Aboard the Anchor's Bane

Love & Trust
Kelley Essex discusses Chaeffer with Lidda

“He’s like a fuckin’ hungry mutt…”

The Captain of the Anchor’s Bane sighed resting his chin in his newly refurbished Mechanikal palm. It still shined with a sleek polish, a sign he allowed himself to become more comfortable with something he never should have. Lidda looked at his dour face and promptly sat on her captain’s lap combing a hand through his well kept hair humming to him for a moment to calm his nerves. Kelley’s dour look warmed but only a little bit as he gazed up to her.

“I should have confined him, we both know it. He hasn’t been the same since.”Lidda sighed before kissing Kelley’s forehead and flirtatiously turning in his lap to face him directly her back against his desk. “Well captain, I could always take his punishment.” Kelley rose an eyebrow kissing her neck before he sat up just slightly and pinned her against the desk gazing into her eyes before sighing.

“Much as we’d both love to punish you, ‘fraid that’s gonna have to wait love. Just because I am stalling doesn’t mean I enjoy being found with my pants down as much as you do.” Essex chuckles at her before teasing her earlobe and pulling back with a sharp breath. “Besides, we’ll have plenty of time for carnal distractions once we’re moving.” Essex looks conflicted as he sighs and looks to her opinion as he asks. “Lidda you barely know him, be honest with me what do you think of him?”

Lidda sighs snatching a bottle of Essex’s Brandy and sliding off his desk with a sigh. “Not really use to coming second to another man Kel, even if it is First Mate Chaeffer.” While she may have giggled she could tell Kel was serious about his question as he rarely ever asked her opinion about his crew. She traced a finger tip along the rim of the bottle applying it to her lips as she licked off the sweet taste and quickly swigged the bottle sighing with warm cheeks. “Honestly? Kel you keep all your other officers on a short enough leash, he’s the only one you seem to give slack to… why exactly?”

Kelley leaned against a corner of his room looking out a porthole as his metal fingertips wrapped on the rim. He let out a slow sigh and looked back to Lidda before answering. “Not the easiest answer to give I think. Mr. Chaeffer- Erdrick oh hell that’s right Jehremi…wasn’t the man he made himself out to be on more than one occasion. I knew when we first met he was the sort who was obliged to have even a deck over his head. Far as I assumed he was just running away from a lord or his responsibilities; I wasn’t wrong per say- it was justice. To be fair, we have a few people who are just as blood soaked on this ship.”

Lidda blinked in surprise at that remark setting the bottle down and arching her back to show interest. “We do?” Essex looked back out the porthole to the approaching dark clouds in the horizon and just nodded making it clear he wasn’t going to talk about them. “Then it started, the rumors the talk the attempts at mutiny. It couldn’t have even been a week and I found Mr. Chaeffer causing upsets on the ship the crew expressing how unfair it was that Jehremi was promoted so quickly up the chain of command. During those days he and I would fight back to back against the same foes for the same reasons.”

Essex turned to look at Lidda. “If things had stayed that way maybe we wouldn’t be here now… but they aren’t. Too many good folk have died on this ship and in our lives; I think it’s been too much for him. Ulvari, The Red Revenge, Taking Command, Bolten, Veronica’s betrayel and death…” Essex’s wrapping fingers stopped as he glared to the clouds fast approaching knowing he should already be out at sea with the boat. “…And little Ms. Ginori; Wurm’s blood just fuckin’ all of it. Their was a time when that cantankerous Thamarite understood you couldn’t save everyone and then the idget mistook that for being focused on only saving those he chose rather than those he could.”

He slams his metal fist against the side of the wall as it makes the walls tremble with the force he punched it leaving a perfect indent of his outline. “Ord is full of bogs and swampland. We have a saying whenever a foreigner travels our aquatically enriched countryside. ’It’s a mistake to fall into a bog trap, but its just plain stupid to expect anyone to dive in for you.’ So what the hell does that make him?!”

Lidda frowned at that and sat up from Essex’s desk coming over to him before resting her head on his left shoulder “Kel, we both know you’re just as wild and unruly as h-” The Captain turned to face her with angry tears in his face. “He’s going to get her killed Lidda… He’s slipping and he refuses to admit it to any of us. Whats worse is I can’t help but wonder if Mr. Ulvari and fuck even the Squatter have been right about him. The boy’s commitment was never in doubt but … his morals; the level he’ll stoop- no, has stooped just to be victorious! The fact is astoundingly clear to the crew and officers of both ships that this fuckin’ joke of a war he dubbed the ‘War of Masks’ was the toll one pyschopath pull to others over his bloody sins…”

Lidda doesn’t shy away from him as he emotes to her. Instead she traces fingers under his eyes flicking away the tears and softly embracing him. before petting the back of his neck. “I know Kel, we all hear what the crew have been saying. But he’s your friend isn’t he?” Kelley sighs hugging her back before he looks her in the eyes still raw with emotion.

“That’s what worries me.” Lidda immediately realized he was talking about Lanin, Lucan and the rest of his friends as she gulped down the sorrow that fluttered up thinking about her brother. “I don’t need this gift to know a pattern when i see one…” Kelley’s tone is full of shame as he sighs fully hugging Lidda tight knowing she is being tolerant of him at that moment as he looks back out to the ocean.

“We should have left already, Friend or not; Lo or Not; Alive or Not; Chaeffer will have to answer for this and all the other risks the crew have been put in for his goals, and visions of justice.” The captain smiles back to Lidda who was resting her head on his chest.

“Lidda, I’m sorry i know being with me wasn’t everything you thought it would be.” To which the Chief assistant engineer only snorted a laugh and retorted. “That’s an understatement you acrid, flirtatious, booze cruising pussy pursuer. But at least you’re mine.” *Kelley only let out a deep belly laugh before kissing Lidda passionately spinning her to the wall and pinning her there for a moment letting her feel lost in the feeling before be pulled away still chuckling.

“Aye I’m yours Ms. McClay, I’ve had my fill of sex, booze, drugs and freedom. What I really needed was someone like you; who knew me before and learned who I am hereafter. You’ve faced me at my lowest and my highest all while finding something in me worth cherishing. What I really needed was this woman.” Lidda’s eyes widened in surprise to experience Essex showering her in praise as she wasn’t prepared for that. She blinks for a moment and gently pulled away from him with an inquiring look on her face. “I learned the hard way that those who were close to me would always between me. Not only are you the exception, you’d literally follow me to the ends of the earth just because you believe in me that much. If only I could have a hundred sailors like you.”

Lidda slaps her captain across his cheek before coyly smiling back at him before he could yell. “Loving you has been a lot like that sir, oh and I don’t share. And you better have meant what you said about those distractions later.” Bewilderment turned to obvious pride on his lips as Kelley watched her pull from his grasp intentionally swaying her hips as she left his room before winking back at him.

“I love you Lidda McClay. Don’t ever let me forget that.” Rubbing his cheek with a chuckle the following sound of thunder in the distance sours his face as he pulls out a pocket watch anxiously staring at it before sitting back down routing out courses on his nautical charts just waiting for the inevitable bad news from his First Mate.

View
Dread in Service

“Well I say Blackwater…” *A Scharde pirate suggests with a devilish sneer to his compatriots laying low inside a backalley on Wake Isle. All four of them look at him dubiously and one even sighs. Before the most grizzled pirate looks to the joker of their group warning him. *

" Any sod fool enough ta suggest that and think e’ll be cap’n long is just beggin’ for a bullet in the back he is." He was unwashed and scar tissue looked to have somehow melted his right ear but a bandanna looks to be wrapped over it with a few dreadlocks sliding out of it. He was missing two fingers on his left hand and most the sight of one eye and whenever he spoke he carried a warning to lesser sailors that they could someday end up as him.

The group were silent for a moment as the old salt continued. “Whoever becomes out cap’n will have their hands full. The sharkteeths will nominate another of their own, an’ ud be fools to voice an opinion during that. Any one of us would be beat to pulp or eatten alive by what he left on board so don’t get any ideas. Me vote is to push for an Ogrun Cap’n, they won’t make decisions based on their stomach or some twisted sense of primitive codes aye?” He looks to the others around him seeing only one nodding their head with his opinion.

“Ogrun aren’t smarter tho.” One of the sea dog counters with before the Old Salt sighs smacking the back of his head “That’s a blessin ya idiot!” *The rest of the group shoots that sea dog dissapointing stares looking back the Old Salt. “Best thin’ bout an Ogrun is they are dense and strong long as ye do her fuckin job, ye can just let them do whatever the fuck need to earn yer share for you.”

“Why not human though egh?” The bravest seadog suggested to his friends. Even the Old salt didn’t think it was a bad suggestion except this underlining concern looked to dot all their faces. “Well… ain’t a bad suggestion but whatever type of man has what it takes to take over Bloodwake’s ship and sail it from here before we are found by the navy is likely going to something worse than either the Sharkteeths or the Ogrun because tha’ is the only way te keep them brutes in check.”

“Indeed.” Spoke out a deep and smooth voice from the shadows as the whirring sound out machinery clattered forward with the stitched together face of Vileknot clattered into view in broad daylight with the group of the five shocked Sea Dogs. It’s mechanikal spider legs continued to stride forward in confidence, unarmed yet anxiously tapping its stunted fingers together considering new presented possibilities as it’s rotting lips smile.

