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A ship without a sail (Rescuing Horam Pt 1)

 
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Kitty Helston
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:51 pm    Post subject: A ship without a sail (Rescuing Horam Pt 1) Reply with quote

-- Several Weeks Ago--

“Uhm, Aunt Kitty? Horam still hasn’t picked up his paychecks. What do you want me to do with them?” Traeline stood in the door of Kitty’s office, holding the stack of unclaimed pay stubs.

“What do you mean still?” Kitty had been going over some charts on her datapad when Traeline’s words sunk in. It wasn’t like Horam to go very long without claiming his pay. She knew sometimes he would be gone for a couple months at a time, seeing as how he loved to be at sea. But Trae made it sound far longer than that.

She thought back to the last time she saw Horam. How long ago was it? A part of her just assumed that the minotaur was avoiding her for some strange reason. Given how mercurial his moods were, she never really was sure what was going on inside his head. And she wasn’t about to invade his mind to find out.

“Well...” Trae looked at the pile of envelopes in her hand, “I mean, it’s been several months. Should we just write him off as having left Rhy-”

“Several months?” Kitty cut her off abruptly, giving her niece an incredulous look, “Why hasn’t someone mentioned this to me before now?”

“I thought you knew.” The younger woman involuntarily took a step backwards, “The Sargas hasn’t been seen in port for at least a year.”

“A YEAR?” The vocal explosion from the moredhel Elder made Traeline step back even further. Kitty got to her feet with such force, the chair slammed into the wall behind her with a loud thunk. Within seconds she was standing before Traeline, snatching the stack of envelopes out of her hand and going through them.

Her eyes grew wide and stayed that way as she shuffled through each envelope, checking the date on it. Not just several months. Over a year! Too long. This was far too long for her shipping fleet Admiral to be gone. She was furious. No. She was worried. No. She was furious AND worried.

Abruptly she handed Trae the stack and stormed past her, “I’m heading to the docks to get some answers. If anyone needs me, they can wait.”

“Sure thing.”
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Last edited by Kitty Helston on Tue Jul 04, 2017 10:31 am; edited 1 time in total
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Kitty Helston
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 12, 2017 6:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

“Oh yeah. The lassies down der be sweet. You just wanna-”

“Ahem!” A distinctly feminine voice interrupted the conversation between the five lounging sailors. In unison they all looked to the source of the voice.

Kitty could easily tell which ones had been working for her awhile. Those three immediately recognized her and got to their feet. Hats were pulled from heads and worried between grime covered hands as they lowered their gaze to the ground.

However, the other two were obviously new. Probably replacements for the ones that Traeline shot. All too often the sailors and dock workers thought just because Traeline was female, young, and used the Helston last name, they could manhandle her any way they wanted. This always ended up in either someone getting shot, or Trae collected a new tooth for her collection.

The newer recruits both eyed up Kitty with a grin. They made no effort to disguise their ogling of her chest. The one standing closest to her did a full turn to face her like he might approach her, “Oi der purty lady! Ya wanna good time? Ow!”

He had more than finished his dreadful attempt at flirting when one of the more senior workers smacked him in the back of the head, “Ya git! Dontcha know who dat is?”

“No. But I’d sure like ta!” The man continued to leer at Kitty’s chest as one of her eyebrows began a slow ascent toward her hairline.

Another of the senior workers leaned forward to whisper to the one who had no idea how close to getting tossed off the pier he was, “Dat der is Kitty Helston. Ya show her respect er she have ya keel hauled.”

“Ki.... Oh. Uhm. Sorry mum. I din know.” Immediately both of the newer hands seemed to shrivel up before her eyes.

“Gentlemen, and I use the term loosely, don’t you have better things to be doing?” Kitty’s eyebrows both lifted now as she gave them an expectant look, “Or should I find new employees that actually do work?”

“No mum! Sorry! Right away!” All five of the men scrambled to get to what they were suppose to be doing. However, Kitty reached out to grab one of the senior workers by the shoulder, “You stay here. I have some questions for you.”

The sailor froze and slowly turned to look at Kitty. The fear in his eyes was plain as he nodded silently. She couldn’t help but smirk just a fraction at him, “Relax, sailor. You’re not in any trouble. I just need to ask you if you know where Horam went. I’m just now hearing the Sargas Revenge hasn’t been seen around here in over a year.”

