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New {M}edShock

Kreed · 11 · 228

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Offline Kreed

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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?"
« Last Edit: May 28, 2019, 04:23:02 PM by Jabbathejack »


Offline Jabbathejack

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"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."


Offline Kreed

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"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.


Offline Jabbathejack

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"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."


Offline Kreed

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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."


Offline Jabbathejack

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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."


Offline Kreed

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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."


Offline Jabbathejack

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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.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2019, 02:22:29 PM by Jabbathejack »


Offline Kreed

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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."


Offline Jabbathejack

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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."


Offline Kreed

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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."