The knocking breaks Dante from his slumber in his hammock that sways with the rocking of the ship. He rubs his eyes before another set of knocks comes from the door accompanied by shouting, "Second Mate Dante! Cmon get up! The captain needs you NOW!"
"Alright, alright. I'm up." Dante responds with a groan as he rolls out onto his feet. He grabs his coat and hat off the hook before opening the door, the man already gone. Dante went to sleep just a few hours ago, he sailed the ship the entire night before to get some Greenwater Diplomat, their current task, to their destination up in Sussaria. It had only just started raining before he went to sleep. So he dresses himself up while he makes his way across the lower deck noticing that most of the men were being roused alongside him. The rain bears down hard on the deck above, drowning out most of his thoughts, he steadies himself at the door leading outside for the downpour awaiting him. Finally after opening the door, he immediately makes his way up to the quarter deck where he sees Sir Captain Nico staring out across the taffrail with his spyglass.
"Sir! You called for me?" Dante shouts through the rain while he nods to Helmsman Marco and First Mate Jacobin.
"I need you in the topsail, asap. We need to pick up our speed and head starboard." Nico responds without turning.
As Dante begins climbing the shrouds to get a better view of whatever Nico is looking at he questions, "You sure about that? Thats heading right into the storm."
Nico walks back to the ship's wheel as he tosses Dante the spyglass, "It's the Azure Maw, but not any of their regular ships. It's The Colmillo, and it's been chasing us all morning."
"Fuck." Dante pants as he spots the flag atop their pursuer.
"Peter! Grab the sky sail and anchor it to the mezzen post!" Dante shouts with his legs wrapped around the yard tugging to keep the topsails open in competition with the gales. His body aching from labor as his body is soaked by near equal amounts of rain and sweat. But not nearly as strained as the ship. The mast groans in pain, bending further than any sailor imagined as its sails are filled with the storm's winds. They've made terrible speed in the hours since Dante awoke, The Colmillo flies over the waves like some sort of Leviathan. Only a few more minutes before they'll be alongside and commencee boarding.
"It surpasses The Aniketos by nearly two decks, has an extra mast with a full complement of sails, and probably 50 more sailors. Hell, he probably even has a few mages aboard. We'll have to come up-" Dante's thoughts are interrupted as a sailor climbing the mast slaps his leg for attention.
Vega shouts through the thunder and wind, "Cap says to board their topsails while he takes some men and boards them as a distraction. If you can tie the masts together then we could threaten them to disengage." He climbs up beside Dante and grabs hold of the rope, "Go on, I'll tie this down."
"Use Ferman's Hitch. It'll snap loose in these winds if you use the Sol knot." Dante shouts back as he maneuvers to grab a spare bundle of rope before he heads down the yard arm toward the pirates.
The ship sways more than a drunken sailor on shore leave, and Dante's grip is barely enough to hold on. Even worse suddenly the yard snaps underneath Dante and he is sent flying as the two ships collide. Thankfully he had already tied one end of the rope to his own mast, so when he was thrown while making a second bracing knot he didn't have to worry about the fall. Nearly two dozen feat above the yard he floats as the ships fall into the trough of the waves. The trajectory oddly throwing him directly over The Colmillo's crows nest. With ample time he draws his axe and swings as he falls into the bucket.
"You don't mind if I stay up here with you for a bit friend?" he says to the fresh corpse before he's jerked back by the rope he carries. He runs around the top mast a few times before tying it off. Afforded a moments rest by his initial accomplishment of the task he looks over the railing to the battle waging on deck.
Nico, the first mate, and almost 2 dozen more sailors have pushed over the gangplanks onto the enemy deck. His own ship's deck is nearly empty of sailors save one or two handling the sails. He turns to the other side of the nest and spies their top deck. There he is, Azazeal Stormspear, standing nearly head and shoulders above the rest of teh crew around him. He holds a long glaive with a miniature flag of the Azure Maw attached below the blade. He looks back up into the topsails around him; several other members of the pirates have just started to take notice that Dante does not look like the usual Crow.