“Wyrm’s Teeth! How in Toruk’s taint is an undead here?!” Shout out a bewildered sea dog as he took two steps back. The necrotech smile immediately looked to sour at him as it transfixed it’s gaze on the man stopping his musings as it was clear what needed to happen first. With a forceful outstretching of it’s palm a swirl of runes suddenly encircled it’s palm and vanished in flash as suddenly the dangerous youth dropped to his knees his flesh looking to rapid age and wither before Vileknot’s open palm turned into a slicing action with it’s index and pointer fingers as the Sea dogs husk fell to the ground lifelessly. With the horror on their faces they suddenly saw a pale green life stream out of the sunken holes in his eyes slowly like a fog until the mists coalesced into a misty skull drifting toward a small glinting soul cage adorned around it’s neck underneath it’s tatered cowl. The musing smile returned to Vileknot’s sewn together visage. “Would anyone else like to repeat his mistake”?

The other Sea Dogs looked to their Elder, the Old Salt for guidance. He was wide eyed like the rest of them but began to noticed they weren’t going to speak unless he did. With a face showing a mix of anger and nervousness he stepped closer to the Necrotech bowing which looked to please the monster. “Beggin’ yer pardon, s-sir. We’d like to be of use do you. Did you need to speak with our captain?” Vileknot tilted it’s head at the old man tilting it’s head to the side before leaning forward slightly to to examine his body carefully as he continued to speak. “Di..Did you know Captain Bloodwake died? We are currently in talks to replace him.”

“Why?” Vileknot’s takes two steps closer noticing the scar tissue coming close to elder. the smell of stale rot lingered in the air around it as it commanded the Old Salt. “Take off that cloth…I want to examine you closer." It still expected a response from him as it continued to tilt it’s head left an right trying to find something without his consent but expected no refusal in this old man.

“W-why? Why what? I don’t understand.” The old salt promptly took his bandanna as his dreadlocks looked to rain down free. The scar tissue looked to have warped the cartilage structure of his ear and some of his bone. His skin managed to heal over the wound but it was clear to the Necrotech this wasn’t caused by a fire or gunshot. Vileknot sneered having to explain himself but remained civil with the human. “Did Ore’ghoul’ not name a first mate?” The old salt froze unable to respond as the Necrotech took the liberty to trace it’s grime covered finger down the length of his wound feeling it’s texture and immediately realized the damage. Ah, you have served us before… how old is this?"

“U-ugh yes, it’s twelve years or so ago; Defiler Bonejack.” He confirmed trying to stop his shuttering as Vileknot pulled his finger away resuming his wrapping fingers. “…Ore’ghoul did have a first’mate, but Cap’n beat em to death before being killed as well by a a group of slaves being rescued by assassins or mercs… no one really knows.” Vileknot has a long and slow knowing chuckle listening to his story. It nods confirming his understanding but obviously looks lost trying to deduce the chemical make up sprayed out of a Defile’s Sludge cannon over a decade ago.

“I see, you are not up to date on current affairs; we already settled that dispute. You now serve captain Chaeffer now…” It eyes the rest of the men standing nervously in silence within the dark street. Vileknot looked to eye them like cattle for a moment as it tapped its fingers together one last time and smiled before pulling a pistol out from it’s tattered clothes and handing it to the Old Salt but making sure to address them all. “The captain only asked me to return with any crew I found… he didn’t mention intact. I am feeling generous, I’ll will be taking two back alive.” Without a delay the Old Salt shoots one of his compatriots dead in the heart with an angry look on his face pulling back the lever at the chamber loaded the next bullet. “Go ahead, pick one to live. I will need someone else to carry the remains to The Devil’s Larder other than you.”

Without a semblance of his previous emotions the Old Salt looks to the two left standing noticing it was the one of the survivors was the man who suggested they go back to Blackwater. With a scowl he shoots him in gut as he walks up pulling his cutlass from his hip chopping right into the man’s face with anger. He drops to the ground dead as the old salt hands off the blade to the survivor and looks to him with cold dead eyes. “I’ve done this once already… your turn. I’ll get a tarp you start hacking off limbs.”

Vileknot chuckles at the submissiveness of this man and with an inquisitive tone. “Tell me your name, mortal.” The old man turns to face a new officer of his ship bowing again seeing the monstrosity is still impressed with his manners." “Dileg sir, Sam Dileg.” *The Necromechanikal being nods very pleased with his conditioning and skitters close to him whispering. “I am not hear then Dileg, I am aboard the ship. You heard the news and you are providing me tribute. If you so much as hear anyone even this man speak a word otherwise to the crew… A few threads snap as he smiles widely on it’s sewn face “I trust you know what to do…”

“Aye aye sir.”

View
Reaping what was Sown.
Part 1

“Let’s be frank Malcolm, this city barely held together and I fear Captain Essex is right about the state of this Nation. She is falling apart like carrion on the streets with mongrels tearing it apart for scraps. The only way to stop the process is to fight it with our all… but I aim to look at things different than him. He’s determined to die some hero’s death in a last hurrah and I plan to see the end of this all.”

The man formerly known at Atticus Sweets looks to have admited a painful and compromising truth telling Malcolm Silverstone such a simple statement about his homeland. The Midlunder nods at that before shrugging and folding his arms inquiring “No offense sir, not exactly news worthy statement there.”

Atticus glares back at him before calmly placing his hands down upon his desk sighing and formulating the proper response to that.

“Possibly to you, I am convinced most do not know that for a fact they embrace the patriotism that this country has always thrived on which is to do more with less. Well, Mr. Silverstone I am suggesting we do just that and scour this city for the best of the best. Most of them have already seen that this ship will become legendary but I am looking for someone in particular. You mentioned you had friends interested in coming aboard?”

Malcolm raises an eyebrow and leans forward clearly interested in where this is going. To him it was very difficult to gain the attention of Captain Sweets, another thing entirely to have him think about you weeks after a victory. “Hmmm yes sir, I do have a few mates who would kill for a chance to serve with a man like you. Looking for any skill sets in particular”

Atticus stares through Malcolm before he hisses out

“All of them, but any men or women who are trackers and qualities strikers I will pay an extra 1/4 share for to employ. I am looking for someone now and find my old contracts… strained instead I need to release the hounds. Reach out to them all, on the double and perhaps we could consider who I name first mate still. I make no promises until after a private meeting with the crew of the Anchor’s Bane. Oh and one more thing Mr. Silverstone. Make certain no one is told of this, treat it as you would a mission back with the CRS understood. Need to know basis only.”

Malcolm hadn’t see Atticus so serious-minded or so liberal with his ledger this person must have inspired quite the confidence in him. Malcolm raised for his chair and saluted

“At once sir.”

View
Whispers: Truth, Lies, and Madness
sacred and unholy communion

A wide, white moon loomed down over the fog-shrouded streets of Chaser Isle. Near midnight, they began to arrive. One, two, then several more; hooded figures, people in cloaks or masks, or a brazen few who did not care if anyone saw them… or who were too destitute in the wake of disaster to have such garments available. From multiple directions, they came; from many alleys, and byways, several bridges or ferries, people arriving with their cloaks or their candles or nothing at all… people who’d grown desperate, or angry, or numb.

At the fringes, there were few, but in the streets closer to the center of it all, they began to coalesce into larger groups. They seemed to be gathering into a crowd, flocking until their many boots covered the cobblestone street from sidewalk to sidewalk… The unnerving assembly caused lanterns to be snuffed out, and doors and windows hastily locked as they passed by. This march of many souls, the grief-stricken, the vengeful, the forgotten, wound its way to a single, burnt-out old warehouse on Paulson Street.

………………..

“It is nearly time.” Emilian turned to his master, who stood with him on the rooftop of this abandoned ruin, once the hideout of an infamous gang known as the Rovers. “Aye,” Chaeffer replied, gesturing to the many candles gathering in the street below. “You have done well in spreading the word.” He swept his gaze sideways, one cold eye staring at his pupil. “Yet you remain uneasy… Tell me. Have you found it yet?”

Emilian seemed to falter, a moment. He spoke with calm clarity, but he would not meet his master’s eye. “Many tokens of faith were found on the bodies of the fallen; all that I found, I have delivered to you already.” He shifted his weight, appearing uncomfortable. “..but, the coin of Scion Lukas, it was not upon the body of Abigail di Vonos, nor any of her wayward minions.” He kept his face tilted toward the floor, awaiting Jehremi’s reprisal.

The first mate remained somber, his frustration kept at a low growl. “That is… unfortunate, but the completion of that ritual is not a matter of prime importance. Continue your report. What of the fallen?”

“Of the many slain at Havershaw, few were suitably intact. I stole as many corpses as could be managed; they are in crates below, awaiting processing.” His face contorted in the memory of such detestable work. “Those marked by the Marionette, I put to the torch.”

Chaeffer nodded, acknowledging the younger man’s service. “That, also, was well done.” He turned to face him directly, cold eyes boring into his acolyte. “But that is not the source of your dismay. Speak plainly the fear and contempt you hold. My patience grows thin, for these are trying times.” His gaze brooked no argument.

Emilian blinked hard, knowing there was no escaping this. He straightened his posture, and attempted to swallow his fear. “Master, on that day. You fought the marionette, and she nearly took your life. And you…” He shuddered, remembering the pain. “You nearly took mine, so that you could keep fighting.”

“So I did.” Chaeffer took a step closer, his arms extended wide. “…What must you do? Here I stand, unarmed and unarmored. Will you attempt to exact payment for the agony you endured?” His eyes were contempt, the icy glare of a wolf. “Or will you flee, as the sheep do?” He stood waiting, as Emilian chose his next words with exceptional care.

“No. Never. I… I will grow fangs, as you have shown me. I remain your legacy.” Emilian drew his blade, and knelt, holding it aloft in a gesture of surrender. “I am your servant; teach me to become strong. I wish to see the new world you will create.”

