Strange Treasures

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The vast, beautiful oceans encircling Mizahar. The Eastern Ocean to the east and the Western Ocean to the west.

Strange Treasures

Postby Madeira Craven on June 24th, 2018, 7:40 pm

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"Shipwreck! Shipwreck!"

The call came just as the ship was waking up, the tropical sky still holding on to the hazy green light of dawn. A thunder of footsteps had crashed down the stairs, calling that dire pronouncement as they went. Great booms rocked Madeira's cabin as sleeping sailors were startled out of their hammocks.

"What does that mean, Maddy? Are we sinking?" Emma sounded worried. She was sitting on the floor, rolling Madeira's black marble between her hands. Madeira herself was sitting on her narrow bunk, fully dressed, having spent another sleepless night worrying and whittling a discarded chunk of wooden crate.

"I don't think so." The Spiritist was listening hard as the roused sailors shouted at each other in common and fratava and stomped their way on deck. "They would sound more panicked if we were in real danger."

Both were silent a moment, prickling with high alert as they tried to decipher the commotion on the other side of the thin wooden walls. Madeira was the one who broke the silence.

"Lets go see what's happening."

"'Kay."

The deck was crawling with people, but very few were actually working. Sailors were pushed up against the railings and halfway up the rigging, hands over their eyes and squinting into the light. Floating through the miasma of voices Madeira heard snippets of excited and nervous conversation.

"...never seen anything like it."

"...treasure there for sure..."

"...not natural..."

Madeira couldn't see past the men, but she could see what they were talking about. Out in the distance, and getting closer, was a spear of rock that reached twenty meters into the sky. It was sharp, jagged, glassy black, and even the very tip was glistening with seawater. The witch didn’t need to be familiar with the sea to know it was not natural.

“Emma, move the men aside.” Madeira demanded of her little ghost, her eyes never leaving the spear that was reflecting the first light of dawn.

“But they won’t listen to-“

Now.

Startled, unsure about the sudden stress in her mistresses voice, Emma drifted to the dense pack of sailors and did as she was told.

“Um, excuse me…” she all but whispered in her shy little squeak of a voice. But the sailors were transfixed with whatever they were seeing, talking loudly amongst themselves, and did not notice. Visibly steeling herself, the child lifted a flickering, transparent hand as if to tap the tall, tanned back that was in her way. “Excuse me! Can you-“

The sailor might have felt the electric current of her soulmist, or the high girlish voice might have slipped into his ears over the low baritone of the men. Whatever the case, he turned his head, saw the grisly, diseased ghost child, and cringed away from it so hard he knocked over several other men on the way down. In less than a tick over a meter of space had cleared around the spirit in every direction. Madeira simply walked through her confused ghost and was able to get herself right against the railing. From her new advantageous position she squinted into the light and gasped as she saw what was at the spear’s base.

A tough merchant ship made of in a rough, durable, seafaring design lay cracked open like a split peach. Broken masts, black banners, and splintered wood exploded from its belly. It hadn’t shipwrecked against the spear, it had been-

“Pierced” Madeira gasped, hand over her mouth and eyes wide with horror. “Oh my gods, that rock has pierced the ship!”

“But how?” another sailor beside her babbled, running his hands through his peppery hair. “Did that ship drop from the sky or what?”

“Nah, mate, that rock came up from below and wrecked it!” another shouted from the press of bodies.

“The seabed must be several kilometres below us you daft vagik! How did a petching rock cut through a ship that must have been going at least thirty knots?”

“Well how do you petching explain it?”

Their ship was slowing down as it came alongside the strange wreck. Flotsam of crates and broken bits of wood were floating serenely in the wake of their approach.

“Wait, why are we stopping?” Madeira turned, trying to keep the high note of stress out of her voice. “We need to leave!”

A few of the sturdier men had shaken themselves out of the shock and were throwing fishing nets overboard. One had already come back with several damaged boxes and a piece of the strange banner. The Captain was standing back, watching the reaping with his arms crossed and his jaw clenched.

“Law of the ocean, Miss Madeira”, he answered gruffly, not turning in her direction. “We found it, we keep it. I don’t like this place either, but once we have the loot we’ll be on our way.”

With a pry bar and a lot of grunting, the first crate was opened. From inside rolled out a magnificent whip packed in straw and oiled leather. But it was not any kind of whip Madeira had ever seen before. It looked like it was made of mirror-polished metal, yet it ran through their hands as smooth and flexible as liquid. She swore she could see it glowing.

“You’re letting your greed cloud your senses!” Madeira sputtered, aghast, as she turned back to the Captain. “Look what happened to that ship!”

“If you see any hundred kilometre rocks sneaking up on us, be sure to let me know.”

“Well they sure as hai didn’t see it coming”, she countered. “Speaking of, where do you think they are?”

“Who?”

“The people. It didn’t sink, but there are no stranded sailors calling for help. We’re kilometers from shore, so they didn’t swim it. And if they drowned, well, why are there no bodies in the water? Where are the people?

The big man wavered, his eyes flicking nervously to the ruined ship and the loot the men were dragging aboard.

