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Unsafe Seas

eleneimich Mar 30th, 2014 63 Never
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  1. ----
  3. Boundless oceans, rising sun
  4. Careless winds across my fur
  5. Through the storms or brief lulls,
  6. It calls to me, my second home.
  8. Colour began to fade from the skies as the sun steadily sunk beneath the far-off horizons, fleeing from the encroaching cover of night. A grey Rajamala stood before the quarterdeck railings upon a slow-moving seastrider, its sails flapping softly in the light sea breeze. Her hands held the railings firmly as her bright, amethyst eyes restlessly scanned the endless, moonlit blue scenery. The sound of crashing waves against the ship's hull had an oddly soothing effect upon the Rajamala and where tension seized her body previously, she now seemed relaxed and at ease.
  10. Her crewmates were an unruly bunch, but when they're ordered to do their work, they put their backs into it. Their paddles sliced through the water surface silently, and the seastrider surged forward, driven by both man and wind, creating a pattern of foam in its wake. It was nearly daybreak when they cleared the worst of the turbulent chops. The ship rocked gently upon the water as the course of the vessel was adjusted slightly to bring her out onto the open oceans. They were projected to reach the harbour of Thraasi in less than an hour and the prospect of a much-needed shore leave, especially after four days' worth of patrolling, seemed to spur the tired crewmates on as the day wore on.
  12. As the sun slowly began its ascent along its daily trajectory, the faint specks of light along the horizon to the east began to extinguish themselves. Only then did the silent, grey Rajamala finally shake herself free from her reverie, her ears twitching slightly atop her head. Her awakening was clearly not because of the lights that flickered off as dawn arrived, however. The true cause became evident as she leaned over the railing suddenly and twisted her head sharply to face the south just as her first mate yelled out, "Unknown ship sighted south at extreme range!"
  14. Indeed, the appearance of a black spot upon the seas to the distant south was not a mirage at all; a ship - an unexpected plaything - had been spotted. Reshena, Navarch of the Black Isles reached into her belongings and, drawing out a silver spyglass, raised it up to an eye for a clearer assessment of the other vessel. The next moment, she lowered the spyglass and stalked below deck without a backwards glance. It did not need to be said. The crew knew instinctively that she was to be given authoritative command over all further movements from then on.
  16. ----
  18. The flag of the Meropian Trading Company attached to the pole upon the quarterdeck of the "Revenge" flapped gaily in the ocean breeze as the nondescript seastrider sailed into view of the harbour of Thraasi. The sun had crested the skies and now shone fiercely over the endless blue expanse of water. A neatly groomed Dwarf hummed cheerfully to himself as the landscape of the still-distant port village eventually came into sight.
  20. It had been a long journey.
  22. His trade routes usually took him around Sapience, through calm seas and tempestuous weather, to ports both quiet and rowdy. His last port-of-call had been Zanzibaar, where he offloaded a few crates of terracotta from Orilla in exchange for a pre-ordered shipment of exotic tea, bound for the Lucretian Athenaeum. There had almost been a brawl between his first officer and the drunken deckhand who was tasked with the responsibility of loading his tea shipment into the cargo hold. He'd been forced to break it apart before it devolved into fisticuffs. He cast off immediately without delay once the goods were securely on board. He didn't want to invite any more trouble.
  24. The sailing was smooth so far. The winds were in his favour and it filled up Zidayr's spirit-blessed sails generously, further boosting the speed of his beloved seastrider so she cut through the Notic waters swiftly. The portly Dwarf bumbled across the quarterdeck, taking care not to cross the paths of his shipmates as they worked on the maintenance of the vessel's hull and sails. He used to try and sneak up on his crew when he had first acquired ownership of her. They were his poor attempts to test and judge if he could trust the crew that came along with it, since the seastrider was intended to serve as one of his company's official trading ships. While he did not practice the profession of a Serpent - though it was, for a brief moment, a tempting profession to switch to; their skills offer them the ability to lighten the purses and possessions of others easily without being noticed - it was nigh impossible for him to sneak up on anyone to catch them unaware. The jingle of coins lining the interior of his coat pockets never failed to announce his approach from a mile away. In the end, Zidayr had given up that effort in favour of building camaraderie with his crew and it was now not unusual for both parties to greet each other with sly winks and share the occasional jokes during longer journeys across the seas.