Jehremi lowered his arms, taking Emilian’s swordblade in one hand, and helped the lad to his feet. “Then learn well this second lesson, acolyte. You have been tempered in battle, and have seen your own blood flow. Through the blood, flows life. Master it, and you will hold dominion over death.” His eyes illuminated with arcane force, and he tightened his grip on the blade. “Such powers as I possess, you also shall inherit, If your soul is strong enough.”

Crimson ran down the length of steel from Chaeffer’s fingers, as he continued. “Whosoever is your brother in battle, let him not fear death, for your blood is his, and his is yours. We fight not for our own survival, but that the deaths of our enemies be assured. If either of us must fall, that just vengeance is exacted on the foe, let it be.” His eyes were dark, vile, his grimace testament to how deeply he believed this doctrine.

Do Not fight to save yourself, or your allies. When you draw your blade, it is a sacred promise to your enemy that You Will End His Life. No matter the cost.” He held his bleeding hand out, returning the sword to its owner.

Emilian stood, transfixed, seeing the conviction in his master’s words. “By the scions, let me be but worthy…” receiving the sword back into his hands, he gestured out toward the streets below. “My lord, the congregation appears to be ready. They await your message.”

“Aye, and they shall abide but a moment longer. You must be rewarded for your loyalty.” From his satchel, Chaeffer retrieved the tome that had been a relic of the Radizzi people. The Cycle of Blood, it was titled in ancient script. “This is a power that belonged with your heritage. You may be the last prophet among your kind, therefore it is proper that this pass on to you. You know of the dangers and risks it possesses. It’s fate is yours to decide.” Pressing his wounded hand to the cover of the book, he passes it to his student before turning to finally address the crowd.

………………..

“There he is. Looks like our informant was right.” The mercenary chuckled to himself, as he began setting up his tripod and constructing his rifle. “Easy money. This guy really the one the Order is so concerned with? He ain’t even wearing armor.” Whistling an ordic fishing tune, he casually made preparations for the assassination from an opposite rooftop.

The crowd below seemed to fall silent as the man he’d been sent to kill held up his hands. “People of Five Fingers,” the target began. “Once again, you find yourselves, stricken, mere toys at the hands of those in power. The high captains could not defend you. The navy could not defend you. For the second time, Havershaw’s Folly has been transformed into a scene of chaos and murder.” He paused a moment, gauging the crowd’s reaction.

“Your homes, your loved ones, pieces of your lives have been taken from you. Simply. Taken. And you don’t even know why.” The man pulled a mask from beneath his greatcoat, and held it upward, showing it to the gathered assembly. “Why did this monster need to steal your happiness away? What purpose did it serve? Who, or what, is truly responsible? …I can tell you. I can, show you. I was there.” The man donned the mask, and began to concentrate.

Ripples of power could be felt through the crowded street, and people began to cry out. The assassin stopped whistling, his curiosity peaked. As he looked down on the scene below, he began seeing a memory… a flashback, which played violently through his mind, and it did not belong to him. The sensation nearly made him drop his rifle. He was standing at the Havershaw festival grounds, looking up at the main tent, when suddenly the world exploded.

“You may recall the name of a certain Thamarite, Tantock Meryl.” The scene shifted to a stone dias, where a darkly clad man was growing drunk in the power of many souls. “He orchestrated the original massacre, believing it would fuel his ascension.” The man began to transform, glowing fissures forming on his flesh, and his eyes became hollow, black pits. Swords clashed, sorcery cascaded out; and at the last, another man pushed a damaged pillar down on top of the abomination.

The scene was choked out by dust and crumbling stone, and everything vanished. The assassin’s sight became his own once more, and people in the crowd began to recover from the vision. “Bloody hell..” He began to pick up the pace; his fingers shook as he fumbled, trying to finish assembling the rifle. The mysterious figure continued to proselytize. “Tantock was nearly successful, but his understanding of the place of power he’d chosen was incomplete. That relic was part of a much larger chain, in an ancient device known by some in this city as the Conduit. It had lain dormant since the time of the Orgoth, but Tantock’s ritual provided sufficent energy to partially awakened it. Its power began to call out to those who could detect its voice.”

Another vision rippled out from the speaker, overtaking the minds of many. This vision belonged to the mask, not the speaker: Battles fought in secret, beneath the city. Cultists, clockwork automatons, puppets, and thralls, each seeking the dias. The marionette’s face, speaking into a mirror, as she consorted with an emmisary of cryx. Numerous necromechanikal devices had been implanted into his living flesh, and he was dressed all in black.

“That foul witch who so recently graced our city, who wore this very mask, knew of its power… and the devastation she wrought far eclipsed that of Tantock. With her own death, and all the murders in her wake, she has completed the ritual he began, and the Conduit is now thrumming with untold potential.” The scene shifted once more to a place out in the deep ocean, a nightmarish landscape of destroyed ships, where an apocalyptic storm was brewing…. then everything vanished, and the assassin’s eyes were his own again.

His hands were badly shaking now, and it was nearly impossible for him to grip the sweatsoaked barrel and stock he’d been screwing together. Nearly finished, he began to line up the shot, but his aim was dancing all over the place. Just then, the wind began to rise…

“You have been treated as cattle. Disposable, a source of food and nothing more. You have been as sheep before the wolves of this world… until today.” The figure turned his head, clearly looking at something on the opposite rooftop, as a final vision swept over the crowd, and the would-be assailant.

An arm, outstretched, as the wind begins to whip and howl. A man, crouched behind a tripod, barely able to contain his grip on the gun. “Gods, No…” the assassin whimpered, seeing himself in the vision. the bleeding hand grasped, pulled back, and the wind around him roared and came with it, pulling the mercenary from his perch as he screamed in absolute terror. He watched himself fall, felt his own neck breaking on a lamp post he hit on the way down, and saw his own lifeless body hit the sidewalk with a sickening smack. When the vision faded, so did his consciousness, and everything went black.

………………..

Chaeffer removed the mask from his face, allowing the gathered assembly to see him plainly again. “There are those in this city, and abroad, who wish to silence my voice,” he resumed, pointing at the dead man. “They do not wish for these truths to be known.” His face hardened, and he bellowed at the crowd, stirring them to anger. “I lay their lies bare before you, that you may know and understand the reason your wives died, the reason your husbands died, the reason your children have been buried before you, the reason your houses have been burned.” He gaze swept the congregation, determination burning within his heart. “They believe you are weak. Together, we will show them that they are mistaken.”

His free hand was a fist, raised high under the moon. “By my steel, and the strength of my allies, I have TWICE avenged the fallen of this city. I have been called the Havershaw Harrier, the Mongrel of Shadows, and the Grey Angel. I say unto you now, you have been sheep until this moment, only in the ignorance of your fangs. BARE THEM NOW. Give in to your anger, your grief, and your sorrow. Let your hatred transform you into something more than a human puppet, dancing before soverign powers. For Menoth gave us our hands, and Morrow taught us tolerance and mercy, but it was Thamar who bought us the strength to stand against our oppressors, if only we are willing to reach out, and take it.”

The gathered assembly was in absolute uproar; some were not willing to accept such brazen words, but many were nearly frothing at the mouth, hungry to know what they must do to become a part of this rebirth. Passing the mask to his apprentice, Jehremi leaned out over the edge of the rooftop, both hands outstretched, as if to embrace his flock. “Those of you whose hearts are gentle, return to your homes; you will not be harmed. The path I promise is a battlefield, and the world I seek to remake will not be changed easily.”

Portions of the crowd began to disperse, the weight of these words and acts simply too much to take. Chaeffer’s eyes implored the faithful who yet remained. “But for those of you for whom Vengeance calls deeply in your souls, give in to its Voice! Join your strength to mine, and let our voices become a chorus. Those with arcane potential will learn to channel their gifts. Those with skill at arms will be given training and equipment, and made ready for war. Those with nothing at all but the fire in their hearts will be given food, and purpose.”

He swept an arm in the direction of the docks, a shipyard on Chaser isle called Crane Port. “Make your way to the ship that never lingers, and you will be given the terms of our charter. Join the legend. You will be given ample opportunity to avenge your fallen, for the enemy of one is the enemy of all.” He let his arms rest, as he stood straight and tall against the moonlight. “Let us show the Iron Kingdoms our resolve. Let us reshape the face of Caen, and create a world in which dragons, and gods, and kings, and infernals, all fear to tread.”

………………..

A wide, white moon loomed down over the fog-shrouded streets of Chaser Isle. It silently observed them as they went; many in cloaks, or masks, or bearing candles. Some, with nothing at all… the desperate, the angry, the numb. The street glowed dimly in their passing, and the light of their path wound its way toward the dockyard, where two particularly infamous ships sat bobbing gently against the waves.

………………..

In the dim of light just before dawn, the first mate arrived back at his cabin. he’d abandoned his greatcoat, given to a woman in the crowd who’d gifted him a new cloak as tribute. It had been made from the remnants of one of the festival tents at Havershaw; quartered fields of black and violet silk. The seamstress had embroidered the Ternion brand in pale thread upon its back. He took it off with great care, and hung it near the door.

Glancing out the window as the earliest rays of morning began to brighten the world, he started to undress, finally having earned a bit of sleep. as he sat on his cot aching for rest, he recalled the painting brought in by Sinyr. The light from the window just now creeping up along the bottom of its canvas. He stood, crossed in bare feet to the wall, and after a moment to steady himself, reversed the painting to examine it…

It was all.. wrong, somehow. The deck of the ship was in tatters, and the sea was a deep, troubling red. The longer he looked at it, the more the colors and shapes seemed to shift. The horizon was dotted with wrecked ships, and the figure in the image wasn’t facing down the storm… it was staring up at the viewer… with a porcelain mask upon its face.

