Tales of Glory and Valour: the Seafarers Main RP Topic

She was beginning to hear voices, in a good way. Evidently Alexis’ following of the very impromptu path through the forest so graciously cleared away for her by ms.i-don’t-wanna-give-you-my-last-name Ari had been quite fruitful. Although looking upon the scene that laid before her she was starting to regret that. The sight the young having had of an entire side of his body being burnt to a crisp by her magic was almost sickening, but something in her screamed that she had seen much worse in her past.

“What’re we thinking we do with him?” She asked aloud to no one in particular as she scanned the group for Dolphus.

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Dolphus had done his darnedest not to look like he had been profusely crying, but even with the mask rematerialized over his features, Alexis could probably identify the redness hiding under his lids as coming from only one thing. As he approached, the situation reared its ugly head once more, and Dolphus could not act fast enough to stop his tongue.

…But given what he intended to say, did he even have any motivation to?

“He’s still alive.” There was a determination hiding under his voice that had not presented itself during the voyage, seemingly choosing now of all times to become apparent. “We have to take him to Mariner.”

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Ari laughed out:
RA-HA-HA-HA! so the kid wasn’t lying about the giant squid! What a strange crew you are!”

It felt extremely refreshing finally talking to someone who didn’t seem to try to hide anything, who wasn’t secretive or reserved. This Karl fellow seemed to be completely upfront and friendly, almost to a suspicious degree. But she was happy to talk to someone who at least wasn’t suspicious of her.

“Speaking of your destination, where are you heading?”

The mysterious person heading in their direction turned out to be the ship’s Not-Quite-Captain Alexis. Ari’s mood that had just started getting better, dropped once again once her eyes met with Alexis’s.

She didn’t want to admit it, but she felt unsettled by someone with the power to cook people alive at will. All types of magic Ari was familiar with were nasty, but this one was particularly disturbing.

The fact that the woman seemed to be visibly upset did not make things better.

“That’s what I wanted to ask you. You seem to be the one in charge of things here, after all, Captain,” Ari narrowed her eyes, “looks like your magic fried the guy’s brains. He was spewing some nonsense about restoring the king or something just now.”

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Alexis winced internally at the title of captain; she had yet to win the vote, and being referred to as such might cause resentment among the crew if she was not sworn in as such. She didn’t move to stop the notion from spreading, however.

Alexis produced a quick hummed tune as she contemplated what to do next. “We should take them aboard for now; we’ll decide as a crew what to do with him.” After a short moment she spoke again, her expression a tad more anxious. “I will say that the faster we get off this rock, the better. His people will be sure to look for him once they see he hasn’t returned.”

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Ari didn’t respond with anything but a slight nod, and continued moving towards the ship. Walking past Alexis, she threw an unfriendly glance at her. She felt extremely cautious and distrusting about this magic user, now that she knew what the woman was capable of. Once again, she looked at the marine’s horribly burned side and frowned at the sight.

“Magic is such a nasty thing…”

It didn’t occur to Ari that she voiced her thought out loud. The words just escaped her mouth without her realising it. The marine’s disfigured arm fully occupied her attention.

Ari stopped in her tracks and responded, without turning back to face Alexis: “I doubt anyone would be looking for him. He seems like dead weight that they wouldn’t care much about losing, but I’d rather leave this place as soon as possible.”

She was still afraid that somebody might have been sent after her when they found out about her escape. And now that the sky cleared up and the seas calmed down, reaching her became much easier. It’s not like she couldn’t deal with whoever was sent after her, but explaining that encounter to this crew would have been a pain in the back, so she needed to be quicker about it.

“I’ll get to repairing your keel as soon as I can. After that, when the water rises, we will be off.”

