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Snippet #2680136

located in The Seven Seas, a part of Making Waves, one of the many universes on RPG.

The Seven Seas

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Character Portrait: Nathaniel 'Black Nate' Sellars
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Nathaniel sighed and collapsed back into the chair after the door closed behind Carrington. The exertions of the past three days had crept up on him, and only now could he allow himself to be affected by them. He raised a hand to his face and rubbed his temples, closing his eyes as a headache rushed into full overdrive. His ears rang from the din of battle. His throat was dry from powder smoke and hoarse from shouting. His muscles aches and his wounds throbbed. Nate needed to rest for a few moments before he dared step outside of his cabin again. Taking his hand from his head Nate examined the wound on his arm. Nothing too serious and certainly not deep, he’d simply have another scar. What annoyed him was the cut in his blue jacket. Mending clothes was always irritating. Standing up, Nate left the sparse room and went through the door behind him into the apartment.

Unlike the smaller room he had left, the apartment was spacious, at least in comparison to other cabins on a ship. The benefit of being the captain of a frigate was that as it was a larger ship, the captain’s quarters were bigger. The apartment had large windows looking out over the wake of the ship, and its floor was covered with a sailcloth patching of black and white, not unlike a giant chessboard. To the right a thin wall partitioned the apartment off from Nate’s sleeping quarters, where a cot hung from the ceiling and some of his more personal possessions were stored. A large table took up much of the room in the apartment, its surface strewn with papers, maps and books, the ship’s log open to the most recent entry in the middle of all this. Nate was glad to see the pot of ink he had left on the table had not spilled, and no cannonballs had wrought destruction in the room. The walls themselves were covered in bookshelves, which in turn contained volumes of all shapes and sizes, including a large amount of sheet music for the violin that sat in the corner by the window, the early morning light catching its curved edges.

Taking all of this in in a brief moment, Nate walked through the room and into his sleeping quarters, collapsing into his cot as he heard the first cannon fire. “They must be finally sinking the Illustrious,” he thought as he shook off his shoes. Laying back he remembered his first action as a foremast jack, stationed on number six gun on a ship of the line called Thunderer. The noise had shaken him to his bones, the cramped and claustrophobic atmosphere of the gundeck getting worse and worse as the battle went on. With no idea of what was going on outside Nate had lost himself in the repetition of leading and firing the gun with the rest of the crew. Unable to hear the gun captain’s orders it had only been screw, swab, cartridge, wadding, ball, wadding, ram, prick, fire, repeat. He had nearly fainted from fright when one of the crew clapped him on the back and he noticed the fight was over, men cheering along the deck that was clearing of smoke. Nate had stared, powder blackened and drenched in sweat at the men around him, his ears ringing and his hands rubbed raw from the tool handles. One of the older men pushed a mug of grog into his hands and cuffed the youngster around the head. Nate warmed, smiled and downed the mug, his parched throat letting out a cheer with the other men. His eyes closed, Nate could still feel the elation, the rush, the trust in the hours of practice to pull him through. He had not even noticed the death above and to the left and right of him. But that was how it was. You did your job and hoped to God, it was only the machinations of the Admiralty board and the captain that stole all recognition for that victory from the men who had fought it.

Opening his eyes Nathaniel realized he had been dreaming, the smell of gun smoke in his nostrils almost as real as the smell a few hours before. Sitting up and looking out of his porthole, Nate was glad to see he had not slept long. Swinging his legs out of his cot, he got up and changed into a baggy shirt, laying his waistcoat and jacket on his cot, frowning at the damage. Walking into the apartment Nate picked up his violin and strummed the strings a little. The discordant notes filled the cabin, and he was glad to discover that the strings only needed a little tweaking to be in tune. The salt-filled air at sea played hell with string instruments, and Nate’s violin was his pride and joy. The horse-hair bow and the body of the violin were lovingly maintained, kept varnished and strings replaced whenever they needed to be.

Picking up the bow Nate rested the violin under his chin, closed his eyes and played a chord. The notes sang out and filled his head, driving his worries under as he warmed up the strings. Settling in he began to play properly, Paganini’s sonata in C major filling the cabin and even seeping upwards through the skylight on to the quarterdeck. Nate knew his playing could be heard by those on deck above him, but he cared very little. His music was his passion, the melodies driving away his stresses and filling his head with colour and life. As the ‘duo merveille’ came to a close, Nate left a moment of silence after the final notes, keeping his eyes closed as the music hung in the air. The moment over he opened his eyes and placed the violin back, tucking a sheet of Bach under it to play when he next had an opportunity.

