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Irving simply smiled and continued eating as he watched the man’s infuriated expression. What was he going to do? Rat him out to his parental figures- Oh fuck. Yes, he was. Hearing what this man had to say to their adopted son was troubling to say the least of it. When the man moved to a more “private” location, Irving followed with two very confused pirates. Their Irving had someone beat up? What was going on? “What exactly did he do to you to warrant that Irving?” They asked softly. The teen shrugged. “He threatened me.” That had them scowling and on the defensive. Yes, there would be questions later about just what he was doing around this man in the first place, but sometimes they just assumed that it was something… Private. Irving was a healthy lad after all.
[#b867f9 “Witchcraft? Are you off your rocker?”] Irving scowled at the man. From his expression it was clear that he was [i very] offended at the accusation. [#b867f9 “If I were capable of that, I would have made you put me down.”] The men accompanying him shared a look. Irving’s voice trick hadn’t worked on the man? That would make sense why he was assuming it was witchcraft. It very much seemed like it was to the uninitiated. [#b867f9 “Besides, I gave you plenty of warning, but you decided to be a giant dick arse.”] Irving made a face. [#b867f9 “So don’t act as if you didn’t deserve it.”] Now that he wasn’t hanging from one of those strong hands, Irving’s sass was back in full effect. In a crowd this large, if anything happened, this man would likely have to fight his way back to his ship and get out of the harbor before he was hunted down. As amusing as it would be to watch, his crew probably wouldn’t enjoy the scrutiny. The security in Flet Shary was rather lax, not that the man knew much about it, given that it was originally founded by retired pirates. Some rich sods had moved in eventually and made the town more “respectable’ and less friendly towards pirates. Still, to certain bands it was a friendly town. Something about pirates from different countries being “real” pirates and pirates from that particular country being “adventurers.” If he was going to be honest it all went over Irving’s head. All he knew was that his family wouldn’t be chased out without doing something really bad, but this man and his crew would be chased down with impunity.
[#b867f9 “Oh, no. I’m not here, don’t mind me. I don’t require a formal introduction Mr. Dickhead.”] Irving grumbled and finished off his food. Given that the man only cared about accusing him of witchcraft, he wasn’t in a great mood. His caretakers eyed him cautiously before responding to the man. “Best not to say that here. Foreigners that come here with that claim aren’t welcomed too warmly. Stick to mercenary. I’m Bastien and this is Jerome.” The taller of the two said with a nod to the man next to him. “I don’t know why he did what he did, but our boy here wouldn’t do something like that without a good reason. He has a knack for convincing people to help him when he feels threatened. No witchcraft, like he said.” At that Irving let out a harsh laugh. [#b867f9 “Oh, I would say that I felt threatened. Sure, I was peeking up over the side of your boat, but that hardly warrants being picked up like a limp kitten and then being threatened needlessly.”]
Irving considered Harley quietly. Neither he nor his caretakers had bothered to introduce him, and he didn’t plan to. Why would he want him knowing his name at this particular moment? This meeting had taken a turn for the annoying. [#b867f9 “Look, as fun as watching your crew immediately stop what they were doing to help me was, I can’t help but wonder just how much they like you. They were clearly eager to give you a beating otherwise they wouldn’t have rushed to my aid so quickly, wouldn’t you say Harley?”] Beside him Bastien sucked in a breath. His sweet little Irving really was pissed at this man. That was a new one… Normally Irving liked everyone- especially strange men like this guy.
Harley would have liked to say he had more restraint but the minute he heard the kid's voice behind him, he swiveled around at neck-breaking speeds. Joined with him were two other men, looking significantly older than the kid. [#4682B4 "Yeah, missed you so [i damn] much,"] he gritted through his teeth. He didn't want to make that big of a scene in public, and [i yes] he could probably take both of the men and the kid, but it would attract authority attention.
So he lowered his voice so only they could hear. [#4682B4 "I don't know what you did to my men to make them attack me all of a sudden but its taking every fiber of my being to control myself here. I've been looking for an explanation since you jumped off my ship and here you are, so I'd very much like one."]
Harley moved out of the crowd - which was becoming more and more wild and crowded as more came up to shop - so that they could talk in private. Less chance of authorities getting suspicious that they were just standing there blocking traffic. He motioned for the kid and his lackeys to follow. [#4682B4 "So, is it witchcraft? A spell you cast without me noticing?"] Harley leaned against the wall, frustration showing on his brow, before asking another question. [#4682B4 "And why not just cast it on me and make me back off?"] He had inadvertently upset the kid, probably because of his general attitude that showed. Which made him remember that he hadn't even introduced himself. Did he need to? Wasn't it dangerous if they alerted the authorities to a group of pirates' presence in town?
