Topics

Nothing but a Shadow in the Night #Jaya #zaire #Oseanie

Manda
 

Who: Zaire, Jaya, Oseanie

Eventyr Date: May 16, 877 ROK

Primary Location: Island of the Pirates

Weather at Primary Location: very hot, over 90 degrees most days, and the rainy season lies just ahead, leaving the air heavy with moisture. The occasional rainstorm always threatens, and will take root in daily afternoon showers breaking up the sunny days within a month or so.

Moon Phase: New moon

Zaire Wearing: https://i.pinimg.com/564x/3f/5e/f1/3f5ef14276c7a53959074828c29152aa.jpg 


A stay in the local dungeon. A wicked hangover. An early diagnosed case of the Clap. 


Each, Zaire couldn't help but think, would be preferable to the words Cap'n? Peacekeeper sails on the horizon. But it was those very words that had interrupted the Pirate King's breakfast just that morning, leaving him scowling into his ham and eggs and regretting ever giving them permission to enter his waters. He couldn't exactly turn them away, though, not after answering their request to visit with a yes, so instead he'd given Eloise the freedom to welcome their visitors as she saw fit and resigned himself to being King Zaire for the duration of their stay rather than Captain Visser.


"I'll plan a welcome," Eloise had decided right then at the table. She'd set aside her breakfast and whisked away, pausing only for a second to press a kiss to Dira's voluminous curls as she passed.


Eloise made a good Queen - Zaire had admitted that years ago - but he still loved to watch her as she took up the mantle to greet Jaya and her delegation, smiling and laughing and inquiring over those she'd met and even those whom she knew by name only. She was busy though and soon it was back to ordering tents erected, kegs of ale and bottles of rum brought to the beach, seeing that the pigs were crisping on their spits and the clams being properly steamed. 


In a matter of hours, the beach came alive with music and dancing, drinking and loud bawdy singing, the occasional fight or pair of lovers sneaking off into the sunset to find privacy. Children chased each other through the waves, their screams of delight mixing with the cacophony of barks from the dogs that kept pace, while the teenagers crowded around the bonfires with their own bottles of rum to pass around. 


Here in the King's tent, things weren't quite as relaxed though. Oh, Zaire was trying, without a doubt, and even had his youngest son on his knee as he finished his meal, but the Peacekeepers rarely brought good news. In fact, he'd noticed that when they had bad news to share, they often sent someone he was fond of - like his Brandy-love. Or Jaya. His crew knew this and he had the sneaking suspicion that was precisely the reason why Mr. Alby had plopped Sidro onto his lap when they'd sat down to eat. 


"What brings ya 'ere then, Jaya?" Zaire asked suddenly, his eyes going to his guest as he absently presented a sweet biscuit to his son, who snatched it in greedy little hands. "Missed me, aye?" There was a wink, a smirk that flashed a gold incisor, but there was also a lack of sincerity in the action, like he'd done it more out of habit than anything else. He was distracted, perhaps a bit on edge by the way Oseanie had been chafing at his side for most of the evening, and certainly wary of whatever answer the Peacekeeper would give . . . 


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Steph
 

Who: Jaya
With: Zaire, Oseanie, Other Beach Party Pals
Where:  Island of the Pirates
When: May 16, 877 ROK, Evening

The Island of the Pirates was always nothing like anyone would have expected it to be. Families, free and safe and happy, living secure lives, comfortable in the bounty of the sea and the bounty that the raiders brought home with them whenever they went sailing. Jaya, growing up in the North, heard stories of pirates like they were monsters that would steal you away and burn your house down behind them.  The truth really wasn't that one-dimensional.

After a long journey downriver and then at sea, now she sat in the personal tent of the Pirate King himself, old friend that he was. She was wearing a Southern-inspired dress that was well-suited to the warm evening but still modest enough for business, all lightweight and light cream linen. She still had a belt strapped to her waist with a pair of knives, and her cloak was draped nearby where she could snatch it up if she needed it, but she doubted she would.

The pirates had no reason to be hostile toward the Peacekeeper delegation, after all, and with the merfolk defending the island, they weren't at any risk here.

Zaire: "What brings ya 'ere then, Jaya?" ... "Missed me, aye?"

And there it was. Time to get to business. Jaya smiled back at Zaire, her smile growing all the wider at the image of him there with a child in his lap, his tooth glinting. Monster who'd steal you away at night, indeed.

"I did miss you, true enough," Jaya confirmed, almost ruefully. She hadn't exactly stopped working as an assassin to further Zaire's influence by choice. The debt that she owed to the peacekeeper who saved her life sort of overrode her free will in an uncomfortable way. One of these days, she'd have to get that curse broken. Until then, it was just a matter of bieng careful not to end up in anyone else's debt.