In response to that statement, her stomach growled again. It would sure be nice if I get to eat something before that though…

She waited for the kid to catch up to her and addressed him with a smile, which was frankly quite weak compared to her usual ones:

“So we’re off to see this Mariner guy once again, huh? Is he the doctor here? Maybe we’ll finally be able to reach him, for once…”
(@Ghid)

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Alexis didn’t respond to the remark, only looking at the man’s melted off arm with the same horrified reverence. There was a reason she was so vigilant with keeping this aspect of her in check, so fast could a power like this go awry. But by far the worst part of her using her magic was the instinct with which she wielded it. For so long she had not known her past the sensation that followed with the use of her magic was all too comforting. She shuddered at the echo of the feeling. she had always felt so close to her past, just within reach of it when she let the fire magic flow through her. It felt as if she pushed herself just far enough into the fire she could touch it, learn who she truly was before waking up on that beach.

“One of the many reasons I’m not a Caelin.” She said as she shook the recollection from her head.

“Much appreciated, you’re welcome to any supplies we can spare.” Alexis responded almost absently as she kneeled next to Dolphus. “Cmon kid, let’s get going. When we get back to the ship you can tell me all about our new friend.” Alexis stressed that last word of course. she didn’t want to trust the newcomer just yet, but with the state their ship was in she didn’t have much of a choice.

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The conflict in Dolphus’ face as he finally caught up with Ari was readily apparent. The sharp expression from Ari darkened his brow for a moment, but the disgust with magic immediately cleared it. Alexis’ affiliation with the cursed thing was a revelation he was still processing how to cope with, and the emotional closeness that had once been projected onto her was loosening its grip a touch.

Of course, it would take a lot to divorce him entirely. But more than anything else, Dolphus felt despair at the sensation, as the goal of finally being able to connect entirely with her seemed to slip further out of reach, with the impenetrable bulwark of magic rearing its ugly head between him and the only remnant of his mother that remained.

But what else can I do? Who else…

Dolphus opened his mouth.

“DEAD?!” Alexis bellowed, smashing past Ari as she set her fangs on the crumpling Dolphus in fury. “You let him DIE?! That’s just as bad as committing murder!! How many other wretched souls have you put below the soil, you horrible child?!”

“I-I-I-I-” Dolphus stammered, but to no avail.

“I think we’re going to hold a trial here and now!” Alexis pulled out a gavil and handed it to Mariner, who stood behind the bench with a threatening air. “Do you have anything to say in your defense before we find you guilty and have you keelhauled? WELL??”

He slowly closed his mouth again.

Dolphus’ lips parted yet again as Alexis knelt down; in spite of everything that had happened he was still perfectly malleable in her hands. And yet there as an impossibility in what she was asking - to tell all about Ari would be to throw himself to the mercy of whatever Mariner had in store for murderers. He would undoubtedly be tried for the same gruesome act that Ari had committed.

What if she talks? What if she mentions my wing, or explains how the marine broke his back? Or what if-

No. He swallowed. Hard. There’s no way. She wouldn’t do that. She couldn’t. It’s not in her nature. I know her well enough; she wouldn’t.

He would have to play the game, the same one he’d been playing almost since he was born. Alexis could be told later, after he had grown close to her, overcome any obstacles - yes, even the acursed magic - but Ari had to get to safety first. Had to be ingrained within the crew - had to become vital.

“Yes,” Dolphus blinked out something resembling a nod, “right,” and with an adjustment of his collar he swiftly marched along towards the ship, not quite processing that Ari had deliberately slowed her pace to allow him to approach.

It was more important that he restrained the water which had suddenly built up behind his eyelids.

Dolphus looked up as Ari spoke with parted lips and wondering eyes, then looked back down without answering, his brow crinkling with distress. He had heard her perfectly fine; he wanted to answer, but the feeling of his heart being slowly sliced in two held his tongue and dared him to try speaking without something horrible happening.

Alexis was her, after all; no question about that. But Ari’s hand was still on his shoulder.

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Ari didn’t notice the emphasis that Alexis had put on the word “friend”, nor did she realise what that emphasis entailed. She simply took her words at face value, as always.

