“Shut your ass and show me a knot or something.” Ed mumbled, getting a little impatient. He wasn't a fan of his description of Leita, but there was no point in confronting him about it. If a storm was truly coming, he'd need to do what he could to protect himself and the so called “toothpick”.
Blaze's eyes narrowed flatly. Mostly at Styx's threat to the kid. He smiled back at the vampire, but it was not a friendly smile in particular.
“That's a cute analogy. Men, cows. Maybe I should start mooing in response?” asked Blaze arching a sarcastic brow at him. "Because that's kind of where your analogy fails. You have a little too much in common with humans, elves, and the like to really be able to get away with that. You're able to fall under the same category as ‘people.’ Don't get me wrong. It's not that I resent the fact that you have to feed on our blood to survive. You can't help that, but it's …” Blaze's eyes narrowed in a more thoughtful manner. "More of the way you do it, see. You say it's ‘nothing personal,’ but I translate that to ‘I don't give a ❤❤❤❤’. There's a way to be respectful, to have honor. It's not like I've never killed another person before for whatever the reason. It's not as if I tried to shave with a machete and missed several times.”
He pointed at his face, particularly the more scarred portion on the left. “War can be a nasty thing, no?”
Blaze dropped his hand and shrugged. “I don't know if you think coming down here and having this friendly little chat with me is your way of trying to be respectful or if you're just bored. I figure it's most likely the latter. But in either case I haven't felt any sense of respect or honor from you. That's what I resent. I'm just livestock, but I've known ranchers who have shown more respect and honor to their cattle than you have shown me.”
“As for living long enough to get off this ship alive,” Blaze waved a gesture at the bottle next to him. “I highly doubt that, even if I do drink this. I don't think the captain of this ship has any intention of letting me go. Even if you manage to get more 'livestock' down here. I could live ... but I don't really call that living. As for the boy, he's extremely talented, so I think Maelstrom values him too much to want to feed him to you completely. So he'll feed you someone else if he has to, which I'm sure you would take over the skinny calf; just like how you took me over him. Maelstrom will do what he must to keep you satisfied and guard his own interests at the same time.”
Even with a head pounding with ache, Blaze could still discern this much. He was raised in politics as much as he resented it. He knew how these things worked. How people really only cared about what was in it for them. They didn’t always go out of their way to be cruel, but it was often a by product of getting what it was that they wanted. That’s how he saw Styx. He didn’t care about Maelstrom or the ship or the prisoners. He just wanted his food and perhaps something interesting to occupy his attention. Styx didn’t seem to feel the need to be intentionally cruel just for the sake of being cruel.
Of course, he couldn’t help but think of Adrien. The first vampire he had ever known before he came into contact with Styx. And he was nothing like Styx at all. Blaze didn’t feel any threat from him. In fact, it was almost easy to forget that Adrien was a vampire. He looked like a normal human, but there was an abnormal grace to his movements. It rather reminded him of Elzira though. He had talked with Adrien for a while before he had asked to be taken to where the others were, impatient that they had not returned to the Dome yet.
Adrien had admitted to being a vampire in one of their discussions.
“Not going to eat me?” Blaze had prodded, partly joking but partly serious. He had figured if Adrien had that intention he would not have mentioned what he was at all.
Adrien had smirked playfully at him. “Oh, only if you offer.”
Blaze quirked his disfigured brow at him. “You gotta eat, right? I mean, that’s the only way you do, correct?”
Adrien nodded, still smiling. “The Dome currently provides me with blood. Though to be honest, I have no idea where it comes from. But I’ve come to trust this place. So I have faith it doesn’t come from any questionable sources.”
“Yes,” said Adrien. “You know … at the pain and suffering of others.”
Blaze smirked at him, a little skeptical. “Oh, a benevolent blood-sucker, I see.”
Adrien chuckled happily at his slight sarcasm. “I suppose. But I have killed a lot of people.”
His tone was light and yet gently honest. It was a little strange to hear someone to admit to mass murder in such a way. Blaze felt his brow furrow. “Oh really? Why?”