"The Peacekeepers would like to hold a special Peace Summit in the People's City. An opportunity for you and all the kings and queens to gather together and discuss issues that affect the people of Eventyr far and wide. Would you be interested in sailing to our fair lake for a few days?" She kept her tone light, inviting. "It would be an excellent opportunity..."

<Tag!>

Rachel
 

Who: Oseanie With: Zaire, Jaya

Where: Island of the Pirates When: May 16, 877 ROK, Evening

Oseanie disliked parties. So much noise - all of the joking, the laughter, the games, the dalliances, Oseanie had such a hard time distinguishing what mattered from what didn't that she just wanted to retreat. The thin walls of the tent weren't much help, but help they were, and Oseanie paced behind her father's chair with an unmistakable tension in her shoulders. She held a knife drawn from her belt, and used its tip to scrape aggressively under her fingernails. This, plus her scowl, gave her an undeniably menacing look, which her mother had gently whispered to her -
Peacekeepers come in peace, Oseanie. Out of respect, Oseanie put her knife away.


Oseanie wasn't so sure, though. They talked about peace all day long, but Oseanie didn't trust them - they were wishy-washy in a way she found quite disingenuous. It was unity, unity, unity, but then they legitimized the West, which had never stopped trying to take down her father's rule. They looked the other way on vampires. Oseanie knew she was more hard-line than most, but the Peacekeepers didn't have enough spine to have earned her respect. 


That was why Jaya's words earned an incredulous scoff from the young navigator. If her parents glared at her, she didn't notice because her eyes, as usual, were downcast… 


Which is why they landed on the Peacekeepers cloak, draped so helplessly out of reach. Oseanie didn't give further voice to her thoughts, and instead carefully stepped in its direction as the conversation progressed. When it seemed she would be of no note, Oseanie laid a hand on the fabric and - luckily - a vision immediately seized her. With the dialogue came a rush of emotion: skepticism and hope, in equal parts. 


We don't even need to send a delegation to the West? She already agreed? 


It seems so… 


That's strange. That's strange, right? 


I don't know - maybe Rossi is realizing that her vampires aren't carrying her as far as she expected. Maybe she's been humbled?


I don't buy it. 


Let's not look a gift horse in the mouth. She agreed. ...Oh, I'm sorry, is that insensitive? I just meant… 


Oseanie withdrew her hand, blinked furiously, and glanced quickly about the room for any sign that she had been obvious in the moments when she had lost herself to the vision. None. 


Without thinking, Oseanie drew her knife and, once again, sent the tip under her fingernail. "There's a lot of bad blood between the kings and queens of Eventyr. How you gonna make sure this peace summit ain't just a bloodbath?"

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Manda
 

Jaya: "The Peacekeepers would like to hold a special Peace Summit in the People's City. An opportunity for you and all the kings and queens to gather together and discuss issues that affect the people of Eventyr far and wide. Would you be interested in sailing to our fair lake for a few days?" She kept her tone light, inviting. "It would be an excellent opportunity..."


Oseanie: *hear this bullshit?*


A heavy silence fell over the pirates gathered in the tent. Only those closest to their Captain - King tonight - were there, a group as diverse as all of Eventyr. There were black faces, faces as pale as the sand beneath their feet, and faces every shade in between; some were decorated with tattoos, others with scars, but every face held the same expression - a wariness, an expectation of disaster . . .


Jimmy nudged his brother, Chaz, with his elbow. Mr. Gladstone, who'd taken over as Quartermaster only a year ago, met Jahid's dark eyes over Gunther's curly head. Eloise stepped closer, reaching down to pluck her son from her husband's lap and swing the boy up onto her hip, murmuring something about checking on the girls before sweeping from the tent in a flutter of brightly hued silk. 


"Aye," Zaire agreed after a moment. "An excellent opportunity t'put a knife through Francesca's throat."


Oseanie: "There's a lot of bad blood between the kings and queens of Eventyr. How you gonna make sure this peace summit ain't just a bloodbath?"


"They ain't able to," Zaire answered, leaning back in his chair and propping his booted feet up on the table, crossed at the ankles. "An' lemme tell ye why, love." He laced his speckled fingers on his belly, dark eyes settling on Jaya, "Cause if I come face t'face with Francesca Rossi then I will kill 'er." There was nothing but certainty in his tone; a promise, if you will. All he needed was an opportunity. He smiled then, "So, yes, Jaya. I'd love t'come t'yer summit." Then, ignoring the soft chuckles from his crew and without missing a beat, "How's Brandy?"


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Steph
 

Who: Jaya
With: Zaire, Oseanie, Other Beach Party Pals
Where:  Island of the Pirates
When: May 16, 877 ROK, Evening

Oseanie: "There's a lot of bad blood between the kings and queens of Eventyr. How you gonna make sure this peace summit ain't just a bloodbath?"

