((This is a work in progress, but I'm plopping it here so that I will continue to work on it and feel a great shame each time I look at the forum and see that I haven't finished it.))
The bottom lip of the sun was just beginning to dip below the tree line. The sky that was a clear, bright blue only minutes ago was now tinted in a multitude of colors – the patches of atmosphere in the east grew darker, while the sky closest to the sun changed to hues of gold, pink, and orange. With every minute that the sun sank, Kelimare's excitement amplified. Her nerves lit up with such fever she could hardly contain it. The world around her was beautiful, truly beautiful, from the beetles and ants that climbed the crook of the tree she squatted in, to the flowers that blossomed on the ground, delighting her with their soft petals and sweet fragrance. A light wind blew across her, relieving her from the heat of the evening. She watched as green leaves around her kept a strong hold on their branches in the breeze, and the little pink buds doing the same – they wouldn't be there for much longer, as autumn soon approached – but mostly she stared at the sky, at the glorious light.
"It's time," said a gruff voice behind her.
There was a scream nearby, and it had to be a damned loud one to stand out for Kelimare, considering the surrounding racket. The air was alive with explosions, of cannon fire ripping through the air, and the sound of it hitting people. That was the surprising thing to Kelimare; that distinctive sound, that splutch noise as the pulse blasts cut through skin and muscle and bone and just ripped people apart with such ferocity that —when enough blasts hit home— they were scarcely recognizable as people anymore. Instead they were just sacks of meat that had once had hopes and dreams and aspirations, but now were useless for anything except as food for the packs of stray worgs that occasionally wandered the forests. The blasts made completely different sounds when they ricocheted off the armor of the soldiers as they fired away at each other without the slightest regard for who was in between them.
"That’s what this was all about, for fuck’s sake. This was all about protecting people from exactly this. This is just ironic, is what this is. Ironic. Or maybe just crap luck," she thought to herself. Then turning around, she looked the figure in its eyes. "I'm ready. Let's go."
They traveled along a clay packed path covered with pine needles fallen from the forest as it lead down to the water. A large ship was anchored in the distance, its sails marked with symbols she had not seen in quite a while: an odd amalgamation of a downturned letter "u", the edges flared with jutting ridges, and a diamond shape at the center, almost as a foreboding eye.
There would be no talking now, only walking hurriedly and occasionally making gestures to communicate. Any chance of being spotted now would surely lead to more trouble than she was already risking. There was no pretense of kindness or charity in her being led to the ship; Kelimare would be working for her enemy to escape her other enemies.
It could be worse. In fact, it had been worse. She had been under the care of the Gilneas Liberation Front after she was cursed, after she saw her mother and father burned alive, after she had lain by a small brook in the woods for weeks waiting to die from the effects of this involuntary mutation, after - everything.
As they reached the shore it was then nautical twilight, with the horizon still faintly visible. She looked for a small rowboat to take her to the vessel and upon seeing none, motioned to her escort. He shook his head and shrugged, and then made large determined pointing motions at the ship, and then swung his arms above his head. She was unsure whether he wanted her to swim or drown. In this case, it was likely both.
Kelimare Howard sighed and stopped herself shortly before a growl of frustration rose up from inside her. There was no sense in halting her progress due to inconvenience, she remembered. With no boat to take her to the ship, she would have to abandon anything she couldn't reasonably swim with. And upon realizing that, she removed her boots and then rummaged through a cloth rucksack, pulling out scraps of paper with what were upon inspection unreadable garbage, a small doll with a porcelain face and body stuffed with moss that she had made and named Lillian, and then several bottles containing liquor or potions or moisturizer for her face. She handed it all to her escort, certain she would never see any of it again. And with that, she waded into the water until it was waist deep and then dipped under its surface, swimming as her body gently brushed along the soft sand and the water became deeper.
She made her way to the hull of the ship and slapped it hard, hoping someone would notice her in the water. Moments later a rope ladder was ruffled down to her and she climbed it to the deck, her silk robe clinging tightly to her and revealing her form for all of these... goblins? She huffed to herself and then resolved to ignore the beady eyes staring at her while she walked to the vessel's bridge to find her next contact.
Dizzy Swiftcoin approached Kelimare before she made it to the top step of the bridge, and pushed a small foot into her thigh. "Yeah, stop right there sweet cheeks," the diminutive leader ordered.
Kelimare was only slightly stunned. She had been ordered around by people with no real authority for quite a while and relented to play along with their games in order to make it to the next step of whatever the hell her journey is now. But what stunned her was the such a strong push came from the foot of her contact. It was highly unnecessary, she thought to herself, after all, she was a reasonable person who wasn't there to make anymore enemies. "Okay! I'm stopped! And now that we've gotten that bit of rudeness out of the way, I'll assume you know why I'm here."
"Right," said Dizzy as she removed her foot from pushing on Kelimare. "Follow me, sweetie. I have a few forms for you to fill out, and then there's the delousing, getting you a uniform, and then the drinking." Dizzy eyed her up and down. "You do like drinking, I hope? It's the only way you're going to get your sea legs at this rate."
"Hold up! Delousing? Just why in the world would you assume I need that?"
Dizzy's eyes glinted with a mischievous wink. "I know of you and your breed, Miss Howard. Eventually you all get wild and furry and snap and howl at my crew, and that's when the fleas pop off your backs and create havoc for me. So yes, a delousing is mandatory."
Kelimare gritted her teeth at the situation. She was cautious, conscientious even, to maintain her human form as much as possible. In the prisoner camps when the cursed would transform they were met with resistance and punishment and she was determined to avoid it as much as possible. There was no convincing a complete stranger that she would be the most gentle, most polite, most congenial worgen one could ever meet, though.
"Follow me, cutie!" Dizzy marched down the steps and Kelimare followed until eventually they reached the captain's cabin. Once inside, Dizzy shut and locked the door behind her and then grinned broadly at Kelimare. "Now that that's out of the way, let's get you set up." She walked towards a small trunk and opened it, revealing human sized clothing of all types and a few bottles of a shimmery purple liquid. "I hope you like bubble baths. It's so much easier to fill a tub with hot water than to constantly pull a rope and get dunked with cold sea water."
Relief and surprise overwhelmed Kelimare. She hoped this was not another trick. It was probably another trick.