The Unknown: A Game of Fear, Ignorance, and Adventure

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Jacein stared off over the docks, he had woken up early today, and he sorely regretted it, he hoped he would have gotten on the ship just as it was leaving, but he'd managed to get on almost an hour before it left.

Jace heard a splash, like a particularly large rutabaga, being thrown into the water, but no, it was some crazy person who had jumped off the boat for some reason. The loon was giggiling like mad to himself, Jace chose to ignore him.

"This trip may prove most annoying" He thought to himself as he turned to face the sea again.

Reeko meandered towards the docks where the expedition boat was moored. He had grown tired of waiting for the Ice Elf to stand up and had decided it would be good to get to the boat before it actually left the dock. As he approached the dock he set his mind to creating a grand entrance. He strolled past those expedition members idling on the dock, and went straight up the boarding plank.

Reeko scanned the deck looking for a suitable stage, quickly, he found a suitable pile of crates and scrambled up them. He clapped his hands loudly and demanded everyone's attention. Soon the deck had hushed to a reasonable level and all eyes, as far as he was concerned, were steadfastly locked upon Reeko. "Ladies, Gentlemen, Ice Elves, I would like to now perform the scared Painted Elf dance and song to ask the gods to bless our voyage. I thank you for your attention." He jabbed his hand into his pocket and started rummaging around. A few second later his hand reemerged clutching a small lime green whistle. He placed the whistle in his mouth and started to play the traditional Painted Elf sailing song, his free hand and legs dancing to his own music.

Ticky glanced up at the ice elf. He seemed a little... overdressed for an exploratory adventure. Adventure of any sort, really.

"Are you mister 'Ticky Unpronouncable-Gnomish-Last-Name the Thrid'? Not to make assumptions of course but I haven't seen many of your kind here and there was only one gnomish name called."

Ticky frowned and shook the elf's hand. "Yes, that would be I. Tickyvanillius Leviticus the Third. Mr. Deslock appears to be... a tad lacking in his Gnomish, wouldn't you say?" He chuckled at his own joke.

"I'm Tiber. Just Tiber."

"'tis a pleasure to meet you. I imagine you're one of Deslock's men then?"

"Indeed. You're a long way from the Church, aren't you?"

Ticky laughed loudly. "A long way, yes, but not far enough! It'll be nice to get away from the Church's presence for a bit. This trip is almost like a vacation, isn't it?" Ticky glanced out the nearest window. "Speaking of which... we may wish to move along to the docks. Mr. Deslock doesn't strike me as a... patient man."

The pair set off, Tiber in the lead. Ticky followed behind and to the left, keeping his bespectacled eyes on the elf. Ticky felt that irritating prickle at the back of his mind once more, but in a different manner. He couldn't help but feel it was the elf's fault. He was an elf, after all.

"So... Mr. Tiber, you said? You're quite a ways from your homeland yourself. And to travel so far so dressed? Why do you carry no arms? 'tis a rough land out there, and I imagine it will be rougher where we sail."

Jonas had been surprised and a little put out at Deslock's quick exit. Still, he seemed to have many jobs to do in little time before the ship set sail; a certain shortness made sense. Deslock certainly seemed as expected: a man of action and energy. The kind of man to load up a boat and sail off the edge of the map.

Jonas stroked his auburn goatee and hoisted his belongings onto his shoulder with his left hand - a duffel bag and a fine but unglamorous sword in its sheath. He scanned the Cepolada. There was an alien tune playing above, bawdy yet dark in some ineffable way. Perhaps he'd head up and listen on the deck. Jonas made to move up the gangway, but was interrupted.

"Well hullo," he heard to his right. He turned quickly, as he was always unsettled by sudden sounds to his now missing right arm. He saw a mostly nondescript man ahead of him, who seemed to be talking to no one in particular. Here, I'm no one in particular. Jonas turned to this stranger and responded.

"Hello. I take it you're also following this Deslocke over the sea."

