Ed chuckled slightly, but he quickly resumed silence. Yeah, he didn't think she'd get that term. Though she had access to other worlds, it didn't seem like she'd been to many with very advanced technology. Even if she did there was a chance a photograph might be called something completely different. “To put it simply, I remember things exactly as they happened. Every minute detail, even to the smallest insignificant element, I can remember it. Some memories come easier than others, but... for the most part I remember it all as if I'd just seen it.”
He paused a moment, realizing that his tone hadn't been necessarily a happy. It sounded like a glamorous thing, but he always associated his perfect memory with the painful memories he would simply never forget. “For instance, the very first words you said to me were, 'sir, do you happen to know where we are?' with which I replied..." He stopped himself, "um... rather harshly.” He laughed nervously, rubbing the back of his neck. “Uh, sorry about that by the way. You're not a dumbass, I was just... in a bad mood I guess.” Actually his goal was be sure that what was happening right now would never happen: He didn't want to get attached.
Leita stared for a moment after he repeated her words from so long ago perfectly. She smiled a little when he apologized for being harsh. She had thought so, back then, that he had merely been in a bad mood. Though that hadn't stopped her being sensitive about it and wondering what she had done wrong. All the uncertainty of a stranger.
"It's okay ..." She stared at him for another moment. She felt a lot better, talking to Edward. Her nausea was gone, though she still felt a little light-headed and weak in the limbs. "So you're like Adrien-sensei ... Oh... I'm sorry. You haven't met him yet. But when you go to the Dome, you probably will ... He remembers everything too. He was the one who found me, Kira, and Kai. He took us to the Dome. He's ... Edward-kun, do you know what a vampire is?"
Why was he surprised to hear that? Of course there were vampires. In fact he was pretty sure he'd already met one. A member of that necromancer coven had a lot of qualities that reminded him of a vampire, at least in the way the stories talked about them. “Yes, I think so. They're purely fictional beings where I come from, though. They suck blood and turn to ash in the sunlight, as the stories go.” He stood straight, taking his weight off the railing after realizing he'd been leaning on it. “So... Adrien is a vampire with perfect memory.” He briefly wondered if Adrien struggled with it in the same ways he did.
"Yes," confirmed Leita. "Though, he says there's a lot of different kinds of vampires with different attributes ... He knows so many things. He's a very old vampire and his memory is perfect ... I hope that you meet him. He's ... a special person to me as well. Sort of a ... mentor in ways."
Adrien was another source of strength for her. But he also seemed to seek to challenge her to grow and face the shadows. He took her out and bought her beautiful, elegant, but tasteful clothes, the kind she was too shy to wear. The butterfly necklace and hairpin. He was sweet, kind, and warmly affectionate. Everything that ... an uncle should have been. She didn't really feel like she was doing him justice, trying to explain this man to Edward.
She knew they had drifted far from the origin of the conversation, but she didn't mind, and she didn't really want to return to it.
So a good vampire? He wouldn't try to understand it yet. It was just something he didn't know anything about at this point. “It's good you have someone like that.” Ed said simply. He wished he had someone like that, someone to show him what to do. The only mentor he ever knew was a mechanized voice through a speaker system. Now he was his own mentor, which definitely didn't seem like the same thing. “I'm sure I'd be honored to meet him someday.” For now, however, he was stuck on this boat. The sloshing water was nice enough to remind him of that.
"We'll see if I make it, won't we, sweet cheeks?" said the disfigured man who called himself Blaze, and he limped in her direction.
"Say sweet cheeks one more time and I promise you won't," she replied with a hard edge to her voice. With that, she turned and briskly led him below deck, down a flight of stairs, to the long thin corridor of doors, behind which dwelled the crew bedchambers. As he labored behind her, she did not slow or pause to give him respite.
Cobra had settled in to the crow's nest and her solitary vigil, gazing out at the endless water and the endless sky, mirroring one another. It was strange having someone like Rontu on board. There were ways he was so like her and yet so different. She found herself wondering about his people. If assassins were that common among them, that might explain why he seemed so indifferent toward her. Although, she wasn't one to get all cozy and friendly on the basis of a mutual past, she did find herself curious about the ex-assassin. She hadn't met many who had lived in that world and walked away with their life. It took a lot to leave that world behind. She wondered, what it had taken for him.
Her trained hearing detected movement and she gazed down, past the sails fluttering like the many wings of a great bird. She saw the girl, Leita. Not long after, Edward appeared. A pair of golden eyes, glowing in the shadow of the main mast, told her Soot was there watching them too. Nothing much to be alarmed about, from what she could see. They were simply talking.
