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  1.  
    Instructions:
    Behold the beginning of a new type of story telling on this fine writing forum. If you wish to escape your creativity cage, and be a part of history in the making, then read on.

    Here’s what to expect. Over the next several days or weeks a picture will be painted for you describing various aspects of the world that you have been thrust into. The characters of this world will be introduced to you and history will unfold. When the last introductory post is complete, I will unlock the trapdoor to achieving character status and you will fall through once your character bio has been approved.

    (Send correspondence to: creativitycage@gmail.com)

    From this point on, the rules are simple.
    1) You may only write as your character, but you may interact with anyone and even create your own non-player characters.
    2) Player characters (PC's) can control another Player's character in their post, with the understanding that each player has the right to veto an action taken by another character which assumes control of their character, or assumes an outcome in which their character is directly involved.
    3) Literary license is given to each to create stories, backgrounds, and for the general expansion/development of the world for the betterment of history.
    4) No communicating with other players in an attempt to reveal my identity.

    Good luck escaping your creativity cage!
  2.  
    Requirements:
    Your character bio must include the following, but beyond this may be as brief or verbose as you desire.

    Name:
    Background info/history:
    Place of origin:
    How your character will be introduced (just and idea of where they might pop up):
    General physical description:

    *last but not least, indicate whether you wish your character to have ‘the potential’ or not. Yes, this is mysterious. Yes, it will remain that way for some time. No pressure but this choice could have major ramifications on your character's future.
  3.  
    A Brief History:
    Breaking apart, crumbling into ruin, the dying world of Kiebos sent rocky fragments out into space, propelled in many different directions. Some were flung toward stars to be burned up completely, some to travel seemingly endlessly, joining the other flotsam lingering in the furthest reaches of space, and one fragment…. toward the world of Tutania. Encased within this protective layer of brightly glowing crust, was something unexpected - the essence of a dragon, it's consciousness carefully preserved within the core.

    The dragons who had called Kiebos home hoped to preserve their species by embedding their essences thus into many different fragments of their world’s core. Surrounding these rocky fragments, were rings of dragon seeds - each containing a different element of the dragon’s genetic code. They were a map to rebuilding a body for the consciousness buried within.

    Upon entry into an unsuspecting Tutania’s atmosphere, the dragon seeds were ripped from their paths ringing the rocky fragment, and scattered across sea and land alike. Where each dragon seed fell, its energy created an unusual storm, which lingered for as long as the seed remained undisturbed.

    The rocky fragment, now stripped of its layers of dragon seeds, continued on to its own point of impact on Tutania’s surface, bits of the rock flaking off as it fell. It came to its final resting place just outside Iotil, the royal city of the Tellirin Empire, where soon enough it was discovered by the Emperor’s people.

    Brought before Cyprian Makar Bet’Luna, His Divine Majesty the Emperor, the dragon’s essence deep within the rocky fragment stirred, making its choice. Joining in that instant with Cyprian’s own mind, the dragon transferred its essence out of the fragment. Having no true power to control anything Cyprian did, the dragon was merely a constant presence, speaking to the Emperor, yet unheard by those around him. They began to share every thought, every dream, every scheme.

    From that point on, foremost in the dragon's conscious, and thus the Emperor’s, was the finding of the dragon seeds. Ordering the remainder of the still glowing rocky fragment removed to his chambers, the Emperor henceforth seemed to those around him as if he never aged.

    Over time, perhaps months, years, even decades bits of the rocky fragment which flaked off during its entry were found scattered far and wide around the impact zone and were passed down through the generations from family to family. The sick seemed to be healed and the healthy seemed invigorated and longer-lived when in contact with a piece of the glowing rock.
    Now, the fragments and magical healing properties are but legend and story that has changed with time through each retelling. Unbeknownst to the folk of these lands, the fragments of rock offer to some a potential ability, by choice of fickle chance.
    _________________________________________________________

    Several months journey by ship across the Cerulean Sea a group of kingdoms, some thriving, others perhaps not, struggle amongst themselves for political gain, almost entirely unaware of the empire across the sea. Theirs was a concern for keeping life as they knew it, for advancement, intrigue, threats of war, and for the keeping of the common folk.

    Corranion, a kingdom situated on the continent Eupria, is bordered by the kingdoms of Nevarra and Gostago, and is several days journey across the sea from the kingdom of Puduan. Corranion’s once thriving economy was centered around commerce, yet now the kingdom is floundering. Perhaps this is because of a recent increase in pirate activity, perhaps a dwindling of goods from the neighboring kingdoms, or perhaps it is because of a strange increase in storm activity across the sea which claimed several of Corranion’s ships.

    King Michail Pyridian knows his neighbors covet the many spacious safe harbors in his domain and that they are itching to carve up his land between them. Because of this, he seeks to find allies and a means to help his struggling kingdom thrive once again.