[#4682B4 "The name's Harley, I own a ship and have a crew of mercenaries...pirates if you want to be frank about it,"] he introduced himself to the other two men. [#4682B4 "He,"] he murmured, eyeing the kid, [#4682B4 "Somehow managed to get on my ship yesterday and ordered my men to attack me. I guess I pissed him off. Regardless, after beating the shit out of my crew, I noticed a bit of a glaze over their eyes, a sure sign of hypnosis, or magic."]
The rest of Irving’s birthday was unremarkable. Getting the handsome man beaten up had been the most interesting part of it. He would feel bad about it, but the man had been threatening him. It was self defense and really, he hadn’t touched him. The man had no proof that he had anything to do with what had happened. After he’d gotten back to the ship, he stayed up with a couple of crewmembers to chat before heading to bed.
The next day he idly worked his way down his list of chores before his captain approached him. [b “Care to explain why a mercenary is looking for a boy that matches your description?”] Irving stared at his caretaker for a long while in confusion. A mercenary, looking for him? Diego wouldn’t be back for another two months- Oh, wait. Irving grinned in response. “No reason~” The man wasn’t convinced, but Irving wasn’t going to give up more than that. He began doing his chores more cheerfully to get them all out of the way so that he’d be free to go out shopping with two of the senior crew members. If the pretty man was looking for him, it was better to go in numbers, right?
The strange man that was immune to his voice. Irving had to admit that he was very curious about him. Apparently, the man had gone out in the middle of the night, asking anyone that would listen to him. How interesting. It looked as if he had seen him flip him off afterwards. Irving had to do his best to hold in his grin; failing about half way so he was stuck with a bit of a smug smile as they travelled around town. There were the usual errands that they ran without incident. With Irving with them, his caretakers received a very nice deal as usual. This meant more money to spend on other things. Other things like street food.
The three of them found their favorite vendor and chatted while their food was prepared. Apparently, a strange man with an eyepatch had asked him about a young man that was similar in description to Irving had just passed by- but oh of course I didn’t tell him that I knew you. A man like that was trouble. Irving merely smiled and nodded in response. Oh ho~ Sounded like his friend really was determined. After receiving their food, the vendor pointed out where the man had gone and, of course, Irving asked if they could check the guy out to see what was going on. It took a little convincing on his part, but the men finally agreed to check it out. See who was interested in finding their Irving.
The man was tall, so it wasn’t difficult to find him in the crowd. All they had to do was follow him at a distance for a while until he stopped at a vendor. After a little deliberation, the trio approached him. Irving didn’t bother hiding his grin as he addressed the man. It was him after all. [#b867f9 “Hey hot stuff, missed me that much did you?”]
To say he was surprised when the first punch came would be an understatement. In fact, he was pretty sure that he was furious. So furious that he dropped the kid and immediately threw a punch of his own. But when a third of his own crew was teaming up on him so suddenly, he couldn't help but feel a little bit touched. After all, he had fought them all once at some point .
He started trying to talk them down from their sudden rage, dodging one punch after another but not quite getting away pain free as kicks raided his knees and legs. [i Bruises to take care of later,] he thought as he took one down with a swift kick to the back of the legs. And he got a scratch to the face. Which, unfortunately for the crew, was personal.
Harley had no trouble laying him on his ass just seconds after.
And he was breathing heavily, out of anger, regret. Just what did that kid do to his crew? Because the glaze in their eyes said that they weren't even listening to him, but their reaction time to his actions said that they were paying attention. More attention, at least.
[i 'No matter,'] he thought, as the last one collapsed back on another. They seemed to come to just minutes after. Of course, there was confusion. And complaints. Why did their asses hurt? Their faces? Their arms and legs?
[#4682B4 "Its cause I beat the shit out of all of you,"] he explained. And he explained what happened - as though a spell took them over - "But why weren't you affected, Captain?" to which he could only reply that he didn't know with a unamused shrug. If his frown could go deeper it would.
As non-trying as this experience was, he wanted to find the kid and wring his neck out. Before the spell happened, Harley was positive he heard the kid say finding a way around was easy. [i 'With the right help.']
"Boss, you want me to come with? What if it's...a witch?"
[#4682B4 "I doubt that. No, you'll stay here and guard the ship, cry over your bruises if it suits you."]
