Argonautica

Title: Argonautica
Time Period: June 24, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: A meeting of ships. The Dornian party finds uncertain help in a less certain situations.

There is nothing man can make that nature hasn't already fashioned finer. The eye of a common pigeon can spot a speck of red from an impossible height. A single ruby could catch its attention - think of how bloody wounds would seem to scream up at it from however far below.

The returning victors look a near-pyrrhic party. Leading a band of bedraggled children, with a mage half-starved and their lady-leader in dire straits, the militia-on-loan and their masters-at-arms wind a weary way towards the harbor. What awaits them is a ship in little better condition than the band, with patchwork sails and short a mast. The dead city, the land - it was close enough to swallowing them up.

But back on the surface, however small- they are visible to keen enough eyes on swift enough wings. It drops, swift as a dart- and no longer a pigeon. A falcon! Plummeting as if towards prey. Speed turns the bird into a vertical smear of grey that hurtles until it is a split second from careening into the party below, then-

FWOOOMP!

-broad wings expand overhead, in a sudden explosion of white that palpitates in the air before folding as a great pale seagull with a black head and a red-tipped beak takes perch on a derelict phone box. It's strange, pale-gold eye peers at them at a wide angle from the side of its skull. It gives a throaty caw.

Only Darklight can hear the rest: One of you is one of us.

The bay horse gives a whinny when birds start plummeting from the sky — Iago shakes his head, tossing mane with irritation. Beisdean knows it's more about the slow, sedate gait he's forced to walk with the mostly pedestrian party, as the gelding is used to flying things, thanks to the many forms Darklight has taken in the past. Currently, Iago has three "passengers" — his owner, Luna, and the familiar currently in marten form, perched on Beisdean's shoulder.

Beisdean's blue eyes slide up, following the winged thing as it shifts forms and lands on the old phonebox, before he glances to his familiar questioningly.

Greetings, brother. Are you a friend? the marten's voice sounds in the other familiar's consciousness.

They managed to find something that once resembled a wagon amidst everything. It had two wheels and an open barrow, and so the band was quite to utilize it. Unfortunately, the only steed is being ridden, and the second-biggest thing is Jorn. He hasn't shifted, however, though mostly out of desire not to frighten the children. Then again, they seemed to be drawn to white objects, didn't they? The wagon is tied to a chain at his waist, which loops over his chest. It isn't the speediest solution, no- but it is a solution. They didn't come all this way for nothing.

Jorn's brow is shining, and his breath heavy, when the flapping of feathers turns his attention elsewhere; the falcon, which is now a gull, which is now suddenly company. He rolls himself to a halt again, momentum lost to a silent, brooding sort of curiosity.

For safety's sake, she was put in front of Beisdean. While Luna is rather elated at not having to walk, Iago isn't the horse that she would have chosen on her venture back into the saddle. Murdina would call him high strung, sort of like Luna. It's been a fight to stay conscious but intructions on what treasures to burden Jorn with have kept her wits about her: The husk and chassy of a motorcycle, various bits of metal ranging from long copper pipes to large sheets of steel and aluminum, more insulated wire than she's ever seen in her life, dusty bottles filled with different liquors, a manual typewriter, books, and twinkies (Luna's new favorite food). She would have taken the phone box, but the bird landed on it.

Needless to say, it's been a slow trek. Luna is greedy even with the threat of death hanging over her head.

When Jorn stops, her head swings slowly to look at him. "I wouldn't bother trying for it, gulls are the worst things to try to move. We'd likely end up with yet another passenger on the way home." The prostitute wasn't in favor of Constance's stow aways, even if they saved her dress and jewelry.

Truthfully, as far as adventures in the city go, Hossfeld has been forced to conclude that this one really wasn't that bad. Nobody died, they picked up a veritable trove of treasures that, by the German's reckoning, will almost certainly cover all the damages they incurred to the ship, plus pay for Luna's doctoring, replace lost equipment and still leave a bit of room for bargaining. That last part, he is less certain about. But at least they aren't going into debt. Probably.

