Tales of Rogues: 1 – Steamy Rings and Other Things

It was just another typical day in the Arcadian skies; the sun bright and blazing over those that dared to take flight with airships that lacked a true means to stay afloat. The inhabitants of the Thalia, always seeking to make the impossible theoretically possible, had installed a small propeller on the back of their ship as a true 'in your face' to those around that had never once before questioned the laws of gravity. It was a staple to prove just how ignorant the world had become in these last few generations; taking for granted what was and never truly once thinking about it.

That isn't to say that the Red Rogues were the most thought provoking individuals in the sky, however. In fact, it is easy to say that more of the opposite is true.

"Give me my ring back!" Karen exclaimed, bearing a clenched well shook fist at the man next to her.

"No." replied the cheeky red-head, clenching the ring with a fist launched high in the air as the silver haired Glacian tried in vain to grab it from him. He grinned, knowing full well that she wasn't tall enough to take it directly. "What's the magic word, Karen?"

"No Piers, I will not repeat myself." She shot daggers in his direction as she deflected his hand away from her shoulder. "Do not make me."

"Aw, come on..." Piers teased, waving his hand close enough for Karen to reach but quickly recoiling before she could take it back. "When's the last time you've just politely asked, hmm? Not very suiting for an advisor of royalty to be so... demanding."

"Piers, enough of this childish behavior." Karen scoffed, folding her arms ever so tightly against her chest. He'd not get the best of her!

He stuck out his tongue. "Guess you won't be getting it back today, then. What a shame. Toodles!" With that the twenty-five year old man turned and gave her a cheerful wave before initiating his departure.

Karen seethed with frustration as the redhead took his leave, swearing that he had done a light swagger to taunt her. Well, it worked. She had to get the ring back from Piers... What would Michelin say?

"Aw, Karen! What's with all the fuss?" A concerned voice reached her ears, which caused Karen to slightly blush at her predicament.

"Ah... it's nothing, Vanessa. Don't worry about it." The Glacian didn't even face her direction as her curly-haired friend approached.

"Obviously not." A slight head tilt of intrigue possessed the sexy curly haired girl. "Karen... don't lie to me."

"What gives you the impression that I am being dishonest?" Karen retorted, finally turning to face her companion.

"The sudden sharp tone towards me is a good indication..." Vanessa's lips twitched with amusement, not mentioning that the girl's blushed cheeks and shaken posture were also clear giveaways.

"...you'd be best to mind your own business, Vanessa." The sudden tone shocked the girl, not too sure she was comfortable with where this conversation could be headed. "After all, wouldn't you want me to do the same?" Her jade eyes challenged Vanessa's brown pools.

"Well, I was going to offer to steal the ring back from him, seeing as I understand it is an important thing to you, but if you don't want me to be tangled up with this... I suppose that's fine too." Vanessa's mood notably deflated. "I just came to ask if you wanted to cook with me or hang out later, but I guess it was the wrong time to do so, sorry."

Karen gave her friend a blank stare. She hadn't have needed to sound so sad about it. Who gave her the right to switch to "saddened pirate" anyway?

"Oi, Karen!" This voice was distinctive and snarky in its nature as it casually interrupted their conversation. "Prince wants you for something; better go attend to him before he gets upset." Skye entered the scene, stepping out onto the deck and appearing absolutely beautiful as the wind gently ruffled her cascading blonde locks. She stood with her own arms crossed, her eyes clearly telling the Glacian to beat it as it was her turn to occupy her missie's time.

"He can wait." Karen said, not caring how rude she had sounded. Skye wouldn't get to her today. "Vanessa and I were about to have a chit chat." Skye blinked in surprise as she adjusted her glasses. "As nice as I know you're trying to be, your "liege" does want you for something or another, I really didn't pay attention."

"Tell him I'm with Vanessa right now, and it's rather serious." Karen held a firm grip on Vanessa's shoulder, surprising both her and the blonde.

"I hope you aren't expecting me to take care of it!" Skye hollered after her, folding her arms once more. "Bitch."