The man Ren saw, as he rolled over, was leaning against the post at the foot of his hammock. He smiled softly, when Ren noticed him there, and tilted his head slightly to the side. Yes, this one was very young, indeed. Yet, already, he could sense the young dragon's strength. His power was very raw and impressive, contained as it was in his current state. Taking him in, he was reminded of a volcano, dormant for now, yet highly reactive.
"Hello, Ren." He said, calmly, as though greeting a timeless, familiar friend. For he was, in truth, greeting one of his own.
"Say sweet cheeks one more time and I promise you won't."
Blaze chuckled as he made his way to follow her. She didn't have to make it so fun to bother her. It was because she reacted so strongly that he wanted to keep bothering her. It was something he recognized that he and Ren had in common even if only slightly. Blaze felt he was mostly being harmlessly playful. Ren did it just to be a prick. He was also far more rude than Blaze was about it.
As they walked, Nails walked faster despite his obvious bad leg. In response to this, Blaze slowed down even more. He exaggerated his limp slightly. Two could play at this game. It wasn't like it was any loss to Blaze if she went ahead and lost him on this ship. He wouldn't mind an excuse to nose around. She was supposed to be his guide and host. It's on her shoulders if he got lost if she went too fast. So there was no need to try to keep up with her at all.
Slate made sure that Crow left the mess hall completely before he hunched in a corner back in the kitchen behind some crates. He took out a flask and open the lid. He raised the opening to his mouth, but did not tip it back to drink anything. Instead, he spoke into the flask which echoed his voice back at him slightly.
"Jade received a unusual number of new recruits today. They all seem to have some kind of talent in some area. There's a boy with white hair and red eyes who claims to be a half-dragon. A young woman who is a magic user of some kind. Another with black skin and white hair, elf by the look of his ears, who was said to have been some kind of assassin in his past. They all have weapons and look to be experienced fighters. It seems they've been in a war or two, by the sound of it. There's another quiet man, seems to take to Jade's little brat quite nicely. A red haired man in strange clothes. A woman with elf blood and a sword, appears to be the leader of this new group. They all seem to know each other. There's some strange beast, almost cat-like with feathers instead of fur, that follows one of them around. The one it follows has ears that are longer than the rest of them, his hair is black, eyes dark blue. I will report more after I observe them more closely tomorrow."
And Slate closed the flask.
There was some older man standing, or rather leaning, against the post of his hammock. He wasn't an old geezer or anything exactly. But an older looking human with brown hair, a beard and mustache. He looked somewhere between 40 and 50 in age. Ren sat up immediately. How did this old guy know his name? Who was he? Ren hadn't seen this guy among the crew.
Ren looked around quickly, to see if anyone else had noticed this man among them. When he looked around the sleeping quarters, all the cots and hammocks were empty, except for one across from them, where Rontu sat in a bottom cot. He was sitting on the edge, fully awake it seemed. However, he wasn't alone. On his head sat a lizard.
Its body was smooth and more like a salamander’s though it obviously had scales. The creature’s scales were black with glimmering rainbow facets between the cracks of its scales, as if millions of tiny diamonds lay beneath his armored skin. Its underbelly was slick and smoother than his back and a deep dark blue. he eyes of the lizard were amazingly deep and blue with flecks of purple and violets. It had lazy eyelids, heavy in a way that was similar to Rontu's. The only difference was that these were more sleepy and lazily thoughtful.
On Rontu's right, sitting on the floor beside him was a black panther with deep jade green eyes. Sitting next to Rontu on his left on the cot, was a weasel with gold eyes just like Rontu's.
Rontu spoke, his brow furrowed deep with realization. "This is ..."
"A dream, yes," said the lizard on his head. "You are dreaming again. It's been a while, Rontu. I can't help but feel you've been avoiding me."
"But why?" asked Rontu, curt and irritated. "I've only ever dreamed this lucidly when--"
"You were under Omentus's spell, yes," interrupted Lizard. "But it's always been something you could do on your own. You must be closer to your power source to be doing it unintentionally."
"Honestly, Rontu," Lizard yawned. "Must I explain everything that you already know yourself? Why must you refuse to acknowledge the truth you already have? You know."
Ren blinked, confused by the conversation he seemed to looking in on. Rontu was hardly paying them any attention. Like they were just decor in the room, props, statues. "Rontu, what the hell are you doing?"
Rontu looked up, surprised. He didn't seem surprised to see Ren, but shocked to hear Ren speak to him. Lizard spoke again, "It seems you are not alone this time either. We have flocked to their dreaming it seemed. Natural, natural, of course. This is the real Ren, this time, Rontu."
"Rontu!" snapped Ren, impatiently. "What's going on? Why do you have a talking lizard on your head?"
