Mwai S Ghost Ship
IC date: Autumn 3
OOC date: September 22
Location: Mwai's New Ship
PCs: Mwai, Rock'em-and-Sock'em, Salty, Grusha, Muzaji, Moon-Willow
NPCs: Ghost Pirate Captain Scuttlebutt, Ghost Navy Captain Straight-Lace
GM: Applejack

The seas are calm, but thanks to the help of an onboard pegasus, the sails of a sturdy ship from the Celestial shipyards are stretched taught from their riggings. A fine day, all things considered… The not-entirely-rightful owners of their new ship sail resoloutely forward, headed for home.

There'd been an argument, of course, over who the rightful captain of the ship was. And to describe that argument in the past tense was probably being overly optimistic. But Captain Mwai was at the wheel now, and that was what mattered. He takes a deep breath of the salt air, closes his eyes and feels for the first time in too long, feels the currents under his hooves and the tug of the wheel against the surf. "Steady as she goes," he says, not particularly caring if anypony was listening.

One can easily see the quick low-frame-rate montage scene going on in the background, as Lavender romps around the deck of the ship and does various jobs, manning the sails, messing with ropes, climbing things, scrubbing back and forth, climbing to the top of the crow's nest, and even dancing atop the ship's wheel. This goes on for quite some time.

Muzaji meanwhile was just taking it easy, leaning on the railing. "As much as I enjoy my business… endeavours, it does feel rather nice to be out to sea for a bit. I do at times miss the wanderer's life."

Fireside-Frolic has never been on a ship before. This… is somewhat evident. She's not seasick, but she looks ever so slightly petrified. She's staying away from the railings. And the masts. And the rigging. And anything really that might be close to the water, or fragile, or flammable, or part of the ship in any way and not the deck floor.
Salty slings a hoof around Fireside. "Heyyyy, don't look so nervous. I need to convince Mwai that I have at /least/ an equal share in this tub. You want to help?" She casts a rather unsettling grin at Fireside, the doll-joint scars just making her freakier.

Grusha is in the crow's nest, keeping an eye on things. She likes keeping an eye on things. From a certain angle, it looks almost exactly like working. Lavender's escapades earn a brief eyeballing and a gruff avian smile. "Be careful, detenysh. Ship is not a place for, you might say 'horsing around?'"
Moon-Willow sighs. Guilt is eatting at her insides though she tries not to show it. She stands beside Mwai, staring ahead of them. "No going back now…" She murmurs.

Mwai turns to Moon-Willow with what he hopes is a world-wise look. "Pretty much not. We are now in what you would call the criminal class quite firmly. I guess for you this is about like when I first left home… oh if they could see me now, they'd all come after me with blunt instruments and firearms, I suspect. Well, except mum. She'd bring a cannon."

Fireside-Frolic freezes and blinks over at Salty. Blinkblink. "Uhhhh… I… er… what'd you have in mind?" She doesn't look /entirely/ sure she wants to hear the answer, actually.

Rock'em and Sock'em are not on the deck. They're actually one level below deck, glaring at each other. Arguing.

"So what now? You gonna quit yer job, be a pirate?"

"What, I can't be a pirate and a bodyguard? There's pirate bodyguards."

"Yeah? Name one."

"How 'bout Big Beef Ham? Weren't he a pirate?"

"Smuggler."

"Same difference."

"It ain't and you know it."

"Fine fine… What about that other one, uh… Longflanks the Gawdawful Putz."

"…Rocky. I don't even… …Just… No…."

From the mouth of the lavender filly: "Ooh! Cannons! I want to go look at the cannons now!" Lavender opens the hatches belowdecks and romps gaily on downwards into the dark…
Muzaji … "Do we even -have- cannons?"

"Oooh, I don't know. Threats of blowing the thing up never go amiss," Salty grins. "It's a haggle, kitten. I demand the boat, he demands the boat, we meet somewhere in the middle besotten in alcohol and hopefully not in the middle of a real fire. I mean, unless he doesn't see things my way." Beam!

