Closed The Red in the White

[GST Adventure for Allister, Madeira, and Jomi] Do what you're told and no one gets hurt, savvy?

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This is Falyndar at its finest. Danger lurks everywhere - in the ground, in the trees, in the bush. Only the strongest survive...

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The Red in the White

Postby Taurina on July 3rd, 2018, 5:37 pm


Night of the 83rd of Summer 518
In the cove directly west of the Kandukta Basin
23rd Bell


It was a storm that had brought them. A storm that had torn apart the sails of their ship and laid waste to the rigging. The cove had been a lucky break. A semi-safe place to take pause and repair the ship while also getting a rest from the monotony of sea life. Sandy beaches and jungles as far as the eye could see was a change of pace for the ship dwellers who had had nothing but themselves and ocean to look at for over a season long. A welcomed change.

Some, mostly those young and foolish who did not heed the warnings of those who knew better, buzzed with excitement at the scene before them. Wished to claim the jungle lands for their own so they might one day tell stories to wide eyed loved ones and strangers about how they had conquered the beasts of the wild. The warnings of those who had experienced the horrors such untamed land could wrought on those naive and untrained themselves went unheard by those with grand ideas about bravery and pride. In result, some of those young sailors with wandering hearts and curious minds walked into the wilds at their own risk. Some came back, some did not.

The nights belonged wholly to the seafarers to do with what they pleased, but days belonged to the ship and its captain. All were put to use as they build back up what had been destroyed. There was to be as little delay as possible, they had a journey to complete. Whatever his method of motivation was, it worked well in getting results. Not to many days had passed but the sails were whole again and the rigging mended. When morning came they would be ready to pull away from this cove, leaving behind its sprawling beaches and untamed jungles, which had been a blessing and a curse.

This night was different from the others. All who travelled aboard the ship bound for Lhavit had left the shore and taken their place upon the ship. Many slept. Only those meant to watch for whatever might prey upon them in the night stood awake. Though some of those slept as well for their aching bodies demanded reprieve. Demanded sleep be had. They believe there to be little risk in some shut eye. Little risk in a cove empty aside of life aside from themselves and whatever creatures lurked beneath the waves.

The world was quiet here. The only sounds being the calls of animals and the rolling of waves. Calm was the water here, sort of peaceful in a way. Like nothing had ever disturbed it and nothing would ever disturb it. What a beautiful lie that was. All knew of it too, sailors and travelers alike, and yet the sea still spoke it. Still made such sweet false promises… Until it didn’t anymore.

It started real subtle like. Just a change in the breeze, a rocking of waves. No more force than a mother used to rock her baby to sleep. Nothing to raise any alarms. Nothing to wake those who slumbered.

The build was slow, stretching over the length of many chimes. It did not take long for the first of the seafarers to begin to stir. Sloppy hands reached for boots and fastened belts as almost one at a time each stumbled from their cabins and bunks to see what was going on. For some there was fear. Was this another storm come to ravage their ship? Others felt only curiosity. There was no sound besides the crashing of water against wood yet the ship rocked now unnaturally, what could cause it? Others felt different emotions entirely. Their own questions boiled over in their minds as imaginations ran rampant.

“Look! Something is moving in the water! They have taken hold of the ship!” A shout from the crow’s nest by a scrawny little sailor who pointed frantically at something just over the ship’s edge.

Even those with weary hearts flew to starboard to catch a glimpse. What they saw was something most peculiar to any who had not seen one before. Arms that shimmered silver in the moonlight reached towards the sky with hands pressed against either side of the massive ship. Heads broke through the surface of the sea, nearly ten on each side, to look upon the seafarers who gaped and stared. Many of them looked human, but the shifters had faces of many and preferred to keep none for long. Water was the look of their skin and hair. Human was the look of their faces and torsos. Sea life was the look of them from the waist down. Born long ago from the loneliness of the sea god, the strange creatures were his messengers and often, when left unappeased, a sailor’s doom.

“Otani,” one of the Svefra aboard breathed, a soft growl in his voice heard by only those nearest him, “what do they want?”

“Hello travelers.” It was one of the female Otani who spoke with echoes in her voice and a grin on her ever changing face. Her gaze drifted over all, taking them in, before she met eyes with the only female she saw. That grin grew into something mischievous and reckless, her face shifting to mimic the other woman’s almost exactly. “What are you willing to give so that you might live?”

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The Red in the White

Postby Madeira Craven on July 10th, 2018, 5:24 am

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    Madeira lied on her narrow bunk in her tiny cabin, fully clothed in her white blouse and sturdy trousers, running her fingers through the soft black fur of the cat sleeping on her chest. The days were busy, and it made the nights quiet. The captain was working the men to the bone repairing the ship, his voice a booming crack of thunder that filled the bay and surrounding jungle with demands of quick and now and faster. So at night, when the heat finally dissipated, the men slept the deep sleep of the exhausted. Their snores and the creak of swaying hammocks slipped under the thin cabin door and hummed in the air.

    Spook's was purring in his sleep. The vibrations rattled through the cavity of Madeira's chest, and it almost sounded hollow. Her wide pale eyes were fixed unseeing on the ceiling, her mind turning around and around in a sleepless, endless tummble. The storm had been a blow like she had never experienced. Her life had been threatened by the dead, by the living, and once by disease, but never had her and what she loved been threatened by a force of nature. Even days later, cradled in the calm of the harbour, she was rattled.

