A/N: Chapter Two, yay! So time-skippy bit to the encounter with Velvet and co. Last chapter ended on Oceana being saved by Aifread's crew. To sum up the following three years:
About a month or two after Oceana joins the crew, the Advent happens and the world can see malakhim as well as daemons. The next three years builds a strong bond of comradery between the now-visible-to-everyone-Eizen and the crew, and Oceana and Eizen end up drunk in bed together (though they'd been slowly building towards a relationship over the two years she'd been a part of the crew). This is/was mostly a 'set-up' to push them that last step together by the crew, who were getting sick of them stepping around each other.
Aifread goes missing before this point, and the crew are trying to find him, while acting normal to allay suspiscions. Oceana and Eizen will be a couple by this point, though still rather new-couple-y, so expect a bit of oocness. Also, Oceana will replace Eleanor as Laphicet's vessel later on. She'll still see the dark side of the abbey and have a change of heart, but won't be as involved in the main plot.
On with the chapter!
A young woman, roughly eighteen years in age, watched the horizon where a ship was steadily drawing closer. They were on a collision course with Vortigern, and they didn't even seem to know it.
"This is for sure the vessel of the group that torched Hellawes?" She asked again, getting somewhat annoyed 'yes's' from Benwick. She had asked this many times already. They had drawn close enough now to fire close enough to gain their attention. "Fire the warnings!" She braced for the recoil of the ship's cannons, wincing slightly as her injuries gained from the previous attempt on Vortigern twinged slightly.
Eizen, hawk-eyed as he was when it came to her, frowned when he saw it. The injuries had been from her saving some of the crew. They had lost five good men but had she not acted, they'd have lost at least ten. She still got injured for it, and so he'd asked her to stay on the ship to give her injuries time to finish healing properly. Gels had done a lot, as had the limited healing Artes he and Mason possessed, but they were not in perfect condition and could cause problems if she were to get into a proper fight like there'd be waiting for them in Vortigern.
She hated to stay behind like that, but knew that he was probably right that she'd weigh him down as he would need to keep an eye on her while fighting, thus be more prone to making mistakes. So, they were going to enlist the aid of the daemons that were in the ship they were shooting at (warning shots only, no need to ruin a perfectly good ship like that).
The ship turned and made anchor along the coast south of Vortigern, where a network of caves led to the gate. This was actually the perfect spot to stop at, as the 'assault team' could head into the caves and the crew could make their feint to buy time. Oceana had reluctantly agreed to stay on the Van Eltia and lead the naval assault. Eizen would be in charge of the land assault.
If these daemons agreed to help them, they'd join Eizen in attacking by land. She walked around the surrounded group and hopped up onto a rock, looking casually unconcerned about the encounter.
"Well looky here, they really ARE a bunch of daemons." Benwick leaned ever so slightly forward, grinning at the group.
"You knowingly pick fights with daemons? Must have a death wish." The tall male with strange garb spoke first. Oceana had to fight not to laugh. Some of the crew really did have death wishes, or at least were unconcerned with dying so long as they were free at the time.
"Take them down Number Two, that's an order." The female that had her senses screaming 'dangerous daemon' at her, commanded of the child that she could tell was another malakhim.
"Woah there, we're not who you'll be fighting." Benwick waved frantically, moving aside as Eizen stepped up all casual-like.
"It'll be me." He had barely finished speaking before the little malak sent paper flying, which were met with earthen spikes. Eizen was clearly holding back when he fought them, but not as much as Oceana thought he'd need to. These guys were strong. Oceana found a grin stretching across her face, one that the crew new meant that she took a liking to them already.
"A sword, twin daggers, and paper. No pendulums that I can see." She heard Eizen musing out loud and frowned. So he WAS checking their fighting styles as well, to see it they had anything to do with the Captain's disappearance a year ago.
"So, they pass the test Eizen?" Oceana chirped as she hopped off the rock, managing to not show signs of discomfort when the landing jarred her ankle. She had no visible bandages or the like, so appeared to be in full health. Her voice drew attention now that the fight had halted. The boy-malak tilted his head as he looked at her, curiosity shining within pale green eyes.
"I think so." He answered as he rose out of his fighting stance. He turned his attention back to the three. "Join us." Oceana moved to stand beside Eizen, subtly leaning into his side. The boy's eyes followed her. She smiled at him and gave a small wave.
