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Of Crests and Crowns

The Isles of Naere and the waters around.


a part of Of Crests and Crowns, by IvySeeker.

Upon the glittering sea lies a chain of islands, the Isles of Naere.

IvySeeker holds sovereignty over The Isles of Naere and the waters around., giving them the ability to make limited changes.

214 readers have been here.


As precious as the diamonds on a silver plated chain, the Isles have been a popular port of call for eons, and will remain so for eons more. Right in the middle of the Whispering Sea, it's conveniently on any trade route, and the frequent comings and goings make their culture a diverse and colourful one. Every light casts a shadow though, for the bountiful merchant ships draw pirates to them like bees to a flower.
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The Isles of Naere and the waters around.

Upon the glittering sea lies a chain of islands, the Isles of Naere.


The Isles of Naere and the waters around. is a part of Of Crests and Crowns.

2 Places in The Isles of Naere and the waters around.:

3 Characters Here

Odessa "Calla" Long [11] Captain of the Orion.
Dionysius 'Dio' Pertinax [10] Dio is the captain of The Rising Phoenix
Thomas "Just Thomas" Worthington [1] No really, it's just Thomas. A hand of The Rising Phoenix.

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Character Portrait: Odessa "Calla" Long
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The stars glittered silently, casting their feeble light upon the ocean- a broken mirror. Gentle winds blew from the South, bringing with it warmth and the lingering scent of foreign soil. Small waves stirred and dipped upon the otherwise calm seas, lulling the world into serenity with their constant lullaby. And upon the deceptively desolate ocean rested a ship. Perhaps if one looked down from the Heavens, the ship would be nothing but a mere speck of dust; Insignificant. However, from up close, it really was a majestic thing. The main planks were crafted from cedar, whilst the handrails, odds and ends were shaped from fine teak. The sails were beautifully white, often washed and bleached to maintain their colour. The design of the ship itself was unique, having taken bits of styles from the different cultures that populated their land. Overall, it was proportionally slender, built for speed. Hidden in it's sides were 25 guns, poised to defend the ship from any enemies. Upon the bow sat a bronze coloured ram, ready to ram into the hull of ill-fated ships to send them under. It was sleek, beautiful and deadly.

During the void of night, many would expect the deck to be silent and still, the crew resting for another raid the very next morning. But Captain Calla, or more intimately known as Odessa to her acquaintances, felt the need to do things differently. Ever since she had taken control of the ship, she decided that it would be wise to have two crews that operated on shifts: One for the day, one for the night. And so it was that a single lantern burned, hung near the crow's nest. The light it shone was as faint as the stars, but bright enough to cast the long dark shadows that trailed after the crew as they hurried about doing their jobs. An order had just come from below, and it had sent them running like frenzied ants, readying to set sail. Apparently, the look out had spotted another ship in the distance, but hadn't confirmed whether it was friendly or not. The Captain had been notified immediately- God help them if she wasn't, and she instructed them to set sail towards the ship, but leave the flag down until they could confirm the identity of the ship.

Odessa strode onto the deck, having thrown a black vest over her dark blue night shirt, and a loose pair of pants that were tied around her ankles and waist securely. A dark brown sash had been yanked around her waist, holding the dagger that she carried every where. The idea of her clothing was to blend into the shadows of the night, making her less of a target. A cursory glance around revealed that her crew had been dressed appropriately. She had yanked her sleep mussed rings into a ponytail that fluttered gently in the breeze that their ship had set, with the occasional strand slipping into her sight. Those she brushed back with mild irritation, instead choosing to turn her focus mainly on the ship. "Slower!" She roared, tossing her head over her shoulder at the crew, "Unless you'd like a head on crash!"

"Capt'n, which flag will we be hoisting?"

The woman tilted her head upwards at one of her hands who had an array of coloured cloth strung on his arms. The red stood out prominently against the night, a promise of bloodshed and war. Black instead melted into the shadows, a solemn promise of death. Then there was a navy blue fabric. Once it was unfurled it would reveal a bow with an arrow, set to fire, composed entirely out of embroidered stars. Odessa noted that the white flag had not been brought out- it rarely ever was. "None, yet. Keep the Orion and Red on hand though." With a quick nod and a click of his heels, the hand sprinted off, leaving her to await the approach of the other ship.

Surely by now, they would have noticed their advance?

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Character Portrait: Dionysius 'Dio' Pertinax
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Maybe that final bottle o’ rum had been an overkill, Dio thought wryly as he swayed on the deck of his brig. The night's breeze was cold yet refreshing to the captain’s overheated body. Dio was not a light weight drinker. No sir, he was not… Truly! He could outdrink any of those damned fools below the deck, he- “Oh sod it.” He groaned lowly. “You are a fool Dio.” The brown haired man slurred slowly making his way to the side railings, a big grin on his face. The world around him was spinning and he could feel his dinner trying to make its way back out. All in all it had been a good day, he decided at that point, still grinning like a mad man.

Dio was a rather queer man, his crew could never pinpoint what made him push and what was accepted, but tonight he had been one of them, drinking rum and playing card games. He even had a light hearted fist fight with the burly old cook. Although he was sure that his jaw wasn’t going to agree to the light hearted bit…

The soft whisper of the wind was soothing the young man, as he admired the beautiful ship he was on. His very own brig, with her seductive crimson sails and golden coated hull, finished with an equally as magnificent ram with a phoenix figurehead. No one would ever accuse him of being modest. They did actually have a purpose though, it was like leaving a present out in the open with a colourful bow on top of it. It almost screamed “Come and get me.” And that they did, well they tried to… Honestly, he was surprised that there were still people out there who were so foolish to try. The Rising Phoenix was one hardened lady with her strong metal hull beneath the golden coat and armed with thirty two broadside cannons, a couple of chaser cannons and a swivel gun. And Dio wasn't even taking the mortars into account. It almost felt like cheating using those though, and he did like a good fight. Well, some days he did.

Daydreaming about his brig had sobered the captain slightly, he didn't feel like the world was spinning around him any longer but the nausea had stayed. He could faintly hear the burly laughter of his crew below the deck. They were having a siesta and now that Dio's mind wasn't clouded with the effects of alcohol, he didn't find it as funny as he did a couple of hours before. For a moment he imagined himself going below to shut them up, but the thought of moving from his spot against the railing wasn't really all that appealing. Plus, his crew had deserved this. They had a splendid day plundering the idiots of the Royal Navy. What idiot would leave three frigates filled with spices and gems to be protected by one measly fire ship. It had been inappropriately easy to dismantle their defences, but Dio had been in a merciful mood today and hadn't sunk all of their ships.

A couple of lads where walking along the deck behind him, too busy to notice him though, as they were in a heated discussion about who could piss the furthest… Sometimes Dio questioned his career choice, this was one of those moments. As he was trying to stand up right to tell them exactly this, he noticed a faint light of another ship in the distance. "You've got to be kidding me." he muttered lowly. He wasn't really in a hospitable mood and the light was gaining life, which meant the ship was headed their way. "Johnny!" he barked harshly to one of the lads behind him.

