Jan. 30. Jarik sets sail for Abu Dhabi on the Lalee-Papu.
(Airship) (Jarik) (Rephidim) (Sword Gone Missing) (Wynona)
The Lalee Papu
The side of the undercarriage of this weatherbeaten airship reads "Lalee Papu", if you can decipher it between all the bits of peeling paint. The vast airbag that billows above is a multicolored wonder of patches and seams, with sails to match. The outer railing on the deck is broken in places, though boards have been hastily nailed up to prevent accidents. The whole ship, however, looks like an accident just waiting to happen.

The Lalee-Papu waits, docked at the skyport of Rephidim, sails furled, sliding back and forth within the slack of the securing ropes.

The last of the cargo is being loaded aboard, while the regular crew makes the usual preparations for setting out to the transparent "seas" beyond.

The newest crewmember stands on the dock. He thinks. o O { You have got to be kidding. }

A white bat shuffles by, snuffling, wiping at her nose with a handkerchief. "Aaaa – GNRGH! SNPH! *HONK!* Ohhhhh. Gah." She shakes her head and walks along.

A young poodle noble walks eagerly along the edge of the deck, his whole poise about him betraying that if he weren't exercising self-restraint, he would be running amok like a little kid. He keeps peeking over the edge, reassuring himself that he's indeed in the air, then looks back at the crew, puffing up his chest, taking a deep breath, smiling, and moving on.

Jarik is holding his backpack and staring at the ship… He looks over at the Lieutenant, "This is my new assignment?"

The wolf looks back. "Yes. The Lalee Papu. Bound for Abu Dhabi. Don't worry. You aren't likely to run into any trouble. You'll have an easy time as assistant ship's medic."

Jarik looks disbelievingly at the lieutenant…

"Get situated, and fast. They're already late for departure. Not that it matters all that terribly… " the Lieutenant grumbles. He glances back at Jarik, furrowing his brow.

Jarik glances around the dock… He thought that Lady Azhtar might have at least shown up to wave goodbye. He shrugs to himself and his attention returns to the lieutenant. "It was nice knowing you, sir." With that, he walks up the gangplank and onboard this 'ship'.

"Captain Blackard is an experienced, wise old sky-wolf. And this is an experienced old ship. But it's sturdy. It'll hold you up just fine," the wolf says as Jarik leaves. He turns and takes off.

Jarik reaches the decaying deck of the ship and looks around. "Sir… er, Ensign Jarik Fireclaw reporting."

A grizzled, frazzle-furred pepper-grey wolf looks back at Jarik, one eye squinting almost shut. "Aha. About time yer arrived. Git yer tail on board, eh?"

Jarik bows to the wolf, "If you could direct me to my quarters I'll store my gear. Then, I could use a briefing of my duties here if possible, sir."

The wolf captain growls, "Report to Doc Halla belowdecks. Ye be wit' him. A fox jes' like you, only older 'n uglier."

A red-shelled Vykarin clip-clops by, carrying a crate on its back.

Jarik bows again, "Yes sir." The fox glances around for the hatch below… Once he locates it he heads to the lower levels and looks for the 'Doc' Halla

Eventually the ensign fox finds his way to the "Doc"'s quarters, a cramped space with barely enough room for a cot for one patient, let alone the shelf nailed to the upper portion of the wall, the tiny desk, and a place to sit … or stand.

Jarik raps gently on the doorframe, "Hello… ?"

The door pops open. A gray-furred fox, still sitting at his desk (but able to reach the door from there) looks up at Jarik through spectacles that must be almost an inch thick. "Hello there, young man! What can I do for you?"

Jarik smiles, "Sir… gah… Ensign Jarik Fireclaw. I'm your new assistant."

Jarik offers a hand to the fox.

The floor jostles and lurches. "Uh oh!" the gray fox says, reaching for a bottle to keep it from falling over. "Please! Sit down! Sit down somewhere, quick!"

Jarik looks around… aha! He 'plops' down on the cot.

Bottles on shelves ring dangerously, but they are "fenced in" by restraints, and nothing topples to the floor, though there are several stains on the wood that hint that this danger might have been learned of the hard way some time long ago.

"Oh dear!" the old fox cries out, as the pile of forms he was trying to get a head start on start shifting this way and that, a few of them scattering. At last, the lurching stops … and the Lalee Papu is off and away.

Jarik's stomach sinks, "Is this thing safe?"

"Of course not!", the old fox answers, as he stoops over to retrieve his papers. "That's why we're here!"

Jarik chuckles to himself. "So… how many patients do you see? How bad are injuries?"

