Well, well, well it’s come to this. While I could make the “It was a Whale of a Tale” joke, and you are more than welcome to make it, I feel that would be a little overwhelming even with my enjoyment of puns as such I will endeavor to resist
After a bit of rest from our... eventful night, Captain Sitara began making a bit of a name for herself in Vargarstaad by showing up some Skenden men in a duel or two. Despite some of her more eccentric tendencies, Captain Sitara is certainly a skilled fighter and leader... I suppose that is something to be thankful for. We set off for the areas where attacks had been the most frequent, with two Skenden ships The Storm Wolf and the Breakwave. Mesi and I had gotten quite used to the Ballistas and were confident in our ability to land shots on the beast when we meet it.
After a short stop and rest, we set out to the danger zone and found this monster of a whale. As of now, people have taken to calling it the Wight Whale, a fitting name, seeing as it had exposed bone and a hardened head with which it cracked ships that were not prepared. Prepared as we were for this monstrosity, no one could be faulted for at least being unnerved by the creature, its bony skull and black eyes evoked an image of death itself! After taking some swipes at the two Skenden ships, the Wight Whale turned its attention to us and moved for an attack. Thanks to Akash and a bit of clever maneuvering, we managed to not be hit by this incoming ram and were instead right next to this creature. I managed to send a ballista bolt right down the monster's throat! Captain Sitara, needing to sate her impossibly large appetite for danger and thrills... JUMPED ONTO THE WHALE! She ran across it's back with rope and sword in hand, managing to slash the beast. This strategy would soon become more fashionable once the Skenden got closer to the beast. After a bit of fighting, I decided to grab the Mon, and have someone use its power to help kill the beast. It took a little while but I found the Mon hidden away... Where's the trust? Anyway, I returned outside to see two of the Skenden Captains on the Wight Whale to discover that our dear Captain, in all her divine wisdom, jumped into the water, and was eaten. I can't believe I didn't give up just then and there, but either I knew that I could use this later or I wasn't going to let a whale beat us, but I gave Mesi the Mon, and told her to give that damn whale a reason to open its mouth. To Mesi's credit... she did! Mesi ran up the whale, jumping in the air and plunging her spear into the beast's head, killing it. The Wight Whale was slain, and the Captain, protected by some divine providence it seems, climbed out of the beast's mouth. We celebrated and are now heading to Vargarstaad, with the Wight Whale in tow!
Finally made it to Vargarstaad! We did a bit of exploring the city, and I am impressed. It is designed for efficiency and made to be practical in case of emergencies. Very well defended. Akash made a new contact and we proceeded to visit the funeral of the ship that was lost at sea to the whale. We drank. A lot. Akash and I more than everyone else. I still managed to out do him, but not by much.
In the next few days I made a recovery from the night of drinking. I came to the ship and one morning a strange Dascean man and woman were getting the grand tour. Thankfully Kanuki didn't try and kill them after he was provoked.
It looks like we will be heading out to hunt this damn Leviathan. Much to my personal dismay, I might add. I did manage to get a harness made for the Mon, so we can use it without needing to hold it. Well, I suppose I should get more practice with the Ballista.
(This entry is shakily written and has many pauses)
Damn my curiosity, it's going to get me killed one of these days... After leaving Bystanar, we had about a week before we reached Vargarstaad and I figured it was a decent time to work on the some theories I had about the Mon. I found that two people could not use it at the same time, as well as one person couldn't transfer their energy for the other person to use. Akash then tried using the mon to control other elements with his magic, but could only increase the strength of his air magic. He was able to create a damned water spout, so at least we have a fairly easy way to deal with enemy ships should we be pursued by anyone. After all of that, I tried to contact whatever entity gave power to the Mon, and found myself in an empty void. Standing above me was a dark figure with a spear in hand... I don't know if it was its influence, or if it was natural curiosity, but I tried to grab its hand. Before I could, the Mon was snatched out of my hand by Diallo, thankfully I might add. In reality , my veins turned black, but the black energy or substance seemed to ooze out through my body and was covering me. I couldn't breathe and apparently came closest to death out of everyone on the crew who had used the Mon. I need to be much more careful....
