RP Pirates of the Hard Nox 2

Paranoia instantly began to creep in, unsettling the fae and creating even more doubt. His answer was vague, nor did he question Juniper's supposed drinking habits. He began to back away, eager to conclude the conversation, and Alys wasn't sure why. To get away to safety? Or because the last time they'd truly spoken she'd locked him in a room with Caleb? Perhaps he was still upset about that.

Then, there was the fact that he wore Ciaran's jacket, but not the mechanical arm. Juniper seemed suspicious of that fact, simply based on the discrete narrowing of their eyes when Alys glanced at their way. To get Ciaran to hand over his jacket - or worse - in such a short amount of time, was rather concerning. Hopefully that was not that case.

"Just make sure you get a healthy stock. You know how Juniper is - could probably drink a whole barrel in one sitting. Gods, remember Allegria?"
Alys giggled, covering her mouth with one of her hands.

Her laughter died down though, gaze somewhat intensifying as she looked to Ciaran. "Seems like a job for two arms." She looked to the empty, dangling sleeve and silently posed the question.
The world’s a big place, so long as you have the coin for it there’s no shame in taking time to find your place in it.” Winter said, a faint smile on her lips. She lifted her head as a breeze blew from the sea, carrying along voices, though she couldn’t quite pick anything interesting out. A dockhand there making repairs, or a sailor setting rigging lines, and somewhere in there too were pirates. How many hands remained within the ship?

If it wouldn’t be any trouble, I wouldn’t mind maintaining your company for a spell.” Winter said. She’d be a fool to let his opportunity pass her by.


Ah, yes, thank you, Nessa said, a quickness in her tone as if she had been expecting to be turned away. Or, maybe that touch of unease that cults or other secret things always seemed to expect from fresh faces. Nessa was quick to slip through the door, and she caught sight of that rich man having taken one of the seats not too far from the entrance. Nessa found an empty seat of her own, between the nobleman and the elf who had invited her inside, her eyes picking through the crowd. Her gaze however snapped up to the elf girl’s father as he spoke to the assembled group.

Oh, this was one of those sort of meetings.

Sinead would have liked it here. And that thought brought a smile to Nessa, one that lingered sharply.
Emer nodded slowly as Ruby spoke, listing off her skills. She felt the need to justify her presence - but Emer had already made her mind. Once the fledgling had finished, the wisewoman tilted her head as if considering, then met her eye.

"Knowing how to use both starcharts and a blade are both quite useful on a skyship," she said, tapping her finger against her leg. "And I would say we have enough laborers to make that small issue. Anyone can lift a box, you know."

She hummed, eyes looking Ruby over, and then nodded again, once, firm.

"You say you were to be a wisewoman. It is a terrible thing, to lose your sky-given purpose."

And even were she not, was it such a bad thing to bring more stories in the world? To have another mouth to tell them, another pair of hands to guide their future?

"I will teach you." It was not a question. "There is more of it than remedies and sayings. We are the guiding hand of our folk. The pillar on which they rest their choices. We are the guardians of our culture, and the ones who pass it on, so it may never be lost again. It is a long path. An arduous path. It requires mindfulness, memory, and commitment. But - yes."

Emer stood firm, arms folded.

"I will teach you, if you will learn."
On the one hand was the anger, the old bitterness that would not rest easily under the Sky that only watched when the worst became of her. On the other, that small part of her that dared to dream, that dreamed still of the Sky, the star-lit Sky over an ocean as black as the night above, without any sign of land or horizon. She yearned to ask if that was what night looked like from the deck of the sky-ship...but didn't, because it was a pirates' sky-ship, and she had long since heard the horrors that could be wrought by the hands of pirates.

Mere killing, was one issue. Ruby herself had killed, the talon at her side and ogre blade with her other supplies from the road testaments to that. There were worse crimes than killing. But Emer had said they were good Folk. She yearned halfway to trust Emer's judgment, and the rest to reserve her own judgment until she had seen what sort of Folk they truly were.

A Sky-Given purpose. It wrenched her gut like the rough hands of foul men, and called out to her heart like her father's voice. This wasn't a decision that could be made lightly. And maybe, if she had more time and space, she could make her heart hear her head over the promising song of sky and sea.

