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The strange ship pulls alongside your vessel...

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The strange ship pulls alongside your vessel, plotting out the rising sun and casting it in shadow. It is a large, though in its construct unremarkable galleon of Aedyran design, the like of which you had seen many on the harbours of Defiance Bay. It's notable features are limited to the bronze figurehead depicting the face of a very hairy, scowling Orlan; and the towering image of a horn protruding from buttocks embroiled on the fore-topsail. Your crew gathers on the deck warily.

Suddenly, two lines of small figures, more than a dozen in all, leap onto the deckrail swaying an Aumaua's length above you. The fighting kith in your crew reach for their weapons, expecting an attack from the high, but the dark silhouettes make not a move. For a moment, there is only the sound of the waves lapping against the two hulls. Sun slowly shift, revealing the figures a ragtag band of Orlans, their attire that which one would expect from a band of pirates, safe for the massive, wooden codpieces each adorns.

As if having waited just for the recognition of their unconventional accessories, the Orlans suddenly begin drumming at them furiously, swaying to the rhythm. A new figure, equally small in stature, emerges from the gap between the lines, draws a sword to strike a defiant pose, and hurls themselves overboard. Their features come to light as they descend, revealing a very hairy Orlan of indiscernible gender dressed in a ragged, red coat and a large, black, gold-rimmed tricorne. As they land, their foot catches onto a loose rope and they fall heavily forward, smacking their head on the deck with force enough to audibly crack the boards.

The banging of the codpieces instantly cuts off. The lone figures lies very still on their face, their rapier having escaped their grip and rolling back and forth the swaying deck. After a very long moment, they pop their hairy head up with a sharp inhale, eyes darting around in confusion. Before anyone has the chance to react, the Orlan jumps to their feet and point at you with their clawed finger, letting out sharp snarl that reveals their pointed (and very yellow) teeth. The codpiece orchestra picks up with a vengeance, thundering on their instruments with wild abandon.

Aloth: "What... what is happening?!"

Orlan pirate: "Ssshaaah! A wily foe you be, but ye'll not defeat Captain Thundernipples so easily!" Though they seem to have regained their bearings, a trickle of blood sneak its way across the hair of their face from the bruise on their forehead.

> Greetings.

> Who the hell are you?
> Are you alright? You're bleeding.
> I should really get myself a codpiece. I've been thinking about it for a while now.
> Pallegina, be so good as to throw the hairy gentleman overboard. Make sure he hits something hard on the way down.

Edited by Sad Panda
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> I should really get myself a codpiece. I've been thinking about it for a while now.

Aloth: "I don't think that's our most pressing concern right no--"

 

Captain Thundernipples: The Orlan's threatening demeanour melts in a flash and he adopts an outright jovial posture. "Oh, well, if you're interested, we can hook you up with a terrific artisan." He brings his clawed hands up, caressing some invisible object before him tenderly. "We buy ours in bulk, but it's solid quality, through and through!" The gnarly Orlan's face contorts in what you take to be a toothy smile. The drumming behind him dies out as an approving murmur spreads among the other pirates, who nod to each other in agreement, patting their pieces proudly.

 

> No, that's fine, I was just thinking out loud.

> Why, that's splendid! If the prices are reasonable, I'll get one for everyone in the crew!

> No, I think I'll just take yours.

 

((And yes, pick your poison. You can choose any dialogue option on any branch of the tree.))

Edited by Sad Panda

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> Why, that's splendid! If the prices are reasonable, I'll get one for everyone in the crew!

Pallegina: I am not wearing a codpiece.

