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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

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Sam's Post:

 

Bobby leaned against the bowspirit. He breathed deep the ocean wind filled with brine. There was little to see other than the silhouette of his breath rising, and the steam from his cup of tea. The ocean swells were lost to view as the predawn mist blocked sight and muted sound. The swells sounded distant; even as he felt them raise and lower The Merry Pauper beneath his feet.

 

His nose was numb and his skin stung with the cold, but this was his favourite time and enjoyed the quiet. He loved the ocean, with its unforgiving and whimsical nature. He had spurned it for years as the legacy of his father, only to discover desire. Desire for a prow beneath his command, a star-filled sky, and a clear horizon. If only his father saw him now. Lean. Hard. Discliplined. His temples streaked with grey, his brown eyes alert and cunning. A thin moustache lending weight to the severity of his image. His father would approve. Bobby laughed.

 

"Yer pa 'gain, Sir?"

Bobby--startled--dropped the cup, which clacked against the deck, spilling its contents about his feet. He sighed and turned toward the voice, "I am going to buy you a bell, John." John Sweeper: friend, giant, pirate and one hell of a First Mate. There was no one Bobby would trust with his life more than the man standing before him; cliche as the sentiment was. Closer to seven feet tall than six, John Sweeper possessed an impressive girth and was one of the ugliest men Bobby had ever seen.

 

"Is it not time to rouse the men?" The young captain allowed an edge of feigned coolness to enter his voice and his First Mate grinned broadly in response. This was a conversation they had had many times. John knew that Bobby would stay as far from his father for as long as he could. The last meeting between father and son had been bitter and the salt of open water had done little to clean the resulting wounds.

 

"Aye Capin'! Shall the honour be yers, or mine?"

"The honour is all yours, Mr. Sweeper." Bobby looked down at the fallen cup and prodded the smeared tea leaves with the toe of his boot and added softly to himself, "Doubtless an ill omen . . . it's always an ill omen." Laughter in his eyes, he moved towards the quarterdeck, from where he intended to watch the show.

 

"All hands on deck!" Mr. Sweeper's voice rolled across the deck like thunder. In response the ship came to life: curses, shouts and indignant cries as the crew moved with as much speed as could be mustered within the cramped belly of the vessel. "Ye mangy pups 'ad best git clean just the ways I like ye, or I'll be cleaning yeall p-e-r-s-o-n-a-l-l-y." Bobby leaned against the tiller and laughed.

 

One by one the crew poured from the hatch, ran to the bulwark, climbed up and jumped over the side--straight into the near-freezing water. Captain Redpath had decided early that being cramped in close-quarters with a host of smelly, unwashed bodies was not something he enjoyed, and so every morning the crew would bathe, whether they wanted to or not. John, or Mr. Sweeper as he was known, would count off every member, and light save any he found straggling.

 

"Two missing, Capn'!" Numerous whoops came from the water below, "Mr. Calper and Ms. Jingle." The men in the water cheered loudly, "But never ye mind, Capn! I'll fetch 'em!" The First Mate fair ran to the hatch and leapt into the dark ship interior. There was nothing he liked more than handing out well-earned punishments.

 

Mr. Sweeper soon returned, pushing and shouting a pair up and out of the hatch. One was a thin man with brown hair, dressed in leggings. The second was a young woman of average appearance but an accomodating body, dressed in her shift and glaring at Bobby who was waving cheerfully. Her name was Maree, but everyone aboard called her Ms. Jingle. She preferred to get about covered in a mass of of loud and brightly coloured bracelets, anklets and other baubles. She was also possessed of many charms, and very generous about sharing them.

 

Crew working on The Merry Pauper were treated equally irregardless of gender. Each woman was worth her male counterpart, and she was every bit as dangerous. The presence of females dramatically lessened the crews lust for rape, which was a practice Bobby found repulsive. In the past some male shipmates had been unable to control themselves, but Captain Redpath could be a hard man and his punishments so severe that his laws were strictly abided by . . . after one or two choice examples.

