The Melancholy of Herja
(Captain) and Herja save a little girl from monsters. The child's merchant older brother hires the Iron Spear and the Grandcypher crew as security for his trading convoy. But some of Herja's mercenaries recently had a run-in with other skyfarers in the convoy, making her job as the expedition's leader extremely difficult.
Herja: Whetstone, oil, wool... That should be everything I need.
(Captain), Herja, and the crew are out shopping.
Herja: We'll run out of hands to carry our purchases at this rate. Shall we return to—
Just as they are about to head back to the Grandcypher, Herja makes a sharp right turn.
Vyrn: What's up, Herja? This's the way to the forest, not the port.
Herja: I know. But something isn't right. It was faint, but I thought I heard a scream just now.
Herja: Someone may have run into trouble in the forest. I'm going to go check!
Vyrn: Hey, don't run off by yourself!
C'mon, (Captain). She'll need backup!
(Captain) and the others hurry after Herja into the woods.
They find a girl treed by a monster, clinging to one of the upper branches and trembling with fear.
Herja: I knew it! Come on, (Captain)! We have to get her to safety!
(Captain) nods and prepares for battle.
Moving in tandem, the pair soon sends the monster running for the hills.
They help the girl—Michelle—down from her perch and escort her home.
Her home turns out to be the stately manor of the town's most affluent merchant.
Michelle's grandfather and older brother greet the crew with tears of gratitude and invite them inside to enjoy their lavish hospitality.
Merchant Mike: I shudder to think what would have happened to my sweet little Michelle if you hadn't found her!
Mike III: How can we ever thank you!
Herja: Anyone would have done the same. We're just happy she's safe.
Merchant Mike: But how did you ever realize she was in trouble from so far away?
Merchant Mike: You must be famous skyfarers. Or perhaps mercenaries?
Herja: Oh, forgive me. I should have made introductions sooner.
Herja: This is (Captain), captain of the airship Grandcypher and its sizable crew.
Merchant Mike: Captain (Captain)? Well, I never! I've heard all about your exploits from Sierokarte!
Herja: And my name is Herja. I lead a band of mercenaries known as the Iron Spear, although I'm not certain I've fully grown into the position.
Merchant Mike: The illustrious Captain (Captain) and the commander of the famous Iron Spear? I don't think I've ever had such distinguished dinner guests!
The merchant can hardly contain his surprise.
Merchant Mike: Hmm... Perhaps this is fate.
Herja: What do you mean?
Merchant Mike: As it happens, my grandson is planning to strike out to expand our business off the island. We've been looking for security personnel for the expedition.
The merchant gestures to his grandson, seated beside him.
Merchant Mike: You never can tell what dangers may lie along an unexplored sky route. If you would be amenable, I would be thrilled to hire all of you for the job.
Vyrn: Whaddya think, (Captain)? Might as well hear him out, right?
Sensing a good customer in the grateful merchant, (Captain) asks for more details.
Vyrn: Whoa... This job is a lot bigger than I was expecting.
Herja: From the sound of it, I'm not sure the Grandcypher has the hold space or enough crew to transport all that cargo alone.
Mike III: Oh, of course. We plan to enlist the help of other crews and merchants in order to put together a convoy. And that's where you come in, Herja.
Herja: Ah, so that's why you need the Iron Spear to run security.
Mike III: Exactly! I was worried we wouldn't have enough people to protect such a large convoy, but if you accept, all our problems should be solved!
Mike III: Not to mention, I'm eager to learn how an exquisite flower such as yourself commands an entire band of rowdy mercenaries. I'm sure you could teach me a thing or two about leadership!
Herja: Exquisite... flower?
The young man's frank admiration brings color to Herja's cheeks.
Vyrn: Easy there, Herja. You're gettin' that glassy look in your eyes again.
Herja: Ah! I can't let my impure thoughts get the best of me!
Herja: A-hem! Understood. I'll see how many Iron Spears are available for this assignment.
Merchant Mike: Thank you so much! With your cooperation, this venture is bound to be a success!
Herja does her best to return the merchant's beaming smile, but it falls a little flat.
Herja: (Merchants shouldn't be a problem, but I'm not so sure how the Iron Spear is going to get along with other airship crews...)
In the end, Herja accepts the job. A few days later, she and a contingent of Iron Spears prepare to meet their client at the port.
Herja: Is everyone here? I trust you're all ready to give this assignment your full dedication?
Iron Spears: Ready and waiting, ma'am!
We're ready to rendezvous with the convoy, (Captain). Shall we be on our way?
(Captain), Herja, and the Iron Spears all head toward the port where the convoy ships are docked.
Iron Spear 1: Leave it to our commander to find such a big job!
Iron Spear 3: I can't wait to show all these skyfarers what we're made of! We'll dismantle those monsters before the skyfarers can even get near 'em!
Herja: I'm glad you're enthusiastic about your work...
