• "Nice to meet you Roskuel." Tigan said as a large smile appeared on his face. "I'm sorry you didn't get a good first impression of my hospitality."
    "Don't worry about it. I've been tied up plenty of times before. Although, I have to admit, I've never been interrogated by a man as frail as Joe." Roskuel looked around the small room. "Do you think, maybe, we can get out of here? It's kind of crowded." He paused, then looked at Tigan. "No offence."
    Tigan just chuckled. "None taken. C'mon, I'll show you around the ship."
    Tigan turned around and started up the steps. Roskuel, for a reason unknown to even himself, was still in awe of the man's size. He followed behind Tigan, eager to get out of the dark room. Tigan reached the deck and deeply inhaled the salty air. Unaware what awaited him, Roskuel stepped out in front of Tigan. He let out a gasp and shielded his eyes. The sun had temporarily blinded him. He staggered for a moment, almost tripping over a rope that was stretched out in front of him. Tigan roared with laughter. He stepped towards Roskuel, placing his hand on his shoulder.
    "Are you ok?" Tigan said still laughing.
    Roskuel opened his eyes and blinked a couple of times, trying to regain his sight. "Y-yeah," he said, tripping over his words, "I'm fine." Once his eyes focused he noticed that the entire crew of the ship was staring at him, all pointing and laughing. All except for, of course, Joe, who was sitting on an empty barrel sneering. He didn't think it was funny at all. He was hoping Roskuel was going to fall, and seeing as how he didn't, it didn't even come close to humoring him. It didn't really matter to Roskuel what the old man thought of him. Neither of them liked the other, and it seemed it was going to stay that way. So, Roskuel ignored Joe's glare and turned to Tigan. "Thanks for the warning." he said sarcastically
    "No problem. Oh, and welcome to 'Thorned Rose'." Tigan responded, another smile forming to his face.
    Roskuel just rolled his eyes, then took a quick look at his surroundings. The ship was nothing fancy. It was actually pretty bashed up. There were three cannons set up on each side of the ship, and two masts that rose into the air, shadowing the ship with three enormous sails. The crew stopped laughing as they returned to their work. As he looked around, he couldn't help but notice that while everyone was working, Joe was still just sitting there. "Tigan?"
    Tigan looked at Roskuel. "Yes?"
    "What does Joe do around here exactly?"
    Tigan looked over at Joe. "He is the cook. Why do you ask?"
    "I was just wondering why he was just sitting there while everyone else is working."
    "Well, that might be because, supper isn't for a few more hours." Tigan said as he rubbed his protruding gut. "Speaking of which, I need a snack."
    Joe heard the comment made by Tigan. "I'm on it sir." Joe said begrudgingly. He jumped off his wooden seat and headed for a group of stairs leading to, what Roskuel assumed to be, the galley. He looked at Roskuel and sneered one more time before continuing to the steps. After he disappeared into the ship, Roskuel looked up at Tigan. Tigan looked back at him.
    "Like I said, don't worry about him." Tigan stated with an uneasy tone.
    Roskuel nodded. "So... is there anything else interesting on this ship?"
    "Other than what you see, there's not much. We could go see what the navigator's up to." Tigan said as he started to walk towards the back of the ship. Roskuel followed, trying to keep up. Which was quite hard, due to the fact that one of Tigan's steps equaled about three of Roskuel's. Once they reached the back of the ship, Roskuel became dumbstruck at the person steering.

    It was a woman. She had long blond hair, stood about five feet, six inches tall, and had three piercings on each ear. Her hair flowed through the air and shined in the sunlight. Roskuel had become completely paralyzed. She looked at him and smiled. He tried to smile back, but it came out more of an awkward grin. She giggled. Tigan stood, watching as the two just sort of locked eyes. "This is Lace." he said breaking the silence. "She is our navigator. If there is anyone who can get you to where you need to go, it's her."
    "H.. hi Lace, I am Roskuel." he said as he held out his hand.
