Growing Tides

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The Journal of Skipper Nejrat (IV)

Ninth Eros 1E92Y

We finally breached, and couldn't have happened a moment sooner. Normally, I am not one to suffer from the likes of cabin fever. Let the lesser minds keep their lesser illnesses meant to catalyze and flourish from their lesser capacities to keep themselves company. I am an astute and introspective individual; my "suitor" is not. She talked my head off, discussing which of the others heads she would cleave off once she finished grinding her axe, while I did my best to look even the slightest bit interested, a feat that I had gained over a month of courtship that was being pushed to its breaking point in less than a week of constant contact!...!!..!!!.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Look what she has reduced me to! Leaving slashes in my journal out of such petty anger...!! For Baro's sake, he is rather fortunate I am a patient sort, otherwise I! would have blown !this cover a !LONG, !!LONG !T!I!ME AGO.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay... okay.!. I am calm now. After all, we have breached, and everything can settle down. Fully. I doubt she would follow me up here, to the crow's nest; I don't even think she saw me sneak into the wooden haven before the mast rose. Damned be my duties of the moment, for I am enjoying a day of isolation, up here, in the sky, with gray... clouds... oh, bugger.

I decided, after much consideration, that staying up in the crow's nest during a storm was not the best course of action.
Thirteenth Eros 1E92Y

The storm continues to rage on. Though we had the chance, Baro and I both agreed that it would be wise to wait until we either cleared the storm or it dispersed before attempting to request Kera to "charge" the engines. At least, in that circumstance, it would be understood that it was the action, itself, that would have been attributed to success... or failure.

However, this meant that I had to deal with her blatant, brazen, public declarations to back stab a good majority of the crew. Mostly the females, specifically the ones that tended to default to my advice or commands when they were unsure of what to do. If her affection wasn't clear, from her constant need to sleep in the same hammock to her almost parasitic link to my body in some fashion at any given time we were together, then her clear and unbelievably obtuse hatred of the female crew was more than enough to hint she believes we were together.

In fact, at this very moment, she is turned away in the hammock, while I am forced to write upon a barrel beside. Lasael was a dear to have aided in at least getting me this, but I suppose it is more a matter of it benefiting her. After all, if I had to stand and move somewhere to write, that would mean Kera would have to rise, as well, and she would be none to happy, nor merciful, to whomever my path may cross with along the way.

Fourteenth Eros 1E92Y

The weather had started to break, and the oarsmen were thankful we were reaching the edge of it at the same time. Another day, if not a few more hours, and we could be sailing through the skies again --that is, if Kera's sorceries could work on them. She had given me some rather... curious news about today; it turns out that she had heard from a herald in Carapai, from a messenger from the Church of the Divine Mothers, that the fourteenth of Eros was a day of love and companionship and intimacy between couples. That, on this day, people who were courted to each other were meant to give one another gifts and show their love to one another.

My first wonder was why would anyone put their significant other through such stress? It seems like a practice in futility, and seeding loathing and contempt between two people. After all, if one's gift doesn't equate to what the other deems sufficient, or if the other person had a far grander gift, it both builds a feeling of self-import as well as debilitating self-depreciation.

My second wonder? If she was simply weaving this fabrication to get something out of me. So, against my better judgement, I found myself confiding in Baro about this... and, once more, he wounded me, and told me that she was right. The children of clay do have such a tradition.

"Ah, but neither of us are a child of clay," I had said, "and neither of us believe in the Divine Mothers."

That gave Baro pause, and his next question was one I had hoped to avoid. Curse my tongue for letting that one boon slip and become a curse.

"Yes," I told him, already lamenting it as I begrudgingly had to go through with my own slip-up. "I am an atheist."

And I wish that I have could have gone and partook in Kera's company, instead, at that moment. I did not wish for my captain, my best friend, to lambast me to the point of bedlam. The walls had shook from the force of his bubbles, the room and air around it reverberating with his vibrating frills, going so fast it was a wonder they didn't create words on their own. How could I not believe? How could I be so foolish, such a contrarian? Wasn't the Scylla enough proof of the Divine Mothers, and their connection with their connection? It was through them we got the ship, and so on and so on.

Yet, with each passing word, it became easier to accept they weren't truly looking over us... I do not wish to continue this line of thought here, not in my keeper of my most private, intimate thoughts. It's bad enough the ink is still a touch runny from how hard my hand shook. Not of rage, but distress. If I wasn't a bigger man, of high virtue, I would have most likely thrown myself at his feet, pleaded, groveled that he would simply stop. But I wasn't, nor would I ever be.

