[Memory] Precious Cargo

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Oisin Ocasta
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Fri Jul 05, 2019 9:35 am

Sunset - 13th of Achtus, 2711
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Oisin was on an airship, and he had decided he did not like it. It had taken him seven days - four on the way from the Maluku Isles to Old Rose Harbor, and then three to bring them this far back - to reach that level of certainty on the topic. It had seemed like such an exciting prospect at the time. An airship! Oisin had seen them, drifting through the skies over Old Rose Harbor in his youth. They had seemed so magical, so unfathomable, and in fleeting moments of hope had whispered promises of floating away from a life that Oisin never allowed himself to admit the desperate desire to leave. When Sarge had asked for volunteers, a few of their mercenary band for a little side work for one of the wealthier Mugrobi families, Oisin had positively jumped at the chance. It wasn't until the airship had divorced itself from the ground, and remained that way, that Oisin had begun to comprehend the gravity of his mistake.

He had thought it would be like sailing. After all, floating was floating, was it not? Whether that buoyancy came from water beneath, or magical substances trapped within vast balloons above, should not have made a difference. But it did, as it turned out. It made a real clocking difference, to Oisin at least. The instant he had watched the ground fall away from beneath them, he had been gripped by a low-grade sense of panic. On a conventional ship, you could look out of the window, or stand out on the deck, and you could see the water surrounding you. In your mind, you knew what water was, but you'd floated in it before; you implicitly understood how that worked. Not so with the skies. From Oisin's vantage, there was just nothing. Nothing holding the airship aloft, no wings like a bird, no nothing to provide any sort of intellectual reassurance. Oisin had fallen through air before, off things of assorted heights, and the air had never done a single thing to catch him, not the way that water did. And unlike the ocean, where open air could be refreshing and uplifting, the prospect of an open window or even the faintest draft left Oisin feeling as if he was about to plunge to his doom.

One of his fellow mercenaries had tried to reassure him, but it hadn't much helped. Imagine we're strapped to a feather, they'd said, drifting along on a care-free breeze. The comparison had left Oisin with visions of the airship spiralling and tumbling before eventually finding its way to the ground. If the analogy was in any way true, Oisin could only hope that by the time they did impact the ground once more, they'd be able to do so deliberately, and in the place that they expected to be.

All of this, for a few children.

Oisin peered across the passenger lounge towards the Galdori heirs that he and his compatriots were being paid a few extra coins to escort on their travels. Idly, he wondered how much danger they were all actually in. Mugroba was a region rife with dangers and troubles. Piracy and unrest along the borders was severe enough to warrant the attention of the Anaxi Armed Forces, and plenty of scraps fell off that particular table to keep plenty of mercenaries like Oisin and his fellows well-fed in such trying times. The family that had hired them was wealthy enough to own this airship, not to mention the veritable fortress they were to deliver the children to. Was it prudence? Paranoia? A side effect of having more money than you could ever know what to do with? Oisin tried not to dwell on the prospect of what he might do with similar wealth: such was an impossibility for a Wick, and there were far more pressing things for his mind to fixate on, like the prospect of them all suddenly and fatally plunging out of the sky.

The mercenary let out a sigh, reading the same paragraph for what felt like the fifth time. The novel had been pressed into his hands as a distraction during the first leg of their journey, towards Old Rose Harbor. It had been an act of empathy: five years had passed since the mercenary band had liberated him from his home, and a lot had changed since then. Try not to think about it, had been the sage advice of the would-be librarian: but the story of princesses, desert orphans, and airship captains provided the wrong sort of distraction. Now two-thirds of the way through the story, Oisin was more convinced than ever that they would all be dead before they reached their destination.

