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

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Disregard

"I knew that would get a fellow dwarf bounding out of their hiding place. Alas, I do wish that I had the sense to bring along a keg or two for this expedition, the sun is a real scorcher today isn't it?. Oh wait!, where are my manners. My name is Alexis Moonspear, it's a right pleasure to meet you brother Mareck Nonovan!" he said shaking the dwarf's hand enthusiastically.

"Oh I say, perhaps there is a stockpile of ale in the cargo hold?. Have you checked?" Alexis dropped his small backpack that fitted snugly under his arm and began rummaging about it. Various metallic clanging noises was heard as the dwarf strained further and further into the bag. It was evidently quite larger than it appeared from the outside. "AHA!" he exclaimed suddenly pulling out something "I knew I ha.." he paused noticing that he had pulled out a saucepan. "That wasn't what I wanted!" he exclaimed with mild annoyance rummaging through his bag again. This time he produced two large beer mugs.

"AHA!" he said again with a fiery intensity. "I knew I had it in here somewhere. Now we have the mugs, lets see if we can find the drink. I'm sure the captain won't mind" he said handing a mug to Mareck. "Come along, we can talk while on our little expedition..within the expedition!" he said with a little snicker. Alexis was clearly trying extra hard to make a friend.

"Where do you come from brother dwarf?" he asked turning to the bewildered looking Mareck.

Shaking Alexis' hand, Mareck agreed "It is a pleasure to meet you too, Alexis Moonspear. Shame about the beer situation. Unfortunately, I'm actually becoming sober. And that is no good thing."

"Oh I say, perhaps there is a stockpile of ale in the cargo hold?. Have you checked?" Alexis then got out this bag of his and started rummaging about in it. Meanwhile Mareck stood and watched at the sheer amount of stuff in that bag.

"Well... I was going to look about for some, but got distracted by your invitation for a... conversation... How much stuff do you have in..."

"AHA!" Alexis explained, shocking Mareck out of his daze. "I knew I had it in here somewhere. Now we have the mugs, lets see if we can find the drink. I'm sure the captain won't mind" Alexis handed Mareck a mug. Mareck looked at Alexis and smiled in satisfaction.

"You, sir, have most definately come prepared." He said to Alexis, making a toast to this... genius of dwarves.

"Come along, we can talk while on our little expedition..within the expedition!"

"Very well then. I declare this expedition of our own, on!" he called out as the two of them went off to scavage for dwarf treasure.

Well, this guy seems fairly friendly. I may be able to trust him, if no one else.

"Where do you come from brother dwarf?" Alexis asked whilst they walked and talked.

"Me? I come from The Merchant's Water, deciding that was the best place for me as I was never much of an air traveller. However, things started to get boring after a while and I decided to join this expedition as a result. What about you then?"

Derlan looked at Reeko, he hesitated for a moment but handed the cockroach to him.

"A lovely little creature, nice legs, long antenna, a healthy little bug!"

Reeko looked at the bug, he seemed to be interested, or at least was pretending.

"Do you like nature and all its beasts? Or do you prefer the cities?"

"Oh you don't like flying then?" Alexis turned with an amused look in response to Mareck's answer. "I am not surprised though, many of my dwarf brothers have left their airships at dry dock to reconnect with the earth. Turns out most of them had a fear of heights and only went aboard because they thought there was a great big barrel of beer somewhere up there" he said pointing to the skies.

"What about you then?" Mareck asked in turn.

"Well I don't really have a land that I could call home. I spent most my life on an airship traveling here and there with a band of misfit dwarves. Seven of us there were, all of us were budding explorers, eager to taste the life of other cultures and of course the beer of others. Here's a tip though, avoid Orc beer, tastes like boiled granite" he said with a misty look in his eyes. "But I guess, we have spent most of our time in Ver Arcana. So, it's possible that the city is the closest to what I can call a "home" on land, but in truth my real home is my airship, the 'crusty turtle'. I picked the name myself..like it?" Alexis jumped up and down in excitement, half at being nostalgic and half at the fact that he could smell a keg nearby.