Zaire: "Cause if I come face t'face with Francesca Rossi then I will kill 'er." ... "So, yes, Jaya. I'd love t'come t'yer summit." ... "How's Brandy?"

If Jaya had noticed someone touching her cloak without her permission first, she might have gotten a bit defensive about it. There wasn't another cloak in all the world like her cloak of shadows, after all. But Oseanie timed her move well, while Jaya's attention was more focused on Zaire and how he was processing her invitation.

The silence that hung in the air for a moment was tense enough that she almost thought that it was time to reach for weapons. Zaire's cool response cut almost as sharply.

"Brandy is in the NorthEast persuading King James and Queen Malia to join us in the People's City for this summit, because she believes in this opportunity," Jaya answered, sticking to her point, her angle. "You know, and I do, that nobility isn't what's going to save us from the creatures that have started rising up in the darkness, thriving on all the gaps created by these territorial conflicts. Francesca, who you want so much to have the opportunity to spar with, has already agreed to attend. We thought she would be the least likely to agree, so we floated the idea past her first."

Jaya leaned in a bit with that, smiling her own smile. "So, you have to wonder. Why would she agree so quickly? What does she gain by being in the People's City that you could miss out on if you didn't agree to attend? What scheme of hers can you thwart if you're there to keep an eye on her?"

That didn't address Oseanie's question, though. And it wouldn't be enough in front of a crowd of bloodthirsty pirates to say that they intended to figure it out. She'd be lucky if all they did was just laugh her back to her ship.

"It's our intent to have layers of security at the summit," Jaya said. "Each delegation will be granted an area that they can secure as they deem fit. We have alchemists and scholars working on screening procedures to prevent weapons in the more sensitive meetings. And, we'll be scheduling those sensitive meetings to best help each leader build alliances, so when it's time to stab certain vampire-loving individuals in the back, everyone will be on the same page. Unified, as it were."

Jaya's eyes twinkled a bit at that. Zaire had to know, from the jobs that she'd done with him, that she was no fan of Francesca and her vampires. She'd carried out assassinations to strengthen Zaire's hold on the coast for exactly that reason.

<Tag!>

Rachel
 

Zaire: "Aye," "An excellent opportunity t'put a knife through Francesca's throat."


Zaire: "They ain't able to," "An' lemme tell ye why, love." "Cause if I come face t'face with Francesca Rossi then I will kill 'er." "So, yes, Jaya. I'd love t'come t'yer summit." "How's Brandy?"


Oseanie’s mouth hardened, and her eyes glanced toward the still-fluttering edges of the tent from which her mother had left. Sure, her father had lovers - they all had biological needs that sometimes could not be satisfied within geographical constraints of their work. But she didn’t like the small chorus of chuckles that her father’s open infidelity initiated, especially just as her mother and their queen departed. Her fist closed around her knife’s hilt with the sharp exhale of breath that signaled a threat. Not a few of the men noted it and took half a step away from Oseanie toward their King’s chair. They knew she was loyal, but volatile. 


Jaya: "Brandy is in the NorthEast persuading King James and Queen Malia to join us in the People's City for this summit, because she believes in this opportunity," "You know, and I do, that nobility isn't what's going to save us from the creatures that have started rising up in the darkness, thriving on all the gaps created by these territorial conflicts. Francesca, who you want so much to have the opportunity to spar with, has already agreed to attend. We thought she would be the least likely to agree, so we floated the idea past her first."


And Rossi’s agreement had apparently been resoundingly surprising to the ever-optimistic Peacekeepers, Oseanie knew. Why? 


Jaya: "So, you have to wonder. Why would she agree so quickly? What does she gain by being in the People's City that you could miss out on if you didn't agree to attend? What scheme of hers can you thwart if you're there to keep an eye on her?" "It's our intent to have layers of security at the summit," "Each delegation will be granted an area that they can secure as they deem fit. We have alchemists and scholars working on screening procedures to prevent weapons in the more sensitive meetings. And, we'll be scheduling those sensitive meetings to best help each leader build alliances, so when it's time to stab certain vampire-loving individuals in the back, everyone will be on the same page. Unified, as it were."


Oseanie’s head cocked hard to one side. “So you’re admitting it? You’re here calling it a ‘peace summit,’ but you intend to lay the ground so my father can come and do anything but talk peace?” 


Oseanie knew her voice was raising, and that her knife had raised up to her collarbone, as if she might throw it. “Your kind are in the West, too, spewing the same bullshit to Rossi and her undead sycophants. Telling that bitch the same thing about stabbing him in the back. You’re liars; you’re worse than liars…!” 


