Below Deck

((At sea off the coast))

After the commotion had settled down aboard the clipper ship, Saige pulled her white hood over her head, and pulled the strings that held the cloak shut tight, before peeking out of the door to her quarters. Seeing that it was safe she headed for the stairs to the upper deck to find out what had happened.

“Oi, Saige.” a voice called to her somewhere just out of sight in the dim underbelly of the ship. “Lotta folks topside are prattling about some weird magicy feeling. You get a tingle bout whatever they’re on bout?” a redhead asked, coming out of the dark.

“Oh. Hello Dagen.” Saige replied. “I felt something but was told to stay in my room, when the first commotion happened, I was just going to check out what had happened.”

“Some wacky sod managed to board us without a boat.” Dagen started, “Fought with The Mother’s hired muscle, and some poor lad got killed and puppeted around. Ain’t quite as whimsical when the puppets made of meat.” Dagen said, pulling a beer cork free with her teeth.

“Meat...puppet..?” Saige said with a shiver. “That’s…”

“Haunting.” Dagen interrupted, “Why do you think I’m gettin drunk?”

“ like it?” Saige asked.

Dagen shrugged, “True, but not the point.”

“Then the point is?” Saige questioned.

“Point is. Dead people shouldn’t walk around, and squid-jellyfish thing shouldn’t be able to make a man come back from the dead.”

Saige flinched. “I see your point. But I’ve read of worse ways people have been brought back. Like nails in the neck and lightning.”

“That ain’t possible, roite?” Dagen asked.

“Probably just a story, tall tales written to scare young mages.” Saige pulled on the cloak stings. “Least I hope it is, wouldn’t be good if somebody could just bring the dead back without necromancy, not that necromancy is good. But I feel like worse alternatives could exist.”

“Moral conundrum.” Dagen said, “I ain’t no mage so I couldn’t tell you, but seems like bringing the dead back no matter how ya do it ain’t a brainy idea.” she added, taking
a swig of beer.

“I’m not really a mage either.” Saige said. “I’m just gifted in the arcana.”

“A mage by any other name would…” Dagen stopped, “Sorta lost that at the end but ya get it. I don’t feel most of that magic stuff. Even when I do, it’s more emotional stuff. Like Fear.” she said.

“That’s not as different as what I feel.” Saige said. “I just feel what kind of magic it is as well.” she explained. “I don’t know much about the schools of magic. My schooling was very limited on the arcanic studies.”

“Well, you’ve always got time.” Dagen said, “Less you’re trying to settle down. But I think you’re too smart to let a man tell you how smart you are, and keep you cooped up in some house somewhere.”

“Thank-you?” Saige cocked a brow.

“No.” Dagen waved it off. “What I mean is pretty and smart girls get tied to the wrong wagon and get what they want out of life, just cause some man tells ya what you want not you telling you what you want.” Dagen took another drink, “What little I know ya, you are too good for that.”

Saige thought about what she’d said for a moment. “Is that why you sail?” She asked Dagen.

“Not particularly.” she replied, “Grew up by the water, my pa was a fisherman, so I took to it like a duck. Was never great at catching fish though, even with a drag net. So...just took to transport business. Meet a lot more great people when you move folks around. Sometimes we transport small goods, like someone needs a statue moved. They call us.”

“You must lead a pretty exciting life then.” Saige responded.

Dagen shrugged. “Not as much as you’d think. Don’t get me wrong I love the sea, and even with a great crew gets lonely sometimes longer trips there’s a lot of time in open water and you’re the only thing around far as the eye can see.” she said.

“We’re not the only thing around now,” Saige observed.

“Yeah, I heard the bells a bit ago. Belmea said it was a Karvossian frigate come to escort us the rest of the way to Osilon.” Dagen said. “I was gonna help with the meetings between the two captains, but was told to ‘keep your head down’. Guess it was in case it was a trick they’d need a captain to take over.”

Saige pulled out a small notebook and scribbled something down in it. “Karvossian Navy...interesting.” Saige looked at Dagen again. “Do you think there is any reason to believe they aren’t really who they say they are?”

“No, not really.” Dagen responded. “I don’t know of a reason why they’d pretend to be someone they’d never get away with impersonating, and it’d hurt them more if they are real to not help The Mother get to the summit.”

Saige scribbled another note. “The Karavossian government is proud to be hosting the summit and I gather the whole thing was their idea.”

“Makes sense.” Dagen said, “Most people follow religion before they follow actual laws, if all the leaders of each said they were standing together against this ‘Iron Queen’ threat they the people would stand by it as well. It’s practical thinking.”

“Better to get along for a bit rather than die arguing?” Saige asked, ready to write.

Dagen shrugged. “Something like that.” she said, “More like, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ Get along with someone you just dislike to do away with someone you both hate. I guess that is my point.”

“That is an interesting point of view. So are you in favor or against the war?”

“Against.” Dagen responded. “Ain’t no reason for needless bloodshed. Enough people die of silly things everyday. No reason to have family turning on each other because some elven siren song calling them ‘home’ to be brainwashed.”

“No one knows the size of the Iron Queen’s army of elves but it could be more than anyone knows.”

“Yeah, but I don’t think we need to kill them, just because they got tricked. Sure some of them chose this path, but plenty of humans chose the wrong path. I think the Iron Queen should be the only target. Kill her free those enthralled by her. It’s sound easy, but I know its not.”

Saige wrote more in the book and closed it. “Think I could interview those men who fought off that intruder from earlier?”

“Oh sure. There is one named Jeke who thinks he’s the gods gift to warriors. Not not only will he talk to you but you probably won’t get him to stop talking if the subject is himself.”

“Thank you for your time Dagen.” Saige said.

“I you want to talk about anything off the record, or just a normal chat, you know where to find me.” Dagen said, walking back into the dark of the ship, parting ways as Saige went topside.

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