"So you are Stheno, very well! let's do this!"- Yui barely managed to say before her opponent rushed at her, with one swift movement, she countered Stheno's hit as she dodged and aimed to poke her eyes with a ki enhanced attack.
"Kas! stop her movements, we are taking this bitch down!"
The Kodokan girl rushed at her opponent, throwing a ki enhanced kick aimed right in between her legs, she then took a very heavy and wide stance and stomped as she moved towards her, lightning ki rippled on Yui's body, foreshadowing a storm.
"Kodokan Ryu Ichi no Kata: Dai- Impacto!"- If Kasumi had managed to restrain her, the damage dealt would be great.
“Could you BE anymore obvious?!” “Probably, if I really tried!” Ariana made a smaller anchor to spin and slap aside the arrows with. She noticed how much heavier it got upon impact and grunted. It wouldn’t stop her from using it, but she might as well lose it anyway. She used the momentum of the spin to chuck the anchor at Euryale, then charged. Hopefully, with the cover provided by the anchor, she could get in close enough to punch the gorgon in the mouth, or at least make it harder for her to shoot her.
“Wouldn’t the ocean be my grave? Or do you have a spot on the boat to bury me? Explains why the place stinks.” Kasumi smirked. The smirk disappeared when Stheno’s nails came at her chest lightning-fast, only being stopped by Yui’s intervention. “Whew! Thanks!” She threw Yui a thumbs up before she had to dodge back again, avoiding a blow to the kidney but still taking it in her flank. It stung, but the armor-like muscles Hibagon granted her softened the blow. Regardless, she banished him and let herself return to normal; he didn’t fit what she needed to do. She kept moving back, conjuring and throwing daggers of ice. She circled clockwise, trying to flank Stheno while Yui took her head on.
Love's bullet was the first to arrive, the agile Euryale watching it barrel at her with a smug smile. "You name your attacks with numbers? Did you read them out of a book or something? Hmph!" She turned her nose up dismissively. Euryale then leaped out of the way of the large bullet, only to see it break apart into smaller ones. "Oh shut it!" She yelled out in frustration, bouncing off the ship's mast to avoid the incoming storm. But her path was then halted when Ariana's anchor flew at her, forcing the gorgon to do a front flip and plant her feet on top of the anchor, pushing herself off into the air.
"Who the heck throws an anchor?!" She asked with clear annoyance. But then Ariana came flying in, Euryale looking over to see that the bullets had followed her still. And now there was nowhere to run. "Uuuuuuuh...Overwhelming Arrow!" She quickly said, loading an arrow into her bow and aiming directly upward. The arrow then grew to the size of a truck and rocketed out toward the sky with tremendous speed, sending Euryale back toward the ground and avoiding Ariana. But several of the bullets managed to explode against her before she was able to jump away from the ground.
"Guuuuuuuuuh! Ok, try this on for size!" Seeing that Elyssa was staring off into space because she caught a glimpse of Euryale's eyes, she dove over and grabbed the adventurer by the arm, leaping through a wooden door and into the gigantic ship's interior. They would see her disappear to the right down a passageway. The interior of the ship was dark, lit by hanging oil lamps that swayed with the ship. The team would be met with two staircases at the end of the hall: one to the left that led to a darker stairwell that faintly smelled of gunpowder, or a right staircase that had a more pleasant smell of cooked pork wafting up from below.
"Bitch...?" Stheno repeated with curiosity. She had no idea what that sort of slang meant. Stheno could instantly tell that Yui was the more skilled of the two, so her attention was drawn to the martial artist and ignored Kasumi's taunts. Yui's kick was met with Stheno's twisting thigh, dispersing much of the momentum toward the air as Stheno planted her leg back on the ground. "Oh, that actually hurt." She remarked casually, noticing the small mark on her thigh.
Her attention was then diverted briefly by Kasumi's ice sharks coming at her, the martial artist pressing several of them out of the way with her fingers before they struck her body. But Stheno never took her eyes off Yui, who had charged up an attack. It was too late to try and dodge out of the way now, so it was time to change gears.
"Shroud." She muttered. The massive explosion slammed into Stheno's body, sending shockwaves across the deck and several dueling pirates sprawling. Barrels shattered in the wind and spilled their contents across deck. When the dust settled, Yui would hear a noise.