Well it seems that we have new passengers of sorts. As we were coming into Vargarstaad, we passed by a Skenden longship that had suffered damages due to some behemoth of a whale. I knew in an instant that Captain Sitara, a woman reckless enough to rival my sister, wanted to fight that damn whale. Sadly for those sailors they lost one of their ships to this leviathan, but we should be able to get them into shore safely. On the plus side, this should give us a bit of credit along with our good deeds in Bystanar, so any favors we need here may be a bit easier to pull off.
That was certainly grim. Upon sailing into Skenden territories we came to see a funeral pyre on the shore. We made our way over to the group and found that one of their village had been killed by some kind of monster. After investigation we found that the man who was killed had sustained blade wounds instead of claw or teeth wounds. Through asking around we found out that the most likely suspect was a woodsman named Arnt. Even though Captain was gung-ho about revealing his guilt, we were correct about him. What happened next was probably the most direct and brutal display of justice that I have personally seen. The entire town crowded around the killer and beat him to death. Skenden justice is swift, severe, and direct. There is no maneuvering through the justice system like you can do in Xien La. I think I will keep any crimes committed here to a minimum. I need to go diving again to find the treasure that the chief of Bystanar says is on this old sunken raiding ship. Hopefully it proves lucrative.
I can't believe it.... That damn Skenden ship actually had a treasure so great that I can't even begin to describe my elation. They actually had a ring of the Royal Family... I don't even know what I can do with it now, but I now have this ring that commands immense power and influence. I could try and turn it in for a reward, I have political connections so I could spin it in a positive light. I could try and sell it but most people would be rightfully scared to own it, as being caught with this ring would mean execution for sure. The only other use is to keep it and use it as bragging rights and influence for myself.... I will have to think carefully about this. Maybe ask my sister, she may have a better idea herself. Regardless, this discovery alone has made the trip well worth the effort.
Upon leaving Xien La, we stopped at the edge of the Minzoken territory in a small fishing village before departing for Vargarstaad. I am still fairly injured from trying to heal our giantess but should be getting better. I haven't been sleeping well since we got the Mon... I can't tell if its natural curiosity or if the Mon is manipulating me somehow. After a short stop in this village and Mesi performing a duet with our master of tops, we prepared to depart when we found a child in our cargo hold. I have to give this kid points for guts, however we still took the child back to the parents. I am excited to see how Akash fairs in Skenden territory, I might not even recognize him with a real shirt on.
There are times when I think that our local Giantess is much more trouble than she is worth... This feeling is felt ten times over when she does certain... Braindead things. For instance, when greeted with the knowledge that myself and Akash had acquired the Mon, a seemingly magical and powerful artifact, that absolute MORON threw the damn thing off the ship! It's lucky we were still in port and could grab it before it sank into the murky port, although Akash did terrify the crew with his next act... myself included.
It was like nothing I had seen before, Akash rose up out of the port in a torrent of wind and water, but this time he had a black aura outlining him, and his veins turned inky black. I'm not superstitious and I don't spook very easy, but this shook me to my core, as well as Sitara. After Akash finished his little show, both Sitara and myself agreed that Akash shouldn't use the Mon until we have a better clue of how it works... This certainly upset him, but we can't give in just because of his ego and pride. Thankfully Sitara was reasonable and took my side. It might cost me a bonus, but for my safety, the select crew members who seem like good people, and Akash's safety as well, I can spare some extra money.
Probably the most amusing part of all this was the Giantess then getting upset at that display and threatening to leave! The nerve of her, to actually throw something of great value, that was not hers to pass judgement on, and then refuse to stay on the same ship as it!? I wish Akash had actually been able to blast her off the damn ship, perhaps put her into our mindset. and yet our ever gracious Captain convinced her to stay, not sure why or what she has really offered, other than serve as an easy target for attackers that is... Well I guess she does have some merit then.
