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Fox of Hearts

The Angelic Crab
Collab between Winter Winter and Fox of Hearts Fox of Hearts
On The Other Side


“Meow?” A black kitten cried with delight.

Chaos’ blue eyes sparkled with delight when she spotted the newest addition to the Tankered Pirates. It had been awhile since she made new friends and Alicia seemed to be the perfect choice. The woman appeared very serene and inviting. Wasting no time, the excitable cat dashed over and rubbed her body against Alicia’s ankle. Her eyes closed as she started purring.

Chaos nuzzled the Feian woman one more time before her eyes snapped open. She stood on her hind legs and rested her front paws on Alicia’s knee. She gazed up hopefully as if she wished to be picked up. “Mrrrrao!”

Alicia had stood with her arms folded awaiting the next game before she blinked and looked down to see the small animal, her almost bored expression relenting into a softer smile as she crouched to glide a hand across the back of the cat. “Hello little one” she said softly, stroking a finger under her chin before gently wrapping her arms around the cat and lifting her up into her arms as she stood up once more. The swordswoman cared for all creatures big and small but she had a particular fondness for cats in particular for various reasons, the first and foremost being how they chose to show affection and trust.

Chaos’ eyes her closed. The kitten purred contentedly as her head rubbed against Alicia’s arms. Her approaching owner simply quirked an eyebrow at the sight. Cedric knew Chaos was very friendly by nature but this was the first time he saw her take to someone so quickly. He would have preferred observing a little longer but his eyes met Alicia’s.

“Judging by her purring, you might be her next favourite person,” he commented. “My brother would be heartbroken. He claimed he was her number one.”

He broke eye contact briefly before looking at Alicia again. He hadn’t planned on approaching her just yet but seeing that Jack was currently occupied he had no choice. “Well, First Mate Tashigi, have you figured out how you want to help your crew?”

His smiled briefly when he remembered Alicia’s face earlier when she was informed she was the First Mate. It looked as if the woman had no idea. That was highly unusual since most people knew their position aboard any crew. “You aren’t officially one of us yet. I doubt it would be wrong to help your crew.”

There was a lot of disgust in the way he pronounced the word “us” but he doubted Alicia would have heard it. Still, he paused for a bit to allow his previous message to sink in. “You must have realised by now that my Captain helped me score the win earlier.”

Cedric waited for Alicia to reply. He would offer information if she asked for it but he couldn’t do more than that. They were strangers and there wasn’t any trust between them. This meant that she would be suspicious if he appeared too enthusiastic. Jack was the only person who would trust him amongst the Stardusk. They had spent more than thirteen years together.

Alicia regarded the approaching man for a moment before returning her attention to the purring cat as he spoke, continuing to scritch behind her ears. “I’d considered incapacitating your crew and bringing the game to an abrupt end, but it seems my captain is enjoying herself… and has ordered me to behave myself” she replied softly, having missed his expression for his disdain towards the Tankards. “Cheating isn’t surprising, although not any less irritating. That being said even should we lose the game I doubt very much that we’ll willingly submit to join with the Tankard crew. I imagine either way we’ll be walking away from here so in the end it’s of no consequence” she spoke casually and calmly, no hint of threat present in her demeanor. “Your cat is quite lovely however, I always had a fondness for them myself”.

“She is, isn’t she? A good distraction from weightier topics.” He reached out to tickle Chaos’ chin with his finger.

“What the Stardusk does is of no consequence? There will always be rumors but none too flattering if you continue spilling blood unnecessarily.” Cedric turned his attention back towards the field just as Kadi took his first shot. “Not everyone here is your enemy. A lot of them are unhappy to be here. Speak to these men yourself if you don’t believe me. I’m sure you will be able to gain many allies. Not too different that day at Fort Nevis, no?”

The two of them were too far away to see the targets clearly. Luckily, it wasn’t hard to guess the results based on the Tankereds’ reactions. Samuel was outclassed by the one-eyed navigator. Cedric was amused. His captain wasn’t going to like this. The Stardusk were going to take back his newly acquired trophy in one round.

“It was nice meeting you in person, Maiden of Misery. Pity our time is so short. With luck, it will be even shorter with no bloodshed.” He dug his hands into his pockets and looked up at the sky. “It’s too beautiful a day to be soiled by death. Yula Fei has many wise teachings. None wiser than respecting life. Many nations should learn from your example.”

His eyes narrowed as the sunlight landed on his face. As his fringe slid backwards, faint silvery scars could be seen along his cheek. The lines ended abruptly near his jaw before appearing on his neck. Cedric’s hand reached up unconsciously as if he wanted to hide the imperfection from view. He dropped his gaze down abruptly with his hand still cupping his chin.

“Your crew has chaos following in your wake. Now you even have an adoring cat named Chaos in your arms.” He tickled her chin once again calling “Chaos” several times.

Chaos’ eyes blinked open. Her pupils were still fully dilated but she was oddly alert. She pricked her ears up when he called her name for the fifth time. She purred, twisted slightly in the crook of Alicia’s arms then winked out of existence. There was a sudden warm weight on Alicia’s shoulder when the cat reappeared. All traces of her earlier laziness was gone.

“Mew?” she murmured.

“Yes,” he concurred. He didn’t even bat an eye at his cat’s ability to seemingly teleport from Alicia’s arms onto her shoulder. “Non devons y’aller. Jack fait plasir d’vors.”

“Would you mind keeping her company a while longer? Jack would be happy to see both of you now that the match is over.” He cut off abruptly as a thought occurred to him. A calculating look crept into his eyes. “Reiner and Samuel. That makes two of them now.” he mused.

He started walking away from Alicia when he heard his name. He frowned. Wasn’t that the captain? He considered walking away when one of the Tankereds clapped a beefy hand on his slender shoulder. “Capt’n called ya. The Stardusk wants you.”

The tone was cold but Cedric didn’t let it bother him. He had no idea what the Stardusk (and by extension Jack) were doing. Calling for him by name was the quickest way to make them suspicious. He was supposed to be a stranger. Shrugging lightly, he allowed himself to be led towards the two captains.

Sid turned back towards Alicia after they passed her. “I’ll be seeing you soon, First Mate. Please take Chaos to Reiner for me. I haven’t had time to do that yet. You’ll understand why later.”

He wanted to say more but now wasn’t the time. He doubted Jack would let this opportunity slide. How long they had depended on the next round. No matter how brief it was, it would be enough for him to reassure Adelaide when they meet. He kept his face impassive but smiled when Runali did.

“Thank you, Captain,” he responded politely then took his leave when appropriate.

He studied the rest of the crew as he passed them. His gaze lingering longest on Sara who was upset Alicia didn’t rejoin them. He admitted he felt the same way but his upbringing wouldn’t let him express so crudely. Knowing that his stay was temporary, he bowed his head and continued walking. He spied a yellowish blob following him out of the corner of his eye as he passed by Zila. A small miracle considering how his fringe obscured most of his vision.

“Chester, vo soeur est’vec Reiner.” He said to the glowering cat. “Bring a little gift for Jack before you seek her out. You know what to take from my bag, mon ami. Go get it.”

The little lion looked skeptical. He yowled in protest before vanishing into thin air. Cedric didn’t even look to the side to check if Chester was gone. He knew his cat would obey him because it involved Jack. There better be cream this evening, Cedric thought with a shudder. His majesty would demand it later.

“That is why I said incapacitate and not kill” she replied softly. Unless Runali ordered otherwise Alicia had no intentions of drawing blood needlessly, whether they were her enemies or not. If push came to shove she was confident she could take down the vast majority without having to mortally wound any of them, of course she didn’t care to underestimate any of them as she was sure they would have one or two individuals that could potentially put up a resistance. Nevertheless Alicia would stay her blade till she was required to draw it.

She picked up on a few of the things he’s said, firstly about Fort Nevis which indicated he had a modicum of knowledge about them and then about her homeland which caused her to look up from the cat oddly named Chaos. She gave a small nod when he asked to transport her to the two mentioned Tankards from the previous games, drawn to fulfilling the request more out of curiosity than anything else. She was about to pose some questions of her own when her attention was suddenly stolen by the callout from Runali as she called for Cedric to join them, causing her eye to twitch a little.

“... She is in so much trouble” she murmured to herself as more Tankards began to fill in around her again as Cedric took his leave, resuming their awful attempts at flirting which Alicia did her best to navigate around awkwardly. Thankfully however she had a teleporting cat upon her shoulder, something she might have questioned in more detail had she not seen stranger things happen in the past. “Excuse me” she politely spoke as she made her way away from the eager Tankards to seek out the two names she’d been given, using her perception to pick them out from the crowd before making her way over towards them.
 

Capt. Blu

Fake it til You Make it
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
Both
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Adventure, Scifi, Anime, Steampunk, Heroes and Villains



Location: Still on the Field, Round 4
Tankerds: 1 - Stardusk: 2


“You seem a little upset.” Runali responded to Sara’s shock. It wasn’t in question, nor did the captain look phased by it either.

A whistle blew that got everyone’s attention. Abram stood atop a few crates, waiting for them to gather. “Alright! We’re in the fourth round! Like I stated before, the rules are simple.” He cleared his throat and a Tankered pirate walked up to Abram with two small flags in hand. One red and one green. “These two flags will be tied to two different dogs and they hafta catch their flag. Whoever gets to theirs first wins. The dogs will get a five second head start to run away and run wherever they so choose. The players will stand on the farthest end of the field and’ll start on when they hear the sound of the gun. Got it?” All the Tankerds let out a resounding ‘Aye!’

Runali gave a simple nod. “So I get to pick, yeah?”

“Since the Stardusk won the last competition, yes. You… do in fact get to pick the next competitors.”

“Cool. I’m gonna piiiick…” Runali’s eye scanned over the Tankerd pirates, occasionally glancing over at Alicia as well. “The one that just did the archery tournament. He seems like a good one.”

The one from earlier, Samuel, looked on in slight surprise before quietly nodding and stepping forward. Runali watched the Tankered captain’s expression change into a slightly annoyed gaze to a more neutral one. It made Runali smirk a little. “And Luro.”

Two white and gray dogs were walked out to the middle of the playing field. One had the Tankered jolly roger painted on its right side, that one got the red cloth tied around its neck while the other got the green one.

“Alright, places!”