Adrien smiled in a soft but patient manner. “Because control is not easy, Blaze-kun. It is my nature, and when I was made this way I had no frame of reference for what I had become. In my world, my sister and I were the first of our kind. So we had no legends, folktales, or horror stories to have an basis of an understand for what we were. Control for a young vampire is rather impossible anyway. There will always be accidents. People will die.
And some vampires don’t even try to control it at all.”
Blaze leaned against Adrien’s desk, crossing his ankles as he stared at the vampire next to him. “Why is that?”
Adrien gave a light shrug. “Because they like it. Somehow, they’ll justify it. Maybe see themselves as superior to the beings that they feed upon and that it is just the natural order of things. But really, it’s not any different than how most people are without the vampiric curse upon them.”
Blaze arched a brow at him curiously. “What makes you say that?”
Adrien smiled in that same gentle and patient way. “Blaze-kun, you are a king of your people. Your father was probably one of the worst tyrants your land will ever know. Why do you think he did what he did? Do you think that mindset changes for anyone when they gain these powers and hungers? If anything, it makes it worse, because they gain power and they will use it to control others and devour them.
“Before that people were always consuming each other anyway, because there are many different ways to consume. If they lacked restraint in their life before becoming a vampire, they are not likely to gain it as a vampire. People are always trying to fill that same bottomless pit within themselves.”
Blaze stared at him pensively. “So why do you practice restraint at all?”
Adrien chuckled again, his shoulders shifting slightly with his amusement. He turned his head to peer at Blaze with his hazel eyes. “You ask a lot of questions. This is good. I suppose because I had always been afraid of myself. That fear grew much larger when I became a vampire. I hated myself for what I was.” He chuckled again but more to himself. “But hating myself never made it better. It never saved me, nor did it help me control myself. In fact, it only made it worse. I practice restraint because I do not let what I am become who I am. Because it is the most impeccable way that I know how to live.”
Blaze continued to watch him as he talked. He rather liked the way Adrien spoke about impeccability. It reminded him of what Nabooru would say about honor. “But … before you came to the Dome … how did you live?”
Adrien smirked at this. “I was forced to use seduction to get my meals. As you must known, not many really offer themselves up to a vampire. So it was often the easiest way to not frighten any of them while I feed, and I eventually I gained enough control to not kill them when I fed. I picked healthy and wealthy women. They were the most likely to recover well and have the means to be well nourished.”
Blaze stared plainly at Styx and said with a smirk. “But don’t worry your pretty little head, I’m still just thinking it over. I haven’t made a decision yet.”
OoC: Meh, I'll post what my other characters are doin' later. Stuck in Blaze-mode right now.
Maelstrom had spent the better half of the evening trying to distract the young mermaids from their fear of Styx. Truly he was something fearsome to look upon and his abrupt, unannounced entrance had shattered their sense of security. But nothing was impossible when Maelstrom set his mind to it -a quality he had learned from the Jade when he sailed aboard her ship. Nothing like getting swallowed up by the sea to teach a man how to twist and turn with the tides.
As soon as he returned, the mermaids flocked around him, full of questions to which he gave them answers.
"Who was that?" Ruby insisted, already snug in one of his linen shirts.
"More like, WHAT was that?" Emerald piped in, her green metal trident already in hand.
"Did it hurt you?" Sapphire inquired, eyeing him over carefully.
Maelstrom stood calmly surveying them as they fussed, his calm voice like a solid oak in the troubled wind of their uncertainty. "He wouldn't hurt me. He is a member of my crew."
"That THING is one of yours?" Emerald pointed with her trident toward the door where he had burst in. She was all sea green hair and green fire in her eyes. Ruby was like a warm ember, sultry and passionate, inclined to indulgence. Sapphire was easygoing, kind and watchful. But it was Emerald who had the wits and Maelstrom knew he would have to be most careful with her.
"What manner of thing is he?" Ruby asked.
"He wouldn't hurt US, would he?" Sapphire echoed.