Frustration sqeezed the book closed with a thud, and Oisin abandoned it on the seat beside him, shifting his feet into a better position and testing them with a small fraction of his weight. While he had absolutely no desire whatsoever to step outside, the confines of the airship had become persistently claustrophobic. He needed to get up, move, walk around, something. Levering himself from his seat took slightly more effort than perhaps was dignified, and for a moment he felt the slightest bit unstable, but he succeeded in standing none the less - even with his mind's sudden and horrifying decision to remind him of just how little separated the soles of his boots from the deadly plunge of several thousand feet of nothingness that currently yawned beneath him.

His attention turned to the eldest of their infant charges: Joyah, if memory served.

"I'm headed to the galley. Can I get any of you anything?"
word count: 980

Eiywa pezre Azeema
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Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:15 am
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Fri Jul 05, 2019 2:01 pm

13 of Achtus, 2711 On the way to Muluku Islands
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At times like these, Joyah wished she could smack Muraj, she truly did. He did nothing but whine about not having been allowed to spend the winter holidays with a friend's family in Vienda. Tocks was the child a total numbskull? He was old enough to realise the invitation, if accepted, would have to be reciprocated. Did he think he could hide Aafiya from his Anaxi friends? Or the other imbala at the estate? Was he sure he could handle how he would be treated after that at Brunnhold? She let out a long breath, hoping it'd ease the frustration she felt. "Muraj, it's jara's orders. And you know what that means." Looking at his crestfallen face, she softened, the boy was after all only eleven. Friends were everything at that age... He wasn't that bad for a younger brother (most of the times). "Look, talk to Nawed, maybe he can figure something out." Nawed was their oldest brother, the one who was the closest to their father. He might be able to figure out a way for Muraj to spend some time in Vienda for the next holidays. Muraj must have come to the same conclusion, for he visibly brightened. Joyah smiled back, and turned back to the notebook she had had open on the table in front of her.

It, however, was impossible to concentrate. Part of it was the airship travel. The Sea Rose wasn't the absolute latest in airship design, but she was reliable and speedy enough. Most importantly her crew was handpicked for both expertise and discretion. What she wasn't, however, was spacious. Joyah had occasionally travelled on the commercial aeroships that ran from Vienda to Muluku Islands and back, they were big, stately things. They were also slower, and apparently not secure enough. She wasn't sure why they had been picked up by the Sea Rose this time, and it seemed like there were quite a few more of the mercenary guard types on board than usual. Was there trouble at home? She bit her lips, if things were bad enough with the shadow trade... They may not have much freedom to enjoy this break. Shadow Trade was the name she and Aafiya had come up with together to refer to the shadowy, murky sort of things the Iruwaqa clan was involved in. She did not know exactly what the clan did, smuggling was likely the least of it, and truthfully she had no interest in finding out more. Hulali keep everything safe, and calm...

With a huff of frustration, she closed the notebook and put it into her bag. There truly wasn't much to do on the ship, she could either go and 'rest' in her cabin, or maybe they could go for a stroll? She glanced towards Zinah. At thirteen her younger sister was as much a stranger as she had been at ten. She was curled up in a big armchair now, her darker hair smartly wrapped up with a scarf. She was also busy reading one of those trashy romance novels, and she wouldn't appreciate being disturbed. Joyah rolled her eyes and stood up, pushing back the heavy honey brown curls that kept obscuring half her face. Fine. She would go take a stroll on her own. She knew there was a telescope kept in the lounge for the amusement of guests, maybe she'd take that along and walk on the upper decks. Maybe old Captain Loftmer would be willing to tell her some tall tales. Smiling at the thought, she unearthed the telescope from the low cupboards built low along the sides. She had just walked back to the table, when the guard who had been quietly reading in another chair by the door stood up as well.

"I'm headed to the galley. Can I get any of you anything?"

Joyah was surprised. This particular man hadn't been all that talkative all through the trip. But he had become almost a familiar presence over the last few days, often sitting in the same chair near the lounge exit. Perhaps the lounge was his duty station? Joyah had grown up in an estate where guards were just a fact of life. They were paid to keep the clan safe, and to take risks. On excursions on the islands, they were almost always accompanied by at least one of the guards. It was mostly the wikas or imbala who were hired, though the occasional dura was not unheard of. On the islands, and in the Old Rose, there were always guards, and the guard who accompanied you one week would be replaced by someone else the next week. She no longer saw much point in trying to keep track of the many faces. Still to be a guard, especially in the islands, was to risk something, perhaps injury, perhaps worse, and so the least she could do was be polite.