"My my my...you do have some power, don't you?" She cooed, a large chunk of shattered stone dropping off her body. "You thought I only turned other people to stone...? Turns out, it's quite useful, wouldn't you agree?" With a sadistic grain, Stheno lunged forward and tried to wrap her arms around Yui's right, positioning her mouth to drive her fangs into Yui's neck. If successful, she would get one second of blood suction and leap away. If Yui or Kasumi countered, she would take her index finger and attempt to drive it straight into Yui's right lung.
Yui frowned when she heard Stheno so non chalantly trash talk after her attack.
As Stheno rushed for her neck, Yui's ki flared, her skin became tougher than steel, repelling the bite and lowering the penetration done to her side, reducing what would have been a fatal wound to light bleeding.
"Kodokan Ryu Ni no Kata...Unbreakable"-She said as she exhaled, relaxing her tensed up body. Yui quickly made some distance between her and her opponent
"Looks like this is gonna be harder than I thought, these so called lords are tougher than expected... the more this fight drags on, the higher the risk of getting caught by her stare, we have to finish things now"-Yui admitedly replied as she inspected her wound.
"Osu! I'm gonna put all I have into the next move!! Kasumi! Once more!"- Yui raised her ki exherting pressure as she roared, everyone on the ship would feel slight trembling and some added weight to their person for a few seconds almost as if the air had become more dense, Yui's hair flowed as rippling ki moved around her body, the pressure was gone, but it was clear she had powered up.
The Kodokan fighter extended her index and middle fingers on her right hand and took a lower stance leading with an open palm in the left hand, she dashed towards towards Stheno and began to throw a barrage of high power kicks to set up her attack, if Kasumi assisted on the assault Yui would unleash her attack
"Take this! Kodokan Ryu San no Kata: Fortress Crusher!"- Yui said as she thrusted with her index and middle fingers toward's Stheno's solar plexus, the fortress crusher kata caused inner damage by making ki ricochet all over the internal organs of the enemy, it would be like punching a soft organ while ignoring the protection not just of Armor, but of skin, muscle and bones.
Ariana’s fist went inches over Euryale’s head. She tumbled to the side immediately, worried about retaliation, but Euryale was instead retreating… with Elyssa! “Hey! No! You put her down!” She flew after her, following her into the dim realm below decks. There she was frozen in confusion for a moment. Which way had she gone? There were no easily-recognizable hints, and she couldn’t spend the time to check. And so, with nothing to go on, she took the path of darkness, following the scent of explosives. That was more exciting, at the very least!
Kasumi’s jaw dropped again at Yui’s raw display of power. Stheno proved even more impressive now. A punch that had torn a boat in half, and she just tanked it. Actual martial artists were something else! What was she supposed to do that Yui couldn’t? With Yui between her and Stheno, she couldn’t assault them with ice attacks. She had to close. Her sword was drawn as she rushed in, gathering a cluster of icy needles on the guard, facing Stheno. “Infinity Stab!” She called as she stabbed out, every needle firing off and growing into a larger shard as it travelled. With one strike, she was stabbing at most of Stheno’s front.
Love thought they had the captain on the ropes, but she kept proving to be as slippery as a snake, sneaking through every opening in their attacks. She ended up managing to stun Elyssa and dragging her into the ship's interior. Loveline and Ariana followed her inside, Ariana taking point until they reached the split. Two different staircases, leading in different directions. Loveline wanted to stop and discuss with Ariana which way they should go, but the sailor already rushed down the darker route.
Loveline wanted to follow her, for the simple reason that the pleasant smells from the other direction screamed it was a trap. But taking a second longer to think about it, she knew spilliting up was probably the better option here. They needed to find Elyssa before Euryale completely petrified her. So Loveline ran down more pleasant seeming path on the right.
The ease by which Yui blocked Stheno’s attacks staggered the gorgon, her eyes widening when the martial artist began to charge up ki. The air had become noticeably more dense as Yui charged up her power. Stheno grew a wide grin as she got into a stance as well, charging up her own energy. The air got noticeably thicker still, with several of the clouds beginning to swirl and darken around the two fighters.
“I must admit, you’re far more skilled than any dirty pirate I’ve faced. Almost like you’re not from this world at all.” Her eyes were now wide with excitement, gone were the calm and collected demeanor from before. “Let’s end this, human!” Stheno yelled out, dashing forward to meet Yui.
