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 Post subject: The Ice Man Leaveth
PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2016 5:49 pm 
Magical Liopleurodon
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:46 pm
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Location: The Great North
“You can't just leave,” Jerome said. He was always so serious, so obedient. So boring. “Think of what people will say about you. About father.”

“I don't care.” I did care a little, but Jerome didn't need to know that. I'd already made up my mind at this point, and his nagging was not going to change anything. I was fed up and had made my decision to leave, and that's exactly what I was going to do.

“You're unbelievable, you know that? Do you ever think about anyone other than yourself?”

“I try not to.” Again, not entirely true. I cared deeply for what certain people thought, or what happened to them. For the rest, not so much. Jerome was in a weird spot in between. We were brothers, after all, so I had to love him. But that didn't mean I had to like him, and I certainly did not. We were polar opposites, him so studious and serious, me more laid back and rebellious. In hindsight perhaps I should have listened to him more, but there's no way anyone could have convinced me of that at the time. I walked towards the door and pushed it open only a crack before Jerome stopped me.

“Please, don't do this. It's not right. I- I'm not prepared for the responsibilities. They're meant to be yours not, mine!”

“Well you'd better start preparing, then. Now get out of the way.”

I pushed the door more forcefully, ignoring Jerome as I stepped past him. I descended the long staircase that had become the bane of my existence, exiting into the even longer corridor. It was too late for anyone to be up, making my escape much easier and less noticeable.

After an eternity I exited into the courtyard, lit brilliantly by the torches lining its perimiter. They came in all colors, one of the benefits of the Academy's particular focus. In the center was the ever-rotating statue of the Sun, the pride and joy of the headmaster. I was excited to gaze on it for the last time when a thought occurred. A final delinquent act to perform before leaving for good.

With a flick of my wrist the Sun's glow dimmed and fizzled out as the statue became encased in a thick layer of ice. So entranced was I with my idea that I nearly forgot I was leaving, and spent a good half hour decorating my creation with symbols and spikes to represent the Sun's rays. Only when I began to hear footsteps did I remember my true goal, and quickly continued out of the courtyard into the streets below.

* * *

The streets were as usual. The major roadways were brightly lit, the same colorful torches lining their edges as they did the courtyard of the Academy. The alleyways, though, were as dark and dreary as those found in any other part of the world. I stuck to those, not keen on running into anyone during my nighttime stroll through town. Following a path I'd traversed many times before – albeit only in the light of day until then – I made my way to the home of Mauritia.

Mauritia was a good decade older than me, but that did not stop either of us pursuing one another. She'd attended the Academy as well in her youth, though that came as no surprise when I found out – she was certainly smart enough. It gave us something to talk about as we got to know one another, an icebreaker of sorts. Like me, she had been unimpressed by the Academy's leadership and, like me, she often acted out. Unlike me, however, she was regularly punished for such acts. Were it not for my father I'm sure it would have been the same for me.

As our relationship grew it only cemented my desire to leave the Academy, just as Mauritia did. Who needed their teachings? I, in my infinite adolescent wisdom, already knew all I needed to know. They were just trying to hold me back, keep my abilities contained. Rules and regulations did not matter to me. Those were the things Jerome cared about, and how could I be like him?

And so I made my way to Mauritia's home, two miles from the Academy, through side streets and alleyways. The few people I passed were more concerned with staying unseen themselves to care about me. Likely thieves or deviants, but it mattered little to me. They weren't harming me. I'd vandalized enough buildings to be in no position to judge them for their misdeeds.

When I finally reached my goal I knocked in the tune of Mauritia's favorite song, a pattern we'd use to identify one another at the door. She was always worried someone would be coming for her, so this best way to let her know there was no harm coming her way.

After a moment I knocked again, more loudly. It was late, she could have been asleep. I hadn't exactly told her I'd decided to leave the Academy this exact night, though she knew of my desire to.

A few more moments passed by before a final knock. This time she answered. I sighed a great sigh of relief, glad that she was safe. She opened the door in her loose sleeping gown, a sight I loved to see. She'd very clearly been asleep, as I'd thought, as she was rubbing her eyes and her hair was in her face.

