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Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

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    Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

    934 A.R.

    Ruby took a look over the shifting blue sea from her chosen spot on the ship. The vast expanse of waves, coupled with the open sky above, provided quite a nice view for anyone willing to give it a glance or two. Especially so when compared to the dank, dimly lit corridors of the dungeon that she had called home during much of the past year. The assassin had been there not only as a prisoner, but also a tenant. After all, it was where she met her Mistress, an enigmatic and powerful captor that she, through a numerous series of events, would come to willingly serve and love.

    The first meeting place, the 'labyrinth', as it was called by some, held memories both good and bad, itself the staging ground for perhaps the most eventful phase in the woman's life. But now, it would likely be filled with dirt and gravel, turned into nothing more than a footnote in the history of the now prosperous nation known as Elynsor. To some degree, Ruby had helped it stay that way, but few would remember as much. For her and her Mistress were part of the Redclaw Syndicate, the very organization that had controlled the kingdom's politics to the point of poisoning it. Though the two ultimately defected, they certainly would not be welcomed back by the general public. It was no longer a society that they could safely integrate themselves into, given the Elynsorian distaste for anything Voidic--a nature that Ruby's own Mistress claimed and could not willingly relinquish.

    They found temporary refuge on a vessel called the Dorral, a large trade ship now bound west towards the continent of Aloase, where Ruby's home country, Honrai, prospered. This voyage was one of the last favors that the Mistress would ask through her former connections. The boat was headed by a man named Fiaran V. Estram, an Elynsorian entrepreneur who made his living transporting various goods: spices, weapons, livestock, and of course people, back and forth between the two primary continents. For him, Ruby and her owner were simply passengers on a more important trade run, albeit ones that could be considered more important than his usual fare. After all, for him it wouldn't be the first time he entertained a woman or three on board, though in the past they would often have been considered cargo.

    But this time around, the Honrainese beauty had far more privilege than just that. She retained free access to where she wanted to go, provided she didn't interfere with the sailors' tasks. Some of the seamen took their fair share of eyefuls out of her when they could, gazes that mostly came when her back was turned. However, very few would even dare act on such lusts, as Ruby was much like the element that she had attuned herself to: fire, in that she was certainly pretty to look at, but also potentially harmful to an inexperienced handler.

    Her own handler, who was anything but a novice in the realm of both mental and physical domination, lurked below deck. It was the afternoon watch, when the sun was highest, and Ruby's Mistress was not known for being particularly fond of daylight. It was less by choice and more by her particular biology, and so the domme was often sleeping or otherwise relaxing during these hours.

    Ruby herself, being human, had a bit more freedom to enjoy the sun combined with the ocean breeze, even if it made her slightly queasy for some reason. Her fellow servant, Verde, formerly a monk of the same nationality, also retained such a privilege... but he was nowhere to be found on the deck.

    "Shouldn't be much longer now," remarked the sailor closest to Ruby. The man's name was Athan, him being a fairly experienced sailor who managed to keep some good looks in spite of his rough profession, in a rugged sort of way; with slightly tanned skin and dark hair, his origins suggested Grisalescan inheritage. Unlike some of the others, he held no bashfulness when addressing the somewhat petite assassin. "I'd give it a week at most, with winds like these. You like being up here during this watch, don't you? I'd have thought you were locked away somewhere... most women I know tend to hide out below deck. Like the tall one," he added. "You know, I never actually caught her name."

    The man was referring to one of the only other women on board. She was, of course, Ruby's very own Mistress, known to most only as Noir.

    In the past, Ruby remembered her domme holding host to many parties, proving herself more than capable in the social realm. But throughout this particular journey, the otherwise eloquent woman had chosen to keep to herself for the most part.

    One might guess it to be burnout, perhaps fatigue from recent events. Ruby didn't have to guess to know that this was the case, as she had gotten so close to her owner, not only on a physical and emotional level, but on a mental one as well. So conditioned was the servant from repeated breakings and various 'sessions' that she had ultimately allowed her domme to gain access to her mind through a subset of her natural Voidic abilities. Eventually, this link became permanent. Through this 'window', the pale Mistress could access hints about the current state of Ruby's mind. While the same was true in reverse, it was to a much lesser extent. After all, Ruby was the submissive one in the relationship, while Noir was most certainly the dominant figure. Such was the dynamic they had established, and whether she cared to admit it or not, she was bound in many ways to the one waiting below deck.

    "Guess I can't blame her though," said Athan. "Too long around these blokes and you're bound to wake up with something weird on your face. Female or otherwise, heh. But don't let that scare you... I mean, we've gotten this far without incident, right?"

    Unless she chose to kill more time with him, Ruby was then free to move about the ship. The captain and owner, Fiaran, was on the helm, while the other men worked faithfully at helping maintain the course. Those who weren't currently on watch could be seen playing a game of sorts with cards. Alternatively, Ruby could always look around for the oddly absent Verde, or perhaps visit her domme.
    Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.

    Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

    It wasn't sea sickness, Ruby thought as she kept her eyes steady on the featureless horizon, where the blue ocean met the white western sky. She had already felt sea sickness, long ago, when she first bought passage on a ship heading east to Elynsor. This nausea she had now felt different, and she would just have to bear it. The cold salty spray of the sea didn't help much, nor did the idle conversation that Athan attempted to provide her. It wasn't that she hadn't had experience conversing with his type, quite the contrary in fact. Ruby was no stranger to the scum of humanity that this world had to offer. After all, the Fire Lotus was a former murderer for hire, and she had been good at her job. She had hung around places and people who were not overly sentimental about the notions of basic human rights, and she had worked for them for profit.

    Ironic then, that she should have found a small form of salvation in a place as dark and horrible as the labyrinth of the Redclaw Syndicate. Looking back on it, she supposed that she had begun to grow a conscience originally in Honrai - hence her need to leave it so suddenly - but she had never imagined what sort of an impact the Westerners could have made on her. The names of people better than she worked through her mind - strong people who had turned her into a better woman: Cesca, Irine, Emilia, Thyme, Verde, Azul, Milana, Hilde...


    Noir and Ruby had lost friends in that final battle against the Syndicate. People who, without realizing it, had wormed their way into their hearts. The pain was still too recent, and the ache came in sudden rushes of emotion. At times, Ruby would need to walk the deck, staring at the sky, reliving a dark moment in her mind. It was at times like this that she felt her Mistress' psychic connection wane. Privacy from her domme, who of late had taken to her own sessions of isolation, mourning the loss of Azul.

