RP Pirates of the Hard Nox 2


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Leimor was a dark, cold place, but that morning it appeared on the horizon like warm sunlight. After what they'd gone through on the Ice Lands, they could all use some warmth.

Caleb had underestimated how hard it was to be captain of a ship, especially when wind wasn't in their favor. Through snowstorms and fog he guided the Hard Nox across the sky, following the route traced by Lucien. It was early afternoon when her hull touched the water and the ropes tied her to the harbor.

It had only been four days, but it felt like much longer. The beard Caleb had started growing finally closed, granting him a more mature look - or at least he thought it did. He needed a bath, a good meal, and perhaps some female company, goddess knows it's been long enough. There was one woman he'd prefer over the rest, but it'd take a lot more than a couple golden coins for him to stand a chance, and he suspected she was still mad at him for his latest decisions.

His feet touched solid ground and he searched for the man he had to pay to make sure the Nox would be left unbothered, gave him five silver coins and watched the rest disembark.
The key to the office remained in Alys' possession well after Caleb and Ciaran had vacated the room that same evening. What had been discussed during that day remained a mystery, even to Alys, apart from their wonderfully vulgar opening statements. If she didn't have to wait in the open air, frozen and caked in grime, she might've chosen to entertain herself by eavesdropping to the whole conversation.

Since then, there somehow hadn't been enough time to reconvene. The crew mourned the death of their previous captain; something that Alys hadn't been expecting to such a degree. Caleb embraced his new role, forcing her to step in as quartermaster with little guidance. A role, she quickly learned, that was far more than what it seemed. Alys didn't plan on admitting it, but she'd severely underestimated Caleb. Some aspects were easier, more natural, while others were downright excruciating. Her version of torture. Dividing the massive quantity of loot, for example, keeping an accurate log, using numbers and being fucking rushed by eager crew members. During her first attempt at tackling the job, she'd barely resisted the urge to stab a persistent crewmate in the neck with her quill pen.

She wasn't used to being downright terrible at something. Always decent or average, at the bare minimum, so when reading, writing, and using numbers came into her life after nearly fifteen years, one could say it was a challenge.

On the second day of no progress, surrounded by scraps of paper filled with scribbles - even attempts to sign her full name - and close to tears, Emryk walked into the room. They'd paired up together in the kitchen once, where Alys had taken charge, and despite the chilli powder incident, had worked well as a team. So, although being absolutely mortified to admit the truth, when Emryk had sat down beside her and offered to help, she'd decided to take it. He'd taken charge, Alys often peaking over his massive arm, watching as his claws produced elegant letters and numbers, occasionally piping in to make sure that everyone was fairly compensated. Keeping in mind those who scrubbed the deck regularly, and those who'd done jackshit in the Ice Lands. Occasionally following his lead when he'd asked her to try by herself.

Dedicating several hours over the last two days, they were able to finish in time for the crew to collect their pay and run off into Leimor to spend it all. A crisis had been averted, and although the worst was over, for now, they sat in the office finishing up the paperwork.

"I can't even begin to thank you," Alys murmured from her seat, eyes glued to the paper in front of Emryk. Again. She'd thanked him yesterday, and again today, before the crew had flocked them like wild animals.
"For you to learn and grow is thanks enough." Emryk replied, placing a hand upon her shoulder, sitting beside the quartermaster with quill in hand as they worked out the last of divvied shares. He'd taught her to work in fives-- it was half of ten, after all, and easiest to divide and multiply by with matters of money. A multiplication table lay nearby, for the girl to consult whenever need be. Matters of division, of course, were the hardest to grasp, and he'd spent the longest time briefing Alys upon the tedious task of long division.

Through any persistent bouts of frustration, however, the Baron was forever calm-- an anchor, should she need it. A figure of paternal guidance that he had always been blind to in his own youth. "You owe me nothing for needing help, hm?" Despite his calm, however, he certainly appeared tired in the way his blinking had slowed and his pace had faltered when putting pen to paper. "I would have been in the same place, had I... fully accepted the Captain's offer."