"I would like time to consider it." Her voice did not reflect the way she felt her heart being torn in two, calm and collected. "How long will you be in port, and where might I find you if I choose to learn?"
It was an oddly non-committal response from Ciaran. It's almost as if he was afraid to acknowledge anything too direct, that wasn't mentioned by Juniper and Alys. They couldn't blame him. If it were actually Ciaran, it was definitely strange, but he'd been through a rough time lately, between Beck and Caleb, and if it wasn't him, it was smart to try and keep things vague.

Unfortunately for him, Alys wasn't letting it go, which was very good for her. If what had been implied were true, Sky was not someone they wanted on the Nox, and Juniper was more than happy to help keep him off. They smiled along with Alys' statement of their drinking, keeping an eye on the master gunner, until the fae asked about his missing arm.

"I was wondering about that as well, Ciaran, you hardly ever remove the thing. Seems a bit silly to go in to an unknown town, that has wanted posters up, with one arm. Care to walk us through that choice?"
"Minding the foul beasts? Well! You're more talented than I thought!" Rielle seemed to think this was an impressive feat. "And not opposed to hats. Very good! Excellent, in fact. You shall be... I have already got a sidekick. You shall be my psychologist." Rielle delivered this pronouncement with a flourish, as if it were meant to be impressive.

"Mental health is quite important, you know! Just as important as physical health, under the right circumstances. Or perhaps under the wrong circumstances? Why is it under, for that matter? Could one be below the right cirucumstances - no, that sounds like the sort of tale that starts in a tavern and ends in a tavern but upstairs- Hm. No, we are not in that sort of tale, or at least, we try not to be." She nodded, quite firmly.

"In any case. Very good. You'll be excellent for the role, I'm sure. They say you're completely mad! Wouldn't want a sane psychologist, right? How would they know anything?"
With the woman’s small hand still holding to his arm Ronan made his way back to the Hard Nox, telling her to be careful when walking over the wooden plaque. He smiled widely when he laid eyes on Alys, who seemed to be in the middle of a casual conversation with Juniper and the master gunner.

“You’re back! Did you catch him?” The giant teenager asked, approaching the group.


The fucking arm was going to be the death of him. Sky laughed, using the one hand he had to scratch the back of his head.

“I’ve put on some weight, that one was starting to get a bit too tight, so I took it off.” A lame excuse, but the first thing he could think of. He glanced over his shoulder for a brief moment to plan an escape route, and saw two people walking up to the deck. Luckily, a familiar face.

“I better go get Juniper that barrel.” Sky said, taking a couple more steps back. “One arm will do, don’t worry about it.”


The meeting was pretty much the same every time, but her father’s words touched people all the same. He talked about the injustices of the world and how one elf, a prophet and a scholar, would change things. Once in a while, people would interrupt to talk about stories they'd heard about him, or struggles they've been going through. Her father reassured them, telling them the day of reckoning was near.

“... When the fairies fall from the sky… That’s when we’ll have justice. Solomon King will bring justice for all of us!” People cheered, some even stood up. The elf clapped her hands and smiled at the girl sitting next to her.

"I don't remember ever seeing you here, I'm Sally. Is this your first time?" She asked. People were starting to stand and as per usual, there was a mass of people gathering around her dad with even more questions.
The more he spoke, the less convincing he became. Putting on fucking weight? Getting Juniper, who hardly ever drank, a barrel of ale? His demeanour in general; even if he was angry with her, would he really be shrinking away, so eager to evade?

And if that wasn’t enough, Ronan appeared, practically beaming after being robbed, with a blind girl attached at his arm. As if the Nox was an asylum for lost fucking causes.

Alys knew better than to underestimate; a tiny voice at the back of her mind reminded her of that, but her paranoia had morphed into a loss of patience. Anger flared and she moved forward, the soles of her boots assertively thudding against the deck as she prowled after Ciaran. Hand itching for the handle of the generic cutlass attached at her hip.

“I did!” She exclaimed, glancing from Ronan, to his companion, and then back to Ciaran’s face. “Even brought him back for you.” Not the first thief, but the second - a much sweeter prize. The corners of her lips tilted upwards slightly, though there was hardly anything friendly about the smile.