    It was a strange time for the both of them. Ruby and Noir had irrevocably changed one another, owed their lives to one another, but they had each given of themselves to so many people in that turbulent time, that taking solace in one another's arms seemed now to be somehow disrespectful to the departed spirits of other loved ones.

    It was for this reason that Ruby was not in the mood to simply have a chat with a man like Athan. She could forgive him for being a rotten sailor, a slaver, and quite possibly an irredeemable womanizer. But he was interrupting her mourning.

    "I am appreciating the fresh air and the daylight," Ruby stated calmly, factually, while ignoring his obvious attempt to draw out Noir's name. "And neither of us are scared. Though we appreciate the lack of incidents. Now... if you will excuse me. You have reminded me that I should check on my lady."

    Brushing past the sailor, Ruby pulled her cloak about her and headed down the stairs from the main deck to the lower holds. It had been hours since she last spoke to Noir or had seen Verde, and she supposed that she should check up on the both of them. Likely Noir was sleeping, but it was always useful to make sure that fallen monk was keeping out of trouble, or doing his duty to guard her.

    Ruby silently made her way down into the darker areas of the ship, where the sunlight held no dominion even in the noon. Ruby required a few minutes for her eyes to adjust, and she sniffed at a poultice Noir had given her to avoid the reek of the lower deck of a slaving vessel. Such places did not get cleaned well nor often.

    Once her eyes had adjusted, she made her way down to the lowest deck, where Noir had arranged for space to be set aside for her in a special hidden hold where the good captain normally housed his contraband. Ruby had the key to its bolt lock, and she slid it into the keyhole and turned, announcing her presence mentally to Noir, though she was unsure if her Mistress was paying attention at that moment, given how cut off and distant the woman's presence felt through the 'window' connecting them.


      Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

      "Oh, uh... alright. See you then," replied Athan somewhat gingerly. He eyed Ruby as she turned her back on him and began to walk away, but he would not force himself to say any more just to try and keep her around. Even a man like him could tell that the woman's focus was elsewhere. There were a few instances where she could hold conversations, or something resembling them, but now was not such a time.

      The one on her mind lurked not above deck, but below it. Ruby made her way down to the aft part of the hold, where she knew Noir to have spent most of her time during this particular voyage, at least during the day. It took a moment for the assassin's eyes to adjust to the darkness. Even then, she didn't need to wait for them to do so to know the way by feel and memory alone. The different parts of the Dorral may as well have been different worlds. Up above it was sunny, hot, the sounds of wind and sea spray all too abundant. Down below, it was dark and damp, the air a bit more stale by nature and the ambient noises mostly limited to the waves splashing against the ship and the steady creaking of its construction.

      When she arrived at her destination, Ruby would find her Mistress, along with her fellow servant Verde, wrapped in an intimate embrace. It wasn't one typical of lovemaking... but of feeding. For Noir to find sustenance off of one of the many sailors about might raise suspicion, so she settled for a controlled amount of lifeblood from one of her loyal and consenting slaves. Verde himself had little choice to submit, his body showing minimal signs of resistance as the taller woman cradled him carefully, her lips clamped firmly over the space between his neck and shoulder. He would writhe and twitch every now and then, but such actions were more involuntary, more instinctual than anything.

      Once the Honrainese beauty stepped foot in the pair's general vicinity, however, her domme's crimson eyes would flick up towards her. Slowly releasing her man, Noir daintily wiped her mouth and gave a faint smile. It was one of the first she had managed in weeks, and only because the sustenance that the former monk provided left her feeling refreshed and invigorated. "Mm... nice of you to join us, my dear Ruby," greeted the domme, setting Verde down gently before leaning to the side and back, her legs folded as she sat upon a crate. Others like it were piled up high to add back support for her makeshift throne. It was a far cry from some of the luxurious pieces of furniture that Ruby was used to seeing her Mistress on, the ranks of which the Fire Lotus herself had once joined, but she made it work.

      "Hnnh... guh, hahh," panted Verde, falling to his hands and knees. The servant took a moment to regather his bearings. His green hair was somewhat mussed and his shirt was pulled down halfway, exposing a shoulder and part of his upper arm. The bit of exposed musculature only hinted what both Ruby and Noir knew. The former didn't have to look in order to know that her fellow slave's build was strong, sturdy from years upon years of physical training as a monk of a prominent temple in Honrai. Provided he stayed well-fed and properly hydrated, it was a feeding that he would definitely survive.

      As Verde sought to catch his breath from the apparently exhausting experience, he leaned back on one of the crates near Noir. The pale woman calmly reached forward and stroked his hair, fixing it in the same way that a mother might her child. She motioned to a wooden tray of food. Oatmeal, Brevnian cheese and dry hardtack, daily rations that were no doubt meant for her, but would do her little good as a Voidic entity. Her nature was such that the lifeblood of others sustained her; of the entrees that were her favorites when she did have access to more luxurious food, most involved rare meat. Lore said that those of the Void were parasites, feeding off of the denizens of its host plane. But in her position, sitting upright with Verde at her feet, Noir seemed more like a generous provider than a measly freeloader.

      "Have my rations in addition to yours. Be sure to eat and drink well," she commanded, directing the order towards Verde. He nodded obediently, waiting no longer to dig in to his meal ravenously. The slave forgot himself for a moment, smacking and gulping loudly as he scarfed the food down, starting with the cheese and saving the somewhat dry biscuits for last.

      "Though, mind your manners, won't you?" added Noir in a rather polite tone. She didn't even need to hint the threat of discipline to get Verde to comply. Pausing, the fallen monk would slow down, limiting the noises he made as much as possible and restraining his gluttonous instincts. His correction would earn him a small dose of positive reinforcement in the form of a lighter tone and a gentle pet from the domme's hand. "There we go."

      After exhibiting a pleased look as a result of her male servant's compliance, the Mistress once again turned her gaze to Ruby. "Such a good boy, isn't he? For once," she remarked, idly swinging the tip of her boot back and forth while resting a palm upon the knee of her crossed leg. With her free hand, she continued to stroke Verde lovingly, as if he were a pet of sorts. "So, did you tire of the company of those salty dogs?"
      Last edited by Takimaru; 11th July 2014, 12:33.
      Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.


        Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

        Ruby didn't hold any grudge against Athan, and she had been polite to him when she was in a better mood at the beginning of the voyage. However, as the days dragged on and Ruby's happiness from being away from Elynsor began to fade and be replaced with anxiety over her return to Honrai, Ruby's state of mind had darkened. Perhaps the sailor had meant nothing dramatic by his words, but Ruby hadn't been of a mind to discuss it. At that point, she was missing her mistress' presence, and the light of day was reminding her too much of a certain Brevnian knight. At least in the dark, Ruby would be in a more certain mental place.

        She descended to the aft of the ship and made her way to Noir's selected abode, where a makeshift throne of crates had been arranged to maintain the regal standard to which Noir so often held herself.

        Upon entering, Ruby was confronted again with the sight of her mistress in mid-feed, using her fellow servant as her meal. Poor Verde had been the only possible vessel to nourish Noir, and the voidic vampiress needed to be sparing with how often she used him. Seeing Noir feed on a live person had been a rare sight for the Fire Lotus until this journey began. It was one of those ugly factors that Noir had hidden from her favorite new toy, and had kept hidden after that toy had turned into something more.

        Ruby had in the back of her mind understood that such things had to occur, and she had made her peace with it a while ago, but the sight of it produced many thoughts to flare in her mind. Why can't she feed on me? That had been answered simply by the fact that Ruby was almost certainly with child, even though her stomach was still managing to remain relatively flat.

        Will I like the taste of blood too? That had been the question on Ruby's mind more and more often as she looked at Verde flinching and twitching in Noir's grasp. Curiosity gripped the kunoichi, and she knew that Noir had intentions of one day turning her into a vampire, like herself. At least, that was what Ruby had been asked to consent to.

        Ruby closed the door behind her and knelt silently, several paces away from where Noir sat. Placing her forearms against the floorboards of the deck and touching her nose to the ground, Ruby prostrated herself in front of Noir, in a half conditioned, half respectful manner. Ruby viewed Noir as many things, and one of those was as the equivalent of a feudal lady to whom fealty was owed. In her Honrai upbringing, such devotion was meant to be displayed in the form of prostration, and Noir had found the cultural display amusing in her favored servant.

        Observing the graceful, dominant way that Noir controlled Verde, yet with the care of a matron for her charge, reminded Ruby why she admired and followed Noir, and why the sight of her intimidated and titillated her so. The kunoichi had met the vampire under extreme circumstances, and had resisted in her own defiant way, the call to enslavement. Ruby's passive-aggression, mixed by displays of odd (some might say insane) courage, had won her enough respect with the Mistress to be able to show more and more of her worth as time went on. Furthermore, Ruby had found a level of understanding about Noir that few if any had managed in all the centuries of her voidic existence. This fact, more than anything else, was what had ultimately diverted the vampire away from her darker path.

        The relationship between the two women, however, had always been tinged by the voidic urges that were inherent in Noir. She was always the domme, and Ruby always the submissive. Fortunately, Ruby had after a long time come to not only appreciate this dynamic, but to find solace and even an ironic freedom in it. It was a freedom from loneliness, and it gave her an identity that was something other than a murderess for hire.

        "Their company is not as enjoyable as yours, Mistress," Ruby said, daring to lift her head and gaze at Noir's boots and long legs. "I wished to see if you had need of me."

        She moved her attention over to Verde, looking at the fresh marks upon his neck. Again she wondered about the taste of blood, about what it might be like when she fed. Who would she feed on? Verde couldn't possibly supply enough for both herself and Noir.


          Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

          The moment Ruby touched her forehead to the creaking, shivery wooden floor of the ship's lower level in her prostration, she would feel a tinge of pleasure... one that she knew to be shared by her domme, as the very sentiment had been projected by Noir herself. While undoubtedly a pleasant feeling, it was an odd one, especially having it stick out among the sea of dull, painful thoughts that the kunoichi could only barely keep herself afloat upon as of late. The Mistress felt much the same way, though she hid this fact much better--no doubt thanks to years of practice as the mistress of a rather unscrupulous trade.

          But in spite of her icy mask, she still felt many of the things that her past self did... anger, sadness, fear, love. Those who were merely acquainted with Noir might believe otherwise, but Ruby had caught more than just the occasional glimpse into what remaining humanity there was left. And of course, she had experienced it first hand. For one who was considered the most heartless division leader, she now bore quite a bit of pain, though it was only Ruby who would know directly, while Verde could only imply as much. Most of those who had served her had either lost their lives or were set free by her own doing. Of her former wealth and glory, once having included a veritable army of thralls, all she had left were Ruby and Verde. Both served her of their own free will.

          It was a comforting fact amongst a field of inconvenient truths. There was one other thing that brought Noir relief from her mourning, and it was the satisfaction of an urge inherent to all vampires of the Void; the need to dominate. Some were extremely aggressive, blatant about their desires, selecting one person and abusing them repeatedly. Others victimized targets at random. Of the more powerful vampires, some found the most satisfaction in basking in the glory of lordship, by having sacrifices made for them by legions of followers. While being paid tribute in some form wasn't something she was completely opposed to, Noir mainly chose to exert her dominance in a more controlled manner.

          The acknowledgment of her status with simple commands, as Verde and Ruby had done consistently, was all that was necessary to keep her from a prolonged frown. Sit. Stand. Kneel. Come. To issue these orders, and to watch a subject follow... these all brought her small hints of pleasure and excitement, perhaps rather sexual in nature given how addicting they were. And to have her subordinates perform more humiliating acts for her sake brought even more of a high, as Ruby herself knew quite well.

          But seeing as Verde was weakened from the recent feeding and Ruby was in the early stages of being with child, she would have to hold back on indulging her Voidic desires fully, at least for the time being. Her crimson eyes met those of Ruby's as the kunoichi dared to look up. It was one of the many ways that the sub constantly bended the otherwise strict rules, pushing her own boundaries. But this time, the glance had coincided with a single order for her to rise, made by a motion of the pale woman's hand. After all, there wasn't an explicit need for Ruby to prostrate herself in such a manner; a proper greeting was enough, especially considering she was one of Noir's last remaining possessions. And yet the domme would make no argument to it, as the gesture tickled her so, the same way a kiss or an embrace from a lover might. Though those wouldn't be so bad right about now, either...

          "So I noticed," she responded with her usual confidence. "I have no particular need of you, at the moment... but wanting you is another matter," added the domme with a more defined smile, urging her servant to approach.

