Avast!

Adventures of Lorelei of the Sea - part 4
There is a Dragon in the Eastern Sea

Lorelei lay on her back at the old dancing site, staring at the sky. Normally the stars would be clearly visible on a night like this but the Lighthouse was shining strong enough to bleach the sky with its pulsating light. She was dozing in a dream-like state, her mind wide open to the strange energies emanating from all around her, from the island itself. She could almost feel herself being rocked back and forth by the undertow from waves gently passing above her. In her mind she was lying on a bed of seaweed in a coral reef looking at the moon reflected on the surface of the sea.

She closed her eyes and concentrated on the lingering aura. She investigated it with all her senses: letting the echoes of the spell rush through her, feeling them with every part of her being. It was an exhilarating feeling but the island was overwhelming and she risked losing herself forever if she let it go on for more than a moment. So she closed herself up and savored the experience, collecting herself before diving in again… and again… and again. One single thought filled her mind completely:

There is a Dragon in the Eastern Sea – I must find it.

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Memories from the past 1
The black name day

Lorelei looked at Tamaris as they entered the banquet hall side by side. Tamaris was radiant, as always. Long black hair, exceptionally beautiful, a black silk dress that showed off her alluring figure in the best possible way. Tamaris, the most beautiful and powerful witch on the pirate coast, glanced at her and smiled. And Lorelei smiled back. The nobleman (Lorelei could not recall his name) had angered Tamaris, a slight one might call it, and now he was going to pay the price. Whatever Tamaris had planned it was sure to be exceptional, it always was.

Lorelei’s heart was pounding with expectation as Tamaris stepped into the hall and gave a short speech. The words were irrelevant, only the expressions on the nobleman’s face as he listened and realised the extent of their error mattered. Lorelei met the gaze of the nobleman’s wife with a mocking smile. The woman was terrified and tried to plead for mercy.

Then Tamaris cast an enchantment spell that Lorelei was getting quite familiar with. Oh, but the results were more spectacular than usual! The nobleman started raving and shouting at his family, then drew his sword and started cutting them down. His wife, his sons, his daughter… Every last one of them. And then he regained his senses and saw what he had done. Tamaris grabbed Lorelei by the arm and laughed (her voice was a soft melodious contralto) as they walked away, listening to the nobleman screaming in horror and agony.

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Adventures of Lorelei of the Sea - part 3
Ambush and a confrontation

While the ninja smuggled Kahlia on board the ship Lorelei was at her usual place at the stern, deliberately staying clear of the execution of their plan. Calling it a plan was a gross exaggeration of course – all Lorelei wanted was to get the girl on board and out of sight long enough that it would be impossible to put her back on the shore. From what she had seen of both Kahlia and Sabine in terms of stealth they should be more than capable of sneaking in without her help. Besides, any means by which Lorelei could aid them would point her out rather conspicuously and Lorelei preferred to let Sabine share the blame while not leaving any solid evidence of their direct insubordination.

Kahlia eluded Serander’s thorough inspection and after a brief deliberation with Lorelei Shale ordered them to set sail for Dragon’s Garden. Halfway there Lorelei became aware of something lurking underneath the waves and a memory from her life among the merfolk flashed before her – sahuagin. She called out to Serander who was standing at the helm, and moments later grappling hooks were shooting out of the water and onto the railing as the creatures started climbing on board.

The fight was short but brutal. Lorelei tried her best but failed to ensnare the sahuagin leader – a large and powerful thing wielding axes. Serander dove straight at the creature, placing himself between it and Lorelei. Soon he was near surrounded by a group of the sahuagin and the leared was landing blow after blow with his axes.

Suddenly Sabine appeared behind the leader, balancing on the railing, and buried her weapon in it’s back. The creature promptly knocked her off the ship and into the water, where a shark attacked her. Lorelei cast a spell to charm the shark and used her powers of the sea to order the shark to deliver the ninja back to the ship, in one piece.

