Project Hero/Heroine

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    TJ

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    Project Hero/Heroine

    Post  TJ on Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:57 pm

    Hero

    Prologue

    “Though I may be the Sage of Wind, something in me tells me that I am destined for something even greater than this. If I could just find a sign I…” (Heath Karin)

     

    Heath solemnly rode the winds through the sea of clouds towards a destination very few knew aside from the few trusted people in the entirety of Azenham. As he neared it he could see the temple resting upon a levitating piece of land. He drifted down towards the entrance but remained a few feet above the ground. He looked down upon his hands and took a deep breath. The tattoos upon his hands and those hidden beneath the long sleeved white robe he wore were reminders of his identity; his silver hair, mastery of wind and even his eyes more so. The only thing among his many traits that still eluded his understanding was the symbol upon his left hand.

    He looked towards the temple’s entrance and breathed out in an attempt to calm himself. It was not the first time he had visited the place; after all, it was his home. Returning was not what had ailed him though. The confrontation that awaited him on the other side of the entrance haunted him for days, but the longer he avoided the matter the more it encroached upon his conscious mind.

    Heath knew precious little of the people of Azenham. He had only read of them and caught word through various sources of news and important events in the land, often times through his own teacher. Leaving his teacher aside, he had become familiar with two others: the first being the king himself, a man he had only met once, but from the single meeting could tell that the man was everything the people said he was, a truly benevolent ruler. The second was the man the king had trusted above all else, Chancellor Heinrichter. The chancellor often times would visit the temple on business when Heath was a boy, to discuss important matters with the boy’s teacher. Once his business was completed, he would spend time with the boy telling him of the places he had been to and teaching him various things that his master would not about the world outside of the temple. Over the years the boy grew fond of the chancellor and strived to better himself to impress him upon his visits. In the recent years, the chancellor had stopped visiting him, and he began to feel a large portion of the meaning behind his hard work was lost upon the disappearance of his visitor.

    Regardless of the frequency of the questions he asked his master about the king’s trustee and his sudden lack of visits, he had never received an answer, and at first the matter worried him greatly. Doubts began to form within his mind and they clouded his judgements, often times showing through his training and angering his teacher. The man was sure to emphasize the importance of a clear conscience and absolute focus when using powerful spells because of how dangerous they could be to the caster and those around them if the user is reckless with their abilities. He had managed to proceed from then on through pure skill, and in time he had finally been able to part ways with his doubts and regain his focus, coming to terms with the fact he would not likely see one of the only people who had become dear to him.

    Of the few political matters his master had told him of, Heath was informed that the king had been assassinated, and that in his place the chancellor had been given a limited set of administrative authority, until the council could find an heir to the throne. The queen had passed away before her husband, but many had heard the rumour that the two had a daughter that had gone missing many a years ago. The council had adventurers and other officials alike all searching for the young girl, but their quest was to no avail. Their search had produced nothing, and with no heir or other blood relatives to inherit the throne, the only person that could would be the person closest to the king, being the chancellor. The matter took years to be settled, clearly displaying the council was reluctant to settle for him, but the group had little to no choice in the matter.

    Heath brushed the stray silver strands of his bangs from his eyes and sighed. By that point he was old enough to understand that there were matters more important than visiting a faraway companion. He had an entire world to look after. If he could, Heath would fly to the capital and visit the chancellor himself, but as his fate had dictated it was not meant to be. Just as Azenham needed the chancellor to lead it, it needed the sages to protect it, and he was next in line to be the Sage of Wind. His place was here, and whatever waited for him in the outside world would remain as nothing more than the stories he had known as a child. Though he had become content with this, someone had other plans for him.

    When he had become ‘of age’ according to his master, Heath had received his very first carrier. A bird similar to his master’s, but much younger like the student himself, was what he had been rewarded with. It was a means for him to communicate with those of the outside world without the need for leaving his post. At first he had only sent out letters and occasionally received some in turn, listing events that occurred within his race’s domain and those that involved the world as a whole, and others times he found no mail at all. Following the king’s passing, he began to receive strange mails from an unknown source telling him of the acts of the chancellor, often times pertaining to the dark elves and how he had treated them. There were special rules pertaining to them, and breaking them had dire consequences; Heath was well aware of this, but the mails he had received about the executions of refugees, women and children included, did not sound believable to him in the slightest. The chancellor he knew would never do something so merciless.

    Years ago after the people of Azenham had ventured to another plane of existence, a place that the entirety of the world had feared, many of those that had returned had been afflicted with an incurable disease, and one that struck an even greater fear into the people, causing them to believe that their end was nigh. In order to combat this and to prevent further panic, the king had commissioned one of the races of Azenham to build a terminal beneath the capital to house those who had been deemed to have the disease prior to his death. The project had gone on for years, but had never truly seen completion. In the last letter Heath had received, he was told of this and the truth behind the sudden halt in the project. According to the mail, the chancellor had deemed the project unnecessary and shut it down, leaving only half finished buildings and very little else within the terminal.

    Heath wanted to doubt the legitimacy of the mail, but the chancellor aside, the only people that may have enough power to do so would be the council, and not even they knew the exact reason the project had been cancelled, but in a legitimate mail from the council itself he had caught word of the matter, without the mentioning of the chancellor. He wondered why the matter had been kept under wraps, but he had kept his speculations from his master over the period after his discovery. As the chancellor’s coronation grew nearer, Heath realized he had to act before the opportunity had passed him by. In order to do so, he had to face the first and one of the greatest hurdles, his own master.

    He clenched his fist and sternly moved forward to meet with his master. As he approached the entrance the swirling energy that would guide him to his master remained in the doorway. He took a deep breath and placed his hand within it, feeling it pulling his entire body into it. Through this gateway he would be brought directly into the sanctum where his master resided, but the experience of travelling was something that had haunted him. The rest of his body was slowly being pulled as he took another step forward into it and was submerged in darkness, the sensation of his body being hurled through space only ending as he found himself within the confines of the temple. He collapsed to his knees and breathed a sigh of relief.

     

    The sanctum of the temple was a large, open room with very little in it, save for Heath and his master. The walls of the temple had a series of characters engraved upon them; many dating back to hundreds of years before their time, telling of the beliefs and discoveries of the sages before Heath and his master. The ground beneath them had a massive magic circle engraved in it, featuring the symbol of their kind in the center while the outer portions of it featured runes, each with different meanings. Heath’s mentor remained in the center of it with his palms facing each other seemingly meditating; the circle glowed with a golden aura as he did.

    “Master…I have returned.” Heath said sternly as he rose to his feet.

    Over the next minute he had received no response, and as he was about to speak again Isaac stopped his action and the magic circle beneath him lost its glow. As he opened his eyes, the tattoos spanning his body gained a vibrant blue glow and the winds surrounded him, raising him to his feet and allowing him to levitate above the ground. His shoulder-length silver moved with the winds that enveloped him as did his robes, emblazoned with the symbol of wind just as Heath’s was.

    He silently examined his student for a couple of moments then finally spoke, a commanding voice followed. “I can hear the defiance in your tone Heath. This is not like you at all. Speak.”

    Heath swallowed the response hard. Just as he had said, it was very unlike him to speak out against his mentor because he had no reason to. He knew that if he wanted to make a change he would have to overcome this trial. The lives of the people of Azenham were on the line, and he may have been the only person willing to stand against the injustice. “I am confident you are aware of the matter relating to the Mercy terminals, correct?” His master raised his eyebrow to the question, leaving the answer open, but because he did not deny it Heath believed it to be true. “The living conditions of the incomplete terminals are not acceptable. There are hundreds of people living in them, but many of them have no homes, little to no food or water, and are unable to receive any form of health care. People are dying Master, and no one seems to be acting upon this!”

    Isaac’s expression was not fazed in the slightest. “What do you suggest?”

    “We have to act. The opinions of the sages have some of the greatest impact in all of Azenham. Second to the king, we have the power to make a change if we so desire! I beg of you, Master, allow me to go to the capital and speak with the council to receive an audience with the chancellor! We must bring this matter to his attention and save these innocent people!” He clenched his fists. “I know I am young and inexperienced, but Azenham needs you here. Therefore, allow me to go in your stead to make a change in this matter.”

    “To go to such lengths…do you know what you are saying?” Heath nodded and his mentor furrowed his brows. “Clearly you do not. To make such a declaration would be the equivalent of going against the chancellor’s word. You know precious little of politics Heath. You should keep your mind away from the things you do not understand and focus on your sage training. You are still very young and have much to learn.”

    He grit his teeth. The frustration within him was building; he knew his master was headstrong, though he rarely needed to show it because Heath did not go against his word, but part of him still wanted to believe that if he remained resolute on the matter he could bring his obstinate teacher to his senses. “One of the things that you had taught me was to have compassion for all living things. The lives of our people, and all the other races…the plants, the creatures of our world, all of it! If we would so willingly throw those lives away, we are no different than killers! I have the utmost respect for the chancellor but this cannot go on!”

    Isaac’s expression shifted slightly, his eyebrows hinting that he was beginning to get agitated. “I am beginning to see that you have grasped a miniscule understanding of your very own position as a sage. We are only the keepers of Azenham and its people. We are not its messiah, nor are we its sovereign. The chancellor was not chosen to be the next king solely because the late king had trusted him. Chancellor Heinrichter carries the weight of our world upon his shoulders. None of us could fathom the burden he bears; we can only walk in his wake and bear a small portion of this burden with him. Every decision he makes impacts our world as a whole, so we cannot pick and choose solely because we are against it. Sacrifices must be made, lives will be lost and at times there is nothing that we can do to change this. Would you really put the needs of the few before the needs of the many?”

    “That is not…I did not mean…” He lightly bit down upon his lip. He was at a loss of words, and had he let this continue it would be the end of the conversation, and the end of the matter altogether. If he tried to mention it again at a later date he knew his mentor would not discuss it a second time.

    “The Branded are not something to be trifled with Heath. You have read the legends and tales pertaining to the Animus Legionem and how they had ravaged our world. If it were not for the heroes of that age, we would not exist, nor would anyone else in this world. Those that have been marked by the creatures are a danger to all of us. Regardless of whether the terminals are complete or not, we cannot have the Branded amidst the other civilians. Should the disease spread, it may bring about the apocalypse. If the near extinction of the Herrenah means anything to you, then you are as aware as I am that this is not a matter that we can treat lightly. Whatever Chancellor Heinrichter decides is exactly how things shall be; if he and the council decided that the late king’s decision was not the right choice, then so be it. We will not go against his word.”

    “There must be something that we can do for them! These are the lives of people’s loved ones that we are so freely passing judgement upon! Could Chancellor Heinrichter make the same decisions if it was his wife or his children? Could you throw the lives of the people you care about away so easily if you were in his shoes? Would you do the same if I were ‘Branded’?!” Heath shouted with reckless abandon. “What we are doing is nothing short from playing god. Can you so easily write it off under ‘the needs of the many over the few’?”