The two fighter’s legs met as the two struck each other, Stheno’s pupils becoming vertical and hair shifting into a mat of purple snakes. “How long can you keep this up, huh?!” Stheo taunted, her own leg growing numb from the blows. Her attention was briefly moved when she felt air pressure behind herself, turning just in time to see Kasumi strike her back with a blade. Her enhanced ki and hardened skin dampened the blow, but red blood still seeped out of the wound. That window gave Yui enough time to strike.
The attack ripped through Stheno’s stone defense and bounced through her system. When it was over, the pressure Stheno was adding disappeared entirely as she stood there, motionless. The gorgon then looked up at the martial artist.
“...I suppose I should have kept Euryale here, shouldn’t I?” A small smile spread across her face as she fell forward, landing onto the deck of the ship. Yui could still feel a faint presence of ki within her body, and failing that, Kasumi would be able to feel a pulse/faint breathing coming from Stheno’s body. The fighting had largely subsided for the moment, with both crews looking on in awe at the raw display of power that just occurred.
Loveline and Ariana sped off into opposite directions, Ariana running toward the smell of gunpowder, while Love made her way toward the more pleasant scent. Unfortunately, she’d only be met with a spacious dining hall with long wooden tables stretching the length of the ship. On the row closest to Loveline was a half-eaten cooked pig laying on top of a massive plate, showing the crew had to abandon their meal in a hurry.
“OI!” A loud voice rang out toward her left. “Who’re you?! You’re not part of our crew!” The man standing in the doorway shouted. He held up a massive meat cleaver and wore a worn grey apron that was stained from many nights cooking on a ship that rolled with the waves. Two long strands of hair fell down the sides of his head, meeting to tiny triangular heads with deep yellow eyes that stared at Love, seeing if she had a good explanation for being down here.
Ariana would find herself in a dark room, only illuminated by two oil lamps located near the door, and on the opposite side of the room. The smell had been entirely accurate; barrels lined the room in a maze, the floor covered in tiny particles of gunpowder. On the other side of the room stood Euryale, Elyssa’s unconscious body drooping in her arms as she held an arrow drawn in her bow, aimed directly at a nearby barrel.
“That’s far enough, you creeps!” Euryale spat. “You’re all way too annoying to fight up there, so I figured this might be a little easier. Here’s how this is going to go; you are all going to get above deck, and surrender yourselves to Stheno. Once she gives me the word, I’ll release your dumb leader and we can talk terms. Take ONE step toward me, and I blow this entire room to the moon! Don’t think I can’t survive this, but can your friend?” Euryale’s sadistic serpentine eyes flicked to Elyssa, then back at Ariana.
“Let’s hear it!”
“Woah, I’m not moving!” Ariana rose her hands. She realized she wasn’t fast enough to rush Euryale before she loosed her arrow, and she was probably right that Elyssa wouldn’t survive an explosion. Hell, if it was big enough even Love and Kasumi might be in danger. A cold tingle ran up and down her spine as she contemplated the worst case scenario. Then her usual self took over. That wouldn’t happen! She had a way! She reached out and felt the water around them, slowly pulling up a mound of water. She needed a lot, and she needed time to get it.
“Okay… I’m backing up now. No weapons, see? Not playing with ice!” She took a few tiny steps back towards the stairs. Euryale stared on with suspicion. If Ariana was looking at Elyssa, she might notice her eyes briefly flickier upward, hand curling into a point behind Ariana, as if suggesting she back up.
“Should I… should I get Love? Tell her to surrender too?” Ariana stopped, buying more time A wall of seawater was beginning to gather on the railing outside. She didn’t want to look away from Euryale, but Elyssa was pointing. She half-turned her head to look.
Ariana would still see the corridor behind herself, Elyssa trying to tell her to back off. But Ariana didn’t seem to understand the plan. Rolling her eyes, Elyssa sharply dove down out of Euryale’s grasp and brought her leg up to push her bow toward the ceiling. “I was trying to tell you to back up, Ariana!” Elyssa called out, Euryale finally over her surprise and grabbing Elyssa’s leg to hoist her upside down. “I will DROWN YOU IN SALT!” Euryale spat, trying to stare into Elyssa’s eyes but her overturned shirt blocking her view.
