Friday, September 23, 2011

Sally, Part 23

1. We have running water.
2.  I have a home.
3.  I have family who cares about me.

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You'll need to read Part 22 for this post to make much sense.

A week passed.  Stacey spent his time cooking, cleaning, and finding odd jobs to keep his mind occupied.  It wasn't all bad, he learned how to tie knots, climb a mast, sow sails, sing shanties, and probably the thing that intrigued him most, carve letters into wood.  He helped the carpenter as he removed the ships old name and put a new one on: "Liberation" it said.  Stacey had no idea what it meant, but it sounded nice, or at least a lot better than Ginger, the ship's old name that The Captain had given it after a visit to the Calamine Isles.

During that week Stacey also saw men training for war.  The most impressive was an elf named Syrin.  He used a rapier and a dagger, but with the way he moved you'd think he was made of water.  Stacey never watched for long, as it brought memories that he wanted to keep hidden, but it was hard not to stay and watch Syrin, because with him, it looked to be more of a dance than a battle.  It was beautiful in its way.  Whether he was sparring with someone else, or going through his own form perfecting routine, each movement looked effortless and balanced.  It looked almost peaceful, until Stacey looked in Syrin's eyes.  Stacey had anticipated a peaceful, or satisfied look, but instead saw pain.  It made Stacey look more earnestly.  He assumed that someone who would perfect this craft would be someone who delighted in bloodshed, but there was no delight in Syrin's eyes.

"Syrin, perfect at his craft."  It was Mattias.  He always seemed to show up just as Stacey was really wondering about something.

"Yes he is."

"Have you looked into his eyes?"

"I just was actually. He looks sad."

"He is.  Syrin is no ordinary warrior.  He's really no warrior at all, but a survivor."

"What do you mean?"

"Syrin is a Shalakian Elf.  His people were enslaved thousands of years ago.  Though small, they have a great capacity to work together, so men used them."

"How did he escape?"

"With his dance.  The slavers wouldn't allow them to train, for obvious reasons, but they would allow them to dance.  So, each night, Syrin and a small group of his people formed what they knew about sword play, and made each movement look like a dance.  It didn't take long until they found blades and fought their way out of slavery.  A beautiful story really."

"How did he end up with you?"

"I found him in Chindal.  He was part of a circus.  After he and his group escaped they couldn't find work.  So, they split up and tried their hand at whatever job they could find.  Syrin was nimble, and eventually found his way into Chindal's circus.  By chance I heard his story and asked if he'd join our cause.  His dancing blades have been on my ships ever since."

"Speaking of your ships, I helped Andrew carve a new name into her.  'Liberation,' what does it mean?"

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sally, Part 22

1. I didn't have school today, so I got to catch up on part of the sleep I've been missing
2.  Alan Wake is as awesome as I thought it'd be.
3.  My wife is supportive.

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You'll need to read Part 21 for this post to make much sense.    

Stacey didn't move from watching the pirate ship go, he rested his forearms against the boat and stared into the frothing sea, out to where the bodies had been dumped, where the sharks were already feeding.  Stacey couldn't make out the boy he'd killed among the trail of red.  He didn't have to.  He knew that his victim lay somewhere in the line.  It made him sick to his stomach.  So much so that he didn't notice Mattias come and lean next to him.

""Not what you thought it'd be, was it?"

Stacey looked from the crimson oil spills to Mattias's blue eyes.  "No."

"It never is."  Both men stood in silence as they thought about what the battle had looked like.  Mattias finally spoke again, "Stacey, you did what you had to."

Stacey's chin bounced as he tried to hold back to tears, "But it wasn't right."

"No, it wasn't.  Killing never is."

His chin stopped shaking as he felt both confusion and curiosity, "But you've killed dozens of people."

"I never said it was right.  Each time I killed was a failure, either on my part or on the part of someone else.  Sometimes killing is a necessity.  That boy was on our ship, and though he didn't know you, he was trying to kill you.  That's not your fault Stacey.  You couldn't have prevented that failure."

"Then why does it feel so wrong."

"Because you're a good person.  Because you know that life is precious."

"Are you sure you want someone like me fighting on your side."

Mattias stared into Stacey's eyes, "You're exactly the kind of person I want fighting on my side.  We don't need murderers on our side, we need good men with hearts like yours.  We need men who know that killing is wrong.  We need someone who values life.  I need to get back to the rest of the crew.  What happened will still be raw for you for a while, try doing something to get it off your mind now, so you can come back to it when it's not so fresh."