    Isaac’s face contorted into one displaying the utter scorn he felt from what his student had said to him. “Those are nothing short of the words of a…a heretic!” He snarled. “The king is the conduit to the pantheon! To make such a claim is not far from rebelling against the gods themselves! I will discuss this matter no further with you Heath, now get out of my sight and do not return until you have reflected upon your actions!”

    “This is not what the gods would have wanted, and this is certainly not the proper choice for the people! Call me a heretic if you must, but I will stand for this no longer. I am going to settle this matter myself with or without your blessing, Father.”

    “If you choose to leave now then do not return. I will not welcome a heretic into this holy place.”

    Heath closed his eyes as he turned away and his father turned his back to him. “Then so be it.”
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    TJ

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    Re: Project Hero/Heroine

    Post  TJ on Sun Jun 23, 2013 6:58 pm

    This is the possibly finished version of the prologue. Next chapter gets right into the thick of the action with Bruce and then switches to Heinrichter. At least, that's the base of what I have planned. Showing the storyboards could be questionable.
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    Suuba

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    Re: Project Hero/Heroine

    Post  Suuba on Thu Jun 27, 2013 12:39 am

    holy fucking shit lots of shit to read
    anyway, I thought t was pretty fucking good, got lost maybe once or twice but I figured thst shit out lmfao
    I keep forgetting this is a original story but hey wasn't there gonna be a slight mash-up of the two stories?
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    TJ

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    Re: Project Hero/Heroine

    Post  TJ on Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:31 pm

    Actually there is indeed! You're gonna see the beginning of it in Sanctuary's second harmony. For the sake of continuity, I'm gonna say that the characters featured in Sanctuary are from a separate world line from Project H/H cause if I try to merge the two, it won't make sense as it goes along. With this I'll follow a similar storyline where the characters had made different choices, and wound up on Midgard BECAUSE of it.
    It all comes back to the 'clairvoyance' theme that's going to be a big part of both stories. You're gonna be surprised at the stuff in the coming chapters.
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    Suuba

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    Re: Project Hero/Heroine

    Post  Suuba on Fri Jun 28, 2013 6:28 pm

    is that a different arc in Santuary's plot thing? wait didnt that thing have a couple arcs o-ofuck im forgetting shit
    oh yay that thing again
    oh Ifound yo broody ass guy (lmfao I saw the twtter bs) the moody broody elf that hates mages lmfao (he's fenris from da2)
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    TJ

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    Re: Project Hero/Heroine

    Post  TJ on Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:20 pm

    Ah I see where you got confused.
    Well, since you don't mind spoilers I'll clarify things. Firstly, what you're thinking of is the arc from Sanctuary, which is the two Arias-Aria of the Prodigal Legend Kasumi and Aria of God's Governor Suuba. These two cover the fall of Xenym and Hanamah.
    What's here is from the original work, which will require a lot more clarifying lol. But to sum it up in one sentence, the sages and the god's governors are not the same thing. Though, in Frequency's canon the sages God's Governors are actually based off of the sages. Well, I guess you'd say they're closer to the four heroes of the elements than the sages themselves, but you'll be hearing about that later. If you don't mind the spoilers, I'll tell you here.
    Heroes of the elements:
    The heroes of the elements(WIP) are basically four heroes who each carried immense power in one of the elements. When their world went to war against an ethereal threat they lead each of their races against it, and finally sealed it away with the help of the Cerebians, which disappeared along with the creatures known as the Animus Legionem(Roughly translates to Legion of Malice or Malice Legion).
    That too, actually plays a major part in Sanctuary. Like we discussed before, the two are actually connected in some strange way lol. Or rather, a lot of them. Though, in Sanctuary I won't directly mention these things. I'll hint at it, and do the same with Project Hero/Heroine if the canon can remain to what I had originally intended for it, but if not it'll remain canon only to the Frequency series. I won't completely neglect the rest though; some of the occurrences I originally had planned will be told through the character from that world, so it'd be like spoiling the story without spoiling the story lol. All of the things he speaks of happened in the original world line, but in the actual story things take a different turn. Probably one for the better. That explanation went on longer than I thought lol. Though, I hope it cleared things up a bit.
    As for the story itself, I'm still waiting on edits for the storyboards so I've been working on Sanctuary. It's been coming along rather quickly since I don't have to juggle both.
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    Suuba

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    Re: Project Hero/Heroine

    Post  Suuba on Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:45 am

    I seeeeeeeeeeee, well I knew the sages and the governors were fuckin different. well I know your readers over on ffic will be confused as fuck lmfao. god it's like you like to rant about this shit lmfao but yeah it did clear up somethings.
    well I know if you tried to do that shit you'd be even more tred, that's like me tryin to do a bunch of fuckin detailed artat one fuckin tme.
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    TJ

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    Re: Project Hero/Heroine

    Post  TJ on Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:56 am

    My work does have a tendency to confuse, but after reading through it and looking back you can find a lot of things you might not have noticed before, unless I screwed it up. Wouldn't be surprised if that were the case lol.
    Honestly I do have a bad habit of ranting when it comes to my work lol. There aren't too many people I can actually really talk to them about, and there are even less willing to hear it, so its a refreshing change.
    But anyway more on topic lol. Both are gonna be really contained stories, so those who don't wanna read Project H/H can still enjoy Frequency/Sanctuary to the fullest and vice versa. Those who read both will get to see the worlds on a whole different level.
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    TJ

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    Re: Project Hero/Heroine

    Post  TJ on Thu Aug 08, 2013 5:56 pm

    Got some new content for you to look at. This is a few of the scenes from chapter 1, including what you saw on tumblr. Most of it was written today so nobody's really seen it yet, so lemme' know what you think. With some of the references I picked up on tumblr I tried to make some improvements, hopefully for the better.

    Hero Chapter 1:
    First Epoch: Waves to the Tide

    “History in the making.” (Bruce Milliner)  



    Bruce solemnly stared over the port of the Fenris, a mighty sea vessel sailing towards one of the greatest continents in all of Azenham. He sighed as he turned to the deck and watched the other crew members mulling about trying to look busy to avoid invoking the captain’s anger. Through squinting blue eyes he caught a glimpse of Davis, one of the pirates who earned his place on Bruce’s list of people he would certainly smite, if given the opportunity. Since he had become swabby on the Fenris the pirate went out of his way to make Bruce’s life a living hell. His favourite past times included making a mess of any place he inhabited as best he could to order Bruce to clean it and wasting Bruce’s share of any meal they had. Davis was not the first to get on his bad side, and he certainly would not be the last. Nearby he spotted one of the others who had angered him in the past and continued to do so to the day Rickard. A beast of a man due to his massive size, he often used it to intimidate those who stood up to him, allies and enemies. Bruce lost count of how many times the man had tossed him aside and cut down those that he had been engaged in a duel with during battles with other crews. He considered the possibility that Rickard did it out of sheer spite rather than necessity, but it had gone on so long he did not let it bother him any further; should he do so, he knew that one of the two would not be walking away.

    He caught a glimpse of the stout first mate approaching him and immediately straightened his posture, trying to appear as if he honestly cared about his standing among the pirates on the Fenris. He had been a swabbie since boyhood, and now that he was a grown man precious little had changed. Though his official title was ‘swabbie’ the crew treated him more like a ship pet. The first mate was no exception to this either.

    “Milliner!” Stebbins shouted as he approached. “What in the seven hells do you think you’re doin’?!”

    Bruce Milliner eyed him curiously. “I am resting sir.” He replied coolly.

    Stebbins began to get angry; he always did. He often appeared to have a slight complex about his position on the ship, often mentioning it when someone began to annoy him, which lead to him asserting the role without a second thought. “Do you know who I am Milliner? The first mate. You’re nothin’ more than a swabbie. You do what I say.” He reached over next to Bruce and picked up a small smooth stone resting on the railing that kept Bruce from falling into the sea, and this caught his attention. “Dependin’ on how you answer the followin’ questions, we’ll see whether or not your little pet Spunky becomes fish food.”

    Bruce looked at Stebbins uneasily. In the span of him finishing the sentence, he had considered the possibility of how he could murder the first mate and potentially escape. Though had he followed through with the plan, he’d only be shot while making his getaway. “Spunty, sir.” He paused. “You would not do such a thing, would you?” If he was willing to part with his stone companion, he would applaud the first mate for actually attempting at remembering the name of his rock, but he currently had no intention of provoking him any further.

    The remark seemed to deter Stebbins for but a moment, but he saw more amusement in harassing the swabbie so he proceeded. “Did you swab the deck?”

    “I have indeed.” He answered.

    He frowned. “You made sure the package is secured?”

    “Naturally.” Such an event became a daily occurrence for Bruce. Someone always questioned him about what he did and did not do, and as they would not expect, he had already done them.

    “Sharpened the weapons?”

    “Of course.”

    Stebbins was at a loss, and when he was his temper rose rapidly. He got into Bruce’s face and grabbed him by his cravat, bringing Bruce and his maroon frock coat with it. “Listen you, I dunno who you think you are, but you’re clearly gettin’ too big for your britches. I’m gonna have to knock you down a peg.”

    Bruce raised his eyebrows masterfully and smiled, his handlebar mustache rising with the rest. “What do you suggest? A wager? A duel?”

    “A competition! You an’ me. Three bottles, whoever shoots down all three in the least shots takes the prize.”

    “What is the prize?”

    Stebbins shifted his navy coat aside and reached into his pocket drawing a small pouch. He shook it and the sound of coins rang out like a bard’s song to Bruce’s ears. “Ten cales. Winner takes the pot.” He snorted. “If you’ve even got that much.”

    “Oh I could assure you I do.”

    The first mate scoffed as he turned away. “We’ll meet at the stern in ten minutes. I’ll be expecting everything set for when I get there.” As he walked away he tossed the Spunty carelessly to which Bruce skillfully caught it before it fell overboard.

    Bruce knew that this was a competition he could not lose. He was a born marksman; he had known since his childhood that his eyes would not fail him when it came to shooting. Though as a child he had nothing more than a slingshot, he knew he was destined to do great things with a gun when he grew up, and he practiced throughout the days while on adventures. With his trusty companions at his side he knew there was nothing he could not hit; his flintlock pistol nidhogg had honed his skills further, and his blunderbuss miss fortune filled more men with lead than he could count.

    As Bruce walked by he caught a group of pirates drinking and he spotted a small set of empty bottles. Taking the opportunity in stride, he greeted them with a wave and once more verbally as he approached to make his request.

    “Good day gentlemen! Would you mind relinquishing these empty bottles?” He asked.

    One of the trio, an average sized man with short, messy blond hair and kind blue eyes Dangora, turned to Bruce and grinned. “Ye don’t have to clean up after us lad. We’re capable enough to clean up our own messes now and then. Am I right men?!” He shouted to the other two.

    “Aye!” The two shouted and toasted him.