    During the course of these struggles, one of Corranion’s few remaining ships is driven off course by a storm and happens to meet up with a strange ship, one of the Divine Emperor’s vessels.

    Upon hearing of this encounter, the Emperor grows curious about the people across the sea and decides to visit Corranion. Seeking to follow the whispered urging from the dragon essence within, the Emperor hopes to acquire allies to aid in expanding his search for dragon seeds. King Michail, desperate to revive his kingdom entreats the Emperor to make a treaty with Corranion. An alliance is struck and sealed by a betrothal between the Divine Emperor, and King Michail’s own daughter Sirina.

    Not long after the betrothal is announced, word spreads to the neighboring kingdoms, prompting King Davar of Gostago to issue an attack, intent on the capture of Princess Sirina. With his eye long kept on acquiring Corranion’s harbors for himself, the king does not wish the new alliance to solidify.
  4.  
    Here are bio’s for the characters that have been introduced thus far in the story. Feel free to model your own bio’s after them, such as including a picture rather than a complete physical description.

    If you deny your creativity, and request my aid in creating a bio for you, aid will be sent.Though it may lengthen your stay in your creativity cage.


    The characters so far:

    His Divine Majesty the Emperor Cyprian Makar Bet’Luna: Joined with a dragon essence within his mind, his current main focus is the finding of dragon seeds and the expansion of his empire.
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/8b/12/9f/8b129fe9459d52c6277380e8d731178a--royal-hunt-fantasy-fighter.jpg
    Characteristics:
    Slightly pompous, arrogant, and vain
    Keeps a tight rule, yet depends a lot on his closest advisors for wisdom and aid
    Does not often show mercy, and has those trained under him to show none as well, particularly his army and ship commanders

    His Majesty King Michail Pyridian:
    King of Corranion, a kingdom built around commerce which is failing. Desperate for allies he has betrothed his only daughter Sirina to the Emperor Cyprian Makar Bet’Luna.
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/1a/31/46/1a3146b7159bb82719008a2f1defeaff--character-ideas-character-art.jpg
    Characteristics:
    A loving father to his only daughter Sirina, he tries to make up for a lack of time spent with her, by indulging her desire for freedom
    Nearly always tired, with rings below his eyes and worry lines on his forehead due to his struggling kingdom, and the the death of his wife many years before whom he still mourns
    Errs on the side of ostracizing his family as he focuses on fixing his kingdom, placing duty above love
    A gracious ruler, he is not generally feared, but looked up to despite the failing economy

    Princess Sirina Zelenthia Pyridian:
    The only daughter of King Michail Pyridian. Recently betrothed to the foreign Emperor, she inwardly struggles against the idea, yet in the end is willing to do her part to save the kingdom.
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/68/23/4d/68234d5a6795359ea236cf5981728519--character-reference-character-concept.jpg
    Characteristics:
    Used to having her way
    Is proud, strong willed, and confident
    Trusts easily, preferring to give others the benefit of the doubt
    Loves her Andalusian mare Nieva and the freedom she feels while astride her
    Cares deeply for her father, her kingdom, and her people
    Has a fierce love for adventure which tends to overshadow her duty

    His Majesty King Davar Galodel:
    King of the mountainous region, Gostago. He has his eyes on the ports and safe harbors of his neighbor King Michail, and aspires to glory and expanding his kingdom.
    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/cf/72/7a/cf727a3ce6277817f9fa37054b8ac119--fantasy-men-fantasy-world.jpg
    Characteristics:
    Always striving for more power
    Enjoys being in command
    Has a soft spot for statues created from the beautiful rock mined in his kingdom
    An ambitious and avid planner, always having an upcoming scheme
  5.  
    Cartography:

    Continent: Napari
    The Tellirin Empire encompasses the entire continent of Napari, under sole rule of His Divine Majesty Cyprian Makar Bet’Luna. Iotil, the royal city, is located in the south western corner. Just southeast of Iotil, a few days journey, is where the rocky fragment containing the dragon’s essence first impacted. The northernmost regions are very cold, having short almost nonexistent summers, and harsh winters. The southernmost regions are more temperate and experience a wide range of weather conditions. Scattered off the southwest coast of the continent Napari, is a string of Islands, also under the Emperor’s rule.

    The people inhabiting Napari have been self sufficient, and have been isolated from the known world for many years. The empire’s military forces are extremely disciplined and trained relentlessly, including the relatively new fleet of seagoing vessels that the emperor built not long after the dragon essence began whispering in his mind. Many of the villages scattered throughout the empire live in fear of the tight rule and constant patrols of the empire’s forces.

    Continent: Eupria
    Broken up into three kingdoms, each comprising about a third of the continent, Eupria is roughly two months travel by ship southeast of Napari across the Cerulean Sea.