 

Mr Sweeper barked, "I did tell ye I'd be bathing ye meself, but yer so ugly--" grinning at Calper then moving his gaze to Maree; making a show of looking her up and down from her ankles to her eyes, "And ye. Well, yer far too whiney!" Unceremoniously he picked Calper up and threw him over the bulwark. He turned back to Maree and gestured. She sighed and jumped over unassisted. John called down after them, "Ye two 'av just v-o-l-u-n-t-e-e-r-e-d barnicle scraping duty!"

 

"Thank you, Mr. Sweeper." Bobby came to stand beside his right shoulder. Resting his forearms on the edge of the bulwark he looked out over his assembled crew. A fine lot considering the stock. He called down to them: "Look alive, lads, we've got new recruits to receive. " 

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Sam's Post:

 

The Merry Pauper was silent. Each of its sails were furled, and all of its deckhands were either swimming in the surrounding water, or relaxing below deck. The crew would not be needed for some time, and Captain Redpath saw no reason to torture them. The new recruits were almost there, he could see their transport clearly in the distance, a growing silhouette behind the eastern sun.

 

Bobby was dressed in simple, unassuming, attire. At times the Chosen himself had been aboard his vessel, and ostentation would prove awkward in such a situation. That reason, as well as pure convenience, chose black; black boots, black loose-fitting trousers, black tunic and equally black vest. It was a warm day, or so the similarly dressed Mr. Sweeper kept complaining; Bobby replied that appearances must be maintained, and then smiled. Every. Single. Time.

 

In perhaps thirty minutes he would have his new raw recruits, some rawer than others. A few would be there by choice, to learn what they could not in their fortress; most would be soft, weak, and simply lazy. They would require a firm hand. Bobby was confident. He had not been forced to "fail" a single recruit, and if he had his way, such an occurence would never be necessary.

 

There was one important issue he had to resolve before his recruits arrived. To this end he walked towards his cabin to grab a cup of tea and then head down to the hold to meet with his "guest."

 

The girl was asleep in her cell. Exhaustion most likely. Mr Sweeper had not needed to hit her as hard as he had, or at all, but the Firstmate felt a measure of pique at his inability to see the attempted theft before it happened. That had cost her. She had been locked in a holding cell, beside the casks of ale and salted meat, while Redpath and Sweeper had debated what to do with her. Sweeper, as always thought it appropriate to give her to the sea, Bobby decided against that . . . immediately, at least.

 

"Wake up." He sipped at his tea a few times. There was no response, so instead he kicked at the bars until there was a sign of movement, "Much better. You did a very sillly thing," another sip, "Do you know what would have happened to you if you were caught? Well. You would have lost a hand to be sure, your right, no doubt." Sip. "My Firstmate, you'll remember him. Big burly fellow, has a fist like granite. Well, he suggested I just throw you into the ocean. I prefer that to limb removal. If you're going to kill someone you might as well do it all in one go, right?" Sip.

 

"Anyway. I have an offer for you, and I am sure you are aware of what will happen if you refuse. I offer your life, a sense of purpose and belonging, as well genuine adventure--a rare thing--in return for your loyalty. That is my offer. If you accept you will go above-deck and join the other new recruits in their exercises. If you refuse . . . you will need to be carried. The choice is yours."

 

Captain Redpath stepped forward, unlocked the cell door and stepped to one side. Free will. You had to love it.

 

OOC: Righto, Cody. Post however you wish; although I would suggest agreeing. Write your feelings, and then agreeing and stepping out and I can probably take over from there.

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Cody's Post:

 

Jisaen woke to the sound of footfalls coming down a set of stairs. As she began to fully regain her senses a feeling of dread over came her. What had she been thinking trying to pull a stunt like that? All she had received was a smack to the head. And now she was probably going to be a plaything for the owner of the approaching feet.

 

As the footfalls came to an end outside her cage she heard the voice of a man, "Wake up." Just stay still. Stay still and he will lose interest. She lay there for a minute hoping against hope he would leave. She heard movement and the sound of clashing metal reverberated through her head one hundred fold it seemed.