"No thank you, the cook sent over the snacks just a while back..." It occurred to her that if she went up to the deck while this man was away to the galley, he might freak out to find she had seemingly disappeared. It would be better to tell him where she was going... Joyah walked closer to the man, not wishing to have either Zinah or Muraj overhear and tag along now. Her long dark green Anaxi style skirts were comfortable and so was the lighter green Mugrobi style sleeveless tunic she wore over it. She should be able to climb the ladders if she had to. Iit was a good thing she was the eldest here, climbing the ladder wasn't something she was supposed to do now that she was growing up to be a young lady. The mental voice of her grandmother as she admonished her was sharp with disapproval, and Joyah grimaced. Closer to the guard, the characteristic field of a wika was all too apparent, the mona in her field automatically pulsing in response.

"I am going to the upper deck for a stroll." She raised the telescope in a mute explanation of her plan. She shrugged a little, suddenly wondering if the man thought her moony for offering an explanation he hadn't especially asked. "I thought you might.. I mean I've been told one should always tell your guards where you are going. It's good manners."
Last edited by Eiywa pezre Azeema on Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:43 pm, edited 2 times in total. word count: 1123
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Oisin Ocasta
Posts: 39
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:00 pm
Topics: 9
Race: Wick
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Sat Jul 06, 2019 1:12 pm

Sunset - 13th of Achtus, 2711
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The notion of a stroll was already enough to set the bells of anxious over-caution ringing away in Oisin's thoughts, but the mention of the upper deck was like being stabbed through the chest by an icicle. A dizzying maelstrom of conflicting motives and notions cascaded through his mind, his eyes shifting between Joyah and her siblings, to the ceiling, the floor, the doors, windows - they might even have rolled back in his head and stared at the inside of his skull, were it not for the overwhelming sense of responsibility that loomed like an antic in the frantic cognative deep.

Obviously, if Joyah was allowed to wander around on the upper deck unsupervised, she would never be seen again. She would trip and fall to her doom, assassins would leap out of the shadows and murder her, a stray bird would crash into a window, shattering the glass and sucking her out into the cloudless sky - it was an inevitability. Paranoia was not the fuel that drove Oisin's frantic thoughts: it was experience. Over his years as a mercenary, Oisin had found himself subjected to or responsible for children on countless occasions, and with alarming regularity, those experiences resulted in abject chaos. Whether it was fate, divine intervention, a prankish sense of humour from the mona, or just statistically improbable random chance, it didn't matter. If he let Joyah wander off alone, she'd either get herself killed, or all of them killed. That was just a fact of life.

Of course, if he left the younger siblings unattended, they would undoubtedly set the room on fire, causing the airship to explode and sending them all plunging to their demise amid a tangle of flaming debris. That was the dilemma that Oisin's mind faced: a question of which doom to deny, and which to embrace. His mind worked frantically, like the hind legs of a young pup trying to scamper across an icy lake. "I should, uh -"

Other people! Oisin had spent so long in the solitude of the passenger lounge keeping an eye on the kids that the presence of other mercenaries had for a brief moment slipped his mind. Only a handful of their usual band had been necessary for this particular contract, and for the most part they had managed to spend the trip conspicuously elsewhere. Officially, they were off ensuring that other parts of the airship were safe and secure. Unofficially, they'd no doubt found a quiet corner to drink and play cards, leaving Oisin with the unenviable task of enduring their young charges. Such was his role within their merry band, assuming there weren't any injuries to patch up, of course: the butt not just of their jokes, but also of their metaphorical crossbow, with the unenviable task of shouldering all the excess kickback and recoil.