    Corranion occupies the southwestern coastline, which contains the best harbors and fishing grounds of the continent. Its royal city, Orilon is situated at the center of the largest inlet, only several days ride to the border of Gostago, a neighboring kingdom. Corranion has a lot of rainfall in its spring and summer months, and boasts lush forests and deep rivers which rush toward the coast. Its southern peninsula stays cold year round and sees heavy snowfall. Corranion also has dominion over a small island just off the northernmost tip of the kingdom, which serves as an outpost.
    King Michail’s father had a piece of the glowing rocky fragment handed down to him by his father. The king commissioned a fountain to be built in Orilon’s main square, with the fragment being its centerpiece. The people of Orilon seemed to enjoy exceptionally good health after that, especially those who regularly used waters of the fountain. Over time tales grew concerning the healing powers of the waters of the fountain of Orilon.

    Gostago, to the east of Corranion, is known for its mountainous regions. One of its mountain ranges borders a stretch of the kingdom of Nevarra and also separates Gostago from Corranion. Its eastern coastline stretches down to the sea from the high tops of cliff faces, with no easy sea access. Due to its higher elevation, Gostago experiences cooler temperatures and slightly less rainfall, while still enjoying a bit of each season.

    Dotting Gostago’s landscape in various places, are large mining pits. These are the primary source for Jasper bijou, the surrounding region’s official currency. The stones are rough cut into a standard size and polished into ovals of a specific weight. Red bijous are the most common, and therefore the least valuable. Next, going up in value, are orange, green, purple, cyan, and blue. Each stone is marked with a special seal to indicate it is a legitimate bijou.
    https://www.google.com/search?q=jasper+colors&safe=active&client=ms-android-sprint-us&tbm=isch&tbs=rimg:CV_1xQ4JQ6VxYIjjB7-o-f6ufwZemfROJnqin3zuiGZPehzK_1xfJrsCRsuvPO2RWs9nLslEO0_1t8ScrsDn9YqeP9WYyoSCcHv6j5_1q5_1BEXP-LuQ4uwiSKhIJl6Z9E4meqKcRmDB8VgKI0NYqEgnfO6IZk96HMhEUcsumbiF5QyoSCb_1F8muwJGy6ESJiapDGlcasKhIJ887ZFaz2cuwRdGwvJGl0dgsqEgmUQ7T-3xJyu]xFTvOyxJ17lEioSCQOf1ip4_11ZjEbgcbks7DcAN&tbo=u&ved=0ahUKEwiS0eLj6LzVAhUE-2MKHZ6GBmoQuIIBCCE#imgrc=X_FDglDpXFgRwM:

    The kingdom of Nevarra is north of both Gostago and Corranion. Fairly near the equator, the kingdom deals with the arid climate of a desert. Its lower portions though, are moister and more suitable for farming. Nevarra maintains a small port, however it is not as protected from the stormy winds which are known to blow from the western sea.

    Much of Nevarra’s profits results from the expensive dyes they create from their native plants, using the dyes to color the threads which their master weavers use to create immense and beautiful tapestries. Many of these tapestries are commissioned to tell something like a history, a passionate tale, or a legend. Nevarra’s tapestries hang in many of the most noteworthy houses throughout the kingdoms.

    Continent: Krialor
    Krialor is situated several days by ship to the west of Eupria. Two kingdoms claim rights over the land: Puduan and Hosh. The land was once united under the rule of a shrewd king well liked by his people, however, a feud broke out between his two sons. Both claimed to have been born first only to different mothers. Factions formed as the people took sides, choosing whom they thought was the rightful leader, until the land was broken into two. War between the kingdoms is ever brewing, yet neither brother wishes to be the first to cross the line of blood.

    Hosh claims the southern side of Krialor, and Puduan the northern. Most of the continent is temperate with lush plains, rolling hills, and copious areas well suited for farmland. Both kingdoms have well protected ports, from which they trade their diverse wares.

    At the northern tip of Puduan lies the Nahal desert, known for its sweltering heat and brutal sandstorms. Few take up permanent residence there, yet those who do have found a life in breeding a strain of exceptionally hardy horses many of which have found their way through trade onto the continent Eupria.

    The southern kingdom of Hosh boasts of frigidly cold days. The landscape is rugged and stony, barren of most plant life with heavy snowfall occurring nearly year round. The folk there live simple lives surviving off the various types of animals that migrate to their cold icy shores. They are exceptionally skilled at trapping, hunting and fishing and are known for making use of the entire animal as much as possible.
  6.  
    As I receive and approve character bios I will add them to a list here for quick reference. Those on this list may feel free to begin creating history.

