Visionary Tales

IC => Fantasy => Topic started by: Kreed on April 30, 2019, 06:13:08 PM

Title: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on April 30, 2019, 06:13:08 PM
Archive http://archive.visionary-tales.com/medshock-alternate-rapture-t14271.html

At the prospect of snow, both elves shook their head in near unison. The smaller of the two women - the one with her hair dipped in clay - continued to prove the most talkative of the pair.

"I come from the deserts, east of Ondo Mura. We have no snow. Hardly any rain. It looks a lot like sand...it's hard to picture sand as cold, except the sand on the beach. That's often cold. But that's also a different sort of sand."

The shaved elf glanced sidelong at her companion, less than pleased. "Say sand once more", she clipped. Her partner caught herself, opened her mouth as if to speak, then shut it, smiling and looking toward Fulbeck to input. Her smile faltered back into the familiar Elvish deadpan with which the Thrains were becoming quickly familiar.

"...Oh yes. Because of the crop. No?"
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on May 06, 2019, 06:24:06 AM
"Deserts?" Joe frowned; he'd heard some of the veteran soldiers talk about being in a desert during the wars with Candela. They'd talked of the horrors of marching across a strength sapping land, with every step the sand shifting beneath their feet. A land so devoid of water that little life could survive there, it sounded like hell to Joe.

Forcing a smile, Joe shook his head.
"I can't imagine sand without water."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on June 03, 2019, 05:41:22 AM
"There is water, sometimes!" Said the painted elf. "Deep underground, or in the oases... but in the heat, sometimes it is difficult to tell. It  can be long stretches of sand but in the distance, with the air itself simmering and flickering in the heat, you sometimes will see lakes and oceans. The closer to get... the more they shrink. Until you find...nothing." Despite the ominous end to her sentence, the elf lingered with an almost too enthusiastic smile on her face, as though her description were meant to dazzle and inspire. Her smile only faltered when she noticed Tawny had forced herself to reciprocate.

Thunder pealed overhead in a long, low rumble that ebbed into a hum. The ship responded with a steady tempo of creaks and wooden sighs. The two elves looked skyward, toward the door from whence they'd come. After a moment, a flash of lightning lit up the bottom threshold, until a fellow member of the cabin quietly excused themselves between the group and stuffed thick linens in the bottom of the door's frame to keep the rainwater from dripping in with the rocking of the boat. The storm had fallen upon them...or, as they had sailed into it,  it was more correct to say that they had fallen into the storm.

The shaved elf turned and looked to Tawny and Joe, lips thinning not in unfriendliness but in carefully-churned-and-processed thought. "What was it like, traveling with Quicksilver?" She finally asked. It was clear it had been on her mind for some time, but that she had perhaps wanted to wait for an appropriate time to ask.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on June 27, 2019, 05:13:43 AM
"That sounds..." Joe shook his head with a shudder. "Horrible."

The senses taunting a thirsty man with images of water that simply was not there. It was pure torture. What seemed to make it all the more ominous was the bright smile on the elf's face; did she expect him to want to leave the ship immediately to go and visit such a desolate place?

"You will find our land quite different."

He turned to the other elf, frowning lightly at her question.
"What do you mean by that? Wasn't no trouble or anything."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on June 28, 2019, 01:18:34 PM
If the elf detected anything by the frown on Joe's face, she chose not to show or otherwise remark upon it. Beside her, her companion gave a little snort in half-humor, half-disbelief, an unsteady toothy smile flashing for a moment on her face.

The bald elf's head tilted slightly to the right, then back upright, as if she were swaying with a single wave. Yet her eyes revealed the cogs churning in her head.

"I didn't anticipate there being trouble. I wanted to know what xe's like."

"Xe?" Tawny, who had been politely listening along thus far, had found herself at a fascinating tidbit to ponder.

"Xe." The paint elf looked quite pleased with herself. "We don't have he or she in our language...so we just ... smashed it together."

"I forget that Thrains don't see Quicksilver in the same light", the bald elf went on. "It must be just like any other elf to you."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on July 27, 2019, 05:22:46 PM
Joe was glad that Tawny asked the question so that he did not have to. Like her, he had never heard anyone mention xe before. He frowned; it sounded like a strange elvish word indeed.

He paused before he replied, wondering if the two elves knew Quicksilver's true nature or not. Were they referring to the status as a sort of celebrity or as a demon in a kingdom that despises them?

"Just another elf?" He shook his head, smiling thinly. "I didn't really know much about elves before we even got here."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on July 31, 2019, 04:34:15 AM
The rain that rolled to the shores of Nambu to wish the party farewell was a guest that lingered for far too long. For that first night, thunder roared ferociously. By morning it had subsided to a disgruntled grumble, but for three days, a veil of thick slate grey clouds draped from the belly of the sky, thick and balmy. The air was constantly moist and dappled with fluctations of preciptation, teetering back and forth from mist to shower.

The saturation mattered little to the elves; it was, in their collective experience, only natural for the tail end of the monsoon season to be punctuated with a finale of a downpour. All things considered, this far offshore, the weather was decidedly mild. "The sea calms the storms", a sailor said to Tawny in passing, "back home in the savannah, the lightning would be turning sand to glass." Akuma, on the other hand, was nowhere to be seen.

The demon continued to be heavily absent until the fourth day, where the previous dusk's flaming skies fulfilled a promse of a lifting veil; the clouds began to part, and patches of a startling azure pecked holes in the blanket that had lingered for the past week.

"Look at the water", Tawny pointed out. Now that the weather was turning fair and the whitecaps lulled, the ocean water was no longer the same charcoal pit that it had been. On the contrary, there was a distinctive line in the water where two halves - one green and one blue- met at the hull of the ship and ran to the horizon, where it faded out of sight. "What is that? It's like...two different oceans meeting in the middle."

"That's precisely what it is."

Tawny turned to the familiar voice to find Hao Yan standing off of her right side, eyes focused on the emerging sunlight flashing every so often on the water. The rays illuminated the sea like glass, the water so thick the light seemed only to reach a few inches down with flecks of seaweed swirling in the calming waves.

Hao Yan glanced briefly at Tawny before focusing once more on the water. "It would account for the weather besides. We're halfway there now... I suspect soon it will start getting colder. See where the green waters of Nambu meet the dark waters of Thrain? This is where they meet. I suspect now would be a time where many of our people will be paying tribute to their patron deity as we cross over to the other side." The elf looked at Tawny now with full attention with an intensity that, while not unsettling, made Tawny alert.

"This is as far as almost all of us have ever gone."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on August 24, 2019, 05:02:27 PM
What had been a tightly crowded ship on the way out was markedly quiet on its return. Joe grimaced, turning away from the bunk room; he could no longer bear to look at the number of empty bunks that had been taken over by the elves that were travelling with them, filling the berths of men who would not be returning. There were far too many.

Joe felt awkward, and not for the first time during this voyage; he had somehow managed to survive, against all of the odds, yet he was a traitor to his comrades. He spent most of the voyage avoiding everyone else, finding it hard to look the others in the eye without wavering.

He would have felt better had he had something meaningful to occupy himself with, but the sailors had all of the key posts covered and, as someone who was largely untrained in seafaring, he was continually pushed to the sidelines.

The sea, something that was always so comforting throughout his entire life, now served as a stark reminder of how Balzerma would view his treachery. One night, Joe had been on deck, staring into the dark churning waves and he had almost thrown himself overboard. It had only been the memories of what the priests had said that had stopped him; Balzerma would not accept a traitor.

The alternative, however, was to hide himself in the hold, amongst those he was betraying. Truly, Joe did not know what was worse.

For everyone else, the mood was positive; they were heading home, yet more than that, they had been successful and were bringing elvish forces to fight alongside their own.

Trying not to think about that, Joe lay back on his bunk and tried to compose a letter home, using the cypher that he had been taught.

A call from on deck sounded sharply; Joe could not hear the order himself, but he could not deny the commotion that it had caused. Frowning, Joe hid his piece of paper back into his pack and set down his quill, hurrying up onto the deck.

"What's going on?" He caught a sailor's arm as he hurried past.
"There's a sail on the horizon. Deorsa."

The sailor pulled his arm out of his grip and continued on his way, running to the front of the ship. Joe's eyes widening, he hurried over to try and see for himself, but it was hardly a clear day. Even shielding his eyes from the sun, he could barely even see the ship himself, without a chance of identifying it.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on August 25, 2019, 03:01:59 PM
Joe Fulbeck was far from the last sailor roused from his bunk; many passengers, elf and human alike, had come topside to spot the only other point of interest on the sea. It was mere moments before the king had emerged from his cabin, clearing his way across the deck with long, purposeful strides and a cloudy expression to rival the overcast skies.

