The Fleet

Dec. 2nd, 2012 11:08 pm
thulcandran: (Default)
Well, NaNoWriMo has once again come to an end. But this year, I actually did it! 50,000 words by the end of the month, about this dude here, and his life and times. This was written today, so it's not part of the novel, but it was a three-word prompt - and thanks to Shoe, of the PPC, who gave it: Paper, Chickens, Gun. Enjoy!

Xerxes walked up the plank, feeling his legs turn to jelly as the surface moved beneath him. This was entirely a new experience, and so far he wasn't sure he liked it. Sara grinned at him as she rounded the end of the pier and headed up after him. He glanced at Raoul, who was a bit ahead, and grimaced. Thank the gods he wouldn't have to keep doing this...

"Welcome aboard, Sire!" The captain of the ship bowed neatly, and the men behind him saluted.

Raoul stood to one side, and Xerxes was just observant enough to notice his knuckles white on the railing. So it wasn't just him, after all. He gathered his nerves, forced the pitching bile down, and managed a smile back at the man.

"Thank you kindly, Captain - er, Shakir, I believe?"

"Aye, Sire." He bowed again, and spun to gesture the men. "Get a move on, there! Let's get this show on the road!"

Xerxes suspected he was keeping his language about twelve notches below his usual standards of profanity, and a sly grin from Sara as she came up behind them confirmed the idea. She winked at him and strode forward confidently; he hid his amazement as best he could, and followed her, slowly getting his feet accustomed to the deck's pitching and rolling.

Very slowly. By the time they'd reached the stern, he'd bumped into Raoul twice. Sara raised an eyebrow at him, a slow smile dawning on her face.

"Aha, now it makes sense." She smirked at him, leaning up against the ship's wheel. "I should've guessed! Beralt is a landlocked nation - you've never been on a ship before in your life, have you, Sire?"

He shook his head weakly, coming forward quickly, the better to reach something solidly elbow-height before he toppled... and nearly pitched over the rail.

"Heh." She leaned easily against the rail. "It shows. And you, Raoul - you're not much better, though you seem to be picking this up faster than your commander."

His advisor grunted something noncommittal and caught up with them, glancing over the rails.

"I'll also have to take your word that this is the finest ship in the fleet," Xerxes pointed out, "Which is a deficiency that worries me rather more, as I'm sure you understand."

She nodded. "Don't you worry, Sire - we'll send you home with a good ton of books, and you'll be educated as a born sailor by the time you're out here again."

"Here as in Raanc Harbor," he replied. "Not here as in the water, I think. Urgh."

Sara laughed again and raised a hand to block the sun. "Ah, I didn't expect to make a bonafide sailor out of you, Sire. The harbor would be just fine - with Siol as your major threat, you can't exactly ignore the naval half of your forces."

"I'm glad you're on top of it," he replied, nodding. "I have no intention of ignoring a naval component. We'll see what happens with Syr, and go on from there. Now - what's going on here, anyway? This might be a beuatiful ship, but I'm not entirely sure about her... er, cargo? Function?"

Sara smiled and pointed to the hatch. "Not much in the way of cargo - the chickens you saw earlier were more for the voyage than any trading purposes. Down there it's - ah, well, I'll show you."

He followed her down the dark hatch, feeling for the rungs as they moved, until they were down in the hold - the pitching was far, far worse here, he found, and he had to stop and lean on the wall for a good few moments, to calm his roiling stomach. (Raoul had stayed abovedecks.)

When his eyes and balance had adjusted, relatively speaking, he saw Sara moving up ahead, along the wall of the ship. Evenly spaced along it were what looked like irregular holes of light, partially blocked - as he moved closer, he realized they were guns, cannons aimed broadside of the ship. Well-stocked, gleaming, and, from what he could tell, quite well maintained.

"Aye," Sara said, as she saw him sighting along the barrels. "She's a warship, Sire. And she's all yours."