    By the looks on their faces, Bruce could tell that the three were drunk, and he was glad to see them enjoying themselves. Though he was not fond of being called ‘lad’ by Dangora, the man was one of the only crew members who did not strive to ruin Bruce’s day at any given time. The two occasionally drank together in their free time, and during battles he would often look out for him without Bruce needing to ask. Though he did not require the help, it was still well appreciated. After the battle he’d acknowledge some of the incredible things Bruce accomplished during it, and swap stories with him. The swabbie also had a bit of extra respect for the man because of his excellent mustache.

    “Much appreciated.” He said. He claimed six bottles and set them up across the stern. He drew nidhogg from its holster and twirled it between his fingers, gazing across it proudly. Those cales were as good as his, and he had no intention of passing up an opportunity for a tidy sum such as that.



    Shortly after a small crowd flocked to where the competition was to be held crowding the deck with Bruce and Stebbins at the stern; many cheered Stebbins on while others shouted to get their wagers in before they missed the chance. Despite having only Dangora on his side, Bruce was not deterred in the slightest. He was confident in his ability and knew that it could carry him to victory.

    Stebbins raised his hands and calmed the crowd of pirates so he could speak. “This swabbie here believes that he could compete with me in a wager! Here an’ now, I’ll shame him once an’ for all an’ show him his rightful place on this here ship!” The pirates cheered, some for the sole purpose of boosting his ego and others out of spite for Bruce. “Three shots is all I need!” Stebbins boasted. “I’ll go first, so you can quit while you’re not ahead swabbie.”

    “Oh please do.” Bruce answered.

    Stebbins grinned. He aimed his flintlock pistol at the three bottles set up and fired, landing a shot on his first, the center bottle causing the crowd to go wild. “Ha! One down, two to go! Better prepare yourself Milliner, your wallet will be getting lighter today!”

    The banter was not getting to him; he patiently waited his turn so he could shame the first mate after his consistent gloating.

    Stebbins took aim once more, and recklessly fired off a shot, missing both bottles. “Keh!” He scoffed. His supporters remained stalwart in keeping his confidence at an all-time high. He took another shot and took down the bottle on the right, grinning proudly afterwards. “Scared Milliner? This is in the bag.”

    “Oh I really, really am. I fear for both my wallet and my pride.” Bruce replied.

    “Ha!” The first mate broke out into a raucous laugh and the crew joined in like a cacophony of crows. “You best be! I’ll be damned if I had even a chance of losing to the likes of you!” He would be damned indeed in a very short period if he had spent less time talking and more time firing his gun. Stebbins took aim for the fourth time and fired, missing once again and scoffing eerily similarly to the first time. “The wind threw me off. I‘ve got its number this time.” He fired his fifth shot and shattered the last bottle. He raised his gun to his mouth and blew the smoke away, grinning at Bruce afterwards. The swabbie had hoped that he would accidently pull the trigger while performing the action to teach him a lesson in courtesy, but to his dismay that was not the case. “Good luck swabbie. You’re gonna need it.”

    “Oh I’m sure I will. Here’s to hoping that lady luck is on my side this day.” Bruce answered the first mate with the slightest hint of confidence in his voice.  

    After one of the crew members set up another group of bottles for Bruce to take his shot, he drew his flintlock pistol and smiled devilishly. Looking down the iron sights of his gun he fired a shot and the third bottle shattered to pieces. The crowd of pirates gasped while Dangora shouted, “That’s how you do it lad!”

    “Luck of the draw.” Stebbins muttered under his breath.

    “I’m sure it won’t happen again.” Bruce assured him. Though his expression remained serious, he was lying through his teeth and savouring the moment. His victory would be all the more glorious when he put the arrogant first mate to shame.

    He prepared to take his second shot, carefully aiming for the bottle to the left of the second and fired, successfully breaking it on his first attempt. The crew fell silent this time around. Many sent skeptical glances to others during the span of the short-lived quiet, which immediately changed to desperate shouts to switch sides for the bets.

    An angry vein began protruding on Stebbins’ forehead and the glare that complimented it remained focused on Bruce. “What are you playin’ at swabbie?” He hissed.

    Bruce shrugged. “Maybe my muse has found me.” Under normal circumstances he would not have gone to such lengths to shame his superiors, but threatening his stone companion was taking a step over a line that Stebbins was not prepared to cross. By challenging Bruce he was only digging his own grave, and a in a mere matter of moments he was going to find himself in it. Out of spite he decided he would end the contest with a flourish-he twirled the gun in his hand and pointed it, without taking the time to properly aim the shot he fired and the final bottle shattered leaving everyone awestruck.

    The minority of pirates who bet on Bruce cheered wildly while the others grumbled their dismay rather audibly. Bruce turned to his superior and held out a hand, inviting the firs tmate to shake as a sign of good sportsmanship.

    “It seems that I have bested you today First Mate Stebbins. I doubted that I could, but it seems that it was not the case. Luck seems to have been on my side.” Bruce said still awaiting the first mate’s hand.

    “Do you really expect me to buy into that swill? I don’t know what you did, but I ain’t accepting it. You ain’t even worth half the money I bet in this stupid competition. We ain’t payin’ you to shoot bottles and do tricks.” He chuckled. “Though if you were to do tricks you’d be a lot more useful to this ship than you are now! Now go make yourself useful.” He began to walk away from Bruce and turned to the crowd. “Get back to work! All a’ ya’! Quit muckin’ about already!”

    Bruce was speechless. With only one sentence he had turned a complete and utter defeat into nothing more than a lapse in the crew’s schedule. It did not surprise him that Stebbins would not hold his end of the bargain despite issuing the challenge. For years he had endured the insults, defamation and the abuse of power on the Fenris, but enough was enough. The swabbie was not going to settle for this for the rest of his life. He knew that he was capable of much greater things. If he could have his own ship and crew, he’d have ruled the seas many years ago even as a youth. Staying on the Fenris was a mistake he certainly would not make for a single day longer. He had spent months examining the crew, the ship itself and the shifts for varying duties during his day-to-day activities, and devised a brilliant plan to get what he wanted and off of the ship before anyone was any the wiser. Tonight was the night he decided would be where he would makes a great escape.


    Bruce approached the ship’s stores and came across the door’s guard. Using force was out of the question, as it would attract too much attention, but he knew the crew well and most of them could not say no to a drink or two when offered. After a few drinks the door guard Farwell would fall into a slumber (as he usually does) and Bruce would be able to ransack the area with ease. As he approached he spotted the familiar Farwell leaning against the wall next to the door, and Bruce took the opportunity to greet him with a wave. For a moment he pondered the possibility that the door guard had not seen his greeting at all, when he considered that Farwell had long messy chestnut hair that often covered his eyes, and did so now.

    To his surprise, Farwell waved back and nodded as he said, “How’s it going Milliner? Looks like you’re even more bored than I am if it brought you this far into the ship.” He laughed. “If you’re looking for something to do, you might wanna ask the Cap or Stebbins. Knowing those two, they’d find something whether you like it or not.”

    Bruce shook his head. “Alas, that is not quite what I had in mind tonight. I’ve had my unfair share of work today and I need no more, that I assure you. I did have something else in mind though...” Bruce drew two bottles of ale from both of his coat’s pockets and Farwell’s expression lit up like the night sky. The guard took the bait, hook line and sinker.

    After three to four more drinks from a rucksack Bruce carried with more alcohol in it, Farwell was sitting on the ground with a bottle in hand muttering barely audible slurred words. Bruce was fascinated that he would settle for sleeping on the floor, let alone one that a multitude of pirates walked on. His desire to remain tidy deterred him from considering sitting as a viable choice, though his ability to stand for long periods of time had improved greatly thanks to how hard he was worked over the years. A small feat among the great things he had accomplished, all unrecognized to his dismay. While he reminisced on a couple of his achievements he noticed the guard had fallen asleep and he set aside his gripes to take the keys from Farwell and set his plan into motion. He chuckled and shook his head at the thought; no true pirate would fall for such an obvious trick. He felt a very slight amount of guilt for his actions, but sacrifices had to be made for the plan to succeed. Some of the greatest men and women in the entirety of the realm had made steep choices to rise to the furthest heights. Bruce was ready to do the same.

    As Bruce unlocked the door and entered the sound of rats chittering filled him with a sense of unease. Being surrounded by a series of the dirty, diseased creatures was something he was certainly not fond of, but still remained to be a prominent step in completing his plan. Once under way, he would make sure that Stebbins would shout his name in utter fury for years to come, as would the rest of the crew. He rummaged through various barrels and under the floorboards, and found a multitude of bags with more coins than he could hold. He filled his pockets with a couple of the bags and approached one of the rat cages. He glared at it with a gaze that seemed to hold more unease than disdain for its inhabitants, which lead to Bruce reaching out to the cage’s latch and opening it.

    “Be free you furry menace!” He said to the rats within in a hushed voice. “Be free and wreak havoc upon your captors!” While the rodents within considered the escape by gazing outside of the cage, Bruce opened the others and assisted in the escape of many more rats. The rats immediately fled and scattered across the ship with Bruce nearby. Before leaving he locked the door to the ship’s stores and tossed the key back to Farwell and walked away. As he did he could hear the sounds of pirates breaking out into a panic and shouting at others to capture the rats before the captain found out.

    While they desperately ran through the ship, Bruce acted as if he was frantically running to capture them too and slipped into the captain’s quarters. While cleaning he occasionally saw the pirate captain Scogin poring over a map with a really keen curiosity. Bruce was certain it was not a map of the realm; if it lead to treasure, he would certainly find it and seek the treasure for himself. He took cover in any place he could when he heard the sound of approaching footsteps and began to move with urgency the longer he spent searching. Going on a limb, he tapped the bed’s legs with his finger until he received a hollow noise in response. He removed the leg and from within it he found a furled map. He put the bed’s leg back in its respective place and returned to the disaster that had struck the ship by his very own hands.

    By this point the rats had made their way to the deck which caused those on deck to panic while Scogin roared at them to capture the ‘packages’. In the dark of the night Bruce slipped away from the eyes of the others and climbed into a small dinghy on the ship’s starboard side. He lowered it into the water and immediately began to row the moment he could move it, finally leaving the Fenris once and for all. With the cales he stole from the stores and the potential treasure from the map, he would have his own ship and crew in the very near future. While he rowed away he basked in his victory against the multitude of crude pirates that inhabited the Fenris. A small victory for now, a greater one yet to come.