"Where is Shankland?"

There was no verbal response but the way parted for the elf and he made a beeline for the newly appointed Captain with visible restraint. His body was tense, ready to engage at the call that may or may not shortly come.

"This ship...can you see from here if it's a trade ship? It's possible it was sent off before our declaration of war reached them."

"That's not our problem", Akuma piped up. It seemed even he, who had avoided the water like a cat with the madness, had been drawn to the deck in the concern over the enemy ship. "Enemy ship is an enemy ship. I'd sink them."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on September 07, 2019, 03:45:50 PM
Shankland snapped his spyglass closed as he turned to face the elvish king. Perhaps he was daunted by the foreign monarch and the swathe that he carved through his men, but if he was, the young captain tried not to show it.

"I'm not surprised that we'd meet another ship, not in these waters, but that sure as hell isn't a trader vessel."

He held out the spyglass to the king.
"See for yourself. Those oars. Flying the colours of Deorsa. Her prow's built up, like a ram."

He shook his head grimly.
"They won't have heard about our plans, not yet. It takes time for news to travel this distance. I doubt they've even heard that we came this far."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on September 08, 2019, 03:45:29 AM
The king had but a brief look in the spyglass. It didn't take more than a glimpse to know that Shankland spoke the truth, and with sharp elven eyes, it took Umi even less time.

"I'm unfamiliar with Thrain ships but I don't suspect it takes a naval architect to see it's built for combat."

"All the more reason to sink it where it floats", Akuma spoke up again. Umi's thin lips were pressed thinner still in a disapproving purse as he looked over his shoulder toward the demon. His adam's apple twitched in an irritated swallow. His voice, when he spoke, was far less revealing.

"As I understand, many men were lost on this journey. I don't see reason to lose more." He looked toward Shankland. "I don't know what you intend to order, Captain, but I trust that we would wish to be cautious with all things considered."

"To be cautious would be to drown the bastards now", Akuma pressed. His voice scraped to an edge like a blade on whetstone. "The only reason they'd be out this far would be to cause harm to Andrean or to Nambu."

"But how would they know to attack?" Tawny asked. "Even if they were after us and not after the elves, they'd have to know we were out here."

"Unless Deorsa's troops knew ahead of time", Akuma replied. "Our departure was not discreet. Any fool with a view and two good eyes would have seen Andrean's flags on the sea. Word may have well spread well before we reached Nambu."

"We can theorize all day", Umi said. He turned back toward Shankland, temple bulging with a tight jaw but relaxing when his eyes settled on the newly appointed Captain. "Captain, I trust your judgment whatever it may be..." The elf drew up to his full height, but his shoulders slumped. He was, by all outward appearances, again at ease. "But what, pray tell, might that be? I stand ready to assist."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on September 20, 2019, 07:39:47 AM
Shankland cast his eyes over the group that surrounded him, elven king, demon and humans. He could see Mara approaching, a worried look on her face. Mara might be the leader of their forces on land, but on the water, he had the final say over their actions.

They could debate for hours on whether the Deorsa vessel had known that they would be there or was just lucky (or unlucky for that matter), but Shankland knew that he had to make the decision immediately.

"Prepare for battle."

The moment the order was given, it was repeated loudly by the sailors close by, word spreading rapidly across the ship. Each man sprang to his post, readying the sails to bring them about.

Archers ran to the side of the ship, preparing for when they would be in range.

"We have to watch that ram. If we're in her way when she strikes, we'll be in trouble." Shankland nodded at the king. "Do your people have anything that could assist? Whilst our arrows are still out of range?"
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on September 22, 2019, 03:50:54 AM
Akuma tried not to look smug as Shankland gave the order to go on the offense, and fortunately they were a master of emotionless expression. The king, it seemed, did not mind hearing the order from the Captain's mouth nearly as much as he had from the demon. He inclined his head in a quiet bow of respect before turning to watch the sailors. He was visibly impressed with their readiness to respond. He and Tawny briefly locked eyes as she moved past, donning her bow and quiver with an enthusiasm that suggested she had grown very restless over the past fortnight of travel. She exchanged thin smiles with Akuma before moving into position; how dull being at sea must have been for such a meek creature to leap at the chance of battle.

Umi turned back toward the Captain and nodded in response. Despite himself, an almost devilish smile crept onto his face. "Do we ever? Hold fast, Captain." He turned heel to assess his audience. "Mages at the ready! One between every archer. Others, take defense on bow and stern." In an instant, the elves aboard scrambled, and half the ship's passengers suddenly left the middle of the deck as though it had spewed toxic fumes. Hands raised, and a rumble of murmurs from the Nambuvian people readying their arsenal flowed out like ripples over the ship, spilling over the sides like the distant sound of drums.

There was a gleam in the elf king's eye as he looked to the Captain once more, arms folded in satisfaction. "How do fireballs sound, Captain? Or perhaps you had something else in mind?"
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on September 27, 2019, 02:08:13 PM
As the crew sprang into action, Joe held back, knowing that whilst the archers and mages all around him had the ability to strike from a distance, he would have to wait until they were side by side before he could even think about an attack. He tried his best not to think about the conflict of loyalties posed by that ship; he had, after all, been ordered by his own superior to attack Deorsa's men to perpetuate his position.

Not far away, he heard Captain Shankland discussing tactics with the Elven king.

"A fireball or two will do nicely, your highness."

Joe frowned; that was a worrying thought. On land, it was possible to escape a burning building, but on sea, it would be almost like out of the frying pan and into the fire.

"I'd suggest the sails first." The Captain continued. "We might not cripple her, but we could slow her down before she has a chance to bring that ram towards us."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on September 28, 2019, 04:03:23 AM
A couple of well placed fireballs...yes. That was easily done. It would save many a mage all their energy in case they needed to prepare for a real assault. Umi smiled and bowed lightly as Captain Shankland gave his orders. "Aye, Captain. It shall be done."

The king turned heel and moved to toward the crowd waiting on the side of the ship. Clearing his throat, he made eye contact with a olive-skinned female elf with her wiry black hair full of feather and beads. She stood at the ready, taller and perhaps more assured than many others though a great number of the Nambuvians seemed poised for battle. Umi appeared to relay his orders to her, for she immediately turned and began to bark commands. Like oil to water, the elves split the crowd in half, allowing two to come forward to the centre.

The two elves turned to face one another, and - like a reflection on the water - moved in perfect time to spread their legs shoulder width apart, drop their hips, and outstretch their arms so that their palms pressed together. Their comrades around them quieted to a respectful murmur. The couple's eyes did not leave one another's faces, and one by one, their backs stiffened and their chests swelled with deep breaths. Unexpectedly, no powerful sound burst forth from them, but a soft, steady percussive stream of hot air and syllables began to spill from their lips like a warm brook. Their voices began to swell and rise with a darkness that swam through the air like a serpent with notes agile and flickering. Following the movement of their sound, between them, the air began to ripple and shimmer with heat. The pace of their words picked up as did the fluctuations of their volumes and notes, in a series of runs before their voices raised to nearly a shout, before suddenly dropping to a whisper. At once, a bright little flame appeared and danced between its creators.

"Beautiful", Tawny whispered. Many others were silent. She could not take her eyes off the display, transfixed.

Back and forth in tandem, the elves leaned in and whispered heated words to the flame in a steady, complicated rhythm. Fed by their encouragement, it swelled and swirled with brilliant orange and gold until it was larger than a horse's head. The elves separated and turned to face the ocean, but each held out one hand as if tethered to the flame on a lead. Their song leaped back and forth between them in a furious, but controlled duet. As they sang, they swung the flame between them, back and forth, slowly at first, and each swing deeper than the last until, finally, they released a deep, short primal note from deep within their guts and flung the fireball forward. As if it had a mind of its own, it arched beautifully over the sea and splashed onto the mainsail of the Thrain vessel, saturating it with amber and tendrils of black smoke.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on October 07, 2019, 04:23:33 PM
The air was filled with tension as the sailors and the surviving soldiers watched the elves flow into action. For the vast majority, this was the first time that they had ever seen an elf cast a spell in the face of battle and they watched in an uneasy silence.

The display was indeed beautiful, but at the same time, it was dangerous and deadly and Joe found that, even though he'd seen elves cast before and had even faced them with the Tanuki attack, it was still something very alien to him.

He told himself to relax; they were, after all, working on the same side, for the moment, at least.