You’ve Forgotten Something, she whispered. The voice seemed to come from just behind his ear again, and he jerked around to look behind himself. The cloth under which he’d hid the Devil’s Tooth was stained crimson, and the stain had trickled down onto the rest of his equipment. Vehemence sputtered and spat; its edge glistened and glittered as the runeplate began to power itself.

In his haste to retrieve it, he crashed into his own desk, sending it and himself tumbling to the floor. Looking up in panic, he saw a disturbing sight: blood from the knife, coalescing across the blade, moving toward the single empty socket which remained, unfilled by a coin. It began to harden, congealing into a red mass, the same red metal from which the Tooth itself seemed to be made from. The symbol forming upon it was unmistakeable: the Icon of Scion Lukas.

She whispered again, her tone, mocking. You’ll never be far from me, now. I’m a part of you. Our bodies were one, remember? I’m inside of you, like your own blood. “What do you want?!” He roared, remembering the cursed night the Marionette strangled him to unconsciousness in this very room.

I want to make you complete… I want to make you see. Unless, of course, you die. Her laugh was dry and cruel. DIE.

Runes began swirling around the blade’s hilt; its mechanika was becoming unstable. The rune plate was overheating rapidly… in a last blinding moment, Chaeffer twisted the runes, manipulating them as Lanin had taught him, altering the effect of the magic. For a moment, it seemed as if the sword would explode… deep fractures appeared along its steel, and the sacred coins dotting its surface became one with the sizzling metal. The fractures deepened, and just as Chaeffer covered his head to brace for the blast… the sword fell apart, its blackened runeplate worthless. The steel of its’ blade had shattered into large, broken fragments, like glass. soot caked the singed wood of his equipment rack.

Chaeffer stared at the scene, dumbfounded, lucky to have survived. A pity, she whispered. But there is so much I can show you, now. You will see. Her voice seemed to reverberate from the very walls of his cabin, echoing endlessly.

You Will See.
View
Winds of Vengeance
Vengeance is given a new face.

A congregation of Naval officers hailing from Ord and Cygnar have convened in addition to various trading companies, mercantile guilds and the Order of Illumination upon Captain’s Isle. This meeting marks the largest gathering of captains, companies and admirals in he last few years and for good reason. A stern looking man in a dark brown duster and tricorn hat clears his throat rising from the embassy table capable of sitting five dozen or so around a massive table with a incredibly detailed map of Immoren’s trading supply lines between the interested parties.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I wanted to thank you for coming especially have such a tragedy as we experienced here in Five Fingers recently. But I think it is well past time we discussed the nature of the events that have transpired here inside our harbor. We all are different views as to what exactly the root cause of this “War of Masks” was. Some of you will say we lacked vigilance, others will say corruption, and more still will shout that it was leniency upon the High Captains. But in the end it isn’t the cause that will bring us down but rather what rose from the result. Perhaps we could use a reminder as to what I mean…"

The main takes off his tricorn hat showing himself a young, strong and capable man bearing a deep gash on his chin perhaps in his late 30s. Setting his hat upon the table he points to dot that represents Five Fingers and looks up angrily to all the representatives hoping to elicit a response out of them.

“This city is the beating heart of yours, mine; OUR endeavors. Be it commerce, religion, discipline, innovation or any other concept it lives, breaths, expands or dies in this city. Ultimately all that coin and effort you pour into your endeavors fails if one rudimentary thing were to happen. Of course what I speak of is Anarchy…”

His words linger in the air as he confirms each and every person at the table agrees with him in some way; be it a head nod, concerned eyes or nervous tick. He clears his throat and drinks from a glass of water prepared by a servant as he sets it down looking intensely at them all.

“My associates, I certainly hope you are fully considering what happens if we leave something like Captain Essex and the Anchor’s Bane to sail our seas uncontested. The War of Masks may have been a tragedy few could have predicted, but protecting piracy is a far greater concern to the continued longevity of this Kingdom and its laws. The last time Ord neglected it’s duties toward the criminal element we were pulled into a war with Khador we barely survived without Morrow’s aid.”

The congregation mutters among itself as people are unpleased by the comparison but not even the most daring nay-sayer could rise above a whisper. The young man relaxes his pose and sighs

“Our king himself has excused the actions of the Anchor’s Bane, and to many of you this is enough to cast aside the concern this ship represents. That talk of Kelley Essex having served in the Military and Navy was enough to put your concerns t rest. However like many interested parties here I am not asking you to seek action against the Bane for what she has done. I am Imploring you to consider the actions she has yet to take, and to crush the influence she has had upon our fair city’s citizens who have see that with enough support the City Watch, Navy and standard laws of Piracy can be halted and even reversed. Gentlemen this cannot stand. A Pirate cannot kill an admiral, his 300 men serving him and steal his boat to then bombard the city without being made an example of!”

He slams his fist down on the table as many of the officials begin to agree with this speaker’s words before the representative of House Mateu rises from his seat with an interested look on his face. Gabriel Mateu smiles combing a hand through his hair and looks the stern man in the face

“Captain Grallow, what exactly are you suggesting we bring to a vote to for this summit? The King himself said the man is a war hero, wouldn’t it be treason to suggest harm upon him or his crew now?”

Grallow only smiles back to Gabriel before replying with an all too knowing smile

“That is precisely why I suggest we prepare for when he isn’t on Ordic land. A Legality issue I have been assured is fully prosecutable to the fullest extent of the law once this has transpired. Additionally The Order of Illumination has more than enough claim to seek the now infamous Jehremi Chaeffer for the Murder of Knight Captain Bronson, Rector Tyson Del-Sol and Honor Guard Maria and the entire Merin Escort.”

An aged man with a serious demeanor on his face and the white, silver and golden robes of a Morrowan High Prelate clears his throat looking to Grallow acknowledging his comment before expanding upon it further in a soft but certain tone.

“His words alone have brought cultist activity to an all-time high in the last 5 years here. But more eyes than just Thamar fall upon this city, my Rector spoke of many things in his letters to me about this Jehremi Chaeffer. The most painful has been to learn of the nature of his man being that of a good and just sort. I fear Rector Del-Sol may have fallen sway to Mesmerisms if he was speaking what he felt was the truth for this Cultist’s words were speaking of giving himself over to monstrous power to drag humanity toward a darker path. The order has many cultists in their sights… but Tyson was one of my very best and he deserves Morrow’s justice.”

Gabriel lowers his head along with others as the High Prelate spoke, mostly out of feigned reverence. As soon as he finishes speaking he looks back to the Morrowan and smiles weakly

“Thank you Most Reverend Augustine, I too had the displeasure of meeting this man and quickly knew my mortal soul was imperiled by him and his crew. If you would like to discuss this at length I would be happy to co-operate with your investigation. However that still leaves the matter of catching him. I have heard the Anchor’s Bane is one of the fastest ships upon the Meredius employing a double steam paddle engine and a crack team of engineers who have overhauled the system. Catching her would prove a problem for most captains.”

Grallow looks a little uncertainly over in the direction of the door as an older man who has been sitting in the corner of the room adjusts his posture. He is in his late fifties with brilliantly blue eyes and greying hair in a formal but functional captain’s outfit that seems to herald from one or two decades ago. His face looks dour and hungry for violence as he glares over the whole room as he sighs. Grallow asks for the entire room the one burning question they have been wanting to ask him.

“Admiral? Would this summit be able to count on you to restore sanity to this country?”

The older man straightens his back and tucks his arms behind himself before speaking in a wavering voice.

“I’ve not been an Admiral in 8 years. I am not your man.”

Captain Grallow sees a man wracked by emotion in front of him, a soldier who knows exactly how to compartmentalize his emotions for a proper time and place. To Grallow though all he saw was his old Captain letting the enemy get their way. He slams his fists onto the table refusing the answer.

“Unacceptable, sir not a soul here doubts the pain you must be going through Admiral. But sir, I remember better than anyone here how much you love this country sir. Can you really abandon her in her time of need? Surely we’ve endured enough ridicule from the masses. Order needs to be enforced, if not for the Reputation of our Navy… then for your son.”

The old man’s beaten expression turns fierce as he glares at Captain Grallo with a hand on his pistol as he flares his teeth. “Hold your tongue sir, less you wish a duel.” His words were icy and serious as a man with nothing to lose could be.

“I refuse to let Carving Carson be remembered this way but this Summit. You were greater than this sir! I speak for the entire summit right now sir, just give me the world and I’ll follow you to any waters, to any fate you deem worthy aboard The Atlas. But don’t let the man who killed your son and stole your daughter walk away called a Hero when that was Lucan’s honor to end the riots at sunrise.”

Carson McClay Looks dead into the eyes of Grallow like a waking giant ready for blood. He looks to the entire summit with a hiss

“I don’t promise survivors, I only promise to deal with Kelley Essex…by whatever means I deem necessary. I will need a Letter of Marque drafted up within the hour and delivered to The Atlas. Until then I want eight of best merchants outfitting them and feeding us information about their movements. I want to be told the moment they weigh anchor… I plan to put all of hell behind my sails once he leaves port.”

Grallow looks vindicated with a zealous and hungry look he turns to the Summit goers and proclaims.

“Then there we have it, I motion that we entrust our needs to the soon to be re-instated Admiral Carson McClay and move to make the flagship of our endeavors his Galleon The Atlas.”

Smiles look to cross the faces of nearly all the summit as the vote is called without a single vote against the seasoned veteran of 35 years of Naval Combat to lead an entire flotilla of pirate hunting vessels against the Anchor’s Bane and Crown’s Fallacy.

View
Parley of Captain Essex

“You seem fond to paint me a villain.”

Kelley stated plainly as he sat back in his chair aboard The Majesty taking a long drag off his Cigar as he dismisses the fact he is addressing every major captain and another admiral of Both Ordic and Cygnaran Navy inside his Promenade.