While Jorn has been hauling all of their new finds, Hossfeld has been busy keeping an eye out for more trouble. The last thing they need now is another fight. But the bird manages to catch him off-guard. After all, it certainly wasn't dragon-sized, or giant bat-sized, so why would he have thought to watch for it? But in the end, just a bird, and he is all too happy to pay it no mind and keep walking.

The black-headed gull lifts a wing and dips its head to clean its feathers, a gesture that looks idle to humans, but is in fact quite thoughtful- at least by avian standards.

A friend is a friend to a friend- comes the reply. This cryptic business makes more sense in the secret language of spirits. It's a simple enough statement - friends are known by their friendliness to each other. If you are, we are - and will be, both.

The gold ring of its attention takes in the group entire, and their amassed spoils, the riches of the old world.

Cannot hurt to pay your way, is amended, informationally. The spirit has no real regard for all that material stuff, but it has appending interests, and understands human inclination towards exchange. It also knows that humans can't last long looking as Luna does- it's not as if they can afford to turn down help, even it its turns out costly.

The gull - tiring of comments about its assumed form, perhaps - gives three hoarse cries and then alights, spiraling overhead then gliding along the street. This way! We are this way!

"Tch." This, Darklight says aloud for all who can hear, as the gull flies away. I will pass it along to my brother and his people, but we are not the ones in charge, he informs the strange familiar. He quickly reports the conversation to Beisdean even as the mage turns to watch its retreat.

He's been quiet, only speaking when spoken to, so his voice needs clearing before he speaks after some length of silence. "Be wary, lads," he says in a low voice to Jorn and Hossfeld, moving his hand to his waistband for the gun that was miraculously still in his saddlebag when he found the gelding wandering around the edge of town waiting for him. "That familiar is suggesting that we 'pay our way,'" he explains. "Thinking we're the billy goats and some one is playing the troll, so to speak."

Jorn flexes his hands away from the chains, wiping a line of sweat from his upper lip and casting a weary look towards Beisdean and his own familiar when the gull coasts into the air again.

"I've had it up to here." With what? He doesn't specify, but it may be obvious. "They can eat shit." A grumble and groan after, Jorn is starting up the wagon wheels again, pulling it into a steady roll again. "Trolls- like that sort of thing- if I recall." The northman grunts a few times between words as he gets up some momentum.

Jorn- admittedly only to himself- just wants to go home, not get himself into another fine mess.

Luna eyes the telephone box as Beisdean relays the matter of the other familiar. It's a failing that she's not really paying attention, at this point she could blame it on the blood that's seeped into a large bloom on the shoulder of her dress. "I think that box would look quite lovely in a garden. Painted red and bright… It could hold a maid with a tea set.

"It would be.. would be…" Letting loose a sigh, she allows her eyelids to droop to nearly closing as she attempts to remember what word it is she would like to use. Jorn's words sink in and that sigh turns into a rush of air. "Trolls, where?"

Hossfeld has his own way of expressing his disapproval of the situation: He withdraws the pocket watch from within his coat (which now needs a thorough cleaning, thank you Frau Owens) and checks the time. The watch, of course, hasn't told the time for years, but staring at its broken face for a few moments is a sort of meditation for the German. Finally, it goes back into the pocket it came from. "I've killed trolls before," he says. A glance is cast toward Luna. "Maybe we should see if this 'troll' is real, and what it has to offer us, if it's not far. Maybe we will find medicine. If we cannot bargain with reason and with, tand-" The word he wanted didn't come to mind- "We can bargain with bullets. Dies ist akzeptabel? Do we agree?"

There's not much room for Constance to input her two cents, being as voices were low enough that she couldn't overhear. When Luna pipes up about trolls, she looks up sharply. Battle? Were they battling again? Her eyes shift about in the nearby area in search of anything that looks hostile or dangerous or particularly troll-like. She eyes the children in case they might have a better chance of finding the monsters ready to spring and attack!