“It’s a good thing you don’t drink, isn’t it, Juniper?”
An argument spoken in a polite tone? Distrust between the crew? Goodness, when was the last time she heard this particular routine? Not the last port, but the one before that? Perhaps. The approaching of heavy feet caught Winter’s ear, it was heavier than it should have been, but it was a gait she could recognize well enough. It left open the question as to why did the one woman seem so certain, but Sky had his own ghosts and Winter wasn’t one to pry.

Winter took a step forward, a little past Ronan as her fingers trailed across the back of his hand. Perhaps a touch would be enough to make the giant hesitate, if only for a moment. She wasn’t quite certain what Sky’s plan was, but it was hard to overstate how useful it was to be innocently in the way.

What’s this? Your thief?” Winter asked, with a tilt of her head to Ronan. She kept an ear open for what she’d need to do.


Now that part of the speech Sinead wouldn’t have liked, though in hindsight Nessa supposed that the white robes should have been a dead giveaway. What other megalomaniacs did she know that were willingingly embracing that style? She kept an eye on the crowd as it tightened around the speaker after he had finished his speech, though she doubted there was much worth lifting from their pockets. Would they have the same fervor if they actually saw the half rotten corpses dropping down into their city? Or if— a thought of Juniper failing to find the words after her brief captivity on King’s ship slid through her mind. Some scholar and savior, him.

A voice to her side pulled Nessa’s attention back to the girl who had invited her inside. Nessa offered a small, friendly smile. “Aye, it is. Quite a speech too, I’d say.” A slight pause, long enough to make a small choice. “I’m Mae, thank you for inviting me inside.
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"Good, you're hired." Caleb smiled, clasping his hand on the man's for a firm handshake. He didn't get a name, but that wasn't important. What's important was that it was the happiest he'd seen Emer in days. "Let's give them some privacy, shall we?"

Caleb walked over to an empty table, far enough away from the aos gaotha not to listen to their conversation. He then snapped his finger at Julian.

"Do you still make that pork stew you used to make? I'll have that."


"Not really…" Ronan lowered his head and shook it, pushing the bad thoughts away. He'd made his choice, it was better to just accept it. He smiled at Winter. "I need to go talk to someone, do you want to come in?" He asked, mostly to be polite. Surely, Caleb wouldn't mind.


A young elf woman with her pixie hair covered by a white hood walked over to the door to the shack to close it. There, she locked eyes with a girl that looked a lot like her, but paler. Was she sick? She wouldn't be the only one, not in that place.

"Are you coming in?" She asked, waiting for her response before closing the door so the meeting could begin.

"Welcome, my friends. I see a lot of new faces here today… Welcome." The voice came from another elf, pushing fifty, who was clearly related to the girl under the hood. She sat down near an empty seat and listened eagerly to her father's words.

"If you are here today, it's because you've had enough. Enough of struggling to scrape by to provide for your families, enough of paying absurd taxes for those who do nothing for our community, enough of always being lesser than.

If you took the time to come here today it's because, like me, you know the age of the fairies must come to an end."
Alexander took a seat across from his new Captain, placing his hat on the table to one side. "Thank you, sir. I'll do whatever you need me to do. What ship are you captain of?" It was a little unusual to get hired and then get these answers, but here he was. He didn't much concern himself with the reasons, like the fact he was hired just to make space at a table, because it didn't matter. Ship politics, politics in general, were none of his concern.

What Alexander wanted was pay and a trip away from the city, living in the free air for a while. He smiled a little, looking forward to being at sea again. It'd been a long time, too long.
"What are you talking about?" Sky asked innocently. Of course Juniper didn't fucking drink and Alys suspected of his real identity. She had no way of knowing for sure however, and if it weren't for the staff in her friends' hand - magical, by the looks of it, and probably deadly - he would've made a run for it. He tapped the heel of his foot lightly on the floor a couple times, a small signal that his blind companion would pick up on, despite it not having any particular meaning. The stupid giant was big enough to serve as a shield for both of them, or as a hostage that could aid their escape.