    Heinrichter leaned over the bow of the ship and retched. The adolescent dark elf feared he would get his own vomit on his scarf every time he felt the urge to disgorge, but very rarely if ever took the time to take it off. The young man had never earned his sea legs; of the fifteen years he had lived he had not spent even a moment of one of them upon a ship, and being forced into the situation was only the beginning of his nightmares. One day he was in downtown Toronto for a book signing and the next thing he knew he was splashing around in the seas of his parent’s realm. All of it came as completely illogical to him; what irked him more than the strange occurrences was the fact that the pirates were not as he knew them in the stories he had read over the years. They rarely said ‘aye’ or ‘arr’ and other familiar pirate terms, leaving a lot to be desired. For what reason had humanity changed something they created to such a degree? More so than that, his best friend had warned him that he should not go out that day and he did regardless. He had mixed feelings on the matter. On one hand, he was in another world that often times existed only in stories, but on the other he had no idea where he was specifically, let alone how he would return home. While wiping away the remnants of his lunch he took a deep breath and sighed. Before he could return home he had to find someone. He was almost certain that somewhere in this world he would find her, and if she could be found he’d go to any lengths to accomplish it.

    One of the crew members approaching caught his eye and he immediately stood up straight and saluted him. “G-good day sir!” He said rigidly.

    He ran a hand through his scruffy blonde hair and gazed down at the young dark elf through weary blue eyes. “What kind of a greeting is that? What have they been teaching you on this ship?”

    Heinrichter looked down at his shoes. He realized how out of place he was, and being thrown among pirates was only adding insult to injury in his opinion. While they were all clad in coats and cloaks and other fine garments, he was wearing a crimson hooded sweater and jeans with black running shoes. “Swabbie duties...” He muttered. “And knowing my place.”

    “Heh. You’ve got pretty sharp wit kid.” Upon hearing the familiar chuckle the boy recalled the pirate’s name to be Hackett. The prejudice that plagued him because of his dark elf heritage followed him back to this realm and made him question whether it was the fact that he was the ship’s swabbie or his culture that made him a target for the worst possible tasks on the ship. He deemed it to be a combination of the two. Strangely enough, neither reason seemed to change Hackett’s opinion of him. He was much more fascinated about the world Heinrichter came from and what the humans were like there. “You best start looking busy before someone sees you. You don’t wanna get on the quartermaster’s bad side, he can be a real pain in the ass when you do. See you around Heinrichter.” Though he had his doubts about humanity as a whole, among the hundreds of thousands he knew there was one man that could redeem it for all of them. Many would not likely care for the opinion of a sole dark elf, let alone one his age.

    “Thanks for the tip Hackett.”

    He dashed across the deck and froze in place when he heard someone calling out to him. “Oy! Dark elf!” Of all the things he disliked being called, that was the one that surpassed everything else. The humans in his world had the decency to address him by his last name, though that too, along with the life he knew was left behind.

    He turned to the voice that called him and saluted, “Sir! The thought of addressing many of the men on the ship in a respectful way gave him the urge to gag.

    “Whaddya’ think yer’ doin’?” He asked getting awfully close to Heinrichter. His breath reeked of alcohol, an occurrence that was a tad too common. He seemed to have lost quite a few teeth due to decay also.

    Resisting the urge to cover his nose and avert his eyes, he kept his stalwart gaze focused on the man that stood before him and pressed on. “I plan on swabbing the deck sir.” Though most pirates on The Shrieking Banshee spoke the common language, he came to realize that some of them had different dialects in comparison to others. Though he was not entirely sure, he suspected that some of the things they said had been derived from the languages of the other races. Regardless of the origins, they did him no good in trying to understand what his superiors were talking about at times.

    He nearly leapt back as the pirate gave him an uneasy glare and turned away. “Carry on.” As he walked away Heinrichter sighed with relief. He could not be bothered to remember their names. They could not care if he used them, and he had no intention to, so neither had anything to lose.

    He solemnly mopped the deck while the crew went about their business, typically ignoring him unless he bumped into them or vice versa, resulting in him receiving death stares from various pirates. Though a pirate’s life was not for him, it was one of the only ways he knew he could see the world, and if he was to be treated like dirt for the sake of his goals, he was willing to accept it. Very little had changed after his leaving the Earth Realm; mainly the way he was treated by the people. Those who could accept his heritage were those that were close to him, his foster parents, their daughter and his closest friend. They were all he had, and all he believed he would need, but there was a gap in him despite this, and questions that he needed to find answers to. He wondered if it was fate that he was brought to this world.

    As he mopped he recalled the words of Hackett after he had asked him why the dark elves were so despised. The words were still fresh in his mind, those that his family had kept hidden from him all his life. “I can’t really tell you all of the details of what happened then ‘cause I never really studied it all myself. What I do know is that the dark elves had some kind of ties with some creatures that nearly destroyed our realm. Of all the races in it, the herrenah had suffered the most, teetering on the brink of extinction due to it. Their part of the world basically became inhospitable too, to basically anyone but the dark elves themselves. Since then they’ve all been gathered there and kept there to prevent history from repeating itself. I’ll be damned if I knew how you found yourself in the Earth Realm, but now that you’re here it’d be best if you kept your head low. If the bigwigs and blue bloods find out there’s a dark elf sailing the seas they’ll have your head on a silver platter in the morning, and us for associating with you.”

    He frowned. Genocide was a pretty serious topic, so he could see why to this date the dark elves had received such a steep hate for so many years after the event. He recalled the phrase ‘time heals all wounds’ but this did not seem to be the case. Two thousand years had passed since then, and it had seemingly united all races against a common uncommon enemy.

    “Talk about being severely butthurt...jeez.” He muttered under his breath. Though he took the topic very seriously, he could not quite wrap his mind around it to the point he was sensitive to it.

    “What’d you say swabbie?!” One of the pirates roared drawing his cutlass.

    “I only said I can’t seem to get this stain out! Sir!” He cried out throwing the honorific in at the end in fear of being beheaded. The pirate pointed at him with a burning animosity, seemingly letting him off the hook this time round. Next time he would be lucky to walk away with all his limbs intact.

    He sighed again. He felt like a bird trapped in a cage; from the nest to the skies and right into a human’s captivity. The Old World was bigger than his mind allowed him to believe, and finding one person in it was going to be a near impossible challenge, but he knew he could narrow it down to the person he searched for being where the other dark elves were. What waited for him there was a mystery, and how he would be able to leave The Screaming Banshee was an even bigger mystery. If only his heritage allowed him to massacre the ship’s crew his life would be so much easier. He paused his thought process. Maybe massacre was a bit too grim for his liking.


    Later that night he sat against the wall while writing in a small journal. Though much had not survived the trip between worlds, he was thankful that his journal did. His desperate attempts to keep his bag dry had paid off, though he had spent quite a period of time struggling to stay afloat while keeping it safe. Though it had been nearly two weeks since the pirates took him aboard as ‘ransom’ he still felt a tiny bit of gratitude to them for taking him in. Being worked like a dog was not something he was thankful for though. He was absolutely certain of that.

    The sound of the rain pounding against the window startled him out of his reverie. He saw quite a few storm clouds earlier in the day, but the rain seemed to be much more brutal than he initially expected. He closed his journal and put away his writing utensils after listing the day’s most recent uneventful events and made his way to the deck. The moment he stepped outside a wind so fierce it nearly threw him off his feet blew, and he stumbled as he attempted to grab hold of something.

    “Dark elf!” The quartermaster shouted from nearby. Heinrichter squinted as he saw the quartermaster shouting while holding on to the mast in a blur of rain. “Go assist Meyers with the sails!”

    “Y-yes sir!” He called in turn rushing to the aide of one of the crew members nearby. Meyers seemed to be having a hard time alone keeping the sails under control, and knowing that he could finally be of use to someone by doing something other than his typical menial tasks came as a pleasant event in his dull life. “I’m here to help!” He shouted to her.

    “Are you? The gods know I could use a hand with this. Just hold the rope here while I tie it. Can you do that?”

    “Of course.” He replied confidently. Though Meyers very rarely bothered him with all sorts of tasks like his other superiors had, if he could improve the overall image of the dark elves it was a start. His own image could wait.

    He caught a glimpse of the other crew members frantically running about to keep everything in order. He cracked a small smile at a stray thought. He wondered what his best friend would say if he told her he had become a pirate. High school student by day, pirate by night. He began to feel a deep sense of dread as the realization that he was missing classes because he was in the Old World dawned upon him a second time, the first upon his arrival. If the blue bloods did not kill him first, his parents certainly would. He desperately hoped that he could accomplish his mission and return home soon.

    There's still more to come, so hopefully I'll have it finished before I leave for vacation.
    avatar
    TJ

    Posts : 873
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 24
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

    Re: Project Hero/Heroine

    Post  TJ on Wed Sep 11, 2013 4:02 pm

    Hero chapter 1:

    The following day the ship had dropped anchor in a human town by the coast. It was one of the few ports that allowed pirates to stay, shop and eat their fill. Port Town consisted mainly of fishermen and merchants with the occasional delivery ship, though it offered very little else aside from its main exports. The houses and buildings were often times very small and worn-down, but each seemed to be quite homely in their own respects.


    “Dark elf!” The quartermaster shouted from the deck. Within moments Heinrichter came rushing from within the forecastle to heed the call of his superior.


    “Aye sir!” He said saluting him.


    The quartermaster gave him an uneasy glare and seemingly set aside his gripes shortly after. “I have a task for you.” He gestured to the market in the town with his thumb. “Go to the market and get supplies for the trip. You know what I expect of you. Should you try to run, you’ll be lucky to keep your head attached to your body.” He reached into his pocket and removed a small bag of coins, then threw them to the swabbie.


    “A-aye sir...” He muttered nervously. By this point in time Heinrichter had become rather familiar with the likelihood of one of the pirates pulling a weapon on him, and he had no doubts in his mind that they would be willing to use them on him. After receiving his orders he turned away and prepared to leave until the voice of the boatswain rang in his ears.


    “Hold up there dark elf. I have a task for you to do too.” He walked over and handed Heinrichter a small piece of paper with a list of materials for repairs. Shortly after he handed him a second bag with coins in it and patted him roughly on the shoulder. “That’s a good lad.” Without another word or even an opportunity to respond he walked away.


    The swabbie frowned. There was no way he could bring enough food for an entire crew and supplies for the ship in a single trip. He had no desire to fulfill their tasks but knowing it was that or his life, he was not willing to make such a sacrifice for the sake of his lack of motivation. While crossing the gangway he heard a third person calling out to him and before turning around he smiled wryly and took a deep breath.


    “Dark elf, do me a favour will ya’?” One of the riggers called to him. “While yer’ in town ya’ think ya’ can pick us up some rope? Thanks mate.” He threw the swabbie a third bag of coins and disappeared on the deck.


    Heinrichter felt that they were doing this to spite him. The fact that they all decided to send him to do errands at once seemed to be abuse more so than it was his job. His small frame did not promise much success in managing to bring back all of the requested items in short time frame, but he preferred trial and error over being killed on the spot. He made haste to leave the ship’s vicinity before his other superiors decided to tack on more requests for him to do.