“You commited treason agains-” Shouted one of the captains who was promptly interrupted by Kelley Essex again.

Wrong, I was cleaning up after you lot." *As he spoke Golrick sat up pulling out his bearded ax as an Orgun stepped forward in defense of his navy captain. Tension began to boil and Essex rose his Mechanikal hand up t show his palm to signify everyone to stand down. “Duncan McClay wanted an heir and you simply grandfathered the lad into leadership….”

The room fell silent and a few glances exchanged before someone muttered “We gave him everything he wanted and appeased his father, a serviceman of over 40 years for his majesty’s Navy. Does this mere entitlement permit you to call us corrupt? or absolve you of his murder or the theft of his ship?”

Essex plucked his Cigar from his Mechanikal limb and lifted up a glass of Azz Ekka Uldara’s recently brewed Moonshine hesitantly sipping before answering back. " Here’s my answer. Seeing as everyone here damn well knows me and my crew did what none of your had the balls to do, my payment was a Ship of the Line. All of us here already know just how corrupt the Navy is here…" *He a full gulp letting the drink sting and burn him for a moment to remind himself of pain before he glares back. “Or are you going to say slaughtering all of Blackreef Bay was some civic duty rather than Imprisonment? The List could go on but I’m just willing to accept that this country needs you as much as it needs someone like me… and my crews.”

A Cygnaran Captain sits up and looks to the Ordic Officers before responding to Essex. “These men didn’t blow off the chain of command, I’m confident they know how to follow and order regardless of their opinion about it; Unlike you sir. Even our ports heard of the Anchor’s Bane occasionally visiting Blackreef Bay, Whatever was there Captain Essex you won’t have us believe they were innocent or that you didn’t suspect it might turn out that way. Murder and rebellion are things that not up for Trial among Cygnar’s Navy.”

Essex slams both hands on the table and shoots up rising to meet the Cygnaran and Ordic High Command. “Murder?! Rebellion!? You watched as people died just so you could form a better plan, a lot have a different word for that, cowardice! You were just lucky it didn’t happen sooner and I’m making no garantees the entire populace of Five Fingers won’t make us into a symbol if you Execute us now. I’m a man of the Sea Gentleman, Murder is often what it takes just to stay float. But What happened to Admiral Lucan McClay. It may have been Murder, but at least i let him die thinking he was a worthy admiral rather than learn what his dream really amount to in your eyes… Nothing more than political favorings. I can abide a great many things but rob a man of his honest chance to earn his dream…..”

Essex took a deep breath and smiled to the powers that sit before him “Your city is safe now, thanks to in no small part the contributions of my crew and my virtues of being a Warcaster. The King knows where my loyalty lie and so do all of you, everyone of the men and women that serve under me right now absolutely know that the easier thing we could have done was leave this city to fester and die and you are free to debate if I was capable or not. But it’d be wise to consider what you have to gain from killing our crew compared to what you’ll lose, and get started in our wake. So instead seems we are stuck with one another with far more pressing matters to consider so either expose us to our enemies by removing one of your only Warcasters and his crew who fight to defend your citizens or do what we have already, and tolerate each other as necessary to the defense of the King and our cities.”

The captains looked around the promenades at each other, Essex could have been shot right now for his tone, even Golrick was surprised but Essex didn’t flinch one bit he stared at any man who’d the will to stare back. Silence remained as Kelley smiled bringing the Cigar to his mouth. “Seems you boys CAN actually be reasoned with, didn’t see that one coming ha. Not to worry we’ll get out of your way and business can carry on again soon.”

*Many a grimace spread across the faces of other officers as most rose one defiant admiral merely said “I wouldn’t gamble on this little agreement staying for very long Essex… Whatever it is you plan to do you better not expect all of our vessels to react so … Judiciously upon the sea. For the ship that never lingers for once a port seems to be your saving Grace.”

Essex waves him off and smiles pulling up a writ of the Green angel and thinking back to his gambling hall moment he met Morick fondly replying once more. “It’s never been luck…Mr. Steadfast we have work to do make sure it’s done ahead of schedule understood?”

View
Behind the Mask
Marionette Killer Unmasked.

The world is trapped and frozen in a black silhouette bearing only the faintest reminder of the horror that is to be unleashed. It resembles the muted awareness of an audience inside a theater whilst during its performance, still, motionless and silent. Stepping before him, the Marionette killer stands before Chaffer covered in fatal wounds with her arms outstretched as though to embrace him. Her body defied death itself in this place that only the darkest of powers that would make a terrible reality. Struggling for even a bit of movement Jehremi’s body trembled with a perfect stillness as his glare turned to his only weapon in this trapped moment in time. His mind shouted to fight as his breathing signified his awareness to the Marionette as she creeped slowly closer by the moment her blood leaving a vibrant trail in her wake.

“I’ve waited so long for his… I’ve ACHED for it.’

She sounds relieved as her fingertips grace the chin edge of her smooth Porcelain visage mask. A faint clicking sound rung out as it was pulled away from her. Chaffer’s face changed to confusion as he saw her face as nothing more than a luminous nebula of white mist or fog. His visions of her began to align with what he was seeing now his mind raced, was he unconscious right now?

“What’s wrong Chaffer? You had to have suspected it was me didn’t you?”

He couldn’t have forgotten that voice if he’d tried, the only woman to have loved him despite his innumerable sins, he heard the voice of Veronica DuBray. Tears formed in his eyes as he lost his will to fight hearing the confirmation

“…Why… even after I stood by you?”

A twisted sound of a cackle rolled out as the Marionette killer’s body nearly convulsed in amusement at that statement. Still holding the mask in his hand she continued her slow inevitable creep toward him with a dagger raised at his throat level. Trying to understand her mannerisms he became sure it couldn’t have been Veronica despite her voice.

“If you aren’t her… how do you have her voice?”

Without warning Chaffer saw her lunge forward and rake the knife against his breastplate. A new gruff voice spoke out to him one dripping with defiant hatred. He Heard the voice of Captain Maghada McCallahan of the Red Revenge.

“I’m hurt, you really don’t remember me do you? Here, inside this place; your mind is trying to fill in the gaps…. ha…haha AND YOU DON’T REMEMBER ME!?”

What started as a chuckle turned into a sinister and insane cackle as her knife rose high plunging into his shoulder as Chaffer winced still incapable of defense of any kind his groan was the only thing he could do to mark his displeasure which instantly caused her to stop and fret over him stroking his face and dabbing her finger in his blood before suckling it down inside what must have been her mouth making lusty sounds before whispering out in Lidda’s voice

“MMmm i’m sorry; I didn’t meant to hurt you! Mmm but you just get me so worked up… hehe but look you’re okay right? Besides this is just foreplay…”

The teether of laughter grated on him as Chaffer growled out

“You’ve killed thousands for chance to flirt?! Be done with it already; I don’t care who you are. You have me now… so end this. Take out whatever twisted plot you want out of me, I am through watching others die because of me!”

The overjoyed expression of the Marionette killer becomes muted and blank a deep anger seems to roll over her

“No… It’ll never end. I want you to see it! You have to see it. You WILL see it.”

Chaffer Screamed out “See what exactly!?”

To which a distantly familiar voice shouted out “Your face! You must see it! I don’t care if I have to bring you back over and over and over again You. will. see. it.”

In utter confusion Chaffer struggles against his invisible bonds before the Marionette Killer trembles with anger “YOU WILL SEE IT! Even IF I HAVE TO CRUSH THIS ACURSED MASK OF YOUR!”

She pushes her mask onto Jehremi’ face as he screams out in sheer agony

“They’ll all see you for who you are! They’ll know what you made of me! I won’t be your victim any Chaffer dear. I need you to see it, I want to make this work…. No one else but you can make this right!”

View
Hunter's End
War of Masks: Sasha (part4)

“I’ve seen what wars can do, but this…”

The battered frame of James Cradavin looks out to the streets of Chaser Island for the first time in merely two days and between the blood, fire and devastation barely accepts this to be the same town.

“twenty-eight years as a solider, fifteen of them as a mercenary and six of those as the worst of the worst…This isn’t war it’s madness.”

Sasha appears to be reflecting on that time with her father realizing she has been under his tutelage for twelve of those years. She managed to maintain a smile, she endured the tragedies, the horrors and the corruption until it finally reached her. Until she forced herself to choose between her heart or her family. This shouldn’t have been the moment, she knew that it couldn’t have been a worse time. Scraggs words burned her, more than they should have, her skin quivered and her mind stressed on the brink of snapping it was as if all her years as a mercenary were charging in with a vengeance to be heard for once in her life.

Scraggs looked to Cradavin and then to Sasha before whispering ’We’ve one hour to make it to Havershaw. We’ve behind schedule. very behind. We’ve a trek ahead of us, activate that thing and we might as well just shout ‘kill us please’… understand?" Cradavin took a long deep breath and pulled in strength before nodding.

Sasha looked to them all realizing she had only heard the smallest fragments of the conversation. She knew the way and she had no mechanika the rest hadn’t seemed vital. Before she could take point James placed a hand on Sasha’s shoulder. She looked to her father and then immediately away from the pain he endured. With a firm tug he pulled her to him.

“You think it’s any easier for me to know you’ll carry those scars the rest of your life because of me? Whatever else it is, your my lead fox, act like it Sasha they’ll hunt us if you let them.”

Her father had never spoke to her with such concern, it made her unnervingly aware how much he cared for her. His eyes were glistened with tears as he smiled his pervasive smirk and pushed her forward letting her enjoy the privacy of looking away “If anyone’s dying…” She forced out “It’s them.”

