It was about midday as the crew of the My Fair Lady switched to their second task. When I say crew, one might mistake the My Fair Lady for a real ship. To clarify, the My Fair Lady was barely sea-worthy. The ship was hastily put together to make the trip south to see the islands of Sylvania. Of course, only those with seamanship would really know that. And, in this time, seamanship was a rare trade. Not because it was a difficult task, though it was, but because no one saw much need for it. There was enough to deal with on the land that few wished to increase their problems on the high seas.
When I say crew, one might confuse the My Fair Lady with having a proper crew. She did not. The captain and his first mate knew a bit of seamanship, surely, but that was it. There were a total of 40 others on this boat, mostly human. Most of them had stopped vomiting constantly by now, as it was early in the the third week of this three week journey, but they were still not much of a crew. They were assigned daily tasks to complete, and did them terribly. The 40 people aboard the My Fair Lady were all travelers. Most had heard of the riches of Sylvania and were hurrying to the islands in an attempt to get-rich-quick. None on this ship could afford the journey. They had all made a deal with the captain to do these menial tasks and get him to Sylvania safe in exchange for the ride.
The My Fair Lady rocked on the sea waters. It was a short-sailed boat. Generally such would not be considered worthy of deep-water travel, but in the mad rush to get to Sylvania any boat that could be made seaworthy was plunged into the water. The My Fair Lady was no different. Even those without seamanship would notice the occasional leak in the hull and be forced to fix it. The boards were different colors, many splintered and aged. This boat was held together by a few well placed nails.
The sun was bright over the boat, and many of its 'crew' were sunburnt or hiding in the shade, having been on this boat so long. Many had jobs above deck. Two of the shorter crew on deck, both of which would often get strange looks from the other free-loaders, were coooking dinner...or trying to. The meat that was left had already been turned to jerky and most of the flavor had faded. They were chopping it and making a stew which was flavored with...well pretty much nothing. The dwarf kept stopping the halfling and trying to use his brewing skills to make it somewhat palatable, but it wasn't going well. They both were looking at a brown and green concoction that reminded them of the vomit that covered the decking the first day the ship was on the water. Still, based on the previous meals, they were fairly sure it was edible.
Posted on 2008-05-09 at 15:01:01.
Edited on 2008-05-12 at 01:33:54 by suicidolt
On the boat, the vast majority of the crew were either ignoring their jobs or taking their 15th break of the day. The captain had been at the helm with his first mate all day going over figures and maps. Normally he'd do this in his personal quarters, but the lack of enthusiasm implied a possible mutiny could happen if he disappeared for too long. It wasn't that they'd last long if they took the boat, but just that he didn't want to lose the boat, especially to a bunch of incompetent bottom-feeders.
He had assigned these two a very different task today. It's not to say that he made a point of dividing this task among the most capable, because there was no difference there. He just tended to be a bit more selective to alienate slackers when choosing those who were given it. Still, it hadn't always worked, even on this trip.
The two humans were set up in the crows' nest for the day. ((assuming, since you're players you're paranoid)) They had been doing their job rather decently throughout the day and had effectively spotted storm clouds on the horizon. That is to say, they thought they had spotted them. When they called down to the captain (which was very unnecessary considering that the distance to the captain was maybe 3 or 4 meters) he turned back, with a pricy piece of equipment in his hand. He folded it down and waved "Already saw them!" and put the spyglass into his pocket.
The job was menial and it put them most directly in the sun. They had spent quite a few hours in the sun just to spot the storm clouds. Sea life was not that pleasant.
My Fair Lady had become a fair nightmare as far as cooking for the captain and the crew was concerned.
BrewStirr Hammer had found it to be a simple enough task to be hired aboard the My Fair Lady as one of the two cooks employed for the adventure cruise.
The Dwarf had become accustomed to the usual jokes about "Stirring the Brew" that his name elicited among the company of men and assorted rogues.
His fiery red eyes did not betray his true feelings as the 4'11" 140lb 45 year old Dwarf went about his business in the ship's kitchen along with his Halfling cooking partner that fate had seemingly thrown them together in a mercilessly humorous fashion.
