On The Deck of The Glutton
This airship is on the small side as airships go. Forward, the passenger cabins are housed in a low box-like structure with portholes in the sides and a large forward-facing window; aft, larger windows mark the domain of the ship's officers. Hatches in the deck lead to other parts of the ship; above is the gasbag, bearing few markings save the ship's emblem. Deck and rigging creak as the Glutton goes efficiently about her business.
The Procession paints the sky overhead, as the group of adventurers gather on the deck. Most are silent, more through a general feel than any particular desire for secrecy. One by one, the passengers and crew arrive. A Savanite with a strange tendency to speak. A hulking beast that looks like nothing comparable on Sinai, with a small vermite-like creature perched on its shoulder. A cross between a fish and a Hekoye. And, surprisingly enough, K'ale, the non-kavi. They are followed by a number of porters bearing large crates, and a Savanite female flanked by two Jupani.
Aaron sets down his large duffel/backpack and sits on it as he watches the others board, paying particular attention to the Savanite 'princess'.
The Korvish corsair does likewise, oddly quiet for once. Kensington's face holds none of his usual humor, the bird instead idly tapping the bell of one of his sabres with his thumb.
A few more crew of both the Nobakhim and of Mira board. K'ale is the first to speak. He says, "Thank you all for agreeing to launch at night; we weren't sure how the general populace would react to some of our travelling companions."
The Hekoye/fish spots Kensington, and grins, walking over. An expensive-looking blade hangs at his side, and he speaks in a whispery voice, "You the one they say is the master of the sword?"
The ship's crew bustles around the decks, securing the crates in the hold and preparing to cast off. There's even a Vykarin, whose hooves clipclop against the wooden deck as it makes sure the ship's running lights are working. The captain shouts orders and the occasional reprimand, somehow keeping track of all the bustle.
The feathers above Kensington's eyes bunch up a little, and a smile, if just a small one, returns to the Korv's face. "On'y th' best there be, mate. Kensington th' Cutlass, atcher service. 'Oo might ye be?"
The Lapi's ears turn to and fro, picking up bits of conversation and instructions here and there. He doesn't show much interest in the preparations for casting off though.
The strange beast bows slightly, "I am Plaith." The Korv gets a good look at Plaith… His body is built like a Hekoye, but the fur is interspersed with patches of scales. His eyes are more fishlike than mammalian, though the rest of his face seems normal. And oddest of all, he has gills on his throat. He stands erect again, "I would be honored to cross swords with you in practice sometime along the journey."
"Heh, heh… alrighty, sport. I'll take ye up on a spar," caws the cocky avian, chortling good naturedly. "Ye wouldn't be th' oddest thing I've crossed swords wit' afore." The corsaire looks Plaith over curiously, particularly at the sword handing from the nobahkim's side.
Plaith bows again, it seems to be his habit. "I look forward to it." He smiles, "I so rarely meet with a worthy sparring partner!"
Aaron wonders to himself how likely it is that he can find a Nobahkim to 'volunteer' to help him find a formula that will knock one unconscious for a few minutes.
It seems that everything has been stowed or otherwise made ready for the trip. The crew assemble on deck as the captain calls for attention from the quarterdeck.
Aaron turns his attention to the Khatta captain.
The nobakhim all turn to the captain, the small creature hopping down and scampering up onto a railing to get a better view.
Kensington studies the hekoye-nobahkim curiously for a few more moments before also turning to watch the captain.
Mira ahems. "Welcome aboard. We're castin' off in just a bit, so I'll be keeping this short. Nobody knows what exactly we'll be gettin' into, so be careful. This ship hasn't got a reputation for trouble yet, an' I don't intend to start now. That is all." Apparently Mira isn't one for long speeches.
K'ale applauds enthusiastically at first, then peers around guiltily as he notices nobody else is. He wilts down a bit.
None of the crew seem to notice they're already making final preparations or assuming their stations.
(Pretty and practical,) the Lapi thinks.
The Korv shrugs his wings. "I like a cap'n who doesn't 'ave as more hot wind than 'er airship's envelope."
Chit, the 'savanite', looks around with some concern, like there's someone missing he can't quite put his finger on…
Aaron asks out loud, "Something bothering you, Chit?" As usual, he's been paying close attention to the Savanites… both real and Nobahkim.
Chit nods, "Wasn't there another? The Khatta with the eyepatch?"
The Lapi looks over to the Korv, and asks, "Did Sasta get here early and go belowdecks?"