    This was the stress she was shaking from her body, but a deeper, nebulous worry lurked in farther corners of her mind. The hand not occupied with her sleeping passenger slipped quietly into the gap between her legs and cupped the tender part of her. Every morning she was waking to no blood on the sheets, and she didn't know what to think. She didn't know her body as well as she should, never given it much thought other than as a vehicle for her soul that must be maintained. But now something was wrong, and every mysterious pain, twinge of sea nausea and tremble lit her nerves on fire. Because what if she was...

    But no, that was not possible. Her lover was female, and what happened with Allister happened once. What happened not 'safe', no. It was two desperate people looking for comfort, damn consequences and rational thought. But a woman's body was clever, it
    would have paused her monthly blood if she was stressed, or unhealthy, and currently she was both. It meant nothing. The blood would come.

    Her bond with Allister prickled with her worry. They would not survive her closing the bond a second time, so he would have no choice but to receive her whirling feelings. Yet she hadn't told him the root cause yet. There was no need to tell him something she only suspected. Maybe, as an animal, he already knew. She didn't have the courage to
    ask.

    She was still laying there, half asleep and chasing disturbing thoughts, when the ship began to rock. It was gentle at first, like a push of a cradle. It wasn't until Bird gave a great scream as his cage hanging on the ceiling gave a violent swing and the sleepy Spooks dug startled claws into her chest that Madeira even realized something was wrong.

    On the other side of the thin door a flurry of movement sounded as tired sailors tripped over themselves and cursed as they thundered on deck. Madeira only made sure to secure Bird to the floor, tied her bracer bow to her wrist, and left the disorientated Spooks on the bed before she followed. She tied her hair back in a tight knot at the back of her head as she ran up the steep stairs, listening to the confused shouting of hardened seafarers.

    Once on the main deck she found she was small enough to slip between elbows and shoulders and was able to press against the railing to see what exactly had a hold of their ship. At first she couldn't see much beyond the churning waters, until she realized it wasn't the water that was churning. They were monsters cut straight out of the tide, clear as glass and as unpredictable as the weather. Their mischievous faces flickered with playful grins and wicked laughs, their visages never sitting still or taking a solid form. From the sailor beside her she heard a growl: "Otani".

    Otani. Growing up in a port city, she had heard of them but had never seen one. She knew them only as the playful servants of the god who’s oceans they were traversing. Suddenly a female-looking creature below them caught her eye. It spoke, and Madeira felt a flutter of vertigo as the creature smiled up at her with a perfect, glassy representation of her own face.

    "What are you willing to give so that you might live?”

    Singled out to speak for the ship, Madeira’s mouth turned dry. What were they willing to give? What did that even mean? Was the creature looking for appeasement for it's god? Some sort of worldly sacrifice to show deference? Somehow she suspected there was a right and a wrong answer, and the wrong answer might just get them killed.

    Summoning all her courage, she looked the creature below her dead in the eye. Willing her voice to suppress its shivering fear she answered firmly: “To live? Anything. The dead have nothing to offer you.” So if we die you get nothing, she left unspoken. She would do anything to save those who were hers. Yet if the creature's price was steep, there must be a way to get around it, reason with it, if only it would tell them what it wanted.

    “Why are you here?” she swallowed hard as the ship pitched again, her knuckles hard and white around the railing. Silently she called for her bonded.
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    Please forgive my glacially slow pace this month! I typically take August off from Miz, as this is an insane time of year for me, but this year I have too many threads open and I don't want to leave people hanging. I won't be taking on new threads as I work on keeping up with what I have.

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    The Red in the White

    Postby Jomi on July 12th, 2018, 3:48 am

    “Nine, ten, eleven..”

    The wide, deep green leaf with blue veins caught an aggressive gust of wind and was ripped out of the translucent fingers that held it. It fluttered mightily off the side of the calmly rocking ship, and was followed by the low melodramatic sigh from the ghost lounging on the deck. Jomi, unable to offer any meaningful help, or torment those who could, was running out of patience and ways to entertain himself. Madeira was sleeping below deck, Alister was likely helping with repairs and little Emma was hiding in the hold with Raj, too scared of the storm to come out. With the party occupied, the ghost was left to his own devices. Not that he minded, Madeira was acting stranger than usual, and Alister, in true bondmate fashion, had quickly followed suit. Now every time either of them entered the room they were followed by a cloud made of anxiousness and awkward silence. Like there was an elephant in the room that everyone but him could see but no one wanted to acknowledge. And being on the open water left little space to escape whatever domestic squabbles they were going through, so the dark haired ghost was thankful for any solitude he could find. Although bitter over the bond that Madeira and Alister shared and he could no longer experience, the former Kelvic couldn’t help but respect it. He had no right to ask questions, as he had no right to stick his noes in someone else's bond.

    For days the ships crew had been rallying around the captain as he barked his orders into the Gail force winds and sea spray. Repairing the ship like a well oiled machine as line men ran up riggings and mended sails. And Jomi, for his part, had enough sense to stay out of their way. The normally malicious ghost watched silently as the men climbed about the deck, following a firm verbal beat down from his mistress warning him what would happen if he interfered. But the ghost didn’t need to be told to play nice, he was just as eager to get moving again as everyone else and he knew the crew needed to be uninterrupted for that to happen.

