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Author Topic: Sailors on the Wyrd  (Read 245 times)

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Offline Murometz

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Sailors on the Wyrd
« on: July 12, 2016, 07:02:06 PM »
The comet appeared in the sky one day, a green-yellow ball of flame with a hoary tail. It turned a cerulean blue and then red, and then finally darkened, to appear as a streaking bolt of dried, rusted, blood.

The peoples of the Young Kingdoms and those lethargic, dreaming souls of Melnibone, interpreted the vision differently.  But all agreed on one point. The falling star was a dire omen.

After a year, the comet vanished from the sky and men of all kingdoms wondered where it fell.
 
Gerhard Larran was born beneath the streaking star, and like others born in that year, he was different. So much different. Gerhard was inhabited.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2016, 03:25:55 PM by Murometz »
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Offline Murometz

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Re: Sailors on the Weird
« Reply #1 on: July 12, 2016, 07:07:31 PM »
Frothy waves brought in by the tide lap at the boardwalk, as the third son of Dietrich Larran makes his way amidst the rain-slicked planks. He slows his pace as he spots a particular ship, the Fate's Plight, swaying, her timber creaking in the harbor, reeking of old wood and salt and human sweat, despite the incessant downpour beating mercilessly down around it. Old Altoth shambles behind him, his queer violet eyes darting to and fro.

Meet the captain, one Corlin Sharlto, a squat, bearded Sealord from Purple Towns, as he descends the slippery plank from the ship to greet the Guild's representative.

"You are Gerhard Larran?" He shouts over wind and rain. "The ship is ready. As soon as the rains cease, we disembark. To the Isle of Purple Towns first, for provisions and more men. Then east beyond the Roaring Rocks, to search for your isle."
« Last Edit: July 20, 2016, 03:08:01 PM by Murometz »
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Offline EchoMirage

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Re: Sailors of the Weird
« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2016, 04:26:03 AM »
Gerhard reached out to shake the man's hand.
"In order - correct, excellent, understood, I'd have chosen the same place to restock, looking forward to it."
Then, he produced a scroll tube from below his cloak.
"The Guild of Natural Philosophers, Explorers and Innovative Craftsmen, it its infinite generosity, has provided us with material, instruments and a few - with emphasis on 'few' - helping hands. Here, the cargo manifest."
They took shelter behind a stack of crates to avoid a portion of the ever-present spray.
"Mister Althoth here, is an emeritus freelance natural philosopher who has decided to lend his sizeable experience and keen faculties to our endeavour. I am much honoured by having him on board."
At least that was the cover story he made up. Honestly, he had no idea at all who or what Althoth was, but he was keen on finding out - this, and anything else the old man may know. It was not trust that paved the old man's way aboard, but rather the young mage's curiosity, along with Althoth's talent at piquing his interest in the rightest of ways, and a deep knowledge of things that most scholars seemed unaware even existed.
"The rest should be arriving any moment." And so it was.
"Alasdair Arden, the quartermaster" he acquainted the door-filling Tarkes**te, who gruffly nodded his silvered head, and moved on. "Everyone just calls him Foreman, though." A senior craftsman and jack of all trades, Alasdair was used to get things done; Gerhard relied on him in many of the practical aspects of their expedition. For one, he could tell a worker from a loafer from a mile away.
"Miss Joleri Dirza, in whose calloused yet tender hands we place our well-being and safety" he introduced the Dharijorian pirate. Reformed pirate, to be exact. She lifted the eye patch, revealing a healthy eye underneath, despite the scar that crossed her face. "If you make it back home alive, it will be my doing" she laughed. Gerhard trusted her well enough - and it was not just due to infatuation with a fiery woman, but rather due to her infatuation with Filkhar and its colourful and entertaining ways. He suspected that she also reveled in the combination of respect, fear and adoration she was able to evoke in the ever-so-slightly over-civilised Filks, especially the sheltered members of a certain guild. Being seen as important to such adventurous expeditions (instead just another dispensable scallywag) was a definite plus.
"Finally, Ivor is the student of one of my colleagues, here both to lend a hand in academic pursuits, and seeing the opportunity to further his knowledge on such a unique voyage." This was not entirely true - master Niall thought it best to send the youth abroad for an extended period of time, so that the fallout of a certain incident may blow over. The tall youth struggled with a crate of instruments, the rain running from his messy hair down his pointed freckled nose.
"Let me help, boy" Gerhard offered, and, hauling the fragile cargo on board, added: "The rest of the material will be here soon - tools, supplies, the usual."
« Last Edit: July 20, 2016, 04:15:15 AM by EchoMirage »
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Offline valadaar

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Re: Sailors of the Weird
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2016, 09:45:48 AM »

The Demon inside Althoth’s body broods.

