Confessions of a Cannibal

Confessions of a Cannibal


The skies were clear and a warm southern wind blew across the main deck of the Schooner. Nazire leaned into it, hoping the breeze would soothe him as he looked over the ship's railing toward the southwest horizon, searching for any signs of the shore. The vessel dropped as it crested another large wave and he felt his stomach roll again as he leaned over the railing, but unlike the last four days, he did not lose its few contents to the Opal sea.

"Whaddayat?" The Captain sidled up to him offering a cup of tea, "Ow's she gettin' on?" Though he rarely understood the captain, he'd found the captain to be a hardworking and jovial Maritimer and Nazire accepted the mug graciously with both hands. He sipped tentatively, careful not to burn his mouth as he had the day before. "Y'know, you stop looking fer land an' you'll prolly se'er." Captain Tahi had a square face, with tangled copper hair and green eyes. He wore simple sailor's clothes with several small tools hanging from his belt. At his feet, the ginger cat named Noota spotted something below deck and prowled after it.

"Danke, Captain," Nazire replied, turning to lean back on the railing next to Tahi. Having spent much of his life in the caves beneath Bacot, he had no experience with sailing and had been sick since they had left Honi five days ago. The captain's tea seemed to be the only thing that eased his nausea. "How long is trip?" He asked.

"Oh, le'see," He looked toward the sky before the ship and then at the water over the rail behind him, and finally he licked his finger and held it in the air for a moment. All of these Nazire recognized as trappings to distract the uninitiated from the truth. The Butcher, Grakilm, had done something similar to him once when nazire was a boy.

They were tracking a buck through the coniferous mountain forests and he'd watched as Grakilm first sniffed the leaf of a tree from a branch that hung low across the animal's grazing trail, offering it to Nazire afterward, who smelled only the tree leaf, then he picked up a hand full of dirt from the ground and tasted it before offering the same to his charge, and finally, he had licked his finger and held it up to the wind, which Nazire copied. The Drakona remembered being awestruck that this man's senses had been so well trained as to be able to smell the scent of an animal off of a leaf it brushed past. It was many years later when he'd tried to impress Brota with the same display and she called him out on his ignorance, explaining how her father, Grakilm, had often joked with the other trainers on how they all used this ruse to impress 'difficult' charges.

"'bout 'leven hours to Barad Feaneli," The captain replied, "We'll spen' a day an' night out there re-kittin', then 'sa 'nudder nine hours to Caer Duili'nor, where we'll spen' anudder night, 'an four more hours teh de lan' bridge sout'a Rose Desert."

Nazire pressed his fingers one at a time into the warm mug cradled in his hands, using them to do some quick math. 

"Dis put us a week into Aphiel. Dis is fastest route?" Nazire asked, a little disheartened. Nightmares had haunted him since leaving his home, visions he now understood to be a puzzle gifted to him at his Arming Ceremony. They were strange, often horrific, sights that tore at his mind, distorting things he knew to be truths, and he was eager to be free of them. He was eager and return home to face the council's judgment, and a truth he understood. His hand fell instinctively for the weapon on his hip as the disjointed memories of his botched ceremony flashed through his head. 

"Fastes'? oh, yeah, no, " The captain replied emphatically, "but is a cheapes', an tha's what you asked fer." 

"Yes,  " Nazire looked down at his tea, somewhat ashamed of his inability to pay for the journey. He had awoken in Honi with only a few possessions to his name and violent, fragmented memories of how he had arrived there. The Fisherman, Skellan, had helped him to sell his warhorse horse for enough gold to book passage across the Opal sea and had introduced him to Captain Tahi of The Perdrix. "When we reach port, I will stay on de ship to make up de five days labour," Nazire assured his Captain. 

"Nonsense, me b'y!" The Captain laughed, "I ain't' let ye work fer twenty days without a little RnR!"

"What is 'are-anare' ?" The Gladiator questioned.

"Rest an' relaxat'n" The captain laughed again. "I 'magin they don' give ye much downtime in the fightin' Pits!"

"Oh! On de contrary," Nazire smiled, "Each day we live is day for celebration, but de work must be finish."

"Responsible lot, ye Bacans, " The captain smiled, "Are ye feelin' well enough te get ta werk then?" 

"Yes Captain, " Nazire replied as one would to his commanding officer, standing to attention, "You have been patient long enough." The captain patted him on the shoulder.

"Easy b'y, we ain't so formal here." Tahi snickered.