He dips back down, pulling a handaxe from the body's belt and throws it with heft at the closest pirate. With a shout he turns and charges over the railing at the next man down the yard. But Dante knows whats coming, he jumps just before the ships collide again snapping the yard and sending his opponent flying. He looks back down towards the deck and sees that several of his allies have fallen to the enemy, and Nico has made barely any progress towards Azazeal. However other sailors have jumped across teh topsails and are trying off their own ropes. So he decides to make a high risk play, grabbing one of the ropes and cutting it loose, he leaps off the yard arm and wraps the rope around his arm. With a quick jerk, both his arm is dislocated and his trajectory averts to one just over their quarterdeck. Just over Azazeal himself. Through the winds and the storm at the edge of Dante's attention he thinks he hears a shout from Nico, but nothing can dissuade him from this course. He brings his axe to bear ready to brain the Pirate Captain with a single blow, but lightning crashes just behind him grabbing Azazeal's attention. Lost in the momentum, Dante lets out a roar that temporarily stuns the men surrounding Azazeal, but he is too steadfast to be shaken. Stormspear reacts quickly, he brings his glaive to bear and braces it on the rails behind him, ready for Dante to impale himself upon it. Though the storm turns to his own advantage, a final gust shifts Dante's path is adjusted just enough to cause the glaive to pierce his right lung instead of his heart. But his strike is similarly off target. The pick end of the axe burries itself up into Azazeals hard palate up into his eye socket. Just moments later Dante's momentum rips the axe free along with a heaping chunk of the pirate's face.
Dante's swing continues until the rope snaps at its apex, throwing him through the air until he slams into The Aniketos' deck and sliding hard into the pinrail on the opposing side. He reels as the scenery slowly bleeds to a warm room lit by candles. His mother looks down over him and says softly, "A blessing from the sea itself." as she brushes his face. The scenery snaps back with a flash of pain as a sailor slides into him, jamming a soaked cloth into the wound. The warmth from teh cloth sends a shock of energy through his chest as the healing juices create scaffolding for his flesh to close the wound.
"Dante?! Dante!" Vega shouts as his friend barely spurs to life, "Thank the gods, Nico's down. They'll start boarding any moment."
The creaking and moaning of their ship has only worsened since they begun. They're joined in chorus by the enemy ship as a loud snap is heard as the topsails smash into each other, splinters sent showering on them. A moment later a yard arm comes careening down and cleaves through the enemy's top deck sending several men flying and who knows how many more shouting in pain.
Dante finally stumbles to his feet at commands his first orders as the ship's captain, "Go below deck, get all the grog, drink, and gauze you can find. We're going to give ourselves a little warmth from the rain." he then turns to the men scattered in the sails, "Everyone on deck!" After that he notices the pirates are beginning to organize and send men to run across the gangplank and board and he notices he can't see any of his allies left on their ship. He rushes, drawing and readying his longsword and boarding axe, to meet his new guests. Their own momentum betrays them, the ocean has only gotten worse and not even half of them are able to cross. The rest are left too imbalanced to adequately defend against Dante's attacks. After slaying several of the boarders, the gangplank erupts in flames and his allies have regrouped to fight off the other boarders. Behind him stands Vega and a few other sailors lighting and throwing bottles at the enemy ship.
"No! Target the sails. The wood won't burn in this weather, but the flax will!" Dante intercepts one of the bottles and smashes it against his own main sail.
The ship has settled on the beach, the breeze can be heard squeezing itself through the cracked glass in the captain's quarters. Dante stands alone in the darkness leaning over Nico's desk with the holy symbol of Verethragna (A golden pike atop a silver shield with a sword crossed on the other side) clutched in his hand barely peaking out between his thumb and forefinger. His right hand holds onto his axe just below the head. It's been several days since The Aniketos marooned itself ashore, their maps showed that it was a few days travel from Coimbra, and several days less one since he sent the crew out with the lady Diplomat Ilphelstia. He commanded that they head to the city and finish their delivery of the diplomat to Sussuria. Along with them, a letter Dante wrote detailing the events of the battle, and a vengeful decision to resign his post. He promised to finish Azazeal, and give Nico's spirit rest. He stands up straight and winces in pain. Pulling up his shirt, the gauze that covers his wound swells with blood as his muscles twitch. He turns his head to listen to voices, as if floating on wind, drift through the window.
"Shit it looks fucking dead." says the first man.
"Well that doesn't fuckin matter does it? We still gotta look for survivors. Cmon you guys! Take a look." commands a second man as several strides begin running toward the ship.
"No way anyone is still there, its been almost two weeks."
"Did I stutter? Even if they ain't here, we might find where they went."
Some of the strides can be heard climbing or entering the ship through holes in the hull. Dante ties the symbold to his belt, grabs his axe, and draws his sword. As he heads out through the broken doorway he shouts at the top of his lungs to welcome his guests:
I say this now as I've said before.
So long as the Ocean waves, and the Fire roars.
I will strengthen now, and forfeit no more.
The torrent surges onward, dread my war!