Blood on the High Seas

The Diary Of Klaas Jan Vlasman entry 25

We had several days of leisure here at what we discovered was known as the Fortress of the Dawn. With a lovely villa and time on my hands I decided to organise a dinner party here in this paradise. I sent out Hans and William and some others to hunt, while I sent out my skeletons to find tables and dinnerware and such and I wrote hand written invitations to all the officers and such. Obviously our host the dragon also received one. In short order I had formal wear for all the skeletal waiting staff, several large tables, plenty of beautiful table ware, though none of it of precious metals, and a bountiful larder of venison and native fruits. Jeeves was in charge of the cooking and outdid himself as always.

The band had been practicing all day and Jorge turned out to be a skilled violinist so they were quickly whipped into shape to serenade the dinner. Soon the guests arrived and all was well. We ate, drank and talked, I had even organized a supply of blood for those who couldn’t imbibe the food and brandy. Our host the dragon did me a great honour and transformed the silverware and such into actual silver. It was a small gesture on her part, but appreciated. Plus it was an honour to see one of the progenators of magic using it in person. Later I was able to talk to her about how Dragons work with the High Elves in Battle, as from my experience with Griffins I knew how effective they were, but a dragon is far more powerful. It turns out they act very differently in the field. It is only the incredibly rich or important who can ride a dragon in battle, and usually it is a transactional situation. There they are might creatures and devastating in battle. On their own they rarely come out to fight against enemies of the High elves unless they are paid very well or it is in the Dragons personal interest, so usually they act as Auxilliaries or as defences more than as regular troops. To my mind I would place their usage by the elves as the same as that of Brettonian Knights by villages of peasants. A comparison I didn’t mention to our host.

After a night of food, song and dance we retired for the evening and on the next day William and I went hunting. We had a deeper conversation than I had expected where William revealed a great deal about himself and I am proud to count him as a friend. We renewed our bond of friendship and arranged to spar more often as there are few of our caliber with the sword aboard. On our way back I stopped by the orchards and gathered a great many fruits and set up a brewing operation to ensure we would have plenty to drink on our return, whenever that might be.

After our ship was finished with her maintenance we set sail, though I feel we all looked back more than once before the island was out of sight. Once on the open ocean again the calm weather around the island gave way to squalls and normal weather again. We sailed for a some days before coming to the mainland. We saw dense jungle such as I had never seen before and huge mountains inland. From Deepsworn’s map we knew there should be a river mouth a few days up the coast. That would be out best chance at a harbour either from a settlement or just as a natural area to dock. Sure enough we found it and were able to dock.

Isidore had spent a few days scaring the crew with tales of tropical diseases. I feared them too, but the way he spoke is a danger to the ship and not the actions of one who understands how politics, whether on a ship or on a wider scale, work. Still we managed to put together an expedition. To my dismay I discovered young master Timothy was coming along. While I disapproved it was not my place to refuse this, but I ensured Jez understood the danger and made sure he had a weapon. I found him a small shortsword in the armoury. I dislike arming one so young, but the campaign trail is dangerous.

As we were facing a challenge with scouting a large area I suggested we shot down one of the medium sized birds in the area and raised it as a wight to assist us. Everyone was onboard and they allowed me to bind it to myself personally. He is a colourful specimen and I have named him Count Noctilus after the infamous admiral of the dread fleet. A fitting name I think.

We set off into the jungle and the terrain was as tough as any I had seen on campaign. I spotted some predators, but they were giving us a wide berth, so were not an immediate concern. Isidore spotted some more of the lizard men we had seen at the Fortress of the Dawn. Jez had spent her time there learning their toungue and tried to communicate, but we heard nothing from them.