The old fox manages to tame the mess to a minor state of disorder. "Well, not as many as on most ships. Mostly just air sickness, you know. And allergies. That poor bat." He shakes his head. "I really think she's in the wrong line of work."

Jarik says, "I must warn you, I'm more of a combat medic in training… The bat? She's a mage, I think. I ran into her in the bazaar… "

Jarik says, "Her sneezing really affects her spells." *wrinkled nose*

The old fox nods. "Yes. That's Wynona. She's a Journeywoman from the Sphere of Air. Not too many ships have their own Air Mage, you know – so I hope that impresses upon you that you're on a fairly important assignment!"

Jarik looks surprised, "Important? I don't know if you know this… the reason I'm here was because I upset an Arch Inquisitor."

The gray fox raises an eyebrow. "And you go around bragging about this? Not a good idea, young man."

Jarik says, "Bragging? No… I just don't see why I would be put on a ship that's important… Oh well."

Jarik says, "Where are my quarters? I need to store my gear."

The old fox nods. "The bunks are down the hall, and through the open doorway. Can't miss them. Just be sure that if there's anybody big nearby, you ask first before you settle down. And don't get too close to the Vykarin. He snores really loudly, I hear. In fact, I can hear him all the way down to my office."

Jarik nods to the fox, "I'll be right back." He stands and exits the office. After a minute, he locates the bunks and finds a suitable, vancant, bunk. Within five minutes he's put his pack away and placed his cloak on his bed. The fox then returns to the doctor's office.

The gray fox breaks into a long list of daily chores for Jarik to perform, shows him where to find everything, and everything not to mess with. And proper forms to handle, forms to leave to Halla, various notes to consult regarding special things to do for certain difficult patients, warnings about which ones are hypochondriacs, and where to find the placebos…

Jarik rolls up his sleeves, revealing his ebony forearms. "I'll endeavor to do well, sir. May I ask a couple questions… ?"

The gray fox smiles. "Why, certainly! I'm no inquisitor, after all."

Jarik nods, "What is this ship's mission, sir?"

"To carry some cargo to Abu Dhabi," the gray fox answers. "I'm not exactly sure what we're carrying, actually, but I know it's not a terribly heavy load."

Jarik nods… "Is it anywhere near Elamoore? I'm an exile… I don't know this land."

"Elamoore?" the gray fox puzzles. "No, not in the least. That will be a long way from any of our stops."

Jarik sighs, "I see."

Jarik's ears droop a bit, "You see, I had a very valuable object stolen from me… I tracked it to a merchant who's taking it to Elamoore… I was hoping… oh well.

The old fox shakes his head. "Sorry, and I don't think you'll be persuading Captain Blackard to make a detour over there. That would be a wee bit out of the way."

Jarik nods, "I understand… So, is there anything you need me to do right now, sir?"

The gray fox shakes his head and smiles. "Not a thing! You can have yourself a walk about the ship and get yourself familiarized, I say. And consider that your duty – You'll have to know your way around, after all, and best to start now."

Jarik smiles and nods, "Will do, sir."

"And don't worry a bit. Our journey to Abu Dhabi should be only six days over, plus about four days' stop there, and six days back. Barring any unforeseen stops. So hopefully you can catch up with whatever it was that was stolen," the fox nods, smiling helpfully.

The old fox frowns. "Uhm. No, I must correct myself. Actually, eight days each way. I forget. Rephidim keeps MOVING, you see."

Jarik bows to the fox, "It was a pleasure to have met you." Jarik nods, "It was an antique that was a gift to me. I would like a chance to get it back.

Jarik blinks, "Moving?"

The doctor smiles and nods. "Yes, that took me some getting used to, so long ago. Started my career on the ground, you see. Where things stay in place. But you'll get used to it."

Jarik nods to the fox and leaves him to his paperwork. Jarik returns to the deck above and decides to introduce himself to the crewmembers.

Up on the deck, most of the crew is busily tending to the regular work of keeping the airship moving and on course. This involves a lot of readjusting of the sails, and some sort of mechanisms that govern its altitude, though they are inscrutible to the paladin.

Jarik looks around for the white bat…

Toward the fore, a young adult poodle – the same one Jarik saw before – is standing proudly at the wheel. Suddenly, he grabs the handles and spins it rapidly to the right. Then he stops it, and spins it back to the left.

Jarik blinks and walks over to the poodle, "Hello… are you sure it's safe to do that?"

"ACHOO!" *SNIFF!* Someone snuffles nearby, walking past.

