This One Realm: Chapter 2 "So What Now?"

  • So many newbies lately! Here is a very important PSA about one of our most vital content policies! Read it even if you are an ancient member!
Not open for further replies.


Original poster
Midnight, July 8th, ATS 1125
The Colossi Palace

The Skies of the Low Realms are littered with lightning bolts, thunder, and the piercing chill rain of the Waterfury, as it's moment or piece subsided, and returned to an ever churning storm of unnatural hate, and violence. The pursuit of the Tourniquet has slowed due to the increasingly power of the storm in part to Ku-Jon's first attempt of harnessing the 'Gem of Tempest.' The winds pelted against them, and send their pursuers to the ground beneath them, and others... who weren't as fortunate... down into the skies until they were claimed in the void.

They make for the lowest of the Low Realms... A place known to both Ku-Jon, and Kargon. A safe haven that they've used on many occasions... Jolinark or as it's better known... "Bandit Bluffs." A small gathering of the world's worst who've chosen the most inaccessible of places. The town itself is little more than shacks perched along various cliff edges that over look the void. One false step will send you falling for hours before you are caught in the spinning vortex of the Void, and rip apart, soul, mind, and body.

They now fly through the heavy thunderstorm of the Waterfury on their way to Bandit Bluffs, and more specifically... The Greasy Spoon. A tavern of ill reputation. The kind of place where you would go if one sought to disappear, and hide for a time.


"Bring Captain Elanore, and Lieutenant Alyss to my quarters!" Sindar commanded a lowly foot soldier as he stormed through the castle halls. The castle had been closed off, and put under heavy guard after the king's assassination, and so far the soldiers had done their best to keep the king's gruesome death a secret... Sindar only hoped that they could play it off as if the king passed away in a more peaceful manner. The Nobles would be his biggets concern, and he was sure that he could handle that once, Elanore got her ship into the sky to track down the murders.

As he rounded the corner, one of the King's advisors approached him, while holding an old book bound in leather. "Sindar... I must speak with you."

"I have no time for your political banter... I have criminals to find, and countless other tasks that must be attented to. If you wish to bore someone with stately manners, then either pass word down along the Sheriffs of the court, or wait until I have had a moment to collect my thoughts, and make sense of this mess..."

The elderly man, stepped before the general, and put his hand up in order to stop the man from continuing forward. "You do not understand, Sindar... with the king dead, and Oralia not present to assume the throne... we must choose a steward for the kingdom until we decide what is next. This matter is more important than yo-"

His words were cut off as Sindar grabbed him around his collar, and lifted him from the floor slamming him against the wall. "Listen here you old fool! Our king is dead, and our queen missing! Those responsible are free to roam the skies unhindered of their crimes, and our people are in the dark! I will not begin to think of which one of you old husks will seat their ass on the throne until those responsible for his majesty's murder are caught, trialed and executed! Do I make myself clear Lord Alunda!?" Sindar then let go allowing the man to fall to his feet, then to his knees.

"Y-yes, General Sindar! I just... I only want to ensure that this tragedy's effects are minimized! The people will panic."

"Tch... the people will stand strong, and know that their king will be avenged... I have never failed in my duties, and I will not fail my lord in his death... And I return Oralia to us." The man then began towards his quarters with renewed vigor, the flame of justice burned hotter in his soul.

The Low Skies


The hacking coughs that had plagued him since he'd blacked out from the Grand Hall in the Colossi palace seemed to have finally subsided, but Zagara still turned, and thrashed under the blankets of the bunk he had been placed in when they'd took to the sky. His skin burned with an unholy fire, and amidst his thrashing, he spoke in strange spidery words that made no sense to those that heard him. It sounded like magic, but those who understood the language would get the feeling that the words hadn't been spoken in thousands of years.

He then suddenly opened his eyes, sat up, and he stared at the ceiling with a feverish look in his eyes, their light having long since died, and no longing spinning, leaving only viridian iris' fixed on the wooden planks above him. "Zofu Del Mah.... Jolinar agrest zokempt abashtu ungafen...." he said in a whisper, and then fell back against the mattress, and closed his eyes.

The man's breathing seemed to ease, and his thrashing slowly ceased... it was as if he'd fallen asleep again, but then he stirred once more, and slowly... groggily opened his eyes. Their light was now present as a pale glow... the iris' were spinning once more.

Jolinark, Dockyards

In a treacherous area like Bandit Bluffs, even a novice quickly learns that the best route towards preventing tragedy is to always have a spare tether rope on hand. Peppered with storms, and situated so closely to the Void, this community loses more airships than it does citizens, and considering the people who inhabit the settlement, that's saying a great deal.

And so it was that when the Gem of Tempest was activated, lighting up the sky with the fury of its power, airship crews were already furiously working to keep their ships from drifting away. Sails were folded up, all lightweight objects brought indoors, and you couldn't find a spare ledge on the bluffs that did not have a hook embedded in it. The ultimate effect, however, was that when the mighty Tourniquet came streaking across the night sky, illuminated by crashes of lightning, there was not a single eye in the yard that hadn't spotted it. Gossip quickly spread among the more knowledgeable pilots, who eagerly swapped stories of past run-ins with the ship and its crew, some of them ridiculously inflated, but others real enough to send chills down a weaker man's spines.

One such spine was lodged in the body of a young up-and-coming airship pilot named Cassandra Petit, who sat upon the edge of the bluffs, gazing at the descending ship with a mix of wonder and fear. Having never seen the ship herself, she expected that its arrival would be a momentous occasion. If she was lucky, she might even be able to get a few pointers from the people onboard. If she was unlucky, well, it wouldn't be the first time that she had been robbed.

"Ship secure an' ready, ma'am!" shouted Stanley, her first and only mate, carefully skirting the edge of the cliff to come over to where she was sitting. Though Stan (as he preferred to be called) claimed to be an ex-soldier with at least twenty years of experience, his significant belly and jolly demeanor suggested otherwise. Still, he was a handy mechanic, and he could lift stuff a lot better than Cassie could.

"Thanks, Stan," she replied, stepping to her feet. Staring up at the night sky once more, she asked slowly, "Those people who're coming in, they're pirates, right?"