Stacey had turned back toward the sea when Mattias finished talking and walked off.  What he'd said helped, but he was right, killing that boy was sandpaper rubbing against a sunburn on Stacey's mind.  Stacey was being asked to look at himself and change, but he had little direction.  He wanted to be courageous, but not stupid, alive, but not bloodthirsty, and feeling, but not sad.  After standing for a good while longer, he finally pulled himself down to the kitchen, where he pulled carrots our of his cleansing sack, some potatoes he had left over, and some beef he'd bought while in Andrill, and made a stew for the men.  Cooking didn't cleanse his mind of the boy's lifeless face, but it did help him not to look at it so often.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sally, Part 21

1. Got to eat lunch with an old friend who remembered he owed me ten bucks (gotta love the friend who remember they owe you money even when you forget).
2.  My copy of Alan Wake comes tomorrow.
3.  Got two new followers.  Welcome to both of you.

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You'll need to read Part 20 for this post to make much sense.   

"Mattias!"  The other ship's captain had a device called a voice projector.  It was really just an enchanted horn that made your voice loud when you spoke into it.  They were sold at most magic shops and almost all pirate captains had one, so that they could call out orders to their victims.  "Mattias, I know that ship is yours!  Surrender peacefully or we will continue firing and your crew will die with you."

Stacey looked around to see the crew's reaction, but got nothing from them, other than the group of dwarves and gnomes as they scurried below deck.  Mattias then jumped up on the side of the boat and held on to some of the rigging as he yelled back, "Captain Tiamus!  You know as well as I do that my crew is too loyal to me to..."  And his last word was cut off by an incredible blast of cannon fire that struck Tiamus's ship, most importantly his rudder.  Mattias's smile was so big Tiamus must have seen it.

Tiamus's ship let loose its own volley that damaged the ship, but did not destroy her.  Mattias's crew were at their station before the volley hit, and the ship was quickly sailing away from the pirates.  Tiamus's men also ran to stations, but quickly found out that they could go nowhere but straight.  "Damn you Mattias!  We will catch you!  You will pay for this!"

Stacey watched as Tiamus's ship slowly turned into nothing but a speck on the horizon.  The battle had not been what Stacey had imagined.  The crew threw the lifeless boy overboard while Stacey watched Tiamus's ship disappear, so that Stacey wouldn't have to see him again.  It was bloody and quick.  There was no real hero, every man stood and fought for his own piece of ground, for his own life.  The crew had been lucky, only a few were wounded, and the healer was able to quickly take care of their wounds before they got too severe.  The pirates had not been so lucky.  The boy had not been so lucky.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Some Awards

So, on Friday I got a message from A Little Sprite that said that she had something for me at her place.  Now, we all know what that means in blog land, so I hurried as fast as my little mouse would carry me over to see what she had for me.  Sure enough, she's given me the:

As part of the award acceptance, I'm supposed to delve into the cellars of my blog and find good posts that fit seven criteria.  So, here goes.

Most Beautiful:  Some of My Writing.  I'm not sure if this really counts as beautiful, but my medium is writing, and this was a character sketch I did for a friend that I think really turned out well.

Most Helpful:  Yet Another Post About Bad Drivers: It's Cliche, but That Doesn't Make it Any Less True .  It's an oldy, but it does teach how to drive in roundabouts so other know what in the hell you're doing.  It may only be needed by people in Utah, but I still think it would helpful if the whole state would read it.

Most Surprisingly Successful:  I'm. So. Cold. Part II: Paul May or May not Get Taken, He'd Never Know .  This one's about our heater going out.  It's still my most successful post and I have no idea why.

Most Underrated:  Where did I put that... .  It was my third post and has zero comments. I don't even think I can find how many hits it has because the number is so low.  Anyway, it's about the phrase "I lost my virginity."  I think it's a fairly clever way of looking at it.

Most Controversial:  Faith in Science .  This one is about how it takes just as much faith to believe in science as it does to believe in God.  At least it's controversial around the college.

Most Prideworthy:  Sally, The Adventure Begins.  I really am proud of the story I'm writing now and this is the start of it.

And now, I get to pick seven blog that I follow and award them the opportunity to take a stroll down memory land and show off some of their lesser known posts.  The winners are:
Semi-Coherent Thoughts
Average Girl
Vinny C
Oilfield Trash
J Little John

And Sprite also gave me:
Which she then gave to all the people she gave the last one too.  I'll do that same. :)

Pretty sure the Liebster is supposed to go only to bloggers with 200 followers or less, which I might be breaking... but I don't really care.

Sally, Part 20

1.  I found an awesome new game last night to be obsessed with. Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning
2.  The swing my daughter falls to sleep in.
3.  The sleep I get when my daughter is asleep.

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You'll need to read Part 19 for this post to make much sense. 

Swords met, guns fired, and in the middle of it all stood Golnar swinging his battle ax at all who came within distance.  The attack was an overwhelming success, with some of the boarders diving into the water to escape the wrath of The Butcher and his crew.

