Peaceful. Mouse stood in the crow’s nest of a large Varian ship, a cool breeze ruffling his hair gently. The slight breeze flapped the sail gently and the boards of the boat creaked. They had dropped anchor for the night, since Thorin was in need of a rest and none of the rest of the group knew how to sail. Shay’d had previous experience on a boat but said she was no sailor. Amber on the other hand had never even seen the sea before, let alone a boat. On first sight of the port, Amber had promptly chosen the largest of the battle ships. She had sought help from her blood hawk, Hebog, but Hebog had lived in the forest his entire life and thus knew very little. Yep, a sailor, Amber was definitely not. However Amber had been set on taking the ship although the rest of the group had already been given a smaller, more manoeuvrable ship. A mysterious, flying man ended up dragging her onto the correct ship, much to her annoyance.
We were about to leave her behind, Mouse thought. She’s lucky she’d not in the dungeons right now. I think attempted hijacking of a ship is a serious offence.
Mouse was on watch till morning, although there wasn’t much to see. The view consisted of expanse of deep blue sea in all directions and several sea birds looking for their next fishy meal. The stars were beautiful however and when the moon wasn’t behind clouds, its reflection shimmered on the water.
A mermaid would be a welcomed addition to the horizon, Mouse mused, or perhaps Twilight Sparkle. Although that would be a long swim for him if he swam from any land.
Since meeting Twilight Sparkle, Mouse and his party had returned to Varian. As required, they had reported to the King and explained the situation. The Blights were dealt with, for now, and they believed the reason behind the attacks had left.
The King had promptly given them a new mission and that required travel via ship, thus explaining Mouse’s current situation. King Varian had been friendly, though a little strange. He had even been thoughtful enough to offer Mouse a seat in his lap while they looked over a map. Well at least Mouse had resorted to this answer, since there was no way the King could mistake him for a child…right?
Light footsteps alerted Mouse to the presence of someone on the deck. Mouse peeked over and spotted Shay’d Wrae’th stretching her muscles below.
She’s up early, Mouse thought with a yawn. Perhaps she’s going to prepare breakfast. I’d order bacon and eggs, but unfortunately we have no pig…well except for Amber…
Mouse chuckled at his own joke and lent on the rail that circled the crow’s nest. He was yet to see Amber transform into a pig, in the animal sense, but perhaps she’d be willing to sacrifice her life in order to give the group a nice breakfast. Mouse chuckled again and he noticed Shay’d glanced curiously up at him. The sun was only just beginning to spread its rays across the gentle waves and the air was in desperate need of its warmth.
Shay’d began talking quietly to a bird that sat on the side of the boat and Mouse watched curiously. The bird seemed to nod in agreement with the eladrin and tweeted almost as if holding a conversation. A small metal clasp circled the bird’s foot and a tiny seal was etched into the clasp. Luckily Mouse had good eyesight and he realized it was the seal of King Varian.
While in Varian, the group had discovered that Shay’d was in fact the Kings personal tracker. There were whispers that she was an exile from the Druidic Kingdom, a country set above Ryllia. However, she hadn’t confirmed that information. As far as Mouse was concerned, she had merely been sent to check on how the group were dealing with the Blights.
A messenger bird could have done just as good a job, Mouse thought, although perhaps it couldn’t have ripped out the throat of a Treant.
The bird flapped past Mouse’s head, distracting him from his thoughts. Mouse liked being in the crow’s nest, it was as if he’d had a massive growth spurt. He was currently the tallest of the group, he’d punch anyone who said otherwise. Mouse hadn’t left his favourite spot on the ship the entire trip so far. It was quite an achievement, but he had food and water in his ‘bag of holding’. Mouse had set up his hammock which made for very comfortable sleeping conditions. Even when Mouse felt the call of nature then he’d… well let’s just say a ‘heads-up’ was required for those below.
The rest of the party finally began emerging from below deck and Mouse relaxed slightly. With everyone awake, everyone was technically on watch. Mouse pulled a pack of rations from his bag of holding and began chewing on a piece of beef jerky. It was tough and originally dry however the moisture in his mouth soon softened the meat. It was hardly bacon and eggs but it was an alright breakfast.
The ship was soon alive with conversation and everyone eating their array of rations. Thorin pulled up the anchor and ordered for the sails to be let down. The sails filled out and the ship began to skim forward across the waves. The bow cut through the water, leaving a small, frothy white trail behind them.
Small fish jumped out of the waves, their mouth’s opening and closing like they were shocked to find themselves flying. Schools of tiny silver fish, reflected the sun rays from just underneath the waves. A sea hawk dived into the waves and emerged with one of the silver fish in its beak. Hebog was doing the same as the sea hawk and deposited several fish on the deck of the boat before diving for another. Amber clapped in encouragement every time Hebog succeeded.