Moon-Willow blinks at Mwai. "My mother would faint on the spot and my father…my father would gather all the royal guards he could and hunt me down." She winces. "I really hope he doesnt find out.."

Fireside-Frolic tilts an ear. "I, uh… I'm supposed to /not/ be setting stuff on fire. …Wouldn't setting it on fire while we're sailing it be bad?" Maybe she hasn't fully grasped that whole 'pirate' thing yet.

Mwai regards Moon-Willow for a moment. "So we'll stay away from Canterlot. Usually a good plan anyway. As to this father of yours, well, I don't think anypony will believe his daughter is the security chief of a pirate ship. All the same, might as well get you a good, ah, nome de plume. I had a first mate once called Pie— her real name's Brown Apple Betty and she still goes to family reunions. 'course they're always asking her weird questions and I think half of 'em assume she's a bit mad, but… hm, where was I again?"

"Uh… Brown-Nose the Lardflank?"
"No."
"Screen-Door the Gardner Pirate?"
"Don't exist."
"White-Wash the Surfer Pirate?"
"…I'm goin' downstairs. You bein' an idiot makes me hungry for some reason."

Moon-Willow chuckles. "Security chief, huh?" She grins. "Well this IS more fun then being a harbor guard. Or standing around the castle doing absolutely nothing all day like my father would have me do if he'd had his way. Um…I think you were suggesting I use a pseudonym?"

Mwai smiles. "Right. Something that suits you."

Muzaji says "That's what he said, yes"

"Oh, yes," Salty says to Fireside offhandedly, watching Mwai, Moony, and Muzaji talk. "But there's nothing wrong with a little threat between friends, right? Right. Now we just have to figure out how to word it persuasively."

Grusha says "NO!" Grusha flies down from the crow's nest to land in front of the door belowdecks. "No! Nyet! You stay OUT of kitchen." Her crest flares. "I am taking strange job working for silly pony who is not knowing what he is doing, but if I am doing strange job I AM CHEF AND CHEF'S WORD IS LAW." She glares at Rock'em and Sock'em for a moment. "I will make borscht. Is good, you will like it. Finest food for ponies, borscht."

Moon-Willow 'hms' thoughtfully. "Like what though?"

"Rock'em and Sock'em, promptly stopped by Grusha, blink at the griffon. "What in the heck…" begins Rock'em, "…is boar ponyfeathers?" finishes Sock'em. Both ponies have flicked their ears back though, certainly cowed enough to start stepping back. "Fine, whatever." Sock'em states, "Yer the cook, cook us up some grub. We're hungry, darnit."

Grusha makes a disdainful little 'hmph,' turns around and goes downstairs. "I will make finest borscht. You will see."

Fireside-Frolic tilts an ear, nodding slowly. "Oh," she states, as though she understands the difference that she clearly does not understand. "Okay." She frowns faintly, rubbing the back of her head. She can't help but think this isn't the sort of career choice her grandpa had in mind when he told her to make something of herself. (Little does she know. A pony does not retire from a life at sea to a place like Horseshoe Harbor if piracy is not an acceptable career choice.)

Muzaji stares down at the confrontation at the hatchway, and rolls her eyes again. "Looks like we've got our first official conflict between crewmates, too."

Mwai refrains from mentioning the ongoing scuffle between himself and the "First Officer" Salty.

The hold, however, has something obviously wrong with it, which Lavender, Rock 'em and Sock 'em and Grusha discover in rapid succession: The main hold is full of dead bodies under sheets!

Moon-Willow smirks. "Heh. Maybe something to hightlight my acting skills! Who knew those classes would be useful someday?"

Grusha stares. "…I cannot cook under these conditions."

A loud shriek reverberates from Lavender as she leaps into the air, and flails her hooves all over the place as she does. "They're DEAD! Mwai! There's dead ponies down here, and I don't /want/ to poke them with a stick or anything because they might get uh-huh-huh-huhp!"