“Oh hell. Well I’ll make sure we don’t blow up!” The wave crested the side of the ship and came rushing in, pouring into the lower decks. Ariana managed to direct most of it into the powder room, and for a moment they were in the midst of a temporary but powerful river. Ariana set her legs against the current, but Euryale might have been less lucky, and the gunpowder exposed to the water was instantly sodden and ruined. “Now try blowing us up, jerk!” Ariana cheered, rushing in to throw punches at Euryale’s stomach before she could change up her strategy.
Euryale was about to slash her clawed hand across the gunpowder to ignite it, but Elyssa swung her other leg and drove her heel into the gorgon’s cheek, making Euryale scream in frustration and throw Elyssa hard toward Ariana as the water came rushing in. “I don’t need to, you’re all still ants!” Euryale yelled in frustration, standing on top of a crate as the water rushed around herself. She aimed two arrows directly at the two, trying to spear both through the same arrows.
“Ants, eh?” Ariana caught Elyssa and spun, taking the arrow with her broad back. It penetrated a layer of muscle but stopped before reaching any organs, stopped by her durable body. “Ants work together… and they’re really, really strong!” Ariana moved faster than she should have been able to, pushed by the water in her burst towards Euryale. She threw a single massive punch right at Euryale’s midsection.
As expected, this route was nothing but trouble. For one, no Elyssa. And number two, there was a mean-looking pirate in here with her.
"Ah, long story short, my crew is helping your crew deal with a third crew attacking us both. Navy scum, you know." She lied as naturally as she breathed. "We need all hands on deck and since I'm not good at fighting, one of your bosses sent me down to gather any stragglers!" As if to emphasize her point, the ship suddenly shook. Neither one of them could know that it was the result of a giant wave crashing into it, but Love appreciated the timing of whatever was going on. "See!? That's probably an attack right there! Get ready for combat, I'm gonna go look for more of you!" She turned to flee, go back up and take the other path. Hopefully run into Ariana and/or Elyssa on her way.
Kasumi’s jaw dropped when she saw Yui’s display of skill and power. “Wow…” She felt inadequate. Ice magic didn’t seem quite so cool in the face of that kind of power. “Well, if you’re keeping her, I assume you want her to be alive.” Kasumi put her hand on Stheno’s chest and cast a simple healing spell. “I can’t do much. This isn’t my specialty. But basically, if she was bleeding internally… she’s doing that less now.” Proper healing magic took a deeper understanding of anatomy, and even if she had it, she wasn’t sure if gorgons even worked like humans. On the plus side, this wasn’t likely to wake her up at the very least. “You must have trained forever to learn stuff like that.” She said.
Kasumi’s healing spell managed to stop some of Stheno’s internal bleeding, allowing her natural regeneration to start working and slowly repair more of the damage. Elyssa had told Kasumi before the mission that she had plenty of provisions in her bag for healing, but they needed Elyssa back on deck if they were to get those. Stheno’s breathing deepened a little as she lay on Yui’s lap, the pirate lord reduced to a vulnerable captive.
The chef looked bewildered by Loveline’s explanation. The captains agreeing to work with a human crew? The only humans he knew were either part of the navy, or under their protection. Before he could call her out though, Love ran away toward the other room that Ariana had taken just in time to see the devastation of Ariana’s attack.
How did she just tank those arrows?! Euryale stared on in frustration at Ariana. “Then you can drown like ants too!” Euryale yelled, loading a golden arrow into her bow that shined brightly when it was pulled back into the string. Elyssa’s eyes widened.
“Keep going, Ariana!” She yelled out, launching her grappling hook out and grabbing onto the bow itself. “H-hey! Let go, you jerk!” Euryale complained. It was at that moment Ariana’s punch connected, plowing into Euryale’s stomach and sending her sailing through the wall and crashing against a steel crate. The back of her head bled a vibrant purple liquid as Elyssa walked over, holding the gorgon’s bow in her right hand.
Euryale had taken on an appearance similar to Stheno’s; with long strands of purple snakes and a more viper-like face. Elyssa scooped up the pirate lord and looked at the others.
“Hey Love, mind helping me patch her up? Ariana, you keep an eye on this.” The group leader instructed, handing her Euryale’s bow.
Stepping out above deck, Elyssa carried Euryale’s body up the steps and saw Yui with Stheno’s head in her lap. Her eyes immediately lit up.