As if only just sensing the danger of the hawks hovering above, the fish suddenly scattered. Mouse looked towards the horizon on the port side of the ship and spotted several shapes moving just underneath the water. Several fins appeared above the water and skimmed the top.
Have some dolphins come to visit? Mouse mused. Well unless they are sharks, in which case we are fine because none of us are swimming. Also I happen to be the furthest one from the water.
Mouse frowned however when he noticed the waves being cut slightly behind the animals. It was as if something was being dragged behind them through the water. It was like a bow wave was being created behind the fins and Mouse straightened his stance.
“Strange anomaly to the port side,” Mouse called down to the rest of the party.
Mouse picked up his bow from near the hammock and hooked an arrow onto the string. Hebog let out a screech and swooped down to where Amber was standing.
“Hebog say’s something smells fishy,” Amber translated.
“It couldn’t possibly be all that fish he just caught?” John asked sarcastically.
“No, there is something with a humanoid scent coming from just behind the sharks,” Amber replied.
Perhaps the sharks are just having a problem with flatulence, and their last meal was on humanoids.
Mouse was about to grin, but now was hardly the time to laugh at one’s own joke. The sharks came in a direct line towards the ship and several wooden skiffs slowly appeared. The sharks had harnesses on them that were brought back to the skiff where several figures stood. The figures were one of the strangest races Mouse had ever seen and it took him a moment to study their physical attributes.
Their skin was grey with the slightest blue tinge to it and it was gleaming as if they had just emerged from the water. Long matted locks of dark green hair looked almost like seaweed on the tops of their heads. Barnacles clung to the skin on one shoulder almost like shoulder armour and tiny fins lay flat on their forearms. Their hands were webbed and gills lay closed on either side of their throats. One of the creatures yelled, his open mouth revealing rows of jagged, pointy teeth.
To the right of the creatures on the skiffs, a huge black shadow began to surface. It took only a moment to realize that it was a killer whale its large head emerging from the waves. Riding heroically on the back of the orca was a bearded creature that looked older than those in the skiffs. An icy ball, glowing blue and white replaced one of his eyeballs and he was smiling slyly.
“What the hell are these guys?” John asked, staring at the approaching skiffs.
“Sea pirates,” Shay’d answered, simply. “I’ve encountered them once before and let’s just say we’re in for a good fight. As for me, I think it’s time for a doggy paddle. We should try and kill them before they reach the ship.”
Shay’d rolled her shoulders and fell forwards as if to move onto all fours. As she did so she transformed into a dire wolf and leapt over the side of the ship with one stride.
“Those water creatures look like their under duress and are tethered to the boats forcefully. I will transform into one of them and try to help these poor creatures,” Amber stated, lifting one leg over the railing.
Within moments of jumping into the water, Amber transformed into a shark. Thorin was at the helm and grabbed hold of one of the ballista that was stationed there. He aimed at one of the ships with the help of Sprout, a tree blight who had become John’s pet. The ballista bolt nicked the side of one of the skiffs but unfortunately it didn’t deal any major damage.
Mouse was about to aim and fire a set of arrows towards the creatures, when something on the starboard side distracted him. He turned his eyes just in time to see a shark burst out of the waves close the boat. A tall, muscled sea pirate was riding crouched on its back and as it reached the top of its jump, the pirate leapt forwards. He held a lance in his hand, which had a sharp blade that glinted in the light. The pirate brought the lance down in a quick motion and, before Mouse could call a warning, John was hit. John cursed as a gash opened on the back of his right shoulder and he spun around to face the surprise attacker. Dyl fired off a ballista bolt and then spun to help John. The sea pirate dropped the lance to the boards and drew a large serrated scimitar from a strap on his back.
Mouse shook his head and drew his bow string back. He turned back to the port side, and brought the bow up. He took a moment to aim and let the arrow fly. One of the pirates on the skiff grabbed at his chest and toppled backwards into the water. Dark red blood leaked into the water around the body and Mouse synched another arrow onto the string.
If there’s going to be sudden circus attacks like that, I’m best off up here, Mouse though, aiming at another pirate. Although I have to make sure I don’t hit Amber in the midst of the fight.
At that moment, Amber leapt out of the water her shark jaws opening up and snapping down on the older pirate. The old pirate lifted a staff up to block the attack and Amber submerged back under the water.
I never knew sharks jumped out of the water so much, obviously today is an exception.
Mouse lifted his bow once more and an arrow when whizzing through the air, this one hitting a pirate in the shoulder.
“Find that archer! I can’t see them anywhere,” yelled one of the pirates in annoyance.
Mouse grinned. Perhaps his new home in the crow’s nest was more helpful than he had thought.
More Mouse Fan art by me/ShadowSummit