Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Beyond the Shore: Session 5

My spirit is a roaring sea,
I'm born to ride the crashing wave
to conquer each challenge anew.
Ready to fight, forever brave
ready to face a foe like you.
Out from the shadows you appear
and steal me from my sheltered home.
The day has come, the day we fear,
now I must face you on my own.

Gavin Aung Tha

After battling the giant turtle, the ship slows and the crew is set to making repairs to the hull where the turtle rammed it. Caddis fetches a large axe and a crowbar from the galley's collection of unusual tools and dives back into the water to begin harvesting the turtle meat. He makes an ugly job of it, destroying the shell of the ancient creature, wasting half the meat, and leaving a bloody mess in the water. The sight of several jagged dorsal fins breaching the surface of the water prompts him to give up with what he's got. He scrambles back aboard the Sadness and Thaduk and some of the other swabs help him haul a large net, laden with nearly three quarters of a ton of meat up onto the ship before the sharks can make off with it.

As evening approaches, the wind shifts, blowing in from the north and bringing a steady drizzle of rain. Adriana lounges at the rail, shirking her work and Thaduk is forced to snap the whip at her to get her back into the rigging. During bloody hour, Adriana, Crimson Cog, Ratline Rattsberger, and Tam Tate are thrown before the mast and Thaduk is charged to give them six lashes each for shirking.

Thaduk bellows some vile things in Orcish (a recipe for plum pudding) and snaps the whip, but hesitates to strike a blow, glancing meaningfully at the first mate. Caddis catches the hint and messages that he should wait. Suddenly, a voice very much like the captain's calls for Mr. Plugg and Master Scourge from the front of the ship. As soon as the first mate and bosun walk away, Caddis gives the go ahead and Thaduk commences with the beatings. While none of the crew are actually struck by the whip, Caddis's illusions leave the appearance of some very convincing weals and welts along their backs.

Dinner is a hearty affair, with Fishguts making a thick, meaty turtle stew. After dinner, most of the crew withdraws below-decks as the rain starts to pick up. Mr. Plugg shows up fifteen minutes later to announce that Adriana, Leopold, Ratline, and Tate are all needed to stand storm watch and would be working a full night-shift. The four of them reporting to the deck and make their way up into the rigging. It is cold, wet work, and the storm intensifies through the night, but Leopold's cheerful tunes keep everyone awake and in relatively high spirits.

Belowdecks, Caddis and Thaduk see that Henrye has claimed a hammock as far away from the other Moonplummers as possible and is currently having a quiet chat with a Frog in a foppish, purple hat. They walk over and try to patch things up with him, Thaduk even going so far as to return Henrye's helmet, but have another pile of accusations (of varying degrees of accuracy) thrown in their faces, including: conspiring with the pirates in the raid on Moonplum, blowing up Joshua's ship, taking Henrye and the others prisoner, being chummy with their supposed captors, and even killing Joshua Duncaster. It becomes clear that he is completely unwilling to listen to their explanations. Thaduk finally tries to guide Henrye over to the other Moonplummers to talk, only to be shoved back and knocked down by the old soldier, accompanied by Henrye's vow to find a way off this ship and see them brought to justice for their crimes.

Giving up on making up with their old friend, for tonight at least, Thaduk and Caddis return, exhausted, to their hammocks and go to bed, leaving Thaduk Smith on watch.

After a night of heavy wind and rain, the storm hits the Red Sadness full force. An hour before dawn the bosun rings the bell and signals "all hands on deck". The ship is tossed about on the high seas and Caddis and Thaduk are both overcome with sea-sickness as soon as they rise from their hammocks, which, strange as they are to sleep in, at least absorb some of the rocking of the ship. Heaving even before they reach the main deck, Caddis is pulled into the galley by Fishguts and pushed into the cook's bunch with a bucket. "Stay there," the old cook says, "I'll take up the morning biscuit..."

Thaduk comes out on deck, only to projectile vomit a stream of half-digested turtle meat across the deck. He clings to the rail, emptying his stomach as the rest of the crew scramble into the rigging or lash themselves to the deck to help guide the ship through the storm. The sails are taken in, and the sailing master calls two other crewmen to help her hold the wheel against the waves pounding the ship's rudder. Adriana and Leopold, well into their third consecutive shift, scramble around the rigging, trying along with everyone else to keep the ship from foundering.

Thaduk, still sick, decides to head below-decks. Just as he turns to head back, the ship rolls. The ship deck lurches as the ship rocks violently to one side, sliding down the face of a large swell, only to roll back in the other direction as is drops into the trough and starts up the side of the next. Thaduk, already unsteady on his feet, is sent sliding all the way across the deck and only barely manages to grab the rail before going overboard.

Finally Thaduk manages to pull himself along the rail and make it to the stairs down to the hold. He is stopped by a hand on his shoulder. Turning he see's Master Scourge, but, on seeing Thaduk's face, the bosun just shakes his head and motions for Thaduk to get below.

The storm rages on, but the crew keeps it together long into day and on into the second night. Finally, deep into what must be her fourtieth consecutive hour in the rigging, Adriana sees a break in the clouds and the dim light of dawn. The ship turns towards the light, hoping to break free of the storm, only to plow headlong into an oncoming swell. A wall of water washes across the deck and the ship pitches up, climbing the wave at nearly a fourty-five degree angle. Adriana, Sandara Quinn, Tilly Bracket, and Jaundiced Japes all fall from the rigging and are swept overboard.

Adriana kicks and fails, her head breaking the water to gasp for air, only to be shoved back under by another wave. Aboard the sadness, Leopold scrambled down the rigging, screaming "Men overboard!" and tossing a rope out towards Adriana. Hearing the cry, faint over the roaring wind, Thaduk and Caddis rush back up topside,  managing to keep their balance this time despite their sickness and the sharply pitching deck. Leopold points out Adriana and begins singing a dark chanty to dispel their sea-sickness.