Not if he's kept well fed. Maelstrom had to redirect their fear for themselves and decided the best thing was to twist it into concern for the object of their fear. If they saw Styx as the victim here, they would no longer see themselves as such. "That thing is a person and he has a name." He insisted, a smooth gentleness threaded through his voice. "Like many of my crew, he is a misfit on dry land, with no place to call home. So, I gave him a place here on my ship."
"So...he wasn't attacking us." Ruby stated, a hint of doubt in her voice and a glass of wine in her hand.
"Not in the least," he replied, tenderly trailing his fingers through a lock of her lovely red hair. "You see, he doesn't know his own strengths sometimes. Part of his...curse, you see."
That and an insatiable appetite. Something Maelstrom could relate to in his own way, especially as he caught a glimpse of Ruby's thighs beneath the oversized linen shirt she wore. He let his fingers trail over her neck and thought about giving it a nibble himself.
"Cursed looks, you mean," Ruby laughed.
With great discipline, Maelstrom withdrew his hand from her skin. He took her wine glass from her hand and took a sip. "I hope he did not frighten you overmuch."
"Mostly for your sake," Ruby answered.
"Hmph," Emerald still frowned and her eyes were thoughtful. She'd set the butt of her trident on the wooden floorboards, but it remained firmly in her hand. "What kind of curse, exactly?"
"A very dark curse, my love." He handed the glass back to Ruby. She sipped out of it eagerly, already gazing hungrily into his eyes.
"How dreadful." Sapphire's eyes were wide and concerned. "Is there a cure?"
Maelstrom took a seat and poured himself a fresh glass. "Not to my knowledge, I'm afraid. Poor fellow. I hear he was once quite handsome."
"Handsome?" Emerald's voice was full of disdain.
"Handsome?" Sapphire's voice was full of wonder.
"How handsome?" Ruby wanted to know.
"Terribly handsome." Whatever that meant. "Whatever you do, you mustn't shy away from him when you see him. It would wound him terribly and I so want him to feel at home here."
"Maybe I can help cure him?" Sapphire looked over to her friends for reassurance.
Emerald shrugged, brows still knit together in discernment. "Depends on the curse."
Ruby gave a determined nod. "If anyone can heal a dumb old curse, it's Saph."
"Is that so?" Maelstrom turned to the blue haired mermaid with new interest. "Truly?"
"Saph is the strongest healer in her class!" Ruby insisted, setting her wine glass on the table like an exclamation point. "She can heal anything!"
"ALMOST anything," Emerald corrected.
"Pretty much everything," Ruby countered.
"A few things, anyway," Sapphire admitted, blushing as she nibbled a bite of cheese she plucked from the table. "Some things are harder than others."
As Maelstrom listened, he lifted a knife from the table and had been toying with it in his hand. If he was a master of anything, it was a master at distracting the attention of his subjects. This was a perfect opportunity to learn how else Sapphire could be of use to him and distract their concern from Styx.
"How about, shall we say...a knife wound, for example?" He mused.
"Well that's one thing," Emerald answered.
"Child's play," Ruby said adamantly.
"That's not so advanced, really," Sapphire replied matter-of-factly. "Depends on how deep, though."
"How about this deep?" With a steady hand, Maelstrom drew the knife across the palm of his hand. Flesh parted like butter for its sharp edge and blood welled quickly. He hoped Biter and Styx couldn't smell it.
It had the desired effect. All three mermaids gasped in unison and fell to their knees around him. Ruby snatched a cloth from the table and pressed it into his palm. "What have you done?"
Emerald snatched the knife from his other hand. "What is the matter with you?"
Sapphire took placed her hands lightly on his arm and gave her companions a stern look that compelled them into silence. "Be still," she told him.
Gingerly, she took the cloth from the wound and placed her hands over his injured one. Maelstrom felt a cool sensation glide up his arm as she closed her eyes and focused. It reminded him of the cool undercurrents that ran deep below the surface of the water. When she took her hands away, his palm was whole, without scarring.
She looked up at him and smiled, triumphantly. He smiled back at her, took her face in both his hands and kissed her hungrily on the mouth. "You truly are a jewel, Sapphire."