Harley was already walking off the ship. He'd have to wander around for a while asking around, he was sure. Maybe gossip that a pirate was searching for a kid would travel fast. So that's what he did, from marketer to doctor, Harley asked everyone as angrily as he could without causing a problem, grabbing a few things as he went. Mapping the place out in his head. It wouldn't be hard to steal from here, he decided, but that was business for later.
Looked like he wasn't going to let him go. Irving was going to have to be content to hang around for a bit. At least the man was fun to look at. [#b867f9 "Yeah... Can't have that."] He attempted a nervous smile. If his crew caught wind of this he could force them to attack him. That wasn't something he wanted to do unless he absolutely had too. The man seemed reasonable though... Or at least he wasn't going to string him up.
[#b867f9 "That makes sense."] They weren't always in the port, but over the years they had seen many, many ships. There were some familiar ones, crews that considered Flet Shary home as well. Since he had pretty much spent his entire life here, he could pick out the strange vessels easily. No need to tell this man that though. Right now it seemed like he thought that he was just some stupid kid that had snuck onto the boat; not a pirate.
[#b867f9 "Is that all? I can do that. Flet Shary is pretty friendly if you know who to talk to."] Especially for him. His voice apparently didn't work on this man, but on everyone else it made them pliable and willing to do anything he asked of them. An irritated look flashed into his eyes when it became apparent that he intended to coerce him into helping him. [#b867f9 "Look, I was going to help you before you decided to be an arse."] He said tersely. Yeah, the man was pretty, but he wasn't going to stand for being talked to like that. [#b867f9 "I could make it very, very difficult for you to buy anything here handsome. Hell, I could make your life difficult in general."] He gave him a predatory smile. [#b867f9 "I won't do that if you play nice and let me down."] He stared at Harley evenly for a few beats and it seemed like the man was trying to call his bluff.
Irving sighed. Can't say he didn't warn him. Lord, it had been a long time since he raised his voice. He cleared his throat and smiled at Harley for a moment before he let out an ear piercing shriek. [#b867f9 "HELP! SOMEONE HELP ME!"] His voice became desperate as he screamed for help. So what if Harley wasn't affected by his voice? The remaining crew members would be. [#b867f9 "Really, it's a shame things had to be this way."] he told him softly. Even as he spoke pure chaos was spurred into action behind them as the crew members that had remained aboard sprung into action. [#b867f9 "Please! Help me! Tie him up!"] The triumphant smirk became a simpering expression of helplessness as the first crew member approached.
There was a glazed look in his eyes that suggested he might not be all there, but at first glance it wouldn't be obvious. What was obvious was that the man was headed straight for his captain, and the others were following close behind. Harley, in complete and utter shock, let go of Irving just as they attacked. As he picked himself up, he became acutely aware of just how fucked the captain was now. [#b867f9 "Don't kill him lads, he's too pretty to die."] Irving flashed an angelic smile in Harley's direction and climbed up onto the railing. [#b867f9 "Just teach him some manners."] With that he flipped Harley off with a look that spoke volumes about how he felt about being threatened and then jumped off into the dark water below.
Well... That certainly wasn't how he thought that would turn out. As birthdays went it certainly wasn't boring.
[i Oh, this kid is gay,] he thought, eyes shutting as he felt an oncoming headache inching in. A kid had snuck onto his ship, planning God only knows what, and then stopped everything to gaze at him. Was there an ulterior motive, or was the kid actually being truthful? Harley didn't know, but he couldn't keep him here regardless. This was a working business and kids weren't part of it. [#4682B4 "You're right, you have to go, but you're not walking off alone. Can't imagine what'd happen to you if my crew caught whiff of you."]
Luckily, Harley's crew was busy scrambling around having a good time, so it wasn't difficult just to walk the kid off the ship and onto land. [#4682B4 "You haven't seen us around before because we've never visited this place,"] he grimaced. And as unfortunate as it was, he'd have to wander around the town to get the supplies he needed.
And to do that, he'd need help.
[#4682B4 "Alright, kid. Before you scamper off to do God knows what else, I need your help. I have to get these supplies before my crew and I leave, would you mind helping me out finding these places?"]
Harely held out the list of bulk he needed, varying from thing to thing. Perhaps some of the stuff they didn't need, but they sure [i wanted] it, so Harley was going to oblige and get it. [#4682B4 "I mean, the least you could do for sneaking onto my ship, isn't it?"] he put his face in close to the kid's, whispering into his ear. It wasn't a threat, however, it was a suggestion.
