The Storyteller: The Legend and the Myth

10:07pm, Thursday, 29 November 2018
Mood | proud

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Twenty-Ninth Birthday

A mild tropical breeze wafted down over Freetown, carrying the spice of the island’s cinnamon and clove forests and the electric tang of a storm, as yet unseen, but always on the horizon at this time of an afternoon. A Llayan guitarist played at the corner of the Kazinian-styled bar, lilting voice singing in the praises of her homeland in Tsaythi.

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The Storyteller: The Trial of the Pirate Lord

6:42pm, Thursday, 29 November 2018
Mood | sad

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Twenty-Eighth Birthday

Tu wouldn’t let them leave right away. She insisted on showing Sen around the islands properly. She would, after all, be ruling these islands in a year or so.

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The Storyteller: The Truth

7:54pm, Wednesday, 28 November 2018
Mood | creative

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Twenty-Seventh Birthday

The sky was suitably dark when the Red Cacao and Cocoa Black sailed into Freetown. The sea was steely grey and white-capped and Sen could see the dark smudge of a storm on the western horizon. The Orana was in port, rocking against the most favoured of the docks, closest to the centre of town. Behind it, palm trees whipped back and forth in the stiffening wind.

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The Storyteller: The Hunt

10:10pm, Tuesday, 27 November 2018
Mood | sleepy

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Twenty-Sixth Birthday

Sen and Kaiji tried to celebrate their first bounty as best they could. It wasn’t large, only enough to cover a month and a half of wages for a voyage that had taken a year to accomplish, but Sen knew they would improve. For more dangerous crews, those whose ships were confiscated when the crew was imprisoned, Sen would have been offered the captured ship, too, but these were minor pirates, not much worse than tax evaders. Captain Hin and her crew would be fined and sent on their way once they had paid it. In any case, Sen knew she wouldn’t be able to crew a second ship. Her first was barely trained yet.

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The Storyteller: The Ransom

9:48pm, Sunday, 25 November 2018
Mood | determined

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Twenty-Fifth Birthday

Sen and Kaiji used the full three months Tu had given them to find a crew for Red Cacao. The problem with crewing her ship with bastards, Sen found, was that none of them had any experience at sea. None had so much as rowed a fishing boat before. Even Kaiji suggested that they might bring experienced sailors on board, just until they were able to train some of their own, but Sen refused to compromise. They were experienced enough now to train new crew. What they did ask of their new crew, though, was fighting experience. That much they could learn on land.

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The Storyteller: The Gift

6:17pm, Sunday, 25 November 2018
Mood | complicated

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Twenty-Fourth Birthday

Sen didn’t tell Tu of her plans immediately, just in case she reacted poorly and left them stranded. Instead, she and Kaiji agreed to tell her when they were in Ryas, hoping she would be too distracted by her negotiations to want to deal with her rogue crew.

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The Storyteller: The Chain of Pearls

1:04pm, Sunday, 25 November 2018
Mood | busy

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Three years into living as the Orana’s crew, three more years into Tu’s impossible plan for the Pirate Isles, and Tu’s exuberance was only building.

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The Storyteller: A Ship's Tale

12:19am, Saturday, 24 November 2018
Mood | tired

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Twenty-Second Birthday

Sen felt numb for days after Tu’s admission. She didn’t know what to feel and so opted to feel nothing. Kaiji recognised the conflict in her mind and just stayed close, holding her hand, hugging an arm around her stomach as she slept. She didn’t try to convince Sen of anything, not yet.

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The Storyteller: The Origin Story

11:06pm, Thursday, 22 November 2018
Mood | tired

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Twenty-First Birthday

Back when Sen and Kaiji had first joined Captain Gendas’ crew, he had admitted he—and just about every other bounty hunter at the time—had greatly admired Captain Tu and the Horizons. Even when she continued to evade him, there was still a begrudging respect in his words. When Sen saw him standing at the prow of Cocoa Black, floating alongside the Orana without so much as a bad word between them, she knew he had always planned this. He’d always planned to meet Captain Tu.

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The Storyteller: Return of the Pirate Lord

9:36pm, Wednesday, 21 November 2018
Mood | creative

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Twentieth Birthday

They agreed to meet in a year, mostly so Captain Gandas could send messages across the world and move all his pieces into place in time. They first hunted down the closest of Tu’s remaining allies, according to the tax office’s list, then made off for the meeting.

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The Storyteller: Of Gem Traders and Pearl Divers

9:56pm, Tuesday, 20 November 2018
Mood | creative

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Nineteenth Birthday

When they returned to Ryas a year later, with Argo’s and a second captured pirate ship in tow, Tu was gone. The story was that the Orana had visited in the dead of night and its crew had broken her out of prison, paying off or slaughtering dockhands and prison guards as they needed.