Runali stood at the edge of the field and stopped Luro before he could get too far. She gestured him down to her level. “You trust me, yeah?” She held her hands behind her back and spoke in a lower voice so only he could hear. “I… kinda need you to lose. I really want to know what this fifth round will be. And by the way things are going, Abram’s gonna cheat anyway so he doesn’t lose his crew.”

After giving Kadi a small pat on the shoulder after winning Luro focused his attention back on the Captain, he wasn’t sure what kind of trick Kadi pulled but whatever it was he had all manners of questions on how he went about it. Making a small note to himself to ask later he waited for the Captain to bring Alicia back to their side, though when she instead spoke Cedric name, Luro’s brows arched but rather than surprise a grin found its way onto his face and he folded his hands behind his head.
“Haha I enjoy when you make things fun Captain,” Luro said glancing back towards Alicia. “Destroying expectations is part of what makes being a Stardusk fun. Ah welcome to the crew Cedric, give me a bit of time to get used to how you look and your scent.”
Luro looked back at Runali when she brought up him being in the next match, he offered a small nod to her figuring that was fine, he was getting tired of just watching from the sidelines anyway.
Though when Sara spoke up cleary bothered by her choice Luro arched a brow at her.
“Masu we get her back if we win the whole thing...I miss Alicia too but fight’s not over yet,” Luro said lowering his arms. “Have a bit of faith in us, it almost hurts you’re upset over something like this.”

Luro turned back around and rotated his right arm chuckling a bit at the idea of getting involved, Zilia couldn’t share the man’s carefree approach to this thing, she wasn’t wholly pleased they hadn’t gotten Alicia back, and now some strange man was standing with them, but she hadn’t intended on losing anyway so she supposed their objective hadn’t changed. She had some faith Luro would win and get their friend back, but she couldn’t deny watching him turn over an empty rum bottle that there wasn’t a bit of worry.

Listening to Abram’s explanation Luro looked over at the dogs as they came out then to the man he would end up going up against. He waved at his opponent and smiling at the dogs flexed his hands as she started to make his way towards the starting point. When the Captain stopped him however he knelt down shoving his hands in his pockets as he listened. His eyes widened a bit at her request and he raised his body. He ended up walking ahead without a response bringing a hand to his chin allowing himself to get lost in his thoughts for a moment.
“This is a dilemma...I’m sure I could find the dogs without much difficulty...but to purposely lose...hmmm.”
Another voice echoed in his mind as he considered his options.
“I say we don’t do it. I mean we want to win right? It’d certainly make Masu and Alicia happy as well. I don’t need to remind the kind of trouble we’re in with them.”
“...though I didn’t ask for your opinion that is unfortunately true...but it would mean ignoring the Captain’s request...and I do trust the Captain.”
“This could be a chance to gain back some trust from those two...and Alicia would owe us one...well she’d owe us two, we never collected on that first favor. I know you want that and don’t you miss sparring with Sara, I know you do.”
“I do miss and want that but there’s a chance nothing will change. Masu clearly looks at me differently and there’s a...distance between Alicia and me, more than usual anyway. Betraying the person whose trusted me without hesitation...or a chance to regain a bit of trust from people I’ve already betrayed. That’s...what you’re trying to dangle in front of me.”
“I’m not dangling anything, I’m just mentioning facts, you messed up and you can fix some of that right now, I’m not wrong am I? You lost their trust, that’s just the reality of the situation and you’re trying hard to show you’ve changed to no merit, what has your change really brought you...the looks are the same, the distance has grown greater...everything you’ve been doing has done nothing to shrink the hole you created. Whether you follow the Captain’s request or not matters none to me, I’m not the one out there right now dealing with all this, I’m not the one that has to deal with that sting in your heart each time you look in their eyes and no longer see the warmth that once rested there. You’re the horrible person, I’m appalled right now you just can’t see it.”
“You are not helping and you don’t know what that word means.”
“I know it’s a bad word to use towards someone so neh.”
“Look just go away if you’re not going to add anything useful.”
“Hey I give good suggestions.”
“Kill everyone is not a good suggestion!”
“You’re impossible and I said kill almost everyone, I’m trying to change too….I mean I did say kill all of Stardusk and a few towns but after that we stop for lunch.”
Luro shook his head dismissing his thoughts and took his place next to his opponent, this game almost wasn’t fun anymore...almost.

Runali watched Luro go, deciding to take his silence as not the worst answer she could have gotten. When Abram neared her, she raised a brow. “Something wrong?”

The Tankerd pirate gave a skeptic look, before shrugging. “Not being sneaky are you? I mean, not as sneaky as the last game?”

Runali gave a short laugh and smiled. “Don’t know what you’re talking about. I was only offering a bit of luck to my shipwright.” The smile turned into a small smirk as she added. “Don’t tell me you’re getting antsy because we’re winning? It’s not like you expected to win, hm?” She watched Abram’s curt look and smiled- egging him on really.

“The game’s not over yet Lev. Don’t get too cocky…” Abram adjusted the rings on his fingers. “That Worst Gen title is exactly that. Merely a title and it can easily be taken away.”

This sparked a curious look from Runali as she watched Abram walk off, leaving the threat in the air. For a moment, she stood there almost intrigued by the blatant threats and the obvious cheating. They weren’t a challenge, not in the slightest. Runali was sure her crew could clear them out before they could take a single shot, but that wasn’t what interested her. What interested her was just how bold they were to try. She almost respected it… almost. It was at least enough for her to want to prolong the game. At least, if Luro decided to listen.

“Alright fellas! The dogs get a 10 second head start.” One of the Tankerd pirates spoke to the two while holding the leashes of the two dogs. “I’ll signal for you to go after I let the dogs go.”

“Uh, good luck.” Samuel nodded to Luro before getting into a ready position. After the quick explanation, the pirate let the dogs go, waited ten seconds and then signalled for the two to begin the competition. Both dogs were fast and they raced to the end of the field, however as the dogs reached near the edge of the field, the Tankerd’s painted dog began to slow down to a casual jog.

“Good luck to you too,” Luro said smiling at Samuel. “Ah I’m Luro by the way, my Captain told me not to kill any human being’s today so I’m going to make sure to miss you.”
Luro flexed his right hand and rubbed his wrist with a small smile before moving his hands into his sleeves looking back in the direction of the dogs. He patiently waited watching the dogs his eyebrows arching as the Tankerd’s slowed before smiling looking back at his own who was still going strong.
“Let’s see...the Captain said I couldn’t kill any Tankerd’s...but far as I know these dogs aren’t part of the crew and there’s no rule to say I can’t sooo…perfect.”
Luro watched as Samuel sprinted ahead after his dog and Luro calmly walked forward in no particular rush to catch up to his target, taking the rifle off his back he loaded a bullet into the chamber humming to himself.
“Stubbs!” Luro called back to Abram. “You have my apologies if you liked these guys, but unfortunately there’s no rule on killing them and I’m not the type of guy who likes to hold back against people, so-”
Luro raised his rifle and fired, something flew past Samuel’s head and past his dog before something landed directly in front of Luro’s dog, a moment later a large explosion followed, fire filling the area and exploding upwards creating a ball of flame that burned the grass around it as it flared, the sudden explosion caused the dogs to quickly yelp and run back towards Luro away from the flames. Luro watched as his dog quickly ran in another direction and glancing at the crater he left in the earth grinned and loaded another shot.
“Haha that wasn’t even full output, this is really fun,” Luro said. “It’s been a while since I’ve hunted animals...but I can’t hit the dog and burn up the flag soooo.”
Luro fired another shot causing another ball of fire to crash into the earth redirecting the dog elsewhere while the shipwright continued walking at a casual gait humming to himself.
His shots redirected the dog and caused Samuel’s dog to quickly turn and run in a different direction, Luro made sure his shots were hitting enough to guide his dog where he needed it and ensuring Samuel couldn’t catch his at the same time.
“I do feel bad for scaring the poor thing, but cheaters in ‘fair’ games only deserve one ending...and I love when people cheat against me.”
A toothy grin formed on Luro’s face as he raised his rifle again.
“I love people like you. The kind that lets me keep my promise and have fun.”

Luro pulled the trigger once more and another explosion followed though both dogs ran back towards Luro at this particular one and Luro calmly returned his rifle to his back as he had used up his three shots and there was little need to reload as the game had already reached its conclusion. The moment the dog’s approached Luro the redhead smiled and met the dog’s eyes with his own, there was a brief moment where something in the air shifted, Zilia flinched a bit at the sudden change and glanced over at Luro as Samuel ran up to the now cowering dogs.
“Ya see Stubbs, all ya gotta do to stop animals is remind them where exactly they are on the food chain,” Luro said staring down at the dogs. “Animals have really good senses. Kind of like our Observation Haki if i had to compare something...they can easily see what most can’t.”
Zilia blinked a bit as Luro seemed the same to her, though she could tell there was a slight difference in the air around him, the dogs however could easily see the amount of killing intent rolling off the shipwright in waves, passing over their bodies raking against them like invisible claws, reminding them exactly what would happen if they turned their back on him. Luro pointed at the ground causing the dogs to lower their heads and with a smile turned off his ‘intent’ and walked over to the now subservient animals.
“Ah this was fun Samuel, sorry for almost hitting you back there,” Luro said grabbing the flag off the dog.
Noticing he had the green flag and seeing the Tankerd’s roger he laughed a little.
“Ah whoops this is yours, here you go.”
He handed the flag to Samuel.
“Thanks,” the young man said taking it from him.

The first explosion riled up the pirates, some hurrying backwards while others grabbed the closest weapon. It wasn’t until they realized it was Luro’s ‘plan’ that they relaxed… sort of.

“What’s the meaning of this Lev!? He’s supposed to capture the dog not murder them!?” Abram glared as he stomped over to the Stardusk captain. “You’re playing some dirty games here and clearly ready to forfeit the game if you’re gonna play-” He paused in disbelief when he realized Runali was laughing. “You must be ready to abandon this crew of yours with the way you’re-”

“Pretty riled up for a captain who just won the challenge.” Seeing his confused look, Runali jutted her thumb towards Luro and Samuel. The latter was holding the green flag in confusion and in exhausted surprise, but he was in fact holding his first. “We’re playing the game as you do. Like Luro said, no rules against-”

“We won!” Abram bellowed, interrupting Runali’s chatter to announce it before anything else could change. The Tankerds erupted into cheer until they realized what that meant. It wasn’t very often it happened- Abram made sure of it, but the Tankerds and the Stardusk had definitely tied which meant a fifth round was necessary.