 

"Much better. You did a very silly thing." As she turned to see her captor he continued to speak. "Do you know what would have happened to you if you were caught? Well. You would have lost a hand to be sure, your right, no doubt." He sipped on a drink."My Firstmate, you'll remember him. Big burly fellow, has a fist like granite. Well, he suggested I just throw you into the ocean. I prefer that to limb removal. If you're going to kill someone you might as well do it all in one go, right?" Jisaen simply stared at the man. Surely no one would actualy kill a person for just trying to steal from them.

 

"Anyway. I have an offer for you, and I am sure you are aware of what will happen if you refuse. I offer your life, a sense of purpose and belonging, as well genuine adventure--a rare thing--in return for your loyalty. That is my offer. If you accept you will go above-deck and join the other new recruits in their exercises. If you refuse . . . you will need to be carried. The choice is yours."

 

Jisaen stood as he opened the bar door. This is what she had wanted all along. To belong and have adventures. She stepped forward and gave her name.

 

OOC: Sorry it was the best I could do at the time.

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Water lapped at the boat’s hull like a nervous lover’s clumsy fingers pawing at a woman’s blouse, wanting desperately to get in but so far unable to manage the task.

 

Drak stood in the boat’s prow, silently waiting but eager to see despite the shroud of fog that hung over the coastline. The entire journey thus far had been strangely like that, his desire to see and do tempered by secrets and cautions, and the strange dampening of sound by the heavy fog only served to remind him that he hadn’t uttered a word since stepping through the hole ripped in the air.

 

Neither had his guide, but that had been because his tongue had been cut out at some point in the past. Drak figured he would take the not so subtle hint to keep his own mouth shut.

 

The trip had begun with a knock on his door well before dawn. He had dressed, as always, with a thought to both function and style. His dull black trousers and jacket matched perfectly, and his dark green tunic was well made, as were his soft oiled leather, knee-high boots. His clothing had been made to shed water, and the fineness of his garb was not flashy. Only a true master tailor would be able to notice. Then he belted on his sword. It was the only thing about his appearance that demanded notice. Just as he wanted it.

 

Then he had grabbed his already-packed travel bag and accompanied the tongueless guide down into the depths of the Fortress to find several Dreadlords assembled around a hole that had somehow been ripped in the air by the Power. He could clearly see the Weaves, but it was like holding a sword and trying to figure out how it was made. Impossible. The point was obvious that he was not yet privy to such sacred knowledge, but it was also a warning that he was not as powerful as he thought.

 

Subtle, but he was quick enough to grasp it at once. He appreciated that kind of tactic. It meant there was some respect for his abilities in the higher echelons of power, at least to some small degree. Of course, that just meant he would be more likely to die should he fail. He accepted that knowledge just as readily.

 

After a quick speech that lauded his decision to volunteer for such a challenging task (and hinted but left unsaid his certain death if he couldn’t handle it), he was led through the hole onto this uninhabited rocky beach in the shadow of some mountains unknown to him. His mute guide had sat on a rock until the sounds of the as yet unseen rowboat broke the silence. Then he had pointed toward it unnecessarily, stepped back through the hole, and disappeared. Just like the hole.

 

The boat was dragged onto the shore by cursing men and as swiftly as he climbed aboard, it pushed off again. The three pairs of oarsmen had grown silent, and so had the small boat’s captain as they pulled the slender splinter through the fog-dimmed sea. The light brightened as they left the shadows of the mountains, and the fog thinned then burned off completely as they continued to row and the sun rose fully over the horizon behind them.

 

Standing in the front of the small craft, he was the first to see his destination. A Sea Folk raker was anchored just ahead. Excitement pulsed through him with every heartbeat. If he could survive, he would learn a great deal here. It would be FAR from easy, he knew, but he was determined to succeed. Death no longer held much fear for him.

 

She was a lover whose embrace he was destined to feel sooner or later. What matter if he met her on a boat?