"You did? Where is he?" Ronan asked, looking around for a tiny person, but there was no one there besides them. It took him a moment to realize Alys meant to imply that Ciaran was the thief, which was completely absurd. Despite not knowing him that well, the entire crew seemed to hold him in high regard - except for the captain, based on the rumors he'd heard. Besides, he was too tall to be the thief.


"That's my father, he's a physician. He took lessons from Solomon King himself a few times, whenever he stopped by Leimor." Sally told Mae, proudly. "Are you from around here?"

She wanted to ask if Mae needed any help, but didn't mean to intrude. Her skin was too pale for it to be natural, and she looked tired despite the kind smile.


"The Hard Nox. You've probably heard of it." Caleb answered nonchalantly. "We lost quite a few people recently, so an extra pair of hands is always welcome. I never got your name."

For the first time, Caleb took a good look at him. Unremarkable was a word to describe it, with the exception of the hat placed on the table. It was quite a nice hat. An older man than most in the crew, perhaps too old for some of the heaviest work, but they had plenty for that. If he knew how to tie a knot he'd be useful enough.

The first of blows went unanswered, for the moment, allowing Emryk to toss his furred coat to the side of the alleyway; it fluttered from his shoulders and struck the frost-touched brick with a weighted thump, revealing the Al'Ashtavahk's physique in earnest. Despite the supernatural strength he had been privy to at the hands of a different vampire, he had weight and reach-- if this were a hand-to-hand brawl, that is. Which it quickly was not.

A rapier. That posed an issue. With his fists clenched and tucked close to his sides to guard his ribcage and face, the Baron sought to close the distance between himself and his quarry, footwork edging him close-- until ice spikes erupted from beneath his feet, stabbing through the leather and disrupting his patient steps forward. He sidestepped, but the damage had already been done-- blood leaked from the puncture wounds through his boots, and every step quickly became painful. With a grunt, he disregarded the encroaching agony and pushed himself to meet the vampire's lunge--

-- until a metal arm caught the man's wrist, a tall form stepping in front of him and halting the Baron's advance. Ciaran, no doubt, from both stature and prosthetic. Emryk capitalized upon the distraction as well as he could; his body moved around the master gunner's side, placing himself on the outside face of Naveen's armed hand. With a raise of his arm, he sought to bring his elbow down upon the vampire's own-- slamming into the joint and pressuring it to bend against its anatomy, and threatening to dislocate. The strike was only the first in his assault; with his growing momentum, he sought to chain the elbow strike into a raised knee delivered straight to the sternum, his increased size over the vampire affording him a placement of the leg a bit higher up on the chest.

No words, now. Only action.


"Being free from worry is not a liberty most can afford, Emer." Zadari replied a bit dryly, stroking the cat in his arms with a light touch of the fingertips to silken coat. The smile returned to his face, ever-shining and ever-fake. "Though ignorance is bliss, I suppose."

And then they were each off to their respective little preoccupations. Zadari, finding that continued interaction with his old allies was becoming as tedious as plucking a hen, quickly turned his attention back to waiting tables and tending to his kitchen; he released Pumpernickel upon the ground, but not without a stern word of warning. "Drive away business by snatching their food, and so help me God, I will be roasting you over a spit by sundown." A gentle stroke down her back, at that, and he left her to do exactly what he'd told her not to. Unfortunately, his own attention became preoccupied by Caleb once more, who had snapped at him to get his attention after Zadari returned from the kitchen with a platter of food.

"I'm sorry, was somebody speaking over here?" Zadari called out melodramatically, wandering his way over to the table with narrowed eyes as if he were having trouble picking the one-eyed prick from the tarnished rug beneath his table. "Oh, of course-- where are my manners." He slipped a menu from his pouch, and placed it on the table before the man opposite Caleb-- entirely ignoring the captain, at least for a moment. Giving him a taste of his own little silent treatment. "Look over your options here. Maybe you can teach your new Captain here some fucking manners while you decide what to order."

His glance to said captain post-insult was one of abstract, and sarcastic, pity. A little pout to the face-- a flutter of the eyes. "Caleb. I know you hardly understood how to conduct yourself as a cabin boy, but you can at least attempt to feign maturity here. For me. Can you? Now, look over the menu with your friend, and I'll be back in a minute."