As the other ship nearly steadily, her oars cutting into the water. Joe could see the crew running across the deck, readying weapons no doubt. Yet it was unlikely that they knew what they were sailing into. Poor bastards.

There was a hush over the crew as the fireball finally soared over the waves and slammed into the enemy ship, her sails catching immediately. As the magical fire landed, the human crew raised a shout of triumph. What had seemed like a bleak journey now had a chance of victory on the horizon. Joe, however, remained silent, watching the panic unfold.

Immediately, the enemy ship wavered on her course, her sailors scrambling to hold her steady and put out the fires before they engulfed her completely. Yet despite that, they were still in danger of striking them.

Shankland called out to the helmsman, ordering the wheel to be turned a few degrees and the two ships coasted past each other. They were now within range and arrows flittered through the air from both ships. Joe kept his head down, but he knew damn well that it was luck that dictated who was struck and who was not.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on October 11, 2019, 02:52:54 PM
Luck...or magic. Fulbeck seemed to forget that the elves used defensive magic just as readily. As the ship was brought around, Akuma was heard over the din, barking out orders in both languages to raise shields and ready arrows. The Nambuvian king's booming voice shook the surface of the deck a moment after, and six or seven elves sang out, raising their hands to the sky. Like a fountain with arching water, from each pair of hands a liquid sheen of magic cascaded out and bloomed over the heads of many. Each elf produced a different shade of blue or green, like polished stained glass.

"Get under the shield!" Hao Yan commanded to bystanders. Tawny scrambled right away to find herself under the safety of one of the various circles surrounding her. With Joe busy trying to keep cover in the chaos, he wasn't able to watch his step. When the volley of arrows from the Thrain ship came cascading down, Akuma stepped forward and pulled the man under the rim of the shields above them with a firm, sudden yank on the bicep. Where the man stood moments before, a small grouping of arrows buried their heads into the surface of the deck.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on October 21, 2019, 10:24:21 AM
Joe stared at the arrow, its head buried deep into the wood not far from where he now stood. Breathless, he moved back beneath the shield, giving Akuma a nod of acknowledgement.

He could feel the crackle of energy around him, tingling against his skin, feeling as if the air itself was alive with magic. It was a strange feeling, one that he found to be deeply unsettling, reminding him of that awful night in Moruth years ago. How much control did these mages have?

The ship loomed close to them, much larger than their own ship was. Joe could see the sailors and soldiers running, hurrying to put out the flames before they spread to the rest of the ship. Already, the main sail was in tatters, flaming tendrils dropping down to the deck below.

Faintly, Joe could hear Shankland's voice, rising above the tummult, calling a course change. The ships moved closer still, the oars splintering between them.

The order came to board, grappeling hooks thrown over to bind the two ships together. His sword in his hands, Joe surged over the edge, the others along with him.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on October 28, 2019, 03:18:21 AM
There it was...the order to board. No more need for elaborate spells and communal magic; now, they fought steel-to-steel. Had they earth beneath them, Akuma would have surged forward at the front of the line, but now he delayed. Around him, men and elves alike moved in a smooth, surging current, jumping seamlessly from deck to deck like flying fish leaping from one whitecap to the next.

Akuma's legs rooted themselves to the deck and refused to move. Could they hope to bridge the gap, or would their own weight pull them into the swirling maw of the ocean? One wrong move and they would go overboard, clawing fruitlessly at the sides of the ship while they dropped like an anchor?

"Quicksilver." Beside him, Umi grunted, snapping him back to reality. Akuma glanced over, eyes narrowing and lips twitching into a quick scowl. He tore his eyes back to the front and center. He knew well what the king would say, as did the king for him; there was no need to speak further and drag out the painful shuffle around one another in a half-hearted attempt of comraderie. He needed to jump or get out of the way. Before he realized what he was doing, his feet made up their own mind. He turned and moved around the straggling few still jumping across and disappeared below deck. He could not let himself be seen failing to jump ship, but he took solace in the knowledge that - should any of Deorsa's men dare to cross - he would be waiting with a nasty grudge.

Umi waited only a moment further as the demon descended and vanished behind the final wave of soldiers jumped ship. With an irritated sigh, the elf moved to join them, vaulting over the side of the ship with the help of his glaive. As he landed, he slammed the blade into the nearest enemy's foot, soaking up the blood like a sponge before dragging the man roughly forward. The sailor cried out in surprise and was yanked to the floor, soundly hitting his head on the deck before he was silenced by the blade of the glaive to the neck. All at once, his corpse shrivelled like a mummy and the glaive glowed red with lifeblood, breathing as though it were a log full of embers. Without Akuma alongside him, this was going to be a tedious and very gory affair.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on November 10, 2019, 05:50:32 PM
They surged across the deck in a vicious wave, slicing out at the enemy ahead of them. Men cried out as they fought, but to Joe, it felt as if their sounds were lost in the general tummult.

The air was heavy with the smell of smoke, with tendrils of burning sail cloth raining down on the fighters below. The shouts and screams of both sides, combined with the clash of steel on steel; it was so loud, Joe's ears were ringing.

Joe didn't dwell on who he was killing. Despite his earlier worries and guilt, he found it was almost too easy to simply let his instincts take over.

He ducked, feeling the air where his head had been stir with the force of a blow that threatened to take his head off had it landed. Yet the swing had been so wild, the man had left himself wide open. Joe did not hesitate to take the opportunity, slamming his sword deep into the man's gut. His mouth opening wide in wordless shock, the man sank to his knees. Planting his foot onto the man's stomach, Joe gave a heave and tore his blade back out, letting the man's body slump to the deck.

With the elves fighting alongside them, the tide of the battle turned to their favour. With the officers dead, the enemy soldiers surrendered, their weapons dropping to the deck.

"Check the hold." Shankland growled. "Dig the bastards out."

His feet slipping in the blood, Joe followed him, through the door and down the steep wooden steps to the hold. Most of the crew had been on deck for the battle, but they found a few men scattered here and there and they were dispatched without trouble.

Rounding the corner, Joe found himself heading down yet another steep set of steps, ending up deep in the bowels of the ship. As Shankland flung open the sturdy oak door, Joe was hit with a stench so foul, he almost lost his breakfast right then and there.

The oarsmen sat at their benches, staring up at them with hollow, hopeless eyes. They were pitifully thin, shackled hand and foot to their oars. Where the two ships had clashed, the oars had splintered and one man sat slumped, bleeding heavily and Joe realised with a jolt that he was still chained to the oar that had impaled him.

"Sirs, I surrender." The guard raised his hands, dropping his sword. Joe could see the whip tucked into his belt and once more, he felt sick to his stomach. Without hesitation, he cut the man down.

Joe grabbed the keys from the guard's belt and began to unlock their chains, but the ship was taking on water at an alarming rate.

"Come on." He muttered urgently, talking more to himself than anyone else. As he worked on the last row, he had to reach beneath the water level to release them.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on November 22, 2019, 01:24:02 PM
The elf-king was unsure what Shankland meant, but he followed the wave of soldiers down into the hold. They were hit with a wall of horrific stench, a rich combination of many bodily functions rolled into one. The realization was quick to sink in deep; this is where they had kept their slaves.

Umi's eyes grew wide in surprise. The empire, of course, had slave labour from their prisoners of war - anyone that refused to surrender and join was made to work for their freedom - but it wasn't like this. These men had no chance to escape, were not fed properly, or given proper breaks. The sight of Joe cutting down the guard snapped him back to reality and he advanced forward.

"Fulbeck, that man surrendered. His death was senseless."

"Let's debate the life of a cruel man once his victims are free", Tawny responded. Her expression toward the King was chilly, but she didn't linger on the matter. Instead, she chose to focus on leading the skeletal remnants of the crew up the stairs and out of harm's way. Others lingered, biting their nails as Fulbeck worked on freeing the remaining prisoners. There appeared to be no other keys in the vincinity and there would be no time to look. They could simply wait and hope their comrade could work swiftly enough to save them all.

Umi's eyes swept the shrinking room for a solution before settling on the man run through with his oar. It was a nasty wound and the fact that the man had continued to cling to life was miraculous, but in vain. That was a wound no healer could mend... not without the man living a shortened and painful life of pain and disability. That was, if the starvation and exhaustion didn't kill him first. The elf cleared the floor and made his way to him, lowering himself to meet the man's eyes, milky and unfocused. His face was contorted into a grimace.

"An...elf." He whispered incredulously. He might have spoken through girtted teeth, had he many left.

"You cannot be saved," Umi whispered, "but I can end your suffering and use what remains of your lifeforce to free the others."

"Let me die...I'm already so cold... let me die."