Kensington looks over the deck, decided the formalities must be largely out of the way. He looks over at the Lapi, and sighs, not snapping at him for once. "Nay, nay… she… ain't comin' wit' us."
K'ale blinks, as he hears that, "Why not? She seemed excited at getting work… "
Aaron blinks at the news… but also wonders if it explains Kensington's more subdued state.
"Ye remember she went lookin' in th' shadier circles fer more armament?" rasps Kensington grimly. "She ran afoul o' an old aquaintance o' mine. E's a bastard, e'en for a pirate, Githral is. Seems e's taken to workin' the skies closer t'Rephidim than I thought."
Aaron jumps to his feet, eyes wide! "She's been hurt?!"
The corsaire's expression grows darker, and he nods at Aaron. "Githral Ducat'll strike at any ship what 'e thinks 'e can take an' make a profit off, that's nothin' new. Him an' I, though… we go back a ways. Seems 'e were expectin' me t'be along with Sasta when she were gettin' those bombs, an' ambushed 'er. By th' time I got there, she was hurt, fightin' off what remained o' Githral's lackies. I 'ad t'take her to that healer she knows, Chiri."
Aaron sits back down, ears back in embarrassment at his outburst. "She'll be okay then."
Chit sighs, "A pity… she would have been valuable to have on this expedition."
K'ale gives Chit a strange look.
"Aye… and now I owe Githral fer two things… " mutters Kensington. Whatever good cheer he'd derived from his chat with Plaith is now quite dead. "First me ship… an' now Sasta… "
Aaron looks angry as well, and briefly touches the long leather holster under his jacket.
Strangely enough, the huge hulking beast seems to be crying.
The Korv's black expression melts slightly, into one of puzzlement as he turns his head to eye the huge mutant. "What's th' matter, nob? Who're you?"
The huge shaggy beast turns to face the Korv, and he grunts out something quite unintelligible. Plaith sidles up next to him, and explains, "This is Broff. He can't speak, something in the way he's formed." He smiles a bit, "I think he took quite a liking to your Khatta friend when they sparred." He chuckles, "Can't say I blame him. Just because he can't speak, don't mistake him for stupid."
Broff nods heavily at the part about liking Sasta.
Aaron blinks up at the hulking warrior, and his ears droop.
"Aye… well… Sasta's a tough Khatta, and Chiri seems to know her stuff," sighs Kensington. He doesn't look comforted by the thought, his tailfeathers fanning wide and narrow with agitation. "She suffered wounds meant fer me… an' Githral's not goin' to live t'regret his mistake… " The remainder of his thoughts go unspoken. (I won't forgive myself until he pays… it's my fault… my fault… )
From the quarterdeck, Mira gives final orders to the crew. Finally, everything is in readiness. "Up Ship! Set the sails!" The Glutton creaks and sways gently as she pulls out of the slip and slowly backs away from Rephidim. There's a crack! as the wind fills the sails.
The crew cast off the moorings expertly, just as the sails fill, and the ship rises from the dock, starting to turn away from the familiar berth.
Aaron watches the docks and lights of Rephidim recede.
Mira leaves the helm to the care of a capable-looking Rath'ani sailor, who nods to the captain's instructions. She makes her way to K'ale. "Accordin' to th' navigator, we'll be gettin' there in 'bout two weeks. I'm hopin' we won't hit any storms on th' way, but ye never know."
Aaron shoulders his duffel, and heads for the hatch to get himself a cabin.
Chit and the rest of the Nobakhim, excluding K'ale, form a group and head belowdecks. They already have their cabins sorted out.
Kensington perches on a railing to watch Rephidim move away. "Well… guess it's begun, then. On a crazy mission with a bunch of nobahkim, out to the Himaar to watch Savanites cast spells. Heh, Gerry… if ye could only see me now." With no more to muse, the Korv spreads his wings, and leaps into the air, disappearing around the ship's envelope to claim a place in the crow's(korv's?) nest.
K'ale nods to Mira, "Sound. I hope so, as well. I have complete trust in you and your crew, and will simply do my best to not get underfoot."
Mira replies, "Aye, and my crew n' I will thank ye. The cabins're forward, ye saw 'em on th' tour." A brief explanation follows, with instructions to talk to the chief of the watch (currently the Rath'ani helmsman) if anything arises.
K'ale nods and smiles, "Thank you, ma'am." He retires belowdecks.
And so the journey begins. Any observer out in the skies tonight would be treated to the sight of the Glutton on her way to the ancient desert. A creak of timbers, the whisper of sail-fabric, the soft glow of running lights, and then she is gone just another traveller in the night.