Tags

Manda
 

Oseanie: *huffs*


Jaya:  ... "So, you have to wonder. Why would she agree so quickly? What does she gain by being in the People's City that you could miss out on if you didn't agree to attend? What scheme of hers can you thwart if you're there to keep an eye on her?" ... "It's our intent to have layers of security at the summit," ... "Each delegation will be granted an area that they can secure as they deem fit. We have alchemists and scholars working on screening procedures to prevent weapons in the more sensitive meetings. And, we'll be scheduling those sensitive meetings to best help each leader build alliances, so when it's time to stab certain vampire-loving individuals in the back, everyone will be on the same page. Unified, as it were."


Zaire ignored Oseanie's noise in favor of keeping his attention steady on Jaya. She had a lot to say and he let her say it, absently twisting a heavy silver ring around his index finger with the thumb and forefinger of his opposite hand, fingers still intertwined. Pretty words of peace and alliances, of everyone secure and safe while they tore each other apart with word and threats...


Zaire didn't need help from the Witch of the South, or from James and his pretty bride sitting up there in the frozen North, to kill Francesca. All he needed was the opportunity, as small or as large as he could manage and he'd take it


Oseanie: “So you’re admitting it? You’re here calling it a ‘peace summit,’ but you intend to lay the ground so my father can come and do anything but talk peace?” *will cut a bitch* “Your kind are in the West, too, spewing the same bullshit to Rossi and her undead sycophants. Telling that bitch the same thing about stabbing him in the back. You’re liars; you’re worse than liars…!”


"We all liars, love," Zaire said mildly, but his eyes cut toward Oseanie. She was working herself up into a fine tizzy. "But ya ain't wrong. S'all bullshit." His eyes went to Calder next, an unspoken order for the young pirate to keep an eye on her; of all of them, Calder seemed to have the best luck talking her down when needed. 


"Peacekeepers talk real nice 'bout keepin' the peace but they know that ofttimes the best way t' keep it, is to remove the problem piece." And Francesca was, obviously, the biggest problem on the board. 


Zaire sat up straight again, feet on the ground, so he could lean in closer to Jaya, "That it? Y'all can't claim to be neutral if ye go an' remove that problem piece. Yer 'ands are tied." His eyes were dark in the speckled skin of his face, intent, as he asked, "Y'need a dagger and I 'ave the best chance of bein' it?" There were a lot of questions in that deduction though, ones that needn't be spoken aloud for them all to understand. The biggest, of course, is where it left him and the Coast when he succeeded. 


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Steph
 

Who: Jaya

With: Zaire, Oseanie, Other Beach Party Pals

Where:  Island of the Pirates

When: May 16, 877 ROK, Evening


Oseanie: “Your kind are in the West, too, spewing the same bullshit to Rossi and her undead sycophants. Telling that bitch the same thing about stabbing him in the back. You’re liars; you’re worse than liars…!”


Zaire: "That it? Y'all can't claim to be neutral if ye go an' remove that problem piece. Yer 'ands are tied." His eyes were dark in the speckled skin of his face, intent, as he asked, "Y'need a dagger and I 'ave the best chance of bein' it?"


Jaya sat still as Oseanie berated her for being a dishonest liar and tried to tear down the reputation of the whole Peacekeepers organization along with her. This was always the thing with politics. She kept her hands folded neatly in her lap, her expression as cool and pleasant as if Oseanie had just been complimenting Jaya on her dress or some other equally bland thing. Jaya couldn't afford to get emotional at a time like this.


Ultimately, her job was to bring Zaire to the table, not to prove that the Peacekeepers were pure in heart, mind, spirit, and action. She released a bit of tension from her shoulders when Zaire followed up his declaration that this was bullshit with a thoughtful, calculated, reasonable explanation. She smiled a bit at it.


"Officially, I'm here to provide you with an invitation to the Peace Summit and address any concerns you might have, to persuade you to join us in the People's City," Jaya said. "Officially, the Founders of the Peacekeepers don't know why I have such a good relationship with you. Officially, they think it's a bit odd that an accountant like me who helps merchants balance their books can get on with the Pirate King."


She leaned in a touch, her shoulders hunching forward conspiratorially. "Unofficially, I've been sent on too many peacekeeping missions in the Western Plains where my hands are tied by our good-faith policies and I have to pretend I don't see how the bloodsucker given noble lands and titles put on a good show when anyone's looking directly at them, but their serfs and servants are looking a little anemic and covering their necks, keeping their heads down, afraid of reprisals."


She glanced over to Oseanie. "You say my kind is telling Francesca what I'm telling you? You have to realize we're one kind." She gestured to herself, to all the humans in the room. "The merfolk, humans, pixies,  centaurs, all of us are living people.  Vampires? They're creatures. Predators. Monsters. No royal decree will ever change that."


She had to swallow and push back memories from a time long enough ago that she would have expected the pain to be smoothed over by now, but the edges were always just as sharp as ever.