"We were on our way to the Sunset Jungles when we saw one of Deslock's fliers, we all wanted to go instantly but then that would leave our ship without a crew. So it was decided for one of us to leave and join Deslock. After we played a long and drawn out game of Keg Axe Beer, it was agreed that I had won without cheating..so here I am!" he exclaimed with pride.

"What's your story then laddie?. What bring you to this voyage?" he asked Mareck as he made his way down a ladder leading into the bowels of the ship.

After declaring himself in the rude manner he found so amusing, he smiled to himself. However he was then simply flabbergasted by the response he got - in a rather strangled twirl, the gnome kissed his hand and offered him a fruit.

How very eccentric. How very gnome-ish .

He began to giggle, then chuckle, then laugh uproariously, and soon was caught in a fit of mirth not entirely unbefitting a Painted Elf who has just pulled off a successful prank. The moment that particular thought struck him however, he sobered up. Adorning his more quiet, softer voice he proclaimed, "Thankyou, but not. I am Gris Axthorn. Pleased to meet me. I am delightful" in his most polite English, not to be outdone in courtesy.

"Oh, I've never had a fear of the skies, it's just that I've never been able to understand how to fly a ship. Never have and I have doubts if I ever will. I guess I just don't think the right way for life airborn." Mareck explained to his fellow dwarf, when he realised he could sense some ale coming from nearby.

"Here's a tip though, avoid Orc beer, tastes like boiled granite"

Mareck heard this comment from Alexis and agreed with him entirely. "I don't really trust orcs anyway, why would I want to drink their alcohol?" He sniggered a bit at this comment before getting back to the conversation.

"...but in truth my real home is my airship, the 'crusty turtle'. I picked the name myself..like it?"

"Meh, it's okay and is fairly clever. Mind you, I don't know much about ships in general let alone naming them. So you spend most of your time- on land that is- in Ver Acana? How is that place, as I've heard of it, but I've never been there before."

As the two of them went down a ladder into the bowles of the ship, Alexis asked Mareck a curious question:

"What's your story then laddie?. What bring you to this voyage?" Mareck thought about this for a while.

"Well, as I said before, I grew up in The Merchant's Water. I spent most of my life travelling between those four cities, but eventually got bored of just living between four cities. I started to know those cities like the back of my hand and it was just becoming terribly annoying. However, whilst resting about in one of the smaller, original pubs in Buron, I noticed a flyer on a notice board, talking about travelling to the Unknown Continent. As soon as I saw that flyer, I knew I wanted to take part. Thus, I signed up and, here I am."

There was a bit of a pause following that conclusion, so Mareck tried to fill in the silence whilst trying to keep a nose out for the smell of beer. "So, what's it like, living as a pilot? I've always been interested in it but, as I said before, I have never been able to work an air ship. The mechanics behind it just confuse me beyond belief."

Tiber nodded his head carefully, absorbing the information.

"Of course..." Ticky 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."

"I agree." Tiber said, lowering his voice in kind. "I have skills of my own that I prefer to keep private ... Should you find need of any of these skills, I'd happily trade them for the work of a skilled linguist, or whatever it is you do for support. It suffices to say I'm the observant type. There is little that goes on anywhere that I don't know of."

"... Do we have a deal?"

It was at that moment the serious and austere mood was shattered quite completely by a Painted elf. Tiber would typically ignore a Painted Elf's tomfoolery, but this one spoke in the old language. The old language was not bandied around for pranks. He hoped.

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

"Good morrow Painted Elf. The courts are -"

"Ugh, ME HUNGRY!"

Tiber jumped with at the shock reached reflexively for his pistol. He stopped himself mid-grab though as the Orc did not appear to have violent intentions. Or, at the least, he was not attacking now. The Painted elf laughed danced and ate something while Ticky moved slightly closer. The Painted Elf tripped mid-pirhouette And Tiber caught him under his shoulders.

He was quite surprised to hear the Orc laughing at this point. Laughing quite uproariously. Whatever Ticky did it appears to have worked.

"Thankyou, but not. I am Gris Axthorn. Pleased to meet me. I am delightful"

Tiber paused to meditate on this uniquely odd situation. He was holding a Painted Elf and listening to an hungry orc who had just been calmed by a gnome. He mentally added it to the list of ridiculous situations he'd been thrust into.