They had long since run out of the proper seasonings and the jerky was subjected to the boiling waters mixed with vinegar and ale and whatever the two "short-order cooks" were able to blend in the pot. Occasionally they had the good fortune of snagging a fish or a clump of seawood to flavor the jerky stew, but BrewStirr had refused to add any of his own flavorful possessions to make the stew more palatable.
His long dark brown hair was pulled back so as not to accidently fall into the stew pot and his long darker brown blackish beard contained the sweat of his labor which seemed to miraculously prevent the sweat of his brow from contaminating the contents of the brewing pot.
Being 45 years young, BrewStirr Hammer had just become of age as an adult, but he had enough smarts to conceal his abilities as a Wizard/Evoker from not only the captain and his crew, but from the Halfling as well.
He could have creatively used his spell casting abilities to enrich the flavor and nutrition of the jerky stew in some manner, but he chose to remain merely a "short-order cook" who was but another face among the masses of adventure seekers and soldiers of fortune who desired to make a great or small fortune among the Elves.
Nonetheless, BrewStirr Hammer was doing his best to provide a decent and tasty meal, especially with the Halfling providing a challenge every now and then with the choice of flotsam and jetsam that he tried to add to the jerky stew.
If he had known anything at all about travel on the sea, Jon could imagine that he would have asked a few more questions. But he was here now and would have to make the best of it. His few meager days of rations would be gnawed on sparingly, only if necessary to subdue the taste of rising bile from the boat's offered fare, or to curb the growling of his stomach if he missed a meal (or two or three). And he could have just sat and let others do the work that supposedly needed to be done, but he also could imagine the commander of the boat suddenly saying "oh, my!" as he "accidentally" bumped him over the side. And who knew how long this discomfort would continue?
He longed to really, actually, go for a stretch-his-legs walk, but one didn't just hop over the side of a boat and jog next to it, just for the opportunity of variety of travel. You could do that on a wagon, but not on a boat. This was his first taste of the less-than-comfortable sort of life he had heard of, but never dreamed he would experience. The only thing that kept him from even thinking about turning back as soon as he arrived in the Sylvania Isles was the prospect of making his "name and fame" far from that of his father's circle of reknown.
The boat's captain seemed to have an uncanny ability to understand someone's desires -- and then to provide just the opposite. Jon was assigned, with one other, to man the "crow's nest" of the vessel. While Jon was grateful tht he had grown long hair to keep the sun off his scalp and neck, his face was painfully burned and dry. It helped that he as able to snag a scrap of the sail canvas, obviously meant to be one of the many patches already on the sails. By draping it over his head and holding it up in front of his eyes with his hands, he was able to both shield his eyes from the sun's glare and scan the horizon in relative comfort -- that is, without squinting in the near-painful brightness.
The "nest" restricted Jon's movements even further than did the deck. He couldn't even take a single step to go anywhere. There was nowhere to go. And the height of the "nest" exaggerated the rocking of the ship so much, it was like being on one of the trapeze-swings he had seen in a circus, almost violent in it's back-and-forth motion, puncuated by sudden stops before the next pendulum-like swing in the other direction.
He wondered what he was supposed to alert the "captain" about. He had admitted to having already seen the storm-clouds pointed out to him by Jon and the other lookout. And if the "captain" could see all and everything, why was anyone needed up here. Jon's own training suggested that one could see farther if elevated above ground, but there was no obstructions out here, no trees, hills, holes, buildings, nothing like that to restrict vision. The horizon seemed as far away from the ship on the deck as it looked to be from up here.
His normally jealously-guarded backpack was worn full-time at his current post, since he could not be on deck to watch it and it's precious contents of his dry trail-rations. And Jon had come to the conclusion that he would have to cut back even further on his use of those rations, since no land was yet in sight. That meant relying only on "ship's fare" -- as the "captain" called it -- for days at a time before resorting to snacking on his "reserve". It was a prospect he didn't relish. Ah! Relish, dill or sweet, mild or spicy, would be a welcome addition to what he had been forcing himself to eat. It would even be considered, at this point, to be a luxury.