Rontu seemed tired even in his dreaming self. He rubbed his brow, though when he thought of it, why did he still feel a tense forehead while dreaming. It was odd. "Ren ... you are dreaming--that is to say we are dreaming together."
Ren hopped down from his hammock to the floor, looking around the quarters, they really were the only ones there. Though he was sure he had seen everyone asleep when he first got down there. "Dreaming?"
He had never really had a dream feel so real to him before. In fact, Ren didn't dream all that often or remember his dreams. He wasn't sure he believed Rontu, but how else did he explain the weird crap he was seeing now.
"That aside," said Rontu, looking up and toward the older man. "Who is this?"
Lizard sighed moanfully on Rontu's head. "You already know that too ..."
"Hm," Leita hummed, unsure of what to say next. She looked to Edward and smiled softly. "Thanks, Edward-kun, I feel better. It's nice to have someone to talk to ... Um, but why was it you couldn't sleep either?"
Bright yellow eyes lazily watched as the doors leading to the upper deck were thrown open, the limping newcomer being lead down the stairs by the ever impatient Nails. He listened to their banter, amused as he usually was to the interactions of those far weaker than he. The elven woman pushed past him, in a hurry as usual. The new guy, however, continued to lag behind, almost intentionally slow. The seven foot hulk of a man slid his glasses over his large, yellow eyes; his teeth exposed in a tickled smirk. What a fool.
Styx planted his scaly index finger on Blaze's shoulder as he tried to pass him, pushing gently until it forced him to a complete stop. Though Blaze wasn't a short guy, he was dwarfed standing next to the reptilian behemoth who was now blocking the cramped corridor. “A word to the wise:” Styx said, almost on the verge of laughter, “Nails fully intends on falling through with her threats. If she says you're not going to call her 'sweet cheeks', you won't... one way or another, heh.” He patted him on the shoulder, as one would a good friend. “I suggest that you push through that oh-so-painful limp of yours and pick up the pace, yeah?”
“Um, but why was it you couldn't sleep either?”
Well what would he say to that? That he's terrified of the water? That he's having a hard time even holding on to sanity because he's surrounded by it? “Well... it's been a rather hectic day, and... I just don't trust pirates.” All true, but... they weren't the reasons why he couldn't sleep.
Blaze gazed up at the towering form of the freakiest looking one of the pirate bunch. He was reminded of Ren, if Ren ever really smiled at people. Ren smirked at people. However, this smile from this pirate was almost condescending. Like he was talking to a being a lot lesser than him in a pseudo-polite or cheerful friendly way. Ren never tried to pretend to be friendly. And the half-dragon was too rough around the edges to be considered anything like "outgoing" or "carefree."
It almost seemed like that for this freak. But not exactly. Blaze knew this guy could flatten him probably just as well as Ren could. Not that it was hard to flatten a cripple. Sure, it was probably harder to land a hit on Blaze than your usual cripple, but he was still a cripple. Hell, Rontu had said his skills seemed to have gotten better after all his injuries. The cripple obstacle had motivated him better than his full health had apparently. However, he was nothing like Rontu, Link, or Ren in regards to combat. He was far out matched even before he was crippled. That was daunting in comparison.
Funny thing was that it didn't scare him. This big, massive, hulking freak did not scare him. Or did Nails with all her knives and viciousness. What could they possibility do to him, his body, or his ego that hadn't already been done? Pain? Done that. Lose a limb? Been there and still there. Close to death? Definitely almost crossed that line before.
That didn't mean Blaze was stupid. Just not impressed. Blaze raised his good brow at Styx. "... Noted. Now, don'tcha have something better to do than pester a cripple? Mountains to level? Far greater warriors to threaten?"
"Oh ..." said Leita, looking down and biting her bottom lip in worry. "Well ... I'm sure they won't harm you ... I know you don't want to be here, but I don't think they will do anything worse than forcing you to be here, and only for a while. I know they seem rough around the edges, but so do my friends. Ren and Rontu ... and I know my brother has come closer to seriously harming you than the others..." This thought seemed to make her wilt. Her eyes lowered even more with her downcast mood. "I guess you do ... have cause for worry and caution."
“What, on this ship?” Styx responded with a chuckle. It wasn't a sinister chuckle by any means, but just one of amusement. The hulk of a man moved to the side to let the newbie pass. “Not much for a guy like me to do but wait for something interesting to happen.”