The Crew cheered and danced in the glow of their overwhelming victory.  All except for Stacey.  As lucky as he'd been, he hadn't really done much but scare.  Most pirates hadn't even dropped by the time he ran out onto the scene and were able to get away from his knives.  Stacey was only able to catch up to one pirate, and he'd done just what he was supposed to do.  He chopped into the base of the pirate's neck with his cleaver.  The pirate had fallen quickly and had barely even made a noise, but after dropping to his knees, he fell backwards and revealed his face to Stacey.  He couldn't have been older than fifteen, very much an adult by that world's standards, but still too young to die.  The Demonic Butcher fell with him in the midst of clashing swords and exploding flints, he fell and held the boy's head in his hands.

Battles end quickly, so none of the pirates saw any of this transpire, no one did, except for Mattias.  All the while, he'd been swinging his sword and looking at Stacey.  He wondered if Stacey would even be able to catch up to any pirates.  Mattias hoped he wouldn't.  But when he did, Mattias knew where he would need to be once this was all over:  with Stacey.

The cheering was silenced by the roar of another cannon.  The pirate ship had more than a boarding party and was now ready to contend with Mattias and Crew over the sea until Mattias surrendered or drowned.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Sally, Part 19

1.  I'm pretty sure I did well on my first test of the semester.
2.  My daughter (all inclusive)
3.  It's the weekend for me now, so I might be able to get some sleep.

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You'll need to read Part 18 for this post to make much sense. 

Mattias and the crew had congregated on the quarter deck to devise a plan.  In all honesty the situation looked bleak, much worse than Stacey could have guessed.  They were out manned, and had been caught by surprise.  Mattias had been in tight spots before, but even he couldn't see a way out of this one, and the crew could see it on his face.  The other ship's men were already boarding, which meant that he couldn't place his men in any strategic way, they were on the quarter deck, and that's where they would make their stand.  He also couldn't have them try to run, because there weren't enough men to fight who had boarded AND get the ship going. 

So, when Mattias heard a barbaric yell that burst from below the deck, quickly followed by what looked to be a mad man on a rampage, he suddenly had hope.  If Mattias wanted a rally cry, if he wanted surprise, if he wanted to strike fear in the hearts of the enemy, he couldn't have devised a better plan than The Devil's Butcher.  Stacey was their saving grace and didn't even know it.  All he knew was that he didn't want to let Sally down.

Not a man of convention or pride, Mattias drew his sword, grabbed his pistol, and joined in the war cry of The Butcher from below. The crew, after seeing their make shift captain take heart, followed suit and soon the band of brothers were pushing against their attackers, who had already been put on their heels by the bloodthirsty cook (or so they thought).

Stacey, once again, showed how lucky a man can be.  Without knowing it, he had thrown himself headlong into a group of pirates who prided themselves on killing an entire village, not because the village had something they wanted, but because they enjoyed killing people.  If Stacey had known, he probably wouldn't have ran in the way he did, but then, if he hadn't ran in, they wouldn't have had any chance at all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sally, Part 18

1.  I'm getting a hair cut today.
2.  My mom was cool enough to take care of my daughter while I'm there.
3.  I need to leave in five minutes so I really can't think of another thing I'm grateful for.

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You'll need to read Part 17 for this post to make much sense.

Stacey's ears rang and his sight blurred as his body was thrown out the door of his little kitchen and up against the opposing wall.  What was that?  His sight was still hazy when he saw what he could only assume was Mattias come stumbling through the door, he had obviously fallen to a similar fate.  Goodness, Stacey's ears would not quit ringing as he tried to stand but simply could not.  The ship was rocking heavily, and each sway sent Stacey back to his knees.

His vision began to clear when he saw a few members of the crew come running down the hall.  The first two passed him, but the third member, a dwarf with a bald head and a long red beard stopped to bring him to his feet.  In a thick Dwarven accent he said, "Lad, you're going to have to get up, we need you up top."  Then the dwarf steadied Stacey against the wall, and continued running down the hall.

A cannon roared a little ways off and Stacey suddenly knew what was happening, they were under attack.  His first instinct was to hide in his quarters until the fight was over, but he remembered Sally.  In the back of his mind Sally had become a very special child, one that watched over him always and wanted him to do the right thing.  The brave thing.  So, with the face of a little boy in an ally in his mind's eye, Stacey ran for the only weapons he really knew well, his cleaver and his carving knife.  Then, in a burst of adrenaline, The Cook burst through the kitchen door and ran up the stairs to the deck with a carving knife in his left hand, a cleaver in his right, and a blood stained apron tied around his waist.

If the other ships boarding party had known Stacey, they would have known that he was hardly a threat, but rather, just a tall fat man with a couple of knives, but they didn't know Stacey.  So, as they were swinging over on ropes, and looking down on the ship, they saw, what looked to be, the cook from hell, with the knife of pain in his left hand, the cleaver of destruction in his right, a warcry in his throat, and an apron, stained with the blood of his screaming victims tied around his belly, where the truly evil souls of the damned resided.  All of this was amplified by the large red circles around his eyes (where he'd been crying).