“Captain,” she continued softly, “I don’t know what has happened to this ship but I am absolutely certain I don’t want to find out. Either something on that ship or in these waters did that, and we don’t need to take whatever it was onto this ship, or give what is in the water another target.”

A cheer went up from the men as another heavy crate was dragged onto the deck, the water damaged catch had popped open and a gold vase rolled out, spilling wine everywhere. They were so excited about the gold that they didn’t notice that there was much more liquid pouring out of the vase than it could possibly hold. Madeira was staring the captain in the eye, silently demanding he look at her and see she was right. From deep in her soul she moved her dijed forward, pooling it in her wide blue eyes as she sloppily pushed onto his a mere hint of the fear she was developing.

Finally the man cursed, turned away and shouted: “That’s it you cunts, round up and get on the rigging, we’re moving!”

A chorus of disgruntled exclamations exploded from the men at those words, as they were still working on unloading their strange treasures and were eager to find more.

“I’ll hear no bitching from you lot. Move!”
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Strange Treasures

Postby Jomi on July 16th, 2018, 12:24 am

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“I’ll hear no bitching from you lot. Move!”

Jomi stood just off to the side of the captain, leaning over the edge of the bow. His unmaterialized body was indistinguishable from a column of steam and as such took no notice from the preoccupied sailors. His face was sharp and dour as he looked out onto the wreckage. Leaning over the bow Jomi took a long look at the obelisk, the wicked pitch black stone looked as if it were poised to crack open the heavens itself. Jomi’s eyes followed the hard clean lines down to the churning sea where it had emerged. Even to the untrained eye of a illiterate Kelvic the stone looked unnatural. He agreed wholeheartedly with Madeira, but more than that, he wondered how many of the onlookers could sense just how wrong it felt. It crept over him like a swarm of insects, the undefinable, overwhelming sense that something was off. Like the air itself was a alive, listening to the crew scurrying about on the deck, biding its time. The ghost pushed off from the bow and breezed over to Madeira, drifting through the bodies as they recoiled away from the electric touch of his mists. All around them the crew scrambled to haul in the last of the crates, pushing each other aside as they snatched up the treasures that spilled onto the deck with the oily sheen of greed in their eyes.

“Bet you something shiny that one of these petchers gets knocked overboard.” Jomi whispered in Madeira’s ear, his jovial tone laced with an unmistakable unease he was trying hard to distract himself from.

The ghost peered over the rail as the last net was hauled up the side of the ship, the grunt of the sailors turned to bellows as they quickened their pace at the captains order. Out of the corner of his eye, the ghost caught a flurry of movement. A spot of red was churning up the ocean around it near the base of the obelisk, as a panicked squawking could barely be heard underneath the deep baritone voices of the men. The wake of the large ship pushed out large white tipped waves that rolled over the red spot, pushing it under into the murky depths.

A rush of panic lanced right through the fridged ghosts heart and without a thought or word of warning the ghost blinked off the deck and over the rolling sea. Jomi hovered above the white churning waters as he searched for the red spot, eye scanning helplessly over the splintered ship and debris. His mists whipped franticly around his form as he lowered himself into the darkness. The sea surface remained undisturbed by the ghost as he dropped below the waves only to reemerge ticks later with a thrashing, sopping, screaming passenger.

“I got you! Calm down, I’ve got you!”

The mists on his arms contracted together, each tendril woven tight against each other to create a solid barrier that cradled a soaking and scared chicken. The feathers were a deep red and darkened with seawater and yellow scaled feet flailed for something solid to grab onto as wide panicked eyes stared out at the rolling sea.

The ghost grunted and strained as he pushed up against the pull of gravity, the heavy water soaked down that covered the hen was testing the limits of what the ghost was capable of. The ghost held her tight to his chest, face tight and strained as he lifted them both up the side of the ship and spilling them onto the deck.

The exhausted hen gingerly rose to her feet as Jomi gathered himself to sit crosslegged on the deck. The ghost pulled in his mists, starting at his head he gathered the errant wisps back to his core. The mists around his began to take the shape of a long haired young man, his shape became clearer as the mists packed down, creating definition around his body. Slowly the hen wandered over to the materialized ghost, tucking herself in beside his leg with a huff as she tucked her legs underneath her and puffed up her body.

“Look Maddy,” the ghost looked up at Madeira where he sat on the floor. A large toothy grin split his face as he smoothed down the chickens ruffled feathers “I think she likes me.”

A large sunburnt sailor let out a whoop of delight as he approached the trio, an unmistakable hunger in his eyes.

“Were getting fresh meat tonight boys!”

“Bitch I will cut you.” The ghost hissed, dropping his arm to shield the chicken.
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Strange Treasures

Postby Madeira Craven on July 26th, 2018, 6:13 pm

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“Bet you something shiny that one of these petchers gets knocked overboard.” Jomi whispered directly in her ear. Gooseflesh shivered over her neck at cold of his shroud conjured, but she otherwise didn't react to her unmaterialized servant. Her blue eyes were following the Captain as he struggled to pull the men away from their prizes and submit to his orders.