"Well, aren't you the impudent one?" The dark-haired girl spoke as the group put away their weapons and adopted less hostile stances. Oceana chuckled at that.
"Says the daemon that torched Hellawes." Eizen replied.
"You knew about that?" Here Oceana shot the daemon-girl a look.
"Who doesn't know about that by now? Though, to be fair we are more well informed than most. It actually probably hasn't spread to Yseult or Taliesin yet..." She shrugged. "Anyway, you should be thanking us."
"If you had stayed on that course, you would have smashed right up against the Gate of Vortigern." Eizen added on when it became clear she wasn't going to finish.
"You guys are headed for Midgand, aren't you? That means you're gonna have to go through the narrows up ahead." Benwick spoke up next. "But the kingdom has a massive fortress there built to defend them... with a tremendous gate."
"A fortress..." The daemon said thoughtfully.
"If this is true, we are in your debt." The twin-swordsman thanked them.
"We desire to pass through as well." Eizen told the group. "But we lack the strength. I propose we form a... partnership." The girl, which Oceana assumed was the leader of the group, thought it over for a bit.
"I'd be a fool to blindly trust the words of a pirate." She was certainly no fool, but how was she so unaware of the existence of the gate?
"Believe or disbelieve, it's your choice. We aren't asking for you to trust us, just work with us while our goals align." Oceana made it sound flippant, but she was a little annoyed at the fact that they doubted them based on their status as pirates. Eizen lifted a hand to place it on her head, a calming gesture that made her nearly melt on the inside.
"Do you really want to see the gate for yourself? We won't stop you. We'll even throw you a nice funeral, if you like." Eizen really didn't seem to care one way or another. With that said, Eizen ruffled her hair and started walking away. He passed right through the group, who had readied themselves in case he was going to attack them again.
"Wait, so we're allowed to refuse?" The light-haired woman sounded incredulous. Eizen stopped at the question.
"Your business is your business, ours is ours. There's nothing more to say." He continued on, Oceana's eyes on his back until he disappeared from view. It wasn't very subtle, but she couldn't help it. What she really wanted was to run and catch up to him, but she knew that she was needed down here directing the crew (not that they really needed it, but still) since she would only slow Eizen down right now.
Oceana reached out to stop Benwick when he ran towards Eizen.
"No Benwick. The crew is to remain here. You know the plan." She stared him down, her eyes revealing that she felt the same and wanted to go with Eizen. "I think Eizen will have the perfect team to back him up in there." She jerked her head to indicate the two daemons and one malakhim. Benwick looked doubtful, but stood down. Though Oceana was one of the newer crew members (having only sailed with them for three years), she was third-in-command behind the Captain and Eizen.
The group of daemons, human, and malak spoke among themselves for a bit. The lizard daemon, Dyle, shared his knowledge of the sea gate. The daemon woman spoke to Benwick to ask about their plans. They went back to discussing among themselves.
Oceana heard the self-proclaimed 'witch' ask the boy malak if he sensed anything, and though he didn't answer verbally, the boy's eyes lifted and locked onto her own form long enough to draw the attention of the group to her. She kept her focus off the group, though she was watching them out of the corner of her eyes.
The group didn't say anything more as the 'leader' said they should go after Eizen since they each had 'ulterior motives'. Soon the three were moving up the vines and into the caves where Eizen had disappeared to. Oceana breathed a small sigh of relief that Eizen wouldn't be going it alone in there. She might have had to do something drastic if they hadn't gone after him.
"Alright, you lot. Time to start our side of the plan! Get those ships ready to sail." Oceana took command, directing the crew to split up between the Van Eltia and the ship the daemon group had been using. It was still useable, and thus would come in handy if they ever needed to sail incognito. Their ship was rather stand-outish, and could be tracked too easily if they brought too much attention to themselves while teaming up with daemons.
"Oceana." Mason's voice being suddenly so clear had her jumping slightly. The fire malak had been resting inside of her for the greater part of the day, as it seemed to help her injuries heal faster somehow, and to have him out and about without warning startled her.
"What is it Mason?" He rarely addressed her as just 'Oceana', usually, he called her hime or something.
"Can we really trust daemons?" His expression conveyed how little he approved of that idea. He was not without reason, as daemons gave off such malevolence that it could affect him from exposure to it. Though, the effect was oddly muted on the female daemon.
"It'll be fine. It's not like you don't have a pure vessel." She teased him. He'd often mentioned how pure she felt as a vessel, that there was no malevolence in her what so ever. He'd even teased her about being secretly malakhim or something.