And then he was off, shawl fluttering behind him as his boots neatly clacked along the floor. Tables were served; stomachs were filled. The now-empty bowl of soup opposite the fortune teller was replaced with a steaming, fresh serving-- an unusual occurrence for Ruby to be fed free of charge, but not unheard of. Handouts were usually reserved for high-traffic days-- or when Julian was feeling charitable. He lingered at the table a moment, giving an apprehensive stare between the two birdwomen as a hand went to his hip.

"I wouldn't trust a word out of her mouth, love." He muttered to Ruby, gaze still trained upon Emer. With her shawls, and her gormless little expression of warmth as if she were immune to the crushing weight of guilty by sheer vapid ignorance. "She'll just as easily put a knife in your back as she would a compress if you come between her and her folk."

He leaned down, lips an inch away from Ruby's ear. Speaking so only she could hear.

"The worst foes are the ones who come as friends, dear. They're killers. All of them."

"GAAAAAAH!" Naveen screamed as his arm snapped. He let go of his rapier that broke into pieces and narrowed his eyes at the man who had interrupted the fight. Did the master gunner follow them there?

There was no time for questions, the baron was already preparing for a second blow. A thick coat of ice covered Naveen's broken arm, expanding to engulf Ciaran's mechanical one, that still had a hold on his wrist. Naveen quickly spun to escape Emryk's knee, arm outstretched with the fir bolg at the end of it, forced to clash against his friend.
"Yeah, to be honest it felt a bit weird saying it," Juniper said, following close behind their fae friend. They stepped up beside who they fully believed to be an imposter, looking between him and Ronan, who had just stepped on deck. "You got robbed, Ronan? That's, uh... not encouraging. Who's that you're bringing on board without permission?" They, as in the entire crew of the Nox, could ill afford this rolling out of control, and Ronan wasn't crew. He couldn't just bring anyone around without asking.

The changeling turned their attention back to the false Ciaran. "Also, your lie was bad. Granted, I'm not going to bother correcting you any further, on account of you learning anything else would make a second attempt easier, and I'm not stupid." It helped to have expertise in this area, though they hadn't been someone else in quite some time. "Care to tell us who you really are, or do we need to say it? Or do we need to make ourselves more... clear?"
Why could Sky never make these things simple? She didn’t have long to sort through her options, and the changeling was placing the hard work squarely on her shoulders, typical. Drawing a blade on Ronan would make for a shock, but the giant had said himself he was not a part of the crew so she doubted that would be of much use. Trying to catch one of the other two girls? She didn’t fancy trying to tussle with the other girl and a giant even if he was naïve. The two pirates hadn’t paid her much mind however, which had its uses.

Sky’s footsteps drew close and Winter pivoted to follow them. “This one?” She took a step into the gap and at the same time she thrust her cane in Sky’s direction as if she were attempting to catch him in the side with it, though without a great idea of what his shape was at the moment, so she let the swing go wide. She pulled her cane back as she pivoted to face Sky, to make it hard to pass on the left between her own body and Ronan’s, and she slid her cane into the path of the nearer girl as she readied another strike.

Hopefully that would be enough on the right to slow the one with the sharp tongue down.


Is that true? He must be a great doctor,” Nessa said, letting a little bit of wonder into her voice. Did King really know much about making people well? His business seemed to be more sewing them together once they died, in her experience anyway. Maybe death magic transferred more than she thought it would?

Around here? Oh, no not for too long really. I was just passing through the city when I decided to stick around for a little longer.” Best to not pretend she was a native, she didn’t know the city nearly well enough to pull that off. “And I just overheard some people talking so I thought it might be worthwhile to come here.”
"We are docked northward - though I do not think we will be long."

She glanced at Caleb.

"Search for the ship Hard Nox, and ask for me by my name when you enter. I will likely be there."