"I'm glad to hear you're delightful Mr. Axthorn. Tiber said letting the Painted Elf go. "I'd tell you when dinner was if I knew but unfortunately I think we are at the mercy of Mr. Deslocke."

"As for you ..." Tiber said turning to the Painted Elf "... Are you high?" There was a light in the elf's eye's that spoke of supreme inebriation and he giggled a little more than was appropriate, though, it was always hard to tell what is appropriate for a Painted Elf.

Tiber ran a hand through his hair. It was going to be a long, interesting, trip.

Jakob steadied himself on the Ice Elf who supported him, and giggled slightly. "I soar on wings of the mind" he said, in a voice full of wonders for things only he could see, "But fear not, the legs of my body still function. As for you, my dear Gris," he announced, turning to the orc, "I am most delighted to make your acquaintance. I am Jakob of the Dor-Khelle, and this is my fellow elf, who's name is, uh," he paused, and glanced at the Ice Elf in momentary confusion, "What is your name, ice-brother?"

"Why do you seek the Unknown Continent? What purpose has brought you to stand before me?"

The question, though expected, still came as a shock to Jonas. His hand flinched towards his sword, but he wrested it back to his side quickly enough to mostly conceal the reaction. Damn. Like a schoolboy with his tutor.

Jonas pretended nothing had happened and plunged on. Blunt honesty - after a fashion - seemed the best tack here; that'd throw him off balance, too. After such a simple mistake, Jonas needed a respite. And this man was disconcerting. Unlike most people in life, he seemed to be listening.

"I'm here because an employer of mine wishes a hand in this venture. I'm no adventurer myself. I prefer a room and bed to a tent, and I'll never suffer mud for the hell of it. But hard times can fall on a man - and once they have, he'll change his tune rather suddenly."

Jonas' eye gathered a reflective sparkle as he gazed off beyond Raven's shoulder.

"Incidentally, did you know that in the Streggan Valley in north-west Merdallan it's considered the gravest faux pas to ask a man's motivations? I never quite understood the taboo, but I've always remembered it. All the men I met from that realm were very tricky."

While Gris attempted to sort out the complexities of the grammar he had just heard, he began to wonder if he had said the right thing. They all seemed to assume that he really was hungry, and that food would calm him.

"I not hungry. Just funny!" At that he broke out in laughter again, at the sheer absurdity of the situation. A painted elf was clinging to a bemused Ice Elf, who had been talking to a humourous gnome, who appeared to be a ballet dancer of some description.

This was not going to be a normal voyage...

""I'm here because an employer of mine wishes a hand in this venture. I'm no adventurer myself. I prefer a room and bed to a tent, and I'll never suffer mud for the hell of it. But hard times can fall on a man - and once they have, he'll change his tune rather suddenly."

"I can understand" Raven replied. "This is a new undertaking and I am sure that there are many people out there who are interested in seeing what this new land holds for their own benefit. There are very few pure explorers left nowadays, men like Deslock who explore for the sake of knowledge and for the thrill of adventure. It seems that money and propaganda is what..." he paused to fill his pipe with more tobacco.

"I...'eally wish...get...Tyb soon" he said suddenly between puffs from his pipe as wisps of thick white smoke bellowed from his nostrils and mouth. "I need to stock up on the tobacco leaf. Anyway what was I saying?..oh I forgot, probably nothing important anyway!."

"Incidentally, did you know that in the Streggan Valley in north-west Merdallan it's considered the gravest faux pas to ask a man's motivations? I never quite understood the taboo, but I've always remembered it. All the men I met from that realm were very tricky."

"I was not aware of that, then again Merdallan is not someplace I would stop off for a long period of time, at least not long enough to study it's people. They are a complicated bunch I'll admit, I never really understood their feudal system let alone why they haven't elected a king yet. Still, they seem to be holding things together" he chuckled as he spoke "Now thanks to you, I shall chose not to ask a man of his intentions when in the North-West of the region. You have saved me from potentially countless prickly predicaments that I would have otherwise stumbled upon. I thank you for that!" Raven bowed slightly with a twinkle in his eye.