To say that he was completely harmless would not be fair.  He had killed a great many animals and knew where to cut so that the animal died quickly and painlessly, but then, the animals didn't fight back. He was running at men with swords and guns, but we can't disregard the effect of surprise and terror on people, and as far as the boarding crew could tell, this was a graceless lumbering demon who was coming for their souls.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sally, Part 17

1.  I have what looks to be a good group for a group project I have to do.
2.  I found another person to edit my dating book today.
3.  My mom is making white chili tonight.  SO GOOD.

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You'll need to read Part 16 for this post to make much sense.

Stacey was starting to feel agitated by Mattias's beating around the bush.  "Well, if the generally feeling is that you're pirates, how are you not?"

"Pirates seek only for personal gain.  They rape, pillage, plunder, and murder because it either makes them happy or because it helps to further their financial situation."

"You killed The Captain and stole his ship.  I'd say that furthered your financial situation."

"Good point, but it's not only in the action, but the reasoning.  I didn't kill him because I wanted his ship; I just happened to get his ship because I killed him."

"Then why'd you kill him."

"For the reasons you gave me when we first met.  Do you remember?  You said he had no character, that he was rude to his crew and was generally a despicable man.  The world was a better place without him."

Stacey had never thought of 'the world' and its current situation.  He had been preoccupied with his stomach, and its current situation.  "Why 'make the world a better place?'  Isn't taking care of yourself hard enough."

Mattias's smile grew.  "Stacey, I'm not from here."  He paused as if the words he wanted to use were hard to find, "The world I'm from doesn't allow the type of evil men that are allowed here.  They either change, or we kill them."

"How do you kill all of them?"

"We have fewer to start with.  Our society is ran in such a way that we all work together to make each child grow up to be good."

Even though Stacey had been at sea for most of his life, and though he had met many people, he had never heard of  any culture like the one Mattias described.  Even trying to imagine a country like that was difficult.  "Who decides how you work together?"

"No one does.  We just do.  We always have.  Each child belongs to everyone, and everyone takes responsibility for teaching that child."

Stacey's mind immediately went to Sally.  If only Sally had been born in a society where children were taken care of by everyone, then he wouldn't probably be dead.  Stacey wouldn't have had to worry about him getting an education, or being worked to death.  The society itself would have taken him in.  "Why isn't our society like yours?"  His voice was choked with emotion.  He loved Sally, but had no way of caring for him.  How he longed for a safe place for his boy to grow up.

"Not all societies can be, Stacey.  Yours especially.  You've been following orders and fending for yourselves for too long.  Trying to make you change now would inevitably lead to war."


"Because each person here cares too much about what they own.  Where I'm from, we all have what we need and we share the excess with each other.  If we tried to force that on you, people would eventually fight each other so that they could have more than everyone else."

"Why not just kill those who didn't want to do it?"

"You make it sound as if we're trying to force our culture on yours.  We're not."

"Then what are you doing here?"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sally, Part 16

1.  Love the free Amazon Prime trial for students.
2.  I've gotten some good feedback on my story.
3.  Season 7 of The Office is awesome.

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You'll need to read Part 15 for this post to make much sense. 

How many kinds of pirate were there?  They sailed around, ambushing unsuspecting ships, and taking whatever they wanted.   If it came down to the flag they raised or the colors they wore, Stacey was hardly interested.  "What kind Mattias?"  Stacey's words dripped with sarcasm, "The kind who shoot first, or the kind who ask questions first?"

Mattias chuckled a little, "That's a good question.  To be honest, I guess that would depend on the situation..."

Stacey had decided that he wouldn't be a coward anymore.  It didn't matter if he died on this ship, "Mattias.  I do not care.  Pirates are pirates."

The ever present smile on Mattias's face had left.  "Is that really what you think?  Do you think we're just ambushers of merchant ships?"

"If The Jolly Roger fits..."

"Have you seen The Roger flown on our ship."

"I honestly hadn't looked."

"We don't fly pirate colors, and we don't live pirate lives."  Mattias was starting to sound agitated.

"Then what do you do!  Why'd you shoot my captain and why'd you steal his boat?  Aside from you being nice to the crew I'd say all clues point to pirate."

In a flash of light Mattias produced his rapier and put it to Stacey's throat.  "I should kill you for that.  If we really were pirates, we should have killed the cook a long time ago.  I shouldn't even know his name."

Stacey was suddenly wishing he hadn't been so rude.  He didn't want to be a coward anymore, but then, he didn't want to be dead either.  The blade came a little closer, and Stacey tried to hold his ground.  Mattias's eyes grew hard and stared into Stacey's as Stacey tried desperately to match.  "Bravery isn't stupidity, Stacey.  It's standing for what's right when you need to, even when you have to die for it.  It's not trying to sass a man who has held your life in his hands for days, but hasn't taken it from you."

Stacey's eyes tried to drop, but all he could see was sword.  "Okay then, if you're not pirates, what are you?"