But then there was Vex. In Oisin's case, his treatment was a reaction to his circumstance and nature: the Wick, the orphan, the youth who'd stumbled into becoming something only a few shades above a pet or mascot. In Vex's case, his treatment was a reaction to him being a complete and utter ersehole. Oisin wasn't sure what the Hoxian's real name was, and wasn't convinced that anyone else remembered, either: vexing is what he was, and so Vex was how he was known. While Oisin had volunteered for this particular assignment - something he hoped he would not be foolish enough to do again - Vex had been volunteered. And, while Oisin had been tasked with keeping an eye on their young charges, Vex had set up camp just beyond the door: not because a few children required the attention of two mercenaries, but because that was the only place he could be without anyone aboard having to endure his company for more than a few minutes at a time.

Mind finally locking onto some sense of order and direction, Oisin held up a finger to halt the young Mugrobi in place. "Just, uh, one moment. Hang on."

A few steps backwards, and Oisin's backside collided with the doorway of the lounge. A few fumbles, and it slid aside. A few more steps - three back, two left - and Oisin found himself standing beside the low crate atop which his fellow mercenary was uncomfortably slumped. "Vex?" Oisin hissed, speaking from the side of his mouth. The mercenary barely reacted, responding only with a slightly deeper, rattling inhalation that emerged from somewhere between the chin pressed to his chest, and his tightly folded arms. A flicker of a scowl danced across Oisin's features, and a booted foot collided sharpy with the sleeping mercenary's ankle. "Vex!"

The Hoxian snorted himself awake, a few jerking head movements aiming his blinking eyes in different directions to take in the details of his surroundings. As they settled on Oisin, Vex mustered a disgruntled grunt.

"I'm taking one of the girls to the upper deck," he announced, with far more confidence and certainty about the wisdom of such an act than he actually felt, careful to leave no wiggle room for protest from the Hoxian. "Keep an eye on the rest, alright?"

"Yessir," Vex replied with absolutely no conviction whatsoever, eyes already closed once more. Oisin's mouth opened, entertaining the notion of protest; perhaps Vex sensed it, or perhaps he just knew the younger mercenary well enough to preempt, shrugging aside his concerns with a quick squirming adjustment of his folded arms. "If you're worried I can't keep some dumb rich kids alive for more than ten minutes, I'd recommend making sure you're back here in less than that."

Oisin's expression shifted through various variations on scowls and glowers before settling into resignation. "Fine, fine," he muttered to himself, unleashing a sigh that carried with it as much frustration as he could quickly expel, before taking two steps back to the right, emerging back into the frame of the doorway, and mustering a smile for Joyah.

"I should probably come with you," he explained, as amiable as he could manage. "Wouldn't want your family to feel like they aren't receiving the kind of service that they're paying for."
word count: 1069
Eiywa pezre Azeema
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Joined: Thu Jun 20, 2019 8:15 am
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Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:22 am

13 of Achtus, 2711 On the way to Muluku Islandss
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The guard's eyes widened at her pronouncement, and if it hadn't sounded silly, she'd have thought the man was nervous. She waited, not impatiently, while he ducked out. He returned soon enough though, and she wasn't exactly sure what to make of what he said next. He didn't make it a statement, in the way that I will need to come with you would have been, and it wasn't exactly a question in the way Should I come with you would have been. It was ambiguous and, she suspected, that he had either just insulted her (or her family), or, and this was almost worse, that he was actually laughing at her. It was bad enough feeling unsure of what was actually going on in the company of older people, but this man, this wika, wasn't even so much older than her! (He couldn't be older than Nawed she thought, though the difference in physiques made any estimates suspect.) She may not be sure of what he had meant exactly, but the bit about her family needing to feel like they'd recieved their money's worth meant something! The guard's field was confused but the bite of frustration in it was clear enough, which meant whatever he meant, it was not likely to be something nice. Her family probably wasn't nice either, but he was a mercenary too, so what gave him the right to judge? perhaps it was simple dislike, or perhaps he thought her a child, that he could safely condescend to. She wasn't a child, she was almost seventeen now!

