Ms0 10

E.MCG SALVAGE CORPORATION HEADQUARTERS, JUST OFF THE DOCKS IN LEVIATHAN.

An old warehouse. The floor is littered with piles upon piles of rusted, broken metal and odd wood shapes. The remains of many a sunken ship and their contents. A few men are inside with wielding torches, cutting the larger parts of metal hull into smaller, more manageable pieces. At the far end of the warehouse is single, small room, with the words "ACCOUNTING OFFICE" written in front of it.
Inside: a single desk, with a mountain of paperwork covering most of it. A large empty bowl rests on what's left of the desk, while the driftin woman who sit behind it slurps down the rest of the contents of a second bowl.
"This is good chowder."

"I'm glad you like it, Lady Mcgunnery." Elbereth replies to Elizabeth, "It's important to eat a good meal after a hard days work."
"Did you have a favorite applicant today?"

"I'm not really sure I'd call this WORK, exactly…" Elizabeth pauses. "Hmm. Maybe the spice man, I feel like I'll get a lot of good opportunities to tease you from him."

Elbereth glances to her side. "Oh? Is that the real reason you let me come along from a distance?"

"I think we're both quite aware it's 'cause yer guilt trippin' me something fierce and can easily sneak aboard, regardless."

"Correct as always, my lady. That said, I never thought the flyers would generate this much interest in one day."

Pica-Y-Mata doesn't bother knocking. Or with most conventions of etiquette, really, partially due to ignorance for what he doesn't know and apathy for what he does. He abruptly swings open the door.

Lady Elizabeth licks at her lips as she second the second bowl down onto the desk, as well. Then glances towards the door, before blinking a few times in silence.

Pica-Y-Mata presents one of said fliers. Though that detail probably goes missed, given the rest of his form.

Lady Elizabeth glances between Elbereth and Pica-Y-Mata a few times.

Elbereth seems… hesitant. Based on her hand reaching for the the Prima Regulus on her hip, she definitely wasn't expecting this visitor. But she eases her posture when she spots the flyer.

"Were you expectin' uh…" Elizabeth too, seems at a bit of a loss.

Elbereth takes a quick moment to compose herself before moving the chairs away from the table. She gets a mat out from the corner and rolls it out on the guest side. "My apologies. I was not expecting another applicant."

"Umm. Hm. Yeah. … If-ys?" Elizabeth guesses.

"Yes." Pica-Y-Mata answers.
"I understand that your expedition seeks to open an Arcolith before the empire can."
"Or something to that effect."
"I volunteer."

Elbereth nods, "We haven't outright stated that as we don't want to direct their ire, but you are correct, sir."

Lady Elizabeth clears her throat. "Out of… curiosity. What brings you to Leviathan…? I don't think I've ever actually seen an If-ys in person before."

Elbereth starts to set the table for their guest, but she seems to be smiling slightly at the proposal. "Are you okay with a variety of fruit? I am afraid I did not prepare any insects or rodents for scorpion shaped visitors today."
"It's not often you'll find one older than me, my lady." She remarks.

"The Empress," - Pica-Y-Mata's expression flickers, his nostrils flare and his eyes pop open wide with barely constrained fury - "imprisoned me in a tomb underneath the sea for a duration I lost track of. The seal was somehow undone. A fishing boat pulled me up and took me here."

"I see. And looting the arcolith before she can reach it… would be a first act of revenge, given it's proximity to where ya… were unsealed?" Elizabeth guesses.

Pica-Y-Mata turns to Elbereth. "Anything will do. I am voracious enough that …"
"I actually have not eaten since my imprisonment." He then continues, "If I were to directly assault her now, I fear it would end up even worse in her favor. She's had time to accumulate resources. I have not."

"…Huh." is all Elizabeth offers in response.

Elbereth considers before nodding. She goes into a corner and picks up an entire barrel. She places it on the floor before cracking open the lid. There's a good 4 feet of raisins in there. "Consider this on the house, then."

"She and all that she has built must be … dismantled." Pica-Y-Mata adds.

Lady Elizabeth lets out a breath before speaking up. "Right… well. We seem ta be gatherin' a number of people with no love for tha Empress or her Empire so… I suppose yer in like minded company…?"

"Before I continue, what do I refer to you as, sir?" Elbereth inquires.

Pica-Y-Mata grabs a handful of raisins and lets most of them fall through his hands, leaving one behind. He peers at it. "Pica-Y-Mata."

"And of which Empress do you refer to?"
"The Red-Black Empress we know of today is not the one that destroyed my nation a century ago."