She wanted away from there. Far, far away. A sentiment she shared with Jomi. Years of Spiritism had taught her the signs of an agitated ghost. But more than that, a year with Jomi had taught her the tides of his own soulmist. The invisible current that made him was moving at a pace at odds with his flippant words. He wanted out just as much as she did.

When the ghost blinked away she did not think anything of it. The more pressing concern was the crew, who were hauling the nets in as fast as they could cast them. All of them desperate to bring in the treasure that would make them rich before the Captain could force their obedience.

Madeira was fidgeting in the middle of the deck where the Captain had left her, merely watching the controlled chaos that what a ship in motion. those who could be shouted into submission were letting out the sails and coaxing the ship into groaning life. Soon they would pass the spire and leave this place for good, but before they could they would have to pass uncomfortably close to it. She couldn't help the way her eyes would slide to the ruined shipwreck and the knife of rock that kept it afloat.

"Hey, Madeira!"

the spiritist was not proud of the burbling noise of terror that escaped her lips as a friendly hand was laid on her shoulder. She whipped around in a swirl of skirts, heart in her throat. How was it that she could sense an invisible ghost from a mile away, but she couldn't hear a pair of size-fourteen boots stomping across an open deck.

"Woah! Sorry, sorry", A young wind-burnt sailor grinned and put up his hands in a pacifying gesture. There was a foot of silvery material protruding from one fist.

"Daniel!" Madeira did not share the jovial smile of her overly friendly acquaintance, but stared with ice chips for eyes. "Why are you down here? You should be doing as your Captain says!"

"I am! Jeez. I just wanted to give you a present", he said, thrusting the silvery material out before him like he was fending off a dangerous beast.

She took the offering from him gingerly, like she was worried it would rear up and bite her, only to discover It was a pair of long silk gloves of such she had never seen before. They were impossibley fine, delicate enough for a queen, and to sparkled like dew on a spiderweb. Her eyes grew wide despite herself, and she could not help but slide one on her unoccupied arm. It fit like it was made just for her.

Daniel, noticing how enraptured she was with his gift, puffed up like a pleased pidgeon.

"Do you like it?" he asked with a smirk, knowing full well that she did but wanting to hear her say it.

"They're lovely, Daniel. Thank you", she purred, letting him have his little victory. She brought her fingertips to her cheek, wanting to feel the smooth silk against her cheek. But as soon as she brushed her fingers across the apple of her cheek something changed. Unprompted, with no use of dijed or anything more than the play of her fingers, a hypnotic suggestion spilled from her body. The gloves pushed Daniel with a subtle magic stronger than any she had conjured on her own. Trust me, they said.

"Wow, um, no problem!" the sailor was blushing at what he saw as her overwhelming sincerity. "If I find anything else you'll like... Well, I'll be sure to find you something else too!"

Then he left, skipping away on cloud nine while Madeira stood there, hand still on her cheek and a dawning comprehension written all over her face. The gloves were hypnotic! The gloves were magic! What the actual Hai was going on?!

At that moment Jomi came back, flopping back onto the deck with a screaming passenger. A bundle of soggy feathers flopped onto the deck and her ghost sat there, grinning up at her in the middle of a slowly expanding puddle of water. What she realized was a rather waterlogged chicken got to it's feet, shook itself out, and plopped down resolutely at his side.

“Look Maddy,I think she likes me.”

Madeira stared, completely dumbfounded. She had never, in all the time she had known Jomi, seen him show another living creature any sort of affection. She looked between him and the chicken like she might see an explanation hanging like a thread between them.

The crew didn't take such a view of the situation though. A tall, blonde man with a smile carved away with scurvy and a lifetime of rock hard biscuits took one look at the chicken and announced: “Were getting fresh meat tonight boys!”

Jomi dropped his arm to shied his new friend, and that alone prompted her to act. The ghost had finally found something it actually cared about, she wasn't about to give that up, even if she didn't understand it.

"Wait!" she stepped between the blonde man and her servant, her hands up in a pacifying gesture. Startled, the sailor stopped his determined gait.

"What? Do you know how long it's been since I've had fresh meat!"

"I get that", she spoke fast, knowing she had very little time before she lost his interest and he resumed his charge. "But you're going about it all wrong! That little thing is barely a mouthful."

"A juicy mouthful! Out of my way before it escapes!"

She sidestepped with him so that she continued blocking his way. A spark of irritation lit behind his eyes and she worried he was going to strike her or knock her down.

"But what if you can get more! Look, it's a hen. That means eggs! Think about it. One sorry supper or an entire season of fresh eggs?" She smiled, willing him to come to the right conclusion as his mind slowly ground through the logic of it. "Lets make a deal. let me keep the chicken, and I'll give you the eggs. Ok? No mess, no hassle, you don't have to feed it or clean up after it. But you get a delicious fried egg every day. How about it?"
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Strange Treasures

Postby Jomi on August 5th, 2018, 11:01 pm

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The mists that encased the ghosts arms contracted rapidly towards his core as the blonde haired sailor made his approach. His eyes trained on his feathered prize as Jomi worked the mists of his arms into a dense barrier and scooped up the hen, ready to bolt to safety.