Gris noticed, as he strolled down to the docks with his leather-bound trunk in tow, that he seemed one of the few who didn't look forlornly hung over. Laughing at them in his head, he muttered, "Ha! Weaklings. Such simple beings are they, that think they can hold proper alcohol"

He had distant memories of the firewater brewed by his people, and the alarming effect it had on orcs. They seemed to swell abnormally, become very dominant and angry, usually accompanied by a brawl, and a true orcish hang over. Because orcs drink such strong alcohol, their hangovers are somewhat... different to those of other races. They wake up, and like to scream a lot. Then they dance about in a certain degree of paingul discomfort, before falling down somewhere, and waking some time later that day, with no recollection of his earlier actions.

He ambled along the gangplank, enjoying the crisp, salty sea air. Very good for the lungs. He noticed that there was some dispute over a large number of crates. Quizzically, he eyed one of the crates up. He laughed uproariously when he noticed what had happened. "Good old Alec. He never misses a business opportunity." He continued to giggle as he stowed his trunk below decks, and thought to himself as he observed the interior of his accomadation, "Bit squallid."

After Derlan had jumped in the water, the knight quickly threw a life preserve on him and he was trapped,

"Pah! No-one can trap Derlan!" he yelled as he began to wriggle free, after about 10 seconds he was free and under the water. He reemerged on the other side of the dock. Jumping onto the dock he noticed that he lost the coin,

"Damn! All that just for nothing, oh well, in the words of my father,
'Good things come to those who something or other.'"

He began laughing and walking back to the ship, see a fellow painted elf, he wearily approached him and greeted him with a curtsy,

"Aloha my comrade, how do you do milady?" Derlan giggled, "Such a pretty ugly day today isn't it?"

Walking back into the depths of the ship, Marneus headed down and found a small cabin to stay in. Locking the door, and placing his sword so that anyone who picked the lock would get a nasty surprise, he laid down on his bed to consider the events of the last few days.

Being contacted to join Deslock's expedition, finding out a disturbingly large amount of the othe members were nonhumans, and attempting to deal with that pesky painted elf had told him he would need plenty of rest before the expidition. He would have to keep an eye on that elf, even more than the others. Finally attempting to rest, Marneus closed his eyes and waited for sleep to come. He was worried he might have nightmares about that elf though, as ridiculous as it seemed.

Tiber and Ticky reached the ship as the hustle and bustle of departure was building. Tiber had rather enjoyed his walk with the little Gnomish fellow, excpet perhaps the inital part. Falling on his face to the gleeful giggles of a painted elf sitting outside the tavern was nto exactly his idea of fun. In fact it reminded him what he disliked about painted elfs.

Ticky on the other hand, had been quite entertaining and the pair continued to talk as they neared the ship.

"So... Mr. Tiber, you said? You're quite a ways from your homeland yourself. And to travel so far so dressed?"

Oh, I never go anywhere without my suit. It makes these already uncomfortably warm climes a little less tolerable but on the plus side, women always seem to notice a man in a suit. As for Elsnier, there are days I miss it terribly. No one in this part of the world knows what a martini is. There are other benefits of traveling abroad however.

Ticky nodded his head with an understanding noise.

"Why do you carry no arms? 'tis a rough land out there, and I imagine it will be rougher where we sail."

"Well, I could ask the same of you couldn't I? Although, truth be told, I'm defended enough. I don't advertise it but I carry two emberlock pistols, purely for worst-case senarios. How about yourself? How do you plan to protect yourself on the open seas?"

A sudden voice broke through Raven's wandering thoughts. "Hello. I take it you're also following this Deslocke over the sea?", a figure that had walked upto him asked suddenly. Raven nodded in response studying the man intently before speaking; "That I am, the name is Raven Del Cid. Raven for short" he said putting down his pipe and extending his hand.

Raven had not seen the man before, he certainly was not present in the tavern yesterday, and he wasn't part of Deslock's scribes, yet he knew about the explorer's expedition. Indications seemed to point to the fact that he was boarding the same vessel as everyone else. Intriguing!, Raven noted as he studied the man's features.

