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in collaboration with @Mokley

Slee was surprised at the grace Sorn displayed in weaving through the forest - the other humans she had seen had been nothing but clumsy as they stumbled through the trees. It made sense, of course, if he was from an island too. While they walked, she snuck a few glances back at him to examine his clothing - she'd been too perplexed at his face to wonder at what he wore when first she saw him, but she was just now noticing their strangeness, as well. They looked dark and sturdy, made out of some material she had never seen before - she wondered what strange trees they had on his island, to make such things.

Slee had learned the value of clothing for warmth and protection long ago. When she was younger, her efforts at dressing herself had been very poor; the Senneli had no use for clothes, and so in that endeavor they were not much help. Making things was just something you got better at the longer you did it - and so it seemed that on Sorn's island, they had been making things for a very long time. "I like your clothes," she said absentmindedly. "Will you teach me how to make them?"

His own question registered in her brain, and Slee furrowed her brow. "What do you mean? Everything talks, not just humans." Comprehension dawned on her face, and she giggled in spite of herself. "Ohhhh. You mean, where did I learn to talk so you can understand? My family taught me. They speak the oldest language. Everything in the world can - "

The forest gave way to the beach, and Slee froze in horror. The two humans from before were floating in the basket, their spears red with blood. "No..." she murmured as the realization struck her. They hadn't come to that beach to hunt her. There was something else that came to that cove.

"No! No, no, no!" Slee screamed, leaving Sorn behind as she bolted down the beach, wading into to the water until she was nearly hip deep. "Hey! Over here!" she shouted, waving her arms, desperate to get the attention of the boat, to distract them from their awful purpose.

"Make wha?" Sorn's attention was on the bright birds and deep shadows, swaying grasses and jagged stones; this paradise was too perfect for his comfort. There was always something watching -- something with claws and an unsated hunger, or a quiet horror that walked between the dappled lights. He'd seen enough to know nothing was ever what it appeared -- except Slee, of course. The wild girl definitely seemed to be everything she at first appeared to be ...

Until she mentioned that she spoke the 'oldest language.'

By degrees recognition dawned on him -- but before he could remember where he'd heard the reference before, he nearly walked into Slee from behind.

She was petrified, but all Sorn saw were Black Eyes and Riot in a fishing boat, floating calmly in the deeper end of the cove. Slee was right to be wary of humans, but these ones weren't even looking in her direction. Sorn raised a hand to direct Slee toward a different route, out of their sight -- when she was suddenly gone, hurtling across the beach in a screeching fury.

The pirates both stood up in the boat to stare across the water at her, their jaws slackened in shock to find a girl yelling at them from the beach.

"What's she saying?" Riot muttered to Black Eyes, who shrugged and shook his head -- then looked down with a sudden shiver of cold.

"Uhh ... Riot?" Black Eyes' terrified stare was locked on the writhing thing that moved just beneath the surface of the water. He reached out a hand and grasped blindly for Riot's attention.

Riot hadn't noticed. "I think she wants help. She's not bad looking, eith--" The boat tilted violently to one side in a surge of water; the pirates ducked into the bottom of the boat, hanging on for dear life while it churned and bucked among undulating, snakelike attackers.

Sorn broke out of the forest to see the boat being tossed in rough water. He saw Black eyes clinging, sobbing, to the boat. He saw Riot climb heroically up to his feet, somehow maintaining his balance while -- rigid with rage and survival instinct -- he flung a harpoon with all his might into the moving water.

Whatever was beneath the surface gave a tremendous reactive jerk that sent pink-dyed waves crashing into the beach. With a surge and a flash of fins, eyes and teeth, the water crashed down upon the little boat and drove it down beneath.

Black Eyes immediately struggled for shore -- but Riot, with a dagger in each hand and a wild fury in his eyes, had different plans.

Slee screamed as the spear crashed through the waves. From this distance, she couldn't tell which of the Senneli had been hit - probably Pelloc, or maybe Hetch, judging by size alone. The water broiled with serpent blood and Slee struggled forward through the water, kicking off from the shore and swimming into the churning mass as the boat went under.

"Slee!" Hetch's voice boomed out as the serpent reared its head above the water. "Stay back!" One of the other Senneli screamed in pain as it thrashed - that was definitely Pelloc. Tears slipped from Slee's eyes as she swam, salt mingling with the salt water.