“Heeeeeeeeey! I knew you both could do it!” She yelled out. The crews were absolutely stunned to see the other pirate lord defeated. Elyssa deposited Euryale’s body gently next to Yui and took a seat herself.
Once they all caught up on each other’s fights, both pirate lords began to stir. Stheno was the first to open her eyes, glancing around at the others.
“...I suppose this means I have been spared.” Stheno said with composure, fixing her hair that now looked normal once again. Euryale was the second to stir. Her eyes grew into shock when she saw the state of her sister and hugged her.
“Sthenooooo! How could you lose?!” She asked childishly. Stheno patted her sister’s head. “For one, these girls aren’t from this world. Which I am quite curious about...for this world of ours is quite small.” Her eyes narrowed toward Elyssa, who nodded her head.
“Since we spared you both, we’d like to make a deal. You help us get to the center of that maelstrom, and we’ll split the treasure among your crew. How about that? I think we’ve proved we aren’t normal pirates.” Elyssa said, smirking.
Euryale opened her mouth to complain, but Stheno spoke first.
“...the maelstrom, hm? My my. So you are asking me to walk into the jaws of death with you.” Stheno began. She pondered this thought. “You do realize the moment we set sail for there, every pirate lord is going to be after our head, correct? We have an unofficial pact right now; each of us controls our own little corners, and nobody touches the maelstrom without consulting the others. Unless you wish to consult the other lords?” Stheno asked, eyes wide.
Elyssa turned to the others. “Hmmm...if we can convince the other lords to leave us alone, we might have an easier time in there. But then again...they may just say no and be after us immediately. What do you all think?” Elyssa asked, reserving her own opinion so as to not sway the group.
While the group talked, Stheno walked up to Yui and poked her shoulder to get the martial artist’s attention. “I just have one question. Why let me live? I would have gladly pierced your heart and tossed you overboard had I won. Do you realized how many I have killed?” She asked, giving a wide grin that revealed her fangs.
Yui scratched her head when Kasumi complimented her
"Well yes, I learned how to kick in the same week I learned how to walk, I hate when people say I'm gifted or a genius, I just knew very early on what I wanted to do with my life and i have been consistently going at it! that's all!"
When Stheno finally woke up and called for Yui's attention, the Kodokan fighter listened carefully.
"I'm sure you would have, but you didn't win"-Yui smirked at Stheno
"I don't care about the past, what are you gonna do with your new chance? keep going as you have without learning anything from this defeat?"-The Kodokan fighter took a deep breath and sighed, she smiled at Stheno.
"Come to my world, learn Kodokan Ryu! you may choose to come back here after that and crush your enemies, or, become part of something greater! So? what will you do?!"-She told her as she extended her hand at the pirate lord
Elyssa’s eyes opened wide when Yui made the suggestion to Stheno, sliding next to the two and waving her hands back and forth.
“Hoooooooooold on there, Yui.” Elyssa interjected. “I’m not sure we want to invite a pirate lord to our world. She just said she has killed many, many people. And it’ll be super difficult to keep someone this strong in the law.” She tried to explain. Stheno simply stayed silent, looking at Yui with curiosity.
“So we just let her stay on the dojo! It’s far away from pretty much anything else. Plus, there's people way stronger than me regularly walking by that place!”-Yui replied with an optimistic tone, it was clear she wasn’t gonna change her mind on this.
Elyssa stared at the two of them, arms folded across her chest in quiet contemplation. “This is probably breaking like...every rule the HWIC makes me follow…” She mumbled. Elyssa then turned to Stheno.
“Well, would you want to leave your empire here? She seems pretty determined.” She asked. Stheno let out a few dry chuckles and put a hand to her face.
“If this world I inhabit is merely a playground...why would I not wish to see past the veil? I am intrigued.” Stheno practically hissed. Euryale sprung up and grabbed her sister.
“H-hey! You can’t just leave me here!” Euryale protested. Stheno put an arm around her sister and stroked her purple hair. “Well...you may have to take the both of us.”“Both?!” Elyssa balked.
“Yeah that’s fine that’s fine! I only have interest in Stheno, but I’m sure there’s people who could also train you. What do you do again?!”-Yui said as she hugged Stheno with one arm and reached for Euryale with the other.
While Euryale reeled from Yui’s hand reached for her, but begrudgingly accepted it. “I am an archer…” She mumbled, glaring at the muscular girl holding her bow like a toy. Elyssa scratched the back of her head.
