Minami no Otome:
The Southern Maiden
wearily at the small wooden table bolted to the floor, taking generous
swigs of the ale before him. He was tired...so tired. When
he came to take over his father's job as captain of this ship, he hadn't
expected it to take so much out of him. It was much more difficult
than he'd thought. After all, prior to this, Michael had only been
captain on little boats that could hardly be called ships. He never
even knew his father, never knew how very burdened he was, nor how skilled
he must've been to keep afloat such a grand ship as the Southern Maiden.
captain thoughtfully rubbed his chin between his thumb and forefinger.
The familiar black stubble he always found there when at sea for long periods
of time seemed to make him smile, as though it meant something much more
than the fact that he hadn't been able to shave his face for weeks, perhaps
months by now.
took a sudden, violent lurch, and Michael's ale tankard flew from his hand
all at once, spilling its contents on his clothes. He frowned, swore
under his breath, and stood up with a ground-toothed grimace on his dark-skinned
face. Frustratedly, he hurled the now-empty tankard across the chamber,
and it smashed against the far wall, falling with a clank to the wooden
floorboards. Michael stomped up the three steps to the deck, and
hollered angrily at the men working there.
now, you ninnies! If I catch you fooling around one more time, I'll
have you all tossed unceremoniously off the side of this ship, do
you hear me!?" Michael's shout was a commanding roar, and for it
he felt rather smug about himself. Self-confidently he smiled and
turned back toward the table, starting at the sight of an all but familiar
I—" he faltered with surprise. Kirei's grey-blue eyes flashed and
she smiled knowingly.
awfully happy with yourself for that. So angry, so commanding!" Kirei
sarcastically feigned swooning. "How very strong and masculine you
are!" Michael rolled his eyes tiredly.
your firm grasp on the utterly obvious, Kirei," he said pompously.
"Now would you please just cease to harass me and tell me why you came
to visit," she replied vaguely. His look was bored.
enthralled. What do you want?"
to remind you that I'm here and I won't be ignored, that's all."
Kirei rolled her silvery eyes, and with a swish of her long brown hair
and a sweep of her ankle-length satin skirt she started collecting serving
platters from the tables and floors. Kirei served as a maid on the
ship more than anything, but in actuality she was nothing of the sort.
Her attitude and demeanor clearly indicated she was never brought up to
serve anyone, and her sarcastic and sometimes racy sense of humor and tone
of voice communicated the same message. Her body seemed to flirt
with Michael's eyes, even as she performed such tedious tasks as picking
up after the sailors' meal from a few hours ago. He ran his eyes
from her golden-crowned brown hair all the way down to her leather ankle
boots, where he flinched as he caught the vague sight of a dagger's glimmer.
He looked back up to see her wink suggestively and somehow cover the knife
back up without even bending down. A reminder indeed.
are we headed today, Michael?" she asked plaintively as she picked up all
the scraps of food still left about the room. Kirei was also the
only one on the ship who dared call Michael by his name. 'It's Captain
Johnston to you!' was what he had first told her firmly. Her
answer had been a shrug of the shoulders and a flash of the eyes, and he
never brought up the subject again.
to an island commonly called Nimbus. Small, remote island—couldn't
be more than a few miles wide. There's a good bounty head that I
heard was keeping shop there, though." Michael replied. Kirei's look
puzzled as to why the civilians wouldn't recognize him and turn him in
to authorities," she said.
just the thing," Michael explained. "There are no civilians.
Well, at least none that could be called 'civilians.' They're
very primitive and so chances are they have no idea what's going on.
Markab could be there with his people setting up a base of operations and
none of the so-called civilians would be smart enough to give a damn."
head," he answered shortly.
exactly is this guy nailed for anyway? And how much is he worth?"
Kirei asked, wresting a stuck ale glass from a tabletop. She grunted
as she finally yanked it free.
nailed for just about every crime in the book, actually, but more recently
he's been merely terrorizing people at random in every way you could think
of. He doesn't even seem to be stealing anything. But hey,
that's not my problem—all I want is the money for putting him away."
Michael replied, shutting his eyes submissively and shrugging his shoulders.
"And I repeat:
how much is he worth?" Kirei said again.
thousand gold pieces, my sharp little maid," he said in that superior jesting
voice, snapping his fingers and smiling smartly.
your little maid," Kirei corrected rather pointedly. "And five thousand
gold pieces is a lot. I could go out and buy myself a few new knives."
Michael shook his head.
you're smart," he said. "You don't get all five thousand,
and our food supply is—shall we say—less than plentiful."
she replied shortly. She brushed her hands together and clapped them
onto her plain, practical hunter green dress, sighing with satisfaction
as she surveyed the newly-cleaned room. "There—about as neat as it'll
ever get." Michael watched Kirei's almond-shaped eyes as she turned
back toward him, and in response she quickly averted them. She pivoted
toward the cabins and spoke a short, impersonal goodbye to the captain.
She ducked under the top of the threshold, turning for just a moment to
ask one last thing. "Wait...Michael, do you know how far we are from
land?" For some reason, he shivered hearing her call him by his name.
His mind raced for an answer, but he realized he didn't have one.
don't know," he replied unsurely. "I'll get back to you as soon as
I consult with the navigator?" Kirei smiled slightly and subtly nodded
her head, then disappeared into the shadows that led to the cabins.
there's a distinct reason this time for putting a Japanese title!!
Really. You can't see it yet, but I'll get to it.
is that weird pirate/bounty hunter story I was talking about. So
they're not exactly pirates
--but they're sailors and that's what
counts. It's a whole bunch of genres combined into one, like action/adventure,
fantasy, and even some romance, perhaps. Originally it was a very
distinct sci-fi/fantasy combo...but the sci-fi part was sort of lousy soooooo
I dropped it. ^_^ This story has been twisted and turned a million different
times, it seems, before I even got around to writing parts of it.
I have more if people think this is any good, but it's still under a lot
of this part is character description, for the most part, as well as to
introduce you to our main people a little bit. There are other major
characters, I just haven't exactly worked them out yet.
I hope you've enjoyed this first chapter; there will probably be more chapters/stories
of this type to come. ^_^ Thanks for reading, I appreciate it! ^_~
Especially to my regular readers: thanks for your support!! ~MJ
Date of Composition: Night
of May 12, 2002