Rock'em and Sock'em both peek from either of Grusha's shoulders into what would have been a great place to find food. Instead there's bodies. Lots of bodies. With sheets covering them. "…hey." Rock'em pipes up. "You don't, uh, make boarshtuff out of that, do you? I don't think I'm ever eatin' ship food again…"

Sock'em facehoofs, turns around, and starts to head up the stairs again. "Hey Captain! We got problems!" Because y'know, the screaming filly ain't enough of an alarm or anything.

"Take the wheel," Mwai says to Moon-Willow. "Sounds like the less than fun parts of the job are starting." He trots down into the hold.

Moon-Willow blinks and jumps to the wheel. "Yes sir." She frowns nervously. Why would their be dead bodies on a ship of Celestias?

Salty blinks and gets distracted from her conversation. "Dead bodies, eh? Well!" She heads for the hold as well. "Maybe I can give them what for or something!

Muzaji's ears flick up at the shriek. "Well, that couldn't be good." Being as curious as she is, she doesn't think twice about following at Mwai to see what the screaming is about.

Grusha is glaring at the bodies. Then she's glaring at Rock'em and Sock'em. "Is unhygenic. You will be removing bodies and then washing hands."

There's not only bodies down there, there's /voices/ too. Off in the darkest corner of the hold full of sheet-covered corpses, soft whispers of voices can be heard.

"…So when they told us all to go jump in the ocean, we had to do what pirates do. We made'em all jump in the ocean instead! Arrrharharharhar!"

A sigh. "Are you aware that /all/ of your stories end the exact same way? Did you make all of your victims walk the plank? Whatever happened to things like keelhauling or just plain being run through."

"Arr, now look ye dried-up son of a beached whale in heat… Ye don't go tellin' a pirate how to do his work. Some of us don't like havin' messes on our ships, and that thar ocean's just as fine a way to deal with problems as a sword."

"Hmph. I'm just saying, your stories are old and crusty and all sound alike. You could do with a little variety…"

Off in the corner, there's the faintest bit of illumination. Spectral even. One might possibly dare to say ghostly. Two figures, sitting at a table. One with a huge hat and an oversized feather hanging off of it. The other with an official Navy hat. Though as faded and blurry as they are, it would take some sharp eagle eyes to really note.

Lavender hoofs her way dramatically across the floor to her captain's hooves. "Why are they deeeaaaaaad," she moans. Then she looks back. What is /that/.

Mwai sits down heavily. "A funeral ship. They're dead because we stole a funeral ship, and if I don't find a way to sort this out, my previous employer will probably want a word with me." he leans over to Lavender in a manner somewhere between conspiratorial and confessional, "My previous emplyer was actually Death as it happens."

"Well isn't that ironic," Muzaji remarks as she walks up behind Mwai. "Former aid to death herself steals a ship of the dead. Twisted and amusing, but ironic all the same."

Lavender sits down heavily with a huff and a sulk. "Why did we get a stupid dead ship instead of a pirate ship. I hope they had gems and jewels on 'em."

Grusha has griffon eyes, which are LIKE eagle eyes but apparently not like enough. Instead she glares at Mwai some more. "Is disgraceful. I cannot believe I let you talk me into this." She tromps her way back up the stairs to get away from the dead bodies, shaking her wings with disgust.

"Um, let's not loot the bodies until we've negotiated with their former owners, okay," says Mwai to Lavender. "But all pirate ships had to start somewhere. They don't get built with holds full of treasure. It's our job to put it there, eh?"

"Variety? Oh sure, Mr. Fancy-Arse Navy Jerk, I'll think up some new pirate tales for ye pleasure." The pirate captain turns and spits. Spectral spittle lands amid the bodies, glowing briefly, then fading out. "I got a new one right here. 'bout the time I plundered yer mother."

