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This looks super neat. I had an idea in my head for perhaps an Australian Fighter Ace who's now making the transition into 'Special Forces', picked up for their initial reputation and skill in the skies. They'd probably be closest to the 'Rifleman' class in terms of loadout, I imagine.
Me too! I'd love to keep things going.

Windward Island
The Southern Sea, aboard the Skullfish

Having dutifully agreed to serve at the helm while the Skullfish’s captain headed below deck, Evander took up his position behind the wheel of the ship, with Solia close behind. Yes, the Skullfish may have been a vessel entirely different to anything he had boarded in several years, but behind a wheel of the ship, they may as well have all been the same. Gripping the wheel itself, he could feel the oceans below and the gusts of wind from above. This was where he felt most comfortable in life - most in control - and it showed. His posture relaxed, and the corners of his mouth curled into a slight smile. This is home, he thought to himself.

Feeling a presence near him, Evander turned his head slightly, catching the figure of Max - one of the crewmen. He spoke of turning the ship around, and of a situation, but before Evander had a chance to inquire further, the Skullfish was rocked violently to the side.

Holding a tight grip of the wheel, he managed to stay on his feet. “What th--..”, he yelled in shock. A Reef? Surely not - I’d have spotted it. What, then?. His thoughts raced for the few seconds of confusion, before several crewmen could be heard yelling.

“To arms! Defend yourselves! Savorask!”

Their voices were soon drowned out by the ringing of the ship’s bell to signal alarm, and the yells of crewmembers engaging the Savorask on the deck below. Instinctively looking toward his belt, where the usual weaponry of a diver would be sheathed, Evander found himself woefully unprepared. Indeed, he admittedly hadn’t expected much trouble at all during the course of the expedition - and certainly not this early. So much for his plans to grab some gear from the Skullfish before the dive.

Moments later, several Savorask began to rapidly clamber over the side of the vessel, having reached the somewhat raised height of the ship’s helm. The fighting on the deck was well under way, and had now reached the helm.

“Damn”, he cursed under his breath. Savorask were trouble at the best of times - but here, now? It was going to be a trial by fire.

Spinning on his heel to retreat from two Savorask now advancing towards the ship’s wheel, having already cut down the feeble attempts of a crewman to force them back, Evander spotted Solia making her way towards him after having initially headed for the deck. They hadn’t been partners for long - but already he was realising the benefits of this arrangement. “By the helm!”, he remarked as she approached. His answer to her question was short, and for a reason. Turning to face the two Savorask, having heard their increasingly loud approach as they drew nearer, he found himself face-to-face with the two. Barely managing to avoid the first strike by the frog-like demon of the oceans, he was soon thrown backwards by the other, landing with a loud thud and accompanying groan.

Sitting half-upright as he recovered from the painful landing, he saw Solia begin to face-off against the Savorask.

Windward Island
Port Harbor, the Sunken Shepherd

Evander couldn't help but smirk as he listened to her answer, his head tilting to face the earth below for a moment, an effort to mask his amusement. He threw in a few quietened words and hums of agreement as she spoke, elaborating on her answer somewhat. Admittedly, she'd lost him as soon as the winds of fate were mentioned. It wasn't an altogether unsatisfactory answer, and his amused confusion did not mask annoyance or irritation. No - there was something beyond these 'winds of fate', he was sure. She merely wasn't ready to share her reasons for answering the call with him, and he understood why. They had only met that day, after all. And it wasn't as if Evander had no secrets of his own.

As they continued to head down toward the docks, now slightly behind other divers that had hurried past, Solia moved past her answer to his own questions to instead offer up some questions of her own. He listened carefully as they walked along, offering the occasional nod as her question developed. It was a fair one, and something he'd probably wonder himself were he in her shoes.

"Aye - sorry 'bout the questions.", he remarked while looking toward Solia, gauging her reaction. "I don't mean to make you feel as though you're being interrogated."

