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Chapter 5
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Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 12:08 pm    Post subject: Chapter 5  

The story so far: Talon the One-Eye is currently the fourth most feared pirate in the world. Currently Honest had rescued Dumpling from the hands of an assassin, and in the last chapter it was voted to bring him on board the crew.


They had called him Wind as a child, an appropriate name for him now but it had been something of joke back then. He had been born frail, premature, and clumsy. The jokes of children had spurned him through the years to hone his skills of death. But as the sun began it’s slow eastern march that morning, Kaze Masahiro had never thought one night could so instantly change him.

He was now a member of the Scurvy Bottom, serving under Talon the One-eye and seeking adventure in a far away land. There was something about the charismatic captain that Kaze trusted immediately. Talon was a man who won his crews loyalties through sincere respect, fair treatment, yet firm rules. Fairness was not something Kaze was used to. Life as an assassin did not leave him much time to ponder such intangible devices such fairness, or honor.

Now, perched atop one of the ghost village’s buildings, with sounds of spectral snoring still wafting from the rooms below, Kaze watched a sunrise with new eyes. In front of him was a piece of parchment; on it was written his first step towards his dream. For all intents and purposes, Kaze wanted to be a poet.

“How is the poetry coming?” asked a voice, pulling him from his inner thoughts. It was Talon. He impressed Kaze again. Few people could scale a building quietly enough to surprise one in his profession.
“I have written my first line,” Kaze responded. “It is a small step but one that I will cherish all my life.”

“Hm, the journey of a thousand miles begins with but a single step Kaze, remember that.”

“I will Captain.”

“Come my friend, We have a long road to go yet. I am hoping by nightfall we will make the Island of O. By my calculations we are still a day ahead of Alistair the Crippler. We will start early today and make camp late into the night.”

“I am ready when you need me Captain.” Kaze bowed his head as Talon stood. “But that is not why you are here.”

“You are correct,” Talon replied with a smile. “Tell me if you can, are there more of your kind waiting for me?”

“Not here Captain,” Kaze said with a smile as he returned his eyes to the rising sun. “I was sent alone for this mission. It was to be my final test before I become a true member and was given my own name.”

“Your name is Kaze,” Talon said gently. “That is a fine name.”

Kaze said nothing as Talon slipped over the rooftop and began shouting orders to prepare the crew for leaving. The sun broke over the horizon with little fanfare, as it did every morning. But too Kaze, this morning brought a new hope. It was a sunrise he did not believe he would ever see.

It was the sunrise of his soul.

*

“Alright me hearties, gather up yer courage for ahead of us lies the Island of O. We’ve a map leading directly to the Jewels and we stay a day in front of Alistair yet! If we can make the third Island by nightfall, we’ll be sitting pretty fer the riches to be ours!”

Talon continued his speech to his crew, keeping them bolstered as they started their journey out that morning. There was a buzz in the air, unusual even for Talon’s crew. They were on the verge of something and everyone could feel it. The crew chatted nervously throughout the morning as Talon led them further across the Islands. The morning was pleasantly warm and there was strong breeze blowing in from the ocean. By midday the breeze only seemed to swirl the muggy heat around though, and tempers were beginning to flare.

“I have told you for the last time Dumpling, no we are not there yet!” Talon said for perhaps the hundredth time so far. Talon had long ago told the portly sailor to stop asking.

“Bloody mermaid on a pogo stick!” came as sudden cry from the crew. Talon turned and stared at Dennis, easily recognizing the voice. Dennis was staring off to the east and when the rest of the crew turned and looked they realized his shock. For there, in a lagoon looking area of the land, resided the Man Eating Sharks.

Talon stepped a bit closer, well in actuality the crew took a big step back leaving him and Honest standing in the lead, and he took a longer look at the creatures. Torsos of a man were connected with the head of a shark. The creatures walked in a wobbly fashion, weaving from point to point as the large head unbalanced their less proportioned bodies. They carried crude spears in one hand while the hafts of several others jutted from a quiver at their hips.
“They seem like alright folks,” Talon said to Honest, who only smiled in return. She knew nothing more than the lore that had passed through time about these creatures. Talon heard the whispers of his crew at the time, each passing on advice to the other.

“Stand perfectly still, sharks follow movement.”