That night as we set up camp Timothy was upset with the hardships of the journey, but Lilith, in the way she does, calmed him down by telling him that he had been made aware that it would be like this before and he now had to stick to his decisions. A good lesson, if taught in an odd way. That night Lilith was on first watch and not long into her watch awakened us all by firing her pistol. We all scrambled to our feet and were almost to a man shot with darts from the jungle. William took off into the woods and Isidore began pointing out enemies as we opened fire. Plucking the dart from my shoulder I threw it at the nearest enemy and was satisfied to see them be struck by it. The fight was over almost as soon as it began. Two of them lay on the ground, one dead, one wounded. Several of our group bore nasty wounds, but most were largely unhurt. Lilith and I acquired blow pipes, darts and venom sacks, and I bandaged up the living assailant. We would find out more in the morning

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The Diary Of Klaas Jan Vlasman entry 24

With supplies gathered we returned to shore and Jez went off again to hunt. I stayed at the shore and began to set up a distilling system to purify the water. Once that was done I began to study the plants along the shoreline. Some were from families I recognised, but many were completely unfamiliar to me. I began to make some notes and drawings when Jez approached in a hurry out of the forest with her hunters and a strange lizard creature. Apparently the creature had warned them of a danger in the city. I began to organise a party to go and fetch Lilith’s group back, when Jez sped off with supernatural swiftness in that direction. As she did so the ground rumbled. I prepared the ship to retreat to the safety of the bay and watch for the party’s return.

An hour passed in tense waiting before they arrived back to the shore. It was apparently safe and there was a dragon in the town. We had paid it tribute and now had the safety of the town and Harbour. Once this was all explained we brought the ship back into port and while the others returned to town I stayed at the beach. I received permission to practise with my band in the open space and quickly put them through their paces. After an hour of marching and playing I was satisfied and William and I had a sparring match at full strength. To the surprise of no one William and his supernatural strength quickly overpowered me, but I saw the surprise at how difficult my defence was to break through and I was thrilled that it worked as well as it did. I hold no illusions about which of us is mightier when going all out, but I think my skill over brawn approach is a fighting style that will grant me a much longer life.

While this was ongoing Hans located a beautiful Villa on the beach which the two of us quickly claimed and enjoyed peace and leisure such as I haven’t felt since before I was turned. Perhaps when I am finished with the life of a pirate I will come here to live out my eternity.

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The Diary Of Klaas Jan Vlasman entry 23

Our third and hopefully final month at sea started relatively peacefully, not much of not happened until a few weeks in when we came upon a dark elf ship. Lilith and I immediately recognised the danger and did our best to prepare to repel them and to intimidate them. With drums beating and all hands on deck we waited with baited breath to see what would happen, as even with 4 vampires we didn’t fancy our chances against dark elf reavers. Luckily they didn’t seem too interested in us, unluckily we quickly saw why. There was some kind of great pull in the sea that threatened to drag both the dark elf ship and our ship towards it. Lilith quickly set the ship to pull away as best we could, our going was slow, but we were making it. Then we saw the great shape appear out of the water.

First came the great tentacles that grappled the dark elf ship and we heard the splintering of her timbers, next rose the great bulk. It was indescribably huge. My mind railed against it and I desperately tried to figure out what we had that could defend us against this creature. Lilith snapped me out of it and made me get back to managing the crew. Before long the dark elf ship was little more than some pieces of flotsam and the beast and all the elves disappeared beneath the waves. All were unsettled by the events, but as the sea returned to normal and we made headway we slowly returned to normalcy. We had seen the Kraken and lived.

A week passed and we spotted land, and whats more a land dotted with marble structures and a large harbour. It looked abandoned but we made landfall. I lead a foraging party as our supplies ran low, while Lilith lead a group to scout the town. My group found water that was tainted with copper but could be refined to be clean as well as the remains of orchards. the crew would eat well here.

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Lilith and Romance
an explanation

Lilith has had only a few trysts in the past. Those who know her more intimitely believe it is because of her high standards, that she will only allow herself to be taken aback by the very best. They also believe that the reason she still remains distant with her partners and the fact that they never seem to last long is because of her staunch professionalism, her priorities aligned too strongly with work and achivements. But while these observations are close to the truth, neither are the reasons for her few and brief relationships, the real reason being much simpler.

Lilith has never felt love for another individual.

She does not believe this to be due to a lack of emotion or empathy, for she understands what it means to care for another. In fact she truly believes she has come close to loving her adopted family of Adam and Bill. She also knows this is not a result of a lack of attraction, as she enjoys both the emotional and physical joys of companionship.