    Reaching for the thick rope coiled at his feet and the pile of leave pinned beneath it, Jomi focused hard on collecting the twisting mists that radiated from his palm. The normally translucent digits began to take on a semblance of solidity as the errant wisps packed down and created a solid barrier encasing his hands. Jomi gingerly pinched his thumb and forefinger around a thick rubbery leaf the size of his head, one of the many peculiar flora he had collected off the beach in recent days. With his other hand holding the rope up and a hearty tug the leaf slipped free, allowing Jomi to hold up the leaf at arms length as the wind whipped it to life.

    It was a game the ghost had come up with to entertain himself during the long sleepless nights. Holding leaves up to the wind and counting how many ticks it took for them to slip from his grasp. Since the ghost lacked the traction that fingerprints or skin provided it all came down to the pressure he could generate with his mists and the focus it took to maintain it.

    “One, two, three-“

    “Look! Something is moving in the water! They have taken hold of the ship!”

    Concentration broken the leaf slipped from his grasp. With a mighty flap the leaf sailed over the bow of the ship, where the crew crowded each other to peer over the rails while speaking in hushed voices. As if speaking too loud might summon the presence of Laviku himself. An stabbing sense of dread crept through the ghost. Those words were third on the list of things you don’t want to hear on a ship, followed only by ‘Is that a Leviathin?’ and ’It’s contagious’.

    “Otani, what do they want?”

    Jomi had heard of Otani before. Growing up on the docks of Kenesh he had heard many sailors recount tales of the monsters, none of them pleasant. But the moral was always the same ‘while at the mercy of the sea it is best to be cordial and generous to Laviku’s children’.

    Out of the corner of his eye the ghost spotted Madeira emerge from her cabin and slip through the crowd, her bracer on and face set steely glare. Quietly Jomi fell behind her and followed his mistress through the press of bodies, stepping out beside her as the Otani called her out and addressed her directly.

    “What are you willing to give so that you might live?”

    “To live? Anything. The dead have nothing to offer you.”

    “Unless what you want is existential crisis and angst, ‘cause we got that in spades.” The ghost quipped, unhelpfully.
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    The Red in the White

    Postby Allister on July 20th, 2018, 2:18 am

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    Allister bore his duties with a grin. The other sailors were not vexed by his attitude though they still avoided him as much as possible. A handful of men had taken the time to listen to the events that transpired many nights ago below decks when a broken woman and a broken man sought to heal one another of their wounded souls. To the kelvic, it had been the best experience of his young life. There was nothing he could say to explain it and nothing he could ever do to tell Madeira how it had made him feel. The man tagged as ‘Useless’ felt a purpose so strong and undeniable that he made light of almost every task placed in his wake. The former slave hadn’t made any friends on this voyage like he did on the last but he had begun to earn the respect of the crew simply by continuing to work hard.

    Life in the rigging was simple but Allister still struggled. It was a lot of remembering and trying to do things in the right order. His feeble mind for intellect wasn’t built for such devices. He could memorize songs and had even taken to trying to write his own. After a night with his blonde goddess, he truly felt obligated to pay homage in every way that he could. He shared his muffins with her and didn’t open it if she wasn’t around. He squirrelled away his rum rations for her and even bits of his salted pork and pickled beets in case she didn’t find her own portions up to snuff. The necklace she made for him never left his neck. He took to holding it when he was nervous, bored, scared or any other wide array of emotions. The former slave found himself always thinking of Madeira -not that this was so strange since she’d invaded his mind from the day they’d met. Now, however, his focus had added in swirling images of flesh, symphonies of groans and the aroma of desire fueled by sweat and pain.

    Allister had been on shift all night. While the captain worked almost everyone during the daylight hours, the quartermaster ran a small crew through the wee hours of morning setting up for major projects the following day. Last night’s adventures had involved clearing the rest of the shredded and broken ropes and lines from the mizzenmast so the day crew could run new shrouds and raise new booms. As he sat atop a barrel and found the twinge of stress through the bond, his hand idly went up to the shark tooth charm which hung against his bare chest. His pale brow furrowed as her worry filled him. Blessed simpleton that he was, the former slave churned the swill in his mind to find a way to please Madeira. He hated to see her so stressed but it seemed that only his crude physicality had been able to shatter that barrier thus far.

    The quartermaster rolled up with a mind to lay out some last minute orders but the ship began to rock. Run aground, the large vessel should not move but it certainly was. Alister’s grin came back. This was something new and exciting though the looks of fear on his comrade’s faces completely few past his wide eyed stare. Ticks later, the ship moved even more and men began to spill out from below decks and began to look all around for the cause of this strange phenomenon. A call rang out with a word that the hyena had never heard before and he found himself moving with the herd of bodies to the gunwhale. He had issues finding his way through but then he saw that thin blonde cut like a razor into the cord of dirty sailors. As with all things, Allister got caught up in the wake of his fair lady Craven and followed her to the edge.

    Black eyes peered down as he wrapped an arm protectively around her waist. The bony elbow protruded enough to back any brave enough, curious enough or stupid enough to shore up behind the breeches that hung a tad loose on the tiny round bottom of the woman. She was his and Allister made sure to project such a vibe within the crowd of testerone and insatiable wants. The frail mind of the kelvic swallowed the reflective faces of the strange creatures and he listened to them without any real comprehension for the weight of what was being said. When his bondmate spoke, he turned and took her words like a poem upon the ears of a prisoner.

