Lace lounged against a tree, enjoying the music and her drunken buzz. The wake was still going. It wasn’t the happiest reason for revelry, but after a shipwreck and being attacked by monsters it was clear the crew would take any reason they could get. Sailors were an odd lot. They tended to be fairly stoic until you put a few drinks in them. Then everything they were feeling came pouring out. They were communal too, so what one felt, they tended to all feel, even if they generally didn’t talk about it. Tonight, the crew had been washing back and forth from tears to laughter for hours. Twice fights had broken out and been broken up by others. Both times, the combatants had ended up in each other’s arms laughing and sobbing a short while later. That’s the way it was with a crew. Friendships happened fast, and held strong, and when people moved on those bonds faded just as quickly in spite of promises that they’d keep in touch. They never did, but there was always the hope that former crewmen would run into each other in some port or another. Lace had always thought that sailors, with their ability to create and let go of connections so easily, would be well equipped to deal with grief. It seemed like a contradiction to her that when people died, sailors were among the least able to handle it.As she watched the mournful revelry, it occurred to her for the first time that maybe the sailor’s way, with all it’s loud tears and drunken dances, was just more honest than the way landfolk tended to grieve. If anything, the sailor’s way was faster. She had no doubt that the whole crew would feel like hell in the morning, and would bitch and moan to each other while they got on with their work. Then things would be back to normal. In the months to come there would be occasional toasts to the fallen, and drinks poured out, but not one of them would become hollow shells of themselves like landfolk often did. Sailors knew how to get the pain out before it festered.Lace had always stood a bit apart from any crew she was with. She was more of a watcher than a joiner, but tonight she hadn’t wanted to watch. Watching meant thinking, so. she’d danced, and cried, and laughed, and been teased more than once for finally coming down from the ropes to spend time with the swabs. Now she was thoroughly drunk, which was an excellent buffer against the hollow, empty feeling that always came after catharsis. That hollowness was one of her least favorite feelings. If she’d been sober, she probably would have gone off to be by herself, but she was drunk enough that she didn’t want to move. So, she just watched the tired crew dancing, singing, laughing, and crying, all of them chasing the same goal.To sleep without dreaming.It was late. They would have all probably burned themselves out and fallen asleep in the sand if not for the Captain. She was relentless, calling for more booze, more stories, more songs. Lace had never seen her like this. Captain Vex wasn’t adverse to carousing with the crew. It was rare, but not unheard of. Usually though, she left early. That was one of the reasons lace and the Captain got along so well. They were both watchers, and often ended up on the sterncastle together talking quietly while the crew made merry on the main deck. Tonight, Lace was already reveled out, and it looked like the Captain was going to be the last one standing.Beside her, the Norths were sharing her fallen tree. Coleman was leaning against it with his head back, staring at the night sky through the trees. Occasionally he lifted a dented wooden cup to his lips while responding to his wife mostly with wordless grunts and affirmations. He’d opted for water tonight, instead of rum. Earlier he’d said he’d been feeling off all day and was worried drinking would make it worse. Lace was fairly sure he was the only sober person in the camp. Danica leaned against Coleman, sitting in the sand between his legs and using his broad chest as a pillow. She was slurring her way through a long list of things that needed to be done to get the camp settled in for the repairs. For as drunk as she sounded, she hadn’t repeated herself or lost her train of thought, at least as far as Lace had noticed.All three of them were feeling worse for wear. Bandages poked out from beneath clothing and bruises had darkened. In spite of Danica’s burns and the stab wound in Lace’s butt, Coleman seemed to have had the worst of it. He’d been in the thick of the fighting while trying to hold back the tide of once-human monsters, and had the damage to show bahis siteleri for it. Ragged fingernails had torn his skin in a dozen places, and he’d twice been caught by their stinger tongues. “Both times in the same damn arm,” he was muttering, prodding at his bandages and wincing.