For now, the wax grows low on the candle, and sadly Kera is demanding my attention. I suppose being an emotionally compromised mess all day would only goad her hopes to take advantage of me... and, maybe, I just might let her.

Fifteenth Eros 1E92Y

The weather did completely break this morning, and Kera was in a right jolly mood. She didn't bark nor lash out at any of the other crewmen, and even exchanged pleasant conversation with them at breakfast. Not one of them questioned why, giving sympathetic smiles any time she looked away. I cannot say it was an unpleasant experience, but I was left in no shape that morning. No amount of kavefe beans could perk me up.

Baro came down during, and had me and Kera join him up on deck. He finally stated why she had been chosen, why the condition back in Carapai, but Kera didn't care the reason. She believed that it was him that gave the condition, and, regardless if she had the magic or otherwise, that I would have fallen for her... I... highly doubt that, but I chose to stay silent. Had to conserve my strength. I needed to nod my head for her when she looked my way, after all, after Baro had given her the order. It gave me the tiniest smirk, seeing Baro get a little ruffled, but even that made me a touch light headed.

But I digress. This is on the engines and how her magic worked with them. Very well, in fact... however, the engines did not work well with her. It was almost instant; she held out her hands to the blue engine off to the right of the captain's quarters, and it hummed to life. It had pulled on her enough for her to be jerked forward, but she didn't show weakness until the third. By the fourth, she was left a hobbling, wheezing mess; I took her downstairs to her hammock, where I am sitting beside now. She is awfully pale, refuses to eat, but water is received wantonly. Her stomach was a touch bloated from it, swishing, gurgling as the Scylla flies through the skies, while she wears the largest smile, even in her sleep. In fact, it was rather disconcerting; it seemed that, no matter where I moved in the room, that smile would follow, even as she slept.

Twenty-Eighth Eros 1E92Y

Kera is still bedridden. She has been trying for the last few days to stand, but her legs still don't have their strength. It was still far more than she could do for the last few weeks.

I had become, essentially, her handmaiden. I waited on her hand and foot, tended to (most) of her needs, and never left her wanting... much to Baro's disdain. He had approached me earlier today, demanding to know why I had such little presence on deck. You would think he would be a touch grateful for putting aside my complications and self for the well-being of his only energizer. After all, if the engines were to stop again and Kera wasn't well, who would be able to charge them?

It truly astounds me, even now, to see how... cold Baro has become. Even when I brought up the aforementioned point, he stated that she seemed to at least be lucid. "You could carry her to each one," he told me, and, when I told him if she were to... what if the inevitable occurred during, he said, "Then we would simply have to find another. It's not like they are in short supply with you around."

I defiantly held my position, that I would overlook her health until she could stand on her own again, and that there was nothing he could say otherwise... He left with a compromise, though it felt more like a threat: I was to tend to the deck at least an hour a day. "Then you are allowed would to play the good husband."

Fourth Merash 1E92Y

Kera is finally back to her old self. Maybe even worse than that; her infatuation had become full amorous corruption. She had not left my side, if not my front, all day, always in the center of my focus, always the main point of my attention. It was enough to put me in a foul mood, freed from sick nursing, able to be away from her, but no. You would think she might be a touch irritated if not sick of my presence, but there she was wanting to keep having, needing more.

It seemed that my foul mood had rubbed off on the captain, too, when I went to confide this in him.

I do not know what had come over him. I had barely started talking to him once I was in the room when he threw the pewter mug on the desk at me. It had nailed itself into the wall, and made such a clangor, but that was only the beginning of the cacophony. He stated that I shouldn't complain, that I had no right to. "If you didn't want it, then you should have left her alone, to get better on her own or otherwise. Quit trying to play the victim when you wrought this yourself. You create your own pity party, and should consider hanging a rope for the next time. Maybe then I will be more than happy to attend it, because then I can beat some sense into that vapid, empty crevice you call a head."

He threw his ink well next, and demanded I leave. "And don't come to my door again with your petty gripes."

Later on, down in the dining hall, Baro approached me and apologized. It turns out stocks were running scarce, and the stress of the day-to-day had started to wear on him, on top of simply nothing to be found. No adventure. No new locale... Considering we had been out on the sea a month, I could understand that; he was the captain, and had paper work to tend to, as well, and the lack of a skipper giving presence on deck or underneath was truly a strain... I accepted his apology, and swore we would find something. Soon, hopefully.

Something found us.