"So they say," he said, tilting his hat upwards to get a better look. "I ain't never seen 'em myself, an' I don't aim to while they're 'ere."

"I think it might be exciting, personally. I've never seen real pirates before. What do you suppose they're like?"

Stanley huffed and lowered his eyes a little. "Le's just say tha' ye better keep pretendin' yer a guy, if ye know wha's good for ye. Pirates're evil, darlin', plain an' simple. If ye work with 'em, ye gotta watch yer back, 'less you got a death wish."

"Really? That sounds very interesting." Following Stanley around the edge of the cliff, Cassandra gave the descending ship another glance. By their current rate of speed, they'd be arriving soon. Perhaps she could do some business with them when they got here.

A bottle shattered on the rocks between Cassandra and Stanley, peppering them both with glass. It had fallen from 400 feet above.


Rakdar, the dubiously-ranked surgeon of the Tourniquet, was sent tumbling across the rain-drenched deck along with a mess of bandages and medical tools. He got up quickly and stepped aside as Kargon staggered out of the cabin behind him. The First Mate was bare-chested, his back half-stitched and his face dripping with rum. He swayed across the deck, eyes red with fury. "Stitch like me grandmother, yer rat-bellied.. pig... chucking... BAAAAAH!!!" He abandoned the insult and went for a less-eloquent growl, throwing a punch at the surgeon and missing by 10 feet. The other deckhands gave the big man space, watching him like some scientific curiosity and being careful not to snigger.

The thunder rumbled and Kargon spun on his heel. "TAKE THAT BACK!!!" He spat into the storm then slumped against the nearest mast. "Make sail for Nocta Syr! Gotta rescue the cap'n!"

"We already did that, Sir," answered the pirate at the helm who immediately regretted speaking up. Kargon rounded on him and pointed right in his face.


The deckhands didn't move and Kargon staggered past them, picking up the needle and thread that the surgeon had dropped. "Bunch o' pigeon-livered bastards... I'LL DO IT MEESELF!!!" He started trying to stitch his own back, staggering across the deck as he did so and using his other hand to cuff and shove the crewmen. "GIT YER STINKIN' HANDS OFF ME YE TRAITORS OR I'LL-- WAAAAAAAAAAAAOOOH!!!!!!"

He collided with the side of the deck and went toppling over the edge, plummetting towards the town below.





In one of the lower cabins, Prestadeth looked up as something slammed against the window. It was a half-naked man, upside down and dangling with a rope around his ankle. He was bouncing back and forth against the hull, bloodshot eyes looking at the Elf and the unconscious princess on the bed beside her as if they had suddenly interrupted him.

"Hurr... y.. wh..." was the only thing that could be heard above the rush of the air.

Prestadeth blinked back.

She would later learn that the first rule of life on the Tourniquet was to ALWAYS give the First Mate the rum before performing surgery on him. And she would also learn that the second rule of life on the Tourniquet was to ALWAYS tie a rope around the First Mate's ankle before giving him the rum.



Everything seemed to jolt with the sound. The fire. Moon. Wolves. Fireworks. Hundreds of staring faces all wearing red hats before catching fire. Even her own body had jumped. Knowing it was something outside of her chaotic dreams, yet being slow to come around. The dream faded to black and Oralia was stirring.

Opening one eye and then the other, she found her surroundings unfamiliar. Confused, she sat up quickly. Staring wide-eyed at the dangerous looking elf and then with even more confusion at the man dangling upside down out the window. She was on a ship!

The memories of what happened came back all at once. Hitting her so hard that it may as well of been a physical blow. Her breath caught and her chest ached as she dug her fingers in to the bed's edge. Her father was dead. She was kidnapped. Rescued? She found that she didn't even have any tears left to cry. Only a numb, empty feeling.

Oralia grasped at the first thing she could wrap her mind on. Anything to stop envisioning flames in her head.

"...what is he doing out there..?"
"Dangling and cursing, as Kargon is apt to do." Both Prestadeth and Oralia turned from the struggling first mate to the door of their cabin. Ku-Jon stood flanked by two crossbowmen, each leering as they lay their eyes upon the two women. If the captain was aware of these lecherous gazes, he certainly didn't seem to care. Before Oralia could question the pirates' presence, Prestadeth had her curved blade tickling the nape of her smooth neck. Oralia squeaked before falling silent, trying not to swallow in fear of being cut.

"She is my prisoner," Prestadeth stated coldly, eying the two bowmen, "Will you part with such a valuable asset?"

For a moment, Ku-Jon's face darkened. The last he'd been lectured by a woman, he'd left her broken in the seedy inn he'd found her at. Years ago of course, but the elf's petulant tongue boiled anger beneath his heart. Grinding teeth against teeth, Ku-Jon bent behind the crossbowmen for a moment and returned with bundles of satin and wool within his arms. He hurled them at the elf, the warrior quickly ducking underneath the barrage and sliding sideways with a terrified Oralia dragged along for the ride. It took her a moment to recognize the selection of almost eight different dresses of various style and value. Careful not to let confusion soften her gaze, Prestadeth glared up at Ku-Jon and sneered.

"I won't dress for your amusement."

"You'd amuse me more to undress,"
Ku-Jon quickly responded, replacing a grimace with a lewd wink "But your garb is hardly necessary for where we're going and our little princess is like to be recognized without a drastic change of appearance." Dismissing the pirates beside him, Ku-Jon crossed his arms in the doorway as though in a match of stares against the elf and the frightened Oralia. Unfortunately, the enmity of the moment was broken as whoever had been dragging up Kargon had relinquished to his weight and let the drunken mate bounce around outside the window again.

"Where are we?"

"A haven of profiteers and looters," Ku-Jon answered callously, running a finger along the top of the door and flicking away dust, "A slice of cutthroat away from the long arm of the law to make repairs and lay low."

"Then why the dress?" Prestadeth queried

Sighing exasperatedly, Ku-Jon thumped his fist heavily against the wall beside the open portal. Oralia jumped, the knife tracing a thin red line across her throat, and she squeaked again in pain. Prestadeth didn't move.

"Tourniquet is on her last legs and we can't risk anyone outside the crew discovering Oralia. We leave the Tourniquet for repairs and embark on another ship."