    "Lace." she replied taking his hand in hers. Roskuel felt as if cupid was using him as target practice. He looked into her baby blue eyes as he felt her gentle hand grab a hold of his. Tigan cleared his throat to get Roskuel's attention. He snapped out of his trance and looked at Tigan. "Where are you headed?"
    "Oh... uh... I don't really know. I guess you can drop me off at the nearest piece of land." Roskuel said as he shrugged.
    "Well, that makes it easy then. Lace, head to Mosatusahn. We will let off Roskuel and grab some supplies while we're there."
    "Yes sir." she said as she gave Roskuel a wink and steered the wheel to the left. Tigan motioned to Roskuel as he headed for the center of the ship. Roskuel followed him. As he did so, he kept looking back towards Lace. Because of his lack of concentration, Roskuel had not noticed Tigan stop. He slammed full force into the giant, causing him to become considerably winded. He held his stomach and groaned. Tigan turned to see his new found friend doubled over in pain. He glowed beat red as he tried to hold back his laugh. Roskuel looked up at him, still quite winded. His face was twisted into a painful wince. Tigan's over sized belly jiggled as he continued to hold his breath, but he couldn't take it any longer. His whole body lurched forward as a boisterous laugh emerged from his mouth. Roskuel was starting to see a pattern in this man's behavior. Every time Roskuel was in some sort of pain or discomfort, Tigan was there, laughing at his inconvenience. He shot an annoyed look at him. Tigan stood up straight and coughed away his laughter. "Sorry." he said as his stomach jiggled slightly. Roskuel shook his head as he recovered from the blow.
    "Why did you stop?" he asked as one of his eyebrows raised slightly.
    A puzzled look came across Tigan's face. "Well," he said as he went into deep thought, ".... oh, I was wondering when Joe would be done with my snack." he said as he smiled. Suddenly a crash was heard, almost as if on que. It came from the depths of the ship. After the crash, came Joe's voice. He was screaming and swearing very rapidly. Soon, he was storming out of the galley. His face was a deep red, his clothes were covered in a green looking sauce, and his hands were steaming as if they had been severely burned. Joe stomped over to Tigan. He shouted in anger. "I can't believe I waste my time cooking for you and this dreadful crew! In fact, why am I even here?! I should be in Demetul right now, laying on the beaches and soaking in the sun, but instead, I'm out here in the ocean waiting on you hand and foot!" Joe started to cough loudly. He gained control of it, then continued his rant. "I can't take it! I'm outta here!" Roskuel and Tigan could only watch in surprise as the elderly man walked back and forth across the ship, obviously looking for something in particular. After a couple of minutes he walked back over to Tigan, breathing heavily. "Where," he took a deep breath, "is the longboat?" Tigan simply looked over to his left at the small boat. "Oh..." Joe said, quite embarrassed, but still angry, "...thanks." Joe stormed over to the boat and tried to lift it, to hoist it over the side. He stopped when he realized there was no way he could do it alone. His foot rapidly tapped the floor. "Fine!" he shouted as he turned back to Tigan once again. "Can you please," he said as his face twitched, "help me?" Tigan nodded. He still had a surprised look on his face. Tigan picked up the longboat easily, dropped it over the edge, then lowered it to the water by releasing the ropes. Joe nodded. "Thank you," he stated in an annoyed tone, "... again." Joe pushed the ladder over the side of the ship and headed downwards. About halfway down, he realized that he had forgotten the oars. He pulled himself up only to see that Tigan had them ready for him. Joe snatched the oars from his hands and headed down for the last time. He prepared the boat, then rowed off into the distance.
    "So..." Roskuel started, "what now?"
    Tigan had only one thing on his mind. "We find someone here who can cook." he said as he held his stomach. He turned to look at Roskuel. "You wouldn’t happen to..."
    Roskuel interrupted. "No." he said blatantly. "Hell no."