"This is a surprise!" Raven said simply to the man after a full minute had gone by. "We were expecting to pick up new crew in Tyb and yet you appear to be joining us here in Buron" Raven scratched his head before shrugging. "If I am right in assuming that you are part of this expedition team, then you must be a valuable commodity indeed to make it on the ship this late into her departure. I do not see Deslock as a man to just let anyone walk into this expedition whenever people felt like it." Raven paused to smile at the man "You must have come with high recommendations then. Tell me, what might your name be?"

Ticky gave the elf a cursory glance. Pistols. Considering he was a small target, nothing to be extraordinarily worried about, but it was a weapon nonetheless. He mentally diagrammed the possible locations of the weapons. Didn't hurt to be careful, especially with an elf.

"How about yourself? How do you plan to protect yourself on the open seas?"

"Well, sir, I'm not much of a combatant at all." Ticky scratched at his nose absentmindedly. "I'm a bit more like... support, I suppose you could say. My pursuits have been intellectual, rather than mindlessly whacking at wood with a chunk of steel. But I've been in a few barroom brawls before... I don't carry a weapon, but if push comes to shove I've been known to use everything from bar stools to barmaids."

He laughed loudly. "I suppose you'd know about using barmaids, hrm?"

"Aloha my comrade, how do you do milady? Such a pretty ugly day today isn't it?"

Jakob spun at the voice of a fellow Painted Elf, a bright smile on his lips

"Ahoy, me laddie, and good day to you! The day is fine in deed and in word, but to me the face of today's sky is disappointingly un-grey. What say you, nuncle?

"Hehe, I say you are quite wrong my good dog! The sky must be bright for the flowers to wilt!" Derlan laughed and danced a little dance, "What perchance would be your reasoning for expending yourself on this most wonderfully horrid of expeditions?"

Derlan noticed a penny on the floor and picked it up, he admired it before putting it in his pocket.

Nice find Derlan!

"Where breeds there an elf, need there a reason be? I have never been to sea before, so why not go now? And what of your own self? Have you grand designs for the glorious explorious Deslock?"

Double post, disregarded

"Well, as I always say, 'Where there is adventure, there is money to be made! I am bored, life has come to a rather still-stand if you wont! Also, who knows what adventure holds, gold, money, women... money."

Derlan noticed that the Painted elf's shoe was untied, he quickly bent down and tied the lace,

"Ahem, so, what be your name of birth?"

"I was born Jakob, and I am of the tribe Dor-Khelle. And by what name do they call you?"

Captain Grummond found Deslock lurking in the shade beneath the foredeck, quietly smoking something that spewed foul black smoke.

"Explorer Deslock..." the captain began, before he was forced to stop talking and cough away fumes. "What the hell are you smoking, sir?"

"Sorry about that," Deslock said, tapping out his pipe on the railing. "It's just tobacco."

"Tobacco, my ass," the captain growled, but low enough that Deslock couldn't make out what he was saying. When the explorer just looked at him expectantly he gave up the inquisition and resumed his businesslike mien.

"We need to leave with the tide, Explorer Deslock," he said. "You need to start getting your crew together now."

"Right, right." Deslock took out his watch and glanced at it. His eyes widened.

"It took me a while to find where you were hiding," the captain said dryly, but Deslock barely heard him. He was already sprinting for the gangplank.

He was met on the docks by a man in a gold suit. Judging by the large men wearing darkened chainmail and the Buron coat of arms standing behind him, he was an official of some kind.

"Explorer Deslock!" the man in the gold suit beamed. "So good to meet you again. I see I've arrived just in time to see you off on your little Expedition."

"Er...yes, yes indeed," Deslock said, trying to remember where he knew this man from.

"I'm sure you'll be wanting to speak to the crowd for a little while, so I'll just get out of your way," the man said with an annoyingly knowing chuckle. He moved away, and Deslock saw the crowd that had gathered to see him off.

He was impressed. Of course, about four-fifths of the crowd could be accounted for by normal city people wanting to see a show, but the rest...the rest were people who were interested in the Expedition. There were a few representatives from the University at Ver Arcana, of course, since that was where Deslock had received a large part of his funding, but there was also a crowd of other important-looking people, only some of whom he recognized. There was the man in the gold suit, a threesome of cowled monks, a few finely-dressed Illarym glaring suspiciously at everyone else...and, of course, a few priests to bless the Expedition. Deslock wasn't sure why the clerics always showed up. He made a point of never asking them to come, and they always responded by sending high priests with bellowing voices and aggressive eyebrows. He'd never worked up the courage to ask them why they'd come.