Mattias took his rapier from Stacey's throat, and his smile came back.  "Well, in the eyes of most governments in the world, we're pirates."

Friday, September 9, 2011

Sally, Part 15

1.  My daughter's grandparents love her.
2.  She's starting to smile and giggle socially.
3.  I feel like I should do well in school this semester.

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You'll need to read Part 14 for this post to make much sense. 

Stacey continued to look at his hallucination.  Had he done the right thing for the boy?  Aside from his walk back to the ship, Stacey hadn't found the time or energy to think about his choice.  And the more he thought about it the worse he felt.  Stacey had left an infant with a little girl.  What was he thinking?  For all he knew he wasn't hallucinating, but looking at an apparition of who the boy would have been had he lived past the first week with Scratch.  How could he think that a starving orphan would know how to care for a baby.  What a fool he'd been.  What a coward he'd been.  If he had just ran when The Captain called out to him he wouldn't be stuck on this leaky excuse for a boat.  Why was he so afraid then?  The Captain was a good shot, but he was far enough away that he would have been a challenging target, not to mention The Captain hadn't pulled the gun from his trousers and was drunk.  He may not have had a great chance, but he didn't have a bad one either.  His cowardice probably killed the boy.

The vision faded and Stacey saw a crew who hadn't noticed any change in their new found cook.  Stacey picked up the empty serving pots and trudged back to his kitchen.  Mattias's compliment had faded and melted away, and all that was left was a feeling that he wasn't the man he wanted to be, and that crime had probably lost him the only family he had alive.

Stacey swung the door open and clamored inside before anyone could see his tears.  The pots hit the floor and his back hit the wall with nothing on it.  He slid down with his face in his hands until he came to sit with his legs stretched out.  And there, amid the meat, and the grain, and the banging of the waves, Stacey wept.  He allowed himself to think of what he had lost, and who he had been, and cried deeply into his callused hands.  The should haves of his life burrowed deep into his soul, and agitated his mind.  Should haves that he'd buried rose and walked again inside of his mind's eye and made him sob even harder.  He'd set his sights so high for little Sally, and yet, he had thought so little of himself.  Why hadn't he shot higher?  Why hadn't he tried for more?

When his eyes finally cleared, he saw Mattias crouched in front of him.  Exhausted, his head banged against the wall and he closed his swollen red eyes.  "Mattias, how long have you been here?"

"Long enough."  Stacey let out an exasperated sigh.  "Long enough to know that you're in pain, and maybe it's partly my fault.  I think I need to let you know what kind of pirates we really are."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sally, Part 14

1.  Babies cry, letting you know what they want.  Really, it's a biological miracle.
2.   My wife played Portal 2 with me.  It's just fun to play with her.
3.  I'm grateful that we don't have more car accidents.  Considering how many people drive, we really should

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You'll need to read Part 13 for this post to make much sense.

Mattias's words of praise were a cold drink after crossing a desert.  The Captain, though he often ate Stacey's cooking, never gave a word of praise.  What Mattias said flooded into Stacey and made him smile.  "Thank you sir."

It also gave Stacey a secret.  He knew that Mattias didn't know much about cooking.  No spice, or assortment of spices, could possibly remove the taste of Andrill from potatoes.  Potatoes are like sponges, they soak up every flavor around them.  The trick to removing Andrill from them was not in the cooking, but in the sack they were carried in.  Stacey's mother, before she died, taught Stacey how to make a sack, and what to make it out of, that cleaned produce in such a way that it pulled out contaminants, like Andrill in general.  The flavor of Andrill was out of those potatoes a few hours after Stacey was on the boat.  It still made him happy though, because potatoes, like sponges, really have no flavor all by themselves.  So, for Mattias to have said anything, Stacey did have his spices right.  His mashed potatoes were good.  Come out of Andrill and still deserve praise good.

Mattias walked away and sat with some of the crew to eat his meal.  Stacey looked across the ship and saw the crew sitting and laughing together, each holding a plate of mashed potatoes and pork.  This was what he wanted with his inn.  He wanted his food to bring people together, and to give them an atmosphere where they could put their differences aside and just enjoy an evening.

Of course, thinking of his inn made him think of Sally.  Sure, he wouldn't know about Stacey's food until he was much older, but that wasn't what concerned Stacey.  A father may want to share his talent with his son, but that isn't what he cares the most about.  Stacey didn't want his legacy to be food, but goodness.  He didn't care about teaching Sally how to make a great meal, but teaching Sally how to be a great friend.  Stacey had seen so much evil in the world, that his greatest dream was to help at least one more person fight against selfishness and pride.  He wanted Sally to be a decent person, and as he looked across the boat, he really only saw a little boy standing in an ally way of Andrill, dirty and cold, trying to scrape by.  And in that moment, Stacey realized that there was little chance of Sally being a decent person.  He had seen the poor of Andrill and noted that constant need often leads to unsavory action.  How far would one go to fill his belly?  Would he steal to do it?  Would he kill?  Would Sally kill?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sally, Part 13

1.  I'm still sick (which is why I didn't post yesterday), but I haven't thrown up for at least 12 hours.
2.  My baby got her shots yesterday and didn't cry to much.
3.  We got her ears pierced (don't judge) and she didn't cry too much then either.