“No you must play dead, sharks don’t eat dead things!”

“Are you daft? You have to move opposite sides of their head so they can’t really focus on you.”

“No, no, you have drink a lot of lemon juice, then eat a head of garlic. Follow this up with a ritualistic gorging of chocolate and cigar smoking, then hum some classical tunes to lull them to sleep.” Talon turned his gaze upon the ludicrous suggestion but the sailor was paying little heed, completely caught up in his own thoughts. “Or maybe that is for Giant Octopus.”

“Quiet,” Talon scolded them. “Ol’ Sharky, you’re the most experienced of us as far as the seas is concerned. What do you know of sharks?”

The crew all turned their eyes on the old pirate while he scratched his chin, searching for the answers. Finally he said, “Don’t get bit by ‘em. That can really hurt.”

Talon took a deep breath to steady himself then turned to see the man-sharks were charging them. At least, Talon thought it was a charge. The feet were attempting to move faster but several of them simply fell over with their heads going to far one way or the other. Talon watched in curiosity as the sharks would go back to pick the other one up then continue their way towards the crew. But the faster they would get going the more would fall, and they would all have to be picked up again.

“At this rate we could mosey away from them with little worry of being caught,” Talon said to Honest. “How did they become such a fearsome legend?” Honest only shrugged but knew the question was rhetorical anyway. Talon turned to his crew, all pale and stiff with the fright of watching the blundering charge, and shook his head. Superstition can often freeze the bravest of men long before logical thought can find it’s way inside the head.

“You men wait here, we don’t have all day to wait,” Talon finally said, breaking some of them from their statuesque positions. “Honest?”

“The sun is too powerful there in the center,” Honest replied with an obvious lament. “Should you get into trouble, I’ll be by your side in an instant.”

“No worries,” Talon said with a grin and a wink. “Kaze!”

“Yes Captain,” the smooth voice came from his other side. Talon almost broke a new world record for jumping at that moment.

“First of all, no more sneaking up on me!” Talon said as the man-sharks made their fifth attempt to build up momentum. Talon calmed quickly, as he always did, and said, “I would like you by my side as I go out to meet them.”

“But Captain, we could just continue walking and get away from them,” Kaze responded.

“Aye that is true but knowing the way things have been going they would follow us and we would be attacked again at some crucial point along the way. I’d prefer to get this done with now so we may at least move on without fear of an enemy at our back.”

“A good idea Captain,” Kaze agreed. “Yes I would be honored to accompany you.”
Talon nodded and turned to one of his men, Eric, who often carried the ships supplies and luggage. He was a young lad, barely past 17 years of age, and he had a gangly affliction which caused him to look somewhat uneven all the time, with a long face, thin fingers, and a frail looking body. But he was strong as an ox and jovial enough. The crew had liked him immediately.

Talon took a familiar looking blade from the boy and crossed back over to Kaze. Talon adjusted the strap so that the sword would sit diagonally across his back. Kaze was amazed that there was no rush in the captain, with a small army of weird fish creatures bearing down on them. But Talon slung the blade over Kaze’s shoulder and asked him to test the draw a couple of times.

Kaze pulled the blade free quickly and easily and marveled at its balance. His old swords were usually well balanced but poorly made. The ninja did not live by the sword as a samurai did, nor apparently as the pirate did. Kaze nodded then felt a hand on his chest pushing him back. Kaze looked up to see one of the man-sharks was throwing one of his spears.

The spear launched about four feet in front and landed with a weak thud in the ground, the thrower stumbled for what seemed an eternity before falling face first into the ground.

Talon rolled his eyes at Kaze who smiled, although no one could see it behind the mask he still wore. Then the two walked out onto the field. The shark-men looked relieved as they all stopped their “charge” and put their hands on their knees, panting. Talon picked up the spear as he approached them and helped the man-shark off the ground, returning his spear to him.

“Thanks,” the man-shark said as he turned around and weaved his way back to his companions.

Talon and Kaze approached them, with the crew looking on.

*

Dennis, Lisa, and Dumpling went beside Honest to watch their brave Captain, and the new guy, walk calmly across the open field. It wasn’t really that large of a field but the man-sharks terrible charge had seemed to go in slow motion. They watched as Talon helped the fallen one off the ground and handed him back a spear. Honest noticed Talon had once again gone into possible danger without his cutlass or pistol.