The two paused to enjoy the sea breeze and to let in the sights and sounds of the expedition. Out of the corner of his eye, Raven noticed a few of the other expedition members and what seemed like an amusing setting; an ice elf, a painted elf, a gnome and an orc were having an animated conversation amongst themselves. Looks like the start of a tavern joke!. he laughed to himself as he watched the group for a few minutes.
Lords of Karnos!, why am I so cheery today?. This is uncanny!. Am I actually enjoying the company of others?..this is ridiculous!

"If I may be so bold" he continued turning to Jonas after a long stretch of silence. "I have been curious about how you came to lose the use of your arm?"

"If I may be so bold" he continued turning to Jonas after a long stretch of silence. "I have been curious about how you came to lose the use of your arm?"
This was the last straw, one question too far. Jonas stared out at the sea, much calmer than he. His patience had worn thin, and then been rent apart. This Raven was saying nothing and asking everything. He had no respect, no sense of decorum nor propriety. Jonas had tried to turn the conversation aside, but this man was rapacious. He was a strip miner among men; he tore and tore until he hit paydirt, and tore again. A man's private life was only so much gold to him, to be bartered and sold as easily as the coin he probably hoped to make aplenty on this expedition. From the sea, Jonas summoned up a cold anger, refusing to reveal his thoughts to such a brute.

"Boldness is always permitted. However, it is not always rewarded. I think I should prefer to keep this story close - close to the bone as it were. Perhaps another time, over a bottle of fine wine. Now if you'll excuse me: I am tired, and wish to find my quarters. Perhaps later we can speak more of Merdallan?"

Jonas turned to leave.

"So, what's it like, living as a pilot? I've always been interested in it but, as I said before, I have never been able to work an air ship. The mechanics behind it just confuse me beyond belief."

Alexis laughed aloud at this comment. "Oh no not really, all you need is a good mix of gasses in the balloon itself for lift and a favorable wind to nudge you along. Navigation itself is a matter of pulling the right lever at the right time. Then again all the basics of flight are drilled into us at flight school. Must be careful of pigeons though, they tend to get adventurous altitude wise" the dwarf laughed heartily. He was enjoying the company of the fellow dwarf. Perhaps here was someone that he could trust during this expedition, only time would tell!.

"Oh I say!" Alexis exclaimed suddenly pointing to a stack of barrels that had small taps attached. "Can it be?" he asked, gently turning a tap and sniffing the golden liquid that spewed out. "It is!!" he grinned mischievously "Beer!"

He immediately set about filling his mug with a frothing glass of the liquid from his recently plundered stock. "Say, what do you think about the rest of our crew?. Lots of elves and humans about, eh?" he asked after taking a long swig at his drink.

"Oh no not really, all you need is a good mix of gasses in the balloon itself for lift and a favorable wind to nudge you along. Navigation itself is a matter of pulling the right lever at the right time. Then again all the basics of flight are drilled into us at flight school. Must be careful of pigeons though, they tend to get adventurous altitude wise"

"You see, it's stuff like that that I struggle to understand. Having to learn all the gasses and how to navigate, I just have never been able to learn to fly." Mareck responded. "I just could never understand complex mechanics of that kind anyway." he said to Alexis just before passing through a door into a dark room filled with barrels and a strong smell of alcohol.

"Beer!" Alexis cheered at the liquid. Upon sight of this dwarvish fantasy, Mareck was more than happy to celebrate in turn with this partner of his.

"Well, fill her up." Mareck asked of Alexis, before lifting the frothy, sweet substance to his lips, and he could instantly feel the sweet, pleasure-like substance pass down his neck to give him fresh joy. He loved the taste and finished it in about thirty seconds in one, long solid gulp. He then gave a breath of pleasure afterwards, before reaching for some more beer. He then took that one down with even more ease than the first one before wiping his mouth with his dirty sleeve.

"Say, what do you think about the rest of our crew?. Lots of elves and humans about, eh?"