    Tigan just shrugged his shoulders. "I was just asking." Tigan started to walk towards the back of the ship again. Roskuel just followed. He noticed that there was a mixed look on Tigan's face. A look of confusion, and of course, hunger. It was a humorous look that made Roskuel want to chuckle, but he stayed quiet as he made sure not to run into the giant again. Tigan stepped up to Lace. "How long before we reach Mosatusahn?"
    "Won't be ‘til dusk." she replied.
    Tigan's stomach growled at the reply. He started to walk away, but stopped and turned his head to Lace. "You wouldn't happen to know how to..."
    "No." she said, keeping her eyes on the sea. "Hell no."
    "Ok." he said sadly. "Just asking."

    A smile formed across Roskuel's face as Lace made her statement. Tigan dragged his feet across the deck as he passed Roskuel and walked towards the galley. Lace seemed to keep her eyes glued on the path ahead. She was smiling as well, about the same thing Roskuel was, no doubt. Roskuel sat on one of the steps leading up to the beautiful woman. The sun burned hot in the sky as the day dragged on. The crew seemed to be relaxing now as the chores seemed to wisp away. It was quiet. Except, of course, for the sounds made by Tigan in the galley, trying to figure out what was what, how to get the stove going, so on, and so forth. As the sky turned shades of orange and red, land rose above the horizon. Mosatusahn seemed just moments away. Roskuel peacefully watched the sun set on the water as if being cradled by the earth itself. Tigan had given up, if only for moments, to do the same. Finally, after years of torment, there was a brief moment for Roskuel to take in the beauty of the world around him. Where he was from, he had never really known peace. It was always war, always fighting, hate, sorrow, pain... death. A tear rolled down his face, but it was quickly wiped away. Emotion was hard for him to deal with, and he wasn't going to submit himself just yet to such a feeling as sadness. "Where is your home?" asked a gentle voice. Roskuel turned to see Lace was the source. He resumed his former position.
    "I have no home..." His voice was stone cold, but his face seemed to have softened.
    "I don't believe that. Everyone has a home. Even if you can no longer call your birthplace home, there is always somewhere that you will feel comfortable and welcomed. Like here. My home is on this vessel." She rubbed the wheel. "My life before this was... complicated. After the death of my sister I ran. I ended up stowing away on this ship. Tigan, at the time was a mere teenager. He found me hiding in a crate. It's been fifteen years since that day, and I have yet to regret it. Tigan is my soul brother and the Thorned Rose is my sanctuary." Roskuel bowed his head slightly.
    "I guess I have yet to find such a place."
    "You will. I know you will." Lace smiled. Roskuel returned the smile faintly as he lifted his head towards her.
    "Thanks for the optimism."
    "No problem."
    Roskuel sat in silence as he watched the sun disappear and the moon take charge of the sky. As they did so, the ship had rolled into the barge and parked itself gently. The crew had all fallen asleep and was strewn about the deck. Roskuel lifted himself and walked over to Lace. "I guess this is goodbye."
    She kissed his cheek. "Yes it is." Roskuel just smiled, as if he was suddenly comfortable. He was no longer in shock of Lace, so he had no impulse to become off centered by the kiss. He turned and walked down the steps, then made his way to say farewell to Tigan. As he came to the galley’s entrance, he saw Tigan fast asleep on the floor, with what seemed to be a full belly and some sauce speckled on his face. "Goodbye my friend." he whispered as he left the doorway. Roskuel stepped off of the loading plank and walked into the dark. He normally wasn't keen to calling someone 'friend', but Tigan proved to be one, and a good one at that. As he walked he noticed that he had no idea where he was going. Despite this fact, he continued forward, determined to find a place of rest. There was a soft crack that caught his ear. He turned, staff drawn, only to see nothing. He placed his weapon onto his back and went to face his original direction. "Hi." Roskuel nearly jumped from his skin, forcing him to lose balance, which in turn caused him to fall right on his a**. He looked up to see a woman leaning over with a hand extended. "Sorry, I didn't mean to frighten you, it's just... you look pretty lost."