A thrust, a swipe, a slash. Duck and weave and jump and you can't do any of this. The Captain moves far faster and with far more precision than you think you'll ever be able to manage. At first when she showed you how to hold the cutlass right, you started to feel a little more confident, like you had some vague idea what to do. Block, strike, ward off a foe. It made sense. Heavy and tiring and sweating in the hot sun, but you got it. She's a good teacher as well as a good leader, if a bit rough.
But now she just shows you how outclassed you are. If she was holding anything other than a wooden practice sword you'd be dead ten times over by now. Your arms ache and your head spins with each impact. You manage a block once or twice, but Mokou just laughs and weaves around you again, her long mane of hair trailing after her every movement. Her face is lit up, but in a different way to during the fight in the mess. There she was all grins and savage laugher, hopping on the balls of her feet. But this? This is play-fighting, she's just amused.
Out of the corner of your eye, you can see Renko still at the wheel, shading her eyes with her hand, ignoring or trying to ignore you and Mokou.
"Come on, boy!" Mokou says, taking a step back and leaving you a moment's breathing room. You heave in great lungfuls of air as she rests the practice sword on her shoulder and grins at you. She's dripping with sweat as well, but she looks at home in her element. "Hard, isn't it?" She asks. You nod, wiping sweat from your forehead and flexing your fingers where they've been gripping the sword too tight. "Yeah." You mutter. She points at you with the practice sword. "Hard is good, means you're learning something." She seems more serious all of a sudden. "Few enemies would give you a moment to pause like this, understand?"
You frown up at her. Well, yeah, of course you wouldn't get a rest like this. What's she getting at?
[ ] "I ... don't get it, Captain." Shrug. [ ] "Yeah." Nod.
"Yeah." You nod, blinking and trying to hold yourself straight again. Your legs are wobbly after all the swordplay, you're slicked with sweat and you'd rather just get below decks again and have a long, long drink. Mokou holds your gaze for a moment and then narrows her eyes. "Captain?" You frown. "What-"
She comes at you again, even faster and crazier than the first time. You feel yourself trying to swing back into action but you're slow and sluggish to start, adrenaline racing back into your veins. Mokou batters at you, easily slipping away from every return stroke you make. You block high, she punches you in the gut, you duck, she whacks you on the top of the head, you go for her exposed arm, she elbows you in the ribs. You're exhausted, sweating like a pig, confused and overstretched. Mokou gives you a final lazy tap on the forehead with her practice sword before tripping you up. Your backside hits the deck with a thump.
"Ugh." You spit up a little blood, sword forgotten at your feet. Mokou crouches down in front of you, catching your eye. She's giving you a look you haven't seen before. Pissed off, but not in a jovial way. She's not amused any more. "Don't ever pretend you can do more than you really can." She says. "That's when you fuck up and get killed." You nod. "Yes Captain." You say. "I ... didn't understand what you meant earlier." You admit. A grim smile returns to Mokou's face. "Good!" She says, sitting down on the deck just in front of you. She waves the practice sword around as she talks. "You're a farm hand, never been in a fight. You felt that just then?" "Felt what, Captain?" You ask, frowning again. She's getting at something, but you can't quite grasp it. "So tired you just want to sleep where you fall?" She grins. You nod. "Yeah, something like that." You say. Mokou reaches over and takes your shoulder, making you look up at her face.
"You gotta be able to fight like that." She says. "Right at the edge." Her voice is not hard like when she's angry, nor full of laugher. Just blunt honesty. You nod, looking back down at your hands.
Mokou takes the sword you were using and gets to her feet. "You have the rest of the day off." She says, pointing down at you. "Don't go to sleep, you're on kitchen duty tonight." She rummages in her coat, pulling out a water-skin and throwing it to you. "Drink up." She says. "Uh, yes Captain. Thanks." You mutter. "You're too knackered for more today. Rest up. We do muskets tomorrow." She says as she turns and walks away, taking the musket as well, leaving you sitting on deck, totally exhausted, watching her leave.
[ ] Just lie here. Too tired. [ ] Is Renko still at the wheel? [ ] Food. More food. Now. [ ] Something else? [?]
>>89834 I dunno, maybe the fact that her life before drinking the elixir apparently consisted of her being confined to her home since she wasn't allowed out in public, and thus had very limited chances to meet anyone let alone sleep with them might have something to do with that? Maybe?
Forcing yourself up from the deck again takes quite a lot of effort. Your legs are shaky beneath you, but at least you're more used to the sway of the ship now. Wiping the sweat from your brow and taking a few deep gulps from the water-skin as you walk, you spot Renko still at the wheel.
"Hey there." You slump next to her, squinting in the sunlight. She glances over at you, looking you up and down, keeps her hands steady on the wheel. "Captain give you a proper going-over?" She asks, hint of a smirk on her lips. "What?" You ask. Renko snorts with private laughter and shakes her head. "Count yourself lucky." She says, nodding behind her to where the Captain has just vanished below decks once more. "She's good, listen to her." "I will." You say, drawing yourself up again and cracking the vertebrae in your spine. Need to stretch yourself back into shape after that fight. Renko watches you silently, then hesitates, opening her mouth but closing it again.
"What is it?" You ask. She shakes her head. "Nothing." "Aw come on." You protest. "You were gonna say something." Renko tuts and rolls her eyes. "You haven't got much tact, you know that?" She says, looking back out across the wheel, at the sea. "What's tact?" You ask, frowning. Why must she be so round-about, what was she going to say? Renko doesn't speak for a long moment, her mouth twisting uncomfortably. You consider leaving, she's obviously pissed off or something.
"Sorry." She says quietly. "Tact means ... uh, knowing when people don't really want something. Being subtle, so fourth." "Okay." You nod, you get the former part, that's easy. "Thanks." "I was going to ask you if Maribel had spoken to you at all." Renko says. "Oh, yeah." You say. Renko raises her eyebrows, looking curious. "What did she say?" Renko asks. "Just asked me if I liked the Captain." You reply, trying to remember what exactly Maribel said last night, down in the armoury. The memory of her gas-lit face makes you shudder a little, even out here in the heat of the sun. Renko just nods. "Hm, okay."
She turns quiet, lost in thought.
[ ] Bid her good-bye, go somewhere else. [ ] "So what's up with Maribel then? Why's she on board?" [ ] "Renko, what was that ship this morning?" [ ] "You said something, uh, yesterday, about showing me how you navigate?" [ ] Ask something else.
No multi-voting please. Missing things in conversation doesn't mean you won't get some other kind of explanation sooner or later.
>>90406 Yeah, sorry. Been putting off saying anything because it feels rather humiliating being unable to update. Creativity is shot to hell, life is catching up with me, I'm tired, etc.
Finding it very difficult to update/focus on any stories, so I guess everything is on extended hiatus until I work things out. I'll be around, voting and reading, if I manage to finish any requests or shorts I guess I'll post them up too.
Meanwhile, go read some other stories. There's great stuff all over these boards, if anybody is too lazy/busy to look through them then I'm happy to post some personal recommendations up here if you ask.