    The moonlight twinkled upon her hair and skin in a way that made her glow. Alister’s body heated up like a fire had been lit under his feet and his fingertips pressed down just a little bit more. His mind tripped over itself for a moment as he contemplated what she had returned to the glass-faced swimmers. The cold chill of Jomi’s presence settled in upon the ghastly man. Allister shivered but he did not move though the statement the witty dead man had made brought a smile to Allister’s face. He turned his black eyes in the direction of the cold being. “What does that even mean?” The hyena shook his head and waited for the fish women to answer. Jomi always said things he didn’t understand but the angry ghost was mildly entertaining.
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    Pain without love is meaningless
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    The Red in the White

    Postby Taurina on July 23rd, 2018, 4:17 am


    Their company was one of three. Three woven together and separated from the rest. The Otani did not understand it, but she knew it was so. It was them who pulled together and created a barrier around them that separated them from the others. The watery creature found it curious. Found it interesting. Her head tilted just so as she listened to the words that passed through them. A smile pulled at her blue tinged lips.

    “Oh sweetie, we do not want you dead. Where would the fun be in that?” The Otani seemed quite amused as her words spilled out. “No. At least, not yet. I’ve a request first.”

    The smile was unwavering even as the face of the woman shifted from Madeira’s mirror to a much younger woman. A child really. Slowly she rose farther from the surface of the water, hands pressed against the ship’s side. Tentacles that made up the lower half of her body stretched out and stuck as she climbed towards her prey. Some shrunk back, stepping away. Others remained, paralyzed in fear. The shapeshifter seemed no less amused.

    “You ghosts and your moods..” The Otani had perched herself on the rail, not coming over onto the deck but just lingering. “Why would we want to turn you all into a bunch more bodiless souls?” Her head tilted curiously again, that gaze shifting from Madeira to Jomi and then back again. “We would rather not, but then again, if you fail…” Her fingertips ran over the surface of the rail. “Well, your ship will be a nice prize and watching you all struggle to survive, great fun.”

    The watery woman giggled and shook her head, locks of silvery hair shimmering in the moonlight. She was greatly delighted by something and did not stop until another told her to quiet. The Otani’s mood shifted instantly as her gaze swept down to one of her brothers. A glare in her eyes, a frown on her face, a hiss on her lips.. she tracked where his finger pointed.

    A bird drifted above the surface of the water. Its white plumage shone brilliantly in the moonlight, almost light a ball of white fire or a ghost in and of itself. Its size was massive, a wingspan somewhere in the realm of seven to eight feet. It was beautiful really. Even as it swooped down with long talons outstretched towards the water. It plunged, seconds later drawing up a flopping fish before drifting back towards the jungle.

    “You ask what I want girl..” the Otani began slowly, her gaze fixing once more on Madeira. A smile pulled at her lips again. “Your companions give me confusion, fear, but you.. you are brave. I hope this male by your side and even your ghost are brave too.” She looked to Allister then, and then Jomi. Her smile never wavered even as her face shifted. “I want the bird. More specifically, a feather from the bird. Tail, wing, crest, I do not care. Just a red feather it must be.”

    The Otani looked down to her people and nodded to them. They, each and every one, let go of the ship and just hung there above the surface of the water not two feet away. They all looked up at the terrified sailors, smiles on their faces. The female who had climbed looked back to the ship dwellers and nodded.

    “Whoever you must send to get it, send. You have till sunrise. Do not try to leave for we will tear this ship apart if you do. Fail and we also tear your ship apart. Succeed and we will leave you in peace. Questions?”

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    The Red in the White

    Postby Madeira Craven on July 24th, 2018, 5:32 am

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      "Where would the fun be in that?" The Otani said with laughter in its voice at the suggestion that she would want them dead. At that moment Madeira realized their existence was just a game to them.

      The creature pulled itself to the railing and the spiritist instinctively backed away, pressing herself into the solid, reassuring protection of her bondmate behind her and the familiar electric touch of the ghost beside her. If she had not seen the Otani climb from the water herself she would not have believed it was the same one. It wore a new face, something feminine and child-like, while what should have been hips and legs below spilled over into a tangle of ropy appendages. The creature was intent on the three of them; Allister, Jomi and herself. Its pupilless eyes rolled over them like it was amused and curious about what it saw. Like it wanted nothing more than to pry them open to see how they worked.

      Suddenly out of the night a great bird plunged for its prey, unfurling a wingspan wider than she had ever seen. It hit the water with such grace it barely cast a ripple, then surfaced with a struggling fish in its black claws. Every Otani in the water and their tormentor on the railing all turned to look as it flew. Its plumage seemed to glow from within, brighter than even Leth's light. A great soaring beast from another world.

      Madeira was not looking at the bird. She was staring at the back of the Otani's head, deciding if she was going to stick an arrow in it.

      As if reading her thoughts, the bracer up her sleeve sparked dully with a sputter of green flame. The weapon would erupt into fire and transform her arm into something black and skeletal the moment she lifted it to strike. It looked horrific, and was useful for intimidating people, but made the discreet assassin-type weapon completely useless for the stealthy attacks it was meant for. The creature would spot her before she got a shot off. And she wasn't even sure an arrow would kill the creature, as it looked to have no organs. But before she could decide if she should risk it, the creature turned back to them with its demand.