Pulling away, [#4682B4 "The name's Harley, great to meet ya, kid,"] voice laced with sickeningly thick sweetness, as though nothing had happened. As though he hadn't given an almost threat to some poor curious kid. Years of betrayal did that to him, he guessed. Nothing he couldn't apologize later for, if he had to. It was likely he wouldn't see the kid again.
Didn't mean he couldn't squeeze out some information from him. Like...the layout of the town. The weak spots of the town. Where were the guards? Where weren't they? This was to come in time, so Harley made a mental note, planning on being exact in his timing.
Oh. There's the guard. Oh boy, he was strong- and prettier up close. Wide, violet eyes stared at him blankly as he tried to process what had just happened. He hadn't thought that anyone had noticed him climbing up the ship, and it turned out that he was wrong. Just how much had this man seen? Judging from what he was asked: not a lot. That was good. Irving would just play dumb if he asked how he got out to the ship without a boat. Right now he had to worry about talking to the man. As he'd gotten older, his voice had become more... Potent. It was to the point where he didn't even talk much back on his own ship because some of the more "promiscuous" or weak willed crew were so distracted by it. It was disheartening, but he'd live. Those were men that he'd known all his life and if they were that distracted by his voice, he could only imagine what it would do to this poor-
He had to stop himself from smiling. [#b867f9 "I'm not important."] The teen replied softly. Getting found out by the other crew members wouldn't be ideal at this point. Besides, the man still hadn't let him go. If his voice didn't work its magic soon, he'd been in a world of trouble. His caretakers wouldn't let him leave the boat anymore. [#b867f9 "I just..."] He stopped and looked at the man when the realization. Had he said [i "My boat?"] Oh shit. This was the captain. All of the sudden a great ton of pressure seemed to mount upon him. [#b867f9 "Was curious..? How about you let me go and I'll be on my way."] Irving flashed him a nervous smile while his heart thundered in his chest. The man's expression hadn't changed much. His eye wasn't getting misty and he wasn't getting that sappy expression. If anything he looked grumpier. What the...
The merman's smile faded and was replaced by a confused frown. Odd. Even if he was speaking quietly, this level was usually enough to put most people into at least something of a daze that made them more pliable and easy to work with. Hell, that was why he was usually brought on shopping trips to make the deals go in their favor. He didn't try and wriggle out of the man's grip, he just stared into that devastatingly beautiful face and tried to figure out just what was going on. [#b867f9 "I'm really not trying to do anything to sabotage you. I just..."] Irving fidgeted. This was so embarrassing. [#b867f9 "I saw you and I wanted to get a closer look. You guys are new to the harbor and I've never seen your boat before. I got curious."] The boy shrugged and continued to watch the man. [#b867f9 "All right... So I wasn't interested in the boat."] Irving admitted with a sigh. Something about this man was just too intimidating to come up with a lie. Honestly he was just hoping that if he kept talking to him that his voice would finally have an effect with him and he'd be able to escape.
[#b867f9 "I mean, I was at first. I just wanted to get a look and then continue on with my look, but then I saw you and I..."] A soft blush rose in his cheeks. [#b867f9 "I really, really should go now. Preferably right now."] Before he went and spilled all of his guts to this man and made him think he was just flattering him to get free.
Harley remembered a lot of things. He remembered his brother dying for seemingly no reason - as his father described it 'it was his time to go' - and then his sister going for the exact same reason. He was lucky that he figured out what was going on before he and his mother suffered the same fate. The same mother who, after he had disposed of his father in a fit of rage, admitted to turning a blind eye to the murders. He, of course, remembered her taking his eye before he killed her. And all of that, in the end, had been for money. Claims to their lives, wasted.
They had asked if he wanted the money for the brutal attack on the family, thinking it had been a...robbery gone wrong. He accepted the money, and took it to skip the town he was living in and then make a living bounty hunting. Vigilante business on the side? It was nothing special. The best part of it was taking over a pirate ship, and being top boss as though it had been his to start with. Nobody stood up to him save maybe a few, but after a quick talk-down, they stood for him.
Now, docked at Flet Shary, he was trying to figure out what they needed while his crew partied at nearby bars and taverns. A checklist in hand, a few of his crew stayed behind to help him count rations. Joking around, one of the crew slapped him on the shoulder, "You sure we don't need any more beer, Boss?"