Visibly the sailor relaxed. He couldn’t have been more than thirty years, if he was human. She wasn’t in the business of asking the genetics of her employees. All she cared about is if they got the work done.

“Nae, mum. He didn’ tell us where. But mebbe it be in the logs of the Yard Master.” He ducked his head down as he spoke. The dirty hat in his hands was nearly being wrung apart as he tried to stay as respectful as possible. Kitty almost felt sorry for the poor man.

“Alright, I’ll check there. Back to work, sailor.”

The man nodded and literally ran away from her toward the pier. She watched him flee, then turned and headed for the shipyard.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

-- About a week later --

“Over a year? Really? How did you not notice before now?” Chryrie peered at her sister over the rim of her teacup.

“I don’t know. I just thought he was avoiding me.” Kitty grumbled as she hunched over the map she obtained from her shipyard master. He didn’t know Horam’s exact planned path, but he managed to show her the routes the Sargas most commonly took, according to past log books.

“Why would Horam avoid you? I thought you two got along.” The goddess quirked a brow at Kitty. She wasn’t able to do their morning coffee sessions every day anymore, but she still tried to pop over for them at least a few times a week. It was times like these that reminded her of why she did it. Sometimes Kitty got so wrapped up in her own thoughts and tasks, she lost track of what was going on around her.

“We do. But he’s Horam. Sometimes he gets a bug up his ass and avoids everyone. I wasn’t taking it personally.” Kitty frowned at the map, tracing one path in particular. That one was deemed the most likely the Sargas last took. She wasn’t familiar with the routes. Truthfully, she knew very little about what happened out at sea. She knew how to hold her own on a ship, but that was about it.

“Hmm.” The noncommittal answer was all Chryrie had to offer as she set her cup aside. She watched her sister for a few moments. She could tell, despite how she may act otherwise, she was worried about the minotaur.

“Didn’t you give him one of your marbles?”

“Yeah, but I can’t be certain he has it on him.”

“I see. So what do you plan to do?” There was a joke here somewhere about Kitty losing her marbles, but Chryrie politely refrained.

Kitty leaned back in her chair as she considered Chryrie’s question. There really was only one answer that she was happy with, “I’m going to go find him. I was planning to do some mercenary work, but this takes priority.”

“Seeking a ship and its captain that are possibly lost at sea could be considered a form of mercenary work.” Chryrie pointed out lightly as she leaned forward to look at the map.

“Yeah. Mercenary work for myself. I wonder how much I should pay myself.” Kitty barked out a sharp laugh, but it didn’t contain much humor. Her eyes went back to the map in front of her, "I'm going to have to ask someone else about this. Someone who knows more about it than I do.”

“That shouldn’t be difficult, given your connections.” The goddess tilted her head as she looked at the map. Of course, Chryrie could possibly help. But Kitty didn’t ask for help, therefore none could actually be given. All she could do was offer advice.

Chryrie’s hand absently smoothed down the length of the braid in her hair. Each trinket and bauble was gently touched as if the essence of the one who had given it could somehow shed some light on the subject. But then her finger landed on an old worn coin. Her kaleidoscope eyes tilted toward the coin thoughtfully, “What about that one pirate fellow? Georg? He might know a thing or two about what you’re heading into.”

Kitty looked up at Chryrie and grinned so wide her face looked like it might split in half, “That’s an excellent idea. He should know something about this mess.” Her eyes dropped back down to the map and her expression sobered, “Although I’m sure he’ll get a good laugh to find out I plan to visit Hornswaggle Reef.”

“The name already sounds so charming.” The sardonic words of the goddess were drawled out as she leaned back in her chair, “And why would he find that so amusing?”

“Because it’s one of those places that criminals flock to. It’s like someone took the nightlife of West End and the docks and made it into a whole town.” Kitty had been there a few times in her younger years. Sometimes, when working as a mercenary, she had to hide out in places that no sensible law enforcer would ever think to go.

“As I said. Charming.”
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 14, 2017 7:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kitty set her coffee on the Inn table, then reached into her pocket to pull out a map. As she sat down she spread the map out on the table. It was dotted with various shipping routes her ships were known to take. "I'm looking for a ship. The Sargas Revenge..."