"Oh /please/." the Navy captain sighs. "She had standards, hygiene, and taste."

"Arr? Well that be a darn waste then. No wonder yer a great stick up a kracken's arse. Maybe if she'd been more loose you could'a been a pirate like me!"

"Need I remind you that /I/ killed /you/?"

"T'wern't fair! Ye shot me in the back! What kind of honorable Navypony does that!"

"The kind that fights pirates for a living, maybe?"

"Heh. An' look where that got ye. Cut to ribbons by a frenzied pirate crew. Should'a just kept sailin' on yer merry way…"

Moon-Willow sighs. Theres definetly something wrong with a ship of dead ponies, there really is. But right now theres more important things to focus on, like making sure the ship doesnt hit a reef or something and contemplating ways to ensure a position as first mate.

Fireside-Frolic creeps slowly up behind the group. "…I… I don't even think I want to know what everypony's looking at," she states to nopony in particular. Still, she tries to stretch up to see over everypony's shoulders.

Mwai hunches his shoulders and tries to rev up the old charm. He walks over the dead bodies with a calmness you only get from having done it to yourself before and makes his way to the table. "Good morning! We're the new owners of this ship and we'd like to negotiate with you to arrive at an equitable solution for the disposal of your earthly remians, if that's possible.

Lavender-filly draws her wooden sword, and stands beside her captain and the others defensively. "…What he said!"

Salty, lounging against one wall, points to Mwai with an easy nod. "Yep! Equitable. Or something like it, anyway."

"Needs more candles and incense," Muzaji comments as Mwai tries to commune with whatever spirits remain with the bodies. Then sidles up next to the captain. "I can provide you some for a modest fee, Captain."

"I'll tell you what I /should/ have done, I—"

The discussion by the ghosts stops, both of the ghostly forms turning their heads to squint at Mwai. Squint with cold, dead, rolled-up eyes no less. "What be this now?" the pirate captain asks, sizing Mwai up.

"Negotiate?" the Navy pony follows suit. "I believe our remains have already been set to be disposed of. We were meant to be given an honorable burial by burning boat. I'm pretty sure we had our heart and soul set on this." The navy pony gives a wry smile. Get it? Soul?

Muzaji oooohs. "That's going to be… complicated now."

"Wwwwell," says Mwai, fishing around desperately for excuses, explanations, or anything else useful in a situation like this, which is awkward because one pony would think the truth was hilarious while the other would pretty much be livid. "The boat's been… re-assigned. But we're not barbarians, we will provide you with an honorable burial. As soon as we can manage."

Moon-Willow hums to herself and then stops. "Oh! Maybe Silver-Tongue…."

Fireside-Frolic raises a hoof timidly. "I, uh… I can burn stuff. …But, um, not the boat. 'Cause that'd be bad."

Muzaji sighs. "So now we have a haunted pirate ship."

"…So wait," ponders Salty out loud. "They had a boat full of dead ponies waiting to be cremated, but it was casually dawdling until the Gala was over? Some respect for the dead."

Both of the ghosts stare at Mwai. The pirate captain breaks out into a broad grin, while the Navy captain slumps. "Re-assigned."

"That be pirate-speak for 'stolen'." the pirate captain offers, helpfully.

"I am…aware." the navy captain grumbles. "I hunted pirates all my life, I think I learned a thing or two about their lingo. Even the well-spoken ones. It would be just my luck that even my bloody funeral ship would be hijacked by pirates…"

The pirate captain laughs. Their voices have been growing clearer, as have their features, with more mortal ponies present. "Look on the bright side! Ye get ta see more o' the world from a spectating spector's perspective before ye join the stars! Think of it as the vacation ye ne'er wanted and deserved anyway. Harharharharharhar!" The ghost pirate captain claps the navypony captain on a shoulder.

The look on the Navy pony's face is so neutral it could have been printed on a statue.