Hands grasped at her from the churning water, and Slee kicked back hard. The human that had panicked was clutching at her, desperation in his eyes, believing in some addled state that she had come to save him from the 'monsters'. "Get off me!" she cried, balling her fist and crashing it into the man's nose, causing more blood to spurt into the water. He fell backwards, churning water with one panicked hand as the other went up to clutch at his face reflexively.

Suddenly, Slee felt a scaly and familiar touch from below, and she relaxed automatically. Hetch lifted her up out of the water, straddling his great head as she had many times before. From her perch atop his head, she peered down at the two humans thrashing in the water, one bleeding, one still slicing frantically at the water with his short blades.

"Hang on tight," Hetch grumbled to her, and shot his head down towards the blade-wielder like a snake, jaws open wide.

Sorn was rooted where he stood on the beach, the thrashing waves foaming around his newly stolen boots; his eyes were fixed on the serpents and the shattered boat and the comparable insignificance of the two pirates floundering against the surge.

There was something ... spectacular about it. Sorn's teeth bared in a grin, and he barked a laugh at the sudden whimpering sound of Black Eyes' terror.

Riot was too busy ripping at the foam and the churning water beneath him. He heard a cry from Black Eyes, but he thought he saw a passing snakelike body, and jabbed at it with a manic howl.

When a shadow fell upon him, he looked up -- to see nothing but teeth and a dark throat. For the first (and last) time, Riot's eyes widened in horror.

The crash of Hetch's impact sent a thunder of waves rushing to shore. Sorn braced himself against the torrent of water, which brought with it the splintered refuse of the destroyed boat -- as well as Black Eyes, who choked and coughed and scrambled like a fish in the wet sand.

Once the foam had seethed away, Sorn squelched closer to the waterlogged pirate, who was dragging himself as far away from the water as possible. "Hey Blacky."

The pirate froze, and he looked up with blurry confusion to see Sorn's sharp teeth grinning cruelly down at him -- before the butt of Sorn's musket struck swiftly. Black Eyes would be out for the count for awhile.

Sorn poked Black Eyes with a boot, just to be sure there would be no more movement -- then he approached the water again, to see what had happened to those impressive monsters and his new wild-girl friend. Riot, he knew, had already become lunch. He grinned at the thought.

Hetch snapped up the human's lifeless body with a crunch as Slee slid down his back. Pelloc was still thrashing in the water, the spear embedded in his side. Slee grabbed the weapon in both hands and planted her feet on the wounded serpent's back, pulling it free with a cry.

"Oh, that hurts! That hurts very much!" Pelloc shrieked. Slee pressed her hands against the wound fumblingly, as though trying to force it closed through sheer will alone. She felt a prodding on her shoulder as Hetch's nose nudged her aside.

"Will he be okay?" she asked, peering up at the serpent.

"Most likely," Hetch grumbled. "I will need to take him home, below the waves, if he is to recover. Stay in the cove until we return. Do not do anything rash."

"I'm absolutely going to do something rash."

Hetch hissed in a way that what somewhat analagous to a roll of the eyes, and bent his head down towards Pelloc. "Foolish girl. I don't know where you get it from. Just don't die, alright?"

"I promise, big guy," Slee answered, rubbing a hand on his scaly nose. Without another word, Hetch closed his jaw gingerly around Pelloc's side, and the two of them disappeared beneath the waves.

Slee kicked her way back to the beach and stepped onto the shore with clenched fists, where Sorn was waiting for her. "It's time for them to leave. All of them."

They ... could talk? With a thoughtful glare Sorn watched the serpent's mouth make sounds that didn't match his understanding of the words -- he watched its gentle movements, too serene after just devouring a man whole. He grinned sharply; it seemed this family was far more familiar with humanity than their own human 'daughter.' He very carefully remained still, drawing no attention to himself, until the two beasts slipped beneath the splintered wreckage.

He was sure there wouldn't be much time before war broke out; when a crewmate was injured by the enemy, the ship didn't stand idle.

Slee was back again, dripping and shaking with anger -- there was a familiar sort of fire in her eyes. Sorn, in return, offered a dangerous grin. "Said like a true snake-monster." He clenched a fist in Black Eyes' shirt and dragged the pirate with him up to drier sand. "We'll need that box first. Where's your friend?"