“What are you doing?” she asked, before letting out a large yawn.

“I left.”

“I can see that, but why? It's the middle of the night.”

“No, I mean I left. For good. I came to stay with you.”

“Oh. Oh!” Her eyes were wider, the realization finally sinking in. She smiled and we embraced, then I made my way inside. “Well I'm going back to bed. We can talk more about this in the morning,” she said. She stretched and walked back towards her bed, which sat in the corner of the room that was her home. It was much more modest than any place I'd ever lived, and I could not have been happier to be there. I followed after, removing my boots and robes, and joined her in the bed.

* * *

I woke the next morning to a wonderful smell, the scent of freshly baked bread permeating the air. Another scent, that of cooking eggs, soon followed and I was quick to sit up. On the other side of the room, at her fire, Mauritia was making the wonderful breakfast. A simple peasant's breakfast, but for me there could have been nothing better in the world. No more butlers, no more meticulously prepared meals. I was finally free to live my own life, not the one my family had planned since my birth. And I got to live it with the most beautiful woman.

Noticing that I was awake, Mauritia turned and smiled. “You get enough sleep? You were out for awhile. I had time to go get this bread for the market and return before you were even awake.”

“Well I was up late,” I responded. It was stating the obvious, sure, but I could think of little better to say. I had just woken up, after all.

“That is true,” she said, turning back to the cooking eggs. The yolk of one had broken while she was turned and she was cursing herself for not paying attention, but I could not have cared one way or another how nice the eggs looked. I just wanted to eat them.

“What do you want to do today?” I asked, as I stood from the bed. My robes, which I'd dropped on the ground, had been moved to against the wall and folded. I picked them back up and put them on, before sitting in the bench to lace up my boots.

“I have to work. You should explore the town, or whatever it is you like. I'll be back later.”

“Can I watch you work? I have nothing to do all day, I might as well see what a day in your life is like.”

“You'll just get in my way. Besides, my boss would never allow it. He's not big on visits.”

“Well I guess I will just explore then. Maybe I will find some odd jobs to do while I'm out, something to pass the time and earn a little coin. I can't let you pay for everything.”

“That you can't,” she said with a grin as she turned to bring me my breakfast of eggs and bread. I'd had both many times before, in many different ways, but this was my favorite. The simplicity of it was a nice change of pace, and I saw it as a sign of things to come for my life as a whole. How naive I was back then.

Mauritia brought her plate along with her and sat next to me on the bench. Together we ate our meal and made small talk, both beaming with joy. When the meal was done she took the plates away and put on the rest of her clothes and, after a kiss goodbye, she made her way to her job.

I never knew what she did for work, but she talked about it all the time. She seemed to enjoy the job and the people she worked with, though she never had a kind thing to say about the boss. From all I'd gathered he was a large, brutish sort of man with a beard and hairy arms – hairy enough that they deserved being mentioned on multiple occasions. He smoke a lot and drank a lot and was often handsy with the women. I told her once that if I met him I'd have to teach him a lesson, but she told me that it would only do more harm than good. I'd hoped that first day to finally get to meet the man face to face, size him up, and give him a piece of my mind, but I wanted to respect her wishes to stay out of it. So, instead, I explored the city.

Cru'un is an exceptionally large city, and until my first day as a free man I'd experience virtually none of it. Until I was eight years old I'd only experienced my own home. Then my horizons broadened ever so slightly to include the Academy, which came to be my second home. I'd explored all of its extensive ground by the time I'd finished my second year there, and after that things became stale. I longed to see more of the city, but it was not allowed to those so young.

By fifteen I was finally allowed to venture out into the city, though not without an adult escort. This also meant we were limited in where we were allowed to go, as the adults were careful not to expose us to anything they deemed unfitting for children. But once I'd been given an inch I fully intended to take a mile. Whenever I could manage it I'd slip away on my own, going to places I'd been forbidden to go with an escort, seeing things I'm sure they didn't want me to see. And once I'd tasted that small amount of freedom I only wanted more. Now that I had it, I was at a loss for what to do. I could do anything, everything that I'd ever wanted to do. But what first?