"It's Jimmy, Capt´n.", the young sailor replied to him with a cheerful grin.

Dio frowned, it seemed that a bit of jesting made his crew think he'd gone soft? "Get your scrawny ass down below or I'll kick you there myself!", the young sailors suddenly realized that the captain was not in a good mood. "And tell them to get ready. We have visitors." he spat on the floor as the young lad scrambled to get below the deck. He knew that if it came to a fight, a drunk crew meant a dead crew. Dio walked over to the barrel filled with rain water to splash his face, still in thought about what he was going to do. He probably had to play nice. Ugh.

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Character Portrait: Odessa "Calla" Long
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"Have the cabin-girl on standby to wake the day crew," Odessa murmured to her quarter master, a man named Johnston who'd been on this ship for as long as the crew could remember, for sounds carried much further than their eyes ever could in a still night such as this. Johnston relayed the orders to another lad who promptly rushed off, bare feet making little sound against the planks. The old man towered above her, his usually gruff expression even more so. His hairs had long turned to silver, and he wore his locks in a short ponytail at the nape of his neck. A wild bushy beard framed a good portion of his face, obscuring his lips, and enhancing the feral glimmer in his dark brown eyes. Unlike the old men of those on the shore, his belly was still flat and toned, not bulging and unsightly. It was somewhat disturbing to picture him, a timeless grandfather, with an envious six pack. Nonetheless, he was a fearsome foe to have, but an immensely valuable ally to have. It wasn't common knowledge to those not aboard the Orion, but Johnston had his young grandchild on board- a ten year old girl who spent her time in the fishing boats or the crow's nest. He treated her with the utmost care and devotion, and a gentleness none would ever receive- not even Odessa. Not that the woman minded- why would she want to steal a little girl's attention?

"The rest of you," She raised her voice marginally, just enough so that everybody on deck could hear her, "to your stations! Do NOT fire unless I give explicit instructions to do so!" Shuffling and pattering of feet could be heard for a few minutes as everyone hurried off, complying with her orders. In the candle light, she could see the tense faces of those whose job was to protect the deck. "Lower the main sail and switch to the oars." She didn't want to take the risk of their sail getting damaged. Also, the oars would mean for greater maneuverability if it came down to that. A firefight wasn't to the best interests of her crew, but Odessa couldn't deny the anticipation bubbling in her blood like a pot of thick soup frothing over. It had been too long since their last fight- the previous merchant ship had surrendered at the first sign of her flag, pathetic. Something within her soul craved for the thrill of the ear splitting chaos of a good battle, for the roar of cannons, the bark-and-bite of the muskets, whilst the water below thrashed and writhed under the stirrings of their oars.

Beneath her, the calm tranquil water nudged against the boat, barely rocking it.

"Calm down lass," Johnston spoke, laying a heavy hand on her shoulder. The man was well familiar with his Captain's wants and needs after serving her for a great many years, and he definitely recognized the way she leaned forward on the balls of her toes, and how her fingers twitched towards her sash. "They show no signs of attacking yet."

"I know," Odessa shot him a withering glare before steeling herself, rearranging her facial expression into one of cool composure. Internally, she cursed herself for loosing control in that one moment. It was one reckless moment that could have cost her the lives of many people in her crew, and possibly her own. Control yourself! You can't afford to lose your mind now! Slowly, the bloodlust within her ceased and dissipated, leaving her with a detached sense of self reproach. Odessa propped an arm on her hip and shifted her weight to one side as she studied the approaching form of the ship. "It's well armed," She noted quietly, hearing a note of agreement from the man beside her. "It'll be risky to take them on." The tips of her eyebrows dipped forward into a serious frown as Odessa squinted at the silhouette before them. The ship itself was already longer than the Orion, which meant that it would most likely conceal more guns. An elaborate structure sat at the hull of the ship, no doubt to serve as a battering ram. Bulks emerged strategically from the line of the deck, and Odessa had a fairly good guess as to what they were. She swore, earning an offhand glance from Johnston.

"Shut up," She growled mildly, placing both hands on the railing and leaning over for a better look.

"I didn't say anything lass." Johnston chuckled, casually grabbing a musket from the prepared pile nearby.

"Your eyes said it all." If she were as high in the ranks of his esteem as his beloved granddaughter, she might have stuck out her tongue at him. But Odessa wasn't, and she felt more mature than that, so she held her tongue. In their short conversation, their boat had drawn steadily closer, so much so that she could see the other figure on deck, and the dying sounds of a late night party. Internally, she tsked at the carelessness on the captain's part at allowing them to get drunk and rowdy right in the middle of the blimmin' ocean. "Someone extend the plank." There was a mild scuffling, and the scraping sounds of wood against wood. After a confirmation from her hands, Odessa hopped onto the plank with ease and strolled down it's length. From here, she was only a few meters away from the side of the other ship.

"I'm Captain Calla," She cleared her throat, "are you friend or foe?"

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Character Portrait: Odessa "Calla" Long Character Portrait: Dionysius 'Dio' Pertinax
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The cold water helped the young captain sober up slightly, his reflexes were still slower than usual but at least he was able to stand on his feet. Oh, and his stomach wasn’t waging a war anymore either. Great. He swept a hand over his brown locks, making sure his hair was out of his face, he really ought to get it trimmed, he supposed, it was getting a bit ridiculous. Suddenly realizing that he left his cutlass in his cabin, he cursed the seven seas for his luck. Nothing was going his way tonight it seemed. With a brisk walk, he strutted towards his cabin and this time lady luck smiled upon him because the door was not locked! After that short moment of glee, it dawned on him that his cabin was indeed not locked. “Goddamnit, how many do I have to told them.” Grumbling lowly, he walked inside and immediately strode over to his cutlass.

He picked the sword up with something akin to reverence. This sword and his ship were really the only things in the world he wouldn’t trade for anything. A small smile made its way on his face as he recalled how he managed to nick it from the hands of a very well known general. Hearing the boisterous laughter of his drunk crew, he grimaced. Fuck, what possessed you to hold a feast in the middle of the ocean, but it was a little too late for that. He hadn’t expected anyone to bother them, as this part of the waters were almost uncharted territories. Whoever was approaching them, was probably not someone he should underestimate.

“Are you going to stand there all night, Alex?”, Dio was not the least bit surprised to find his quartermaster leaning casually against his doorframe. The older man looked as calm as a lake, and that was what Dio admired about the guy. You could never tell if anything of significance was happening with the way he appeared so casual.

“Need me to say the words, Capt’n?” Alex spoke in a heavy accent that betrayed him as a foreigner.

“Piss off, ya old man.”, Dio glared at his quartermaster. He was not about to give the old man the satisfaction of being right. “No, actually instead of standing there smugly, get those fuckwits to do their damned jobs.” He continued getting more pissed off by the minute.