She simply nodded in response. If the kid was going to be the one telling their story, maybe everything would work out.

Ari let out a sigh of relief. So the kid was going to talk to Alexis. Her wellbeing would be in his hands once again. He’d already saved her by talking his way out of the situation in the forest, so what prevented him from doing it again?

Most importantly, she didn’t have to tell her version of what had transpired in the forest. Of course, she wouldn’t reveal the kid’s secret. She gave him a promise. But she couldn’t lie either. It was simply not in her nature. She was always extremely upfront with the way she spoke, and she wouldn’t be able to change it even if she wanted.
So, lying wasn’t an option, but neither was telling the truth. Were she questioned about the events of her meeting with Dolphus, she’d just seep her mouth shut. She wouldn’t say a single thing no matter what happened. And, if things escalated, she’d simply resort to using her fists.

It was a good thing that the boy was going to be the one to tell that story. She had no choice but to put her trust in him once again. He could certainly come up with something clever and believable, after all talking seemed to be his specialty…

But what if he ratted her out? What if he blamed everything that had happened on her and painted her in the worst light possible in order to save his back? Well, she’d have to resort to the one thing she knew how to do really well: punch her way out of the situation like she always did. That method didn’t have the highest rate of success, but it didn’t particularly concern her. It was all she knew.

Ari scoffed at that thought and forcefully pushed it out of her head. She really wasn’t herself today, she was thinking way too much. It wasn’t healthy. Ultimately, she was going to rely on whatever her heart told her. And right now it told her to trust the kid.

ultimately, one part of her didn’t change after all these years. She was way too quick to trust and get attached to others…

Ari’s eyebrows lowered at Dolphus’s lack of response. Were she in her usual mood, she’d flick him on the forehead or poke him in the cheek for ignoring her, but there was too much on her hands at that moment. That included a half-dead marine. Too much had happened today, Ari wasn’t in the best mood, and neither was the kid, so striking up a conversation wouldn’t be possible. She had no choice but continue walking towards the ship in awkward silence.

As they returned to the beach, gradually approaching the vessel, Ari noticed the bandaged man standing at the shore. Next to him, stood the ghost sailor from earlier. Ari couldn’t help but feel the tiniest bit of relief at the notion that Mako didn’t die after everything that had happened to him.

Passing by in the distance, she yelled out, addressing him:

“HEY, BANDAGES, YOU STILL ALIVE!?”

She remembered that she’d dropped off her weapon not far from Mako when she went chasing after the soldier. She’d need to retrieve it after she puts the marine down somewhere… and potentially after she gets to eat something…

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To his credit, Dolphus did hide the effort it took to compose himself after popping directly up into the air in response to Ari’s suddenly bellowing, adjusting his collar in proper fashion and smearing his mask back across his face as he corrected his hair. I seriously have to start reading Ari better or this is going to keep happening. My knees can’t take much more of this.

Of course, he still owed his knees a serious debt for the amount of strain they had been put under already - perhaps he could start paying them back with dedicated rest once they were off again?

Yeah right. Soon as I get comfy there’s going to be some other kind of outrageous incident, like TWO giant squids fighting over who gets to eat me first.

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Normally, Ari would have found Dolphus’s reaction rather amusing, but her mood had become quite grim after everything that’s transpired. Way too many things were on her mind, and that clearly showed on her face, which looked a lot less lively and quite tired now. She yawned in response, exposing her unnaturally sharp teeth [OOC: the teeth were originally just supposed to be a stylistic choice in the drawing, until Ghid directly referred to them in one of his posts. Ari’s sharp teeth are canon now, so feel free to react to them accordingly].

“Calm down, kid. There’s nothing to be scared of… everything that happened to us today, it’s over now. Once you board your ship, you’re safe, ain’t that right?” An uncharacteristically tired and weak grin appeared on her face.