  26. The Dwarven merchant was enjoying a discussion about shore activities with the crew as they sailed up the last hundred metrons along the western coastline of Sapience. Most of them wanted to get smashed on the bottles of obelito rum they bought upon Zanzibaar, while others wanted to spend a quiet few days or so with their family in Cyrene and Eleusis. Given the fact that they had encountered no difficulties in the form of pirates or sea monsters in this trading run thus far, he allowed his crew to get started on the rum. A roar of approval filled the air as news of his decision spread across the ship. Soon, it was replaced by the sound of popping bottles and the satisfied smack of lips.
  28. It was because of the festive atmosphere that the helmsman upon the crow’s nest had neglected his duty; instead of being firmly clasped in one hand, his spyglass was safely tucked away in a coat pocket, replaced by a steadily emptying bottle of rum that someone had tossed up to him. As a result, he did not spot the ship that had appeared from the chops to the northwest and the wind-tattered Mhaldorian flag of crimson silk it proudly flew.
  30.                                                             -----------------------------
  32. Pirate Lady, lawless presence
  33. I spread fear upon the seas
  34. Prowling vessel, sailors' menace
  35. Your briny wrecks, my shrines of glory.
  37. Reshena moved towards the tipmost of the ship’s bow swiftly, her steps demonstrating her inherent feline grace by virtue of the fact that she was able to keep herself from stumbling about on the swaying, unsteady deck of her beloved vessel, the "TLS Inexorable". Reaching out with grey paws, she pressed them firmly against the surface of her mounted figurehead, a mask of quiet concentration upon her features. The Rajamala let loose a soft exhalation of breath as her amethyst gaze went glassy for a scant moment but just as quickly as it had left, her focus returned.
  39. The warmth that spread through her fingers was comforting, to say the least. It started off as a minor tingling which built into a crescendo of sensation. What came next whenever she invoked the sea spirits in the figurehead was one she never got quite used to: the melding of her psyche into the lifeless, wooden figurehead and the distinct sensation of being lifted up and tossed about by both the waves and the wind. It took only a second to orientate herself, but the transition was complete. She was now not only intimately aware of the condition of her vessel but also of her surroundings at sea through the eyes of her figurehead.
  41. "Change course to the south!" barked Reshena as her tail swept across the deck beneath her slowly, trailed by the fluttering ends of an azure ribbon embroidered with a white tiger.
  43. Up on the quarterdeck, her executive officer repeated the order loudly and tersely, sinking back into the familiar chain of command as though it was a second skin. A flurry of activity swarmed the deck and the ship slowly began to turn towards the south, the crew striving to turn the rudder and trim the sails as fast as possible. As her vessel completed the turn, Reshena took another look through her spyglass. Now that both ships were closer - and it seemed that her prey was eager for its own destruction, for it did not care to change its course - she was able to study her prey more carefully. The ship in sight flew a large green flag bearing the Meropian Trading Company’s coat of arms: a gold chevron between two gold anchors and a pile of gold sovereigns, on a blue background. The Rajamala leaned forward slightly as she fiddled with the spyglass. The proud name of the seastrider was written upon the starboard side of its hull. She shifted the spyglass upwards for a cursory examination of the situation on board the "Revenge". She spied no weapons on board, but she noted that its crew was completely oblivious to the approach of her vessel. A stout Dwarf, presumably the captain, was bumbling about upon the quarterdeck with a broad grin plastered across his lips.
  45. Lowering the spyglass, Reshena redirected her attention to the array of ship weapons installed upon the deck of the ship bow. They were well-maintained, pre-loaded with ammunition and simply waiting to be fired. She did not want just anyone utilizing them, however; on the "TLS Inexorable", nobody manned them without express permission from her. She selfishly preferred to fire them herself, so she could experience the pleasurable flood of satisfaction first-hand when her weapons sent a shot or a dart crashing through her target to leave destruction in its wake. For a minute, she allowed herself to indulge in the distant memories of ships that sunk beneath her skilful ministrations, idly brushing her fingers across the polished top of her onager. Straightening her spine, she cast away the memories and focused upon the present. She had a ship to sink.
  47. "Fire!" yelled the woman, her clear voice accompanied immediately after by the sound of an explosion and the sight of something hurled skywards by the long arm of an onager. She always yelled out her commands, even if she was the one who fired the weapon. It was her belief that the key to good co-ordination and ship manoeuvres with the crewmates was to have proper communication at all times.