You'll need to read Part 12 for this one to make much sense.

And to The Cook's surprise, Mattias let it happen.  He peeled and boiled potatoes, seasoned pork, mashed potatoes, cooked pork, seasoned potatoes and put the food in large bowls to take out to the crew, all without a single person coming in to bother him.  Stacey stepped out of his room and noticed that no one stood guarding it.  No one cared that he hadn't left his room yet, and no one cared if he was going to try to escape.  Of course, 'escaping' off the side of the boat in the middle of the sea was hardly an intelligent thing to do.  It was certain death to sea-monsters or sharks if you were lucky, exposure if you were not.  So, it made sense to Stacey that no one stood by his door.

It didn't take long for the crew to come though.  Like animals in the desert know it's going to rain because it happens so rarely, so it is with sailors and good food.  The aroma spread throughout the ship, starting at The Cook's quarters and on.  Like the Pied Piper he walked through the ship and on to where he usually fed the men, and most of the crew had formed a line behind him.  Even Mattias interestedly stood at a distance, but not too far a distance that the food's smell could not flood his nose when the breeze caught it just right.

The intoxication hadn't fully taken effect yet though.  Like with all great art, the first look, the first listen, or the first smell only piques an interest.  When a person fully gets immersed, that's when its full beauty can be felt.  And so, the sailors lined up for what could only be described later as their own slice of heaven.  The first in line was the giant who had lifted Stacey off the deck upon their first meeting.  To be fair, he wasn't actually a giant, but had giant ancestry.  And the humans that made up the rest of his blood were not small people either (which is how one of them came to mate with a giant).  He took his share and thanked The Cook.

Stacey hadn't meant for this to happen, but his cooking would give him a proper look at the crew, all 183 of them.  To call it a mish-mash of lifeforms would be an understatement.  Golnar was hardly the most interesting. Along with the humans Stacey expected to find, here were Dark Elves, Dwarves, Goblins, Orcs, Halflings, Half-Elves, Wood Elves, Hobgoblins, a couple of Trolls, and a few species that Stacey had never seen.  Each of them grabbed a plate of mashed potatoes and pork, and each of them got lost in the flavor.

Great food is hard to come by, and even harder to explain.  It starts with the scent.  It can't be overpowering, but soothing.  Great food smells like a home never lived in, but only dreamed of.  It's a warm blanket, and a crackling fire, both inviting and interesting.  It's a smell that beckons, and asks everyone in the vicinity to just take one bite.  Then, when the food finally makes its way past the lips, a whole new sensation comes, a warm delightful feeling that spreads from point of entry to every extremity.  It makes the eater forget where he is, forget every worry and every care that he had before that magnificent bite.  Often, it's said that great food is gobbled down, but that isn't so.  Great food, truly great food, requires no effort to savor.  One need not remind himself to take his time and enjoy every single bite, because he will do it naturally.  Every mouthful will amaze him, and it will take time to overcome that amazement, no matter how fast he might want to finish his plate.

And so it was with Stacey's meal.  Mattias was the last to get a plate.  He had already heard the moans of delight from the other sailors, but he kept his affect to a minimum.  "It's not poisoned is it?"

Stacey suddenly realized his stupidity.  He had the ingredients and could have sent every sailor to hell, but instead, he fed them all heaven.  "No, sir."

"Good, because we have an amazing cleric who could have brought us all back from anything, and then we would have had to kill you."

Maybe not so stupid.  "Yep, it's just food.  Take a bite."

For Mattias to be properly described, it has to be said that he is a master of his own faculty.  Nothing phases him, and he knows how control every joint and tendon, and yet, when he took that first bite, even he had to close his eyes and marvel at the flavor.  He was a little short of breath.  "You say you got these potatoes in Andrill?"

"Yes, sir."

"How did you get that rancid taste out of them?"

"I've been working on that for years sir.  Potatoes were the first I tried with, I'm working on the carrots now."

"Goodness."  He'd taken another bite. "We still need you to be able to fight, but I care much less now about you closing your eyes."

Monday, September 5, 2011

Sally, Part 12

1.  We're going 4-Wheeling today.
2.  My daughter more or less slept through the night.
3.  My wife is getting better at feeding my daughter in the middle of the night, so maybe she's not sleeping through, I'm just not being woke.

This post won't make sense unless you've read Part 11.