“Iss yer shield arm,” Danica slurred. “Stop pokin’ at it.”“Huh. Didn’t think of that. Been a long time since I carried a shield.” Coleman held his arm up and looking at it like he wasn’t sure if it was friend or foe. “Maybe I need to start again.”“Mebbe we all should,” Danica agreed. “Would be nice t’ have a real armory onna ship. Armor. Swords. Pistols even.”“I signed on to the Kestrel to get away from that life,” Coleman sighed. “I hate warships.”“Gotta be able t’ d’fend ourselves,” Danica shrugged. “We don’ even have cannons. Not e’en little deck guns.”“Most merchant vessels don’t. Weapons on a ship can be a huge liability.. Just having that stuff around can make sailors think of how to mutiny when things get bad, or even when they’re good and decide they should have a bigger cut. I’ve seen it,” Coleman countered.“We could keep ‘em in the lockup,” Danica suggested.“Deck guns wouldn’t do much good in the lock up,” Coleman chuckled.“No, th’ other stuff. Swords an’ shields.”“War gear for the whole crew” Sixty swords and shields, plus extras in case of breakage, and maintenance equipment? That would fill the entire lockup, and more. We’d have to convert one of the guest rooms. That’s a full quarter less we could charge for berthing,” Coleman’s brows furrowed in thought. He didn’t like the idea, but he was considering it.“Second lockup? Bars ‘cross th’ bow,” Danica suggested. “Li’l triangle hold up front, like the Red Fleet does with it’s brigs.”“In the crew berth? They’re already packed in tight,” Colema scratched his beard. “It could work. We’d have to expand the berth into the cargo area. Six feet should do. Really, we’d just be moving the wall back.”“Tha’ would give the crew more space’n they have now,” Danica nodded.“We could keep guns and powder in our rear lockup. An arms locker and a couple powder kegs would fit easy. Sword racks could go up front behind your new bars,” he continued, lost in thought. “We’d have to train the crew to use them though. Soldiering is a lot different than the kind of fighting most sailors pick up.”“We’ll need t’ recruit a masser… mastrer…” Danica struggled with the words.“Master at arms?” North said helpfully.“Yeh, that one,” she smiled. Coleman grunted his amusement. “Have to get off this damn island first.”“Mmmhmm,’ Danica agreed. “Could make shields though. We’re gonna have lossa plank scraps when th’ hull’s patched.”“Do you know how to make a shield?” Coleman teased, already knowing the answer.“Shuddup,” Danica said, giving him an elbow and taking another drink. “Someone does. Can’t be tha hard.”“The one thing we haven’t figured out how to store yet, you want to make first,” Coleman chuckled.“Do they need t’ be locked up? They’re not weapons,” Danica asked.“Yes they are,” Coleman said firmly. “No one is going to mutiny armed with a bunch of shields,” Danica said with a snort.“The whole crew’s already armed,” Coleman reminded her. “They all have knives. The boat’s full of clubs and gaff hooks. You pair those with a shield, you have a boarding party.”“I want shields!” Danica demanded, shaking her head back and forth against his chest.”“Why?” Coleman laughed, wrapping his good arm around her to stop her mock tantrum.“So you don’t get stabbed in th’ arm anymore,” she said angrily. “So we don’t get killed. If we had shields, those godsdamned things wouldn’t have…” the tears came fast as she trailed off. She shook her head sadly and leaned into his bicep.“Shh. Alright.” Coleman stroked her hair with hsi injured arm. “I’ll get you shields.”She nodded and smiled weakly.“What brought all this on anyway? You think we are going to be attacked again?” Coleman asked.“We’re only barely outta imperial waters, an’ goin’ a lot further, an’ not on th’ safer routs. On Barcola, they were saying there’s been more raids lately, all over where we’re headed. Couldn’t’a all been that grindylow wreck. Drifter’s Key’s a pirate cove! An’ if we make it through the Drifts, you know where we’ll be?” Danica asked.“Geography’s never been my strongest subject,’ Coleman shook his head.“The Sea of Glass,” Lace spoke up.“Mmmhmm,” Danica nodded, pointing to Lace.Coleman’s brows rose. “That’s Freebooter territory.”“‘Zactly,” Danica said.