  49. A webbed mess of ropes and cloth shot outwards from the onager, whipping powerfully through the air and across the sea. For a moment, it looked as though it would not make it - that it would fall short of the target and splash into the sea - but the round managed to tangle itself about a taut rope supporting the sails of the "Revenge". Its momentum enabled the rest of its body to swing inwards, further snarling the riggings of the targeted vessel. The speed of her prey slowed down considerably as the wind escaped from beneath its tangled rigging. If that did not send the crew into a frenzy, thought Reshena, she wondered what would.
  51. ----
  53. The next couple of minutes were chaotic as everything seemed to happen at once. Zidayr's head whipped back as the spider-shot flew across the sea to snarl the rigging of his vessel. A few colourful curse words slipped from the Dwarf's mouth as he scrambled across the suddenly busy quarterdeck, almost tripping over his feet as he started down the stairs leading to the main deck. He was on the last leg of his journey and owing to his incredibly good luck thus far, had grown complacent, letting down his guard. Now, he paid for it sorely for there was no sailor, mariner or trader who did not know the name of the ominous vessel that loomed in his path: the "TLS Inexorable", flagship of the Mhaldorian navy.
  55. "Sheer to the east and hurry, gods damn ya fellows!" He yelled, anxiety written all over his features.
  57. "The riggings, Capt--"
  59. "-- but the sails, we can't--"
  63. These desperate questions and concerns remained unanswered as the captain abandoned his panicking crew to the command of his executive officer. The only thought in his mind, as far as he was aware, was reaching the safety of Thraasi harbour, which was not all too far away. He was sure he could reach that. All he needed to do was to rely on his mastery of several sea spells to speed his attempt. He was almost to his ship bow when the "Revenge" lurched violently upon the waters and started turning eastwards to face the harbour. Evidently, the officer on the quarterdeck was able to calm down enough of the crew to get things done and shared the captain’s sentiment of heading straight into the port where safety would be guaranteed.
  65. Zidayr stumbled over to the figurehead mounted upon his bow and hurriedly pressed his stubby fingers upon the surface of the wood carving, willing for the sea spirits to meld with his mind a little quicker. The trembling in his arms was evidence of his bewilderment at being caught in this predicament, but his mind steadied soon after. In that single moment of crystal clarity, he believed that he had, perhaps, a sliver of chance in outwitting the captain aboard the "TLS Inexorable". Pieces of his plan fell into place as his ship straightened itself out upon the waters of the Sea of Terror. He didn’t waste the opportunity; united in a common goal, both the Dwarven captain and the crew on board waited with bated breath as they inched metron by metron towards the "TLS Inexorable", which had stopped on the spot and started to turn towards him, intent on blocking his path to the harbour and preparing to intercept if necessary.
  67. Yet, Zidayr did not intend to give the Mhaldorian flagship a chance to intercept. A surge of power gathered within the centre of his torso and rippled outwards, moving down his arms to the figurehead. A sizeable wave arose from the seas behind the "Revenge" and slammed powerfully against the hull of the vessel. The ship shuddered violently again as it was propelled forward, the curtain of seawater on both sides obscuring most of his view - but not entirely. He saw a flash of crimson and the outline of the enemy sweeping past his vessel before it was gone, out of sight. As the wave receded in power, Zidayr slouched visibly as fatigue overwhelmed him: a portion of the price for calling upon the waves. Still, he managed enough strength to turn back for a quick assessment of the situation. Triumph burned painfully hot in his veins as he realized he had managed to slip past the "TLS Inexorable" and get closer to the Thraasi harbour. The Dwarf turned his attention to the harbour before him, yelling for the crewmates to hasten their turning of the bloody rudder so they could clear the little islet and sail into safety.
  69. Another explosion ripped through the skies, the sound momentarily pausing what was previously a hive of activity upon the quarterdeck of the "Revenge". A projectile whistled past the port side of the vessel and then splashed into the sea next to it. While the shot had not hit its target, it had come dangerously close to doing so. The warm, giddy feeling of triumph the Dwarf had previously felt faded away, only to be replaced by cold dread as he realized that he had not entirely escaped yet. Behind him, the enemy had started its pursuit. Already, its sails had been fully unfurled even though it was still in the midst of a roundabout turn. That left Zidayr a few, precious minutes to decide upon his next move.