“Atta girl.” he said with a smile, Scraggs rolled his eyes keeping an eye out as they began their treacherous advance toward The Confectionery…


Knock Knock Knock

Only silence responds to the trio, battered and bleeding they silently look to one another. Each of the drew weapons slowly creeping inside the dark scenery of the Confectionary, dapper mannqiuns in tight vests holding display taffy or alchemical treats for young children seem ominous in the silence of the shop. not a single soul is found up front.

”…we shouldn’t stay.” Sasha whispered looking to Samuel who glances backward to her nodding before countering the logic. “We didn’t exactly craft a contingency… odds are staying put here is the safest.” Cradavin glanced out of windows trying to move very little. “Question is though… why didn’t your boys hold to that thinking too?” Scraggs replied “Precisely…” A sudden rustle is heard in the back as Sasha pointed to scraggs to guard Cradavin.

Creeping inward she spotted him, a man in chains thrashing and babbling “N-n-No! Not Sleeeping! Pl- p. p please!” Sasha heard Atticus speak of Veido an alchemist who helped engineer this whole disaster. He was harmless, just insane from a lack of sleep and synthesizing his own dietary needs from powders and chemicals. She debating one talking to him about what happened but he’d likely only make matters worse by starting to shout. This man annoyed her, he had ample time to sleep why didn’t he? Without his input on these chemicals he was likely useless to Atticus now. She had more pressing matters to review like evidence of blood or a struggle.

A muffled scream was heard further down the building perhaps in the basement of the store. The sound drew Scraggs and Cradavin from the front as they silently questioned if she knew. She only responded no by shaking her head. The desperate gaze of Veido and his shaking told them everything the trio needed on instinct alone at that moment. They were far too late, Harlequins descended from the rafters blades drawn four of them a fifth figure stood in the rafters watching from above cloaked in shadow.

A screech of steel and sparks roared out as Cradavin activated the runeplate of “Grit” as his greatsword ignited into life illuminating their worst fears in the swirling melee. The Alabaster Mask of the Marionette herself watched as Sasha, Samuel and James fought for theirs lives verses the unerringly nimble pawns of her madness. Slicing, slash and thrusting faster then a master swordsman in each hand these terrors chipped away at the fortitude of trio as they fought back to back.

Scraggs hooked one knife with his own blade using the hilt to lock it in place before snatching up their wrist turning this acrobat into a still target just long enough for Cradvin to carve “Grit” into it before Thrashing the edge into another aggressor carving them both in half. Sasha ducked and weaved finding her concentration hyper focused as each blade faced off against a pair of poison dripping blades. Using her reactions, experience and blade length all to their fullest she kept them at bay before finding an opening and slicing the wrist off of one cackling jester who merely looked down to his bleeding stumple cackling before rushing in to create an opening for it’s partner using the stump of it’s arm as a shield fo Sasha to carve into and slow her speed enough to capitalize. The opportunist somersaulted over the group and with a flurry of thrusts while overhead overwhelmed her focus dropping her to a kneeling position because her original attacker plunged a blade into her lower gut between the straps of her armor. Before she could react he executed the closest Harlequin via decapitation before being unable to react in time to defend against another quick barrage of swift slices and slashes. Before they came, A thunk was heard as Scrags stood confidently between Sasha and the Harlequin plunging his dagger squarely into the face of the enemy who toppled to the ground dead.

He turned to pick up Sasha who regained her breath and footing quickly fighting off the poison as best she could. Before a word could spoken a violet burst of light rained down upon Samuel Scraggs snuffing out his image. Both Sasha and James recoiled from the light as if instinct demanded it before such malevolence. Though a brief moment had only passed the charred remains of Scraggs collapsed before them both. The Miasma of purple mist coalesced toward the rafters with a screeching ember of white flickered and smoldered as if drawn toward her, the Marionette Killer. She stood motionlessly holding out her palm at the pure light befouled to a sickly emerald green before been crushed into her palm snuffing out the wailing voice of Scraggs into nothing for eternity, forced to become nothing more than a small node of her strength for the battle to come.

“How boring, you all lived.”

Her voice sounded impish and light hearted as she committed the ultimate atrocity of creation before them both. James looked to Sasha and calmly stated “Sasha… go.” the hot blaze of “Grit” flared ready to defend its master’s wishes. She tried to speak and he shouted at her as though demanding her to stand at attention “WE ARE FOXES! WE WILL BE HUNTED! WE WILL BE WOUNDED! WE WILL BE BETRAYED! BUT WE WILL GIVE YOU THE HARDEST CHASE OF YOUR LIFE!”

Sasha was frozen she knew this was her only chance. Her mind screamed it was the only course, he heart wanted nothing more than to fight with her father at that moment but it was in that moment she heard the heavy sound of an explosion come crashing through the wall of the Confectionary tearing apart brick and mortar racing faster than lightning and exploding as loud as thunder. Dust and smoke swirled into the area as Sasha realized it crashed right into her father. James Cradavin, the once mighty leader of the Iron Fox lay dead against the wall of this shop his body crushed under the weight a royal weight cannon shot with a trail of green smoke drifting from where it had come from.Grit dropped to the ground in a loud clang as it petered out and died inches from him.

Sasha looked out to what caused it and saw something that could barely be called a Steamjack anymore. The outter chasis of this jack was fractured, marred and pitted by the ebbing power of souls and magic circulating through it. It’s structure warped and twisted into something more akin to a fractal nightmare of steel and iron tempered to resembled emerald slow thrumming with power. It lowered an amalgamation of steel that might have once been seen as an Ordic Royal weight cannon before it was incorporated it into it’s poorly conceived shell. It’s opposite arm appeared to caked int tumorous soulglass in the rough shape of a sword with an undeniably deadly looking edge capable of cleaving through whatever it desired. It’s eroded optics carrying a disembodied light as the semblance of a boil seems to have been shed by this monster yet a large conglomerate of fire floats behind it’s back like a well of souls as it locks it eyes with the warrior it jerks it’s body somehow reloading the shot inside itself somehow.

Sasha knew she wouldn’t survive running, she glared to her Father’s murderer and ran toward the basement. “You want me? Come and get me!” The Alabaster abomination watched silently as she fled toward the basement tilting her head to the side before giggling

“Oh my, How fun. He has such interesting friends!” She deftly lept to the floor and the shivering mutterings of Veido reminded her she would need to have a word with him after this was over. “Oh my little Veido, Have you been being naughty and telling secrets?” She turned to face him as he trembled in a level of fear many minds might never truly experience as what was left of his sanity unraveled on the spot before his mistress. She giggled strolling casually away from him after Sasha humming an odd tune that clearly wasn’t Ordic while caressing a knife with her palm and fingernails playfully knowing she’d have nowhere to hide.

The Marionette stepped toward the basement seeing she opened the basement door, evidence of struggle and blood was slapped against the floor as was a dead Sweetling Gangster. Pushing open the door a full display of immaculate carnage was before her. dozens of ravenous crazed mad men were killed either by themselves or Sasha, the aching need to know which was palpable to her as she slowly continued her tune taking her time to casually examine an interesting corpse or two for the answer. Most had done themselves in thanks to the “Truth of Lukas” but a few signs of fresh blood also showed her Red Little Foxed had to bear it’s fangs again. The truth of this place brought a decadent bliss over her as she spoke out.

“It’s a dead end you know…” She stepped over one body after the other as she stepped confidently further into the dark. She stepped into the entrance of the next wing and continued. ”It’s normally around now…” The darkness didn’t respond to her she could hear the held breath ”they start to wonder how I knew…” She giggled stepping into the pitch black.

“They never once consider how until it’s far, far too late…” After a few steps she looks to her left and continues “Up until they just keep wondering…” From her right came movement as she looked it square in the face proclaiming “WHY!?” she thrusts a knife confidently forward somehow bypassing the the steel of her plate armor completely in this darkness. Sasha tumbles backward holding a hand against her shoulder something burned terribly, far worse than the Harelquin’s poison as she retreated toward the lanterns of the basement where the slaughter had been.

”Or Who!” The Marionette lunges out of the darkness and Sasha manages a Parry, but in the light of the room begins to seem creeping hand of porcelain crawl along her mask as though they were part of it from the very beginning, the laughter of children fill this place as a young man says distantly. _“Who here wants a little treat huh?” _ it’s accompanied by the gleeful screams of children. She looks around confused inside the grizzly scene around her before suddenly the floor begins to rumble and she sees the blood of this place grows dark like pits and consumes the ground around her as she begins to plummet into the abyss. She looks to the Marionette who stands motionlessly before her in the unholy terror each movement or twitch sending her in a gibbering madness as she watches her flawlessly maintain composure among the madness around her.

“It is said that enlightenment is the acceptance of ignorance, But I say that ignorance is the attempt at enlightenment at all… The World creeps and crawls with the unknowable truth and the very act of certainty is an impossibility. Instead embrace freedom.”

“You mean Insanity!” Sasha grimaced at that, she glared at her enemy before her and pulled her blade backward. She would at least go out as a Proud Fox, she refused to be like Veido. She plunged one of her blades into her foot as hard as she could punching through the greave into the floor. The Spiraling pain reeled her mind back from the surreal nightmare she was experience though the visions of Lukas still chewed at the edges of her mind she cried out in a rage pulling back her blade focusing on the pain before preparing a stance. “Then you have no idea how this will end do you?”

The genuine unnerving laughter of The Marionette echoed in the Confectionery as Veido cracked open a small compartment from his belt swallowing a pill with complete abandon and fear as the sound of clashing steel clanged in the distance….