Captain Tahi led Nazire down to the gun deck and introduced him to Asukun, a lean young male halfling with thin brown hair, grey eyes, and numerous unusual scars. The captain directed Nazire to assist Asukun with ensuring that each of the cannons aboard the ship was properly loaded and had plenty of powder and munitions, in the event they came under attack. There were twelve guns in total, four Swivel Cannons on the main deck, two bow cannons on the gun deck, two more in the back that Asukun called 'Stern Chasers' and the last four paired on either side of the gundeck, giving the ship nearly three hundred and sixty degrees of range.  

The halfling moved about the lower deck with efficient, decisive movements between the swaying gear and rafters. Nazire recognized in him an instinctive knowledge of his surroundings and a casual accuracy with how he tossed equipment about,  dodged swaying tackle, and rafters by the feel of the ship. Having bumped his head twice on the way down the stairs, the Drakona watched the man's movements as though he were studying an opponent's fighting style and he soon found the rhythm by which the ship moved. 

The task took the two several hours and as they worked together Nazire noticed a silver holy symbol about the Halfling's neck that would occasionally drop out when he bent to pick something, and he would tuck it back into his shirt with a swift motion. When they were finished Asukun fetched a few Sarines from a barrel stowed in the bow of the gun deck.

"They say you Bacans are cannibals, s'at true?" He asked, tossing Nazire one of the small, round fruits. The green Sarine was almost two inches in diameter and had a soft, sweet, meaty texture and a taste of sharp citrus. Nazire nodded, wiping sticky juice from his scaled chin with the back of his hand.

"So, you just pick someone at random, or the oldest and slowest, err, how does that work?" Asukun asked with genuine interest. Nazire laughed and took a moment to swallow the pulpy bite in his mouth before responding.

"Slowest would be wary bad for children!" he joked, "No we do not eat people, we eat prey." He explained, "De fighting pits are wary hard, dey make strong fighter, but many not surwive training." His eyes grew distant as he stared through the floorboards to remember the gentle smile, long copper hair, and dark brown eyes of a young elven woman in studded armour. He took a deep breath, drew the battle axe from his side, and held it to Asukun. "Dis axe belong to my wary best friend, Brota. A gift from her father."

Asukun admired the tomahawk-shaped axe in his hands. The weapon was quite old and built for practicality, but the halfling could see its remarkable durability and craftsmanship. More importantly, he could see the care which had been taken to maintain it, the blade was razor-sharp, the steel regularly polished with oil, and the hilt had recently been re-wrapped in leather. Then, on the left side of the belly, the halfling found the inscription Fight bravely, Storm Caller.

"She use it to give me dis," Nazire sat up straight, bumping his head on some gear hanging in cargo netting. He pointed to an old scar that ran from just under his right rib across his abdomen to his left hip. "She spend many days to nurse me." He smiled a distant smile, "When I wake I ask her:  'why you save me?'" He laughed to himself at the memory, "She tell me I not ready, I need more seasoning."  

"More ... seasoning?!" The halfling asked with kind curiosity.

"I need more celebration, more friends, more fat," He joyously clarified, slapping the scar as if patting a full belly. "More joy!" He took the last bite of his sarine and wiped sticky fruit juice from his chin. With a pulp-filled mouth, he continued, "'Fuck you,' I say, 'Nazire is delicious!'" With a smile Asukun handed back the weapon and the moment Nazire felt its weight he grew sullen again. "Year later, we are in love." As he spoke, his smile was full of love, but the longing in his eyes betrayed it. "During training, she tell me she will check to see if I am ready yet." He pointed to another three-inch scar below his left rib and was quiet for a moment. "but, Nazre have temper ..." he trailed off fighting back the tears building up in his eyes.

"You killed her," Asukun said quietly. Nazire nodded slowly.

"With dis," He held up the axe once again, "I kill my love... and our unborn child." There was a long silence in the conversation as the two dealt with the weight of the moment. Nazire could almost feel the halfling's curiosity and appreciated that he held his tongue and allowed the Drakona to continue at his own pace. "At her honour feast, I am not hungry. Her father ask me 'Is my daughter not worthy warrior?'" Nazire choked on his words and had to take another moment, "I tell him 'Nazire not worthy,' " He took a long deep breath, "He say, 'Den eat boy, and train until you are worthy enough for three.'" The Gladiator's breath shuddered, "Together we eat, we sing, and we make love in her honour." He straightened up, took a deep, concentrated breath, and wiped the tears from his eyes. "Now I am Winter Champion, fastest and strongest of De Ushatir," He paused again, "still I not worthy."

The two sat in silence for some time, allowing the emotion of the moment to subside before Asukun spoke again.

"Wait, you had sex with your wife's father?!?"

"NAZIRE!" Captain Tahi called down from the main deck, " You should see this." When the captain called his name, Nazire shot to attention, slamming his head into a wooden beam. 