Mwai decides the tough customer is the navypony, and makes an honest try at convincing him, putting on his best not-a-pirate, honest voice. "Sir, I must admit I acquired this ship under less than ideal circumstances, but I mean you no disrespect and really DO mean to honor you with a proper burial, as soon as I can arrange it." He definitely does not sweat profusely or shake at all.

Salty looks at one hoof. "You know, the Bone Mistress probably wouldn't much like that," she says helpfully. "I mean, if the bodies ain't buried properly the way they want em to be, why…they can't move on at all! Am I right?"

Lavender quivers a lip a little. "Wait, that doesn't mean…We don't have to…But we're not…We won't have to burn our new ship, will we?"

"At least you're a courteous pirate." the Navy Pony comments through his mask of utter neutrality. Really what pony worth his salt at sea doesn't have a world-class poker-face? "I'm not sure how we have much choice in the matter." he states then, glancing to the dead pirate captain, then back to Mwai. "How long do you figure, exactly? There are quite a few of us behind you, I'm not sure how many of them will take to a prolonged period of after-death before our final journey, if you catch my drift."

Sea charts whirl in Mwai's head, cross referenced with guard post locations and sailing times. The map in his head gets covered with X's pretty quickly. "I should think three days sail. Or if you prefer to get this done quickly, we can offer a ceremonial burial at sea."

Moon-Willow nods to herself, oblivious of the ghosts currently haunting the ship. "Yep, I think that its. Sounds good to me anyway!"

The Navy Pony frowns a deep, deep frown. "You shouldn't play games with the dead…" he notes in a dangerous tone. "…but fine. Whatever reasons have turned you to this path, as long as you guarantee that we will be properly honored and buried within three days time, I can promise there will be no spectral mutiny upon this ship. Any longer than that and I can promise nothing."

Mwai lets out a sigh that he manages to make look somewhat less exaggerated than it feels. "Thank you, Sir. We will do our best to honor your crew." As he turns his face from the officer, the pirate ghost gives him an unmistakable "can you believe this guy" headtilt. Mwai does not laugh, and is somewhat proud of himself for this.

Lavender looks up between Mwai and the spectral pirate. "This seems like a strangely normal kind of negotiation, sir."

Moon-Willow sings a cheerful sea chanty under her breath, wondering where the hay their headed. Shes much happier here then staring at dead bodies…

"You do that. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to spread the message." With that, the Navy Ghost sinks into the floor, out of sight. The ghost pirate captain heaves a soft sigh of his own. "Suppose I better tell the lads too, lest ye be strung up in yer sleep over all this. Har…" He, too, sinks into the ship to places unknown. Leaving the hold silent, dark, and still full of corpses.

Mwai leans down to Lavender and says "I've been dead, it has surprisingly little impact on your negotiation skills." He turns on his heels to face his crew. "So you heard them, no disturbing the corpses, we'll be setting sail for a small port three days sail south of here, yes it IS on the way no we will not be touching the bodies in the meantime. We should probably do the cooking, um… above decks… for now."

On the deck of the ship, Rock'em and Sock'em have taken to watching the scenery float by. Because they ain't sayin' boo to no ghosts and corpses. They got out of that business, darnit.

Muzaji might of frowned a little at the 'don't loot the corpses' but by the time anyone looks at her she's resumed her usual passive expression.
Lavender, for her part, does tend to shy away from looting the bodies of people who might be watching her. Hopefully this has not come up previously.

Hopefully.

The days pass mostly uneventfully. Salty seems to mostly feel that desecrating corpses is past some invisible line only she is keeping track of and does not start dumping bodies overboard just to see what would happen. Lavender probably shouldn't have spent that much time talking to dead pirates. Grusha strikes up what might be called a friendship if it weren't mostly a prolonged glaring match. Moon-Willow remains miraculously oblivious due to a number of surprising little coincidences of turning her head at just the wrong moment, or walking out of the room at just such a time. And eventually, it's time to start the grim, smelly work of respectfully hauling corpses ashore and respectfully lying about why they are being respectfully buried.