"I am sorry." Umi stood and placed a gentle hand over the front of the man's skull. The prisoner smiled faintly and relaxed in the elf's hand. With a deep inhale and a stretching of his spine, the king increased his grip and - with a sudden movement - wrenched his head backwards. A deep red glow flowed briefly from the silent man before he slumped over. The glow lingered and pulsed up the length of Umi's arm, occasionally crackling and charging the air like electricity. He turned suddenly and swept his hand over the final row of prisoners, and their shackles suddenly fell open. Umi turned to the watching soldiers.

"They are free. Help them upstairs."

There was no hesitation and the men urgently moved the assist. Umi waded through the surge of prisoners and troops to close the gap between Joe and himself. "The man that sacrificed himself... your people are buried at sea, yes? How do I leave him with dignity?"
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on November 26, 2019, 06:00:23 PM
Joe's hands shook a little as he worked on the chains. He did not allow himself time to react to what either Tawny or the elf king had said, neither did he dwell on what they were doing; there was work to be done and he was in a position to get it done.

He looked up at the strange feeling of magic returned, his eyes widening at the red light that seemed to come from the unfortunate man. What was going on? Then the shackles that he was holding flew out of his hands, the prisoners all released.

As the elf king approached, Joe could only stare at him with his mouth wide open.
"I..." At first, Joe was not sure what the king was actually asking him. He stared at him for a moment, then he blinked, seeing the man's dead body slumped over the oar.

The king was right, they could not leave him here, not like this. Silently, Joe nodded and crossed over to him and he stooped, hefting the man's body up onto his shoulder. By now, the water was up past his thighs and he waded to the door, climbing the steps.

The man had been so thin, the dead weight of his body felt like barely that of a man.
The deck of the sinking ship was pandemonium, with Shankland directing his men to herd over the freed prisoners, keeping them separate from those captured from the enemy ranks who were disarmed and sent straight to the brig.

Joe carried the body of the dead prisoner back to their own ship, leaving the bodies of their fallen enemies where they lay. Even if they had tried to recover those bodies, there was simply not the time, for the galley went down in mere minutes. As they drifted away, the deck was already below the surface of the water, with just the tattered remnants of her mast and sails jutting up.

Gently, Joe lay the body down, beside the few of their own crew that had died during the battle and then he turned away, feeling a wave of bitterness washing through him. He clenched his fist, slowly releasing it as he exhaled. But he could not afford to simply stand by and let everyone else do the work; keeping his head down, he headed over to where Mara was stood, checking over the wounded.

"What do you need done?" He muttered hoarsely. Mara turned sharply, staring at him for a moment in surprise, then she nodded.

"Fulbeck, get me some clean fresh water. If we can't heal them immediately, then we need to get their wounds clean."

Joe obeyed immediately, working tirelessly at Mara's direction.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on December 08, 2019, 09:32:21 AM
While in the days prior the rain had seemed to be a burden, now it had presented itself as a gift in disguise. The rain barrels were full up with water no older than two or three days. The wounded would have plenty of fresh water not only for their injuries but also to parch their throats in a way that wine would not. As the crew returned aboard and the wounded were assessed, a very tall, thin elf approached Mara's side and gave a light bow. She was pale, with high, sharp cheekbones and black almond eyes. Her feathered robes held a faint sheen and thrummed with a quiet magical energy, and the bone beads on her obi clicked together as she moved.

"The Sun-Prince has requested I assist you in healing the fallen", she said. "I am Crowstep. I await your orders."

Not far from where Crowstep and Mara stood, several Thrain men loosely huddled around the body of a fallen elf -- it was, for them, the first time they were given the dilemma sending off one other than their own. How would they be respectful to their new allies by giving the soldier a proper burial?

"I don't think they send em off on the water like we do, Bill... I heard they tend to burn their dead."

"Burn them?" Bill spoke with a quiet shock which registered on the faces of the others present. "Ungodly! How could they?"

"Somethin' bout mixing the ashes and using it to grow a tree or...I think that was it. I don't quite recall the details per se. I was only half listening to be honest with you."

"Well here's what I figure", spoke a third man, after some deliberation, "The Empire's a bunch of tribes smushed together anyway, hey, so how do we know they all do the same thing in the first place? They can't all burn their dead -- in that bloody rainforest? No way. Too wet. So how's about--"

"Ah... I knew there would be at least one..." Umi sighed as he stepped closer, looking over the body of his countryman. He glanced between the men, who gave the king wide berth and questioning stares as he moved past them. He knelt before the elf and his hand found a small pocket sewn into the inside of his leather jerkin. Umi's hands came away with light streaks of drying blood and a small, smooth stone. He turned it over in his hand and noted the carving -- a fish like creature with a monkey's face -- before putting the stone back into place. He rose to his feet and faced the men.

"Our soldiers carry a stone with a marker of their tribe. We then know who and how to honour in death." There was a pause, as he scanned the faces of the men. "I will handle it. Thank you."

It seemed to be the dismissal they were looking for, and - relieved - they moved on to care for their own.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on December 09, 2019, 04:09:12 PM
Joe set down the pail of water, looking up as the elf approached Mara. Crowstep. By the look of her, she was aptly named. Bizarrely, Joe found himself wondering which came first, her name or her style of dress. But there was no time to dwell on idle thoughts.

Joe went straight to work. He kept himself well out of the way of both Mara and the elf, leaving the worst of the wounded to the magical types, whilst he cleaned the wounds of the others and tried to make them as comfortable as possible.

"Take a break, Fulbeck."

Mara almost made him jump, laying a blood stained hand on his shoulder. He shook his head.

"I'm fine." He muttered, rinsing out a bloody rag.
"Fulbeck." Mara's voice hardened, despite her obvious fatigue. "I need you at your best. Get some rest."

Joe sighed, setting down the rag. He made his way up the stairs to the crew quarters but his bunk had been taken. Of course it had, taken by someone who needed it, along with every other spare bunk in the room. Without complaint, Joe turned and headed out.

He eventually found a space, out on the deck, tucked into a little cubby hole by the entrance to Mara's cabin. Sitting with his knees to his chest, he leaned his head on his knees and exhaled slowly.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on December 11, 2019, 03:32:55 AM
"Trouble?"

As easily as Akuma had disappeared in the middle of the fight, they had emerged once more. The demon found himself standing in front of the human soldier who - for most of the trip - seemed to have avoided him.

Akuma supposed he couldn't blame Joe, though, given their last few encounters. Fulbeck was probably still convinced he was going to be turned in for retaliation for their argument over racism right before departing.

"I heard what you found."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on December 14, 2019, 04:55:57 AM
Joe raised his head as Akuma spoke, blinking up at him with tired eyes. He did not reply immediately, but let his head fall back against the wall behind him as if he did not even have the energy to hold his head up properly.

"Ain't no trouble." He grunted, his voice hoarse with fatigue. "It's done."

He grimaced; he didn't want to talk, didn't want to do anything but sleep, but every time he closed his eyes he just saw the same view of all those men chained down in the dark depths of the galley. Alongside that image was the memory of the stench that had come with it, of shit and blood and death.

"It's done." He repeated quietly, although in his mind it was everything but done.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on December 29, 2019, 04:12:31 AM
For a man who said it was no trouble, Joe seemed to be very, very troubled by what he had seen. He wouldn't have fooled anyone, least of all Akuma, who had come to read him practically by rote.

The demon titled his head just slightly, lips pursing and a soft, short contemplative hum stirring in his throat. He did not move from his place in front of the human and folded his arms loosely over his chest, hip titled just slightly to hold his weight to one side. Eyes scanned over the blond man's face, soft but critical. Akuma was quiet for some time before he spoke again. He was debating whether to mock the man or to leave him alone. He settled instead on a third option.

"That is a heavy burden to bear for a man who is already weighed down by a very big secret."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on January 10, 2020, 04:41:08 PM
Burden. Joe looked up, grimacing. Burden was the right word, that was for sure. It felt like a crushing weight on his shoulders, dragging him down. Now that he had finally allowed himself a chance to sit down and make an attempt at rest, the thoughts had begun to twist around in his mind.

So much torment, horror and suffering. Joe felt sick to even think that someone had stood by and allowed such acts to happen, let alone carried them out directly. For so long, he had fought for his king and country, giving his all for a land that had taken him in and sheltered him, claiming him when his birth family had abandoned him. Joe's grimace deepened; his feelings right now felt like a betrayal, after everything Thrain had done for him.

He looked up once more, aware that the demon was probably expecting an answer of some kind, yet there he was sat staring stupidly.

