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A note from CoffeeQuills

I'll be moving to a once a week update, around Friday midnight PST / Saturday 4pm JST - enjoy! 

“The places I do know,” Rive said, stabbing the map in a few places, “are all in different directions. And it’s not like I’ve been to any of them, I’ve just heard about them from people on other ships.”

“That should be fine. We don’t need to visit all of them, right?” She looked at the mentioned areas on the map. “I mean, I’m assuming you mentioned those specific places because they have guilds to register at?”

Rive hummed in thought.

“They should. They’re all bigger places along the transportation lines. The real question is which one do we want to go to? There’s Wavemeet, Lundry, Azmar, and Emella, but I’m not sure which is better than which.” Rive shrugged. “Viadora concentrates on Viadora.”

“So they might all be river trading places?” She tried to think if that would be a problem. “The guild we need—”

“Is one that can be for anyone. Traders, adventures, miners, etc. Beings looking to increase their skills and have multiple abilities.”

Seren shook her head.

“I really don’t understand that. I mean, I’ve never been in one and I know how to do things. Milk cows, cook fish, write songs, read books… stuff like that.”

“From what I know, Viadora doesn’t really like the guild idea since it involves people wanting to leave. But, it’s more...” Rive waved their arms around, then sighed. “I’m not exactly sure how to explain it? Like, guilds are not for everybody, and if you’re going to continue making disla in your family shop, you don’t need the leveling and ranking, but if you’re going to explore places and find new food, you’ll want to have jobs and skills that deal with identifying planets, cooking vegetables, and maybe even hunting. Honestly, someone from the guild can explain it better than I can.”

She nodded, tapping her fingers against the map.

“Then let’s go to the closest area. If we need skills to find items in the clouds, or capture lightning, then it’ll be best to get started right away.”

Rive nodded.

“Captain’s orders for Azmar, then. And even if the place we go to doesn't have the information, they’ll be able to tell us where to head to next, so I’m not worried.”

“Agreed.” They stood up and re-folded the map. “I’m going to take this with me and make sure we’re going in the correct direction.”

“Thanks, engineer!” She thought about it, then laughed. “Though, in this case, I think you’re more of a navigator. You do that and I’ll get some food together. I’m not sure about you, but I’m ready for something to eat and we’ve been smelling those disla for too long.”

Seren got an enthusiastic nod from her companion, and when they went down into the depths, she stepped over the trapdoor and reached out for the plates. It didn’t take her long to divide the disla Rive had gotten. Each plate had four of the small pouches on them; one salty, one savory, one sweet, and one spicy. They all had different symbols burned into the outer bread, but even if she didn’t know how to read them, it was easy enough to make sure she didn’t accidentally double up on a flavor.

They were still warm to the touch, something she was happy to feel since she realized she wasn’t sure how to work the small stove in the kitchen. If it needed wood, she didn’t have it, and if it needed something else, then she wasn’t sure what. And it wasn’t like there was a pan mixed in with all the kitchen items.

While she waited for Rive to come back up, she went to the bookshelf and looked for something to read.

“I guess I can flip through into Tricks & Ties?” She pulled the bundle of papers from the shelf and started leafing through them.

There is more than one way to tie your knots, and deciding on how you tie them will actually influence how they react to you. Think about it! If someone ties your hands behind you and the rope is cutting into flesh, you’re going to be angry, hurt, and snappish. That’s part of basic nature. If, on the other hand, those ties are made of silk, you can pull your hands apart a bit, and it’s comfortable, then you might not even mind being tied.

“Doubt it,” muttered Seren, rolling her eyes. “Feeling good or not, most people don’t want to be bound.”

“Bound? Are we heading for a new area?”

Seren shook her head and waved the small booklet at Rive.

Tricks & Tips, a book for threaders.”

“Ah.” They sat on the furthest left side of the bed. “We’re going to have to figure out seating arrangements when it comes time for food.”

“We’ll probably be eating at different points in the day since we’ll be on different shifts. Day, night, and all that.”

“True, but the few times we’ll want to talk together...” she sighed. “I guess then it’s more speaking and less eating at any rate.”

“Yep!” Rive looked over their plate and rubbed their hands together. “These are going to be delicious! Okay, so this one that’s all straight lines, that’s the salty. The savory one is a circle, the spicy is just the one line, and the sweet one, which you can probably tell by the cold, is that double triangle-looking symbol.”

“You can have the spicy.”

Rive laughed and handed over their sweet one. They bit into it immediately, then looked up in confusion.

“Why aren’t you eating?”

Seren squirmed in her place on the bed.

“I... usually say a prayer before eating. I didn’t say it aloud at your table, but at my table—I mean here—”

“Since this is your table you want to speak freely.” Seren nodded as they completed her thoughts. “That’s fine, do what you want to do.”

“Thank the five elements to drink and eat; air, water, metal, fire, and earth. Thank the five elements for all we’ll meet; luck, dowse, charm, thread, and fate.”

When she opened her eyes, Rive was staring at her.

“What?” She picked up the savory disla and the lingering warmth it held.

“Haven’t heard of luck and fate used as magic so much.” They chewed and swallowed. “Mostly just words used when the world gives people chance and consequences.”

Seren bit into the crusted bread and let out a surprised noise.

“This is so good!” she gushed. There was a gravy sauce with little bits of slightly spiced meat and cheese. “Really! Absolutely amazing!”

“Told you.”

For the next several moments, neither of them spoke as they concentrated on the food before them. Seren saved her two sweet breads for dessert, and when she started getting full nibbling on the second one, she began wondering how hard it would be to make them on the ship.

Food was done, and with a start Seren realized she wasn’t sure what time it was.

