The intrepid crew and guests of the Fair Wind continue their quest to find/fix/create a shadow path to the new Kitezh. This took place before Random abdicated the throne.
The sturdy ship Fair Wind has been properly repaired, during the short hiatus. Its crew now seasoned by the first trip out is actually all still there, and ready to go. Owing Admiral Gerard a favour it seems can lead to fun. In any event, folks met on the dock, and the Fair Wind set sail, from Amber's harbour out and along the way. The first goal - go check on that last place and make sure things are doing as well as they were last time.
Ruby has somehow managed to be part of the crew again. After the nightmare-inducing events of the previous journey, the swelling in her head has gone down. And she's come armed for Kraken. She stays the heck out of the way of the normal functions of the Fair Wind's crew. She tends to a certain pattern of wandering though. Particularly between parts of the ship that have needed repairs above deck.
Having climbed aboard during the ship's pass through the Rebman Triangle, Merrisol remains by the rail while the Solar Flare keeps pace. Technical Begmanese passes between himself and the crew via the feeds in the great seahorse head that stretches up to peer over the deck and its adventurers with apparent keen fascination. After a while, the sub parts ways and descends below the waves, leaving Merri free to explore the ship and muse inquisitively over the various patches and repairs. He also keeps an eye out for the friends amongst the crew... except what he ends up with is Ruby. "..Oh," he halts to regard her narrowly, almost sidelong, when their paths cross. "Hey. Ruby."
Funny thing about this trip. It seems a little shorter this time, than last. Out the harbour, through the Rebman triangle and off to that first freaky shadow. Which was so far away the first time, but now it's somehow - closer. Amy lets the captain do his job, bringing the ship towards the Teeth Rocks. "So, the pattern is going to be - sail towards the Teeth Rocks until the tentacle grabs a shark, and then turn three degrees to the north north west. While the ship is turning, there's a rhyme to be spoken, about bubbles and insects." She pauses and then says, apologetically. "I'm not quite sure where we'll get to from here, but - there's only one way to know."
The amazon finds a section of her triangular journey interrupted by the buff Rebman. It breaks her out of her routine and she gives him a up-down up-down look, the kind that isn't accompanied by a wolf-whistle. "I saw yer oopside down boat." she says lamely. Uncomfortably, she shifts her weight and alternates rubbing anklets of leather and silver metal mesh against one another, eyelets tinking dully when they happen to glance.
Ruby turns to regard Amy and explanation of the first node. She murmers, "It can't be more peri-loos than ten-tickles an them fish...an rocks...Can't be worse."
"Yeah.. but there's nothing upside down about... Nevermind." Merrisol shoves his hands into his pockets and shuffles his weight a bit, then stops when he realizes Ruby's fidgeting is contagious. His gaze drops to the leather cuffs and spends a few moments failing to come up with a reasonable explanation for the eyelets. Fortunately, Amethyst's recounting of the Path Thus far is just strange enough to allow him to look away without awkward comment. "More grabby tentacles, hm? Or, the same one as the last time? Either way, seems to be a Kitezhka kind of thing," he nods. "How does this work, then.. you wait for something significant to happen along the way, and turn it into a node?"
Amy is unaware of the awkwardness between Ruby and Merrisol, thankfully. She shakes her head though, shrugging. "I'm not quite sure," she admits. "It might take a while to find a good place for the next node though. So we might even have to return to Amber to resupply. I've heard that happens sometimes." It's a clear sunny day so far, and the ship is sailing gently towards the first node. There are folks below decks, and the captain of the Fair Wind already knows where he is going, so he's taking care of business for the group, leaving our intrepid adventurers to chat. "So does anyone have a rhyme with bubbles and bugs in it? I think it doesn't really matter what the rhyme is, so long as we have one." Already in front of the ship, an observant eye can see the teeth rocks.
"A bug in a bubble, goodbye trouble?" Ithunn suggests. She has come up from below in time to hear this request and she volunteers the rhyme in between eating a slice of ...pizza.