Meanwhile Serander took even more blows and was pushed down to his knees for a moment, coughing blood and looking like he was about to pass out. Then he stood up again. Lorelei cast a necromantic spell and could hear Shale fighting the other sahuagin, but did not pay any attention to him until he jumped up on the helm and executed the sahuagin leader, who had once again been stabbed in the back by Sabine…

The rest of the sahuagin fled. And Lorelei rushed up to heal Serander before turning to look for other injured sailors. She managed to save one man who had been stabbed in the chest with a trident. One man was beyond her help, but the rest had sustained only minor injuries. They had been lucky.

During the fight Kahlia had revealed herself and joined the fight as the captain called out for more men. Now Shale ordered her to be locked up and brought Lorelei, Sabine and Serander to his cabin for a… talk. Sabine confessed immediately – so much for plausible deniability. There was little point in denying so Lorelei admitted her involvement as well. The punishment for dereliction of duty was 28 eight lashes, 7 for each element, and Lorelei was expecting to have to prepare the necessary healing spells. But Shale did not execute the order. He just let them go with a scolding. Strange.

Shale admitted that he had expected betrayal from Lorelei, but claimed to be “disappointed” in the methods she had used. Lorelei did not bother exploring this avenue, whatever expectations the captain had on her scheming abilities were of no interest to her. She once again explained that leaving the girl on Witch’s Rock would have been far more detrimental, both to her and to Shale’s plans for Zarohno, but he clearly didn’t understand. So she showed him. Shale was not phased but at least he seemed more tentative about the abilities of the enemies they were up against.

Later on Lorelei went to have a chat with Kahlia. The girl seemed more scared now, as she ought to be. As she left the holding area Lorelei gave Serander a squeeze on the shoulder, taking comfort in the fact that he had survived the fight against the sahuagin.

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Sabine's Log Part 3
The Unexpected Betrayal

The Unexpected Betrayal
Selfishness is not becoming of a Ninja…

My exterior, I expect, was the same steely face I usually express… But on the inside. I am embarrassed to say, I was a mess. Emotions running wild. I was betraying captain Shale, a man to whom I owe my life, and more, probably. I was betraying my teachings, my mother… All for the hope that perhaps I will finally find out if she is still alive? Does witch magic even work like that? I could barely hear Kahlia when inquired as to why I was there, I had to ask her to repeat her question. I explained the plan… A poorly constructed plan, but I had short time and with my emotions almost overshadowing my mind, at this point, it would have to do. I acquired some clothing for her to hide in, step one. To get her inside the ship, without arousing suspicion, step two. Then I hid her in the piles of fancy clothing we looted in our previous raid.

While out at sea, sahagin attacked the ship. Monstrous creatures. I took strides to rid the ones on the deck… But the first mate had been pinned down on the upper deck. I lept up to aid him, but I was kicked off, into the water, where their sharks were. This shark seemed friendly, however. It did nibble on me at first, which fucking hurt, but then it took me back to the ship… No doubt, the witch had something to do with it. We managed to scare them off, but with a few casualties.

Kahlia had aided in the battle, and the captain had discovered her. I did the only thing I could think of, accept my punishment. I confessed. He was very disappointed. I attempted to justify my actions, but he saw right through me… I never could lie to him. He asked me why… So I told him, about my mother, about what the witch had promised. I used every ounce of my being to halt the tears, at least in front of him. He kicked me out of his cabin, rightly so… A ninja you can’t trust, is no better than the rest of the crew. I took my things, stepped into the sleeping quarters, took a look around, and decided to find my own place. I found a little place among the beams of the ship, relatively close to the captain’s quarters. Whether I had been demoted or not, I am still captain Shale’s ninja… I would do my job, whether it was easy or not. As I settled in, emotions swelled over me… I couldn’t tell if it was related to Shale yelling at me, or finally finding a clue to find my mother. I did everything in my control to not make a sound, as the tears streamed down my face… I couldn’t let anyone of the crew see me like this. As a security chief, as a ninja, I had already lost too much face… Any more, and my work would be that much harder.