“Did we just eat breakfast or lunch?”

Rive spread their hands out, then turned to lick some remaining gravy off their right.

“Does it matter?”

She opened her mouth to say yes, but thought about it. As long as things were done when they needed to be done, the timing didn’t really matter.

“The only thing we really need time knowledge for is our schedule, and making sure we’re both up at different times. But you’re right... other than that, we don’t really need it up here.” She caught herself smiling at the freedom. “I will need to make a list of things that I want to do, though. If I don’t have a list, I do nothing, and if I do nothing, I feel like I’m going nowhere.”

Rive smiled.

“I... I think I’m going to take my time and figure myself out a bit more. See what gets me ticking besides tinkering with mechanical things. I’ve always had to take care of my family, and our parents taught us that it’s better to take care of others first. So, this will be my first time figuring out what I want out of life.” They took a deep breath and laughed. “What you want as well, captain, since you’re the head of this ship.”

Seren laughed too.

“What about you, actually?” They gestured toward everything, the bed, the kitchen, the table, the books. “What do you want from all this?”

“I... I don’t know. I mean, I’ve had a chance to be myself, at least more than you did, and what I want to do most is travel.” She picked up the plate. “Eat more food that never existed on my home island, meet more people like you, and do things I was never allowed to do, or allowed to learn about.”

The two of them sat on the bed, nodding at each other.

“Then, our first step is going to Azmar and registering ourselves with the guild. That’ll take us into exploring new places. And while we do that, I’ll learn more about myself as well.”

“We already have side quests, too,” Seren pointed out. “Me with finding a threader to see if my blood family is still alive, and you finding out if you actually have a dragon’s egg that you can hatch.”

“And finding a chef,” added Rive, patting their pocket gently.

“Wouldn’t we have to make this ship bigger?” Seren shook her head. “I can’t see how we’d do that. There’s no way to add rooms on, right? It’s not like this is a house that can continue expanding outwards or upwards.”

“Not sure.” Rive shrugged. “I mean, question me about engines or ask me to make a gadget—don’t ask me about construction.”

The two grew quiet. Seren wasn’t sure what Rive was thinking about, but her thoughts kept swirling around between what the guild would need from them, how the shell could gain more space, and what Azmar would be like. Finally, she stood up and collected the two plates.

“First things first,” she said, pouring some of the water into the sink and submerging the dishes. “We need to deal with the guild. Get that done with, figure out how we can make money, and then we can decide on how to go from there. Are there ways to upgrade this ship? Will we need to register a new one? Both options take coin, so that’s what we need to focus on.”

“Aye aye, captain!” Rive saluted her, and Seren blushed. “Going downstairs and making sure our direction is correct.”

Seren nodded, concentrating on the dishes while she let her mind wander. That would be another good person to have on her crew, a navigator. Once the dishes were clean, she placed them on the drying rack and watched the first couple of drips fall into the sink.

“What next...?” she muttered, looking around the room.” I guess I can study some more.” Seren grabbed Tricks & Tips, and walked outside, shutting the door behind her and breathing in the cool air. Her hair whipped in the wind, and she drew in a sharp breath. Instead of the white, fluffy clouds she’d grown used to seeing in the sky, green and grey tinged the ones gathering around them.

“Rive. I need to warn them. And then we’ve got to make sure everything’s tied down.”

There was going to be rain and wind, but she wasn’t sure how bad it would get up here. If she was on land, she'd be at least able to figure out if this was a hurricane or a quick afternoon storm. And they were still close enough to her home island that the ship would still be in the same weather patterns.

Seren hurried back inside and locked the door. Then, with only slight hesitation, she slipped down the open trapdoor and made her way to the middle area, where Rive was looking over the map and pushing the engine a smidge more to the right.

“Hey, Serri.” Rive looked at her. “Wasn’t expecting to see you down here again so soon.”

“What type of storms does Viadora get?”

Rive opened their mouth to reply, and a sudden boom thundered through the room.

“Thunderstorms.” Their lips twisted into a grimace. “Bad ones too, if they’re this late in the season. We’ve got to—”

“Get up and make sure we tie things down,” agreed Seren, already turning and heading back up. When the really dreadful storms whipped through the island, she remembered hunkering down in the kitchen with her parents while the wind threw rocks and trees everywhere. How would it be up high and even more at the mercy of the winds?

“I don’t want to be down here when the storm starts,” said Rive from behind her. Seren nodded. The engine was attached to the propeller, and the propeller was out in the air. If someone was down here and they slipped out... she felt the blood drain from her face. Falling here would lead to a lot more than a skinned knee or some bruises.

“I can’t think of that,” she said, shaking her head. If she imagined falling, then she’d never set foot outside the main room again.

“Of what?”

She turned to Rive.

“Falling.”

“Hmm...” They rubbed their chin. “We can talk about it a bit more as the storm blows... over us? By us? Through us?”

“How about as the storm blows?” Seren offered, climbing up the small ladder and popping back into the main room. That last one sounded as if the ship would be torn in two.

“Works for me. And I’ve already thought of a few gadgets I can make.”

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About the author

CoffeeQuills

  • Tokyo
  • Dust Warrior

Bio: CoffeeQuills is a transplanted Floridian, living in the Land Rising Sun. They write for 4thewords (an RPG for writers) and in the twists of space and time created by caffeine, they enjoy coming up with stories all along the spec-fic range. Anything goes for this Hufflepunk, so hold tight and pretend it's a plan!

“This is who I am, right here, right now, all right? All that counts is here and now, and this is me!”

(Currently back after a long hiatus - apologies to those I owe chapters and mail too. The plan is to update fictions and continue with a once a week schedule.)

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