Jan 18: Brishen is involved in a fracas at the Docks
(Airship) (Brishen) (Rephidim) (Sabaoth's Wrath)
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Rephidim Docks
Morning light tiptoes as quietly as mice over the decks of the port where the familiar chemical smells of hydrogen and gasbags drift. A steady breeze comes from the edge of Rephidim, laced with earth tones from the bared rock beneath the flying island, and great repair docks reach out over the edge to berth the larger battleships and freighters over vertigo-inducing drops interrupted only by wide-spread cargo nets. Creaky wooden stairs lead down from the smaller land-grounded bays to the dusty flat where less expensive airships float in port. Flags and sails of all colors fill the air, announcing their allegiances to the world. At this hour, workmen stretch and yawn as they amble to their posts and merchants bellow at sailors over cargo being transferred.

A very small wooden wagon, just large enough to hold two large thistlebark-wood barrels (minus the thistles, of course) rattles across the throughways, drawn by a single, aged dragon-horse – a Drokar – colored in a gradiated tone that just looks like a range of grays to colorblind eyes. A hunched-over bat in a cloak rides on the cramped-looking seat, and a few more bats walk alongside the cart, some leaning on walking-staves as they go.

A colourfully-attired courier loops and spirals overhead, giggling as she catches one updraft after another off the edge of the island. This is one of her favorite places: There are always ships coming in, and from where she lazily floats, you can look all the way down to the earth below.

Elsewhere, some hefty-looking Rhians load heavy casks onto a spindly-looking airship that looks less like a water-vessel with an airbag – like so many which may make transcontinental trips – but rather like a network of supporting beams with a large suspended net to hold the cargo underneath the envelope. There are only a few platforms to accommodate the needs of some of the passengers, but the emblems on the envelope indicate that this is a vessel from the Nagai Empire, and thus its officers would probably just fine without a flat surface to "walk" on.

Brishen tucks her wings close as she zips down past the spindly Nagai airship, then underneath! A few seconds pass before she emerges on the other side, close enough to wave cheerily at the passengers.

Another airship has a fairly elongated envelope, and spiny frills that radiate out from the gondola suspended beneath, adorned with numerous runes. While there is no such thing (presumably) as a magical airship, it's a fair sign that the ship was designed with the idea of having an air mage on board. From the number of robed individuals that disembark from the craft, that probably is the case – possibly in the service of the Collegia Esoterica. A few of the robed individuals stop upon sight of the swooping Eeee, and point and mumble amongst themselves. The Rhians loading the ship Brishen is 'buzzing' do little more than grunt in acknowledgment.

However, a lizard-like hand on board the ship – a curious sort who has tufts of what looks like fur here and there – waves back at the Eeee with something resembling a look of bemusement, then returns to jotting down something in a logbook.

A few Eeee zip past Brishen, not clipping her or anything, but close enough for her to feel the buffet. They don't even acknowledge her, apparently being quite intent on whatever errand they're running.

"Eeep!" The little courier draws her wings in close, dropping a few dozen feet towards the Nagai ship before righting herself again. "Hmf. Didn't even see me."

The Eeee continue their path, spearheading across to the throughway, having a similar effect on a couple of Korvs unfortunate enough to be in the way. They caw angrily, and at least one black feather flutters down to the docks.

Brishen spreads her wings, flapping hard to gain altitude, then looks out over the docks. If she was an artist, she'd be moved to paint the vista before her, but she's just Bree, and tucks a lock of curly hair under her beret. She grins to herself, though, as she arcs back towards the docks.

The flight of madly-zipping Eeee suddenly fans out, splitting up and encircling … that little wagon! The morning sunlight glints off of chitin weapons drawn in flight.

"Wires!" Bree's eyes grow wide at the sight of drawn weapons. Her wings flap noisily as she turns about, fluttering towards the Collegiate airship. "Help! The dock is being attacked!" She knows well enough that she wouldn't stand a moment against a group of swordsmen.

The mages appear to have seen as well, along with several other dockspersons. It's just that few have reacted quite as quickly as Brishen. (And many of them aren't as mobile.) A few are snapped out of their shock by Brishen's call, however, and either rush for cover – or else go calling for the Guard. Some of the mages dutifully start work on some rituals promptly … but, of course, there isn't much chance for them to do much good unless this is a particularly protracted battle.