“Dennis,” Honest said snapping the man out of his fear. “ Go to Cutter and tell him to prepare the canons. If we must charge in to rescue Talon I want the canons to lead us in. Dumpling, find Nigel and Leonard, have them ready to lead the charge, then find our ten best shooters, ask Dennis if you need help finding them. Arm them with the long range rifles and have them ready as well.”

Dennis and Dumpling both saluted and ran off to their appointed task, Dennis hollering orders as he went, Dumpling tripping over his own feet.

“Do you need me to do anything Honest?” Lisa asked sheepishly. The two had never really talked much but Honest had always liked her.

“Guard me of course,” Honest said with a grin. “Listen Lisa, to handle a crew of men you must keep one thing in mind at all times. If you cannot give them what they want, give them something to do. Otherwise they may very well drown in a puddle of their own drool.”

Lisa giggled at that. “Is that how you handle Talon?” she dared to ask. Honest replied with a smile.

“Lesson number 2 my dear,” Honest said, “There are exceptions to every rule.”

*
Talon saw the creatures look around nervously after he had approached. No one had said anything yet and Talon wasn’t sure they would speak his language. There was only one way to find out.

“So ye be the fearsome Man Eatin’ Sharks I be hearin’ tales of,” Talon said. “Why do ye be wanting to attack me crew?”

He was answered with blank looks.

“Do ye unnerstand what I be sayin’ to ye?”

More blank looks, although this time those looks were passed form shark to shark. One even shaking his spear at the two men, a gesture Talon did not quite understand the purpose of.

“I see,” Talon said dropping his accent. “Do you wish us harm?”

“Why certainly not old fellow, we are simply protecting our lands,” came a surprising response. Talon looked around and realized he had seen none of the mouths move.

“Wait a minute,” Talon said as he approached one of the man-sharks.

*

“Be ready!” Honest cried out when she saw Talon approach the creature. The tension hung thick in the air around the crew as they watch Talon reach out his hands. In a quick sharp jerk Talon was suddenly holding the head of a shark in his hands. Honest couldn’t believe the man’s strength.

Several of the crew fainted.

*

Talon found himself staring into the eyes of a short dark skinned man. Brown confused eyes looked back at him. He made no move to stop Talon from removing the head gear though.

“You would fight and charge much better without these,” Talon told him, feeling the weight of the sharks skull.

*

Honest breathed a sigh of relief when nothing seemed to happen. Talon stood there for several minutes, and a conversation seemed to be taking place. Finally Talon turned and continued back to his crew, tossing the head to an unusually short man standing there. It didn’t take long for Honest to put the facts together.

“Stand them down,” Honest ordered the crew.

“Fire!” Cutter responded.

“No ye deaf scrotum of a goat flea!” Dennis shouted, swatting the canon leader with his hat. “Stand DOWN!”

Cutter suddenly sat on the ground.

Honest paid them little heed as Talon approached. He was grinning again.

“They have offered us a shortcut straight across the bay,” Talon told them. He didn’t ask why Cutter was sitting on the ground, or why Dumpling was laying face down in the dirt. He figured he didn’t want to know. “This will get us to the Island of O by nightfall!”

“I don’t trust ‘em Captain,” Dennis said in a hushed voice. “They don’t seem like right type to me.”

“You’re a pirate Dennis,” Talon said, with obvious effort to keep incredulity out of his tone. “What exactly is the right type?”

Dennis opened his mouth then closed it again as he realized he had no answer yet.

Honest smiled gently at Talon then took his arm. Talon moved the men out.

It was swift journey across the lagoon, the Shark men where excellent swimmers and they pulled the make shift raft along with incredible speed. They made a rest area long before dusk, and Talon learned that they would make the Island of O within the next couple of hours. He allowed his crew some time to relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings.

Talon and Honest walked off alone, leaving Dennis in charge while the crew rested. They chatted easily as they always did, staying in the shade of the thick tropical trees. When a thought suddenly occurred to him.

“They swim awfully fast,” Talon said suddenly. Honest looked at him strangely then realized he had changed the subject. Talon continued after seeing her blank expression. “The shark men. Those heads are unwieldy and heavy.”