      It wanted a feather from that bird.

      These messengers of a god were threatening them over a petching treasure hunt?! A long dormant aggression in the spiritist woke up with a snarl. Everything she loved was on this ship and they would destroy it for a feather.

      But she had to master it. Stamp it down and play as something smarter. Allister would be the only one privy to her inner struggle as she fought the instinct to barb her tongue, and rather smooth it over with honey and affability. Through the thin material of her sleeve a ghastly green light was flickering.

      The creature was full of pride and demands, it referred to her as 'sweetie' and 'girl' while Jomi and Allister were simply called her ghost and male. Everyone on board was a nameless victim to these Otani. And as long as they acted as such that's all they would be.

      "A game? How clever. We accept", Madeira purred, matching its impish smile. The creature did not give them the option to refuse, but she needed to act as if the creature was not pulling them along like puppets. Then she turn her back on it, relying on Allister's steady arm to pull her out of the way should it take advantage of her inattention.

      Now what? She looked at all the hardened sailors either frozen in shock or backing away in fear, to Jomi and Emma, who were not as indestructible as they seemed. And then there was Allister, who would do anything to keep her safe, even if it would kill him. Gods, now what? She breathed deep through her nose and expelled with a gust like she was about to breath fire.

      "Jomi, Allister", she looked them both in the eye. "We're going ashore. Emma, sweetie, I need you to stay behind and watch the ship, ok?" She waited for the nervous little girl standing a few paces back to take her fingers out of her mouth and nod weakly. Then Madeira turned and addressed the assembled sailors, and her voice dropped in pitch. From the motherly tone she took with Emma her voice changed into something rough and almost masculine. "I'm not your captain", she said. "I have no authority over you, but I imagine you want to keep this ship afloat too. So if you petchers are brave enough to pull up your big girl panties and help, do so. Or you can stay here with them." she pointed overboard, where the mass of Otani waited on the waters surface with their wicked smiles on shifting faces.

      She didn't wait for a show of volunteers, if there were any at all. She turned her back on them too, and in that small space of privacy took Allister's hand from her waist and kissed his knuckles with the softest brush of her lips. His hands smelled of wood and sweat and leather. "It seems we don't have a lot of time." she said, bristling with anger and spiteful determination. "I've got another crossbow in the cabin you can take if you want it, and some soulmist for Jomi. We should grab them before we head out."

      Still holding his hand, she pulled him along back to the stairs that lead to the belly of the ship. "Jomi!" she called over her shoulder. ”Keep an eye on them."
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      Please forgive my glacially slow pace this month! I typically take August off from Miz, as this is an insane time of year for me, but this year I have too many threads open and I don't want to leave people hanging. I won't be taking on new threads as I work on keeping up with what I have.

      Thank you!
      ~Mads
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      The Red in the White

      Postby Jomi on August 2nd, 2018, 10:13 pm

      “You ghosts and your moods..Why would we want to turn you all into a bunch more bodiless souls?”

      “Is it worse than being a soulless quasi-body, fish breath?” Jomi snapped, the subtle jab not going unnoticed by the bitter ghost.

      The creature climbed the side of the ship, long formless tenticals wrapped themselves around the rails as she addressed Madeira with an almost laser focus. The Otani seemed to have singled her out for the responsibility to appease the finicky monsters. Jomi wondered whether it was because she was the only woman aboard or if they could somehow sense her magic use. Whatever the answer it seemed important that the witch be the one to complete their task.

      The ghosts mists twisted about his form erratically, betraying his nerves. The ghost has never been one for bravery, preferring to avoid conflict and consequence, and since he came back to unlife he had never needed to confront anyone. His incorpreal state absolved him from punishment from all but a spiritist, but now, face to face with a monster, he questioned if that was true. Every fibre of his being was desperately pleading for him to run, to not tempt fate for fear of being right. But now, for the first time since death, the ghost had something to protect and a broken, dysfunctional family to take care of. So the ghost stayed and rallied his nerves, ignoring every instinct to flee and stood rooted to the spot as the Otani looked the trio over as if they were a delicious meal.

      A male Otani caught the attention of their tormentor just as a streak of white shot from the sky. A bird that seemed to glow from within struck the water with only the slightest divot in the waters surface. Even from the deck of the ship the Kelvic ghost could see the red eyes of the apex predator. The glassy orbs flashed brilliantly as the hooked talons found their mark, pulling up a thrashing silver fish from the shallows before gliding back into the safety of the jungle canopy.

      A long pregnant pause fell over the crew as they waited for the creature holding the ship hostage to return its attentions to their newest playthings. And when she did the creeping smile she wore sent a chill to the ghosts core.

      “I want the bird. More specifically, a feather from the bird. Tail, wing, crest, I do not care. Just a red feather it must be.”

      This was bad.

      The ghosts swirling internal mists picked up the pace as he digested the demand. No-one on this ship was a tracker, and while the ships ghosts could hover above ground, that skill could be best described as 'speed walking in mid air'. Which means they had approximately eight bells to wander the jungle in pitch darkness in hopes they would stumble on this peticular breed of bird in a land of thousands. And even if they did find it, pray it is stupid enough to fly into a hovering ghost, since they'd have a candles chance in a hurricane to chase it down.