Luro made his way back to the others rubbing the back of his head, a weak chuckle escaping from him especially seeing the glare on Zilia’s face. While returning to the loser side the echo in his head returned though he didn’t let the smile fall off his face as a low chuckle came from his head.
“They’re going to be mad at you.”
“Hah…yeah Masu and Alicia are not gonna be happy about this…but if it was that easy to regain their trust I’d have it by now….nice try.”
“Too obvious? One day you’ll fall for it. I can see the weakness in your heart after all, one day you won’t be able to take it.”
“The Captain showed unshakeable faith in me and trusted me without hesitation…I can never repay that but I’m not going to go and ignore a favor from her…even if I’m hated for it. I won’t turn my back on people who trust me...and I’m not going back inside that easy.”
“Hahahaha I guess so. Why do anything for those two anyway. It’s not like they care about you, one’s ready to kill you and the other clearly wants little to do with you. We can feel it, that kind of hatred is the best kind of drink, the sideways glances, the casual distance it sends chills down my spine knowing I’ve stolen that away, that manipulating the feelings of our precious friends is so damn easy. Maybe we should just-”
“It’s not that simple and they have every right to those feelings…so shut up and stop talking about them...and they’re not our friends...they’re mine”
“For now...at least until I’m done.”

Luro stood in front of everyone or at least who was left and offered a small shrug to them.
“Sorry about that guys, I got so excited I forgot about the rules,” Luro said before grinning at the others. “Guess we better win the next one huh or we’ll be in trouble.”
Zilia made a motion with her hand causing Luro to lean down, she then grabbed his shirt and immediately started shaking him, screaming at him with her eyes as Luro apologized to her laughing and waving his hands trying to get her to stop.
Once she finished Luro turned back to the tankered and waved to Alicia.
“Sorry Alicia! I know your mad but try not to be ‘kill me’ mad okay! I kind of have plans later!”

The cheers from the Tankerds died down- something unusual for what was a success for them. It started to become a little more obvious that their attention was turned to Abram who had an aura of frustration and anger as he walked towards the Stardusk. His head was held high, and he was only a little careful in not showing just how he felt.

After Runali was so rudely interrupted, she made her way back to her crew to wait for Luro’s return. When he did, she offered him a smile planning to give them all words of encouragement- and maybe offer the fact that it was all “as she planned it”. But before she could get words out, Abram cleared his throat and once more interrupted. “As are the rules, this does mean I get to pick another from your crew. But since we’ve also tied, this means it’ll have to be settled as well. Usually, it’s… amongst captains on what the challenge will be. However, since your shipwright destroyed our playing field there’s going to be one more intermission before all of that can be settled. Use it wisely.”

The not so subtle threat was left hanging in the air as Abram walked away, being surrounded by his crew. The interaction was a lot tamer than she thought it’d be, but nonetheless, Runali’s one eye lit up with excitement when she turned back to the crew. “This is perfect!” Catching the looks from her crew, she relaxed a little and crossed her arms. “What’s the issue? Oh-” She patted Luro’s arm. “No need to be upset with him, Luro coulda easily won. But if he did that, then I wouldn’t have been able to get a tiebreaker… You guys are sure getting riled up, yeah?”

Luro only offered a grin at Abram at the mention of blowing up their field, they had put it aside for personal use and there were no people to get caught in the crossfire, how could he not resist having a bit of fun in a place like this. That and Abram never said they couldn’t destroy the field, but putting that aside what little worry he had vanished seeing the Captain’s smile, he didn’t like Alicia staying on that side but he didn’t intend on really losing this fight and this situation was one of his favorites.

“I treat all my opponents the same in a real fight after all,” Luro said stretching his arms out in front of him since the Captain spoke up for him. “Still thanks to this collar I kinda have to hold back.”
Luro grinned a bit tugging at something invisible around his neck leaving the matter at that.
“I’m also used to losing too so no big deal. These are the kind of things I enjoy though, with your back against the wall and one step away from life or death, these are the kind of moments I live for. The struggle really makes it fun, easy victories are boring.”
Luro laughed a little at this and turned towards the Captain.
“I have complete faith in us Captain, don’t let your guard down though I have a feeling Abram’s gonna make this last fight really interesting…besides…”
Luro walked over and pat Jack on the shoulder grinning at the man.
“I can’t let you be alone in the loser’s box, what kind of friend would I be then? Now we both can be in trouble right?”
Luro grinned at Jack, he knew he felt guilty for losing but at the very least he didn’t have the shoulder the burden alone anymore.

“Oh, by the way Lev! I’ll be taking that archer of yours.”

Abram’s yell made Runali laugh a little. “Guess he remembered to take one of the crew after all. Well, you heard him Kadi. Go keep Alicia company for a bit.”

Tankerds: 2
Stardusk: 2
 

SilentxChaos

Vivid Imaginings
DONATING MEMBER
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

Cedric Langley

Once Jack dismissed his crewmates, he smoothed back his hair and leaned against the tree trunk. His arms folded against his chest. It felt almost defensive-- not the way he wanted to greet his brother. He started lowering them to his sides, but it felt overly awkward, them dangly with nothing to do and the last thing he wished was to start smoking with Sid there to note all his tells. Ticks of indecision ensued before Jack settled with fists in his pockets and by then Sid had finally arrived.

“Hello...Sid.” Jack inclined his head. He offered a small smile to Sid and looked him up and down, taking care to notice the details he missed before while they played. The card game had intervened with their initial reunion, but it was a reunion Jack never prepared for. Nothing was prepared for, the grim thought flashed in his mind.

Sid didn’t return the smile this time. Worry threaded his brows as he remained where he was. Jack was never this transparent before. He wasn’t sure whether his brother had become too laxed over the past year or whether this was a ploy to lure people around him into a false sense of security. The latter was more like the man he knew.

“Qu’est-ce qu’il ya? Tu es parler l’Comms. You don’t do that unless you are burdened.” The younger brother suspected his presence was the root cause of Jack’s distress. Their chance meeting might not remain a secret for long. Not when she had ears everywhere.

“Mew!” Chester greeted lazily as he reappeared at Cedric’s feet. A small bottle was gripped between his teeth. His green eyes narrowed to thin slits as he waited to be thanked.

“There you are,” Sid greeted turning his attention from his brother to the feline. “Merci, Monsieur l’Chat.” He knelt down and patted the miffed looking Maine Coon. “Tu veux de l’creme? Jack sait-il?”

Master and cat looked at Jack the moment the last question left Sid’s lips. There was something almost wistful in their expressions that added a tinge of humor to the heavy air surrounding them. Cedric retrieved his bottle and tossed it to Jack.

“Better keep that promise, frère. You don’t want to find hair balls all over your pillow tonight.” A faint smile finally graced Sid’s. “L’ouvrir. You were never able to resist this. A little gift to … shall we say mettre du piment dans sa vie?”

Catching the gift, Jack flicked the lid open as bid. He threw a narrowed glance at Sid’s observation regarding his language of choice. Truthfully, Jack never minded which language he spoke in yet the Trovalian tongue had indeed grown comfortable on his tongue. Once. The spiced aroma broke his train of thought. A flash of humor met Sid’s concealed pun, but it disappeared as he recognized the gift. A poultry rub-- one Jack was particularly fond of, filled with nutmeg and a touch of red pepper. Carefully, his thumb pressed it closed and he rubbed his nose. His eyes drifted as he rubbed his shoulder.

“You remembered. Of course you would,” a rueful smirk played on his face.

Leaning back on the tree, Jack pocketed the spices and brought out a cigarillo. In the distance, Luro’s match was starting to play. From the responses, Jack assumed Kadi won his round but he neglected to rejoin his crew once Sara and Luro left him. He briefly glanced back down to the bush Luro- somehow- managed to hide in while Sara and him talked. Luro didn’t have much to say, not with the next match starting, but the concern was touching. It was also a good reminder how sneaky the giant could be.

A match sparked and he puffed on his smoke. He looked to his brother and released a sigh. A closed look, marked by a half-smile, changed his face. It was a ghost of the face Sid remembered. “Thank you. It’s appreciated… but now isn’t the time, Sid. Tell me why you’re here.”

“You’re repeating the same question.” Cedric remarked. He knew Jack was trying to dig deeper but he thought the answer was obvious. He didn’t enjoy cooking, so there was only one reason he’d carry a stash of spice rub around. He knew from experience Jack had a weakness when it came to food. That knowledge came in handy whenever he wished to soothe waters.

He went quiet after that. His fingers ran through Chester’s thick yellow fur. Jack wasn’t satisfied with his answer earlier. The man didn’t believe their meeting was a coincidence. Jack probably suspected his current mission was just an excuse to be here. Cedric sensed that he would need to give a better reason soon if he wished to remain with Jack. His brother had made it very clear that he didn’t want to be found. Sid exhaled loudly. Jack wasn’t going to like what he was about to say, but it was the most compelling reason he could give at the moment.

“I accepted the Kirkendall mission. I managed to steal their secret and …” he paused dramatically.

Jack’s brow snapped together in annoyance. He knew exactly what his brother referred to; it was a mission Jack told him to steer clear of, some time ago. The cigarillo was tapped to one side, dispelling loose ash, before returning to his lips. He waited for Sid to continue.

A small smirk appeared on Cedric’s lips as he studied Jack’s face. He was confident he had the upper hand now. “You were right. I got double crossed. Almost. I stole it back to use it as a bargaining chip. Now I have even more people looking for me.” He faked a cough in a poor attempt to cover up the word “Navy”.

He stopped petting Chester long enough to shrug. “I figured you’d be the best person to approach for help. It’s not like a dead man can contact Adelaide, no? Best not to drag her into this mess.”

Luro’s shot made Chester bristle, and broke the sudden, treacherous look that crossed Jack’s face. The hissing cat batted away his master’s hand. He glared in Luro’s direction then turned away with a disdainful snort. Chester began appraising Jack with a keen interest. He sensed Jack tensing up under his intense stare. Jack started reaching for Sid’s arm, but their feline friend didn’t give Jack a chance to move an inch. The Maine Coon crouched down suddenly and leaped into the air. He vanished the moment his feet left the ground. He rematerialised on top of Jack’s head. His claws massaged the scalp agitatedly with each successive shot. The raking motion caused Jack’s hair to fluff up.