"I'm being honest with you, trusting you with my feelings and my desires because the bitch that sold out the people of the Plains to one bloodthirsty monster to keep them safe from the flesh-eating monsters doesn't deserve a crown on her head. "Unofficially, I've done more than a bit of accounting on your behalf, and I wouldn't mind helping you balance her accounts."


She sat up a little straighter. "So, let's say you come and play nice. Maybe we experience an ideal world where everyone talks peace and reaches some nice accords and no violence breaks out at all. Maybe you lay the groundwork to do this particular deed in a more subtle way after the Summit. Or, maybe you have the opportunity to do a little violence, and you take it. I can tell you for certain, though, if you don't attend, you'll be wondering what everyone there says about you, what deals they're making regarding you, where you're being left out."


<Tag!>

Rachel
 

Zaire: "We all liars, love," 


All? Oseanie's head swiveled in his direction, her chin tilted and eyes narrowed and eyebrows raised and nose scrunched in an expression she had long practiced to communicate nonverbally, "Maybe you're all liars…?" 


Zaire: "But ya ain't wrong. S'all bullshit." "Peacekeepers talk real nice 'bout keepin' the peace but they know that ofttimes the best way t' keep it, is to remove the problem piece." "That it? Y'all can't claim to be neutral if ye go an' remove that problem piece. Yer 'ands are tied." "Y'need a dagger and I 'ave the best chance of bein' it?"


Jaya: "Officially, I'm here to provide you with an invitation to the Peace Summit and address any concerns you might have, to persuade you to join us in the People's City," "Officially, the Founders of the Peacekeepers don't know why I have such a good relationship with you. Officially, they think it's a bit odd that an accountant like me who helps merchants balance their books can get on with the Pirate King..."


"King of the Coast," Oseanie interjected, although her tone did not insist on interrupting as much as correcting. So many called her father the Pirate King, but there were plenty of subjects on the mainland loyal to him and under his control who didn't sail under a flag… 


But Jaya was continuing, and Oseanie's analytical eyes weighed every claim skeptically, but felt herself relaxing over time as the Peacekeeper made more measured sense than she'd expected. And, bit by bit, it became clear to her that these were dynamics and negotiations outside the reach of her understanding, social protocols and dynamics that would have taken Killick a year to explain to her. She didn't always agree with her father, and she was fiercely defensive of him, but she had never doubted his judgment, and so she held her tongue. 


But as the Peacekeeper's voice quieted and Oseanie felt her attention shifting to anticipate her father's answer… something else caught her attention. 


Oseanie was the first to notice the sound, given how rapt everyone's attention was on the tense exchange, not to mention the general noise of the festivities outside. It was faint, at a distance, but rather calamitous… Nothing good had made that noise.


Oseanie bolted out of the tent,  knocking over at least one chair as she went. 


The crashing noise was a warning. Oseanie was outside the fabric flaps with exactly one breath to spare before she could focus her precise eyes on the vampire rushing toward her, draw her knife, and toss it into the creature's heart. Had her accuracy been less than perfect, she would have been dinner. The young pirate dove forward to retrieve her knife from the dead thing's chest, and she realized too late that she couldn't be sure that steel would kill it… 


"Attack!" Oseanie screamed, at the top of her lungs. Her eyes cast up, she could see a massive flying machine no smaller than a pirate ship… except that it was in the air. The sails were round, instead of flat, ballooning the ship far above their heads. Maybe it carried twelve men? Maybe twenty….? 


Tags!

Manda
 

Jaya: … "So, let's say you come and play nice. Maybe we experience an ideal world where everyone talks peace and reaches some nice accords and no violence breaks out at all. Maybe you lay the groundwork to do this particular deed in a more subtle way after the Summit. Or, maybe you have the opportunity to do a little violence, and you take it. I can tell you for certain, though, if you don't attend, you'll be wondering what everyone there says about you, what deals they're making regarding you, where you're being left out."


Oh Zaire had made up his mind already, from the second Jaya had said Francesca would be there, but he liked hearing her persuade him. He'd always enjoyed having his ego stroked, after all, as a man, a pirate, a captain and now a King. So Zaire listened, nodded here and there, and let her continue lubricating those strokes with plenty of disparaging commentary on his biggest adversary…


Until Jaya quieted and a ripple spread through the hum of voices and laughter and song from outside the tent. 


Zaire's bearded chin lifted, his questioning eyes going to Chione, and the gunner took a few steps toward the door only to have Oseanie go tearing past her. There was a scuffle from outside, sand kicked against the canvas tent, and Zaire was just rising to his feet as Oseanie screamed her warning: "Attack!"


The tent erupted into action, the gathered pirates on their feet and drawing weapons even before Zaire could bother with an order. How was there an attack, though? While the Island's location wasn't exactly a secret anymore, it was plenty protected by the cannons aboard each ship, the small fort that dominated the eastern shore of the island, and the merfolk continuously on the lookout for any strange ship in their waters. So how had anyone gotten close enough to reach land?