“There is no helpin’ it now, Capt’n. Most of them are piss poor drunk.” The old man said with an insincere apologetic tone. Alex, or Alexander, was a seasoned sailor and had been a crewmember of The Rising Phoenix long before Dio became its captain. Never really talking about his past, the old man was still a mystery to Dio even after all the years they spend together. The captain wasn’t jumping to find out, Alex always did his job efficiently and meticulously. Sometimes Dio wondered if the quartermaster wanted to retire on a tropical island somewhere far away and maybe even start a family of his own. But Alex never mentioned anything of the sorts and Dio wasn’t going to suggest it. He was the closest thing to a friend Dio ever had, and he wasn’t looking forward to replacing the old man.

“Fine, send the drunkards below the deck where no one will see them, find the ones who can actually hold their swords and make sure to meet me in a couple of minutes by the shrouds. Oh and wake up that bugger in the crow’s nest, the fucker probably is asleep.” He ordered confidently as he strode out of his cabin, not waiting to hear any reply. He knew that Alex would get it done.

When he arrived by the railings next to the shrouds he noticed that the foreign ship had reached them. He looked behind him to see that only about a quarter of his crew was with him in various states of confusion, he cleared his throat before commanding, “Lads, lasses we have ourselves some company, please do show them how hospitable we are.” They were close enough for his command to be heard by the newcomers so he tried to convey his message without giving away too much. His crew knew this meant stay on alert and do not attack. Not yet anyway.

It was at that moment that he heard a distinct female voice calling out from the darkness. They were quite the cheeky buggers, even placing the plank to connect the two ships. He saw a short and slim figure standing on the plank, it was too dark to discern anything else. Not even sending a messenger boy, I see. He could respect their courage, “Ahoy, Captain, the name’s Dio. what is it that you are looking for on my ship?” he said neutrally, but making sure he put an emphasis on the last part. He was quite curious now what this captain wanted from him.

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Character Portrait: Thomas "Just Thomas" Worthington
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"Lads, lasses we have ourselves some company, please do show them how hospitable we are."

The voice that spoke was dripping with authority, which no doubt meant he was either the quarter master or the captain, and yet curiously vague. In the darkness, Odessa smiled. It was controlled, and not tainted by the wild edge of excitement and excessive adrenalin. Perhaps that was a good sign. Her hand still remained on the hilt of her dagger though, not willing to take any risks. Odessa had already pushed it when she herself walked out onto the gangplank alone, easily shot down by the other ship should they decide to. If she jumped, it would be hard to get back on the ship without wasting precious time as the ladder that led to the waters was on the other side. Perhaps this small gesture of trust would serve to placate the people before her, to lower their hackles. As the same voice spoke, Odessa confirmed it within her mind that she was speaking to the captain of the ship. From what she could see, and hear, he seemed to be a man of selective judgement, yet wise when times called for it. The woman also noted that the figures on the deck numbered slightly lesser than those on her ship. These were probably the men that weren't staggering about like the land dwellers.

"Captain Dio," She responded, her voice formal. "My ship will be anchoring here for the night." Her tone was firm and decisive, hopefully a message to him that she would not be swayed by any attempts to chase them away. The chilly wind blew across her shoulders and raised some bumps, but Odessa only straightened further and refused to seem weak. "I believe it is in the best interests of both our crews if we remained on friendly terms." Her eyes glinted as she bent forward slightly, "A victory against a half-staffed ship is hardly a victory at all." Odessa laughed cheerily, waving her hand as if it were intended to be a joke. There was a cough from her end of the ship, distinctively Johnston's. Subtly, she shifted her hand to the back and mimed the action of firing a musket at him. It was only a bit of teasing, to see how far she could push this captain before he snapped. If the man's maturity was as developed as his stature, it wouldn't be much of a problem. However, if it wasn't, well... she'd deal with that when the time came. Besides, how childish could someone be after years at sea? Mentally, she snorted at herself. Old Johnny claimed she was as childish as his granddaughter occasionally, but Odessa knew when was the right time for fun and games, and when was not. She wouldn't put her crew in danger unnecessarily.

Had she heard of this Captain before? It wasn't hard to tell that this was a pirate ship. A merchant ship would not be as elaborately and daringly designed, especially if it's route was within the Whispering Sea. The Whispering Sea was the feeding round of the pirates, pirates like her. A ship would be wise not to draw too much attention to itself. Also, if this were a military ship, the crew might have been more organized, and less tipsy. Odessa grinned wolfishly, definitely not a military ship. What would the men of the badge get if they were drunk on duty? A slap on the wrist? A dishonourable discharge? On her ship, if they broke any of the Code of Conduct, they would either be dropped off at the nearest port, or if unlucky, the nearest deserted island. Odessa never whipped her crew- she wanted them healthy and intact, ready for anything.

Speaking of being ready for anything, when was that trade ship coming? A week ago, she had obtained a harbourmaster's log, and it wrote that a rather valuable ship from the Southern Isles would be passing by here. It would be inconvenient if they showed up whilst Captain Dio's ship was still here. Would they try to wrest the loot of the ship away from them? Odessa had been careful with the ship's treasury, but it would be nice to get some new barrels for water, preferably ones that didn't leak.
To put it very honestly, Thomas had been sleeping. He didn't mean to doze off, but the night seemed to drag on and on. Not to mention, the wind was nice and cooling- a welcome change from the balmy gusts of the South. He had been there once, before he signed onto the ship. Each time it blew in his face was like getting a blast of geyser steam. The man shuddered at the memory, feeling ghostly beads of sweat trickle down his spine. Eventually, dreaming of freshly caught cod and shiny brass buttons, he slumped in his post and started snoring. That was how one of the hands found him, legs propped up against the side and back against the main mast with his hands folded across his stomach.

"Oi, blimmin' bastard, you dozed off again!" Thomas jerked at the harsh cry, cracking open an eye to smile hazily at the man before him. He couldn't seem to remember his names- they all weaved in and out of his memory as they pleased, faint and elusive. "You've made the Capt'n mad, props to you." Perhaps I should get up, The man mused faintly, he does seem like he's got rats in his pants. Sighing, Thomas made a big show of stretching before sitting up, tilting his head upwards to salute mockingly at him.

"I'm up," He yawned, "what's the fire?" Then he leaned over the railing, to check for his imaginary fire. Perhaps he shouldn't have, for what he saw shocked him to the extent that he almost toppled over the edge. With sweaty palms, Thomas grabbed at one of the ropes to steady himself before turning back to the man behind him. "What in bloody hell is going on down there?" There was another ship beside them (When had that happened?) and a gangplank lay between the two. Standing precariously on the gangplank was a small figure- a woman. She seemed to be laughing mirthfully, though the crew back on her side didn't seem too amused. The lot of them were dressed in dark clothes, looming near the edge like protective guardians- all silent. Thomas whistled in mild amazement, "How is she still alive?" Their Captain had a notoriously bad temper, and he had thought that he wouldn't have tolerated all this.

