Here is the rough draft of a little story I have begun!  I hope you enjoy!!

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No one makes a sound, choosing instead to concentrate on keeping their balance and more importantly, dinner, as the ship heaves heavily back and forth. Waves thirty feet tall pound the deck of the Gannet while lighting cracks all around. Suddenly, the silence is broken when the hatch to the deck pops open sending rain and sea water into the hold. Quickly clamoring down the steps and into the hold is a soaked and windblown sailor.   As he struggles to re-secure the hatch he howls and cackles with each crack of thunder. The sailor is short, lean, and wears tattered clothes with no shoes. As he turns, the weathered face and broken smile of Leofrik, the Bosun’s mate, lets out a hearty laugh.

Hooting loudly Leofrik shakes his head and pulls at his scraggly beard spraying water about the room. “Its a wild one tonight!” Leofrik shouts laughing. “A good storm can be an honest sailor’s best friend I tell you. Thems pirate waters out there and were not likely to runs into one of those buggers with that ballyhoo outside! Did I ever tells you folks about the time we were…” The passengers fix their eyes to the floor, allowing Leofrik’s voice to fade as they stop listening. Normally one of his stories would be a welcome diversion from the boredom of a long voyage but this storm was particularly violent and fear of being sent to the murky depths soured everyone to tales of mermaids and buried treasure.

For most who are not accustomed to life on the ocean, three weeks at sea doesn’t seem like a long voyage but now, caught in stormy weather, minds wander to dark thoughts and calamity forcing them to question how wise a decision this was. An elf, lost in thought about the home he left behind, is suddenly jarred back to reality as Leofrik slaps him on the back laughing heartily. “Ain’t that right!” Leofrik shouts, concluding his story. Giving a polite smile the elf nods to the old man while a few other passengers laugh at some punchline he had missed. “Tis beyond me why any of you’s would want to sail west. Lots of bad juju out here I tell you.” he says, his face becoming more serious. Rising slowly Leofrik’s eyes turn towards the topside hatch. “Something aint right…” He mutters. It was then that you noticed that the ship has stopped rocking and the sound of waves and rain has ceased. “I thought fer sure that storm would be with us for a few hours at least. But weirdness and odd goings ons are normal out here.”  Leaning in close Leofrik lowers his voice, “I thinks its the work of demons and black magic!” Looking back at the hatch again Leofrik gives his scraggly beard a tug, “weirdness…”

Turning back the sailor gives half a smile, “You’s know the stories right? I’m’s sure that college boy over there could tell you if he weren’t praying to Triton” Leofrik motions jokingly to a gnomish wizard’s apprentice who was tightly gripping a bronze receptacle between his legs to catch his days rations. “The ancients, the ones who comes before us. They were warring with the snake people. You know the ones…the ones that peoples still say live in the Firian. Well, those ancient folk were winning the war, somes says they nearly wiped out those slimy sods but the snakes had one last trick. The snakes, theys summoned an army that came straight from..” Lowering his voice, “the abyss.” Speaking normally again Leofrik continues, “Well, that was that for the ancients, thems all gone now leaving only weirdness and odd happenings out here. But you all knows the stories. I guess you know your business and it aint the place of an old sea dog like me telling you what fer.”

The passengers sit silent for a moment while Leofrik pushes out his jaw and scratches his beard. “Well, me hopes that you will all fair better in the west than most. Dangers and wickedness outnumbers good folk and…” Leofrik cuts himself off as his ears perk. The faint sound of muffled pops come one after another as Leofrik’s face turns to panic. “Sailor’s topside! Move you lousy deck scrubs!” The captain roars from above. Suddenly, shards of wood explode about the room as a pair of cannon balls rip through the hold. One striking a sailor, who had only just gotten to his feet, killing him instantly. “Stay here me pally’s and if all goes badly just gives em what they wants. Ye might just lives to tell the tale!” Pulling a dagger from his waist Leofrik disappears up the stairs laughing and hooting. Screams now become mingled with the sounds of clashing steel and musket fire.  Soon, shouting in an unusual language mixes with the clamor. As the fighting continues a loud explosion rocks the Gannet followed by the sound of a large tree toppling and hitting the ocean. “We lost our mast…” the gnome whispers, moving as far from the stairs topside as possible. Within minutes the sound of battle ceases replaced only with the echos of a handful of swords hitting the deck.  Passengers, eyes wide, sit perfectly still, afraid to move or make any noise as the plod of heavy footsteps come to the top of the stairs. A hulking Rouran, dark haired humans with slanted eyes, looms in the hatch screaming at the shaken group in a foreign tongue. Unsure as to his demands the room sits frozen until Leofrik is forced into the opening. “Hey there friends…Best be joining us on the deck.”

The passengers move slowly up the stairs as the smell of gunpowder fills the air. Through a haze of smoke, Leofrik spots Captain Trodder and three of his sailors surrounded by Rouran pirates. Other pirates move quickly about the ship tossing the dead and dying overboard. Pulled up along side the Gannet is a massive warship that boasts an impressive figurehead of a dragon jutting from her prow. All eyes turn towards the dragon ship as a Rouran slides down a rope to the deck of the Gannet. He is short, maybe five and a half feet tall, and wears only a pair of baggy trousers. His body is covered in winding dragon tattoos that run from the top of his shaved head down his arms, back, and legs. The pirates quickly force the captives into a line as the tattooed pirate folds his arms behind his back and begins to slowly look over his prisoners. Stopping at Captain Trodder, the Rouran Captain stares intently saying nothing. Nervously Trodder says, “Zheng Sen, what is it you want?” The Rouran frowns, “You disappoint me. You know what I want.” Looking away Trodder studders, “N-n-no, I dont, know what you mean.” Holding his hand to the side, Zheng Sen scowls as another Rouran plops a pistol in his hand. Without taking his eyes off Trodder he levels the pistol at the face of Migs, a young sailor, standing next to the captain. Trodder reaches out, “Please don’t…” but before he can say another word the pistol goes off sending Migs to the deck. Without hesitation the pirates grab the lifeless body of the young man and toss him overboard. Jayana, a tall, powerfully built woman, lunges for the Rouran, “You miserable dog! You murdered my husband!” However, she doesn’t get far as several pirates restrain her. “Now, lets try this again. Where is it!” Zheng Sen says shaking with anger. “Give him nothing!” Jayana screams, still restrained by half a dozen Rourans.

Pulling a small leather pouch from his coat a visibly shaken Trodder holds it out as the pirate captain snatches from his hand. Zheng Sen pulls a second pistol from the belt of another pirate and points it at Jayana. “Captain Trodder, this blood is on your hands. I can see that this is a terrible burden for you. Fortunately for you I am merciful. Allow me to ease your suffering.” Zheng Sen swings the pistol striking Jayana, knocking her unconscious, and in a single motion brings the pistol upon Trodder and pulls the trigger. The captain slumps over gasping but before even falling the pirates grab him and send him overboard. “We have what we came for men. Back to the ship!” Zheng Sen shouts. The pirates move quickly and quietly back to their ship leaving the crew of the Gannet standing in the line the pirates put them in. No one moves until the pirate vessel, Hai-Lung, pushes free of the Gannet and vanishes into the night.

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