      “Whoever you must send to get it, send. You have till sunrise. Do not try to leave for we will tear this ship apart if you do. Fail and we also tear your ship apart. Succeed and we will leave you in peace. Questions?”

      “Yes! Yes I have petching questions!-”

      "A game? How clever. We accept"

      Madeira interjected swiftly on behalf of the crew, returning the creatures malicious grin with one laced with barbed wire and venom. As she turned to give the ships crew the worlds most antagonistic pep talk Jomi peered out of the corner of his eye to Allister, standing resolute at Madeira’s side. A truly devoted servant who would give his life to protect his bonded, the manic Kelvic was her first line of defence, but that wouldn't be enough to protect her from what lurks in the jungle wilds.

      "I've got another crossbow in the cabin you can take if you want it, and some soulmist for Jomi. We should grab them before we head out. Jomi! Keep an eye on them."

      "Great, yeah sure. I'll stay here with the swarm of monsters. No problem." Jomi muttered dejectedly as he watched the pair disappear below deck.

      Turning his head the ghost side eyed the monster, still perched on the railing.

      "I don't suppose you know where that bird nests?"
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      Jomi
      One more day would have been nice
       
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      The Red in the White

      Postby Allister on August 3rd, 2018, 1:58 am

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      Allister was rattled to his very bones but the kelvic didn’t show an ounce. A performer and a former slave, he was good at portraying one emotion while feeling another. There was a moment before the creature ascended when he had a wild notion to chuck a harpoon at it. A nearby sailor clutched such a weapon but the hyena knew nothing about how to use one effectively. His recent experience with the quarterstaff had taught him that, regardless of simplicity, a weapon takes time to learn. Insolent little fish people! His mind raced as his heart jumped through hoops. How dare they talk to Madeira like she was just some messenger. Filthy fish with strange faces that shifted gave him a headache but he remained as solid as stones that held the ship in place. Nothing was going to hurt his treasured spiritist without killing him first and that was not as easy as it used to be.

      When the small round of Madeira’s rump pressed into his thigh and the slight roll of her spine connected them, his fears eased. He could feel the tension in her and poured his admiration and affections through the bond while a pale set of fingers slid forth from their place at his side to rest upon her hip just above the waist of her breeches. He applied a small amount of pressure which in no small way reminded him of the bruises they had laid upon one another and this little piece of joy cracked the corners of his set jaw to allow the wide lips a curled smile. The black eyes watched the smelly and slimy thing draw near to madeira and his free hand idly fidgeted wishing he would have kept the the razors from his coat somewhere on his body. Ever since he had discovered the concealed weapons on his person at the theater, he had gained an appreciation for the dangerous little sharp objects.

      The former slave felt a change in his woman. She settled into him with a sort of resolve that permeated the bond but there was also disappointment. He glanced down to see her staring at the Otani and a green flash drew his focus down to her arm. It was petching glowing! Allister’s eyes flashed wide for just a tick then he calmed down and gave the thin handful of glorious flesh in his grasp a squeeze to reassure the blonde of his willingness to act on her lead. Within the bond, the constantly evolving and ever-shifting band which held the spiritist to her dog of a man, Allister felt the indecision and added in his trust. He did trust Madeira. He’d killed for her once. The act had yet to cost him any sleep or fret and the man within had to believe that was because his motives were pure. Allister loved Madeira with every fiber of his being and there was nothing above that- nothing that could be held against it. Should someone or some thing try and interfere, it was registered as a threat of the highest priority and would be dealt with in a matter of haste and untethered prejudice. More than once, the hyena had envisioned himself standing atop her cousin’s fallen body in his animal form just chewing the pretty face like the feast it so deserves to be.

      The Otani addressed Madeira again and Allister returned from his daydreaming. The request was asinine but the lady accepted and so he thought no more on the issue. He couldn’t help but wonder what the jungle was like, though. It rose concern over the craven’s well-being in his heart and he could not hide it from her. The black eyes watched the monster move away enough for them to prepare and that’s when he recognized the shade lingering about on the deck. Jomi and Allister had not gotten on much but had grown to tolerate one another. The kelvic stared at the ghost of a kelvic for a few ticks before following Madeira to where she rallied the crew-- it only worked on a handful of men but the hyena didn’t care. He was glowing with love for the way her words ignited him. Such passion brought him full circle to the kindness she had shown and the power she displayed on the night when the first met. How his feelings had evolved since then!

      Madeira disarmed him with a kiss to his knuckles. The bone-white skin flushed red and his body seemed to kick it into overdrive. “Crossbow, sure...but I need my staff and jacket, too.” A rough hand caught her by the shoulder and held her in place long enough for him to bring his thin lips up against her ear. He wanted to say something encouraging or cautionary or wise but that simply wasn’t the way of the kelvic. Instead, he just let his lips rest there as all these things washed into the bond. Before he let her lead him below decks to gather enough gear for the journey, the tattooed head spun around to address the creature left by the ghost. “In Kenash, they eat shyke like you…”

      Once in their room, he was all business. Jacket, pack loaded with his magical muffin tin, razors in place in the sleeves, his staff and Madeira’s extra bow. When he turned and saw the magnificent creature that was his bonded, he had to pause and admire all that she was which included a damn fine thing at which to stare. The black eyes twinkled and pale face burst with a huge grin. He slid across the floor in a single strife and put her arms around her. The former slave enveloped her as he had before and lifted her up against his hips then slammed her back into the wall. His mouth found her neck and ear again. Before she could protest verbally, he spoke as his body restrained her from fighting away from him. “I know now is not the time...but when we get back…” He slowly let gravity drag her body down against his until her toes could touch the floor. He filled the bond with all of the thoughts and desires that he had but never took his gaze from her. When her head passed his, he stole a quick kiss from her lips and then peeled himself away and gathered the rest of their things.