I laid in my new, very uncomfortable, sleeping area, for some time, before I worked up my courage to go speak to Kahlia… She had been thrown into the hollows below. I did my best to reassure her. But it was very clear that I was still very unbalanced, she did not seem to believe me. She did believe me when I said that Shale would not kill her. In desperation, I even said that I would protect her. How? What? I had already betrayed Shale ones, did I just promise to do it again, if I had to? It looks like my sensei was right, I was not ready to leave. I am a failure as a ninja. But… I am the only ninja Shale has. And he is counting on me, whether his position is forcing him to say differently right now. I have sworn myself to him, not an oath easily broken.

I went up on deck to clear my head, I sat on the aft railing playing my flute, sensing the whether… Life seems so much easier when you stretch out your perceptions to flow with the wind.

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Adventures of Lorelei of the Sea - part 2
The death of Lombardo the Green and a terrible foreboding

The fight erupted too rapidly for Lorelei to assess the situation. The instant Lombardo ordered his men to attack Sabine vanished and Shale dove into the middle of the fray. Lorelei noticed the other officer cast a spell and countered it. A moment later the man was brutally cut down by Sabine. The fighters roared in outrage, apparently they were very attached to this man. Shale leaped up on the table and thrust his rapier in Lombardo’s back, expertly piercing his heart. Lorelei approached the dying officer, knelt by his side and cast a healing spell which brought him back from the brink of death.

“Money has dried up lads.” Shale called out
“The bitch killed Silas!” One of them yelled furiously
“I’m not dead, stand down.” The officer whose name was Silas said, coughing and sitting up

And that was the end of the battle of Lobardo’s keep.

Lovinar managed to fire a single cannon before Shale managed to call a seize fire by vigorously putting his discarded hat on. While the crew of the King’s Tithe looted the place Shale sat down in the banquet hall with Hadaris to discuss business. Kendrick, accompanied by two exotic dancers, provided a pleasant atmosphere while Shale hired Hadaris. She was to secure the Lighthouse and disrupt any attempts at reaching it made by Tatalya once she arrived. In return Shale promised her the Golden Goose – a fast trading vessel that until just recently had belonged to Lombardo the Green.

The loot was bountiful and Shale deemed it an opportune moment to celebrate their recent success. All ships were moored together, the crew got some silver, and casks of beer and rum were opened. Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you might be dead.

Lorelei generously shared another bottle of vintage with Zarohno and Kendrick, engaging in pleasant conversation with the two. At some point shortly after midnight she grabbed Kendrick by the hand and led him to her cabin. Anemone trained their courtesan-artists well.

At dawn she rose quietly as to not wake Kendrick and went ashore. She sat down on the beach, letting the receding tides wash over her, and communed with her patron. As she finished her ritual she looked over at the ship and saw Serander quietly observing her. She stood up and walked over to him, suddenly overcome with an urge to simply not be alone.

She leaned over the railing next to him, close, feeling the warmth radiating from his body. They didn’t talk much, it was quite enough to just stand there. Being not alone. Lorelei looked up at the brightening sky and saw a single seagull circling above them. The blood in her veins turned to ice, then fire, and sent a shiver down her spine. Serander noticed. As if from afar she heard herself telling him. That a storm was coming. That it would not be a fight, but a competition. She shrugged it off and went for a walk on the island. Suddenly overcome by an urge to be alone.

Just as she had expected Kahlia was following her. She sat down and called her out of the bushes inviting her to a conversation. The girl had already proven herself quite capable of taking care of herself. And she was pretty. Very pretty. Lorelei made up her mind and promised she would get the girl on board the ship before they sailed off to the other Vilyani islands.

Captain Shale refused her request, insisting that it was safer and more strategic to leave the girl on the island. So Lorelei went to the ninja instead.

“If you bring the girl on board unnoticed I will answer one question.”

Sabine asked her question, and Lorelei was very surprised.

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Sabine's Log Part 2
Sabine's Birthday

Sabine’s Birthday
She taught me well.