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Character Portrait: Odessa "Calla" Long Character Portrait: Dionysius 'Dio' Pertinax
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Dio could feel the spike of adrenaline rushing through his body, the same feeling he got before a good fight. The feeling was always followed by a bout of exhilaration and he was already feeling antsy. His right hand rested on the hilt of his cutlass, flexing and relaxing subconsciously. Showing any kind of hesitancy, however, would not be good. His quartermaster was not going to let him forget that with the way he stood calmly and steadily next to him. It was a warning for the captain to not act recklessly, they were not in any position to threaten anyone. He made sure to give his quartermaster a look that conveyed his feelingsabout him at that moment. He did not like being told how to behave, nor did he like the fact that Alex was right – again – and none of this helped hold his temper. But Dio did not become the captain of his own vessel by being acting like a mindless brute, he was well acquainted with the intricacies that surrounded the politics of sailing and pirating.

Making sure that his movements were clear to the other party, he walked steadily and slowly towards the gangplank to get a better look at the captain. Her name had not been familiar to Dio but that didn’t mean anything at the moment. She could’ve been the clumsiest captain in the seven seas, yet she had a full crew – sober one, at that – while he only had around a dozen sailors give or take whom were having trouble seeing straight. It was clear how that fight would go down. One of his crew members had the foresight to light the oil lanterns on deck, he nodded towards the lad in gratitude. He may be a hardass captain, but he did have moments where he was a decent human being.

"Captain Dio, my ship will be anchoring here for the night."

Dio swallowed to urge to snort at that statement, but he did raise his eyebrows. This captain truly had some nerve to come here, anchor her ship and tell him off all in one statement. He could hear some soft murmurings coming from his crew behind him, obviously his crew was also aware of his temper. The captain however, did not utter a word, and even his quartermaster was a little bit surprised by that, given the look he gave him. Dio choose that moment to examine captain Calla and her arsenal. She was indeed a small and slender woman, dressed comfortable for long sails. She looked very young for a captain and this was for Dio a hint to not underestimate her. Being a captain was not an easy task, it required dedication, hard-work, respect and some amount of charisma. He took time to admire her ship, it was definitely a nice one and in good shape, slightly smaller than his own but then again, there weren’t a lot of pirate ships like his. The female captain continued speaking, not at all bothered by anything around her.

"I believe it is in the best interests of both our crews if we remained on friendly terms. A victory against a half-staffed ship is hardly a victory at all."

A tight-lipped smile appeared on Dio’s face, this captain Calla was truly working on his nerves. It was also odd how she seemed very unaware of the atmosphere. There she stood laughing as if she told a jest, her crew didn’t look amused, and neither was Dio. By divine intervention Dio did not to assault the other captain, he simply looked towards his crew and back again. A fight at this moment would do no good, but he could wait. Oh yes, he most definitely would wait for another appropriate time to put this captain in her place. Now though, he had to play along and that meant not trying to murder her with his glare.

“Ah, captain Calla, it seems we are on the same page.” He began with a pleasant smile on his face. Dio could be quite the charmer if he put the effort to it. “However, I must say you do not need to threaten me with your words.” He made sure he could be heard by Calla and Calla only, there was no need to instigate her crew for a fight. He advanced towards her, holding his palms in the air, when he stood directly in front of he continued, “You did not come here for bloodshed, your bravado was… inspiring but unnecessary, captain Calla.” He licked his dry lips and spoke in a louder tone. “We were merely having a nice break, everyone needs their day off, I’m sure y’all know that.” He casually shrugged his shoulders and could see some of the raven haired woman’s crew nodding their heads in agreement. A crooked grin appeared on his face, “ I’d love to welcome you on my ship, to my bread and mead, in fact- ” he paused and looked over to his quartermaster who could only shake his head at the captain’s slightly reckless behaviour. “-I insist upon it.” The forceful way he spoke his words would leave no room for rebuttals, he was going to call the captain’s bluff. She could choose to attack but she would appear very irrational especially after Dio’s manners, which were nothing less than pleasant.

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Character Portrait: Odessa "Calla" Long Character Portrait: Dionysius 'Dio' Pertinax
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Odessa was impressed, that was for certain. Captain Dio had managed to keep his cool for this long, when all the clues hinted that he was usually not quite so. Side glances down at those present aboard his ship rewarded her with surprised, downright shocked faces, probably either at her gall or at the calm composure of their captain. Still, she had to remind herself that this was nothing but a bit of fun whilst waiting for the rumoured trade ship, so she had to make sure that it wasn't taken too far. "Do lighten up, Captain," she said cheerily, grinning at him. Even on her elevated position, he was almost at her height. Perhaps any normal person might have been disgruntled, but Odessa was not for she had come to terms with this little physical trait many years ago. Being smaller allowed for more maneuverability on both rigging and around opponents when fighting, and she had used that to every advantage at any given opportunity. "It was a jest, and nothing more. Why would I attack you and your crew after claiming to want for peace?" The woman cracked a crooked smile at the man, "Besides, I was speaking in terms of numbers, not ability nor strength. Your ship is a beauty, if I may say so, and I'd never mar anything like this for no reason." The corners of her words had been smoothed over by a thick layer of honey-sweet appreciation. She wasn't lying either, this ship was one designed to draw the eye.

At his invitation, Odessa painted upon her features a mask of polite apology, though her eyes told of a different story. They glimmered under the faint lights of both the ships, with the excitement and thrill garnered off this mere duel of words. Perhaps on the surface, it appeared to be nothing more than a chat between acquaintances, but Odessa saw it for what it really was. Hidden beneath the cloaks of joviality and pleasantness, was a deadly sword fight where the two duelists were balanced on a horizontal beam, nothing but hard planks beneath them and each attempting to shove the other off. Her shoulders straightened as she took yet another step forward, the plank beneath her barely creaking beneath her weight. At this proximity, she could clearly see the rough lines of his face, and committed it to memory. She would never know when she could encounter him again- the seas were as vast as the sky, yet the paths of those that traversed it crossed like the ones of a city's square. "Shall I be frank with you, Captain Dio?" Her voice had lost it's sugary tone- the usage of it having been grating on her pride for a while, and took on the direct edge that it usually had. "Even though we get along well, we really have just met. How could I trust you not to slip poison into my drink, or drive a knife into my back?"

"Still," Odessa paused, arranging her features into a contemplative stance, "I do feel bad for saying the things I did, especially after you were so cordial about it. I couldn't nip away at your stores anymore than I would kill my brother." Ignoring the fact that she didn't have a brother, of course. It wasn't lying, it was just a vague phrasing of words. The woman closed the remaining distance between them and held out her primary hand in friendly invitation, "In fact, as a form of apology, allow me to treat you to a meal. We have a wonderful cook aboard the Orion, and do let me assure you that our usage of weapons are limited to either prey or enemies. You are neither of them." The wind rushed past her, and in that small moment of static silence when all she heard was the howling of nature, she realized that her words might have not entirely been false.

Of course, Odessa was aware that her might turn her own argument against her, that she would try to use his presence aboard her ship for her own gain. But, at times, she could be a woman of her words. "I promise."

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As he stood directly in front of the captain, he finally allowed himself to shift his gaze to her ship. It was very easy for him to see that the brig was looked after meticulously. It didn’t have the show aspect The Rising Phoenix had, but it was definitely still quite a beauty.