The trouble with bridges, allegorical or otherwise, is that there is no other way. The peak-winged shadow of the gull may saves them some twists and turns, but ultimately it leads them back to where they were headed all along. Their vessel sits in the harbor, wounded but still afloat.

It looks all the more shabby for its unexpected company. Resting in common water, its sails furled and anchor dropped, is a handsome vessel with three good masts and a hull whose green is so bright and clear, the paint can’t be a month old. Its brass railings give a warm gleam, and a small ship-to-ship cannon sits amidships, its copper burning like a pence made fresh with vinegar and water.

The gull’s shape contracts, growing darker and denser, and dives - a cormorant now - into the waters of the bay. It re-emerges next to the tethered longboats in the shape of a sea otter, which turns on its back and regards them with brown eyes that look infinitely more relatable, yet carry the same gaze as the bird’s.

Out there on the water, the green ship is lowering a boat of its own.

Show off, Darklight remarks in Beisdean's head alone, adding an audible "Tch!" when he sees the familiar change shape again.

His mage looks at the two vessels in the harbor as they fall into view, the one shabby and not-so-chic and the other handsome and robust in comparison. He raises one eyebrow and looks to his companions. "Tell me ours is the green one?" he says drolly — though he knows too well it's not.

The heave of breath that comes from Jorn when the ship ekes into view is a perturbed one. He is not pleased at all, even less so at the details of the ship itself. It is not that he knows it, but that they clearly cannot turn them down now. Affluent, and present as they appear to be. It's not the green one, Beisdean. Jorn begins, slowly, to remove the makeshift harness around him, dumping the chain over the the side of the wagon. Wartooth has to look like he wants to conduct business, not be a part of the labor involved. No more, anyway- his left leg echoes dull pain, and he is tired as it is.

"Sorry, Beisdean. Look alive, all of you." Lest they have more trouble than they can handle.

Look alive, hah, it may be easier said than done.

"Sorry Baizey," Luna utters as she leans her uninjured shoulder against him. Obviously a maneuver for support and an attempt to look as alive as possible for the benefit of the bearman. She doesn't have a mirror but if she did she might give herself seven years just from the fright. The dark moons under her eyes lead to gaunt cheeks, her already pale skin looking more grey than pink in hue. Using her good arm, she crosses her hand over to the elbow of her limp one and shuffles it forward, trying to hide the sickly angle at which it hangs.

The crimson stain on her dress widens by a fraction of an inch, if it wasn't already the most notable thing about her, it is now.

Slinking through the ruins. Nearly being eaten alive by ravenous, and probably rabid dogs. Forced to sneak around underground through the stench. Nearly being eaten again by… whatever the hell it was. Slinking through the ruins again, in the dark this time. Giant teeth attached to wings. And now? Pirates. Jorn Wartooth had had enough, and now Eduard Hossfeld has had enough, too.

"Ficken dies!" he shouts towards the heavens, "Ich werde ein sein bauer!" And then, he drops down to have a seat on the ground and buries his face in his hands. Just once, why can't things go the way he wants them too?

Is that a… ship? A pretty ship? A shiny ship? Constance is sort of staring. And by sort of that means a big fat is. "That's not a pirate ship, is it?" She seems thoughtful. "Pirates usually aren't so classy." She looks admirably at the ship, seeming quite a bit less worried than the rest of them. "If they're pirates and they capture us, we can commandeer their ship," she says, matter-of-factly.

It becomes clear, very quickly, that the unknown longboat is not making for their beleaguered ship - instead it sets a firm course for the shore. A wise move, most likely, since their deck is lined with grim faced Dornian women, carrying the best Dornian weapons.

The green ship’s longboat, its own body painted the same extravagant green, is poorly armed from all appearances. It’s manned by a sturdy enough group of men, but none of them carry anything worse than a knife any tar uses. At the front, boot set heroically on the prow, is a dark haired man with a closely and carefully trimmed beard and mustache, dressed in muted reds and brown leather in what is not quite finery but not quite armor either.