It took Zaire all of three seconds to make sense of the scene before him as he stepped out onto the beach, his eyes going to the seemingly dead body at Oseanie's feet to the strange flying contraption above them, and then he was drawing the short axe from his belt and handing it to his daughter. "Take its head, Oseanie," he told her, then turned to quickly survey the rapidly blossoming chaos around him as he drew his sword. Where were the rest of his children? His wife?


His men were scattering to find their own families, desperate to protect them in the one place they should have been safe...


"Chione! Alby!" he shouted, catching the attention of his two fiercest pirates and, conveniently, two without families of their own. "Find my family!" 


Then Zaire turned to those still gathered near him, those who didn't have wives and children to locate, and beyond them caught the eye of one of the other captains, "Spread th'word, ye bilge rats! Your King expects the 'ead'uv'a vampire from eachaya when this is over!" He lifted his eyes to the flying craft above them, a direction that none of them had ever considered an attack from, "Now get out there an' protect yer 'ome!"


Tags

 

Steph
 

Who: Jaya
With: Zaire, Oseanie, Other Beach Party Pals
Where:  Island of the Pirates
When: May 16, 877 ROK, Evening

Oseanie: "Attack!" Oseanie screamed, at the top of her lungs. Her eyes cast up, she could see a massive flying machine no smaller than a pirate ship… except that it was in the air.

Zaire: "Spread th'word, ye bilge rats! Your King expects the 'ead'uv'a vampire from eachaya when this is over!" He lifted his eyes to the flying craft above them, a direction that none of them had ever considered an attack from, "Now get out there an' protect yer 'ome!"

This was the part in the conversation where Jaya expected to have a little more back and forth banter before they got to feasting and drinking on the beach, maybe singing around a bonfire late into the night. Even with Oseanie grumbling about Jaya's word choice in naming Zaire the Pirate King rather than King of the Coast, Jaya could tell that Zaire was amenable, listening, and more or less ready to say yes.

Then Oseanie leapt to her feet and went charging out, and everyone started grabbing up weapons. First priority? Arm up and assess the situation. The pirates got it. Jaya swept up her cloak and donned it, though she refrained from pulling the hood up. While Zaire's inner-circle knew who she was, besides a representative for the Peacekeepers, she didn't need to go broadcasting it to every single person in the beach and whoever or whatever was attacking. With the hood down, the cloak for the most part behaved like a normal cloak. She just wouldn't abandon such a precious magic artifact.

How was there an attack? Her eyes answered that question as she stepped out onto the darkness of the sandy beach along with Zaire and his men, gaze drifting up to a massive flying device. She'd seen the principles of the thing in a book once in her years at the Queen's College--as hot air rises, a balloon filled with heated air could lift a basket with people inside. But this must have been engineered with enchantments to be so large. Something like this could cross the sea without mermaids impeding its progress. Even mermaids with harpoons could only lob them so far into the air, after all.

Worse, there were low-hanging clouds in the air--almost like fog. She'd seen weather enchantments like this before. A concealing mist like this could hide dangers from sight and could explain why the island hadn't been warned by the merfolk in advance.

"There are probably more!" Jaya warned before she drew her own blades. She'd gone with a pair of short swords for this particular outing, knowing that the trip could be dangerous, but preferring something on the lighter side so that she could move swift. She pointed the tip of one of her blades toward the low clouds on the horizon, then sprang into motion as she saw a vampire tearing toward her, ready to meet its unnatural deadly grace with her own deadly training...

<Tag!>

Rachel
 

Oseanie didn't hesitate a second, plucking the axe from her father's hand and sinking it deep into the vampire's throat within a half-a-breath of when the beast seemed to rise from the dead to snap its pearly fangs, glimmering in the moonlight, at her. It's thirsty bite was no match for steady hands and steel, though Oseanie did turn her head away in disgust... 


The blood on her hands was cold, Oseanie noticed, as she leaned her weight on the blade to snap the beast's spine. Gross. She was glad to be on her feet again, with the bloodied axe in her hand at the ready….


Zaire: "Chione! Alby!" "Find my family!" "Spread th'word, ye bilge rats! Your King expects the 'ead'uv'a vampire from eachaya when this is over!" "Now get out there an' protect yer 'ome!"


Jaya: "There are probably more!"


The Captain was, reasonably, sending those among his elite to find his - their - family, but Oseanie stayed never more than an arm's length away from him. Her eyes were intent and alert, even against the dark, and she sent the axe into the wrinkled brow of a vampire three yards off, and stooped to retrieve a knife buried in a pirate's gut as they moved past him. Oseanie didn't look at his face; a weapon was a weapon right now. 


