Mso 13

Peter|GM: Lamps are burning late at night all through the city. First with late business, and then, with riots, turmoil, panic.
Peter|GM: The Retidão, once the fiercest privateer in the eastern ocean, has been converted to a refugee ship taking all comers - distinguished senatorial and mercantile families mingling with lowly tradesmen, even sickly paupers, in her overstuffed hull.
Peter|GM: Throughout the city, doubt has long turned to sickening realization: The emissary sent to sue for peace from the Empire has not returned.
Peter|GM: And word from Ivique, whispered in quiet voices that carried all the same, has that the Imperial Fleet has set out.
Peter|GM: There is not much time. Perhaps more supplies could be obtained - perhaps the shore crew could be sent out again, begging, buying at whatever price could be had, looting, even, as the panic rises.
Peter|GM: "Captain," says the first mate. She is older than Santiago. She was with the navy, before. "We can't fit the whole city beneath our deck."
Peter|GM: The dawn is starting to show.
Le Santiago is not wearing his mask, or his armor; he has a blood orange in his hand, half-eaten. "Can't we? I suppose. I should have asked for a bigger ship…"
Peter|GM: "Won't be many more of those where we're going," she says. She turns to shout in the direction of some of the passengers - this suffices to break a fight apart before it comes to blows.
Peter|GM: "Bigger ships and oranges both."
Peter|GM: Hesitation holds.
Peter|GM: "When do we depart?"
Le Santiago sighs deeply. "I suspect I will live to regret giving the rest of this sack to the children." He looks across the harbor. "…How far do you think we can push it?"
Peter|GM: "If we leave now, there's still chance of evasion. Any later, we're betting on winning pursuit."
Le Santiago: "…We can't win pursuit with this load, can we?"
Le Santiago: "Too low in the water."
Peter|GM: "Depends on who they send."
Le Santiago: "…Huh. Betting against my own reputation, I suppose. Were we as fabulous as I pretended to be? Did we light up the world with our daring?" He tosses the peel of his fruit over the side. "Or were we just more buccaneers?"
Peter|GM: An Ecafan orange peel, buried in Ecafan waters.
Peter|GM: "We did that thing, Captain."
Le Santiago: "Well. Then I suppose we had better set off."
Le Santiago: "They'll know we're fast, or at least that we used to be."
Peter|GM: "We'd better."
Peter|GM: The Retidão casts off. The western wind is with you -
Peter|GM: And the sails fill. The speed is as good as this load can manage, the night clear.
Le Santiago: "Twice blessed."
Peter|GM: A lookout calls out, approaching from the east - first sight of the Imperial Second Fleet, bound for Ecafa.
Peter|GM: In full force. He's counting…
Peter|GM: Two dreadnoughts.
Peter|GM: …No, a third.
Le Santiago: "Sweet sun and moon, they could murder the world. They might! They might."
Peter|GM: "The portion that isn't underneath our decks, perhaps."
Le Santiago: "Hah! Thrice blessed!"
Peter|GM: The path of the Retidão circles the Towers - known to travelers for its towering isles of stone, at times hollowed through to arches, but feared by sailors for its treacherous reefs, and bizarre currents.
Peter|GM: It'll cut sharply northwest for Leviathan as soon as it rounds the outer perimeter of the Arcolith.
Peter|GM: There is no sign of pursuit from the fleet - the lookout calls them fanning out as they bear down on Ecafa. One refugee ship left the day before.
Peter|GM: A third, behind you -
Peter|GM: "They're boarding it," says the lookout.
Peter|GM: You're making good time.
Le Santiago: "It'd endanger everyone on board to try and swing back to cut them free."
Peter|GM: "Are you saying that to yourself?" says the first mate.
Le Santiago speaks to the first mate. He doesn't like speaking to the rest of the crew without his mask on.
Le Santiago: "You'd tell me that."
Le Santiago: "If I said to turn the ship around."
Peter|GM: "That's so."
Peter|GM: An interruption, from the lookout -
Peter|GM: "An Imperial corvette! It's broken off! Bearing for -"
Peter|GM: "Could be us!"
Le Santiago: "Ah!"
Le Santiago pulls his mask from his belt. He raps his baton against the gunwale. "Women! Men! My brave crew! Prepare to fight for our blessings!"
Peter|GM: What cannons remain are readied. There's able hands on every rope and rig.
Peter|GM: "…It's coming for us. Twenty knots. Judging from-" A pause.
Peter|GM: "The Twilight!"
Peter|GM: The ship of the Empire's Black Knight himself.
Le Santiago locks his mask into place. He spares a look for his first mate. "We never would have gotten this far without you. Have I mentioned that?"
Le Santiago: "I felt I should tell you."
Peter|GM: "The feeling," she says, pistol ready. "Is shared."
Le Santiago whirls his baton. "Come, you Imperial dogs! The ocean has watery graves enough for the lot of you!"
Peter|GM: The Twilight approaches from behind as the Retidão first starts to steer about the Arcolith.
Peter|GM: And then - the bay of cannons, falling short, bursting massive geysers from where they hit the waves.
Peter|GM: A deckhand, on the rigging, shouts -
Peter|GM: "They're walking shots! They mean to sink!"