      Allister would carry all of their equipment in a single pack. Madeira needed her strength to be the brains of the outfit orelse they’d all die. The kelvic would manage. On their way back up, he filled several waterskins with the barrelled water and stashed some salted pork from the galley. Once back on the deck, he waited for his lover, his bonded, his best friend and his goddess to surface. As with all situations -candlelit sessions excluded- Allister took her ead and hopped in her back pocket to follow wherever she went. A tune struck his mind and he hummed softly to himself while black eyes strayed from Otani to Madeira’s tiny curves. The wicked smile plastered itself back on his face and when they came back to join Jomi, he gave the ghost a nod and a grin. “Hey, Jamie- do you think she’s related to the granadile that I’m wearing?” The kelvic patted his croc-skin pants.

      For some reason, Allister wanted to mess with the creature. It might have something to do with the fact that’d he’d been up all night. Or it could be related to the way the creature favored Madeira. Better yet, add those things to the horrid fear that shook his core- not a fear of the jungle, their task or the fish things...but the single fear that haunted him. Would his actions or inaction bring harm to Madeira? This feeling rolled itself into his love and devotion so tightly that there was no separating the two.
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      Pain without love is meaningless
      Love without pain is selfish
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      Allister
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      The Red in the White

      Postby Taurina on August 8th, 2018, 5:17 am


      Eyes that shifted with the breeze danced with pleasure and delight as her challenge was accepted. Such bravery. Such arrogance. Such determination. This was going to be fun to watch. It already was. The Otani saw how those sailors looked at the pale woman, how they looked at her as though she was crazy. Fear ruled their hearts, a desire to live but also sink with their ship kept them rooted in place. It was not until the woman and her Kelvic left to go below deck that murmurs began to rise.

      Some insisted that the trio be sent alone, they were expendable. Others insisted that they be helped so that the ship had a chance. Deep down somewhere in their seafaring hearts, all of them wanted to live. None of them wanted to die here. The Otani ate up their fear hungrily.

      “Ah the little ghost has a question,” the watery woman purred, having ignored his quip from before, “do I know? Yes. Will I tell you? Different story, what would be the fun in that?” She rolled her eyes and crossed her arms, shaking her head. “Silly silly,” she taunted, “but I will give you hint. There is only one and it likes to make its home in the trees. Oops.. that was two.”

      The Otani frowned at her own loose lips, her brow wrinkling as she seemed to dive into a thought that had to do with why she had not stopped at one. It was then that Madeira and Allister came back up to the deck. Allister’s jest was heard easily by the woman and she raised her head up in a snap as a hiss tore from her throat. “You dare disgrace the brethren of the sea?!” she snarled at him, her body lunging forward towards him quick till she was standing not inches from him with his face held tight by the jaw in one of her watery hands, “you best hope you succeed for I will take special delight in watching you drown if you do not.”

      The Otani looked from him to Madeira and then the other sailors. There was anger in her now rather than impish delight. She would have sunk the ship then and there if tradition did not demand she and her brothers and sisters gave them at least a chance. Just a chance. She hissed. Fine. “Dawn,” she reminded them, “I will be back at dawn. Don’t disappoint me.” And then she let go of Allister and slithered back to the railing before diving over and into the ocean depths. The others followed, all disappearing in a blink, but any would be fools to think them truly gone.

      “We will come with you,” a sailor spoke up not ticks after the creature disappeared, “we know how to survive out there well enough and Tav has hunting experience.”

      The male that came forward was tall, standing a solid six feet in the air, with ocean blue eyes and brown shoulder length hair matted by the wind. His name was Enda Oceansong, a Svefra who had spent his life traveling on the seas. The man he pulled forward alongside him was less impressive in height, barely reaching five foot seven, but had a fiery temper to match his blazing red hair and piercing gold eyes that more than made up for it. Tav was an Inarta who was too loud and drank too much but he hailed from a land of danger and had made his living as a hunter. Both men were serious now, looking at the strange spiritist and her crew with a look that told them they wished to live and were willing to work for it. Besides, no one else was stepping forward.

      “Prepare a boat to go to shore. Five chimes, we’ll be ready,” Tav promised before both men parted from the rest to go below deck and gather their own supplies.

      Soon after Enda came back and not a chime later, Tav emerged as well. Both had waterskins at their hip and weapons on their bodies. For Tav, a composite bow with a quiver full of twenty or so arrows strapped around his torso. For Enda it was a machete at one side and a rope latched to the other. Both carried flint and steel with them just in case, wore clothes that covered so that they’d be protected in the jungle, along with boots made of sturdy material. They approached the group of three quickly, all the rest of the crew seemingly having scattered back to their various posts and some discussing whether or not they should try and leave now: while the Otani were no where to be seen. Fools.

      “All ready?” Enda asked as he and the Inarta approached reached the smaller boat that was to be lowered into the water for them, “Got everything you need?”