"Do lighten up, Captain, It was a jest, and nothing more. Why would I attack you and your crew after claiming to want for peace? Besides, I was speaking in terms of numbers, not ability nor strength.”

Dio really had to give it to her. She managed to perfectly worm herself out of it with her words, it was a testament that she was a talented captain. He couldn’t help the way the corners of his mouth tilted upwards at her words. Captain Calla had spunk, that much was clear, and he liked that. He would enjoy besting her, winning from idiots never gave him that satisfying feeling of accomplishment. He feigned an apologetic look and shrugged, “Well, then captain, it seems I misjudged.” He was sure that any moment now his crew was going to fall flat on their faces from surprise. The smile turned into a genuine grin, he could tell that even Calla was surprised although she was very careful not to let it show. Dio would have missed it if it were not for the slightest twitch of her lips. Being unpredictable kept your enemies on their toes, and with Dio’s paranoia everyone was a potential enemy. There were members of his crew that he still didn’t trust even years of serving for him.

His words must’ve had some reaction on the young captain as she was bravely advancing on the plank with pure determination written on her face. Dio saw movement from the corner of his eye, it was a young sailor, Bart or Ben, he couldn’t recall his name but he did remember that he was an eager and impulsive lad. He had shown some true talent, and even though Dio didn’t like the rashness but saw the passion the lad had for sailing.. but most of all pirating. If this had been any other day any of the seasoned sailor would’ve immediately stepped in, unfortunately for Dio, karma was biting him in the ass. With a quick flick of his head he motioned the lad to halt his movements, and maybe Lady Luck was still on his side because the boy stilled, obviously embarrassed. He just hoped that captain Calla suddenly had a brain hemorrhage and didn’t recall this moment, it could happen after all…

With a whole different tone she replied to Dio and with almost no distance between them he took notice of her facial features. The way her eyes slanted gave the impression of at the least mixed heritage, which wasn’t uncommon around Naere. If she had chosen a different occupation, she’d no doubt be a pretty young woman. However, the seafaring wore down everyone indiscriminately. Although there was something to say about women with confidence… No matter. He blinked several times as if that would assure him that he had indeed heard right. He was skeptical of her invitation to say the least. Her words had been true, but he realized with chagrin, that he hadn’t invited her as part of a ploy to kill her. He was, in fact, in no mood to plot anyone’s murder at the moment.

"I promise." It was said with such sincerity that Dio was again taken aback. She was either a very talented liar or actually being genuine. Dio’s experiences said that it was the former more often than the latter. Still, they had come this far with their battle of wits and it had been a one-way street from the moment he decided to invite a complete foreign captain to his ship whom had anchored right next to his in the middle of the night with three quarter of his crew drunk. Yeah, that had been a good decision. What could possibly go wrong with that. Still he had to be a man of his word now, he winked cheekily at Calla as he took her smaller hand in his and shook firmly.

“You speak from the heart, captain, but will you be able to guarantee the same from your crew.” He gestured with a nod towards her sailors, “Nevertheless, I shall accept. Of course I’ll bring a few of my own men with me, as you’d understand. ” he hoped that he had enough experienced and most of all sober crewmembers, though he knew that the quartermaster was to stay on the ship. If anything were to happen he knew that Alex would manage a victory, one way or another. He looked back and saw Alex already motion three men and a woman, all four of them exceptional in hand-to-hand combat, which was in no way a coincidence. He sighed impatiently, not even his quartermaster had faith in this plan.

“I do have to warn you about one thing, Calla,” he said with a voice hinting at severity, his face losing trace of humor.”My sailors have no table manners.” He chuckled, he could hear his quartermaster quietly cussing him which just made him laugh a bit louder.

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Though her whole demeanor had been puppeteered to imply ease and nonchalance, her mental state was anything but. She had learnt, through the teachings of others or by her own mistakes, that underestimating anything could very well be a fatal mistake out in the seas. The land dwellers spoke of second chances, of another attempt to do things right. What would they know of true consequences? Many of their jobs hardly required them to put their lives at risk, such as the jobs out in the sea. One loose knot, a slippery deck, could be the end of someone or more. True, mistakes were prevalent both for those who strolled the land and those who sailed the seas, but mistakes carried a higher price out here. Perhaps that was why she presided over her crew with such a heavy and domineering hand. Her harsh, yet fair, punishments ensured that the guilty party would suffer the same consequences as any whom may have been affected by their actions. This led her crew to take special caution in every action they did when it involved others, minimizing the chances of a mistake occurring. And such, Odessa held herself to the very same code that she held her crew to, strengthening her resolve to avoid making the dire mistake of underestimating and brushing away the notion of any hostility towards herself and her ship.

For all she knew, Captain Dio and his crew could have been viewing her in the same suspicious light. That was only confirmed when one of his lads decided to pull a brave one and made to reach for his weapon, halted only by his captain. Odessa didn't stop in her stride, and neither did she give any indication that she had witnessed the preceding movement. I would have been blind to not notice it, The young woman mused, but what kind of captain is he that his crew feels that they can act without his permission? Or did he manage to give them orders before hand? In that case, they really didn't trust her at all. Then again, who in their right minds would? Still, the notion that the lad had acted out of order intrigued her to no end. It was plain as ever that this crew was not a rebellious one, and that they either obeyed his code out of fear or respect. So what empowered this lad to step out of line, with the risk of coming under fire from his captain? Ambition? Brave foolishness? Odessa resisted the urge to look back at her crew, who had been stone silent for the whole exchange. She trusted them with their lives, and she hoped that it applied the other way around. During the few years of her sailing, she had seen many of the smaller and newer pirate ships fall to mutiny. During the time of her take over, she had been plagued by worries of the very same fate befalling her, but quite a few incidents had proved her fears wrong, and she learnt to put it all behind her and put her faith firmly in her crew.

“You speak from the heart, captain, but will you be able to guarantee the same from your crew? Nevertheless, I shall accept. Of course I’ll bring a few of my own men with me, as you’d understand."

"My crew, Captain Dio, has their incentives for being aboard my ship. They have no doubt that should they attempt anything against my wishes, which is highly unlikely might I add, they would find themselves in an undesirable position." The corners of her lips tilted into a serious smile, a sincere one at that as well. She meant every syllable of that sentence, though the woman had phrased it to downplay the affections and camaraderie that her crew had for each other. Odessa let go his hand, stepping back a few paces to allow the man to climb aboard the plank. "But please do, I'd be plagued by guilt if you were anything but at ease aboard the Orion." She eased herself into a welcoming smile, walking backwards until she felt the heel of her boot hit the end of the plank. With an action smoothed by familiarity and surety, Odessa pushed herself upwards and landed on the deck, turning around to issue orders, ignoring the opinion of the other captain on his crew's table manners. It sounded as if it implied so much more, but she could be overthinking it as well. However, there was the use of just her call name, lacking the title and all. Had it been a slip on the man's part, or was it intended? Either way, it certainly showed her another part of his nature. Had it truly been a slip, it was a sign that he was not used to not being in charge, that he liked to be the Alpha at the top. Then again, it was just a hunch of hers, and may not necessarily be correct.