“Ow! Curses-- Chester,” Jack groaned, taking a step back as his hands went up to remove the cat.

Chester’s scowl deepened when he saw Luro picked up the dog. Wrinkling his nose, he turned his attention to his handiwork. He raked through the hair vigorously to free even more strands from the dreadlocks. He meowed approvingly once Jack had a puffy cloud on top of his head. Chester threw himself down on his new cushion and rolled onto his side. He draped a paw down the man’s tan forehead. His front leg was just long enough for him to tickle the tip of Jack’s nose. He wasn’t able to reach the cigarillo no matter how much he stretched. He hissed in annoyance.

Jack sighed heavily. He blew a puff of smoke into the cat’s face, but otherwise left the creature be. It stopped the mounting fear that began to take hold. He scratched Chester’s forehead. “You may pay for this later, Majesty. You know I hate when you muss my hair.”

“Looks like Monsieur l’Chat misses you. He ran to you the moment your Shipwright went trigger happy.” Sid observed. Jack’s eyes raised to meet his again. “He will want his cream more than ever. He hinted that you promised him some earlier.”

Sid kept his arms crossed. He wasn’t aware he had done that earlier when Luro began firing at the dogs. Watching the maverick in action made him reconsider some of the rumors he heard. His brows furrowed. Jack couldn’t have changed that much, could he? The man he knew wasn’t that bloodthirsty.

He decided he would worry about the red headed giant later. He hadn’t finished talking to Jack yet. He continued with their current topic until he got the chance to ask some questions of his own. “Trust me. Chester won’t let you off that easily. You don’t want those hairballs on your pillow. He found a way to make them worse.”

Despite the friendly smile on his face, Cedric was certain Jack heard the underlying message. It was his brother’s turn to answer his questions. Interrogating Jack won’t be easy given the man’s secretive nature but Sid was determined to get his answers. He was glad Chester agreed to help with the interrogation. The feline was talented in making things as uncomfortable as possible. If that didn’t work, Cedric had other tricks up his sleeve. Some were below the belt so he hoped he wouldn’t need them today. He preferred saving his aces for another time. He missed his brother too much to make things that uncomfortable.

Noticing their reactions, Jack too, turned to his attention briefly to the match concluding in the distance. He took the smoke from his mouth as he watched, and heard, the man chase his dog. His jaw clenched. Don’t lose yourself, Luro. Rather reluctantly, he returned his attention back to Sid when he started speaking again. He would have preferred facing down Luro’s gun again rather than the coming questions he suspected brewing in his brother. After all, it’d been nigh a year since the last letter Jack sent, and longer still since they last met face to face.

He softened just a little. Fingers searching for Chester’s favorite spot, he offered his brother a rueful smile. “I have no doubt he did.”

There was an awkward pause before Jack scoffed. His hand fell from the cat to swipe across his face. The other made a fist at his hip. “The sea take you, Cedric. Do you have no sense? Or were you so wrapped in your own thievery to not notice all the obituaries showing your name? Gods even the bloody Ravens thought you were dead and they went to Norja!” His voice rose.

“I bet many spirits are starving,” Cedric replied sarcastically. “You forgot, dear brother, dead men get cut off from their wealth. I was lucky that Belvedere didn’t divide my assets. The instructions were to wait for you to come over personally.”

Sid splayed the fingers of his right hand as he waved it about in the air lazily. “You left me a poor boy with no family. I did what I did to survive. Or, I was simply living up to my Guild moniker. You’re lucky Lazarus didn’t tell the others I was still alive. You forgot he was with me at the time of my supposed death.”

Jack glared. His anger finally broke through, but it showed he at least moved past the awkward reunion with Sid. He looked at his brother with a mixture of distress and relief, flipping between the two. He was happy, immeasurably happy, to see him. Drifting alone, Jack almost forgot want it was like to have family close again. Suddenly he pulled Sid into a rough embrace.

“Damn you, baby brother,” he muttered. Standing back, he balanced Chester on his head once more. “You don’t know what you’ve walked into. You should have heeded me.”

“Your letter mentioned Oubila. I don’t know what else to think. The place was obliterated and you were running like the hellhounds were chasing you.”

Cedric’s face was impassive although he returned the hug. He took the opportunity to fish for more information. “So does that make you the wanted man or is it the two of us? I’m confused by need to confirm my death. Our last agreement was that I would go into hiding. I don’t think it was serious enough that I need to start off with a blank slate. Pourquoi prendre le pion quand on voit la tour?”

There was hurt and anger tainting his voice. He hated being left in the dark. Jack had pushed him into an awkward position to protect him. It wasn’t the best choice given that the Guild had been infiltrated. He eliminated two of the spies but he knew the game was up. The best thing he could do was to get an iron clad security blanket and reunite with his now notorious pirate brother. The attention from the Kirkendalls and the Navy should keep their real enemies at bay.

“Circumstances dictate that I make counter plans. I dispatched two of the spies. It won’t be long before their comrades find out. I felt that Kirkendall secret is our best bet. Getting double crossed was my real aim. Now that we have enough people targeting us that those in the shadows will keep away.”

Jack took an involuntary step back, horrified. “That-- that was your plan? To bring the hell of the world down upon us so our enemies can pick and chose which of them comes first?” He laughed, cold and dark. “Load of good that will do! The Navy already wants Stardusk, Tenebrous Bodhisattva with them,” the cook mentioned his moniker with a snort. “At most Kirkendall will be a new member on the long list. Congratulations.”

Sid quirked an eyebrow. “I know they want the Stardusk. Your Captain escaped Kane’Artem. It only adds to the appeal of recapturing her. Tsk, didn’t you see your wanted posters? Be consoled, Jack, that I’m still a pawn in the grand scheme. A someone with his own set of hellhounds. This is enough to persuade you to let me stay awhile, I hope.”

Jack turned his back, began to pace. The hurt in Sid’s voice hadn’t been missed. The guilt burrowed deep, ever since he made his choice to leak the death of Cedric Langely. He forced it down with a hard swallow. He hadn’t really considered the position it’d put his brother in, that was true. His safety became priority-- and, Jack hoped, the severity of his move would be warning enough to his little brother. It hadn’t been; on hindsight, Jack couldn’t see himself why. If their places were reversed, he’d move land and water to find his brother again. His shoulders slumped as he stopped. “I’m sorry,” he said at last. “I am. Things happened...rapidly. I didn’t have the luxury to think through my actions. It doesn’t matter now. Just, tell me you didn’t go there.”

Pivoting back to Sid, he gripped his shoulders. “I need the truth. Tell me you didn’t go there yourself to Oublia.”

Cedric was lost in the flashes of emotion he saw playing across Jack’s face. In his mind’s eye, he saw a cracked mask disintegrating in the wind. The imagery left him feeling ill at ease. He didn’t know if it was a sign of greater burdens haunting his brother’s waking moments or it was something else. He allowed his eyes to wander past Jack’s shoulders. Cedric saw Luro throw an arm around Runali’s shoulders. His cheerfulness was a huge contrast to the grim expressions on the other faces. The results were a little clearer when he saw the Stardusk archer walking towards the other side.

“Vadoma has her ways. Don’t forget how often you would ask her to ferret for critical information.” He watched Kadi’s back grow smaller as the man walked towards Alicia. He couldn’t tell if Chaos was still with her. “She knew Lazarus was the best person to contact the moment she received news about Oubila. That said, brother dearest, your crew needs you.”

Jack visibly relaxed. He squeezed Sid's shoulder then released him, nodding with satisfaction. At the brother's indiciation to his crew, Jack looked back and sighed. "You're right. We should return... we can talk later once you're on the ship.”

“We will be proceeding to the tiebreaker. Your Captain and Makachi were conspiring earlier. Well, let’s see what else Captain Lev has planned. l’Captain doesn’t know when to give up. The fool!”

Cedric shook his head bringing his fringe over his eyes again. “Your new companions are the last people I expected to see in your company. You will have even more stories about once you leave here. Mark my words!”

At that, Jack chuckled as they turned to rejoin the crews. "Ah. They are not much different from Hoshi's crew, you'll see. I like them well enough."

There was brief lull in their exchange. Sid allowed Jack to turn his attention back to the Stardusk before he spoke again. “It’s time I check on Reiner. Do you wish to pass a message to Tashigi and Arcadius?”

He shook his head, careful not to disturb the freeloader kneading claws into his scalp. He figured it'd be better if the cat stayed there. No doubt his dreads were a disaster now, and at least the cat prevented them from falling into his face.

"No," he answered Sid, "They won't be staying with the Tankerds long."

As the younger brother spoke, his slender fingers pulled out a card from one of his many pouches. Inscribed on the card in dried ink was symbol for light. He rested the edge of the card against his scarred jaw. “Alright, I’ll take my leave for now.”

Chester rested his chin against his paw. His green eyes drifted to his master’s hidden left ear. A faint glow peeked from underneath the silky hair. He purred contentedly not wishing to follow the man this time. He enjoyed his perch a little too much. Cedric ignored his cat. He knew that Chester was bound to him and the feline wouldn’t wander off too far.

Cedric’s card caught fire and burned to ash. The effects were immediate. He remained standing by his brother’s side although the man couldn’t see him anymore. Sid was invisible. His disembodied voice whispered into Jack’s ear. “Go!”

Nodding to Sid's suggestion, he picked up his pace and hastened to his captain. "Sorry," he said to Runali as he sat next to her. "There were... family issues to address."

An eyebrow rose as Luro came over, clapping his arm and announcing his own defeat. It prompted a wane smile. Jack nearly forgot his own embarrassment with the mess of other worries plaguing his mind. "I appreciate the sentiment but something tells me you did it on purpose," he replied with a glance back at Runali, recalling Sid's earlier comment. Seeing Zilia behind the giant, he leaned forward to her with a serious face.

He asked, "I don't suppose when we return to the ship, you can help me fix this monstrosity that his Majesty created?" Jack pointed at his nest of hair with the large cat smugly curled on top.
 