He noticed her head had dropped to face her feet once more, something Evander had now come to expect as common for Solia. Was it simply that she was shy? Perhaps - but he had the distinct impression Solia was someone often trapped in their own thoughts. He'd known her for only a little while, but it often seemed to him as though she had much on her mind. Evander couldn't know what - and indeed while he had many questions for her, most glaringly the question of what she was, he reminded himself that he had already decided she was 'one of the good ones'. His gut instinct trusted her, and so would he. Asking question after question would do no good.

With this in mind, Evander continued on. "But 'ach, don't worry about it", he noted with a slight wave of his hand dismissively, "You're perfectly right to ask. Truth is, I don't have too much waiting for me in the frozen sea. No family, no work, nothing. I left not long after my father passed."

Though the conversation topic may have easily been quite a hard one, Evander spoke of it with a surprisingly casual tone. It was clear he'd since moved on. "I joined the Diver's Guild 'cause I figured it was easiest route away from nothing. I was never in it to get rich or anything like that - I was content with the idea of protecting cargo, navigating rougher waters. I got plenty of experience doing that in the frozen sea, so the idea was to that experience an' travel around with it."

Raising a hand to shield his eyes from the sun, now that they had escaped the shade the tavern provided, Evander continued on. "So anyway, I joined up, well. Must've been eight years ago? I did a few dives here and there, but only on a smaller-scale. Years ago now, and I can't really remember much of them. I do remember not liking most of the divers I met, though. Always in it for themselves. Never felt like you could trust them, you know?"

"So I kept that up for a year or two, but I got bored of it. Bored of the competitiveness, of the backstabbing, all that. I joined up with a merchant-captain who'd spotted me through the guild. Give or take a few years later, I switch crews to Reballo, which I've been doing for two years." He paused at the mention of Reballo. His part in the crew of the questionable merchant had troubled him for a long time.

"Reballo's... 'ach, he's a guy making a living, I suppose. He just... exaggerates a lot of the stuff he's selling. It was a good job - I sailed all over. From the Dragon Sea to the Imperial, but I've been looking to get out of that for a while now." Grinning, he added, "Then, as fate would have it, I ended up here, and you asked me to tag along."

By the time had finished his small-story, the two had reached the docks. They'd fallen behind the majority of the other divers, and caught the end of Bron's final address to the crowd. Looking around quickly, Evander caught sight of the purple-haired girl and her accomplice from the frozen sea that he had spotted at the tavern, and it would seem that both likewise spotted them, as Evander briefly caught the eye of Terhikki while she too surveyed her surroundings.

Turning to face Solia in full, and with a confident smile, he clasped his hands together.

"...and that's the very short story of me!"

He gestured an arm toward the Skullfish as the other divers began to board.

"Shall we?"

Windward Island
Port Harbor, the Sunken Shepherd

"No, no." Evander waved a hand dismissively at the suggestion put forward by Solia, offering instead a friendly smile as he agreed. "Diving it is. It will be good to get back in the water again."

He was content with the decision, for while he had not dived in a good number of years, he couldn't well remember the last time he ever had to properly climb something. The Frozen Sea had tall glaciers and mountains of ice, certainly, but he had never been one to go adventuring to the top. He left that to the vagabond tribes that roamed the frozen wastes. For him, life was always a more settled affair.

Relaxing in the chair, now that all was settled, Evander still wasn't sure how he was going to approach the question of what exactly his new partner was, what her capabilities were, and what she was even doing at Windward Island in the first place. He trusted her - but these were questions burning on his mind, even if were capable of masking it.

Standing, he surveyed the tavern quickly. It was true - most of those assembled seemed to have already found themselves partners or smaller groups to work in. He found it all rather odd that they were working towards the same end-goal, but would ultimately become rivals if some ancient treasure was found. Not that he especially cared for all that, anyway - in fact he had little to no use for treasure, and wasn't planning on robbing his partner of any reward, regardless of their deal.

Turning his attention to Solia once more, who had remained sitting patiently for the few seconds he had been standing, he remarked, "I suppose we ought to head down to this ship. The Skullfish, was it?" He shrugged slightly, not especially bothered by the name, "...and get to meet our fellow adventurers who've answered the call. Though, on that note - I never did get to ask why you're here." His curiosity had finally gotten the better of him, though he had at the very least opted to ask one of the less invasive questions.