Her expression cooled, and her shoulders straightened. She was laughably small, compared to this giant of a man, and she needed to tilt her head to look him in the eye. She was young, but she had chosen to live in a way that attracted as little notice as possible. And it took a specific kind of discipline to remain unworthy of much notice in a school chock full of galdori teens that sometimes seemed to have more in common with hyenas or piranhas than with the pride of their race. In such a place, you couldn't seem weak, or you would be attacked, socially even if not magically. Yet you couldn't appear confrontational, or you would be noticed. She did not need to be that careful in front of this guard, but habits years in the making died hard.

So when she answered there was no marked hostility in her field or voice, but her field's flex carried a hint of warning should the wika be aware of what it meant. "My family isn't going to hear any complaints about you, Mister..?" She waited a beat for the wika to supply his name. "Mister Ocasta. From me in any case. So if you'd rather not accompany me, it's fine by me."

She walked out, leaving Oisin to decide whether to follow or not. The Sea Rose was a private airship, and as such had certain specific customizations. Apart from the plan of the interior, the feature that most delighted (or terrified) the passengers was the inclusion of areas that were not completely enclosed. A number of the windows could actually be opened to the air in good weather, the cooler air could be a welcome relief from the summer heat of Mugroba. The Upper Deck took the open-to-the-air concept even further. It was situated right underneath the big balloons that kept the airship aloft. In fact, a blocky tower like structure on the deck housed the sorcerer and crew specifically tasked with steering the ship and seeing to babying along the complex pneumatic systems that pumped the volatile artevium. The door to this structure couldn't be forced from the outside, a precaution against pirates attempting to take over the ship this way.

The deck itself was spacious, with a part of it roofed over near the captain's tower. It was possible to sit here on benches and enjoy the cool breezes, or to enjoy a makeshift picnic. However Joyah appreciated the place more for being the one space where it was actually possible to stretch your legs. The world seemed so big when she looked out from over iron slatted rails that were high enough to come up to her chest. It was a good feeling, and one Joyah wanted to experience again, especially in the wake of the emotional tumult caused by one Oisin Ocasta.
Last edited by Eiywa pezre Azeema on Sat Jul 13, 2019 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 808
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Oisin Ocasta
Posts: 39
Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:00 pm
Topics: 9
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Tue Jul 09, 2019 1:51 pm

Sunset - 13th of Achtus, 2711
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Sinking dread settled in Oisin's stomach, as he came to understand exactly the sort of child he had been subjected to this time around. He supposed it shouldn't have surprised him - after all, she was a Galdori heiress - but somehow it did. Internally, all of Oisin's frustration and dread was locked in a mythic battle with an overwhelming sense of optimism, at least in certain circumstances. When it came to situations, Oisin always assumed the worst: if you lived in a constant state of certainty that death and catastrophe were imminent, your continued survival was constantly a pleasant surprise and welcome relief. But people? With people, Oisin always assumed the best, no matter how consistently the world's population went out of its way to prove him wrong. Oisin loathed the prospect of safeguarding children, because past experience had taught how frequently such things descended into anarchy, but the children themselves he regarded with hope. After all, they were just children: their clay was still wet, their stories still in the early chapters, their character still drawn in pencil and not yet committed to ink. Children had potential. They could change. They could be better. Except they never did, and never were, at least not when Oisin Ocasta was involved. He was starting to believe that he was the reason, the one constant factor that explained everything. Certainly, the notion that things were all his fault was not an alien concept.

A tired sigh escaped him as the heiress breezed past. Explaining that it doesn't work like that was a wasted effort: Oisin's preference did not enter into the equation when paid services were involved. The children's parents had given their coin to the madam: Oisin's disinterest or headache wasn't going to change what happened once the door was closed and the belts came off. So it was with a similar whorehouse sense of resignation that Oisin trudged off dutifully in Joyah's wake, through the bowels of the ship and on towards the upper deck.