"Not the best of company right now."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on January 19, 2020, 08:12:15 AM
Not the best of company? It took a great deal of willpower for Akuma to bite his tongue. It was not within his regular practice to seek out Fulbeck, for example, if he desired insightful and titillating conversation. Instead, the demon smashed the temptation to be sarcastic and attempted to hastily remould it into something resembling a more constructive comment. There was no reason both of them had to be unyielding, frigid arseholes.

"It...did occur to me by your expression that you were not best equipped for conversation, yes." The struggle to speak with a modicum of decorum was cleaer as day on his face...at least, as far as Elvish expression tended to go. That is to say, for a human, it was still cryptic at the most melodramatic of times.

"Still, I must acknowledge that you have a limited number of confidants that are privy to your particular dilemma. Despite our differences...I feel obligated to offer you an ear." A beat. He cleared his throat and gave Joe a once over. The man had made it very clear he was not in a place for dialogue. Just as well, for Akuma wasn't certain he wanted to engage anyhow. This presented an easy out. He turned to leave, drawing himself up and giving the human a final glance.

"When you are ready."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on January 19, 2020, 09:10:58 AM
Joe snorted faintly.
"Not like there's much difference. "
He frowned at the demon's choice of words. Obligated. That didn't really suggest that he actually wanted to listen.

Joe shook his head.
"I just... need to sleep."

He paused, frowning. From time to time, the demon had produced strange smelling potions and salves for a wide range of ailments. Every time, Joe had politely declined.

"Kuma..." He cleared his throat awkwardly. "Got anything that might help?"
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on February 02, 2020, 03:48:59 AM
The insistence of sleep, Akuma initially assumed, was a means of avoidance and dismissal of difficult conversation. It would have been very much in character for Joe to stop short of any growth and dig in his heels. The demon could not conceal its surprise, however, when the soldier advocated for help. This was most unprecedented. Between Fulbeck's pride and the pair's tendency to hold each other at odds, Joe must have been truly desperate to seek Akuma's assistance - and out loud as a direct request, no less! It was an active effort not to comment on the request; here, the man was willingly putting a vulnerable side of him on display. It would not do - if they were to get along - to nip at a fresh wound quite so eagerly as instinct beckoned.

Akuma quickly recaptured his expression and reined it back into something next to neutrality; the only deviation to be seen was a slight furrow of the brow, either in concern or a sign of active listening or thought. He hummed once and gave a single nod. "Yes. It will take a moment to brew and a moment longer still to steep...but I know of a tea that is quite effective."

He paused, eyes scanning Joe's face before his head tilted slightly. "I will meet you in the cabins once I've gotten someone to boil me some water. It would do you well to prepare for sleep and settle in so that it's at its most effective."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on February 03, 2020, 09:16:57 AM
"In the bunk room?" Joe shook his head wearily. "I've just bloody been from there, haven't I?"

"My bunk's gone, yours too. I ain't about to turf out one of those though. They need it more than I."

He rubbed at his eyes, shaking his head once more.
"No, forget I asked. I'll make do here." He gave a tired smile. "Thank you all the same."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on February 09, 2020, 04:00:22 AM
Oh no, there would be no asking for his help and then turning him away once he offered. That wasn't how Akuma operated. He shook his head as Joe changed his mind. There would be no brushing off the demon now.

"Much too late for that." And it was, even though he'd had yet to lift a finger to help the bastard. "I said I would, and now I have to. Stay put if you must, but you'll be hard pressed to come into anything remotely resembling a fair sleep with all the noise on deck." He was off again, with the quick, careful pace with which many elves also seemed to move.

It was perhaps five minutes or so before the demon reappeared with a canteen and a small case. He settled on his knees in front of where Joe was seated, opening the wooden box to reveal several labelled bags of dried herbs and similar matter, as well as a mortar and pestle. Wordlessly, Akuma measured out his first ingredient: a root, of some sort, small, fibruous, and a pale red-brown in colour. He laid it gently in what might have been cheesecloth in a decidedly very small amount, before moving on to his second ingredient. This was an item similar in colour, but larger in size and cut in thick c shaped curls. Faintly, the markings of darker spots on the outside of the dried exterior could still be made out. This was, doubtlessly, some type of bark. At least, it was until the demon promptly ground it down into a coarse powder before, too, adding the dust to the cloth. This combination, he tied loosely in the cloth and let it steep in hot water, which began slowly but distinctly rich brown.

"This will help you sleep. Once it steeps a few more minutes, I'd recommend sipping it slowly. Its effect isn't immediate, but it can be quite potent."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on February 13, 2020, 06:07:13 PM
Joe opened his eyes wearily as the demon returned. Frowning, he watched the careful process, recognising exactly none of the ingredients.

"I'll just have to take your word for it." He accepted the cup, sniffing tentatively at the contents, yet of course, he could not identify the smell either. It was, surprisingly, a quite nice aroma lifting up from the cup as the brew steeped, reminding Joe of being in the woods just after it had rained.

"Stuff brought back from Kaiten I assume?"

Glancing up at Akuma briefly, Joe turned back to the cup and blew on the liquid gently, cooling it a little before he took a small sip.

"Knowing my bloody luck, it'll probably have the opposite effect on a human and keep me awake all hours."
He managed a tired smile. "At least it doesn't taste too bad."

"Thanks." His smile seemed a little more genuine. "I reckon I'm best staying out here, out of the way. I don't think there's anywhere else to get a bit of kip. Shanks might object to me stringing up a hammock though."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on February 18, 2020, 03:47:37 AM
"Valerian root is actually in Thrain", Akuma said. He remained on the floor, resting his weight on his shins watching while Joe took his first tentative sip, and snorted in faint amusement.

"You know it's medicinal, yet you treat it like a delicacy." Compared to the way Fulbeck tended to put away food after a day of training, it was an amusing contrast to say the least. He shook his head and began at last to put his things away. "You should put something over yourself, like a sheet, so you don't get burned in the sun, and to block out the light."

Of course, coming to Thrain, there was little sun to speak of, but for Akuma, even a small amount could be unbearable in a few hours' time on the open water. He slowly stood and inclined his head in a short, shallow nod when the human thanked him. "Give it time to do its work."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on March 06, 2020, 02:16:00 PM
Joe shrugged tiredly; he was a city boy through and through, how the hell was he to know about herbs?
"I know about horse medicine, not human."

Despite his fatigue, he wasn't too tired to listen to sense. He'd originally had his coat balled into a makeshift pillow, but with a faint grunt, he shifted his position and shook it out, pulling it over him like a blanket.

***

The sun was low down when he finally awoke; the movement of the ship had changed, with a far steeper incline of the waves than before. Grimacing, Joe pulled himself to his feet and stretched, feeling a pop of joints.

After a moment to gather his thoughts together, shaking off the initial disorientation after sleeping for so long, Joe made his way back below decks, ready to get back to work.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on March 18, 2020, 02:39:57 AM
"I don't imagine it being much different." A smile tugged at the demon's lips, but he made no effort to elaborate. He watched Fulbeck get comfortable before stepping back. "Sleep well."



"Is this the yarrow or the calendula?"

"What's the difference?"

Akuma and Tawny sat on their knees near the injured. Between the two of them was Akuma's wooden box of herbs, and Tawny held up two unlabelled vials, one full of blue liquid and the other a light amber.

"Yarrow is blue", Akuma said, "and it's an astringent. The calendula is to help with bruising, minor burns, and superficial cuts and scrapes. It has to be mixed into a tincture and heavily diluted."

Tawny frowned and set them both aside. Neither seemed appropriate for the scorched limbs of the elf that rested quietly on the cot before them, breath steady but deep with discomfort. Her green eyes narrowed in thought, brow furrowing as she poured over the contents of the box while the demon calmly looked on. Eyes bounced between a few options before gradually dancing between two choices. After a moment's deliberation, Akuma spoke up.

"Noemti'ae raiti'oez."

Tawny met his eyes and he smiled faintly, subtly tapping the compartment where a small jar of broad, still green leaves was kept.

"Our word for it is mountain lettuce," he watched as Tawny picked up the jar and opened it, giving the contents a tentative sniff before examining the leaves inside, "but I believe your people call it--"

"This is chicory-bastard-on-the-ridge." Tawny gave a quiet snort. "I didn't know it could be used for burns."

"Apply honey first, then wrap the leaves around the burn with gossamer. The combination takes the sting out but keeps the moisture in, so the skin doesn't crack."

With a grunt, Akuma moved to stand and stretch his knees before moving on to the next patient. Tawny's hands moved for the jar of honey - one among many of the supplies carefully placed in the wooden box. Both paused as Joe appeared below decks. Tawny smiled in greeting, a sunny contrast to Akuma's simple grunt and nod. 