Ruby frowns and hinges her jaw out of alignment. A side-long glance towards Merrisol and then she's pushing herself into a different mode of thinking. "Whut...loike song an stoof?" A thought hiccups into her head. Ruby offers as well, "Boogs gonna buzz, birds gonna fly...boobles gonna float an all share sky." She turns to look at Merrisol and would drop a mic on the deck if it were possible.
Wulf has been below decks most of the trip out here. Mostly, this has had to do with catching up on sleep, in the lull of the ship upon the waves. No kite vessel this, but the principle is the same. Now, he emerges in time to hear poems being spake thusly and to catch the rocks in the distance, with their sway and dance. He bites down hard on an apple in his grip, tiny by comparison with his hand and watches.
The chance of fruitless voyaging and running out of supplies thus stated, Merrisol takes it in with an agreeable shrug to Amy. "Even hitting a dead-end will narrow the navigational options, so there is that." He cocks a brow then. "Ah, doesn't have to be the same verse with which you set the node? Odd." Ithunn's appearance and offering, followed by Wulf's, has his attention briefly, and he inclines his head their way. "There you go." And there Ruby goes, and was that a challenge? "Uh.. uh. I think we have enough to seal this node," he points out, maturely. Then: "Too many bubbles and bugs... and the ship could explode."
Amy listens to Ithunn and Ruby both, and then she laughs. "Perhaps, Merrisol, you could combine the art of our friends together?" Now that, that might be a challenge to the Rebman fellow. Seeing as how he's drastically outnumbered on this particular trip. The petite blonde is ignoring her hair, but it's quite curly, the sea air bringing more curls to the usual mess of curls and waves. And of course, with all things being as they are, she does look radiant. She moves to look forward at a hail from the captain. "Approaching the Teeth Rocks," is the call. "Ware the tentacle and the sharks!" And Amy nods her head. "Keep watch everyone!"
The sky has turned to that same odd shade, and there is a large black monolith visible just on the beach past the Teeth Rocks, as the boat gets closer and closer to those crunching things. The sound of their gnashing and gnawing gets louder - something that perhaps was not heard last time, but then, last time this shadow was significantly further away from Amber. Wasn't it? From the left behind the boat, there's a stir in the water, and then a fin shows, a largs shark starting to hunt. The rocks clash, gnash and gurgle, almost as though there's something trapped there now, a sad reflection of a dead giant bugthing. The shark hones in on the Fair Wind, slowly gaining ground - erm water.
"Oh...uh...right...teeth...and sharks," Ithunn says with a frown. "Needless to say, not good? Though I don't think pizza can be used as protection, sadly." She has hurriedly finished her slice.
Wulf's strides advance him swiftly toward the prow of the ship then, the apple taken and devoured swiftly in five large bites, he tosses the core over the side in a lob. Then his voice raises in kitezhka chanting, eyes on the horizon as he gets to the railing there. A sailing eda that has nothing at all to do with rhyme, but everything to do with rhythm and cadence. It tells the story of the journey here, clear skies and strong winds, the dawning of land in the distance, the dance of the rocks, the swim of the sharks, the maw of a great sea-kraken and how the ship braved the odds, swaying with the ocean, the currents, the dance of those very things, brave people fighting off the tentacles, the Keeper of the Golden Apples, once-wife to the Lord of Poetry, calling bubbles into being, a blessing from the sky... a story in stanzas, that gets a little silly as brave warriors and the daughters of odin float up in those bubbles, along with the sharks, of the Storm Prince's mighty harpoon, and the lash of living flame...
Ruby starts to quirk the corner of her mouth...in victory. Because...wait. She ties the two phrases together and clucks her tongue against the roof of her mouth. Mmmhmm. Mental clockwork veers off to tackle the more imminent danger of the nodes. Ruby reaches behind her back to pull out her anti-problem pistol to have at the ready, but then worries, and reaches for a strange axe as well. Overcompensation.
"Ithunn, do you have more of that pizza? It smells delicious," Amy asks. Cause well, now her stomach is growling.