Mwai explains again, "If anyone asks, freak kitchen accident. Horrible. The one at fault is among the dead but we all forgive him. Got that?"

Grusha is trying a new glare on Mwai. More eyebrow action this time. "…da."

Mwai leans back. "Oo, that one's good."

Fireside-Frolic tilts her head. "I'm… not sure anypony's gonna buy that." She might underestimate the lying prowress of a pirate crew.

Moon-Willow cringes. "So…how DID they die exactly?" She asks Mwai.

Yawn. Salty shrugs, tilts her head from side to said, making her neck pop. "Yeah, yeah. Sure enough." She glances to Fireside. "Smile wide enough and they might believe you. Widen your eyes, and it won't matter if they believe you or not!"

Rock'em and Sock'em both have masks on, doing much of the work in hauling bodies back and forth. Goon muscles gotta be good for something now and then, right?

"Hey, Sockie, this remind you of that one time when-"

"Shut /up/ Rocky. Now ain't the time, we got bodies to move."

"But… Sockie…"

Lavender circles around Mwai; "Is the afterlife reeeeally all like they've been saying? And if I die do I get to be a ghost too?" She starts circling Salty as well. "And if we all sink to Davy Pone's Locker, can we all start a ghost ship and keep pirating for/ever/? Because then we wouldn't ever have to go home or anything!" Shouldn't have been talking to the ghosts for so long indeed.
"Pirates versus Naval Crew. Captain Scuttlebutt, real grizzled proper old sea dog, fought to near the last man against the naval forces, says he took six of them down with him before… um, look, you DO know they're ghosts that have been haunting the ship, right?"

Mwai decides to nip this one in the bud. "Lavender, Salty and I have both been dead before, and in both our cases, there was HOMEWORK."

"SCADS of it," Salty adds, woogling her hooves at Lavender threateningly.
Moon-Willow freezes. "W-what?!! GHOSTS! ACK!" Shes looking oddly pale considering shes normaly dark blue…

Lavender frowns intently. "You make it sound so completely un-fun." Well, clearly that was the point, but still. "No fun at /all/."

Mwai slings a festering corpse onto his back. "Now, this sort of thing is not completely unheard of. Just look tough and slighly haunted and nopony will think twice mostly. Just follow my lead."

Muzaji just shakes her head a bit as she follows, having returned to her usual demeanor of casual amusement. "Trust us. Being dead isn't all it's cracked up to be." The ghosts would probably agree with her too.

Moon-Willow cringes. "R-right." She copies Mwai, trying not to think about the smell or what she's carrying. She manages quite well to look suitably haunted…

The ceremony is essentially tasteful, small, and without fanfare and the Naval Captain didn't even complain about the character of the rituals, which were somewhere between "a Pony who'd never been to a respectful state funeral's idea of a respectful state funeral", a small tasteful Zebra burial, and for just a few minutes, a Griffon Wake. Only a few of the ghosts laughed at the captain's solemn spectral salute to the dead. Basically, it went off without a hitch.

Mostly.

The dead pirate captain had decided to stay on board and see the sights for a bit longer, and his adversary, the naval officer, insisted on staying around to "keep him from causing too much trouble".

Captian Straight-Lace now mostly haunted the aft mess, while Captain Scuttlebutt haunted the fore mess. Arguments between them settled into the background din of operations on the ship with eerie ease, as though the ship didn't mind, or the winds didn't, or as though the Bone Mistress had taken one look at the whole matter, grabbed a bottle of rotgut and headed the other way.

The sad part is that last part isn't being sarcastic in the least, most likely.
As for the name of this ship, well, that was one of the main arguments. Straight-Lace was adamant that it remain "The Dart", while Captain Scuttlebutt insisted that it be rechristened "Nightmare's Delight", after his own, lost ship. Mwai and Salty were rarely included in these arguments except derisively.