Simply, Lilith believes this is in part because she has never received love, not that she views this as a bad thing as it has in part allowed her closest relations to be built on basis of mutual trust and rewards, a basis more stable than her perceived notion of love. But she nonetheless understands that she dis not have a family to rely on in her childhood, thus no one from whom to learn the “feeling” of love.

No, any time she has pursued a romance it has been for one of the following reasons: the performance of courtship which she enjoys for its elaborate displays and ettiquette, the comfort of emotional closeness which she has pursued in times of vulnerability, or the enjoyment of a physical relationship.

She hopes for these relationships to end well, for they are often people she respects. But her inability to properly communicate her feelings and intentions often makes her drive these people away once they come to understand her more.

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The Diary Of Klaas Jan Vlasman entry 22

The Second month went much as the first but for a couple of incidents. The first was that we came across an island in the middle of the ocean. it was not large but appeared inhabited. Upon landing we found an Estalian woman and many pigs. She appeared to be one whose business was to sell pigs to passing ships. All seemed well, but William and I smelt human blood from her home and agreed silently to investigate. I drew her away while he and Isidore poked around.

My conversation with the old lady was pleasant enough, until she turned to me and said they had had enough time investigating and blew her whistle. All the pigs stiffened and charged. Before she had taken the whistle from her lips I had drawn my sword and cut her arm off. Sadly this was the last time the fight went my way as I was swiftly overrun with 30-50 pigs. As well as this army of swine the lady appeared to be a foul sorceress as she began flesh shaping the pigs and attacking my with barbs of bone. In those first few seconds I felt swine tear the flesh from my legs. It is not a fight I would relish living through again. I managed to avoid them after this though but I could not attack, only defend as they hounded me. Thankfully Isidore and William came to my aid. I am not sure entirely what happened as I was busy, but I heard William cry out in agony and by the time I had killed the last of the pigs he had a horrendous wound with his own bones growing out of him and threatening to impale him.
I sent him back to the ships doctor. I then summoned the skeletons from the ship and put them under Isidore’s command. I know not what they found and frankly I do not care to know, only that those pigs had been men once and that Isidore burned the whole fell place to ashes. By the time I reached the ship Lilith and the dr were already below with William operating. I told the officer on watch that I was taking a few days leave and asked them to send in a man from the rota. I urged my wounds to heal, I fed and then I surrendered to sleep.

When I awoke the surgery was over and William had kept the arm, but he was weakened and the crew was shaken as our aura of invincibility had been shattered. We did our best to raise moral, but we all needed time to heal. Once we were recovered William and I had a practice duel. I was the victor, but in truth it was close thing and only my extreme effort won me the day. After the duel William told me that he didn’t want my training anymore as a gentleman. He liked the man he was and didn’t feel the need to change. In truth I like William as well, and there is no purpose in trying to force teaching on one who doesn’t want to learn. I shook his hand and wished him the best. I truly hope that he is contented on the path he has chosen.

The next event of note was that Jez received her punishment. Lilith did all properly, though I found the number of lashes on the high side for the crime, but it was not outside the just punishment, just that I would have given a lesser number. Jez took the punishment as well as any can and retired to her quarters. Lilith and I spoke in private afterwards and I tried to extend to her understanding and friendship, but she seemed to interpret these as an attack of some sort. I left feeling saddened by the missed opportunity.

A couple of days later, partly driven by William’s courage in speaking to me with honesty and asked to speak with Lilith in an attempt to mend the rift between us if that was possible. The talk that followed gave me a much clearer view of Lilith than I had had previously, but I saw that the rift would be a hard one to fix, and that at the moment we would struggle to ever be friends, so I gave up for now any kind of personal relationship and would be devote myself to our professional relationship .She is my Captain and I am her Second in Command. In truth I am more effective with all feelings removed, but it is not as I would have chosen. But if we are to ever be friends it is now up to Lilith to come to me as I understand her enough to know that it would never work with me coming to her as I am. A shame, but better for the ship this way

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The Diary Of Klaas Jan Vlasman entry 21

After setting sail from Altdorf we made good time up the Reik to the coast of the Westerland. We hoped to catch some shipping leaving Marienburg now that the bulk of the Imperial Navy presence was no longer protecting these waters. We sailed past the mouth of Marienburg harbour and saw the work that was going into repairing and strengthening the port defences after our breakout. It was obvious the blow to Marienburg’s prestige was going to be costly to compensate for, I hope the directory enjoys having to dip into their pockets, though I doubt it will do much to dent their fortunes.