Yeah, just like him to let his pride ruin a good moment. Should he have just outright said that he hated water? That seemed like a natural thing to say, and he trusted her enough to reveal that kind of information, but... he found it to be... embarrassing. “Nah, Khaz doesn't scare me.” Well, as a person he didn't scare him. His powers, on the other hand, unsettled him deeply. “As much as he hates me, his intentions are at least right. I can safely say the same for the rest of your friends. As for pirates, their intentions are always selfish... no matter how nice they seem. Otherwise... they simply wouldn't be pirates.” He paused for a moment, putting on a fake smile. “But hey, we're not all bad, are we?” Of course... he didn't believe that... he didn't have a high opinion of himself by any means and he himself, as a pirate, was as selfish as the rest of them. He just wanted to find some way to lighten the mood because Leita seemed to still be disturbed.
He wanted to see her happy, which he didn't get to see too often. He found himself wanting it more than anything at that moment, yet at the same time hating himself for not resisting what he was feeling toward her. Just where did he expect this to go? It couldn't possibly end well for him, but... he just... wanted it to.
"Well, if this is as interesting as it gets, I guess I can't blame ya," said Blaze, a crooked smirk forming on his lopsided mouth. He stumped on past Styx, chuckling. He found it funny. The fact that a pirate ship full of freaks like this could be considered "uninteresting." It was down-right fantastical if one took a moment to step aside and examine it, which Blaze supposed was what tickled him. Of course, in a span of about two years, and he had seen some very interesting things. He supposed the more one hung around the freaks and weirdos, eventually it would all seem almost normal, average, and utterly dull. Looking at Styx, Blaze would surmise it was exactly that case.
“Nah, Khaz doesn't scare me.”
Rontu had said the very same thing to Leita about two years ago. And then some time after all, he nearly drowned Rontu in the swallow waters of Lake Hylia. Leita's brow pulled together in the center in a gentle knot. Her lips pressed together. She remembered the marks on Edward's neck. She never forgot Khaz's rage and what it could do. Though she definitely didn't understand it.
“As much as he hates me, his intentions are at least right. I can safely say the same for the rest of your friends. As for pirates, their intentions are always selfish... no matter how nice they seem. Otherwise... they simply wouldn't be pirates.” Edward paused for a moment, putting on a smile. “But hey, we're not all bad, are we?”
Leita stared at Edward's smile. It turned something in her gut. And Khaz's perfect smile flashed before her eyes. It was the same. Smiling for her. Lying for her. Edward didn't really think pirates were good. He didn't even think that of himself. And it pulled on her inside, in her heart. Her stare was solemn as she studied his smile. She felt her eyes burn. But she didn't want to cry in front of him anymore. She didn't want to cry so much at all, but the tears always just came. She looked away quickly, to stare at the sea.
"N-no, you're right." Her voice wavered and trembled, which she despaired in. She hated how she was never able to hide it. Her feelings. Khaz could always do it so well. "Not all of you are bad. And I believe the pirates of the Morning Star are good even if not perfect, and I also think you are, Edward Stone."
Styx watched the newcomer disappear down the hall. He didn't seem to be scared of much, which Styx could respect. He could turn out to be an interesting addition to Mael's crew, but compared to the rest of the freaks and weirdos he sort of paled in comparison. He broke free from the cramped corridor and made his way up the stairs and through the double doors, his nose greeted by the strong scent of ocean salt. Where was Mael, anyway? They had an agreement here. He was getting thirsty and he was promised compensation.
Ed was taken aback by her words. She was probably the only person who thought of him that way, and he was still not used to such kind words being spoken aloud. At the same time, though, he felt a tinge of guilt. She'd seen through his fake words of comfort, as he could tell by her change in expression. He felt like once again he'd brought her to the verge of tears, but why exactly he just wasn't sure. He simply wasn't good at comforting people. He wasn't used to it. Even back under Pandora's control there was little the subjects could do to comfort each other. There was no stopping what happened to each other so everyone got used to accepting their fate, as they were brainwashed to do anyway.
He still felt guilty about lying to her, though... about why he couldn't sleep, as little a detail as that may have seemed. He had no reason to, other than to keep himself from looking foolish, but as a result it just seemed to upset her. It seemed like such a petty thing to be afraid of water, but... to him it frightened him beyond what others would consider reasonable. Yet despite his fear, Leita had faced the danger first hand, something Ed had never even experienced. He hesitated a moment, feeling awful for even thinking about asking her such a question, but his curiosity forced him to concede to asking her regardless. “I... know this might not be an easy question to answer, and you don't have to answer it if you don't want to, but...” He looked off into the water as he paused, the swirling blackness causing him to take half a step backward. Alice's face couldn't leave his mind. Her frozen features just after gasping for air where the was none, choking... gagging... then lifeless, “... What was it like when you fell into the ocean?”