Oseanie's gaze was drawn, curiously, to the Peacekeeper. This was a defining moment: Would Jaya keep peace? Or fight..? 


Fight, it seemed, and Oseanie smiled her way, even through the darkness and the chaos. "What is this?" The navigator tried to ask, though breathless and distracted by the constant shadows moving about her. "Is this a last resort?" A dying breath of a waning rule? "Or does she think she could really reclaim…" 


Oseanie could see, even in the dim moonlight, that pirates were falling around them. They died fighting violently, thrusting swords or daggers into the undead, but the living inevitably fell while the vampires only stumbled. 


It wasn't long before one of the creatures ran at Oseanie. She sidestepped quickly, putting herself between the beast and her father, whipped her weight around and dragged the beast to the ground until she straddled its back and plunged her knife into its skull. 


But as she withdrew her knife, Oseanie felt the very ground under her knees tremble and, over her shoulder, the young pirate saw yet another air-ship crash inelegantly into the trees. That would have killed men, but she knew instantly from the rustling of branches and the hissing - echoing like snakes - that there was a crew of vampires headed their way...  


Oseanie's dark eyes rose to her king, her captain, her father. She would never have given him orders, and so when she opened her mouth, her teeth ground as if in objection. But even if she trusted him as a leader, she knew that she could see further than he could. 


"Cap'," Oseanie shouted, over the din, with a knife ready in her hand and blood and brains dripping down her wrist. "You can't fight this fight. You need to get clear."

Tags!

Steph
 

*gentle nudge to Zaire*


On Mon, May 18, 2020 at 7:50 PM Rachel <rachelballa@...> wrote:

Oseanie didn't hesitate a second, plucking the axe from her father's hand and sinking it deep into the vampire's throat within a half-a-breath of when the beast seemed to rise from the dead to snap its pearly fangs, glimmering in the moonlight, at her. It's thirsty bite was no match for steady hands and steel, though Oseanie did turn her head away in disgust... 


The blood on her hands was cold, Oseanie noticed, as she leaned her weight on the blade to snap the beast's spine. Gross. She was glad to be on her feet again, with the bloodied axe in her hand at the ready….


Zaire: "Chione! Alby!" "Find my family!" "Spread th'word, ye bilge rats! Your King expects the 'ead'uv'a vampire from eachaya when this is over!" "Now get out there an' protect yer 'ome!"


Jaya: "There are probably more!"


The Captain was, reasonably, sending those among his elite to find his - their - family, but Oseanie stayed never more than an arm's length away from him. Her eyes were intent and alert, even against the dark, and she sent the axe into the wrinkled brow of a vampire three yards off, and stooped to retrieve a knife buried in a pirate's gut as they moved past him. Oseanie didn't look at his face; a weapon was a weapon right now. 


Oseanie's gaze was drawn, curiously, to the Peacekeeper. This was a defining moment: Would Jaya keep peace? Or fight..? 


Fight, it seemed, and Oseanie smiled her way, even through the darkness and the chaos. "What is this?" The navigator tried to ask, though breathless and distracted by the constant shadows moving about her. "Is this a last resort?" A dying breath of a waning rule? "Or does she think she could really reclaim…" 


Oseanie could see, even in the dim moonlight, that pirates were falling around them. They died fighting violently, thrusting swords or daggers into the undead, but the living inevitably fell while the vampires only stumbled. 


It wasn't long before one of the creatures ran at Oseanie. She sidestepped quickly, putting herself between the beast and her father, whipped her weight around and dragged the beast to the ground until she straddled its back and plunged her knife into its skull. 


But as she withdrew her knife, Oseanie felt the very ground under her knees tremble and, over her shoulder, the young pirate saw yet another air-ship crash inelegantly into the trees. That would have killed men, but she knew instantly from the rustling of branches and the hissing - echoing like snakes - that there was a crew of vampires headed their way...  


Oseanie's dark eyes rose to her king, her captain, her father. She would never have given him orders, and so when she opened her mouth, her teeth ground as if in objection. But even if she trusted him as a leader, she knew that she could see further than he could. 


"Cap'," Oseanie shouted, over the din, with a knife ready in her hand and blood and brains dripping down her wrist. "You can't fight this fight. You need to get clear."

Tags!

Steph
 

*nudge*


On Mon, Jun 8, 2020 at 10:19 AM Steph via groups.io <singer.of.the.lost=gmail.com@groups.io> wrote:
*gentle nudge to Zaire*

On Mon, May 18, 2020 at 7:50 PM Rachel <rachelballa@...> wrote:

Oseanie didn't hesitate a second, plucking the axe from her father's hand and sinking it deep into the vampire's throat within a half-a-breath of when the beast seemed to rise from the dead to snap its pearly fangs, glimmering in the moonlight, at her. It's thirsty bite was no match for steady hands and steel, though Oseanie did turn her head away in disgust... 