We did not have to wait long for a likely target to leave port. A convoy of 5 Brettonian ships set sail shortly after our arrival and we gave chase, waiting till they were far enough from Marienburg to be outside of support range before we hoisted the black flag. Our cannons all but disabled the first ship quickly, while the others attempted to trap us between them. Lillith deftly steered us out of their trap and while passing another we scoured the deck with the deck guns, sewing death and ruin aboard. William jumped to a ship that seemed to be having troubles with mutiny and i bored a hole in the side of another with my corrosive vetae. We did not even have to board them as Lilith intimidated the lot of them to surrender. We made a good haul by taking their cannons and whatever goods they bore and sent them limping back to Marienburg, one last blow to the burghers’ pride before we left for whatever lies across the great ocean.

We managed to sell some of the cannon as we rounded Brettonia and Estalia, but most we gave over to the folk of Torosa, letting them keep some and having them sell the rest to passing ships for a share of the profits. While there we found that much was going well, but there was not enough water for my vision of large scale agriculture. William and I worked to create plans for an aquaduct to bear the water once they had found a source and instructed the local craftspeople in what would be required for its construction. I hope that upon our return we shall find lush fields of produce ready to be brought to Sartosa for sale. We also helped to plan the coastal fortifications as with plenty of cannons Torosa would be able to defend itself from the sea.

After leaving Torosa we sailed west into the sunset and to distant Lustria. The first month aboard went by relatively uneventfully. We all dived into our interests, as there was little else to do. Both my band and my personal musical interests came on well, I began tutoring Master Timothy in all that I could to help prepare them for the life of a gentleman. This included fencing and music, but also whatever other bits of knowledge I had to hand. Jez seemed to grow more distant as the month went on. I failed to notice at the time but looking back I know it to be true. As the month ended we would discover why.

It started with the Blood Wight. He claimed that there was a malign presence aboard calling to him, this started a full search of the ship. While that was going on both Lilith and Jez headed for Jez’s quarters. There Lilith discovered Jez had been hiding that her sword contained a personality that had been trying to make her kill everyone else aboard. They tried to throw it overboard, but it fought back badly hurting both of them and leaving them with horrible venom in their veins before it was over the side. The dr saw to Jez as she was worse off, while I saw to Lilith. It turned out that the blade had been a daemon weapon. Lilith was furious that Jez had not told us of this dangerous presence. I agreed with her anger, but I also gained a new respect for Jez. I had always previously worried that she was quick to action and was reckless, and may be overcome by the vampiric corruption that tugs at all of our souls, but only the truly strong can resist a daemon. Whatever else she may have done, she is one that can be depended on to stick to her convictions. Lilith had her restricted to her room till she was punished. I mad ea point of visiting her much more than I would have otherwise, a fact that shames me for my close mindedness.

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Updated Punishments
to be reviewed

Dereliction of Duty and Willful Insubordination is punished with 5-30 lashes, depending on severity and the duty that was not performed.
Crew members can vote for new leadership or roles at any point, but those who attempt to do so during battle or similar emergencies will receive either flogging or execution if it is a frequent or repeated offence.

Those who steal rations receive 10 lashes and are forced to abstain from a number of rations equal to those that they stole.
Those who steal medicinal supplies are confined and added to the feeding list for a set period of time.
Theft of shares, loot and personal effects will be punished by 5-10 lashes, with the victim being compensated accordingly.

Those who willfully omit information vital to the safety or maintenence to the ship and crew will recieve 5-10 lashes.
Those who unintentionally endanger the ship or crew will recieve 10-15 lashes and be confined, or if the danger was too great they will be confined and left on shore at next port.
Those who willfully endanger the ship or crew will either be confined and left on shore at next port or be executed, dependng on the danger presented to the crew.