Georg took a quick swig of rum as he moved up to the table to look over the map, reading the map with ease, "Don't believe I have come across one by that name. But I have dealt with a few unsavory types in these waters."

Kitty grimaced at his words. That was the last thing she wanted to hear, "This one... the captain works for me. He's been missing several months." She then traced a line with one claw, "His last known route was along here..."

The pirate followed the trail she was tracing, "Can't say that I have heard any word on your missing ship or captain. I'll be keeping an eye out for it." He paused for a moment, "You are going after it, aren't ya?"

"You wanted to know what trouble I was getting into." She smirked at him and nodded, "Yes, I am. I'll probably have to sacrifice one of my own ships to do it, but I need to find him. He's not dead. I'd know if he was."

Georg looked back at the map for a moment, "Probably would be a good idea to have another ship go with you. Just for that extra firepower." He began drumming his fingers against the bottle.

"Well, I'm assuming I'm heading into pirate territory. Not like many ships are willing to head into that mess." Kitty looked at the map. Then she pointed to a port she had mentioned to her sister just days previous, "I'll be going there. One way or another, I plan to get answers."

"Well. You are talking to one that has crossed through that area a time or two.. Defended a few of your other ships." Another swig as he seemed to be pondering the idea, "Alright." The port she pointed to was placed to memory, "I'll see if my crew is up for another trip there."

That made her just blink at Georg owlishly, "Wha?"

"What?" He looked back at Kitty with a brow quirked.

"I wasn't asking if you would... I mean... I'll pay you, of course." She fumbled around, not expecting that from the pirate. His words about defending her ships also finally sunk in.

"We'll worry about that after we find your ship, the captain and the crew." Georg gave a wave of hand, "Plus.. They might have some loot to plunder."

"Well... alright then." She nodded, then grinned at him, "Willing to help me get my ship all pirated up? I'd rather not be a floating target."

"Sure.. I know a place that generally don't ask many questions. Good people though." He nodded and followed with a grin, "You might get a taste for the pirating life though."

"I somehow doubt that. While I'm perfectly at home on a ship, I prefer solid ground. Call it a cat thing." She chuckled as she pulled out her phone, "I have a feeling this is going to take more than a week.."
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 17, 2017 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The wind whipped through Kitty’s hair as she looked at one of her ships. A smaller frigate built ship with eleven cannons port and starboard, along with two bow chase cannons. Twenty-four total guns, and all of them were being replaced with plasma cannons as she watched on. If she was going to go into pirate territory, she was going to ensure she was going to get her crew back alive. She had no need for prisoners and Georg was welcome to any loot.

Earlier in the week she had the ship scrubbed free of barnacles, any hint of damages were repaired, and all of the sails were replaced. She left nothing to chance. At Georg’s suggestion, the decks were flushed and evened out to better blend in with other pirate ships as well as lighten the load. She wasn’t planning on hauling any cargo beyond necessary supplies, so bulkheads below deck were removed as well to make the ship lighter and faster.

Her eyes slid to the side toward the head of brightly colored hair next to her. Traeline was scribbling notes on a clipboard and occasionally barking orders at the men working. Kitty couldn’t help but smile a bit at seeing how well Trae handled herself.

She looked back to the ship and tilted her head slightly so the younger Helston would hear her voice over the surrounding cacophony, “When I get back, remind me to send a missive to Lord Z'ev Zayveon and let him know I’ll be looking to purchase more ships soon.”

Traeline nodded at Kitty’s words as she scribbled a bit more, “Do you know how many and of what you’re getting yet?”

“Not yet. Possibly a few galleons, but I’ll probably get a few more of these as well.” She pointed to the ship being worked on briefly before dropping her hand to her waist. Then she slowly turned and faced the group of men that were waiting there. Around one hundred men she gathered not only from her own ships, but from anywhere along the docks she could find men seeking work. The ship’s original crew had already been given the option of joining this mission. Some agreed to stay, some chose to fill in the spots on the other ships that were being vacated by those standing before her now.

She heaved a deep sigh and then pushed herself up to stand on top of a nearby pile of crates so she could get a better view of them. It was a rough rag-tag group, to be certain. Once Traeline had moved off down the pier to better oversee the work on the ship, Kitty motioned for the men to come closer so they could hear her.

As they got closer, she watched their faces. Slowly one of her eyebrows arched upwards before she spoke out loudly, “If you men could possibly find the strength to stop staring at my chest long enough to listen to me, you might find what I have to say interesting.”