    Player characters thus far:

    Sirina Zelenthia Pyridian, daughter of King Michail, princess of Corranion: (Player GoldfishKisses) *note I will also be utilizing other NPC's to further the story when necessary, players are encouraged to utilize those characters as well in their own creations.*

    Marcella Sendara Bet'Luna, Legatee and daughter of His Divine Majesty the Tellirin Emperor: (Player Juggernaut's Dream)

    Tyrone Skean, trader of fine weapons: (Player Dynamic Juggernaut)

    Tethra Ancret Gaheris, Assistant Quartermaster for a branch of a major shipping conglomerate: (Player Trenchcoat)

    Ander Misken D’Lanke, student/traveler/broker of information: (Player Curly Que)

    Laeronyn Hahrkil, expert diver and fisherman: (Player Spare Change)
  7.  
    [So it begins]

    The ship slipped silently through the onyx hued waters, the darkness of the sky being reflected in the depths below. Every so often a creak of oars, the lapping of a wayward wave against wood, or a barely perceptible flutter of sails upon a mischievous wind could be heard by a listening ear. But for the casual person, those who did an honest day’s work and now were most likely asleep in their beds, any of these telltale signs would pass unnoticed.

    Upon the forecastle deck of the Nonesuch, Captain Strane stood with his arms clasped behind a straight back, eyes trained on Corranion's sleepy seaward border. Silent moments stretched on, his crew nearly holding their breaths as they watched their captain for the signal, eyes straining through the gloom. They had quenched all lanterns and the crescent moon offered little to illuminate their intentions. Judging the time ripe at last, he turned and lifted an arm, signaling the attack to commence. Like a well oiled machine, flames were kindled along torches and bowtips alike, lighting the massive wooden ship like a byre and creating an otherworldly glow in the surrounding sea.

    As if on cue the five other ships stretching to either side lit in a similar manner. Cannons were readied, muskets loaded, and sabres unsheathed.
    ______________________________

    Covers lay strewn haphazardly upon Sirina's large bed, the soft sheets doing little to comfort the turmoil within her mind. A fortnight had stretched by since she'd been betrothed by her father to the mysterious emperor across the sea, and each of those nights she had ended up pacing by her favorite windows. Nestled by these windows overlooking the sea was a soft bench to cuddle upon. She often spent time there during the day as well, her gaze following the water as far as she could see, wishing for adventure. Recently, however, she spent most of her nights contemplating the adventure she would have never chosen for herself, marriage to a complete stranger. Not only was the man himself foreign, his language, customs, and people were foreign to her as well. Long had she stewed over her father's seemingly brash decision, yet each time, as she finally fell asleep, she would realize he hadn't had much choice. His kingdom was failing.

    What would she have chosen if he'd offered her a choice? This was the question the princess now mulled over, her bare feet padding softly along the cool floor of her rooms, ignoring the welcoming alcove by the windows, her state of mind not allowing for rest.
    ______________________________

    Strane had hand selected a handful of his swiftest and strongest for the task at hand. The plan was simple. According to his intel their target would be in her bedchamber, sleeping soundly, having retired for the night several hours prior. During the confusion and mayhem brought about by the attack, his team would quickly and quietly detour away from the main front of the attack and circumvent any patrols until they reached a pre-arranged location below the princess's bedchamber window. There they would find a rope already hanging down near enough to the window to permit access through it into the castle. They would incapacitate the girl quietly and lower her down from the window before making their way back to the vessel with none the wiser.

    ____________________________

    Knowing her guards stood just outside her door, Sirina tried to make as little noise as possible in her pacing, not wanting a report to go to her father about the sleepless nights. No, he had enough on his mind. Chewing a bit on her bottom lip, something she only allowed herself to do when not under watchful and possibly judgemental eyes, Sirina paused a moment by the window, her gaze catching a sudden light in the distance, which illuminated the form of a ship upon the sea. Soon after, several other ships lit up, causing Sirina to inhale a quick gasp of surprise. Why had they - a boom sounded from the closest ship, and after that, an explosion at the base of the castle wall. Under attack, Sirina thought with a jolt. Rushing to her door, even as she heard more booming and crashing from outside, the sky lighting up with fire, she threw it open to find her guards already alerted. “Stay inside your highness.” One of the men said, holding up a hand to stop her headlong rush. Knowing it was futile to argue she turned back into her rooms frustrated that she could do nothing as the door shut behind her.