Prestadeth said nothing, already formulating possible strategies to rid herself of the crew and renew her questioning of Zagara.

"Try to escape and I'll run you through."

"I'll part your head from your shoulders before you draw your blade."
the elf promised mirthlessly.

"Glad we had this conversation,"
Ku-Jon finished, turning and slamming the door "Long eared, thin skinned bitch..."

Prestadeth waited a few moment after the captain had left and let Oralia out of her grip. The princess remained where she was, a bit too frightened to move and her captor stared out the port window past the thumping Kargon and onto the mess of poorly made shanties below her. A haven of bandits indeed.

Rakdar poised over the unconscious Zagara as if scrutinizing his body for something to stitch. When no wound presented itself, the pirate poured the contents of a waterkin onto the mage's head. Spluttering, Zagara opened his eyes to an unfamiliar room. Still weak from the short duel with the Magi, the mage could do little more then cough and struggle weakly against the rope holding him to the frayed cot.

"Awake then?"

Craning his neck as far as it would allow, Zagara just barely caught the face of Ku-Jon looking down at him. Neither angry nor content, the captain of the Tourniquet scrutinized his face.


"You're aboard my ship, The Tourniquet, and we are making our descent into somewhere safe for repairs and a likely change of vessel."

Zagara shook his head weakly, trying to make sense of his current situation. He loosely remembered being picked up after his final spell, but the remainder was a blur. "" He croaked at last, struggling against the ropes again. Ku-Jon said little at first, nodding at Rakdar to pour water down the young mans throat, prompting his immediate coughing.

"No magi here, mage..." the last word was said distastefully, as though a foul taste had offended his tongue. "My name is Ku-Jon Bokor, captain of this ship and you'll be released when I'm confident you have enough wits about you to answer a few questions I have." Laying a hand on Rakdar's shoulder, the captain crossed to the door and paused, turning to Zagara with a narrowed gaze. "I saved you from the noose back at the castle, I ask you at least have the decency to afford the same mercy on my crew. Don't make me regret taking you aboard."

With that the captain left Zagara to ponder on his current fate, ascending toward the deck.

"I'll gut the lot o ya, damn purple bellies!" Thrashing on the deck, Kargon had been pulled up for the fourth time this morning. Ku-Jon smiled as Bill Garrun got a face of fist that sent him staggering against the fractured mast. It was remarkable how much he'd missed these simple times of drunken revelry, and how quickly they'd faded during his imprisonment. He was having so much fun he even let it go for awhile longer, Ike Ulfran taking a thrashing knee to the chest which sent him pitching against the railing and Bill rejoining the fray to land a solid punch in Kargon's jaw. Rakdar's prescence with Zagara was all the assurance the captain needed to know Kargon had been stitched up. Still, by the rate of his thrashing he might undo the hard work with a few short moments.

"On your feet First Mate Kargon!"
The captain bellowed, the remaining crew scrambling off the giant as he struggled to his feet. "Report."

"Traitors cap'n,"
Kargon slurred with a glare, bloodshot eyes bouncing between crewmates. "Bill's a leadin a mut'ny." Ku-Jon nodded thoughtfully, nodding at Bill to perhaps take his duties below deck for now. When Kargon took to the drink, his accusations were backed by little self control.

"I'll handle it,"
the captain assured, placing a strong hand on his comrade's shoulder "Sit and let your wounds close up, I'll need you when we make port."

"Aye," Kargon muttered, sinking to the deck to tug at the rope around his leg "Ye can count on me cap'n..."

Ku-Jon stepped by him, leaving the drunken first mate to sort the truth from delusion and made his way to the wheel. Ambrose Gobchik steered the Tourniquet with the same mastery he had when he'd been first hired by Ku-Jon. Of the crew, Gobchik was perhaps the most mysterious. A man who neither ate nor slept, his origin and species remained an unknown conundrum not even Ku-Jon could figure out. No doubt Ambrose would have answered these questions if asked, but without a tongue he hadn't the means to speak. Bill Garrun came aboard with Ambrose at the beginning and maintained his tongue had been taken in a bar by Castigation crewmen when he'd spoken ill of Captain Elanore. While Ku-Jon was inclined to believe Bill, the man also had a habit for telling strange and fantastic tales without being prompted. Needless to say, even without speech or the learning to write, Ambrose was an asset nearly as valuable to the Tourniquet as he or Kargon. In the years Ku-Jon had captained this ship, no man had steered it but Ambrose...and Ku-Jon was inclined to keep it that way.

"Begin the final descent Ambrose," he commanded, looking out over the rail and across the ramshackle city. "Easy as you can, can't let those swindling hogs know we're limping."

Ambros nodded, knotted dreadlocks swinging around his dark face and Ku-Jon grinned his approval.

Bandit Bluffs...a nostalgic sight and it hadn't changed at all. Same men grubbing for copper, same pirates spinning yarns of dubious stories, and same wild desperation so plain upon each resident's face. Home for a pirate and yet a dangerous place for those with blood to be spilled. Letting the rail hold him up, Ku-Jon's face contorted in pain as whatever pushed inside him found a new grip on his ribcage. Curse of Nocta Syr, the shadow trying to pull him back perhaps...either way, Ku-Jon had lived long enough to know death when he felt it.

Just a little longer, just needed to get a few more things done...see the sun a few more times.

The pain subsided to a quiet throbbing in his chest and the captain sighed. Who knew how many sunrises he had left, how many voyages were still in his bones. Regardless, he would need to ask Zagara of his magic before he shuffled off the mortal coil...maybe spin some ruckus on his way out.

Live fighting and go our thrashing.

Summary: Descending into Bandit Bluffs and Ku-Jon visits the crew. Prestadeth and Oralia are to disguise themselves, Zagara is to recover and answer questions...hopefully not kill the crew, and Kargon needs to sober up.
  • Like
Reactions: 1 person
"Flea-bitten, half-witted lech," Prestadeth finished the insult with a few choice words in her own tongue before turning her attention back to Oralia. Her eyes quickly swept over the princess's form, before she spoke.

"I do not take pleasure in taking scared little girls hostage," the elf picked up a tattered blanket from her cot, then draped it over the window, hiding the swinging Kargon from view. "However, we are here and our situation is very delicate."