 

Captain Thundernipples: The Orlan's face beams with abject joy over having stumbled upon a kindred spirit on the lonesome seas. "Marvelous! Just step ye onto me vessel, the Musical Fruit, and we'll set ye right up! Ahoy, boys! Throw ye down the --"

 

He lets out a piercing cry as the end of the heavy, wooden gangplank smashes onto the deck, missing his skull by inches. This time, the near-death experience appears to have rattled him deeply. Eyes blank, in a clear state of shock, the pirate captain fumbles his way onto to the narrow passage and begins precariously crawling up with trembling limbs. The rest of the pirates encourages him on, as one would encourage a baby taking their first steps. They gasp as the blank tilts under their captain's unsure movements, and sigh in relief as he regardless manages to keep going. Finally, he reaches the top of the blank, keeling over the rail with a soft thud.

 

The pirates rush to their captain with a cheer and begin throwing him in the air in celebration. The first few times you see the Orlan's face emerge in view, he is smiling meekly, but after a few tosses he is starting to look notably unwell. A stream of liquid spills from his mouth and glistens in the morning sun the last time you see him rise in the air, before Aloth pull you aside to confer with you.

 

Aloth: "I don't think we should go up there. I really don't."

 

> Why? Do you know something about them?

> I think we had better. He didn't look at all well.

> [grab him by the shoulders] But the codpieces, man! Think of the codpieces!

> We can't commandeer their ship if we don't.

> You're right, this is a bad idea.

Edited by Sad Panda

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Clearly there is but one response fitting.

 

> [grab him by the shoulders] But the codpieces, man! Think of the codpieces!

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The sky had never seemed so sky, the world had never seemed so world.

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> [grab him by the shoulders] But the codpieces, man! Think of the codpieces!

 

Pallegina: I am not wearing a codpiece!

 

Edér: Edér, who has been straining to keep a straight face for while now, bursts into a series of muffled giggles. He turns away, his head laid low and shoulders erratically spasming. Pallegina casts him a sullen glare.

 

The resigned Aloth in tow, you make your way aboard the pirate galleon. The visage upon the deck is every bit as functional and conventional as the ship's exterior had suggested, contrasting the very dysfunctional and unconventional crew, who struggle to accomplish even the most mundane of tasks for the enormous apparatuses dangling from their waists. Up close, you can see the wooden monstrosities don't only appear large by comparison due to the diminutive size of the furry seamen, but rather would fit loosely on even on the most well-endowed of ogres.

 

You note with some disappointment that the codpieces appear upon closer inspection very plain. That's what you get for buying in bulk, you sadly reflect.

 

While most of the pirates have returned to tending the ship, paying you little mind, three particularly hairy figures with codpieces clearly smaller than those of the others -- though still quite unwieldy -- motion you toward the door below the quarterdeck. You enter the small but surprisingly cosy cabin to find the Captain seated behind a worn but sturdy-looking desk. He appears to have recovered fully from his earlier ordeals, and is vigorously motioning you to be seated across the desk from him. You do so, finding the plain chair quite comfortable, and swept up by the pleasant and unhurried atmosphere take a moment to let your eyes wander around the room.

 

Besides all the usual equipment, maps and documents one would expect to find in the captain's cabin, the walls and the small shelves lining them are also stacked with a wide selection of downright adorable little knick-knacks, from dried flower arrangements to carved figurines of various kith captured in mundane, good-natured activities such as fishing and hauling bales of hay. There are also several paintings on the walls, mostly depicting Orlans so hairy they're little more than explosions of fur lining a sharp-toothed grin. On the desk there is a well-worn book the title of which you can barely make out to be 'The Path to a Friendlier, Kinder World'.

 

Captain Thundernipples patiently awaits you to finish your inspection, his three lieutenants lining up by the wall behind him. He tilts his head slightly as you look at him, blinking rapidly. You get the impression he expects you to go first.

 

> Greetings again. I fear I didn't get the chance to properly introduce myself earlier. I'm <%PCName>, captain of The Watcher.

> So... Captain Thundernipples, was it? How did you come by a name like that?

> I have to ask... how do those figurines stay on the shelves here at sea?

> [sneer] Well this is an absolutely appalling little ****hole.