Vanessa could already see where this was going, and she didn't really feel like being caught in a tug-of-war for her attention.

"It's fine, Skye. It'll only be for a few minutes and then I'll join you. Please inform Marion that I'll be delaying Karen's arrival, would you? I'd greatly appreciate it."

"B-but..." Skye's composure shook for a moment, her hardened exterior breaking from the humble plea that her friend gave her. It was hard to say no to that woman. She sighed. "Fine. But just for the record I'm doing it for you, not her." She jabbed a finger in Karen's direction and threw her a snide look before retreating. She hated when Vanessa forced her to back down; she quite anticipated ruffling Karen's feathers in yet another argument.

Karen awkwardly looked in Vanessa's direction, dreading the response that she knew she was going to receive.

"Look, Karen, I know it bothers you... but for something like this, you don't have to shun help offered to you. I know how Piers can be. He will likely give it back to you tomorrow, but if you want it back now, I'll go snatch it up for you." Vanessa gave her a soft smile, knowing full well that Karen was desperately trying to control her frustration and wasn't sure that she could handle it while dialoguing. "If you don't wish to consider it a favor from me, just think of it as a Red Rogue sharpening her skills. One in this occupation should always practice their art, you know."

"Vanessa, I don't want -"

"Actually, disregard what you're about to say. I'm going to get it back for you anyway, and you can scold me or whatever then. How'd Piers bid you farewell last time?"

"... He said toodles." Karen's voice was quiet.

"Toodles then Karen! See you later." With a wink and a grin Vanessa headed inside to seek out her red-headed target. Karen was left to stand silently on the deck, almost a bit uncertain of what to think as she was forced into accepting her friend's help without much of an argument. Despite everything that had happened, Karen felt a bit of relief from what had transpired. Well, things could have gone worse…

"That dumb bitch... How dare she undermine me in front of her." Skye mumbled, leaning up against the deck, the wind playing with her bangs. "Stupid Karen and her stupidity!"

"My sensitive ears!" A young male voice groaned from the corner, clamping his ears shut with his hands in an attempt to block the bad words from further assaulting his brain. "Crikey Skye, underage child here, you know better than to swear." Skye snorted, her anger dispelled momentarily by the random introduction of the blond-haired boy.

"Cade, you've never had a problem with swearing before; no need to start pussyfooting around it now. Who's been trying to 'teach' you etiquette, was it Karen? Because if it's that bitch I ought to..."

"Piers, actually. He said it was, uh... unbecoming or some nonsense like that. Marion agreed, so I've been trying to, uh... smarten up." Cade grinned.

"You'd best be ignoring what either of them said." She raised a brow. "And lose the 'Crikey."

"Aw... I thought it was cool." Cade frowned, actually appearing a bit sad. "Though they did tell me to ignore you as well, so I guess, uh... I don't know what I should do. Guess I should just drop everything... and start anew, or something."

"Shit Cade, I've never seen you be so indecisive." Skye paused as Cade cringed at the swear word. She found it amusing, although she liked him more prior to his new found 'enlightenment'. "I don't know what kind of nonsense they've been teaching you, but I'd recommend to stop listening to them. Just leaves you confused."

"Well that's true... life is kind of boring without spontaneous vulgar expressions. Thanks Skye! You're the best." It was amazing how easily Cade could cheer up. Well, the problem he mulled over was completely trivial, but still.

"Glad to hear..." She shrugged off the compliment, visibly turning away from Cade. She cleared her throat as her voice turned serious. "Cade, I need you to do something for me." Cade straightened, his expression showing notable intrigue. Any time Skye asked something of him; it had always turned out to be a most interesting request... What could it be this time?


Skye knelt a bit to Cade's level as she pressed her and against his ear. "I need you to-"

"-Aaah!" Cade swatted an upcoming bug away from his face, causing Skye to lose her balance and grab a hold of the rail beside her.

"Good god, did you really need to scream like that!"

"B-But!" Cade hid behind her, Skye soon finding out what had been the cause of the sudden interruption. The long yellow skinny body of the small insect had been the dead giveaway as she froze immediately.

