Your days quickly fall into a routine. After a light workout, You, Sasha, and Wanahton would study Captain Shen’s books on Fae in the morning and have language lessons with one of the officers in the afternoon. At dinner, you would be able to ask questions of Captain Shen and his other officers about what you read in the morning.
It was boring. At least the Owl tried to make his lessons interesting. The books on Fae were rather dry and had a habit of going on and on about details that no one cared about. The Language Lessons went better. You quickly picked up Seatongue and began helping Sasha with her grammar.
The end of the day was the best part of the day. That was when you trained Mei Mei.
“Stay, Mei Mei!” you tell the puppy, holding your hand out flat. Mei Mei stays put, wiggling impatiently for her treat. “Stay.” Then Wood Aspected First Mate walks out of the hold and Mei Mei goes running to him, looking for a belly rub.
You sigh and go retrieve your puppy. Mei Mei begins licking your face after you pick her up.
“Is Mei Mei being bad again?” The First Mate roughs up the puppy’s fuzzy fur.
“She is still learning.” You say, as you put Mei Mei down on the ground again. “Stay!” you say, but Mei Mei isn’t paying attention. She is sniffing around the deck.
“Mei Mei!” Sasha yells as the puppy starts to circle.
You quickly pick her up and carry her to the tarp for Mei Mei to use. “Go there!” Mei Mei sits down on the tarp and looks up at you. “Pee there!” You and the puppy wait near the tarp for a long while, but she refuses to go.
Sasha sits next to you by the tarp. “She likes to go on that one spot on deck.”
“Do you know why?”
“I’ve never had a dog.” Sasha scratches the puppy behind her ears. “Have you used the Charm Wanahton taught you?”
“Oh!” You close your eyes and the threads of fate come into focus. You locate the one for Mei Mei and braid it to your own. “Mei Mei? Why do you always pee on the deck?”
Mei Mei looks at you confused. You carry Mei Mei up to the deck and set her down. “Why do you always pee here?”
Mei Mei is trying to make it smell less bad.
Mei Mei doesn’t like the scared dogs.
“Oh! The Dogs in the hold!” You know that there were large black dogs caged in the cargo hold, but you didn’t know why they were there.
“One of them must have peed on deck and Mei Mei is trying to cover it up. Mei Mei!” Sasha yells at the puppy, when she starts peeing on the deck. The puppy scurries off, leaving behind a trail of urine. “As soon as you turn away.” Sasha groans “I’ll clean this up. You go find Mei Mei.”
You search for the puppy on the deck, checking all of her favorite hiding places. You were amazed at how fast the puppy could run and hide. “Mei Mei?” you call. “Where are you?” You check under a pile of rope. “Mei Mei!”
“She is over here.” You head towards the voice and find Captain Shen, kneeled over Mei Mei, scratching her belly. He picks up the puppy and hands her to you. “Is she still tinkling on my deck?”
“Yes, sir.” You answer. “We cleaned it up.” Captain Shen nods and leans against the rail, looking out over the ocean. “Sir?”
“Yes, boy?” Captain Shen never used your name. He probably forgot it, you realized.
“What were your Sorcery trials like?” you ask.
“My Trials?” He turns away from the sea and looks at you. “Are you trying to be a sorcerer?”
“I’m too young.” You say, evading the question. “But I’m going to have to go through the trials when I am older.”
“And the trials, especially the trial of fire scares you.”
You shrug. You are pretty sure you have already been though the trial of fire after losing Nanny.
“The station of Wood wasn’t too bad. Every Dragonblooded goes through that Trial during basic training.” You nod. You assumed that was one of the many reasons why you were sent to the Dragonblooded School.
“I thought The Station of Air would be easiest, but it is more than just learning books. You have to truly understand what you have been taught, but not be able to parrot it.” You consider the Captain’s words and realize that you have already been through this station also. Your understanding of the workings of Creation were second nature to you. Even Akachi was surprised at how fast you learned how to manipulate Essence after your Exaltation.
“The Trail of Water, is just traveling, right?” You and Akachi have traveled all over Creation.
“It’s more than that. It is being out of your comfort zone. I’ve traveled the Western Seas of my life, but my sorcery teacher still sent me south to the Desert for my Trial.” The Captain smiles. “It was rather…educational.”
He turns back to the ocean and says “Ah…. There she is.” You look out towards the sea and see a storm brewing in the distance. Captain Shen walks up to Sasha and says “My Lady, if you would take the puppy and stay below deck until morning. We will be having a guest this evening.”
Sasha glances towards the brewing clouds. “Storm Mother?”
Captain Shen nods. “She will be easier to deal with if you weren’t seen.”
“Are you going to stay on deck?” Sasha asks, as she takes the puppy from you.
“I’ve never seen a Storm Mother before.” You have heard a great many things about Storm Mothers, but wanted to know for yourself.
“Hopefully you still haven’t seen one after this, but be careful.” She gives you a hug and heads below deck with Mei Mei.
You watch as the crew lead the large black dogs out from below deck. The dogs were frightened and covered the deck with strong smelling urine. You walk over to Wanahton. “What are they going to do with the dogs?”