          A cool hand caressed Ruby's cheek. The two had been somewhat distant to each other since the beginning of the voyage, thanks to recent wounds and the need to be alone in light of them. But today, Noir had opened up enough again to opt for affectionate displays between her and her favorite slave. The domme would only need lean forward for a moment for Ruby to know that she should kiss her...

          Suddenly, the ship shook and swayed, coming to a halt afterwards. The lurching motion did just enough to ruin the pair's moment, and the sounds that followed seemed intent on keeping it that way. Assorted cries of confusion and alarm could be heard from above deck, and the drum of multiple footsteps moving to and fro caused small ribbons of dust and dirt to fall from the ceiling. They had hit rough patches of sea during the voyage, no doubt, but these sailors were experienced. Nothing had caused quite as much alarm amongst them as this recent disturbance.
          Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.


            Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

            The brief tinge of pleasure that crept across Noir's mind was quickly mirrored by her Honrainese servant. Simple joys were to be treasured of late, and one of the most readily available joys was to know that she was making her Mistress happy, even if it was the most ephemeral respite. Absolute subservience was one of the things that Ruby had been trained for in her former life as an assassin for hire. The School of the Five Elemental Harmonies was nothing if not effective in its enforcement of discipline. Within those halls, disobedience was deadly. It had not been until Ruby's exile and life as a freelance mercenary that she had begun to learn the value of independence, but also its cost. Ruby had become a stranger in a strange land, with no one to express herself to. And even if she had been able to express herself, all that she might have shared was a background of death, terror, and fire. Only Noir had undergone things that compared to the depths of depravity that the kunoichi herself had been born into. Only Noir offered her a sense of place, and all she had had to do was to surrender herself to this woman, and everything fell into a dark, cozy place.

            Both of them had been robbed of a choice in becoming the creatures they were, both of them had needed the sharing of misery to snap themselves out of the downward spiral. And now both of them simply wanted to live a life free from all that might come hunting after them, away from the devastation they had wrought behind them. That was why they had undertaken this journey. So that they might be free to live a quieter life together.

            Ruby was overjoyed at this prospect, and though to some, her displays of obedience might seem crude, lewd, and deplorable; for her, they were a costume that she wore in a play of her lover's devising. She was still the woman that she was before meeting Noir, and her frequent subversions had established something of a pleasant game between herself and Noir. The only real changes had been subtle things: deviant pleasures that she had not admitted to enjoying prior to her education under Noir's tutelage. The touch of her Mistress' crop, the feel of her boot upon Ruby's back, and the restrictions of ropes and chains to manipulate her were all things that the kunoichi now enjoyed, and she shared this happiness with the vampiress through her mental connection.

            So it was only natural that Ruby rose immediately at a simple beckon of Noir's fingers and placed her cheek in her mistress' palm. Her face rubbed against the cool, pale skin as though she were a kitten purring against the caress of its owner. Ruby had been missing this affection through the first half of this voyage, as both of them had been caught up in recent pains. She had been dying to speak to Noir about it, to fall into the woman's arms again as she had done just after the battle in the labyrinth, but the moment had not surfaced until now.

            As Noir leaned forward, Ruby could no longer hide the smile that had been screaming to get out for weeks. And as she closed the gap between herself and the mistress' beckoning lips, she was no longer a slave, a servant, or a thrall, but completely herself, wanting to clutch the silly woman in front of her and cling to her like the stars cling to the sky.

            "Oh Noir..." She uttered, with longing in her voice. They were close now, only an inch apart, when the ship lurched to a sudden stop and Ruby felt herself tipped off balance and sent sideways. She stumbled, caught herself against a box, and proceeded to let loose a string of dirty swears in her native tongue, whose meaning Noir would only understand on an emotional level - in which it was clear the the frustration of fate denying the assassin this chance at a kiss was going to result in things being set on fire.

            Straightaway she balanced herself against the boxes and made her way to the door, shrugging off her cloak to give herself freedom of movement. She was not wearing anything fancy, save for the collar around her neck, but she kept this hidden with a tightly wound cloth scarf that trailed a bit down her back. The rest of her clothes were simple traveler's garb, in a men's style, seeing as dresses had rarely been something that Ruby wore. The one significant exception to this had been a night when she had done so at Noir's request.

            However, dresses were inconvenient to the work that Ruby was often expected to carry out, so now she dashed forward and swung open the door, looking over her shoulder to say, "Stay put, make sure Verde's safe. I'll go see what's happening."

            Had it been during the night, Noir would probably have been well ahead of Ruby, but with the sun up above, the human had the seniority in matters of investigating the upper deck. At least, that was how Ruby chose to interpret the situation. If Noir objected to the curt order giving from servant to mistress, well, she would just have to admonish her later.

            The kunoichi scrambled up the stairs, going by sense of touch rather than relying on her eyes in the dim light, until at last she reached the top deck and swung open the hatch into daylight. She squinted, trying to see what was going on.


              Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

              Ruby's sentiment of frustration was mirrored by her Mistress, though in a more quiet fashion than that of the Honrainese native. The pale woman furrowed her brow, tilting her chin upwards at the flurry of pounding noises that came from above. Noir wasn't used to being interrupted in such a manner--not without issuing proper punishment for such an offense. This time, however, it could be forgiven, as something told her that the ruckus occurring up above wasn't something under the direct control of the Dorral's experienced crew. It was simply poor timing, seeing as they had run into relatively few disturbances up until that point. Especially during the day. It likely couldn't be foul weather...

              Then came a quickly issued order. It wasn't from the domme, but from the sub, of all people. Noir instinctively quirked a brow at the sudden command, but she would nonetheless respond with a firm nod of approval, taking it as a request for the time being. It wasn't that unusual for the Fire Lotus, who couldn't help but to test her owner's patience from time to time with a bit of healthy insolence. Ruby knew that her Mistress would remember, however. It was a challenge for any domme to keep things fresh for an occasionally disobedient sub who had acquired some masochistic tendencies, but Noir had managed to do so every time. But that would have to come later.

              While it could very well have been dangerous up top, Noir needn't give some dramatic warning for her favorite slave to take caution. The two were no strangers to peril. They did, after all, meet each other under such circumstances. Given the Mistress' voidic nature, conflict seemed inescapable.