Duels are allowed with consent from each party and arbitration from a third relevant party (typically Captain or Battlemaster).
Assault will otherwise be investigated and instigators will be punished with either 5-20 lashes or increased hours depending on severity of crime.
Murder will be punished with confinement and being added to feeding list indefinitely.
Sexual assault (regardless of victim) will be punished with death by feeding.

Feeding on crew outside of the feeding rota or punishments will be punished with 20+ lashes.

In the case of a punishment later being ruled unjust, the arbitrator will be punished with 10+ lashes depending on the original punishment and the victim compensated accordingly with an additional share of loot or rations.

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The Diary Of Klaas Jan Vlasman entry 20

We made good time to Altdorf. The Grail was fast for a ship of her size. The Captian and carpenter had arranged for us to carry less firepower, but have as wide a range of angles as possible. This will make individual broadsides less effective, but we will be dangerous regardless of positioning. A sensible precaution. It also allows us to catch any ships we decide to chase.

Along the way I finally resolved to bind the elven officer we had fought in Marienburg. As we began the ceremony I felt another will far stronger than those I have felt previously fight me for control, I worried I had bitten off more than I could chew but eventually I overcame it. Our new officer rose, blood weeping from their eyes and coughing it up too. Something went wrong, but they will nonetheless be useful. I welcomed them to the crew and hoped I hadn’t made a mistake.

Upon arriving in Altdorf it was good to see so many familiar sights. Outside of Marienburg no city has felt more like home to me than Altdorf. I attended the Military College here, and it was here I came to finish my studies and serve the Empire after my success in Kislev. But it is my home no longer. While it will be safe for a short while I cannot dally to long here else we will have to deal with the wrath of the von Dubenburgs or the witch hunters. Nonetheless I will ensure my time here is well spent.

My first order of business was arranging a courier to Sartosa to place an order for my new sword so it will be ready on my return. I have sent payment in full as it doesn’t do to be in debt to the Dawi. Upon its completion I will finally be able to parry even the mightiest weapon without breaking my sword or my wrist. The courier was expensive but the safety the expense bought for the package is well worth it.

Next I went through the shopping districts of Altdorf and bought myself supplies for the voyage, such as games and instruments. Then I went to a gunsmith I had heard good reports of and purchased a gift for Hans. Sadly the trade disruption caused by raiders around Marienburg meant prices were higher than I had hoped, but I got everything. I had hoped to also purchase some uniforms for my skeletons, but that could wait.

Hans and I went out to a meal at a very pleasant establishment where I planned to give him his present, it turns out he had also purchased me supplies for uniforms. I was thrilled by the present, as was he with his Three Barrelled Pistol. I wish these times would never end

It appears that the enemy from Jez’s past we encountered from Marienburg had ran the gauntlet to Altdorf, though he had lost his goods en route. I found out about this when Jez returned with his severed third arm and an evil looking whip. I had seen its kind before in Kislev from in use by some of the more horrifying of the servants of the dark powers. I warned her about it and then retired to my quarters as the recollections of an old soldier are not ones to be faced in front of the crew, for morale reasons.

The next day as I was starting to train the skeletal band in their instruments Lillith came to see what the noise was from. She thought it very silly until I mentioned uniforms. At first she was angry for not consulting her, until she discovered they were not yet designed at which point we began the furious activity of designing a ship colour scheme and uniform design. Not everyone would to follow it, but it would be a boost to the crew and aid in identification on the battlefield. Lillith went all out and we came to a design we were both satisfied with. I based the military elements on the uniforms of irregulars which allowed more maneuverability than more traditional uniform designs. Lillith chose the colours and added her own flair, an addition that I have to admit does improve the simple design. Only the band required full dress uniform, but the rest of the crew were pleased with a more simple design or simply a colour to wear. With the uniform dealt with we prepared to leave to harry Marienburg once more before crossing the ocean

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The Diary Of Klaas Jan Vlasman entry 19

It still took some days to make our exit from the city, in the meantime imperial navy marines patrolled the streets and we had to tread carefully. We arranged 2 caravans to allow the bulk of our crew to escape, the help of the imperial official I had rescued from slavery was invaluable in getting all the paperwork. Once the carts were loaded up they were able to get through the roadblocks as caravan guards. That just left the officers and the dead. And I knew a way out, we would hire a sewer guide and escape through the vast tunnel network beneath the city

(Here the page has been ripped out)

The journey through the sewers was uneventful aside from some flooding that carried off a coin purse with 30 crowns in it, but at least we made it out of the city. After a long hike through the cold we made it to the fishing village where Ubaldo had taken our new ship, ‘The Crimson Grail’. We enjoyed the hospitality of the town that night and prepared to make for Altdorf. It was good seeing Ubaldo, but I look forward to leaving Kislev and my many memories there behind us.