Probably the most infuriating thing about this whole Mon situation is that the Giantess could actually use the damn thing... and yet I couldn't... All she did was convince some forest animals to come near her, probably just though that she was tree though, as tall as she is. I tried to use the Mon to hypnotize Mesi, but nothing happened. Mesi meanwhile empowered her spear work and it was quite impressive. Interestingly enough, Sitara couldn't seem to use the Mon either. Akash was upset and sulking, and didn't provide much help with how he uses his own magic.
I've kept the Mon in my quarters, as no one else was particularly keen on it and I reasoned to them that I posed the least threat with it considering I couldn't use it. A bit of a half truth as I have been trying to get the damned thing to work but I can't get it! I pride myself at being good at what I do, whatever it is, and yet this Mon eludes me. Even the Giantess could make it work but I can't?! It's kept me up for the past couple of nights, but we are going to test it tomorrow and I intend to make it work.
Results! Finally results! The test sessing went almost annoyingly well as I realized the mistake I made was one of word choice, although perhaps thought choice is more accurate of a description.
Maybe I am going a bit soft, maybe I'm just a bit rusty, but in all my days, never would I have thought that there would be someone who would make me endanger my mission's success, someone who I knew could save themselves, and if they chose not to, that would simply be their own fault. Not until Akash apparently. That flamboyant, over-the-top, windbag was enough to make me willingly jeopardize my mission. With the goal in hand, and my escape just a few steps away, I chose to run back into a burning building, leaving the chest outside, and went to save one of my only friends. That absolute bastard was shouting at that Ryou and trying to grab something off his chest, when I saw Akash take a slash across the chest. Sprinting in, I managed to take the Ryou by surprise from behind, and Akash grabbed the Mon. We would later learn that this Mon increased Akash's powers tenfold, and launched all three of us into the air in a pillar of wind and fire... I will say, if there was any doubt of spirits being involved, this spectacle surely convinced any skeptics. Of course this Ryou monstrosity didn't even let go of us, and we finally managed to kill him, with myself barely grabbing onto Akash's foot.
We landed in the river nearby and ran to find the chest scorched, but unharmed. We took it to out contact in the Brotherhood, and found that now had letters to link both the Yamuchi Family and the Nakashima Family to blackmail, tax evasion, and murder. Finally, we have been rewarded with a talent of pure jade from the Yamuchi family, of which I'm sure Akash will make good use of.
Now, all that is left for us is to find a use for this Mon, and unravel its mysteries.
I would like to say the operation went better than I had planned... although that would be cutting out a few essential details that transpired. It seemed the spirit ruse worked well enough, although spirit or not, Kannuki is plenty frightening on his own. I guess that's the perk of having your own personal pet Oni. While he and Captain laid waste to the front gates, Akash and myself made our way around the side of the compound as I made sure Akash knew to save a bit of magic to get me out of the compound should everything go to shit... Looking back on it, there is a twinge of irony in the fact that he actually did use his magic to get us out, just not how I expected.
I got into the compound, and within minutes of entering, I stepped on a mouse! A mouse, of all the things to find hiding in the bushes at that very moment... I swear, if there actually are some gods watching over us, then they must have some personal vendetta against me for some reason! Of course I was able to sneak away, and even managed to lure some guards away from the main house.
While Captain and Kannuki were wreaking havoc outside, I scoured half of the downstairs and then searched the second floor along with Akash. Upon finding nothing important, I went to the second half of the bottom floor to find exactly what I was looking for... and something that I wish I hadn't found. I popped open a floor board (what a cliché) and found the documents. Of course, materializing out of the shadows came a Ryou captain of sorts, with a big damn Naginata. I can't believe that I tried to wrestle his sword away from him! Never, in such a long time, have I panicked so thoroughly that I forgot how agile I am. I have escaped more pursuers with larger hauls of loot than this, but damn if this Ryou wasn't terrifying.