  73. Hysteria swelled in his chest and panic clawed at the fringes of his mind as he made his decision. He did not know then, that the decision would cost him dearly. The "Revenge", already in the midst of turning towards the harbour of Thraasi, stopped. With the reluctance of a cow being driven back to its pen, she began to turn again, this time to the south on orders of the captain. With her sails still tangled and forgotten about in the heat of the moment, the ship's movement was solely reliant on the muscles of the oarsmen as they frantically manned their oars, taking the ship slowly down the western coast of Sapience.
  75.                                                             -----------------------------
  77. Darts with dragon's tears in hull
  78. Desperate escape, tasty prey
  79. Crackling flames consuming wood
  80. 'til the pleas, they sound no more.
  82. A heavy 'thunk!' was heard as the dipped shot struck the merchant's vessel, viciously tearing open a hole in its side and allowing seawater to pour in. Reshena smiled widely as she witnessed the carnage, already moving to load the ballista with another dart coated in an extremely flammable layer of dragon's tears. She took her time to aim again. After all, she was in no particular hurry as it appeared that her prey had just decided to make things easier for her. She deduced that it was either boldness or sheer stupidity that spurred the captain of the "Revenge" to turn away from the safety of the harbour they were closest to. She did not mind the decision, of course. She enjoyed the thrill that came with the chase.
  84. Triangular-shaped ears twitched atop her head as the Navarch stalked across the deck and leaned over the railing. Her sharp amethyst eyes tilted upwards to her sails in quiet assessment of the current wind speed and direction, then back down once more to assess the distance between her flagship and her prey. With a good tailwind behind the "TLS Inexorable", there was no chance that the targeted seastrider with a tangled rigging would be able to outrun her as it sought to make its escape. She watched carefully as the vessel changed its course, its bow cutting through the choppy waters as it started down the coast line. Though she believed this would be an easy catch, she did not see the portly Dwarven captain upon their quarterdeck. However, she learnt that it was never wise to underestimate the opponent's capability to escape in desperate situations and so, she remained focused and alert.
  86. "Bring her to the south," Reshena ordered her crew crisply, her intent gaze focused upon catching every slight movement made by her prey.
  88. Her ship swayed in the water as it began to turn swiftly. It took mere moments before it steadied itself, the fully rigged sails filling and billowing outwards with the sea breeze. The Mhaldorian-owned vessel surged forward powerfully, granting no respite to the "Revenge" at all. While other hot-blooded pirates and privateers would have started firing upon their target at mid-range, Reshena chose not to; it would be a waste of ammunition since her accuracy and chasing capabilities would be affected by her split attention. However, it wasn't that she couldn't manage but that her desire to savour this victory close at hand was strong enough to influence her decision. Therefore, she bided her time while she easily closed the distance between both ships, metron by metron.
  90. One of the key skills that separated a true captain from one in name only was the individual's ability in utilizing what skills, manpower and advantages one had available to overcome and dictate the outcome of any adverse circumstances. It was no surprise then, that Reshena utterly dominated the situation, utilizing the apparent fear that the appearance of her vessel had induced to guide the "Revenge" down to its inexorable doom. She had turned the clear advantage the fleeing seastrider had against itself, and its captain was unable to adapt and handle the stress of the current situation. It resulted in a rather short-lived chase. As the Mhaldorian flagship flanked the struggling vessel, the Rajamalan Navarch was able to observe the frantic rowing of their crew that heedlessly continued their futile endeavours to escape. Wordlessly, she raised her arms into the air, her head dipping slightly in concentration. Heeding her silent call for aide, the waters of the Sea of Terror rose in a towering wave that crashed against the hull of the "TLS Inexorable" and swept it past the bow of the other ship, planting the entire vessel squarely in their path. Immediately, voices rose in alarm upon the "Revenge" as they started paddling in reverse, attempting to slow down or sharply turn their vessel to avoid collision. Their attempts came too late; the vessel, still in mid-turn, bumped into Reshena's own and shuddered to a complete stop.
  92. Capitalizing quickly on the expectation, Reshena signaled to her crewmates with a sharp gesture who then flung several ropes attached with grappling hooks overboard. Their aim was accurate and all lines hit their targets, landing directly onto the deck of their prey. The crewmates started drawing back upon the lines until the hooks snagged upon the railings of "Revenge" and cinched tight. Standing before the ballista upon the deck by the ship bow, she curled a paw around the rope mechanism before releasing the clamp, firing the ballista at point-blank range. The dipped missile connected with the hull of the grappled ship just above the water line, shredding the sturdy wood like an arrow into soft flesh. Splinters of wood fell into the sea below as the new hole started sputtering, water pouring into the vessel with each crash of a wave.
