Chester and Jonathan rode with the mercenaries for three days until they reached the river of Carta. They all waited at the bank of the river for a boat.
Jonathan was playing with Oceton at the campsite; Oceton was making amazing progress in learning to fly. After a few hop-skips, the adolescent bird was managing to pull off short glides despite not having all of his flight feathers yet.
Chester grunted as something rammed into his leg, toppling him over. “What?”
Jonathan picked up Oceton and turned around. He stepped back slowly when he noticed what animal had rammed into his friend.
“Blade!” Buffo called out, trying to redirect the attention to him. He had noticed the situation a bit too late to avoid first contact, but it was best to avoid anything more that could occur. “They’re not enemies.”
Chester stared up at the boar on his chest.
The boar grunted and stamped a hoof onto the bard’s stomach before he hopped off Chester. The Blade walked over to Jonathan and stared up at the transmigrator. If not for his demeanor, the boar could be called cute, with its long, curved horns and fluffy wings.
Jonathan stared back. In the past week, he had blinded a yandere mage and carried a corpse he had watched die.
The Blade grunted again and moved on, migrating towards where Hans was making lunch. He had apparently found Jonathan passable as well.
“Sorry about The Blade,” Buffo apologized lightheartedly. “He checks out anyone he doesn’t know. I forgot to warn you about him because he’s been gone for the past few days.”
Jonathan had a feeling that Rando hadn’t forgotten, and just chosen not to tell them.
Chester sat up. He was carefully watching the boar, with confusion. His expression kept changing. “Why is there a boar?”
“The Blade just showed up one day and started following us.” Buffo shrugged. He seemed at a loss as to how to explain it. “He’s a part of the band now.”
Chester and Jonathan soon realized that Buffo was correct: the boar was part of the mercenaries. The biggest tell was how everyone respected the Blade’s space and didn’t try to pet him. There was even a red cape with white fur that was for the boar to sleep with; it was apparently because he had stolen a blanket during Winter three years ago and everyone had been too scared to try to take it back. That blanket was later traded back for the cape, made by Hans.
It was another two days before a ship sailed by that was willing to take them.
“Welcome aboard the Golden Raider,” a young woman greeted, self-importance declared by the crown on her head. “I’m the captain, Lucretius.” Her woman’s left eye was entirely purple, from the sclera to the pupil.
The other woman was standing beside Lucretius. She introduced herself warmly, “Vice-captain Unica.” The accessories she wore seemed to contain magic crystals.
There were no visible weapons on either of them, but that didn’t mean the captain and vice-captain didn’t have any. The rest of their crew, working on cleaning the deck or adjusting the sails, certainly were carrying some.
Rando tossed the captain a pouch of coins.
The captain quickly counted the money. “All here,” Lucretius said with satisfaction. “We’re setting sail in three hours. There are enough hammocks and beds to fit your men, and animals. Your meals are your own problem. Enjoy the ride.” She flippantly waved goodbye as she headed to her cabin.
The mercenaries were split up to do different jobs. One of which was to have someone keep an eye on the Blade and ensure the boar didn’t attack one of the river pirates.
Chester was somehow dealing with seasickness already, which meant Jonathan had to lead both Biscuit and Magnus to the boat’s makeshift stables. Afterwards, Jonathan waited as Chester threw up over the railing and dry heaved.
Oceton sat on Jonathan’s shoulder, staring at everything around him. He was officially too big for the saddlebag now. Fortunately, the bird seemed to be behaving himself and hadn’t lit anything on fire since the inn room.
Jonathan was thankful for that, as they were going to be on a boat. Perhaps once they were in Malamut, he should try to do some experiments with Oceton; the possible phoenix did seem a bit more intelligent than a normal bird.
“What’s going on over here?” Buffo asked. He slapped Chester’s back with a smile.
Chester clapped a hand over his mouth.
“He’s sick,” Jonathan warned.
“Oh no,” Buffo said. His sunny countenance had fallen into worry.
“There you are,” Rando called and walked over. “We need to talk about rations, Buffo.”
“Chester is boat sick,” Buffo replied. He was looking for a way out of work, but his concern was genuine.
“He’ll get over it.” Rando scowled and pointed out, “There’s nothing you can do by being here.”
Chester had leaned against the railing, pressing his forehead against the smooth surface.
“Emotional support is important,” Hans responded. He didn’t have any particular side he was picking, he just wanted to add some fuel to the debate. He also had apparently been standing at the railing nearby without any of them noticing.
Rando seemed hellbent on not being defeated. It made sense, as he would have to pick up Buffo’s slack, and likely had been. “Jonathan’s already doing that.”
Jonathan had no respect for slackers, at least in leadership or group projects. Besides, he wasn’t sure if Buffo being around would make it worse for Chester considering the large man’s entrance to the conversation and general impulsivity. The transmigrator plastered a smile on his face and nodded at Rando. On his shoulder, Oceton ruffled his feathers with a somewhat sly look that matched what the two were feeling. “Don’t worry Buffo, I have it covered. Go take care of your men.”
Rando returned Jonathan’s smile and then dragged away the large mercenary.
Buffo was powerless and none of the band of mercenaries thought of helping him.
Jonathan went back to keep Chester company as the miserable bard adjusted to being on a boat for the first time in his life.
Favorite type of weapon? Either for the sake of practicality, or simply admiration/’this weapon is cool’. Knives fulfill both for me.