“Well...I guess as long as they are willing to turn themselves over to the HWIC after we get out. The others know how this goes; get them evaluated to make sure they’re not a threat to society. Then...maybe we can turn them over to you. But that’s up to my boss.” Elyssa explained.
Yui sighed and looked up at the sky
“I guess I can’t ask for more than that...Alright you two! Behave properly, and we will be hanging out together in no time! As for Euryale...well the Musashi have been pestering me to make Kodokan Ryu join their ranks, maybe we can get Euryale to train under the Sasaki clan as part of the deal? I’ve heard they are very good archers...would the HWIC be interested in some kinship with those guys?”-Yui asked Elyssa.
Elyssa put a fist to her chin in contemplation. “Well...they are always looking for Enforcement agents. I guess we can see where you want to go after...all this.” Elyssa said, Euryale rolling her eyes.
“Oh thank you for your grace, your highness. We’re not your captives.” Euryale spat, but Stheno interjected. “But we do want to work together as well.” Walking up to Elyssa, Stheno extended her hand. “Hope we have a...wonderful relationship together, Elyssa.” Her eyes stared Elyssa down with a menacing aura. But the adventurer grabbed the hand and shook confidently.
“Welcome to the crew, Stheno. Euryale.” Elyssa gave a nod to her sister, who turned away with her arms folded. Being reduced to 2nd rank stung hard. They were pirate lords! Yui thought about the options. Not very thoroughly, but she considered them.
"Well, I'm not very good at talking, but if we are talking about a fight, I don't back down from those, I'm here to polish my fighting style after all!"
Ariana danced back after landing her punch, ready for retaliation that never came. “Yo, Love! Good time!” Ariana blew a kiss and flexed for her girlfriend before checking on Elyssa. “You good? Nothing weird after looking into her eyes?” She checked her for patches of stony skin before taking the bow. “...I should learn how to use this.” She pling plonged the string as they returned to the deck. She divested Euryale of her arrows as well, lest she stab somebody. “Hey Love, check this out!” Ariana attempted to notch an arrow and sprang it gently into the deck. “Uh. Okay, I’ll figure this out eventually.” Ariana kept playing with the bow while listening to what was going on with their captives. “I say we gun it for the maelstrom! Full steam ahead!” She called.
Kasumi had been in awe of Yui since the fight ended. “That’s so cool...” She mumbled when the martial artist challenged Stheno to come to her dojo and train up as her rival. In instinct deep in her wanted to be the girl’s rival herself. She was cool and tough, right? It was a good rival personality! Maybe she had read too much of that shonen manga Emma said she outgrew. “I mean, they'll all come for us if we touch the maelstrom anyway, right? Let's tackle them one at a time at least.” Kasumi shrugged. She was interested in the conversation, but when she realized they now had control of the ship, something else occurred to her.
“Hey, you guys went below decks. Did you see where they keep the booze? Let’s get some rum, like real pirates!” She suggested to Love and Ariana. Ariana’s eyes lit up. “Real pirates…” She stared into space, imagining something Kasumi could only guess at before she turned to Love. “Did you… did you see any?” The two black-haired girls both leaned in towards Love, conspiratorial grins on their faces.
Loveline was flabbergasted by the fact the chef actually let her run away like that. She looked behind to make sure he wasn't actually chasing her, and tripped on a doorstop as she did so. She tumbled into the room. At least there was enough water to soften her fall a bit.
Getting up on all fours, she shook off some water and parted her soggy hair to see Ariana landing a crushing blow on Euryale. "Yaaaay," she clapped when her girlfriend started showing off. "Your punches are getting way better."
Love walked over to where Elyssa and Euryale were to knit her wounds closed while Ariana checked up on Elyssa for any new skin conditions. Seeing an opportunity to tease her a bit, she said, "You know, I might have gotten a glance too. Maybe you should give me a thorough check-up later." She winked. A bit later, the gang joined everyone else to discuss what to do next. The first was Elyssa and Yui discussing whether to let the gorgon pirates come back to the outside world. Love personally didn't see anything wrong with them coming. There were a lot of way more dangerous things outside already. "As long as they promise not to go to Somalia," she joked.
