“Hmm?” The lycan man turned to look at Udona. “Ah, apologies captain. Didn’t realize he was one of yours.” He said respectfully, before handing me back my quest scroll.
“No harm no foul, boy. Just get on with yer business.” She said with a toothy grin, beckoning me over. “As for you, Tebor. Ye heard right, ye’ll be part of me own crew aboard the Jolly Dodger.” Her grin became more mischievous after she told me the name, and I had to resist a powerful urge to slap my face with my palm. “Don’t be like that, now! Tis a fine ship! Leader of the Uncharted Voyage.”
As she spoke proudly, she pointed to one of twelve ships parked at the docks. Most of the ships were just one or two-decked, but the one she pointed at looked like it might have three. On the top of the ship, there were three large masts with the sails rolled up, a basket positioned at the top of the central mast.
I was honestly surprised that their sailing technology had advanced this far, considering that they were still largely in the bronze age, having yet to fully transition to iron. Then again, they likely used magic to reinforce the ship in several key areas, and there was not a single cannon on any of the ships. That made sense, though. Against the monsters we’d be facing in the open ocean, a high level combatant would be worth more than a dozen cannons, even if they did know how to produce them.
I nodded my head slightly as I looked at the ship. “Shall I go ahead and board, then?” I asked, looking to my ‘captain’. She nodded her head with a smirk, causing me to sigh as I walked out towards the port. I didn’t both taking a detour, and just walked straight across the water, it hardening into ice beneath my feet to carry me along before thawing behind me.
Once I got to the Jolly Dodger, I was able to see a figurehead carved in the shape of a praying woman, her hands folded in front of her. Going by the ears, it looked to be a felyn woman, rather than the kitsune I had been expecting. Shaking my head, I caused the ice beneath my feet to raise me up so that I could land on the deck.
Now aboard the ship, I saw several groups of people bringing large barrels and crates onto the ship, taking them down below. Everyone knew that this would be a long journey, and there was always the chance that we wouldn’t be able to easily return to resupply, so it was understandable that they were stocking up on as many supplies as the ships could hold. Whether it was wood or nails to repair the ship, food to feed the crew, or spare weapons to fight off monsters, we had to be prepared.
Seeing as nobody was asking for my help, I moved off to the side, finding somewhere near the front of the ship to sit down and close my eyes. Or at least, that was the plan. “So, I take it you found her, huh?” Kelly’s voice spoke up from next to me soon, causing me to look up at her.
“She really wanted to play the pirate, huh?” I couldn’t help but groan now that I was talking to Kelly. Though, it seemed like she was busy, with one arm holding up a large crate, and the other carrying a barrel. “You better get back to it before anyone catches you slacking off, though.”
She chuckled slightly, shaking her head before turning around and taking the containers below deck. Udona, got a quick question for you. You free to talk? I closed my eyes, focusing on sending a prayer to the Goddess of Life.
In a bit, Dale. Let me just round up the rest of the crew we’re bringing with us, and then we can talk face to face. Easier to keep my focus if I do it like that. I nodded my head at that suggestion, keeping my eyes closed and waiting.
It had to have been at least an hour or two later when I finally heard footsteps approaching me again. “Let’s talk in me quarters, Tebor.” Udona told me before turning with a grin and walking to a doorway just behind the wheel on the raised deck in the back of the ship. Inside, I saw a table, chair, a few shelves with books, and a small cot in the corner. On the far wall behind the chair was a small window, letting me see out into the city behind us.
“So, what’d ye need to ask about, Tebor?” Udona asked, moving towards the table and leaning back against it, smiling at me as she crossed her arms beneath her bust. “Questions about the ship, the crew, or me?”
“Yes, no, and yes again.” I answered, shaking my head and closing the door behind me. “Soundproof?”
“Aye, can’t be having the captain’s business overheard. Only way for sound to go out is if the door or window’s opened.”
“Do you really have to keep that accent up, then?” I raised an eyebrow slightly as I asked that.
“Ye can’t be blamin’ me for that, lad.” She shook her head helplessly and shrugged. “The big girl upstairs insisted.”
“Big girl… you mean Terra?”
When I asked that, she shook her head again. However, soon her eyes began to glow ever so slightly, and she smiled a bit more. “No, she meant me, ‘Tebor’. I don’t stay connected to this incarnation too deeply, it’s a trick that Terra taught me. I let her live out the life I set up for her on her own, and guide her here and there when it seems interesting.”
“Oh…” Well, that changes some things. So, the captain wasn’t really Udona, in a sense. But she was, at the same time. “Well, either way. I was wondering if you could tell me some of the details of this ship? Since my goal is to protect it, I need to know what it can do.”
“Of course!” Udona smiled happily, nodding her head. “It’s really great, honestly. The best ship that the beastkin have come up with. The hull is made from the wood of the ironbark trees found in the deep woods, which can only be harvested with a ki infused blade. Their defenses were then further strengthened by an enchantment, meaning it’d take a creature of at least level two hundred or an equivalent force in order to break through.”
“The sails were made to work with the help of a druid supporting them. So although there are only three, they are large and capable of catching a much greater amount of wind to let us keep up with the smaller ships. The only real drawback is that we don’t have the technology to create any offensive systems for the ships. But that’s where our crew comes in!”