“They wear their heads under water?” Honest asked. Talon nodded that they did. “We must be away from here Talon.”

“What? Why?”

“They are were-sharks! They can transform between man and shark on a whim!”

“But I pulled the head off that one guy, he wasn’t transformed,” Talon offered, thinking Honest might just be little jumpy since the incident with Kaze. But Talon had never known her to be jumpy before, over anything.

“I’m not sure what it all means Talon, but something is not right about this. They said we could make the Island of O in a couple of hours from here, we should just march the rest of the way.”

Talon looked at her deep in thought.

What do we do? Follow Honest's advice and walk the rest of the way? Or trust in the shark people to get us there faster? Or any other suggestions? Post below to discuss!

Author's note: I have realized over the last couple of chapters this is becoming more of an action comedy than pure comedy. For anyone who is bothered by this, my apologies. I'm trying to keep the comedy fresh and the story moving foreward.

Thanks for playing!
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Key
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Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 1:50 pm    Post subject:  

Great chapter as always, Random. I don't mind that it's an action/comedy - I like that there's a story to go with the humor.

I'm having a little trouble understanding the current situation, though. If they're going to an island, how can they walk there? And If the shark-men were pulling them across the bay in a shortcut, where did they stop for a rest? I may have just missed something, but could you give a little more explanation about where they are and where they're headed?
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ethereal_fauna
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Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 1:52 pm    Post subject:  

Honest is right; something does seem fishy about these shark guys. But that one's head just came right off. It was only sitting on top of the man's shoulders.

There must be some reason these Man Eatin’ Sharks are called fearsome, but after all the practicing and raiding on the ghosts, the crew should be ready to take on anything. I'd prefer to get to the Island of O as quickly as possible. Let's stick with the shark dudes for a little longer.
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Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 2:07 pm    Post subject:  

Key - It's a bad use of terms most likely. Several of the maps that project what the Carribean Islands once looked like suggested that they were in a ring with very little water between them. In this ring was another large body of water where several tribes had set up their villages. I was calling it a lagoon which is probably incorrect.

However, the current situation is the shark men were giving them a ride across the lake as opposed to walking all the way around on land. (Crossing some of these water cross ways was very dangerous as the water was usually stagnant but it was usually traversed by foot, or a short swim. We are talking a matter of yards here in seperation between the islands.)

Does that help or did it make it worse? :)
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Key
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Posted: Tue Jul 05, 2005 4:39 pm    Post subject:  

Um, OK. So where are we now? In an island in the middle of the lake, or are in one of the islands around the side?

If we can get to the island of O without the shark men, I'd say trust Honest's instincts and ditch them. If we're going to be on a "makeshift raft" in the middle of a lake, we'd better be sure of our allies. If Honest has doubts, it's better to go it alone.
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Posted: Wed Jul 06, 2005 6:24 am    Post subject:  

Currently we are somewhere between the inside shore of the second island. Since a makeshift raft would be a bit too normal, I'll go on record to say the mode of transportation was water skiing. I knew I had edited this one too much. I had this whole scene where they were practicing water skiing routines but took it out as I thought it was getting too long. :)

I might repost a this story with a few scenes added back in. I'll have to look and see what I got. I did add the makeshift raft to cover that part but perhaps I should add some things back in.

Thanks Key for questions! It's a nice reminder to edit in moderation. :)
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Posted: Fri Jul 15, 2005 8:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Chapter 5  

Random wrote: “No ye deaf scrotum of a goat flea!” Dennis shouted, swatting the canon leader with his hat. “Stand DOWN!” I about died laughing when I read that, I had to take a full minute or more to recover. I say stick with the sharks, I mean Honest and Kaze can probably handle quite a bit.
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Reiso
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Posted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 2:02 am    Post subject:  

Blitherypoop. I say go the long way around. If we have a days lead on the other guy, how much time could we really lose when we're talking a distance of yards? Besides, gut feelings are not to be ignored.
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Idea master
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Posted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 7:45 am    Post subject:  

And just to be a thorn in everyone's side, (Or to say what makes the most sense to me) I say we trust them. True, they COULD be were-sharks, but if so, why wear the head of one of their kind? Wouldn't that be something along the lines of disrespect to their dead?
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Posted: Wed Jul 20, 2005 7:36 am    Post subject:  

Thanks for playing everyone!

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