She looked back over at the ship. At this point, they came really close to it, so she could see it in great detail now, better than ever before. Almost instinctively, her eyes started examining the hull of the ship, with a blank expression. She wasn’t mistaken, the crew really did a decent job with all the cosmetic repairs on the ship. And she could finally assess the damage that had been done to the keel to the full extent. It was just as bad as she initially thought, but, seeing it up close, she finally got an idea how she could fix it.

As her eyes followed along the side of the vessel, she noticed a plank that had been laid between the main deck and the shore. Snapping out of it and realising that it was not quite the time to think about repairs just yet, she walked towards the plank. It looked sturdy and was quite wide, so Ari confidently stepped onto it. It creaked under her weight, which was quite big by itself, combined with the weight of the marine, but there was no sign of it snapping. She continued walking up, making sure to be careful with the man she carried in her arms, until she reached the top. Turning around, she waited for Dolphus to catch up, and gestured him to lead the way with a nod of her head.

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The mask was much colder on his face than his streaming tears had been, and the silent expression sent in reply towards Ari was fairly neutral. But her yawn had been exceptionally dangerous just then, and the rings under his eyes seemed to darken in real time as his eyelids began to grow heavy.

The kick of adrenaline he had expounded in the forest had been his last. Now it was only a matter of time; Ari had saved him from complete emotional disintegration, but the lull of sleep was rearing its unstoppable head once more.

No, not sleep. Dolphus blinked as he looked away. I’m bordering on absolute exhaustion. I sure hope my body can keep itself breathing while I’m asleep.

Dolphus hesitated to ascend the plank whilst Ari was on it, but eventually clenched his jaw and stepped forwards. As Ari set both feet on the ship, the board straightened, almost tossing the much lighter Dolphus off, but he threw his arm out for a split second and kept himself upright. Adjusting his collar, he finished ascending the plank until he was on deck, and gave a microscopic nod to Ari before marching forwards.

The surprised glances of the few honored dead on deck both disinterested and inspired Dolphus at the same time. Instantly in his mind the visual appeared of a dozen or so of the ghost sailors with ropes traveling the sea floor and slowly drawing the Caelin’s Hand out of the shore once the tide came in, and in his ears the imaginary mutterings of those around him questioning why he was still alive.

Not how, but why. And it was with a sigh of relief that Dolphus spotted Mariner, glad to have his existence cut off that unnecessarily resentful train of thought before it could properly begin.

His hand motioned behind him for Ari to wait once they reached the foot of the steps. Somehow the tired, sagging form of Mariner with his back to the pair was more ominous than when he towered over him inside his cabin, back when Karl arrived.

What do I mean, ‘back when?’ It was yesterday. Or today. Or…

What day is it again?

He could feel his chest heaving as he ascended the steps on the left side. His footsteps were attempting being light, but he was running out of the ability to moderate their pressure. With a final silent check over his appearance, he set two fingers to rest on the pearl in the pommel of his blade, sucked in a huge breath to puff his chest up, and partially released it.

“Sir.”

@Winterstorm345 it’s finally time :goo: :goo: :goo:

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Mako quickly whirled around, his ruined face still carrying no visible expression, while his eyes still gleamed.
He did not answer. Such a question was without one.

Mako slowly approached the gangplank, unsure thoughts still running though his mind.
What happens now? Are we doomed? Are we banished? Perhaps not.
He ascended the plank, believing surely,he could be walking off it the other way soon.

Mako glanced at Ari, before focusing on Mariner. Remember your purpose. Remember why you are here.
His lungs felt as if they couldn’t will themselves to extract air.
His heart felt as if it was leagues below the floor.
Sea God, give me the strength to continue this mission. Mako clasped his hands, not daring to move, in a hopeful prayer.

Please. For once. Please answer me.

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Mariner turns to look at Dolphus. As he does the crack in his shell catches the light, the resin sticking out prominently in the afternoon sun. “Ah so you haven’t died yet. Good, good.” His tone began friendly, however he pauses for a moment as the full reality of the situation takes hold.