              As Ruby made her way back up, the vampire looked down at her other slave, Verde. Panting and hunched over on the floor, he was still battling with the fatigue and weakness associated with being fed upon. Noir couldn't help but regret her choice to use him at a time like this, though it couldn't be helped. The yells up top increased in volume, and it caused the former monk to grit his teeth and try his best to stand.

              "I can still go," uttered Verde under his breath, his will far exceeding what his body could muster. A soft white hand set itself upon his shoulder and urged him back down, and the man had no choice but to comply. He would stay. Noir shushed him softly. She chose to place her trust in Ruby to handle the disturbance, whatever it might be, and so she would hold the Fire Lotus to that for the time being.

              After a bit of feeling around, the kunoichi found her way on deck once again. Her eyes hadn't fully adjusted to the darkness below, and so the sunshine proved somewhat less blinding than it could have been otherwise. The apparent turbulence had come to a stop along with the ship itself, but there were still assorted groans and troubled words being exchanged between the sailors, who could now be seen with weapons in hand. A look beyond, in front of them, would show Ruby why.

              It was another ship, slightly smaller than the one she was on, but still an impressive sight nonetheless. High upon its mast was a crimson red flag, its design consisting of an hourglass-shaped insignia with two swords crossed beneath it, in pure white. It was a banner that the Honrainese beauty had never seen before, but judging by the reactions of the crew around her, it certainly meant some kind of trouble.

              Many of the men had crossbows loaded and at the ready, while Serafin, the ship's water mage, nervously took cover behind a large wooden standing shield, one specifically meant to protect casters from projectile weapons. He was a mousey sort of young man, smaller than the others and likely inexperienced in the realm of actual combat given his cowering posture--that, or he was well aware of whatever this strange new ship's reputation was. Water mages like him were extremely useful for long voyages, as they could provide a practically unlimited supply of drinkable water. However, in ship-to-ship combat, they were somewhat less useful than their counterparts who specialized in fire or lightning... and all too often, they were the first to be targeted by enemy crews.

              The Dorral was a 'trading' vessel, for the most part. Its men were armed to some extent, those at the ready wielding either a cutlass, a boarding axe, or a crossbow... but there were only a handful of them who could really fight, whereas this potentially hostile boat, for its slightly smaller size, was likely chock full of battle-hardened veterans. The overall air of tension amongst the crew suggested as much.

              Fiaran V. Estram, the owner and captain of the ship, could be seen pacing back and forth as the intruders edged closer. It was that tense silence that occurred before either a discussion or an all-out exchange of projectile fire, and he was not immune to the pressure of such a situation. A look at the men on board the other ship, though it was still about a hundred yards away, would reveal that nearly all of them had weapons at the ready. A pair of cloaked figures, whom Ruby might guess to be mages of some sort, also could be made out behind standing shields of their own.

              "Nice of you to join us," said Athan, who kept a tight grip upon a naval cutlass in one hand, with a small crossbow in the other. "I'm afraid it's not looking too good, at the moment..."
              Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.


                Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

                Ruby worked her way back to the surface and to the sunlight, and after a brief moment was taken to find her bearings, she moved next to Athan and took in the scene before her.

                She did not know what forces were arrayed on the other boat, nor what the red hourglass with the crossed swords meant, but she had an idea. Piracy was a lucrative business along the trade routes between the East and West, and the Talean waters in between. The sailor standing next to her had the situation properly described. This crew was out-armed, and quite possibly outmatched. If the cloaked figures on board the strange ship were mages, then they outnumbered the simpering water mage who hid within the kunoichi's sight.

                All of this she relayed back to her mistress on the lower deck, via the emotional and visual language they had developed after months of being connected to one another through a mental communication. The best hope for a smooth outcome was for the captain to successfully parley.

                Ruby was without an apparent source of fire, Noir was weakened by the sunlight above decks, and Verde had just been fed upon. Fate was not smiling on them this day. Still, the assassin was not without her physical resources. Despite her smaller frame, she was disciplined in the martial arts. She could strike to cripple and injure, and she knew how to handle a sword well enough to kill even a seasoned pirate. Right now it was simply a matter of numbers, and Ruby's specialty was decidedly not in a grand, open melee. She much preferred to strike from a position of surprise.

                "Who are these people? Pirates? Do you know the flag?" She whispered to Athan, hoping to draw out more information. "What are the chances they'll let us be?"


                  Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

                  As Ruby relayed the information back down to her Mistress, she would receive only a hint of the domme's feelings in return: that of general annoyance, which all but confirmed the other ship's status as that of a pirate vessel. It would be foolish to say that Noir wasn't worried in the slightest--after all, these brigands had struck during the worst of possible times: in the middle of the day. While exposure to the sun's rays was not immediately fatal for the vampire, it was harmful enough to lessen her power by a significant degree. To make matters worse, they were in the center of the ocean, where one could only flee as fast as their ship could move. And in the speed department, the red-flagged boat appeared to have them beat.

                  Athan confirmed as much. "Yes and yes," replied the dark-haired seaman. "That's the ship of Crimson Melchor. 'Her Majesty's Bane', one of the fastest pirate vessels on this side of the ocean--or so it is said. Seems to be living up to its reputation thus far, though, as the Dorral is no slouch either. But we are definitely in trouble here, as they've supposedly had no problems taking on an Elynsorian warship at one point," he went on to explain. "The fact that they're flying that red flag to begin with means they probably don't mean to sink us right away, which is probably a good sign. On the other hand, we are one of the bigger 'trading' ships that travel this route. I just hope that their captain isn't looking for our typical cargo, and that he won't get upset about what we do have..."

                  Ruby could guess as to what he meant. As a vessel that originally had ties to the Syndicate, the Dorral was well known for transporting many slaves at once, back and forth, between the Eastern and Western continents. For this trip, however, it was mainly carrying less animate goods; spices, linen, precious metals, wood of the serient tree, wax and wine. While these were certainly desirable products, especially for one looking to deal with Talean or Honrainese traders, there were no broken-in slave women for the raiders to steal... save for Ruby herself, depending on the beholder. If the men of 'Her Majesty's Bane' were looking for comfort women to ease their more primal frustrations, they may very well end up sorely disappointed--if they were looking for quantity, anyway.

                  Meanwhile, Captain Estram gripped his head with both hands as if nursing a crushing stress headache, which was a high possibility given the dilemma at hand. "This can't be happening!" he cried to himself, his voice wavering. "Of all the times for them to finally get us..."