"Glad to see you upright", Tawny said.

"Have a nice nap, Fulbeck?"
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on April 24, 2020, 03:37:11 PM
"All right." Joe spared them both a grim nod. He felt a touch of guilt at sleeping for so long, even though he had practically been ordered to by Mara.

"Still waking up." As if to prove his words, he rubbed at his eyes.

"Ahh, Fulbeck." Joe turned at Mara's voice and he headed over, ready to follow orders. Mara looked even more tired than he had been earlier.
"Excellent, here, hold this for me."

The mage pressed a bucket of water into his arms, waving away his concern as she directed him towards a group of the released slaves.
"Go on, start cleaning wounds."

From the looks of it, all those who had been at death's door had been healed, but there were far more wounded than what could be healed by the mages in a single day.

"Easy, mate." Joe muttered as he moved the clean the back of a man. The poor sod twitched as the clean, cool water touched his skin and he turned, staring up at Joe with wild eyes. He grabbed hold of Joe's arm with a grip that was surprisingly strong.

"It's all right, mate." Joe grimaced, trying to break his grip as gently as he could. "You're safe."
"Who's flag do you sail under?" The man whispered hoarsely.
"King Andrean." Joe replied, without even a moment's pause. "You're safe now."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on May 08, 2020, 01:20:52 PM
"I see."

Akuma smirked faintly and Tawny giggled quietly before turning back to her work with her chicory-bastard-on-the-ridge. The demon was less eager to return to work, having been at it for some time. He gave the blond an amused once-over, eyes lingering on his mussed hair.

"You sure you're awake?" His smirk widened and his tone a humoured turn. "You're almost endearing half-asleep."

Any banter was disrupted at the arrival of Mara, and Joe was turned away and put to work. Akuma stood slowly and followed the mage's stride, matching her pace before intercepting, calm but with a maternal softness to his voice.

"You've been working hard." He reached out lightly, putting a friendly hand on her shoulder. "You should rest a moment yourself. Our healers have done what they needed to. Traditional medicine should be adequate for the remainder of our wounded."

Tawny was quiet as Joe worked, waiting until he had gotten the soldier under control before joining him with a faint smile. "You have good bedside manner", she said. "I wouldn't have guessed." Being as gruff as he was, picturing the soldier as a decent medic was a bit of a stretch. If she'd not witnessed it herself, she'd have expected him to be much more cut and dry.

"Do you want to learn some elvish healing tricks Quick showed me? No magic involved. Just plants and stuff. It's not too much different than cooking in a way."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on May 21, 2020, 05:18:01 PM
"King Andrean?" The man's eyes widened. "He's a king now?"
"Aye." Joe muttered grimly as he finally managed to free himself from his grip. "Like I said, you're safe."

He looked up as Tawny approached, rinsing out his blood stained rag.
"These people deserve..." He trailed off, turning bleakly back to his patient. They deserved some semblance of decency at the very least.

"Yeah." He muttered, answering Tawny. "If it works."

But after the sleeping potion he'd taken, he knew that this had a good chance of working.

***

Mara paused, glancing at the demon.
"There's still so much to do." She whispered, but even as she said the words, she knew that Quicksilver had a point.

"I understand." She relented, shaking her head as she exhaled. "I'd be more use having had at least some sleep."

Mara nodded grimly.
"I won't be long. If you need me, come and find me."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on May 25, 2020, 05:12:54 AM
"Aye. I'll make a point not to need you," Akuma said. He smiled faintly and put a light hand to her shoulder. Giving Mara a light squeeze, he spoke softly so that only she could hear, watching closely for her reaction. "You deserve a break. Take advantage of the voyage while you can. As soon as we reach land, Andrean will have you put to work again." He released the mage and allowed her to go, turning back to his fellow soldiers just as Tawny frowned lightly in thought at Joe's response.

"I think it works", she said. "The elves have been practicing for thousands of years, and that's in spite of all of their magic. That has to count for something, right?"

"Of course it works," Akuma scoffed as he rejoined them, eyes flitting toward Joe as he spoke. "And what do you use in Thrain, with no healers and no herbal remedies? Do tell."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on May 31, 2020, 02:10:28 PM
Mara returned the small smile, leaning in to hear what the demon was saying.
"Alas, you're probably right, but I find I'm best when I'm active. When I try to take a break, there's a part of me that insists there's something wrong."

She nodded.
"Well, I'll be on my way. Thank you."

She turned and headed out to her cabin, glad of a little peace and quiet.

***

"There's healers and herbs, just..." Joe relented, glancing up at the demon briefly as he worked. "They don't usually have magic."

He turned back to his patient, rinsing out the rag and cleaning the wounds gently. He didn't want to talk about that sort of thing right now, not in front of so many injured, but back in Thrain healing was by no means a certainty. Infection was a serious killer. Duelling was largely frowned upon, but Joe had heard tales of men sticking the tips of their blades in a dung heap on their way. If they lost the duel, they at least had a chance of killing their opponent a few days later from a bad wound. Herbs be damned, if the infection got you, you didn't have a chance.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on June 02, 2020, 03:57:19 AM
"Magic is fine, but it's a drain of personal resources," Akuma said. "Some can't produce any at all without taking the life energy from somewhere else. Counterproductive in the art of medicine. Alchemy has a steadfast position in the realm of healing."

Not to mention poisons. It was no small fortune that the demon had gone unscathed. One small cut in the wrong place and he would have been incapable of tending to the injured. Such unpleasantries, however, were solely hypothetical. It wouldn't do to dwell on them.

"Tawny", Akuma turned their eyes onto the young woman. "You should take a break too. I know that fight took more out of you than you're letting on."

Tawny paused and glanced down at her current project, a poultice spread out on a wide leaf wrapped about a deep gash with a bit of twine. She looked for a moment as though she might protest, but slowly stood and nodded. It was though she had finally taken a moment to realize her own exhaustion.

"Yes, I'd like that, I think. Better I be at my best." She smiled between her two comrades before settling on Akuma. "You should too, Quick. You've been at it all afternoon."

"Aye, when I'm ready. I won't push myself too far."

Tawny gave a final nod to each of them before allowing herself to wander off, stiff from her long period of time on the floor beside the wounded. Akuma turned to look at Joe, silent except for the breathing of their fallen. After a moment of deliberation, the demon spoke up.

"We should talk about what happened in Kaiten. The duel."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on June 02, 2020, 04:52:25 PM
Even though Joe was thankful for the change of subject away from the obvious flaws in Thrainish medical practices. he frowned as his demon companion mentioned their duel on the docks, just before they were due to sail.

Joe grunted as he turned back to the patient.
"It was hardly what I'd call a duel."

To Joe, a duel was between two, or more combatants, fighting over some slight or other. The intention to kill was important, and along with it, the attempt to leave at the end of it with both honour and life more or less intact. Although he had been sure that the demon was going to kill him, he realised in hindsight that his life had not been in danger. His honour, however... well, that had been in tatters long before.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on June 14, 2020, 07:53:30 AM
"Indeed", the demon said coolly.

Akuma's lips pursed in thought, and he turned his eyes away from Joe. He focused on an irregularity in the floorboards beneath them, eyes hidden behind thick, white lashes as he thought carefully about his response.

"I'm sorry."

It was with some reluctance that Akuma admitted his mistake, particularly because Joe himself had not been quite so apologetic given his own multitude of shortcomings for the duration of the trip. The demon sighed as he continued, looking down at the human with a soft frown playing at his features.

"I was only somewhat angry with you, because of the discussion of race the day before. But...I realize that it put you in an impossible situation, where you were afraid to out me." His expression softened, brows relaxing and eyes clouded with something that might have been a dull, deep ache if one looked closely.

"You know what it's like to have so little agency. I must have made you feel like I did in that moment, knowing what I know about you." He paused, considering his next words carefully. They weren't easy to say. "I suppose in that moment I felt...vulnerable and I lashed out at you because you were the easiest target at the time. That was wrong."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on June 17, 2020, 05:50:04 PM
Joe frowned at Quicksilver's apology, but it was not a hostile expression, more of one of genuine confusion.
"You don't need to apologise for anything. It wasn't exactly the easiest of times for any of us. More so for you. It ain't a situation that I can even imagine being in. Not really."

He set down the blood stained rag, looking at the demon steadily.
"I hope we can both put our differences behind us." He smiled thinly. "We both need all the allies that we can get."

Yet Joe knew that he meant himself more than anything. Quicksilver had allies aplenty, but Joe had only one person that knew the truth of what he was. He could not afford to have that person against him.