    Pulled back to the window, where she could at least see the attack, Sirina resumed pacing, one hand fretfully tugging at the end of her long blond braid, the other hand toying with one of the frills on her deep blue nightgown. Below she could see her father’s men gathering to confront the attackers, readying their own weapons, yet so much damage had already been done. The betrothal torn from her mind, Sirina wondered who had ordered the attack. Which of her father's rivals had finally chosen action over tedious politics?
    ____________________________

    Torches blazed along the length of each of the ships as they released their payloads into the nearest group of buildings, opting for the most damage in a short amount of time. They didn’t plan to stay long as they would be no match for the fortress's defenses when they inevitably began retaliating in kind. A swarm of small craft rowed furiously toward shore to engage the ground forces and briefly wreak havoc to ensure the ruse was successful. One boat manned by four swarthy sailors broke from the rest and once outside the circle of light cast by the flaming ships, slipped quickly toward the shoreline ready to carry out Strane’s plan, the true purpose of this sudden attack.
  8.  
    If the floor of Sirina's room had been carpet rather than the cool wooden flooring her family favored, there surely would have been a track worn around the perimeter from her incessant pacing. The night had progressed into the deepest parts, yet the sky outside flickered eerily with the flames of their attackers and the sudden glaring explosions from cannonfire. With the cacophony of noise that her window panes did little to stifle, Sirina did not hear the telltale click of the window’s lock unfastening, nor did she notice at first the window itself gliding open on its well oiled hinges.

    As her circuit of pacing took her back by the now ajar window, Sirina felt the wind stir a few stray locks of hair, the tickle on her brow causing her to look more closely at the window itself, moving forward to better see in the dimly lit glow. Before confusion had even had a chance to plant its seed within her mind, Sirina felt a pair of rough hands clamped tightly over her mouth, stifling any shriek that may have issued from them, the gap in the window enlarging as the silhouette of a man rose on the outside, dragging the princess onto the windowsill, hands still smothering her gasps of surprise and fear. Struggling as well as she could Sirina fought to free her mouth so she could at least offer a suitable scream for the occasion, yet as the hand was removed, a gag quickly replaced it and all she got out was a small and pathetic squeak. The rough cloth of the gag bit at the skin around Sirina's mouth, a sharp reminder of what was happening.

    With a strong arm tight around her waist, arms partially pinned, Sirina's struggles were rendered useless as the man holding her tossed her with seemingly no thought out the window. Thinking she was surely falling to her inevitable death, without even the ability to make shriek, Sirina felt her heart leap into her throat. But then she landed in yet another sturdy pair of arms, and her blue grey eyes glared up at the men who now surrounded her, two holding her tightly by the upper arms as her hands were bound.

    It seemed to Sirina that the plan had been well thought out in advance as the men kidnapping her never uttered a word, not that she could hear anyway over the din of the fighting. Fear clutched tightly in Sirina's chest as she was moved without further ado toward the sea. Her mind roiled with outrage that she was so helpless to stop her own kidnapping, fear of what could happen, and a startling twinge of excitement as adventure she so longed for was thrust upon her.
  9.  
    A few moments before the attack, Tyrone Skean found himself casually walking along the waterfront with a long narrow package under one arm. His excuse for being out so late was to deliver this newly crafted blade of intricate design to a wealthy merchant who had a penchant for collecting ostentatious weaponry. Tyrone had no use for flowery designs on his blades personally, but as his uncle used to say “the customer is always right”. He had made a deal to deliver the blade before tomorrow’s date, thus the reason for the late night stroll.

    As he walked he whistled a lively but subdued tune to pass the time without waking the occupants of the nearby waterfront buildings. Running his rough hands through his thick dark hair every so often he gazed into the inky blackness of the sea, breathing in deeply of the salt tinged air. The next moment his heart began racing and the tune died on his lips as a ship appeared seemingly out of the nowhere and lit up the sky. Four more ships materialized in like manner before his eyes and began devastating the coastline with cannon fire.

    Luckily for him the attack was taking place to the south of his position. Tyrone ran to the edge of the boardwalk to get a better view. Gripping the railing with both hands, his mind began to whirl with ideas of what he should do next. Quelling the emotion and taking a deep breath he pivoted around and began running back toward the conflict, stopping only once to strap the packaged blade securely onto his back with a bit of twine.

    http://data.whicdn.com/images/148125204/original.jpg

    Tyrone slowed his dash to a careful jog as he neared the outskirts of the conflict, his eyes scanning the area for movement. Suddenly a dark shape on the shoreline partially hidden under some foliage caught his eye. That hadn’t been there before had it? He abruptly screeched to a halt and ran back a few paces the way he had come to investigate. Having no light source on his person he fumbled around in the dark and moved the foliage to discover a sleek long boat, the kind normally found on board a larger vessel. With a feeling of heightened awareness he realized that in order for the boat to be as wet as it was so high above the waterline it must have been carrying a decent amount of weight very recently.

    Tyrone reached inside his leather jerkin and grasped the familiar cold handle of his dagger. He looked inland in an attempt to see the direction the occupants of this vessel may have headed in. After straining his eyes and ears in vain for several tense moments he was about to give up when he was rewarded by the sound of several sets of stealthy footsteps headed directly toward him. Thinking quickly, he ducked around the side of a building and laid his body prone on the ground so only his head could be seen around the corner and he could just see the boat, but little of the shore line beyond. No sooner had he hit the ground than two figures came into view, one of them had slung over his shoulder what appeared to be a long cloth bundle at first glance. The men hurried to the long boat and quickly but quietly began making preparations to disembark, setting the bundle down on one of the bench seats, but never letting go completely.