In addition to being a poet and knowing it, he /is/ the Merri-Come-Lately to this mission, and in that, he is indeed drastically outnumbered. "Ah.. right. Isn't it a good thing though, Lady Ithunn?" he wonders, starting to tug the fastenings from the chains looped across his back and around his waist, to free the hooded weapon of glass into his hand. "If those are all elements of the waypoint. The combination thereof," he then realizes, "like the verse, do not necessarily happen the same way?" So.. yes, this may be not good.
"Of course," Ithunn answers, scurrying below deck and coiming back with a box of pizza. "Plenty left over," she says, setting the box within Amy's reach. "Just plain cheese, I'm afraid...too bad--maybe the sharks would have choked on pepperoni."
Amy reaches for pizza and starts munching. "Right, you lot go for the rhyme, the captain has the ship, and I guess we all watch for tentacle grabbing shark, so we turn at the right time. Hold off on the rhyme until after we get to the right heading."
Just then, there's a tentacle up in the air, waving a bit. Or maybe two or three of them, by the rocks. Blood red in colour, with lime green veins running through them, they seem to bob and weave atop the water. Sailors with spears stand at the ready, one brave soul at the stern climbing up on the rail only to be knocked into the water by a jumping shark that arrives almost out of nowhere. That fin that was visible? Joined by others, and now they're all honing in on the Fair Wind. A second shark jumps and misses, and a third. The fourth one - it gets nabbed by a tentacle, the squidthing holding it high in the air victoriously.
Amy almost drops her slice of pizza as she cries - "That's it! Change heading!" Cheese string! She reaches a hand to wipe her mouth.
The captain calls, "Hard to port, heading 3 degrees north by north west," And the ship starts to fight the current and ocean, turning to present a broadside to the Teeth Rocks. It takes a few minutes but certainly those familiar with the see might note when the Fair Wind straightens out again. Right?
Wulf simply carries on his chant. There was an attempt at least, to catch the sailor that came to the prow along with him, whether it succeeded or nay -- and more Eda.
The pizza box goes sliding to the deck, but Ithunn leaves it, drawing her sword and trying to hack at the nearest tentacle. "How long can these things follow us?" she shouts.
Merrisol takes the shark-jumping more or less in stride, not that it's typical hunting behavior, but.. there's stranger things out there. He moves to get situated at the port rail, which would be on the inside curve when the ship takes its turn and more vulnerable to attack. The sailor going overboard to stern, however, changes his intent and he bounds for the aft deck, as Rebmanly duty calls. The ship starts to veer as he looks for the splash rings, determining whether the man has already been snapped up by the ravenous critters before he dives, without stopping to consider that the ship might zip away through Shadow any minute. Someone else had better rhyme.... while there's time.
Ruby is still in the grips of competition and hurries on over to where Merrisol appears to be ready to do heroic. "What you doo'n?!"
There are a couple bubbles where the sailor went overboard, but only a couple and then nothing but a bit of red can be seen and even that fades. The shark who nabbed him is doubtless feasting.
The tentacles are actually after the sharks, but that doesn't make them less dangerous to the ship. Ithunn's hacking and slashing at the nearest one keeps it busy enough that it doesn't decide to try and steal another sailor. At least, for long enough that the ship can veer and start sailing away from them. The sailors with spears use them to help Ithunn, ready this time for those tentacles. And for any more jumping sharks.
Amy takes a moment, and then she shrugs. "Bugs gonna buzz, birds gonna fly...bubbles gonna float an all share the sky. A bug in a bubble, goodbye trouble."
Wulf murmurs upward into a rather large crescendo at the end of this stanza of the eda, a ball of ice materializing in both his hands. Winding back, he squints at the distant dancing rocks, then fastballs the ice-ball at first one, then the next. Just a lump of ice, perhaps as a tacit reminder of the last time.
Ithunn stumbles on parts of a tentacle, almost losing her balance, but recovering and hacking away. The pieces she throws into the sea, at the sharks. "Merrisol! He's in the water somewhere?" she shouts as the tentacle is dealt with. She runs to the rail to look for the Rebman.
