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The Seven Seas of Rhye
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August 2006
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A Headin', Cap'n! A Headin'!

The Magpie is a medium sized vessel, capable of being manned by as little as seven men. Almost entirely black, its surface is decorated with odd patterns of green, red, blue, careful designs that- to a mind that can conceive abstract art- might actually look like a murder of magpies. Otherwise, it's a well kept ship. Entirely in tact, other than the fact that it possesses on masthead. What was once there, is now missing- obviously cut off by some sharp instrument- probably an axe.

Crow-Eye Jack leans on the edge of this very spot, overlooking the docks with a serious face. Pip sits next to his hand, silent and vigilant. It's dusk- the sun has begun to fall- a slow descent, but a descent nonetheless- and the true mariners are beginning to come out of their temporary abodes on this haven for outlaws and terrorists alike.

Jack's only been awake for an hour himself. He'd been sitting- making plans for the first voyage after the crew was recruited, when his hand had fallen asleep. And then his leg; and shoulder; and finally, he had simply surrendered to slumber. Jack's not one to ignore his body parts when they come a-calling, after all.

Being of a literate background, Viv has just completed a neatly written list of those they've found so far, and is looking it over, all business at the moment, as she comes up to the deck from below and looks about for Jack, then approaches him. "Cap'n, I made us a pretty little list, so as to know that we'll never be blessed with stowaways later," she says.

Living outside of civilization doesn't mean she won't always aim to keep a ship in civilized and orderly condition.

Jack doesn't answer for a long moment- long enough to make anyone adressing him that he's completely gone, as far as mental activity is concerned. And just when the moment would come in which a person might repeat themselves, he perks, turns, and smiles at his first mate, stroking his goatee a little.

A few dandy steps later, he finds himself behind her, looking over her shoulder at the list she's made. "Very thorough. Never seen one 'fore, but very thorough! I like it! We'll keep it!" He nods and places a hand on Viv's shoulder, his other pointing at the docks- and then turning to point at the sea. "Can't wait t'get off this rock," he finally says, dropping both hands. "I think 'm gettin' landsick."

"Landsick, aye, I know the feeling." Secretly, Viv's pleased to have gotten approval for even just this simple practice of listmaking. That used to go over just as well as her Code. She'll broach that with him later. "Have a destination in mind?"

"Blackstone. I got me some business there tha' I should take care of 'fore beginnin' any true excursions. Bloke owes me quite a penny- an' it'll help us help ourselves if we've some type o' currency to get 'round with. Least 'till we can map the new shippin' routes."

"How stubborn is this bloke? Gives in to a smile and wink, or gives in to a cutlass blade?"

Crow-Eye smiles. "Both, depending on who's it from- but first an' foremost, he gives in t'money. But seein' as how we'll be tryin' t'get money from'im... one o' th'other options might be th'most viable."

While not one to make a big show of any weapon, and having kept it only peeking out from the folds of her cloak while on land, now that she's on board ship, Viv unsheathes her trusty sabre halfway and takes a look at its well-used blade. "I'll have to sharpen this, then." She pauses for a moment. "How many men've you killed, cap'n?"

That gets Jack thinking. He looks at the blade, and then down at his waist, at his own cutlass. "Hmm," he murmurs, tapping his chin. "Countin' explosions an' cannonfire, or just hand-to-hand?"

"Countin' anything where it was your choice to do it." Best not make confrontations that aren't needed, but best still not to leave land without settling this, Viv thinks, having postponed the matter for months on other vessels. The Code it is.

"Two." He doesn't even hesitate to answer. It was either two, or one.

So few! At least... compared to others under whom she's served. But of course, to Viv this does him credit. She smiles faintly. "And they had it in their power to kill you, I take it." That barely comes out as a question at all.

"Oh, sure. First was the captain o' a navy vessel. Slew him meself. Second was a poor bloke who couldn't keep his balance on the crow's nest when we shot a hole in'is ship's deck. Guess someone was bound t'die from it- just thought it'd be more spectacular than a cracked neck from a fall. Shame, really," he says, shaking his head as if pitying the man. "Boy should've prob'ly stayed on land."