His expression soured a bit, at that. "In my opinion, I believe you'd be a better... ah, what is it called-- chief mate. He seems to trust you, you know. My appointment was largely political, but yours-- you have skills in management and record-keeping, even if your writing leaves something to be desired. And you'll only get better at it over time." He offered a warm smile, at that.

"Ciaran remaining as Master Gunner is for the best-- I hope Caleb can see beyond, ah... whatever rivalry he seems to have with the man. Do you-- know anything about that?"
The last four days had been quiet aboard the Nox. Interpersonal drama had, at least to Juniper's eyes, taken a backseat. It was certainly the last thing on their mind, now that they had returned mostly safely to the ship, staff in tow, arm intact. They were simply happy to still be alive, able to leave the mountains and the hell that had happened there in the past. As part of their recovery, they spent most of their time in silence. Granted, they were largely distracted by the staff, though that gripping fascination had waned over the days.

The woman's bunk was different now, too. That fed into the silence, the reserved, introspective quiet they found theirself in. Alys had been promoted by Caleb. Her newfound duties had kept them from crossing paths, and so they hardly spoke over the four days. Beck was sulking still, a result of what had happened immediately after their return. Had it not been for the fact that they were relieved to simply be back, Juniper likely would have tried to help, but they instead left her to her own thoughts. Hester never did join them here, electing to remain in the bilge. The one person the changeling would have spoken to was Nessa, but so much had changed lately, they simply chose instead to remain to theirself, for the time.

Leimor was a welcome sight. A city, civilization, and not one full of skeletons and death. Emryk had helped Alys divide up their profits, leaving Juniper with money to spend, and no idea what to spend it on. It was good to have regardless, they thought, as the ship touched down. They stepped down from the ship, on to solid ground in a more than welcoming climate, watching the bustle of people, and their shoulders relaxed for the first time since Allegria.
All of Emryk's comments - assessments - were accurate. A degree of trust, between herself and Caleb had been there, though it seemed to end with Ciáran and his rightful role as master gunner. And Alys had seen the role of chief mate before; she'd been a part of too many crews not to. It was a role
rarer among pirates, since the quartermaster often fulfilled all duties, but it wasn't unheard of. Unfortunately, it didn't yet exist on the Hard Nox. That would first require speaking to Caleb with a level head, a task she'd eventually need to do as his incapable quartermaster. But she was still angry with him, and likely he with her.

"I tried to convince him. I really did. Fucking bastard," she spat out, before quickly adding meekly, "Pardon my language."

"I think he's jealous of Ciáran. You know Ciáran - he's well-liked, respected amongst the crew. They're both capable, in their own way, Caleb just doesn't have what Ciáran does. No, he doesn't think he can ever have what Ciáran does."

Alys didn't know him well, perhaps no one really did. But she'd seen glimpses of it; gentleness, protectiveness, even respectfulness. Her mind flashed to his embrace on the side of the mountain, the almost desperate look in his eye when she'd been stung, the distance he'd maintained through their scheming, the way he'd always protected the crew during raids.

Swallowing hard, Alys looked towards Emryk. "Whatever it is, it predates me. There's seven years of shit between them. And now Caleb can finally be better than him."
She didn't leave her bed for two days, and when she finally did it was because her stomach would no longer allow itself to be ignored. She chose hours where she'd be less likely to run into people she'd rather avoid, and would soon crawl her way back into bed. One time she ran into Naveen, the vampire that had joined them along with Vena. He threatened to bite her, but when she shrugged at it and gave him the go ahead, he didn't seem interested anymore.

It wasn't until the morning of the fourth day that Beck finally found an ounce of energy to get to her feet for a reason other than her bodily necessities. She washed her face, changed into her pink dress and didn't even try to start a fight with Alys when she met her in the kitchen to collect her part of the loot. Beck wasn't built to be a pirate, but carrying that, the largest sum of money she ever had in her life, she understood why some people liked it.