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The Diary Of Klaas Jan Vlasman entry 18

Upon our return we found the muse still under maintenance and all proceeding to plan. Lilith and I had some disagreements about the new share system, but it was thankfully resolved without any real loss of order aboard. We then moved onto our opportunity to enrich ourselves while in port, thankfully through bounty hunting and not slavery. We sent William into town to collect all the bounty notices and we prepared to collect as many as we could by the time we left port as the place was crawling with Norscan Raiders. We selected a particularly viscious individual and his first mate whose bounties were some of the highest and located them.

While scouting them out I came across a celestial wizard of all people in one of the cages. He made it known to me that he would join us in exchange for his freedom, an offer which Lilith was happy to accept. She would help bust him out while William and I drew attention away through the next step of our plan. We were going to challenge the captain and mate to combat in the arena. Upon our challenge we were greeted with derisive laughter but they accepted. Come the next day we would meet in battle.

The crowd in the arena was lively and ready to see William and I be slaughtered, though the bookies seemed to know something the crowd didn’t as we appeared to be the favorites, I still placed everyrthing I owned on us to win as it was a fight to the death regardless. William and I faced off against the huge marauder and his heavily mutated mate. I threw off the others a little by giving a formal duelling bow before beginning, recieving a gruff salute from our opposition. I knew William would be using his cannon before closing so I held my ground as the marauders charged. William fired his cannon and the main marauder deflected it with his axe. I got in some hits as they reached us and the captian laid into William while the mate knocked me down, but I managed to maneouver out of his tentacled grasp. William and I landed and took several weighty hits, one which sprained my wrist, before the captain went down. I desperation the mate wrapped a tentacle around William’s neck. A very good idea aside from the fact William doesn’t need to breath. He didn’t have time to learn from his mistake before he was cut down. The crowd roared in approval and when they quieted down we challenged two more Norscans for the same time tomorrow, they of course accepted.

Upon returning to the ship it seemed we had caused ample distraction for Lilith and our new friend Isidore to get safely back to the muse. After getting my arm set and having a brief celebration Lilith and I made our way to the ship of our vanquished foe and commandeered it and its goods, along with most of the crew who we would turn in for bounties. We also released the slaves and offered to ship them back to Troll Port if they would man the longboat for us, a proposal they agreed to easily. All was going well

In the middle of the night our dreams were once again disturbed by the vision of eyes we had seen before and we knew we had to leave. We pulled forward our fight for the day and headed to the arena while Isidore was panicking about the vision. He seemed to think that it was a very dire omen and while that was likely true, I had an appointment on the field of honor.

Upon arriving at the arena we spotted that Lillith was competing in some knid of bare knuckle boxing match. I put some money on her to win and sure enough she didn’t fail, though her tactics leave a little to be desired in the question of honor. Nevertheless I made some coin on the match.

As william and I enetered the arena proper we saw our opponents, one of whom was wiping his blade with an evil looking substance. I ordered William to not let himself be cut by that sword, a command I am happy to say he followed as after firing his cannon we had to have an imperial magistrate in the audience sign a letter confirming the brute was dead as there wasn’t enough left of him to identify. I do love modern firepower. Needless to say the fight was over quickly.

With that done we sailed for Troll Port, having the skeletons pack themselves on the last part of the journey. We arrived just ahead of the First and Second Imperial Navies. We appear to have struck a nerve. It must be costing the directors an absolute fortune to have the first imperial navy out hunting us as well. Luckily they seem more intent of the slave port, plus having the huntsmarshal on your side means we have the protection of the city. We plan on selling our 2 ships and buying a new one which Ubaldo will sail up the coast for us to meet on the far side of the imperial blockade. The noose has tightened, but luckily it is not around our necks

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