"Wait!"

Jomi flinched as Madeira stepped into the path of the charging sailor more than double her size. The tiny woman brought him to a halt with her words alone as Jomi shifted uncomfortably from his seat on the floor behind her. She was standing up for him and his wants, even though there was no benefit to her, it put her at odds with the crew and would likely make her voyage even more uncomfortable. It was selfless and served no purpose for her, it was just for him. With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach the ghost was reminded of the job last winter in Alvadas, when Madeira's cousin Everard had attacked them while dealing with a possessed cat. She stood up for him then too, even though the ghost had been ready to abandon her, the thought still haunted him. They had warmer feelings for each other than they had ever let on or were able to admit, and the ghost was adamant that he find a way to make it up to her, she deserved a lot better than him.

The hen clucked nervously from her seat in his arms as Jomi busied himself with straightening her feathers. He didn't understand why, but he felt an attachment to the animal. Her body seemed to pulse with that same energy as the obelisk but the way she tucked her head into the crook of his arm and settled comfortably into his freezing mists made him feel possessive of the creature. By giving him some measure of affection that he was unaccustomed to he felt drawn to return the favour.

Forever the levelheaded negotiator, Madeira slowly broke down the burly sailors protests. Pushing his impulse for fresh meat towards a logical compromise, and a seasons worth of fresh eggs. The man sniffed mightily as he locked eyes with the ghost over her shoulder, Jomi eyes narrowed and lips curled back to show a row of small pointed teeth. A flare of protectiveness caused the ghosts long dead animalistic instincts to resurface. Both men sneered at each other for a chime before the man addressed Madeira.

"Fine. But you deliver the eggs to the gallery in the morning, I'm not going to your cabin." A subtle head tilt in the ghosts direction showed the implication to his words.

Jomi visibly slouched and his colours faded as the deal was struck. The outline of his body became blurry as he relaxed his mists and allowed his arms and chicken to fall into his lap, but his Mistress would still be able to see his beaming grin as he looked up to her. A silent thank you as the onlookers trudged back to their respective duties.

"I think the fuck not!"

Another man, thin and lanky, had crept up behind the ghost. Taking advantage of his unpreparedness to snatch the chicken from off of Jomi's lap, holding the struggling hen above his head as she screamed.

"Why do you get eggs? Theres dozens of hungry men on this ship, why should you get special treatment!"

Wordlessly the enraged ghost shot upwards, blinking off the deck and into the chicken. Pushing her soul aside the ghost seeped his essence into the muscles and tendons, curling his mists around her bones and filling the space behind her eyes.

The hens screams cut off as Jomi reared her feet and brought her claws down hard on the soft flesh of the mans wrists. The man yelped as he dropped the hen in shock, ghost and chicken landing with a soft thump as the bundle up feathers and limbs flailed uselessly. Having never possessed a chicken, the learning curve was steep for the inexperienced ghost. Unable to right himself the large blonde man pushed past Madeira and snatched up the hen by her feet as the rest of the crew, emboldened by the scuffle jumped in at the prospect of a fresh meal.

Jomi, panicked and over whelmed, bit and clawed at every appendage within pecking radius. His beak tearing the webbing between the fingers holding his legs causing him to fall only to be snatched up again by greedy fists that tore at his feathers and threatened to crush his wings.
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Strange Treasures

Postby Madeira Craven on August 6th, 2018, 2:21 am

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"I think the fuck not!"

She was so focused on the man in front of her, Madeira completely missed the man sneaking up from behind. Feathers exploded in the air as the chicken was lifted by its scaly feet amidst it's squawking protests. Jomi vanished in an instant, and Madeira was the only one who saw the ghost trying to fit itself inside the panicked poultry.

"Stop! You'll kill it!" she shouted, as half a dozen men saw the opportunity for fresh meat and pounced. Soon the air was thick with feathers and cursing as these hardened sailors fought each other and a possessed chicken for the chance of one good meal. Jomi was fighting tooth and nail (or, more accurately, beak and claws) top save the chicken from the inside, and she was certain that his efforts were only going to kill the fragile flightless bird. "You idiots! Are you
going to kill each other over a bird!"

For all her shouting, she was not about to wade into the scuffle herself. Having the structural integrity of uncooked pasta did not lend itself to brawling. Yet while she couldn't care less about the chicken, she cared about Jomi, and Jomi cared about the stupid chicken. If it was pulled apart by blood hungry sailors he would be furious, and if he killed the chicken by his own overzealousness he
would be devastated.

Having the structural integrity of uncooked pasta also did not lend itself to intimidation. But desperate times...

From within herself she pulled the dijed from her soul. Winding it through her tongue and the air deep in her chest, she readied to push it out on the strength of her voice. It was a simple suggestion, but aimed at half a dozen men she wasn't sure it would register or even reach any of them. As a more concrete, visual show of force she pulled her sleeve back, raising her bracer crossbow to shoulder height.