The actual fight with the lord was not lengthy. I simply cut down the captain of the troops, while captain Shale slew the lord. Shale also used some sort of magical stone… It seemed to attract projectiles, very handy item. It seemed to have been destroyed, however. Our witch, Lorelai, sensibly, chose to heal the captain, making any further aggression unnecessary. We claimed the shanty house as our own, including all treasures within it. I found a potion labeled as a love potion, perhaps I will find a use for it in the future. I also found some fancy clothes belonging to lord Lombardo… For whatever reason, they reminded me of the dresses my mother used to force me to wear, during formal events, back home. I used to despise them, but thinking about it gave me a warm feeling. After the looting was said and done, a party broke out. As I despise the taste of alcohol, I rarely consume more than a little of it. I ended up sleeping with our chef, Bardo. Spur of the moment, but I suppose I didn’t want to wake up alone. I spent the night in the crowsnest, alongside Bardo… It’s a miracle even I fit up there, together with him.

Bardo woke up bright and early, and decided to go to do some morning exercises. I suggested jumping from the crowsnest, as he pondered how he would get down. It was only a semi-serious suggestion, but he went through with it. I spent the morning sitting on the stern playing the flute my mother gave me for my birthday, 25 years ago… Birthdays has a tendency to make me relive the memory, which is why I haven’t told anyone that it is today. I tugged my cowl, that once belonged to my father, another birthday present from my mother, and thought about the days before she left me. Tears, uncontrollable tears, washed down my face.

I sat there and contemplated what I had been doing for the past 25 years, in my search. When the witch, of all people, came to see me. I wiped my eyes before she came close enough. She asked me a peculiar thing… She asked me to sneak Kahlia onboard. That would be betraying captain Shale, not something I would ever consider… Except she pushed a very specific button… My mother. She told me she would answer a question in return. I asked her if she could find people. She said that she while she cannot, she knows someone that can. My heart raised… 25 years of nothing as much as a peep about of her, and perhaps a witch can help me find out where she went. But captain Shale…

I left to see Kahlia. I told her to come with me.

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Adventures of Lorelei of the Sea - part 1
In which they set sails towards Vilyani

When the newly appointed Captain Malik Shale and the crew of his as of yet unnamed ship reached Aramshar harbor Lorelei bid them farewell for the time being. She intended to stay at her favorite inn for a couple of weeks – enjoying all the luxuries civilization had to offer – and then secure passage to Salt-founded Glory. Preferably on a privateer ship as they were both far cleaner than any other ships sailing the pirate coast and served far superior food.

Her plans changed when she received a message from an old friend; Valeria, one of Fat Queen Bonny’s more agreeable daughters. Shortly after the strange light phenomenon had appeared on the shy over the Vilyani archipelago Valeria’s ship the Scarlet Swan was stolen. In the middle of the day, right under the noses of Queen Bonny, Valeria and the other daughters, the up until then loyal mercenaries Raegys and Minnys had captured the ship and sailed off towards Vilyani. The whole affair bore the fingerprints of Tamaris, especially with the strange magical event in Vilyani.

So Lorelei finished her business with the handsome sailor she had picked up and went to find Malik Shale, Captain.

She did not have to look for long as she noticed a great commotion near the castle followed by a sudden burst of gunfire – but no screams of pain and no alarm being raised. She quickly turned and headed for the harbor and sat down at the dry dock where Shale’s galley was being inspected and repaired.

Before long a crowd of respectable size, led by a moderately intoxicated Captain Shale, arrived at the dock. Shale gave a short but effective speech and christened the ship “King’s Tithe” with a flourish display of his skill with firearms. He then proceeded to announce that the maiden voyage would be to investigate the strange events at the Vilyani isles. Lorelei congratulated him and informed him she would be sailing with him after all.