There were a series of coughs and mumbled apologies before several of the men cast their eyes down. The ones who were already quite familiar with working for Kitty got grins. Their eyes were on her face where they belonged.

She smirked faintly before she continued, “I’ve asked all of you here because I need a crew for a very special task. Many of you are already familiar with the Admiral of my fleet, Horam JakChar. I have discovered that he is missing, and has been so for quite some time. I plan to go after him. This means going into pirate territory, posing as pirates ourselves.”

Glances were exchanged between several of the men. This sounded dangerous and it was obvious they weren’t sure they wanted to sign up for this. Kitty watched them for a couple breaths. “Yes, it’s dangerous. Some of you might not survive. However, those of you who do survive, you will be paid mercenary wages. But... if you still wish to not take the risk, you are free to leave now.”

She fell silent as she waited to see who left and who remained. She was surprised to see only five men leave. None of them were those who currently worked for her. She patiently waited for those men to depart. Once they were gone, she looked to those who remained and smiled. “I see I have some brave men before me. That’s exactly what I need.”

“Now, I’m going to warn you from the start. This ship is not armed with normal cannons. I have had them all replaced with plasma cannons. These things outright vaporize large holes in whatever they hit. This means they are not toys and must be handled very carefully. If any of you are already familiar with higher levels of technology, I need you to come forward and to stand behind me.” She pointed toward the mostly clear area behind her with one extended claw tipped finger.

By the time the shuffling of bodies was completed, she had thirteen men standing behind her. Ideally she needed twenty-four. One for each cannon. She looked to the remaining men in front of her, “I need eleven more. Are any of you younger ones good with learning things mech-”

About that time Traeline had returned and was tugging Kitty down to whisper into her ear, causing the elder to cut herself off. Kitty gave her a dubious look, but Trae was insistent. The moredhel shook her head and then looked back to the gathered men. “Alright. Is anyone good with video games?”

Soon a number of younger men piled over to join those behind Kitty. Twenty-six total. Good. Extras in case someone got injured.

“Alright. You guys follow Traeline. She’ll teach you about the guns.” She pointed to her niece for them. Then she lifted that clawed finger with a smirk, “And boys? I would suggest keeping your hands to yourselves. Otherwise she will leave you in too many pieces to be able to do much of anything but bleed to death. And I won’t stop her.”

The few experienced men just nodded, having already learned about Trae’s wrath from watching other men suffer the consequences. The newer ones eyed Trae warily as they followed the head of bright purples and blues toward the ship. Kitty watched them go with a smirk for a few seconds, then she turned to those who remained in front of her.

“Now I’m going to be honest. I know jack and squat about sailing a ship. This is why I put Captain Wickley Kellam in charge of deciding where the rest of you will be assigned. While I am in charge of this mission, Captain Wickely is in charge of this ship.” She lowered her gaze to the man in question. He was leaning against the crates Kitty was standing on, idly chewing on a toothpick. He had been working for Kitty for almost as long as she had a shipping fleet. Loyal to both her and Horam, not to mention a damn fine Captain, the very ship she was having altered for this mission was his baby. When she came to him and explained what she was planning, he agreed to it without hesitation.

“Captain, if you would be so kind as to take over?” She smiled at the man. He grunted and hauled himself up onto the crates next to Kitty. One of her clawed hands gave him a clap to his shoulder, and then she turned and hopped down. She hadn’t gotten two steps away before he was barking out orders to get the men sorted out.

She said nothing to anyone as she continued to walk away from the dock area, heading back toward House Helston. Once she was away from the noise of the wind, water, and men, she pulled out her phone and tapped the screen once. Soon the sound Bobby’s voice came through the speaker, “Yes Kitty?”

“Send a message to Commander Murshk. You might need to talk to Khoom to help get it to him. Tell him I need ten Ular that are comfortable being on a sea faring ship for several days by the time we set sail on Monday morning. Same pay rates as the balrogs mission.”

“The same? Are you sure? Pirates aren’t demons.”

“I’m trapping ten bears on a ship with almost one hundred men for who knows how many days to rescue one minotaur and hopefully his crew. I’m not giving them hazard pay. I’m giving them tolerance and patience pay.”