"I said STOP!"

Every man in the scuffle stopped. Every man on deck stopped too. The hardened ship Captain, with a flogging whip in his hands and disgust at his crew in his eyes, stopped too. Someone in the rigging screamed like a little girl and fell to the deck with a muffled whump. But it wasn't Madeira's thinly spread Hypnotism or her shout that paused them, it was her bow. The little black bracer had erupted into violent green flames the moment it was lifted.

Everything from the tips of her fingers to her elbow was on fire. The flames gave off no heat, and much less light than one would expect. They glowed threateningly as they danced across her flesh. What was left of it, anyway. The bare arm underneath was black and skeletal, a burnt, twisted corpse of a thing with long sharp nails and sizzling bone.

Madeira, a true Avalad, was not shocked by the development. Concerned, yes. But not shocked. And with her mind clear of the numbing fog that plagued the onlookers, she observed that she was in no pain, and that the fire was not spreading. Still, her hand dropped to her skirts, ready to beat the fire off of her. She had just enough time to internalize that she was now surely an amputee when the fire vanished.

Her arm was once again white and whole beneath the innocent little crossbow.

Madeira was sweating beneath her tight collar, the trailing hit of adrenaline sparkling in her fingertips and the lining of her brain. There was not a mark on her.

Experimentally, she lifted the bow again. The men scattered as her arm ignited again. Throwing down their treasures they fled with screams of fright as the witch stood in the middle of their deck, cursed and clearly on fire.

"Huh", was all she said.

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Strange Treasures

Postby Jomi on August 12th, 2018, 5:41 am

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The chicken dropped to the ground as the sailors fled in terror, hitting the ground with a muffled thud. Gingerly the ghost lifted off the hen, unwinding himself from her bones as carefully as he could, acutely aware of the trauma the clumsy, aggressive possession had caused. The hen wheezed as she rolled to her belly and ruffled her feathers, testing out her mobility now that she was rid of the invading spirit. Jomi corralled his mists, weaving them together to form his preferred shape. The outlines of his body became more defined as he stared gape jawed at his mistress, who's arm was currently engulfed in a green fire.

"So...Have you always been able to do that?"

.................

Jomi and Emma sat on the deck of the ship, the larger dark skinned ghost fiddled restlessly with his hair as the little girl chewed her hands, both watching the pink and orange horizon with an intense, laser focus. The night crew rushed about around them, giving the ghosts a wider berth than usual. They had heard the stories the day crew had told them about the spiritist they served, about the obelisk and the shipwreck, and how the witch had turned into a flaming skeletal monster. All embellished of course, as all good stories are.

Nestled tightly inside Jomi's chest the ghost guarded a large brown egg. The mists in his body wound around the egg, cradled and suspend inside his body like a precious relic. And to the ghosts it was.

Soulmist is the most important part of any ghosts unlife, it was used to buy favours from them or calm an angry spirit. Ghosts would kill for a taste of even the most low quality mist, if there was nothing better. Since their bodiless souls are incapable of any sort of sensation, soulmist is the only substance in the world that can make them feel 'good'. Now after a season of soulmist made of pickled eggs and powdered milk, ingredients that even a master spiritist struggled to make appetizing, their mistress finally had fresh ingredients to work with. The ghost had nearly danced with joy when he had found the tiny treasure nestled under his chicken. Tucked neatly into the bed he'd made out of a cloth sack and a dented tin pot he's pilfered from the kitchen. Now all that was left was to wait. Madeira had made a rule; no soulmist before sunrise, as a deterrent to keep her sleepless charges from disturbing her during resting hours. So the ghosts had made their way to the deck, staring out at the horizon in silence for bells, waiting for a glimpse of sun.

A sliver of light peaked out over the endless blue expanse, lighting the crystal waters like a prism. The tiny ghost shrieked in delight, causing the crew to jump back in fright as she disappeared, blinking into Madeira's quarters. Jomi followed, appearing at the spiritist bedside with a face splitting grin.

The mists on his hands tightened as he sent out two thick tendrils of mist from his body. He focused his mists to activate their innate power as he wrapped them around the edge of the thin blanket draped over their sleeping mistress. With a sudden whipping motion the ghost threw off the sheet and grabbed onto the spiritist feet, letting his cold electric touch aide his mistress in her awakening.

"THE SUNS UP, TIME TO START THE DAY!"

Once the woman was awake and alert the ghost reached inside himself to pull out the egg, slick and shining with his mists, and held it in front of her like a precious jewel.

"Look what Rosie made for us."
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Strange Treasures

Postby Madeira Craven on August 12th, 2018, 8:35 pm

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It had been a trying day. After the scuffle with the chicken the captain had finally gotten the crew moving and they had left the black spire behind. Madeira had stood on the deck and watched the wreck shrink on the horizon until it had disappeared completely, and only then did she start breathing easier. The loot was taken below, the crew too excited and agitated to take a proper inventory quite yet. Madeira had watched the silk gloves on her hands sparkle in the waning sun and wondered what else could be hidden in those crates and jars. But then she would look to her once innocent bracer on her arm, and reminded herself that whatever it was had to be treated with more caution than the crew seemed capable of.

