...Sorry about that. Lots of skeletons in the closet- you know.
Good day; allow me to up your dates to the present situationisms.
As the Autumn leaves blow and chill our northern hemisphere to the skeletal bone, I have been fighting on under the constant, looming threat of deadlines and duties.
I understand for the past few months I've been quite less active with my post updates. This is not to signify in any way that I'm losing passion in my craft or that I am so overwhelmed with other activity that I cannot write. In honesty, I have been busy, very busy, but I'm still finding the time to write every week.
Now, onto the progress:
Nocturna League Ep. 5 - The novel's going well, at roughly 30,000 words so about at the halfway mark. Throwing in some good laughs and a lot of character building in the first chapters before things really go up in flames- as you'll soon see in the chapter below. It's the #1 priority.
The Relic - A publisher's taken interest in the project so that's a great boon in my corner. No solid details yet but if they like it and the collaborate on a solid deadline it will be what I pour all my energy into. This is presently my #2 priority.
Walking the Scar - Next segment will be done in roughly a week I reckon, though there's no gaurentee on that. I regret to say I've slowed down an enormous amount with this project considering my other more pressing commitments. It's my #3 priority.
Extreme Force - Oh right... I was working on that, wasn't I? N-...no comment!
Of course, if you have any questions about anything, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I wish you the best tidings in this most magical time of the year. I thank you for your continued support. Please enjoy the chapter.
Chapter 2: The Invitation and The Really-Quite-Obvious Trap
“Salt,” Colette addresses as the man of the other ship, looking like the ghost of a skeleton that was at one time a ship captain, floats down onto the deck equal the others.
“Cookie,” The Captain responds.
“Allow me to introduce you to him.” The Captain places the two glasses atop the neck of the bottle and takes the ghost skeleton’s hand. “Captain Russhaw Livingstone,” The Captain says, shaking hands with the ghost like any mortal would to another.
“The Captain,” Russhaw says with a distinctively ectoplasmic accent.
It may just be her imagination, but Colette has a hunch that this ghost captain is at least a little bit afraid of The Captain- the aberration seems uneasy.
“I trust you’ve come here to exchange more than simple pleasantries.”
Russhaw releases a hearty laugh, sounding like the screams of a city being drowned in the sea. “Of course, me hearty! Seems our beloved mayor’s been sending out a missive bounty for ye.”
The Captain hums. “I see… an attempt to have me put down and brought to justice, perhaps?”
Russhaw shrugs. “Ay cannah say f’sure.” He pulls from his ghostly bounds a nice-smelling pinkish envelope with The Captain’s name on it, written with flowing, graceful penstrokes.
The Captain takes the letter and shrugs. “All to be disclosed once we go up to the study, enjoy a few drinks, and read the letter together, yes?”
Russhaw laughs again and takes up The Captain’s shoulder as the two ascend the steps to his study and open the door.
“Captain!” Colette shouts up before he closes the door behind him and Russhaw.
“Yes?” he calls back down.
Colette shrugs out her arms as if she’s supposed to be let in on something, like just what the guy’s doing here, what she should be doing while they’re talking, or what Boris is cooking for dinner tonight - anybody’s guess.
The Captain shrugs back, and closes the door without a word.
“The hell,” she mutters under her breath as a few other crew members congregate near the side of the ship.
“Outta’ the way!” Engineer Luisoix yells as he hauls a huge bin of random crap that he got from under his bunk. “Outta’ the way!” He says again in desperation as a small skull peeks out from the tall side of the other ship.
“Ayyyyyy-” starts a small skeleton with his own bin full of crap.
“Ayyyheyyyyyy!” Luisoix responds in an equally annoying manner. The skeleton comes down with all sorts of other creatures, both living and dead, each with something to trade.
The unsure atmosphere shifts instantly to mercantilism as sailors from The Nocturna rush off to go get things of their own to trade, but Luisoix was ready the moment he spotted the ship.