The few bats accompanying the wagon throw off their cloaks, however, and their "walking-sticks" suddenly sprout chitin blades. It would seem that the wagon is not entirely defenseless after all. Several Eeee are now fighting in the air, while the wagon is left below, its driver slumped over in the seat.

Wings beat hard again as Bree zips back along the docks. "Guards!" Her dark brown eyes are wide as she looks around for a warship. "Eep!"

A number of Temple Guards can be seen answering the call by now. The trouble is, the bulk of them cannot fly, and with the confused dogfight of Eeee fighting overhead, it is very difficult to figure out just who to risk shooting at. Calls to cease and desist the violence are ignored. Eventually, a flight of Vartans should be arriving…

Meanwhile, the wagon rolls along, pulled by an agitated-looking Drokar that doesn't seem to be guided by its slumped driver. The cowl has fallen free … and there's something faintly familiar, possibly, about the bat driver's features.

Brishen wishes, and not for the first time, that she carried a sword. She's certainly not a master, but she knows which end of one to hold. But carry a sword and a satchel filled with mail? Hmf. Not likely – And what would customers think? She mutters to herself, "Why can't I – Hey, he looks – "

It's that … okay, so there's no name to attach. It's that dark bat that was visiting Roho's clinic. Okay, so it's not someone Brishen is REALLY familiar with…

Brishen grumbles, shaking her head to clear her thoughts. She tucks her wings close as she darts over the head of startled dockworkers. Maybe she can get to the driver before someone decides that she's worth paying attention to.

Winged warriors appear as dots above the cityline as the airborne Guards arrive on the scene. Their arrival is timely, as they distract the fighting Eeee enough that no one seems to pay any notice to the darting courier approaching the wagon.

The old Drokar pulling the wagon moans as Brishen approaches, and clip-clops to an abrupt stop, breathing heavily. The slumped driver appears to be badly wounded. A few large and wickedly-barbed darts protrude from his chest and back, and his wings are torn and broken.

Brishen covers her mouth as she lands atop the wagon. "Oh, wires." There's little she can do to help, but she clambers onto the driver's seat anyway. "H – Hello?"

The dark bat coughs painfully and turns to look at Brishen through one eye. "You … doctor's friend? *KOFF*"

Brishen nods frantically, her hair spilling down in curls from her beret. Her hands remain tightly clamped over her mouth.

"Please … " the dark bat coughs. "The barrels. Get to ship … docked at Red Number Seven… Life depends on it … " He wheezes. It would appear that Brishen is witnessing this bat's last words.

Brishen has no idea how to control the aged Drokar. She nods as she takes the reins. "Yes." In the back of her mind she fervently hopes that Red Seven isn't far away as she shouts at the Drokar, "Go! Move!"

The aged Drokar, despite his less-than-impressive appearance … is apparently well-trained. At the sound of an Eeee's voice urging it on, it snaps up its head, and moves forward at a lively clip.

Meanwhile, above, it appears that the Vartans' attempts at peacekeeping have largely broken down. Unable to separate the combatants, the fracas has become a three-way battle!

Brishen spares a moment to look back at the battle. What she sees makes her look around frantically for a sword.

Ahead, there's a dock with a large numeral seven. However, there's no ship in dock there … and, well, maybe this is BLUE Seven. Or perhaps green. At least none of the Eeee seem to have yet noticed that the wagon has moved away … except for one Eeee warrior that shrieks and heads down toward the wagon but is cut off by a Vartan who takes advantage of the former's distraction.

The wagon has a few weapons – unfortunately most of them impaled in the dark bat who was formerly driving. At his side, however, is a chitin blade. The tip is broken off and there are some nasty cracks in it, but it still has some serviceable sharp edges and a well-wrapped grip.

"Go! Go!" She snaps the reins on the Drokar's back, keenly aware that shee's more a passenger than a driver on this wagon. {How do you get yourself into these things, girl? You should be curled up with Reico somewhere, eating chilled beetles. Oh, gross! There's blood on your blouse!}

The Drokar lets out a raspy equivalent to a whinny, and picks up speed, breaking out into a full gallop. Fortunately, the throughway is quite clear right now, as most of those nearby have taken cover or otherwise fled the immediate vicinity. The Drokar gallops past a few brave (or overconfident) mages who are still deep in their ritual chants. Well, if any of the bats should be hanging around for TOO long, they should be in for some real trouble, at least…

Brishen brushes a lock of hair from her eyes, looking around for Red Seven. Where could it be? She's delivered enough packages here to know how the docks are laid out. {Calm down – It can't be far.}

That's it! Red. One of the older rows, before the Dock Authority wised up to the fact that not everybody can see color – but not wise enough to redesignate the old sections. A wooden sign with an engraved symbol of some sort of flaming bird (presumably meant to be something red) shows Brishen that she must have taken the Drokar in the right direction. Just down the way, number Seven certainly has a ship in dock … though it looks like the crew are hastily releasing the mooring lines.