As if on cue a monkey on a branch began to chitter and screech. It leaped to the sand, and with a hopping gait it rushed to Slee's feet, clicking and squeaking.

"Thunder!" Ort squealed in terror, having witnessed none of the horrors that Slee had just faced. "They have thunder in hollow sticks!"

Meanwhile, the pirates had finished their slipshod tents and laughed and drank around the warmth of a crappy campfire. They'd found a few crabs and oysters to eat -- their shells littered the sand -- but they all waited hopefully for the big game that the captain had promised them.

Captain Howler sat on an expensive rug, against pillows brought down from the ship. His arms were folded behind his head while he watched the glowing sunset. His precious pocket-box remained at his side.

In the corner of his eye, he thought he saw something moving in the water near the ship. A trick of the light, he assumed.

Slee patted Ort's head gently as the panicking monkey scrambled up her arm onto your shoulder. "I know, I know. It's okay, it's okay, we're going to get rid of them, okay? No more thunder tubes."

Ort took a deep breath and snapped his eyes over to Sorn, peering at him as though noticing him for the first time. "Slee," he chittered, "One of them's right there. And he's got weird teeth."

"I know, but he's a friendly one. His name is Sorn and he's going to help us make them all go away." Slee cocked her head at the monkey on her shoulder and grinned. "But we need your help to do it."

Ort leaned back, hanging onto her hair with a tiny hand. "What part of thunder in a stick did you not understand?"

"Look, it's really simple. You just need to sneak over to the big hairy one, and take something he has in his pocket. Bring it to Sorn, and he'll make them all go away. I'll give you all the snowberries I got this week, okay?"

"No way." Ort crossed his arms in a distinct gesture he had picked up from Slee and glared at her with black, beady eyes.

Slee fluttered her eyelids and pouted. "Pretty please?"

"... Alright, but you owe me a favor. What is this thing I'm getting, and how will it help?"

Slee kissed the monkey on the side of the head, provoking a perturbed squeal, and looked back over to Sorn. "He'll help us. What does this box look like, and how's it going to get them out of here?"

bad idea -- but then Slee was looking up at him with a sort of sure confidence that deflated his doom-ideas just a little.

With a sneer and an angry glare -- he still hadn't even quite realized that she'd been having a conversation with the monkey in question -- he opened his sharp mouth to protest.

He didn't have a better idea.

He closed his mouth, but not without a small growl of discontent. "If he drops it or opens it," he warned in a low hiss, "The whole deal's off." He watched her carefully to be sure she understood -- shot a glare at the monkey for good measure -- and took a resigned step back.

"It's this big," he curled his fingers, "it's made of smooth dark wood." He narrowed his eyes at Slee, considering his options. "Have him bring it to you. You open it. Then scare them all off your island. You'll know what to do when you open it."

He hefted Black Eyes up over one shoulder. "I'll make sure this one and the one you left in the woods go with them."

Slee grinned in spite of herself at Sorn's obvious frustration at her proposed solution. She could already tell that this was one used to getting his way, and it brought her an immature kind of satisfaction to see him brought around to her way of doing things. Definitely like a sea turtle.

The suggestion that she would know what to do with it, however, was one that was very interesting and more than a little uncomfortable to her. Was this a part of being human, some tool or device that he thought she would just know the purpose of? She couldn't hazard a guess.

"Alright," she said to Ort, "I'll be waiting in the forest outside their camp. It's a tiny box of smooth dark wood that the big one keeps in his pocket. You bring it to me, and I'll do the rest."

"Steal the box, bring it to you, run away," the monkey chittered. "Got it. If I die, I'll never let you forget it."

"Well, don't die then." Slee watched Ort hop off her shoulder and scamper into the trees until he passed out of sight, then turned to Sorn. "I guess I'll see you when it's done."

Without waiting for a reply, she bounded after the monkey and vanished a moment later into the undergrowth.
Sure thing! I need like a half hour before I can get started on that, but I'll send you the first one then.

Seems to me like the next one is a co-op. How d'you wanna do that?
For what it's worth, I think Hatori's current story would work fine for an introductory adventure if the corrupt emperor had something the characters wanted. Maybe they hear that he's come into possession of a chart that will get them through the dangerous waters near the Island, or his capital city is just above some ancient ruins that they need to study, or something like that? That way the characters have a reason to fall into Hatori's plot beyond 'some stranger asked', and Hatori and his fellow samurai can be introduced as allies of convenience?