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Sam's Post:

 

Mr. Sweeper waited in silence as the row-boat receded. There was no sense in giving the new recruits the option to leave while they could. There were various recruits of varying shapes and varying sizes. Most either glanced about nervously, or intentionally fixed their gazes ahead. A few seemed truly at ease, the more experienced, and those who had arrived by choice.

 

The Merry Pauper swayed gently on the swells, when in motion the rocking would be more perceptible, and the new recruits would require time to learn the necessary balance. That lesson they would learn naturally, and their ability to maintain their footing in shifting environments would be very useful in their future lines of work.

 

Bobby had returned to his cabin to write reports, and missives, and other things that included putting letters on paper, and so the duty fell to John. That suited him fine. At times he felt that Bobby was not hard enough of those beneath his command, and believed it to be his responsibility to make sure proper levels of fear were maintained.

 

Mr. Sweeper smiled. It was time to begin.

 

“Listen up, ‘oresons, my name is Mr. Sweeper. Ye’ll be all r-e-f-e-r-r-i-n-g to me as Sir. The Cap’n inn’t ere, so I’ll be all what greets ye. Rules are simple. Do what ye’re told, keep yer yappers closed and stay away from the crew unless otherwise i-n-s-t-r-u-c-t-e-d. Now’s yer only chance to back out, if ye don’t want to be ‘ere, ye’re welcome to yer boat. Ye’ll all be noticing that yer boat’s gone. A real shame that is.

 

“I’m going to call out yer names, and yer going to respond with ‘yes, sir,’ and then any of ye un-fort-unate enough to be channelling are going to be cut proud for the safety of the Captain and ‘is crew. Now Rat is a might sen-sit-ive about ‘is looks, and I’d not be commenting if I were ye.”

 

Rat was a small humanoid figure that came to stand beside the First Mate, dressed in simple black garb with a mask covering his face. The only flesh to be seen existed on his hands and bare feet. They were burnt severely, twisted and scarred. When his ability to channel first manifested, it was in an inferno that almost cost him his life. On board The Merry Pauper he had found a purpose, and his loyalty to the captain was unquestionable. While his connection with saidin was average, he had a potent affinity for spirit weaves, which made him singularly useful.

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Cody's Post:

 

As Jisaen made her way up the cramped stairs from the her small once prison room to the deck she began to fidget nervously. She was after all only a girl. Surrounded by men. Especially that unusually tall man that could probably growl and have a bear running from him. When she finally made it to the hatch she took a deep breath and pushed it open.

 

Stepping out she had to sheild her eyes from the sunlight. As she did she heard voices and curses coming from the other side of the ship. Curiosity consumed her. Making her way towards the noise she saw a man throwing a small rope ladder over the side of the ship. As she moved closer to where the men were working franticaly she wondered if someone had fallen over the rail.

 

As she stopped she felt the light brush of someone passing. Looking to her right she saw a sight that made her want to jump off the ship. Standing not 3 paces from her was the huge man that had gotten her into this whole thing. As she began to back away another site stopped her where she stood.

 

One of the most striking men Jisaen had ever seen had just climbed aboard on the small rope ladder. He radiated confidence. Yet everyone else seemed to avoid him.

 

Her thoughts where soon cut short by a tremendous roar from the man to her right. “Listen up, ‘oresons, my name is Mr. Sweeper. Ye’ll be all r-e-f-e-r-r-i-n-g to me as Sir. The Cap’n inn’t ere, so I’ll be all what greets ye. Rules are simple. Do what ye’re told, keep yer yappers closed and stay away from the crew unless otherwise i-n-s-t-r-u-c-t-e-d. Now’s yer only chance to back out, if ye don’t want to be ‘ere, ye’re welcome to yer boat. Ye’ll all be noticing that yer boat’s gone. A real shame that is.

 

“I’m going to call out yer names, and yer going to respond with ‘yes, sir,’ and then any of ye un-fort-unate enough to be channelling are going to be cut proud for the safety of the Captain and ‘is crew. Now Rat is a might sen-sit-ive about ‘is looks, and I’d not be commenting if I were ye.”