Prestadeth had found herself between a rock and hard place. Down the hall lay Zagara, the man who had aided in her escape, and carried the shade of her father with him. At the moment, she could not get to him without leaving Oralia alone, and therefore at the mercy of these lowlife's. She had to find a way to get them both out of here, and soon.

"Know this: there is no escape from this. I have no doubt in my mind that these men will slit my throat and take you for their own uses the first chance they get," Prestadeth sorted through the pile of dresses, a scowl creasing her brow at the frilly, impractical things. "I don't think I need to tell you the things these men are capable of doing to you once I am gone." Prestadeth withdrew a red dress with short sleeves, and was wove from a light material.

"As my prisoner, I can guarantee that you will retain your womanhood, and that you will be treated well, so long as you do exactly as I say." Prestadeth's eyes flashed dangerously for a moment, before she began to undress.

"Any disobedience, or attempts to escape me will only award you great pain," the elf slipped the dress over her head and pursed her lips when she saw that the hem of the skirt went way too low for her tastes. Honestly, how did human women manage to move about in these things?

Prestadeth was determined to escape while the pirates were busy switching ships, but exactly how and when that was going to happen was still a mystery. The good captain had made sure the elf had been kept oblivious to the comings and goings on his ship. Their only real hope for escape was to wait for the opportunity to present itself, she supposed.

The sound of ripping fabric broke the brief silence between the two women. Prestadeth had ripped the skirt so that the hem was now just below her knees; much easier to move about now.

"We will not remain in the company of these men for long, be ready to run, or fight, at any moment," Prestadeth finished by tying her black leather belt around her waist, and slipping a few of her extra darts into her boots.

"For now, dress yourself and bind your wound." Of course, she was referring to the small, self-inflected cut across the girl's throat.

* * *

The Colossi Palace.​

By the time General Sindar had reached his quarters, he found Alyss Greenkey standing in the center of the room, illuminated only by the few candles burning on the table. The lieutenant saluted her general crisply, before her demeanor relaxed slightly, the corners of her mouth arched in a barely perceptible, mirthless smile.

"Forgive the intrusion, sir, but I could hear your command from across the palace," the half-selkie had long abandoned the ornate armor she wore for the celebration in favor of the simple uniform underneath. It had been a long night for the both of them; Alyss had to swallow her regret and shame for having allowed their king to be killed and their future queen to be taken away so easily. There had been much work to do.

Now she waited, regarding her general expectantly, for his orders.

Oralia shifted uncomfortably where she stood, unsure if the elf woman was going to be as helpful as she claimed. Especially now that there was the sting of a small scratch across her throat where a blade had been. Her fingers touched the spot, drawing back with a line of blood. With her sleeve, she pressed it against her neck and held it there a few minutes while she debated the situation.

Could she run? Probably not. This was a ship of pirates and though she wasn't entirely sure just how bad they could be, Oralia could recognize the danger by the tone of the elf's voice. She didn't want to find out the hard way. But to trust this woman who clearly would turn on her like a switch?

Checking again to see if the bleeding had stopped, Oralia shifted slow and wary to take one of the dresses. She retreated out of arm's reach to one of the corners so she could undress and switch her clothes. The dress was made well and pretty. Not something Oralia would have chosen to wear, but the thought of keeping these blood stained clothes...! She had them off and tossed aside before she pulled the fresh clean dress over her head and laced it up tight.

As an after-thought she pulled the petite tiara off her head and looked at it. The man said they needed to be disguised and not recognized. The tiara was a symbol of who she was and most certainly a give-away. She wanted to be found, but then again... what if the wrong people found her?

Slowly and with some regret, she set the tiara aside on one of the tables. It would be better not to have anything on her that'd make it harder to escape. As soon as she thought of an escape plan.

"Um... What is your name..?" she asked softly, barely even able to squeak out the words above a whisper. At least she should know who her captor is!
Prestadeth paused from hiding the rest of her weapons, as if the girl's question had struck a chord. She regarded the girl dubiously, before returning to her normal aloofness.

"Prestadeth," was all she said, before she continued on with the business of making her dress more combat sound. Unfortunately, the elf had no idea that the cut and color of her garb was usually reserved for prostitutes. It would surely miff her when she found out later.

"And what should I call you?" She asked. Was this a rare moment of gentleness?

"I need to call you something besides 'girl.'"


Kargon handed the bowl back to the Apothecary as the sound of his belch echoed through the cabins and decks of the Tourniquet. "Much obliged, Jipp."

The Apothecary, a half-ogre who was now blocking the starboard walkway of the upper deck, poured the remainder of his Sobriety Potion into a flask and sealed it. "Remember," his deep voice intoned, incredibly slowly, "No eggs or flour for fourteen hours, or your stomach will catastrophically explode."

Kargon looked suspiciously at Jipp, not because of the warning but because the Apothecary had somehow learned the word 'catastrophically'. Kargon would have to investigate this development at a later stage, but for now he licked his lips and swallowed the last of the spicy, sweet-tasting potion. His vision focussed and he felt his head clear a little.

"What's the word?"

"Captain wants to change ships."

"Bah!" Kargon barked, spitting on the Ogre's face. "Been off the decks too long, he has. We'll talk to Freeger - get Ol' Torny refitted to look like a merchant vessel. A change of papers and a few bars of soap, an' even the Oracles of Mistlethwaite wouldn't know it were us!"

"I guess that would work, Sir," groaned Jipp as he packed up his potion kit.

"I've always liked ye, Jipp. Good 'ead for tactics."

The depressed Ogre trudged off and Kargon reeled to his feet, swaying a little, burping again, then lurching forward. He tottered back to the main deck whilst fighting the odd feeling that he had seen something out of place in the lower cabins...

The deckhands glanced up at Kargon as he appeared at the helm. The First Mate glanced at the rocks below then back at the expectant deckhands. Then he burped again and cleared his throat.

"In Maker's Cove where I was born..."

The deckhands stared at him as he sung. There was a pause.

"From home and haven I was torn..."

One of the cabin boys sung up. "Heave away! Haul away!"

Kargon puffed up his chest and sung louder. "Now from Low Realm sail we free"

All at once the deckhands roared. "WE'RE BOUND FOR SOUTH ORZALIA!"

