Vulpine Imperium

Submission Gallery

An Exchange of Information

By Karath Nikolas
((Just a little thing, a prelude to the events of a ship thread))

Karath stood at the edge of the water, staring at the stars reflected in it. His mind no longer raced, though he attributed that to the deep tiredness that was spreading through his limbs, and now it would seem his mind. His footpaw hurt. He pondered giving it a dip in the water, but hesitated as he realised how much he would have to move his rended shoulder to attempt such a thing. He sighed. He would have to return to his bunk sooner or later. He had no business still being awake after all that had happened. He’d pay for it in the morning.

Really, beasts probably understood why he had done what he had to Claidhare. Jamal had probably told them about the slavers by now. But he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He didn’t understand why he had done it, and now he had failed to find any trace of the beasts who had taken Tophin, perhaps even Kaden.

He lacked the energy to even give a start as a dark shape approached him. It was just Edan, perhaps out for a drink. He pondered asking the beast for a swig of whatever was in his flask, but he held off. That wouldn’t solve any problems. Just delay them further.

“Hey. What’re you doing out here? Is the crew alright?”

"Hmm?" Edan smirked. Bags accompanied his reddened eyes, the fox stumbling left and right as he approached Karath. After almost collapsing into the water, he tapped Karath on the arm, an empty bottle dangling loosely from his paws. "Ah, y'know, jes' walking aroun'. As fer the crew, they're fine. Claid'are wuz Claid'are. Ya' overreacted bu' no ones gonna turn ya' in. Eye fer an eye so to speak."

Question is: what're you doing out here moping? My friend and a young lass are in danger -- and you can do something about it.

"S'ppose I should ask whut're you doin' out 'ere, huh?" Edan held up the bottle upside down, watching as a single drop escaped the glass prison. He could always drink from his flask, but his mind drunkenly wandered to his next statement. "'aven't gotten t'talk much, First Mate."

”No, I suppose we haven’t.”

Karath looked over at the drunk beast. It would be so easy to fall into such a thing… As easy as taking the cork from a bottle.

“I ah… I got messed up pretty bad in a fight earlier… I might have uh, saved the Minister too. I don’t know. Guard medic stuck me with something, I was out for a few hours. I was going to go searching around for Kaden and Tophin, but after a bit I… Found my way into a bar. Not even sure if I can get down the ladder to my cabin with my paw like this.”

Edan snickered. Lightweight.

"Sounds to meh like ya 'ad yerself quite the night. Shouldn't drink, y'know," Edan chucked his empty bottle out to sea and grabbed his flask from his coat pocket. Taking a long swig, teetered slightly. "Mmm, yes, terrible 'abit."

“Heh, that it is. But I never said I went drinking. Met a couple beasts there who uh, managed to talk some sense into me. Heh. For what that’s worth. No, I’m not drunk. I’m about to fall over because my foot feels like it’s on fire.”

He paused, glancing at the bottle as it floated off into the harbor.

“I hope I can find them tomorrow… If I can even walk.”

"Ah," Edan returned dryly. He sighed. Well, at least that meant if he told Karath his information he'd actually do something. "Y'know, they might not be far. Word 'round the Bilge is The Grey Sky 'as been posin' as a merchant ship 'n crashed onto a very small desolate piece of land 'cause of a storm. A random ship picked up some slaves off tha' wannabe, isle. Fact, one of the to-be slaves was in the Bilge. Talked 'bout a weasel standin' up to the crew -- sounds like Mr. Winder to me."

Karath raised an eyebrow, opened his mouth to speak, then closed it again. Could this beast really have given him the information he needed? Hope rose up within him. Now there was a chance.

“Any idea where this island is?”

"Dunno. Stupid sod stole my thunder at the bilge -- was gettin' to the bes' part, too. Said it couldn't be more than a day away -- if tha' 'elps."

A small, slightly reckless grin spread across Karath’s face. Less than a day away. He could almost smell the ocean spray as the Blackship departed.

“Thanks, Bridg-“

Oh ‘Gates.

Edan cocked his head to the side.


"Wha'..." he paused, looking from his flask to Karath. He squinted, staring into Karath's sober gaze with drunken fury. "Wai' wha' didja call me?"

Karath sighed. It was as good a time to talk to the beast as any.

“You can try to hide behind the flames you brought upon yourself. But you can’t escape like that. You can’t simply hide behind a false name, a façade of a different beast. Sooner or later, it’s going to crumble like dust. Just trust me there, mate.”

Karath was angry, but his words were more those of disappointment in a friend. He didn’t expect Bridger to understand in his drunken state. He simply intended to plant an idea in the fox’s head. Perhaps, if he was ever sober, he might find himself pondering the words. No matter if Karath took a poorly aimed paw swipe to the face. It couldn’t feel worse than his shoulder.

“That ear isn’t going to grow back. What’ve you gained?”

'Gates, ya bes' keep yer mouth shut...

Only in his mind did the Edan ruse continue. When he opened his mouth, it was Bridger speaking, despite the drunkenness that accompanied it.

Not to mention that punch across Karath's face that served as a prologue to his response.

"You shut your mouth!" Bridger snarled, only pausing to grab his paw in pain, unaccustomed to punching a beast. "'Gates! It hurts ... Gah, listen to me!"

He pointed at Karath angrily.

"I've gained nothing for myself, but I gave the gift of safety to my sister 'n the beasts I care about! I have nothing left but them. Alec took everything from me, but I took the very last thing he had left: purpose. Without me to kill he was merely a lost soul! Am I happy doing this? No! But it's all that was left for me ... 'N honestly, I could care 'less 'bout my ear, Karath ... I just ... I ..." He stopped, shaking his head in shame.

Karath shook his head, a small bit of blood dripping from his nose. He’d expected it. But it had confirmed one thing: Bridger was listening. That was a start.

“You can right this, you know that. Kill Alec. Put an end to your sister’s grief while you still have the chance, while Bridger is still alive. Don’t let Alec be the beast to end you.”

With that, Karath casually wiped the blood from his nose. A wall of fatigue crashed over him like a wave, and for a moment he thought he might pass out. He began to walk back to the ship, wincing with every step. A limp, he thought, a tired smirk forming on his face. That was how he had known.