My disguise tunic – bless the woman who’d stitched it for me – fluttered to the ground, inscriptions lighting up as I activated them.
There was a stunned silence as I quickly walked back – deeper into the room – grabbing one of the “all in one” boosting potions I had in my potion satchel which I’d kept on me the entire time, quickly downing it.
I had to make several snap calls right now, without the time to think about them fully and properly. I was a mage, and I was alone. I was up against a bunch of warriors, in close, cramped quarters. Heck, you could barely swing a sword in here, let alone do anything else.
With how everyone had shoved themselves into the room, I’d been pushed to the very back of the room, separated from my bag.
And my sword.
I had my ever-present knife on me though, and with how cramped everything was, a knife was infinitely better than a sword. I didn’t want to be close enough to anyone to start stabbing though. The rule on physical versus magic Classer fights was when the physical Classer closed in, they won.
I didn’t need it – I was a healer first, a mage second, and stabbing someone with a sword was plan F, aka everything’s fucked, but it would be nice to have.
Not all that critical, so I left it behind. I’d pick one up from a pirate. They were all close enough to each other for my purpose.
I had my knife, and I had my magic. That was enough for me. Better than trying to push through the crowd, grab my bag, rifle through it, get my sword, and go.
I had some specialized gemstones, and some powerful gemstones. I didn’t want to blow the powerful ones right off the bat. Like Sealing’s barrier gem. That was a ‘break in case of emergencies’, and while bad, this wasn’t at that level of emergency yet.
I needed space. I needed a lot of space, and I needed it fast.
As I was guzzling the potion as fast as I could, my other arm reached out, touching the wall of the ship.
Bless not needing to say skills. Otherwise I’d never have been able to use [Wall Buster] on the wall while I was drinking down the last of my potion.
The resulting explosion brought people back to their senses.
“Get her!” The pirate called out.
The adventurers weren’t entirely useless. They made it slightly harder for pirates to follow me, filling up space in the cramped cabin.
Internal moveable ballast. Basically, all they were good for.
I didn’t want to blow us all up, and the adventurers were, at this point, technically neutral. I couldn’t harm them, not even as collateral damage, so throwing [Nova] around was out of the question.
A thin beam of Radiance though, was entirely on the menu. I shot it out at the first pirate pushing his way through the cramped room, aiming for his face and eyes. He went down with a scream, and some knives started to fly towards me, mostly over Cassia’s head, activating [Bullet Time]. I threw up [Veil], noting my mana getting chunked as the knives hit.
I took a quick moment to look outside.
A deep, heavy fog covered everything, but I could distantly, faintly, see the sun shining.
Fog? In the middle of the day, with the sun shining through it? This was a skill.
And Radiance was good against Mist, which fog had to be part of. I started to blast as much Radiance as I could in a powerful cone, sweeping it around, trying to do enough damage to the skill to break it, to allow the sunlight to shine though and give me a flight path.
I dropped [Veil] so I could see. Benefit of a snap-shield. I could drop it and raise it, as long as some skill wasn’t persistently pushing on it – like a gout of flame or pressing a blade into it or something.
I looked back at the pirates starting to move. Kerberos’s surprise movement skill was still fresh in my mind, and if a pirate got a hand on me, they’d be able to use their superior physical stats and bulk to just pin me down and hold me, and I’d flat-out die at that point. Like, I could kill the first one, but I’d still be pinned by the body, letting the second one get to me. The third. The fourth. It was how mages died, and they’d talked about making me a slave, which strongly implied that they had mana-disabling skills. Or some other skill that could cripple and disable me.
Best to get moving now, and avoid any surprises like that. Either movement surprises, quick-slash moves, or a crippling skill of some sort.
I wanted to give my attacks on the Mist enough time to break the skill, to let the sun shine down on me, letting me grab some airtime with [Talaria]. Being a flier, being up above everyone else, being able to rain down attacks on them, was exactly the position I wanted to be in. Much better than the cramped quarters that let physical dudes get a chance at me.
I’d probably need to re-enter the ship at some point, but I had a plan for that. I needed nobody to be looking at me when that happened though.
Still, I wasn’t going to stick around. If I waited any longer, they’d either break [Veil] and be close enough to me to grab me, or drain all my mana hitting [Veil] hard. Both were bad. I gave one last sweep of Radiance, the sun showing up. Perfect!
It had only been about five seconds since I’d blown a hole open in the hull. If one thing had been hammered into my head – fights were fast.
I jumped off the side of the boat, grabbing the sunlight with [Talaria] –
Only for a fogbank to roll back over me, canceling out my skill.