"Does it matter which person fills the seat, if the seat goes along with her?"
Pica-Y-Mata doesn't let a thing like 'facts' get in the way.

"I suppose it does not. Especially if ones descendants follow the same path." Elbereth admits.

Lady Elizabeth clears her throat a bit awkwardly. "On a different note… do y'have any familiarity with the acroliths?"

"Only in passing, not in lore." Answers Pica-Y-Mata.

"Mm. Well." Elizabeth continues, "We're expectin' some kind of automated defenses to still be active, at least. I reckon yer not too concerned with potential threat we mights find inside, though?"

"Do you fight with the…" Elbereth gestures to the tail.

"With the everything. Yes." Pica-Y-Mata gestures with a hand to his whole body, a gelatinous, chitinous humanoid form with a scorpion's tail.
"And no, I'm not too concerned with such defenses."
"I would demonstrate but…"
Pica-Y-Mata peers around the office. At the walls. At the ceiling. "I assume you want this place intact still."

"Yes. Okay then." Elizabeth turns, briefly giving Elbereth a 'this is happening' look before continuing. "As long as yer comfortable with the potential dangers and have a willingness to come along, then we'd be glad to have you.

Elbereth nods her head. "Much appreciated. I spent a while making this place presentable this morning."
"I welcome you to our humble town, Leviathan. I hope you enjoy your stay here before we depart in a week."

Pica-Y-Mata glances at Elbereth, then at the hunks of metal and wood strewn about the floor.

"Should you need any assistance or have any questions, my door is open to all in our city."
Elbereth pulls out her notebook. "For the record, though. What do you prefer to eat for the voyage?"

"What are the options?"
"I'm unused to actually having options."

"We were only stocking Ssuseva, which is a cooked fish. Salted Pork, Spice Biscuits and Ecafa Oranges with drink options of Coffee, Ale and Tea. But I can expand the menu if that doesn't suit your pallet." Elbereth gestures to the untouched raisins for emphasis.

Elizabeth starts listing things off the top of her head, "In terms of what's available in the city though… mostly preserved meats, but the fish are fresh. Vegetables and nuts aren't too hard to come by, but fruit is…"

Pica-Y-Mata touched them! And ate one! And will probably eat more. "Honestly? Anything is better than nothing."
"I'll probably have to choose a form with taste buds to really care."
"Whatever you bring, I'll adapt to."

"Oh, wow. Yeah, I guess that would solve the problem of bad tasting food." Elizabeth looks… impressed?

"That brings up an important question. What is your current skill set, sir? I realize it is a strange question when one can adapt so easily, but if we are to work as a team it would benefit us if we knew what you were capable of at the time." Elbereth inquires.

"Brute force and unrestrained carnage. At least currently."
"Like I said, I would demonstrate, but…"

Lady Elizabeth waves dismissively. "I suspect we'll see an up close demonstration before too long, anyhow."

"Is there another area that's a bit more… expendable?" Pica-Y-Mata asks.

Elbereth glances at Elizabeth.

"Umm… hm." Elizabeth considers.
"…Probably not within the city. It'd be easy enough to go outside, but… probably best not to do anything too crazy on the docks at night."

Elbereth clasps her hands together. "We were not expecting any applicants at any rate. We may as well go for a small stroll, wouldn't you say?"

"If you've got a place in mind…" Elizabeth shrugs.

"There's a tree and an abandoned shack on a hill outside town. Would that suffice?"

"I guess that would work."

Pica-Y-Mata steps aside and gestures for them to lead.

Elbereth makes her way to the door before opening it. "At your convenience, then."

Lady Elizabeth slides out of her chair and follows behind Elbereth.

Elbereth comments as they walk. "It's been quite a while since I last left the town proper."

"S'not like there much to see in the surroundin' area."

"Back in the day this hill used to be a popular place secluded from prying eyes."

Lady Elizabeth opens her mouth, then decides against the comment. "I see."

Elbereth glances at Pica-Y-Mata. "If you do not mind me asking, where were you from?"

Pica-Y-Mata responds quickly. "A coral reef near a continent that would later become the imperial capital."

"…So y'guys really do live forever?" Elizabeth asks.

"At least I do." Pica-Y-Mata shrugs.

Elbereth shakes her head. "I do not, Lady Mcgunnery. I have not seen many of my kind reach a thousand, let alone seven-hundred."

"I meant If-ys, I know ya aren't immortal Beth."
"That's interesting though. Guess that's how you eventually developed a grudge with the empire?"

Pica-Y-Mata stretches out his hands in a welcoming gesture. "Well, you are welcome to try to kill me."
"It is why she imprisoned me, at least."

