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Tuesday, August 14, 2007 A Very Fishy Voyage

Although quite accustomed with sea travel, being a captain of a ship is an entirely new thing for Robert Chandler. He spends most of his time going to-and-fro between the captain’s cabin and the deck, seeking Sheena’s advice about directions and decisions way beyond his own experience.
Sheena Mekh’ta is now recovered from her wounds, thanks to Zachary’s treatment, but she is still very weak from lack of sleep plus the transition from ‘bandit queen’ to ‘pirate queen’. Her discipline and tenacity is exemplary, but her being too hard on herself resulted in fatigue and deteriorated health.
Being on the run is tiring for Robert as well, but not very much as he found a new friend, Zachary a.k.a. Nightshade, a spy from Lore. After a series of adventures, Robert finds himself walking up from the hull to the deck of the Carrack-type ship, Dewblossom. There, he sees the crews all busy with their own tasks.
Baxter the skinny archer serves as a lookout, whereas Ellephar helps moving things, pulling sails, fishing and all kinds of work that utilize more of the fat pikeman’s brawn than brain. Seeing them all working as a team seriously, Robert can now think of the plans ahead.
Our victory over Adler and Hernan has raised the men’s morale, and now they are more loyal to Sheena than ever before. We’re near the shores of Corazon now. If things go on like this, with this speed we can reach Lore in five days or so without having to restock. The wind even helps, blowing north as though Vadis commanded it.
Now I must keep my disguise as is until I reach Hulferd and Rael’charon, and I must do something to make Sheena leave me in Lore. Think, Robert. Think. You must plan ahead if you are to meet Eloise again... Ah, Eloise!? Hmm... Maybe this might work... with Zach’s help, of course.
Suddenly, Zachary, the one he is thinking about, comes and taps his shoulder, saying,
‘Rob, are you daydreaming again?’
‘Not really. I’m just planning ahead.’
Robert tells Zach about the problems he’s about to face, also the plans to make Sheena leave him.
Zach responds to Robert by saying, ‘I think Sheena will likely fall with the second plan, because it will really happen. Rael’charon will doubt you and put you into a test, like he did to everyone. You don’t have to be as smart as him to answer it. Just tell him the real truth and he’ll ponder it with wisdom. Just be yourself and let him see the real you, and everything will be alright.’
‘You sound like you know Rael’charon very well,’ says Robert. ‘Who are you, really?’
‘I? I know Rael’charon just like any other Lorean does. You seem to know him better than I do, so you’re confident that he’ll help you.’
‘Honestly, I’m not sure either. Rael’charon is an enigmatic elf, so I’d rather go as you advised. I never know what his reaction will be, but at least I’ll try.’

‘Well, let’s hope for the best, then,’ says Zachary, walking away from there. Robert sees him leaving, thinking.
It’s no wonder that he knows Rael’charon. The elf must’ve assigned him as a spy. A double agent blew his cover and he almost died on the gallows because of it. That’s why he’s rather sensitive whenever I ask him about his identity. I should’ve known better. I guess I was not acting as a good friend just now.
Robert moves to find Zach and apologizes to him when suddenly a shout surprises him.
A seaman shouts the alarm and runs towards Robert, pointing to the port. He’s not jesting all right. A school of fish-like monsters with hands, feet and tridents jump aboard the ship, attacking everyone in sight.
Fishmen! Robert thinks quickly and acts even quicker. He leaps from the steering deck to the lower deck, draws his saber Grimlock and launches his multi-slash attack Dances of a Myriad Dragons towards the fishmen. He successfully kills four fishmen in one strike, but a swarm more turn and attack him altogether.
Baxter, Ellephar, Zach and the others try their best to help Robert, but more and more fishmen keep on coming as though all their population in this area come and attack that single ship. They are so many, about a hundred or so. Although they are relatively low-level monsters, a large group of them greatly overwhelm everyone aboard.
A fishman plunges its trident into a seaman before Zach comes and hacks it off furiously. Robert is also overwhelmed. A group of fishmen attacks him simultaneously from all directions and inflicts a few grazes on his body.
Robert feels extreme pain, and more fishmen jump at him, making it impossible for him to escape. The fishmen pile up on Robert like a mound. For a brief moment it seems like the amphibian monsters doesn’t move, and the next moment, suddenly the pile of fishmen bursts with a deafening roar! The roar comes from Robert’s mouth, and the sonic force that sends the monsters flying everywhere comes from Robert’s technique, Blue Dragon’s Roar of Pain.
Countless wounds, deep and light are on Robert’s body and limbs now, but he doesn’t stop. With his remaining energy, he charges towards the swarm of fishmen using his mystic shadow thrust: Black Dragon Soulstealer, the fourteenth combo of the 18 Dragon Slayer Blade techniques he learnt from Algaban.
A layer of black aura covers Robert’s body entirely. Like a ghost, he moves like flying, quickly and stealthily, as though penetrating into his opponents with a single thrust. As he finally stops near the bow, Robert’s shadowy form turns into normal again, and he just stands there, covered in his and his opponents’ blood. The enemies along his trail stop dead. They look like statues: unmoving, their eyes are all blank as their entire life force is snatched from their bodies. Seeing the twelve of them in that state, the rest of the fishmen become instinctively terrified and flee at once. Baxter’s arrow even nests in one of the monsters’ cranium as a final warning.
The entire crews are rejoiced to see the dangers are now no more, and they shout praise to their savior.
‘HUZZAH! HUZZAH for Jolly Robert! HUZZAH!’
Says he whose name is praised, ‘Please, my friends; don’t praise me. Just praise Vadis who gave us a chance to go through this before many more of our comrades give up their lives. We better tend to the wounded and give the fallen our last respects.’
No sooner than he spoke it, the newly-nicknamed Jolly Robert moves to a wounded pirate and mends his wounds with his healing salve. Zachary walks up to Robert and says to him plainly,
‘Hm, Mister Dread Pirate Rob is now Jolly Robert too. And you tried to be modest by being kind.’
‘Yeah,’ says Robert. ‘I need no butt-licking and praises from anybody. I just want to go to Lore and see my friends and my love, so I must do my best to see it happen no matter how weak or strong our enemies are. Err... I’m really sorry for asking that dumb question to you. I should’ve trusted you more as a friend.’
‘Oh, that’s okay. It’s a good thing being cautious, you know. You don’t have to apologize for that. A friend shouldn’t trust another too much anyway. You are a man of principles, Rob, and you asked me my real identity because your principles demanded it. Don’t you change it, Robert. Don’t change what you are, be yourself because you’re special.’
‘Thank you, Zach,’ says Robert.
‘You’re welcome, lad. Now, let us sail with all haste to Lore. Oh, yeah, you said you have a lover in Lore?’
‘Well, yes! I will use this chance to meet her and propose to her.’
‘Ah, in that case, good luck, lad. Now let’s go downstairs to see how Sheena’s doing. Maybe I must heal her wounds all over again,’ says Zachary with a sigh. ‘And do something about your wounds as well.’

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