"Why the hell did you bring it over to me!"

"G-Get it away!" He yelled, grabbing onto Skye in sheer terror.

"I sure as hell don't want it near me!" Skye froze; the hornet landing on her arm. She tried her best not to let out a scream.

Oddly enough, as the two clung to each other in terror, the hornet abruptly decided to change paths and headed through an open porthole. The two were relieved at its sudden departure, though one was concerned that it was potentially after one of the other crewmates, while the other was more hoping that it would sting a particular silver-haired gal. That and she now couldn't enter the ship again without paranoia paralyzing her at the fact that it was in there somewhere...

"There's no way I'm going in there." She said, now her favor meaning that much more. "Now why don't you be so kind and... spy on Vanessa and Karen for me?" She let out a huge grin as her smile widened from ear to ear.

"No way. I'm not heading in there. Did you see how big it was! I don't want it stinging me!-"

Skye pushed Cade near the door as he let out a displeased grunt.

"Do I get anything for this?" Cade was still resisting as he was shoved near the door, hesitating as he turned back to face his 'employer'.

"Fame, fortune, and undying love for thee? Hah! Who do you think I am? Get your ass in there." She chortled, though as Cade's expression began to form a stubborn denial, she slightly conceded. "Fine, I'll get Vanessa to bake you all the cookies you want later. I'll let you join in our next escapade too, 'right?"

"Okay!" Cade enthusiastically went through the door, his former terror seemingly forgotten as he plunged into the wooden depths.

Skye breathed a sign of relief. She was quite happy that Cade would do her dirty work for her at the mere mention of cookies. A glutton indeed; and it'd work to "her" benefit! ...Oh, and she should have told Cade to let the Prince know that Karen would see to his 'problem' as soon as possible... Oops, oh well.

When Cade ventured within the ship he called home, he came to the realization of two things. First, his love for cookies was so strong that he had already completely forgotten how perilous this adventure truly was, with a hornet on the loose; secondly he had no true idea where Karen and Vanessa were or why he should be eavesdropping on them. He understood that when it came to matters concerning Vanessa, Skye always felt like she should be part of it. Why she cared about this particular conversation with Karen, of whom Vanessa conversed with daily, Cade was uncertain.

He could not find them in any of their regular dwellings - the bridge or the kitchen. He had expected that they would be cooking together as lunch time was fast approaching; a fair guess, but he knew that Skye could have spied on them herself if they were in such an open area. He slowly crept up to Karen's door, listening for anything of interest. All he could hear was the soft sounds of Karen quietly humming to herself, the tune nostalgic as she had sung that particular tune to him only a few weeks ago. If she was just humming a traditional Glacian tune, Vanessa couldn't be present. Skye had led him to believe that it was a more secret and pressing conversation - guess it had ended before he had arrived. He would check up on what Vanessa was doing and then report back to Skye. He almost felt bad that he'd have nothing juicy to share with her; not that he was certain that he would, anyway.

Vanessa had made her way to the guys' room, where Piers lounged on the bed to the right. He playfully tossed a ball of yarn to each hand, forming a juggling motion.

"What is it, love?" He teased as her presence was more than known to him. "Come to play?"

"Knock it off." Her voice was stern.

"Aw, come on Nessa, don't be like that." Piers gave a sly smile as his right hand clamped around the ball of yarn, stopping the momentum it had gained from his tossing it around. His eyes lit up as he stared at her, the girl looking slightly displeased as she entered the room and closed the door. Ignoring her chagrin, his imaginative mind played with the thought that they were alone in the room together. Many possibilities could branch out from here, but would it be the one that he wanted...?

Surely she wouldn't mind if he tried to ease whatever was troubling her. Maybe a massage would help loosen the near stiff posture he seen her to have.

"Please, sit." He patted the remaining space on his bed hoping that'd be an indication.