Herja sighs, a look of disapproval on her face as her mercenaries sound off.
Herja: But we should focus on successfully completing the job. Don't get so caught up in the competitive spirit that you lose sight of our objective.
Herja: I won't tolerate any jockeying for meaningless status. I've already told you how I feel about that—I trust you won't make me repeat myself.
Iron Spear 2: We won't! No fighting with skyfarers—we promise!
Iron Spear 1: Besides, we have (Captain)'s crew with us. I can't see how this job could go wrong.
Herja: All right. I'm trusting you. Just as our client is trusting us, so let's not disappoint him.
Their client welcomes them with a beaming smile.
Mike III: Herja, (Captain), and members of the Iron Spear! I'd like to thank you again for taking this request!
Herja: Oh... No... The pleasure is ours... You just, er, just leave everything to us!
Herja blushes as Mike III clasps her hand for a hearty shake.
He seems oblivious to her embarrassment, however, and turns to gesture to the people standing behind him.
Mike III: Allow me to introduce the other skyfarers in our convoy.
Herja: Ah, yes...
Everyone, please introduce yourselves.
The Iron Spear members line up and wait for the skyfarers to step forward.
The very first one to approach looks strangely familiar.
Skyfarer 1: Wait a minute... Aren't you the mercenaries we met in Port Breeze?
Iron Spear 2: Hmm? You look familiar... Ah!
Herja: (Oh, of all the luck...)
Not long ago, a few members of the Iron Spear got into a dust-up with some skyfarers in Port Breeze.
Iron Spear 2: Listen here, moron! You think we're just gonna take that lying down?
Skyfarer 1: Ha! What's a merc with no ship gonna do, flap your arms after us?
Herja: All of you, cease this nonsense at once!
As commander of the Iron Spear, Herja stepped in to mediate and gave her mercenaries a stern talking-to.
Herja: We all understand that demonstrating strength is necessary to secure our daily sustenance in this world, don't we?
Iron Spear 3: Yes, of course...
Herja: In order to improve our strength and our earnings, we mercenaries banded together.
Herja: Not for the sake of recklessly quarrelling with other groups.
Herja: Starting a fight over pride is something I will not tolerate. There is to be no more of this rivalry nonsense between skyfarers and mercenaries.
Herja: Come to me first if any issues arise. I will always have your back, as commander of the Iron Spear.
Her words, on the heels of a judicious application of force, had the desired effect: both sides backed down.
Judging from the sour looks on the faces around her, however, neither her subordinates nor the skyfarers have forgotten the incident.
Skyfarer 1: ...
Iron Spear 2: ...
But professionalism seems to win out, and they all force a smile and step forward to shake hands.
Iron Spear 2: Of all the luck... Great luck, I mean! Fancy running into you again so soon! So very, very soon.
Skyfarer 1: Yeah! Never figured we'd wind up working with you all. We really are... lucky.
Mike III: So you all know each other! Given your reputations, I suppose it's no surprise you have connections all over the skies!
Herja: Oh, er... Thank you...
Herja and the skyfarers seem equally nonplussed at this reunion.
Herja: (After everything I told them, I'm sure my mercenaries will conduct themselves professionally in front of the client. Everything will be fine.)
Iron Spear 3: Sounds like there are monsters along the sky route we're taking, but don't worry, we'll take care of those nasty beasties so they don't use you as chew toys.
Herja: (Just fine...)
Skyfarer 2: Ha ha... That's a real load off my mind.
Skyfarer 2: And don't you worry—we'll keep the ship sooo steady, even a toddler with an inner ear condition could walk safely across the deck. We'd hate to see any stupid accidents.
Herja: (Yes. Just... peachy.)
Skyfarer 2: ...
Iron Spear 3: ...
It seems neither side is quite ready to let bygones be bygones. The tension is palpable.
Herja: (Oh dear... This job could lead to a lot of future work. I really don't want to spoil it...)
Herja: (No, no. I mustn't give in to pessimism.)
Herja: (For the sake of my subordinates and our client, it's my job as commander to make certain this goes smoothly.)
Herja tamps down her misgivings, but this job is clearly off to a rocky start.
Her Chosen Path
Despite Herja's efforts to mediate between skyfarers and mercenaries, the tension aboard the ship rises until the client notices. Herja reprimands her mercenaries, but they accuse her of caring more about skyfarers than her position as leader of the Iron Spear. Herja is shocked and hurt.
Herja saves a little girl from monsters and ends up getting a large job from the girl's brother—a merchant looking to expand his off-island business.
With the Iron Spear and the Grandcypher crew in tow, Herja sets out on this venture in high spirits.
But some of the other skyfarers hired by their employer turn out to be people who got into a fight with the Iron Spear not long before.
Herja: (It's my job as commander to smooth things over and make sure this job goes well.)