There was a shake to Oisin's limbs as he clambered up the stairway, one that worsened instantly as a gust of wind began to menacingly ruffle his hair. Bravely he persevered, clambering out onto the deck as if he'd just scaled a mountain. It took a few moments to find where she'd gone, but it shouldn't have: of course she'd gone and found the most terrifying place to stand possible. Trying his utmost to make his cautious and purposeful steps seem casual and ordinary, Oisin circled around at a distance at first, finding his way to the railing before progressing along it to where Joyah stood. True, that placed him at the horrifying precipice of the ship's edge sooner than was strictly needed, but at least the railing offered something to grasp hold of, something to desperately cling to should the ship decide to capsise in the air. He couldn't quite imagine how an airship might capsise, precisely, but his inability to rationalise a concern was in no way a reason not to have it. The alternative would have been to stroll across the open deck in a straight line, far out of reach of any sort of safety handhold, ready to be ensnared by the wind and hurled away to oblivion.

His progress was a sliding sidestep for most of his journey along the guard rail, at least until he reached the edge of what he presumed was Joyah's peripheral vision. From there, he tried to at least look as if he was someone relatively confident in where they were, one hand resting against the rail rather than a white-knuckled grasp with two. As he drew close, he thought about turning away from the rail, leaning against it as he might have done on the edge of a nautical vessel. A breath of wind quickly purged that idea from his mind, causing his eyes to just for a moment glimpse just how much further below them the ocean was than it would have been if they were at sea. When you fall from this high up, you'll hit the ocean just as hard as if you'd hit the ground, one of his fellow mercenaries had helpfully explained to him mere minutes before the aeroship had first taken off. Your bones will fracture, you'll smash into paste, and then you'll sink slowly below the water to become food for the fishes.

That was the persistent whisper in Oisin's thoughts as he finally reached Joyah's side. He did his best to subdue it, trying to offer some sort of nonchalant, offhand comment - the kind of thing one might say if one weren't constantly thinking about the immediate potential peril one was a few clouds, a little shoddy craftsmanship, or an unnoticed woodworm infection away from experiencing.

"You realise that if you fall off this thing, they're going to blame me, right?"

He let out a small sigh, and forced himself to face the railing, leaning against it with both hands, staring down at the panoramic view below. It was as beautiful as it was horrifying, extremely so, and Oisin tried to compel himself to appreciate that. How many people alive got the opportunity to see the world from this vantage? How many people who grew up in the gutters of Old Rose Harbor got this chance? It was an important thing in life, to stop for a moment, and take notice of where you were. For so many, life was just an uphill struggle, an ongoing trudge through the muck and the mud, eyes focused on the path ahead for the next obstacle, the next pitfall. Stop and look around, however, and you got to see the people around you, you got to see their struggles, and the burdens on their shoulders that made the walk harder. Yes, perhaps some people would have more burdens. Perhaps some had less. Perhaps some were getting carried through the mud on the shoulders of others. Perhaps some threw their money before them, advancing across the muddy plain of life on stepping stones of gold. But no one's boots were ever clean. No one got to avoid that trudge through the mud entirely. It was easy to be angry at the ones who had it easier, especially if they didn't take the time to notice the struggles of others. But if you didn't stop yourself, you didn't notice the worse off either. Of all the things Oisin could be doing right now, sailing through the skies on an aeroship, en route to exotic foreign lands, was a hard thing to feel ungrateful about, no matter how terrified you were.

"I'm sorry, this must all be very frustrating for you. You're just here trying to get somewhere warm for the winter, and here's all of us hanging around and making that complicated. After all the freedom you must have had behind those walls in Brunnhold, it must feel like we're going out of our way to step on your toes. But we are here because your family has paid us to protect something precious to them. Your safety is important to them, and they have paid for it to be important to us. If our way of doing that is an inconvenience or an annoyance, then I am sincerely sorry, but your contentment is not our mission. We'd rather you were unhappy and alive."
word count: 1289
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