"Juniper, wait!" She shouted, following the mage as they left the ship. Beck carried her bow with her, along with her arrows and the bag she had arrived with, heavier than before. "I- I'm leaving. I know we haven't talked lately and you probably hate me, but… Thank you. For being a friend, even though I didn't deserve it."
"So there I was, shipwrecked on a desert island, with sharks swimming in the water all around the place, trying to find a bit of shelter for the night. There's a cave there, and I'm just starting to explore it, when out from the depths comes this huge bear - two, no, three stories high! Swallowed me down in one gulp! Now, if you ever get swallowed by a bear monster, you've got to be quick, because if you get dropped in the stomach, well, the acid will eat you up quicker than a swarm of bonefish! I had to make a quick cut through the esophagus - you've got to aim for the lungs, that's the trick! Get yourself into the lungs and you'll have a bit of air to breathe while you figure out your next step! Once I was in there, it turned out I could start climbing up the flesh on the inside, one squishy step at a time! Long way to go, took me probably an hour. Well, the bear got so irritated by me being in there he gave a great big sneeze, which got me stuck right back in the throat. Of course he can't breath, so now I'm stuck in a dying bear! Well, no worries on that, I thought I could just wait him out, but eventually I got bored of that and a quick little chop chop and I was through. The bear and I didn't get on so well after that, but I had other things to worry about, like the frozen wasteland-"

From the assembled half circle, a small child raised his hand. "I thought you were on a desert island though?"

"Of course I was! But the bear traveled while I was inside, so by the time I got out, it was a frozen wasteland. Bears can move pretty fast, you know!" The question had not even concerned the storyteller for a moment. She was standing on a box that had once contained soap, at least, by the upside down lettering emblazoned on the crate. It seemed to be currently devoid of goods, and useful only as a podium for whatever it was this happened to be.

Aside from a few gathered children whose parents had abandonded them there to go do their shopping more easily, most of the people in the street were pretending she didn't exist, which was a standard reaction in gray Leimor to such a colorful character. Even the leather armor she wore - minimal though it might have been - had been dyed a motley assortment of colors. The spear she was brandishing to embellish her tale had both ends wrapped in colorful cloth, which wasn't any comfort to the people she was waving it at inadvertently, some of them definitively taking a few steps back with muttered curses, which she was ignoring rather magnanimously.

"So, as I was saying, I was in a frozen wasteland, when suddenly the ground began to shake beneath my feet..."
"Mm." Emryk replied, stroking his chin a moment as he appeared to look off in a bout of deeper thought. "So my suspicions were true, then. I'd told him that now would be the time to mend bridges, not burn them, but..." He sighed. "Men are proud and fickle things, Alys. His insecurities will be our downfall-- it's imperative that we keep him from doing anything rash, like this, in the future. Though I hate to say it, you may be in a better position than I to do such a thing. You're his quartermaster, and deserve to be his second; moreover, he seems more receptive to your words than mine." A shrug, at that. He didn't seem bitter; if anything, his gaze seemed to carry a paternal disappointment one reserved for an unruly child.

"The shadow Sinead cast aboard the Hard Nox is gone, but Caleb seems intent in standing within it regardless. It's worrying."

And that was all he could say, for a moment, before he leaned back in his stool and gave a soft groan as he stretched. "In due time, I hope, he'll-- improve." Emryk stood, then looked to Alys. "Go-- take your share and enjoy yourself. I'll look after the orders, make sure everything's handled here. We can pick back up once you've relaxed. Take some time for yourself-- you deserve it."
A hand hovered over the weathered timber of the cabin door, hesitant in its purpose despite the resolve that had brought it there. Though he had been inside before Leo had been sure to perform his duties while the occupant was otherwise distracted, cleaning the floor as quickly as possible and escaping the room before their return as both courtesy and caution. It had been four days since they had escaped the icy tunnels where so much had changed, and in those four days he had considered this choice heavily, weighing his options against the risks in a manner he had only recently realized he was capable of. The risks did not deter him, though the fear that others held would certainly have been enough. Leo did not feel that fear, though, if he felt fear at all. Despite the foreboding aura that emanated from beyond the door it was something else that stayed his hand before the knock.