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The Storyteller: The Imprisoned Pirate

6:22pm, Sunday, 18 November 2018
Mood | braindead

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Eighteenth Birthday

They didn’t bother to keep their relationship from the crew. It was far easier to just let everyone know, stop the boys from trying to romance them and not have to steal hidden kisses in the dark. The captain was only disappointed because it meant he still had to find reasons to keep his male crew on board until he could find some more female crew members. He even offered to marry them, but Kaiji asked instead that her mother do the honours. Captain Gendas said that was cheeky, being as they were halfway across the world at the time, but he agreed to detour through Jita on their next tax trip to Ryas.

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The Storyteller: The Tale of the Hunted

1:54pm, Sunday, 18 November 2018
Mood | content

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Seventeenth Birthday

Sen settled quickly into ocean life, though her first year aboard the Cocoa Black only served to show her how much she didn’t know. The crew was patient, though, and quickly corrected her mistakes so nothing was amiss on the ship. The kids especially, three of them around the age of ten, loved to show off their knowledge to their new crewmates.

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The Storyteller: The History of Tranquilo

10:31pm, Saturday, 17 November 2018
Mood | hopeless

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Sixteenth Birthday

Sen and Kaiji kept a list of all the names of bounty hunters that were mentioned by the ships that came to Jita. Four names kept coming up, names they had been hearing and idolising for years before, too, but it wasn’t until Captain Wik of the Cibo, the only bounty hunter that ever came to Jita, instantly mentioned Cocoa Black that they properly decided on a destination. The other three in their list would be backup, in case Cocoa Black wouldn’t take them, but Sen decided they didn’t need backup.

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The Storyteller: Battle for the Pirate Isles

5:31pm, Saturday, 17 November 2018
Mood | relaxed

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Fifteenth Birthday

Nobody was angry when Sen returned home. She ran into Sula’s arms, crying that she was right. Even Sula understood why she had run away. She needed to learn for herself who Tu was. She recounted her meeting with Captain Tila and the conversation they’d had. It was only in the telling that Sen realised just how angry she was.

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The Storyteller: The Pirate Lord

1:52pm, Saturday, 17 November 2018
Mood | relaxed

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Fourteenth Birthday

Kaiji was the only person Sen told she was running away.

‘Come back,’ she made Sen promise, words barely heard through her tears. ‘Because I still want to marry you.’ She left Sen with a kiss on the cheek. Sen returned it with a peck on the lips, then she boarded the Golden Fleece and left Jita behind.

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The Storyteller: Demise of the Horizons

11:17pm, Friday, 16 November 2018
Mood | tired

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Thirteenth Birthday

A year later, on a bright, breezy day dotted with a few puffy clouds, a magnificent ship slid up alongside Jita’s dock. It looked very old, with a classic design only the few elderly residents of Jita recognised, and they said such a style had been old even when they had been children. Written on its hull, in letters carved of long-lasting dark wood in place of modern paint, was the name Emprades.

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The Storyteller: The Official Story

10:01pm, Thursday, 15 November 2018
Mood | chilled

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Twelfth Birthday

When tax time came around the following year, Sen was ready with Kaiji and Nak to board the next ship to Ryas. The Exeter was a merchant trader carrying Raykinian steel, Kazinian furs and alcohol from both. The crew was stressed, worried that they wouldn’t sell their wares for as much as they needed. The ship was in a bad way, leaking such that two crew members were always running up and down from the hold with buckets, and they desperately needed a solid profit to buy the wood to fix their ship. Despite the stressful atmosphere of the ship, though, Sen was thrilled to finally be on the ocean.

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The Storyteller: The Tale of Dragon Ghan

12:09am, Tuesday, 13 November 2018
Mood | sleepy

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Sen still couldn’t completely banish Captain Tu from her thoughts. She didn’t entirely want to, either. On the morning of her birthday, she and Kaiji were cleaning the morning’s catch, along with half a dozen other children in the village. It was a communal gathering. If one fishing boat didn’t have a good day, another may have caught too much for one family to eat. Everything was tossed together and distributed among the families for breakfast. This morning, Kaiji was gutting the smaller fish while Sen cleaned them. The bigger teenagers got the bigger fish, like salmon and long, slippery garfish. No part of the fish went to waste. The guts and the scales would be boiled up to make stock for soup that night, with kelp that hung in dried ribbons in the sun.

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The Storyteller: The Lie of Baby Sen

8:41pm, Sunday, 11 November 2018
Mood | accomplished

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Tenth Birthday

Big white clouds raced overhead on a blustery morning, not threatening rain but blocking the sun every now and then. Sen sat on the beach, knees drawn up, watching the sea change colour under sun and clouds without really seeing it. She had heard nothing but rumour of Tu for four years now, but the more she heard the same ones over and over again, the more she started to believe them. She had been such a naïve little kid when she had last seen Tu. She had believed every word Tu had told her and tried to reason it out even when it didn’t make sense, but now…

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