Without a plan or goal in mind, I left the home after Mauritia and wandered down a street. When it ended or turned I'd take a new path. I did not care where I was going, I'd find my way back eventually. I just wanted to see things, anything, it would all be new to me.

After awhile I found myself in a small local marketplace, the intersection of three medium-sized roads a few blocks from the house. The smell of fresh bread wafted from one of the nearby shops, smelling just like what I'd woke up to. I knew this must have been where Mauritia did her shopping. I had no money to buy bread, though, so I continued on.

As I wandered I past all manner of people and places. Large estate with stone walls and ornate gardens, smaller row houses and even the occasional hovel. There were shops, stalls, vendors selling their wares from carts. Busy streets, empty streets, I saw it all. Eventually I came upon the docks.

I know now that there are many more impressive ports in the world than Cru'un's, from the seemingly-endless coastline of Talguta to the immaculate masonry of Ellisport. At the time, however, the sight of the docks was mind-blowing to me. So many ships, and so large. I never fully grasped how large a sailing vessel was in person until then. I'd only seen them from afar or in paintings, and the paintings never show what they look like in port with people moving past them like ants. The activity at the docks made the busier streets I'd passed seem lazy by comparison.

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 Post subject: Re: The Ice Man Leaveth
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2016 7:05 pm 
Magical Liopleurodon
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Joined: Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:46 pm
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Location: The Great North
Like the start of my day, I began my first foray into the port by simply wandering aimlessly. I took it all in, looking around as I walked, often to the frustration of the many busy people rushing to and fro. Some looked upon me with annoyance or disgust, though most simply ignored my amazement and pushed past. It didn't matter, I was too engrossed in enjoying the sights, sounds, and smells that made up the docks. Not all were pleasant, but it was all so new and exciting that I enjoyed each in their own way.

I stopped at a fisherman's stall after a few moments, perusing the man's wares. I'd seen fish cooked in all ways but this was my first glimpse at the raw, uncooked creatures that had been a staple of my diet. They were a bit gross to look at, and the odor was overpowering, but the sheer variety of shapes and sizes was fascinating. I'd seen them mostly as filets, not in their natural shapes. Who'd have guessed that the Swordfish was truly so large?

I could not buy any of the fish, not that I had any inclination to. I had no money or knowledge of how to prepare them, so I moved on. Next I saw a man peddling trinkets he claimed to have fished out of abandoned temples in the Serran desert. Some were simple, bowls and rusted daggers. Some were more ornate, like a jewel-encrusted staff he claimed had been used by the priests in a temple to some god I knew nothing about, long-since abandoned. The prices he asked for these things seemed so low that I was inclined to buy, though my lack of funds prevented me from doing so. It was for the better, that would not be my first run-in with a man overstating the quality of his goods. Again I moved on.

I walked by many stalls selling many things before I stumbled upon a tavern. By now I've forgotten its name, it's been so long since I've been back in Cru'un. I want to say it had 'Marlin' in its name, though that is barely more than a guess. Either way, my venture into the tavern was eye-opening. Men and women of all colors and sizes, elves – who I'd only seen rarely – and even orcs and dwarves. I made my way in and stepped up to the bar, through the loud crowd of sailors.

“How much for your cheapest drink?” I asked to the back of the bartender's head, a large man who, once turned around, showed himself to be old and covered in scars. A tattoo of a serpent wrapped around his bald head and down the back of his neck.

“How old are you, boy?”

“Old enough.” It never occurred to me that my age would matter, it never did in the past. I asked, I received.

“Not so sure about that. You look barely older than my grandson, he sure as hell ain't old enough.”

“20,” I lied. He laughed.

“Sure, kid. And I'm the king. Beat it, I don't have time for kids.”