"Those who have been assigned to the rigging for tonight, get back to your posts! Ian, go find Suthers and tell him that we'll be having five extra for supper. Missy and Verity, ensure that the dining room is properly prepared and Johnston-" Odessa paused slightly to raise an eyebrow at the man who regarded her with an exasperated glance, "by my side, please. And for the sake of your own necks, keep it down!" The irony of that was that she had very loudly projected the last bit, contradicting herself. She shoved the mistake aside. The last thing Odessa needed was for this commotion to wake the day's crew. They required their rest for the voyage ahead and being woken up by the heavy tramping of hurried boots and feet was the last thing they needed.

"Captain Dio," She turned on her heel to face their visitors, "and crew, this way please!" Odessa began making her way towards the door that led below decks at a brisk walk, cultivated by years of purpose and lack of idle time. The dining room had been set for seven with spotless cutlery and dishes, accompanied by a ceramic mug. A flask of cool spring water sat next to a bottle of honeyed ale upon the table, gently illuminated by three candles. The walls were comprised of vertical planks, with maps of the oceans and islands pinned up upon them. They were merely for decorative purposes, of course- the maps with her ship's routes and plans on them were locked away in her room. On each of the walls hung a bright lamp, providing sufficient lightning to the occupants. She took her usual chair at the head of the rectangular table, with Johnston on her right and indicated for their guests to do so. "Tonight's supper should be steamed fish and soup, but exactly what I cannot say." Odessa mentioned, leaning her elbows on the table, "I let Suthers have free reign over the details- genius does not show when restrained. None of you are allergic to anything, I trust?"

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Dio wondered what was going through the other captain’s mind. So far it appeared like Dio was the most incompetent captain to sail the seven seas, and he couldn’t even object that standpoint from the way things were going. He had made a choice – no, an error – to allow his crew this night of feast. With the booty they made in the last couple of weeks their storage rooms were filled to the brim with a vast collection of materials ranging from hard metals to the finest silk of the east. They were to sail to port Garret, Dio and Alex had decided that morning, and sell the lot for a hefty price. But Dio had been drunk with the feeling success and had given into the crew’s murmurings of a night off. The decision was extremely out of character for him and his quartermaster had talked his ear off about the decision, he did not head to Alex’ words as the old man was always on the side of caution while the captain thrived for danger. Still, Dio was not usually so selfish as to danger the life of his entire crew, at least not when there was no gold at the end of the bargain. Yet here they were, outnumbered and cornered, at the mercy of a stranger whom Dio had not even heard of before. The first thing he was going to do when he was on land was to gather every bit of intel on this captain Calla that he could find. He had a few trusted contacts whose talents were unrivalled around Naere, they would no doubt be able to tell Dio all he needed to know about her.

The first strike had been the mistake of getting drunk leaving their defences open, the second had been the rashness of his crew. Maybe Dio’s uncharacteristic behaviour gave his crew the impression that they were suddenly allowed to make their own decisions. He took note of the lad, he’d make sure that Alex’d give him the nastiest jobs for the upcoming months. He would grovel and slave away, but in the end he will not make this mistake again Dio knew. As much as his brevity was admirable, there was structure, order and discipline in the pirate world. All these green lads and lasses had sweet dreams about life as a pirate, they thought it was all about disobeying the law and not listening to authority while the opposite was true. Yes, pirates did not live by the laws of the land dwellers, but the pirate world had its own laws and moral codes. The code of conduct wasn’t written for show, he would have a talk with his crew about the open disobedience they had shown with a possible enemy captain aboard. That was the most dangerous aspect of it all, captain Calla could now presume that Dio was unfit to manage his own crew, and any show of weakness meant the risk of being attacked was greater. The only thing that would possible aid him if she chose to attack was that she would be majorly underestimating him, and that would work to his advantage.

"My crew, Captain Dio, has their incentives for being aboard my ship. They have no doubt that should they attempt anything against my wishes, which is highly unlikely might I add, they would find themselves in an undesirable position. But please do, I'd be plagued by guilt if you were anything but at ease aboard the Orion."

Dio gritted his teeth in annoyance as he was sure that it was a direct jab at him and his own crew, she had managed to turn this around and hint at his own incompetence at keeping his crew in check. The worst part was that he didn’t even have any come back for that one. He managed to form an ill fitting smile on his face as the captain walked back towards her ship, Orion she had called it. He wondered what she was named after, making a note to ask her later on. He gestured for his group of four to move forward, Ella was the first to follow captain Calla. She was closely followed by Ed and Smithy. Dio noticing that Juan stayed behind the rest, turned to him questioningly.

“Capt’n,” Juan whispered discreetly, “I have some of those firecrackers we salvaged from the pirate ship we boarded last week. The one from the East seas, I thought you’d like to know that I have some on meself for insurance.”

A sly grin appeared on Dio’s face as he patted Juan’s shoulder roughly before pushing him towards the plank. He knew that he could trust Alex’ judgement when it came to this, fortunate for him that he had some capable arms aboard. The firecrackers would merely pose as a distraction more than a threat, but hopefully it would give them enough time to board The Rising Phoenix if the need arose. Before stepping on the plank he turned around to Alex and gave him a mock salute. Dio knew that he didn’t need to voice his orders, Alex would take care of the rest here. The plank made some croaking sounds as he walked swiftly to the Orion, jumping on the deck. He saw captain Calla bark orders to her crew only catching the last bit about them saving their necks. Hmm, interesting, so she is definitely not underestimating me even after that fiasco. Is she aware of my reputation or is it just her savvy instincts, he mused quietly.

"Captain Dio and crew, this way please!" Dio followed the smaller captain wordlessly, his sailors tailing right behind him. They arrived in a dining room where their plates were already placed. It was a pleasant looking room, the lights flickering against the walls making shadows against the walls, which were adorned by maps of the sea.

"Tonight's supper should be steamed fish and soup, but exactly what I cannot say. I let Suthers have free reign over the details- genius does not show when restrained. None of you are allergic to anything, I trust?"

He took the seat to the left of the captain, his crew followed him and took their respective places around the table, he saw Ella examining the cutlery and rolled his eyes. How a pirate living on a ship could be a neat freak he had no idea.

“Captain, we’re seafolk. If we were allergic to fish we’d have starved to death.” He said nonchalantly with a hidden smile, and it was true. He needed a strong and capable crew and the only nutrition on board were food items like potatoes and carrots most of all salted fish and meats. “So no, no worries, I’m sure it’ll taste wonderful.” And he meant that, their own food supplies had been dwindling and they had been eating bland and tasteless food for a few days now. Tasty food was a luxury on most ships.

“If you don’t mind me asking, why’d you name this ship Orion?” he was always curious about the origin of ship names, it usually told a story about the captain’s personality.