She melted into the kiss and blushed when he pulled away. "Why would you do that?"
"Because I wanted to kiss you," he smiled, devilishly. "Was it wrong of me?"
"Well, no...but I..." She stammered, turning redder than Ruby's hair.
He frowned, looking wounded. "You didn't like it?"
"No! I mean...I did...I..."
"Am I a fool?"
"Damn straight you are," Emerald practically shouted, her arms crossed in front of her with the knife still in her one hand.
"A damn bloody fool," Ruby agreed. She had that glint in her eyes that told him it was just the rash, unheeded sort of thing she loved.
Even Emerald smiled despite herself.
Maelstrom poured them a round and raised his glass. "Then it appears I am in good company."
Sapphire smiled as she raised her glass, still blushing. Ruby giggled and Emerald rolled her eyes, but still her glass raised too. They drank and gave in to laughter. Soon he regaled them with tales once more and Emerald's trident lay propped against the table where she had set it aside to take the knife from him.
There were a number of things Styx could have said in response to Blaze's rant, but he let the prisoner continue uninterrupted. He almost felt like laughing when he claimed Styx showed no respect for him, since outside of drinking his blood he'd done nothing to warrant this sort of reaction. He went on to talk about how it was hopeless, how the captain had no intention of releasing him, and other pessimistic words. It was funny how much emphasis he put on Maelstrom's authority, considering the captain didn't have any sway in what Styx did. In fact, he fully intended to feed on one of his mermaid whores before going back to Blaze. He wouldn't even ask for his permission.
With these thoughts Styx imagined Blaze was lying. This guy, who'd lost his arm and scarred his face, didn't seem like someone who would just lay down and die. He had a plan, no doubt, or was at least attempting to lure Styx into a false sense of security. Then again, judging a book by its cover was a hard skill to master. Maybe he saw more in this guy than what was really there.
“But don’t worry your pretty little head, I’m still just thinking it over. I haven’t made a decision yet.”
Styx's smile returned. The guy at least had a marginal sense of humor, even if it wasn't all that funny. Then, as if Blaze hadn't said anything at all, he continued the conversation in a casual manner. “How did you lose your arm?” He didn't expect an honest response, if any response.
“A cow ate it.” said Blaze, his expression placid and serious.
Okay, a little better, he managed to get a slight chuckle out of him that time, if only because it wasn't what he was expecting. Styx shifted in his seat, putting his right leg forward. He rolled up his pant leg, revealing the scales underneath. “I lost this leg once.” His eyes widened with fondness at the memory. “Let's just say a cow ate mine too.” He pulled his pant leg down, settling himself comfortably in his chair. “Ironically enough, that cow held me captive in a cage much like the one you're sitting in right now. After my eventual escape, I swore that one day I would make the most delicious cheeseburger out of that cow, and through eating her juicy meats I'd get my leg back.”
Blaze arched a brow at this confession. “That sounds just peachy.”
Styx's expression shifted to a more serious one, a sort of pent up energy showing in his eyes.“It would be, if that's how I got my leg back. Needless to say, after I became a vampire, I gained healing qualities... and now that damn cow no longer interests me.” A moment passed before he stood from his chair. The tension in his eyes faded, his casual, charismatic smile returning. “I'm notorious for making foolish decisions without worrying about their repercussions, Blaze, and I'm more than willing to live up to that reputation.” He already knew the answer to this proposal, but there was still a chance he could be surprised. “All you'd have to do is say please and I could get you your arm back.”
Blaze was a little glad that Styx did change the conversation. He was starting to realize how stupid it was to argue with a vampire about his eating habits. If Styx could understand what he was really talking about, he wouldn’t be here and doing all of this. It did no good to argue with the insane. They usually had already made up their minds about it.
So Blaze leaned back, still very tired. He replied placidly, “A cow ate it.”
Of course, it wasn’t like he was going to tell Styx about his arm. The vampire really didn’t understand how uninterested he was in having a conversation with the monster that would possibly kill him later, let alone tell him about the more delicate parts of his past.