The poodle looks offended. "Safe? Am I sure it's SAFE?!? What's your name?" the poodle demands angrily.

Jarik smiles, "Ensign JArik Fireclaw, knight of the world of Crydon and the new medical assistant here."

"Oh! Well well well, Mister KNIGHT. I suppose you think that makes you someone special, eh? Well, I happen to be Kazhir Doromanov, son of Kazhal Doromanov, who I don't have to tell you is the owner of the LARGEST fleet of airships ever to span the sky!"

The poodle snorts, crossing his arms, letting the wheel spin freely.

Jarik says, "No, titles mean very little to me. Just, please keep a handle on the wheel. I don't want to have to patch anyone up if they get hurt because you decided to have fun, okay?"

"Titles mean very little to you, eh? Sort of like calling yourself a knight, eh? HA!" The poodle laughs, and grabs the wheel, giving it a good spin in the opposite direction.

Jarik chuckles, "It's a person's deeds that earn respect, not a name. I live up to the meaning of my title. I expect you to do the same." He turns and walks away, looking for the white bat again.

The poodle glowers, muttering under his breath, "Nobody does that to me. NOBODY." With that, he turns forward, a stern look on his face, stubbornly steering the wheel this way and that. It appears to have no effect whatsoever on the ship's bearing.

"ACHOO!" The bat proves to be not all that difficult to find just by following the high-pitched sneezes. At last, there is the bat, snuffling, wiping at her nose again. "Dah! By dose!"

Jarik thinks. o O { Now, where did the mage go… Aha. }

Jarik smiles, "Good day M'lady… I'm new to this ship. Ensign Jarik Fireclaw, Knight of the world of Crydon and the new medical assitant onboard."

The bat turns around, wipes at her nose, and then extends a hand to Jarik. "Bydoda ob da Bere ob Dair, Durneywubba bor da Babee Babu." She manages a smile.

*WACHOO!* "Dorry."

Jarik takes the offered hand and shakes it, "Also, I wanted to thank you for how you handled 'Honest' Makah."

"Dank be? Oh Du ber adda badaar! Aha. Du be DAT Darik!" she adds with a nod.

Jarik hms, "Maybe you should go talk to Doc Halla about your allergies. My knowlege of plantlife here is still weak and my ability to heal with magic is way too erratic on this world."

Jarik nods, "Yes, I'm that Jarik." He smiles.

The bat frowns. "Doc Habba dudda hep wid my daddergies. I wud hoping da dew bedic wud hep."

Jarik rubs his chin and thinks, "If I could stablize my magic I could prolly reduce the severity of your allergies. But, that's not likely… Do you know what you are allergic to?"

The bat sneezes again, then wipes again. "Ebbydingh."

"I ding ab abberdic do fogses," the bat frowns.

Jarik blinks, "Foxes?"

"Doh, du are fom da Gollege Eboteriga too? Wha Bere are du fom?"

*WACHOO!* "Dorry." The bat wipes again.

"Gin I dee dur Guilb Ribg?" the bat sniffles.

Jarik shakes his head, "No… I'm not. I arrived here about a month ago. I had an accident with a gate." He winces, "Back on Crydon I could have easily helped your condition. Here though, my ability is very erratic and painful to use." He sighs.

"Oh," the bat says. "Dure." The bat frowns, and begins to walk away. "Dice dalging du du."

Jarik raises a hand, "Wait? Whats wrong?"

Jarik's ears droop, "You don't believe me do you?"

The bat stops. "Du cabba dake a hibt, huh? Du du minb ib I go be mibberable somebere elbe? Or du du wab be du sbeeze ob du dome bor? Ab do. I dod bedeeb du."

The bat says, "GAH," shaking her head, as her eyes run.

Jarik digs around in his pouch and pulls out a couple leaves. "Here, these are just mint leaves, I use them when I travel. They help keep your nose clear." He offers them to the bat.

The bat looks at Jarik warily. "Du dure?"

Jarik smiles, "It's worked for me when I had to travel during winter. Not perfect but my nose was less clogged. It's worth a try anyway."

The bat nods, and takes the leaves. "Dhabk du." She turns and continues walking away. *WACHOO!*

Jarik says, "See you later, Wynona."

The ship continues sailing along, without event. The skies are clear, the wind is favorable, and the lands of Sinai drift by far below.

Jarik stands close to the railing, watching the land pass beneath the ship.

A grizzled wolf (in fact, all the wolves here look grizzled) with several scars showing through the fur of his shoulders walks up next to Jarik. "Hey, new kid. How do you like the view from up here, huh?"