                  He only stopped rambling to himself in order to look up at the men aboard the Bane. One man, presumably of Talean heritage and dressed in a large, fancy coat, made a motion with one hand towards the Dorral--likely a call for parlay, as the crimson flag first indicated. He then proceeded to hop onto a smaller boat along with a handful of his lads, which was then lowered into the water. The sea was calm enough, and the larger vessel had already dropped anchor. Clearly they intended to board as opposed to having the Dorral's captain come aboard their ship, as a sign of trust from the 'superior' vessel. Or in this case, the one with more combat-ready men.

                  "The size of this guy's balls," muttered one crew member next to Athan, a younger lad with red hair and a multitude of freckles in place of a seafarer's tan. "We should fill 'em fulla bolts while they're on their way here. Like we're going to just drop ladder at their request!"

                  "Drop the ladder," ordered Estram in a loud yet nervous tone, much to the shock of the deckhand who had been interrupted. It seemed he knew better than to try such a reckless action, especially with at least two mages aboard the other ship and a veritable horde of pirates itching to fight. He would, however, continue to pace back and forth, a hand held up to his chin in deep thought of what he might say in order to make the best out of such a situation.

                  With his orders carried out by the reluctant crewmen, it was only a matter of minutes until the man who Ruby could guess to be captain, along with three of his mates, found themselves aboard the Dorral. They were all Talean in appearance, save for one of them, who boasted a much darker complexion typical of Deunic folk. The 'captain' himself was not particularly unique as far as features went; he could have been mistaken for any of the other sailors if it wasn't for the fancy dress. A rough-skinned man with short, jet-black hair and solid stature, like that of his mates, he appeared rather well-fed for someone of his profession, indicating no small level of success in his chosen trade.

                  "We finally meet," greeted the pirate captain, adjusting his coat and aiming a confident grin towards the fidgety owner of the Dorral. While he did have a slight accent, he did speak in the Elynsorian language without apparent difficulty, seeing Fiaran's relatively pale complexion and guessing the Dorral's origin correctly. "I am Melchor. You might have heard of me. I have stopped many slaver ships, more than I can remember. But this must be one of the last that I have never touched." Running his hand along one of the side rails of the ship, he seemed to admire its workmanship. "Until now, hohohoh..."

                  His gaze shifted sideways towards the cowering water mage only briefly before snapping back to meet that of Captain Estram's. "While I could leave this ship full of holes, I am feeling generous today. I want two things. Half of your food supplies, and half of your other goods. Also, all of your women," he declared. "I know you have some nice ones below deck? Good slaves waiting to be bought, yes? We'll take them. My men are getting... lonely. This is just the sort of ship we need."

                  Fiaran swallowed. "I do have a few goods that you can take," explained the less assertive captain. "But no women this time, unfortunately. You see, there have been some changes in Elynsorian policy as of late. Those we are shipping back are really just passengers more than uh, cargo..."

                  Melchor's grin soon faded into a frown upon hearing such a claim. He glanced at Ruby for a moment, then made a motion towards her with his hand. "Don't lie to me. I see one right now! Surely you have more," barked the captain with more noticeable anger in his tone. "But we will take her anyway. Bring her to me," he then added, making a beckoning motion with one hand. Athan looked at her reluctantly, while Fiaran looked about ready to give in to the pressure. Normally, the enterprising trader showed Noir great deference, but in the face of one with a personality as strong as Melchor, he had apparently forgotten all about her for the moment.

                  Ruby had a chance to say something, but she would have to be fast and diplomatic, as even the captain of the Dorral proved a little too compromising for a situation such as this. The Fire Lotus could relay as much of the information to her domme as she cared to. While her emotional response would seep through anyway, she could bypass that by remaining stoic to the situation at hand. After all, Noir had trusted her with handling the situation...
                  Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.


                    Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

                    Ruby took in all the information as it was relayed to her. Pirates? You betcha. Crimson Melchor? Captains the fastest ship on the seas. Armed? Only to the point of taking on warships. What do they want? A boatload of women to satisfy their lusts, and this particular ship only has you and Noir. Well, isn't this just peachy?

                    So it would seem that an all out melee was out of the question. She also noted how useless Captain Estram would be in all of this. His spine, or whatever it was that he used to keep his head connected to his ass, was not going to last a minute against this cocksure corsair's demands.

                    She had to admit, she kind of liked the swagger this Melchor had. Sure he was a low down, rotten criminal, but she was used to that. He had the aura of someone who was the commander of his own destiny. Free out on the waters, with no one to answer to but himself. It must be a nice existence, save that he appeared to be surrounded by too many lonely men.

                    When he pointed her out as an example of a woman slave waiting to be bought she smirked ruefully. Perhaps he wasn't all that bright, as what sort of slave girl was left to roam freely on deck, fully clothed, unshackled, and armed with a blade? He demanded that she be brought to him. As if any man on this ship might be able to bring her? In fact... She took a second, closer look at him. Then she mentally slapped herself for having allowed herself to be duped in for even a second. The answer was so blindingly obvious.

                    "Well," she said, loudly so that the whole crew could hear. "You can't possibly be the real Captain Melchor."

                    She stepped forward, brushing off any attempt to either stop her, hold her, or bring her forward as if she needed an escort.

                    "The feared Crimson Melchor of 'Her Majesty's Bane?' Dear gods, you are underwhelming. And blind and stupid if you think I'm what a slave girl looks like." She kept a hand resting casually on the hilt of her sword, but didn't draw it, preferring to offer a daring smile across the plank boards at this individual.

                    "Though I'm easily more fun than one in every possible way... In any case, you should row back to your ship and tell the real man in charge that the slave girl trade from Elynsor is over and done with. The ringleaders were caught and executed. Everything's in ruins. Oh, there's some basic foodstuffs, some trade goods on here. But I'm the only warm blooded woman on board, and I'm clearly too much for you. But if the real Melchor wants me, he has to come get me himself.~"
                    Last edited by BlueSlime; 5th August 2014, 12:30.


                      Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

                      Ruby's sudden accusation gave the man a few seconds of pause, but he did a good enough job of remaining stoic. Was he the real Captain Melchor, and simply taken aback by her daring ploy? Or was he an impostor who had only shown the slightest of hesitations upon having his cover blown? "Hah," he scoffed, "You are quite cheeky to be saying such things. But I like that in a woman."