Four days, and he had more than his fill of the Truth Teller’s pet wandering their deck. It was a curious sort of hesitance that kept him from recklessly attacking Ice-Face; not fear but a certainty that he was not enough to take the vampire on directly. He didn’t fancy being tossed around as he had before, but still he couldn’t take another moment under the cold stare and the stench of the crew’s fear that they might become Naveen’s snack. He had thought up many ways to take the vampire on, from Juniper’s fire to the Baron’s strength, but in the end he had found only one solution that made any sense. One solution that lead to this ill advised knock.

The first three were soft, more taps than knocks as he kept Emer’s caution that he needn’t be so loud. They seemed ineffective, though, too soft and demure to translate his need and intention. Perhaps it was the lack of fear that lead to the second batch of three, the loud beating rattling the door in its frame, or perhaps he knocked so loudly to cover his hesitation. Though the crew feared Naveen for good reason, and the ice riddled vampire was the cause behind the intended conversation, there was more fear for another. It was because of this deep fear that Leo knew he had only one option, one course left to him. Part of him wanted to abandon his resolve and join the others in exploring the new city they had made port in. That part was buried as he called out to the only figure more feared by the crew than King’s pet.

”Lucien! Answer the door!”
Town again at last. Nessa was not one for early rising, but townsfolk weren’t ones for keeping their shops open late and if she wanted the earrings done in time then an early start was the only way, loathsome as it was. The cloak she chose was a lighter one, better suited for long journeys than the one she had worn the past few days to keep out the cold. Beneath she wore a green and white dress, a pretty thing of fabric and lace with a simple pair of boots that were nice for dancing in. With no earrings that really worked with the dress, Nessa settled for simple gold and silver rings, that would serve until she got the pair of her stones properly cut and set anyway.

The sunlight was not as harsh as it had been, before she found the ring, but she never did really enjoy the glare of the light anyway. Still, she didn’t draw her hood as she stepped out onto the deck of the Nox, which was something like progress. She felt pale in the light, more so now than she had ever really felt before, but that was nothing some makeup after a bath couldn’t fix.

Nessa descended the ramp, her mind settling on what all she’d see done for the day. It was all simple enough, earrings, a bath, and some fresh fruit for Yume, and as a treat see if there was anywhere fun to dance that evening to show off her earrings.

All simple enough, really.
For all the times they'd docked here, Emer rarely stepped foot into Leimor. She would have to, if only for a jaunt, to restock on her supplies - but she had little desire to travel into the city for shore leave. It wasn't the sort of place she enjoyed. First, the city was sprawling, loud and bustling in a way she often rather avoided. Alegria had been, as well, but - Alegria was a sunny sprawl. Leimor build upward and inward, and through a mix of towering buildings and the smoke filled air, she could never see the sky.

Not the most pleasant of places. It was a wonder so many lived here, but to each their own, she supposed.

Instead of stepping foot off the boat, she set about boiling her kettle, intending to spend the day relaxing and looking over some of Sinead's books she had not yet read. Some of them had titles that left her cheeks deep blue at a glance - not, of course, that she was complaining.
Proud and fickle, indeed.

