- Markshire PCs:
“I’ve been thinking ‘bout what you said ‘bout your connection to earth and all that,” Marco said in elven, as they walked into the galley. “If there’s anyone who can help you with that, it’s Ragnar—he’s the only dwarf in the crew, in fact the only dwarf I’ve ever met who’s left their beloved rocks for the sea. The adjustment was hard for him, too, so maybe he can give ya some advice.”
“Don’t think I can’t pick out me own name amidst them fairy words, Marco. Yer telling the lass who the most eligible man in the crew is, no doubt.” Ragnar walked over to them, squat and sturdy, with a beard so thick that his eyes appeared to sit on a shelf of red hair. Oddly for a dwarf, he moved lightly, on the balls of his feet rather than the soles.
“Actually, she was just tellin’ me she’s never met a dwarf before.”
“Never met a dwarf, eh? Well, once you try a dwarf, them elf-boys and humans won’t do. And one like Ragnar, of the Stonecrusher clan, would put you off even other dwarves.”
“She did say she’d seen one when she was a little girl, about eighty years ago, when a circus came through her village…”
“CIRCUS? Marco, I’ll rip out yer…er…eighty…”
“There ya go, good dwarf. Now sit with us for a minute.”
“Don’t push it, Marco—ye ain’t as clever as ye think.” But Ragnar did sit and listen as Marco relayed Sun’s explanation of the previous night.
“Bah, sounds like mystical bilgewater to me, but…” Ragnar paused. “What I did at first was picture meself ashore, and not just ashore but back home in the tunnels. Now that illusion’s second nature, and I feels like the damn ship is solid earth all the time.”
“Her problem seems a bit deeper than that, Ragnar.”
“Yar. Well, what I was thinkin’ was this illusion works for me, right? I’m on solid ground right now, not this pitchin’ tub. So, she wraps her arms ‘round me belly, far as they’ll reach anyway, and maybe she gets this connection o’ hers back.”
“I don’t know, seems kinda…” Marco trailed off as Sun reached for an abandoned tankard and vomited as discreetly as possible into it. She sat back up and looked on curiously. “Hells, I guess it’s worth a try. Lemme ask ‘er.”
Moments later, with Sun’s arms vainly struggling to reach around even to his back, Ragnar called out: “There ye go lads—who else has gotten a hug from the lass? Dwarves are always first with the ladies, and Ragnar Stonecrusher is first among dwarves! ‘Ill-ooo-sion’—gawds you’re gullible.” The following belly-laugh made Sun straighten and look over to Marco in puzzlement.
“Bloody dwarf,” muttered Marco, and he quickly explained to Sun what had happened. She turned back to Ragnar with a look part glare and part frown.
A high-pitched cackle came from Ratsnuh over by the slop-pots. “Marco—one. Ragnar—one. The match is tied, gentlemen. Er…and lady.” The wizened gnome held up the stump of his left wrist and one of the three remaining fingers on his right hand to show the tally.
Sun’s gaze snapped over to the gnome, her glare melting briefly at his disfigurement, then she slowly turned her head back to Ragnar. Her frown was gone, and she gave Marco just a flicker of a smile as she turned and walked unsteadily over to the slop-pots. The galley fell silent.
Ratsnuh stared as she approached, his arms still in the air. She leaned against the bulkhead to steady herself, and slowly reached out to him. Gently, she took his remaining hand in both of hers and folded down his upraised finger. She lightly traced with her finger the scars where his fingers had been, then did the same to the stump of his other arm. Then, quicker than Ratsnuh could react, Sun bent and just as tenderly kissed each of the three scars. Ratsnuh’s legs buckled and he sat, hard, on the deck.
She turned and walked purposefully toward Ragnar, whose grin had turned slackjawed. She smiled, shook her head slightly, and patted him gently on his hairy cheek, then strode out the galley, crashing slightly into the frame of the door as she passed through.
From the floor, Ratsnuh raised his arms just above the level of the slop-pots, and extended his three fingers. With that same insane cackle, he cried out “Elf lass—three. Crew—nil.” Laughter followed Sun down the passageway, Ragnar’s loudest of all.
“Gghar…what the hells is she doing?”
“I don’t know, Cap’n.” Lars, chuckling, had just come up after breakfast to take his watch. He stared for a moment or two. “It looks a little like dancin’ and a little like the way the monks practice at the temple. Kind of peaceful, though, ain’t it?”
“Mmmm,” replied Thrakh noncommittally. He noticed Marco emerging from below decks. “You—git yer useless half-elf hide up here.” Marco scrambled quickly to his side. “What,” Thrakh pointed at the girl, “is that?”
Marco turned, smiling slightly as he saw Sun-Ok performing the stretching she’d described to him. “That, Cap’n,” said Marco, “is a girl who’s found ‘er sea-legs.”
Thrakh mumbled something guttural and looked back at the girl. She was motionless, her right leg straight behind her and her left leg bent as far as it could, bringing her low to the deck with all her weight on her toes. Her right arm reached toward the sky and her left extended behind her, on exactly the same angle as her opposite leg. An annoyed look crossed her face as a corkscrewing wave hit the ship, then she turned her head slightly and retched, holding her body still. She turned her head back.
“Clean that up, ye Farlander ninny! Don’t just stand there like a damn statue!” She looked up at Thrakh’s shout, and Marco hastily pantomimed mopping the deck. She leapt up, bowed to the Captain, and scurried off to find a bucket and swab. “Mmmm,” Thrakh looked at the two men beside him, “Put ‘er to work. Yer watch, Lars.”