Kargon stood at the helm next to Ambrose as the shanty took hold and the crew began the docking drills. The Tourniquet swooped down towards the Bandit Bluffs, aligning itself with the dockyard on the edge of the cliffs.

"Through skies and storms we tarry true!"


"On ocean's wide and fortunes few!"


"For three score years these callused palms!"


"Then back to bonny maidens' arms!"


"Heave me hearties, haul away!!"


"Whiskey calls and shan't be swayed!!"


If the flashes of lightning hadn't revealed the Tourniquet to the people of the bluffs, the loud singing that now emanated from it would have sufficed. Gliding in to an open spot on the docks, the ship settled into the proper position and began the docking procedure. In short time, there would be pirates streaming out and stretching out their newfound land legs, some glad to be off the flying ship, many more sad to leave it. Several bandits began to funnel in to the pirate ship's spot on the dockyard, ready to try their luck at taking some ancient artifact or long-lost treasure for themselves. More than likely, those who tried would come out sans one of their arms, but for the wary thief with good timing, a pirate was the second most valuable mark in the world, second only to military officers.

"So you see," Cassandra said, seated on the railing of her own ship, "if they were up to something, they would have come in quietly. If I know my stories, the pirates could have come in unnoticed if they wanted, but they don't want to go unnoticed, so they clearly have nothing to hide."

"Wha'ever ye say, miss," Stanley said slowly, sitting with his back to the ship's raised gangplank, "but I still ain't movin'."

"Come on, Stan!" Cassandra pleaded, hopping off the railing onto the deck of her ship. "I'm just going to take a look. They're not going to shoot me for staring."

Stanley huffed. "Starin'? Yah, sure, definite way te not be suspicious-lookin'."

Cassandra walked towards Stan, her stride full of purpose. "If you aren't letting me off the boat tonight, let me see them in the morning. They'll still be here then, right?"

"Don' know, don' care. Go te bed!"

Cassandra briefly considered leaping over the edge of the ship, but it was currently hovering in midair, and it was the middle of the night. It would be easy to misjudge her leap, and that'd be the end of her. Nothing else to do then but to wait until the morning sun or sneak out when Stanley was asleep. With this in mind, she walked below decks to her room and sat at her desk, where she'd have a good view out her window of the dark silhouettes creeping out from that strange pirate ship. If they were still around, she'd have to make a point of visiting the pirates at first dawn.

Laying there, with his face, hair, and collar soaking from the abrupt awakening, Zagara fell silent as Ku-Jon left him to the care of Rakdar. Finally he spoke, with some renewed strength to his voice "Am I to be freed, or am I simply a captive granted with the benefit of no bars?" The mage had a vague recolection of being carried a distance by Ku-Jon, but the pocket of when he entered the grand hall until then was still wiped from his mind... it felt as if he'd been dead for those moments, and awoke to a different time, and day.

"The elf... What did you do to Prestadeth? She has nothing to do with me, or my actions... if you have her, let her go." Zagara said softly, as he pulled against the ropes, and secured the knowledge that he wouldn't have the strength to break them... yet. But the magic wouldn't come to him. He was exhausted in soul more than body, and when the magic burned as hot as it had... the soul was often left gasping for air... and for rest. He could wiggle is feet now, and so that gave him some reassurance. Focusing his eyes on Rakdar, the spinning iris did nothing, but take him in, as well as what he could see of his environment... it smelt like ill deeds, and men who fed on it.

"We're not on Fomura anymore... are we?"

Greasy Spoon


In the back corner of the tavern, past the ruckus and the flying objects, the loud laughter and the dirty jokes, the cloaked figure sat. The hood down so low, one could only see the tip of a chin, the figure's head inclined toward the small harp cradled in its lap. The mask it wore to conceal its face was pure black, simple, but sometimes it seemed to shimmer in the dim light. There were five holes: two for the eyes, a smaller pair for the nostrils, and a single slit for the mouth.

Lyseth sat on a small stool. None of the patrons took notice of her and she was fine with that. The owner didn't care one way or another. But the stranger continued to pay for drinks and food she ordered and so long as the money kept coming, that's all that mattered. Fortunately for him, Lyseth believed in settling one's debts and never owing anyone anything. The gloves she wore on her hands were thinning. She could feel the strings through them which meant she would have to patch them up again.

From behind the mask, she closed her eyes briefly. Sleep was fleeting but she could catch a few moments. So long as she kept plucking on her harp, no one would notice and feel obligated to pounce while her guard was down. They were wary of the stranger, those few who hadn't seen fit to outright ignore her. A slight smirk crossed her face.

Be wary, she wanted to tell them. And never let your guard down.

There was a look of surprise on Oralia's face. Whether she was kidnapped or rescued, who didn't know the Princess of Formura?

"..Oralia." she responded with some hesitation. There was no reason to lie.

Oralia watched as Prestadeth cut, shifted, strapped and stashed. Things that were probably normal to the elf, but was fascinating to the Princess who had never seen anyone try to hide that many weapons before. Oralia even tilted, attempting to see how Prestadeth hid the knife under her skirt and yet still be able to walk around with ease.

Sounds of a pirate shanty soon echoed down to their rooms below. Instinctivly, Oralia shifted a pace or two closer towards Prestadeth as she glanced up at the cieling. She swallowed.

"Is.. um... Are you a warrior or knight, then?"
[bg=#000000]THE GREASY SPOON

Sweat, blood, unwashed bodies, rotting food and rather potent stale beer. Such are the delightful smells that greet you in the Greasy Spoon. The noise is almost deafening, a medley of drunken slurs and yells mixed with the shattering of glasses and the occasional squeal as someone gets stuck by a knife and dragged outside. On the edges, in the dark corners do lurk the various mysterious entities, the sort of people I have a theory just like to sit about in bars, lurking and looking mysterious, in the hope that someone asks them what the hell they're doing.

And then there's me. A funny little man in a maroon greatcoat, sitting at the bar surrounded by a horde of drunken pirates and sailors of the disreputable type. Seems downright stupid, right?