Styx was Captain Maelstrom's latest curiosity, a fascination she did not care to understand. Even knowing the eccentric captain as long as she had, recruiting the likes of Styx brought the Black Tide to a whole new level of strange and dangerous. Riddle was insane, no doubt. Biter Thingy and Daisy were not short of animalistic, carnal violence. The lookout communicated in parrot-like squawks. Nails was growing sure that Fable was also a bit nuts, though not quite in the same disturbing manner as Riddle. Aboard pirate ships all her life, she had good cause to cover herself head to toe in knives. She'd seen a thing or two.
All these things aside, Styx unsettled her more deeply, on a fundamental level she didn't experience with the rest. In her opinion, Maelstrom was a bit in over his head with this one. And she didn't care to discover what qualified as worthy excitement for one such as he. She was sure his comment about the seriousness of her verbal threats was not intended as flattery or praise in her own dangerous edge, but designed only to induce fear.
She turned to Blaze. "If you need anything, get it yourself. You will do well to remember that this is a ship, not an inn. Cripple or no, carry your own weight."
Not eager to dwell long in a narrow corridor with Blaze, who made her feel uncomfortable for reasons she couldn't pinpoint, she shoved past him and headed to the main deck to find her father.
After departing the cluster of his crew, Maelstrom joined Vertas from his lofty vantage point. The wizard's pallid face was pinched with distaste, as usual. "You better toss that one back, before he causes you too much trouble."
Maelstrom gave the mage a bemused smile, expecting to hear as much. It was usually the magic user's first response to anyone who stepped on deck. "A maimed cripple? What have we to fear?"
The mage lowered his voice into a hissing whisper. "That one's been touched by magic. No ordinary fire or blade made those marks. I can see he's looked his own death in the face, once or twice. You will have a hard time turning this one to your advantage."
"Well, what fun would that be if there were no challenge in it?" Maelstrom replied. He was growing tired of the wizard's suspicious warnings. He always saw the worst in things, not the possibilities. "Any insights as to his origins?"
"Not from this world, as I take it." The wizard sniffed loudly, brushing away a bit of alchemical dust from his nose. "A strange sort of royalty, which I cannot place, but there is no mistaking those born to royalty."
Maelstrom had heard enough. "Back to your potions, Vertas."
With that, he returned to his private quarters and the little treasures in his bed. They stirred as he entered. Ruby, as he was fondly calling the redhead, sat up. "Mael? Where did you go?"
"A Captain's duties, my sweet, nothing more," he assured her as he strode to his table.
"Aren't you coming back to bed?" she cooed.
"Patience, my Ruby." He smiled at her. "My duties are not yet done."
She pouted insistently. "The life of a sea captain sounds like weary work."
"It has its obligations," he agreed. "And it's rewards."
He retrieved the flask from his coat pocket, opened the cap and lifted it to his ear, giving it a little shake. At last, Slate's voice echoed in the container. "Jade received a unusual number of new recruits today. They all seem to have some kind of talent in some area. There's a boy with white hair and red eyes who claims to be a half-dragon. A young woman who is a magic user of some kind. Another with black skin and white hair, elf by the look of his ears, who was said to have been some kind of assassin in his past. They all have weapons and look to be experienced fighters. It seems they've been in a war or two, by the sound of it. There's another quiet man, seems to take to Jade's little brat quite nicely. A red haired man in strange clothes. A woman with elf blood and a sword, appears to be the leader of this new group. They all seem to know each other. There's some strange beast, almost cat-like with feathers instead of fur, that follows one of them around. The one it follows has ears that are longer than the rest of them, his hair is black, eyes dark blue. I will report more after I observe them more closely tomorrow."
Maelstrom returned the lid, returning the flask to his coat pocket, sat back and poured himself a glass of wine. He pondered Slate's information, as the mermaids dozed in his bed. He remembered a time when it had been Jade and he tangled in sheets, losing count of the days. Now, they sailed on different ships and her actions no longer made sense to him. She was known for taking new and unusual recruits, no less than he. Yet never in such numbers. To what end, he could only wonder.
Malachite watched the interchange between Rontu, his guides and Ren. A measure of disorientation was common to those new to dreaming. By Ren's response, the dragon had far less exposure than the novice dark elf. But he'd had no guides assisting him. Yet.
Still, he knew to tread lightly. A young dragon with little guidance could be a volatile thing.
"That aside," said Rontu, looking up at him. "Who is this?"
Lizard sighed moanfully on Rontu's head. "You already know that too ..."
Malachite opened his arms and made a subtle bow. "You ask a blind question, as a man with his eyes closed. Look with eyes that see and realize what you already know."