“What the hell is the Captain thinking?” Coleman asked, shaking his head. canlı bahis siteleri He knew this trip would be dangerous, but he was only now realizing just how much. “Seems like someone gave her a list of things to avoid, and she decided to use it to plot her course.”Lace answered again. “She’s betting that the Freebooters don’t bother defending the Drifts, and that they’’ll be too busy raiding the coast of Nival and fighting with every major power in the seas to even notice a little Caravel sneaking their southern coast.”“Alright, I suppose that’s a good bet,” Coleman admitted. “That’s the last step though. Everything between here and there is still dangerous as hell.”“Yeah,” Danica’s head rolled as she looked up at him. “So gimme a damn armory.”Coleman chuckled. “Yes dear.”She smiled in Lace’s direction. “He’s sucha good boy.”“An exception to the rule, for sure,” Lace smirked.“What rule?” Coleman asked.“Lace doesn’t like men,” Danica explained.“I like men just fine,” Lace corrected. “In the same way that I like pigs. They can be intelligent, entertaining, and even loving, but they’re still filthy animals.”Coleman couldn’t help but laugh. “I wish I could argue that.”Danica grabbed a handful of his beard and pulled his head down, twisting a bit to bring her face closer so their lips could meet. “Yer my favorite filthy animal.”Lace rolled her eyes and took another sip off her drink, ignoring the two lovebirds. She looked at her cup and wondered if it had been a bad idea. She hadn’t been feeling especially well either. The new doctor had told her that the tincture she was taking might make her queasy. She’d felt fine until a few minutes ago, but now she was starting to feel a bit ill. Looking at the bonfire made her head hurt. It felt like a hangover, but she knew it was far too soon for that.“Coleman,” Lace said, getting his attention.He looked up from his wife, “Hmm?”“You still feeling shitty?” she asked.“A little,” he shrugged. “Probably better than everyone else will feel tomorrow. I’ve had worse.”“Queasy stomach, and your eyes hurt when it’s bright?” she asked.“Yeah, why?” he said, puzzled.“I’m starting to feel it too,” Lace said.Danica’s head lifted off of Coleman’s chest and looked at her. “You too?” She looked back and forth between them, forcing herself to focus. “No way it’s a hangover? Or just not enough water?”“I’m drunk, but I always have enough water. I don’t usually get hangovers,” Lace said.“I’ve been drinking water all day. It hasn’t helped much,” Coleman said, looking into his cup.Danica rubbed her face. “Fuck.”Coleman swirled his cup. “Think it’s the water? The hold was flooded. Maybe the barrels got contaminated?”Lace shook her head. “I’m still working off the canteen I filled yesterday morning.”Coleman kept thinking. “Some of the foodstores had been waterlogged for hours by the time it was unloaded. We tried to get rid of the stuff that wasn’t good, but maybe we missed something.”“Stew made a feast today. The Captain told ‘im to cook up anything that’ll spoil soon,” Danica said. “Lotsa stuff it coulda been.”“Might also just be a bug starting to go around,” Coleman said. “That usually happens after weathering a storm.”“As if we don’t have enough to deal with right now.” Lace sighed and let her head roll back against the log.“I canned… I can not ‘ave the crew getting sick. Not now,’ Danica said, dejected.Coleman sighed. “Might be too late.”“Do we tell the Captain now?” Lace asked.Danica shook her head. “Coleman’s right. If there’s something goin’ ‘round, it’s too late t’ stop it. Telling the Cap’n now won’t help. She’s barely hanging on as it is. Either it’ll pass, or we can tell her in the morning.”Coleman nodded. “You’re the boss.”Danica painfully got to her feet and held out her hands to Coleman. “Yup, an’ th’ boss says we’re going t’ bed. I’m drunk, yer sick, an’ we got a lot t’ do t’morrow.”Coleman took his wife’s hands and let her help haul him to his feet. “Goodnight, Lace.”Lace gave him a wave and went back to watching the crew. She rubbed her temples with her hands, hoping whatever had her feeling under the weather would pass soon. In the distance, during a break in the music, she could faintly hear what sounded like a woman in the heights of pleasure.She half smiled and rolled her eyes. “At least someone’s having a good night.”__________________________________________“Holy fuck,” Will muttered.They could see pulses of light through the canvas of the tent walls. The bright flashes kept time with the impact of Quinn and Jack’s bodies. It sounded like he was canlı bahis slapping her, but she clearly wasn’t in pain. She howled, her ragged voice muffled by his skin. His pace was quick and relentless. They could all very faintly hear the music of the crew’s revelry. Quinn was keeping perfect time.Bella was concentrating, breathing carefully. Her eyes were closed and she was doing everything she could to absorb and channel the build up of energy, but it was difficult.