As soon as she had unpacked her scarce possessions in her cabin she joined the other officers in the captain’s quarters. Shale informed them that a friend of his, an arcanist, had gone to Vilyani to investigate the strange Lighthouse on Witch’s Stone. For some reason she had left explicit instructions for her college to contact Malik Shale if anything were to happen to her. Shale showed them a vial of what used to be the arcanist Amrit Saithya’s blood but which now contained swirling energy of the four elements; Salt, Stone, Storm and Sun. Lorelei sensed the sympathetic connection was still active, indicating that Amrit was still alive… ish. Lorelei informed the others of the events in Mother-of-Pearl and that Tatalya, another of Queen Bonny’s daughters, was sailing to Vilyani aboard her ship the Argent Swan in the company of Captain Hamsun aboard the Sable Drake. She did not mention Tamaris.

They arrived in Vilyani two days later and made a short landing on Waikiti’s Eye to gather information from the locals and the alchemist Thanagar. Lorelei did not like the way Thanegar looked at her. They gained some information on Amrit’s activities and sailed on to Witch’s Rock. Shale and Sabine knew of a nobleman who had, ironically enough, been exiled from Exile that lived on the island along with his daughter. They decided to grace him with a visit.

Just as they were arriving Lorelei spotted some shady figures sneaking towards the keep in the cover of darkness. Shale and the crew argued that dealing with these bandits would be an excellent way to break the ice with their intended host and decided to intercept them before they reached the keep. For the occasion they brought Lovinar and made off for the shore in a rowing boat. Their improvised ambush/intervention went as well as could be expected: lots of confusion among the bandits, a few minors injuries among Shale’s crew, a few casualties and some captives among the bandits. Just as the surviving bandits were laying down their weapons Lord Zarohno and his men emerged from the keep. In accordance with their calculations Zarohno was quite grateful that they had dispensed of the bandits before they had time to set fire to his keep (and his gunpowder stores). He graciously offered his hospitality and a discount on a barrel of black powder.

Though he fulfilled his duties as host impeccably he seemed a bit tart until Lorelei produced a bottle of fine vintage wine from her bags. Suddenly he warmed to their company – particularly Lorelei’s – and let them chose their lodgings freely. Lorelei requested a view of the sea but scoffed when Zarohno suggested she stayed in the room at the top of the tower, a somewhat derelict and drafty structure. She explained that she did not value the quality of the view over the comforts the room suggested, a room on the second floor would suffice. Instead Zarohno offered her his daughter’s room (which was available since she had snuck out of the keep, again) or his own if she wished to join him. While Zarohno was a handsome and well mannered man Lorelei had no intention of sleeping with him. Ever since she had heard about Tamaris she had been a bit unbalanced and was not at all in the mood for that sort of entertainment. She quickly bid him goodnight to end the discussion.

The next day the set out to capture the Lighthouse from Lombardo the Green who had sent his men to attack Zarohno’s keep the night before. When they arrived they found Lombardo’s men fully occupied with building barricades and other fortifications around the base of the Lighthouse. Shale spotted Kahlia – Lord Zarohno’s daughter – in a tree overlooking the site. Lorelei used a spell to talk to the girl but had not counted on her action startling the girl so much that she fell from the tree.

Sabine, the ninja employed by Captain Shale, reacted instantly and rushed to the girl fast as the wind and positioned herself between the girl and Lombardo’s men who were now alerted to their presence and approaching Sabine and Kahlia. Shale calmly approached their leader Hadari and suggested that she’d abandon the site permanently and leave it in his care. Meanwhile Lorelei cast a spell that caused half of the Lombardo men to suddenly scream out in agony and pain. All but one of them decided to flee and Lorelei dealt with him by paralyzing him.

The captured soldier was recruited to Lord Zarohno’s “army”, as was the custom on this island, and sent back to the keep along with some of Zarohno’s men. Kahlia was not at all bothered by the injuries she had sustained when falling from the tree – she was too busy gushing over meeting the famous Lorelei of the Sea and the brave hero Captain Malik Shale! Lorelei was quite astonished as this was quite different from the reactions people would normally have after witnessing the effects of that particular spell. She candidly sized the girl up while casting a spell to heal her injuries before they sent her back to her father with instructions to attack Lombardo’s castle on their signal.