Due to the location of his new "post", his saddlebags, staff, bow, and arrows had to be left on deck. He had attempted to enlist the aid of one of the other, younger passenger-slash-crew members to watch those belongings as much as possible, promising a bonus if all was intact on his return to them. The person had agreed, and Jon took him at his word. Fishing out a silver from his belt pouch and "palming" it before removing his hand from the pouch, then slipping it surruptitiously to his "helpful guardian" before mounting his post.
At a litle over 6 feet tall and muscular-slim, Jon was not imposing-looking. Just tall. His long black hair framed a clean-shaven face that would have been considered average-handsome, were it not for the sunburn and dry, cracked skin on his face, which was a result of the "sun and sea breeze" according to what he had heard.
Jon looked as his erstwhile companion here in their elevated position and judged the person early on as a hard one to "read".
He mustered his best people-pleasing-manners before speaking to this other, hoping he would seem pleasant, not as strained as he felt. "Hello. My name is Jon. Jon Small. I am here to begin a journey to make my name a known one at the very least. General as that is, it is my goal for the nonce. May I have the pleasure of knowing, at the very least, to whom I speak?"
Ah, life was dull on a ship. But the adventure once they reached land was so completely worth it to Finder Lightmoon. He had never seen a real elf before, just a few half-breeds. Although as a Tallfellow he had been called an elf many times, even by other halflings. Finder supposed it was understandable though, as he was quite a monster, towering over the others with his 4'4" stature. Even his fellow cook barely had to crick his neck downward to look him in the eye.
After this long though, nobody on the ship could mistake his annoying voice and typical halfing personality. He had "borrowed" a few items around the ship, and explored nearly every inch of the watery hulk.
It was obvious the dwarf Hammer knew more about cooking than Finder did, and Finder didn't really press the matter. He spent most of his time scavenging the ship and waters for ingredients, and performing periodic taste and smell tests. Halfling pallets were closer to human ones than dwarfs, or at least Finder believed.
Lightmoon's hair was cropped, and his violet eyes shimmered in the sun. He was not 100% sure this green sludge was their most memorable meal, but that ship scum from below deck he dropped in about an hour ago was sure to do the trick. Humans like to eat vegitables, especially green leafy ones. Brewstirr just wouldn't understand, being a dwarf and all. Finder had to wait until he turned his back to add it.
"Time for another sea song?" he asked nobody in particularly.
Ja'ara had never taken a voyage at sea before, he wasn't even all the keen at swimming. Raised at a monastery, he had lived his youth far from the sea, instead he had a life of dry, flat land. Time passed however, and with the passing of time, things came to pass as well. His teachers had taught him a great many things, including tolerence. He would survive this sea voyage, no matter how unpleasant it may be.
His posting to the crow's nest was less than ideal. He was a mobile person, always on the move. He prided himself on his athleticism, his ability to always stay on the move despite the situation and scenario. That was not much of an option in the crow's nest.
Albeit the climb up had been something almost enjoyable, although far too short for his taste. He had been eyeing the yardarm for the last hour on and off, and was beginning to considering going out for a quick run across it. The concept of plummetting into the waters below was a tad frightful however, and he had so far stifled this idea.
"Hello. My name is Jon. Jon Small. I am here to begin a journey to make my name a known one at the very least. General as that is, it is my goal for the nonce. May I have the pleasure of knowing, at the very least, to whom I speak?"
The sudden speaking of his shipmate shook him out of his reverie. A friend would be excellent for a long voyage such as this.
"I am called Ja'ara" he said solemnly, extending a hand toward the man called Jon. "It is a pleasure to find another who seeks only recognition of his name. Perchance we will find glory in the coming days?"
"I am called Ja'ara. It is a pleasure to find another who seeks only recognition of his name. Perchance we will find glory in the coming days?"
Jon took and shook the proferred hand. "Well met, Ja'ara!" He hoped he pronounced his new friend's name correctly. He almost missed the hesitation in the pronunciation, as if Ja'ara had a slight catch in his throat while saying his name. "Did I pronounce your name correctly? Or is it Jahrrah?"