I nodded my head in understanding at that. “It’s a bit early for cannons, magic or otherwise. Anything else I need to know about?”
“Well, there is one thing.” Udona smiled, opening a drawer on her desk. She pulled out a large, red sphere. “The other eleven ships all make up one large warding circle, with us at the center. The ward can create a barrier around the fleet, but it won’t last long against a sustained attack. It’s a last resort tactic if we come up against a creature able to overpower our crew.”
“And what about the crew? Your pirate level can’t be a hundred yet, but you’re at the level cap. So you have to be a good fighter yourself.”
When I guessed that, Udona shook her head. “Nope, actually I’m currently the highest level pirate, stuck at eighty-five. But I’m not that much of a fighter. For my combat class, I decided to give the summoner class a shot. If we get into trouble, I’ll summon one of my aeons. But they wouldn’t be stronger than a pinnacle champion like Kelly.”
Note to self, summoners call their summons aeons. Good to know for the future. “Alright. They told you about our detour, yeah?”
“Yup!” Udona smiled warmly as she answered. “Aurivy begged me to take you to see her dungeon, and even made me memorize which island it was on so that I could help you find it.”
A soft chuckle emerged from my mouth, followed my a smile forming. “I’m sure. Anything else I should know before we set off? Where I’ll be staying, any jobs expected of me?”
“The druids are all being placed at the front of the ship, where they can keep an eye on the horizon and guide the wind and waves. Your main job will be to keep the sea and sky calm during the journey. The monsters aren’t our biggest threat, not really. Here, the storms are dozens of times more terrible than the world you came from. The whole reason why druids are mandatory on all ships is precisely because of that, even the best ship will get overturned if it hits a storm.”
“Also, one other thing.” Udona looked up, as if she had almost forgotten. “You’ll need to set a portal gate at the harbor. We’ll be stopping near any island we see along the way and creating more gates, so hopefully we’ll be able to have an easy way back to the mainland. Just so long as none of the gates are too far apart to connect to the network.”
After she said that, the glow faded from her eyes, and she shivered slightly. “Yeck, always feels weird when she takes over like that. No matter. Anythin’ else ye be needin’, Tebor?” The captain looked at me with a helpless smile.
“Well, a name would be nice. Something to call you other than ‘Captain’?” I smiled back to her, having the feeling that life was quite complicated for incarnations that weren’t as deeply connected like this one.
“Aye, ye can call me Captain Bote. Emona Bote. And before ye go laughin’, it wasn’t my idea! Or hers. Didn’t even know what the blasted name meant in your old tongue ‘till the big girl upstairs filled me in. Seems she chose me family ‘cuz of our name, and near laughed her tits off when they named me. ‘Parently, that’s why she wanted me to be a pirate in the first place. Poetic irony, she called it.”
I have to admit, I tried really hard not to laugh. I really did. But, a pirate captain named Emona Bote? “Oy, you go on to yer post, lad!” She pointed to the door as she heard me laughing, the helpless look on her face only making it more priceless.
I waited until I was able to calm myself down before nodding to her, turning and walking out of the captain’s cabin. As I moved to the front of the boat, I saw an elevated bench just beyond where I had decided to rest before. I guess that’s my post. They probably don’t expect a non-physical class like druids to be standing all day… and I probably have to sleep here, too.
The last part of that thought came when I saw that the bench included a woven blanket draped over the seat. This is too soon to be payback for me laughing at her, right? But… it makes sense. If my main job is to watch for storms, then I can’t do that below deck. I still don’t like it, though!
A few minutes later, and I could hear Emona’s voice echoing out around us. “Alright, ye lads and ladies! All who are comin’ aboard the Jolly Dodger, take yer posts! Everyone else, take a walk. We’ll be raisin’ the anchor in ten minutes, and I don’t wanna hear word of any stowaways aboard my ship!”
When her voice faded, there was a flurry of movement. Those people carrying the last of the crates did their best to hurry up, moving them below deck and then jumping off onto the docks. By the time everyone was ready, I could see that there were only twenty people aboard this ship, including myself. Of them, all but five had reached the level limit, those last five looking like they had more auxiliary jobs like chef, or doctor. Although they weren’t at the level limit, they were still decently high level.
Most likely, there were similar numbers on each of the other ships. Instead of a large crew, they focused on each member being as effective as possible. That way, it reduces the supplies consumed, and allows for a longer voyage without added dangers.
“Alright, maties! It’s time to set off! Kelly, pull up the anchor!” Emona ordered from the wheel of the ship, and I looked back to see Kelly move off to the side, where a long, thick rope was draped over the edge. She groaned slightly as she grabbed the rope and pulled, causing the ship to rock ever so slightly at first. However, soon she pulled up a large rock which had been tied to the rope, setting it down on the hull.
“Feela, Kag and Saru, lower the sails!” Three more people began moving, all males. They went towards the rigging, loosening the ropes to let the sails drop before tying them off again. “Tebor, give us a breeze!”
Guess it’s my turn. I barely had to focus for a moment before the sails caught a gust of wind, slowly pulling the ship from the docks. Turning my head, I could see that the eleven other ships were also starting to move, entering into a circular formation around us.
“Let sail the uncharted voyage to lands unknown! For the crown, for the Sisters, and for treasures unknown!” Emona happily called out as she stepped up to grab the wheel, keeping a firm grip on it to steer the ship.