It was deep into the dead of night before she had laid down on her thin mattress and tried to sleep. Jomi had insisted on keeping the chicken, and Emma had predictably agreed. She even insisted Raj get a vote as well, and Madeira had found herself overruled by her own servants. Her protests that they really couldn’t afford to keep more animals, the unavoidable fact that as the corporeal one Madeira would have to care for it, and the stupidity of keeping a creature they found in a cursed shipwreck, had fallen of deaf ears.

She fell asleep looking at the tin pot they had made into a bed for the hen, and promised herself that if the thing started breathing fire she would punt it overboard.

The universe gave her a scant four bells of fitful, uneasy rest full of the screams of missing sailors and a black glass monolith that twisted and perverted everything around it, before it decided she had better things to do.

"THE SUNS UP, TIME TO START THE DAY!”

An electric shock of cold shot up her spine, and she was rudely dragged to roaring consciousness. Bird flapped in his cage and cooed indignantly and Spooks fled for cover behind the ruffled mystery chicken as Madeira fell off the narrow bunk with a gasp of fright. Even in the hazy tropical heat her bare legs and arms, exposed under her thin silk undergarments, erupted into gooseflesh. Snatching the blanket off the floor to protect herself from the thin, sharp cold that was rolling off the excited ghosts she got to her feet and snarled, looking thin and exhausted and all five-foot-four of her a towering pillar of rage.

“What in gods name-“ But before she could work herself into a proper spitting stride she was presented with a perfect brown egg, held aloft by Jomi’s waning projection. She caught it automatically before the ghost could drop it. The smooth shell was bitterly cold. he had been holding it for a long time. Derailed, she raised her eyebrow at them. “Who’s Rosie?”

“The hen!” Emma squealed, hoping from foot to foot in excitement. “I wanted to call her Fluffy but Jomi said no.”

Pale blue eyes slid over to her dark, cocky, snide and bitter ghost, who had not one nurturing, sweet or kind instinct in his dead, decaying soul. “You named it Rosie?”

“It’s an egg!” Emma reiterated, convinced the spiritist was missing the point. “You can make us soulmist with it!”

Standing practically naked in the middle of her cramped cabin, surrounded by the chill of excited soulmist and the distressed sounds of the animals, Madeira closed her eyes and held one finger aloft as if listening hard for an absent sound. She stood like that for a chime before Emma’s hands folded contritely behind her back and her head bowed guiltily as she asked:

“Will you… please make us soulmist?”

They did not deserve it, but the eager, shining delight on their faces collapsed her indignation. Madeira sighed mightily.

“Yes, I will. Step outside while I dress.”

Only when she was properly put together in her green linen dress, with her hair tied back and having retrieved a cup of watery powdered milk from the kitchen did she let them back into the cabin. With the tired ease of a morning ritual she had poked dried corn through the bars of Bird’s cage, left a handful of kernels in front of Rosie’s tin bed, lured Spooks out with a splash of milk in a saucer, and had set Raj to his day spot on the bed. She made sure the living occupants were comfortable before she pulled out her black gradient glass bowl and began the process of making the soulmist dough for the dead. She had had to adjust her typical recipe when they set out to sea, much to the ghost’s displeasure. And as she opened her vein to add drops of ruby blood to the sticky dough, she could tell they were eager to add the last ingredient, a luxurious fresh egg.

Fishing the smooth brown shell from the pocket of her dress, she tapped it smartly on the rim of her expensive ritual bowl.

With a snap like a stone dropped onto an icy pond her bowl shattered. Milky remnants of the bloody dough seeped across the wooden boards and dripped between the cracks. The eggs perfect shell had fissured, but remained intact.

“What…” Madeira stared with blank confusion. She tried banging the egg on the floor, but it refused to give up it’s yolk. Now thoroughly baffled, she worked a nail into the crack and peeled the shell away. There was something clear beneath, but it was not egg white. It was only as the last of the shell fell into the mess on the floor and she held the solid object up to the light did she truly understand what she was seeing.

It was a diamond. A perfect, unfaceted precious stone the size of a chicken egg, as clear as master-made glass and heavy in her hand. Madeira continued to stare even as the mess of the ruined soulmist dough seeped into the knee of her dress, her eyes wide and round with the implications. The chicken just laid a diamond!
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Madeira Craven
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Strange Treasures

Postby Jomi on August 29th, 2018, 8:13 pm

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As Madeira marvelled at the precious stone Jomi stared, heartbroken, at the unfinished dough that seeped into the floorboards. His dreams of daily fresh soulmist throughly thwarted by a rock-laying hen. And it was a rock, for all Jomi was concerned, he had no use for money or jewels and didn't share the excitement of the implications that gleamed in Madeira's eyes.