Mareck wiped his mouth a bit more, just to get the rest of the beer off his mouth. "Sure are, lot of orcs as well. Currently, I have no trust for any of them, especially the painted elves. Whether or not my trust in them changes though I don't know. We'll just have to see." He sniggered a bit at his dwarf friend before swallowing down another mug of beer.

"So, what's your opinion on the others currently then?"

Reeko smiled as Derlan handed him the cockroach. He pulled his hand up to his face and sniffed the bug, eying it intensely all the while. "This appears to be a standard Lomarian Roach. Strong after taste, sorta grapey mixed with banana, fine with some fresh or..." he paused glancing around the ship briefly, "got distracted, anyways, good with fresh oranges. Yes sir, mighty fine with a freshly picked orange."

Reeko smiled at Derlan once more, before tossing the cockroach into his mouth. Chewing it while staring at Derlan with a wide smile. He finished and still smiling at Derlan said, "Sorry, couldn't resist, I'm sure you'll find another one soon enough though. As for me, I need to find some oranges!" Reeko turned around and ran into the supply hold. He stopped before entering all the way though, he heard voices.

"...rest of our crew? Lots of elves and humans about, eh?"

Reeko smiled and continued listening hiding in the shadows, always fun to here what others say when no one's watching.

"Sure are, lot of orcs as well. Currently, I have no trust for any of them, especially the painted elves. Whether or not my trust in them changes though I don't know. We'll just have to see."

Dwarfs, it would seem...

"So, what's your opinion on the others currently then?"

Please do tell.

"Sod it, I really need to work on my people skills", Raven thought to himself as Jonas walked away. "There clearly is a nerve there that I touched, or is it a clever ploy to get away from divulging information to me?". Raven was most intrigued, most people he ever met were very simplistic and or led very simple lives. Yet, the man before him was as stubborn as an Omicron mule and was far from simplistic. "Intriguing!", he muttered as he ran a hand through his hair.

"Yes, perhaps another time then. We shall discuss about Merdallan!" he called out after Jonas as he disappeared into the ship. Raven was left standing against the rails looking out to sea, the departure of Jonas had brought him back into his brooding state. He took a long puff from his pipe and blew out the smoke in the shape of a ring to occupy himself.

"... Do we have a deal?"

Ticky raised an eyebrow. This Tiber was... trusting... for an Ice Elf. Curious. Use the Ice Elf in exchange for... 'support'. Things were getting thicker and thicker.

As Tiber was subsequently assaulted by a number of individuals, Ticky saw his chance. He stepped briskly away towards the prow of the ship, clasping his hands behind his back. Oh, how he despised elves. All of them. Painted or cold. The humans too. Dwarves he could stand to a point; a point crossed after about three brandies.

He sighed, staring at the breakers crashing against the lacquered wood of the ship. The waves pushed and pulled, ebbed, flowed, yet were shattered by the indomitable force of the Free People's will. Beautiful, yet disgusting. Fascinating, yet harrowing.

"Any natural force can be overcome by the power of thought."

The old proverb whispered through his mind.

"This appears to be a standard Lomarian Roach. Strong after taste, sorta grapey mixed with banana, fine with some fresh or..." he paused glancing around the ship briefly, "got distracted, anyways, good with fresh oranges. Yes sir, mighty fine with a freshly picked orange."

He isn't going to eat him is he? He had better not eat him!

Derlan stared open mouth at Reeko, who had just eaten the cockroach,

Gah! Jimmy! Why Jimmy why?! You were so very young!

Reeko walked over to a group of shipmembers who were talking, he began conversing with them. Derlan began to slink back into the corner when he got a burst of cofidence. Walking over to the group he quitely mumbled,

"Erm Reeko, why would you eat my cockroach?" Reeko paid no notice, Derlan repeated slightly louder, "Reeko, why would you do that?!"

Still no response from Reeko and Derlan began boiling with anger,

Punch him you pussy! Right in the teeth!

Derlan tapped Reeko on the shoulder, as he turned his head, Derlan punched Reeko in the face. Reeko was caught off guard and stumbled back, Derlan took advantage of this and jumped him. Punching him viciously he began yelling,

"This is what I get for trusting people! Son of a bitch!"