Not my call, of course, but I think that's the best of both worlds. It would probably be a longer adventure than some of the other ones, but by that point I think it would be fun to have the assembled characters tackle something really big.
Slee vanished into the undergrowth an instant after the tree exploded next to her with a crack like thunder. Above her, the trees were filled with the panic cries of monkeys and birds, fleeing from the horrid noise just as she was doing, chattering amongst themselves as to what it could have been.

She leaned against the back of a tree and took a deep breath, clutching her hand to her chest. She had seen storms before, of course - many times in her life she had sat on the beach and watched distant lightning illuminate the horizon, splitting the world with noise and fire. The Senneli told her that lightning storms were the arguments of sky-gods, scattered weapons dropped from their home amongst the clouds. Once, they had even shown her a tree on her island that had been struck by lightning long ago - she saw how it was split down the middle, warped and black, almost more like a stone than a living thing.

One of those creatures had thunder in a tube.

Slee brushed a few splinters off her shoulder idly, biting her lip. Through the trees, she heard a shout, harsh and guttural - one of the thunderer-voices. She crouched down to all fours and began crawling through the undergrowth towards the noise, slow and certain, like a cat. Her heart was pounding in her chest, but her curiosity had once again gotten the better of her, and besides; she could move quietly when she needed to.

Peering through the bushes, she caught a glimpse of the three thunderers. They were big and hairy, like all of them were, dressed in some ragged material and burned from exposure to the sun. The one with the thunder-tube was still waving it around, peering into the forest like he was looking for something else to annihilate. Another one had some wooden thing carried on his shoulders, like an enormous basket, and on his shoulders were slung several long, shiny spears with a wicked, barbed tip. Slee swallowed sharply at the sight of it - it looked just like the tool she had made herself that even now was slung on her back in just the same way, and the comparison was not a comfortable one.

"We got meat to catch," the one with the basket grumbled. "Black Eyes, where'd you see that lizard-thing?"

"You got the harpoons?" asked the third one as he stalked off into the woods. Slee wasn't close enough to tell if his eyes really were black, but that seemed to be his name. The first one followed him, and Slee realized with a jolt of panic that they were headed for her cove - her home. She had never seen them this far in the island before... were they looking for her? She didn't feel like a lizard-thing, but then, she had no idea how these things thought.

The last one, the one with the thunder-tube, just stayed in place, still peering into the jungle. Whatever these things are, they're dangerous. Whatever happened, she couldn't let them find her home - the Senneli would be there soon, and she doubted even they could stand up to creatures that had bottled the fury of sky-gods. Slee backed away, still crawling on all fours. If she could distract them, lead them away... it just had to be for a little while. Her family would know what to do.

She was so occupied with trying to come up with a plan that she almost ran into the fourth one. Tall, scarred, with teeth like a shark, he had his back pressed to a tree - hiding from the thunderer. Immediately, she sprang back, rising to her feet and pulling the crude spear off her back, leveling it at him with shaking hands. "This place isn't yours!" she screamed lamely, hoping her voice hadn't cracked too much to be intimidating.
Ah, well, I made my IC introductory post before I saw your question, so considering that it's up, I... guess I'll go with 'introductory IC post'. You're by no means obligated to have Sorn arrive in that exact location, at that exact time, of course - I just thought it might be good to establish what Slee's up to, what kind of head space she's in, etc.
The waves crashed against the rocks of the cove as Slee fumbled with the hard-shelled fruit in front of her, still rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. She'd overslept again - the sun was already high in the sky by the time she has rolled out of her thatch tent, and she knew she had plenty to do today even without the late start. She'd need to go on another gathering expedition at the nut groves on the other side of the island, one of the rainwater collectors had a hole that needed to be patched, she'd need to make a new skirt before the one she'd been wearing fell apart entirely, the feral cats on the mountain were having another turf war she'd have to mediate, she'd need to look presentable for her family's next visit...

And of course, there was that business with the newcomers. The tall, pale, hairless ones that had left their "ship" just floating in the bay to the south, that barked orders at each other and hunted and set fires and dug their massive holes. The things that looked like her. She frowned slightly as she cracked the fruit on the rock in front of her, juice spilling out onto the white sand. She was very curious about those things.