They summoned some of the crew from the King’s Tithe to man the barricades, and by all means finish the work, and then set out towards Lombardo’s castle in the company of Bardo. On the way there they met a flamboyantly dressed man who Lorelei recognized as her friend Kendrick, bard by profession. Shale threatened him while Lorelei suggested he might find it more profitable to find a new employer and promptly hired him to compose a song about their future meeting with Lombardo. The thoughts of having his heroic exploits immortalized by a professional bard seemed to appeal to Shale.

Thus they marched on to the barred gate of Lombardo’s castle. Shale expressed his disappointment with the welcoming he was receiving upon which the guards promptly opened the gate. They stepped inside and were greeted by Lombardo, as well as all his men – including Hadari. After a brief conversation in which Shale chastened Lombardo for desecrating ancient architecture Lombardo made the unfortunate decision to order his men to attack them. Shale was prepared and quickly dropped an item on the floor in front of him, took off his hat and tossed it out behind him just before the gate closed.

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Sabine's Log Part 1

My path opens up again
The Chronicles of the Ninja

In my search for a ship to travel with, I found an old friend, Malik Shale. As fate would have it, he has been promoted to a captain! Malik is an important man to me. He was the man who helped back to my path, and he also spared my life. A man I owe much to, my loyalty, for one. During the christening of the King’s Tithe, an odd name, he was recruited for a mission. It appears we’re off to investigate strange magic. An old friend of his requested his aid. This friend had left a vial of blood, or well it no longer seemed like blood, more like a glowy substance. With little ceremony he christened the ship, and set off not shortly after. We’re bringing a witch along, Lorelai… She’s a witch, so not trusting her goes beyond saying. However, she may very well prove useful. Captain Shale seems to think she’ll remain loyal, while part of the crew, at least.

Thanks to the witches’ magics and my own ability to sense the weather, we made good time towards Watkiti’s Eye, as our first destination. Per my training, I, of course, geared up proper to meet with the giants of the island. The island had an interesting tale about some local caves. But without their blessing, it seemed impossible to gleam much from the caves. We made friendlies, and got some information for free, regarding the Lighthouse on Witch’s Rock, which had started to glow in an odd way. Naturally, my thoughts turned to glowing bottle. We left the giants to make our way to Witch’s Rock. I heard tales of an exiled nobleman living there, I figured he may be of assistance. Captain Shale had heard of this nobleman as well, and agreed.

We arrived with nightfall, and our resident witch spotted movements heading towards the nobleman’s fort. We made our way to intercept them. My dear captain made quite the entrance, but proceeded to impress me with his swashbuckling. Not that he was not already impressive when we met, but credit where credit is due, isn’t that so? We made short work of the soldiers, much thanks to our cannoneer, Lovinar. She literally set them ablaze. It was an immaculate thing to behold… Soothing and yet terrifying at the same time. And thus we met up with Lord Zarohno, the lord of the fort. He provided us with lodging and sustenance. He informed us of the state between himself and the other lord of the island. We also learned of his daughter, who seemed to be off somewhere on the island.

The following morning we set out, with a guide and a few men lent from lord Zarohno. We stopped close to the base of the lighthouse, which was currently guarded by Lombardo’s men. We spotted an individual in a tree not far off. It was likely Kahlia, Zarohno’s daughter. Our witch decided to send her a message, scaring her off her tree branch. Seeing as Zarohno’s allegiance plays a role in captain Shale’s plan, keeping her alive is not only the good thing to do, but also recommended. So I burst down there, to stand at her protection. What proceeded was a clear message why one should not cross a witch. The soldiers screamed out in agony. They ran away, and their leader shortly in tow. We claimed one as a captive, but it quickly became clear that the men here are used to switching sides, and even knew the people we had been lent. We stayed for a bit, investigating the tower, before deciding to visit this lord Lombardo.

We brought Bardo, our big strong chef, with us to visit the lord Lombardo. This lord was staying in a shanty house. We enter, made pleasant conversation, but also make our intentions very clear…

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