Waiting briefly for a response, Jon then answers Ja'ara's question:
"Find glory? For sure and for certain, I would say! For that is how names become known, indeed. By action and deed. Thought and intention are well enough, but I have been taught that to manifest intent with solid action illustrates to all who witness it what your name should mean to them."
"But we cannot chat and also do our job efficiently. A barrier has been lifted twixt us, and that will ease our communication. And though I feel that it is fine to break the monotony with an observation or thought, we are up here to watch. Even though I know not what we are to watch for, I will watch But I look forward to telling you, later, whatever you wish to know about me, and to learn about you as well."
Posted on 2008-05-14 at 01:43:58.
Edited on 2008-05-14 at 01:45:45 by Lamewolf
Doldrum was not a word used in this world. The doldrums, or equator waters where no wind exists on Earth, were not a part of the world known to this group. In fact, the two hemispheres were divided by a vicious spiral of wind. the multidirectional winds met at the equator and caused massive wind storms that largely halted sea travel from the northern to southern hemisphere. Most land had even been eroded to a point deep underwater here, leaving large gaps in continents.
Still, doldrum was the only real word to describe the journey these passengers were enduring. Three weeks of purgatory. It had been days since anyone had seen land, and weeks since they had been at a port. The open ocean and hot sun were agonizing and recurring. It was almost welcoming to see the storm clouds.
Wait, storm clouds? On the horizon. How did a storm act at sea? After all, weren't they basically sitting in a bathtub. The crew had begun to shift uneasily between tasks. Only the captain had any confidence that the ship would survive a storm, and it hadn't occurred to him to tell the crew that it was of no concern. What could he do? It defied their land logic to imply that if you filled a bowl with water it would still float. He'd have to let them see it for themselves.
Still, shift change was upon them. The crow's nest had been conversing idly while looking out to sea for any sort of danger, mostly watching the storm clouds approach, when for a brief moment they glanced down and noticed the other crew approaching from below. It was a young boy and a well-built man. They boy had something in his mouth as he climbed and the man had nothing. It was soon very clear that the other two would have to leave the crow's nest. It was only really built for one person after all, and there were two in it at this point. Four was way too many.
((assuming the obvious)) As the other two squeezed into the crow's nest behind them, the boy took the thing out of his mouth, which was now clear as a deck of cards, sat down in the small cylinder and invited his companion to play. ((up to you if you say anything or not))
Cooking on this boat was a never-ending task. By the time one day's meal was complete, they had to start on the next day's meal. The halfling and dwarf were relieved from duty by an overweight man and a heavy-set boy who may have been his son. They had only just managed to start pouring out the bowls for the evening meal when the two others took over. It was becoming clear that the two fatties would get to take credit for the hard work they'd done in preparing it by simply handing out the bowls.
The two from the crow's nest and the two from cooking were all assigned to the same task. It was one of the few tasks done below deck. Logically one wouldn't do this below deck but movement constraints above deck and the obvious leaks in the ship required it to be done here. They were washing dishes.
There were mounds of dishes on board this ship, most of them dirty, and the clean ones rarely separated. It was a tough task cleaning dishes because many of those aboard were unhappy with any amount of cleaning, and a rare few were happy with no cleaning. Still, the algae growing on the wooden bowls never went away, no matter how much cleaning went in. The only goal was to scrub enough that maybe the few sick with this disease and that wouldn't pass it on to the others, though they might catch something else from the substandard cleaning methods or the awful excuse for food.
It was dreary work, but at least here, there was little concern for perfection. They had plenty of time to talk and joke around in the water barrels.
Posted on 2008-05-14 at 21:28:15.
Edited on 2008-05-14 at 21:28:48 by suicidolt
Figures. Jon was almost eager to leave the "crow's nest" and get to deck. Take a few strides, stretch, breathe in some cool night air while mulling over how much longer this would take. Nope. New duty. Wash bowls and plates, and stuff like that. When he saw the piles of what they had been eating off of, and the condition they were in, Jon frowned, but said nothing. But his new friend Ja'ara was also assigned to this duty and it would give them a chance to talk some more. And with something to actually do to break the monotony. When he and Ja'ara arrived on the galley extension, there were also two more men, of shorter stature, that had also been pressed into the scrubbing ritual. One was obviously a dwarf. The other, although Jon would have guessed him a halfling, seemed to be much too tall to be one of that diminutive race.