Their next topic was more important for their situation. Ariana obviously went for the more adventurous route right away. Yui just wanted a fight... "We could end up in a fight if we go talk to the pirates too," Loveline pointed out. "That's why I think we should tell the other crews first. If they decide to disagree, as Kasumi pointed out, that means we can at least fight them one by one instead of meeting them all in the malestorm, right?"
The next part was the most interesting though! Love only ever tried wine before, but rum sounded interesting "Um, I didn't see any, but I think I do know the way to the kitchen. If there's booze anywhere, we should find it there."
Elyssa opened her mouth to speak, but Stheno interjected first. "As CAPTAIN of this ship." Stheno gave Elyssa a sidelong glance. "I can assure you all there's plenty of alcohol below deck. We are pirates, after all." She said, strolling toward the door Euryale had taken Elyssa into and motioning for the others to join her. Elyssa shrugged her shoulders.
"I guess none of you are exactly in a place with a drinking age. But I'm gonna limit some of you to just one or two." Elyssa glanced at Ariana. She waved everyone on to join them below deck.
They all met at the dining area that Loveline had stumbled into. The wooden tables were far nicer than the ones on Silverbeard's ship, with ornate decorations on the walls obviously plundered from other ships. Barrels lined a side wall, each with a tap on it. Next to the barrels was a counter that had several glass bottles lining the shelves.
On the tables was a variety of dishes. The half-eaten cooked pig was still on display at one of the rows of tables, while several varieties of bread and fruit lined the others. Euryale sided up to the others and tossed her hair back confidently.
"As you can see, we have plenty of provisions. All that volcanic ash in our territory is perfect for growing fruits, aaaaas you can see." Euryale grabbed a gourd-shaped red fruit with light black specks and tossed it at Loveline.
The room quickly filled up with Euryale and Stheno's crew, along with a couple pirates from Silverbeard's. Elyssa sided up to the others.
"Ok, I know we're here to have fun...but be careful please. Make sure your drink comes out of the same place as everyone else's. Right, let's party!" Clapping her hands, Elyssa went to grab a brass plate and began filling it up with cuts of the pig and other items. Stheno walked up next to Yui and motioned.
"Well? Don't be shy. You five may join us at the captain's table." Stheno motioned her hand toward the only table that had a cloth on it; emblazoned with the emblem of a pair of shark teeth. "Part of the mast of Captain Lockjaw...it's always a shame when pirate lords get too ambitious and start challenging each other, isn't it?" With a sadistic smile, Stheno strolled over and filled her plate, joining Elyssa. Silverbeard walked up to the table and raised his own mug.
"I never thought I'd see the day when two pirate lords were defeated...you lot're special, aye! I like that!" He laughed. "I won' keep yer, but thought I should share..." His face darkened. "Strider's ship has been spotted in these waters. I hope yer as clever as you say, lass, you're dealing with the smartest man on the seven seas. But don' let me ruin a good time. Cheers." With a tip of his hate, Silverbeard walked off.
Elyssa folded her hands thoughtfully...then smiled. "We can deal with Strider when he becomes a problem! For now, let's eat!" Elyssa began to eat the food before her. Stheno stared intently at Yui. "I must ask...what was that martial art you presented? I've never seen it in this world either. Went right through my stone defense." Stheno recounted. Euryale scoffed and turned her attention to Ariana and Loveline.
"Ok you two, give it up. What was with you both getting totally new outfits back there?! I've never seen fabric put together like that, and then it disappeared again!" She asked, looking at them with a mixture of curiosity and suspicion.
“Woo!” Kasumi cheered, running down to grab a glass. “I wasn’t gonna drink much, I know we’re on the job!” Ariana said, but she had a loopy grin as she followed Kasumi. She intercepted the fruit tossed to Love. “Hold on now, better let me test this.” She winked at Love and sat backwards in her chair, biting into it. “Seems fine to me.” She set it back on the table and grabbed a glass. “To piracy!” Kasumi called, clinking her glass with Ariana before upending it. “Oh, hahah, wow!” She coughed and giggled. “That’s weird! Is that orange?”
“Oh yeah, they must have fruit to prevent gravy!” Ariana said. “I don’t think it’s called that, man.” Kasumi said, taking care to sip instead of chugging now. Ariana didn’t seem to hear her, paying attention now to the gorgon who was questioning her. “Oh, that’s just magic!” She pulled her gemstone from her pocket and waved it. “I channel my mana into this and I can become a magical girl for a bit! Love and I aren’t the only ones, there’s actually a bunch of us out there!”