Soot remained still and silent as a shadow, leaning against the main mast. He listened quietly to the comings and goings of the others. The Jade's conversation with Tide. Cobra's little tousle with Rontu and Khaz, followed by their private exchange. Gunner and Sunny on their way to the sleeping quarters, with the kid holding his midsection. Leita emerging and trembling like a leaf in the wind, followed by Ed.
He had been watching Ed carefully, as he had all the newcomers, but especially since he'd drawn a weapon against the Captain. Soot always preferred to watch from the sidelines, as he'd learned it was easier to see the truth behind actions when one was apart from them. Now, as he saw Ed peek over the rail to the black, evening waters, he recognized the presence of a fear as fathomless as the sea he stared into. The pieces seemed to fall into place before his eyes, lending meaning to all the stranger's desperate actions from the moment he emerged on deck. Soot had known that frantic look, that cagey trapped feeling and the desperate need to break free. Now he knew its origins, at least in part.
Nails turned to Blaze. "If you need anything, get it yourself. You will do well to remember that this is a ship, not an inn. Cripple or no, carry your own weight."
Then she shoved past him down the corridor and left him alone. Blaze snorted. Like he needed her to tell him that. Blaze preferred to carry his own weight. He disliked the cripple excuse. He supposed it chaffed what was left of his pride. Ren had sensed this more quickly than the rest. He was always the first one to tell Blaze to hurry his ass up. If anything, Ren understood pride and did not treat Blaze any differently than before. That was something he valued in a friend like Ren.
In any case, Blaze had no interest in sitting in his room like a good little boy. He limped his way about, eager to poke his nose into whatever he could find. He needed more info on this pirate ship, the pirates in it, and the captain leading them. It may help him find a way to escape.
"You ask a blind question, as a man with his eyes closed. Look with eyes that see and realize what you already know."
Rontu snorted and pointed at the lizard on his head. "I already have one being that occupies the job of telling me riddles that tell me nothing of what I had asked."
"No, he's right," said the weasel on his shoulder. It had the same gold eyes as Rontu. "You are very perceptive, you just choose to close your eyes."
Ren stared around. So he was dreaming and Rontu didn't know this old guy either. Whatever, he was already bored with this. How did one wake from these dreams anyway. Well, he supposed while he was here he would get his answers.
"Hey," said Ren abruptly to the old guy. "Stop talking like Kai and just tell us who you are already."
“I... know this might not be an easy question to answer, and you don't have to answer it if you don't want to, but...” Edward looked off into the water as he paused, but then he took half a step backward as if something had startled him. “... What was it like when you fell into the ocean?”
Leita stared, eyes wide with her surprise at such a question. She looked down thoughtfully. The only thing that had made it so horrible was the pain of the burn she received from the fire. Normally, she was a good swimmer, but she had been too shocked at the time to really perform well. She didn't want to tell Edward about the pain. It would only make him feel worse about it.
"I ... don't really understand what you mean," said Leita hesitantly, her hands twisting some of her silver hair around in her fingers, which her eyes watched instead of looking at Edward. "No, it wasn't really ... pleasant all together ... but the ocean itself doesn't bother me ... Except maybe just its depth. There is no way of knowing what is in its dark depths. It seems like it could go on forever ..."
The dark blue of it reminded her of Khaz's eyes, which often gave her the same feeling. Like there was so much in there she couldn't even begin to fathom. So much that it scared her a little each time she looked at them.
"I'm a good swimmer though. I grew up on a lake shore in my kingdom. My father was a fishermen there. I think I learned to swim before I learned to walk." She looked up at Edward, some pieces of the puzzle falling together now that she really thought about his question. Was he trying to tell her something? "Edward-kun ... does the ocean bother you?"
Styx sniffed the air, his heightened senses pointing him directly to the captain's quarters. While an ordinary crew member would have been prohibited from entering unannounced, Styx entered regardless. The door flew open and clattered against the wall rather noisily. It wasn't that Styx was angry, just that he didn't bother to compensate for his own physical strength. No need to be polite.
“Hey.” Styx said casually, as if it were his own room. He strode slowly inside, closing the door behind him. “Guess what time it is, Maely.”
Ed's eyes hadn't moved from the water as Leita spoke. He could tell the question bothered her a little, but at the same time it was taking her mind off of her nightmare. He didn't ask the question for her sake, though. He had never known anyone who'd experienced the ocean before. What she had to say about it was about what he expected to hear. It was natural that she wouldn't be as frightened of it as he was, but at the same time it did scare her to a degree. Mostly the fear of the unknown; the fear of what lies in the dark depths of those swirling black waters.
“Edward-kun ... does the ocean bother you?”