    One of the sailors spoke and Tyrone could just make out a few of his words. Something about waiting for a contact or possibly an event? The other sailor gave a noncommittal shrug and gestured at the tether that held the boat in place. Suddenly the bundle moved and Tyrone saw that it was a person! He had no time to make a plan as the boat seemed ready to cast off. Counting on the element of surprise he rushed in low and hard holding his dagger close to his body. The two men in the boat whirled around at the sound of the approaching footsteps and one managed to get his oar up to block Tyrone’s dagger as it arced down from above. The metal bit into the wooden handle of the oar and stuck fast. Tyrone lost his grip and his footing as the sailor jerked the oar back. Stumbling for purchase beside the now untethered long boat, Tyrone grabbed the side of the boat and began to heave himself aboard the small craft upsetting the balance of the sailors and the prisoner. He caught the eye of the prisoner for a split second before hearing a noise behind him. Before he could turn to defend himself a blow to the back of his head staggered him and he felt an arm snake around his neck and a hand covered his mouth. After a brief struggle two more men climbed into the boat, one of them dragging the limp unconscious form of Tyrone.
  10.  
    A fortnight's journey out to sea from Eupria a lone ship quested over the foaming waves of the sea. The frigate, DEV Inquisitor, had been on the sea for many months now, its hull glistening with the salty slime of a well travelled ship, its sails at full mast, and the figurehead of a sea serpent coiling at its prow. The sight was a near majestic one as it rose on the waves to plummet into the following trough, only to rise again on the next swell, unimpressed by the water which battered its sides. It had weathered storms the like of which only true seamen could boast.

    Nestled within the captain's cabin of the DEV Inquisitor, a woman stood, her head bowed over a table lit by multiple lanterns. Upon the table maps were spread, notes scrawled over much of them in a hasty yet elegant hand. In the corners of the room, various chests could be found some closed, others sprung open with scrolls nearly spilling from them, so full of the texts were they.

    Muttering could be heard from the woman, whose hand moved along various routes of the maps engrossed as she was in her study. The figure was clothed as befitted her rank, in a white undershirt topped with a stunning red corset strung with various belts and loops for holding what gear and weaponry she deemed desirable. Atop this was settled a long cloak, well fitted and left unclasped to fall at her sides. Beige leggings dipped into knee high leather boots which were well oiled and well worked, having seen plenty of use. A short golden chain hung about her neck, signaling her affluence, and beside her on the table was settled her captain's hat. It also was made of finely worked leather and sported a golden brooch, the emblem of her father's empire. Long brown hair was loose down her back, and her equally brown eyes seemed troubled as they stared tiredly at the documents before her.

    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/9c/0c/4e/9c0c4e8ea6aafa50ba861055f4ed3435--sea-pirates-female-pirates.jpg

    Marcella Sendara Bet'Luna felt like growling out her frustration, though she would not stoop to such petty outbursts even in the privacy of her own room. She had been staring at these maps for hours, and before that, all too often over the past months of her quest. She had nearly forgotten what it felt like to move on solid earth, her legs so used to the moving and churning waters of the sea, and the ship's now predictable responses. Yet the answers she sought were not forthcoming, remaining as elusive as the day she'd begun her quest, bright eyed and ready for the challenge.

    "Bring me the seeds. It is your destiny to undertake this task. Do not fail me.” Her father’s words before she sailed away. His words still echoed in her mind and she felt herself floundering, sure she was failing him. Not one seed yet lay in her grasp, not one of the elusive, all powerful storms had she found. What was the secret to their finding? How could she possibly hope to cover enough of the sea’s vastness?

    Pushing away the map she blew out her frustration in a long breath, reminding herself once again of her resolve. She would find the seeds, and when she did she would bring them to her father, triumphant in her success. These thoughts brought about the inevitable turning of her mind to why her father wanted the seeds. What had caused his fascination, nay his fixation, on them? It wasn't for her to know. Never had the Emperor made it a habit to share unnecessary information with those beneath him. Which she was, despite being his daughter.

