Illustration by Syreene
We say goodbye to Parvatt / Parvatta for now as we leave Bral to return to Refuge in our search for the Leafbower family. I only hope that this trip proves itself useful… because last time I had to keep myself entertained in the gambling houses for something to do.
When I begin to see the strange mass floating out in space during my watch, I have to fight the urge to try and kick myself. I really have to stop telling the universe that I’m bored; it seems to take offense every time.
As we get closer to it, the details of the creature become more clear as the multiple tentacles and large beak come into focus. By Bast’s third whisker… what in the hells is that thing? I’ve heard sailors talk of giant squid in the seas of Mulhorand… but this… this is something straight out of a nightmare. I finally get over my shock and call a warning out to the others over my shoulder. Ef Utan’s clank of armor proceeds him as he steps out onto the deck and promptly swears up a storm. “Krajen!” he yells out. “Get us the hells out of here while I prepare the ballista, Lenatta!”
Ef Utan’s yell propels me into action and I get an idea as I rush to help Ef Utan; squid in space or squid in the water, I’ll bet a gold piece that they still hate fire.
“Wait,” I pant as I drop my sack to the ground and rummage through it to pull out a wax sealed glass bottle full of an amber liquid. “I know fire in the Flow is bad and all… but what if we tried strapping some of this alchemist fire to it?”
Ef Utan grins evilly as he grabs the bottle. “Why not? If it doesn’t work we’re probably toast anyway. Go grab Vedis and we’ll see if we can make this irritating enough that it will look elsewhere for a quick snack.”
I run to get Vedis below decks and we come back just in time to see the fire splash in the distance over the raging Krajen. The Maenad smiles and cracks her knuckles as she narrows her eyes in a stare at the creature. “He’s a bit far away, but I think I can make him a crispy critter for a bit longer.” It doesn’t take long before we can see the fire spreading and moving towards its large bulbous eye. The strain is visibly hard on her, though, as a vein pulses at her temple.
“We’re going to shoot it again, right?” I ask as I toss Ef Utan my last bottle.
“Wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise,” Ef Utan answers with a grunt as he clicks the lever into place and ties the bottle to the bolt. With another large “TWANG” the bolt shoots toward the flaming Krajen, this time impacting on the tentacles and blowing two of them off.
The creature screams as it flails in pain, and then takes off at high speed… towards us. Before I cam ask Ef Utan what to do next, I hear Lenatta yell out, “Grab on to something, quick!”
I dive for one of the deck rails and hold on for dear life as the ship climbs steadily upward, creaking and moaning in protest all the way. Just when I think the ship won’t be able to take any more, it flips back and rolls until we are once again right side up… but with the Krajen on a path below us…
… and the sails on fire.
The gods are merciful, however, as it seems that the second shot was enough to dissuade the creature from trying to eat us. I scramble up the netting as the rest form a line with water buckets, and before too long the fire is out and under control. Our sails are a bit worse for wear… but they aren’t anything that a few well-placed mending spells from Ayrun won’t fix.
Thankfully the rest of the trip is quiet until we reach Refuge. After making an appointment with Admiral Leafbower in three days time, Ef Utan and Lenata decide to go take the time to re-stock our supplies of Alchemist’s Fire (good thing too, since they used up my personal stock), and Vedis, suffering from a bit of a headache after the Krajen, suggests that we go to the Golden Helm and get a few drinks.
Hmmn… drinking or shopping… decisions, decisions. I’m a firm believer that none of us should go off alone any more, though… so drinks it is.
“Sure, we’ll come to the party!” I hear a Vedis say cheerfully as I turn around on my bar stool to see a tall man with long hair and strange tattoos chatting her up.
“What party?” I ask with a raised brow.
“This one!” the man says without skipping a beat as he tucks a card into the cleavage of my armor with a sly smile and heads out the door. “You two wonderful beauties will be the life of the party, I’m sure. Everyone who is anyone on Refuge will be there!”
“This guy is good,” I mutter as I pull the card out and look at it. Hmmn… Tain the Reigar. Well, we’ve got three days to kill, right? That’s one for a party, and two for the recovery afterward…
“Welcome friends!” the floating mouth announces as we walk up to a mansion the likes that I have never seen as fairy lights, naked humanoid women and the sounds of drums seem to float from the bushes. “Come on in and be sure to have fun unless you want to be made fun of!”
Thank goodness Ef Utan was willing to play guardian for us while we took some time to really let loose for once. He looks rather suave in the monk robes, actually. I wonder….nah… you don’t mix work and pleasure, Kenari. Besides, you wouldn’t even know what to do with yourself. Instead, I decide to stick with what I know… and that’s dancing.
“I should take notes for the temple festivities back home,” I say with a grin as I find myself drawn towards the drumming around the fire. “I’ll be with the music.” With a spin and a twirl towards the fire I focus and feel the shiftweave move around me to form a bellydance outfit of jingling coins and billowing fabric.
I can feel the thrumming vibrations of the drums as they pound out a beat that travels from my chest down to my toes, and let my soul go, if just for a moment, to think of nothing else but the rhythm. Tonight there are no monks out to kill us… no slavers, and no blasted Spelljammers to worry about. Tonight there is just the heat of the fire warming my skin… the music reaching into my soul, and….
My thoughts are brought up short as I catch myself coming out of a twirl into a wall of black, furred muscle.
“I’m so sorry,” I mumble embarassingly. I can’t seem to drop my hands, though, the mutinous things. Bast help me, his chest is so strong. I duck my head in hopes that he won’t see my blushing as I inhale deeply. His scent… it’s like leather, musk, and something I can’t quite identify. I’m thinking of trees when I suddenly feel the brush of whiskers and exhaled breath along my neck. I gasp softly and not just from the goose bumps running down my spine. Is he a… I look up tentively through my wild hair to see the smiling chisled jaw of a male Catfolk covered in black fur… his long hair kept back in braids.
“I’m not,” he breaths as he dips his head into the crook of my neck and inhales deep. I shiver in pleasure as I feel his nose, whiskers, and (dear gods) tongue run up the tendons in my neck to finally nuzzle behind my ear. “Mmm… cinnamon and cloves.”
I find myself reaching my hands up to his shoulders just to keep myself from falling into a puddle on the ground. “My name is Kenari,” I manage to whisper before I lose myself in deep blue eyes.
“I am Dassam, Kenari,” he says in a low voice as his strong fingers weave through my hair to stroke the back of my neck, “and I would walk with you.”
Words are beyond me now as my body succumbs to the new sensations. Instead of answering, my hands travel up into his hair and pull his head down to mine as I kiss him with abandon. Before I know it he’s lifting me into his arms and carrying me into the darkness.
Sorry, father… you did your best when you told me about how it would be the first time… but nothing could have prepared me for this…
Illustration by Syreene