The otter twirls and disappears in a stir and eddy. As it emerges its fur puffs into dry orange fluff and by the time it clambers up onto the bearded man’s shoulder, it has assumed the aspect of a ginger-furred monkey.

The monkey’s mage lifts his hand in what looks like greeting. He calls out.

Salut!” he says, urgent but not unfriendly - his accent is difficult to place, not quite Gallic, “you are Scotsmen? You have a wounded woman?”

He seems to be expressing concern. Why would it be, then, that small figures on the green ship’s deck have stirred into activity around the sunbright beacon of the cannon. Making preparations.

Sable and gold furred marten blinks black round eyes at the orange-furred monkey, and he says "Tch!" again. He's not sure about that creature in the least, it seems. Beisdean moves the reins of the horse to one hand, then puts his free hand on Luna's uninjured shoulder in something of a defensive mood.

"Bonjour," he offers, unsure if that's the right language for the man's strange accent. He doesn't speak out for the rest; they are a motley crew, and he's the only Scotsman among them, thanks to the other two men's diverse heritages.

Running one hand through his hair to tame it, ruffled by the seabreeze, Jorn takes up a place at the head of the small band, and the wagon. Evidently, he feels he is more prepared than the others, to lift his hand in a return gesture. The fur around his shoulders ruffles in the same wind, cloak doubled up as always, in warmer climes. Salut. Jorn's mouth curves into a fine line across his jaw, somewhere between bracing and something that isn't quite defined.

"Salut. We are Scotsmen… more or less. In Spirit, if not by our fathers." Jorn's accent tells that he is not. Hossfeld's protests to himself before, possibly did the same. "Yes, we do." This second part comes more defensively, inferring his protectiveness at least in tone.

"Who are you?"

If Luna was feeling as contrary as she normally is with this particular set of companions, she might deny the fact that there's anything wrong at all. Unfortunately, doing so now would only contradict two of her party and tear at any unity they might have been able to show. So instead of speaking, she turns her bleary eyes out toward the ship.

Eyebrows knitting together, she waits a moment, trying to decipher just what those tiny blurs are doing out there. To aid her vision, she squints slightly and places her good hand to her brow to shield the sun. An orange glow of light passes over her eyes as the weapon moves and she turns her head in a sharp motion to keep it from burning her eyes. The movement reopens one of the marks on her neck and it's seeping grows even more. "Baizey, what is that light? Why are they shining it on me?"

As usual, Hossfeld defers rank to Jorn. Besides being more senior when it comes to militia matters- even if, really, they're nowhere near enough to Dornie for 'militia matters' to, well, matter- he is also arguably more intimidating.

And then, it occurs to him to look back over his shoulder, and suddenly the German is aware that, even if they might have a small advantage in numbers… who is he kidding? Diplomacy is the only way out of this. Diplomacy, or a very convincing lie. But then, who would he be kidding? No one would believe they're a group of farmers, wondering from one harvest to the next.

Constance stays near her new wards, her gaze scanning the longboat and it's occupants with an assessing eye. She won't speak. No, she's busy pondering how to get the jump on them. Or something like that. It's hard to tell with that mischivious look in her eyes that hasn't left. She shakes her head to herself, letting the 'adults' answer.

“Bonjour!” the mage with the monkey replies, breaking into a wide, white smile, “you know French, thank God. My English is so impoverished, it shames me.

Only not all of them do. Jorn’s words remain stubbornly English, despite both his Nordic accent and his Scottish allegiance. His smile falters a little, but doesn’t vanish, not until the boat draws nearer and he gets a proper look at Luna. Then it falls.

Ya ilahi-” the foreign mage curses in what sounds like yet another tongue - seems that showoff familiar and showoff mage are well paired. English seems to be the consensus, so he struggles to use it well - “We can help her- our ship is faster. You have healers in your home, yes?”

As to who he is- he forgets to say.

"What light?" Beisdean's eyes were on the man before he follows Luna's gaze and noticing the cannon. "What are you doing?" he says sharply, a stark juxtaposition for the uncertainty of his 'bonjour' just moments before. He glances to the sometimes-militia men at his side, waiting for any hint as to what action to take from them. He's not a warrior, and he's overfilled his quota this year by far.