Thaduk ties a rope off to the rail and dives into the water, swimming out towards Japes, the nearest of the four crewmen swept overboard. As Thaduk swims back with Japes, Leopold and Caddis brace themselves against the gunwale as Adriana grabs the rope. The two strain, but are unable to haul her in. Finally Caddis manages to get enough slack to tie the rope off to the rail, allowing Adriana to climb up on her own.

Caddis then looks out and spots Sandara and Tilly. Sandara seemed to be swimming well, holding her shipmate above the water, but the two of them were quickly being swept away from the ship by the waves. Leopold tied off another rope, then he and Caddis leapt into the water together, swimming as hard as they could for the girls. Luckily the rope, being the standard 1000-ft. lengths used aboard ships, easily reached the girls. Caddis stripped off his trousers and made them into a flotation device, and draped them around Tilly's neck. With the rope, the floating pants, and three strong swimmers, everyone was soon safely back aboard the Sadness.

Less than an hour after everyone was back aboard, the Red Sadness reached the edge of the storm and relatively clear skies. Caddis had some difficulty recovering his pants from Tilly, until Leopold suggested that she could have his pants. Leopold sang yet another song to dispel the crew's fatigue from nearly two days of rough work, then he and Tilly disappeared into the hold, with a suggestion from Leopold that maybe they could use those ropes for something more pleasant. Fishguts came up on deck with a double serving of ship's biscuits, and Master Scourge announced that everyone would be given leave to rest until the noon bell.

Everyone collapsed into their bunks, only to awakened by the bell only four hours later. Leopold woke to find himself naked and hog-tied, wrists to ankles. He, once-again, tumbled out of his bunk to land face-first on the floor, to much laughter from the rest of the crew. He called for Caddis to help him, but Thaduk, laughing, blocked the way and prevented anyone from untying the poor bard.

A few poorly chosen words on Leopold's part, directed at the big orc, soon had Thaduk carrying the naked, hog-tied Leopold up on deck, where he was hung from the bowsprit. Leopold wept and apologized and pleaded for his life, as everyone on board laughed uproariously. Finally Thaduk took him down, cut him loose, and yelled at the rest of the crew to get to work. Leopold wandered down below to find TIlly standing by his bunk, holding his clothes for him. He muttered a sarcastic "thanks," and then ran up on deck before the first mate could yell at him for shirking his work.

On deck, Caddis and Leopold overheard the Captain talking with Mr. Plugg, Riaris Krine, and Peppery Longfarthing. Apparently the storm had blown the ship way off course, nearly one-hundred and sixty leagues farther south and east than the captain wished to be, far overshooting their target, the shipping lanes between the Soloman islands and New Caledonia. Leopold walked up and tried to offer his services as a navigator, only to be backhanded by the captain, sending Leopold toppling over the rail from the aftcastle down to the main deck, where he hit, hard, and passed out.

Sandara healed Leopold enough to help him stand and ushered him down to his bunk with a reminder of Captain Herrera's rule number 1: "don’t speak to me". Caddis kept listening for a bit longer to find that the captain and officers were not at all worried about where they were, but rather at the lost time. The captain was anxious to get back into occupied waters and find a prize. To that end, he ordered Master Krine to round up the new recruits tomorrow and start straining them for boarding actions.

Getting to work, Thaduk looked about the deck for anyone not working their hardest. On a whim, he singled out Crimson Cogward, the only swab among those punished during the bloody hour before the storm hit. Thaduk snapped the whip at the sailor, yelling something about wine in orcish. It was clear that Cog was trying his hardest not to snap back at the big and dangerous orc. His neck flushed bright red with mixed anger and embarrassment, the veins on his head bulged, and as he went to work scrubbing, he bit through his lip, sending a trickle of night-black blood running down his chin. Channeling his rage into his work, Cog scrubbed so hard that splinters flew.

A few hours later, Leopold woke up. Once again he was naked in his hammock, but this time Tilly was lying beside him. Trying not to wake her, and quietly apologizing to her that "there were more one kind of crabs on this ship", he went up on deck. Only to find that he had forgotten to dress, and it was less than an hour before dinner. As the crew burst out laughing at him, again, he ran down and got dressed, then returned to finish the last thirty minutes or so of his shift.

At bloody hour, Leopold and Tilly found themselves tied to the mast. Once again Thaduk and Caddis conspired to distract the officers so that Thaduk would not have to actually beat the miscreants. Caddis created a great explosion of light and noise near the front of the ship, sending everyone except him, Thaduk, and the accused running to see what it was. While they were away, Thaduk immediately began ranting and snapping the whip, accompanied by piteous wailing from Leopold. When the crew returned, Leopold made a great show of writhing on the ground in agony, to many a chuckle and derogatory comment from the crew regarding his fortitude.

After the bloody hour, Caddis served up some soup (which was barely edible), and the crew took their first moments of real relaxation in three days. Adriana, wandering about, found Henrye Allingham in the fo'castle, talking to (or rather at) Aretta, a big-boned woman who determinedly ignored him, keeping her nose in a book the entire time. Henrye was speaking, not too subtly, about mutiny and trying to take over the ship.

He shut up when he heard Adriana approaching, and she tried once again to reason with him. He informed her that her father had sent word to Port Montague as soon as it became clear that she had been kidnapped and that a rescue was surely on the way. While unable to convince him of the necessity of playing along with the pirates for fear of keelhauling, she at least got him to concede that "you must not be in on Caddis's and Thaduk's plot". "Don't worry," he said, playing the rescuer, "I'll find a way to get us out of here."

After he left, the other woman looked up from her book, "Be careful with that one," she said, "he's an idiot."