Capt. Blu

Fake it til You Make it
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
Both
Favorite Genres
Fantasy, Adventure, Scifi, Anime, Steampunk, Heroes and Villains


Location - Finnigan Island - Empty Clearing/Field
Round 5 - Tiebreaker


Runali and Abram stood face to face with their crews behind them. The latter had what Runali assumed was supposed to be an intimidating glare while she had an amused smile. “So…” Abram started, obviously frustrated. He fiddled with something on the odd barrel he had on his arm. “The rules state in tie breakers, the captains must come to an agreement on the final challenge whether it be drinking contest, some game, a fight till the death, or even a simple contract of agreement. And as you know-”

“How many tie breakers have you had to deal with?” Runali interrupted.

“...Very few.”

“And how many captains have you killed?”

Abram’s hand twitched at his side, but he straightened up. “I don’t see how that is any of your concern really. It’d be wise to focus on your own crew’s future. By the looks of it, not all of them seem very… encouraged by your decisions thus far.” Both captains glanced at the Stardusk crew until Abram continued. “ A crew that doesn’t fear their captain is usually doomed to fail. But then again, I suppose I’d be tired too if my captain was so clearly riding on the back of my successes.”

“Pardon me?”

“...Y’know, I’ve always thought of the Stardusk as insufferable. But I especially hate you Lev.”

Runali looked a little more confused and crossed her arms. “I’m not following. Have we met before? I don’t really go out of my way to remember everyone we’ve-”

“Stories spread don’t you know? About how the Stardusk crew goes off the graces of pure luck. About how just because you did a few accidental things you suddenly think it makes you qualified to be the Pirate Lord.”

“Accidental? Isn’t that what all pirates-”

Abram wouldn’t let her finish her sentence. “What are you really without that crew of yours? I remember being there back on Hara Island. I saw how you caused a fight and how poor you weren’t even strong enough to finish it. The stories and papers spread about how you were the one locked up in Kane’Artem and how your crew had to get you out. S’not a good look if you ask me. Frankly without them, you’d be hopeless- dead even.Then again, all the stories of the ‘Stardusk’ become so inflated it’s honestly something to laugh at.” There was a subtle shift in the air, something not very noticeable unless one was paying attention but what was noticeable was how Runali straightened up and her arms fell to her side. “Why do you even want to be Pirate Lord? Just for the fancy title? The pirates I know have plans and reasons for it. What would someone like you even do with the power that it entails?” He continued his ranting, beginning to circle her like a predator. “You leap head first into some bullshit adventure and you think all it takes is for you to send your crew to fight and get to the top? Frankly, a pirate captain needs no one, except for a few subordinates to man his ship... I suppose I should give you the benefit of the doubt considering you’re a lass. Of course you’d be soft. But still, what do you think will happen when you face a real problem? Like your crew turning against you or y’know actual enemies that your crew can’t handle?” Abram stopped his circling and stood face to face with Runali, closer than he was when they first started talking. “Watching you fail, as delightful as that sounds, isn’t my priority. What’s important here is that you’re in my way and it'd be wise for you to move. Face it Lev, you’re nothing more than a child with too much time on your hands. And that crew of yours following suit, hah! It’s the blind leading the blind.”

“All this talk of the Stardusk doing this and doing that in the papers- the gossip between pirates even! Why don’t you do what’s proper and do as ladies- no, do as children are supposed to? I’m sure your mommy and daddy are worried you’re out past curfe-” In his taunting, he used his hook hand to reach out for the necklace her mother gave her, but was suddenly cut off by a punch to the jaw that sent him stumbling to the ground.

In the same moment, Runali felt her necklace snap and saw the jade beads fall to the ground.

“You know nothing about me or this crew.” Her voice was soft, but held a venom behind it. What he said wasn’t true. Grant it, she wasn’t even sure what he was getting at. But insults were insults. The Stardusk captain was well aware that he didn’t know the full truth of their adventures, their struggles, or anything they had done to get where they were. She shouldn't have let it get to her so easily, but she hated how he talked down to her. And then she touched her neck where her necklace once was before reaching down and grabbing Abram by the collar. She reared her fist back, only to pause when Abram chuckled.

“Heh, doing the heavy work now?”

“Hm…” There was a brief pause and Runali let him drop back to the ground, suddenly a lot more relaxed compared to the angry look that flashed before. “Y’know what? You're right. One last game. Let’s make this interesting.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah… Winner takes all. Not just the crew. But the bounties, and hell if you can, you can even take the title as Fourth Worst Gen.”

This got Abram’s attention.

Runali frowned at the beads in the grass before walking over to where her crew stood. She removed her blades and handed them to Jack, then casually tossed her eyepatch to Luro. She didn’t say anything to any of them, instead turned her back and removed the sash around her waist as she walked back to Abram. “It’s real simple. Me versus you. The catch? All you have to do is strike me. No guns. But I’ll be nice and say you can keep your sword.”

“What is this, some sort of trick? Gonna have your crew shoot me while I’m unarmed?” Despite being so skeptical, he looked a bit intrigued by the game.

“Nope. They’re only going to stand there and watch.” She made sure the order was loud and clear for them so they wouldn’t act. “I’ll even make it easier for you.” Runali proceeded to wrap the sash around her head. “I’ll be blind… well, completely.” Her fun and playful nature for the game had disappeared and it was a little harder to read her expression. “I see you’ve built up this system of gaining a crew. You own an island where the navy could easily show up. To keep them informed so they know your rise to power. Luring other pirates and overthrowing... Gaining a small army even… You must’ve been real close to that Worst Gen spot huh? Probably one more game, one more right move and you'd have been in the running for Worst Gen. Then we ruined that for you. So now you’re feeling a little lesser, yeah?” The look on his face confirmed Runali’s suspicions and she smiled. “I’m gonna give you the chance to kill me and keep your little plan going. You wouldn’t be watching me fail, you’d be causing it. That's a pretty big headline for the papers don't you think? And then you'd even get my crew and they're worth a lot. So? ”

“So.. You just want me to hit you ...while you’re blindfolded? That doesn’t seem fair.” Runali stood in Hawa temple, watching her mentor, Momo, tie a blindfold across their already masked eyes. It looked a little ridiculous but Runali was tired of suggesting they take the mask off.

“Not fair for you anyway. Hah, how about we make this more fun? Any time you hit me, I’ll answer a question. Any of them.”

Runali attacked, striking just as she was taught, but Momo dodged each attack with perfect fluidity. It looked incredibly effortless and proceeded to frustrate the young girl. “What.. are you?”

“Hm?” They hummed while moving their arm to direct Runali’s strike the opposite way.
“Are you human?”
Momo chuckled. “A demon to some towards the east. Mistaken for a god somewhere in the north. A human last I checked.” Still, Runali couldn’t get a strike, even when she tried sweeping Momo’s legs from under them.
“At least tell me if you’re man or woman, so I can address you properly?”
“A woman the way she moves. A man the way he strikes. I prefer to call myself an experience, really.”
“No fair.” Runali’s following strike was caught with ease and suddenly she was spun around and pushed on her butt.
“You’ve asked me two questions and I have answered, even though you haven’t hit me.”
“How do people trust you so much while knowing so little about you?” Runali jumped off the ground, lunging to tackle her mentor.
“Ah, Ru,* Her mentor side stepped, “but I give everyone the information they need. The desire to know about my personal life is a want and will benefit you in no way. Besides, it makes emotional attachments and you don’t want those with me. However, announcing that I come in peace is a necessity as I don’t want to cause suspicions and fights were they aren’t needed. But speaking of fighting, are you tired getting your butt handed to you?”
This time, when Runali jumped up to strike, Momo used their palm to hit in the center of Runali’s chest, causing her to fall back and gasp. “Hnn…”
“I’ll take that as a yes.”

“I accept the challenge.”

Runali didn't spare her crew a glance. She only nodded towards Abram and took a few paces away from where the beads of her necklace were scattered, towards center field. “Good because the easier option was just to kill you. Better make it count.” She watched Abram remove two pistols off his hips and hand them to a pirate who rushed and grabbed them. When the pirate ran off she pulled the sash over her eyes and tightened it. “Alright Luro, signal to start!”

The moment she heard the gunshot, Runali’s head tilted slightly and she listened to Abram move around her. When he struck, she stepped back, dodging it. And then he proceeded to quicken his pace. It wasn’t as fluid as she hoped, but Runali continued dodging and taking steps back, narrowly missing some strikes while easily diverting or dodging others. All the while, Runali kept her hands behind her back. She could hear his grunts of frustration and his heavy footsteps as he approached and without having to focus so much on sight, she noticed every so often his hook was a little squeaky too.

Runali stayed strictly on the defensive up until Abram attempted to thrust his sword towards her face. She ducked under it, using her palm- with the help of her armament- to hit the sword upward, causing it to fly in the air. Her head followed the movement and she took a few steps backwards. Quickly, she raised the sash and reached out, grabbing the sword’s hilt as it came down and swung back to aim the blade at Abram’s chest. To her surprise, the hook on his hand was gone and he was pointing the barrel at her stomach. “Here I thought you’d be honorable.”

“Tch. You looked.”
“And you cheated.”

Both captains stared each other down for a brief moment before the sound of a gun ran out the same time Abram howled in pain.
“So, guess this means I won?” The sword was stabbed into Abram’s stomach and Runali had a bullet wound in her side. She managed to shift slightly to avoid too fatal damage, not that it wasn’t bad as it was. Runali let go of the blade and staggered backwards. It took a moment, but she managed to stand tall. “You probably won’t die...hopefully.”

The sudden danger the Tankerd captain was in, made the surrounding pirates grab their weapons, only to pause when they realized one wrong move could put their captain in more danger. Abram on the other hand gritted his teeth and stared daggers at Runali. “Didn’t think you were the torture type.”

She took the sash off her head and wrapped it around her, putting pressure on the bullet wound. “Hm? Oh I’m not trying to kill you.” She looked at one of the Tankerd pirates. “Oi, what’s the name of this island again?”

“F-Finnigan.”

“Alright. It’s mine.”

“Wh-What?”

Runali stepped closer to Abram. “You heard me. Finnigan Island, once claimed by the Tankerd pirates, is now claimed by me, the Stardusk captain. And you all,” Runali eyed the sea of pirates that stood around the field. Some wearily put their weapons down, immediately accepting defeat, while others kept their weapons trained on Runali. “Hm…you all can keep being pirates under Stubbs here. I don’t care really but just know,” There was a gleam in her eye that caused all of them to suddenly freeze in place and grow cold. Runali didn’t notice a few of them actually stumbling back. “You work for me now... Which means?”