Truth is, if I had any other choice, I wouldn't be waiting around in such a place. I'd be off somewhere sunny on my own private airship with no-one but a couple of girls and a collection of good alcohol to keep me company. But that's the goal; I need to actually get there, first.

I can't go back to Caladorf, now, not if I don't want to be killed rather horribly. I could flee to the Mid-Realms, but I'd still have the trouble of people coming after me with the intention to bring me back.

So my plan's to take to the place where they can't easily follow me.

It's the sky for me. All I need to do is find myself a ship that'll take me on. Then I'm free and clear.
The beginnings of the shanty made Prestadeth's ears twitch, instinctively picking up on the tune. The muscles in her legs wanted to dance in time with the song, but Prestadeth forced them still.

Prestadeth paused for a moment in thought over the princess's question. "I am a Guardian," the elf replied stoically, finished with her dressing and hiding of weapons, she had a moment to humor Oralia. "I come from a place far from here, the last haven for Forest Elves from invading forces."

The Guardian approached Oralia slowly, her eyes traveling up and down the girl's body as she dressed, taking her in once more. The girl had obviously never worked a day in her life, and though her body was supple and lean, it did not have any of the hardened qualities of one who trained to defend oneself.

Prestadeth would have to remedy that, at a later time. It would simply be too inconvenient to have a hostage who could not hold their own in a battle. Prestadeth intended to take the girl all the way back Istesgal, to keep as a hostage so the human mages would no longer defile the land and take her people. It was a long journey back, filled with danger, and the elf simply could not guarantee the girl's safety unless she knew at least how to handle a blade. But that was for later.

"I am one who protects my people from yours." That was all Prestadeth was willing to say at the moment. Seeing that the girl was done dressing, Prestadeth commanded in a tone that silenced any further questions: "We should go to the deck, now. Do not stray from me." The door to their cabin was locked, but one swift kick quickly liberated the door from its hinges, and the two women made their way up top.

The pair made their way to the deck just after the men had finished their song. They stood amongst them, Oralia still close by her side, her gaze flitting about hesitantly. Prestadeth's own expression was impassive as she scanned the crew for a glimpse of their captain.

"Eeep!" yelped Oralia as she fell over the moment she reached the deck. The Tourniquet came to a shuddering halt, the entire vessel creaking as it locked into port.

Though port was hardly the most fitting word in the Realms, because airship docks were more like farms now thanks to the cultivation of Vairnigs. These type of aerial barnacles had revolutionised airship travel in the last forty years. The male Vairnigs were like ocean barnacles, in that they grew on the hulls of ships and preferred to gestate in wooden environments. The females, meanwhile, prefered mineral environments and when in contact with males became fused in a sex-grip as tight as a dead man's hand. Not much individually, but when you had a hundred Vairnig couples alligned together it could hold an entire warship in the middle of hurricane. And this was where ports made their money. Vairnig farmers cultivated the female barnacles and allowed them to nest on the cliff-face, feeding them correctly to shape the perfect docking surface. And because every settlement had its own breed of Vairnig, they were able to extract and stockpile the anti-libido hormones from the females which, when released, caused the male and female to unlatch. And thus, dockmasters could ensure that ship captains never left without paying their dues. To try and depart from dock without purchasing the release hormones was just asking to have your vessel ripped in two.

Everyone knew this of course, except for Oralia... which was why she was the only one who wasn't braced properly as the Tourniquet slammed to a full... sexual... barnacle-encrusted stop. As the princess toppled over, one of the pirates assembled on the starboard side turned.

Kargon frowned at the sight of the two women. "What...?"

Oralia got up again, wiping herself down, while Prestadeth blinked back at the bemused pirate.

"Elf.... what?"

Captain Ku-Jon walked past him and shouted to the men. "Weigh anchors, boys. You know the drills."

Kargon went to speak, looked at the Captain, pointed at the women, went to speak again... "Wh... but... who?"

Boarding planks were thrown across to the barnacle-encrusted shore and half of the crewmen clambered out onto dry land, leaving the others behind to guard the ship. Ku-Jon was at their head, pointing out the silhouette of one of the buildings clustered along the cliff-edge of Bandits Bluff. "There she is. The Greasy Spoon, our mistress for this night! Lead on, boys, lead on!"

Kargon tried to call after the captain, still pointing at Oralia and Prestadeth. "Women...?"
[bg=#000000]THE GREASY SPOON

The noise only seems to grow within the tavern, as more and more of the thugs and pirates that frequent this place arrive.

But no trouble, so far, it must be said. A man must always count his bles--

"So the Little Bastard thought he'd got away, did he?"

...I should try not to jinx things quite so much.

Turning around in my stool, I come face-to-face with two rather familiar looking fellows. And not the 'old friend' kind of familiar. The 'oh fuck' kind.
"Mike and Jarel!" I exclain in a tone of mock-surprise, "How wonderful to see you both! You didn't come all the way from Caladorf for little me, did you? You shouldn't have!"
"Course we did, you sarcy little fuck," rumbles Jarel, the big brutal one of the two. He's slow, clumsy and none too bright, but when you want muscle they come no better. "Now hand what you stole over and come with us."
"Why Jarel, I haven't the faintest idea what you're--"
"Ando, for fuck's sake," interrupts Mike, a man almost as small as me but with a reputation in Caladorf for being one of the cruellest, black-hearted torturers in a city of cruel black-hearts, "We know you've got it, and the boss wants it back. He wants you... back, too."

Balls. Boss is still alive, is he?

That makes things... a little more complicated.

"Allow me to act as though I'm pleased to hear of Dashiel's recovery from my little surprise for him," I chuckle, "But I'm not going back with you, and you're not getting my prize."
"I don't think you get a choice, Ando," grins Jarel.
"Actually, I do. Wanna know your mistake, lads?" I announce loudly, and with one deft motion drive my fist into Mike's testicles. "You came within ball-punching distance."

Before Jarel can react, I'm up and away from the chair, as Mike collapses to the floor in pain. The big brute comes lumbering after me, more or less as I expected. What he's not expecting is for me to grab one of the bannisters, using the motion to power myself around it and slam my feet into his face.