“Fuck!” I yelled, as I dropped down.
While [Veil] was an option, standing on my [Veil] still ate mana at an atrocious rate. I’d only used it to break my fall so I didn’t land too hard on the ground, but I was going to hit water – no need to slow down too much. I’d just swim back out.
Didn’t stop me from using [Veil] right before the water, so I didn’t sink too deep. I wanted to be mostly near the surface, to easily get back out. Water wasn’t my domain at all, and I was scared of going too deep.
Of the monsters that had to be lurking below.
I hit the water, having dropped some 5 meters or so to it, [Veil]-bouncing not included, and promptly started to sink like a rock. I stabilized and started swimming back up after only dropping half a meter or so under water. A reasonable depth, easy enough to swim out of. I opened my eyes, the water making everything look weird.
On Earth, if a person, regardless of how strong a swimmer they were, fell into the water wearing a bunch of armor, they would drown.
Bless stats. Bless potions. Bless the inscriptions on my armor.
All of it made swimming doable, like I was wearing a normal outfit. I started to kick and work my way back up, before I processed exactly what I was seeing.
Three pirates – I had to assume they were pirates – had been lurking underwater, blades drawn.
And they were swimming towards me.
Fuck fuck fuck fuck.
Radiance was almost completely useless inside of water like this – the water split the beam, and all the heat and energy was just eaten by the water, which dispersed it all over the place. Basically, I cooked the water, not whatever was threatening me.
And I’d jumped out without a weapon. Although, I still had my knife. A knife, underwater though, where their skills reigned supreme? Nah. Better to ambush them with Radiance.
And the pirates seemed to have some ability to either breathe underwater, or stay under a long time. They could just… grab my legs and pull me down until I drowned.
They reached me, and I’ll admit, I started to panic, thinking I was dead. I burst through the surface of the water, and I took great big gasping breaths, choking and coughing out water.
Air! Life! Fuck the water, I knew it was a bad idea to be over it.
Ocean was a certifiable lunatic, wanting to be in and near water.
Two of them went to either side of me, weapons in hand, and, instead of grabbing my legs and pulling me to the depths -
Surfaced next to me.
With their blades still drawn, pointed to me in warning. I practically went cross-eyed trying to see one of them.
“Listen missy.” One of the pirates was saying. “I know being a slave’s bad, but dying’s so much worse! Just give it a few years, eh?”
I blinked at him.
Did he –
Sexism strikes again, in my favor! He was too busy seeing the pretty female face that he missed the “armored like hell” and “glowing dangerously” parts.
And I hadn’t been crippled either! [Healer] tag striking in my favor!
Wait, why would there be pirates in the water? Why would they so naturally point swords at me instead of drowning me, and instantly start talking about ‘slavery not being that bad?’
Ah. 500 coins said that people tried to jump ship – or throw cargo overboard – to dodge the pirates all the time, and they were here to quite literally fish the ‘valuable cargo’ out of the water.
It wasn’t that they were missing the glowing armor or anything. They probably just didn’t care, didn’t register as a threat. I’d dived overboard, which implied I wasn’t a fighter, and to be fair, I was a healer-tag, with two swords at my throat.
Heck, in their shoes, I’d assume I was doomed.
Two pirates. One on either side. Two blades pointed at my neck.
It was pretty clear cut, but I saw no reason to not, you know, negotiate a hair. I’ll give them half a chance to live.
“Unhand me or die.” I said. As I said. Half a chance.
Their grip tightened, and I felt some skill take hold, trying to move all my mana regeneration to… something else. Was that an underwater breathing buff they were trying to give me, crippling my mana in exchange? Made sense – the guard had a similar skill to take people prisoner, it was only logical that ‘fish slaves out of the water’ pirates had a similar crippling skill. Prevent pretty slaves with [Nova] from blowing them all up while they slept.
I had the [Curse Breaker] gem – I was going to kill them both, and see if the curse persisted. Then I’d consider breaking it.
Although, if it really was underwater breathing, I might want to keep it around. Seemed handy in the current situation.
I wasn’t going to give them the time.
I wrapped my hands around the first dude’s sword – his hands were too far away – mentally throwing both a [Nova] and a tight beam of deadly Radiance at the second dude. I wasn’t quite sure how much to kill the dude, and I wanted – needed – him dead, so I could fight the dude in front of me. No sense trying to perfectly kill both of them, only for both to live then kill me. I’d take my chances in a grappling 1v1 then maybe killing both, or maybe being in a 2v1.