Abram grumbled something but quickly gulped when Runali grabbed the sword hilt. “...Should you need t-the Tankered Pirates, we’ll be there. Allies to the Star-”

“Hah! No way. You don’t get that title. You don’t deserve it. Hmmm…. Subordinates t the Stardusk. That’s more like it.” Runali carefully leaned forward and smiled. “This’ll hurt a bit.” She yanked the sword out of him and tossed it to the side. “One of you patch him up, don’t let him die on me.” Two doctors scrambled over with their supplies to help their captain while Runali slowly made her way to her crew as they all reconvened together.
She was quiet for a moment, still ignoring the new bullet wound she had. “The belittling from other pirates, I can deal with. But,” And she glanced over at Alicia and then Sara, before sighing. “I’d like to believe you didn’t think so little of me. Reckless or not, I do value you guys’ lives.” She kept a calm and unchanging expression. “After everything we’ve been through, you’d really think I’d just give you away? Especially to a crew like them?” Before any of them could answer, she looked over at Sara. “I don’t ask for much. Not even complaisance, but you’re ego won’t do you any good in the long run... If you’re gonna be apart of a crew- this crew, at least remember that I am in fact still your captain.” Runali raised her hand to keep them silent.

“Kadi, Sara- find out where they keep their valuables and get them on the ship. With how much they took from the island, I’m sure they have plenty. Alicia make sure there’s no more of their flags flying around the island. They’ll need to be replaced. There’s also a navy office somewhere in the town. We didn’t do too much damage but check to see if the navy’s coming any time soon.”
She tugged the sash around her waist and wrinkled her nose. “I s’pose bleeding out isn’t the ideal way to go for me either. Do you mind, doctor?” She took a few steps, heading towards Lady Luck, but stopped and looked over at Luro. “Oh yeah, mind taking that barrel… hook hand thing from their captain? And… make sure they got the message that it wouldn’t be wise to try being sneaky.”
She leaned on Zilia for a brief moment and pointed at Jack and Cedric. “And you two are free to fill me in on what got you so worked up Jack. After I get a fresh set of bandages. But in the meantime,” Runali headed towards Lady Luck, waving a hand to dismiss the crew. “Welcome to the Stardusk crew Cedric. Hope you weren't fond of the Tankerds because you're sailing with us now.”
 

Eastwood

Too weird to live, too rare to die.
Roleplay Invitations
Group Roleplays, One on One Roleplays, Chat Roleplays, Private Convo Roleplays
Posting Speed
Several Posts a Day
Writing Levels
Adept
Genders You Prefer Playing
Male, Female
Playing Style- Passive or Aggressive
Either/Or
Favorite Genres
Realism, Sci-Fi, Western, Romance, Modern, Low/High Fantasy
Genre You DON'T Like
High School



At Runali’s blase attitude, Sara could only sigh and turn away. It’s not that she didn’t trust Runali to not do the right thing, because Runali generally did do the right thing, but it was the journey to doing the right thing that bothered Sara. When Luro brought up her lack of faith, Sara replied icily.

“I equally believe that the sun will rise up tomorrow, and that you’ll be drunk as a skunk when you do see it. There are things that you are good at, being fast isn’t one of them.” Her nose wrinkled at his bottle, it was difficult to tell which stunk more of alcohol, it or him.

As the game went underway, and the first few shots rang out and the subsequent explosions boomed, Sara buried her face in the palm of her hand. To her, Luro was obviously throwing the game, she had been around the red-headed giant long enough to know when he was holding back. She continued to face-palm until it was declared that Samuel caught his dog first, and that the Tankered pirates had won.

Immediately, she stomped off towards Alicia, ignoring the stragglers clinging near her, and said. “Alicia, can I have a word please?”

The swordswoman continued to stroke the cat as she watched the next game unfold, closing her eyes and releasing a sigh as she watched Luro throw the game entirely causing yet another loss on their side. From what she could tell and from her experience from having traveled with Luro all this time, he’d thrown it intentionally which more than likely meant he was either up to something himself or he’d been asked by Runali, something which wasn’t that hard to believe all things considered. Nevertheless it still brought a degree of frustration from Alicia, an emotion she was experiencing a lot today. She turned her attention back towards the cat for a moment before Sara approached, pulling her attention away once more.

“Of course” she replied, her tone soft despite her slight frown wondering what Sara could possibly wish to discuss with her given what was happening.

“You probably already noticed.” Sara said after taking Alicia away from the Tankered Pirates, pausing only to pet the kitten and scratch under his chin in her arms. “Luro threw. But, I also think Runali put him up to it, she said something to him before the challenge started. I was going to go ask her why, and probably yell at her for her poor judgement. Do you want to come with, and probably yell at her too?”

“Although I do intent to reprimand the captain when all this is over I don’t think raising my voice at her will change much about this situation. Runali intends to see this through to the end and while I question her choices, she is still the captain” she replied with a small exhale. “But feel free to convey my frustrations if you still plan on giving her a verbal kicking”.

Sara took in a deep breath, and let it out. “You’re right, waiting is probably the smarter thing to do here. It’s just… I don’t get Runali’s judgement, at all. This Cedric is important to Jack, but you’re important to the crew. You’re important to me. We should have gotten you back, and then have aimed for Cedric in the next round. Risking you like this is just… pointless.”

Alicia gave a small smile which stretched into a slight grin, “I’m always right” she replied, the cat suddenly poofing from her arms onto Sara’s head suddenly which made her startle a little, still unused to animals being able to teleport at their own will. “You’re important to me too Sara, do not worry… we have a habit of coming through in the end, even if the journey itself is somewhat arduous” she replied, lowing her arms to her sides as she turned towards the Tankard captain as he announced the next game.

“We always do.” Sara replied, quietly. She blinked as the cat in Alicia’s arms suddenly disappeared, and she had almost jumped out of her skin when he had reappeared onto her head. She took the small kitten and held him in both hands as Sara stared at him skeptically. “You’re… a very unusual cat.” She spoke plainly, her tone softening. “But least you’re cute. Who’s a special kitty? You are!” She held the kitten close to her, softly murmuring baby-talk as she scratched behind his ear, paying half-attention to what the next challenge actually was.
 

Mizos

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Zilia wasn’t entirely sure what to take from all of this.
There seemed to be two sides to this particular encounter, on one hand she shared in Sara’s concern about what was going on, but on the other hand seeing Luro and the Captain so relaxed made it feel…silly to be concerned. She squeezed the bridge of her nose as she couldn’t stop herself from worrying but she disliked what she was looking at. Sara’s cold words to Luro not only showed where the two stood with each other but the grin that Luro had returned to her only confused Zilia further. She wanted to question it but Sara had already moved to the other side to speak to Alicia at that point.
Jack was concerned about this Cedric person and Luro for some strange reason had a weird look in his eyes, there were so many little things hidden among the larger issues it was starting to give her a headache.
Now she was staring at the Captain during this tie breaker and she disliked that this hadn’t ended quickly, she partially blamed herself for speaking up for the activity.
Her emotions now ultimately didn’t matter, the situation was going to continue forward despite her feelings, so she just mentally sighed and waited for what came next.
The only thing that brought her comfort was Jack’s style request, which she responded to with a firm nod and pat on his shoulder.

Zilia stood next to Luro the moment Abram started insulting Stardusk, she expected him to step forward gun at the ready to put a bullet in the man’s head and was prepared to stop him. Though instead Luro’s eyes seemed to twitch as if he had noticed something and instead a small smile found its way onto his face. Crossing his arms he listened as Abram offered his opinion on their journey so far, and his opinion on the Captain. A few birds in the area ended up flying away almost sensing the incoming danger, squirrels moving into the trees and generally anything that noticed the small change getting away from the source.
“…I feel sorry for his crew.”
Zilia glanced at Luro at his words listening to Abram spout about his men.
“Having a bunch of people is no excuse either, the Cutthroat’s treat each other well and they’re a sizable group. Stubbs is just bad at this huh.”
Zilia arched a brow at the calm in Luro’s voice, he even chuckled a little as he watched the exchange.
Zilia couldn’t deny that even she wanted to leave an imprint of her boot onto the man’s face at this point but a small pat from Luro on the shoulder drew her attention back to him, he smiled at her almost sensing her silent anger and just pointed ahead, when she did Runali slammed a punch into the man’s face.
“We’re doing things that people call an accident or luck cause it’s so hard to believe…doesn’t that feel good Z,” Luro said grinning at her.
Zilia’s eyes widened a little at Luro’s words and she watched as the Captain got prepared for the final game, Luro catching the eye patch offering a small nod to the Captain. She disliked that Luro of all people had been sensible in that moment, she was well aware what Luro has done when it comes to Stardusk.
“…why are okay with this Luro?
“Oh I’m not. I’m furious and want to rip the man apart,” Luro said smiling at Zilia. “I love moments like this though so it’s hard to be fully upset.”
Zilia tilted her head not sure what the man was hinting at but he just pointed ahead.
“You’ll learn to like them too.”
Zilia wanted to dig deeper but Luro was already focused on the fight, removing his rifle at the Captain's requested, he raised his gun and fired a shot in the air, hitting a bird in the process, signaling the start of the fight.

Zilia gave her full attention to the fight, and as expected Abram wasted little time cheating but she was more focused on Runali's responses.
“Was that Observation…or just the Captain?”
Zilia stared at the now bleeding Abram watching as Runali made her way back to the crew, she wasn’t sure what to make of the sudden hesitation of the Tankards when Runali had looked at them. Though she was well aware of the meaning of the grin on Luro’s face the moment they reached for their weapons and the subsequent sigh from him when they chose not to act.
She had little time to consider an answer to her question as she gave the Captain a hand. She decided to hold off on her lecture until Runali was being treated. She looked over at Luro who was staring at the Tankards after the Captain's order, he ran a hand through his hair a toothy grin slowly forming on his face. Something reflected in his gaze for a moment but it faded quickly.
“Aye Captain I’ll speak with them,” Luro said glancing back.
Zilia narrowed her eyes at him and Luro waved a hand at her.
“I’ll behave Z, just take care of the Captain.”
There was a little time to deal with Luro as the Captain bleeding out was a bit more prominent, they'd just have to deal with the backlash.
“You make things hard to record Captain. I’m writing it down and I don’t believe what happens half the time with this crew.”