Styx shifted in his seat, putting his right leg forward. He rolled up his pant leg, revealing the scales underneath. “I lost this leg once.” The vampire’s eyes widened at the memory. It was a strange sort of expression, like he had actually liked not having his limb.
“Let's just say a cow ate mine too.” He pulled his pant leg down, settling himself in his chair again. “Ironically enough, that cow held me captive in a cage much like the one you're sitting in right now. After my eventual escape, I swore that one day I would make the most delicious cheeseburger out of that cow, and through eating her juicy meats I'd get my leg back.”
A cage like his, eh? This just reaffirmed how much Styx didn’t give a ❤❤❤❤ about anyone else really. He knew what it was like to be held captive but there was no sympathy. Blaze didn’t quite understand the rest of Styx’s explanation. He arched a brow. “That sounds just peachy.”
Styx’s expression changed and something about it made Blaze’s skin crawl. But it sort of reminded him of Ren. The kid had issues, being taken by the Drow Empire and made into a child soldier had a tendency to do that. It wasn’t often when he saw that kind of look on Ren’s face, but whenever it was there, he knew it wasn’t good.
“It would be, if that's how I got my leg back. Needless to say, after I became a vampire, I gained healing qualities... and now that damn cow no longer interests me.” That explained quite a bit more to Blaze than the previous statement had.
A moment passed before Styx stood from his chair. The tension in his eyes faded, his casual, charismatic smile returning. “I'm notorious for making foolish decisions without worrying about their repercussions, Blaze, and I'm more than willing to live up to that reputation.” Hm, Blaze really was reminded of Ren. “All you'd have to do is say please and I could get you your arm back.”
Blaze stared at Styx, brow furrowing with confusion but also thought. He knew Styx wasn’t lying. It wasn’t a joke just to ❤❤❤❤ with him. He probably really would turn Blaze into a vampire if he asked. If he had the kind of healing qualities like he claimed, then Blaze really would get his arm back. He would probably get his eye back too. The scars would probably fade from his body. He would be … whole again. Fixed. If he was a vampire he would have the power to save himself from this situation instead of waiting on others to bail him out of it. He could be like Ren, not have to plan and scheme. He could just do. He could save Gosh from here. He could probably even kill Maelstrom and free Nails and her father.
But he was also painfully aware of all the reasons why he couldn’t do that. More of why he shouldn’t. Looking at Styx now was one blaring reason. Even what he just said about his leg and becoming a vampire. He lost interest in his goals that he had before then. Not only that but his actions spoke rather loudly. Blaze didn’t really know who he would turn into after becoming a vampire. He didn’t know if he could be like Adrien and sort out what and who he was. After all, his father had had good intentions when he waged war on the Hylians and their allies. He ended up doing terrible things to pretty much everyone. Ganondorf Dragmire had only wanted to save his people. It hadn’t really turned out that way in the end. He also thought about his conversation with Adrien about vampires.
I suppose because I had always been afraid of myself. That fear grew much larger when I became a vampire.
Blaze understood that kind of fear. It was the reason he had denied that he would take up the crown for so long. Because he was afraid of power. Afraid that he wouldn’t be able to use it rightly. Afraid that he would end up like his father or worse. Afraid that he would hurt the ones he loved. He was still afraid of that.
Blaze sighed, his head bowed. His eye narrowing in a tired and desolate way.
“Nothing is ever easy …" said Blaze in a softer, more exhausted voice. "Thanks but no thanks.”
The Jade’s whip cracked the air a second time, making Khaz flinch slightly. Ren turned his eyes back to her almost lazily. “The sea is no playground, boys! We be sailin' straight into a storm at full speed soon and already you've cost you and your friends time. Time that could cost them their lives, cuz they 'aven't learned the ropes yet an' neither 'ave you! If ye got a problem feelin' idle, then make yerself useful in some way or throw yerself overboard now and save yer friends the suffering.”