"I still think you at least should keep some distance. You've never really been in close contact with malevolence for extended periods of time. We don't know what effect that would have on you." They didn't notice the eavesdropping 'witch', or if they did they showed no sign of it.
"It'll be fine." She didn't doubt her strength of will for a second. Seeing the resolve, Mason sighed and went to help someone with repositioning the cannons. Once everything was double and triple checked, the crew began their part of the plan. They knew that the caves were fairly long, so hadn't worried too much about timing it just so. They drew attention to themselves, and managed to get all but one ship to follow them.
"Damn. They'll have to deal with that one themselves." Oceana shook her head, Eizen's curse had put them in worse situations before. She knew the group with him were capable enough to succeed. Her attention returned to the on-going fight-chase they were engaged in with the ships that had chosen to follow the Van Eltia. Generally their goal was simple distraction, so they fired shots that weren't truly aiming to do damage, just keep the Abbey's attention on them.
If they could cripple the ships as well, even better, as that would increase their chances of escaping afterward. In what seemed like no time at all, they were fleeing to the gate, hoping that it would open for them. They trusted the first mate, but with his luck they could never be sure. There was even a betting pool going around on whether or not Eizen and the others were successful.
"They did it! HA" Oceana and a few others cheered, Gald exchanged hands and soon they were through the gate. "Where are they though?" Green looked to both sides in concern, though soon they turned upwards. There. Her eyes widened when she realized what was happening. Eizen and the daemon, Rokurou, had jumped from atop the gate's connecting pathway. They managed to land on the ship's sail and slide down to the deck.
Next came Velvet and the child malak, just barely making it in time as the window was a short one of when the ship was passing under it. Oceana left the main deck to look for Eizen, who had vanished off the deck a little while ago. She found him and looked him over for injuries, settling back upon finding none. Green pierced through crystal blue and a frown formed on her lips.
"I'm joining you next time. My injuries are fully healed and I can't just stay on the ship when-" Her spiel was cut off by Eizen's lips descending on her own. She melted into the kiss, tension leaving her that she hadn't even known was there. Eizen's arms were a firm weight against her back, holding her up.
"I wouldn't have it any other way. We're going to be teaming up with Velvet and them for a time. I feel like they're going to be our best bet to find Aifread." Eizen explained once he pulled away. Oceana blinked at that, head tilting to the side in a way that was very adorable with her wide green eyes.
"Really?" She didn't mind, they seemed like an okay group, even with the fact that the two of them were daemons, plus the child malak was quite possibly recently liberated from the Exorcists and she was concerned for him.
"Yeah. Velvet says that she heard prisoners on Titania talking about Aifread being there before an exorcist took him away about a year ago. If we join with these guys against the Abbey, we might just find Aifread." Oceana nodded her agreement.
"Mason won't be too thrilled. He's reasonably wary of being near daemons for any length of time." Eizen chuckled at that. He and Mason were sort-of frenemies, in that he enjoyed riling Mason up about anything he could (in particular about his relationship with Oceana because Mason was like an over-protective big brother). "Lets head back up for now." That said, the pair returned just in time to hear the name Velvet bestowed on the nameless child malak.
"Laphicet, huh. It's a good name. It means 'one who lives' doesn't it? In the old tongue?" She looked to Eizen for confirmation.
"Mmm, something like that. Names like that are commonly given to children that aren't born healthy, a sort of prayer for good health by the parents.." Eizen mused. Oceana looked grim at the mention of children being sickly. She had of course heard of the two illnesses that were incurable; The Black Crystal... and the 12 Year Sickness. It was a horrible fate for any parent to have a child that wouldn't see past their twelfth year because of an illness that no one could figure out the cause of. There was a cure, but it was so difficult to create and the recipe had been lost long ago with the fall of the previous major civilization.
She only knew of it because of the elder malakhim that taught her when she was young. They sadly didn't know the recipe themselves, but knowing that it existed was a good thing. There had to be a recipe of it somewhere, she wanted to find a cure and leave that kind of a legacy behind. Truly, she had always had a bit of an interest in the healing Artes, reinforced after her being left adrift until Van Aifread and the guys rescued her and their stories of the corsairs scourge.
2,630 words is a decent chapter, so leaving it there. I feel like i ramble on about random things in these stories of mine, and that its confusing... I'm sorry if I do...