A question he expected her to think, though he wasn't sure if she'd actually ask it. There was a moment of silence before he answered her. “I haven't been entirely honest, Leita." He swallowed silently. This... wouldn't be easy, but he felt he had no reason not to correct his lie. He trusted her enough. "I've slept soundly in inns festering with many untrustworthy strangers several times in the past few weeks. Those scoundrels may have unsettled me, as do these pirates, but...” He paused again before nodding slightly, eyes still glued to the water, “... the ocean terrifies me.”
"Hey," said Ren rudely. "Stop talking like Kai and just tell us who you are already."
Ah, young dragons. All that power and no discipline. A reliance on overwhelming physical strength often left their other abilities somewhat undeveloped. Like tact and subtlety, in Ren's case.
"Come now, Ren," Malachite grinned a dragon's grin. "We're practically kith and kin, you and I."
Maelstrom's thoughts were interrupted with Styx's unannounced and tactless entrance. "Hey. Guess what time it is, Maely?"
Not that a creature like him had any use for courtesies, but he had to find a way to deter this behavior. The mermaids, jolted from sleep, opened their eyes -which widened in fright as they began to scream.
Maelstrom pressed his fingers to his temples, suppressing irritation. "How could I forget?" He stood calmly and ushered Styx out, shutting the door on the mermaids piercing shrieks.
He had known the time would come when Styx would need to feed again. Problem was, Styx had already depleted his supply of captives from the last raid. Until they reached land and made their next plunder, they would have to improvise. Feeding a vampire was a big responsibility, but also a useful asset.
"I have a meal for you, if you can refrain from killing him."
Below deck, Gosh worked feverishly, his loose white shirt rolled up to his elbows. Work offered him a welcome respite from his fear, yet every once in a while the reality of his circumstances revisited him and he found himself reduced to tears. His face was streaked with grease, dirt and tears. For now, his face was dry, as he'd resumed his focus. The tools in his hands gave him a sense of usefulness and control over his destiny. Inventing pulled him into a world that made more sense than this ship full of pirates, or the whole race of people outside of gnomish lands.
In the wake of his despair, wracking his brain, the young inventor devised an idea. Not escape, as of yet. In that, he had been foiled. He could not do it alone. But he knew machines and gears like no one else, and he was counting on that knowledge to save his life -and the lives of others.
He could still die, he knew. Perhaps that would be so and there was nothing to be done about it. But at least he would die knowing that he had done his part to spare some bloodshed. In this he had some small measure of hope.
“So... by meal you mean snack.” Styx answered, his tone lacking enthusiasm. He sighed with a slight display of dismay. “I hope you're not talking about that scrawny nerd in the brig.” Styx glanced over his shoulder as they walked, eying the door they just left. “Those girls back in your room probably have a few pints to spare.” He looked back at the captain, putting on a slightly mischievous smile. “C'mon, you have three of 'em.”
Stealth was something that was practically built into a Gerudo at a young age. They were thieves and assassins after all. The assassin part only came in when they developed a military, but it wasn't a far step away from thief anyway. As crippled as Blaze was, he still knew how to compensate for his maimed appendages and move about in a general silent and unseen manner. It was something he had also worked to improve after the war, he had to get used to his broken body before he could really learn how to be stealthy with it.
He still didn't have a map or anything of the boat, though he knew the general design of boats and were things were most often placed on them. This was due to his fascinate with pirates in his youth. He showed Khaz when they were children scrolls of boat designs, both the interiors and exteriors, and the stories of old about these thieves of the sea. The Gerudo had a collection of them, probably because they felt that same affinity for pirates as Blaze did. They were brothers and sisters of a sort.
Of course, the past, the Crones, and his father had taught Blaze plenty about the dark side of Gerudos. The pirates' dark side was easy to find as well.
Still with his knowledge of ships, navigating it was difficult. He hadn't seen a blueprint of a ship since he was 15 or 16 summers or so. Soon a strange sound came to his ears, which led him on. Soon he peered into what he clearly recognized as a dungeon of a sort. Of course, on ships, they were known as "the brig."
Searching for the source of the noise he heard, his good eye found a boy in a cell, working restlessly with parts made of metal and wood. Prisoners were rather common among pirate ships, but still, he was such a young one. Blaze moved into the open, slowly approaching the cell he was in. The prisoners of the Black Tide could probably tell him something, also ... they could probably help each other out.
A shiver of unease rode up his spine as he stepped into the brig. He did not much like dungeons after his last experience in one.
"Come now, Ren," Malachite grinned a dragon's grin. "We're practically kith and kin, you and I."
Ren narrowed his eyes at him. "Are you Thael then? Cause you sure look different this time."