                      While the pirate captain and his men only gave minimal reactions to the kunoichi's allegation, the crew of the Dorral proved easily swayed by the suggestion. Assorted murmurs could be heard between the tense crowd. At the very least, it might raise their confidence a little to believe that even the great Crimson Melchor wouldn't have the balls to step aboard their vessel so brazenly with them armed and at the ready. The tension remained thick, however, and it wouldn't be enough quite yet.

                      Melchor shrugged off the Fire Lotus' initial verbal jabs, eyeing her with a grin. "Maybe not right now, but I can certainly see you naked on all fours with a collar around your neck in the near future. Hahaha... you'd be just what we need over there. Believe me, I've seen the most hardened mercenaries turned into little slut pigs with the right combination of words and discipline. It's a shame they never last long on my ship..."

                      "Such confidence, too--perhaps you are the stupid one to speak so boldly to one who could see you and all your friends sunk to the bottom of the sea in an instant. And yet you speak as if you are the captain, as if this very ship is yours alone to forfeit!" He stopped to give Captain Estram a somewhat condescending look. "Though, I suppose you'd still make a more convincing one than the swabbie in captain's clothing over there. Hmpf..."

                      His remark caused the owner of the Dorral to grimace a little, but despite the offense taken, Fiaran would not draw the cutlass sheathed at his side--and Melchor seemed to expect as much.

                      Ruby's story about the upheaval in Elynsor caused the man to raise a brow. He gave a skeptical look, unable to determine whether it was an honest report or just another lie meant to throw him off guard. "Perhaps I'd believe you, if I didn't know slavers as well as I do. I haven't set foot in Elynsor proper for a good while, but regardless of what has happened there, slavery is a trade that will go on no matter who you kill. There are always those that serve, and those that lead. I expect you'll know as much soon enough."

                      "Either way, I'd like to remind you that you are not the one with the clout for bargaining here. I am. And if you return with me to MY ship, perhaps we can get a real deal going instead of dawdling here." He turned his gaze to Estram. "So, what do you say, 'Captain'? I'll take the mouthy mercenary wench off of your hands, and you prepare some loot for us so that we can be on our way and you can be on yours?"

                      Fiaran V. Estram, who Ruby remembered having given Noir his word for safe passage, seemed to be going back on that now. He hesitated visibly, wiping the sweat from his brow and silently contemplating the offer that was just put forward... considering it, even.

                      However, not all of the men on the Dorral were necessarily willing to let themselves be humiliated so easily. Athan glanced sideways at her, along with a few of the other men, and they visibly tightened their grip on their weapons. If Ruby were to give him a proper signal of sorts, they could easily dispatch of those on board, or take them hostage even. It would be a risky plan that might pay off if Melchor truly was who he said he was.

                      Alternatively, she could prod a little more within the conversation to see exactly what kinds of mages "Her Majesty's Bane" had aboard. She would have to think and act fast, however, given that Estram was keen to surrender to the pirate's demands at any moment now...
                      Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.


                        Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

                        Ruby turned to Athan as the pirate captain began to turn his attention away from her.

                        "Hey. Go light a few torches and bring them here. I have a feeling this captain is going to need to see something to change his mind."

                        She then looked back at Melchor.

                        "Maybe you're deaf? Or did you not hear before? I'm a passenger, not cargo. If the captain forfeits on his contract with me then he knows he'll suffer the consequences - though the first trouble he'll have is explaining to your crew that me killing you wasn't his idea."

                        Ruby stepped around Melchor, making sure that he came between her and the mages on the other ship. No point in giving them a free shot, she figured. She also hoped that the ex-slaver captain would consider the double threat now facing him - that handing Ruby over to Melchor would only result in her starting an attack, and even if he survived, he had the Lady Noir's wrath to look forward to in handing Ruby over to pirates as though she were a sack of grain.

                        "You know, if you really are Melchor, you've brought very few bodyguards with you. I imagine we could easily kill you, or take you hostage, before your comrades even began their assault. But maybe they wouldn't mind us killing you? Just a chance for whoever you left in charge on that ship to become the new feared pirate captain, mm?"

                        Ruby smiled, trying to appear dangerous even though she was fully aware that she was going out on a limb here. She kept her hand upon the handle of her sword and made certain that she was always on balance and ready to move, even as she feigned casualness.

                        "I've seen fiercer men than you on their knees, kissing the boot of a lady. Maybe I'll put a collar on you and we'll see how you like it? As for the death of the slave trade, tsch... maybe in time it'll crawl back into the underworld o Elynsor, but you can expect it to be quiet for a while. After all, you're looking at the woman who put her sword through the heart of the Red Claw Syndicate leader."

                        She prayed that the pirate captain might have heard the name and realized the gravity of the boast she was making. She had to make him rethink the situation.

                        "So maybe you want to tell me why you're so confident that you'll leave this ship alive, now that you're here?"


                          Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

                          Athan quirked a brow at the request, given its rather odd timing. Still, he wasn't one to refuse Ruby, and so hurried off to acquire the items asked of him. As the other crew members had their feet firmly planted into the deck, his footsteps were more audible than they should have been, but luckily the dialogue between the Fire Lotus and the supposed pirate captain laid claim to the attention of most.

                          "You, kill me? Hah... what a sense of humor you have," replied Melchor, whose hand smoothly grasped the hilt of his cutlass as the harmonist approached him. If he was merely a double, then his sense of awareness and overall pressure was high for one, impressively so. Perhaps it was to be expected of a man with the nerve to be the first on board an enemy ship. Still, for as formidable as he seemed to be, Ruby was right. There were too many of those supporting her and too little of the marauders--at least as of right now--for the man's status as a genuine leader to be particularly believable, especially given his lack of fear at the loaded crossbows pointed in his direction.

                          Yet he would not concede the point. "Hahahaha!" he guffawed upon hearing Ruby's bold claim. It wasn't a total lie on her part. After all, she had no small part in helping take down the Syndicate, despite it being the grandest of group efforts. And yet, Melchor wasn't convinced in the slightest. "I may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night. Forgive me--the sea is a great place for telling lies, and so I am used to hearing good ones. You'll need to try much harder than that to convince me."