  94. "Fine, fine," came the gruff male voice, his accent distinctively Dwarven. He sounded resigned and tired.
  96. The purpose of the first shot, at least for her, was always to notify the other captain of whom he was dealing with. Normally, she would have been content with an introductory shot that would open a potentially successful negotiation - or extortion, as others would call it - or lead to a good old-fashioned sinking. The month did not fare well for her, however. Towering paperwork and administrative obligations had fouled her mood and with it came a violent need to assuage the roiling anger, to ruthlessly oppress and crush those who were weaker than her into a bloody pulp. She did remember this voice that filtered into her mind, though. She had come across him upon the eastern oceans, travelling northward towards the harbour of Tasur'ke. Zidayr, if she could recall correctly, was his name. Both of them were on different ships at that time, and she had kindly escorted him up to the harbour itself - but only after he had yielded a fee of fifty thousand gold sovereigns and accepted a leaflet containing the Pirates of Meropis's safe passage package.
  98. "I'm afraid I sail with the Mhaldorian Navy this month, Captain," was Reshena's clipped response, her tone of voice relaying the obvious message that she would brook no negotiations this month.
  100. There was a significant pause between their telepathic communication, and then a commotion of sorts started upon the quarterdeck of the "Revenge". Popping up from below, the Dwarven merchant waddled over to his crew and leaned in close, seemingly speaking to them. As the portly man straightened his back, he opened communications to her telepathically once more, returning a reply in a too-casual, single-worded acknowledgement that revealed little hint of his emotions. Of course, she had the upper hand, but he gave no indication that he would give up that easily. Behind her and in contrast to the tension-filled situation, her tail playfully cavorted in the air behind her, its ribbon fluttering about in the air in a rustle of silk.
  102. "As we spread the teachings of the Seven Truths to heathens across the lands," Reshena murmured as she loaded another dart onto the half-round groove on the ballista, "So too do we ensure the same by spreading suffering, terror and oppression across the seas." She released the clamp about the main rope and watched as the dart hurtled across the air towards its target.
  104. ----
  106. Zidayr rocked upon the heels of his feet as he anxiously watched his crewmen milling about above and below deck, struggling to fix the damage to the hull of his ship. His guess that it was Reshena upon the "TLS Inexorable" was accurate. Initially, he sighed in relief as he thought back on their previous encounter on different ships, where he merely had to pay her grease money to be set free. He even got a free escort out of it, even though he had tried to decline it. However, with his ship already grappled and shot at once, he decided it was better to open talks with her before she got trigger happy. He wasn’t someone who was very knowledgeable in manning a vessel. He was only a merchant and a trader striving to earn his profits by completing trade deals and accepting the occasional odd jobs upon the seas.
  108. Fingers entangled within his beard, Zidayr slowly paced around the deck as he awaited for her reply. Luckily, he did not have to wait long but the reply he received was not quite as expected. For a moment, he wondered if he had misunderstood the intent behind her words, but he was sure he had not. Reshena had worded her sentence carefully, the indirect decision made obvious only if her conversation partner knew the significance of the "Mhaldorian Navy", which he did. He struggled up the stairs to the quarterdeck and approached his crew to break the news to them. Already, it seemed like they knew what he was about to inform them. He caught snatches of conversations amongst them as he neared.
  110. "..Reshena.. ..Shipwreck ..."
  112. "..Mhaldor.."
  114. "... mutiny.. ...no.. ..sunk .."
  116. "I DIDN'T AGREE TO CONTINUE MY STINT ON THE SHIP FOR THIS-" came an outburst from one of the closest crewmate, who looked suitably aghast and also incredibly green as Zidayr strode into the thick of the gathering on the quarterdeck and leaned in close. Immediately, the mutterings stopped and forty-five pairs of eyes swivelled towards him. The crewmate sputtered into silence mid-tirade. He raised one hand and scratched at the side of his face thoughtfully as he said, "We're part of the Meropian Trading Company, lads. I already put up a call for assistance. Until then, just continue disengagin' those grappling hooks they got over our railings, yea?"
