► xiao jing
@aye aye capt'n
2124 / 1000 words
| the far end of the port, where the smaller galleons retreated from the oceans to dock at the pier, was a small push-cart that served a variety of ice cream in cute, cat-shaped cups. Naturally, as an avid cat-enthusiast, beside the humble establishment was a vermilion-haired man and his black exceed, both of whom greedily extinguished the owner's stock of their favorite ice cream flavors respectively - vanilla and mint chocolate chip. |
"I still can't over your obsession with such a boring flavor." mewled Meilin as she ceaselessly lapped at the cone in her paws, her lithe form balancing atop the curve of her master's broad shoulder.
As if to prove some trivial point, Xiao Jing bit directly unto the scoop, consuming it whole with an ice-y burp, where the the sharp reaction coming from his teeth as he chewed at the cold substance caused his nerves to tingle in some form of psuedo-excitement; an odd, yet strangely refreshing sensation that made his nerves buzz, made his head thrum in a low ache and his gums numb.
"Vanilla is one of the best things in the world,” he said, his ensuing smile a spectacle to behold behind the pain as he swiped off the remaining ice cream off his lips with his tongue, "pure and innocent, just how I like it.”
The exceed arched a single feline brow upward, giving her master a pressing, inquisitive look. “I’m not even sure if you’re even talking about ice cream anymore.”
Should the pair not have decided to continue walking south across the pier, perhaps the current line of conversation would have taken the ultimate plunge into Xiao Jing's philosophical ideals. But perhaps the fates were mutely aware that neither appeared interested in that particular subject, working their collective control over the day to make it so that they were in the right position to be noticed by a heavily-built man clothed in authentic pirate garb, where he fought to catch their attention through the buzz of the crowd with the roar of his gruff speech.
"Ahoy ye thar, lad 'n cat!" the pirate bellowed, popping more than just Jing's bubble of privacy with the cumulative stares he received from other passerby's, though it was safe to assume that the eyes of men no longer mattered to him, for the claw that served as his left hand hinted that he'd seen eyes that screamed bloody murder and nearly lost - something far worse than a little attention on the streets.
The ginger promptly tossed the man a glance with a tilt to his head, Meilin doing the same, albeit with a tiny snarl that tainted her eyes with caution. "Aye aye capt'n, what seems to be the problem?" he'd ask with a careful expression, stuffing a vacant hand into his pocket, where his fingers gently curled over the smooth surface of a gas bomb that Xiao Jing kept for situations that demanded immediate retreat.
The pirate branded his hook with a smile that was uncharacteristic of a sea-faring fellow like him, gesturing to the indiscreet pile of crates that were stacked together pretty decently to one side, "Me first mate be down wit' th' hives today." he started, his face quickly showing his exasperation, "I can nah carry all these boxes by meself, I was wonderin' if ye could help me deliver them. They be goin' t' River village, so its nah too far, 'n I'd pay ye a nice bit o' coin too."
In retrospect, regardless if pirate speech had always been a bit sketchy since the dawn of history, the offer appeared as it was on bare-bones. There was nothing to be withheld apart from a simple man with no hidden intentions dangling from the edges of his rugged sleeves or from the holes in his crude dentures. Meilin, however, sought to narrow her eyes sharply at the pirate's form, her tail curled at an angle that indicated her hostility.
Jing pressed a reassuring stroke across her spine, evening out the sharp lines of hair that began to litter her fur. As if on instinct, Meilin mewled, sending out her approval to her master's plea for cordiality with the flourish of a purr.
"I don't see why not," he said, his knuckles making an audible pop as he applied pressure to them, "Nice to meet ya, mister...?"
"Me hearties call me Captain Kooh." the man craned his body at a sloppy angle, making do with an informal bow that appeared lackluster at best; nothing new out of a pirate's attempt at formality, "It does me heart some good t' know some young folks still know how t' help thar elders." he babbled, his jovial grin showcasing a gold canine jutting from the side of his mouth, "Let's start wit' th' big ones first, I'll lend ye a hand."
Captain Kooh sauntered over to the stack of crates whose sizes were enough to daunt a man with but one hand and a crooked gait - but not him, as far as Xiao Jing could tell, the ginger's mouth clearly slack from the lack of hesitance from the pirate as he reached underneath the box regardless if his right hand was simply a sharp brass curve at that point.
"Wha''s th' matter lad? I may 'ave a hook, but I be nah disabled." Kooh jested, somehow baiting the young man to seal the deal with a shrug and an amused chuckle, the crate being lifted off the ground at a decent distance and unto the deck of the adjacent ship.
'Old men these days are built better than they look.' he thought, idly eyeing the captain as they settled the box down with little to no effort from either party. '...Pirates these days too, appear to be much more than what they look.'
And he wasn't wrong; Captain Kooh, if anything, was the sort of pirate that shouldn't exist.
- - - -
The voyage that lead to River Village was a quiet and uneventful one, the lull of the sea having such an allure that neither the slayer nor the pirate opted to ensue conversation with the other, though Xiao Jing was more or less preoccupied with the onslaught of vertigo as soon as he boarded the ship. In the silence, while her master suffered the side-effects of his slayer status, Meilin had spared herself some rest by curling into a spot between two large barrels, her slumber apparent as her motions were minimal and peaceful, despite being at sea. By then, the serenity of the trip nearly betrayed the dingy exterior of Captain Kooh's ship, the boards creaking and full of barnacle and the sails tainted in pure, unbridled, charcoal black.