He stared me down and it didn't take long for me to cave and leave. I made sure to get a good second look around the place as I exited. It was frustrating to be treated so rudely, but at the same time it felt liberating. People didn't usually say 'no' to me, they were always too afraid of the repercussions. For the first time I was being viewed as just another person, and it felt good. I walked out with a grin on my face, one of the men entering as I left scowled and spat at my feet as he passed.

Back on the docks I took a long, deep breath of that sweet sea air and continued on my way. I passed all sorts, including a few women offering a fun time, many of whom were even older than Mauritia. The thought was tempting, but I had a love in my life and I didn't need their services. Nor did I need it from the occasional man who offered either, though their advances were much easier to rebuff.

As I walked and gazed I bumped into a dwarf who stood only inches shorter than me. He shoved me, his powerful arms sending me into a nearby stall-keepers pile of wares.

“Watch where you're going you little shit!” the man said, scowling at me. I'd been cut on my arm from the crate I fell into, though no one around seemed to care. The stall-keeper was more concerned that none of his goods had been damaged, and none of others passing by paid either of us any mind. After all, as I'd later learn, fights along the docks were a common sight.

“You cut me,” I said, still a bit stunned by the sudden violent shove.

“I pushed you, the crate cut you. But get in my way again and maybe I'll just have to as well,” he says, patting at the cutlass hanging from his hip. He turned to walk away.

“Asshole,” I said to myself as I stood back up, my left hand held over the small gash on my right arm. I thought I'd said it quietly, though the dwarf heard nonetheless.

“The fuck you say, kid?” he turned and his scowl only worsened as he placed his hand back on his sword.

“I said you're an asshole!” I shouted back, too angry now to really be reasonable. He'd hurt me, I already knew I wanted to hurt him back.

“Say that to my face,” he said, as he pulled his sword and began to walk towards me. He didn't make it far.

As the dwarf approached I removed my hand from my wound for a moment, long enough to do the trick. With a flick of my wrist the man's feet stopped moving. He looked down to find they'd been anchored to the ground by a thick layer of ice. As he looked on, his eyes wide with shock, I froze his hand to his sword and stepped closer. I stopped once my face was a foot from his.

“You're an asshole,” I said again, though he could not react.

He could move a bit, but not enough to do anything to me. I grabbed the frozen blade of his sword and yanked it down violently. There was a crack and his sword, along with part of his arm, came cracking off the rest of his arm. I dropped to the ground and his sword and hand shattered at my feet. I then spat in his face and walked away, leaving him to slowly melt. I never saw what happened to him after that, but I like to think he stopped being such an asshole.

I didn't make it far before I heard shouting coming from the distance. At first I paid it no mind, shouting was commonplace on the docks I'd found. But this shouting was growing louder and louder and I began to notice some repeated phrases. Phrases like “there he is,” “we found him,” and “don't let him out of your sight,” among similar ones came from the mouths of many different men and women as they seemed to approach.

Once I noticed the shouting I turned and, to my great frustration, realized who it was. The Magi. I'd forgotten all about them in my eagerness to be free. Of course they'd come looking for me once they realized I'd left the Academy. Now that I knew that they were after me, and that they'd found me, I began to run. I ran through the crowds along the docks, holding my arm, in pain and panicking all along the way. I didn't know where I was running to, but I didn't plan to stop until I couldn't see or hear them anymore. I could not go back, I would not. At that point it would have been preferable to die to an asshole dwarf than live another day confined to that wretched place.

When I was far enough that I was sure I'd lost them I had an idea. Making my way down one of the docks I rushed up the gangplank of some ship, which I later learned was named Korin's Heart. There were crew members on the ship, but I somehow managed to slip past them and into one of the lower decks. There I found a corner and hid myself, stealing a nearby shirt that had been laying on the ground to use as a makeshift bandage for my still-bloody arm. There I waited, hoping to stay for a few hours to be sure that I'd lost them. That was the second-to-last time I saw Cru'un.