"Yes, Captain!" He called back, then he placed a hand on Asukun's shoulder, "You are a good companion, and hard worker, for half-man," Nazire smiled, resting a hand on Asukun's shoulder, "We talk again."



Nazire climbed up to the main deck to find half the crew on the ship's starboard side, pointing and commenting about something in the water. He tried to peer over the small crown but Captain Tahi called him up to the poop deck, where he might get a better view. 

"I thought you might appreciate this," The captain walked with him to the starboard gunwale and pointed toward some white foam and waves a hundred feet from the ship. Instinctively, Nazire reached for his weapon but the captain stayed his hand and instead passed him a telescope. With trepidation, Nazire looked through the device and searched the churning waters near the north side until he saw several shiny tube-shaped beasts crest the waves and dive beneath them again, only to repeat the process over and over. "Em're called dolphins," Tahi explained, "Right clever creatures what like ta swim in pods."

"Dey are hunting us?" Nazire asked, trying to evaluate their threat level. He looked through the scope again to see if he could identify any claws, teeth, or sharp spines.

"What?! No, Em is friendly!" The captain corrected, but Nazire still seemed vigilant.

"Dey are fleeing something?" Nazire asked, pointing the scope toward the aft of the ship to see if he could spot a pursuer in their wake.

"Yeah no, Em're playin',  tryna race us!" The captain's voice was calm and unconcerned, and the crew's noise was light-hearted and cheerful. "Ems a good omen, right there!"

 "Unlike some" The skipper, Mr. Ratcley muttered under his breath. Tahi sent him back to the ship's wheel with a casual wave of his hand. Nazire was also not convinced. He pointed the scope back to the dolphins, studying their movement and watched as two or three of the dozen he identified fell away from the rest of the pod, while the rest began to move closer to the ship, near the starboard bow. 

"Dolphins off the Port Stern!" A shout came down from the crow's nest and more than half the crowd that had gathered by the starboard gunwale moved to the port side of the ship. Nazire however was focused on the group that had broken away and was now trailing the ship at speed.

"Captain!" Nazire held out the telescope for the captain and pointed toward thier third wake trailing the ship. The Captain looked through the scope for a solid minute before responding.

"Fuck me!" The captain cursed under his breath before shouting to the crew, "BATTLE STATIONS! Mr. Ratcley, 30 degrees hard to port!"

The crew began rushing to their stations, some redying cannons while others assisted in swinging the main boom to steer away from an as yet unseen enemy. 

"What is it, Captain?" Ratcley called back from the wheel of the ship. Joyce Ratcley was an anxious and impatient young Human. He was attractive and slender with long black hair and amber eyes. On his left shoulder, he had an arcane tattoo depicting the overlapping twin moons of Barasea. 

"Captain?" Nazire started, but the captain halted his question with a finger to his lips and a shake of his head. He made a chirp, like a small bird, to get the attention and used a series of hand signals to communicate his instructions with the crew. Nazire watched as the crew wearing boots, including the captain and Mr. Ratcley, quietly removed them and placed them inside nearby crates or barrels to reduce the sounds of movement across the deck. 

Over the side of the ship, the pod on the Starboard side disappeared below the edge of the gunwale, and an eerie quiet came across the ship. For a moment, the only sound was that of the wooden ship creaking through the water. Then a sudden thud below deck, followed by a low rumble Nazire recognised as a single cannonball rolling across the floor and clunking as it came to a stop. There was a brief look of panic on the captain's face.

BOOM! The sound echoed from below deck and the entirety of the ship shuddered under the impact. Nazire grasped the gunwale for stability but the Captain and several members of the crew were knocked on their asses from the blow. Ratcley helped the captain quietly to his feet, Where he signalled to the crew again. Nazire watched as many of the crew took up their weapons. BOOM! This time the sound and shudder came from the port side. Nazire yanked a small hatchet that had been set firmly into the railing and readied himself.

Giant Octopus

"KRAKEN!" There was a panicked scream from the main deck as a massive tentacle curled over the railing toward some of the men on the deck. They backed away as a second tentacle came over the rail and wrapped around the barrel of one of the swing guns.

"Are ya shitbaked? Get on'na go!" Tahi barked. Without hesitation, Ratcley, who had locked the ship's wheel with a short sling, then released an arrow from his longbow into the ship's wall where the tip of a tentacle had just been.  On the Port side, another tentacle caught the sailors off guard, sending several of them tumbling across the deck. On the starboard side, the tentacles swung out grabbing a deckhand about the chest and squeezing him like a constrictor. The captain leapt from the poop deck to the man's aid, thrusting his rapier through the tentacle to loosen its grip, but the man was flung overboard. 