I managed to get out of the room unharmed and Akash came to help me... I advised that he just get out of the damn building, the damn building that was currently on fire because of us, by the way! I made my way out thankfully, and was about to run when I felt a blast of air jet out through the front doors.
Damn you Akash, and all your stubbornness...
From the cock fighting ring to this next scheme, I am convinced that Captain is just determined to find the most convoluted ways to carry out any operation. And Akash is certainly no help either! Or at least no help to me. The core group and Kannuki are going to attempt to convince the Yamuchi Family and the city that they have commit a crime unto the spirits. They seek to achieve this by dressing up like spirits and wreaking havoc...While I can see it working on its own, the larger problem is that I have to sneak into the Yamuchi Compound to steal incriminating documents from them.
OF WHICH I HAVE NO WAY OF KNOWING WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE OR WHERE THEY ARE IN THE BUILDING!
If they even are in the building! But no, it's not enough to have to steal this shit from a heavily guarded facility, it's not enough that Akash, Captain, and her "brother" are going to be playing dress up during this, but those Yamuchi animals have already butchered most of our inside men from the Brotherhood! So not only do we not have inside help and distractions, not only do I have to plant fire charges to go off and escape, but the Yamuchi already know that we were making efforts to infiltrate their compound! The only real upside is that they might believe this spirit nonsense now, and hopefully they think that they've taken care of business with this little purge of theirs.
I was at least able to get a layout of the compound while Akash did his flying ghost routine, and the information should hopefully be in the main house. We have also been informed that there should be no Ryou clan members in the house, so that's one less to worry about... I guess I should've tried to enjoy the festival, but it's hardly anything novel at this point. Although, of everything I expected Captain to do... Yipping like a fox and chasing other foxes in fox costumes was not one... I cannot begin to describe my regret for taking this job.
Everyone else was dressed up in costumes that were fitting, with akash looking like a giant flaming phoenix, as opposed to a giant flaming human for once. Mesi was a guardian Fu Lion, and our Giantess was a Hawk. All rather fitting costumes.
Hopefully the actual operation will go smoothly and perhaps some people will actually buy the spirit angle... Superstitious fools that most people are.
Finally, we got to offload some of these damn figs! With Nobu and his gang dealt with, we could finally get Maki to buy a large amount of our figs... Along with that, we decided to pursue the Pink Padoga... I think that's right anyway... and try and sell the "special" mixture that our local Giantess and the ships surgeon cooked up. I'd rather not have to think about the experimentation process of testing the potency of this stuff. Regardless, I can't believe I forgot about this place! I had multiple business dealings here with a few clients, as well as having to mediate a deal between the owner and one of my more prodigious clients. I had forgotten to an extent how... specific... of a person Matsumoto Yuuki was. Regardless, we were able to convince him to stock up on our tonic and he treated us to anything we would like to try that his establishment offered. I quite enjoyed his wine selection, and I should mention to Captain that we should try and get Matsumoto to buy from Maki as well...
After we got back from our personal sessions, we were treated to a number of beautifully preformed shows. I value more practical uses of such skills, but I could still appreciate the effort that the performers displayed. We even received a show from our very own Mater of Tops! Which was a surprise to be sure, of course the crowd loved such an exotic show. Should I ever take up such a frivolous hobby, I may ask him for lessons.
We also met an odd woman at the show. A Dascean woman whose appetite could rival Kannuki's! She was good for conversation and was even setting up a supply line of rice to other parts of the world. This was all in preparation for the "next" Long Dark... While I shudder at the thought, I do suppose that it is wise to be prepared for the worst, so I admire that pragmatism.
We met with her again the next day to shop for outfits for the upcoming Fire Festival... I didn't need one, especially for the price it would've cost, and I already have one from the last few festivals.