Jasper sat up groggily as the captain made his way back unto the main deck.. It turned out sea travel was not exactly his cup of tea, if this first trip of his had anything to show of it. The captain had commented that everyone had a rough first trip on the waves, and had told Jasper to lay down in the hold til they made landfall. Reflecting on this interaction, Jasper had to admit to himself that this old man was a fairly decent person despite the wake up. With a yawn Jasper stretched his tired body, then followed after the captain himself.
Jasper walked out unto the deck just as this small ship settled into place at the docks, putting a damper on the constant rocking he had experienced on the open waters. The Mighty Minnow was a small cargo ship, just seeing out the end of it’s days alongside its longtime Captain Ronald Trench. Apparently the good captain had decided to forgo the constant seafaring of his younger days in favour of his current position as a glorified ferryman to the Amber Island. The good captain had gone on in depth about his love of being able to be home every night and seemed incapable of not bragging about his grandchildren, before Jasper’s seasickness had emptied the contents of his stomach into the ocean. Despite his discomfort, Jasper couldn’t help but smile at the wholesomeness of it all.
Jasper looked up, remembering the captain's warning of a storm coming in. The sky was covered in a mottled grey, blotting out the sun entirely, so Jasper could understand the captain's urgency. While he certainly couldn’t tell when the rain might come, he supposed a grizzled sea captain would have a knack for telling about how much time he had to make the round trip and be out of the sea before the waves got violent. Jasper blanched a bit at the thought, considering how sick he felt when the sea was considered calm, and decided it was high time to get back on solid ground.
The crimson haired mage made his way off the ship and down the gangplank that connected the ship to the dock, where he found the good captain in the midst of speaking with a few of the dock workers. The captain must have seen Jasper out of the corner of his eye and turned towards him before Jasper even had a chance to interrupt their conversation.
“It’ll be easier on ya next trip lad,” The captain said goodnaturedly, patting Jasper on the back. “There ain’t too many that take to the sea like me. I was born into it after all!” At this, the dockworkers exchanged tired glances, as though they had heard this a hundred times before. Before the Captain could really get to rambling on whatever story he might be meaning to tell, however, Jasper cut in.
“Captain Trench, this island is home to the Dies Irae guild, yeah?” Jasper asked, throwing the captain off before he could describe his origins. Out of the corner of his eye, Jasper could have sworn he saw one of the dock workers mouth the words “Oh, thank god…” before Jasper continued, “Is there any chance you could point me in the direction of the guild?”
“Oh…” the captain replied, taking a second to bring himself out of his storytelling before it had even truly gotten going. Captain Trench pointed towards the biggest building in sight. “Well, thats easy enough lad, you really can’t miss it. Throne Hall is right there, in all its glory.”
Jasper followed his pointer towards the giant grey stone domed building, adorned in the red and gold banners of Dies Irae. Even from this distance, Jasper could see that the building was absolutely massive, more akin to a palace than a guild hall. The captain was absolutely right, if Jasper hadn’t had his head focused on the clouds and the storm that might be rolling in there wasn’t any way he could’ve possibly missed it.
“Are you a mage, lad? Thinking of joining up?” The captain inquired curiously.
“Maybe.” Jasper replied noncommittally, giving a small wave and a smile to the captain as he began to make his way toward the gargantuan building. “I mostly wanna check it out today.”
“Well, whatever you decide, best of luck lad. You’ll have to hurry if you want a ride back with me, else you’ll likely be waiting for next ferries to come tomorrow. Ain’t too many crazy enough to sail in the weather thats comin!” the captain called his warning to the crimson haired mage that was walking away before turning back to the dockworkers to finish whatever business he had left.
As Jasper walked, he fished out a pack of cigarettes from his coat and pulled a single one out of the package. He stuck the cigarette in his lips, giving it a quick light with a flick of his wrist, then put the rest of the pack away. He took a long drag as he walked, leaving a mentholated cloud following his path towards the guild hall, though his eyes remained partially unfocused as he walked. Was this nervousness? He supposed there was a chance he would be disappointed by this guild, and if that were the case his search for a place to call home would continue.
As he came up on the palace of a guild hall, Jasper noticed a few people loitering outside the guild hall. Most of these were garbed in what Jasper assumed to be the guild uniforms, fairly ornate attire in various combinations of white, gold, red, and black. Some of these were tasteful, but others were more than a little garish in Jasper’s opinion. Still, if he had to put up with a uniform to be part of a force for good in this world, it might be something he would be able to put up with. That all depended on how this morning went, however…
Jasper walked up to a couple in uniform chatting on the stairs, both leaning against a thick stone banister that lead up to the guild halls main doors. The couple were engrossed in whatever conversation they were having and didn't seem to notice Jasper’s approach until he stood right in front of them.
“Mornin lovebirds!” Jackal said cheerily, drawing both of their attention to him. The man and woman exchanged glances and stepped away from each other quickly at the words, both turning beat red at the insinuation.
“We’re not- I mean…” The girl spoke up first, clearly flustered. She composed herself and sighed, rubbing her temple, a clear sign to Jasper that while they weren’t currently together at least by her body language she might not be opposed and didn't want to offend the young man by saying the wrong thing. She changed the subject quickly, her tone turning slightly frustrated “Umm… can we help you?”
“Ah, my mistake, I meant no offence.” Jasper said with a disarming smile, putting both of his hands up with palms out to show he meant no harm. “But since you asked, I do actually have a huge favour to ask of you… would you mind asking the strongest guild mage who is available currently to come outside for a moment? I would really appreciate it.”
Once again, the young lady exchanged glances with the boy she had been talking to, though this time it was more one of confusion rather than embarrassment. As their eyes met, however, Jasper’s initial greeting seemed to come to both of their minds and they both regained a bit of the redness that had adorned their cheeks. She stepped back hurriedly, clearly embarrassed and failing utterly to hide it. “Y-yeah, I’ll go see who is available.” she said quickly, hurrying out of the current situation, and leaving Jasper and the man alone as the door shut behind her.
For a long moment, silence hung in the air as Jasper took her place leaning against the stone banister. Jasper finished his initial cigarette, which had been spent between the trip to the hall and the brief conversation with the two mages, and pulled out his pack to grab another. After sticking it between his lips, he offered one to the boy who seemed lost in awkwardness at the moment.
“Oh… no thanks. I don’t smoke.” The boy said to the offered cigarette, to which Jasper simply shrugged putting the pack away and lit his second cigarette. After finally breaking the awkward silence, the boy finally asked the question Jasper knew was coming. “So… what do you want with one of our higher ups? Big job?”
Jasper took a long drag, letting out a giant cloud of smoke before responding to the young man with a conspiratorial grin. “Nah. I want to fight them.”
The boy took a step back down the steps, his face clearly showing his shock at the revelation. The young man quickly seemed to jump to the worst conclusion his mind could come up with. He nervously stammered, “Y-you’re not with one of those dark guilds are you? We-we-we’ll wipe the floor with you if you are...”
Jasper chuckled at this, and instead of answering he took another long drag and looked up to the sky. “The world is kinda in a shitty spot right now, isn’t it? The Rune Knights are supposed to be a force for good, yet in my experience all they do is keep the status quo. Sure, they might do some good here and there, but they seem hamstrung by the council and those that fund them. But you know, leaders can be pretty shit people too… just take a look in the alleys of some of the towns, ya see people all over downtrodden and starving. We need real change.”
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