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 Post subject: Re: The Ice Man Leaveth
PostPosted: Fri Nov 04, 2016 6:50 pm 
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I don't know how long I was sitting in that dark corner before I passed out, but when I came to I was not alone and the ground below me was moving. A group of men and women looked down at me, lying in a corner of their ship, and their eyes showed more concern than anger. There I was, a young and injured man – a boy, really – whom none of them had ever seen before. I am sure it was quite a sight to behold, though I doubt they were strangers to stowaways.

I sat up and immediately felt the throbbing in my arm as I used it to help prop myself up. One of them seemed to notice the blood-stained rag of a shit wrapped around my wound and bent down. She put her hand on my shoulder and a warm, soothing feel washed over me. When I took the rag off later that evening it was clear that her spell had closed the wound, though it was too late to prevent scarring.

“Thanks,” I said. One of them spoke to another, though not in a language I understood. A few more began to talk amongst themselves, though I could only pick out a handful of Cru'unish words.

“Who are you?” a different woman asked, after the one who'd healed me stood back up and rejoined the group.

“Uh...” I began. I didn't know if I should tell them my name. After all, they could be part of the Magi, or at least have heard it from them. I did not want to be handed over.

“Do you not remember?” the woman who'd healed me asked. That was it! I'd fake amnesia. I'd heard of it working for people before, at least in stories.

“No... I don't,” I said.

“Bullshit!” a man said, looking down at me with a scowl.

“You don't believe him?” the first woman asked.

“Of course not. He was wounded on his arm, that don't cause you to forget who you are.” Of course, how could I feign amnesia if they hadn't seen a head injury? It wasn't the best move, I realized.

“Maybe he's shy,” said the other woman. “He was hurt and hiding out here, I don't think he means us any harm.”

“Yes, it doesn't really matter who he is. He'll tell us if he wants to. We should get him something to eat, I'm sure he's hungry. Are you hungry?” said the first woman.

“Yes,” I said. Until that moment I hadn't really thought about it, but I'd spent most of the day walking and had nothing to eat since the small breakfast Mauritia had made me. Mauritia! I had to get home to her, she'd probably be worried about me.

“Actually, I need to head home. My... wife is waiting for me.” The man looked on with a raised eye brow, then spoke.

“It's a bit late for that, boy. We've been at sea for hours now, and we're not going back to Cru'un. At least not anytime soon.”

And then the sinking realization hit me. The moving ground wasn't some side effect of the injury messing my head, the ground was actually moving. That's what ships do when they're sailing. What was I going to do? Mauritia would be waiting for me. She'd think I abandoned her. Or, worse, she'd think I'd been taken back. Locked up, prevented from seeing her. How would she react? Would she try to help me? She'd probably get arrested if she went to the Academy trying to find someone. What should I do?

“Can't we just take him back?” asked the first woman.

“You know we can't,” said the second. “We're running late as is, and if we are late to Vizidel again Mr. Merlo will terminate our contract.” The first woman sighs and looks at me, her pity clear in her face.

“You're right, as always.” She looks to me. “Looks like you're stuck with us for now,” she continues with a forced smile. She holds out her hand to help me up.

The man harrumphed and walked into the distance, heading up a steep set of stairs to the deck above. I watched as he left, followed by most of the others who'd been crowded around, not sure what to make of my situation. I was still stressing over all the thoughts of Mauritia and what would happen to our relationship and the women must have noticed my sullen demeanor.

“You don't have to tell us your name if you don't want to, but I'm Ida,” said the first woman, as I took her hand.

“I'm Maria,” said the other. The two both had distinct accents, neither of which were Cru'unish, and neither of which sounded the same. I'd never met foreigners except for these, and I wondered where they came from. And where we were headed. Vizidel? I'd heard it mentioned in passing or in history lessons, but I wouldn't have been able to pick it out on a map if my life depended on it. Geography and history were never my strong suits, I was much more focused on the practical aspects of my magical abilities than any of the more academic subjects.

“Thanks,” I said as I stood, and then nearly fell again as the ship rocked beneath me.

“You'll get your sea legs eventually,” Ida said with a chuckle. “Looks like you'll be stuck with us for awhile.”

“How'd you find your way in here, anyway?” Maria asked. Her tone was more inquisitive and suspicious, though she didn't seem nearly as offended by my presence as the man had.