Standing behind Dolphus was perhaps one of the largest humans he’d ever seen. Excepting those from the Legion of course. However, aside from the initial shock he knew her to not be from the Legion, everything about her called her out as Armada born and raised. Including her eccentric sense of fashion. Mariner was still wary of her, something about her was sitting in the back of his mind, something… familiar.

In her arms she cradled yet another stranger, this one badly beaten and slipping in and out of consciousness. Mariner recognized the scraps of an Armada gambeson hanging from his broken body.

Mariner continued speaking, this time his voice was stiffer. “Perhaps I might inquire as to what events transpired shoreside? It’s not everyday a stranger walks aboard carrying the near dead body of one of our nations Marines.”

As Mako prayed, he seemed to feel a pressure in his head. He felt an immense consciousness brush against his. This was different to when the Guardians had spoken to him, there were no words, no attempt at communication. Simply observation. At the same time Mako could smell the sea. This was not the sea of today however, it was fresher, cleaner. Younger.

The presence withdrew after a moment. Taking with it the pressure and scent.

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A sudden gravity descended upon Dolphus’ features as he noticed the patched crack in his armor. Shell. Shell? Is his armor part of his body? I can’t even tell. But it might explain why he’s filled it with… Something, rather than just trying to plate it.

There could be only one thing which caused such a fracture - getting smashed to pieces during the massive wave which totaled the vessel and drove it to shore. If he hadn’t been trying to take care of me…

…Wait what do you mean Yet??

“That,” Dolphus began, trying as hard as he could not to turn his head back to follow Mariner’s gaze - but he couldn’t help himself. His ability to restrain his more youthful leanings was almost as depleted as his ability to keep up appearances; if he had not trained for his whole life, his mask might have failed him even now.

The marine’s limp body was still held by Ari, and the flurry of thoughts which bombarded his psyche mostly revolved around her. She had defied convention by managing to gracefully carry the wounded lad all the way to the ship without greatly worsening his condition, but it didn’t exactly have much room to worsen, either. Was her goal just to get on board as a member of the crew, for safe passage elsewhere? And could she safely depart from the crew after what had happened this day?

Could I live with myself if I let her go?

His eyes met hers and stared for too long. The pressure of her interrogating grip was on his shoulder. It was both a comfort and a curse, so unlike the touch of his mother as to be completely unique and yet the only touch he had experienced in so long that wasn’t marred with hatred or ill-intent.

The mask was slipping. Unsure if Alexis might be hiding somewhere just outside of where he looked, he tore his gaze with some violence from the last Wohlford, hoping Mariner hadn’t inferred any of his thoughts from the uncomfortably long pause.

“…Would be easier to discuss once he receives medical care.” He continued with some urgency. “He may die at any moment, and could not be moved any faster due to his condition.”

Was that actually true? Probably, he assumed. But if Ari was ever to get on the crew, she would have to be cooperative with the process now, or Mariner might never accept her. And that involves backing me up please please please please please please please

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Ari’s weak smile faded at the sight of Dolphus’s disinterested, tired face not showing a single sliver of emotion. She turned away in disappointment. She was tired as well… What was the point in trying at this point? Disheartened, she continued the walk.

Ari followed Dolphus with her eyes with an unimpressed look, and proceeded to move after him deeper into the ship.

She looked around, spotting the surprised and quite unfriendly faces of the ship’s crew members. The atmosphere on the vessel was quite grim to say the least. No wonder, they just experienced a horrible crash that must have messed them up. There wasn’t much special about these men, they looked like ordinary sailors you would see on any normal ship. But once again, something didn’t seem quite right. Looking at these folks gave her the same feeling that she experienced when she encountered that armour-wearing person on the shore, who was apparently a ghost. Were all of these ghosts as well?