If at all, Jing would have expected the locals to be firing whatever sort of defenses they have at them once they docked, but even as the ship approached a few meters from the pierre, none of the residents appeared to share even a smidgen of hostility. The business of trade was in motion, and nothing, so much as the menace of an approaching pirate ship seemed to disturb the flow.
That was when he spoke, tried to, at least - out of interest, but mostly confusion.
"H-hey, Captain Kooh, this crossed me earlier today...but...ghh...why're you doing this instead of...you know, regular p-pirate stuff?"
The pirate of mention took to this with an easy expression, his hands diligently working the wheel as he kept his attention on the island. "I was wonderin' when ye'd ask lad, took ye long enough." Kooh idly stroked his beard with his free hand, as if breezing through his options to best explain his circumstance, "T' be fair, I already had me share o' pirate adventures...'n as answer t' yer riddle - I...got sick o' it."
Jing's face contorted to one of immediate surprise, the gears in his head stopping temporarily to the thought of a pirate growing tired of plundering and murder, as if Captain Kooh wedged a metal bar into his thinking processes, halting it to a fault.
Noting his reaction, the pirate did little to suppress the series of hearty laughs that escaped his throat, billowing across the water with the sound of gentle waves sloshing against the vessel, "I know that look lad, 'n I see it all th' time. But I tell ye th' truth. An ole scallywag like me can nah drink booze or pilfer booty all his life, I needed a change o' scenery."
The ginger leaned over a crate to his right as the ship rocked from one side to the next, implying their arrival at the River Village's port. As the bile began to rush upward from his stomach, threatening to empty his stomach of the ice-cream he just devoured, Captain Kooh proceeded to saunter his way over to the crates.
"I suppose yer curious at wha' I busy meself wit', well, ye can open one o' these boxes t' see fer yerself." he said, nudging the young man with a pat on the back, which he responded to with a hurl, the unpleasant noises that continued creating awkward tension between the two as guilt coated the old captain in generous amounts.
When Jing finally managed to regain his bearings, the captain pressed a water bottle to his cheek as a means of voicing his apology for the involuntary action, the cold causing him to squirm a little, though he appeared to be the at least grateful for Kooh's effort, greedily snatching the bottle from the captain's gloved hand.
In the advent of the young man's action to appease his thirst after that unsightly scene, the pirate pried a crate open with his hook, several sets of paper and pencils and rulers making tiny shuffling noises as they scratched against each other, an after effect of the boat still visibly teeter-tottering. As soon as the slayer sprung back into his usual, peppy self, an expression of surprise overtook his sweaty face, the contents of the box somehow vanquishing his withheld expectations of Kooh's manner of trade.
"I usually trade general booty like vegetables 'n fruits, but from time t' time, I get these kinds o' order, they be buildin' a school in th' village, so I guess 'tis wha' 'tis fer." he'd say, an almost bashful look atop his gruff-looking face.
Xiao Jing was no stranger to prejudice and the unjustifiable habit of overlooking things that was the cause of it, but he at least began to realize that from Captain Kooh alone that not all things grim and dingy were a part of an evil scheme. Perhaps the entirety of humankind wasn't as dismally easy to predict as he thought they'd be.
"Righty there, capt'n, it was probably wrong of me to think you were planning something horrible." he started, shoving his hands into his pockets, as if burying his shame into their depths, "But, really, why the get-up? People could mistake you for a threat and fire a mouthful of silver into your gut, you know."
The captain retrieved the crate's cover with a flourish of his hook, slapping it across the top as he snagged himself a smile, perhaps to prove an unvoiced point at that moment in time, "Ole habits die hard lad. Now c'mon, we gotta loot these out o' me ship afore I can pay ye." he said, the word pay automatically breathing life into his post-vertigo body.
"Aye aye capt'n!"
- - - -
Later, when the transactions was dealt with and salutes were exchanged and the evening drew tiny pinpricks of light over the horizon, Meilin woke to the rattle of metal gears and steam, finding her body atop her master's knees as his eyes wondered far beyond the glass of a train window.
"How was the little partnership with the pirate Jing?" she asked, stretching her limbs with a yawn, to which the ginger promptly coddled her with an affectionate scratch to her chin.
"Much better than what we originally thought...we might've been wrong to think that he was in the same league as them." he said, the final portion of his sentence waning between malice and scorn.
"Really? Huh..." the exceed's brows began to furrow, unable to mask the surprise that slowly began to overtake her, "That's...new. I thought all of them were bound to be nasty, blood-hungry thieves."
Xiao Jing pressed his ginger mop against the window, finding relief in the slow hum of the engine that caused the glass to shake, thankful that it wasn't enough to onset his motion sickness, "...I guess there's a brighter side to everything nowadays."
The conversation, despite its emphasis on something highly philosophical, somehow ended there for a second time.
Why didn't the sailor play cards?
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Lineage : Blessed by the Fourth Wall
Position : None
Posts : 358
Guild : Onyx Moon
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Mentor : Tan Zheng✝; Damaris Hopes
Experience : 650
First Magic: Dì Sì Shùnxù [ 2nd Gen ]
Second Magic: TBA
Third Magic: TBA
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