Trudging over to his hen Jomi collapsed into a cross legged sit beside her pot. The sullen ghosts mists contracted together, packing down to create a boarder around himself, as he reached out to the hen. She seemed indifferent to the ghosts freezing mists as he twisted them tightly around his arms, weaving then together and wrapping them around the soft, fluffy down of the chicken and lifting her up to the light. As if seeing her from a new angle might shed some light on this new development.

"Are you okay, Rosie?" A touch of genuine concern laced through his mutterings to the chicken, who seemed perfectly content to chill in the ghosts projection. Long scaled legs swung lazily as she stretched out her wings in a satisfying morning stretch. "Can't imagine passing a rock would be any fun. Was it that spire? Is that what caused this?"

A flash of a mischievousness grin cut through the wholesome moment as the ghost placed the chicken on Madeiras bed, and turned to the spiritist, eyes shining.

"What else do you think was pulled from the wreck?" Sliding up the the spiritist the ghost lowered his voice to a conspiratourial whisper. "All the weird shyke thats happened, your arm, the gloves, and now Rosie." The ghosts voice dropped into a defensive hiss. "And yes that is her name. Bite me. It has to have something to do with that obelisk right? They've got all the shyke they found locked in the hold."

The ghost stood up, eyes trained upwards and ears straining for any sound above them. The captains quarters were right above them, but the old sea dog seemed to be slow to wake, and the cabin was quiet in the soft early dawn. The night crew would be tired and just about to finish up their shift, and the day crew are still in the crew quarters, a mischievous smirk pulled at the corners of his mouth.

"Perhaps we should investigate."
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Strange Treasures

Postby Madeira Craven on September 9th, 2018, 4:08 am

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"Perhaps we should investigate."

The words plucked at Madeira's strings like a zealous puppeteer. Perhaps they should investigate. Perhaps there's more to this story than hypnotic gloves, gem-laying chickens and skeleton crossbows. Madeira's higher brain was telling her what an awful idea it was poking around in mysterious magics. They had been lucky so far, but what if the next item was cursed, or worse? But her heart was telling her to take the risk, that something was going on here, and they must investigate.

A silent battle raged in the Spiritist as mind and heart engaged in a vicious battle of wills. Logic was trampled under faith, and avenged by practicality. Fear and bravery collided and perished in the electric wave of excitement. Finally a ceasefire was reached between caution and curiosity, as Madeira negotiated with herself.

If things get dicey, if we so much as get a wiff of danger, we leave. No later. She nodded to no one. And Emma must stay behind.

"Okay, we'll investigate", she agreed with Jomi, before turning to Emma. To tell the young girl 'no' would be disastrous, as a tantrum would surely follow and wake half the ship. She pondered how she would keep her busy, before finally showing the girl her most persuasive smile.

"Jomi is going to come with me below deck, ok? But I've got a very special job for you."

Emma nodded, doe eyes wide and sparkling, excited to be part of the action.

"I need you to climb to the very tippy top of the mast, past where the sailors in the basket are, and watch for chickens."

Emma's enthusiastic nod rolled to a stop like an engine losing steam. Her lips and brow drew together into a pinch of confusion.

"What?"

"Chickens, Em. You know how in Riverfall there is never just one chicken, but a brood? They're going to notice their friend Rosie is missing, and come looking for her."

"In the ocean?"

"Yes. They're sea chickens. The Svefra keep them." she added rather desperately. "And if you see one, make sure you catch it. Then it can be your and Raj's chicken. And you can name it whatever you want."

"You'll let me keep it? A chicken family?" the girl gasped in delight, bouncing on her toes.

"Of course, kitten, but you have to catch it first. Quick, up the mast!"

And Emma was gone. Blinked away without even saying goodbye. Madeira blew out her cheeks in relief. "Ok," she motioned to Jomi in a much more subdued voice. "She'll get bored sooner rather than later, and the night crew will be off in another bell or two. We'd better hurry."

It was as the two of them were tip-toeing across the floor of the crew quarters that Madeira thanked the gods she was so skinny for the first time in her life. She squeezed between hammocks, the boards beneath her barely bending under her weight. She held her breath as the men grunted in their sleep, her heart hammering in her chest, pre-baked explanations ready on her lips. But the sailors slept like drunken babes, rum scented breath ghosting in the air, their bodies limp with exhausted excitement. It wasn't until they approached the stairs leading below deck that they came across their first obstacle. A sleepy, drunken sentry man.

Madeira paused, staying outside his sphere of low-burning lamplight as the man fought a losing battle to keep his eyelids open. She bit her lip for a moment, then waved to Jomi to dematerialize. Only once he was fully invisible did she straighten up, fix her collar and walk into the light.

The sentry jerked awake. It was Rorge, the skinny bilge rat with a handful of rotting teeth left in his mouth. Wrinkles of windburnt skin squinted at her, and a thick pink tongue poked around his gaped mouth like an explorative worm.

"Whatcher doin' ere Miss?" he slurred with sleep and the lingering effects of rum.

Madeira smiled her most dazzling smile for him, and put her finger to her lip, tossing her head to call his attention to his sleeping cabinmates.

"I'd like to get into the hold, please." she whispered

"Ain't do that."

"How come?"