 

A small man wearing a mask stepped up between Jisaen and the large man she was now sure must be utterly insane. And did he say channeling? What is going on-. Jisaens thoughts were interrupted by a sight that nearly made her scream. After actually looking at the small man beside her she had noticed his hands. Or rather remnants of hands. They were twisted and burned beyond all possible recognition or use.

 

She turned and vomited over the rail.

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Drak let the profanity laced tirade wash over him like a warm rain, and it had as little effect as such a rain did on a slab of granite. He listened to the message rather than the words. It was a simple message, and it left him plenty of time to appreciate the gentle rocking of the boat, the tang of sea salt in the air, and to observe the gathered crowd to seek out who was really dangerous.

 

The young channeler had absorbed the important points before the first words had even been spoken. The very large Mr. Sweeper was the Captain’s right hand man, he would snap anyone in two that crossed him, and the new people needed to keep their mouths shut and follow orders. As the harangue continued, he enjoyed the idyllic setting and the humor of the juxtaposition. The view was quite lovely, and he imagined this boat was pretty special, as well. Although he didn’t know much about boats other than that they floated.

 

He’d never spent any real time around the water, just enough to learn to swim. Horses were much more familiar, as was the tension on this vessel. Such tension had become a part of him during his stay at the Fortress, as had keeping his mouth shut and not drawing attention except the kind he meant to draw. He scanned the throng and noted the important people on board. Important, of course, meaning dangerous.

 

Mr. Sweeper was easily the most noteworthy. His size and demeanor meant that he could crush any challenger and wouldn’t hesitate to do so, but his fists were tools for the Captain. Much like a vicious, but well trained, dog.

 

But he wasn’t the most dangerous person on board. No, that was likely the Captain who wasn’t visible at the moment. But the people that caught Drak’s eyes, though he was careful not to stare or make any movement that would draw special attention or make them assume they had been marked, were the small group of men and women who were different than the rest of the crew.

 

They weren’t even standing near one another, but they had a presence that made him take note. He would bet that they were Dreadlords and Ladies, although he couldn’t feel any of them holding the Power. When “Rat” made an appearance, Drak felt even more secure with his hunch. It paid to be careful, so he’d wait, watch, and learn. And when the time came to act…

 

Not everyone took Rat’s appearance as stoically as he did, of course. A girl vomiting was just the most dramatic reaction. Muttered gasps and curses resounded throughout the dozen or so new “crew members.” The horrors he had seen made such disfigurement barely even register. If his hunch was correct, the good Mr. Sweeper would be teaching his first lesson very soon.

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Sam's Post:

 

Mr. Sweeper barked, and Rat moved towards most of those calling their names and shielded them. As far as Mr. Sweeper was concerned, Channelling was all mumbo-jumbo anyway; although, he wouldn’t dispute that its practitioners were fearsome in battle and aided in many ways aboard the ship, he had little use for their talents. It seemed to him that Rat stepped in front of each person, did nothing, and was then rewarded with some outward display of shock or dismay. The complexities and subtleties of weaving were clearly beyond his understanding and caring.

 

Mr. Sweeper had long ago concluded that it was his fantastic talent that had destroyed Rat, and rendered him barely useless in any format. Despite such crippling defects, Rat did his best, and could climb the shrouds and man the stays as well as any other sailor. How he managed with those twisted stumps was remarkable. Yes. Rat was a fine exception to the rule. Mr. Sweeper’s comprehension was far too narrow for more than one of those. No. Better the strength of a man than some mystical energy, but as always necessity over-powered his personal opinions.

 

And it was done. Mr. Sweeper, grinned, his lips drawing back to display his set of yellow, black and broken teeth. It was not a courage inspiring smile. This next part was his favourite, and was seldom indulged, only at such times when the Captain was too busy to induct himself. John Sweeper was above all a beast, a fiercely loyal one at that.

 

“It is c-u-s-t-o-m-a-r-y now for me to start yelling, screaming and g-e-n-e-r-a-l-l-y bad-mouthing the lot of ye. I’m not going to do that. I need a v-o-l-u-n-t-e-e-r, for the Capin’ is the easy way, and I’m the ‘ard way, and that be all yer needin’ to know.”