“Is this… safe?” Friday asked.“She’s building up energy a little faster than I can easily siphon off, but now that the ritual is active the wards I built into our sigils are all supporting each other. We aren’t in danger.” Bella explained. “That said, I’m glad you two aren’t adding much. This is about as much as I can handle.”Friday looked down where her hand was slowly, idly stroking Will’s erection. What she’d been doing had been mostly forgotten by both of them as they watched the flashing lights and listened to the most intense love making either of them had ever heard. “Should we stop?” she asked Bella.“Huh?” she asked, looking at them in confusion for a moment. Then she shook her head and laughed. “Oh, no don’t stop. Just enjoy yourselves. We’re safe and I’m fine. If I start to worry, I’ll let you know. Just… don’t do what they’re doing.”“I’m not sure we could,” Friday said with a giggle.“I guess we’ll just take it slow and enjoy the show,” Will said with a wry smile.Friday winked at him and squeezed a bit harder on her upstroke. He was still amazed at how soft her hands were. Usually, handjobs didn’t do much for him. They were a good warmup, or a transition, but never the main attraction. Friday was making him reassess that. “Scootch yourself this way,” he said, beckoning with the hand that was resting on her shoulder. “Bella needs to concentrate, so I’ll take over.”Friday knee-walked sideways until she was near his shoulders, and then slumped over onto her side like a cat. She tossed her braids back and laid her head down on his thigh, stroking his cock right in front over her face. She gave him an inviting smile and slowly raised her knee, spreading her legs wide for him. “I like strong hands,” she purred.He reached for her face and offered her two fingers. She took them into her mouth with sensual hunger and swirled her tongue around them and then pulled back to kiss the tips. He smiled and reached for her dark slit. She rocked her hips forward to meet him. Her saliva mixed with her wetness as he swept her fingers along her slit. Her skin reminded him of coffee with a dash of cream. The faintly glowing sigils Bella had drawn above her mons were an impressive contrast. Her smooth skin felt incredible. As he pressed his fingers against her folds and made small circles, she opened more for him. Her slick entrance faded from coffee brown to soft pink. He pressed more firmly, feeling her tight heat wrap around his fingers. She closed her eyes and bit her lip, loving the sudden intrusion. He curled his fingers inside her and pressed the heel of his palm against her mons, gripping her from the inside and giving a small tug. Her mouth gasped open. After a moment she opened her eyes and grinned wide as both their hands began to slowly move in time with each other.From the other tent Jack let out a muffled, guttural groan and the pulsing lights drawn on all their bodies brightened for a few moments as a surge of energy proved to be more than Bella was ready for. “Oh my spirits,” Bella breathed, concentrating. She took a deep, measured breath and drank in as much of the energy as she could. “This is… excellent practice.” The lights dimmed again as she concentrated.“Snofabish” they heard Jack snarl. It sounded like she had her face pressed into a pillow, but the words were still fairly clear. “Bella- Is that-, You?”Stop… Doingthat.”Bella put her hand over her mouth and tried not to laugh. “Is what me?”The rhythm from the next tent never faltered. The lights continued to pulse. Even the sigils drawn on the three of them were lighting up strong enough that the lantern hanging above them wasn’t necessary. They could hear nothing from Quinn but the impacts of his body against hers, but Jack was breathing, grunting, straining like a tormented animal. Again the lights pulsing from their sigils brightened and Jack’s noises of pleasure became more frantic. Bell took another deep, centering breath and the mystic light dimmed again.“Stop! That!” Jack snarled.“Stop doing what, Jack?” Bella asked with a conspiratorial glance at Will and Friday.Jack’s voice became unmuffled. “Stealing… my godsdamned… nnnng! Dammit I’m so close… My- oh unh… My orgasm!”“I have to,” Bella said apologetically. “I told you that.”“You… ernnn… owe me,” she growled between impacts.