“Sacrifices for the Storm Mother.” Wanahton crosses his arms and observes the crew tying the dogs to the mast. “Are you sure you are going to stay on deck? Storm Mothers can be unpredictable.”
“It’s my mission. I got to do my part.” The crew begins to carry out instruments and strip off their uniforms. “What are they doing?”
“Preparing for the ceremony.” Wanahton smiles. “Don’t worry, we will find a drum for you to bang on. You can keep a rhythm, right? ”
“Yeah.” You hoped you sounded more certain than you felt. You suddenly wish you did invite Akachi along, though this wasn’t an appropriate place to expose a Sidereal Anima.
Wanahton gives you a look and then begins to get undressed. You and Wanahton being to assist the crew in preparing for the ceremony. You may not be able to sing on key, dance, or play an instrument well, but you were familiar with the other parts of ritual. You paint Spirit Tongue phrases on the Dragonblooded officers that should be pleasing to Storm Mothers along with symbols of protection.
After you are finished applying paint to yourself, you look around and realize that none of the mortal crew members are on deck right now. One of the officers hands you a drum and you told to sit down in a corner with the rest of the musicians. Wanahton stands with the Captain and First Mate and the ceremony starts.
The Dragonblooded officers begin to stomp their feet on the deck. The music starts and they begin to dance. Their movements are primal, not what you’d expect from well-disciplined officers of the Shogunate. No wonder the mortal crew was asked to stay off the deck. While on dry land, the Dragonblooded had cowered the Terrestrial Gods into submission, here in the seas, the Storm Mothers still ruled.
The First Mate blows a shell horn. Captain Shen takes a step forward and begins to chant.
“Hail, Unlamented Depths,
Guardian of Flashing Light,
Child of the Nightmare Tsunami,
You who dwell in Turquoise Tide,
You who rule the skies above us and the seas below,
With your immeasurable benevolence,
Allow our ship to pass through your waters.
Accept our offerings.”
At this point, Wanahton and the other pin down the dogs and slit their throats. You watch in horrified fascination as the blood pours out onto the ship’s deck. The chanting continues. The wind grows stronger and rain starts to pour down on the ship. You keep beating the drum with the other musicians, wondering if the ceremony would ever end. Dark storm clouds draw closer and envelope the ship. “Shit” mutters one of the musicians. The clouds part and the Storm Mother appears in all of her horrific glory.
You have heard many stories about how ugly the Storm Mothers were, but no one ever mentioned their stench. The Storm Mother reeks of shit and rotten fish. With all the grace of a landed fish, the hag flops from the sky onto the deck. She approaches the Captain, her sodden velvet robe trailing behind her, smearing slime and dead seaweed on the wooden planks. Standing before the captain, the Storm Mother lowers her hood. The hag’s face is lopsided and what little hair she has on her bald head waves in the wind.
“Welcome, Mosikhun. You are looking stunning this evening.” Captain Shen bows respectfully.
“Ah, Shen, you flatterer. You should leave your wife and come live with me. She is not woman enough for you to let you wander so far from home.” Mosikhun grins at him, exposing her serrated and grime encrusted teeth.
The first mate shudders, but the Captain smoothly replies. “I am not a brave enough man to risk finding out what would happen if my wife finds me in the arms of another woman. “
“Yet you are willing to risk my wrath by turning down my bed?” The storm mother asks icily. The winds begin to pick up speed.
Captain Shen pauses only for a moment before saying, “You obviously haven’t met my wife.”
The storm mother chuckles, a horrible sound that vibrates your very bones. “Ah, I love the look when they imagine fucking me. It never gets old. “ Mosikhun slaps the first mate on the ass and the first mate’s face turns as green as his hair. The Hag swings her oily mane around and inspects each of the men.
“Is there a problem, Mother?” Wanahton asks. He spares Captain Shen a glance who returns a small shrug. Apparently, this was not normal behavior from the Storm Mother.
“No problem.” When the Storm Mother approaches you, you almost gag on her stench. She stands before you and runs a greasy finger along your cheek. You force yourself not to flinch. “Tell me, young man. Have you ever been kissed before?”
You nod and add for good measure, “I have a girlfriend, too.” Maybe the Storm Mother would leave you alone since you were unavailable.
“Oh! Do you now?”
“Mosikhun, what do you want?” Captain Shen interrupts wearily.
Thankfully, the hag turns from you and stalks back to the captain. “I’m here to help you. I know why you are in my waters instead of at the blockade, Shen. There is trouble brewing on the islands and I have information about it.”
“And you’re here to give us this information out of the goodness of your heart.”
“Shen, Shen, Shen. You of all people should know that I do not offer charity.” She floats into the air and stares down the captain. “If you want this information, you are going to have to pay for it.”
What do you do?
- Let the Captain continue to deal with the Storm Mother.
- Bargain with the Storm Mother yourself. You want to be the one questioning the Storm Mother.
- Use your charms on the Storm Mother and force her tell you what she knows
((Don’t worry, I am splitting the Sorcery conversation into two parts. This post was growing long, so I had to cut part of it. I am also still trying to find a happy medium between talking dog and useful and unclunky communication.))