“Understood. Right away.”
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

--That Following Monday Morning--


The waves seemed endless. Kitty’s hands gripped the forecastle deck railing tightly as she watched them. She could hear the supplies Captain Wickley requested being loaded onto the ship behind her. The men called out to each other as barrels and crates were lowered into the hold through the hatch. Last minute checks were being done on the hull and sails.

She heard the sound of boots on the deck planks behind her. She didn’t look to see who it was. She didn’t need to. She knew Captain Wickley’s scent quite well. The footsteps paused behind her, then came up next to her. In her peripheral vision she could see the captain lean against the railing as he looked out at the waves.

“Ye seem ta be pretty deep in thought there, Boss.” The captain’s voice was a rich baritone filled with gravel and broken glass. Kitty liked to believe it was once one of those voices that made women weak in the knees until so many years of enduring a harsh life at sea tore it into ragged bits.

She turned her head to look fully at Wickley for a long moment. He had a strong profile with a powerful jaw and a nose that had a few bumps from being broken a few times. His long hair was tied back and secured at the nape of his neck. What was once a brown so dark it came near to black was now streaked with white at the temples and a couple places at the top. His weathered face seemed to always have some sort of stubble on it. The one thing that never seemed to age were his eyes. They were a brilliant blue that always had a sparkle about them no matter what was happening. She didn’t know his age or his genetics, but she knew he was more than capable of what she asked of him.

Soon she looked back to the water with a sigh, “Yes, I suppose I am. I know he’s out there. I don’t know if he’s hoping to be found, but I guess we’ll deal with that when it comes time.”

“Mayhaps. Why dinnye wanta leave yesserday?” Wickley eyed Kitty curiously. He knew she was desperate to find Horam. He found the choosing to wait until a Monday morning a little unusual. Usually she wanted to leave as quickly as possible.

“Yesterday was my daughter’s seventeenth birthday, Wickley. I’m not the best mother in the world, but I wasn’t going to run off on her birthday. Besides, Horam’s been missing for over a year. One more day likely won’t make that much difference.” She hoped that was the case, at least. Her mouth twisted to one side as she muttered, “Besides, like I said, we don’t even know if he wants to be found.”

“The Admiral would nae just leave ya up high an dry, Boss. Ye gave him somethin’ he didnae think he’d ever be able ta have again. Respect anna way ta make a livin’ that was more than jus’ bein’ a scary face.” Wickley shrugged his shoulders and gave her a smile. Thanks to Traeline’s proclivity to punching out teeth, Kitty made sure all her employees had a very good dental plan. Wickley obviously took full advantage of it.

Kitty let out a small laugh that lacked humor, “I suppose you’re right, Wickley. Are the supplies nearly finished being loaded?”

“Aye.” He turned to look at the progress as he rubbed his chin, “Should nae be too much longer. But it looks yer muscle arrived.”

Kitty first looked at him with lifted eyebrows. Then she slowly looked over her shoulder toward the direction he appeared to be looking.

On the pier stood eleven Ular. Eleven? She asked for ten! Clearly she needed to give Commander Murshk a lesson in counting.

Kitty pushed from the railing and turned toward the main deck so she could meet the Ular on the boarding ramp, “Yes, it does. Guess it’s time to get this show on the road.”

“Aye, Boss?”

“Nevermind, Wickley. Nevermind.”
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Commander Murshk watched Kitty make her way down the boarding ramp to meet them on the pier. She was small, by Ular standards, but he knew from experience to not mess with her. He remembered quite clearly how she handled one of his younger troops when he challenged her. He also recalled how she was able to take a wound that would’ve killed most men twice her size and keep walking.

As she approached, he rumbled a greeting to her, “Madame Helston. The troops you requested are here.”

“I see that, Murshk. However, I asked for ten. I see eleven. Did you forget how to count since the last time I saw you?” Kitty looked up at the Ular with a hard stare. She knew Ular were greedy creatures, but she didn’t expect Murshk to honestly believe this would fly.

“Mmm, yes.” The Ular rumbled under her scrutiny while scratching the shaggy fur about his head. He had a feeling she would object to the extra person, and he knew he would need to explain it. His voice rumbled once more, “I had brought only ten from Gahdgkyl. However, an old friend of yours got wind and insisted on joining us once we arrived in Rhydin.”

