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The Longest Journey Chapter 1

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*As night fell, the crew got word of the rationing shortage. Artenen stayed with Rachel to protect her, but the crew began to shout and fight both on deck and below. Crew are fighting for pecking order in most of these fights.*

Suddenly, there's swords sparing up top and someone was run through... the blood drips down Rachels starboard wall. There's sounds of more struggle, the plank board is heard dragging across the deck and shortly after, a splash is heard.

Aye, the crew shall persevere through their trials, for the night ahead portends to be a long and arduous one. The shadows shall deepen, and the echoes of their struggle may resound through the very halls of time. Artenen Says

*Just then, there was a loud bang by the food storage door. a group of 5 begin to raid the rum cellar.
*Rachel huddles close to Brother, determined not to waste her powers worrying. She breathes deeply and relaxes into the trance like state that she knows oh so dearly.*

*when she opens her eyes again, they are aglow with blue and purple energy.*

"In all ways and all things and everywhere and for all time......"
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Alone with her worries, the forces of evil lurking along the coast cast a much darker and more frigid night than the warm climate had seen before. Pondering to herself, the witch wonders, frustrated that others don't seem to sense the changes in the misty air around them.

Ella asks the barmaid
, "I don't suppose you have a spare bed available tonight?" wrapping her cloak tightly around her bare arms.

"No ma'am, its taken by a beast of a man. I ain't seen him before, but he paid quite the sum!"

Without another word, Ella makes her way out of the bar, drunkenly into bumping a chair before exiting into the night. Finding her way into a stable, she rolls out her mat and checks her satchel for a piece of bread, "Hmph, nothing left," she curls up with her long, dark locks padding the ground beneath her head. Slowly drifting into a light slumber under her cloak.
*The Star in the Center of The Key explodes in a wash of Light and the Elf takes hold of her mother's Scepter.*

"Enough is Enough!"

"Whatever it takes, we must endeavor to reestablish some sense of control. Help me, Brother."
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Huzzah! Artenen says while standing next to Rachel

*As the night settles in and crew begin to get drunk, more fighting and shouting can be heard. Artenen unsheathes his mighty 2 handed sword and Rachel helps him into all his armor. His eyes once again, begin to glow white as he smiles.*

Harken, fair maiden, for I, a valiant warrior of noble intent, doth pledge my sword and soul to serve thee. "Rachel," quoth I, with a heart imbued in the chivalrous spirit of yore. Aye, in battles fierce and trials dire, I shall stand steadfast, defending thee and thine honor. My lance shall shatter the darkness that lurks, and my shield shall protect thee from any harm that may dare befall. As the sun doth rise and set, my loyalty to thee shall remain unwavering, till the end of days. He says to Rachel

*Just then, there's a pounding on Rachels door*

Speak thy name and purpose, or face the scrutiny of the guardians who stand watchful. Artenen shouts in the deepest voice he has
It is I, your Capitan Whispers the voice at the door

*Artenen readies his sword, Rachel slowly opens the door with staff in hand. As the crack of the door opens wide enough to see through it, sure enough, it's the captain. Artenen grabs him through the crack of the door and as the door bursts open with the captains body, Rachel catches the door and quickly shuts it as her eyes glow and staff is at the ready*

I fear, all is lost Says the captain

On still waters, the jaybird clan, a daring group of humans, seizes the ship, taking control of the crew. The Captain says in shame
Artenen looks the captain in the eye and says
Hark, can we three, as a valiant trio, embark upon this gallant vessel, unaccompanied by a larger crew?

The Captain thinks for a moment and then nods his head yes.

At that moment Artenen looks at Rachel and says
"A dire choice confronts us: 'them' or 'us.' With unwavering courage, we must stand united and face the impending struggle. Survival demands our valorous resolve in this medieval test of fate."
*Nods, eyes blazing and Star aglow and makes the same pledge to Artenen.*

*She fastens her spell pouch tight about her, checks her daggers and grabs her Grandfather's spell journal.*

"Let them do their worst! We shall stand tall yet!!!"
As the uneasy stillness of the becalmed sea weighed upon the "Silver Gale", tension grew among the crew. The once harmonious sailors had now succumbed to the wicked allure of enchanted wine, their intentions turning dark.

Artenen and Rachel found themselves cornered in Rachel's quarters. Drunken footsteps echoed outside her door, and muffled voices whispered of treachery and blame. Artenen readied his gleaming sword, his muscular frame tensed for the impending brawl.

Beside him, Rachel gripped her long wooden staff, its ends adorned with intricate elven carvings. While known for her magical prowess, few were aware of her formidable combat skills.

Behind them, the ship's captain, his features stern, whispered, "I'm with you to the end." The surprise of his presence bolstered their resolve.

As the door splintered open, Artenen lunged forward, his sword cleaving through the first sailor's chest with a sickening squelch. Blood spurted, staining the wooden floorboards.

Rachel swung her staff with precision, smashing it into the face of another assailant. Bones crunched, and the man fell, his skull caved in.

The captain, ever the skilled fighter, drew two daggers, spinning them expertly. He darted forward, plunging one blade into a sailor's neck, the other into the heart of his mate. Blood sprayed in a grim arc.