> Let's discuss the terms of your surrender.

> Actually, never mind, I need to get back to my ship now.

Edited by Sad Panda

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> I have to ask... how do those figurines stay on the shelves here at sea?

 

Captain Thundernipples: The Orlan's face darkens. He rests his elbows heavily on the table, one clawed fist clutching the other tightly obscuring his mouth as he speak. "By arts so dark and profane even me blood curls to ponder them." He stares at you grimly from below his shaggy eyebrows. "Make no mistake, <%IF(%PCSex==male;lad;lass)>, this be a cursed vessel. Fools were we, bargained for power unattainable by mere kith, and must now pay the price until the sun itself blackens into an ashen stump and sinks in the sea, never to rise anew."

 

"I will say no more." He raises his palms in firm rejection, turning away as pain fractures both his expression and his voice. "Ask Numella if ye must know the dark of it."

 

> Numella?

> I see.

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>Numella?

 

Captain Thundernipples: He raises a claw to wave it at the door, still looking away in tortured dismay. "Down the hatch in the middle of the main deck, and toward the fore." His voice breaks. "Regular office hours from sunrise to noon. Double fees at other times."

 

Aloth: "He certainly runs hot and cold."

 

Edér: "It's little nails, right? Small enough to not damage the things, and to be pried off if necessary. That's how I'd do it."

 

Captain Thundernipples appears to regain his composure somewhat, though he is still looking very fragile, recalling the literally untold horrors clearly having taken a heavy toll on him. His hands disappear below the desk and he looks up at you amidst stooped shoulders, the pads thereon poking up loosely as the once-fierce pirate diminishes before your eyes. Nonetheless, he makes a valiant effort to reclaim his earlier hospitality, looking at you expectantly with wide, innocent eyes the clearness of which defies his otherwise rugged appearance; and a warm, if strained, smile.

 

[Perception] You get the feeling there's a specific question he's dying for you to ask.

 

> Are you... are you alright? We could do this later if you're not feeling well.

> So... Captain Thundernipples, was it? How did you come by a name like that?

> Let's discuss the terms of your surrender.

> [slap forehead] Gods! I almost forgot! The codpieces!

> Actually, never mind, I need to get back to my ship now.

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> Let's discuss the terms of your surrender.

 

Edér: Edér sighs. "Here we go again."

 

The Orlan pirate makes no answer at first. Then, in one fluid motion, he twists his back onto the table, crossing his fingers leisurely across his chest and letting his short legs hang off the side. All the while, he maintains unblinking eye-contact with you. His smile tightens into a narrow grin; a crescent that spreads nearly from ear to ear, revealing his rows of sharp teeth almost in their entirety.

 

Captain Thundernipples: "Oh? Surrender, now?" the capsized captain taunts. "While ye wee boat lolls smack before me ready cannons, and me crew awaits with bated breath me order to swarm in and clobber ye black and blue as the sea at night with their mighty manhandles? Are ye sure ye don't want to be doing the surrendering, instead, <%IF(%PCSex==male;boy;girl)>?"

 

Pallegina: "This is not a wise strategy, captain." The Godlike speaks firm and clear, but leaves ambiguity as to who exactly she is addressing. It occurs to you she is trying to caution you from an unnecessary battle against a superior foe, but to do so without tipping your hand, in case you want to try and bluff your way to victory.

 

> It's true the odds don't look good, but I've faced direr ones and prevailed. Do not test me.

> It's true the odds don't look good, but I can't just walk away and allow you to go on harassing innocent seafarers.

> You had better reconsider, before I take one of your asinine little statues and nail you to that desk with it.

> [take one of his asinine little statues and nail him to the desk with it]

> What I meant was, your surrender... of any unneeded codpieces you might have stored away!

> Just testing the waters. Never mind, then.

Edited by Sad Panda

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> It's true the odds don't look good, but I can't just walk away and allow you to go on harassing innocent seafarers.