Softening his tone, and curling the corners of his lips into a genuine and soft smile, so as not to appear as though he asked with anything other than unalloyed curiosity, he added, "I mean, I know that you're here to help... but, why Windward Island?".

Angling himself to face the harbor below, he waited patiently for Solia to join him, so that they may make their way to the ship that awaited them and continue their discussion.
I like how opposite Terhikki and Evander are. It satisfies me.

They're basically diametric opposites, but they both chose to leave the ball in the other person's park so to speak. It's very amusing.

Hah, I liked that too!

They're both from the Frozen Sea, but almost entirely opposite. I chalk it down to the prolonged time Evander has had outside of his home sea and life experience. It'll be good when they finally get to have a chat!

Windward Island
Port Harbor, the Sunken Shepherd

Evander returned a polite nod to the Chief as he was handed a contract, quickly skimming through it. "Aye, I like to think I'm not the worst around.", he noted in reply to the Chief's comment on his ability at the helm. In truth, he was particularly skilled, though he would never be one to tell you himself.

His attention was drawn to the reward offered on the contract. Five-hundred shelma, and the rights to keep any artifacts found. It wasn't much by any means - though he still found it peculiar that another would so readily offer up any potential gain from the expedition. It was one of the many questions Evander now had for Solia, and he was itching to get answers. His chance would have to wait, however, for only moments after he had signed the contract a new arrival made themselves known in the Sunken Shepherd.

Introducing themselves as Bron Cirrus, it quickly became clear that this was the man leading the expedition. He offered them some general instructions, and provided those assembled with the use of his ship, The Skullfish. Suddenly things became all the more real for Evander, and he was reminded of similar 'briefings' he'd been a part of in the earlier years of his diving career. That seemed a long time ago, now.

After Bron finished addressing the crowd, and the assembled divers in the tavern began speaking amongst themselves once more, Evander finally found himself and Solia with some degree of privacy. He took a few seconds to say anything, noticing that Solia had returned to her previous position - head down, and hood hiding most of her facial features. He wasn't quite sure where to go from here - and it was clear that she wasn't either. Should he ask her what he had planned to only moments ago? Suddenly, it did not feel like quite the time.


Evander allowed for a break after the first word - deciding finally in his mind whether to continue where they left off, or to begin anew.

Lifting his tone with a hint of enthusiasm for the adventure that lay ahead, Evander broke their silence. "... Well, I don't know about you, but I haven't gone on an expedition in years. I can dive, and I've done it before, though it may take me a while to get back into it. Whatever we decide to do, dive or climb, I'll follow your lead." He left a slight pause, before adding, "I trust your judgement."

He wasn't quite sure where they stood, or indeed even what she was, but if there was one thing Evander had trusted throughout his life, it was his gut. And it told him that he'd found a partner.

Windward Island
Port Harbor, the Sunken Shepherd
@Mcmolly @DruSM157

Evander had known something was off about Solia - but he would be lying to say he was not taken aback by the handshake. Her touch was cold and stiff, as if the warmth of life had been removed from her. He did what he could to mask his surprise at the touch of her hand, but his eyebrows raised immediately. Yet he did not jerk his hand back, for while her hand felt almost entirely alien, he did not feel a reason to be alarmed. No, this was someone who had offered him all promise of their own reward to have him help a small and insignificant island in the Southern Sea.

He held the handshake for a few seconds longer than might have been customary, matching the sensation of her touch to the appearance of her face, now that he had gotten a proper look.

She appeared... frozen. As if her face was locked permanently to one position. Yet while everything about her seemed eerily lifeless and unnatural, her eyes of a brilliant blue were entirely human. Gazing into the eyes of one another, in total silence, he could see her nerves. He was witnessing her humanity - despite all indications that she was something else entirely, something inhuman.

Evander parted his lips only a small way, intending to speak but finding himself unable to summon the power of his own voice. After a few seconds more of the disconcerting silence, he found the words he needed. "What are y-.."