The priests were busy chanting and waving smoking incense at the ship. Deslock seized his chance to address the crowd without them in the way.

"Good morning, gentlemen," he said, and paused. "Grummond?"

"Sir?" asked the captain from behind him.

"Get me a bullhorn."

Once properly equipped, Deslock resumed speaking. "Gentlemen, we are gathered here today to embark upon the greatest, most ambitious exploration this world has ever seen," he began. "Today we set sail, on the good ship Cepolada, for the Unknown Continent. While we're gone there I plan on giving the place an actual name, thus ending centuries of scholarly debate." He began speaking louder to be heard over the shouts of the people from the University, none of whom seemed to be in agreement about what the Unknown Continent was actually called. "But that really isn't important today. We are setting out into the unknown with paper, pen and compass, and we will return bearing maps and stories. Gentlemen, today we sail to make the unknown known."

There was a faint cheer from the crowd, and Deslock began to pace as he spoke.

"It will be dangerous. It will require courage, wits, and a sense of adventure that I am sure none of you are lacking." He stopped and faced the assembled Expedition members.

"And at the end of the day, we will have gone where no one has gone before, done things no one has done before, and brought the light of civilization to an untouched wilderness."

As they cheered no one heard him mutter, "And may the gods forgive us for it."

He raised his voice once more, shouting, "For glory and knowledge, men! Captain! We sail!" He turned and charged up the gangplank, the captain following him and the other Expedition members flowing into their wake. The crowd, which had been expecting a more lengthy speech, didn't react quickly, and when the uncertain cheering finally started sailors were already casting off the lines.

Deslock stood at the rail and watched the people on the docks as the ship slowly began pulling away. From this distance, when all the people looked so small and the landscape so vast, he could almost forget about all the commonplace sins that comprised humanity.

At some point a band had arrived to play as the Expedition set sail. The trumpets and drums rang out over the water, sounding proud and adventurous, while the man in the gold suit waved his arms in front of them and pretended to be conducting the music. A nice touch, that.

"Explorer Deslock?"

Damn. Damn. Every time he managed to get some time for contemplation, someone needed to speak to him. Every time, like some sort of nefarious clockwork.

"Yes?" Deslock turned and beheld a slim, almost effeminate youth in fine clothes and an incongruous bakerboy's hat and eyepatch. Wonderful, another weird one.

"I am Keil Toren, sir, and I was informed that you had accepted me upon your Expedition."

Deslock stared at the boy for a moment, then waved a hand in dismissal and turned back to the rail. "Sure," he said. "Why not. Find a bunk or something and leave me in peace."

Deslock watched the retreating city for a full minute before a disturbing question occured to him.

How did he get on the ship without someone noticing?

He pondered that for about half a second before determining that he didn't care.

Hands clasped behind his back, the Explorer listened as the sound of the trumpets slowly faded away.

image

Metagame:

Deslock may have interrupted a few conversations here, but you can continue them on the ship if necessary.

It is now Act Two, which takes place on the water. Act One was mostly character creation, which was kind of unseen by anyone reading this thread but which took a lot of work on my part. Thus I feel justified in calling it an entire act.

I wasn't able to work a description into the narrative, so I'll tell you now that Captain Grummond is a rather tall and burly orc.

Also, Keil Toren is another player character. With him on board there isn't actually anyone to pick up in Tyb, so the stopover there will probably be a bit shorter than anticipated.

In the meantime, you're on a boat.

Deslock had set the voyage off - or at least the bustle. Next to him, a man in gold armour. Hmmm. Jonas stalked up the gangway, keeping next to this Raven fellow. There was chaos on the deck as the crew pushed and shoved around to prepare for the voyage at hand, and warriors, adventurers and rogues like himself only got in the way.