The magic of Man.  One of Althoth’s obsessions. An odd thing for a priest. Probably found the feeble gifts of his gods insufficient to sate his desires so sought more.  Zylonion could understand that.

What he can't understand was how that Priest had been able to trap him so well. The Magic of Man held more power than he had expected.   The host holds memories of it, which are useful, along with general memories of life, which is also useful for maintaining the pretense of normalcy.

This Gerhard was interesting.  He too tinkered in the Magic of Man and greatly desired it. So much that this expedition was mounted, and so much he is bringing Althoth along.

The presence of these mortals in such close quarters will be a constant distraction. He needs them, but his very being wishes to consume them.  Instead, he must gnaw away at the shreds of Althoth’s own spirit that still clung to this husk.

He betrayed none of this when he turned in response to his name, and gave a quick, nearly toothless smile.
   
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Offline Murometz

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Re: Sailors on the Weird
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2016, 10:52:27 AM »
Altoth's decrepit form does the demon no favors, as he is introduced and examined by the steely-eyed Sharlto, who seems to question the old man's usefulness without saying a word.

He wrinkles his nose when the Dharijorian woman is introduced as well. Reformed pirates...he has had his share of run-ins with the fierce corsairs of Dharijor.

The Foreman and Ivor illicit no reaction from the captain.

Soon, with help from porters, the tools and supplies are loaded onto Fate's Plight, and the two-masted brig is now ready for departure. The rains die down by the time Gerhard and the rest have settled into their cramped, leaky quarters below deck.

"May Lassa of the Winds and Straasha the Sea-King guide us safely across the wine-dark seas" mumbles the captain to himself, as he is wont to do.

Sharlto stands near the prow and contemplates the gray skies. Then he examines the cargo manifest, handed him earlier by Gerhard. Finally, he begins shouting orders in his booming voice. Sailors of a dozen nations scramble to and fro, ropes are untied, sails checked, and slowly, the ship lurches into the heaving tides.

Fate's Plight makes its way out of Raschil's bay and veers north by north-east, heading toward the deep harbor of Menii amidst the Isle of Purple Towns. It will be a five-day sail, if winds hold up.

There are others on board, yet to be introduced. The first mate Ebrin, is the son of Corlin Sharlto, and looks just like his father. There is Old Bhroo, "the blind navigator", with his cages of weird pet bats. There is the dolorous Bosun, a Vilmirian named Werrus, who continually makes depressing comments about the world and life in general. There is even a Melnibonean on board, though she rarely leaves the confines of her cabin.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2016, 03:06:01 PM by Murometz »
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Offline Murometz

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Re: Sailors on the Wyrd
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2016, 02:30:13 PM »
Later that day, with the shores of Filkhar long behind them, Gerhard and his "retinue" are dining inside the spacious captain's cabin. Seated next to the captain is his son Ebrin on one side, and the bosun, Werrus, on the other. Old Bhroo is there as well, thankfully without his foul-smelling bat cages, and one other figure, an ephemeral looking woman with pale skin and long, vibrant, hair the color of burnished copper. Her emerald-green eyes dance, though she sits otherwise motionless. She is introduced by the captain, as Mi'il Karawn, a Melnibonean outcast from the Dreaming City of Imrryr.  Her presence is not otherwise explained forthwith by the captain.

"The Sea of Circles is treacherous water..." Werrus warns anyone interested. "We chase a comet beyond the Roaring Rocks? Folly, surely."