Reeko shouted as Derlan jumped at him, "You crazy sod, cockroaches aren't pets they're food!" They landed in the middle of the cargo hold. Reeko struggled to avoid Derlan's punches, achieving moderate success. He grimaced as a punch found its way to the side of his face, but didn't fight back, instead he started yelling, "Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!"

I guess I see why peo- Ohh, my face- people dislike Painted Elves so much.

Derlan punched wildly at Reeko, most punches missing him.

"You crazy sod, cockroaches aren't pets they're food!"

Derlan landed a good punch, but Reeko was not fighting back. He merely avoid the punches then began chanting,

"Why are you chanting?! Fight back or something!" Derlan slowed down a it, "Ah fuck it."

Derlan jumped off of Reeko and helped him up,

"Sorry about that friend, lost control for a moment there." Derlan offered his hand to shake, but wouldn't be surprised if Reeko punched him in the face.

Reeko took Derlan's hand and promptly grabbed the other one as well, "No worries friends, as well among friends and Elves, besides a little conflict is good once in awhile. Keeps you fresh, ya know?" He started to dance with Derlan, keeping a wide smile on his face all the while.

And now we begin the dance of destiny.

Reeko began giggling rather intensely as he danced. He was a fan of puns.

He looked at the two Dwarfs against the wall drinking, some undoubtedly stolen, beer. "Come on fellas join the fun!"

Keil quietly emerged from his little cabin into the hold, to be greeted by a painted elf engaged in fisticuffs with another. Actually, one elf was punching the other in the face, while the recipient egged him on.

A fight. Already. How typical. Hopefully it will not end in... Oh. They have stopped. Now they are acting like friends again. How very, very strange. Oh, who am I kidding. They are Painted Elves.

... This should be interesting.

"Hello there. Please, do not let me interrupt your merriment, but would I be able to go out on deck? Stale air really does not agree with me, and I will have to spend the night under here; I may as well make the most out of the light while it lasts. Oh, how rude, I have not introduced myself yet. My name is Keil. It is a pleasure to meet you."

As he introduced himself, Keil quietly appraised the mis-matched pair. Were they friends prior, or are they merely very friendly people? If the latter, this voyage may be a little more interesting than I thought. Otherwise, I will just have to see how things pan out.

Derlan looked at the newcomer, he walked up to him and dropped to one knee.

"G'day to you m'lady sir! I shall escort you to the deck, and if we are not allowed, we shall jump off in defiance!" Derlan jumped up, "Twig it to the man if you will!"

He began laughing and walking in the direction of the deck, he gestured toward the door and jumped into the fresh air.

Keil allowed himself a small chuckle.

"Thank you kind sir, for the escort. It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. Might I enquire as to your name?"

As he stepped out onto the deck, he released a quiet sigh. "Ah, that is much better. So, good sir, could you recommend anyone for me to meet?"

Rule one: Make friends. The more you have, the easier it is to survive. It may even make it possible to enjoy yourself. But that comes after survival, and the mission.

Keil squinted a little in the harsh light and pulled his hat a little lower. "Ah. Much better," he muttered, to no one in particular.

"So, what's your opinion on the others currently then?"

Alexis raised his eyebrows, it was something he hadn't given much thought about. Being a dwarf naturally meant he regarded others with guarded curiosity but about his fellow crew mates..

"Hmm!, well I do agree the elves do concern me a bit, especially the painted elves. They seem to be, very, um, unstable?..if that's the right word for them. However, the humans seem to bother me more. They are always the most dangerous. With a painted elf you expect mischief, with an ice elf you expect the lack of humor, with an orc you expect strength but..." he paused for a moment to take a swig of beer, "..with a human, you never really know what's going on. They have bizarre tendencies and motives. They are very irrational and rational at the same time. To be honest, they creep me out more than anything. I have been ke-!" Alexis was suddenly interrupted by a commotion outside. Instinctively he got to a defensive stance as two figures hurtled towards him

"What the?" he yelled aloud as a fight erupted between two elves. Whatever the reason for the fight, it appeared it had resolved itself as quickly as it started for soon both parties began prancing about and laughing.

"Come on fellas join the fun!"one of the elves gestured towards Alexis and Mareck.