Jarel's nose shatters, for what must be the hundreth time, and he staggers back, cursing. By now, the crowd around us have stopped their drinking to watch the fight, cheering and whooping and occasionally hurling tankards of ale. I duck one such tankard as Jarel gets hit by several by bowing to the crowd, triggering another bout of cheering. Reeling back from the tankards, the brute finally regains his senses and with a roar, charges me.

The big bastard's so slow I might as well have just walked out the way of the post I was standing in front of.

Colliding with the support beam, Jarel staggers back, swaying unsteadily for a moment.

And then another tankard collides with his head, finishing him off.

With a crash, he hits the ground, and the crowd cheers. I laugh and bow again, before moving over to the still-reeling Mike and knocking him out with a kick to the back of the head.
"But wait, good patrons of the Greasy Spoon!" I yell to the crowd, "Because that's not all! If some of you fine gentlemen would help me tie these two to the support beams..."[/b] my hand flies to my belt, quick as a flash, and produces one of my daggers, "...and I would be honoured to demonstrate some knife throwing!"

The cheers say it all.

This is suddenly looking to be an entertaining night.

Ando is accosted by two thugs from Caladorf, sent to bring him back. He learns that Dashiel, his old boss who he conned and left for dead, survived the attack Ando orchestrated. Using dirty fighting and acrobatics, Ando defeats the thugs, to the amusement of the tavern patrons. He then gets the tavern-goers to tie the two men up so he can demonstrate his knife throwing.
"Wow! That was an amazing fight!" Cassandra didn't know who she was talking to, because she was talking to nobody in particular except for herself. She was feeling lightheaded and giddy, and babbling to herself was just one of the many nervous habits she was exhibiting from her vantage point at a nearby table in the bar. A tankard shook so much in her hand that a great deal of the beverage within had slopped onto the table, and her oversized tricorn listed at a peculiar angle, making her look like she was smashed out of her mind. Nothing could be farther from the truth, of course, because she was finding it tremendously difficult to actually drink anything.

Of course, a certain amount of giddiness was to be expected from this young lady, given her previous feat of climbing up one of her ship's mooring lines through her bedroom window, making sure not to look down at the endless abyss below. Stanley would, no doubt, discover the trick in the morning, but if she was lucky, she'd get her view of the pirates and be back before sunrise. The Greasy Spoon was one of those establishments that really only closed when the management got tired, and from Cassie's brief time in Bandit Bluffs, she hadn't seen the bartender even droop slightly from his standing position behind the counter. Truly an exceptional man.

Without warning, the merry crew of the Tourniquet began streaming through the tavern doors, just as the man who had been fighting before had begun to set up his knife throwing exhibit. It was going to be a veritable two-ring circus this evening, that was certain. Cassandra, in an attempt to be subtle, thrust the tankard in her hand up to her lips, but in her eagerness instead sprayed herself with a nice coating of cheap rum. The rest of the liquid that hadn't drenched the young pilot dribbled out of the cup to join the nice pool forming on the table. The barkeep, considerate man as he was, tossed a large rag at her and grunted disapprovingly.

So much for subtlety.

"Umm...sir?" Cassandra said while wiping off her face, shaky hand still jiggling her empty tankard, "Could I get another refill?"

The bartender grunted patiently and tossed another rag. He had the very sensible feeling that this patron would need it.
Comfort was rare off a deck or under the open sky. Farmer calluses had become rope calluses as one life swirled into another and still some things never changed. Ku-Jon brushed aside Kargon's evident confusion with the passengers and made a note to inform the first mate of the changes later. For now, the crew had endured a harrowing rescue followed by looting one of the most prized military ships in the Mid Realms. The fact it was done during an assassination was all the more reason to allow the survivors a bit of rest. Divided up among the men, a fraction of the gold taken from The Castigation would find its home in warped wood coffers this night.

The captain was walking on rotten wood to allow the elf and the princess to accompany them into the bar, but the prospect of leaving the dangerous creature to her own devices aboard his ship was a far more chilling thought. Even with the ship lovelocked (Slang for whatever barnacles do to ship hulls), Ku-Jon was not about to take risks. The Tourniquet was already limping and he had no wish to have more blood spilled upon her groaning timbers. Casting a glance back to the women, the captain grimaced through enough trust that the elf wouldn't put such a valuable prize in danger.

Striding across the rough stone, familiar aromas of vomit, blood, and sour hops assaulted his senses with a familiar potency. Anyone could smell the concocted ambiance of Bandit's Cove and gag, but one could spot a seasoned visitor by the hint of a smile rather then the slope of a grimace. Wretched and dirty, the place was still home to those who hadn't a home anywhere else.

At least if you had the kick enough to keep it.

Pushing open the doors to the Greasy Spoon, the revelry of the infamous tavern had reached a crescendo. A white haired fellow was practicing his aim with a few bloody men, much to the desire of the vicious crowd. Never a dull night in the Greasy Spoon and furthermore, never a week without at least one fatal 'accident'. Ku-Jon had to admit, he could never enjoy himself at any other bar after this one.

There simply wasn't enough risk.

Nodding his head at the crew and the women in attendance, Ku-Jon gave them leave to find a table large enough to support their party. Kargon, still blinking away confusion, was quick to assume his usual role as brute muscle. Momentarily, the curious knife thrower had his show stolen by a few large men clearing a large table toward the middle of the room. Men hit the floor, drink was spilled, and laughs were had.

Ku-Jon and his crew took their seats without challenge.

Just like old times...obviously Kargon had been quite forthcoming in keeping the reputation of The Tourniquet Pirates.

Sliding the captain's coat off his shoulders and onto the back of the chair, Ku-Jon wordlessly announced he would be staying until whatever business he needed was concluded. Placing his wrapped dagger onto the table beside two gold coins idly twisted between restless fingers, the captain sat back in the rickety chair awaiting an answer. For those of Bandit Cove, secrecy was embedded in their very souls. A myriad of wordless actions had rapidly become accepted as a means to conduct business or attract the right attention among cutthroats and thieves. Most pirates never spoke of the language, even to hard eyed students. Having no real words or set actions behind the conduct, most would think little of Ku-Jon and think the dagger to merely be a show of his willingness to shed blood.

But in his day, the placement of the weapon, the coat, and the coins conveyed a need to do business for good coin with a man who didn't mind putting his life on the line.