Edited slightly because ye gods and little fishies, 'feeling himself stiffen' is SUCH an unfortunate phrasing.
thulcandran: (Default)
The non-fiction background )

"'You'll love it,' she said. 'You should get out more,' she said. 'You won't even know he's there!' she said!"

Sara glared at him, probably justifiably. The music was audible on the other side of the wall, bass shaking the walls and porch ever so slightly. He thought he heard someone, or a few someones, singing along. This was not unexpected. They were probably off-key, and off-tempo, and he would not be surprised if none of them knew the words. His mind was torn between being glad he could not hear them clearly, and wishing he could, to confirm his biased anger. Righteous anger, that was the word he was looking for. Sara seemed to be saying something. He stopped shaking his figurative cane at the party-goers to listen.

"I mean, if you'd just try to relax - they're not all bad kids, Dave!"

"I am relaxed," he told her, reflexively, through gritted teeth. She didn't even have to raise an eyebrow.

(She did anyway.)

"Look, if you head on in you'll probably find quite a few of them willing to hang out with you. No matter how many times you say you have no desire whatsoever for human interaction, I will stil have trouble believing it. You're just in one of your Moods, and it's not that bad, and if you have a drink and sit down with Kendrick and I, you'll be having something resembling fun, anyway, in no time."

The argument had been over before she came out, he knew, and he followed her back into the lit, too-warm room without much more resistance than a resigned shrug.

The beer was cold; it suited him, in the rather suffocatingly hot house. Sara was dancing to the bass - no, he realized, her rhythm was aligned with the higher melodies. He could barely hear them. Her movements filled the gap in the song well enough; he leaned against the wall and watched her spin, twirl, dip, alone in that dim spotlight between the broken lamp and the shaded window.

No, parties were not his thing, and never would be, he suspected, no matter what his girlfriend claimed. But he could have stood there all night, and endured the drunkenly giggling trollops, the yet more drunken louts, the rather poorly balanced and far too loud sound -- all night, through a pounding headache, to watch her dance there, like the flame of an undying candle in the darkest night.

The sky was beginning to shift - stars faded, as the East drew a glow in the farther rim of the horizon. He watched the window as it went from velvety, star-studded black, to a deep blue, profound it seemed to him then, mysterious, and then yet again, to a lighter blue, like the marvelous swallow's feather that Sara wore in her hair betimes.

She leaned on him now, grinning. Dave grinned back at her despite himself, raising an eyebrow in that overly serious way that always made her laugh. He laughed then, too, to see her laugh, and pointed to the window, which had by now turned to a pale, nearly sky blue.

"Oh, it's almost sunrise," she said, following his gaze. "Don't you have class early tomorrow?"

He shook his head. "Not until noon. But we should go soon, all the same. Things do seem to be winding down."

"Alright, yeah," she said, twining her fingers through his. "Let me go find my purse, I think Shawna had it when we came in." He followed her unresisting, through the house, as they looked for the elusive Shawna. Eventually she turned out to be on the back lawn with Mike and Leann, and told them the purse was in the front closet.

So they trekked back through the dewy grass, up to the darkening house, as the dawn began to light up around them. People were mostly sitting, or laying, around and the music was quiet, now.

"Hey, have you seen Mike?" A tall boy Dave vaguely recognized came up to them, his eyes bleared.

"I think he's out back with Leann and Shawna," Dave told him, gesturing towards the back door whence they'd come.

"Alright, then," he nodded. "What 'bout Kendrick and Zach? They were, they were right up with me, just, ya know, a secon' ago..."

Dave shrugged. "I'm sure they'll turn up. We're heading out, though - see you around."

The tall guy nodded, waved them off distractedly. Sara beckoned from the door, purse in hand, and he shoved his own hands in his pockets and followed her out. He always wondered if it was sexist or overly protective to want to walk her back to her dorm, but there were idiots and assholes a-plenty on this campus, and she never had complained about it.

At the door she gave him a kiss, whispered something into his ear that made him laugh, and disappeared up the stairs. He put his hands back in his pockets and walked off towards his own room in the gathering daylight, whistling under his breath.


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May 2013



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