"um..um..ok..I guess?!" Alexis stammered cautiously approaching the group. "What's going on?"

"Elves..." Gris muttered to himself. How entirely like them to brawl over a cockroach. Sighing with distaste, as he stepped to the left to avoid a sudden migration in his direction. Bored, and in no mood to fight, he strolled across the deck. However, conflict interested him. It let him size up his comrades.

Wasn't much of a fight he had to admit. Just a few swings and now they were all friends again. How very like a Painted Elf... changing his mind in a matter of honour. Sighing again, even harder, he watched them giggle and dance, then one of them got down on one knee and offered to escort a newcomer.

I hate Painted Elves. Ice Elves aren't bad chaps, they have a sense of propriety, but Painted Elves are so... unpredictable. They have no bearing, and change moods very suddenly.

The captain peered over the rail at the main deck, watching the flurries of activity.

"Explorer?"

"Yeah?" Deslock said absently. He'd tacked his map to a small table near the back rail and was using a sextant to check it for accuracy. Thus far the readings were looking solid, though the cartographers had misplaced a mountain a ways back.

"Looks like you've got a fight already," Grummond said. "A couple of your crew are brawling down there."

"Really?" Deslock craned his neck to peer down at the deck. "Fah. Painted elves. If it lasts more than a few minutes I'll break 'em up. If I do anything and it isn't serious they'll both start shouting at me for interfering in their sacred traditions or something."

The captain and the explorer stood quietly for a moment, watching the elves. It was a very brief fight, as Deslock had predicted.

"See? Nothing to worry about," Deslock said. He set down his pen and sextant and glanced at the sun. Changing the subject completely, he asked, "It's about time for lunch, don't you think?"

The captain grunted. Deslock took that for an affirmative. "I'll go shout at the cooks for a while," he said, and left the captain at the wheel.

A short time later he burst out onto the deck, trailed by men in stained aprons. "Gentlemen!" Deslock shouted. "Lunch is served! Today, since we just barely set out, we have actual food instead of sea rations! Consider yourselves lucky!"

From the mess the cooks brought a small barrel of apples, beef swimming in gravy and other fresh foodstuffs. It was by no means a feast fit for kings, but Deslock was busily assuring everyone that by the end of the voyage they'd be looking back on this meal with bitter nostalgia.

Metagame Notes:

It is now lunchtime on the ship. Presumably, your characters are now eating as they talk, unless they've eaten their fill of cockroaches or whatever.

Tomorrow I will spin the wheel of time once more and it will become night, and the first secret actions round will occur. Until then, this is some fine roleplaying we've been getting here. If you haven't been a part of the roleplaying, and you don't see any way to just approach someone and start talking, my suggestion would be to just write about what you're doing. That way it's easier for the other players to approach you, because they know where you are.

On combat: fights like the one between Derlan and Reeko don't really need to be done through the GM. If the fight is basically a part of roleplaying, neither party is really trying to kill each other, and the players involved can agree on the outcome without arguing, then you can narrate it yourselves. It's just an extension of roleplaying, like I said. The times you call on me are during the epic, desperate, and lethal battles. You don't need the GM for a scuffle over a cockroach, unless that fight somehow escalates to the point where people are drawing steel and calling in airstrikes.

On a totally different subject, I've added a section titled "Current Status of Players" at the bottom of the opening post. This section tells you the username, character name, race and current status of all known players. I put it in to try and avoid the occasional confusion over other player's characters that I've been seeing. Hopefully it will prove useful.

The Ice Elf did not reply, so Jakob released him and walk off to ward the food table with a spring in his step.

He closed his eyes and waved his hands over the table, muttering a few words, then announced the food to be 'sufficiently blessed' and dropped his hand, eyes still closed, to select with unerring precision an apple.

He moved a chair and crouched atop it, munching the apple with a thoughtful look on his face, as if it produced a complicated puzzle or interesting philosophical problem

Mareck had decided to take part in the later part of the fight, following dwarvish tradition before Deslock appeared on deck and declared lunch to them.

"Gentlemen! Lunch is served! Today, since we just barely set out, we have actual food instead of sea rations! Consider yourselves lucky!" Deslock declared when out of the mess tent came several cooks with apples, beef and gravey. This was going to be a nice meal compared to the rest of the trip.