      Once everyone was certain and the boat was ready with everyone piled in, it was lowered slowly to the water. Oars had to be taken in hand and shore was to be bound for. There was an eeriness about the water now. A chill to it that had not been there before. Perhaps it was because now it was known what lurked beneath calm waves. Perhaps it was because whatever happened on shore, failure was not an option.

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      Taurina
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      The Red in the White

      Postby Madeira Craven on August 8th, 2018, 9:53 pm

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        Once in the cabin, the bondmates moved with purpose. As Allister collected his supplies Madeira cataloged her own. From her chest she fished two full jars of soulmist, a small knife, a handful of linen bandage strips and her set of flint and steel. Two of her summoning rings, one for Emma and another for Jomi, were pushed onto her fingers. And lastly, in a rather desperate hope that it might protect him, she found the shark tooth festish and looped it over Allister's head. She did not waste her breath arguing when he took her items and added them to the one rucksack that he would carry. He was strong and capable, and would manage somehow. She on the other hand was weak and would still be incompetent in the wild without a pack slowing her down.

        It was while she was soothing and tucking away Spooks, Bird and Rosie that Madeira felt Allister's eyes on her. She turned her head and saw him standing there, watching her with black lacquered eyes and a slow predator grin. And suddenly she found sympathy with the bunny that's cornered by the wolf. Her bond told her when he was going to do a tick before it happened, in a sly but building energy of mischievous lust.

        "Wait Al-!" the burbling verbal protest were cut off as he took her in his arms, lifted her off the floor, and slammed them both into the wall. Tongue and lips found the pounding pulse in her neck and the burning in her ears and feasted on them. She dared not breath. If she did the panting in her breath and the moan in her throat would reveal exactly what he was doing to her.

        “I know now is not the time...but when we get back…”

        Now, she told herself. Say it now. While they were alone, while he brought their night together to the forefront of his own mind. Say it now!

        I think I'm pregnant.

        The words stuck in her throat, too big and heavy to lift from her tongue, burning her lips with a power that would change their lives forever. Allister let her slide to the floor while they were still choking her, while her body was still flushed with touch and promises. She stood there in a flustered daze of emotion and sensation as he stole one last kiss and continued the preparation for their expedition.

        Madeira surfaced on the deck a few ticks after Allister, having had to take a moment to straighten her clothes and will her mind and body to cool down. But she arrived just in time to watch his quip with Jomi dissolve into a confrontation with a hissing, spitting, furious Otani.

        "Let him go!" Madeira demanded with a kick of fear, and lifted the bracer. The weapon burst into flame almost eagerly. Sickly green fire licked from fingertips to elbow as her arm seemed to disintegrate beneath it. A black, claw-like finger hovered over the trigger, but she didn't shoot. The Otani was standing too close to her bondmate, and she wasn't confident enough in her abilities to not accidently hit him.

        But it only took a handful of pounding heartbeats for the creature to let go of its hold and slither overboard. Madeira lowered the weapon and wiped sweat from her brow with her extinguished, once again whole and pale hand. Out of the ringing silence that followed another man stepped forward, a tall, rough, ocean-eyed man pulling a shorter, fiery redhead by the shoulder

        “We will come with you,” he said. She knew Enda and Tav, having lived on the same ship with them for far to long, but she wasn't sure she had ever exchanged more than a handful of words with either of them. Both were strong and sturdy looking, and while Tav was far too familiar with his rum, his people had a reputation for being good with their bows. Madeira excepted their help gratefully.

        "Thank you", she nodded, putting as much sincerity in her words as she could. "You two might just be the ones to save this whole ship."

        While they disappeared to prepare, Madeira approached her two allies. "Can you two try not to rile the creature that's trying to kill us?" she reprimanded the ghost and the kelvic with a low hiss even as she was tilting Allister's chin back and running her fingers over his pale neck and jaw looking for damage. "Think before you speak, for the love of the gods. Especially you, Jomi. Your big flapping mouth will get us killed and then where would you be?"

        Finally they loaded their gear into the small wooden boat that would take them ashore. Madeira looked down on the pitiful supplies and was hit with how truly, completely out of their depth they actually were. It was a relief when their two volunteers returned, looking much more worldly and prepared with their machetes and bows and ropes.

        "All ready?" Enda asked. Out of the two men he seemed to be the talkative one. Tav merely glowered with his golden eyes. Madeira looked between Allister and Jomi, and figured they were about as ready as they'd ever be.

        "We've got everything we need. Lets go", she climbed awkwardly into the boat and sat at the bow, rather selfishly assuming two of the three men would actually man the oars that would take them to shore. "Go on ahead, Jomi. Scout if you can but don't go far. You'd think a great, glowing bird would be easy to spot, but you never know." She did not relish being so close to the water where those things were definitely waiting below the surface, but there was not much the ghost could do about it if they did decide they would rather drown them.

        Moonlight shivered off the suspiciously calm waters of the bay as they glided to shore. A strip of silver showed the rocky beach with the dark mass of the forest sitting back like a crouching creature. Madeira shivered in her seat, wondering just what they had gotten themselves into.
        Image
        x
        Please forgive my glacially slow pace this month! I typically take August off from Miz, as this is an insane time of year for me, but this year I have too many threads open and I don't want to leave people hanging. I won't be taking on new threads as I work on keeping up with what I have.

        Thank you!
        ~Mads
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        Madeira Craven
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