runali considering this was a simple rest stop to gather some supplies and stretch their legs. Finnigan island would be behind them in no time.

“Cool chance, don’t you think?” The captain beamed down at the map in hand. The night before, as she scoped out the town while everyone was asleep, still snagging a few night watches from Jack and Luro even after the latter returned, she had overheard the stories two men shared about a treasure hidden a little ways away from Finnigan Island. So, she pestered the shopkeep about it until he gave her the coordinates she wanted. There was no real leverage of whether it was true or not, but that didn’t stop the captain from being curious. “It’d be like an old fashion treasure hunt! Something simple and maybe easy.” Her hand waved in front of her. “Or at least, less people shooting at us and more animals attacking. I’d say like Île du Vi... Ver R- the island Ray had us exploring. Except, you know less you getting shot and stabbed.” She would have continued to ramble on had she not heard the commotion of an explosion a few shops behind them. Runali flinched and sighed, not making the effort to look back.

“Maybe if we don’t look, it’ll fix itself…” She murmured before straightening up. “Almost… twenty five minutes, yeah? Could be a new record. Unless there’s the off chance that wasn’t the Stardusks’ fault.”

Having Kadi around also meant having the reminder when noon arrived fortunately. So when he did, she stopped the extra market exploring in order to head back to the ship. The place was large enough, but nothing was particularly interesting, so it was easy to find the others heading back towards the ship as well. “Oh good, just the pirates I wanna see.” She fell in step between Alicia and Kadi, whistling to grab Sara’s attention so she’d slow down a bit. Luro, Zilia, and Jack were a little ways back, catching up to the group as well. “Sooo,”

The captain’s gaze went from navigator to swordswoman, from swordswoman to gladiator, and then to the crew behind her. “Anyone else get that feeling they’re not so friendly with pirates around here?” There was a look of mock offense on her face, but it was followed by a snicker. “Weird though. I didn’t see any wanted posters around. Did see a navy office though. Maybe this place is just heavy on the govern- Ack!” Her head was pushed down and feathers flapped in front of her. It took a moment, but Runali wrestled the bird off her head and onto her shoulder. “CP you gotta stop doing that!” With few more unceremonious flaps and chirps, the captain finally realized the few people, no doubt pirates started to appear. Despite some of their grimy looks and mischievous grins, they approached peacefully, showing no signs of weapons or ill intent. This didn’t stop Runali from surveying the scene, readying for the worst. “Guess the navy wasn’t involved.”

“Quite the opposite!” A lanky woman, towering over most of the crew, with wild black hair and a poofy green dress clasped her hands together. She grinned wide, showing a tooth missing. “Relax yourselves, Stardusk! We’re not here for brawling. We’re just here to welcome you to our island!”

“...Your island?”

“This island is property of the Tankered Pirates. Normally we don’t take too kindly to pirate visitors, but,” Her clasped hands opened up. “It’s different talk when the Stardusk pirates are here. It’s an honor!” She stretched her hand out to Runali, but pulled away when all she recieved was a raised brow.

“You’re… not the captain are you?” Runali’s arms crossed and she eyed the woman over.

“Ah.. aha, what makes you think I’m not?” The woman scratched her cheek, more confused than nervous. She was more expecting a greeting than an interrogation.

“Call it a hunch. That and every pirate captain I’ve met has introduced themselves as such.” Runali tilted her head slightly to look up at the woman. “So? Who’s the captain?”

For some reason unknown to her, the woman grew nervous under Runali’s gaze, but she was saved thanks to the crowd behind her as they started to part and salute. “Thank you for greeting our guests Miranda. I’ve got it from here.” From the crowd of people, a man stepped forward slowly and dramatically. The closer he got, the more it was obvious he was only around Zilia’s height. He was a stout man adorned in a purple pirate captain’s outfit. His left hand was adorned in various gold rings while is right was replaced by what looked like a small rum barrel that went down to his elbow, and at the top was a very sharp and a very shiny metal hook.

He used the hook to tip his hat upwards and then used his hand to take the cigar out of his mouth. He blew a puff of smoke at the Stardusk crew and grinned, showing a few gold teeth. “No harm there Runali- or, excuse me, Captain Lev. Miranda’s just my first mate is all. Handles all the nice greetings and paperwork. Y’know. That whole shebang. But what she says is truth.” He nodded his head in some form of greeting. “The name’s Abram Johann, Captain of the Tankered Pirates. It’s a pleasure to meet ya. Like my first mate said, we don’t normally accept visitors- pirates at least, but a fourth gen crew such as yourselves we would never turn down. So if you’d like, join us at the taverns! We were getting festive! Drinks’ll be on us!”

The Tankered Pirates, and there had to be over fifty of them, cheered in delight at the plan of partying and getting drinks. Runali watched them walk down the street towards the taverns.

“Hmm…” Runali started and glanced over her shoulder at her crew. “Too friendly, yeah?” She waited for the crew’s opinions before scratching her cheek. “Well. I did say we’d stay for at least the day… and free drinks are free drinks… Might as well humor them?”
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Bunch of neurons riding a meat mech
"I wouldn't know, Capn't. The map, it is a decent chance to walk into an ambush, I'd say. Sadly, I think we won't find even that on the big, red X. The shopkeep is more than likely in quick contact with the bandits, so they know what kind of gullible schmuck is buying those maps. In our case, gullible schmucks who can ultramurder them ten times to teatime. I think we've kinda spoiled their..."

He stopped, back straight, eyes pointed forwards. He let the wave of dust lifted and pushed by the explosion roll over him, showing no recognition towards the atmospheric event. "Let's say that cool guys and gals do not look at explosions, eh? For all we know, they use blasts instead of clocks here. I would pin it as picturesque local contrafibularity, and walk on. Besides, we're a bit late to meet the others."

He followed to the marketplace, running off momentarily to buy a quick lunch in a stall that sold various kinds of stuff in deep fried batter. He returned munching on nondescript food item that would make demons of gluttony get a heart attack. Being real and alive was awesome. "I -unno -oss," he said with full mouth. "-oone rie to -ell us to the Avy. So far ou uud."

He let the events unfold. They were outnumbered, surrounded and quite possibly also outgunned. He was calm. They knew these situations, they were starting to get good at-

He swallowed. This was new. Certainly not something they were used to, or good at. "Holy shit, cap. We're popular."