"Will I?!" Mareck said to himself as he harged straight for the food, reaching for a slice of beef and and apple as well. Following that, he sat down at his table, and thought about what Alexis had said about the humans. They weren't really something he considered as a threat but that would be foolish to just assume, so he would need to look into them more.

Coincidentally, I need to keep an eye out on the humans. I'm not sure if I'll be able to trust them. What are they up to? He thought to himself, as he sat down, and started to rip at the beef with his jaw, pausing afterwords to think about the others, and whether or not he could trust people. Alexis definately seemed like someone he could trust, painted elves for now definately seemed like the opposite. As for the others, he wasn't sure. To be safe, he didn't trust the orcs, as you want to be on your toes if something like that could be against you. But that still left gnomes and humans, and he had no ides what to think about them. He puzzled this , staring down at the table not eating anything whilst he did this, as if the grains in the wood of the table were a work of art.

We're not even on the voyage and I'm pondering who I can trust. *sigh* This is going to be a tough trip, that's for sure.

The sudden commotion of the fight had grabbed Raven's attention. He turned to look over at the two painted elves wrestling on the ground, from what he had gathered in between the grunts and punches was that one had eaten the others pet cockroach.

"Typical painted elf behavior!" he muttered half in disgust and half in amusement. He contemplated about pulling the two elves apart but he restrained himself knowing that this being a painted elf fight, it might actually be a form of welcome and friendship to one another. Eventually the fight came to an end and both parties immediately began singing and dancing around one another.

Raven shook his head in wonder as he began pondering about the days events. "Wonders will never cease to amuse me about these elves, they fight and then they forget why they fought, it's like they have the attention span of a na-?!"

"Gentlemen! Lunch is served! Today, since we just barely set out, we have actual food instead of sea rations! Consider yourselves lucky!" Deslock's voice rang out across the deck

Raven paused his thoughts, "Lunch!" he exclaimed almost surprising himself. It had been a while since he had a proper meal, and while he doubted that the food on board would rival the feats from a local tavern, it was something he would have to endure. With a faint smile he moved on toward the galley of the ship.

The expedition members were slowly beginning to fill in their seats, Raven could see the barrels of apple and beef gravy being placed around the dining table by the ships crew. "Not bad! he thought as he recalled his last sea voyage. Moldy bread and water was not something he had enjoyed very much. He was now standing in front of an empty seat, to his right was a dwarf he had recognized earlier as Mareck Nonovan. Raven cleared his throat and put on his widest and most polite smile that he could muster;

"Is this seat taken, master dwarf?" he asked politely gesturing to the seat beside him.

Reeko looked around the cargo hold, it had emptied out as far as he could tell. He walked back onto to the deck squinting his eyes as he emerged from the hold. In the distance he heard Deslock yelling about lunch. Reeko smiled and followed the voice, the cockroach hadn't quite filled him up. He searched the table pocketing as much fruit as he could, before viciously tearing into the nearest piece of animal flesh he could find. He glanced up at a chef who was staring at him with an odd look, "Ermmf, Can I help you sir?"

"Oh it's nothing, I just thought Painted Elves were vegetarians?"

Reeko finished his slice of meat, wiped his face off on his arm, and responded, "Oh, we used to be, but it's only in the Year of the Spider Queen that we have to be vegetarians."

"Ah, of course the Spider Queen, yes that makes sense how silly of me."

He stared apathetically at the chef, "Yes, how silly of you."

Mareck sat at the table, still thinking about who to trust when by coincidence a human waled up to him. As Mareck looked up at this person he recognised the man as Raven Del Cid, one of the people in the tavern last night.

"Is this seat taken, master dwarf?" Raven asked Mareck. Mareck looked up in bewilderment still before realising he was asked a question.

He looks like a nice person, but can I trust him just on- oh wait, he has just asked me a question. Better answer it to be polite.

"Uhh, no, master human. Fell free to sit there." Mareck responded as politely as possible to the human, gesturing at the wooden seat that was next to him before deciding to start eating his apple.

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