"You--" thundered a powerful voice from behind Evander, visbily startling him as his shoulders jumped in surprise while his head spun to meet the man who had approached them. Quickly recognising the man as Chief Talu, it took Evander longer than he would have liked to compose himself as he remained fixed on the question of what exactly Solia was.

"Oh, I-..I've-.. I did, though yes, he has the harpoon."

Solia and Evander had been interrupted, and while Evander wanted to, at the very least, reassure her that he was still comfortable to work alongside her, he had become acutely aware from her reaction that her story was not one she was happy to share with the entire village. Not yet, anyway. Thus, Evander took the route of conveying this message through his conversation with Chief Talu.

"This is my new partner", he interjected before Solia had a chance to respond to the question put by Chief Talu. "We were both planning on investigating, as a matter of fact."

Windward Island
Port Harbor, the Sunken Shepherd

Having become conscious of his staring, Evander lifted his arms from the table and took something of a more casual position, resting them against his lap. There was something different about her, of that much he was sure, though he couldn't quite get a proper look and dared not to continue invading the poor girls privacy.

"Aye, a pleasure, Solia."

He was barely able to conceal his muffled laugh as she stumbled over her choice of words, though he found no issue with her original statement. It was true - the Frozen Sea was home to harsh waters and even harsher lands. Naturally, it created a hardened people that had acquired a reputation for being stony and rugged, matching the landscape in which they were raised. "I understood what you meant, and you've heard right. It's a harsh place, though I like to think you'll find that those from the region can be quite hospitable." He bowed his head ever-so-slightly as he concluded his remarks, with a gentle smile.

Evander did not have to think much of her offer. In truth, he'd been considering his current role as helmsman for some months now, never quite being comfortable sailing the ship of a merchant taking advantage of the more gullible in society. While he had tried to comfort himself with the fact that he merely sailed the ship, it was equally true that he could have found another job sailing the ship of a simple cargo-transport long ago. Deep down, however, Evander knew he sought something more than to live a mundane life. Perhaps it was why he had remained with Reballo for so long, as they were frequently weathering rough oceans in pursuit of rarer artifacts to be sold. To guide others through tough conditions in pursuit of a nobler goal, then, was the opportunity he had been waiting for.

Nodding his head firmly, he extended his hand toward Solia in a customary handshake to seal the deal, "We have an agreement, partner."

Windward Island
Port Harbor, the Sunken Shepherd

A small laugh escaped his lips as Solia questioned whether he disapproved of her request, "I wouldn't worry, I'm from the frozen sea. We built a way of life around the idea of being forward." He waited a second before continuing, considering her praise. "I can steer a ship well enough. Which, I suppose could come in useful if you lot are determined to investigate that storm."

He considered her next words carefully, however, for they revealed much about the person he was speaking with. Selfless, caring, and somewhat uncertain. She couldn't possibly be a diver, he thought, she was far too well-meaning. The divers he had encountered were so often in it only for themselves, at the end of the day. Concerned only with their drive and hope for personal glory and wealth. Then again, he was a diver too, though he hadn't taken a contract in years. Evander had never found himself particularly bothered by the promises of wealth and artifacts that accompanied each one. Above all else, he sought honest work.

Evander sat forward somewhat, intrigued. Resting a hand on the underside of the seat, he shuffled his chair closer to the table without standing. He studied the figure opposite him from this new angle, having become particularly interested in the mystery that surrounded her. Why was she not with the divers? Where had she come from? Was she really so generous? For what did she require bandages? Many such thoughts whizzed through his mind, though he felt that bombarding her with so many questions would not be appreciated.

"I'm Evander, by the way, and I don't really consider Reballo a captain so much as a..." He quietened the words that followed, though remarked something along the lines of instead considering him to be a conman. Changing the subject, he leaned against the back of his chair.

"That's awfully generous of you, though. Not many would be so... selfless." He wagged his finger toward her gently, holding a slight smirk as he continued, "I'm going to wager you're not a diver."

Evander couldn't help but lean forward once again and fold his arms atop the table, visibly displaying his interest at the answer which would follow. "But if I'm right, and you're not a diver, then what? It's not often you'll find do-gooders roaming the seas these days."
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