Some of the bats, however, stop their work, as one and then a couple more start shouting, pointing at the wagon Brishen is driving.

Brishen grabs the Drokar's reins, tugging it fiercely in the right direction. "Hurry!" Then, she calls out to the ship. "Wait! Wait!"

Brishen's eyes get wider as she looks out at the end of the dock. "No! Slow down!"

The Drokar gallops forward. Something drops down from the bottom of the airship, along with several cables…

Brishen tugs hard on the Drokar's reins, teeth chattering painfully as the wagon bumps and rattles along the dock. "Hellllllllllp!"

The 'something' dropping down would be a landing platform. It roughly slaps down on the edge of the dock, moments before the frenzied Drokar gallops on up to it … then slams into the railing on the reverse side. The wagon comes to an abrupt stop, almost shaking the barrels loose from their bindings.

The Drokar simply lets out a wheeze and slumps over the railing. The dark bat beside Brishen makes no response to the whole situation, still slumped over.

"Oh, wires! – Ow!" A bright red beret topples over the side of the platform, and is quickly sucked away by a greedy updraft.

Brishen looks up at the ship through a maze of curly, tangled hair. "Help?"

Jolting with each crank, the landing platform is slowly raised up toward the ship. It sways noticeably as the ship itself breaks away from the dock. Hopefully, the wagon won't start rolling back before someone locks the wheels…

With a final ratcheting sound, the landing platform is raised the rest of the way, up through a hole in the middle of the ship's deck, where it stops, flush with the planks. A few Savanites and Eeee rush up to the wagon, most of them intent upon securing the barrels rather than checking on the state of those in the driver's seat.

Brishen twists about, brushing her hair out of her eyes as she squeaks irritatedly. She reaches out to touch the wounded bat, wrinkling her nose ever-so-slightly.

The dark bat is limp … and quite dead.

Brishen blinks a few times, finally becoming aware that she's on the ship. Her lower lip trembles a little as she looks around. It had been such a beautiful day.

Beyond the ship, several flying warriors can be seen approaching, but before it can be discerned just which side they represent, the view is cut off abruptly by a vague, shadowy haze that replaces the view of morning on the docks. The air positively tingles with the energy of a potent spell … and it doesn't take long to notice a cluster of Eeee mages congregating at the aft end of the ship.

Some of the Savanites lift the fallen bat away from the wagon with as much reverence as they can muster. An older bat who appears to be of a mottled pattern of gray and white to Brishen's eyes touches the latter on the shoulder. "You've done well," he squeaks in Eeee. "Treachery almost destroyed our nation."

{Destroyed?} Almost unwillingly, Brishen's thoughts turn to Ashdod. Home. And her voice follows her thoughts, "Destroyed?" In Eeee, her accent is so painfully Ashdodian, there's no question of where she's really from.

"He is dead," another Eeee reports, this one white as a clean sheet, even to his head hair and his garb, stating the obvious about Brishen's companion. "Nienne will be well remembered." He looks to Brishen. "But who is this?"

The older, mottled bat looks to Brishen as well. "Yes, destroyed. Are you perhaps not fully aware of the import of what has happened here?" His accent is Ashdodian as well, with a military keen, though he is obviously past the age of what would normally be active duty. A similar accent can be detected in the voice of the white bat as well, though perhaps from the plains.

"I'm Brishen." She swallows, looking around, and squeaks, "Can someone please tell me what's going on?"

The older bat exchanges glances with the white one, and then says, "I am General Yar, in command of the 'Gleaming Dagger'… " The ship doesn't gleam all that much. "And you have quite possibly saved the life of the Sabaoth. Since Nienne is gone, and you delivered the cargo, the Sabaoth will expect to see you in his stead." This comment draws a dubious look from the white bat, but the older one seems quite certain about his words.

"You're a hero," the white bat quietly adds.

Brishen slumps a little in her seat, her voice a very high squeak, "A hero?"

… to be continued …

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GMed by Greywolf

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