Vanessa stood hesitantly, not sure how she wanted to approach this. She hadn't yet seen the location of the ring she was searching for, and determined that he likely had it in one of his pockets - she didn't dare let her eyes wander down to scan them, as he was sure to get the wrong idea. She knew that if she wanted to do this tactfully, she would have to accept his offer and sit down next to him on his bed. He was probably thinking of giving her a massage, judging by the somewhat concerned look his face adopted as it looked at her. Without saying anything, she plopped down next to him, staring at her boots as she gave a reluctant sigh.

"Do your worst." She uttered, Piers couldn't help but grin. So she was going to play.

"Now now, we can't have you ruining what has the potential to be a great time, now can we?" He winked, Vanessa not catching the obvious hint. She felt his cool hands on her shoulders, immediately becoming tense.

"Just relax..." He soothed, letting his hands work their magic as he eased her stressed muscles and smiling as she involuntarily shuddered, clearly enjoying his service. Her clothes were a bit of a pain to work around, but he didn't dare ask her to take them off, knowing that would be far beyond her comfort zone right now. Besides, he just wanted to establish a comfortable atmosphere for the two of them to reside in; to allow Vanessa some time to lower her defenses. That didn't mean that he couldn't visualize what he couldn't see physically...

Vanessa didn't intend to succumb to his simple charms but her body was entirely for it, releasing stress pent up that she wasn't even aware that she had. She was still looking down at her legs, but now she was taking short glances at both individual pockets of his shorts - he couldn't notice now that he was more focused on her back muscles. As she gazed over, she caught sight of a small circular object in the right pocket farthest away from her. There it was... but how to get to it...?

"Now, tell me." Piers started; his voice now soothingly quiet. "What's on your mind, my Nessa?"

Usually Piers wouldn't dare to make such advancements in her direction ...UNLESS! Had he known what she came here to achieve. She certainly hoped that wasn't the case.

"Not too much, really…" She admitted softly; providing an honest statement though her tone came off as more evasive. She allowed herself another moment to enjoy the massage, and was sadder than she should have been when he paused, imploring for more information. He wanted to get inside her head and see what she was feeling, but that was entirely dependent on how willing she was to open up to him. "Nothing that you need to worry about, in any case..."

"Must you entice my curiosity so? I'm always here for you, Nessa, I hope you know that." His arms wrapped around her, giving her a hug from behind. Vanessa's cheeks flushed, feeling a bit too comfortable in his hold.

"Just feeling a bit under the weather, I suppose." It wasn't a lie; she had been feeling a bit out of it these last few days.

"The crystal?" His voice was light. Her heart thumped as he drew closer.

"Yeah..." It was no more than a whisper. As if on cue, the scabbard of Piers' sword fell off, clamouring on the floor for a moment before lying still.

His eyes came to a close as he rested his head on Vanessa's shoulder. He wouldn't let the simple jar from the scabbard ruin the moment between him and his Nessa.

Cade couldn't help but be relieved from the interruption Piers' scabbard caused earlier. He wasn't sure how far the two were going to go, and was in no quick hurry to find out. Although the two were quite charming; as they proved to be.

Knowing that he wasn't going to discover much more by eavesdropping, Cade decided that he'd head back to report to Skye on his findings. He was worried that she would be disappointed because he had nothing to offer other than that Vanessa was ill and hanging out with Piers while Karen did... whatever in her room, but it would have to do. He walked slowly back, slightly paranoid as he could hear the angry buzz of the hornet nearby while he could not see it. He didn't want to run because he knew it would likely pursue and also his heavy footfalls would give him away to the other occupants in the area.

"Practicing your next stealth mission, Cade?" The man's tone was curious as Cade jumped and whirled around, coming to face the only purple-clad wearing Prince on board, Marion.

"A-actually, I can hear a hornet somewhere... don't want to startle it or it'll come after me." He felt clever, being able to be deceptive with an entirely honest answer.

"Oh, that bug in the corner?" Marion pointed it out, Cade paling as he realized he had been walking right towards it. "No fear, bud, I'll get it." Cade watched in astonishment and worry as Marion fearlessly approached the hornet and, without so much of a thought more, smashed it with his fist. The prince grimaced as he beheld the sight of the guts of the insect on the wall. The body lay crumpled on the ground. "I don't think Vanessa would be happy if I left that up there. She just cleaned the hallway this morning."

