The last of the workers climbed on board, and an ice elf sealed the hold behind her before heading below decks. The ship started to move, then a few moments later, dove and began to travel underwater...
Xeno refused to lurk behind his crates any longer. Sliding out from his hiding place, he convinced the orcish Iryien to lend him a swatch of clothing so he could pretend to shine up the interior of the amphibian ship.
"What is that idiot doing?" Iryien hissed. Kobayashi peered out at the orc as he polished the bone archway that led into the next chamber.
"Look like he scouting," replied Kobayashi. "Perhaps I scout too."
He lifted the top off the crate he was hiding behind, but due to the damage it had sustained earlier, the entire crate broke open, spilling the contents loudly on the floor.
A number of the black, spiky objects lit up and started to beep.
"I suggest we remove ourselves," whispered Xeno. He hurried into the next compartment. Kobayashi quickly followed, and joined him in what appeared to be a storage closet for pungent meat.
"Fools! You can't leave these here! We'll all die! In the water!!" As Xeno wedged himself in between two crates, he pried one open and reached inside. He found two bloated sausages, their pale skins barely containing the questionably pulsating contents.
They seemed to be alive.
"Well, they should absorb some of the blast, anyway," he remarked to Kobayashi as he too crouched low.
There was a click. And a BRZOOOM!!. And a muffled cry of pain.
Then it all went silent, and the only thing that could be heard was the clatter of heavy boots up a nearby ladder as some orcs arrived to investigate the noise.
Xeno emerged from his hiding place, attempting to blend in, pretending to snack on the turgid meats.
Somewhere inside the sausage, They sensed the warmth of a living creature... felt the cradling hand... could hear the heartbeat that They longed for... hungered for. As They were lifted towards the mouth They coiled, tensed, readied themselves to strike...
And then it was gone. The creature was only pretending to eat.
They would have to wait a little longer...
As Xeno watched, a burly female orc arrived on the scene and ordered Iryien's unconscious body be taken away. The female then pointed to Xeno and another orc and ordered them to clean up the pointy weapons. Perhaps they wouldn't notice of one went missing, Xeno thought...
Takemiya approached the final cell in the passageway and peered inside. There was a diminutive figure lying unconscious on a dirty cot inside. She looked familiar, but as Takemiya's thoughts bounced around his helm, he found himself at a loss, loosing touch with the vagaries of temporal existence.
What he really wanted was to perch himself on top of a really nice hoard somewhere. You know, some really resplendent dragon's horde somewhere and just chill out for a century or two and quit worrying about all these creatures and their constant struggle to avoid Death - like you have a chance - I mean, he's practically in our party now! How crazy is that?
But some part of him drew his mind back - his human mind - back to the present where he was staring at the prone body of...
Xoe! How did she get here? He tried the cell door, but alas, it was locked. He looked around for a key or a lever but stopped short as he heard approaching footsteps.
He now could make out the guard Karl and the robed priestess making their way towards him. Still invisible, he bunched himself up into a corner in order to let them pass. As they stormed by in agitation, he could hear the priestess say "They said she had captured two intruders: a gnome and a human. But when she went to interrogate them, all three of them disappeared!"
A gnome? Interrogation? Disappeared? That could only mean one thing.
Takemiya looked up from his thoughts in time to catch an old man in older armor pop into the hallway ahead to intercept the priestess. He asked her what was going on and she instructed him to double the guard on the prisoners and be on the lookout for anything strange. He nodded and turned on his heel, and when he did, Takemiya spotted the key ring.
Aha, Mister Jailer.
The amphibian ship had docked, and Xeno and Kobayashi were two of the first topside. A long gangplank led down to a dock that ran parallel to a rocky beach. Kobayashi, whose transmogrification had worn off, was directed to hit the water as Xeno hopped off the dock. He met up with Kobayashi under the gangplank and looked to see where they were.
A huge stockade lay like a bloated tick in the darkness at the end of the dock. Armed guards patrolled the walls. Large, pointy logs told strangers that not only were they not welcome, but they were likely to be on the receiving end of a painful buggering if they tried to gain access without permission.
A delegation emerged from the stockade and came up the dock to greet the ice elf and her bodyguards. Xeno and Kobayashi strained to hear the conversation.
"The shipment has arrived and is intact? Excellent. My Master will be pleased. He is here to inspect it himself."
The two hidden figures recognized that voice.
What was HE doing here? Does that mean we're in Plank Town? We're back on Lungfish Isle? And his Master - is the mysterious Chang Kai Eel here as well?
This opportunity was too good to pass up.
Xeno and Kobayashi waited until the last of the orcish crew had carried their load into the stockade before emerging from under the docks. Xeno had finally returned to his old, gnomish self.
"What we do now? You have plan?" asked Kobayashi, a little tentatively and with more than a little fear.
Xeno was still wielding two of the orcs' trembling sausages. Kobayashi stared in horror as, with a blood-curdling scream, he lifted them high above his head and charged the front gate.
"With Tahksha, Tsun Shi and Jae Hoon Suk as my witnesses, I will never be left alone with this lunatic again," muttered the monk.