    He solemnly walked down the shore towards the market, taking in a deep breath of fresh air and sighing in relief. A moment of respite away from the pirates of the Shrieking Banshee and their multitude of menial tasks was something he believed would be far and few between, so one sooner than he expected was glorious. He thanked the gods that the storm had occurred so they could stop in Port Town. His brief moments of joy quickly came to an end upon discovering a human washed up upon the shore. He froze in place but his thoughts were in a jumble. He carefully examined the scenario from a safe distance, concluding that whoever the victim was had been caught in the storm and shipwrecked in the process, judging by the remains of the ruined ship. Heinrichter felt a strong urge to help the stranger, but feared for his life because of the possibility that they were a pirate who would want his head as well.


    He sighed. If the pirate did take him as ransom, he felt a slight sense of security in knowing that the crew of the Shrieking Banshee would not so easily let their ‘merchandise’ be taken from them. The reliable feeling he had quickly disappeared as he recalled being considered property of pirates. Being labeled as ‘dark elf’ suddenly stopped sounding as insulting as it once did. Though unsure of his decision, he decided he would help out the stranger. If Heinrichter had learned anything from his parent’s teachings, it was to always help someone in need. Though more times than not, they would refuse his help, but an unconscious man had no response. He attempted to lift the body onto his shoulders and failed. It was a generous idea, but one he would certainly not be able to fulfill. The swabbie lifted the stranger by the arms and dragged him along the shore towards the ship he recently parted with.


    Judging by the way the man was dressed, Heinrichter had a sneaking suspicion that he was a pirate. His outfit seemed to be somewhat more refined, and certainly cleaner in comparison to what the swabbie now familiarized himself with. He dropped the stranger and gently stroked his silver ponytail uneasily. This was not a life he wished to adapt to, and should he do so, he questioned whether or not he could return to the life that he knew. The tales that humans spun about adventures in other worlds were certainly reminiscent of his situation, but he knew he was not the hero of a storybook and in that regard he was in great danger. He had a world of enemies and very few allies in an unfamiliar realm. He wrapped his arms around the stranger’s and began to drag him towards the ship again.


    As he walked he stole a glance down at his unconscious companion and paused again. On the nape of his neck there was an unusual symbol; a circle emblazoned with unfamiliar markings and a pentagram in the center. A sense of uneasiness spread throughout him. Was this stranger some kind of shipwrecked cultist? There was a chance that he was some kind of outlaw or experiment that went wrong and escaped. Heinrichter smiled wryly as he chuckled dryly. His fears and memories of ridiculous movies he recently watched seemed to be blending together into a senseless mush. He set aside his baseless worries and continued on towards his new home.






    Bruce slowly opened his eyes and carefully examined his surroundings. He found himself in the crew’s quarters of a ship that was certainly not the Fenris. If he had found himself in another pirate’s crew, his plans may have had to take a backseat. He walked through the lower deck and emerged at the upper deck after a brief period of wandering around to discover a majority of the crew. Among their ranks, he discovered an oddly dressed dark elf seemingly being scolded by his superiors. The pirate eyed the two with a questioning gaze while pondering what a dark elf would be doing on the mainland. He should not have been a slave because the dark elves were not to leave their lands under any circumstances. Was he a refugee? This matter interested Bruce greatly. The dark elves that strayed from their lands were criminals, and criminals meant a bounty. If he could slip away with the elf in tow he would certainly obtain a hefty sum for the boy’s head. Before he could create a plan, he had to find out exactly what he had gotten himself into after his last blunder.


    He approached the boy and his superior and greeted them. “Good day gentlemen. Pardon my intrusion, but I seem to have found myself on your fine vessel without memory of how I wound up here. Would you be so kind as to refresh my memory?” Bruce requested.


    The dark elf uneasily glanced at his superior who seemingly sized up Bruce for a couple of moments and crossed his arms. “Our swabbie found you washed up on the shore with the ruins of your vessel. Dragged your sorry carcass onto the ship to find you some medical attention. Consider yourself lucky we have a skilled surgeon. What do they call you?” The quartermaster replied. Quick and very to the point; he certainly meant business and did not have the patience for any games.


    Bruce felt quite sure that he had no need for a surgeon; all of his limbs seemed to be attached without any problems, and he felt rather sure the sea would not tear them off. “Ah forgive my rudeness. My name is Bruce Milliner, a sailor who seems to have found himself in this town.”


    “I see.” The quartermaster nodded. “You can call me Warner, quartermaster of this vessel the Shrieking Banshee.” He rubbed his chestnut beard gently. “If an able sailor such as yourself lost his vessel he can’t sail the seas. In that case, why don’t you join our crew? We’ll pay you better than whatever they can offer you here and we can take you to wherever it is that your little treasure map leads to.”


    Bruce felt a hint of annoyance at the arrogance of the quartermaster, but even more upon hearing that they had looted his body for his map. Though he considered protesting their actions, he saw an opportunity in Warner’s suggestion. A brilliant plan was brewing within his head and the generosity of the crew of the Shrieking Banshee would be his ticket to seeing it through. “That sounds like a very good idea. I think I will take you up on that offer.”


    Warned grinned. “You made the right choice.”


    “I am inclined to concur.” Bruce smiled devilishly. “So this is the swabbie that had found me shipwrecked, correct?” The quartermaster nodded and the boy eyed him cautiously. “Now that I am a part of this ship, I assume that offers me some authority over my subordinates?”


    The quartermaster began to glare at him suspiciously. “That’s right.”


    “Then it should not be a problem if I borrow him for a while.”


    Warner scoffed. “So long as he finishes his duties before sundown I don’t care what you do. Just don’t think of leaving this town with him or you’ll be leaving for the other world.”


    “How quaint.” Bruce remarked with a charming grin. “Come along lad. There is much to be done.”






    The two walked along the shore towards the town nearby. This was certainly not Bruce’s first time in Port Town, and he felt sure that it would not be the last. A pirate’s life often began and ended here, and there was not much room for visits in-between, nor was there a need. Though Port Town was on the continent in which all races were united under one ruler, this town among others still housed more humans than other races. It was one of the only lands in the realm in which their kind could exist; their lack of gills and the ability of flight, let alone a resistance to severe heat really narrowed their options down. Despite the eons of peace, not all races were quite willing to set aside their differences and live in harmony with the others, humans especially. Those that wished to often had their homes built on the mainland. Reasons such as that were things that Bruce could easily understand. The enigma walking next to him was something he could not even begin to fathom.


    “Tell me lad, what brings you so far away from the dark elves’ homeland to one of the most dangerous places in all the realm for your kind?” Bruce asked curiously. He occasionally caught the boy stealing glimpses at him and returning them to his own shoes to avoid being caught, but little had he known it had already happened more than once.


    The boy seemed to be looking at the pirate through the corner of his eye as he muttered, “I didn’t come from there. I’m not even from this realm.” He turned his focus back to his shoes. “And my name’s not lad, its Heinrichter.” He muttered in english.


    Bruce stopped walking and gazed at the young dark elf with a look of bewilderment. “I am not sure if I should be more surprised that your name is the same as the chancellor’s, or about the fact that you speak english fluently.” The humans from the Earth Realm supposedly had a myriad of languages for their multiple ethnicities, but in Azenham they all spoke the common language. Regardless of race, everyone was able to understand each other because of it. Finding someone who could speak one of the Earth Realm’s languages, let alone a dark elf, was a very uncommon and interesting discovery.


    “I dunno who the chancellor is, but I doubt we’re related in any way. It’s probably purely by chance that our names are similar, but just in case if you know anything about him I’d like to be informed. A-anyway...” He paused and knit his eyebrows. “Is it that surprising that I can speak english? In the country I came from the humans spoke that and French. Though all of the races of humans were assembled there so it was a mixed bag really...the official languages was the first two. You’re a human too. Don’t your people speak the same languages here?”


    The boy had a more talkative side than Bruce first imagined, but he seemed to have a very snarky attitude to accompany it. A dark elf from the Earth Realm would certainly make for a very useful lackey, among other things. If Bruce could earn his trust he could certainly put the boy to good use. “They do not.” He replied. “The languages that they developed in that world were not passed down in our own. Pray tell, what force brought you from one realm to the other?”


    Heinrichter smiled wryly. “It was this weird little girl dressed up like someone I had seen from a game. Then she started talking about something and the next thing I knew I was being sucked into a black hole that brought me here. Well it technically threw me into the sea.” He paused. “You’ve got a really odd dialect for someone who speaks the common language, though I’m no professional myself.”


    “I never found it all that strange.” Heinrichter found his dialect to be a tad more dignified than the rest, though he did not want to anger the swabbie by throwing him in with the common riffraff and their ilk. “But I am quite curious, you have been rather honest with your history to someone you have met for the first time. Do you have no secrecy?”


    The boy averted his eyes. “It’s not that I don’t have any secrecy. How I got here doesn’t matter much because regardless of it, I’m still a dark elf and nothing more than a walking ransom.” He furrowed his brows. “It doesn’t matter who my enemies are though...I’ll fight anyone who challenges me.”


    Bruce felt slightly impressed by his resolution. The Earth Realm was supposedly a peaceful place, quite the opposite of Azenham. To think that a boy from there would have the will to fight with those much more experienced than he was proved that he was either bold or foolish. “Why do you fight? Did you have enemies in your world and make more here?”


    “I fight because I have something worth fighting for! I won’t let them take everything away from me because of my stupid lineage! I’m no less a person than they are, and I’ll do everything it takes to make a change...with whatever little power I have...I’ll find a way.” The look on his face contradicted his words through a single sad expression, but his initial conviction was promising.


    The more he heard the more interested in the boy bruce became. He felt certain that he would be the key to fulfilling Bruce’s plans, and connecting the words of the strange girl he had met before falling into the sea. The opportunities for greatness were arising like a wave and promising him a chance at granting his wishes if he could put the pieces of the puzzle together. “If you wish to do so, then stand by me and I will guide you through your journey.”






    The two arrived in town in good time, and the young dark elf curiously examined the buildings that surrounded them. He occasionally shifted his gaze from a small list to the surrounding area and Bruce deducted that he was sent on an errand, something he knew all too well.


    “Guess I can start with getting rations.” Heinrichter said and looked at Bruce from the corner of his eye. “If you’ve got nothing better to do you can help me bring this junk back to the ship. If you do don’t tell the big wigs I asked or they’ll cut me down.”


    Bruce chuckled dryly. He began to wonder whether or not the boy was just a slave or a swabbie. For the sake of his plans he decided he would help the boy with the errand. With the proper training and a decent mentor, he considered the possibility that he may have a someday-to-be necromancer under his wing, and a very powerful companion. “My lips are sealed.”


    Bruce walked with the hooded Heinrichter to a fish vendor and looked through his wares until a voice called out to him and drew his attention to a stout man with short brown hair approaching the two. He stopped in front of Bruce for a moment to catch his breath and wipe the sweat from his brow with a handkerchief. The way he was dressed either meant that he was a wealthy man or he was a noble; he wore an auburn tuxedo likely tailored specifically for his size with black shoes.


    “Pardon my rudeness, but I have not seen a pair like you around here before.” He tipped his matching fedora to the two. “My name is Oliver Ingle, mayor of Port Town.”