He smiled back, nodding a few times before crossing beer off the list, [#4682B4 "If only I could order a few cases of sobriety for you lot."] He wrote water in its place. It was as close as he'd get. He would have to stop for repairs on his sword but he had no jobs as of late. That could wait. Wandering aimlessly for months was part of the job.
He leaned against the railing of the ship, mulling over what else they might need. Food, check. Water, check. Beer, add a few check marks there. He glanced to his side, at the water just below them. It wasn't that big of a difference, but the water had been disturbed. He moved away from the edge and around a corner where the captain's quarters were. All he had to do now was wait, and behold! A small man climbing up the side, peeking over the edge of the ship. How had nobody but him noticed?
The question was now, did he confront him? Well, of course he should before another of the crew did. He quickly rounded the corner and grabbed this would-be stalker off the edge of the ship and onto the deck out of sight of the others. [#4682B4 "Who are you?"] he whispered, [#4682B4 "and [i why] are you climbing up the side of my ship?"]
It had been about seventeen years since his “parents” had found him. Found being the loosest term for it. What had actually happened, that they had managed to tell him through uncharacteristic weeping and solemnity, was that they had heard that a mermaid had a treasure that she was fiercely protecting and only the bravest crew could vanquish her. So, the band had weighed anchor and departed from their main port in Shuowana and set out to hunt down this legendary beast. They soon found her with the chest that the stories had all mentioned. The mermaid fought them until the bitter end. Once they obtained the chest they looked inside and found not gold and coin as they had hoped- or even spices or other such luxuries. What they had found inside that chest was a baby merfolk wearing a strange amulet; more specifically baby Irving. Wracked with guilt the pirates took in the infant and swore to bring him up to be strong like his mother had been.
It wasn’t long after they had taken the infant in, that they became aware of what the amulet did. Once he was out of the water, he had two legs like a human would and once he was once again submerged in water, his fins returned. This made raising the child much easier. They were able to pretend that he was human- at least most of the time. His voice had a mesmerizing quality to it which meant that they had to teach him to be quiet around strangers that weren’t used to his voice and he was not, under no circumstances, to sing. Ever. And as much as the boy longed to sing, he obeyed. After hearing what his beloved caretakers had been willing to do to his mother, he understood that humans were very dangerous. Even so, he did like to sneak off the boat to go swimming from time to time. He was part fish, it was literally in his blood. Keeping him out of the water was going against his nature. His caretakers knew this, so perhaps that was why they turned a blind eye to his nightly excursions. Tonight, however, they encouraged him to go out and do whatever he wanted- within reason and nothing too dangerous Irving- for his eighteenth birthday.
After pocketing the money that they had given him and holding a small celebration with them, he dove off the bow of the boat and into the waiting sea. As always there was a dizzying moment as everything changed around to let him breath. After so many years of swimming he was used to it, so the sensation that used to take a minute to shake off was shaken in mere seconds and he was off. Irving wasn’t sure where he was going to go this time, but decided not to worry too much about it. He’d let the crew worry for him. Despite having killed his mother in cold blood, they really were like family to him. Sure, he had been horrified to learn what they had done, but he could also see the genuine remorse in their eyes when they talked about what had happened and occasionally when they thought he wasn’t looking. Murderers or no, they were his family. Family worried about family, right?
Irving shook off these thoughts and lazily swam around the harbor. No thoughts of family right now. It was just him and the ocean. Maaaybe he’d go out and sing something? Really push the limitations that had been set upon him? Or he could go and check out the new boats that had sailed in. It was still too early in the evening to attempt something like that. With that settled in his mind he swam lower and weaved lazily through the anchors until he reached a spot that had been previously unoccupied. [#b867f9 ‘Hm…’] He skirted around the ship and found a spot where he could surface without being spotted. There really wasn’t much activity on deck- which wasn’t that surprising. The real action was in the tavern. Usually only a guard or two were left behind to watch the ship. Speaking of guards… Irving slunk back closer to the ship, so he was more obscured. [#b867f9 “..!”] He gasped softly. That was a beautiful guard. Irving watched the man for a bit longer before sinking beneath the water. This man warranted a closer look. He swam over to the anchor and started climbing the chain slowly. It would be difficult at first with his very long, very heavy tail, but once his fins were out of the water he’d be able to use his feet to get the rest of the way up. It wasn’t as if he’d never made a climb like this before. It was slow work, but eventually the last of his fins were out of the water and he had feet again. The transition had him stop to catch his breath and give his arms a bit of a rest. He was so close- he wasn’t going to give up now. The boy continued climbing until he could peek though the railing. Huh? Where was the guard?
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