"I'm sorry." He spoke softly words that he had often been taught were signs of weakness that could be exploited by others.
"I should have chosen my words better. They were insensitive."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on July 04, 2020, 04:55:48 PM
Akuma wasn't sure what sort of response he was expecting from Fulbeck - resistance, perhaps, or an argument in his defense - but an apology wasn't it. Even more shockingly, he seemed to express genuine sympathy for the demon's situation, and a true understanding that he'd never had the personal experience of being in his place. He made no attempt to hide his surprise, brows raising for a split second before he cleared his throat and glanced away, thoughtful as he chewed over Joe's words and considered his response.

"I..."

He paused, feeling himself become a bit frayed at the edges under the earnest, unwavering gaze of the human. It was rare that Joe had allowed himself to be so open, and Akuma found he wasn't wholly prepared for the intensity of his candor.

"You are forgiven." It was difficult at first, but each word came more easily than the last until the acceptance poured out in something too-smoothly delivered to be a crash.

"I must learn to put aside my feelings. I'm not happy about the way our trip to Nambu went, but I suspect King Andrean will be very pleased. For now, I've taken up his flag, and if he is satisfied by my effort, then I suppose I should be as well."

He shook his head. "That has nothing to do with you, of course, this is...a personal matter. I should know better than to try and get you involved as a punching bag. It's poor leadership...and poor friendship." He forced himself to pull his gaze back to Joe, jaw setting not with annoyance, but with a shaky determination when faced with obvious uncertainty.

"That is, assuming we are friends."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on July 25, 2020, 03:25:03 PM
"Aye." Joe nodded. "The king has his allies. He'll be pleased all right."

He gave Quicksilver a sidelong glance.
"I bet you thought you'd never return there. This cannot have been easy."

"Course we're friends." Joe confirmed it with a nod. Truth be told, he felt more than a little awkward at the entire situation. He turned away, hoping to brush aside his vulnerabilities.

Joe paused, glancing around the room to see who was in earshot before he continued, no elves, fortunately. Even so, he lowered his voice to a whisper.
"So what if they find out? You know what I mean." He grimaced. "You won't be able to hide it forever. All it takes is a stray blade on the field, another fight breaking out down the Frog. Is it really going to be that big of a deal to them?"

"Listen to you, whispering sweet nothings to each other."

To Joe's surprise, it was their patient who spoke up, leering at them with a grin. Ordinarily, he would have told the bastard to take a dive, but, given the circumstances Joe let it slide. He picked up the bucket of dirty, blood soaked water and carried it up onto the deck to tip it over the side.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on July 29, 2020, 12:52:09 PM
Akuma couldn’t readily respond to the comment about his homecoming; he was thrown by this change in behaviour. To an outside observer, this small comment would have been unremarkable, but the reality was that it held a deceptive amount of weight, and begged the demon to respond with a degree of vulnerability that - until that point - had not been eagerly presented. After a moment’s deliberation, of course the shift made sense; if Joe was truly choosing to betray Deorsa, there was no longer a reason to assume that any attempt at friendship was a futility. If they were now firmly established allies, the barricade intentionally erected between them could begin to come down.

“I did,” Akuma admitted haltingly. “It’s my home. Banishment can’t take it from here.” With a closed fist, he lightly pounded his breast above his heart. “I knew I’d return, but...not so soon.” He lowered his hand once more. By his expression - of what could be read - he was conflicted over his emotional response to the whole thing. He’d only just left Nambu the first time; the wounds were barely scabs when they’d been ripped open and bleeding again, and now ... the king was here. A frown played at his lips. He was a cur on a leash, his captor a taunting mere inches away from his vengeful fangs.

His eyes met Joe’s as the man leaned in and spoke softly. He told the truth, no doubt. They would find out eventually. What the human failed to understand were the consequences. He shook his head lightly.

“It’s not that simple,” he murmured back, “It’s—“

Their patient spoke and the words died on his lips. Akuma swallowed hard, glancing from the wounded soldier back toward Joe, colour rising in his face and darkening his cheeks to a dusty blue-grey. He cleared his throat and stepped aside, allowing Joe to pass. Perhaps this wasn’t a conversation best had among others. As the man passed, the demon looked toward their patient with a scowl.

“Some stones you’ve got on you, teasing the ones keeping you alive.” He was half joking, but the heat of his tone betrayed his embarrassment.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on July 30, 2020, 05:15:53 PM
For the rest of the voyage, Joe spent his time working below decks. Perhaps it was a way of making up for where he had come from, without telling anyone else. Perhaps it didn't matter why he did it, just that he did it. He shrugged off any praise that he received from Mara, feeling deep down that he did not deserve it.

He slept when he could, curling up in whatever space he could find on the overcrowded ship. Fortunately, they were not far away from the shores of Rothrim. There were birds in the sky that normally nested on land; their presence alone was enough to lift the spirits of the men. When the call came from the crow's nest that land had been sighted, there was a resounding cry across the deck; men cheering for a land that, at times, they weren't sure if they would ever see again.

Joe stood up on the deck, watching the small dark line on the horizon get steadily larger. He wasn't sure if he could share the feeling of the rest of the crew; once they were on land, he would have to face his actions and his decisions.

Elves stood amongst the humans, eager to get their first glimpse of this strange land. Joe was reminded of how it had felt to be the strangers, sailing to a new land. A few hours later and they were pulling into the docks, men throwing lines to those on the shore and pulling the ship fast.

A crowd had gathered as they disembarked, women and children ready to greet their husbands. Shouldering his pack, Joe headed down the gangway along with the others. In the crowd, he recognised a young woman, looking hopefully up at them. Sara, the poor girl who had fallen for Madigan.

Joe stopped beside her and with his heart in his mouth, he shook his head.
"I'm sorry."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on August 15, 2020, 02:15:18 PM
One-Who-Is-Stable descended from the dock, a female elf with thick black plaits over her shoulders who stood, broad-shouldered and well muscled, between her king and the rest of the crowd. Her round, olive face was etched with a small, discerning scowl, bright honey-colored eyes scanning the faces of the pale humans that awaited them. No exceptional announcement or ceremony was made for the arrival of the king - at least, not yet. As the monarch's shield-kin, she would wait until the all-clear to make his presence known. For now, for all the Thrains knew, he was merely another face in the crowd.

"Do all humans look the same?" she muttered over her shoulder before glancing toward the king. "They're all so...pale, and dirty."

"It's a group of mercenaries, Is-Stable," Umi replied, just as discretely through the corner of his mouth. As his eyes scanned their waiting allies, he smiled. "Nothing wrong with a man with a little bit of dirt on his boots."

"But is it wise to throw in our allegiance with them?"

"Probably not from a strategic standpoint. Not remotely." He turned his head to look at his taller companion, who put her hand on the handle of her mace and shifted her weight to one side, eyes narrowing in silent judgment. The king's smile widened. "The right thing isn't always the easiest, Is-Stable."

Whatever response she might have had died on her lips, as she turned and focused on the families which came to greet the Thrain soldiers. Most peculiarly, it seemed many of the folk they now supported were poor and downtrodden, if the appearances of their few welcomers were any indication. It seemed that the war thus far had been unkind to them, or perhaps the unkindness was what brought about the conflict to begin with. It was hard to say, from her limited perspective.

Akuma passed the pair, quietly descending down the ramp with their back laden with heavier supplies which they lifted by makeshift rope straps over either shoulder. Whatever was in the two large wooden crates they hefted easily down from the ship, it was certainly no large effort for them.

As they crossed one another, Umi turned and looked toward the demon, shifting his weight so that his lips met their ear with an ease that detracted from the weight of his question.

"Do you remember when you waited for me to return from my campaigns up north, just like that?"

"I'm sorry, I seem to have forgotten in my grief of being banished from my homeland." They gave the king a chilly sidelong glance and did not slow as they passed. Their words had come far too easily. It stunned Umi, and he cleared his throat as a retort stumbled loosely around on his tongue.

Before he could reply, a woman's cry rose softly above the rumble of passing soldiers. A few heads turned to watch, but many continued about their way, as surely it would not be the first distraught sob they would hear that morning. Many had gone to Nambu. Few had returned.

Tawny, however, was one of the onlookers that recognized the crier. Trained marksman's eyes sought out the source of the sound and found Sarah before an uncomfortable Joe, and the ranger's chest fell in a quiet, pained sigh of sympathy. She pulled her eyes away and sought out Hao Yan; she knew the elf had grabbed Madigan's helmet when he'd fallen. She knew precisely who was meant to have it.