 

Captain Thundernipples: As you speak, the Orlan nimbly springs to his feet, standing upon the desk with his face twisting in triumph. He takes a deep, eager breath as if preparing to bellow out his response... which however is caught in his throat as your sombre resolution catches him wholly off-guard. "Bwu-ha... huh?" he stammers in utter confusion, swinging an accusing finger at you limply, and almost toppling over as he appears to lose track of the limb's erratic trajectory. He clambers back down onto his seat, opens his mouth to speak, then closes it again; opens it once more, this time with finger pointed upward for effect, but again the words do not come. The pirate leans down into his hands, hat crooked, deep in thought. His lieutenants glance at each other, equally baffled.

 

Edér: "So, uh, are we fighting, or...?"

 

> [wait patiently]

> I hope we won't need to. But what happens next is in his hands, now.

> [intellect] No. There is something besides piracy at play here, and we're going to get to the bottom of it.

> Yes we are. At them!

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> [intellect] No. There is something besides piracy at play here, and we're going to get to the bottom of it.

 

Captain Thundernipples: The Orlan's ears twitch as new inspiration seems to fill him. "Ah hah!" he shouts, springing to his feet with force enough to send his chair flying into the wall behind him. The impact causes the various knick-knacks around the cabin to clank and jingle. "You said you're not going to fight, which means you submit! Unless you're a liar, that is!"

 

The other pirates, at first as befuddled as you as to what their captain was angling at, quickly catch on and begin chanting "Submit!"

 

> What? No. You're twisting my words.

> [intellect] I said I wouldn't fight you until I found out why you're acting the way you are. After that, we'll see.

> [roll eyes] Okay, whatever. I submit.

> [smack him]

> I suddenly don't care what's going on here anymore. At them!

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> [intellect] I said I wouldn't fight you until I found out why you're acting the way you are. After that, we'll see.

 

Captain Thundernipples: "Nuh uh! Nuh uh! He asked yo-- I mean, ye if ye were going to fight, and ye said 'no'!" He appears to have in his excitement forgotten to speak in his outlandish pirate accent for a moment. "The exact criterion for fighting be 'getting to the bottom of this', explicitly establishing no fighting would take place until such time this criterion be met. The other party cannot reasonably be expected to grasp an implicit meaning of a statement, and be perfectly within its rights to take ye literally. If ye statement be ambiguous, it is ye own fault ye be misunderstood. If ye be a kith of honour, must ye own up to ye explicit statement!"

 

The pirate lieutenants dance about, punctuating their captains arguments with high-pitched callbacks of words like "criterion", and "implicit" and "ambiguous". After he finishes, they wag their fingers rhythmically at you, in repeating "Own up!" in unison.

 

Aloth: "Boy, he sure knows his semantics. Reminds me of my time at the academy..."

 

Edér: "Pretty catchy, too! Don't you think?" Snapping his fingers, he turns to Pallegina, who immediately silences him with stone-faced stare. "...okay."

 

> [intellect] I agree it is reasonable to hold one to one's explicit meaning, if the other party has already moved in ignorance of the implicit one; Alteration of the meaning as it was understood would in such a case have tangible consequences, and the other party would be quite justified in feeling betrayed. However, it is likewise reasonable that should one venture to clarify one's statement immediately after it is given, as was the case here, that the other party not cling to their misunderstanding and instead accept the alteration in the good spirit it was made.

> That criterion has already been met.

> [roll eyes] Okay, whatever. I submit.

> [smack him]

> I suddenly don't care what's going on here anymore. At them!

Edited by Sad Panda

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> [intellect] I agree it is reasonable to hold one to one's explicit meaning, if the other party has already moved in ignorance of the implicit one; Alteration of the meaning as it was understood would in such a case have tangible consequences, and the other party would be quite justified in feeling betrayed. However, it is likewise reasonable that should one venture to clarify one's statement immediately after it is given, as was the case here, that the other party not cling to their misunderstanding and instead accept the alteration in the good spirit is was made.