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When the scarred little man seized the Source and wove a shield on the first crewman, Drak felt the same instinct that cats have felt for millennia. The overwhelming desire to kill a rat. Somehow he subdued the suddenly intense urge, but it was a near thing. As the young channeler watched the disfigured and diminutive Rat gleefully continue to shield each of the newly assembled group, Drak forced himself to calm down and logically assess the situation.

 

He didn’t feel the ability to channel in any of the others, but that didn’t mean much at this point. He’d never know if a woman could channel unless she embraced the Power, and detecting a man’s ability was often difficult, as well. Regardless, Rat, or rather the Captain, was taking no chances and a shield was woven on everyone.

 

By the time a shield slid between him and the Source Drak had composed himself, and a brief tightening of the lips was the only outward sign that a part of him was gone. He could still feel the Power beckoning just out of reach, like a teasing lover’s breath on the back of his neck. But just like with a playful mistress, the fact that he couldn’t touch, couldn’t sate the hunger, made the longing to all the more painful.

 

In addition, he was, in a very real way, temporarily crippled. He could no longer use a part of him that had become as natural as his hands. He suspected he could eventually break through the barrier, but it would prove as pointless as burning Rat to a crisp. Now was not the time nor place to be stupid.

 

When Rat completed his circuit and found a less prominent spot to observe the proceedings, Mr. Sweeper once again took control. Drak couldn’t help the mental picture of him as the Captain’s giant guard dog. The big man’s jagged maw only heightened the sensation. Drak smirked at the image of Mr. Sweeper happily wagging his tail as the Captain scratched behind his ear.

 

When his threatening speech came to a conclusion, he eyeballed the new crewmembers. Drak casually looked them over, as well. None of his fellows were willing to meet the first mate’s eyes, and most of them were trying to unobtrusively shift behind someone else in order to avoid notice. It was almost enough to make the tall Tairen laugh. His quick scan of the gathering also revealed the growing number of veteran crew who were arriving, some even climbing into the rigging to see better. Their sly, knowing grins were evidence that they were expecting quite a show. Mr. Sweeper was eager to give them one, too, it seemed.

 

“Now come on, ye lot. I’ve somethin’ to teach ye about life on this 'ere vessel, and we best be gettin’ it clear right quick. Which one of ye will it be?”

 

The moment Drak had been expecting had arrived. He just hadn’t expected it so quickly. It’s time to toss the dice. He stepped forward.

 

“Well, well, well. Look 'o we 'ave 'ere. The pretty boy.” Knuckling his forehead sarcastically, he continued. “Welcome aboard, m’lord.” The crew laughed heartily. “Ye’ve just volunteered to show what 'appens when ye break the Cap’n’s rules. Kindly unbuckle ye’r sword.”

 

Drak casually unbuckled his sword belt. He knew what was coming, but the knowledge only made him grit his teeth. It was going to be painful, but he had a plan, and the dice had already been thrown. As he bent to set his sword on the deck, he assumed the Void. When he straightened and looked back at Mr. Sweeper, the fist met his face.

 

Lights exploded in his head as blood exploded from his nose. The next blow hit his mouth like a club, bursting his lips like overripe cherries. Before Drak could react, another punch landed flush on his chin, snapping his head back and sending a glistening crimson arc of blood high into the air. The blow raised him to his toes, and he would have fallen on his back had not Mr. Sweeper grasped the front of his coat and held him upright.

 

“Not so fast, m’lord,” he grinned savagely. “Ye’re lesson 'as just begun.”

 

A rapid, brutal series of punches to his gut would have bent him double if not for the first mate’s hold on him. Each blow resounded with a sickening splat as his hard fists pummeled the softer flesh of Drak’s midsection. When Mr. Sweeper released his grip, Drak fell to his hands and knees.

 

Safely wrapped in the Void, Drak was vaguely aware of the cheers resonating from the veteran crew members, and he saw the predatory grins form on the faces of most of his fellow newbies, though they had been so fearful just moments ago. They reveled in seeing savagery wrought on another. He found it all amusing.