    Putting a hand up to run it through her hair, tugging on a small portion as had become a habit of hers, she forced her mind away from the thoughts, her gaze flitting back to portions of the map her ship had not yet been. She would try continuing south, branching further than she had ever been. What new lands would greet her there? Already she had found more islands and bits of land in her questing than she had thought possible before her sailing began.
  11.  
    Sirina was plunked roughly down upon the long boat’s middle seat, jarring her and pulling a grunt from her lips. Hands tied now she relied upon her captors to keep her from falling forward. Yet it seemed they were suddenly preoccupied, the boat rocking violently and hurling her face first deeper into the boat. Her cheek thumped against the next seat splitting a bit and causing a trickle of blood to seep down, a drop staining the wood. She gasped in pain as wounds of a struggle came from the shore and the boat jostled more, causing Sirina to be glad she was now on the floor of boat rather than a seat.

    Lifting her head as far as she could, trying to wiggle back to a seated position despite hands behind her back, Sirina caught a glimpse of the one causing trouble for her would be kidnappers. His gaze met hers a moment and she felt a momentary flash of hope. Was this a rescue? And then the hope was crushed the man slumped to the ground, an oar knocking him senseless. A strangled sound gurgled past Sirina's gag and she felt another stab of fear. No one stood between her and her captors now.

    Dragging the unconscious man along, the rest of the burly thugs climbed aboard. One of them finally reached down to pull Sirina by both arms back onto the bench seat beside him, his hand staying gripped around her arm even as the boat slipped smoothly into the dark water. Heart thumping, Sirina jerked, desperately trying to wrench her arm free and fling herself over the side of the boat before it got too deep. Stupid perhaps, yet she could see no other chance.

    Curses sounded in her ear and her arm indeed ripped free for a blessed moment, her body lurching to the side. Then rough arms caught her about the waist and hauled her back. Cheeks burning from the indignity of the men’s touch, as she was in her nightgown, Sirina sat silently as the man grunted at her. Infuriatingly, they spoke hardly at all, and so she was unable to glean even a smidgen of information.

    Glancing down at herself momentarily, Sirina was glad to find her betrothal gift still hanging about her neck, the oddly entrancing rock entrapped in beautifully crafted wire, glowing very faintly.

    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/7b/b3/11/7bb31115386ba289a262a47e83454220--wire-necklace-wire-jewelry.jpg

    She had kept the necklace on from the moment she'd received it. Despite how little she knew of the emperor, his gift enthralled her, it's odd beauty somehow soothing her. Now, unable to do much else, she stared at the stone, wondering where it had come from, and why the Emperor had chosen it as her betrothal gift.

    Time slipped by, the peaceful lapping of the oars and the slapping of the waves against the boat's side seeming to taunt Sirina, as in the distance fighting still raged. She could see torches glowing ever more faintly on the shore, and ahead, upon the looming shadow of one of the large ships with sconces lit along its railing which cast an otherworldly glow over the hulking shape.

    Glancing from time to time at the prone form of her would be rescuer, as if somehow expecting him to rise and beat them silly, Sirina felt disappointed when he did not move. The longboat thumped softly against the hull of the ship, and ropes were tossed down to secure it, drawing the whole longboat up with a pulley system. Crewmen then helped swing the boat over the deck, where it was lowered to rest with an underwhelming bump.

    Sirina felt her chest nearly heaving with emotion now, the fear closing her throat and blotting out all excitement she may have thought she felt before. This was all too real. “Come on you.” The rough voice startled her, the grip on her arm tightening as it forced her to stand. Why must her infernal legs begin wobbling when she needed them most? Frustration welling, Sirina was pushed toward the fore of the ship, losing track of the other captive as they left the longboat behind. There, silhouetted by a sconce directly behind him, a man wearing a captain's hat stood with hands clasped lazily behind him. Sirina pulled all the courage she could muster and put it into the glare she gave the man, her chin lifting in defiance. Could she be blamed if, perhaps, it quavered slightly?
    _______________________________________

    Strane leveled his own gaze at the product of his ingenuity. The princess, clad in a ridiculously frilly blue nightgown, stood before him, hands bound and mouth gagged. Yet her eyes spit anger at him, despite her position, causing the corner of Strane’s mouth to curl upward. Foolish woman, yet he had to admire her pluck. Still, she would soon see that fighting would do no good. Besides, she would no longer be his concern once she was safely delivered to the king.

    “Welcome aboard, your highness,” said Strane giving a mocking tip of his hat to the woman before he turned his back to her. “Put her in the room adjacent to my own. Keep her hands tied and the room guarded at all times. No one goes in unless I order it.” his voice reached the men as they stood at attention behind him, and he moved back up the steps to stand at the helm, knowing his orders would be obeyed.

    Yes, everything was going just according to plan. As the princess was hauled away, Strane gave the order to raise sails and begin the retreat. A gun was fired directly overhead, followed by a flaming arrow, signal to the rest of the ships the package was secured. Strane felt the wind at his back as a satisfied smirk settled upon his face. The ship moved with surprising speed despite its bulk, and he knew that soon they would be out of range of Orilon’s defenses.
  12.  
    “We've searched the surrounding grounds sir, and teams of men are being deployed to further the search throughout the whole of your kingdom if need be.” Commander Granlin stood at attention in King Michail’s private reception hall, offering what hope he could to the bowed man upon the throne. Despite his daughter's presence being found missing from her rooms the previous day, King Michail had not caved to pressure. His posture, slumped though it was while prying eyes were absent, still exuded the authority and strength he seemed never without.

