159 A Stormy Night*
Rassa's fight was a little more anticipated now that they'd seen Aegin's skills. The crew were just slightly disappointed when Jorl was selected to compete against Rassa, and the older sailor gracefully bowed out of the ring in surrender.
As such, Rassa advanced to the next round without the crew seeing his abilities. Though, now that they'd seen Aegin's they were more or less convinced that Rassa was not incapable. There were also those few who had seen him, albeit briefly, fighting in Port Lovolon. Before this competition they were not overly convinced of what they had seen, as Rassa's speed was simply inconceivable, so they'd decided not to talk about it. Now, whilst they hadn't seen everything, their lips did loosen somewhat.
The afternoon fights passed by pretty quickly, done within just a couple of hours. After which the ship went back to business as usual. Ebony climbed the main mast to resume her duties in the crow's nest. Rassa went below decks to join the other crew members who were on night watch in sleeping through the rest of the day.
One thing that Rassa had realised was that he enjoyed sleeping during the day. It felt far more natural for him to only be awake at night. He hadn't learned of such a thing while he was getting lessons from Victor and the other Vampire Spirits, but they had the sun stones and the barriers to block out the sun. They'd no doubt altered their environment enough to feel comfortable to sleep at night and remain active during the day. Alas, Rassa was a very long way away from rediscovering that technology.
He comfortably slept through the rest of the afternoon, and was awoken by Aegin later that evening.
"You good?" asked Aegin.
Rassa yawned and rubbed his eyes. He'd been up most of the morning, so he'd only gotten a few hours of rest, "I prefer the night watch. Being awake during the day is just too tiring".
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Aegin rolled his eyes and said with sarcasm, "Well, apologies my lord".
Rassa smirked lazily, "Yeah, yeah, I'm moving, mum".
Aegin smirked and the two moved back towards the stairs that led to the main deck, Aegin parting with him to go to the kitchen for dinner as Rassa went to the Foredeck for his watch.
He noticed before he even smelt the outside air that something was off. The water was a little too calm and pleasant, the ship wasn't being pulled by the wind quite as quickly.
He paused at the top of the stairs and Isaac came up behind him, "Noticed it huh? That's good for a newbie".
"Storm?" questioned Rassa.
"Not until later, but yes, we'll be having a storm tonight," Isaac confirmed, "Judging by the lack of wind it'll be a strong one".
"The Captain won't try to avoid it?" asked Rassa.
Isaac shrugged, "When the wind gets like this it's unlikely we'll be able to escape it. Besides, the Captain trusts that his crew will know what to do. Might want to start preparing the life lines though".
Rassa frowned, "The what?" He'd immediately though of the black lines covering his skin, but Isaac was clearly referring to something else. The young man pointed to the piles of rope that were tied and neatly stored around the masts.
"Life lines," said Isaac, "Everyone gets tied to one so that it's less likely someone will go overboard".
Rassa nodded in understanding, then headed towards the Foredeck to start preparing them. Jorl had mentioned them before and showed Rassa how to tie them so it wasn't hard to find and prepare them. Jorl hadn't called them life lines when he said it. He'd just referred to them as ropes.
It seemed even someone as seasoned as Jorl wasn't perfect.
Sure enough, it was just passing midnight when the wind started to pick up and the waves started to crash a little harder. Isaac descended from the crow's nest, making his way below deck to wake everybody up. It was a good thing too, because within just ten minutes, the sky had gotten so dark that Rassa could no longer see the moon or the stars, and the rain had started to come down. Hard.
Rassa helped secure life lines to the crew who made their way to the fore deck. They then started scaling the Foremast, preparing to bring in the sails before Midas had even given the order. They weren't far ahead of him though.
"Batten down the hatches! Bring in the Sails!"
The orders were carried out like a well-oiled machine as the ship started to rise and fall over waves increasing in size. The sky was lit by a bolt of lightning for an instant, as it crested a wave, then thunder crashed as the ship dove down, riding out its journey.
Without the sails, the ship certainly felt less out of control, but it was clear that all the crew were determined in doing was riding out the storm. Trying to navigate correctly would be suicidal, so they picked a generally south direction and adjusted as necessary to ride over the giant waves. Those they missed crashed onto the deck, finishing the job the rain had already started of drenching everything in sight.
Ebony, Aegin and Rassa had never experienced a storm at sea before. They found it terrifying...and terribly thrilling at the same time.
Perhaps Rassa's impulsiveness had rubbed off on Aegin and Ebony, because they grinned almost as widely as he did as they worked with the rest of the crew to keep the ship in working order. Jeremiah, who watched from the Quarter Deck as his ship cut through and crested and crashed through the turbulent ocean, couldn't help but shake his head in amusement.
Illai didn't mind being wet. It had been a part of who she was from a young age, from the moment she'd been thrown down a well because her family couldn't afford to feed her. They certainly hadn't expected what had become of her, but then, Illai had never gone back after she'd climbed her way from that dark, wet place.
She'd learned to become one with it, letting the dark waters shape her and take her where she needed to go. It had done so this time, taking her to a place some would view as darker than her own darkness.
"You better have a damn good reason for being here, Inktress," the imposing man declared. He may have scared everyone else, but Illai's master scared her more. This man was outwardly evil. He was violent and cruel. Ishta Alamone hid behind a carefully constructed mask, and when that mask cracked...Illai never wanted it to crack, lest she be on the receiving end of his wrath.
Inktress. The name was not one she had given herself. The only one who knew her real name was Ishta, everyone else had had to get creative. Inktress was one of the ones she preferred, though she thought it a bother to explain to them that her ability couldn't really be described as 'ink'.
"My master has a target for you," Illai replied smoothly.
"You tell your master, that I am no errand dog," grumbled the man, dark eyes piercing from a tanned and wrinkled face covered in hair as pitch black as night.
"A Token Vessel," Illai added.
The man gave a double-take in surprise, "Token Vessels are off-limits. I don't need that company to have a vendetta against my entire enterprise".
"This one isn't," Illai said, "My Master wants only the man named Rassa Moonshadow. The rest you can do with as you please".
Illai stepped forward and held her finger aloft above a map. A drop of black liquid fell from her finger and landed on the map below, "They are headed south. My Master also hopes you won't take too long, he is an impatient man".
She swept some water aside, leaving behind a box, "To help you in your ventures. Consider it a payment for a job well-done". Illai then seemed to melt as she walked away, her figure degrading into a dark puddle which disappeared under the door.
The man sneered at the retreating Magician, but his eyes darted briefly to the map, then to the box.
A Token Vessel, huh? The spoils shouldn't be too shabby...
He approached the box, opening it to find an evanine crystal marked with a circle within a circle, and a sword with another crystal attached to its hilt. The man picked up the sword, clutching it tightly. As he did, a spurt of lightning encompassed the blade. The man grinned.
He looked to the map where the dot was centred, "East it is".