Emboldened by Ja'ara's acceptance and likeable attitude, he asked the two smaller men,"Alrighty, then. What ones have been done and where do I start?" As his eyes adjusted to the dimmer light here below, Jon soon became a tad disheartened to see the sheer number of vessels and the deplorable condition thereof. "By the way, my name's Jon. Jon Small. It's a name you may hear again soon, and with good reason."
He dipped his canvas rag into a barrel of water and snatched a stack of bowls and begand to scrub them, He then rinsed each off, carefully noting not to use the barrel of water that had already obviously been used for that purpose heaven knows how many times already. It soon became evident that the vessels were not ever going to be really clean, but he did his best to sliminate what soil he could as quickly as possible. When his rag needed more water, he ladled it onto the rag with a clean dipper so as not to contaminate any more water. But at least here there was somanionship, of sorts, if allowed, and a doable task to occupy them, albeit that task was a bit unpleasant sometimes.
To test his guess, Jon turned to the non-dwarf and spoke in halfling. It was imperfect, but it showed a knowledge of the language, at least. "And are of the shire you?"
BrewStirr Hammer certainly was not one that was unaccustomed to hard work and seemingly impossible tasks.
His fiery red eyes surveyed the countless piles of algae infested bowls and dishes as he rolled up his sleeves and began scrubbing the eating ware as best as he could with the meager supplies available.
The Dwarf chose to lead by example when it came to doing the dirty work of cleaning the uncleanable and he did so without grumbling or griping or complaining.
Instead, he kept both his eyes and ears open to evaluate the abilities and motivations of his three companions in regards to the mundane tasks at hand, knowing full well that should he find himself teamed with these adventurers at some point in the future [while facing unknown dangers and hostile attackers] that the way they handled themselves while tackling the dishes revealed what type of character and ability they would offer during a situation where one's life may depend upon how his teammates handled adversity no matter what form it may take.
BrewStirr Hammer kept to himself as best he could under the circumstances and all that anyone really knew about the Dwarf was that he seemed to be some kind of lackey that had been chosen by the Hammer Clan to investigate the reports of the Elven Treasures and had been charged with the responsibility of determining the possibility to negotiate certain trade rights with the Elves [were the rumors to prove to be true].
The Dwarf had taken extreme precautions to prevent anyone from realizing his true prowess, although he was sorely tempted more than once to utilize his special abilities to change the condition of the bowls and dishes that seemed to be almost magically disposed to resist a good cleaning.
One thing that BrewStirr Hammer had concluded from observing the various adventurers on board ship these many days at sea ... was that he could do much worse for having any kind of reliable teammates ... were he to find himself travelling anywhere with these three oddly assorted adventurers who found themselves scrubbing the unscrubbable.
Though Finder had had worse jobs in his life, washing dishes was definately not his top choice. He much preferred cooking - and he was so much better at it too! He couldn't wait until dinner time for everyone to try his and BrewStirr's creation.
One of the men, Jon he called himself, spoke something in a broken halfling. Finder couldn't help but feel a bit of pity. His tongue was just not designed for the superior sounds of Finder's native language. "Nope, I grew up in the city. Everything has already been discovered in the shire. I like adventure. That's why I chose the name I did. Finder Lightmoon! Pleased to meetcha! How about a sea song?"
He was determined to make the best of this situation, until they reached land.
"Any takers? Time goes faster when you're singing!"
Posted on 2008-05-21 at 20:33:11.
Edited on 2008-05-21 at 20:34:31 by Admiral
After speaking to the halfling in his native language, jon notices a change in the small man's face -- brief, noticeable, but undecipherable. Jon was unsure if it was surprise at one such as himself knowing the language or because he botched his translation somehow. Oh, well. That could be determined later. For now, he would speak in the Commmon dialect to answer Finder, as the halfling called himself.