With a final smile and a nod, the wisewoman brushed past Caleb and headed for the door. He was still in talks with the other one, the strange man - let him be. For her, she did her part, and wanted nothing more than a warm tea to escape this seeping chill.
Lucien’s gaze remained fixed on the pup, the glass in his hand temporarily forgotten as he attempted to get a rise out of the vampire. The attempt at a knowing grin, his name tossed out like it was no better than rubbish. Lucien had been antagonized by far worse than Caleb’s pet. The pup was eager, reckless. He went beyond the natural impatience of mortality and assumed any plan of action that did not involve charging in head-first was a moment of weakness.

The pup droned on about boots and ants, childlike comparisons. Lucien’s gaze had slipped, looking past the pup and out into the distance beyond the Nox’s walls, regretting letting this yapping child into his quarters. He should simply have pushed the pup away, refused him entry, ignored his request-

Lucien’s eyes snapped back into focus as Leo mentioned Sinead’s death. His Captain’s death. The vampire became deadly still, the only movement that betrayed him as living were his eyes, shifting to follow Leo’s movements. The rest of his hurled insults were like arrows against stone, and Lucien remained unmoved. Until the parting shot came.

The cabin filled with the sound of shattering, crunching glass. The vampire’s hand was soaked with blood; not his, but that of a girl from a time and place he had not bothered to remember. Lucien let out a snarl as he let the remains of the glass drop to the floor. He lunged forward, closing the distance between himself and Leo in the blink of an eye. His hand tangled in Leo’s long hair as Lucien yanked the pup back into his quarters with the ease of one pulling on a dog’s leash.

Leo flew backwards, crashing into and upending the desk Lucien had been perched against just moments before. Its contents fell to the ground, the opened bottle bleeding across the floor. Lucien charged after his prey, leaping over the desk and landing squarely on Leo.

“I had an agreement with my Captain.” Lucien spat out, his eyes burning with an icy fire. “I agreed not to feed on any of you pathetic little things.” His claws went to Leo’s throat, finding purchase in the soft skin. You do not get to mention her death, you miserable pup, you overgrown child.” Lucien’s grip tightened, enough for small spots of blood to form on Leo’s neck, welling under the vampire’s claws.

“You come to me to ask for help. You come to me seeking to move past your shortcomings. And when I tell you the truth, that you are nothing, that your pathetic mortal flesh cannot beat a vampire in a direct confrontation, you accuse me of cowardice, simply because I do not blindly charge into fights I know I cannot win.”
Winter had been a good enough distraction, at least to the man next to her. Sky bent down and stepped to the side to avoid her cane, standing back up and placing the sole of his boot on the johtuun's back, kicking him forward towards Alys and her friend.

He didn't look to make sure if he'd knocked them down or not, instead choosing to run in the opposite direction while removing Ciaran's jacket and throwing it away. He needed to get out of the ship and find a crowd, only then he'd be able to blend in again.


Ronan's cheeks gained some color and he looked down, ashamed for the reprehension.

"Her name is Winter, I'm sorry I-" He didn't know he shouldn't bring people into the ship, but before he had a chance to finish his sentence something pushed him forward. Ronan tried not to fall but failed miserably, tripping over his own foot before hitting the deck.


After talking to some people who thanked him for his speech, the physician's smile died down when he set his eyes on the girl talking to his daughter. He didn't need to see her fangs to see what she was.

"Stay away from her." He said, rushing over to the girls and placing both hands on top of Sally's shoulders. Sally was confused, looking in between her father and Mae. "Get out of here, vampire!"
Ciaran grinned at the snap of the vampire's arm, and could've congratulated the baron on his textbook use of a follow-up attack - that was until Naveen's broken arm suddenly froze over with a thick layer of ice and before he could react he found his arm flash frozen.

In a moment of panic he tried to yank it free, and didn't notice Emryk's scaly knee coming straight for him. He looked up just in time to feel his knee connect with his sternum. All the air in his lungs came out in a wheezy cough and Ciaran could swear he felt something sharp floating around his ribcage now but it didn't matter. The only thing that was on his mind was how much this creepy cold fucker was pissing him off. "You mother-" Ciaran heaved, using their connected limbs like a rope to yank Naveen towards him as he swung his right arm low - with luck he'd connect on the jaw.

They were stuck together for now, if worst came to pass he could always try and throw him in a headlock - provided it was with the arm less sensitive to biting.