She would have directly asked that question to Dolphus, but he seemed to be hell bent on ignoring her as of late, so she didn’t say a single thing, and continued following the kid through the ship with a weary look on her face.

Noticing the sudden change in the kid’s demeanour and slowing down almost to a stop together with him, she tracked his line of sight, looking in the same direction as him. There, she saw a person of impressive stature, wearing what looked like old plate armour, standing with his back towards them.

A hint of interest appeared in her eyes. What she saw in front of her seemed strangely familiar and… somewhat comforting. Ari was suddenly reminded of a different, simpler time, when she didn’t have a single worry on her mind…

No, it can’t be. No way. It’s just a really big guy wearing a rusty set of armour, nothing more…

Ari’s train of thought was interrupted by Dolphus’s gesture to stop. She stared at his hand with a mix of frustration and confusion. Some other day, she would have told him everything about how much she hated to be bossed around like that, but right now she was too exhausted to object. Reluctantly, she stood and watched what the kid was about to do.

So that’s the Mariner they were all talking about.

He was highly respected by the crew, more so than that woman Alexis, which showed clearly in the way the bratty kid addressed him. Taking that into account, Ari wondered how he wasn’t the captain here.

Ari staggered at the sudden appearance of Mako next to her. Where did he come from?!

Remembering that she carried the highly injured marine, she immediately righted herself, to avoid hurting him in any way.

She returned her sights to the kid, who at this point finished going up the stairs, and the person he was addressing.

As the imposing figure slowly turned and straightened out, revealing its stature to be even more impressive than Ari had originally inferred (the person was much taller than her), and exposing the figure’s “face”, Ari’s eyes suddenly widened and lit up with excitement, after a short moment of realisation.

There could be no mistake. The person who stood before her was no ordinary man clad in armour. He was a Halinth. There could be no doubt about it.

Ari hadn’t seen one of his kind since her days in her parents’ shipyard, watching several of these giants, who were employed by her parents, show incredible feats of strength and craftsmanship, that no human could match, with childish excitement. Momentarily, she was transported to her childhood, the time when she didn’t need to be concerned about her survival, didn’t need to run, didn’t need to fight. The time when her parents were still alive. All worries of this day that had firmly occupied her mind suddenly became completely and irrelevant and disappeared.

The sight of this imposing figure that most would certainly find terrifying, was comforting to Ari. Now she knew that this crew that somehow, through some incredible coincidence, got shipwrecked on the same island as her, was the right one. Now she knew that she could put her trust in them.

Disregarding Dolphus’s gesture to stay back, Ari quickly ascended the stairs, skipping every second step, while still making sure to be careful with the marine and holding him steadily. She walked straight past the kid, almost shoving him to the side and stood at a respectful distance from Mariner.

Her face practically glowed. Her tired, exhausted look from before was completely gone and was replaced with that of awe, determination and excitement. She was completely revitalised, at least externally, and her eyes looked at Mariner with a great degree of confidence and respect. For as long as he knew her, Dolphus had never seen her so lively before.

Cutting Dolphus off, she spoke clearly, with her chin raised confidently and looking Mariner directly in the eyes:

“I am Ari Wohlford, daughter of Ragnar and Thyra Wohlford, and the sole inheritor of the Wohlford shipbuilding company. I will finish the repairs on your ship and maintain its condition on your journey in exchange for passage outside of the Armada.” She got down on one knee, carefully bringing the injured soldier forward, towards Mariner: “Please. This man needs immediate help. I made a promise that I wouldn’t let him die. He has to live. I don’t care what you do, please save his life.” She gave Mariner another look full of determination.

(OOC: at this point Mariner would probably recognise Ari’s hair colour, skin tone and sharp teeth, because these are identifying features that are passed down through all generations of Wohlfords, including the guy Mariner was friends with back in the day.)