What are the people of your master doing, buidhe brother? Darklight asks, perhaps not as sharply as Beisdean, to the monkey familiar.

Jorn's attention is not diverted by those in his party. He examines the longboat, its passengers- briefly, again, the larger ship, when he hears Beisdean- and back to the longboat, and the man at it's prow. His arms remain hanging at his sides, though he has found a second wind, standing tall, at his full height.

"And I asked who you were, venn." This time, it is less of a question than it was the first time. "I am sure that you can understand a lack of trust, in these troubled times." Jorn does not, however, offer his name first. In fact, he is uncertain of if he should at all. These men are clearly not from the Isles- and as of late, the past catching up to him has been …an issue.

"We do. Dornie, far north of here."

The good shoulder sinks into a hunch as Luna slouches forward a little. The bad arm still held in front to hide its sickly angle. With the light now out of her eyes, she drops her head, hoping that the next time it's pointed in their direction it hits Beisdean. Her gaze falls to the man in the longboat and holds there for a long while. He's easier to see than what is all the way out there.

"Bon-joor," she mimics her companion's initial greeting, only her accent is attrocious. "May I ask, how fast is your ship?" She knows how fast the one they arrived in is and given how light headed she feels, she may not be able to stay awake the whole of the journey. Right now, she's too afraid to fall asleep.

"Please, no talking, schmetterling," Hossfeld quietly pleads to Luna, "Save your strength. It would be a long walk home from here." But whether Luna listen or not is not the German's primary concern. The men in the boat in front of them, if they do turn out hostile, can be dealt with easily enough. But the men on the ship, now that Beisdean has kindly brought them to attention? They will clearly be more problematic. 'Don't shoot, I'm a farmer,' is beginning to look more and more appealing an excuse.

When the mage with the monkey turns around and spots the cannon-at-the-ready, he looks as surprised as any of the Dornians. “Wald il qahbaa” he says with the breathless vehemence of a curse.

Darklighter receives a distinct impression from the monkey at his shoulder, a layering symbol and sound - a V and three I’s, and the imperious syllables ‘Octavia’. Both hover in a haze of long-suffering, an emotional distortion of the communication that amounts to a vocal rolling of the eyes.

The familiar is on the wing as a tiny swift within moments, zooming back towards the green ship. Dealing with it. The mage returns his attention to the party before him. He tries to smooth his features, but his brow is knitted in worry.

Hossfeld’s right- while ship to ship combat favors the green vessel, of the two shore parties, the Dornians have a better than even chance. The mage is an unknown, naturally, but he has no visible weapons. In fact, there doesn’t seem to be a gun among them.

“This is a-” the mage looks for the word, “-confusion. My secunda, she is- the word I think is ‘zealous’. Too much. At times past wisdom-

“I am Septimus-” he says, finally answering Jorn’s question, “we travel to Dornie as well. For business. As my secunda knows-” he tosses this back over his shoulder, as if she might hear him. And by now his familiar may have arrived.

“I should not have left the ship to her. Ana 'āsef I know this- to her, every mystery is a trap.”

"If you destroy our ship, know that you will not have friends to receive you in Dornie," Beisdean says, voice cool as he looks to the other ship; Darklight's voice in his head confirming from the familiar what the mage says at the same time.

Both hands curl in the reins, ready to spur Iago into motion if need be. "I suggest you repair whatever this misunderstanding is, or there can be no understanding between us. My companions have clout in Dornie, and if any harm comes to them or their possessions, I'm afraid you might as well travel elsewhere, stranger."

"I …know the type, yes." Jorn's own expression is similarly knitted, though he possesses enough social grace here to be able to make some light of the ship's Second. "Caution is important, but some have too much." He understands, and it seems it is being handled, in what way is prudent. The Northman cants his head with his words, then lifting his chin again.