“Mr. Peters!” Nate called. The bosun was usually within earshot, and even with a couple of wooden walls between them, Peters could hear the captain’s call. His arrival was noted by a knock at the apartment door. “Enter,” Nate said simply.

Coming through the door, Peters touched his knuckle to his forehead and did an odd little bob almost like a bow. “You called for me sir?”

“Yes Mr. Peters, I’d like my uniform,” here Nate pointed into his sleeping quarters, “washed and darned within the hour. I don’t want to be on deck looking like I’ve just come out of a slaughterhouse.”

“Aye sir, I’ll see to it.” Normally it was the job of the captain’s personal servant to deal with these issues, but seeing as Nate did not have one, the job fell to the bosun, who would then give it to some unlucky crewman. Peters touched the knuckle to his head again and picked up the jacket and waistcoat, backing out of the door and disappearing.

Nate smiled. He had spent a long time cultivating his crew, and although he knew he could lose it all in an instant as was the way of the sea, men like Peters would follow him to Hell and back. They were essential, and they made everything run smoothly.

Following Peters out of the door Nate stood in the sea breeze, crewmen going about their business unfazed by the casual appearance of the captain. When at sea and not in combat, it was well known that Nate would lose the constricting jacket and baubles of a captain, and jot about in essentially the same clothes as the men. It was often an indicator that he meant to climb to the tops. If he had wanted to just walk the decks, he would stay in uniform. But climbing to the tops was his intention, and he walked quickly to the gangway, swinging himself up over the rail and climbing up the rigging with the agility of a monkey. He had been doing this his whole life, and nothing except music and battle gave him such a thrill as speeding up the ropeways of the Acheron.

Reaching the top of the foremast Nate heaved himself onto the platform. At the moment it was empty. The lookout sat at the top of the mainmast, and waved to the captain as he appeared atop the fore. In a better mood than usual, Nate returned the wave with a nod and settled in, sitting with his back to the rest of the ship and facing out to the sea that stretched before him. The English Channel was by no means a beautiful stretch of water, often grey and far too populated, but Nathaniel loved the feel of the wind in his hair and the sun on his face. Looking around him he could see the coast of England fading to starboard, the coast of France becoming more visible to port. Out in front stretched the channel as it fed into the Atlantic Ocean. Nate had sailed these waters umpteen times, and he was leaving them again more than happy to do so. However, heat. Nate hated heat, and setting Spain as their current destination would not be pleasant for him. At least there was always a breeze at sea. Well… usually.

After a while, and after surveying everything he could, Nate looked back down to the deck to see what was going on. Far below him it seemed everything was back to normal. The captured stores had been put away, and normal daily routine had begun. Dogood was at the wheel, and Peters was calling out changes to the cloud of sail so that they would proceed as fast as the Acheron could go. The current watch clambered into the rigging and edged along the yardarms, raising or lowering the sails as ordered. The call of the bosun’s whistle and the ordered barked from his speaking trumpet carried up into the tops, and Nate decided to climb down. Getting as far as the fighting platforms built above the deck, Nate took hold of a pulley rope and slid down it to the deck, landing with a thud. The newer members of the crew stared at him in disbelief. On a ship the captain was king, and to see the king clambering about like a common sailor was nothing if not shocking. The older crewmen smiled and touched their knuckles to their brows. Black Nate was one of them. He looked out for them, knew how things were for them, and he would always see them right.

Returning the salutes of the crewmen Nate walked back to his quarters, closing the door behind him and going into the apartment, where he found his jacket, washed, stitched and as well done as it could be. “That is the good thing about sailors”, Nate thought. “All that stitching sails and making their own church clothes led to an uncanny ability with a needle and thread.” Slipping on the waistcoat, which was now a tinge more pink than before in places, Nate rolled up his sleeve and wrapped the cut on his forearm with a strip of cloth. Stepping over to a small side-table Nate poured some fresh water into a bowl and scrubbed at his face and hands, working off the grime with a stiff brush he kept for just such an occasion. Feeling, and looking better, he put on his jacket, tweaking the cuffs into place, and went into the outer cabin.

“Mr. Peters!” Nate called again, the man appearing in a matter of seconds. “Tell Lieutenant Thompson that I would like to speak with her.” Wordlessly Peters saluted and went out, the door closing behind him.

Nate sat down at the table where he had spoken to Carrington, putting away everything unessential, but leaving the pistol he had given to Ren out and clear in the middle. He reached into the cabinet nearby and pulled out a large book, emblazoned with the Admiralty’s coat of arms. The book of ‘King’s Regulations’ was still Nate’s rule book, though he chose to ignore parts of it. He ran his ship by its letters, and now he intended to enforce it. Laying it next to the pistol, he sat bolt upright in the chair and glared towards the door.