17 Like a knife through butter.

    "Hah!" scoffed the nobleman as the two ships steadily approached one another, "they dare to believe that their tiny vessel could survive a collision with mine, just because it can resist a little cannon fire."

    "Such idiocy!" He cursed as he eagerly awaited the moment of collision, "we shall carve through them like a hot knife through butter!"

    Meanwhile, the nobleman's elven slave, which currently stood at his side on the ship's forecastle deck, analyzed the enemy ship's appearance as it approached.

    She noticed how the ship's sails rose into place in an instant, unaided by the crew, how the cannon fire suddenly became useless against its hull in a single moment.

    But those details mattered little to her, magic existed in this world after all, so such things were not impossible with the use of the appropriate skill, spell, or enchantment. Even the ship she currently stood upon had similar enchantments.

    "Wood from the black forest, dwarven craftsmanship, gnomish design, sails woven by elves," her voice grew gradually quieter as she listed all the peculiarities she had noticed about the enemy ship, "The captain's clothing worn by that skeleton..."

    Then she went completely silent as she realized that she actually recognized the ship which she had been describing, as well as the clothing worn by Daisy.

    She stared at the steadily approaching ship for just a moment. It was now mere moments away from colliding.

    The elf then, coming back to her senses a few seconds later, promptly pulled out a necklace from within her shirt, at the end of which was a simple green leaf. She immediately folded said leaf it in half, and then blew into it as she held it between her palms.

    An extremely high pitched whistle which emanated from the leaf, echoing throughout the ship, its meaning understood only by the many enslaved elves aboard the ship.

    And they understood it's message very clearly, 'death approaches.'

    The noble, despite not previously understanding the whistle's meaning, could still figure it out through context, as he was not a total idiot.

    Or rather, seeing all of the elves suddenly all abandoning the ship, along with the other slaves who they had chosen to warn, made the meaning rather obvious.

    She believed that their ship, with its greater size, greater speed, greater firepower, and larger crew, was somehow at a disadvantage.

    "You wretch!" cursed the nobleman.

    He then began cursing her with various insults regarding he race, culture, and making various untrue claims about her mother and the inappropriate relations that she would have with wild animals...

    But the elf was no longer listening, as she had dropped to her knees, and was currently being strangled her metal collar. Punishment for giving such a mutinous order without her master, the noble's, permission.

    If Crystal had not purchased the indestructibility trait before her avatar's death, the reaction of the elf could have been said to be a foolish one, and the noble's, the more rational one. If that had been the case.

    The two ships impacted each other, letting out a deafening bang as they did so, followed immediately by the sound of utter destruction.

    The nobleman and the elf, the only two people still on their ship's forecastle deck, were both promptly thrown forwards as the front half of their ship collapsed beneath them. They both fell several meters from the much larger ship and onto the main deck of the ashen maiden, him, bouncing off the main deck before impacting the ship's mainmast, and she, impacting a crowd of skeletons before likewise falling unconscious.

    They both remained motionless as the ashen maiden continued forwards, carving a path through the centre of the noble's ship.

    Daisy gave the pair a dismissive glance as a group of skeletons dragged them both below deck.

    She then raised her sword, and moments later, just as the ashen maiden had torn three-quarters of the way through the much larger ship, and had lost most of its momentum, and she gave a single order.

    "Fire all cannons!" She commanded, causing all cannons to do just that. Utterly devastating, and setting fire too, the already destroyed ship from within.

    Then, after the ashen maiden finished slicing its way through the centre of the enemy ship, daisy mentally commanded the anchor on the front right side of the ship to drop, causing the small ship to pivot itself ninety degrees, and its right side to once again face the noble's ship.

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    The idea for the maneuver had come to her through her link to Crystal's core, and she felt this to be the perfect opportunity to test it. The sight of Crystal's dying avatar was still fresh in her mind after all.

    "Fire all starboard cannons!" She ordered.

    Several explosive chain reaction echoed through the forest as the cannons which had been aboard the larger ship, and the magic cores used to power them, were detonated by the endlessly firing cannons.


    Tina, who had watched the scene from afar, now stood in shock. As did Desmond, the wolf hybrid who had mocked Tina for not using their ship to follow the river.

    She glanced at him and he immediately looked away.

    "...Ahem, well then," she addressed what remained of her crew, "any thoughts on our next course of action?"

    Her crew contained two main types of demihumans. There had originally been one group for each ship that had been present in their fleet, but one ship had been sunk at sea, and thus lost all of its crew.

    The first group, Tina's group, were from the black catkin tribe. They originally had 30 crew members, of which 18 now remained, including Desmond who stood with her group as well, despite not being a catkin.

    The second group were rabbit kin, which had only 10 of their crew remaining, despite originally having had 50. Their ship had been the first attacked by the noble's, and they had barely came within swimming distance of the island before sinking.

    The third group had been the silver wolfkin, which had lost all of their 20 crew members. Upon witnessing the rabbit kin's ship being attacked they had chosen to crash their own ship directly into the noble's rather than fleeing. They then climbed aboard and engaged directly in a melee fight with the crew of the noble's ship. They killed only a handful of enemies in their attack but their sacrifices had allowed the other two ships to reach the island.

    "The way I see it," Tina continued, seeing that no one else had chosen to speak, "we have three options."

    "Option one, we wait aboard this uncharted island and hope to be rescued," she said with a reluctant expression, clearly not favouring this option.

    "Option two," she continued, "we contact the ones who sunk the enemy ship and attempt to take their ship if necessary... though in our current state we have very little persuasive or combat power of any kind."

    "Option three... we surrender to them, and hope they show us mercy," Tina lowered her head as she said so, "though they appear to be pirates, based on their flag."

    She suggested such, despite being the group's only surviving female, and all members of her crew knew what it often meant for a woman to be captured by pirates...

    Tina knew that her crew was tired, traumatized, and disheartened... and that they would eventually mutiny given enough time. This venture had been her and her sister's idea from the start after all.

    She watched as her crew all chose to vote for the third option, one by one, and she resigned herself to whatever her fate may be.

    Tina felt she could not blame them for that, however. She had failed them, and she knew it.
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