"For business?" The curiosity betrays him, somewhat, though he appears to curtail it early, interuppted then by the man on the horse. Jorn turns a smartly foul little glare to Beisdean, but he is right. And if being around the Ross Clan has taught Jorn anything, it is how to make something sound better.

"I think that what my friend here means to say, is that our band is an important one." Jorn turns his eyes back to 'Septimus'. "If you might give us and our cargo shelter upon your ship, or perhaps escort our own, I know that you will have favourable business, and powerful friends, upon reaching Dornie." And the hope that this bit of bartering will keep the things they came so far for- safer than before.

"Luna Owens," the wounded woman on the horse introduces herself, "if it's confusion, then I'm sure you'll be more than happy to— " she pauses, her eyes drooping as her head bobs forward. When it snaps up again, she takes a shaky breath inward and grips the wrist of her bad arm tightly. Her eyelashes flutter when a glare of orange light strikes across her face.

Whatever it is that she was going to say is lost in the annoyance of the cannon's reflection. When it passes, she glances down to Jorn, Hossfeld, Constance, and then finally the children. "There were trolls, weren't there? We were preparing for trolls."

Oui! We know-” Septimus says, answering Jorn, who marks himself as the preferred interlocutor - diplomacy seems to be in everyone’s best interest, “now, at least- now that you have told us. Truthfully, I cannot speak the last word. That is for our Magus. But! I am sure your good word will be welcome.”

As it becomes clear that the situation is resolving, the cannon rolled back into its resting position, Septimus feels more free to offer his hand in help.

‘Afak- please,” he implores, “let me take the lady on our ship. We will take her home- and whoever else. Your-” he looks over to the huddled mass of dirty children, and the sight makes him stumble on his words for a moment, “-your young ones.” A bit uncertain. Just whose are all these children?

"Your Magus? As long as no harm comes to ours, I think that it would be in everyone's best interest if we joined bands." A look to Hossfeld, and Luna, before it roves back to Septimus. "These children are also under our care." He makes a point to infer that they are not slaves, though he refrains from stating it directly, for the time being. He holds his hands palms out, in a simple gesture of receipt.

"We may go with you, if it is in brotherhood." Rather than imprisonment, indentured, or otherwise. Jorn doesn't want to rush it, but he knows that Luna needs fresh eyes. One of them may be able to get her arm righted, without ripping open her wounds. And if they have line, they can stitch her properly. "We come with her."

A squeeze of the hand on her shoulder and a murmur into her ear is all that is required. Once her fears about trolls are quelled, Luna seems a little more receptive to the German's command to stay quiet. And still. The horse is walked forward, close enough to the shore for the blonde woman's convenience.

Letting loose her wrist, she reaches a hand out to anyone that will take it, relying on both the new help and Beisdean to ease her off the horse. Though she may not be able to walk far on her own volition, she does make the effort to stand straight and posture perfect. "Thank you," she utters toward Septimus, her voice lacking a little in strength, "Constance's children can stay with the militia women, no need placing that burden on her father upon her return."

And there it is: Relative peace. Peaceful enough, at least, the Hossfeld is no longer entertaining notions and formulating plans to violently execute everyone that didn't originally travel with him. But for the moment, he stays on guard, giving one of his coat pockets a reflexive squeeze, as if to force just a bit more luck out of his watch for the day. Or maybe even the week. A ship full of ostensibly friendly people might require a significant amount of time to 'refresh' even. If it helped at all to begin with. Life in the city is hard and unpredictable, but life among men can be just as bad. For what it's worth, though, he seems less interested in keeping an eye on Luna now- Beisdean has done a fine job, after all- and more interested in making sure the ship he arrived on makes it back to Dornie in one piece.

Constance clearly doesn't like the idea of not having her own militia to help overthrow the crew if necessary, but she looks at the children a bit sadly. "As long as they are patient. They don't communicate the same way and if I hear any horror stories about anything happening to them…" Yep. Constance will punch some faces in. Or something. She turns back to the rest of the group, falling silent. It looks like that means she agrees.