"Thael, you mean the dragon god whose blood you injected once?" asked Rontu. He had remembered that well, as detail didn't often go forgotten by him. Especially since it had been the one thing that had saved them in a moment of chaos with the empire on their heels. No doubt, the dragon god's blood boosted Ren's abilities.
Ren nodded casually. "I can still hear him sometimes though... you know, in my head."
Rontu's brow wrinkled. Did the blood leave permanent, long-lasting affects? "When do you hear him?"
"Mostly when I'm fighting," said Ren. "I think it's because of what Omentus put inside me. When Leita examined me, she said the thing on my heart contained 'blood-like' stuff or something like that. I kinda figured I still have his blood in me somewhere."
Rontu's brow hardened with a grimace. He did not like that Ren had chosen to keep Omentus's implants inside him. Of course, these things boosted his abilities, and the half-dragon was weak when it came to the promise of more power. Ren didn't seem to be aware of his often erratic behavior since he had been given the implants. He was a sporadic trickster, and Leita had told him that Ren was seeming ... more aggressive and malicious for short periods of time than normal. Sure, Ren had plenty of that in his past as well, but Leita seemed really concerned about it. She said she was worried about the affects of the implants on Ren.
An out of control dragon was a frightening thing. At least for the most part, Ren seemed to have all the most important eggs in his basket, but control was never his strong suit anyway.
All this aside, Omentus was not a fond memory for him. In fact, the last time he had Dreamed, it was because of that man who was trying to manipulate information out of him. This did not warm this old man to Rontu now. Just what did he want? Was he a dragon like he claimed to be? Even if so, not all dragons were exactly peaceful. In fact, most of the dragons Rontu had known were quite the opposite.
"That is just your past experiences," said Lizard on Rontu's head. He seemed to always have insight into what he was thinking at all times. "They can cloud your judgment if you forget that this is a new situation, and that the past is the past. It is no longer here."
"Then why are you here?" asked Rontu. "Last time you all appeared because of the threat of an invader."
"We are here because we are your guides, the situation need not be threatening for us to be here with you. In any case, you feel threatened, thus you are more comfortable when we are here, and so we are," replied Lizard, his chin resting on his clawed paws that sagged off Rontu's forehead.
"I've slept soundly in inns festering with many untrustworthy strangers several times in the past few weeks. Those scoundrels may have unsettled me, as do these pirates, but...” Edward paused again before nodding slightly, eyes still glued to the water, “... the ocean terrifies me.”
Leita's eyes widened slightly with her understanding. It seemed to all make a lot more sense now. Edward was been so panicked when he woke because he was on the ocean, as well as kidnapped.
"Oh ... I see," said Leita, looking down at her hands, which clasped together. She didn't really know how to ... help him. What was there to do about it? They were on the ocean and Jade would not be taking them back to port for a while ... Then an idea struck her.
She turned to look at him. "Edward-kun, would you please close your eyes for a moment?"
The moment he said it, his face got flushed. He felt he had to turn away or something. It was embarrassing, for some reason. He'd never told anyone about his fear of water, but... at the same time it almost felt liberating to actually admit it to someone. Naturally, revealing any sort of secret had that effect to a degree, but... he just never felt it that often.
“Oh ... I see.”
And there she was, being as understanding as ever, it seemed. Ed couldn't help but imagine a sense of sadness in her voice, whether it existed because of what he'd said or not. Of course... his previous attitude aboard this ship would seem stupid to most if they knew it was just because he was afraid of water. If it were just a mild, baseless fear, he may agree with them, but... water in a way had shaped what kind of person he was. Every time he faced a large body of water it was like he was facing his destiny, if there even was such a thing. If there was any justice in the world, then it was his destiny to die in water. He just wasn't ready to meet that fate; not now and not ever... but he felt he deserved it, and part of him even expected it.
“Edward-kun, would you please close your eyes for a moment?”
Ed hesitated a moment. Her tone sounded positive, but... what was she going to do? His mind thought through various possibilities, but they all didn't matter. He did as she requested. He trusted her enough for that, and he was an idiot for even thinking of second guessing her motives.
Leita closed her eyes as well and started to sign her prayer as well as mutter it under her breath. This spell took most of her attention and focus to do. Soon the boat and ocean around them faded away. The sounds of the waves faded to the sound of wind. Instead of them standing at the railing of the boat, they stood at the railing of a balcony that over looked the Wastelands of the Gerudo Valley, their desert, and the rest overlooked the Fortress below them, vast block structures of sandstone and wood. The sun was setting in this view. The breeze felt warm and smelled of sand instead of salt water and seaweed.
A gentle and content smile shaped her lips. Her eyes stayed shut almost dreamily as she said, "Okay, open them."