"There are beetles in Kafil..." Old Bhroo is saying to no one in particular, while chewing his food, "...which are prized for their ability to induce a euphoric dream-state, if ingested. They are sold by unscrupulous Lormyrians to anyone with enough coin to buy them, but what the purchasers of the insects do not know, is that without drinking the Yellow Wine of Madness in conjunction, the beetles offer no effect." The old man gargles a laugh in between bites, and downs his cup of ale. It becomes apparent quickly, that Old Brhoo is completely blind.

Ebrin, for his part, is doing a poor job of pretending to ignore the Melnibonean woman, and is constantly stealing glances in her direction.

Ivor excuses himself just in time to wretch his insides away from the table, as the seas swell, raising and dropping the ship through the waves.

Zylonion meanwhile stalks the salt-slicked deck alone, not comfortable dining with all of those miserable, human souls. He too, studies the lead-gray skies, thinking about Altoth and why that wretched priest had sought the same location that Gerhard now did. Did the demon's salvation lie there as well?
« Last Edit: July 20, 2016, 08:44:56 PM by Murometz »
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Offline EchoMirage

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Re: Sailors on the Wyrd
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2016, 03:35:03 PM »
"An excellent feast, dear captain - even by the standards of Filkhar" Gerhard set down the cutlery and wiped his mouth. "If the provisions we get on the Isle are at least half as good, this will be a pleasant voyage."
It was not empty flattery, though, admittedly, Gerhard had known hunger while marooned, and knew to treasure a meal.
"Coincidentally, what is new in the Purple Towns? Have more of your nobles joined the profitable path of Count Smiorgan, or is traditionalism still strong? Was a new Songstress crowned, or does Merveill still hold the title? And what about the Regatta? When will you allow non-Islanders to compete? I can say my father has one ship he would love to pit against an Islander frigate in that race - the Sunwalker. But there would be countless others, I am certain."

All bellies full, he hoped to stir up conversation, to draw the people forth from their shells, and perhaps get them acquainted more. Judging from their natures so far, he would have to be some of the social glue. Plus, he hoped to involve the Melnibonean in conversation as well - the other wizard on board was playing at hermit, the other academician feeding fishes, and the people of the Sleeping Isle were well known to be well versed in the more esoteric arts.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2016, 03:54:09 PM by Murometz »
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Offline Murometz

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Re: Sailors on the Wyrd
« Reply #7 on: July 20, 2016, 04:13:25 PM »
"Hah! The Baldhead made his mark, aye, after his adventures with that accursed albino--" the captain looks uncertainly toward Mi'il, who betrays no emotion.

"Inspired by Smiorgan's fiery oratory, the merchant cartels and the Sea Lords have indeed forged a fragile alliance. There is talk, that the combined forces of the Isles and the merchants guilds will rival all sea-powers henceforth. With the fall of the Dreaming City"--the captain once more gazes in Mi'il's direction, as if seeking to not offend the Melnibonean--"The Isle of Purple Towns stands ready to lead the Young Kingdoms. Only the depraved sorcerers and demon-worshipers of Pan Tang offer resistance on the seas. And of course the Dharijorian corsairs.." He glances askew at Joleri.

Ebrin meanwhile offers this, "Merveill still holds the Songtress title, Lord Larran. I am impressed with your knowledge of our shores! And there is talk that the Regatta will open its lists to other nations. You may well see for yourself when we dock at Menii. But tell more of our ultimate prize, Lord Larran. The Sea of Circles is indeed treacherous as Werrus says, and largely unexplored even by the brigs of the Purple Towns. What is it we seek? A dot of an island, where a comet fell? It seems..." he considers his words, "a weird quest to be sure."

Altoth shambles into the captain's quarters at that point, he has had enough salt water blasting his wizened face. He sits at the end of the table without a word. The emerald eyes of Mi'il meet the demon's violet ones just then, and Altoth knows instantly that she knows...his nature.

Once more however, the Melnibonean betrays no emotion.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2016, 09:09:58 PM by Murometz »
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Offline EchoMirage

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Re: Sailors on the Wyrd
« Reply #8 on: July 20, 2016, 04:42:12 PM »
"Rare would be a Filk house that does not trade with the Isle - and rarer still the Filk merchant who does not send someone from his own blood to oversee his investment. I am well acquainted with your harbours; I counted many a crate and coin there", he addressed Ebrin. "A panacea for paranoia, those Islanders - not one tried to cheat me", he quipped to Joleri then.
"The best way to lose one's edge, though" she smirked in retort.