"W-Wow! That was incredible!" Cade clasped his hands together, staring in awe at both Marion and the dead hornet. "You socked the hell outta that thing!"

"All in a day's work I suppose." He said while uncomfortably rubbing the back of his neck. When it came to being praised, Marion was truly at a loss for words. It came as a simple truth; he just wasn't used to it.

Cade's eyes sparkled. "I wish I could do that... but those things terrify me." The amount of courage it took to face such fears... Cade lacked the motivation when it concerned hornets. He had always feared them intuitively, though he had never been stung before.

"Ah, well... everyone has a fear like that, so no need to be embarrassed about it." Marion brightened. "If you ever have an issue with a hornet, just come to me. I'll take care of it for you."

"That would be great, thanks." Cade turned to leave, though he hesitated as Marion cleared his throat.

"Um, Cade? Have you seen Karen anywhere? I asked Skye to look for her, but I haven't seen anyone since..."

"She's in her room. Just finished up a discussion with Vanessa, I think, because she left only a moment ago." Cade figured it would be best to cover his bases by implying that he had seen Vanessa himself, although he hadn't.

"Ah, so she was busy. Wish Skye had told me though, was getting a bit stressed waiting to hear from someone..." Marion sighed. "Guess I'll go bug Karen now. See you later, Cade." He reached out and ruffled the younger boy's hair instinctively, smiling before taking his leave.

Cade let out a huge sigh, a mixture of relief and worry. Thank the moons the retched hornet was gone. Although that was the best he could come up with when reporting back to Skye. Besides that he had nothing.

Vanessa almost dozed off, Piers repeating the massage he had done earlier. She hadn't realized how tired she was, now realizing that it was serious business. Her eyelids weighed a ton.

Piers felt protective and more loving than ever as he could sense how vulnerable she was becoming as she allowed herself to relax. She had become more drowsy and comfortable while in his presence; he couldn't believe the amount of stress that ebbed away from her as he continued his massaging crusade. She looked as if she were about to fall asleep on him; something he wouldn't mind at all if she did. It had happened once before while they were on the deck all that time ago; it gave him feelings that he would love to recreate tonight. It didn't seem that Vanessa wanted to repeat that experience just yet as she fought to keep her eyes open; succeeding as she gently pulled herself away from him. He reluctantly let his hands fall onto the bedspread, watching as she wearily gave him a grateful smile.

"I should probably lie down for a bit... feeling very tired now." She yawned, blushing in embarrassment as she had allowed herself to fall so far. She still hadn't retrieved Karen's ring from him yet, and knew that there was only one way she could still take possession of it without his know how. She stretched out her hands expectantly for a hug; Piers only too happy to oblige. While they hugged, Vanessa retrieved the ring with a short burst of her power. She hid it in her right hand as she pulled away, giving him a shy kiss on the cheek before heading for the door. "I'll see you later, Piers. Thanks for the massage."

"Not a problem, Nessa. Take it easy." He sat back down on the bed, a content smile on his face as he watched her depart.

Vanessa felt accomplished for more than one reason as she walked towards Karen's dwelling, feeling relief and pride as she knocked on the door. She was only taken aback for a moment as the Prince opened it; forgetting entirely that he had been requesting Karen's presence not too long before. Well, it didn't matter so much whether he was there or not; she bid him simple pleasantries and headed over to Karen. The spectacle-wearing girl did not know what to expect and was unprepared for when her friend lunged for her, giving her a strong hug and slipping her right hand in her own. Karen was confused at the motion until she felt the small object being gently pressed into her hand. Vanessa withdrew, giving the teen a wink and a nod to the Prince before she headed off to her own room. Marion didn't understand the exchange, but he was never one to question displays of true friendship.

Thank you, Vanessa. Karen thought to herself. You didn't have to do that for me... but you did. Thank you.