A storm? Khaz hadn’t been paying attention before. His attention had been on Ren. He swallowed. Well, he did feel a little sheepish now for having wasted time with Ren. But of course, the half dragon looked just bored but patiently listening to the Jade. Khaz had no idea how she got Ren to do that. There weren’t a lot of people whom Ren would actually listen to.
"When you're at sea, it's not just about you." Ren gave a little eye roll but said nothing. Jade jerked a thumb back to the gear on deck. "Now, go learn how to keep each other alive out here."
Khaz slouched on back over to Crow. Ren turned, scanned the deck, and found Sunny. A sneer etched his face with irritation. He still didn’t think he needed to learn any of it, but he did want to find where Malachite was. Ren walked over to Sunny. Leita turned to face Tide and nibbled her bottom lip nervously.
Styx nodded, his smile still present. Exactly the response he was expecting. Vampirism wasn't something you could force on someone, it had to be voluntary... at least that's the impression he had when he was first transformed. He could either die, or live forever. The choice seemed obvious to him at the time, but even now he could see why someone would choose the alternative.
“Well, I can't say I blame you, Blaze. If there's one thing I appreciate more than a challenge, it's a piece of artwork.” He took a step closer to the bars, eyes wandering the contours of the bars as if checking for structural weaknesses. To a person like Styx, however, virtually everything was a structural weakness. “Don't take this the wrong way...” His eyes returned to Blaze, peering over his sunglasses like he was cool or something. “... but you're a real piece of work.” He backed off with a cocky shrug, his smile somehow widening further. “No masterpiece, but you're a work in progress, am I right?”
Gunner shrugged and took up a length of rope, holding either end in either hand. He threaded and looped, turning the rope into a knot with a loop. "This end hooks te yer belt," he demonstrated. "An this end hooks te whatever else." He flipped the knife in his hand and nodded to the spare among Ed's gear. "The knife's if ye can't get yerself unhooked, if ye need te cut the line." He gave Ed a meaningful stare. "If the ship goes down, ye don't want te be goin' down with it."
With that, he jerked his chin at Ed's rope. "Ye got that?"
During Ren's antics, Tide had to scramble to keep his navigational instruments from sliding and rolling off his navigation table. He'd only just pulled them out to begin his work when the rocking began, which had seriously undermined his concentration. Now that it was over, he put them back where they belonged, made his calculations and turned the helm. Sails or no sails? The wind was strong now, it would be a timely advantage, but they would have to secure them quickly once they arrived at the storm. He wasn't sure they would have that kind of time.
Storms were unpredictable.
In the end, he decided to let the sails be. Time was precious, from what he gathered. If he could hasten the voyage a life might be saved. He gave a satisfactory nod and turned to see Leita patiently waiting for him to notice her. "Oh! My apologies!" He'd been so focused he had forgotten all about her. "I hope you can forgive me for ignoring you all this time."
Crow watched Khaz as he returned from his lecture, looking a little chagrined. He knew the Jade could be hard at times, but that she meant well. Seemed like the best thing to do was to get on with the task at hand. "Have you ever tied a knot before?"
Sunny took a breath and did his best to compose himself. This is not how he wanted things to be, but he knew he was made of tougher stuff. He would not let a jerk like Ren get the best of him like this. After all, he was Leita's friend. Or companion. Or whatever. He could be civil. And if Ren refused to learn, then he could sink for all he cared and it would be his own damn fault.
He went up to Ren, held up a length of rope, tied the appropriate knots and then tossed it at the albino, clearing his throat. "Now you try."
He put special emphasis on the word "try," implying that perhaps the thickheaded half dragon wouldn't be able to accomplish a task that took more finesse than physical strength. If he was the type who always needed to win, which he seemed like, he would probably take the bait and focus on the damn rope instead of tormenting his trainer. Sunny wanted to think so, anyway.
Skiff looked down at the rope in his simple, calloused hand and shook his head. It seemed a strange thing to be teaching something as simple as tying a rope to someone with wondrous talents like Kai and his companions. What an odd world we live in, he thought. In the chaos with Ren, when Kai had been forced to focus all his attention slowing him down, Fingers had watched with rapt attention then suddenly vanished as he was wont to do. No doubt he was somewhere and soon enough Skiff would find him. If Kai was tired, he didn't show it. Only a bit of sweat on the brow. Still, Skiff was careful when he placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. "When you're ready."