“Tell me you have it,” Luisoix demands as he pushes his bin in front of the skeleton and Colette.
The small skeleton chuckles and digs around through his goods. “You mean…” with a flash he pulls out the latest issue of “Omniverse Biology” Magazine. This issue devoted entirely to beautiful pictures of aquatic life. “This?”
Luisoix’s angler-fish lure perks up in a way Colette could only describe at the moment as “sketchy.”
“Th-that’s it! Oh yes! Yes!” A foaming Luisoix grasps for the magazine just as the skeleton pulls back with a grin.
“Gonna cost ya’.”
“Y-yeah, of course!” Luisoix desperately piles out all sorts of baubles, items of magic, a folder of Omni-deck(TM) trading cards, rare foods and medicines and a few magazines containing some especially questionable material that the narrator would not be all that comfortable describing.
The dwarf skeleton coos in wonder as he looks through the mountain of stuff in front of a confused Colette who is unsure if she should be fascinated or disgusted. “This stuff’s sorta normz,” the skeleton says with an unimpressed tone as he finishes his initial observation.
Luisoix trembles. “Come on! This stuff is priceless!”
“Sure, but I know how much you want it, right?” The skeleton opens the marine biology magazine just enough for a poster flap to unfold and float from the pages enticingly. Colette hums as Luisoix gasps in adoration: it’s a poster pin up of a colorful fish laying eggs in a smoothed out nest- it really is a pretty picture, Colette thinks, but it’s not that pretty. Several of The Nocturna’s sailors nearby exclaim in shock upon seeing the image- as if some priceless work of art is being displayed to a crowd of cultured onlookers. Colette assumes she just can’t understand the taste. It must be some pretty high-class art if they’re reacting this way. “I’m waiting,” the skeleton says.
“Nice!” A salivating sailor from behind Colette says.
“All those eggs!” Another one says in a frustrated tone that reminds Colette of some of the boys back at the village when discussing Grancis.
Luisoix takes a deep, finalizing breath, and opens up the card folder. He pulls out a card that has the likeness of an angular, blacker-than-pitch figure that Colette thinks looks sort of like it has sharp, thin bunny ears- “a game character?”, she wonders as she looks over its wide, senseless smile and its glowing, soul-imprisoning gaze.
The skeleton flinches and looks on in awe. “No shit… This real?”
“See for yourself!” Luisoix hands the skeleton the small, shiny card.
“I never thought I’d get to see a third gen Chaos… That is, if it really is legit… May I?”
Luisoix nods, and the skeleton slowly folds the card. Colette looks on in curiosity, assuming that the skeleton would rather keep the card undamaged, but after the skeleton crumbled the card into a ball, the card unfolds by itself, eliminating any creases and looking as good as the day it was enchanted with preservation magic hundreds of years ago.
The skeleton grips the card like the deed to a well-earned home. “Yeah, it’s real alright… This for the mag? Really?”
Luisoix nods with a sobered up tone. “Like you said, I want it bad.”
“My man…” The skeleton scoffs, nods and hands over the marine life magazine. Luisoix’s composure erupts back into perverted euphoria as he takes the magazine, packs up his stuff and rushes off back to his bunk.
Colette watches Luisoix shut the door behind him and she turns to the skeleton.
“So people trade things between vessels.”
The skeleton nods with a few satisfying *clack* sounds. “Yeah. Luisoix and I trade each time Ol’ Stones and The Reaper have a drink to exchange news.”
Colette squints an eye. “The Reaper?” She asks in an amused tone.
The skeleton chuckles. “ Yeah, you know: “The Nocturnal Reaper”? What do you call ‘em?”
“Uh, The Captain?”
The skeleton shrugs. “Yeah, makes sense I guess… So do you want anything or are you just gonna hold up the line?”