"I'll pass"-Yui said at the prospect of drinking rum, she had never tried alcohol, and she was intending on keeping it that way. The Kodokan fighter sat down and watched the whole scene unfold. It was at this time that Stheno talked with her.
With a big smile, Yui replied
"It's not just a martial art, it's the strongest there is"-Yui said proudly as she elaborated
"It's called Kodokan Ryu, and it's exactly what you'll be learning! It's not gonna be easy, the training is quite honestly hell, and most people quit on the first day, but if you have discipline, you will get much stronger. Once you join, you will be like family to us, so I expect you to get along with everyone, alright?! With lots of training, maybe one day you will learn that technique I used on ya!"-Yui said as she stood up to look for something she could eat.
Loveline clinked her glass together with Ariana and Kasumi. "To piracy," she repeated before downing the rum. It was actually a lot sweeter than she'd imagined. But it also had the unmistakable bite of alcohol. "Mmm, not quite what I expected," she coughed. Ariana and Kasumi felt the hit too, it seemed.
"Oh Ariana, are you drunk already? It's scurvy, not gravy, silly." Love laughed. Then one of the gorgon sisters asked them about their transformation. Loveline wasn't sure if they should tell them. After all, they were enemies until just a moment ago. Ariana held no compunctions about spilling the beans. Loveline jabbed her subtly with an elbow, but she failed to stop Ariana from showing off the gem.
"But we have powers other than that, of course." Love added to Ariana's explanation. That hopefully prevented any thoughts of stealing their gems. The gems sadly didn't imprint on them or anything, so others could use them. Fun for friends to test out. inconvenient in the wrong hands.
"Is that so...?" Stheno's eyes narrowed at Yui when she declared her style to be the strongest, a claim the gorgon found dubious at best. She gave a few muffled laughs when Yui described the training and having to get along with everyone. "I'm sure I'll survive. And as for getting along...we'll see the kind of company you keep around first." Stheno said half-jokingly, giving a wide, toothy smile as Yui walked away to get something to eat.
Elyssa couldn't hold in a laugh when Ariana blurted out 'gravy'. "You got it, Ariana! That's amazing." Elyssa finally managed to stop her laughing and turned to the discussion between Euryale, Loveline and Ariana, eyes squinting for a second. "I can vouch for that, they are plenty strong without the gems. Especially this one." Elyssa smiled and patted Loveline on the shoulder. With her other hand though, Elyssa held her phone down so Loveline could see it for a few seconds and the message displayed.
Keep your gems safe. I don't trust these people yet. Was written. Elyssa then casually pocketed her phone and sat back down.
"Power from gem? I want that! It's soooo boring just having these arrows." Euryale complained. Looking over to Kasumi, Euryale squinted. "So what about you? You were one of the two jerks who fought my sister. What's your skills?" She asked.
Elyssa continued to eat her food, feeling the pleasant rocking of the ship as it drifted through the water. The ride was far smoother than any of their prior vessels. Turning to Stheno, Elyssa pointed a fork at her.
"So Stheno, I have to ask. Who is this Strider person? What makes him so smart?" The adventurer asked. Stheno tapped her chin thoughtfully.
"It's said he started out in the navy, but deserted to join Circe's crew. Was put on a ship, and within days convinced the crew to...support him as captain instead." Stheno let a sadistic smile show before taking a sip of rum. "But then he got ambitious. Climbed the ranks of Circe's crew, given larger ships...until Circe had enough and tried to...forcibly retire him."
Elyssa nodded her head and leaned forward. "So how'd he become a lord like you two?" She asked. Stheno rolled her eyes. "He managed to escape Circe and cobbled together a crew largely from ones stolen from her. Then he started to take over smaller pirate clans...until he ruled enough ships to be called a lord. And with his connections to the spice trade...probably one of the richest pirate lords." Stheno scoffed at this fact. "If you ask me, he's nothing but a merchant with ambition. He's easily the weakest lord as well. I'm sure even you could duel him to a standstill, human." Stheno looked at Elyssa with confidence.
Smirking, Elyssa nodded her head. "I see...well he must know what he's doing if he can toss his old lord into a prison. I can't wait to meet him!" Elyssa exclaimed...feeling a strange sense that a pair of eyes was watching her. Like the game had already begun.