 

That’s when he started laughing.

 

It was the first sound he had uttered since he had boarded the boat, and it infuriated Mr. Sweeper. Poised as he was on his hands and knees, Drak presented an inviting target for assault, and the first mate took advantage with a kick to the ribs. The snap of his ribs breaking was easily heard as the force of the kick flung Drak onto his back.

 

Drak laughed even harder until a coughing fit wracked his body.

 

Mr. Sweeper loomed threateningly, leering at the remaining newbies while disregarding his bleeding volunteer. “This is what’ll be 'appenin’ to any what crosses the Cap’n.” The old hands cheered and smiled knowingly. At least until Drak rose to his feet and wiped a forearm across his mouth, leaving it soaked with blood.

 

“Is that all ye’ve got?” he asked, ridiculing the first mate’s heavy accent. From his vantage point in the Void, even Drak was impressed with his own nerve.

 

Mr. Sweeper was enraged. The Captain’s great guard dog was overcome with rabid fury. A vicious backhand laid open Drak’s left cheekbone like a razor blade and spun him half way around, sending a spray of blood over most of the assemblage. Grabbing Drak by the collar, Mr. Sweeper landed a series of brutal body blows, audibly splintering the already broken ribs, the first mate grunting with the effort he was putting into the punches.

 

Drak laughed. “hahahahaHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

 

A double hammer blow to Drak’s back drove him to his knees, but only briefly. He staggered to his feet, laughter pouring from his mouth along with frothy gouts of blood.

 

“Ye ‘ad better stay down, boy!” Mr. Sweeper bellowed as he landed another hammer-like fist to Drak’s facing, laying open a gash above his right eye like a filet knife, and knocking him onto his back. Again. But his crazed laughter continued as his blood flowed.

 

Drak rolled over onto his stomach and managed to struggle to his hands and knees when Mr. Sweeper screamed, “Stay down!” and landed a kick square to Drak’s face, further crushing his already broken nose and sending him once again onto his back, his blood raining on the stunned onlookers. Mr. Sweeper straddled the prone Tairen and dropped to his knees, then his fists tried to obliterate the source of the ongoing, blood-gurgling laughter.

 

When the big man paused to catch his breath, Drak reached up and grabbed Mr. Sweeper’s collar with both hands. The young channeler shook his head wildly, sending a torrent of blood over the first mate. All the while his maniacal laughter continued.

 

“BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!”

 

It was the only sound to be heard other than Mr. Sweeper’s heavy breathing. The crew still looked on, but morbid fascination had rendered them mute. Even the sea had gone eerily silent and still as glass, almost as if the gods of the sea were bearing witness.

 

Mr. Sweeper easily knocked his grip loose, and another punch temporarily silenced the laughter as Drak struggled to suck in breath through a mouth that looked like an open wound.

 

The first mate stood and wiped a bloody hand across his sweat-and-blood dripping face. His chest heaved, struggling to catch his breath from the exertion. Just as Mr. Sweeper turned to walk away, a soft giggle brought him to a halt. If it hadn’t been for the otherwise deathly silence, it would have been inaudible. But there it was.

 

From the calm detachment of the Void, Drak considered the grisly scene. His body was broken almost beyond recognition, but he had known the cost from the beginning. It was all or nothing. He would be able to calmly view the brutality of the assault right up until he died… or until he became the most feared man on board. All or nothing.

 

He giggled as he rolled over onto his stomach, his blood pooling around him. He giggled as he dragged himself across the deck, leaving a wide smear of blood snaking behind him. He giggled at the silent terror on the horrified faces of the assembled crew. When he reached a mast and began to pull himself up, Mr. Sweeper choked out, “Stay down, boy.” A note of panic entering his voice. Drak struggled to pull himself up, finally rising to his feet. Clinging tightly to the rigging with one hand, he wobbled but stayed upright, giggling all the while as blood flowed from his wounds like a thousand tiny scarlet streams.