"A song? I would like to hear one, yes," Jon smiled big, "but please don't ask me to sing along. I couldn't carry a tune in a tin cup."
As they worked, he glanced askance at the silent dwarf, wondering how to elicit some form of response from him. He knew that, while most dwarves were ebullient and gregarious, some had a tendency toward introspection and aloofness. Jon had a thought that this one might be one of the latter types. Well enough, that. He would wait without rancor, having made his "gesture", as it were.
BrewStirr Hammer continued washing the dishes while quietly observing the other three laborers that had been thrown together with him by the captain ... or possibly by some bored deities that had nothing better to do with their celestial time ... but ... whatever the case may be ... BrewStirr Hammer had been around the ship's other occupants long enough to realize that these three were potentially the best of the group of treasure seekers aboard ship to company with him to the land of the Elves.
He continued washing the dishes while intently studying his companions ... finally reaching a decision ... that he could do much worse being teamed with any of the others aboard the ship.
So he breaks forth into a short, spontaneous song:
"Scrub ... scrub ... scrub ...
In a dirty tub ...
Splish ... splash ... splish ...
Rinse that soapy dish ...
Rub ... rub ... rub ...
Clean off all that grub ...
Wipe ... wipe ... wipe ...
Please try not to gripe ...
The crow's nest had been much better...
Ja'ara frowned as he and the one called Jon made their way below deck. While he had trained at the monastery he had been forced to wash dishes before, and it was not a pleasant task, especially when one was confined to the gloomy darkness of belowdecks. Still, Ja'ara had been given orders, and if anything, he would follow them.
When they arrived, Ja'ara was surprised to see two others already there. One bearing hte characteristics of a dwarf and the other perhaps the tallest halfling he had ever seen. Jon made no delay in introducing himself and seemed to get into a stumbly conversation with the kender. The dwarven dishwasher added his voice to the mix shortly, a catchy song which quite accurately summed up the situation.
They seemed to have quite some work before them, and humming quietly to himself, Ja'ara started washing.
Doing the dishes was made slightly less menial as the foursome broke out in song. After a bit, they noticed the crew above had started singing also. The notes were out of tune and the words were often very raunchy. Still, it was a clear break from the monotony of sea life. A welcome break for which they could thank the halfling, and the halfling alone.
It was amidst the song that something strange happened. It was the halfling who heard it, but no one else noticed the subtle change at first. The melody above had changed, broken rather. In fact, there was no singing above deck. When the halfling paused at the new sound, the others stopped singing also only to find that the singing above deck had turned to screams. There was havoc above deck, and a quick glance at the stairs back up noted several of the crew running down either to hide or grab a weapon or both.
There was a number of asleep crewmen downstairs that were waking up groggily (gruggily?) to the sounds, and they looked no worse off than those running down now. The ragged clothes of these men running down the stairs reminded the four washing dishes of the local drunkard. Still, there was something else on those dingy clothes. They were soiled, not with days of sweat and weeks of not changing one's undershorts, but with something a bit harder to clean, blood. Moreover, the look in their eyes was quite different from the usual bored demeanor. The look was terror. Their eyes were wide, their mouths half-open. The boards under them seemed to creak in echo of the screams above.
The group rushed above deck ((I assume)) to see what was happening. The crew had crowded to one side of the boat, and it wasn't hard to see why. There was another boat across the broadside, and a number of new inhabitants on board, wielding longswords and slicing through crewmen as though they weren't even there. It was clear to see how they had gained passage to this boat. There were a few grappling hooks attached to ropes that had been tossed across.
Still, it was an unusual manner for "Pirates!" as the word was screamed on board, to attack such a boat. The boat broadsiding them was not going the same direction, but the opposite direction. This would imply to any witty seaman, and even some half-wits that the ropes would cause quite an issue as both boats kept traveling on the water. Still, they had succeeded in one thing. There were "Pirates!" aboard, and they were doing a decent job of slaughtering the crew. It was a gory, dismal sight that would haunt any person for many days to come.