More truth was spoken, more than Emryk could ever understand. But the unspoken words, the words hidden beneath, that's what peaked Alys' interest. Emryk had once again emphasized how deserving she was of a role that didn't exist. And what of the one she held now? Even a fool could understand, especially within the context they, quite literally, sat within. The Baron was as well-suited for the role of quartermaster as Ciaran was master gunner. He had the skills Alys lacked. And yet, it concerned her. The role came with power, however it might be modified to accommodate the introduction of the first mate. As much as the fae liked Emryk, as much as she found his kindness and noble heart admirable, he could very well be a problem for her. This was a pirate ship, after all. Would he be able to support the difficult decisions, and deal with the consequences? They already had Ciaran, assuming he remained as master gunner, a man with honour and integrity. But two, both holding roles of power? Sinead's captaincy had left a shadow, no doubt, but she'd been successful for a reason. Whatever role she ended up with, Alys would make sure Caleb remembered that reason.

"You're right, Baron," she acknowledged, reaching for the massive sack of jewels and coins that belonged to her. It was her biggest payment ever - by far. A quartermaster's payment. Plus the two jewels and diamond whisker she'd smuggled into her trunk. Fingers diving into the opening, she pulled out a sparkling emerald, admiring it in the dim sunlight. "I don't think he's very happy with me right now, but I'll try talking to him again. For the good of the ship." About what, she'd yet to decide. Would Emryk be more of an asset or a meddlesome pain in the ass? She'd have to think about it.

Giving the Baron a small smile, Alys rose to her feet, once more sealing the opening of her bag. "You already know how grateful I am. Don't work too hard. I'm sure Emer would appreciate some of your time."

And so she left, heading straight for the barren room that the previous captain had once resided in. The fae hadn't dared to move in quite yet; but that didn't mean she wouldn't take advantage of the small safe that sat within. With this much loot, she wasn't entirely comfortable keeping it in a place that couldn't be locked up. She deposited most of it, while pocketing a handsome amount to spend in Leimor. But first, one last stop.

Stopping in front of the wise woman's door, Alys knocked three times and waited.
A few seconds later, the door swung open, Emer peeking her head around the other side. The wisewoman seemed in slightly better spirits. There was still a tiredness about her, dark circles beneath her eyes, but her smile was more genuine than strained.

"Hello, dear. Come in."

Stepping to the side, she gestured, waving with the book in her hand - embossed letters on the edge reading A Maid Called Mary in curling font. Moving over to the counter, she fussed with her kettle for a moment, then glanced at Alys.

"Would you like some tea?" then, a bit firmer, "is everything alright? I wasn't expecting visitors today. I'd thought everyone would want to travel into town."
A couple of Sinead's books sat in the corner of the clinic, neatly stacked, bindings facing outward. Alys glanced at the book held in Emer's hand, at the swirling letters, but wasn't quick nor practiced enough to deduce their meaning.

"Yes, please. Chamomile."

She took a seat in the usual stool, the one reserved for patients. "Everything is fine, I'm about to head out into town myself. I just - do you have anything I could take for cramping?
"I can't kill you by myself, but piss enough people off and you'll have an entire crew against you. Think you can handle that?"

Threats didn't usually work on Naveen, but what Caleb had said to him the morning after they left the Ice Lands had stuck a landing. There had been a minor slip up on the first night when he left the captain by himself to feed off of a man he didn't bother to ask the name of before dropping his drained body from the forecastle, but since then, he had followed O'Cain like a shadow. Whatever Lucien Kilta had said to him that night was enough to convince him to let him stay, and Naveen found himself curious about what had been said. Whatever it was, Caleb didn't seem happy about it.

"Leimor! I love this place." He said, walking down to the port. He passed by the fire mage and the human girl who seemed slightly less depressed and found Caleb standing next to a noticeboard.


He ripped off a few of the pamphlets, the one with his face, with Juniper's and the third one was an announcement to a masquerade taking place that very night. Caleb liked parties like every regular person, but he had a particular interest in parties taking place in giant mansions, with plenty of relics and art pieces that would take at least a few days for people to notice it had been stolen.

Two men by his side seemed excited about the one he didn't tear to bits, with the drawing of a woman with her breasts exposed saved by the pennies covering her nipples. If she had been there she'd likely ask them if they wanted to see it in person and the laughter would disappear from their faces. The thought almost made him smile.