The Copper Hatchets. A crude band of privateers. I had some dealing with them before I worked on the Leviathan; they weren't the smartest bunch, but they were opportunistic, and intuitive.

They must have followed us for a while, had gauged how the Scylla subtly undulated and surfed on the winds. They must have, to throw their hooks so perfectly onto the railings. There were eight along it that day, each tied to a ship, with four surrounding each of the tethered vessels. The ropes were heavy with brigands. I have to give credit where is due; that is no easy shot to make, husky Fauns or otherwise.

Baro didn't seem as enthused to see his ship hooked by lowly Terra Forces. He did not show any value of life as he pushed the engines to their limits; one by one, the ropes, the hooks broke. However, three held on fast, and their lines were heavy with Faun, Terrahn, and even Itchyomen. They made it aboard, in time, but were too exhausted from the climb and enduring the gale-force winds that shrieked around the vessel to put up any fight.

They were lined along the rails, the Scylla idling higher than ever before. Baro paced in front of them, his barbs fully bared, his frills twitching more than his claws, clacking angrily. The rest of the crew waited for him to decide, though my choice was already made: these brigands didn't deserve to die. One look at them showed they were no threat; put them in the brig and let them go hungry a few days until we get to shore, then let local forces take care of them.

Baro, however, wanted more. He demanded their blood.

I rejected. "We aren't killers," I had told him, but Baro shoved me aside.

And shoved his claw through one of the Faun's chest.

"Now we are," he said, and did so to the next.

I could not sit idly by; this was too far, even for him. As he readied for the fourth, I stepped in the way. He told me to stand down, that he was the captain and I will obey him, but I continued to refuse.

"This is mutiny, then! Take him to the brig," he had commanded the rest... yet none of them moved. The only one that did was Kera, taking her place by my side.

"He is trying to do the right thing," she said. "None of us will listen to you. I know I won't, so good luck recharging your engines when they go out."

Baro looked around at his crew, and slowly withdrew his barbs. He spat on the deck, his final word on the subject, and retreated to his little hovel, while the crew helped me take the remaining pirates down to the brig. Some even thanked me, but I was in no mindset to accept. I had refused my captain, and the crew followed; it'll be a wonder if none of us come out of this unscathed.

Eighth Merash 1E92Y

It seems Baro withdrawing at the behest of his mutinous crew was his wisest choice. The Scylla's engines ran out again. It turns out that throttled to their highest, and kept that way, for a long, long time would drain them quicker than a steady pace.

Kera offered to help (me) willingly, though only asked after the captain demanded her. I don't know what was going on behind those black, stalk eyes, but the murderous intent was there, always. His red claw would always be bathed in blood anymore, sullied, marred, corrupted. Was it any wonder why the crew showed such hesitation to answer to him?

So, she offered to help, and once more she is bedridden.

Sixteenth Merash 1E92Y

Kera still shows no sign of improvement. In fact, she can barely lift her head, and to talk was a struggle. There was no denying it; this was far worse than the first time.

Seventh Argo 1E92Y

She still shows no true indication of improving. However, the Scylla's engines have been run dry again. Baro came downstairs, demanding her help, but I told him, had been telling him, that she was in no shape. Still.

Yet he called me a liar, a conspirator, all of us such. "She was simply holding back, making sure that she had power, that you held true command over the ship, and I am sick of it!" I was in shock; I had no idea what he meant. He saw her lying in bed, watched as she struggled for even breath, yet he thought she was holding back?

No matter how much evidence to the contrary, he still wrenched her out of the bed, and carried her over his shell up to the deck. He pushed her towards the engine, demanded her to help, but when no magic came became furious. "There will be no more talk of mutiny on this ship!" His bubbles boomed. "I am the captain, and my will be done!"

He commanded the crew to get rope, that Kera would be keelhauled. I tried to stop them, tried to reason with him, but he would not listen. All lines of communication were cut when he slammed his claw into my face, then tossed her overboard against the hull.

I had no choice: I had to truly defy him.

I broke an oar over his back. I sprayed salt into his. I kicked his legs underneath him, and only then did I feel I had enough of a window to pull Kera up.

"You dare assault the captain?" Baro exclaimed, then commanded the crew take me to the brig... but none of them did. "You all refuse me now?"

"Couldn't you see how sick she was?" One of the crew blurted out, but I already had the colder truth in my arms.

Kera was dead.

"You killed her," I said, and it was like a stone in my heart, sinking, dragging it into the depths of despair.

But what did Baro do? He laughed.

"No. You did," he said, and limped to his quarters, leaving me there holding Kera.
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