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> [intellect] I agree it is reasonable to hold one to one's explicit meaning, if the other party has already moved in ignorance of the implicit one; Alteration of the meaning as it was understood would in such a case have tangible consequences, and the other party would be quite justified in feeling betrayed. However, it is likewise reasonable that should one venture to clarify one's statement immediately after it is given, as was the case here, that the other party not cling to their misunderstanding and instead accept the alteration in the good spirit is was made.

 

Captain Thundernipples: "Ah, but to who does it fall to determine when the misunderstanding be causing inconvenience, and the offended party be justified in feeling such?" He adopts a ponderous posture which is immediately mimicked by his lieutenants. "Surely not he who makes the statement, as such an approach would be ripe for abuse. All oaths could be broken by simply declaring ye implied meaning was lost, and that the consequences to the other party be not sufficiently 'tangible'! Nay, ye exact words must be the foundation upon which trust is founded, and it be at the other party's discretion whether or not to hold ye to them."

 

> [intellect] Now, here's where you're wrong...

> [roll eyes] Okay, whatever. I submit.

> [smack him]

> I suddenly don't care what's going on here anymore. At them!

Edited by Sad Panda

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> [intellect] Now, here's where you're wrong...

 

You career into a long debate with the pirate captain that quickly branches out of semantics into epistemology, ethics, and ultimately metaphysics. Arguments of great philosophers of old are presented and re-examined as you vie for dominance over the issue, reaching into the very fundamentals of knowledge if need be. At every turn, the captain deftly counters you, his arguments immediately inspiring counter-arguments of your own. You are so engaged in the debate the rays of light piercing the dusty air through the small, round windows appear to shift across the room right before your eyes, as morning turns to noon, and noon to afternoon.

 

Your companions find ways to pass the time the best they can. Aloth browses through the many books littering the room until he finds one of interest, and settles into a corner by the door to read. Thundernipples' lieutenants produce a chequered board and lay it on the floor, along with several wooden pieces of various colours. They are promptly joined by Edér, and it isn't long until he and one of the Orlans are deeply involved in a battle of wits of their own. Aloth eventually tires of his book and hunkers over Edér's shoulder to give grudgingly-accepted tactical advice, while the two other lesser-ranking pirates do the same with their peer. Only Pallegina fails to find any way to occupy herself. Standing at the other corner by the door, across from where Aloth initially set up, she grows increasingly anxious as the hours wear by, toward the end tapping on her plate arm-guard with so much force you half-expect it to leave a dent.

 

You are amazed by the depth of the pirate captain's erudition and his keen with which he without hesitation cleaves into the weak points in your argumentation. Slowly but surely, the tide begins to turn against you, until finally the captain unleashes his ultimate argument, in one fell swoop refuting your very premise and reducing your thesis into a crumbled heap. You sink into your chair in utter defeat, and for several minutes silence hangs upon the cabin, gradually alerting your companions to your battle having reached its conclusion. Captain Thundernipples proves himself an unexpectedly gracious winner, allowing you all the time you need to come to terms with your tremendous loss: He has established beyond any shadow of a doubt that to do battle with him unless provoked would be going against your deepest-held values, and the very notion of ignoring the result of the debate fills you with deep sense of intellectual dishonesty.

 

Pallegina: "Is it over? Are you done?"

 

> Wait, I can still turn this around...

> Yes. I admit defeat, and that I cannot use force without breaching my word. We are at your mercy, captain.

> Yes, though it changes nothing. If I must go against my word, then that is the burden I will bear to ensure the safety of our fellow seafarer.

> Screw this. We're leaving, and don't any of you hairy midgets try to stop us.

> We're done talking, that's for sure. Now comes the part where victors write history to their satisfaction. At them!

Edited by Sad Panda

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