“Oh?” Kitty arched an eyebrow as she looked at the other Ular mercenaries. While she vaguely recognized about half of them, she didn’t think any of them would insist on joining. At least, not until she saw the very last Ular in the back of the group. Now it made sense. The Ular that Kitty had tagged with the name Tedaji was giving her an amused look.

She knew Tedaji had taken up working for her sister at her temple. Guarding the temple grounds was easy money for an Ular merc. A wide grin spread across her face as she moved through the other Ular to approach Tedaji and look up at him, “Couldn’t stay away, hmm?”

A few more metal beads had been added since the last time she saw him. She figured his actions while fighting the balrogs had something to do with that. At least, she hoped so. Tedaji rumbled good naturedly down to her, “Working with you is an honor, Small One.”

Kitty laughed and patted his arm as she turned to face Murshk, “Alright. I’ll allow eleven. Tedaji is lucky I like him. But just so you know, you will be sharing space with almost one hundred men for an unknown number of days on that.” She pointed to the ship.

“And so help me, if I catch any of you horking hairballs I will toss you overboard. I need hardened fighters, not spitting up cubs. Is this understood?” Kitty looked at the wall of fur and weaponry that surrounded her. One Ular snorted in derision, but was quickly smacked by another one next to him. The first Ular looked to the other, only to see his companion shaking his head. The first one growled to the second. The second responded while pointing to Tedaji, then Kitty, then the pointing finger did an arc in the air while he made a whistling noise. The first one looked at Kitty then and crossed his arms in disbelief.

“Ular do not get seasick. However, it is not recommended you ask any of us to climb up into the sails.” Murshk patiently explained. Kitty’s abruptness did not perturb him. He respected her more than many of those he had taken jobs from before. While many hired the Ular to do the dirty work for them while they sat back safe and sound, Kitty fought alongside them.

“No worries there. I have actual sailors around to do that.” Kitty assured Murshk as she appeared to be in some sort of staring contest with the Ular who did not believe her capable of carrying out her threats. She finally broke the eye contact as she turned her head to look toward Murshk and started walking in his direction.

The defiant Ular growled at Kitty as she walked by him. The other Ular immediately took a step back. They knew where this was going.

Kitty made it only one step beyond him when she stopped. She didn’t turn. She rocked back a half of a step. One arm shot out behind her, digging her claws into the leather of his vest and belt. As she abruptly pulled him forward, she turned and grabbed along his chest, not caring if her claws pierced beyond the fur. She then flung the Ular over Murshk’s head toward the water. The whole thing happened so fast, the Ular barely had the chance to blink before he found himself flying without wings.

The other Ular watched their companion sail through the air and into the water with a great splash. There was a moment of silence before they all began to howl with what Kitty assumed was laughter.

Commander Murshk watched his troop struggle to surface with his weaponry. He’d be fine. If he drowned, then they’d be back below the ten threshold Kitty had originally set. An Ular that cannot swim while wearing his weaponry isn’t much of a mercenary, in his opinion.

Soon huge black talons came up out of the water and sunk into the wood of the pier. Moments later a very drenched bear-like creature hauled himself up out of the water. Murshk grunted and then looked to Kitty, “Do we have permission to come aboard?”

“That’s a question you need to ask the Captain. It’s his ship.” She pointed a clawed finger up toward the top of the boarding plank where Wickley had been watching everything with a large canary eating grin.

“Captain Wickley Kellam, boys! Pleasure ta meetcha. C’mon aboard. We dun bite none, even if ye look like ye might.” The Captain waved them to come up the plank as he pushed himself off his lazy lean against the railing.

The drenched Ular got himself fully up onto the pier and standing. He stared at Kitty, then gave her a nod. “My apologies.”

“No worries, Paria. Better to get this out of the way now, rather than later when I need you in an actual battle.” Kitty gave the Ular a wide grin, then shooed him toward the plank to follow his companions.

Wickley had already assigned one of the crew to show the Ular where they would be bunking. Kitty trailed up the plank after them and then stopped next to Wickley to watch the Ular disappear below deck. The Captain still had that grin as he watched as well. Once the last one had gone below, he looked to Kitty, “Paria? Wut kinda name is that?”

“Moredhel.”

“Huh. Wut’s it mean?”

“Daisy.”

Wickely’s laughter could be heard all the way down to the deepest recesses of the ship.
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