Colette looks behind herself and finally notices the four other sailors that have their arms filled with stuff for bartering. “Uh… what all do you have?” she asks, looking over everything.
“Well,” the trader starts as he begins pointing things out, starting with a bunch of vials filled with suspicious-looking fluids and dried things, “I got you month-long supplies of hash, rickity, deadeye, and a single shot of weir for the same value.” He points across a row of baubles next, “soul gems, filled or empty, last names, first names, eye colors, most any body-transfigurator short of seasortage, enchanted bullets for any thirty cal-”
“How about… that?” She points at a small, unassuming octopus plushie, smiling brightly as it wraps around a stuffed anchor.
The skeleton pauses amidst his exposition of wares, and sighs. “Ahh, you just want this?”
Colette looks to the kitchen and spots the bare silhouette of a bleak-faced Grancis wiping down sooted cookery. “It’s kinda… cute?” She asks as if it were a question. Colette’s not exactly sure what cute is per se, but she’s pretty sure this is it.
“Uh, yeah. Yeah I guess it is, but more importantly what do you have for it?”
Colette looks to the side in thought and then reaches for her coat.
Half an hour passes, and finally Captain Russhaw Livingstone exits The Captain’s study with The Captain himself and they break up the parlay. The ghouls and ghosts return to the great wooden ship and they turn off back to the mist. Colette waves them off with a couple of the other more less-macho sailors as The Captain steps up next to Colette.
“Made some friends?” he asks, watching the vessel leave.
“Made some contacts,” she corrects.
“A most captainly way of putting it, my croissant.”
She looks over to him. “So, what’d captain calcium want?”
The Captain scoffs. “He wouldn’t appreciate such a nickname, I assure you. He’s quite sensitive about his non-mortality.”
She raises a brow in humor. “Terrifying.”
“Most other captains would agree, though I find him a good drinking companion… He wanted to deliver a message from the Mayor of Wreckwind Port.”
Colette’s brow squints down in suspicion. “Wait… What? Isn’t that-”
“It is indeed the same mayor that took flight in her airship some months ago and attempted to blow us to smithereens as we made our daring escape.”
Colette hums the way one would when hearing about a scheming ex’s latest depravities. “So…—”
“What is it?”
The Captain nods and turns to the others. “Sailors of The Nocturna. I have an announcement to make.”
A few doors along the various deck floors crack open to listen as others fly open to allow the flood of attentive crew members to get a good spot to hear from. Colette snaps around and sees, just barely, a scant line of darkness revealed inside the enforcement closet on the third floor deck- someone really is in there, and they just opened the door a sliver.
“Judging that this message I’ve received from captain Livingstone is true, Mayor Irefall of Wreckwind Port wishes to administer us a pardon. She desires I meet with her personally to discuss things formally during the Irefall Manor Ball. I’ll be attending this ball, will work out the negotiations, as assure our safe travel to and from the port from here on. We set our course for Wreckwind, do you understand?”
Salutes across the board.
“Yes, sir!” is the resounding response from the majority of the sailors in uncanny unity.
The Captain nods. “Very good then. Any questions before we set off?”
Itrim Kalamest slowly raises his hand, only to be given a dirty glare from Hoqq Lorenzo, that one constantly angry dude that has a harpoon gun for one arm and a wriggling, biting shark for the other. Itrim lowers his hand as quickly as he had raised it, figuring he’ll ask someone when the time comes.
“Excellent!” The Captain exclaims, “Then we’re off. Carry on.”
There are cheers and agreements abounding among the men as they go off to either go back to napping or ensure the ship’s readiness for departure, depending on their job.
Colette and Captain are left watching the scores of men meander off to their day-to-day activities.
She addresses him. “So… She wants to apologize?”
He straightens his cap. “Probably not the term she would use, but yes.”
“And you believe her?”
The Captain smirks, his bandages curling up slyly around his mouth. “Not in the slightest. I’ll have you to my study, Miss Ketiere.”