"You must have come with high recommendations then. Tell me, what might your name be?"
Jonas' eyes narrowed slightly. This man either didn't hear Deslock - and is fairly perceptive - or he did - and is restating the obvious. Hmmm. Jonas raised his hand, holding it in the air to be shaken.

"My name is Jonas Thrace, formerly of Aeneas Fritzheim of Haster. That was a long time ago, though. I suppose I could have boarded at Tyb, for that was where I was living until recently, but I preferred to join the expedition early, just to be sure."

Jonas looked down at his left hand, somewhat surprised by its continued emptiness. With only one hand left (and knowing full well the original intent of the handshake as a mutual binding of the sword-arm in negotiations between enemies) he was rather put out that this offer of trust was not being taken up swiftly. He looked back up.

"And you, why are you here?"

"Jonas Thrace!" he echoed shaking the man's hand slowly. The name was unfamiliar to him as was 'Aeneas Fritzheim of Haster'. Raven was immediately curious and guarded at the same time. It was not everyday that an one armed man carrying a sword joins an expedition to an unknown continent. "It's a pleasure to meet your acquaintance, Mr. Thrace." he said after sometime.

"And you, why are you here?"

A smile formed on Raven's lips as he took a puff from his pipe. "You want to know why I am on this expedition?" he asked again, pretending to not understand the question the first time around. He took a deep breath to respond but ended up bursting out with laughter suddenly, something which took both men by surprise.

"Oh!, I am very sorry!" he began apologetically turning back to Jonas. "For some reason I found that quite funny" he managed between snickers. "Must be those damn painted elves, watching them has done something to me, er what?. Oh yes, the question!, yes, well I am just a man seeking my own fortunes in this expedition. That and curiosity of course, I mean, it is the Unknown Continent we are sailing to. It must have some adventurous tales that it's willing to part with and treasures of it's own ya?" he said with a smile. "Also I am the ships dentist!" he exclaimed suddenly from the corner of his mouth.

"And you my good man?, why do you join us, so well armed?" Raven pointed to the sword that hung by Jonas's side. "A family heirloom?" he pressed

Marneus growled, having been woken up for the speech. He walked up on deck and over to the railing, watching the sea and trying to look as inconspicuos as a fully armored knight can. Drawing his sword, he watched as the sunlight shined off of it, before going down to the hold. Giving a bag of horsefeed to Veneratio, he sifted through crates until he found a sword sharpening stone. As he sharpened his sword, he thought about what could happen upon arrival to the Unknown Continent.

The expedition could run into anything over there, but he was sure he could overcome anything that posed a threat. Seeing the sword was properly sharpened, he took it off the stone and admired it. It was of simple make, forged from steel and a dark leather grip. If one looked closely, however, they could see the runes running up and down the blade. Sheathing his sword, he returned to the deck, and looked around at the other expedition members.

Tiber stared out at the sea with Ticky as the ship drew farther and farther away from the shore. His face was painted with a convincing layer of nostalgia, but it was only a show. He was using the sudden break in conversation to review what he had learned.

"An intellectual." Tiber thought to himself. "With no weapons and no love for the church ... Well, not who I thought he was then."

Nonetheless, Tiber had to admit he enjoyed talking with the Gnome. He even knew why. Formality. Humans, Orcs and most assuredly Painted Elves lacked the ability to be friendly without making fools of themselves. This little Gnome however conducted himself with an air of professionalism. If there was one thing Tiber appreciated, it was professionalism. He was a professional himself.

Ticky was also the careful sort. Tiber noticed the reluctance in the Gnome's eyes to discuss his aptitudes and expertise; the way he stayed out of convienent grappling range (just a little behind and to the side of Tiber) also suggested he had experience enough to be cautious.

"Hmm ... Support? He provides support? ... A person like myself could always use some support, and he may appreciate having someone with firepower at his side. Perhpas a deal can be made."

Tiber looked up from the ocean with an air of finality. The city was mostly gone from view now and he felt justified resuming the conversation.

"I'm sorry, what we're you saying Ticky?"

"Oh, merely a joke. 'I suppose you'd know about using barmaids.'"

"HA! You heard my conversation with the barkeep then?" Tiber nodded to himself. "Good ears, observant too." after a moments reflection of the events of last night, and early this morning, he responded. "I have some experience yes; though not enough for my liking. I must say, I wish it were a simplier process."