Once Luro was sure the doctor’s had saved the former Captain’s life Luro slammed his foot onto Abram’s stomach ignoring the groan from the man twirling a small dagger in his hand.
“Now I need that thing of yours cause it's the Captain's orders. I could rip it off ya…but that’s no fun,” Luro said.
Eyeing the small dagger he arched his brow before shaking his head and returning it to his sleeve, pulling out another, he ran his finger along the side of the serrated blade and gave a small nod.
“Sorry this one is all I got so this might take a bit. I’m bad with sharp things so could you stuff something in his mouth.”

Holding the removed hook in his hand Luro wiped the blood off on his pants before turning the hook over in his hand with a grin, he wondered why the Captain wanted it but if she didn’t have any real plans he could find a few things for it. Ignoring the doctor’s now attending to Abram again he glanced over at their two previous opponents, his eyes moved to Samuel as he had already forgotten the other man’s name.
“You guys can go,”
Luro stared at the two men patiently waiting for them to leave, and after a moment the words sunk in which caused Samuel to speak up.
“Oh...okay are you sure?” Samuel said looking at the other Tankards. “Aren’t we a part of this…encouragement.”
“You didn’t want to be a part of this group anyway right. Then you don’t need to be here for this talk, I’ll speak with you later.”

After shooing the two away Luro took his rifle off his back and placing it along the ground started walking in a circle around the gathered Tankards. Humming to himself he walked with a bit of a skip drawing an imaginary circle in the ground with the tip of his gun, ignoring the confused looks of the Tankards around him. Just as he came back around a smile slowly crept onto his face and flicking a switch fire erupted out of the earth tracing the line he had drawn, creating a ring of fire around the group, stretching a little above the distant trees. Luro returned his rifle to his back glancing up at the tall makeshift prison he had created for his new ‘allies’.
“The Captain said to encourage…so I should probably hold back…” Luro thought bringing a hand to his chin.
“I’d rather not be interrupted…or disturbed during our conversation,” Luro said taking a few steps forward clapping his hands together smiling at the Tankards. “Now guys we are going to have a really fun conversation!”
Luro looked between the faces of the Tankards raising a hand at them.
“No need to look worried, I’m just here to talk. I’m not going to shove a gun in your face or anything. We’re friends now and I always treat my friends well. All I’m going to do is tell you the truth.”

The passage of time quickly became an illusion, resting on his knees the tankard could no longer recall how long they had all been there. Minutes….days…months…years…there was no difference anymore as the smiling redhead sat in front of them.
It had started with the voices that echoed in their heads, first as whispers then steadily growing louder until they became screams. Some gripped their skulls at the voices, others yelled at the secrets being pulled out of them, one by one each person there slowly succumbed to an opponent with no form. The shadows that marked their exposed skin danced around their forms, the fire had long faded, the world itself had shifted into something else entirely, lanterns hung on the walls that now surrounded them, blue flames flickering casting darkness over each of their forms.
The outside was gone; raising his eyes he saw only the remnants of a room, if it could even be called that any more. Splotches of red liquid circled around him, the red rising out of the broken marble floor stretching out under them covered only by tattered bits of red carpet. The fluid rose above their heads blooming like a flower, only to fall back onto them slowly running up his arm, cutting his skin as it passed over it.
He flinched at the pain, trying to knock away the strange secretion only to realize he was carving into his own skin with his dagger, with a scream he threw it into the far wall, watching it clatter against the stone wall that ran along the both sides of the long room. Ripped white curtains reached towards him like fingers thanks to the wind that he couldn’t feel on his skin anymore. He wanted to ask where he was, he wanted to question why he was suddenly in a dilapidated castle but the voice never stopped, it took over his thoughts, his emotions, his sanity. He wanted to believe this wasn’t real, that the throne of bodies that were little more than skin and bones reaching towards him was fake, that the man seated upon it laughing at them with the glee of a child was a fabrication, but the pain made it real, the voice made it real, the screams of his friends made it real. His comrades clawed at their skin trying to scratch at something that crawled inside of them, some stared down the barrel of their guns mumbling incoherently, eyes the size of globes looking into their loaded barrels for answers.
He met the gaze of the man who had made them this way, who had muttered a few words with the gentleness of a friend but a serpent’s tongue, and he felt his body chill at the gentle smile that rested on his face.
The golden crown slipped slightly off Luro’s head as he rested his fist on his cheek, and held up a hand putting his thumb to his middle finger.
What was that look he just gave them.
The voice whispered the answer to him and he felt his breath catch in his throat before Luro snapped his fingers.


“I think that’s enough.”
Luro watched them with the kindest smile he could muster, the fire had long since faded the only evidence it had been there was the burnt grass surrounding them. Brushing his hands off Luro moved his hands to his hips and let his gaze fall over the Tankards.
Most of them were huddled on the ground mumbling to themselves, he rubbed the side of his head wondering if he had let them go on for a bit too long. He made sure to stop before they lost anyone, if they couldn’t handle something like that he worried about what would happen when they had to face a real threat.
The ones not still lost in their own worlds were staring at their hands, trying to comprehend why their fingers were bleeding or why there was something oddly familiar under their fingernails.
“Ahem,” Luro said drawing the attention of the Tankards. “I think I’ve gotten my point across right? I was honest with you guys. The Captain doesn’t let me handle stuff like this too much so I might have gone a little overboard. Ah but I made sure not to break any of you.”
Luro held a hand up grinning at them.
“You guys are my friends so I’d never do that to you. I don’t like the whole ruling with fear thing and I don’t feel violence is necessary.”
Luro held his arms out towards the Tankards and with a laugh spoke to them making sure to to put as much happiness as he could into it.
“That hurt me a bit you know. I hope I don't have to have a stern talk with you guys again."
Luro lowered his arms before slamming his hand onto his fist remembering something.
"Oh right the ones mumbling in the old language make sure you watch them on the sixth day. Trust me it is not fun to explain why there are innards nailed to the buildings in town. No matter how many times I have that conversation it's always awkward. They should be fine by the seventh day."

Luro made his way back onto the Lady Luck humming to himself as he carried a small chest with him, he walked the ship for a bit ignoring the red that was now splattered all over his clothes thanks to his ‘conversation’ and found the Captain with a Zilia still trying to treat her.
“Ah Captain everything’s handled. I didn’t kill anyone either,” Luro said. “I spoke with them and got the point across in a way they could understand.”
Luro held the small box towards Runali.
“Some especially wanted to show their loyalty to you, to see the world through your gaze and were very keen on proving it even though I told them it wasn’t necessary.”
Luro offered a small smile.
“Ah I wouldn’t open it here though, Z might get mad.”
Zilia wasn’t entirely sure what was in that thing but something in the back of her mind told her not to question it.
"I was gentle also good work on getting us an island. I can't wait for what's next."
 
Last edited:

SilentxChaos

Vivid Imaginings
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Back on Lady Luck

On the walk back, Runali couldn’t help but snicker at the doctor’s note. “Well believe it because you’re here too.”

“Thanks again Zilia.” Runali waved the doctor off, messing with her new bandages wrapped up her sides. Her shirt was tattered and practically a crop top at this point, so she made note that eventually she’d have to stop at an island for the sake of clothes shopping. It was a little long overdue anyway. “Aye, aye, I’ll be more careful next time.” Runali waved Zilia’s expectant look away, and walked to the deck of the ship. Earlier, Luro had peeked in to tell her that he had taken care of things and she gave a small salute and a thanks.

They hadn’t left Finnigan island yet, with Runali still having a few things she wanted to take care of. But for now, she decided to give herself a moment to breathe. She had opened the box on her way out and upon seeing what was inside, she couldn’t help but look a bit surprised before quickly making a U-turn to put the small box in her cabin before heading back to the deck.

Her hand touched where her necklace had been and she frowned to herself realizing she didn’t even go back to get the pieces. “...<Dammit>.” It wasn’t often she spoke in her native tongue since she left home, and it was less often she appeared as frustrated as she felt. Walking out and towards the deck of the ship, she nearly ran into Jack. “Oh, <there you>” Runali cleared her throat and relaxed a bit. “There you are.”

Jack’s eyebrows lifted in mild surprise as he looked down at her. “Here I am.”

There was an awkward pause. Since the fight finished, Jack mysteriously vanished, making the excuse of helping Alicia in town to avoid the explanation he knew his captain desired. Her cook’s eyes shifted as he fiddled with the collar of his shirt. He knew what was coming; the lingering distance in his eyes told he was still absorbing his brother being on the same ship. He looked down at her and gave a shy smile.

“Oh,” reaching to his belt, he grabbed a pouch and handed it to her. “The beads. From your necklace. I picked them up after the fight was over. Sid can put it back together, he’s an amateur jeweler.” Once the pouch was in her hands, his went to his pockets. “I also spoke to the locals. Let them know the changes happening, since Abram no longer owns the island. They seemed… very relieved.”

A sly smirk tugged his lips, and for a moment he seemed prideful. “Expect them to be far more loyal to you than they’d ever be to the Tankereds. If you don’t mess it up, of course,” he teased.

Runali watched him for a moment until he presented her with the small pouch of beads. She didn’t hide the relieved look on her face when she took it either. “Thank you.” When he teased, she raised a brow and smiled. “Mess up?” Her smile broke into a grin. “A Stardusk doesn’t mess up Jack, we… improvise.” She laughed and gestured him towards the deck. Everyone save for Zilia and Luro was out doing as the captain ordered, so it was empty for the time being.

“You’d think them hearing that another pirate crew took over would make them a little worried. But, I suppose it’s not like we’re gonna stick around here.” Runali walked to the edge of the ship to look at the sea. “Still. Nice to say we own an island. Gonna have to check in here every now and then.” She looked over head to see CP flying above. “Speaking of- Sid, you called him?” Her attention stayed on the bird until she flew down in between them. “Want to start with the easy details and work your way up? Or do you wanna rip the band aid off now and tell me what’s bothering you?” She gave him a playful smile. “Take your time. We have plenty of it.”