    “Bruce Milliner, sailor extraordinaire.” Bruce replied while offering the mayor a handshake.


    The two shook hands and the mayor shifted his gaze to Heinrichter uneasily. The boy nearly jumped after feeling the mayor’s gaze on his back but he remained focus on his task at hand. “Your companion is awfully quiet.”


    “Ah! Yes yes he is. This is Hei-nz. He is the soft-spoken type. Do not mind it. Now then, what could we do for you Mr. Ingle?”


    “Ah yes...we’ve seemed to encounter a bit of a problem. There has been a man living in the sewers of Port Town for some time now claiming that he has dominion over the rats that inhabited the area. We’ve ignored his presence because he had done no harm to anyone and had no impact on the city by existing within the sewers until recently. The rats have grown massive and vicious and seemingly listen to his commands. The amount of rats have rapidly multiplied also since the arrival of ship with a flag featuring a jolly roger appeared. If my memory serves me, I believe that it had a wolf in place of a skull on it.”


    “That is quite a predicament.” Bruce replied. He recognized the ship and felt certain that it was the Fenris. They likely had stopped in Port Town and dumped the cargo while also searching for Bruce. He was lucky to have been caught in the storm and delayed a few days past their visit.


    The mayor began to sweat profusely. “I had recently sent a young Naga girl down there to eliminate the problem but she is yet to return, so I wish for you to go, find her if possible and cull the infestation.”


    “Allow me to confirm your request; you wish for us to rescue the girl, reduce the amount of rats, and what of their leader? What can you tell us about him?”


    “He is a deranged man who, the last time I saw him, had grown out his unkempt hair to an unusual length and wore grey rags. Be wary of his ‘claws’ as they will pierce your skin should he reach you. He also calls himself ‘Ratman’.” Heinrichter snickered and the two turned their gaze to him, causing him to fall silent and continue sifting through the fish. “Eliminate him also if possible. We cannot afford another rodent outbreak or we’ll all be diseased. Complete this and you will be rewarded.”


    “Consider it done.” The mayor said his goodbyes and parted ways with the two. “Shall we be on our way Heinz?”


    “Seriously Bruce? Heinz? Do I look like a bottle of ketchup to you?” The pirate gave him a puzzled glance and Heinrichter sighed. “Why do you have to keep my name a secret too? Is this chancellor guy that important?” He began to speak in English.


    “He is to be coronated as the next king within the next fortnight.” Bruce responded.


    The boy looked shocked. “I...I made some poor life choices...”






    Shortly after Bruce lifted a manhole in the town’s plaza and shifted it aside, climbing down a ladder within it afterwards.


    “It is now or never Heinrichter.” He said to the dark elf looking down upon him reluctantly.


    “It reeks down there!” Bruce would have shrugged but he had no intention of falling into sewage.


    “I am not fond of the smell myself, but we have accepted this task so it is our duty to see it through to the end.” Though the boy was still against it, it seemed that Bruce’s words got through to him and convinced him to follow through.


    The sewers were very dark, damp and offered a scent that was rather unpleasant to the nose. The walls were grimy and the sewage that flowed down a small duct was oddly green; a steady flow made its way towards grates and down other passages to places neither of the two wished to become familiar with. As they walked they caught glimpses of what could have been possible skirmishes between the Naga girl and the massive rats the mayor spoke of. Occasionally passing by rat corpses and blood stains, and even patches of ice.


    “I think I’m gonna be sick...” Heinrichter muttered under his breath. “The smell of death and decay mixed with sewage are things that were never meant to be combined.” He pinched his nose and sighed as he began to speak in a nasally voice. “What’s with these frozen patches though? Unless my eyes are deceiving me it certainly isn’t winter in this realm.”


    “That Naga may be a mage. It is uncommon for them to use ice as elementalists, but as a magister it is possible.”


    Heinrichter snorted. “Bruce, I think you need to take your nose out of the novels. Mages and whatnot don’t exist. They can’t. It defies all logic.”


    The pirate looked at the boy with pity. “To come to a world built around magic and deny its existence is beyond belief.”


    “The fact that you believe that it’s real is beyond me.” The boy eyed a nearby corridor cautiously. “Though I still have a lot to learn about the Old World.” He paused. “I’ll reserve my judgements for now, and I’ll believe it when I see it. As of now I’m still yet to see any magic, though I can’t say I would have on a pirate shi-whoa!”


    Bruce suddenly pulled Heinrichter back by his hood and stepped in front of him drawing his pistol and firing into the darkness. A loud screech could be heard and quickly died down shortly after.


    “What in the gods’ name was that?” The dark elf asked.


    “One of those rats the mayor spoke of. That girl must have missed it.” Bruce replied holstering his gun.


    The two walked on, following the trail of corpses and bloody footsteps on the concrete walkway towards what seemed to be the lair of Ratman. As they passed by Bruce’s mark Heinrichter eyed it suspiciously in case it was not dead, but Bruce had hit it right between the eyes and the two felt certain not even a massive rat could survive such an accurate shot.


    “Never have I seen a rat so large in my life. I never want to see another again.” Heinrichter groaned. “I’ve heard that they can grow huge but this thing could eat a small dog. WHOLE.” He suddenly began to get annoyed.


    “Consider yourself lucky these rodents aren’t gnawing at your legs. If you were to survive you would certainly have contracted their disease. I am positive this is not Ratman’s doing. These rats must have been experimented upon. Whether it was only a matter of time or something they had been exposed to within the sewers, better that we cull their numbers then let this epidemic spread.”


    After taking various turns and following the tracks to what seemed to be a dead end, the two began to discover unusual markings upon some of the walls. Some seemed to be symbols and characters, the ones shaped like rats standing out more than the others. Bruce suggested that it was possible that it was a language that Ratman had created and used to somehow communicate with his rodent companions. As the two turned another corner they found what once was Ratman’s lair. A series of rags were spread around, likely as bedding and the bloody carcass of a rat that shamed the others in size had lay on the ground nearby the young Naga girl. She held Ratman by his long unkempt brown hair and looked into his eyes that did not stare back. His bones like his companion’s were crushed by the massive bloody mallet she wielded, and her demeanor did not seem to be a friendly one.


    “Who goes there? State your name and purpose, or die where you stand!” She commanded them.


    “My name is Bruce Milliner.” Bruce spoke first, quickly and clearly. “My companion Heinz and I were sent here on a mission to find you and bring back solve the rat issue.”


    She dropped Ratman’s corpse and turned towards the two. The entirety of her face was covered by a mask with a single blood red tear running down from the left eye. Cautious crimson eyes glared at the two through it, and black shoulder-length hair rested behind it. She crossed her arms over her leather jerkinand placed her weapon by her side as she examined the two carefully. After seeing her icy hammer, Bruce felt sure that she was a type of mage, but found himself at a loss as to what kind of mage would willingly fight with their greatest weakness.


    “I see.” She replied. “The population of the rats has been culled already, and as you can see Ratman and his companion Bugsy have been eliminated also.” She raised a single turquoise webbed finger. “There was only one creature that escaped my weapon, and it will not live to see another day now that my business here is complete.”


    “We recently came across it and it has been deftly handled. If that is all of them, then the task is complete. You have done an excellent job of handling the others.” Bruce answered.


    She paused. “Hmph.” She hauled her weapon over her shoulder and walked past the two. “Our conversation ends here. I seek only the strongest, and you two are of no concern of mine. If you know of anyone worthy of a duel tell them to seek me out, or become men of high caliber and return to me. Should you do so, bring a prize worth fighting for. If this is not to your wishes, we will not likely meet again.”


    “Wait, your name!” Heinrichter called out to her.


    “I am known as Smith. It will do you no good to remember it.” She replied and left without another word.


    Bruce knit his eyebrows. The Naga’s civilization was built in the deepest depths of the sea, and though they could survive on land without any potential issues, very rarely did they choose to do so. Coming to such a remote town on the mainland was completely unusual for their kind. If Smith was searching for strong opponents, he could see why she might wander into Port Town, but there were other incredible warriors around the world. Setting the matter aside, he approached Ratman’s corpse and shook his head at the spectacle she had made of him. His body bent in ways that Bruce did not even think possible, and judging from the other limbs that were out of shape, she had hit him more than once with her mallet. He drew his cutlass and lopped off one of Ratman’s hands and a strand of hair just to be safe, then walked over to his companion who gazed at the dead rat with a mixture of pity and disgust.


    He placed the hand on Heinrichter’s shoulder and the boy turned to him, catching a glimpse of Bruce holding the hand and jumping aside while shouting, “Gods! What did you-” He retched and began to throw up into the duct. “Not cool. You do not go around touching people with dismembered limbs!” He wiped the remains of his vomit from his mouth and groaned.


    Bruce chuckled and shook his head. “You have to develop an iron stomach to be a pirate lad. This world is much more violent than what you may be familiar with. It is killed or be killed. Knowing your allies and enemies is key, and suspecting everyone is even more so. At any time those you trust could slip poison into your ale or silence you in your sleep.”


    Heinrichter frowned and furrowed his eyebrows. “I barely trust people as it is. If I need to suspect them all of plotting to murder me too, how am I supposed to make allies? Let alone trust them?”


    “Take everything with a grain of salt Heinrichter. There is much you can learn from me. I will not lead you astray.” Bruce told him.


    “Never put a dismembered hand on my shoulder again and you’ve got yourself a deal.”






    After tracing their steps back the way they came, the two emerged from the sewers where they had started, speaking in english.


    “You must understand that in Azenham or as you know it, the ‘Old World’ strength is a key factor in any situation. One must be able to defend himself, as most scenarios will devolve to violence with little room for diplomacy. In your case, it will be even more frequent. For the sake of obtaining the bounty, they will do whatever it takes to get you dead or alive.” Bruce explained, to which Heinrichter frowned. “Once the coronation is over, I am sure it will not matter as much whether your name and the chancellor’s are similar, but your outer appearance must be kept secret from anyone and everyone. Next to those you know you can trust, like me.” He smiled and Heinrichter made a tiny grin in turn, both out of humour and good will.


    “Just...don’t slip poison into my tea or something. If you’re gonna put me out of my misery, I want you to do it properly.” Heinrichter requested.


    “Rest assured, I will take your will to my grave.”


    “I-I don’t know what to think of that statement.” He suddenly pointed in a direction. “Hey, I can see that weird mayor over there.”


    Just as he said, the mayor was conversing with a group of sailors who had seemingly just brought in their haul. Two of them held onto a net filled to the brim with fish while he conversed with a third. As the pair approached the group turned to them, some remarking on the putrid smell while others covered their noses.


    “Ah it’s you again. I assume it is safe to deduce by that awful scent you carry on you, that you have crossed swords with Ratman?” Mayor Ingle asked.


    “Not quite.” Bruce replied. “We had met with the young Naga girl you spoke of, and she had already defeated him, along with a great portion of his minions. I take it that she is yet to come see you?”