Peter|GM: The crowded passengers, at this, are bedlam.
Le Santiago curses, and runs for the wheel. "Full sail, full rigging, full speed! All gunners to their stations! All shifts awake! All passengers- KNOW! The Retidão will not sink on such a fine night, on such a fine ocean, with such a fine crew!"
Peter|GM: All hands! A hive of activity! Cannons are loaded, firing!
Peter|GM: Arrogant in its engines, the Twilight swoops left and right, dodging each clumsy shot from those few remaining cannons -
Peter|GM: - But that's slower sailing.
Le Santiago: "Lumbering beast!"
Peter|GM: "Not much room to talk, Captain!" The Retidão shudders, steering off one of those treacherous reefs by the Towers at the last second, keeping the best line of sail as the Arcolith disappears behind.
Peter|GM: Up from the gunners - "No shots left, sir!" "Three shots!" "Two shots!"
Le Santiago: "Ours is a fine creature! A delightful monster! A sublime specter!" He bites back a curse. "Hold fire! Powder monkeys, redistribute shot, one-to-a-gun; we'll give them one last broadside!"
Peter|GM: One last broadside. The Twilight is coming close, following your line of sail tightly.
Peter|GM: You can see the Black Knight standing before its forward gun - a forward gun, the audacity! - preparing to deliver the command personally.
Le Santiago: "On my mark!" \
Peter|GM: On your mark.
Le Santiago grabs onto the wheel like he's trying not to drown. "Hold tight, my lovelies!" He turns dangerously tight, trying to cross the 'T' of the Twilight's path. "FIRE!"
Peter|GM: The Black Knight draws a sword. He gestures upwards with it.
Peter|GM: There is a horrible piercing light -
Peter|GM: And the Retidão cuts sharp in front of its pursuer -
Peter|GM: There's a terrible pain, in the ears, a pressure like an ear-ache -
Peter|GM: Cannon one. Cannon two. Cannon three.
Peter|GM: A shout, the tremendous shout of a deaf man, from cannon three - "IT'S A HIT! THE TWILIGHT'S LISTING-!"
Peter|GM: An explosion rips through the Retidão's hull as it straightens out and takes up the line of sail, and the Twilight turns hard away from the first shot it took -
Peter|GM: Catching treacherous reef.
Le Santiago: "Infinite blessings!"
Peter|GM: Its metal shouts and whines and shears as it runs aground.
Le Santiago: "The ocean eat you!"
Peter|GM: The light subsides, soon after. The Twilight is smoking.
Le Santiago: "Damage report, first mate!"
Peter|GM: "Cut too close to the Towers. Rudder's wounded, which will slow us down. That injury to the hull will patch but badly."
Peter|GM: "We'll make it to Leviathan."
Le Santiago: "Hah! A better port than the ocean deep."
Peter|GM: "That's so, Captain."
Peter|GM: And so, on bad time, the teeming masses of the Retidão spill out into Leviathan - their savior too wounded to bear them further, but free, for now, of the Empire's grasp.
Peter|GM: The first mate looks at the cage of cranes that do work on salvage-ships and merchant ships and even on badly wounded refugee ships.
Peter|GM: "You're in debt," she says. "Just for the mooring fee, Santiago."
Le Santiago: "I am also"
Le Santiago: "Totally out of oranges."
Peter|GM: "That's so. I know one of our passengers brought packs full of them. He's making a killing, now."
Le Santiago: "Ah, an entrepreneur." Santiago spits over the side of the ship. "If only I was possessed of such acumen, my ship would have been loaded with fruit."
Le Santiago: "And then debt would no longer be a concern!"
Peter|GM: "We'd be rich," she says. "The last Ecafan oranges without Imperial tariff."
Le Santiago: "I don't suppose you're actually a famously wealthy heiress?"
Peter|GM: "I'm not. I'm a family of distinguished military service, that said. That'll be enough to get me passage booked up along the western coast. Could tutor at the naval academy at Ivolly, I think - my brother-in-law retired there, also."
Le Santiago: "How long until they reach the western coast, do you think?"
Peter|GM: She taps Santiago, back-handed, upon the shoulder. "Your name will get you further than mine, that said. Get some merchant some heraldry for his daughter."
Peter|GM: And then, out at the ocean.
Peter|GM: "They can't bring the fleet around with ease unless they take Leviathan, and if Leviathan were easy to hold, it wouldn't be-" She gestures, to the Leviathan-ness of it.
Peter|GM: "They'll be here within two weeks. Then it's a matter of months to shore up - and then the weather around the cape will get bad."
Peter|GM: "…A year."
Le Santiago: "Ah. AH." That at the notion of marriage to some merchant, as fine as the Esquip family arms are. "…I think I will try to repair her. She deserves that much, after bringing us here."
Peter|GM: "That's so," she says.
Peter|GM: The salute is mostly for Santiago, but a little for the ship, also.
Peter|GM: "The finest crew I have ever served."
Le Santiago returns the salute. "A most excellent assemblage. I suspect most will seek fairer fortunes directly."
Peter|GM: Anna Seville, first mate of the Retidão, turns to depart.
Peter|GM: "Do be well, Captain. Do be well."

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