“I was running from some men and this just seemed like a good place to hide out for awhile. I never expected I'd pass out...”

“Running, huh? What did you do, steal something?”

“No! I'm not a thief,” I responded. They thought me a common criminal? I guess in hindsight it makes sense, but in the moment I was not having it. Me, a thief! An outrageous thought. “Look, it's complicated,” I continued.

“What's complicated? People don't just run and hide for no reason. You must have done something to them.” I was about to speak before Ida butted in.

“I'm sure he will talk when he is ready,” she said, speaking in a scolding tone towards Maria. “We shouldn't force him. He seems like a nice kid, let's give him some time to relax and fill his stomach.”

“Fine, whatever,” Maria said, before following the man up to the deck.

“I'm sure you had your reasons for hiding out,” Ida said, turning to face me. She had the forced smile back on her face. “We'll get you something to eat and make up a hammock for you with the rest of the crew. You can get some rest.”

“Thanks, I really appreciate it,” I said.

“Oh, well don't thank me too soon,” she continued. “You may not be an official part of the crew, but we can't just have you riding along for free. You'll get a pass today since you seem a bit shaken up, and you were wounded, but tomorrow you get to be a sailor. Hope you're a fast learner,” she said with a wink, before pointing towards the steps. “Now come on, I will have some food brought to you.”

I complied, and followed after the woman. There was no room for protest, I was an intruder on their vessel and I knew enough of how ships work to know that at sea the captain is King. I didn't know who of them, if any, were the captain, but they all out-ranked me and I was not going to risk getting tossed overboard by being snarky.

Ida led me up the steps and onto the top deck, which seemed much different than it had been when I boarded. Where before it had been mostly empty, now it was teeming with sailors going about their tasks, keeping the ship on course and up to speed. I looked around and saw the vast, endless ocean in every direction, no land in sight. It was absolutely terrifying, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't still get a little terrified at the sight. It was easy to see how someone could get lost and disappear completely at sea, never to be heard from again.

“Come on, you will have more time to look at the waves than you'll know what to do with,” said Ida, as she directed me towards a door at the rear of the ship. Outside the door were some barrels and crates, one of which she had me sit down on.

“Wait here,” she said, motioning for me to sit on one of the crates. Once more I complied, and she headed through the door. I took the time waiting, which wasn't long, to think more about Mauritia and the life I nearly had with her. All that planning, finding the perfect time of night to leave on the easiest day to do so. All that memorizing of side streets and alleyways, and learning the Magi patrols. All of that flew out the window when I stepped on this ship and was whisked away from Cru'un.

At the time I had no idea if I'd even make it back. I'd heard horror stories of pirates pillaging and destroying merchant ships, horrible storms sinking even the largest, most sturdy vessels, and terrible creatures devouring entire crews in a single gulp. If there's one thing I'd learned about the ocean, it was that it was a completely cold and unforgiving place, where anything could happen to anyone at anytime, and even the most savvy could be caught completely off-guard in a moment's notice.

As my thoughts dwelled on such dark thoughts the door opened back up and Ida emerged. In her hands she carried a small wooden plate, bearing on it a slice of hard bread and what looked like a potato, though not any sort of potato I'd ever seen.

“Here, get something to eat. When you're done I'll show you where you can sleep while you're here. After that you can rest when you please. Tomorrow we'll decide what to have you do around the ship.”

“Thank you. I don't know how much help I will be, but I will do what I can,” I said.

“There are plenty of things to do that don't involve any special skills or training, don't you worry about that. If all else fails, I expect at the very least we are going to have some very clean decks this trip,” she responded with another wink.

With that she headed off to the other end of the deck, doing gods know what. I was too focused on the food to pay much attention to what she or anyone else was doing. Not that it would matter, at the time my mind was racing with thoughts of home and what lied in my future to be able to give the attention needed to learn by example.

I ate the food, which was bland and dry. I will never forget that meal, it was one of the best I'd ever eat at sea. Had someone told me then and there just how poor quality meals tended to be on a ship, I'd probably never have chosen to spend so much time on them. Not that I'd have much choice in the matter.