    He nodded. “I saw her on her way out of the city. Though I called her she did not seem interested in claiming the reward so you and your companion...Heinz I believe? You may split it among yourselves. Ratman is dead, correct?” Bruce revealed the decapitated hand and the mayor cringed. The sailors averted their eyes and Heinrichter swallowed his bile. “Put it away, I believe that’s sufficient proof!” He removed a small bag of coins from his pocket and handed it to Bruce. “Thank you for your efforts. Now if you do not mind I must be on my way. There are other problems that must be addressed.” The mayor scuttled off and the sailors went about their business also.


    He tossed the bag up into the air and caught it with a grin. “Excellent. Lady luck shall be on my side tonight, if this is a sign. Tonight I will obtain an even greater prize.”


    “What prize would that be?” The young dark elf asked him with a curious look.


    “You will find out in good time lad.” Bruce smiled devilishly.






    Bruce lowered a large barrel filled with fruits onto the ship’s deck and wiped the sweat from his brow. Heinrichter leaned on the barrel and let out a sigh of relief.


    “Thank goodness that’s finally taken care of.” Heinrichter said, followed by a deep breath. He like his companion, was sweating profusely.


    “I have a favour to ask of you now, lad.” Bruce said. The boy’s pointed ears seemingly perked as he shifted his gaze to the pirate. “Would you introduce me to the captain of this vessel?”


    “Ah...the captain? I’m surprised he hasn’t gone to introduce himself to you yet. He sure gave me a warm welcome with his cutlass to my throat and the quartermaster’s flintlock pointed at my skull.” Heinrichter muttered in english.


    “Warm indeed.” Bruce agreed. The dark elf muttered about how he was over the matter already and lead Bruce to the captain’s quarters below deck.


    “Captain? Do you have a minute?” He asked gently rapping on the door.


    “I thought I told you not to bother me when I’m not on deck Heinrichter.” A gruff, manly voice replied from the other side of the door.


    “W-well you did...it’s not that I didn’t understand what your point was, Bruce just wanted a formal introduction.” He stammered rubbing the back of his neck. As the door opened the boy took a startled step back and locked eyes with the captain who shifted his gaze to his new recruit.


    “You must be that new guy Bruce.” He held out a hand. “Reeder. Captain of the Shrieking Banshee. It’s a pleasure.” Bruce placed his hand in the captain’s and shook it with conviction, realizing upon it that the captain had a massive pair of hands to compliment his immense size. His hands, like his face had a multitude of scars upon them. He was a man who had certainly seen his fair share of battles, and his size was proof of his strength. The two could only see a small portion of them beneath the fringes of his unkempt black hair. “Did you only come to introduce yourself? Or do you have some other motive in interrupting me?”


    “I did indeed come to introduce myself, but I also came with a hidden motive.” Bruce replied nonchalantly to which Reeder only scoffed. He seemed more impressed than annoyed by the recruit’s honesty, while his young companion looked positively baffled by his statement.


    “Well? You’ve got my attention, so what’s this ulterior motive of yours?” The captain crossed his arms impatiently.


    “I would like to duel you for your position as captain of this vessel.”


    “What?!” Heinrichter cried out while gazing at Bruce incredulously.


    The captain chuckled. “You? Are you sure you want this?”


    “Positively.”


    “Bruce, you’re a freakin’ nutcase. Look at this guy! He could rub you out of existence with his abs if he damn well wanted to! He could crush you into a fine paste with his forearms!” The dark elf seemed annoyed at first, but he calmed down and frowned. “You just do whatever you want. I can’t be bothered. You’ll get no pity from me when he makes swiss cheese out of you.”


    “Fear not, for I am well trained in swordplay.” The boy rubbed his neck at the comment.


    “So what will I gain by dueling you Recruit?”


    “Firstly,” Bruce reached into his coat pocket and removed a small bag of coins. “you will receive everything I have within this bag, which is quite a fair sum of cales. You will also be given complete possession of the map I had washed on shore with.” The captain seemed interested, but not sold on the offer. “Secondly, I will give you my most prized possession, my blunderbuss Nidhogg. This is no ordinary weapon, mind you. This is actually one of the realm’s relics.” Reeder raised an eyebrow to the mentioning of the relic. “Lastly, should you choose not to end my life, I will swear loyalty to you and you alone, and serve you for the rest of my mortal life.”


    Heinrichter furrowed his brow. “All this for the role of captain? Bruce, have you lost your mind?”


    He smiled impishly in turn. “Quite possibly.”


    “Sounds like a reasonable offer.” He folded his hands behind his back and grinned. “So what do you suggest are the rules for this duel will be? I’ll be courteous and allow you to decide.”


    The recruit crossed his arms and nodded. “Swords only, as it should be. The duel will end when either you or I die or admits defeat to the other.”


    “Then we’re in agreement. I’m a busy man, so let’s put this to an end now. I’ll see you on the deck Recruit.”


    “Best of luck to you.” Bruce said.


    “You’re just asking to be put in your grave aren’t you?” Heinrichter hissed.


    “A man must not fear death as it is only a limitation on progress.”


    The boy furrowed his brows once more. “More like its the end of your progress.”






    A majority of the crew had flocked to the deck to see the match, while those who still had duties to do remained below deck to fulfill them, to their dismay. The crew chatted noisily as the two prepared themselves, Bruce offering all of his rewards to Meyers to act as a mediator for the match so that he could not go back on his deal and flee with what he had promised. The captain drew a cutlass fit for a man of his stature from its sheath; though the weapon had seen its fair share of use, it still seemed in good shape, enough so that it could easily cut down any unwilling pirate that found himself on the blade’s edge. Bruce drew his cutlass, sliding his finger along the dull side of the blade and smiling confidently at the captain who stood adjacent to him.


    “Today will not be the day you die Recruit. Having a personal servant is an offer I won’t pass up so easily.” Reeder took off his coat and threw it to one of the riggers in the crowd.


    “I am in agreement that I will not die today, but I have no intention of becoming a servant, mind you. Though I will allow you to entertain the thought before I defeat you.”


    The dark elf pushed his way to the front of the crowd and gazed upon the two while gripping his left arm tightly. “Bruce! Try not to die okay? Especially within the first thirty seconds or so, so you can at least retain a shred of your dignity!”


    “Have an ounce of faith, would you lad?” Bruce said stealing a glance at the boy.


    “Enough talk Recruit. Let’s begin.” The captain cracked his neck and began to approach Bruce.


    He smiled devilishly as he shifted his coat aside, revealing his flintlock pistol miss fortune. With his free hand he drew the gun and pointed it at Reeder, firing a single shot through his heart, causing the man to grip the cavity within his chest for the brief period that he retained life. With a defeated groan the captain fell to the ground as a small pool of blood surrounded him.


    “I have a gun.” Bruce said. “I win.”


    The entirety of the crew watched in silence, every single member completely nonplussed by Bruce’s absolute victory. One of the mates began to clap and the rest of the crew followed suit, Heinrichter aside. The young dark elf remained shocked by the turn of events.


    “Bruce!” The dark elf shouted. shouted. “You cheated!” The dark elf yelled. “Humans!” He threw his arms up in frustration. “Gods!”


    Bruce knit his eyebrows. “Heinrichter, I strongly believe that it is high time you recognize that we are pirates just as you are. We do not play fair. Under no circumstances should you expect us to do so.” He replied.


    He raised a finger to protest but slowly lowered it. “Okay fine. That’s reasonable. But you didn’t have to suddenly murder him! Could have just made him surrender and taken your prize.”


    The new captain walked over to his subordinate and placed his hands on both his shoulders. “Listen lad, many men believe that a benevolent man is a merciful one, but what they do not know are that they are the most foolish. Your mercy will be a blessing and a curse throughout your journey. There will be times where you may have to make a decision that you may not agree with, but will do you more good in the future. It will do you well to remember this.” He turned to his crew. “Now then, you two, I would like you to throw Reeder’s corpse overboard, after properly looting it of anything of value of course.”






    That evening Bruce sat in the captain’s quarters basking in his overwhelming victory. In such a short a short time he had escaped the Fenris, found a crew and a ship and commandeered it with ease. Though he was the new captain, the possibility of mutiny or that someone else would attempt to murder him and take his position remained a viable threat, but ones that he would certainly be prepared for. He gazed at the map that he had stolen from his old captain and attempted to understand what it was trying to lead him to, but to no avail. A knock at the door caught his attention and he approached it with his hand on his pistol.


    “Who goes there?” He asked cautiously.


    “Cap? It’s Myers. There’s a letter for you here.” After Myers finished speaking a small letter slipped under the door and the sound of her walking away followed afterwards.


    Bruce broke the seal for the envelope and drew the letter from within, quickly skimming through the information within and sighing. It had not even been a day and someone was already after his position. First mate Kessler had taken Bruce’s lackey captive and requested that the new captain come to Leisym’s Cove so they could make a trade: Bruce’s money, map and position as captain in turn for Heinrichter’s life. Kessler was certain to have voiced his disdain for Bruce’s means to victory and becoming captain. He folded up the letter and shook his head. He hoped that in dealing with Kessler the others would get the message that getting in his way would not end well for them.


    Leaving the quartermaster in charge of the ship in his absence, Bruce set out to the nearby cove armed with his best weapons and the conviction to reclaim his lackey without giving up his legacy.






    Leisym’s Cove was a small area just off the coast of Port Town where wanted pirates often fled to to hide from their pursuers. There was enough space inside to fit up to two pirate vessels, and it offered great cover far away from the eyes of the public and pursuers alike. In his younger days he had once visited it during his time on the Fenris. He shuddered at the thought of remembering his youth on the vessel. He was a captain now, and nobody was allowed to take his crew members captive without his permission; despite the thought, there would be no question as the second they raised it he would be certain to end their life swiftly. He found himself at the entrance to the cove and cautiously walked in with miss fortune in hand.


    The cove was dark and damp with a wide opening in the center for ships to enter and leave. On both sides of it were two walkways for crew members to board and disembark, each path leading towards very different destinations. A long strip of raised land separated the ships and made a place for them to set down a gangway; there he saw his ship’s first mate and his young lackey tied up. He carefully examined the situation as he entered and discovered that the first mate was only armed with a knife that he held to the lackey’s neck. Bruce deemed it to be his first and last mistake. He ascended a set of stone steps up towards the landing and cautiously approached Kessler while examining him for any possible hidden weapons, but from what Bruce could see the man had nothing more.


    “So ya had the gall ta show yer face eh Cap’n?” Kessler asked with a grin.


    Bruce remained silent for a moment attempting to understand exactly what the pirate was conveying to him, and seemed to come to a conclusion. “I do indeed.” He said. “I am sure you understand that I am not fond of my men stealing away my swabbies and demanding ransom. It stains my reputation as captain.”


    Kessler snorted at the comment. “Yer reputation won’t count for nothin’ when yer workin’ under me. An’ I ain’t here to make pleasantries so out with it or the dark elf tastes tha bitter kiss of steel!”