"You don't have to follow me around while we're here. In fact, everyone would be glad if you could disappear for a while." Caleb said when Naveen approached him, folding the flier with the information about the ball and putting it in his pocket.


Ronan followed after Nessa, glaring at the grim city like a child in a carnival. Even the smell of sewers and smoke was a welcoming new experience for the young jotunn, and a colorful woman surrounded by children quickly caught his eye. It wasn't a good idea to go off on his own in a unknown place, but as soon as he heard about the huge bear he was hooked.

"Are there many bears this big around?" He asked while raising a hand, half excited and half concerned. A little girl the size of his calf looked up at him, eyes wide. It was probably how he'd look at the bear if he ever encountered it.
Juniper stopped once their feet found purchase on solid ground, the dock firm beneath their feet. There was a chill in the air, but that was to be expected of grim Leimor. They'd heard of the place, but it was always whispers and rumors, nothing ever so concrete. The air felt almost grimy to breath, notably less fresh than the air high above, and everything felt darker, even despite some of the more colorfully dressed people around. Still, though, a city was a city, and they were determined to enjoy it for as long as they would be there.

Beck spoke just as Naveen passed. The sorceress gave the vampire a glare, but only once he had passed, as not to grab his attention. They didn't want to grapple with that today. Instead, focus fell on the girl. "Oh? That's- good. Can't say you chose the best place to stay, but... well, it's better than the Nox." They shrugged, glancing over the ship towering behind Beck.

"I don't hate you. I do think you should think a bit more before jumping all over someone who's nice to you, though. Take care of yourself, okay? Didn't risk my life to save you from that construct just for you to get gutted in a Leimor alleyway," they said, with a morbid kind of smirk. Stories of such a thing had spread, but the changeling figured anyone stepping off the Hard Nox could likely handle themselves.
"Chamomile and ginger," Emer addended once Alys explained the situation. "Chamomile has relaxant properties, and ginger aids with the swelling."

Picking up a root, she ground it down in a pestle, adding chamomile leaves beside. Bundling it in a cheesecloth, she set the sachet in a tin and poured the hot water atop it.

"Is there any spotting, dear? I can give some bloodroot to chew as well."

The wisewoman glanced at Alys, furrowing her crest.

"You're a tad later than I usually see you, aren't you? Are you feeling alright?"
Absentmindedly, Alys murmured a brief response to the suggestion of ginger, watching as Emer began the process of grinding up the ingredients to her tea. Such delicate, yet hardened work to be a healer, especially in a place like this. A light amongst the darkness. But they needed her. They needed some of the light.

"Hmm?" Emer's words broke through her train of thought, one that had lingered since her conversation with Emryk.

"Oh, yes - if you can spare some." Who knew what the wise woman's stores looked like, especially after recent events. At the very least, she'd have the opportunity to stock up now that they were in Leimor.

A small smile crept onto her lips though, a response to Emer's quick mind. "I'm alright. At first I thought it was -," she paused, mind wandering to her time in Allegria, her cheeks flushing at the thought. And then of course, the absolute worst case scenario. "Turned out to be stress. At least, that's what I think."
It was like having a small weight being lifted off her shoulder. Beck stared at Juniper intently to carve their features into her memory, knowing very well they'd likely never see each other again. She then jumped into a quick hug and was about to leave when she remembered there was one more person she wished to see one last time.

"Have you seen Leo? I want to say goodbye."
Emer moved over to Alys, putting a gentle hand on her shoulder as she handed over the tea.

"Stress could certainly do it," she replied, nodding, "and we've all had quite enough stress to last a lifetime in recent days."

Lifting her own tea, she blew on the steam, watching the water slowly darken as it steeped.

"I could check for you, if you'd like? If the thought is still gnawing. I doubt it as a possibility, if there is blood, but I know how worry can grip one's heart."