Monday, 15 June 2015

The Quest for Verdisc (part 9)

Marcus and Emilia hadn't been on dry land- well, sort of- in a fair few months. It was a strange feeling against their feet, a floor that was anchored by iron suspension cables to the ocean floor as to keep it from swaying. In the majority, the system worked, but when large waves crashed against the outer tiers of the suspended platoons, the whole port shook.
Large wooden buildings careered up from the platoons as Marcus and Emilia walked further into Nexelspire. Not one of them was connected, but in fact they all floated on separate platoons chained together loosely. Davelron had explained it once by the logic that, Qamatha forbid, pirates attacked the port, the ships could be easily freed and allowed to escape via outboard motors connected to their rears. Docking platoons, like grand weaving H's made from metal, acted as the walkways between buildings, but they were as useless as just leaving the buildings to congregate naturally, due to the level of crowding on them. Emilia grabbed Marcus' hand like she used to when they were little and had first travelled to Vincent. So many people, it would be easy to lose him amongst them. Emilia cast an eye over the crowd around them. Motley bunches of handsome Trident Holders marched through the streets, swag bags of fresh food and drink slung over their shoulders. She saw one junior Trident Holder, he was wearing a shorter green jacket unlike the others, who was handing out freshly picked bouquets of flowers to those he passed. He gave one to Emilia and she confessed her heart fluttered a bit, not because of any interest in the Trident Holder but instead because of the thorns left remaining in the stalks of the flowers.
"Emilia, look!" Marcus cried, pulling her back and to a halt in the centre of the busy street. As people hustled around them, telling them to mind their way, Marcus pointed at the roughly illuminated sign on one of the buildings, next to a painted green cross. "Look! A Gqirha!"
"Good spot!" Emilia said. "We'll come back to that when we've got everything else we need. Now, come on!"
They hustled through the crowd, dropping pardons to the people they shouldered out of the way. They followed the streams of moving people, around various corners of constructs and bobbing facades, plastered with wanted posters for infamous pirate vessels. The Bloody Rug Rat, was one that Marcus had heard of in stories Thaddeus had told him. The Holy Kevin and The Wrecking Decker were the lesser known ones, but the ship with the highest reward presented was renowned throughout the Quadratic Seas. The Unexpected Morale. Some said the Captain had- no. It wasn't worth thinking about. Some of those stories were too horrible to recall!
There seemed to be three individual groups of people in the crowds, with a fourth sub-faction. There were the sea faring Trident Holders, resplendent in their long blue jackets. They tipped their stubbled faces towards Marcus and Emilia as they passed, before muttering to each other, "They're a bit young for blue jackets, right?"
The second group were the fisherman, rugged blokes and women who towered over everyone else, but seemed to push people away with the stink of their flesh. Emilia, glancing at them until they stared back, noticed that they all seemed to head down the thinner metal platoons which acted as alleyways, cast in a mysterious red glow.
The third group of people, to whom the sub-faction belonged, were the Sea Merchants and their smaller relatives the rich Water Holidayers. They were the, relatively, normally dressed people who paraded up and down the streets as if they owned the place, knowing everyone and everything with their strange customs and habits. The majority of them, as the Merchants, knew the best places to get a bargain and those were the places that Marcus and Emilia eventually got around to filling cloth sacks at.
They were large wooden shacks that bobbed if you jumped into them- an action that was absolutely hilarious to do but irritating to experience if you sat behind the counter. They were filled with rows of shelves stacked high with the freshest fruit and vegetables- from all four corners of the Quadratic Sea- and large makeshift freezers that buffed your face with clouds of cold when opened. They held piles and piles of meat, chicken and pork and duck. "We're not getting any duck." Marcus said, defiantly. "It's completely inhumane."
"What's inhumane is us starving!" Emilia cried.
"Then get some bananas or something!" Marcus replied.
After a few hours of wandering around Nexelspire, the two wandering Black Addison crew members began to return to the ship the way they'd come. Food sacks were slung over their shoulders, lolling quietly like the platoons beneath their feet. Marcus saw the Gqirha sign again and they bobbed in, asking the main physician for his assistance. He told them he'd come to the Black Addison in a hour, if it was still there, and that service fees would be arranged then. Marcus and Emilia thanked him and then continued their wary hike towards the Addison. It was still waiting where it had been before they set off, bobbing slightly in the water that lapped against it's hull. Davelron was sat on the raised platform at the ship's rear, the Mechanical Wizard sat next to him. He stood when he saw them approaching. "Emilia! Marcus! Welcome back on board, let me help you with that shopping. You've evidently been busy." He cried, helping them. He seemed happier than usual, easily explained by the manner in which he hadn't been fined for mooring where he had.
"Where's the Gqirha?" He asked as they carried the bags below board and dumped them on the round wooden table.
"He should be along in an hour." Marcus said. "Too busy right now, dealing with some lady with multiple contusions, or something like that."
"Completely understandable." Davelron said. "The sleeping man doesn't look too bad, though. Come have a look."
They walked over towards the sleeping quarter's doorway. It swung open at a nudge from Davelron's foot and they walked in. Inside were the familiar four beds arranged in two selections of bunk beds, two on either wall and then a shared bathroom at the bottom that was merely a sink, a foggy mirror and a toilet. Davelron's bed was the top bunk on the right, a bag at the bottom. Beneath that was Marcus' bunk, decorated with the picture of his parents, Thaddeus and the man they were looking for: Demetrius Mist. The bottom bunk to the left was Emilia's, adorned with stickers from previous deck hand's stays aboard the Addison. The top bunk was the drowning man's. And it was empty.
"Where is he?" Emilia exclaimed.
"He must be on deck!" Davelron exclaimed. "All the other doors are locked! Quick!"
They all leapt from where they stood and raced towards the stair case leading up, jumping from the steps and onto the deck. The Mechanical Wizard was stood, one of the illuminating arrows on it's front pointing towards the brow of the ship. They raced around the shed that sat strangely in the centre of the deck and towards the front, where the previously drowning man was balancing dangerously on the figure head, staring out into the open sea. "This is terrible. This can't be."
There was merely a wall of fog ahead, nothing more.
"Sir, you need to come down now. Please, sir." Emilia said, stepping forwards.
"No. You don't see! They've found me! They've found me! Oh my Thinker, they're going to kill me!"
"Who are?" Emilia asked. "Who's going to kill you?"
And then she saw. The wall of fog broke apart and from it exploded a massive ship, it's hull blazing with barnacles, a group of angry looking pirates screaming from it's brow. They were waving swords and firing pistols, and that was when Marcus noticed the words stencilled into it's front.
"Good Thinker." He muttered. "It's the Unexpected Morale!"

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