Mattias flashed him one more knowing smile and walked away.  Of course, Stacey knowing that Mattias knew he'd closed his eyes put some more weight back on his shoulders, but at least he was alive and Mattias obviously had no desire to kill him that day.  Though, in Mattias's defense, he was like no pirate Stacey had ever met.  Maybe he wasn't as bloodthirsty, or crooked, or evil as Stacey had imagined.  He'd let Stacey live even though Stacey had obviously shown his luck more than his skill, and before that he'd let Stacey have a chance to show his skill rather than throw him overboard.  Mattias would have to be a mystery for another day though.  Stacey's head started to hurt, and the rocking of the ship wasn't helping.  He steadied himself on his cutting board and looked down at his knives.  Each blade he knew exactly how to use, where to cut and how, so that each meal was prepared on time.  He knew how sharp they were and how to sharpen them quickly when they got dull.  What was he going to do now?  It was a life he'd come to know and love, and occupation that fit him.  He could cook a full meal for the crew in the middle of storm and not even break a sweat.  Would he ever do that again?  It didn't seem like Mattias thought the crew needed a cook, but another soldier.

Stacey had never wanted adventure.  His mother never read him stories about great war heroes; his father never showed him maps of far off places.  Even when he played with his friends he never dreamed of greatness, but dreamed that he had a good job and was a decent person.  To be fair, in his mind, he was living his dream up until a couple of days ago.  So, while some of us might think of becoming a swashbuckler and of the adventure that might wait for us if our luck didn't run out, Stacey thought about when he could just be a cook again.  He thought about when he could work with decent people, so that he could be a decent person.

Finally, the ship stopped rocking long enough for Stacey to bring out his bedroll and ease himself down for the nap Mattias said he needed.  Sleep did not come quickly, for while Stacey was exhausted, his mind would not stop going over his predicament.  He went down every 'what-if' road he could think of at least ten times and usually came up with the same ending: Him dead on some island, or at sea, without ever meeting Sally again.  And when a person can see few alternatives other than death and never seeing loved ones again, it makes sleep hard to find.

Daylight flooded into The Cook's cabin, waking him.  He'd slept all day and all night, and Mattias and crew had allowed him to.  When he got up, out of habit, he started to make lunch.  Sure, Mattias may or may not have been the captain, and the crew may not have been the crew he'd known before, but after several days of catastrophe, one day of making mashed potatoes (before the potatoes went bad) and salt pork sounded nice.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Sally, Part 11

1.  I don't have school on Fridays, which is just nice.
2.  I'm sick, but I've only got a little phlegm.  Nothing like what some are dealing with.
3.  We own blankets.  They just feel nice.

You'll need to read Part 10 for this post to make much sense.

Why would he need to know if Stacey could shoot a gun.  Stacey was a cook.  He'd been an assistant cook when he was twelve and completely did the job on his own when he was sixteen.  Then Stacey remembered that he'd seen The Captain participate in 'duels' when agreements couldn't be come to.  Surely Mattias didn't think Stacey capable of beating anyone in a duel with a weapon that would be completely foreign in his hands.  Cooks were the last people asked to fight in battle and Stacey was hardly an exception.

"Sir, I hardly think a duel will be necessary.  Why not just shoot me and get it over with?"

Mattias grinned and sniggered a little at The Cook.  "Why would we have a duel?"
"Well... I just thought..."
"You just thought I was some blood thirsty pirate who could only see violence as a solution."
"Well, yes sir."
Mattias only smiled harder at Stacey's honesty.  "To be truthful, it's probably not too far from the truth.  But the actuality of our situation is that this ship here is a Frigate.  And it can use around two hundred men.  Your old captain hired one hundred and eighty three of us.  It would hardly seem smart for the few men we have to engage in games of murder now would it?"
"I supposed not sir."
"You suppose."  Mattias handed him the rifle, "We just need to know if you can be useful at something other than making eggs.  If you can't, then we'll figure out what to do with you."
If Stacey had his way he would have tried out for a spot on the sailing crew, not the fighting, but he was hardly in a situation to be choosy about his placing.  Mattias obviously thought they either needed another fighter, or that it'd be fun to see the old cook try to shoot a gun, or perhaps he saw something in the old seaman that the rest of us might not have seen.  Of course, to ask a pirate to do the last is almost unthinkable, but we shouldn't disregard it as a possibility.

Stacey took the rifle.  Luckily for him, Mattias had been reloading while they spoke, or he'd have been holding a useless tool without the knowledge to make it useful.  Mattias pointed to the bell.  It was on the opposite side of the ship.  "Stacey, it's time to ring the bell mate.  Ring it for us, from here."

The Captain had only allowed them to get into an occasional fight.  It could be said that he, and subsequently his crew, was a scavenger.  He sailed from place to place, finding other people's treasure so long as there were not too many traps or swords in the way.  In turn, Stacey had only seen battle a handful of times.  So, it took him some work to remember what others looked like when they held the rifle.  For his lack of experience he didn't look too bad.  The butt of the gun went to his shoulder, and he dropped to a knee to attempt to stop his shaking (it did little good).  But can we really blame him?  This shot meant life or death.  Stacey put the gun to his eye and looked down the barrel at the bell.  He would never hit it.  Mattias might as well have asked him to shoot out a candle and leave the wick.