"Tell me Ticky, what is it that you study? You said you were a man of science, I believe? What do you hope to discover in the Unknown?"

By this point Reeko had stopped his song and dance, and he was now merely sitting on the crate stack observing the crew and expedition members; the Ice Elf whose shoes he had tied together was here, talking to a gnome, a one-armed man was talking to a another human, a knight had just disappeared beneath the deck, and there were two Painted Elves chatting on the deck as well.

I suppose it's time to meet the family

Reeko slid off the boxes falling somewhat nimbly to the deck of the ship. He strolled across the deck towards the other Painted Elves, patting the Ice Elf on his head as he passed by. He reached the other Painted Elves and stood on his left foot and raised his right fist into the air, "For the Goddess of the Salamander I greet you, you backwards speaking twigs. Reeko Jalbrook of the Kaeio tribe."

Derlan saw a painted elf walk over, he greeted the two brethren,

"Ah! Hello Reeko my dear boy! How do your rivers run? I am Derlan of the who-the-hell-knows tribe!"

Derlan stopped himself as he spotted a cockroach on the floor, he sat down and crossed his legs. He began petting it and put it in his hand,

"Hello little guy, how are you doing? Such a cute little fella you are."

He stood up with the cockroach and began carrying it around the boat.

"I have some experience yes; though not enough for my liking. I must say, I wish it were a simplier process." Tiber said with a wry grin on his face.

"Well, I doubt there'll be many barmaids where we sail, Elf. But who can say, mayhaps we'll find a lost civilization. Or a hermit. Or a tribe of beautiful gnomish women, with cheeks the color of ripe peaches." He shrugged. "A gnome can dream, after all."

"Tell me Ticky, what is it that you study? You said you were a man of science, I believe? What do you hope to discover in the Unknown?"

Ticky paused a moment. Delicate situation, this. He could either reveal a little truth and hopefully build an ally here... but if he did, he ran the risk of revealing his purpose. Curious that someone showed so much interest in his ends. Dangerous that an Ice Elf showed any interest at all.

"I suppose, sir, that you could say I'm a bit of a bookworm. I've gained some measure of skill over the years in deciphering foreign languages, so long as I can deduce one, maybe two symbols. After that point, it's merely a matter of time. Of course..." he continued slowly, lowering his voice "... that happens to be a skill I keep to myself, most times. Information I keep, really. You never know what someone might do once they find out that your use has shriveled." Ticky sighed, scrubbing a hand through his hair.

"It's just safer to leave them thinking."

This man is erratic. Erratic men are dangerous. Still, there's no point in denying friendship on those grounds.

"And you my good man?, why do you join us, so well armed?" A family heirloom?

"Sorry?" Jonas was momentarily confused, and his eyes stared off to the horizon for a second as he tried to make sense of the question. "Oh, this!"

He drew the sword, surprising a few nearby onlookers. A faint smile crept across his face. He made a few basic swings and returned the sword to its sheath. He paused for a moment, then returned to the conversation.

"I wouldn't say this is well-armed. Perhaps your idea of an exceptional defence differs? And it's certainly no heirloom. I was a new man: I had no time to be an heir, much less inherit any looms."

Jonas smirked, remembering the witty banter he and Aeneas swapped late at night. Aeneas had been the better, but had gracefully appreciated Jonas' own fumbling attempts. Long gone, those memories, but still as warm as the fireplace they'd sat beside. Jonas snapped out of his thoughts and inwardly cursed. He had run to fat in mind, if not in body. That would have to change.

"No, this is no special sword. A workman's sword I bought for the expedition - though workman's swords are made to be worked with, nonetheless. I haven't kept a blade in a long while."

Deslock was standing behind the captain at the wheel, studying a map and arguing.

"No. This plan of yours is absurd," Grummond said, trying his utmost to sound firm and unyielding. Deslock wasn't having any of it.

"It'll cut days off our time to Tyb, which in turn will cut down the time it'll take to reach the continent," the explorer argued.

"It's a godsdamned pirate haven!"