    Heinrichter shifted nervously while letting out a muffled scream as if he was shouting at Bruce. His incoherence was awarded with a curious glance from his captain.


    Bruce reached into his pockets and drew his cash and his map and tossed them a fair distance away from Kessler and himself. The items now rested between the two at a distance that either could reach with a minimal amount of strides.


    The first mate was not amused in the slightest by this act. Heinrichter continued to struggle and Kessler brought the knife closer to his neck putting an end to his struggle. “I ain’t playin’ yer game Milliner. Drop yer weapons, bring those here and walk away. Ya don’t want yer lil’ semi-human mongrel to taste my knife do ya’?” For a moment he sounded more educated than he really was.


    Heinrichter glared at the first mate and began to struggle again with a new found vigor and managed to escape the confines of the cloth in his mouth, returning his vocal ability. “Semi-human?” He hissed. “I’m half high elf you cocksucker!” He insulted the first mate in English.


    Bruce was almost surprised that Heinrichter was more annoyed by being called a semi-human than a mongrel, but he set the matter aside and deemed the boy to have a disdain for his kind. He looked at Kessler with a bored expression and sighed. He could think of a hundred other actions he could have been doing in the span of his leaving and his presence in the cove. Without a second thought he drew miss fortune and pointed it at the two. They immediately froze while looking like a pair of animals being eyed by their predator.


    “Bruce, that might have worked on the captain but this guy has a meat shield. And it’s me!” Heinrichter cried. “What I’m trying to say is-DON’T. SHOOT.”


    “Have ye gone mad man?” Kessler snarled. “Ya’d sooner kill us both than hit me with that thing!”


    Had Heinrichter not been ransom, the two would have likely been thick as thieves, what with their love of incessant chatter. Their pleas and reasons did not shake Bruce’s resolve. He kept his weapon trained on the two and continued. “I’ll give you to the count of ten to let go of the boy and either leave or jump. Without my offer of course. If not, you could always pay in blood.” He smiled devilishly. “The choice is yours.”


    The first mate kissed his teeth at the captain and Bruce did not appreciate it in the slightest. “Ye’ll kill the boy yerself? Ha!”


    Heinrichter frowned. “I know you like to solve your problems through a very hands-on method, but the last thing I need is you to spread my brain matter across this landing!”


    “Shut it!” Kessler smashed the pommel of the dagger into Heinricter’s nose and a trickle of blood followed it, along with an angry vein protruding from his forehead.


    If Bruce did not act, the two would go at it all night. Better to kill both and be done with it, but the chancellor would have little use of a dark elf with a bullet through his brain, and Bruce even less so.The dead were never known for their talkative personalities. Bruce would be sure not to miss this shot. “Ten...” He began.


    “You’re kidding right?” Heinrichter pleaded with knit eyebrows.


    “Ya wouldn’t dare...” Kessler muttered glaring at the captain.


    “Never though I’d die by being the hostage to some co-craven.” Heinrichter won himself another bash from the pommel, this time in his left eye. It turned a deeper shade of violet.


    Bruce continued his countdown regardless.


    “Enough beatin’ ‘round the bush Milliner! Shoot the boy and be done with it or hand over your shinies, craven!”


    The captain’s mouth twitched slightly at the remark. In the midst of continuing his count from six he changed his mind. “Gods be damned.”


    His finger began to pull the trigger and Heinrichter tightly shut both his eyes as the sound of miss fortune firing off reverberated across the cove. Blood blossomed forth like a crimson flower and painted the ground, while both men still stood as they had prior to the shot.


    Heinrichter opened his right eye and finally took a breath. “I-I’m not dead? Lucky!” His eyes wandered to the first mate and he saw the man with a shocked expression, frozen in place with a gaping hole between his eyes. “Ugh!” The boy cried out shoving the corpse aside and wiping the blood from his face with the back of his hand. “I did not need to see that.”


    Bruce holstered his gun and reclaimed his goods. As he walked the boy eyed him curiously. “Is there something I can help you with?” He asked politely.


    The boy knit his eyebrows and averted his gaze. “Eh...th-thanks. For not...you know...blowing my brains out.” He frowned. “You nearly did though! Gave me a damn heart attack there.”


    Bruce cared little for thanks, as his intentions pointed in a different direction, and those words would certainly not increase the boy’s worth. But if he really did have potential, he could make a powerful ally worth keeping. Every risk has its rewards, and the bigger they are the better the gains would be. The captain had the sneaking suspicion that he may have hit the jackpot. “Let us be on our way. Time waits for no man.”


    “What’s our next destination Bruce?”


    The boy stopped and gazed at the captain awkwardly while Bruce seemingly gazed through him. He suddenly strode past Heinrichter and picked up Kessler’s knife, then handed it to the boy. “This is yours now. Use it to defend yourself, as I will not always be able to protect you.”


    Heinrichter nodded. “You said that Naga girl was a mage right? If the Old World is built around magic, then its not impossible that I could become a mage too right?”


    Bruce looked at him curiously. “Are you not a pirate?” Though he would certainly prefer to have a mage on board, better to find out now and have his hopes dashed than risk trying to have the boy learn a second class and hurt himself.


    “Well I am, but can mages not be pirates? I mean, maybe the others won’t like it but its not impossible right?”


    The captain had a hunch that the two were on completely different pages. “What do you know about selecting a class Heinrichter?”


    “A class? I doubt it’d be the classes I’m thinking of, so are you referring to the educational type?”


    Bruce frowned. “No. I am referring to your job. Be it a pirate, a knight, a mage, etc. Do you understand now?”


    The boy looked nonplussed. “No way.” He said incredulously. “It actually works like that here? That’s awesome! So being a pirate is one of them?”


    The captain nodded. “The captain of my first vessel was my mentor. I had spent the greater portion of my life with them and he had given it to me as proof of my accomplishments.”


    Bruce knew the only reason he had done it was so that he had no ‘freelancers’ on board his ship, but it certainly saved Bruce years of gruesome ventures in ruins and training through multiple other classes to reach that point. Most mentors would not look twice at someone without a class and make them any of those higher in the tiers.


    He continued, “To become a mage you will need a mentor to give you your rune.” He had hoped the boy would learn to be a necromancer instead, but he was willing to settle. Mages who did not destroy themselves could become very destructive beings. “Let us proceed to the capital, Mercy. I would like to claim a license to be a pirate mentor, and there you can find someone to mentor you in the ways of the mages.” Bruce realized what he had said after he said it and gave his thoughts pause. An ordinary mentor would call the guards on him for bringing a dark elf to the capital, so he would likely need to find an ‘undercover’ mage mentor. “Once you receive it you will be able to start learning. I will tell you more on the details of it later. For the time being, all I ask is that you refrain from getting yourself killed and/or captured.”


    Heinrichter grinned. “Make a mage out of me and you’ve got yourself a deal.”






    Later that night Heinrichter stood on deck and looked up to the stars, solemnly watching the two pale moons gaze back at him. Hackett approached and gave him a tap on the shoulder causing him to turn around and salute purely by instinct.


    “You’re more rigid than a mast kid. Relax a little.” He laughed. He gestured for the boy to follow and he did as was requested. “Captain’s calling everyone to make an announcement. Better not miss it.”


    Everyone gathered around Bruce who now stood on a podium, made from nothing more than an orange crate. The extra height did seem to make him slightly more commanding than his usual self.


    “Is that everyone? Yes I know you’re there Richards, hiding is futile.” Bruce spoke to the crowd as a whole. “Now that everyone has assembled, I would like to make an announcement.” The pirates did not exactly wait in bated breath for what their new captain had to say, but their expressions did hint that they were curious. “Since First Mate Kessler had suddenly passed away, I believe we will need to select someone to fulfill this role, and I happen to have a man in mind.” This brought some muttered words and excitement among the group. “Heinrichter, come on up!” Everything turned around as the excitement turned to confusion or derision.


    “Have you gone mad Bruce?!” The boy said fighting his way through the crowd.


    “I can assure you that I’m quite sane.” He replied with a charming smile. Heinrichter glared at him with enough fury to burn a hole through him upon his arrival. The captain gave him a rough pat on the back and chuckled. “My mind is made, and I strongly believe you will all come to understand why I made this decision in good time. That is all. You are dismissed.”


    The annoyed and occasionally humoured crew went about their business and left the two alone.


    “If you were trying to have me killed by the crew, I think you’ve just made me public enemy number one. Job well done.”


    Heinrichter’s sarcastic remarks seemed to have absolutely no effect on Bruce, and this bothered him slightly. “The crew will not kill you. Prove to them that you are capable and all will be water under the bridge. If you do it well your subordinates will accept you.”


    The word subordinates had a nice ring to it; he felt somewhat tempted to follow through with Bruce’s decision, though he likely did not have a choice in the matter. “Why did you pick me though? There are many other capable men and women on board this ship. Many capable human men and women.”


    He wanted to drive the point home-he was no human, and being a first mate on the Shrieking Banshee was out of his league. He had spent very little time as a pirate, and he did not have the slightest clue what the first mate’s job was. That aside, he refused to be another circus for the entertainment for humanity. Once was more than enough, and even if it was for Bruce, he would not stoop so low. They could take everything away from him, but if nothing else, he would wish to hold to his pride.


    “Because I trust you.” The expression in Bruce’s voice left Heinrichter at a loss. He had rarely ever heard the man speak in such a serious tone, even when threatening to kill someone, which he did without hesitation.


    Heinrichter gazed down at his shoes, at a loss for words. He could argue the point, but he would have nothing to say against Bruce’s four words. A man who could trust a dark elf would be branded a fool, and likely every other possible insult that came to mind. The young dark elf knew he was likely in over his head, but he would let his conviction be his guide through the challenge. He would most certainly overcome it, and he would become a mage regardless of the challenges he would face to get to Mercy.


    “Fine. I’ll do it.” He replied.


    “Excellent. I had faith that you would.” Bruce nodded with approval. “Now I have a question for you Heinrichter.”


    He uneasily looked at the captain. “What do you want to know?”


    “Why do you have manacles on both of your wrists?”

    Big news for this. The fact that its done, and Heath will likely see some huge changes in the near future. Since the guy who writes him seems to have little to no interest in how the story goes, I`m either gonna change Heath into a new character or cut him out entirely. If anything I can`t make do with a half-hearted character or it brings the story down entirely. Especially a main character.
    I haven`t exactly made up my mind on the matter, but if I do plan to keep him I might ask you to write the Wind Sage's apprentice, if you feel up to it. I'll give you the same outline the others went through so you'll know what you need and redo the prologue from there. Hopefully it doesn't come down to that, but if it does it'll be a big help if you consider that a possibility. I've gone so far with the current plan it'd be hard to shift the roles now.

    Regardless, that's the news for now. Might start working on Innocent now that this is out of the way and I'm back.

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      Current date/time is Tue Sep 26, 2017 6:33 am