It's hard to say whether Stacey actually meant to leave the shot to luck, or if he was just too terrified to look, but he closed his eyes, took a deep breath and pulled his index finger back toward his hand.  He thought of Sally.  He thought of the inn he wanted them to own.  And in the end, he wondered what that high pitched sound was, followed by cheering.  Mattias's rising above the rest.

If Stacey had been a master marksman he couldn't have made the shot he did.  Not with the rocking of the sea and the lack of scope on the gun.  For, amid it all, the ball flew into the bell, rattled around a little, and then fell to the deck.  Stacey couldn't have impressed the crew more if he'd meant to.  And he didn't even see it happen.

After hearing the bell, Stacey opened his eyes, stood up, and was met by one hundred and eighty three warm smiles and congratulations.  He would live, that was sure.  Perhaps not past their first battle, but at least he'd live for a while longer.

Mattias yelled above the throng, "Let him to his quarters!  He deserves a nap, he does."  and then followed the old cook to his four by four home.  Mattias stood at the door smiling while Stacey tried to catch his breath.  "Mighty good show Stacey.  It was a good shot to be sure.  But next time, try opening your eyes."

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Sally, Part 10

1.  My last teacher is cool with my opinions being different than hers.
2.  My mom has been watching our daughter while I've been at school.
3.  I got a free redbox rental today.

You'll need to read Part 9 for this to make sense.

Stacy's first reaction was to hide, though hiding on a boat was hardly useful, as someone will eventually find you.  He didn't have time to hide though, as he was lifted off the ground by some enormous force while his ears rang with, "He's right here, Mattias!"  Now, when we're children we're picked up often, so being lifted raises no real concern, but once we get a little bigger, we quickly start to like our feet planted firmly on the ground.  Stacey had been too big to lift since he was about five, so suddenly being airborne made him feel even more uncomfortable than he already was.  Mattias approached two wildly kicking feet with a full bellied laugh that didn't suit his slight frame.

"Golnar, put him down."

Stacey wasn't thrown, or dropped, but placed back on the deck.  He was even held just low enough for his feet to touch until they stopped kicking and took purchase of the wood.  If Stacey had met Mattias in an ally way he would have thought nothing of him.  He had shoulder length auburn hair that was lifted by each passing breeze, and a smile that felt like a warm blanket.  By no means a big man, he stood just shorter than Stacey and Stacey probably outweighed him by double.  But, they weren't meeting in an ally way.  They were meeting aboard a commandeered vessel where Mattias apparently called the shots (and even aimed, pulled the trigger, and took them occasionally).

"What's your name?"  Mattias's smile never faultered.
Stacey felt particularly out of place.  Why would Mattias need to know his name?  Did he gain some sick pleasure by knowing the details of his victims?  So, Stacy reverted back to what he said to every other loathsome creature he came in contact with, "I'm The Cook."
"No," Mattias burst out, "no, not what you're called!  What's your name?  The one your mother gave you."
Stacey braced himself for ridicule.  "My name's Stacey."
"Well met, Stacey."  And his hand shot forth to grab hold of Stacey's.
Fear was melting into confusion as Stacey felt his arm being moved up and down by the pirate.  "What... what are you doing?  Aren't you going to kill me?"
Mattias stopped using his hand as a lever and stared straight into Stacey's eyes.  "That all depends on you companion."
"Depends on me how?"
"Were you a lover of that captain we just sent to the sharks?"

Oh, no.  Stacey surmised that there was a right answer to this question, but what that answer was was not easily guessed.  If Mattias was of the belief that an enemy of an enemy is a friend, then it was fine that he had no good feelings toward The Captain.  If he was under the impression that a man either loved or loathed authority, and that he was an authority that demanded love, then admitting to loathing of the old captain was suicide. 

Finally, he decided that he might as well be truthful.  In all reality, he was dead either way.  "I didn't particularly care for him, sir."

Mattias's smile broadened a bit, Stacey guessed he'd answered right.  "Well, what didn't you like about him?"

Goodness, why couldn't he just ask easy questions.  Stacey thought about bringing up Sally, but then thought better than to give the name of his son to a murderous pirate.  Instead, he laid out his loathing as underlying reasons without example.  "He was a man of no character.  He had no love for humanity or human decency, and had no love for anyone but himself.  His crew was nothing more than a tool to him, and he disposed of that crew as soon as he thought he saw something better."

Mattias's eyebrows came together as if he were pondering something very important.  He then began to nod, and his smile reappeared.  "Those seem like good reasons to hate a man.  You may already know that it's custom to kill the cook of a ship, but I feel like giving you a sporting chance.  Can you shoot a gun?"