She weaved back up to the ship, where she saw the woman quietly organizing a rack of ingredients before sending it down with the small group of alchemists which were to supply the king's men with potions.

"Do you still have Madigan's helmet?" Tawny asked.

Hao Yan did not immediately respond, carefully placing a glass vial of some dried, indiscernible plant matter into its place with a faded label before she drew to her full height, calm eyes falling on the human.

"Of course," she said.

"I know who it goes to."

The elf, ever organized, took but a moment to locate the man's dented helm among her modest collection of items before following Tawny down the ramp. The pair quietly made their way over to Joe and Sarah, not wishing to make a scene, but wanting to make haste.

"Sarah", Tawny spoke up. Her voice was hard to hear above the noise of the crowd around them, but she maintained a gentleness to her tone with a sisterliness that could likely not be delivered by many other soldiers present.

"...We thought... you might want this."

Hao Yan was silent as she offered forth the helmet, eyes downcast and arms outstretched as she lowered herself in a slight bow. Losing her Ack-Tor was an immense loss for her, but she could not dare to compare it to the loss of a partner. It was a deep sadness that she did not know, except that which was on display for her to see when it could no longer be contained.

Tawny reached out, gently touching the woman's arm. "I know you are hurting... You are welcome to remain with me. We will see to it you are safe."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on August 23, 2020, 01:41:33 PM
Joe stepped aside, giving Browne and Hao Yan room to talk to Sara. He nodded gravely as she took the helmet; his eyes focused on the dent in the side of the metal. It did not look like much, but it had been the blow that had knocked Madigan to the ground.

Sara looked up at Browne, the tears already beginning to flow. She pulled back, suddenly fearful, her lips trembling. Joe realised that without Madigan, the mercenaries around her were suddenly a fearful crowd.

"No, wait. It's not what you think." Joe reached out, hoping to catch her by the hand, but he was too late. Still clutching Madigan's helm, Sara ran through the crowd disappearing in the ever expanding throng.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on September 02, 2020, 02:38:26 PM
Without the cultural understanding of her fellow humans, Hao Yan moved forward to pursue the fleeing woman, but Tawny lightly took her wrist and held her in place. Hao Yan froze in shock, turning to stare in disbelief toward the human woman who dared to touch her, though she didn't seem angered in the slightest.

"Sorry", Tawny said as she released her. "Best not go chasing her now; she's got a lot to think about, and a place like this - for a Thrain woman - it's a very dangerous and often unforgiving place."

"How so?"

"Thrain is...particular about the roles filled by its men and women", Akuma said as they approached. Their voice as quite, and their expression somber. It was a sad thing to admit, but best to let the foreigner know what she was likely in for. If Akuma was right, many soldiers would be undergoing a serious adjustment period. "A mercenary camp... it's not a safe place for a lady."

"I think she suspected I was a man", Tawny added. "Which... I could see the issue there."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on September 04, 2020, 03:52:13 PM
Joe watched Sara flee through the crowd, clutching the last memory of Madigan with her.
"Poor girl."

He turned back, catching the intensity between Hao Yan and Browne as the human let go of the elf's wrist. He frowned, wondering what had just go on between the two.

"Quicksilver is right." Joe grimaced still further as the demon spoke up. "Mad was respected enough to mean that no one tried anything against her, but now, well, she's in a pretty bad situation. She can't go back to her family, but she sure as hell can't stay on the camp by herself."

"I'll go check on her."
He shifted his pack into a more comfortable position and he headed out towards the mercenary camp.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on September 14, 2020, 10:44:26 PM
The small group was quiet as Joe departed, their eyes following him while all feet stayed firmly planted where they stood. When the blond disappeared into the crowd, Hao Yan slowly turn and bounced her gaze back and forth between Akuma and Tawny with visible confusion -- visible for an elf, in any case.

"I don't understand", she said, as though it weren't clear to see, "That woman ran from us because she thought Tawny was a man. But Joe is most certainly a man, and he chose to pursue her. How is this not counterproductive?"

"Joe is familiar to her as a friend," Akuma answered. Their eyes briefly met Hao Yan's, but primarily focused on where Joe had disappeared. Their expression was unreadable. "He and Madigan, her lover, they were teammates and decent friends as I understand. She would not percieve him readily as a threat."

"A wise woman might still", Tawny countered. She shifted the weight of her bag onto her hip and adjusted the strap around her shoulder. "It's the men that are closest to you that tend to take advantage. They know your vulnerability. Know they've gained your trust. If Sarah is smart, she would remain guarded even if she welcomed the comfort of a friend."

Akuma frowned lightly. She made a fair point. "You don't think--?"

"Fulbeck isn't that sort of man."

"That was the furthest thing from my mind," Akuma nodded lightly before briefly looking a final time after where their comrade had disappeared, "It wasn't that. I..."

"Ah, you wonder if he fancies her." Tawny snorted.

"No", Akuma said, too quickly. He grunted and shook his head. "It doesn't matter what I wonder anyhow. He'll take care of her." He looked between his two female companions, human and elf, and gave a decisive nod. "Let's go set our cargo aside for the crew to handle and seek out Mara. I suspect the court will want a report, and Andrean is unlikely to know that the Sun-Prince has decided to join us."

"Aye. Fair enough," Tawny said. And so, they set about finishing their current tasks before seeking out the mage and leader of their expedition.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on September 26, 2020, 11:25:16 AM
Mara approached the elven king, smiling.
"Your Highness, welcome to Rothstone, the largest city in Rothrim."

She gestured to the town beyond and the quickly gathering crowd.
"Come this way, please. I'll show you to the castle where you will be staying. I've sent word to inform King Andrean of our arrival. I am sure he will want to meet you once you are settled in."

She spotted Browne approaching.
"Mr Browne, go find General Jorritsma. Make sure he knows we've returned."

Jorritsma would have to find space for the elves to set up a camp of their own, without infringing on either the mercenaries or the town.

***

Little seemed to have changed in the town since they'd been away; there was still the fish market and the well shrine and Joe made a note to go back and give thanks for their safe return, if Balzerma decided to accept it or not.

A few of the mercenaries had emerged from their tents and stood waiting to greet Joe and the others as they climbed the hill. Eldritch pushed his way to their fore, a big grin on his face. He clapped Joe on the shoulder, but Joe could not find it in him to celebrate his return. Feeling somewhat empty inside, he merely nodded.

Sara was nowhere to be seen, not even hiding around Madigan's tent. Joe grimaced, but he could not blame her. The poor girl had nowhere to go; she could hardly go home, but without Madigan, she would be in danger the longer she remained here. Unless she chose another mercenary with enough rank and standing to hold back the others. Joe grimaced at the thought, but it was the practical answer.
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Kreed on October 11, 2020, 01:25:48 PM
Umi turned to Mara with visible surprise. For an elf, that said a lot. "You mean there is more than one city?" Beside him, Is-Stable uttered a hybrid between a cough and snicker. The king shook his head and quietly proceeded down the ramp.

"No need to settle right away. I would rather get pleasantries out of the way."

The elf fell in line beside the mage, with his shield-kin closely behind. "Between you and me, once I get comfortable, it takes a village to get me back out of my room. Best we handle all formalities now. ...He was not aware I was coming, was he? I...realize that was very short notice."



Tawny made her way through the crowd and on to the path toward Jorritsma's tent. She found it somewhat difficult, given that she was moving against the current, but her arrival was overall uneventful. Fortunately, she found the man halfway down the trail, and she knew that he would know at the sight of her that they had returned.

"General!" Browne greeted the man. "We have brought troops. ...The elf King is among them."
Title: Re: New {M}edShock
Post by: Jabbathejack on October 24, 2020, 02:27:38 PM
"Yes." Mara kept her voice calm and level as she tried to ignore the obvious slight from the king's bodyguard; they obviously had a lot of work ahead of them.

"They are much smaller towns, but still of some note." Mara continued as she led the way down to the quay. "Glenweald to the north and Bordertown to the east, although Bordertown's allegiances are somewhat mixed."

It felt strange to be on dry land after spending so long at sea. Mara felt as if the ground was still rising and falling gently just as the ship had done. It was most peculiar.

"I had no way of warning them of our return and of how successful we were. For all they know, we might have returned alone."

***

"Mr Browne." Jorritsma's smile was genuine as he saw the young man approach. "It's good to see you."

His smiled broadened at the news.
"Thank Balzerma." He clapped Browne firmly on the shoulder. "We had fears that you might not return at all. She did it."

"We'll be having a feast tonight, no doubt. Celebrations in honour of our visitors."

He headed down towards the dock, ready to meet their guests.
"Come on, lad, fill me in then?"