[*Ding!* You have slain a [Shallow Diver] (Water, lv 130)// [Slaver Pirate] (Metal, lv 111)]
The blast from [Nova] burned and scarred the first dude, the second one having been instantly killed. I’d expected the first pirate to try and run me through, at which point I’d do my best to deflect, dodge, or just plain sink to avoid the attack, but instead he reflexively brought his hands up to his face, trying to protect his eyes against the burning [Nova] explosion that’d occurred point-blank, ripping the sword right out of my hands. It’d be a futile attempt to try and restrain him physically somewhat, but hey. It was better than doing nothing.
He sliced himself somewhat with his sword, and I finished the job with a brief burst of Radiance through his head, right before I started sinking again.
I kept my eyes open underwater, seeing the pirate’s sword dropped right in front of me.
I grabbed his sword before it could sink into the depths.
Now I was armed with something a little more dangerous than a kitchen knife.
The curse was also gone. Ah well, so much for underwater breathing. I’d probably have broken it anyways, just to get the regeneration back. I had tons of Arcanite, but every bit mattered.
I started to just widely blast Radiance into the mist around me, as I looked around.
I took a moment to take stock of my surroundings. The mist was starting to clear – all my work on it had clearly managed to break the skill, and now that it wasn’t powered by a skill, the sun was doing its thing. The merchant ship was large, and there was a much smaller ship tied up next to it – obviously the pirate’s ship. They didn’t seem to be moving much, which was good. Easier for them to board, easier for the three underwater pirates to hang about, easier for a skill to roll a fogbank out and coat them. I seemed to have come out on the other side of the ship than the one I blasted open – so no crowd of people looking down on me. I had a few moments of relative alone-ness. Except for that one pirate still underwater.
Right. First things first. I needed to get out of the water. [Talaria] didn’t work when my feet were underwater. Fortunately, the last diver pirate was staying far away from me – I could see him swimming under me, like a deadly shark, waiting to strike in a moment of inattentiveness.
I scrabbled against the smooth hull of the ship, unable to get any purchase to lift myself out of the water. No luck.
The pirate ship had oars out on one side of it, the side not hooked up to the merchant’s ship. If my next few things didn’t work, I’d swim over there. I wanted to avoid doing a bunch of swimming, it would make it easier for a pirate to spot me and try to shoot me while I was in the water.
I tried to stab the hull of the ship with the sword. It just deflected off.
Bloody skills. The captain probably had something like [Strong Hull] or something equally absurd, preventing my relatively light blows from landing or gaining any purchase.
My evaluation of [Wall Buster] went up a dozen notches, before I remembered Night telling me not to use it on town walls, unless I really had to.
Yeah, if it could take out a town wall, a ship’s hull would be like paper before it.
Ok, I couldn’t lift myself out of the water enough to get a purchase with [Talaria]. Time to be inventive, before I was forced to swim and expose myself more.
This was the most awkward solution.
I flipped myself upside down, and started doing a weird stroke – mostly just moving myself a bunch – until my feet were sticking out of the water, and the rest of me was under water. I activated, and could feel [Talaria] gaining purchase, at which point I half awkwardly “stepped down” upwards, half swam up and out of the water, until I was fully out.
A quick, athletic half-flip later, and I was upright again, climbing fast until I was looking down on both ships.
I had a nice, bright Radiance glow coming out of me – not so bright that you couldn’t look, but bright enough that you’d need to squint, or shade your eyes.
The rising of the sun.
The Dawn had arrived.
I mentally cursed that a leather skirt was part of the standard outfit. I needed to talk with the Quartermaster about a different outfit.
I used the [Amplify Voice] gem to make myself loud.
“Pirates!” I said, grabbing everyone’s attention. I winced – there was nothing in the skill that stopped blowback. How did people not go deaf using this skill?
“I am Sentinel Dawn.” I said, quickly thinking of and discarding a dozen different things to say. Whatever. Keep it short and sweet, speak their language.
“Fuck off or die.”
Yeah, that was about as straightforward as I could manage.
Dozens of pirates boiled out of the ships, onto the deck. Including the pirate that had been the leader of the pirates accosting me, and a very fancy-looking pirate, who I mentally dubbed “The Boss”. Looked like the boss.
“Kill her!” He shouted, loud enough that the voice carried to me. With a roar, the pirates started to throw weapons and skills at me, most not coming close.
“Anyone may surrender at any time by kneeling down and putting their hands on their head.” I announced. Had to give people a way out, otherwise they’d all fight to the death. Give people a retreat and all that.
“The rest of you –”