Lady Elizabeth shakes her head. "Uh… yeah, hard pass."

Elbereth smiles. "I am not one to refuse a sparring invitation, should you truly wish it."

"Oh, no, I even meant just go at it, without me fighting back." Pica-Y-Mata declares.
"Even still."

"Yeesh." Elizabeth shakes her head.

Elbereth considers. "I was under the impression that your bodies can perish and the spirit lives on. Was I mistaken?"

"It is not a question of how my kind works. It is a question of how I work." Pica-Y-Mata answers.

Elbereth slows down her pace as they approach the base of the hill. "Interesting. I'm sure I'll understand what you mean over time should our expedition last long enough."

Resting at the top of the hill is a single tree and a shack that looks like it hasn't been used in at least half a century.

"Shall I get to it, then?" Pica-Y-Mata asks.

Elbereth glances at Elizabeth.

"Go for it."
Pica-Y-Mata jabs his tail underground. It resurfaces near the tree, wrapping around it before piercing the trunk with the stinger, then tossing what remains to the side.

Elbereth raises a hand to her mouth. "Oh my. Did the tail just extend?"

Lady Elizabeth glances from Pica-Y-Mata, to the tree. "…Looks like it."

Pica-Y-Mata retracts his tail. "I'm not quite done." He holds a hand up, as one would hold a javelin, except with an outstretched palm. Above it, a black circle forms and opens, its opening pointed towards the shack.
Pica-Y-Mata glances at Elbereth. "Is this permissible?"

"Certainly."

At her word, the circle expands and spews a translucent violet-black substance, part of which is fluid, part of which is frozen cold. Shortly, the shack is frosted over and covered in icicle piercings.
"And if they survive that, I can capitalize on that, still"

Lady Elizabeth shakes her head. "Yeeeeah that… would've been a pain to clean up, fer sure."

Elbereth nods. "Thank you for the demonstration, Pica-Y-Mata. It was certainly enlightening. No further destruction will be required tonight."

Pica-Y-Mata starts to sprout and outstretch his wings - then quickly retracts them at that.
"I could go on, and on, and on, and on, and on, but - "

Lady Elizabeth tilts her head curiously. "Your body seems really uh… malleable."
"…which I guess makes sense for a shape shifter."

Elbereth reaches into her apron and pulls out a grimoire. She fans the pages and speaks "Alla Lod", as she fans her arm in front of the shack. It ignites in a brilliant blaze, but only for a brief moment melting the ice as her arm arcs once more in a fluid motion and the flames stop.

"I have …" Pica-Y-Mata starts,
"A lot of pent-up anger, let's say."

Lady Elizabeth purses her lips together. "I… can only imagine."

"So the sooner I can put this destruction to some constructive use."
"The better for everyone here, probably."

Lady Elizabeth nods, slowly. "Of course. We'll be heading out in a week. … Uh, I'm assuming they kept time the same way back when ya were…" She gestures vaguely, "Anyway."

Elbereth then asks, "If I may ask, sir…? Why were you imprisoned?"

"Because I was defending territory they sought to conquer, and they could not kill me."

"Were you alone on that Reef?"

"We had long since lost the reef since then."

Elbereth nods. "We? So you too had others. While I do not have your pent up anger from being imprisoned, I too lost my entire country to the Imperials. I am so sorry for your loss and hope we can all find closure in some way."
"Much like If-Ys, there are not really Dantali Elves in these parts."

Pica-Y-Mata writhes for a moment. A part of his arm twists away and contorts, as if it has a mind of its own, before he snaps it back to his side. " - it would probably be best if we refrain from history for now."

"Well… I think that's all from us, then." Elizabeth offers, after a moment.

Elbereth nods before glancing at Elizabeth. "My apologies Lady Mcgunnery. The demonstration is already over, so we don't have much reason to be here conversing."

Lady Elizabeth nods. "We'll leave you to it, Pica-Y-Mata."

Elbereth bows slightly. "I cannot imagine you have coin given your story, so feel free to use this shack for shelter. Or I can try to arrange a room for you at the Bard + Boar if you wanted something closer to a real bed…?"

Pica-Y-Mata inhales, putting a lid on the seething, agonizing urge to finish what remains of the shed. "We have mutually beneficial goals. I hope you're glad the expedition has me."

"Rather glad." Elizabeth answers.

"… the inn would probably be best." Pica-Y-Mata glances over at the shack, viewing it more as a punching bag than a place of rest.

Elbereth nods before making her way down the hill. "Come along, then. I'll show you some points of interest in our town on the way."

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