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"Of course," Odessa replied with a bemused smile, "but I wasn't referring to the fish. Suthers has a flair for herbs and spices, uncommon to the Naere, and sometimes it's a little bit too odd for our bodies to handle." Her words had been carefully selected, just to make sure they wouldn't reveal too much. She had no idea what type of person Captain Dio truly was, and she wanted to be cautious around him. Odessa has been particularly vague about her answer, not revealing as to whether the crew had acquired the herbs themselves- thus making it known that they were a well-traveled and experienced one, or whether they had traded for them at Port Garret. The woman felt a gentle nudge against her foot, and she glanced towards Johnston quickly, acknowledging his warning. The old seaman was aware of what she was doing, and had warned her against taking it too far. In order to hide the discrete exchange she cracked a smile and said, "Remember that time Odis had the rash because of something Suthers put in the soup? He itched all over for days!"

"How could I not?" Johnston laughed mildly, "He was as red as a raspberry for days." Odessa grinned and looked towards the other Captain, shrugging as if to say that these things weren't preventable. In the case he or any of his crew were allergic, she sincerely hoped that they wouldn't accuse her of attempting to poison them. The woman had already lost too many potential allies, a fault of her own, and Johnston would quarter her if she made an enemy of Captain Dio. At this point, Odessa couldn't see an alliance forming between them. There was already too much distrust there- her fault and partially Dio's, to actually settle down with an agreement. She knew at that moment that Odessa would be keeping an eye on The Rising Phoenix for a long time to come. At this point, she would settle for neutral acquaintances. It was easy to see that Captain Dio's crew didn't exactly have faith in her. Their eyes darted constantly towards her, then back to their captain. A small touch of respect entered her ever present smile- they seemed loyal enough, not to be swayed by fancy food and offers. The one from before must have been an anomaly.

"I didn't name this ship," Odessa replied after an appropriate pause, "the previous captain did. I liked how it sounded, so I never did change the name when I took over." There was a moment of silence after her words, it's presence urging her to elaborate, to divulge what she had withheld. With a mental scoff, she refused and deflected the question back to Captain Dio, "May I ask the same of you? The Rising Phoenix is a rather unique name, isn't it?"

At this point, the door from the galley opened with a squeak, announcing the entrance of a cabin girl who bore a large plate between her hands. The girl was only an inch shorter than Odessa, her eyes still bearing the lively sparkle of childlike youth. She had soft brown hair that had been kept in a single plait down the back of her head, and she walked with a bounce in her step. "The fish, Cap'tn, I'll be bringing out the soup after." Eilene, granddaughter of Johnston, said cheerfully, placing the dish down in the middle of the table and uncovering it. Almost at once, an exotic scent rose up from the steaming fish whose silver body had been stained and peppered by colourful spices. Odessa inhaled happily, recognizing the spicy and sour scent of the spices they had raided from one of their last trade ships. Though she longed to simply reach forward and cut out a good half of the fish, she gestured politely for her guests to take their portion first. The only thing stopping her? Johnston. The annoying man was a stickler for decorum, and even though he let her get away with most things, this was one he wouldn't. Sometimes, he reminded Odessa of her mother. At the memory of the black haired lady, something in her eyes softened. It was only there for a moment though, before she blinked it away. Why am I thinking of something like this now?

"So, what brought you to these waters?" Johnston asked, quickly filling in the silence Odessa's lull had wrought. His tone was friendly, though there was a hint of curiosity underneath. "The Naere is teemin' with the military, nowadays."

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Ed and Smithy were looking back and forth at each other in suspicion at the exchange between the two captains. Dio had to hold back his amusement at that, Ed and Smithy were great pirates and Dio could trust them to hold their own in battle, they however weren’t the brightest people around. The unsaid words were lost to those two, they were simple men. But Alex had chosen them exactly for that. While Juan and Ella were the more calculative type of people, Ed and Smithy were more open honest and reliable. Still, though he couldn’t afford to be distracted by their behavior, he kept his face neutral with a hint of a smile at Calla’s words about herbs and spices. Just as Dio wanted chime in he felt Ella pushed her foot against his. Dio held his tongue and tried to inconspicuously make eye-contact with Ella, which is how he noticed how her eyes darted from Calla to her Quartermaster she called Johnston.

Apparently Dio had been properly distracted because he had almost missed the oddness of the exchange between the young captain and her quartermaster. To anyone casually listening in this would sound like a normal conversation between the captain and the quartermaster - a fond memory – except Dio could tell that there was something communicated between them. The captain almost seemed hesitant with her words at first and then eager to fill the lull of silence, like you would do if you had accidently given away too much. Even her laugh sounded queer.

“Well, will find out soon enough if anything doesn’t sit with us. Though I don’t imagine there will be.” Dio chimed in. He didn’t want to divulge into the topic himself, but he thought it may ease the other captain’s nerves if she knew that they were not allergic to any strange herbs and spices she’d serve. That did make wonder though, it wasn’t so farfetched to think that she acquired the herbs from a trading posts in one of the ports. But why would a pirate ship captain indulge in such luxuries? Especially since he knew how much the prizes of these herbs and spices could fluctuate and rise. It was either that, or she was familiar with seas much leagues further from the waters surrounding Naere. And if that were the case, what was she doing here? So many things to wonder, it didn’t sit well with Dio that he knew almost nothing of this captain. In any case, he would ask Juan if he could taste anything familiar, as he was the only sailor on board who was not native to Naere.

So the captain had not named this ship.. Yet, Dio could not remember a pirate ship named Orion. It may have been a smalltime captain he mused to calm his thoughts. Captain Calla was raising on his lists of oddities by the minute. Now, there was no way he would let this be.

"May I ask the same of you? The Rising Phoenix is a rather unique name, isn't it?" Calla asked, at the same time the door opened, their food was being served by a very young looking girl. She looked a bit too young to be on a pirate ship, not that Dio actually cared about it. He did take a second to take in the delicious smell of the fish. Maybe he should rethink his position on the food being served on his ship.

“She is a unique ship, I figured she needed a name that fit her better. Something that would stick with others.” Dio answered her. It was the truth, surprisingly. Her old name was an homage to the old captain’s father and such a beautiful ship named after some old geezer did not sit with him. He didn’t continue, mostly because the food smelled incredible and was properly distracting him from the conversation at hand. Of course Dio appeared cool on the outside, he could not let the captain think he was without proper manners. Now, that would be ghastly.

"So, what brought you to these waters? The Naere is teemin' with the military, nowadays." The quartermaster inquired him, curiously. Dio didn’t reply right away as he was cutting the first piece of the fish. He hoped this wasn’t some ploy by them, hoping he’d gave away too much because he was too entranced by the food. After cutting a decent portion for himself, he gestured for his crew to follow suit. They all looked very impressed by what captain Calla had presented them.

“Nothing out of the ord’nary, the same ole same ole. We were actually on our way back to port Garret, do some trading.” Dio spoke between bites of his food. An abundance of flavours exploded in his mouth at the first bite, she had not been lying when she said it would be good.