View
Hardest Chase of your Life
War of Masks: Sasha (part3)

“Iron Fox, what does that even mean anyway?” Samuel whispered with wide eyes as he leerily peered around a corner tilting his head toward the scarred warrior woman for the inquiry. Sasha narrowed her eyes at a ring of keys before grimacing at the assortment of diffrent types before glaring back to Scraggs and with a sharp yet deafened tone counters with “You choose now to ask me that?” Scraggs caught the image of one of them, he pulled himself back around the corner again casually to not draw notice before holding up his hand to Sasha’s. Her face squirmed at the hypocrisy he was displaying but wasn’t about to question the spotter, she held her tongue.

The sound of a heavy wheeze turned into a growl down the hallway Scraggs had just been peer down. His face went somber as he looked at Sasha with a nod pulling a new hand cannon down low between his knees pressing his back against the adjacent corner of the wall. He closed his eyes and listened for it, a puppet of the Marionette killer praying it wasn’t shuffling closer. Uneven footsteps was the first signal of movement encroaching upon the duo. A sputtering hack escaped the lungs of this puppet like it were a gunshot giving a keen understanding of it only been mere feet away from them both. They both held their breath knowing any movement might bring another horde.

“Someone….there?” Scraggs shot a petrified look to Sasha as she shook her head no to him as he readjusted his grip on the gun trying to stay silent but loose. The bloody body of a guard turns the corner with a crazed look in his eyes as Scraggs hadn’t expected to see a survivor inside the barracks. He wasn’t wrong though Sasha could tell the man appeared to be unhinged his eyes shook lightly, his wounds appeared to be mostly self inflicted and worst of all holding a pistol in his hand. Any amount of trust would be dangerous to give to this man. Sasha rose to her feet drawing her swords. The watchman dropped to his knees in paralyzed terror before he shouted “She can’t see you! I won’t let her see! Please I don’t want to die!”

“Awfully rational for a psychotic isn’t he?” Scraggs mused immediately pointing his head around the corner again. “But shout like that again and we’ll be having a very expedited resolution for that volume control issue of yours. Are we clear?” The crazed man nodded furiously until the cold shine of cold steel slid into his throat silently. The crazed man put his hand around her blade and looked surprised for a moment before blood dribbled between his lips and he gave a dejected look of pain and anquish before drifting silently to his death. Sasha pulled the blade out and threw the keys at him. “Get him out… you don’t got the stomach for this.” Scraggs instinctively grabbed the keys but sighed to Sasha’s willingness to kill a potential ally. “That wasn’t necessary yet.”

“It was, you’re too trusting.” Scraggs eyes the lock into the cells inside and chuckles lightly “And you’re not? Then why exactly are we here springing your treasonous captain if not trust in a clearly untrustworthy man?” Scraggs recognizes the lock design and starts thumbing through the keys silently with a very practices hand. “Besides, everyone needs a scapegoat.” Sasha remains vigilant and whispers “Oh is that what happened out there then?”

Scraggs picks his choice pushing open the barred door. “I’ll admit, that Kepli botched that forward recon….” He slides into the jail and eyes Sasha intently before she enters. “But maybe if he hadn’t watched a little boy get murdered when he just needed help he might have been a bit more professional and collected. Did that ever even cross your mind bitch? My boys are tough, they are professional, but they love this city… and some of us didn’t sign on to kill kids just because the contract says so" Scraggs normally playful tone was gone and Sasha already missed Scragg’s banter and plafulness. She realized that those men were no different to him as The Iron Fox Company was to her. He had kept her focused but that sobering critique of her recent actions shook her a bit as she stopped in her tracks while Scraggs glared.

“Samuell I-” Scraggs immediately turns and walks letting his voice carry down the dark stairs “They’re dead, that’s just business. Play to your strengths Sasha, apologies don’t suit you.” Those words rattled her convictions in who she saw herself as… a victim. Scraggs slipped into the darkness as Sasha stood alone replaying that moment in her mind. Cruel and thoughtless, much like James Cradivin himself how could she have said that? Anger she thought, Gabriel left you because of the scars. She hunkered down her thoughts knowing any more doubt would be potentially lethal.
-———————————————————————————————————

“Been hearing all sort of shit outside Lieutenant” Mummered a familiar voice in the darkened hallways as Sasha approached. His voice was strangely light to her, as she saw him after only a day she barely could recognize him amongst the bruises, blood and battered bones. Cradavin likely had been beaten nearly within an inch of his life after Atticus walked away with this man’s entire company. Sasha found himself unable to look at her once proud captain who only grinned at her like an ornery grandfather.

“The Iron Fox, It use to be a fable told along the dragon’s tongue river.” Said to Scraggs slowly forcing herself to look at the captain. “Many think it was the man who beat Scion Roth at his own game along the Dragon’s Tongue River. A Bandit who went by that name. Others think it was his greatest rival, that Scion Roth made such an example of him that he was only able to be remembered the way children’s tales are. But what Anyone who served under this man learned was…” Cradavin groaned likely trying to sit up but answered in a gruff voice like he was gulping down gravel.

“That you better be faster than any huntsmen, tougher than his bullets and more cunning than any bloodhound to have the guts to call yourself an Iron Fox. Because we will be chased, we will be wounded and betrayed.”

Scraggs looks at the pitiful man before him, he’d seen worse but it was clear he was a shell of his former prestige and strength. Sasha keeps herself under control wiping tears from her eyes before saying in a shaky tone “But we will give you the hardest chase of your life.” Through his swollen face a smile crawls through on Cradivin toward Sasha as the sound of a distant gunshot robs him of that tender expression. “You shouldn’t have come.”

Sasha immediately unlocks the cell and plainly replies “Shut up sir.” to which causes her Captain to just chuckle and shake his head. “Loyalty wasn’t on the list Lieutenant” Sasha helped him up and looked to Scraggs “Get his armor, and weapons they’re stored in armory ‘for auction’ room”. Sasha sighs as Scragg did as he was told thankful to have this one brief moment with Cradivin before she says “James, can you fight? can you run?” Cradivin pointed at her wine flask “Give me a strech and some water and I’ll be good for one more Chase.” gave him the rest of her water without another water as he hungrily gulped it down and used some to clean his face and festering wounds.

“Sasha, I gave you an order… no one, not even you needed to go this far for me.” She accepted back her flask and surprised him with a long hug. Sasha didn’t speak and Cradivin broke the silence. “Sitting in that cell, gave me time to really think; about Bogsmeath, Willow Way …Bolten. Being an fox, it’s hard stuff. We’ve left the needy in misery, the rich more corrupt, and given mercs a bad name to many out there.” Sahsa remained holding onto him silently. “She was loyal too, your mother. Too loyal, she knew how soldiers like us live; hunkered down in trenches hearing death race around you like death praying to just go back home.” He ruffled her hair and and took a deep breath. “You always reminded me of her so much, never saw a prouder mother in my life. When I came back to Tyric’s Abbey and found you in the Orphanage because she’d died… I knew I couldn’t make the mistake I did with Donna. I needed to show you war, I needed to know you’d endure when all my past caught up to me.”

“Orianna and Balthier, the pirates you recruited to Bolten all of them say you abandoned Bolten.” James sighed and nodded at that. “Why would you lie?” James heard the sound of Scraggs in the distance coming with his armor. “Because they weren’t the mission, and because of Gabriel…” Sasha felt a sting in her heart hearing his name from Cradivin but she focused completely on him. “I came from this city, nothing more than a ganger like any other burn out kid here. One of us had the bright idea to rob from a wealthy looking man, couldn’t have came from anywhere but Belicose. That man was Gabriel’s father, we never stood a chance. He gave us a chance to leave before he’d execute us… I bent a knee.” Sasha looked confused_“How did Gabriel factor in?”_ James grinded his teeth and sighed. “Debts to the Matues mostly, a rich noble who was offering to pay three times the price of the contract for a much easier mission, and …” His words trail off as he looked to Sasha who demanded an answer silently. “…you.”

Her heart sank as she realized something as Scraggs stepped up handing off the plate armor with a grunt. Cradivin had agreed to Gabriel’s terms because Gabriel and her had become interested in one another. Her mind raced, was it to wisked her away from Iron Fox to keep her safe? Was it to pay his debts with a wife? Or was it possible the man who was hard as steel who came one day to a village and said he was her father, actually wanted her happy? She wanted so desperately to ask these questions but Scraggs handed off Cradivin’s sword and approached.

“Unless you want to be my new scapegoat, maybe reign it in?” Sasha blinked and realized just how emotional she had been during all this Samuel was right to jolt her back she was like Kepli… if not worse right now. She took a deep breath and widened her stance flexing her gut and arms to reign back in her facilities. She rolled her neck and shoulders before shifting her blance from one foot to the other, she wouldn’t die here she would claw through this. James looked to Scraggs “So who in Wyrm’s teeth, are you exactly anyway? And what has been going on above ground?”

Scraggs looked surprised by those questions and nodded “Hadn’t really considered you wouldn’t know about the condition of the streets, especially considering how bad it’s been. We’ve got a lot to tell you…”

View
Sins of Command
War of Masks: Essex

“Now would be the time for questions then…”

Kelley sits up in his seat, showing sobriety for the first time in weeks. His Officer’s table is desolate only filled in by Golrick, Alara, Sinyr, Mathias and various proxies for his actual officers. He looks them all square in the eye having given these words serious thought. His heart pounded in his chest as he looked at the uncertainty among his men most of all when Lidda returned his stare and shook her head no.

“It’s settled then, whoever is with me cast your vote now, we move at dawn.”
-———————————————————————————————————

“On the double men, we need to re-supply and rejoin the fleet!” Shouted the Bosun Copperton upon the weatherdeck of the Man-o-War class ship named “The Majesty”. Scores of naval sailors Were busily loading cargo upon the ship with the assistance of laborjacks. Dawn had just capped onto the horizon as the aging sailor took a moment after he was certain his orders sunk in.