 

He might have fallen on his own, then, had Mr. Sweeper not seized his torn and blood soaked tunic. His coat must have been ripped off at some point. He couldn’t remember when. Pulling him close, Mr. Sweeper stared into his eyes, fear and anger visibly battling within the larger man’s gaze. “Ye should’ve stayed down, boy,” the first mate whispered, the sound carrying despite the softness.

 

With the last of his strength, Drak spat a mouthful of blood into Mr. Sweeper’s face. It was all the defiance he could muster aside from the giggling.

 

When the first mate released his grip, Drak fell to the deck. His legs no longer had the strength to hold him. Lying on his back, he saw Mr. Sweeper loom over him and lift a foot to crush his throat. The detached part of him wondered if the Great Lord would reward him for his brave gamble or punish him for his death, but all the while his giggling never stopped. His eyes were focused on the heel that would stomp out his life when a commanding voice cut through the unnatural silence.

 

“ENOUGH!”

 

He had won, and with the knowledge of his victory he lost his grip on the Void.

 

Darkness overwhelmed him.

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Cody's Post:

 

Watching the violent beating take place, Jisaen began to wonder what caused men to do such stupid and irrational things such as this. She was sure after that brutal kick to the face that the once handsome man would stay down. But he rose once again with that half maniacal laughter. After a few more punishing seconds the man looked as though he had tried to fight an anvil with nothing but his face.

 

Turning to see the reaction of the other passengers upon this odd ship, she noted they all seemed to be mesmerized by the violence and bloodshed of it all. She began to wonder if this man was truly insane or if he had some other motive for his actions. Turning back to the beating she had just enough time to block a large amount of blood from hitting her face.

 

Looking down at her bodice, Jisaen began to hope that Mr. Sweeper would kill him. Blood was the hardest thing to get out of cloth and these were the only clothes she had. Looking back up with a fair amount less pity for the once handsome man she saw him crawling across the deck towards the man that had beat him so badly.

 

Surely he has some plan or he wouldn’t simply have taken this much pain without retaliating, she thought. As he fell to the ground for what looked to be the last time in his life a booming voice spit the dead silence of the ship. "ENOUGH!" Looking behind her Jisaen saw the man who had offered her a chance at adventure. The captain stepped forward and began speaking.

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Sam's Post:

 

Bobby rubbed his temples with one hand and sipped his tea with the other. His eyes were straining to focus on the many reports, papers and other documents scattered across his table. It was as necessary as captaining his vessel. His benefactor would be displeased if things were disorderly, and the displeasure of his benefactor was not something he would prefer to incur if he could avoid it, but the reports always drained him and he really should have been wearing his spectacles.

 

His head began to throb, the beginnings of a tension headache. At first he was too preoccupied to notice his crew beginning to shout and cheer, but the minute vibrations through the wooden planks of The Merry Pauper arrested his attention immediately. The ship was an extension of himself, and very little escaped his notice. It took all of two seconds for him to realise what was happening. In his haste he spilled his tea across the table, ruining many of his reports. With an oath he made his way topside.

 

“Enough.” Bobby did not shout, did not raise his voice, but the effect was immediate. All noise ceased; cheers died in the throats of those who would make them, and all eyes focused on the planks. Each crewman or crewwoman had his or her duties and responsibilities. They each knew what was expected and what would not be tolerated. Even the first mate had the grace to pale.

 

Bobby scanned the scene, checking a sigh at the sight of the battered and bloodied recruit: bloody fools. His voice was calm as the soft ocean swells, and as authoritative as its currents, “The lesson is over. Mr. Sweeper—” the emphasis caused the First Mate to flinch, “—report to my cabin. You men: take that one to August; see what he can do for his wounds. As for the rest of you: this little incident has squandered your remaining free time. You have to the count of ten to have those sails squared and the windward brace trimmed to the wind. Do I make myself clear?”

 

An explosion of movement was the response as he headed back to his cabin. He considered leaving the new recruits to sweet for a while before sending Mr. Sweeper to show them to their quarters, but flagged down an unassigned crewman instead.

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