“Eh, those military ships are always breathing down our necks, never actually seen them put their money where their mouth is. Slimy bastards.” It was no secret that lately the military were trying to prosecute pirates. He even heard of some captures down south of the isles. Most of those were inexperienced pirates though, as they were too afraid to pull through when faced with actual veterans. “So what are you doing around here, I had chosen to anchor here because it was deserted.” He asked the captain and the quartermaster both with a friendly smile.

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“She is a unique ship, I figured she needed a name that fit her better. Something that would stick with others.”

Odessa nodded slightly in response as she took a bite of her fish, momentarily distracted by the wonderful blend of flavours. Suthers had really gone all out this time. So, did that mean Captain Dio was not the founder of his ship? Actually, it wasn't that uncommon, but the woman couldn't help but wonder as to the means of how he had acquired his position. Had it been inherited? Like hers would have been? Or was the last captain killed? If so, was Captain Dio the one to murder him? Somehow, Odessa couldn't imagine someone like the other Captain ousting his successor in a duel to death, like some practiced. He seemed to be more of the stab in the dark kind. A mutineer? She scoffed mentally at the fact, but that would be the most probable one. A man who was once the bottom of the ship's pecking order would know how to gain the trust and respect of the men who followed him. Still, a mutiny was mutiny, and to Odessa it was a deplorable act. There were more and more of the small time captains losing control of their crew, who had been lulled into a sense of security by the lapse in the ever constant struggle between pirates and the militia.

Still, Odessa couldn't deny that the ship was a beauty. The decor had been done with a refined yet wild taste, beautiful and terror inducing, much like the ocean itself. Not to mention, the extensive battle accessories that lined it's side only added to the overwhelming majesty of the ship. She couldn't even think of a ship that came close second, save for the Navy's parade ship. A whisper of a thought piped up, What about the King's Ship? Odessa smiled slightly in remembrance of her mother speaking of the elusive vessel. When I was younger, Her mother had recounted, cuddled up against Odessa in their ship's small bunk, the King would travel from the Center City to the Isles every week. He steered a ship unlike any other, with sails that gleams of woven gold, and the best wood from the fire mountains leagues away. 45 gleaming guns run down each side, ready to defend the royal family, alongside perches among the beams and rigging for hawk eyed archers to stand guard from. But one day, the King fell ill, and he was never the same again. They shut the ship away in a secret location, and no one's seen it since."

"But mama," A seven year old Odessa had whined, "a ship just can't disappear." Her mother only smiled.

"This one did, but it'll be a joy to see again."

But she never did. Even till this day, Odessa remained unsure of whether the ship had really existed, or whether it was a simple story told to give children beautiful dreams. A beautiful deception, The woman mused, spooning a spoonful of soup into her mouth.

“Eh, those military ships are always breathing down our necks, never actually seen them put their money where their mouth is. Slimy bastards.”

"What can I say?" She remarked, "Fear makes cowards of the brave, and fools of the cowardly." Odessa would bet half her ship that at least a quarter of the military recruits joined just for the prestige. What prestige was there in bloody war and bloodied hands? Who knew what was going on in the land dwellers minds? Out of their population, only shockingly few had seen actual bloodshed, and most pirates fell in the minority. Coddled townfolk and nobles alike would hardly have any reason to soil their hands with murder or death. They knew of parties, satins and silks, and the pirates? Ropes, anchors and trade winds. Two completely different worlds, in the same regions of the Whispering Sea. Her eyes darted downwards to look at her fingertips, hard and dry from years of work and weather. What would her hands be like if she had been one of them? Pale white as porcelain, perhaps, and soft and pampered like Eastern silk. Odessa had once caught a glimpse of some ladies aboard a transport vessel. They wore their hair in an odd updo that must have taken hours to complete, and had their waists cinched to tiny proportions by a ridiculously puffy dress. The men were no better with their wigs and elaborate suits. Odessa felt much more thankful for her simple dress code and hairstyle at the moment. It was much more practical, so to say. "Still, the military are only doing their job." The woman spoke, having finished her portion of fish. "Has it ever occurred to you that the only good people are those that benefit us in a way?" Odessa toyed with a smile as she said so, raising an eyebrow at the other Captain. "That would explain the great disparity between our morals and theirs."

The military, Odessa felt, was fighting a losing battle. They were foolish enough to think that if they eradicated all of the pirates their waters would be safe. You could kill people, but you couldn't kill an idea. As long as there was oppression, greed and laziness, people like the pirates would appear. What remedy had the military for human corruption?

“So what are you doing around here, I had chosen to anchor here because it was deserted.”

"It's a nice stretch of water, don't you think?" Odessa replied promptly, "Clear skies tonight, and a great vantage point to watch shooting stars. An astronomer I know told me there would be some tonight." She propped her chin up on her palm, "It's good to let the crew relax once in a while. There's only so much our minds can take." Odessa knew she had to be careful here. The trade ship could come at any moment, and if Captain Dio saw it, there was no doubt he'd mark it as prey as well. If she attacked it with him there, he'd definitely not sit by, but help. If he played his cards correctly, Dio might even be able to pull it off as a favour on his part. Stars help her if she owed anyone anything. The door of the room slammed open abruptly, bringing the conversation to a ringing halt. A lad rushed up to her and whispered a few words in Odessa's ear. Upon hearing them her expression took on a solemn but exasperated air as she pushed off the table. "Excuse me, it seems some of my hands got into a scuffle. I'll be back in a bit- start dessert without me." And she left.

Outside, Odessa let her facade loose and beamed as she observed the ship in the distance. It was the perfect type for a trade ship- bulky body for cargo, narrow tip for smooth sailing and only six cannons along each side, from what she could see. Odessa knew her ship and crew could take it easily. Upon closer inspection, Odessa saw something that caused her smile to dim. Too many motionless figures were standing around the ship. This ship was military guarded. Even though that wouldn't hamper her, the captain wanted to keep her ship off their black list for as long as possible. Anonymity was a weapon worth more than 12 guns. As she watched, someone from the other ship started flashing lights- B-U-S-I-N-E-S-S-? . A risky idea started to take tentative hold within her mind, and she hastily removed any articles that may give away her position as a captain. A crew member pressed a lantern into her hand and she nodded her silent thanks at her. Praying that she could pull it off, Odessa signaled back:


She had positioned herself in front of her main mast, as to be clearly seen by the trade ship, but not so from any crew that may have lingered upon Dio's deck. Some of the figures on the other ship's deck started moving, and Odessa made a break for the dining room, returning her appearance to it's original state as she went. The woman shoved open the door in a manner that spoke of utmost urgency and said, "Captain Dio, a navy scout ship came along, recognized your ship, I think. It's preparing for attack. You'd best come up and see!" With that, she sprinted up the deck and discretely wiped her forearm with a hand, a signal for her crew to hide their weapons. Heavy footsteps sounded from behind her, and she knew the others would be joining her in a few seconds. If all went to plan, Captain Dio would have to defend his ship against the trade ship, and Odessa would help, of course. Even though Dio would claim the spoils for his own, Odessa would lodge a counterclaim, calling it as a repayment for her help.

That is, if everything went smoothly. But things hardly ever did.