Core Rulebook (The Mantis Clan) fiction

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Core Rulebook (The Mantis Clan) fiction
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Author Fantasy Flight Games
Release Date 2018-10-11 [1]
Previous Core Rulebook fiction
Next Dark Tides
Source Part of the free downloable "The Mantis Clan: Rules for playing characters from the Islands of Spice and Silk".

For hours, the Shimakage had crept up on the plodding merchant ship out of Earthquake Fish Bay. She kept on a course that didn’t quite parallel the Crab vessel, and kept her sails reefed just so, conveniently keeping any symbols on the cloth hidden from sight. To the merchant ship, the Shimakage must have appeared as just another trading vessel heading for the Islands of Silk and Spice.

“Are you enjoying yourself?” Kai asked as he leaned up against the ship’s gunnels.

Hanging off over the blue-green foam, a single firm grip on the stays the only thing keeping her from plunging into the depths, Shio glanced back from the horizon with the guileless expression of a child. “Whatever do you mean, Kai-san?”

Kai snorted. “Come on, Captain. I’ve been watching you work ever so casually to windward of that kabutogani there all morning,” he nodded dismissively towards the Crab ship on the horizon.

Shio gave the other vessel another look, then pulled herself aboard with a casual tug on the stays. She landed firm-footed and slightly crouched on the heaving deck, then straightened into the bow-legged swagger natural to any true sailor. Ignoring Kai, she walked to the edge of the quarterdeck. The rest of the Shimakage stretched out before her, and she gave it, and her crew, a casual once-over. “I’m just taking us where the winds are.”

“We practically have Tamon breathing down our necks now,” Kai said. “Any further north, and we’ll miss Toshi Inazuma by a league or more.”

“As if my navigator would let that happen,” Shio chuckled. “I’d wager you could tell me how many li to Otosan Uchi, if I asked.”

“It isn’t seemly for a captain to take money from her crew.”

The two stood in comradely silence for a long moment. Then Kai spoke again. “You know that Yoritomo has forbidden us from raiding Crab ships.”

Shio nodded. “I was at the assembly last month, as were you.”

“Something about a plan of his. ‘Be free to pluck any Cranes you find on open water,’ he said. ‘But leave the Crab be. Now is not the right moment to make them into enemies.’”

“I do remember him saying something of the sort.”

“And yet, here we are. With a fat merchant ship to our lee, and us in the perfect position to swoop down on them with the wind at our backs.”

Still not looking Kai in the eye, Shio walked back toward the solid pine beam of the Shimakage‘s tiller. The sailor operating it saw her coming and relinquished control with a short but respectful bow. The captain put her hands on the tiller, feeling the minute vibrations of the ship and the waves through the wood.

“Kai-san, did I ever tell you about growing up in the City of Lightning?”

“A few times, Captain.”

“When I was a child,” Shio continued, “My aunt brought home some sweet honey candies from her adventures to the South. Oh, how I wanted one! But my aunt insisted that they be saved for a special occasion. ‘Think of how good they will taste,’ she would say, 'if you enjoy them at the perfect moment.’”

Shio leaned against the tiller, gazing at the horizon with unfocused eyes. “So one morning, I went into the kitchen and asked, again, for a candy. And when my aunt, bless her memory, began to lecture me on patience, I snatched one from the box and fled.”

Her eyes snapped back down to meet Kai, and a broad grin split her face.

“I don’t know if that was the ‘perfect moment.’ But it tasted pretty damn good to me.”

Shio shoved hard on the tiller, and the Shimakage heeled over sharply, the square prow digging deep into the waves before breaking through the crest in a shower of blue-green spray. The wind caught the battened sails and filled them with a sudden crack, the great green Mantis mon proudly emblazoned on the straining canvas for all to see. The crew rose from their stations, eyes fixed upon their captain.

The navigator shook his head, but the smile on his face matched his captain’s. He raised his voice. “Sailors of the Shimakage! To arms! We have a prize to take!”

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