    “And what if she was taken by boat?” His Majesty's voice was quiet, but it carried throughout the room with a weight that caused each man present to stand up straighter. Michail looked to his Admiral for an update. “A messenger was dispatched yesterday with news of the attack to our outpost. If any ships attempt to sail past, night or day, it will be halted. As you know sir, our own ships are few at the moment. We have lost several recently in storms that went down with all hands. The attackers managed to cripple all three of the ships that were moored in the harbor by toppling their main masts. It will take at least a day to make repairs. Of the three remaining vessels, the King’s Own Jubilant has already been dispatched to Puduan to request aid per your orders. The KO Paladin has been sent north to supplement the outpost there and your flagship, the KO Verity remains here in Orilon.” His tone was hard yet apologetic. Facts were facts, they could not pull ships from thin air to send out in search of her highness.

    “Take what men you need and double the guards stationed at the northern outpost.” The king leaned over a map outlining the kingdom’s defenses. “We need to protect our borders and buy time until help arrives from our allies. Do whatever it takes to get boats out on patrol along the northern passage as well as the southern peninsula, even if it means commandeering merchant or fishing vessels. Also, increase the Eastern border patrols. I want no more enemies to slip past our defenses.”

    Commander Granlin inclined his head in obeisance. “It shall be done. I will also see to it that a network of riders and horses be stationed ready to bring word of any sightings.”

    King Michail ran a hand over his face, standing to move from the throne and begin pacing, a tendency which his own daughter so often reflected. His thoughts turned to her well being. Was she alive? Had they hurt her? Worry lines deepened along his brow and he took his thoughts from their current path lest he become rash. “His Divine Majesty the Tellirin Emperor must be alerted that his betrothed has been abducted.” He said finally, reluctantly.

    Commander Granlin stepped forward, sharing his thoughts, “With all due respect sir that could have an undesirable effect and we can hardly afford to strain relationships with our allies right now, especially such a new tenuous relationship as we have with the Tellirin Empire. And how do we know the Emporer is not behind the kidnapping himself?”

    “The wisest of kings listens to counsel,” Michail had told them when they were appointed, “Even if he does not like it.” Now, Michail stopped his pacing, turning to consider the commander's words. When the Emperor had returned to his own land, he had left behind an ambassador to learn their language and teach Sirina theirs, along with a ship and crew should word need to be passed before the next arranged meeting. Was it hasty to send word so soon?

    “We must first exhaust every opportunity to find my daughter. But should we fail, word must be sent. You have five days to find Sirina before the ambassador must be notified.” His tone was final, honesty would be upheld despite the new disadvantages it could bring. The king then turned to a new line of thought, his words still directed toward commander Granlin. “What is known of the attack? From whence did it arrive and why did we receive no warning?”

    “Unfortunately it is possible for a small fleet such as the one that attacked us to slip by our outpost in the night, as well as avoid our sea patrols given their reduced number. It would take a very skilled captain with an able crew and intimate knowledge of the coastline, but it is possible. No telltale markings on any of the offending ships which could offer clues as to who may have ordered the attack were reported by my men. No flags were flown, and the armor and weaponry encountered by my men were not unusual, though it was noted they seemed more of a mercenary style than that of a Kingdom’s army. It seems great care was taken to conceal the origins of the attack. Perhaps they do not yet wish all out war, or perhaps they have yet another surprise in store.”

    A moment later the commander glanced around the room before adding quietly, “After careful consideration of the facts it would appear that the enemy had inside information. There doesn’t seem to be any other explanation for the ease with which they slipped past our defenses and got in and out so quickly and with minimal losses. His shoulders shifted to signal he had been unable to obtain any other useful intel.

    After a long pause, Michail gave a nod, digesting the information. He would need to consider the implications further at a later date. Finally able to bring his mind to consider the rest of the damage done by the attack King Michail wearily beckoned yet another man to step forward and report.

    “Damages to the town are already being assessed, and the people are being heard. I would suggest that a public audience be held by your Majesty. Fear is spreading because of the surprise attack. The people need to hear from you and see you considering their perspective. Now is not a good time to lose the trust of the people.” The king's advisor finished the report, adding yet more weight to the king's shoulders. How he missed his late wife Hashanna’s regal diplomacy, and her way of inspiring the people to loyalty. While Sirina may have lacked Hashanna’s regal bearing (something which could be taught) she had been showing signs of being every bit as inspiring as her mother, despite having never met the woman.