From this distance the insanity of Five Fingers was nearly non-existent yet the spectacle of seeing dozens of naval vessels encircling the Port of Deceit captivated his attention all the same. It must have been literally every ship the King of Ord could have spared, the very notion of such an order seemed impossible to such a seasoned veteran of the Navy. But if glory was to be had his Captain would want it, of that he had no doubt.

A woman with elegant brunette curls, fine silken dress and fresh make up approached the vessel looking around in bewilderment. Copperton recognized the girl and sat up with a smile “Lidda?! is that you girl! Last I heard you left your brother’s employ how you been girl?! Looking mighty fancy!” He came racing over with a smile to her seeing young little tomboy Lidda develop into a proper woman in the span of two years was such a sight to him. He immediately opened his arms for a hug. Lidda paused for a moment and smiled fondly giving him a short embrace.

“I’ve done well Cerwin, you’re as robust as ever. Speaking of my brother… where is our fair Admiral? I was in the area and thought I would pay him a visit.

Copperton taps a finger to his chin and nods “He was down in the gundeck last I checked Darling. Shall I escort you? Fine young woma-” Lidda perked up and slapped his chest with a scoffing laugh. “You think a single man here could take advantage of me If I didn’t want them to? Even in this Dress? Cerwin did I inspire such little confidence in you?” They shared a mutual laugh for a moment as Lidda stepped toward the Promenade of the vessel. “I’ll be waiting in his quarters, let him know family is here.” Cerwin smiles and immediately blinks shouting to her “Oh Lidda! Make your visit quick we plan to head in toward the city heard it’s very dangerous, best you stay on Crab Beggar little miss!”
-——————————————————————————

The interior Admiral Lucan McClay’s quarters were spotless, showing symbolisms toward his patriotism and naval career. Adorned on the far side of the quarters was an elaborate picture of the McClay family lineage grandfather against his son against his son with the setting sun against all of their backs. Waiting in silence she stared at the door her face twisting and stirring with emotions. The clear baritone voice of her brother was heard just outside the door. “Keep watch.” The door creaked open and slowly brother and sister meet each other’s eyes.

Lidda’s eyes shimmered with tears as her face broke and she restrained her tears. Lucan smiled trying to warm the room asking “Lidda, I feared the worst.Tell me you’re alright.” He walked in gazing around the room for a moment before scooping up his sister and hugging her tightly. Lidda hugged him back nestling her face into his neck as she regains control of herself her brother continues saying “He didn’t hurt you did he? Please… Lidda speak to me.” He pulls her away and looks her in the face pleadingly.

Lidda built up a daring to look her brother in the eyes as she smiled in a bittersweet way. And asked “Why… why did you do it?” Lucan tensed up and narrowed his eyes “ That scum, he told you did he?” Lidda slaps him “Why!? Tell me!” Immediately the Door opens as a naval rifleman looks in quietly before asking “Everything alright in here sir?” Lucan absorbed the blow well and merely looked to his soldier “Yes we are fine here sailor, you and Timolt can leave us now.” No sooner than the door closed Lucan balled his fists up and rose it back to strike his sister but faltered.

“He was going to get you killed. He got to you to get to me.”Lidda shook like a leaf as she looked at him pleading “…Why not come after him then… why not take me back?” Lucan may not have hit his sister but his tone turned venomous after that. “Because I am no traitor to my king, unlike you! You come in here trying to hide your torrid affair from me dressing up like some harlot of noble breeding rather than the earthy woman we both know you are. I did it for my family, I did it for you! And you can’t even thank me properly?!” Lidda recoiled from him and wiped her tears away slowly trying to compose herself before saying “Lu, please let’s don’t fight I don’t want that to be how it is.”

Lucan growls trying to restrain himself “Grah! Fine… the damage is done let’s no dwell on it. Kelley has learned never to cross me again.” Lidda sighed at that and frankly asked “But why his Family? How is that just?” Lucan glared at his sister before sitting down at his desk. “I’m sorry, didn’t you want us to stop fighting?!” Lidda nodded “So what.. anyone who crosses you kill their family?! Lucan when did this become who you are?”

An intense silence went over the room as Lucan stared at out to the rising dawn

“You think I enjoyed it? You think I just ordered that heinous deed out of spite? Lidda you know as well as I Kelley never put faith in the military again after Major Artuno died. He was convinced that whisking his family to an den for thieves and pirates was the safest place for them. I had done him a service for years never mentioning it to the chain of command. When he finally went AWOL I had a decision to make; disclosure the information of a possible piracy den or honor a friend’s possible memory.” Lidda looks repulsed by the statement, likely due to the logic it made. “ I was dishonest for the sake of a criminal, I made my peace with that as far as reputations for honesty i considered myself still clean comparatively speaking of course.”

Lidda looked baffled by that statement to which Lucan answered her silent question while he continued. “Many of my peers have secrets and lies hey would appericate to keep secret…” Lidda shook her head “Now it makes sense… how you were so quickly promoted.” Lucan shrugged and continued “The fact my peers had poorly guarded secrets is not my concern, the ability to help my country in the fullest capacity I could was my priority.” Lidda sighed and pleaded “What does this have to do with Kel?”

“Simple, very simple actually sister. After we all began to hear the reports, ‘The ship that never lingers’ the same disgraced naval admiral’s ship being used across the Meredius not as a privateer… but a pirate. I watched a good man prey on my generosity, use his birthright to trample upon the hard work of other sailors and become a burn out dredge of society who forsook his kingdom.” Lidda threw her hands down to his desk “He isn’t like that Lucan! You murdered innocent people on hearsay… about your best friend!” Lucan looked up to his sister and smirked

“Oh sweet sister, you really were too impulsive. So I assume you slept with him? Because this trend of accusations has become tiresome. You forget that the fact that criminal was a close friend is precisely the reason I knew these rumors were true. And then you had just had to come upon his ship….” Lidda’s eyes widened “You knew?… that I?”

Lucan chuckled “How could I forget? You think the lashing mother and father gave you about kissing him back only a few years ago is a distant memory… you throwing yourself at him was no surprise Lidda… Him accepting however; that was unforgivable…Born a Warcaster, handsome and charming, giving his own rank of a Captain and command of a vessel, disregarding Ordic royal orders… and then besmirching our family name by making you his. He was warned long ago to stay away from you…He took the final offense, not me.”

Lidda saw her brother for the man he was, someone who refused to accept the evil of casually ordering the execution of Kelley’s Family. The once fond and warm aura of him a faded shadow in only a few years, she barely recognized anything in the promenade as someone her brother enjoyed as a child it was sterile; it was false much like his smile. “Brother… you killed his mother, you killed little Sammie! You claim you’re a patriot, that this had to be done that Kelley was somehow less than you. He spared me, he has EVER reason to kill me to get even with you and he let me go…you’re nothing compared to him; at least he loved his family.”

Lucan was silent, the anger on his face melted away as he embraced the end of statement. “Then I shall have substantially longer than him to learn how. Hate me if you wish, but knowing you are safe is what mattered.” Lidda’s face seems to crack as she whimpers out “..t..Then this is goodbye.” Lucan gives her a strange look before nodding “Indeed, for now at least. Where shall I tell Father you are going?” Lidda looks to a corner of his quarters almost lost in thought. “Breck I suppose…Goodbye Lu.” She gives him a hug and sighs out “I still love you brother, forgive me.” Lucan is surprised to hear these words and hugs his sister goodbye “Thank you Lidda, This wasn’t easy for me… thank you for forgiving me.” Without another word she leaves the promenade.

Lucan sits in his quarters silent for a good long moment reflecting on what his sister said in the heat of the moment. “I half expected her to try and kill me for him.” he said aloud with a laugh reaching over to pour himself a drink. “ I’m nothing compared to him huh? Heh, well I doubt he thinks so.” He takes a long sip on his bourbon and watches the sun begin to climb into his window. “Essex, why haven’t you made your move yet?” he says to himself in the silence of the room.

“Because I wanted to know why.”

Lucan spits out his bourbon with a hefty cough seeing Kelley in his quarter holding him at gunpoint. He pulled back the hammer of his mechanika Repeater Pistol and sighs Lucan eyes him with a smile “What are you going to do sho-” Kelley without another word between the two empties the entire ammo wheel into Lucan without a single emotion crossing his face.*

“Yep.”

Kelley smiles prying the glass from the spasiming hand of Lucan and ceremonially pours the remains of the glass onto the floor. “My family, is part of my crew.” With a snicker he plucks a cigar from Lucan’s stash inside his desk. “ Hell far as I see it, even some of your family is part of my crew.” He brings the stoogie to his nose with a smile and hears a clamoring stomp of heavy feet. He stows his gun and smiles waiting expectantly for the guest. In walks a broadly smiling Golrick Steadfast.

“She’s ours sir.”

Essex nods “Any survivors Mr Steadfast?”

Golrick just grins to which Essex lights his cigar offering one to Golrick closing the Closet to Lucan’s Quarters where he came out of. “Damn fine work Master of the Hold, Damn fine work. How’s Lidda taking it?"

Golrick snatches up the cigar looking for a match before asking “ Better than I would have thought. Well, where to from here Captain?”

Essex smiles to him stepping out onto his new ship’s weather deck seeing it coated in blood and dead bodies with a crew of his best men and a score of at least a hundred citizens of Crab Beggar Island. “Anywhere we damn well want Golrick, Anywhere we damn well want.”

Essex pulls out the Letter of Marque drafted up by Atticus and crushes it in his hand before runes incinerate it within his metal palm. A Large smile crosses his face as he shouts

“Who’s ready to be come fucking legends?!”

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.