"Heya, Slee," a raspy voice called out to her. Slee looked up to see a small, furry shape padding towards her across the sand, looking at her intently with beady black eyes. The monkey bared his fangs in greeting as he approached, sitting down on the other side of her makeshift table.

"Ort," she answered with a mouthful of fruit. "You got something for me?"

The monkey scratched his ear. "Yeah, there's been a development or two."

Slee swallowed sharply and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. "What is it? Did they do something? Does it look like they're leaving?" she blurted, her voice betraying her excitement.

"Ah, ah, ah, you know how this works. The stuff first."

Slee sighed and rummaged in her thatched bag a moment. She produced a small bundle made of leaves and twigs and tossed it over to the monkey, who snatched it up from the sand with quick fingers and immediately ripped it open to reveal the five red berries inside. The rockberries were considered a delicacy among the monkeys of the island - unfortunately, they only grew on the mountain, at elevations the creatures insisted were too cold for them. The situation worked for Slee, though; she had an infinite source of bargaining power with the little guys.

Ort popped a berry into his mouth and chewed it messily, smacking his lips and baring his teeth again. "Ah! That's the stuff."

"Now tell me what you saw," Slee said, folding her arms and peering down at him.

"Right, right. So, it was business as usual this morning, yeah? Big pink things all walking around, making noise and hooting at each other in weird hairless-speak. I'm watching from the trees, when suddenly, one of them starts yelling at the big one - you know, the one with the fur on his face - and then the big one takes this thing out, and they all go real quiet."

Slee furrowed her brow. "Thing, what thing?"

Ort popped another berry into his mouth. "Looked like that thing you keep around you," he said, gesturing to the crude stone and wood spear she kept for protection from the island's more carnivorous inhabitants. "But shiny, right? Shiniest thing I ever saw, all long and sharp. And he held it up to the other one's neck and he said something real quiet, and next thing I know they're all back to business, faster and quieter than I ever saw."

Slee scratched the back of her head, shaking sand loose from her matted red curls. "There's something going on with them," she murmured, "And I'm gonna get to the bottom of it."

"Sure you're not just curious cus they look like you?" the monkey asked, and she swatted at him in irritation. "Hey, easy, I get it. You're the only you-thing you know about, suddenly a bunch more you-things show up, you get curious. But if you ask me, I think your 'family' has it right. Whatever those things are, they're dangerous."

Slee glared at him. "Go back and keep looking. Tell me if you see anything new."

Ort shrugged, dragging the satchel of berries on the sand behind him as he rose and walked off. "You're the boss."

Slee took a deep breath and turned away. Behind her the beach gave way to the sea, still pounding on the rocks as it did night and day. She walked to the water's edge and peered down into the shallows - the water had a way of comforting her, reminding her who she was, where she was from, what she belonged to.

But this time she caught a glimpse of her own reflection, rippling in the waves. She saw her red hair, tangled about her neck, blue eyes that stared back up at her like the sea itself. She saw her arms, her legs, her smooth, pale skin - her face, the likes of which she had never seen elsewhere.

Until now.
@Lovejoy less horses more ponies/donkies, maybe? the lower center of gravity helps with balance.

@Sisyphus question: wouldn't your post make the guy you want leave too?

I read it as him being in another room in the back, so he probably wouldn't hear the order.

Also, even if he did, Hassan or Stina could probably just clothesline him as he stepped out the door, problem solved. Unless he went out the back or through a window, which he could, but Hassan's... not thinking.
Eh, I could go either way on the subject. It could be fun to have Slee go first or not; on the one hand, she and Sorn could have a fun dynamic as partners from the beginning and having her see more of the world as part of everyone else's adventures could be cool, but then at the same time it'd be fun to have some of the other characters present when she's discovered.

Maybe it would be best to have some of the characters with 'quicker' backstories up first? I like that everyone gets an adventure, but one or two characters (Dengi in particular) seem like they could be convinced to sign on relatively easily. Just a thought.
I love the characters so far!

I can't pick whose adventure I want to be first - I feel like they'd all have a lot of fun things to contribute to each other's introductions and storylines. Question: Since the first one will probably start with just that person and the GM, will that be starting soon, since we have a few characters ready to go? (I'm not being impatient!)
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