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Danger At Sea
Franz walked the decks, his footfalls echoing loudly in the night air. Only the skeleton crew remained on deck at this hour, in the moonlight they went about what jobs they could quietly; none wanted to wake the Captain at this hour. He shuddered and drew his long coat about him, the night breeze cut through him to the bone. Muttering curses about the weather he looked around him. They had drifted into a fog bank early in the evening, and it still showed no sign of lifting. The thick blanket covered the deep waters in it's white, hazy shroud. The pale moonlight cast down from Morrslieb did little to improve visibility, even with the fires on the deck burning brightly. The hot coals had the warmth stripped from them by the cold winds, the light dampened by the crushing, oppressive fog.
He stood at the fire just under the main mast, basking in the little warmth it gave off he wished for the next shift to quickly appear. Beside him sharing the warmth was a man called Olson. His partner at the fire towered over Franz, his shaggy hair and beard made him look more bestial than human. Tattoo's of naked women or anchors wound up his arms, as did the scars â€“ both competing in a race to see which could cover more flesh. He tipped his head back and took a long gulp of a small flask he held, then offered it to Franz with a grunt. Nodding to the giant Franz took a big swig, and then instantly wished he hadn't. The fiery liquid burnt the back of his throat, he could barely hold back the cough threatening to choke him. The big man's furry face split into a yellow toothed grin. Slapping Franz hard on the back he spoke in halting Reikspiel;
â€œIs good? Ya? Make you man!â€? And again his meaty paw descended upon the Imperial man's back with a hearty thump.
â€œYa. Good.â€? Franz managed to croak, his eyes now watered from the spirit. Standing up straight he handed the flask back with a grimace. A number of dull crump's echoed through the night air, Franz turned to Olson with a puzzled look upon his face;
â€œYou hear that?â€? Turning to look out behind him he was just in time to catch the sight of a plumes of red and orange appearing in a distance, that was proceeded by the sound.
â€œDOWN!!â€? He screamed. Three black iron balls impacted with the ship's starboard side, splintering wooden planks and passing onwards into the innards of the ship. The impact he could feel on the main deck, then the next trio of shots came. This time they were higher, hitting the edge of the deck they spun upwards and bounced along the decking. Franz threw himself to the right just in time, as where he had just been one of the shots shattered the planks. Olson wasn't quite so lucky. One shot caught him high in the chest. The speed of the ball gave him no chance, it passed straight through him. Leaving behind a mess of mangled remains, a shower of a fine mist and bones clattered back down onto the deck. Franz could do only one thing, with his hearing ringing he made his way to the bell. Taking a firm grip of the rope he rang it with all his might. If those below failed to hear attack then they would hear this. But that was his last act. Turning, he looked up. Just in time to see the cannonball that struck off his head in a spray of blood and shards of bone.
The call came too late.
* * * *
Jac stood at the side of the boat as it past what use to be a ship. His deep blue eyes watched as a burning bean slowly slid beneath the surface of the deep blue. All around the Duce Camilea was wreckage. A bit of the burning mast slowly drifted past his ship, he allowed himself a rare smile. It had been an easy and good kill. The fires had drawn him in like a moth to the flame, but this moth knew how to put out the flame. Slowly his ship slipped through the waters, carried upon the waves away from the wreck of the merchant ship. He never let his gaze waver until he could see it no more. Turning he walked the length of the deck to the prow, below him an icon of the Lady of the Lake still clung to the tip of the ship. A mockery to any passing Bretonnian's, a pirate worshipping the Lady would drive them wild. The thought caused a wily smile to creep onto his face.
Taking a deep breath of the cool sea air he closed his eyes and just let his thoughts swim. They took him back to when he was a Bretonnian lord, a knight even. But he was never one to fight in an honest way, or to adhere to a code. If he was in a fight for his life, he would do what was necessary to survive; damned be what the Lady thought of him. Then he was in the memories of him fleeing and joining the crew of a ship. A pirate ship. Once more his mind twisted and shifted, resting at the moment he became Captain of this vessel. Captain Jac. Had a nice ring to it, or so he always considered.
Jac was a tall man, for years he trained as a knight. Swing swords and holding lances, riding in full armour. He had very well developed muscles, that was something he never let droop. Ever morning he would be on the deck with his large sword, moving through the movements he was taught. He was dressed in a long coat, a deep crimson velvet lined the inside; a dark blue the outside. The rest of his clothing was not quite so extravagant, simple ships mate clothes clung to his toned body. The occasional gold thread could be seen picked out in the plain clothing, as could the fleur-de-lys. Or at least where it was. Long black hair hung down his back in a pony tail, a golden clasp keeping it together. His face was unmarked, and looked out of place upon his body. It's high cheekbones and pale skin was instantly recognisable as being noble. His deep blue eyes would flare when angry or deepen when he was thinking. Many of the crew whispered about his eyes being gifted to him from Mannan, for never under his command has the Duce Camilea fallen foul to weather or another pirate. Many sailors upon the great ocean, whether his crew or otherwise, saw him as blessed.
Many. Not all.
* * * *