On the main deck, near a crate smashed by the lifeless body of a callously thrown deckhand, Asukun, armed with a small torch wrestled with the tentacle-wrapped Swing cannon. He managed to turn it toward the Giant Octopus climbing over the railing. Ka-Boom! The cannon blew the end of a tentacle off while scorching the one wrapped around its barrel so badly that it bonded to the iron.

Nazire, seeing the second set of tentacles on the Port side, leapt from the poop deck and brought his hatchet down on one of them, cleaving it through until it hung by a narrow strand of bloody meat. To either side of him, the crew flailed about with their weapons as wildly blind as the giant octopi climbing onto either side of the deck. They were doing their fair share of damage but, in their untrained panic, it was sometimes dealt to their own shipmates. A chubby, wide-eyed human running aimlessly about nearly clubbed Nazire, who grabbed him by the collar on the way by, "Club is useless! Get torches!"

As he shoved the man toward some lanterns hanging from the mainmast, a tentacle grabbed Nazire about the neck, squeezing the air from him and he was barely able to escape its grasp. Once released, he looked across the deck to see Captain Tahi in similar turmoil. On the Poop Deck, Ratcley was aiming at the octopus behind Nazire and the gladiator redirected the Skipper's attention to the captain's plight. "Help de Captain!"

Natural 20 - Ratcley: Longbow Attack

Barely able to hear over the shouting of the crew, Ratcley followed the direction of Nazire's outstretched arm to see his Captain held aloft by a gigantic tentacle wrapped around his throat. The Skipper released his arrow and it punched a hole through one side of the octopus's bulbous mantle and burst out the other side. In response, the sea beast raised Captain Tahi high in the air and slammed him down on the deck, where he went limp.

"Look out!" A deckhand shouted and Nazire, who was about to cross the deck to reach the fallen Captain, and he ducked in time to avoid the tentacle that lunged for him again. 

Asukun, hearing the call to aid and seeing the ship's captain slammed violently into the floorboards, reached a hand toward a rogue cannonball rolling across the deck some feet away. The iron ball raised into the air and the halfling swing his arm forward, like an experienced pitcher. The cannonball sailed through the air, connected with the skull of the octopus and the two slammed deep into the gunwale. As the cannonball fell away, leaving the crushed face stuffed into a hole in the wooden rail, the tentacle about the captain loosened and both slumped to the deck motionless. 

Nazire, rage-filled from the assault on his new Captain, turned on his prey and let out a roar. Lightening arced from his scaled lips and pointed teeth to at least four of the tentacles before striking the beast in the body. It twitched uncontrollably and steam rose from its mantle as the electricity coursed through the sea water on its skin. One of the deckhands standing in a puddle on the deck was also shocked by the impact and fell to the deck unconscious. 

Another arrow from Ratcley's longbow pinned one of the tentacles to the floorboards, limiting the port side sea-beasts movement. It retaliated toward Nazire, wrapping tightly about the Gladiator and squeezing him tightly. He felt a few ribs crack as he struggled to break free; from the corner of his periphery, he saw the Halfling slide across the wet deck toward Tahi and lay hands on him. There was a brief glow of golden light before Nazire lost sight of them as he slipped free from the creature's grasp.

Badly wounded, Nazire spun with his hatchet in hand to see the octopus desperately pulling at its pinned tentacle to escape back down the side of the ship. He cleaved nearly through the writhing appendage, again leaving it connected by a thin hunk of meat, about the width of a man's wrist. The Octopus pulled, tearing the limb violently free. As it tumbled over the gunwale, back to the ocean, Nazire took the opportunity for a last swing, leaning over the thick rail after it, and driving his hatchet deep into the side of the ship. 

The beast fell into the swiftly moving water with a slap and two of the still trailing dolphins dove beneath the surface. They resurfaced a moment later wearing the deceased cephalopod on its' head like a fascinator; chirping with dolphin glee. Another surfaced near it, also sporting an eight-legged hat and Nazire realized quickly that the banging against the side of the ship was the dolphins attacking a third octopus that, thanks to their assistance never made it up the side of the schooner.

Turning quickly, he dashed across the deck to the captain, who was barely conscious. Ratcley ordered a few of the men to help Asukun carry the captain to his quarters to be tended to, and ordered the rest to begin cleaning up after the battle. Having only learned one task thus far on this journey, Nazire began collecting the rogue cannonballs and powder bags that had become dislodged from their stations and returned them to their stations. He was down on the gundeck just finishing his task when he heard the heavy clunk of footsteps behind him. 

"This your fault, Dragon!" A voice growled, but before he could turn to see his accuser, Nazire felt a blow to the back of the head and the room went dark.


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