Jarik smiles, "It's pleasant. Rather relaxing, really." He chuckles, "Better than walking or riding, anyway." The fox offers a hand, "Jarik Fireclaw."

"And that's all?" the wolf grins. So does the Vykarin next to him. Maybe the Vartan is smiling, too, but he's got a beak, so it's hard to tell.

The red-shelled Vykarin pokes at Jarik. "I rurd ru rur a right!"

"You must be very brave," the hippogryph Vartan comments in a dull, dry voice.

Jarik says, "Hm? Oh, yes, I'm a knight of Crydon, my home… "

Jarik tilts his head, "Actually, most people call me crazy."

The wolf turns to grin at the others.

Abruptly, all three of them, plus a couple of extra hands (where did they come from?) grab Jarik and lift him up … and over the side. "Welcome to the Lalee-Papu!" the wolf shouts, as the fox goes flying overboard!

Jarik aaaaiiiiiiiiiiiiis!

Jarik looks around rapidly for anything to grap onto!!!

The fox's eyes are filled with the vast expanse of Sinai drifting by before … so far below.

Then … ***SPROINNNNNNNNG!*** The fox's stomach jockeys for a position with his throat as he finds his descent suddenly halting … and reversing.

Jarik thinks. o O { Well, that was a short trip… eep? }

Back up … then down again … There is a sharp tug on the fox's ankles and the base of his tail. *BOING!*

Jarik tries to look up at his legs and tail, "What the… "

Somewhere high above, there are several shouts and hoots and hollers. And laughter.

Slowly, the fox begins to bounce slowly back upward, swinging back and forth.

Jarik chuckles to himself, "I see, an initiation… scare the @#$$@ out of the new guy."

At last, the wooden sides of the ship's undercarriage slide by. And then the fox is hauled back onto the deck, amidst several laughing crewmen. The fox gets slapped on his back several times.

The Vykarin sniff sniffs at the fox. He looks to the others and nods. "Ry."

Jarik looks around at the crew and laughs with them, "You… what?"

The wolf laughs. "Oooo! Hey, buddy, I'm impressed! You really ARE brave!"

Jarik tilts his head, "Hm?"

The Vartan calmly and dispassionately removes the cords from the fox's ankle and tail. "Don't worry. If they didn't hold, we had a Plan B," he adds.

Jarik looks at the Vykarin then the wolf, "What did you mean?"

The other crewmembers get back to their positions. The wolf remains to clap the fox on the shoulder. "Hey, you held up well. I respect that. But a word of advice. Watch your mouth, kid. Don't go spouting off. It isn't just YOU who will get in trouble. If you get the 'powers that be' mad, we all get the kick, ya understand? And if it kicks too hard, we'll pass it along."

Jarik nods, "Understood."

The wolf pats the fox on the shoulder again. "Good kid." With that, he trots off, joining the others. The Vykarin has trotted off as well, leaving the fox alone at this part of the deck.

But not alone for long. A white bat walks up. "Darik?"

Jarik turns to the bat, "Yes, Lady Wynona?"

The bat has two green rolled-up tubes of leaves stuck in her nostrils. "I dond dink debe are borkink!" She points at her nose.

Jarik tries NOT to laugh, "Um, Wynona, you're supposed to chew them."

The bat shudders. "UGH! Do bey Ib godda CHEW dem dow!"

Jarik chuckles, "Well, wash them first, but yes."

Wynona abruptly yanks out the leaves, shudders and "Ewwwws!", and stuffs them in a handkerchief. She keeps shuddering every few seconds, walking away at a fast pace. "Ewwwwww!"

Jarik waves, "I'm sorry Wynona… I don't have much of those with me… "

Jarik checks to make sure he didn't lose anything in the little 'bungee' assault.

Amazingly, it's all still there. Whew! Even the letter from Azhtar, safely tucked away.

Jarik looks around the ship and the crew. Slowly, a smile creeps onto his thin black lips. He thinks. o O { Okay, maybe this ship isn't so bad after all. I think I'm going to like it here. } He sees the bat and can't help but fall over laughing. "This should be fun." He says between laughs.

Yes, Jarik is well-received belowdecks when it's time for grub, and receives several more claps on the back and comradely guffaws. He even gets a few stories of others' experiences with the incident … plus a tale from "Flatface", who claims that he actually survived a fall all the way down, prompting more guffaws.

And, at last, it's time for Jarik to turn in for the night … only his belongings have been roughly moved. There is a big hairy smelly red-shelled Vykarin taking up that space. And Jarik's spot is now in the bunk right above. Ah well…



GMed by Greywolf

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