                          "And I have plenty reason to be confident," pronounced the pirate, taking a step back towards the railing. "If I don't leave this ship alive, none of you will. I don't imagine any of you care for a terrible, fiery death? Or perhaps a watery one, as our specialists can ensure that even a vessel as grand as this one would be sunk in little time at all." Casually raising a hand up to shoulder level, the mages on board the Bane appeared to take the gesture as a signal of sorts. And in the distance, Ruby could make out two gates being formed by Melchor's mages; one fire, one lightning. The other men could be seen scrambling into positions, and a few moving parts could be seen in the background, though Ruby couldn't quite make them out just yet...

                          Meanwhile, several paces behind Ruby and out of plain sight, behind an extension of the forecastle, the striking of flint against steel could be heard. It wouldn't be difficult for the Fire Lotus to guess that it was Athan trying his best to start a fire for the torches, but he was taking longer than she might have liked... especially with the pirate mages prepared to loose their spells at any time, and a large trebuchet of all things aboard Her Majesty's Bane now spotted as loaded and ready, its cover of men having dispersed as they made way for its potential movements.

                          "It's a trebuchet!" cried one of the Dorral's crew members. The air of panic aboard the ship heightened, but another yell from Captain Estram kept his men from letting their projectiles fly at the pirates on board. No doubt Noir must have noticed the commotion by now. Through her window, Ruby could contact her and ask for assistance, but on the other hand, the Mistress had entrusted this task to her...

                          "It's a shame the lot of you allowed this woman to handle any kind of negotiations," said Melchor. "I don't take kindly to threats--if anyone does the threatening around here, it should be me. I was going to make it easy for you, and us, with a swift and easy transaction. But, if push comes to shove, my divers have no issues scooping up goods after the lot of you are dead."

                          "No!" cried Fiaran. "I... I'll give you what you need. Just don't sink this ship, for it is far more valuable than its goods." He motioned for his men to lower their arms. Slowly, they did, perhaps relieved that the possibility of a most violent outcome was subverted with their leader's surrender.

                          Only a small handful of them, the ones around Ruby, seemed more reluctant to lower their arms, perhaps due to the air of tension between the kunoichi and the crimson-clad pirate captain, along with the threats that the former had made.

                          "Oh? Perhaps you have more sense than I thought," said Melchor with a slight grin.

                          "Put them down," urged Fiaran in a stronger voice towards his remaining men, apparently having saved such conviction up until now--for purposes of surrender.
                          Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.


                            Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

                            This was starting to get out of hand. She didn't have enough reputation to sway Melchor from his current course of action, and if she did reveal herself as a trained assassin of the harmonist school, then she might lose an element of surprise that she would sorely need in the midst of battle.

                            She couldn't let Fieran's cowardice win the moment however. She needed to seize the initiative once again and try to win the hearts and minds of these sailors. If they all turned, then she was finished.

                            "Gentlemen, I wonder if the illustrious captain would be so bold to order his ship to let loose its magics and projectiles with a blade at his throat? Seems to me that most men who think so much of their stature would tend to worry about things such as how they spend their last moments. I doubt gasping for air as he chokes on his own blood would be his preferred choice. Wouldn't you all agree?"

                            Ruby could tell that she would have to appeal to the morale of the men on her own ship.

                            "But if common sense won't appeal to you, Captain Fieran, then perhaps threats will. I want you to realize that if you give the order to surrender me unto these men, then you won't survive to reach the shore. Neither will most of your men. And those who do survive will wish that they hadn't. Ask yourself truly if I am merely a woman delivering a curse, or informing you of a fact."

                            She turned again to the braggart captain.

                            "I will gladly show you the truth to my claim, captain. I don't fear death. I don't fear your rocks and your spells. I certainly don't fear your blade."

                            "Sailors of the Dorral. I'm going to show you what tune this sea rat sings when he realizes his bravado won't cow real men. Not that sheep of a captain we have."

                            She pulled her blade free of its sheath and stepped towards Melchor, pointing her blade at him as she went. Inwardly she prayed for Athan to strike that flint faster and give her something to work with just in case she needed it, however, if she could goad that fire mage across the waters into unleashing a large immolation, then she might have some hope of turning the tide of battle in the Dorral's favor.

                            "He's certainly not going to fling stones or burn our ship while he and his men are on it," she goaded and took another step forward, but this time she also sidestepped, constantly placing the captain in between herself and his crew of crossbowmen.

                            "This is your last chance, Melchor. Even if your ship wins the day, you won't live to see it."


                              Re: Harmony and the Void (BlueSlime) GMed by Takimaru

                              Ruby's point caused the men around her to exchange glances momentarily before shooting the hesitant Fiaran a brief look, which he could only reply to with a scowl, showing that he was very much expecting them to comply. Then, they turned their attention back to the harmonist. It was hard to say what the verdict was for the group closest to her. On one hand, they hadn't stepped aside her in defiance of their own captain's orders, but on the other, neither did they move to detain her.

                              But as she continued, the kunoichi went on to put her fearlessness on display, or at least what was a very good facade of one. It must have done something, as out of her peripheral vision she would see the body language of the sailors in her vicinity bolden. The man who had suggested simply shooting Melchor before had more of a mind to do it now, especially after seeing Ruby produce the nerve to draw her own blade and point it in the direction of the pirate captain, who quickly drew their own cutlass in response, itself a rather plain blade in contrast to his fancy coat. The level of tension in the air grew even thicker as several crossbows turned to point towards Melchor.

                              "What are you doing?!" protested Fiaran. "I said, put them down! Don't get us all killed!"

                              "N-No!" protested the crimson-haired youth, who was the first to train his aim upon Melchor. "She's right! With a pull of this trigger, even l could kill him at this range! And we'll have killed their captain!"

                              Even Melchor frowned, a noticeable sweatdrop trickling down the side of his face as he saw the lad steel himself. As some of the other crossbowmen readied themselves to follow suit, he grimaced and held a hand up. "Fine. You fools do that and see what happens. Do you know why they won't hesitate?" He motioned back to Her Majesty's Bane, upon which a small fire gate could be seen opening, and yet increasing in size over the next few seconds. "Because killing me won't accomplish anything. You were right the first time--I'm not the real Melchor."

                              "He lost a bet," explained one of the men at his side with a small chuckle, only to be nudged. "Oof!"

                              "So the lot of you have no cards in this game, no sway in this negotiation. Give it up already, and my captain might even be merciful about this."

                              Just as he finished his most recent sentence, Athan came around the corner with a torch, blazing from the fresh fire he had apparently managed to create. "Ruby! What now?"
                              Developer of Despair Labyrinth and primary GM of the PbP.