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As Dolphus spoke, he could feel the back of his neck contracting slightly. That heavy step which caused the deck to reverberate ever so slightly could only belong to one individual, and it was the individual he specifically requested not barge into the middle of things like a-

-like a stupid gollumpus…

Dolphus stumbled away from her sudden approach, barely having time to finish his sentence before she barged past. A violently offended scowl was sent in her direction, but it instantly disappeared the moment after he saw her face - beaming, radiant, glowing with the warmth of the sun. Evidently her smashing past him was based less on her rather flippant audacity in the moment and more on whatever caused such a violent reaction on her part.

But what could-

Wait…

image

WOHLFORD?!

image

…I don’t know who that is.

The name had the vaguest sense of familiarity to him, and perhaps he had seen it appearing in one of the many financial ledgers his father had kept. But beyond that, he had never heard it before, or anything sounding quite like it either.

More importantly, however, than whether or not he had a functioning memory, was the rest of Ari’s display.

Dolphus had to swallow to stop the grimace that was commanding his features, both awed by the display Ari was putting forth and unsure how Mariner would react to her being so violently forward about it. While his posture corrected, the air with which he looked on did not, constantly changing between his internal apprehension at Ari’s behavior and the deep conflict in his heart over the fate of the marine.

Now would be a great time for a giant squid attack, is all I’m saying.

I think you need help.

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Alexis made her way onto the deck of the ship, her mind racing. Explaining the events of the injured armed soldier to mariner was most likely going to be the furthest thing from smooth sailing in her life. She found herself wishing she had known what the situation was before she had moved to unleash a fireball on the poor kid.

You had the crew’s best interestss in mind. You shouldn’t feel ashamed.

Alexis shook her head, clearing the thoughts from her mind. If she were to help explain the events to mariner she needed a cool, clear head.

Alexis jumped at the sudden increase in volume on deck. Their new friend Ari had decided it would be best to introduce themselves to the entire crew all at once, it seemed. As Alexis strode up to the group, the name Wohlford seemed to find purchase in her brain. Distant tales, passing conversations, her old, long-retired crew. The name Wohlford wasn’t commonplace among their conversations but had found its way into a few here and there.

Of course, she had many questions for their new companion, but those would need to wait. For now, she needed to focus on the task at hand as she joined the group currently speaking with Mariner.

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Whispers spread across the ship in a great wave. The crew, abandoning all pretense of pretending to work were openly discussing this revelation. The energy was excitement, but with a healthy dose of skepticism. The name of course, was legendary within the crew. Most of the sailers had sailed on ships the Wohlford’s had created.

Those too young had sailed on ones with parts from Wohlford ships. Those extremely superstitious folks in the Homeguard insisted on saving pieces from Wohlford ships to incorporate into new vessels. Even the Caelin’s hand had a piece or two in its design.

Mariner’s expression was of course unreadable. However, a deliberate set of footsteps marked the arrival of Caeseus, who had casually followed along from the beach. He slowly walked around Ari, closely examining her features. When satisfied he simply turned and nodded to Mariner.

Mariner’s posture changed slightly. “You bear an honourable name.” He said finally, “I will give you the chance to live up to it.”

He looked again at the Marine, the damage he’d taken was severe. There were no guarantees of his survival. Still, Mariner had a healers heart, he couldn’t let this man suffer any longer over matters of pride. “We’ll bring him to my cabin. I shall tend to him there. Maya, fetch a cot for our patient.” He spoke these last words towards a Sailor standing near his side. She gave a crisp nod and scarpered off below decks.

Mariner turned to follow her. “With me, please.” He called back to the small knot of Privateers.

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Dolphus finally allowed reality to catch back up with him as the name Wohlford generated a response from a massive swathe of the ghost crew currently on deck. Looking about in all directions, he had unintentionally made it very clear that he had absolutely no connection with the name Wohlford, or even the knowledge of the apparent legacy it carried.

His brow crinkled as he looked back at the marine. This was just a bad day all-around for his optics, and he didn’t want to start thinking about how it was for his heart. Too complex. It’s all just too complex for me.