“Sometimes I wish you’d beat around the bush,” muttered Jack.

He released an expansive groan. Leaning against the ship’s railing, his shoulders slumped as Jack pinched the bridge of his nose between two thumbs. All in a rush the stress was back etching his face.

“Do you… remember that crew I was a part of? The one that left me on Harbor Island?” he breathed in a deep inhale. “Well… I… we… look, there isn’t much I can actually tell you. Mistakes were made. I… made mistakes. Put everyone at risk. Sid is… one of them. He’s my brother, you see. When I left my crew, I sent word to him. Asked him to lay low. I figured the way I did it was a clear sign-- this wasn’t a joke. I needed him to disappear and be safe, in case…”

Jack stopped. He blinked a few times, realizing the amount he talked about an issue he originally planned to say nothing at all on. There was only so much he could lie about, or dodge. Cedric was his brother. There was a history that he could and couldn’t share. And, Jack noted with alarm, there were things they missed discussing that Jack would need to touch on. He narrowed his eyes at the lapping waves.

“He wasn’t supposed to be here, Captain. I’m not sure it’s wise for him to be on this ship. However… perhaps it was unavoidable. And what you did, I take to heart.”

“Take your time.” She echoed, still smiling when he groaned. Runali looked over as Jack’s earlier worries seemed to catch up with him, but she only raised a curious brow and waited for him to speak. There was no need trying to pressure him into saying something he hadn’t told her before. And simply by the looks of it, this was something he didn’t plan to bring up- probably never if he had the chance.
Runali stayed quiet while he did speak, petting CP and waiting for him to sort his thoughts. It wasn’t often that Jack fumbled over his words, nor was it often he visibly showed distress, so she remained patient. When she was sure he was finished Runali straightened up from her lazy stance. “Ah, so we’re going with the easy details first. Gotcha.” Runali stretched her arms over her head, almost immediately regretting it with her injury. “S’pose that’s in your nature. Can’t be helped.” She pressed her side and continued. “So you’ve got a brother that’s supposed to be... safe somewhere. You’ve done some bad some time ago, messed up a few things along the way, and,” Runali gave him a curious look, “now you’re afraid of it coming back to haunt you?”

She couldn’t help but chuckle. “If you haven’t noticed, I’m basically a pro at handling my crew’s past and present. Future is debatable but we figure that one out together.” A smug grin followed while she poked at CP. “Personal best? I dunno, I think Kadi’s dance with death is still number one for me. He’s got his whole life back, y’know? But,” Runali shrugged, leaning next to him to look out at the water. “As wise as it may not be…” She paused to find the right words. “Would it not be safer to stand together, than to fight apart?”

Reaching out, he stroked CP’s breast feathers with a finger, and gave Runali only a half-amused grin. “You make it sound so blastfully simple,” he said. He slowly lowered his hand and brushed back the dreads falling into his face. They met the puffy mess Chester made, which caused a glower as he listened to what else the captain had to say. It turned into a troubled frown.

“You wouldn’t be saying that if you knew,” Jack’s jaw worked as he looked down at his captain. He seemed to be coming upon a realization that left a sour taste.

“Fighting together only works if your greatest weakness isn’t standing next to you. Cedric is not my blood brother but I’ve done more to protect him than you know. I’m not about to stop. Sid’s strong on his own- I’m not saying he isn’t- but… have you ever had an enemy, that knows you inside and out? Do you know how hard it is to fight that? If he had done what I asked, I would kick him off the ship myself, bury him neck deep in whatever hideout he built and ensure he’d stay there. But he hasn’t, and we crossed paths by sheer coincidence-- or I imagine that’s what he wants me to believe. So now I don’t know if it’s safer to keep him here, where I know where he is, or out there with the chance of fate.”

Jack flapped a hand to the ocean, almost knocking off CP in the process. He was breathless. He hadn’t paused once in his rant to inhale. He did so now, forcing calm into his being.

“You don’t know me, captain,” he replied when he was under control again, “If you did, you’d understand. The way Stardusk fights isn’t going to solve what I left behind.”

“S’what I do. Keeps things easy.” She responded in kind. Despite the light attitude she had, her stance shifted a bit as Jack got more exasperated. CP flapped between them, shooting Jack a pointed look before moving to the opposite side of the captain. When it fell silent again, it stayed that way for a longer stretch of time. Runali pondered over what to say, but ultimately also wanted to give Jack a bit more time to breathe. He obviously needed it.

Her fingers tapped on the edge of the ship to get his attention again. “Your greatest weakness can become your greatest strength… if you play the right cards. Hmm. There’s a few things lost in translation and a lot of like actual fighting courtesy of my own mentor. But the thought still counts, really. You’ve gotta embrace weaknesses to overcome them. But I’m not… too well versed in the sibling disputes or issues since my parents stopped at one.” Runali gave a shrug. “But I do have a… familial rival in the Worst Gen now? Not the same, of course as you must care more about your brother than I do a cousin.”

Realizing she was rambling, Runali waved her hand in front of her face. “Point is, you can go ahead and toss Sid in the next hideaway you think is safe, but guess what? Not gonna really change much. Eventually all that stuff will chase you down to the ends of the earth until you face it head on. And what better time to do it than now where you have a whole crew who’ll stand by your side?” At the notion Jack made about not knowing him, her expression flattened a little. “I know as much you tell me, so… who’s at fault there? I can only understand as much as you let me… But that’s not going to stop me from standing by you as a crew member and friend.” It was stated rather simply and matter of fact, as if there wasn’t a weight behind her words depicting how serious she was. It was met with a light pat on Jack’s shoulder. “Y’gotta stop worrying like the world is on your shoulders Jackie. Hell, even if it is, you’ve gotten this far without it collapsing on ya, you can make it even farther. With help at that!”

The half-smirk returned, but it didn’t completely hide the shaky anger filming in his eyes. He took a deep breath to force down the emotions again. “Captain. I appreciate what you’re trying to tell me. You are always the optimist, aren’t you?”

“This crew is a good one, I think. However… the last time I-- how did you put it? ‘Play my cards right’? My brother ended up bleeding out on a hospital bed.” He rotated towards her, causing her hand to slide away from his shoulder. “He still has the scars. And the last time I trusted a crew, I was quite literally, left for dead. So. Forgive me if I don’t take your words to heart.”

He sighed. “I’m not blaming you for not knowing what I haven’t talked of. It’s not like you’ve ever asked, and I never gave it freely. I don’t blame you-- and I’m not so arrogant to think the world is on my shoulders. Just… my piece of it. The one piece. I once made a deal to protect it, now I regret it with every morning I wake up to, every place I go to. I know how to get out of it… but I don’t want to. I don’t want to leave this. I guess can’t now, with my brother here. Someone needs to warn him about what lies beneath Luro’s throne room. Or the booby trapped box in Zilia’s quarters. Look at me, rambling on when you got a hole in your side.” He made to laugh but it came out shaky and awkward. His voice had fallen into a deadpan monotone, talking to himself more than Runali, with his eyes unfocused. It was clear, whatever she said, Jack seemed to determined to hold his worries with a vice grip close to his chest.

Slumping over the railing, he looked out to sea with empty eyes. “You should tend to yourself. I’ll be fine in a few days, you know. I just need… space.”

“Aye, and you could attempt at least a little optimism.” she mocked his exasperation before crossing her arms. “Like I said, mistakes were made and your brother almost died. But, it was an almost. So, maybe playing them wrong would have had him dead. Who’s to say really. And who's to say he doesn't feel the same? After all, I'm sure you've almost died plenty of times with and without us. Someone with as many secrets as you has bound to have been in a bunch of trouble. If the bond between brothers is as strong as you make it seem, surely he worried too?” She ended up leaning with her back against the edge this time. “And what fun is it to warn him about the Stardusk, hm? Not like you got one. The fun is in the surprises.”

The further Jack spiraled, the more Runali straightened up until eventually she couldn’t remain as calm as she wanted. She sighed and leaned over closer to Jack using her knuckle to tap his cheek. “Of course. It’s always space and time… Y’know, the higher you build that wall of yours, the… messier it'll be when it comes crumbling down. And trust me, it will. Maybe not now but later. Could be by you or someone else.” It was spoken as if from experience, but Runali didn't dwell too long on it. “I won’t pressure though. As I’ve told you before, if you don’t want to tell, I will not pry. You seem like you need more help than any but, you’re as stubborn as they come.” She chuckled. “Which is fine, as your friend I’ll be there to help you should you need it.” Runali fiddled with her bandage for a moment and added. “Why would I need to tend to myself if I’ve got Zil for that? I’m practically good as new. M’not going down that easy thanks to some low life pirate who thinks he’s better than me.”

He retracted at her light tap, more surprised than anything. His cheek turned into her knuckle as he raised his brow. It was a gentle, simple move, but he wasn’t expecting. It certainly got his attention. He noticed the assured she way lectured him, as if she once learned the hard way, and filtered that as a mental note for later. The flat emotion remained in his eyes but he managed an amused chuckle. “You’re not the first to tell me that,” he replied softly. “It certainly won’t be the last time you tell me, either.”

His gaze drifting back to the dock, he saw the others making their way from the island. He straightened up, stretching his spine while pushing against the banister, and huffed. “Be that as it may, you can’t expect the doctor to look after you all the time.”

Jack hesitated, then offered his arm to her. “I’m going to put a face on now; I’d appreciate it if we don’t talk about this again. For tonight, at least. They’ll want food and I’d rather not be distracted. Come down with me? You can relax… and I imagine, you’re dying to tell me all about it.”

Runali watched him and couldn’t help but laugh. “Don’t worry, I’ll drill it in your head enough times until you can recite it when I look at you.” Her brow raised when he stood up and she scoffed. “What’s the point of having a doctor if I can’t expect her to stitch me up when I… improvise?” The captain reached out to take his arm and teased. “Wow you’re already being so honest with me. Don’t worry my lips are sealed.” She let Jack be her crutch as they walked to the kitchen. “I’m pretty relaxed actually. I mean punching Abram got most of that energy outta my system.” The offer to talk about what happened made Runali pause, as if assessing the situation, before she gave a shrug. “Y’know, the worst part about fighting blind is not being able to see how annoyed Abram must’ve been because he couldn’t hit me.”

Laughing, Jack bent down to tell her every minuet detail he saw transpire during her fight.