The quarters became a frenzied battleground. Artenen's blade danced with deadly grace, severing limbs and slashing throats. With each swing, a sailor met a grisly end, their lifeblood pooling on the floor.

Rachel's staff was a blur, its strikes causing sailors to collapse with shattered ribs, broken jaws, and concussions. She ducked and weaved, the staff an extension of her, landing blows that left men lifeless.

The captain, moving with stealth and expertise, ensured no sailor could flank them, his daggers finding their mark every time.

In what felt like hours but was mere minutes, the room was littered with the bodies of the 25 fallen sailors. The trio, blood-spattered and breathless, shared a nod of mutual respect. The ship may have been becalmed, but onboard the "Silver Gale", a storm had just passed.
The captain, his face marked with the stains of battle, placed a comforting hand on Artenen's back. "War is a cruel mistress, young paladin. We defended ourselves, but the weight of lives taken is a burden all warriors bear."

Rachel steps closer, her staff gently tapping the ground. "We did what was necessary, Artenen. But it's okay to grieve. It makes us human." She says, her elven eyes shimmering with empathy.
The captain, pausing to take a deep breath, said, "In all my years at sea, facing storms and pirates alike, this... this was the moment I needed saving the most. And you both stood by me. It's a debt I can never repay."
Brushing away his tears, Artenen's face became a mask of determination. Without another word, he made his way up to the top deck. The midday sun cast an almost mocking brightness over the ship, the heat intensifying the smell of blood and salt.

One by one, with a strength borne from both his training and his raw emotion, Artenen began to lift the lifeless bodies of the sailors and cast them into the deep blue abyss below. The splash of each body echoed the grim finality of their fate.

Below, Rachel and the captain exchanged a knowing look, understanding the weight of what had transpired and the necessity of Artenen's actions.

Still, as the bodies disappeared beneath the waves, the sails of the "Silver Gale" remained slack, the ship eerily motionless amidst the vast, still ocean. The weight of uncertainty about their future, just as palpable as the weight of the lives lost, pressed upon them all.
Artenen's movements were mechanical, almost detached, as he handled the lifeless forms. Each body was treated with a silent, distant respect, as if he was trying to separate himself from the emotional weight of their deaths. There was no grimace, no sigh, just the resolute action of a man trying to find solace in duty.

After the last body was consigned to the depths, Artenen methodically began to wash away the blood and grime that had accumulated on his hands and arms, the water turning a pinkish hue as it dripped off the deck. With practiced hands, he started to remove his armor piece by piece, revealing the sweat-soaked tunic beneath. Each plate of armor was set down with care, as though he hoped that by removing this protective layer, he could also strip away the weight of the day's events.

With the armor removed, Artenen made his way to the bow of the ship, his silhouette stark against the glaring midday sun. He sat down, legs crossed, hands resting on his knees, and closed his eyes. The disciplined posture of meditation.

Rachel and the captain observed from a distance. They recognized the significance of this moment for Artenen – a paladin seeking inner peace amidst the chaos. They respected his need for solitude and chose not to disturb him, understanding that sometimes, silence can be the loudest cry for healing.
As the day's heat began to wane and the horizon painted itself with shades of twilight, Rachel and Artenen set about the somber task of cleaning the ship's deck. The red stains of battle were stark against the seasoned wood, each splash and smear a grim reminder of the conflict that had ensued.

Using seawater and scrub brushes, the duo worked in near silence, their movements synchronized by a shared understanding. Rachel's magic played a subtle part, as she occasionally whispered incantations to dissolve particularly stubborn stains. Artenen, for his part, scrubbed with a vigor that belied his earlier meditation, as if he sought to wash away not just the blood, but also the memories it represented.

Nightfall enveloped the ship, and with it came a gentle but steady wind, causing the ship's sails to billow and creak. The "Silver Gale" started to glide over the waters once again, the ocean's vastness ahead seemingly limitless.

With the crew gone, whey had to double their efforts to operate the ship. This skeleton crew, consisting of the captain, Artenen, and Rachel, each worked tirelessly, taking on multiple roles. Their shared experience of the day's horrors solidified their bond, and together they pushed forward, navigating the challenges of the sea with renewed purpose.
The enormity of their task became evident as night deepened. With the entire responsibility of the ship on their shoulders, the trio couldn't afford the luxury of uninterrupted sleep below deck. They had to remain vigilant, ensuring the "Silver Gale" stayed its course and didn't fall prey to the unpredictable whims of the open sea.

They devised a makeshift sleeping arrangement on the top deck, setting up blankets and makeshift cushions close to the ship's controls. Every half hour, one of them would stir from their restless slumber, groggily rising to check the sails, adjust the rigging, or correct the ship's direction. The continuous cycle of short naps and wakefulness took its toll, but their determination kept them going.

Rachel, with her keen elven senses, often took the helm during the darkest hours, navigating by the stars and the faint whispers of the wind. The captain, with his years of maritime experience, ensured the sails were optimally set, while Artenen, driven by his paladin's sense of duty, took the role of a sentinel, ever watchful for any threats or changes in the environment.

In this way, the three of them continued their journey, forging a bond of trust and reliance, the vast ocean around them a testament to their resilience and determination.
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