The blood on her hands was cold, Oseanie noticed, as she leaned her weight on the blade to snap the beast's spine. Gross. She was glad to be on her feet again, with the bloodied axe in her hand at the ready….


Zaire: "Chione! Alby!" "Find my family!" "Spread th'word, ye bilge rats! Your King expects the 'ead'uv'a vampire from eachaya when this is over!" "Now get out there an' protect yer 'ome!"


Jaya: "There are probably more!"


The Captain was, reasonably, sending those among his elite to find his - their - family, but Oseanie stayed never more than an arm's length away from him. Her eyes were intent and alert, even against the dark, and she sent the axe into the wrinkled brow of a vampire three yards off, and stooped to retrieve a knife buried in a pirate's gut as they moved past him. Oseanie didn't look at his face; a weapon was a weapon right now. 


Oseanie's gaze was drawn, curiously, to the Peacekeeper. This was a defining moment: Would Jaya keep peace? Or fight..? 


Fight, it seemed, and Oseanie smiled her way, even through the darkness and the chaos. "What is this?" The navigator tried to ask, though breathless and distracted by the constant shadows moving about her. "Is this a last resort?" A dying breath of a waning rule? "Or does she think she could really reclaim…" 


Oseanie could see, even in the dim moonlight, that pirates were falling around them. They died fighting violently, thrusting swords or daggers into the undead, but the living inevitably fell while the vampires only stumbled. 


It wasn't long before one of the creatures ran at Oseanie. She sidestepped quickly, putting herself between the beast and her father, whipped her weight around and dragged the beast to the ground until she straddled its back and plunged her knife into its skull. 


But as she withdrew her knife, Oseanie felt the very ground under her knees tremble and, over her shoulder, the young pirate saw yet another air-ship crash inelegantly into the trees. That would have killed men, but she knew instantly from the rustling of branches and the hissing - echoing like snakes - that there was a crew of vampires headed their way...  


Oseanie's dark eyes rose to her king, her captain, her father. She would never have given him orders, and so when she opened her mouth, her teeth ground as if in objection. But even if she trusted him as a leader, she knew that she could see further than he could. 


"Cap'," Oseanie shouted, over the din, with a knife ready in her hand and blood and brains dripping down her wrist. "You can't fight this fight. You need to get clear."

Tags!

Manda
 

Jaya: … "There are probably more!"


Oseanie: "What is this?" ... "Is this a last resort?" ... "Or does she think she could really reclaim…" 


It was a killing blow. 


Zaire was untouchable whether here on the island or on the ocean or on land on the coast and Francesca knew that. He had too much support; he was too popular and she was too unpopular. Still, she'd found a way to strike right at his heart


As the moments of chaos stretched around them, Zaire leaned into the pain he felt as his men fell around him, as their wives shouted for mercy, as their children scattered, letting it drive him forward. His blade cleaved, an axe finding its way into his off hand at some point, but none of it would be enough. Even if they managed to pull back to the fort, the vampires would lay siege and how long would they last with those seductive whispers pulling them closer and closer to the doors and windows? 


Oseanie: "Cap'," Oseanie shouted, over the din, with a knife ready in her hand and blood and brains dripping down her wrist. "You can't fight this fight. You need to get clear."


Zaire's dark eyes swept to the longboats waiting on the sand, the dark water and the darker shapes moving within it. Merfolk, ready to help. And beyond the rush of waves bobbed the small fleet of ships anchored a short row in the distance. It was their only chance, being on the water, manning the cannons, relying on their alliance with the merfolk...


"To the water!" Zaire roared, and around him others took up the call. He skewered a vampire, the tip of his spadroon bursting through the creature's back, then brought the short axe up to bury it in the creature's head and was moving on before the body had even collapsed. 


"Father!" 


Zaire turned to find Davit running toward him, Sidro in his arms, and he felt a flutter of relief that he wouldn't allow himself to indulge yet. "Go, lad!" he said, giving his son a push toward the water. "Get t'th'Song."


Already he could see Jimmy and Einar loading women and children into the longboats, a wall of pirates holding off the vampires even as merfolk launched deadly harpoons from the water. But they'd need those pirates to sail the ships, something that Jahid seemed to realize the same time Zaire did and the accountant began organizing the retreat, peppering the riggers and gunners into those boats, while leaving the vanguard to defend. 


It felt like ages before the first boat pushed off the sand, propelled along by the merfolk just under the surface, but seeing them escape was heartening. The Island may be lost but they'd save as many as they could...


It wasn't a killing blow, after all, but a maiming blow, Zaire realized. Blood would clot, injuries would heal, and this animal would come back scarred and deadly and hungry for revenge. 


Tags