Ithunn stumbles on parts of a tentacle, almost losing her balance, but recovering and hacking away. The pieces she throws into the sea, at the sharks, then keeps to the railing, sword in hand, to look for other threats.
Merrisol leans the back rail as he confirms the lost soul's certain demise, and actually recoils a bit at Ruby's demand from nearby - /too/ nearby. "/Was/ aiming to preserve /life/," he defiants, his tone implying this is maybe something she scorns, about him or just in general. The pistol in her one hand gets a glance, then the axe in her other, then back to Ruby, then... back to that axe. "Wait - You made that?" The question is downright genial in his distraction. One of those crazy sharks tries to jump the idjits as they stand there, coming up on them in the classic movie poster pose. Merri baps it across the nose with a fist -TONK - for trying to ruin The Moment.
"Stop trying tah save every fook'n...!" Ruby snarls, nearly loosing her footing on an empty pizza box as it slides on the deck. She leans back, stricken by Merrisol's punching the altitude-inclined nightmare. She's only got a second or so to try and take a swipe at the thing with the lightning-axe in question, but it's already in the grip of gravity. Ruby roars in frustration and nearly goes over the side, swinging the pistol over towards the dropping creature and aiming the gargantuan hand-cannon at the poor creature. There's a squeal and a fat stink of ozone from the pistol and she unleashes the pent-up discharge to blow the arse-end off the shark. "HAW!"
Alright then. So here's the story so far, for those who may have gotten lost. The Fair Wind, a Minosian ship whose captain owed Gerard a favour, has brought our intrepid heroes to the spot where they left a newly rendered big black monolith. It's still here. They've followed the path to the Teeth Rock, waited until a tentacle grabbed a shark and turned to 3 degrees north by north west. There was a rhyme ... or two... or three... and an eda spoken and chanted. And now the ship continues on its way, the tentacles and sharks seeming to fade out.
The sky goes dark, and then light, a strobe effect that continues for several minutes and then settles on a gentle pink shade. Sunset? Or sunrise? Ahead, there seems to be something waving in the water. No, not a person, but more like a wall. A large green wall of - plants. And roots. The vines and such do not try to entangle the ship, but there is no obvious way through.
Amy's eyes widen at Ithunn's heroics against that tentacle. "Well done, Ithunn!" she cheers. And Merrisol's fist to shark does not go unnoticed. "Ruby - " she says, taking a step forward, only to stop, as it seems the other woman is not going overboard. "Ruby, do we need to tie you to the ship or something so we don't lose you?" she calls out. The strobe effect halts her words, her eyes closing and one hand moving to rub her belly gently. When it's over she finds herself staring at the ... wall of plant ahead. "I can't say I was expecting that."
Wulf's puzzlement is profound. The shift and change that made him look overhead, then to Amethyst and Ithunn, as if they might have kind of answer and back to the wall of plant. He scraches his head a couple of times, the eda ending. New territory, the song must be revised later.
"Plant no?" one of the Kitezh sailors shoult halfheartedly, and Ithunn--who had looked up a second before the shout, adds her own shout of surprise.
Maggie holds her fire-touched sword and her pistol at the ready, though does not have to send any sharks to their doom via sparkling electricity. She whirls on hearing Ruby's comment to Merrisol and is in time to see both his fist meeting the shark's sensitive snout and Ruby's dash for the side. Sober, she starts to reply but is caught by the strobbing light and dark to pink sky, "Ugh." Even without Amy's reason for feeling queezy, the effect is unsettling. The wall of plants that they now face is... surprising. Not so surprising that she forgets her intentions, however. Moving closer to Ruby, she holsters her pistol, but keeps her sword out, "Yes, Ruby... We do need to try to save as many as we can. People are capable of so much beauty, so much happiness, that losing some to chance and not trying to preserve their lives is not acceptable. Especially with people we do not know. People are fragile and wonderful. They deserve the chance to live out their lived."