"Yes, well, I don't think that's much of an issue," Deslock said, snatching his map away from the wind. "If we sail through the river instead of going all the way around the peninsula we save time, and if we have to burn a few pirates along the way then we can pick up a bounty in Tyb."

"You...that..." Grummond paused to collect his thoughts. "It's not that simple. Have you ever been attacked by pirates, Explorer Deslock?"

"Twice." Deslock didn't even look up from his map.

"What?" Grummond looked at the explorer over his shoulder, uncertain whether or not the man was making things up. "How did you survive?"

"Well, the first time there was a wizard on board the ship with a pet sea serpent," Deslock said, "And the second time we just threw barrels of clinger at them until they caught on fire. I figured that's what we'd do if we got attacked."

"We have clinger on board the ship?" Grummond's expression was one of sudden and complete horror.

"Don't worry about it," Deslock said dismissively. "It's stored securely."

"Clinger is never stored securely," Grummond said with the certainty of common knowledge. "I want it off my ship as soon as possible."

"Well, if we run into any pirates we can send it off by way of the ballista," Deslock suggested. "In the meantime, plot a course for the Ferios River."

"You're crazy, explorer," the captain said, but he turned the wheel anyway.

Khedive Rex:

"Aah, I see!" Raven nodded listening intently. "Well, I hope there won't be much need to have exceptional defenses on this voyage. I am a man of books and harmony, I'd rather go through this expedition without getting involved in any bloodshed" he paused to rub his chin, "Then again, we are traveling off into the unknown so I suppose it would be prudent to be cautious" he frowned as if in deep though. "Guess I should have taken up on some of those self defense classes while I was in Merchant's Water, eh?" Raven let out a deep sigh and looked out to sea. "Oh well, another time another journey!"

The human next to him was a mystery, no doubt there was more to this Jonas character than he was letting on. A guarded tongue and a guarded mind, Raven thought to himself. Not idly do men carry swords, especially not a man with one arm. Perhaps he is the exception that proves the rule?. Or perhaps he is yet another wolf in sheep's clothing?

"I have yet to hear your tale then" he said to Jonas after a long pause had settled between the two men. "Why do you seek the Unknown Continent?. What purpose has brought you to stand before me?"

Mareck looked out over the sea. Despite his want of change, he never really thought of himself as a traveller, as the trip started to prove. The water was starting to make him hazy, and he was starting to become dangerously sober for dwarves like him. He also didn't like the painted elves, they weren't a race to be trusted- not many were to be trusted, but the painted elves especially, and the masses they were in on this voyage was bound to kick everyone else in the teeth. Not that he was stereotyping or anything.

He sat by the ale, waiting patiently for the correct time, when he could be subtle enough to tap into that precious, golden liquid that was loved by dwarves all over.

Well, may as well do something to pass the time.

He started to stroll around the ship, looking for the fellow dwarf that he had noticed at the start of the voyage, but to no avail, so he turned and looked at all the masses of people that were going on this trip. There was a scary amount of people going on this trip, and he already had enough to worry about along with everyone else. There was also half a million other things that could potentially happen on this voyage, and unfortunately, he wasn't drunk enough to hide these feelings, as they burst the floodgates and came out of the vaults of his mind where he had wanted to keep them for as long as possible, and failed to keep them there as well.

Regretting this voyage now?

No. Shut up and get out of my head.

Haven't you ever wondered why you have a second voice in your head?

No, nor do I care.

But-

LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA-Not listening!

Alright, geez.

Alexis stood on the bow of the ship breathing in great gulps of air. He was too short to see out the great bow but peering under the railing he could see the great expanse of the open blue sea. "AAAAAH!" he said to himself letting the wind run through his tangled red hair. "Just like an airship but...a bit wetter" he laughed heartily as the ship rose over a wave and plummeted back, dumping a spray of sea water on his face.

The dwarf began stroking his beard, much about the expedition confused him. All these elves and goblins and humans were intimidating and he knew he saw an orc about. Alexis wasn't a fan of crowds in confined spaces, which is why he chose to contemplate his future near the bow. The endless horizon and the open blue waters gave him a false sense of expanse. He sighed to him self, "If only I had a pint!"