When finished with the food I had no idea what to do with the plate, so I simply set it on the ground and leaned against the nearby wall. I looked past the crew – over their heads, really – at the sky above the sea, since I could not see much of the water itself from where I was. The clouds were gloomy and the sun was low in the sky, and together they made for a beautiful sight. I stared at the picturesque view for some amount of time, which felt like ages, though was actually likely only 10 minutes at the most. Eventually my trance-like gaze was interrupted by Maria.

“You done? Come on, your hammock has been set up.” She looked at me with an annoyed expression, her hands on her hips. I stood and wobbled and nearly fell over as the ship swayed once more beneath my feet. My stomach started to turn and I nearly vomited at her feet, though I managed to hold it in.

“Yeah, it will feel like that for awhile,” she said, this time a bit more consolingly as she noticed my inexperience with sea travel. “You're already doing much better than I did my first time at sea.”

I finally managed to find my footing and slowly followed after her, back to the steps we'd taken before. Descending into the lower deck she led me to another set of steps, past many hammocks, and down into an even lower deck. This one, unlike the previous one, was mostly full of crates, barrels, and sacks of items, likely merchandise or provisions. In a back corner a few more hammocks were hanging, one of which we stopped next to. It seemed smaller than the others.

“You'll be sleeping here. Not the most comfortable night's sleep, but it's much better than being on the planks, trust me. I've tried that, never again.”

“I'll take your word for it,” I said, and set on the hammock to get a feel for it. The knotting came loose and I fell to the ground. Getting up was difficult as the ship must have hit a turbulent patch of water at the same time, and I struggled to return to my feet.

“Idiot,” Maria said with a sigh. “He's been on this ship how long, and he can't even tie a gods-damned knot?” As I struggled she pulled the hammock out from under me and re-attached it to the posts it had been connected to.

“Sorry about that,” she continued. “It should be sturdy now, I at least know how to tie a proper knot. Unlikely some of the members of this crew, apparently.” She looked annoyed, and I was relieved to know that this time it wasn't directed at me. “Anyway, you'll be sleeping here. You don't seem to have any possession with you, which is good since there's not really any safe place to store them except on your person.”

“Who are the other hammocks down here for?” I noticed most were further up, I could only assume these were for crew members who were somehow disliked or less important.

“Oh, no one really. We used to have a larger crew, but we've downsized a bit. However, the captain wants you down here for now. Maybe if you prove yourself he'll let you sleep with the rest of us.”

“Ah,” I said. It made sense, I supposed, though I still found it frustrating. Here I was, once again isolated from others because of the whims of someone above me. It was starting to feel like staying in the Academy would have been the better choice. It certainly was not, of course, but at the time I had little hope for my life going forward. I was effectively their prisoner, and didn't even know who they were. They could have been the pirates I feared for all I knew.

“Well you can sleep now, or later, doesn't matter to me. So long as you're up bright and early to start working, you can do as you like.”

“Thanks. I think I will just stay here for now,” I said.

“Suit yourself,” Maria responded. She turned and left, leaving only a single small torch burning as light in the otherwise dark lower deck.

I sat on the hammock again and it did not fall. She did know what she was doing. I moved more onto it and laid in it. Immediately I became wrapped up in the hammock, like I was being swaddled as a baby. I dangled in the air, my legs hanging off at the ends due to its insufficient length. It was a nice feeling, like someone was holding me, rocking me to sleep.

I laid there for what felt like an eternity, looking up at the planks above. People would sometimes walk over where I laid, the heavy thud of their boots disturbing the silence. Sometimes I'd hear them talking, though it was rarely in Cru'unish. I regretted not paying attention when my older sister tried to teach me different languages. I regretted a lot of my past decisions as I laid there, trapped at sea, away from the woman I thought I'd spend the rest of my life with. I'd escaped a prison I knew intimately, only to end up in one I was completely ignorant of.

NaNoWriMo Day 4 – 2857 Words


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