It was a very brief Moment, really. At the sudden sharp tang of a storm rising, Merrisol tears his eyes from the monstrous halberdy thing, in time to see Ruby giving the foiled attack a nasty parting shot. "The hell's your glitch?" he grates helpless disbelief, lashing out his other arm, harpoon and all, to catch the critter-blaster even if she's not really destined to go over the edge. One of the gaffs tags into the waist of her britches and he all but wedgies her back to him, just in time for an inspiring pep talk from Maggie. After a more careful removal of hook from pants, Merrisol directs a tight-lipped smile towards his wife, and precipitously fades back from the conversation. Because... hey. Plant Wall, baby. "Is that it? The next node?" he queries Amy, while giving the individuals in the cyclopean structure an eyeballing for hints as to its species.
Ruby flails a bit, both hands are occupied. The pistol has a post-eruption snarl of energy lick along the barrel and flick up to nearly whip up her milky cataract. "Awwwwwwgh!" Ruby's hooked and drawn back. "Risks an...an rewards! Isn't everyone's fate tah live...not fast enough tah outrun, you done. An I ain't done with you yet...not made'ah femme ootah you, and femmes intah gods..." She's hauled back and her pants unceremoniously split nearly all the way up the middle.
Wulf looks back over his shoulder at Maggie, Merrisol and Ruby, his bushy brows lofting up in a puzzle at the pow-wow, but he doesn't seem to have anything much to add, looking back at the wall of vines, up, along, side to side and straight infront. "Maybe, should edge forward really careful, rowing, not with sail. Gentle, gentle?" He considers, then looks down over the side of the boat. "Who has depth plumbline?"
The captain agrees with Wulf and sailors very quickly start plumbing the depth. The ship is in no danger of hitting bottom, which one might think it is. However the water does get gradually shallower as one approaches the plant wall.
Amy just stares at it, with half a slice of pizza still in one hand. "Slow and careful sounds good." Seeing as how Ruby's not really listening to her, the petite mandrake makes her way over to Maggie, Merrisol and Ruby, and she taps a foot. "Ruby. This is not the time. We have a giant plant in front of us, and if it eats us because you're too busy worrying about whatever, I'm going to be more than a little upset."
Maggie eyes her husband briefly as he works with Ruby's pants. The riiiip of the seams is not surprising, really. Not with the sharpness of the harpoon's bits, anyway. "No one can say when the end of their days comes, that is true." She study's the wall before them, but keeps speaking anyway, "But our choices define us, Ruby. For myself, I want to be the sort of femme who cares, who tries to help. If I simply can't, then... okay. But, I don't want to be the sort who just sits by idle while others suffer. It is a choice." Glancing toward Amy, she half smiles and lets it go. Drawing in a breath, she frowns suddenly and steps toward the prow, "Wait... I... I think someone put that wall here to block the Shadow. Let's see... I know that there is a way to unblock it. Amy? Ruby?" Wulf is given a sort of sheepish smile when he glances back. Good thinking, there.
Merrisol gets a case of wide-eyed chagrin upon realizing there's been a wardrobe snafu. Recovering with a fierce head shake, he volunteers, "Looks to be a system of giant lily.. possibly in keeping with the giant theme heading Kitezh-ward.." He listens to the depth estimates as they are reported, and moves to sit the rail and look overboard into the water, considering. "Ah.. Shadowblock, like the sort you did for Rebma two years back?" He ruminates a bit, then stands to divest a few accoutrements. Evening the playing field for Ruby? "So long as we're moving in to check this out, I'll go take a look at it from below.."
Ruby turns about and presses herself back against the railing, eyeing the shorter femmes. Smaller in stature but big on common sense. She purses her lips and bobs her head in chagrin. She slides the pistol back into its holster. "Aye...you both roight. Truth." Pointedly not looking at Merri, she follows after Amy and Maggie. Hmpf! She peers at the massive vegetation. "Whut...on purpose? Someone know we comin?"
Wulf watches the plummet of the rebman from the railing, looking at the patternwalkers that remain upon this vessel, nodding to them all. He then calls to the crew, joining them to assist in whatever they need to be doing, just another one of the deck hands. Shadow blocks? Beyond his ken!