I could really use another hug.

Dolphus stumbled backwards to get out of Caeseus’ way, not remembering in the moment that a ghost sailor could simply walk right through him. The inquisitive yet casual inspection seemed to hold more weight than if he had scrutinized her more blatantly; what were they looking for in her that could be gleamed so easily? Some identifying aspect of the Wohlfords to help verify her identity?

Does being absolutely huge not count or something?

Dolphus looked with wide eyes between Mariner and Ari. Honorable name? What was it this muscle pile’s probably equally-jacked parents had done? Or even worse, was her whole family line like this?

Regardless of the level of terror her lineage inspired, this approach of appealing to Mariner had worked wondrously. The master of the Caelin’s Hand had gone so far as to immediately volunteer his cabin for the marine’s care.

No wait that’s not good.

If this marine suddenly gained consciousness, would he sing? What would stop him from divulging all about the entire ordeal? His friend’s death, the sight of the wing? The encounter with Captain Althain? Was everything compromised now?

Will I have to tell Mariner everything now, risk his wrath on myself and Ari, or gamble on suffering the consequences later?

Ari, Alexis, and anyone else paying enough attention might have noticed Dolphus’ expression go from overwhelmed observation to a rather crushed acceptance of the situation. As Mariner began to descend further into the ship, Dolphus hurried along to follow at his heels, eyeing the floor as he went, not once daring to look at Mariner lest he accidentally lock eyes with him.

I sure hope Ari can find it in herself to forgive me for this. He swallowed, two fingers still resting on the pearl. Because I don’t know that I can.

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Ari looked around in surprise at the reaction that her saying her name caused within the crew. Of course, she knew of the reputation that the Wohlford name used to have. Her parents had told her of the great fleets built by the past generations of Wohlfords. They told her of the countless innovations in the realm of shipbuilding that they introduced. Told her legends of Bjorn Wohlford, the founder of their family who lived hundreds upon hundreds of years ago and was said to have had the skin tougher than steel and been strong enough to lift an entire ship with one hand. But all of these were stories of old and legends that likely had very little truth to them. When Ari was born, Wohlford & Co. was already way past its prime and the name didn’t carry as much weight as it used to, and, after the company fell apart, the name lost pretty much all meaning. People tend to forget things very fast, so it quickly became just another part of history, remembered by the rare few who cared enough and surrounded by countless rumours. So to think that there were still people who weren’t entirely apathetic to the legacy of her family, and that a lot of them surrounded her at this very moment, was completely mind boggling to Ari. It seemed almost as if this bizarre crew was somehow transported from the past, ripped out of the time when the name that Ari bore still meant something. Which, if she bothered to think about for just one second, would make a lot of sense, considering that most of them were ghosts who had likely lived and died a long time ago.

Still, Ari couldn’t help but feel incredibly flattered by such a response. A slight blush involuntarily appeared on her cheeks.

The face of Caeseus, the ghost sailor from the beach, slowly made its way into her field of view, a bit too close for her comfort. She moved away from him slightly, as she followed him with his eyes.

At last, the towering Halinth gave his answer. A brief wide smile appeared on her face and she gave him a nod full of determination.

Ari let out a sigh of relief. Her face showed a great deal of gratitude.

“Thank you, sir.”

She carefully stood up and was about to start following Mariner deeper within the ship, when she remembered something.

She turned to Caeseus, who was still standing nearby, and addressed him:

“I was wrong about the repairs your men did to this ship. They did a great job. Clearly, you have a lot of care for it.” As she said this, her tone seemed to become a lot more serious.

As Ari turned back to follow Mariner, she caught a glimpse of Dolphus’s face, briefly meeting his eyes. For reasons she didn’t quite understand, the boy looked devastated, which contrasted with Ari’s own expression, once again full of life and determination. She gave him a nod, turned away and took a step after the imposing figure of Mariner.

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