The Jade returned to Rontu and Kira. Normally, she would have preferred to invite them below deck to discuss matters with more privacy, but with a storm coming she needed to keep a watchful eye on the horizon and the new crew members to make sure everyone was ready.
"Siph, check their knot work and all the lines. I want to make sure the ship is storm worthy."
She returned her gaze to Rontu. "Let's hear more of this dream."
Blaze's head remained bowed as Styx talked. He was saying something about Blaze being a piece of work. He didn't quite understand what he meant by all this artwork talk. He found that he didn't much care. He just felt like a piece of broken whatever. He kind of resented Styx more, for offering a way out that Blaze just couldn't take. He resented him for the temptation that was almost painful to refuse.
"Tell me ... why do you think you lost interest?" asked Blaze in a dull tone, looking up through the red and white hair that covered the left side of his face, amber eye-piece glinting. "Was it the loss of a reminder or something else?"
The rocking of the ship earlier had caused quite the disarray down below in the kitchen and mess hall. Slate had spent quite a bit of time with Codger barking orders at him about how to best clean up the mess. Anything that hadn't been secured to the sides of the kitchen cabin had slid off or gone flying to the floor. When the kitchen was finally put back together, Slate stormed out of it and through the mess hall and then up to the main deck.
Once there, Slate glanced around in confusion. The skies were clear. No storm. No enemy ship. Hell, no sea monster rocking the boat around. Slate couldn't find the cause to the violent rocking he and Codger had received in the kitchens earlier.
Siph saw Slate looking around in confusion. Sliding down a line of rope, she dropped into his line of sight and pointed at Ren. Slate furrowed his brow, confused still by this.
"He rocked the boat," said Siph with dreamy simplicity.
Slate narrowed his good eye in a flat look. He was not amused with her metaphors that never made any sense. "That's impossible."
Siph shrugged. "Half-dragon." And she pulled and climbed herself back up the line and went off to go check the rope work of the rest of the groups.
Slate looked over at Ren again after Siph's last comment. He had never seen nor met a half-dragon before. He knew Ren had claimed it last night in the mess hall. He had reported such to Maelstrom ... It looked like he would need to report this too. And he thought having a vampire on board was hazardous enough. He had advised Maelstrom against it, but his captain was always intrigued with exotic and dangerous things. He was lucky that Maelstrom was as clever as he was indulgent.
Leita had found Tide arranging and cleaning up the navigation table. She waited patiently for him to finish, not wanting to disturb him. She watched him work with curiosity. He give a nod to himself when it seemed he was finished and then turn to notice her.
"Oh! My apologies! I hope you can forgive me for ignoring you all this time."
"Oh, no, that's fine," said Leita with a soft smile. "I didn't mind waiting."
"Have you ever tied a knot before?"
Khaz shrugged for Crow, his sheepish expression from earlier gone. "Well, yeah, sort of ... Did some ranch work. Often required use of knots and rope."
Sunny met up with Ren, held up a length of rope, tied the appropriate knots and then tossed it at him, clearing his throat. "Now you try."
Ren sneered at Sunny's tone. Everyone always assumed he was all brawn and no brain. Ren just figured it was easier to smash his way through his problems than to tip-toe around them. When you're this strong, why be clever or rational? It seemed like a waste of time. Kind of like this ropes thing. Ren was pretty sure he could keep himself out of the ocean just fine by himself. But if it kept the Jade out of his hair and telling him what he wanted to know, instead of her stupid cryptic riddles, he supposed he would take the time to bother with it.
Ren took the rope and tied the same knots as Sunny did with ease. He wasn't dumb. If anything, he was a faster learner than most people.
A careful hand touched Kai's shoulder. "When you're ready."
Kai looked up at Skiff, a very soft smile pulled just barely at the corners of his lips. He nodded for the older man and stood up. He had rested enough, though he was still rather worn out by trying to hold Ren back. To think the boy was only going to get stronger as he was not fully grown yet.