"As for our voyage, a fallen star is no common thing. It is, literally, out of this world. From beyond the firmament, it breaks through the astral spheres, often picking up wondrous effects on the way. Each fallen star is unique. Usually, they burn to naught but ash, battered by spirits of the air as they descend. Why? I think they seek to protect the world from such strange outside influence. Alas, the elementals fail in their pastime on occasion, perhaps strangely more so in the recent times. But, it may be a bias in reporting, for chroniclers were not as busy in days of yore. Nonetheless, a such find is of interest to natural philosophers and alchemists. Being both, it is my duty to seek it out, and wrest its secrets from its scorched countenance."
Though Gerhard would like to deny it at times, his Filk blood reveled in the theatrical exposition, his need to paint a vivid picture sated.
"The Guild says its primary obligation is to uncover fundamental truths and ennoble mankind through progress. On a more pragmatic side, it also sequesters everyone who would play with explosives in a building of stone, far away from any shingled or thatched roofs. It also offers an opportunity for the curious to travel the world for royal money, which is our case. An investment into the future; as knowledge tends to spread, the future of all of us."

A little rusty, but writing those speeches for Father certainly paid off.
"Captain, the buttocks are moving from the pink into the red and purple spectrum! We cannot maintain this rate of spanking any longer!"

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Offline valadaar

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Re: Sailors on the Wyrd
« Reply #9 on: July 20, 2016, 08:11:30 PM »
Althoth flashes another somewhat vacant, barely toothy grin at the Melnibonean.  He moves over to what remains of the feast and selects the softest fare, including some pure fat the others had rejected.  Some wine as well.  Broth too.  A plate fit for an invalid.  A show for those who had yet not divined his nature.

Gerhard indeed had a gift for oratory, one that perhaps Althoth the priest may have matched. The Demon had no such inclination to oratory, but the Melnbonean was fascinating.  He wonders which of the Gods she was allied to.

Instead, he loudly slurped his food, watching for the reactions of his fellow travelers, and wishing he could flay them all.





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Offline Moonlake

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Re: Sailors on the Wyrd
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2016, 07:43:39 AM »
Mi'il feels lethargy (a predominant mood among Melniboneans) settling around her shoulders like a favourite cloak. And yet, there are a few things that have managed to penetrate such a haze. Foremost among them are the Demon hosting in the elderly priest and the human leading this expedition of some obscure pursuit that only those of the younger races care about. There is something a little odd about this human, something that she can't quite put her fingers on.

Idly, she wonders how much these two things would bring some fun to lighten up the monotonous time on board the ship. And maybe, just maybe, they might have a role to play in changing the direction of her life. Increasingly, she is feeling that she needs a change. Though of what she is not quite sure.

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Re: Sailors on the Wyrd
« Reply #11 on: Today at 12:29:07 PM »
Seeing the ebbs and flows of Althoth's activity, Gerhard could but wonder how long the man would last. Yesterday, he had painted visions of the arcane, of realms beyond thousandfold veils, and things from beyond the scope of imagination, and today, his wits were but his and his alone. He knew that state from the elderly - one day vibrant and full of lore and hard-earned wisdom, the other a vacant husk. Perhaps the sea had affected him more than he let on?
The Melnibonean, for all her trim and cultured charm, was adrift on the waves of ennui, and he soon lost interest. The mage liked women witty and saucy, and cheeky and irreverent, vibrant and vital. Shrugging, he joined Joleri and Ebrin in a none-too-serious discussion on how they would outrace the Purple-Towners on the Regatta, so decisively and punishingly that - after recovering from the wreckage of their fleet - they'd forbid foreigners from taking part ever again.
"Never going to happen" the boy laughed.
"This girl is going to make it happen!" was the raucous reply.
"Trust her on this one - and check your boat's bottom for suddenly appearing holes" Gerhard advised, receiving a jab in the ribs as reward for betraying such vital secrets. Laughs were had. There would be enough serious days ahead, fo that he was sure. But not today.
"Captain, the buttocks are moving from the pink into the red and purple spectrum! We cannot maintain this rate of spanking any longer!"

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