Alexis suddenly had an idea. He scratched his head trying to remember if he saw another dwarf on the expedition, he vaguely recalled seeing one. "I guess I can make friends on this trip, besides, I could always use a drinking buddy!" he thought out aloud and turned to go explore the decks.

"Ahuzdul!" he called out aloud, hoping the other dwarf spoke the regional dialect of Niefthulzar. Realizing that this might be a wrong approach, Alexis cleared his throat and tried again, "I have two kegs of beer?. Who want's to drink with me?"

"And in the name of Gink the Lizard king, I receive you in all warmth" replied Jakob, putting his hands on his head and bowing from the waist, "I am Jakob, of the tribe Dor-Khelle, and I am glad of such merry company on this voyage, for this tiny world of wood surrounded by the wet is a new place to me. Have you ever lived in such a place before?"

Reeko smiled at Jakob, "No, I've never traveled outside the Sunrise Plains. But, I have noticed some of our brethren from the mountains, and supposing they can manage, I believe that means we can. Of course to believe an Ice Elf can manage in any situation is a bit of a stretch." He turned his head towards Derlan and spoke once more, "What a friendly creature that seems to be, tell me, Dry Land was it, might I have a look at the little beasty more closely?" Reeko extended his hand towards Derlan awaiting the cockroach, with a firm smile on his face.

Jakob did a little hop of excitement. Ice Elves? This was a chance not to be missed. He looked around the deck and spotted one, talking to a gnome. He strolled over and offered the pale Elf an elaborate and improvised bow. Affecting a posh, sophisticated voice, he spoke in the shared ancestral tongue that was kept alive only because it was necessary to allow the two races to converse

"Good morrow, my dear Frozen Elf. What news from the High Courts?" he asked, almost keeping a straight face

Gris wasn't happy. He was stuck on a cramped ship, full of lunatics. Not only lunatics, but elves . The salty air was brisk, but it irritated him, and it made his skin glisten a sickly shade of his natural green complexion. He was unused to such conditions, and decided that if he was to have any fun on this trip, he would have a lot of it.

He wandered the deck, returning funny looks that he got from the crowds of adventurers and growling menacingly at a dwarf that he saw reach for his weapon, but instead asked the crowd if they wanted to drink with him. Funny that. He could barely speak English, but in the years he had been forced to listen to it daily, he had grow to understand the language.

Masking his refined accent, and the dulcet tones he had learned to use in place of his natural gruff voice, he put on the voice of a savage orc. He furrowed his brow, as though a particularly stupid creature, and stamped over to an Ice Elf conversing with a Gnome.

"Ugh. ME HUNGRY!"

"ME HUNGRY!" yelled an orc from about two inches behind Jakob. He jumped, but turned the movement into a strange little dance and planted a friendly kiss on the orc's hand, just in case it was female

"And greetings to you, my lovely," he said, and produced a small sprig of berries, "Would you care for a fruit of the Summer Forests? Hardly food for the body, but they will nourish your mind for hours"

He plucked a single one and ate it, then closed his eyes in eustacy and shivered. When he opened them again, they shone with more than the usual brightness

"I have two kegs of beer? Who wants to drink with me?" Mareck heard this question, and followed it with a traditional dwarf response: Charging over to the spot, desperate for something to sacrifice his sobriety for. They had only been out in this exploration for less than a day and already he was getting desperate for some liquid to go through his parched lips.

Instinctively, he walked over to the man with the beer, recognising him as another dwarf, but that wasn't what he cared about currently. The sun was bearing down on him ever so more and he needed something to sort out his thirst.

"Hey. Someone say something about beer?" He then turned to the fellow dwarf and realised what the dwarf actually wanted: A meeting.

Oh crap.

Hey, guess who's back?

You. Out. Now.

But-

NOW! Oh, he's still staring at me. Oh well, might as well make one friend on this expedition. He looked his fellow dwarf in the eye (The first person he could do that to on this trip) "Sorry, haven't had a drink for a while." he stuck out his grubby hand "Name's Mareck Nonovan. You?"

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