Viv nods, slowly. "All right." After another pause, she says, deadly serious. "I'm not the captain here, you are, so most near anything you tell me to do, I'll do it. But you'd best know before we weigh anchor: I'm gone if I'm told to kill anyone who can't fight back, if I'm expected to stand idly by while a woman gets abused, or if the ship starts to fly any colors but its own.

"Slay whomever ye please, I'll not stand in your way or in any of the crew's. This is just the rule for me, meself, and I. The rule that, as you and any seadog oughta know, is more important than anyone else's."

He stares at her for a minute, and then smirks. "Ev'ryone gets a fair fight on the Magpie, Miss Greenbird- and no one abuses women 'round here. We're pirates," he says, about as serious as she is. "... not the navy." Finally, he reaches down to the floor- inside a bucket's a piece of cloth, which he pulls out and spreads before her. It's a flag- black, with a white corvid's skull painted on it. "And these are our colors. Anyone that don't like it gets tossed overboard... we give'em a knife t'fight off th'sharks, o'course."

The tension— at least, her tension— is broken with an easy laugh. "Oh, the navy... Lovely flag there. I have a feeling this is going to be a profitable venture indeed, cap'n." She stretches, muscles aching to be used again, as she looks out at the horizon. "A good sky... but I think it might be even better in a day or two. We've got enough hands to crew this beauty of yours, but we might find more."

Jack nods and tucks the flag away again and leans on the side of the deck, scratching his throat slightly. "Aye. We'll wait a bit more, get s'more able hands an' then ship off. No use settin' out with th'just an' necessary. 's never good for morale- an' it's damn exhausting t'boot."

In the dimming light, Viv finally catches sight of the black bird by Jack's hand. "Oh. Is that fella a friend of yours?" She smiles at it a little, cocking her head and trying to look it in the eye. Zenith's flitting about in the rigging but it's odd that he's taken no notice. Then again, he may only be used to brightly colored birds like himself.

He looks over his shoulder and smiles, lifting one finger. Pip immediately reacts, pecking at it softly. "Aye- 's Pip. He's been with me for a long, long time- old fogey that he is. With any luck, he'll be within me for a long time still." Pip is a lithe, beautiful raven, his eyes as black as his feathers. He's silent though. Hasn't so much as peeped for weeks.

"Is he all right?" Viv squints at Pip with concern. She likes the name. Pip, short and quick like Viv. But there's something off with him, something sad perhaps, just as she catches something sad from Jack. To her mind, it must be what Quickshanks did, so she doesn't ask. Besides, it's good form to look after the captain's health, but not before we've set sail.

"Same's wrong with the rest of this ship. Stink o' death an' treason. Pip liked m'crew. Eve'ryone liked Pip. They all fed'im, an' he kept his eye out fer anythin' out o' th'norm." He shrugs a little, petting the raven's head. "Maybe after a while, he'll be back to his old self. For now, 'm just glad he made it- like I did."

"Y'know, I have a fair good idea of where that Kelly Quickshanks makes port this time of the year. After we visit this debtor of yours, we could pay him a visit as well." Not that I know what might come of that, or know what I'd like.

He smirks at her for a moment, and then shakes his head. "Sorely tempted, luv, but I think it'd be best t'get th'men's trust, show'em we're competent- fore we set for that type o' goal," he says, chuckling softly as he starts to walk towards one of the baskets full of fruits brought on board earlier. He picks a peach, and looks back at her with a grin. "We'll get t'him soon 'nough. Patience. Virtue. All tha'." He bites the peach, and its sweet nectar rolls down his cheeks. "Want t'go fer a drink?"

"I hear tell of a barkeep named Tinie," says Viv with a wink of one bright green eye. "In fact, heard that an odd pair not unlike ourselves were found there last night drinkin' like they were friends. Let's see if we can find 'em."

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