The Jade returned to Rontu and Kira and then turned her gaze to Rontu. "Let's hear more of this dream."
Rontu nodded. He supposed there was a bit more that she should probably know. Though he didn't much like talking about it, it was necessary. "There was an old elf on Maelstrom's ship. Normally, people can't see me like he did. He was the one who gave me the coordinates. He also asked me to take his daughter with me."
Ed followed Gunner's gesture to his own rope. Without a word, he picked it up and began to work. Without missing a beat, he copied Gunner's demonstration perfectly, tying it to his belt and standing back to his feet as he completed.
“Is that it, then?” Impatience in his voice was ever evident. The walking beer keg could stand to pick up the pace with his tutorial. A storm was on the way, after all. The more Ed knew before it hit, the better.
Styx thought on Blaze's question for a moment. He already knew the answer, he just wasn't sure how he wanted to word it. There were times he wish he'd destroyed Pandora, but there was no point in going back to it now. It was... beneath him, to say the least. “The answer to that is simple: There's no challenge in it.”
Styx shifted his weight as he took a deep breath, the edge of his mouth cocked in a half-smirk. “That story has no meaning to me anymore. I may hate the cow for taking most of my life away from me, but in the end it's just a cow. Killing it doesn't get me anything--” He held up an apologetic hand, catching himself in a bad metaphor. “--Well, I guess the cow analogy doesn't work in this case. Killing a cow gets you a few cheeseburgers.” He shook his head, still smirking. “My point is... it's so pointless now. The animal is weak and pathetic. It would take me zero effort to find and kill it. At the same time, it would take quite a while to do. It's not worth wasting that much time on something that's no longer a threat to me. I thrive on competition and rivalry, Blaze, but the cow doesn't offer me either one.” He stopped for a few seconds before letting out a short chuckle. “In other words: There's no fun in butchering a defenseless animal.”
“In other words: There's no fun in butchering a defenseless animal.”
Blaze arched a brow at that statement. However, he understood what Styx was getting at, somewhat. It was a matter separate from Styx's need to feed. He would kill "defenseless animals" if only because he had to feed. That didn't make Blaze like him any better. There was careless and apathetic attitude that Styx had that rubbed him the wrong away, as he had tried to explain before, but it was ridiculous to argue with the insane.
Still Styx's need for challenge and rivalry reminded him a lot of Ren. Blaze wondered if Ren was with Rontu. He hoped so, because from what he could tell Styx's confidence was justified even if appalling. Ren was probably the only person Blaze knew who would have the strength and ability to match Styx. His confidence was more on Ren if only because he has seen what the half-dragon can do. The extent of Styx's abilities were still very unknown to Blaze, except that he knew vampires were not something to tangle with. But what was he thinking? He still wasn't sure if it was just a dream. Though Rontu had urged him to believe it wasn't a normal dream. He still had to try his best to get out of here on his own.
Blaze nodded vaguely at Styx's answer after a moment. "I understand ... I guess."
Blaze still had no idea what would happen if he did allow Styx to turn him into a vampire. Styx's loss of interest in his previous goals seemed a more personal characteristic than purely a vampiric one. All the same, it was still a risk Blaze would rather not take despite how tempting it was.
He wondered about Ren though. If Ren got powerful enough, he would he lose interest in defeating the Dark Lords and the empire? Blaze didn't think so. Ren didn't like it to show, but he took what the empire did to him very personally. Ren never forgave or forgot anyone who injured his pride, no matter how weak or insignificant they were. That much Blaze knew.
“Glad we see eye to eye, then.” Styx said at last. He stuck his thumbs in his pockets, slowly backing toward the door. “Though I figure I've overstayed my welcome. I'll let you get some sleep, or get back to coordinating your escape, whichever it is you're actually doing down here. Until then, just holler if you need anything. I'll hear you.” He opened the door. Before shutting it behind him, he stopped himself, adding with a slight chuckle, “I'll bring water next time.” With that, the space pirate was gone.