Re: [IronGuard] The Sons and Daughters of the USS Adriatic
His heart pounds in his chest in rhythm with his footfalls as he sprints through the narrow passageway in the cliffs.
"You know boy," Griggs calls from behind him, "I think the next time you ask me here, I'm going to refuse."
The beast, a deformed and enormous mountain cat, that chases them lets out a high roar. "How do you know there will even be a next time?" James picks up his sprint as the cliff edge gets closer.
"Well maybe it's because we're about to jump off a cliff!" Griggs catches up to James in time for both men to jump simultaneously 50 meters to the ocean bellow. Griggs grabs James, now weighed down by his now soaked clothes and brings him to the surface.
"See, that wasn't so bad!"
"Says the guy who can't swim on his own right now. Come on." Griggs drags James to shore where both men dry off their clothes before continuing along the beach.
"Was it the same for my father?" James asks after a long period of silence.
"The trials are different for everyone, you know that."
James rolls his eyes and sighs awkwardly. "You know what I mean... He never talks about it, not to me anyway."
Griggs eyes James from behind for a moment. "Have you considered that there's a reason for that?"
James grits his teeth and continues along the beach in silence. After several hours the cliffs peter away to rolling green hills. "This always weirds me out."
James lets out a heavy sigh. "Never mind, let's see what the mountain has in store for us next." after several more hours of walking through the rolling fields James pipes up again, "He wants me to succeed, doesn't he?"
James stops and whirls around. "Come on Griggs! You know what I'm talking-"
"James, enough! Your father-"
"Is so disappointed in me he can't stop for a minute to help me with anything. I'm a bad pilot, I'm bad swordsman, I don't shoot sharp enough. I haven't heard him give me a word of encouragement since... Ever." James turns and looks down at his feet. "I feel his disappointment every time he asks me to do something. I feel-"
The ground erupts between them in an explosion of sound and force that throws Griggs and James in opposite directions. A 12' tall humanoid baring an equally large axe in his right hand, and sword in his left leaps up from the fissure. Terrible fangs stained with blood open to let out a terrifying scream before swinging his axe into ground beside Griggs, who is again thrown back by the force. James' pistols are drawn and firing as quickly as he can. The bullets tear into the creature's upper torso. As James empties each of his twelve chambers, the creature turns growling menacingly. "Okay... This isn't good."
With a mighty roar, the beast slams his axe into the ground in front of James, popping him into the air where a might thrust with the enormous sword impales the poor captain.
James groans as sprinkles of water drop on his face. His eyes flutter open and he blocks the sun with his hand. "What happened?"
Griggs sighs, his figure partially obscured by the glare of the sun. "Mount Trials has found you wanting once again young Captain... I'm sorry."
The ride home is long, especially for James. He spends the entire journey in the Captain's chambers weeping quietly. This is the third time he has failed the trials in the mountain. The third time the spirits that guard this world have denied him his heritage. The third time he has failed his father. The ship lands in the port of Harbin and James walks dejectedly into town slightly behind Griggs.
When his father meets them on the dock James remains silent, and this tells Captain Edward Nemo everything he needs to know. "Again, hm?" James continues to look away not noticing Griggs giving Edward a meaningful glance. "Commander Griggs and I will be aboard the USS Adriatic. I expect you to resupply the Taigon and regroup with the fleet when you're done."
"Yes sir," James says continuing to look away. After a few moments James realizes Griggs and his father haven't left. He turns to face his Father. "Yes sir." With that his father and Griggs leave James who stands awkwardly on the docks. "Yes sir..."