  118. A loud buzz of conversation ensued, each crewmate talking at the same time. While they were occupied, he straightened and turned away to survey the "TLS Inexorable", which Reshena had sailed up right beside his own and thrown grappling hooks over the railings. It was an impressive ship that looked organized and spotlessly. The crewmates on board were efficient; they were all at different stations awaiting for commands in casual formation. Not a single man appeared out of place. For one split second, Zidayr envied such discipline but then quickly chided himself for thinking that way. It was not a life of freedom and enjoyment he would get if he coveted such degree of excellence. Either way, the sooner he found himself away from Reshena, the easier he'll breathe and relax. He exhaled once and sent through the Rajamala a word of acknowledgement. It was a good thing that he had called for assistance from the company as he made it up the staircase to the quarterdeck earlier. "The Willow" was already on the way, with Arethas at its head.
  120. Indeed, it seemed that the windcutter had well-trained crew, as "The Willow" could already be spotted in the faint horizon. He tried to ignore the sound of his hull splintering into smaller pieces as Reshena continued creating holes into his ship. The hull of the "Revenge" was not doing well at all, despite the continued attempts of his crew members to repair the gaping holes that allowed water to pour in even as they sought to throw off the grappling hooks from the railings of the vessel. The latter action was not very successful. Each time they flung the hooks back to the "TLS Inexorable", its crew simply threw it back on deck, refusing to relinquish their hold on their prize. It was a frustrating, futile endeavour but it was the only thing he could just about accomplish.
  122. Without hesitation, Arethas sprung into action upon his vessel as soon as he was within range of the vicinity. Zidayr could see the Arcanian arm thrower upon the windcutter spinning furiously, sending razor-sharp wardiscs across the deck of the "TLS Inexorable". Having seen them coming, the crewmates easily dodged the wardiscs as they were fired repeatedly. While some were not quick enough to avoid them, the injury incurred from the wardiscs were almost insignificant. In his opinion, he believed that the wardiscs posed no real threat or stimulus to the Mhaldorian-owned vessel from leaving him alone. Reshena did not even waver in her target, and the hull of his "Revenge" continued to take the toll. Shot after shot of ballista darts blew through the ship, ripping her viciously apart. His crewmates were frantic now, focusing their attention fully on disengaging their ship but no matter how many times they tried, they were never successful in getting rid of the grappling hooks fast enough to man the oars and row away.
  124. Now, a clarion horn upon the "Revenge" blared a warning, announcing that the ship was on the verge of sinking and that there was nothing else that could be done but to abandon the ship. Half of his crewmates had already listened to the warning and jumped into the sea. He was going to abandon the ship too, as much as he treasured her. He had heard of a tradition where the captains were expected to go down with their ships if sunk at sea but shamefully enough, he valued his life more. He felt it was a pointless sentiment, drowning with the ship, that is. Zidayr took out a carefully inscribed token from his pocket and held it tightly in one fist. He closed himself off to everything else and focused intently on the surface, willing for the spirit of Charybdis to rescue him. It was a sea spirit he was not well-acquainted with. He wondered if it would whisk him away to safety or embrace him in death. Such thoughts were still running in his mind as the token became ethereal, falling through his grasp. It fell past the railing and into the water below, from which a rushing sound arose, drowning out all other sounds within the surroundings as a watery vortex yawned into view.
  126. Unbidden, words flowed freely from his lips: "Spirit of Charybdis, I invoke thee! Come to my aid!" Immediately, Zidayr found himself grasped ungently and thrust down through the whirlpool. His consciousness faded into blackness, his last sight being that of the broken wreckage of his ship slipping into the embrace of the wine-dark sea and the distant outline of "The Willow" as it fled for safety.
  128.                                                             -----------------------------
  130. Boundless oceans, rising sun
  131. Careless winds across my fur
  132. Thorugh the storms and brief lulls,
  133. To me, the sea's my second home.
  135. Colour began to fade from the skies as the sun steadily sunk beneath the far-off horizons, fleeing from the encroaching cover of another night. A grey Rajamala stood before the quarterdeck railings upon a slow-moving seastrider, its sails flapping softly in the light sea breeze. Her hands held the railings firmly as her bright, amethyst eyes restlessly scanned the endless, moonlit blue scenery. The sound of crashing waves against the ship's hull had an oddly soothing effect upon the Rajamala and where tension seized her body previously, she now seemed relaxed and at ease.
  137. It was time to sail back to the harbour.
  139. ----
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