Complicated or simple, Ku-Jon felt it befitted his needs better then bashing in some heads and announcing he needed repairs...perhaps calling unwanted scrutiny to the princess in the meantime.

Those who knew would know what he meant, the crew around him were just to dissolve curiosity with their own drunken escapades.

Casting a careful eye around the tavern, Ku-Jon felt at ease in the attendance. Most were unfamiliar faces, but none save a cloaked little thing in the corner seemed to be out of place. Ku-Jon's eyes lingered on this one, drinking her figure with a prick of curiosity. The sharp pain in his chest drew him from observation however and back to the matter at hand. The Tourniquet would be repaired...that or a new ship would be contracted for the pirate's plans.

The first to deliver the news had received only pain in return. For years, pirates had feared the shadow cast by the leviathan known as The Castigation. For years the bugs had scuttled into their Low realm holes in fear of incarceration...or worse. For years none dared speak the name except in praise or curse...and now...

A goblet was hurled from the dais into the marble wall, scattering wine like fresh blood. Her beloved Castigation had been desecrated by the very vermin it had hunted. Commander Elanore seethed within her quarters. No call for pursuit, no current commands. The king had died and his failing competance had been obliterated with him. Years she had served within the palace as a consultant and figurehead. The King had deigned it necessary to hold her up as an example rather then let her continue the job she'd worked her life to pursue. The results were clear in the madness consuming the castle. Since the assassination, Elanore had relentlessly pursued her old crew. Calling them back to the castle, she had expected to be put in the air immediately. Evidently however, the death of a king required far more beurocratic posturing. It had only been the beginnings of a day, of course, but Elanore felt sick to think her quarry grew ever farther from her grasp.

So it was that when her presence was requested, she briskly dressed and marched to attend Sindar's call. Of all the men employed by the King, Sindar was one to be trusted with action.

Stepping into the room, Elanore tried not to display her disdain for the other woman in attendance. Alyss was a half blood and hardly more civilized then the monster spawn she crawled from. Why the King tolerated her at all was a question best left to necromancy...especially now.

Bowing to the general and rank superior, Elanore remained standing in the entrance. Her short blonde hair framed a deceptively soft face and volatile green eyes. She dressed in the simple sort of elegance she preferred, her naval uniform. Disregarding the other woman, the Commander took a step forward before resting rigid before Sindar.

"Commander Elanore present, as requested, what are your orders?"

Summary: Elanore has arrived and awaits Sindar's orders. It is clear she dislikes Alyss greatly. Ku-Jon and his crew enter the Greasy Spoon. Sitting, Ku-Jon is wary of Prestadeth and Oralia, but has wordlessly communicated they need a repairman or service to be rendered.

Kargon shoved Oralia into the chair opposite Ku-Jon. "Sit. Drink. Shut up."

Then he glared up at Prestadeth, who was standing the other side of the chair, never more than arm's reach from the human girl. They exchanged looks, acknowledging the fact that they would gladly tear each other's throats out if given the provocation. "You can just sit, Pointy-Ears."

Prestadeth's eyes narrowed, but Kargon didn't notice. He turned and circled the table, kicking aside the legs of the other pirates as they got comfortable in their chairs. Then he leaned over Ku-Jon, his shadow swallowing the captain in black as their faces came close to one another.

"There's plans for a Galgari merchant vessel in the hold. We'll refit the ship to look like it. That means a total redecking of the forecastle." He went to move away, then came back. "And new clamps for the mizzenmast." He pulled away, then came back. "The bowsprit will be a problem, but we'll canvas it for now." He went to leave, then came back. "And see if anyone can mend the Carmot rudder - the bitch is shot. And..."

Ku-Jon looked up, a single raised eyebrow assuring the First Mate that he had things covered. Kargon stared at him a little longer, weighing him up, reluctant to relinquish the control he had kept for these long years. But finally he clapped Ku-Jon on the shoulder, an unspoken surrender. "I'll get the travel papers."

He turned, colliding with a wiry dockhand, who was promptly flung into the nearest pillar. "RAAAGH!" the pirate snarled, clearing a way through the other patrons. He made it to the bar in a few quick strides, grabbing a drunkard who was hunched over the bar and sliding him onto the floor before taking the man's stool.

A miner steps up, finding a space at the bar, his coal-smeared arm catching the attention of the barkeep. With a grin, yellowed and gap-toothed, he makes his order...

Kargon swung and punched the miner before he got to the bar, flooring him with a single strike. Then he turned back and got the attention of the barkeep. "Tamas, ye fat, balding bastard! Get over here!"

The barkeep, Tamas, was indeed rather portly, and his long grey hair no longer grew from the scalp but instead left a shiny dome pitted with sweat. Upon noticing Kargon his hesitation was only momentary and then he slung his cloth over his shoulder and moved past the other customers. He brought his swollen, red-raw arms down on the bar and leaned in towards Kargon, the two men ensuring a moment of privacy at the edge of the bar.

"'eard you were dead, Drowner."

"Heard your mother was asking after me."

"She don't do necrophilia."

"You learning words now?"

"You should try it sometime, mate."

"I got a word for ye. Ends in 'oney."

"You beekeeping now?"

"No, but I can sting."

"Stink, more like."

"Stinkin' rich, so watch your mouth."

"I'll watch yer purse first, if I were thee."

"Well you ain't. Maybe why your pork-sword's rancid."

"Keeping check on pork-swords now, eh?"

"Yer head's in the gutter, fat-man, just like yer coffers."

"You gonna change that for me?"

"No, but I 'ear there's a spice merchant taking charity cases."

"Sailing these parts, is he?"

"Leaving tonight, I reckon."

"Gonna need some wind in his sails."

"I hear there's a fair breeze."

"Shit-talk, mate. I heard different."

"North-north-west at the seventh. Check it."

"Where you been, Drowner? Ain't winds like that no more."

"Maybe in the ninth from the east, and he'll say a prayer to the Void spirits."

"All o' them?"

"No doubt."

"Well, I reckon he might make it."

"What's the name of the ship?"


"Good forecast."


The two men parted, Tamas returning to his customers and Kargon lumbering back to the table, burping loudly as he passed Prestadeth.
Not open for further replies.