"Quartermaster said so. Said no one allowed below. Sent me to guard it."

Madeira's eyes widened comically, and she put her hand to her mouth.

"And you listened to him?"

Rorge shifted his weight, sensing a trap in the inflection of her voice. "Yer?..."

"Rorge. Come on. He's putting you on!"

The man gave her a blank stare, the rusted gears of his mind struggling to find the meaning in her words.

"Look", Madeira continued, her voice sympathetic and low. "It was a joke. To see if you would stay up all night, standing in front of this door. What's he expecting? Thieves? We live on a ship, where would the thieves go?"

The earnestness of her words and the sympathy in her voice put blinders around the enormous hole in her logic. And just like that, she introduced doubt into his mind. Rorge licked his peeling lips.

"But wha' about-"

"Rorge. The men will be up in a chime, and the first thing they’re going to see is you, right where they left you, dead on your feet keeping imaginary thieves out in the middle of the ocean. And they will laugh."

There was moment to process, then his saggy blue eyes widened with realization.

"Tha' bastards!"

"Shhhhh!" she shushed desperately. "Just go back to bed, quietly. Nobody will even know you were here. They'll think you were too smart to fool and wen't to sleep with the rest of them."

The man considered this, then eyed her up and down.

"You gonna tell anyone?"

"Of course not. It'll be our secret. I'm just going to go retrieve my ghost, then go back to bed myself. He snuck into the hold, and I have to get him back before he breaks something", she pushed suggestively, hoping the eavesdropping Jomi would take the hint.
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Strange Treasures

Postby Jomi on September 10th, 2018, 11:46 pm

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The ghosts excitement was almost palatable and it was showing in his mists as he followed Madeira to the door separating the crew quarters from the rest of the ship. It whipped around his body as if pulled by some imaginary wind, creating a literal hurricane of emotion. With great effort Jomi pulled his electric mists up and towards his core, sealing them within and creating a semi-solid boarder around his body in an effort to keep them from waking the peacefully sleeping day-workers. Madeira crept in first and navigated her way around the sleeping bodies, sliding her skinny silhouette sideways and testing the floorboards before trusting them with her weight. While Jomi, unrestrained by something as pedestrian as gravity, chose to follow Madeira's lead from the relative safety of the celling. The ghost slid up the wall on his back, propelling himself with his transparent limbs out of habit. From his face down position the ghost could see the natural dip and sway of the ocean rocking the hammocks, every sway caused the ghosts face to contort as he hissed a warning to the woman who squeezed herself between them.

Once safely across the dense sea of sleeping bodies, Jomi peeled himself off the damp wood and joined his mistress as she paused outside a ring of lamplight. He could practically hear the gears turning in her head as she studied the studied the gangly, hardbitten face of a lone sentry illuminated within as he struggling to keep his eyes open.

Jomi took the hint from her frantic hand-flapping and dropped his materialization. His mists dispersed and thinned, becoming a paltry shadow in the low light of the hold as Madeira worked the sleep addled man with her silver tongue.

"He snuck into the hold, and I have to get him back before he breaks something."

The ghost caught the snaked tongued spiritists hint with ease and faded his mists through the floor, mists vibrating in unrestrained glee. Eager to demonstrate his innate talent of breaking stuff.

Portholes provided the only light within the deep belly of the cargo ship. Dark shadows draped themselves over the crates and chests, a veritable maze of wood and metal. Pushed up against the walls near the entrance to the hold was a pile of crates and barrels Jomi recognized from the wreak. The intact containers were still wet and covered in stress fractures as the stray treasures fished out of the ocean were pilled atop precariously. Weapons, jewelry and suspicious carved stones spilled over onto the floor as hints of gold flashed from between the cracks in the boards. To the left of the entrance a crate sat wedged between a stone tablet and a barrel of what looked like jewel encrusted turtle shells, whose wood was darker than the rest. A dark burnished wood covered in carved symbols stood out amongst the standard pale shipping pallets. Its top sat askew, the crew having neglected to tie it down, while a golden vase rocked on its side atop it, its intricately carved handles creating a rhythmic tapping to the sway of the ship. With a wicked grin the ghost slid up to the crate, he channeled his excitement, using the energy and directing its flow outwards and activating the mists in his hands. With a mighty push the ghost lifted the heavy vase over its handle, tipping it over to the unsupported edge of the lid and launching the top of the crate as the vase hit the floor with a resounding crash. The vases sides bursting on impact as the gold began warping and liquifying before taking the shape of a dozen golden snakes that slithered between the cracks of the crates.

But Jomi noticed none of it.

As soon as the lid of the crate lifted the ghost had caught sight of a rather ratty looking birdhouse nestled within. It was a wooden house with a red peaked top and three blue walls supporting it, wood scrubbed and weathered and paint bleached by sun and time laid out over a sealskin bag. But it wasn't the birdhouse itself that had the ghost so mesmerized. It was the subtle pull that drew the ghosts eyes and mind towards it, a sense of welcome that invited the ghost closer. The ghost drifted into the box and hunkered down, poking the birdhouse silently with curious mists.
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