Herja decides she has to do something to dispel the tension hanging over the skyfarers and mercenaries in the merchant's convoy.
The cargo-loading process begins.
Alas, the mercenaries' and skyfarers' professional facades soon crack.
Skyfarer 1: Whaddya think yer doin'? You're puttin' way too much cargo in the stem!
Iron Spear 3: What do you mean? If we stick everything in the stern, it'll throw the ship off-balance, won't it?
Skyfarer 1: Sigh... Take a good look at this airship, wouldja? She's front-heavy already. Cargo has to go in the back, or she'll only fly in one direction: straight down.
Iron Spear 3: Fine. So I guess we'll take all of this into the stern then.
Skyfarer 1: Good. Geez, if you don't know, you should ask somebody who does beforehand!
Skyfarer 2: Haha, be reasonable now. What would a bunch of mercenaries know about airships?
Skyfarer 1: You got a point there. Guess we'll have our work cut out for us teaching these mercs to tell their stems from their sternums.
Iron Spear 3: Tch... They think they're sooo smart just 'cause they know how to fly an airship...
Herja: Don't let your temper get away with you. I'm sure their intentions are good. Probably.
Iron Spear 3: But, Commander...
Herja: It's true that we're not as well-versed in the running of an airship as they are, so let's be sure to follow their instructions, all right?
Iron Spear 1: It's headin' your way!
Iron Spear 2: Heh. Stupid critter!
Iron Spear 2: Hyaah!
The members of the Iron Spear drive off monster attacks one after the next with flawless teamwork.
The skyfarers come on deck to back them up.
Skyfarer 1: We've got the ship steady now. Let's pitch in with the monsters.
Skyfarer 2: Yeah, after all, we're used to protectin' our own ship!
Skyfarer 2: This piddling little flock is nothin'! Eat steel!
Skyfarer 1: Damn! That didn't finish it?
Skyfarer 2: Uh... You get the feeling I really cheesed 'em all off?
Skyfarer 1: Uh-oh... Look out!
Iron Spear 2: Hey! What're you playin' at?
An Iron Spear slides in front of the skyfarer, fending off the monster's attack. The rest of the mercenaries hurry over to combat the enraged monster flock.
Iron Spear 2: That was the alpha monster! You can't mess with the leader before you take out the underlings!
Skyfarer 1: Whuh... huh?
Iron Spear 2: Don't tell me you didn't realize? I mean, look at it. It's clearly much bigger than all the rest.
Skyfarer 1: Urgh...
Iron Spear 3: Don't be too hard on 'em. They specialize in airships, not monster-hunting.
Iron Spear 2: True. Why don't you skyfarers go make sure the cargo doesn't walk away while we handle these mean ol' monsters?
Skyfarer 1: Why you—
Skyfarer 1: Hmph... Yeah, fine. If that's the way you want it. Have fun with your damn monsters!
Herja: Good grief...
Under Herja's orders, the Iron Spear gets the situation under control.
Later, as Herja sits on the deck doing some equipment maintenance, Mike III comes to have a word with her.
Mike III: Thank you so much! The Iron Spear truly lives up to its reputation. What a splendid performance!
Herja: I appreciate that. We'll be strengthening the watch, so please rest assured, we will see you safely to your destination.
Mike III: Then consider me assured and rested! I certainly am glad I hired you.
Mike III: You're all such tough customers... Or I suppose I should say, gallant warriors. All I could do was cower in fear belowdecks. Ha ha...
Herja: Ah... I'm afraid you must think we're all rather rough around the edges...
Mike III: Oh no, perish the thought! I was a bit startled at first, but who wouldn't shout a bit, under the circumstances?
Mike III: And I simply can't express how impressed I am with you, Herja, keeping together a band of such fearsome fighters without any friction.
Herja: Hahaha... Friction? Why would there be friction?
Herja: (He doesn't seem to have realized how strained relations are, but that can't last forever.)
Herja: (First off, I'd probably better apologize to those skyfarers on my subordinates' behalf.)
Herja: (Then I need to have words with the Iron Spear...)
Mike III's remarks remind Herja just how serious the situation is.
Once he departs, she heads off to do what she can.
Iron Spear 2: Aww, d'ya think I was too harsh on that poor widdle skyfarer?
Iron Spear 3: Haha, he shriveled up on the spot. Guess he realized he couldn't hold a candle to us when it comes to fighting.
Herja: How long do you plan to continue this childish behavior? I've told you before, giving in to your baser desires only hurts you in the long run.
Iron Spear 2: But, Commander, if we let them walk all over us just 'cause we're on their turf, it'll wreck our reputation!
Herja: Squabbling like children in front of our client is doing that splendidly.
Iron Spear 3: Then are we supposed to just let 'em talk smack about us all day long?
Herja: (What should we do here?)
Herja takes a deep breath and tries again to get through to them.
Herja: Being proud of your abilities is not a bad thing. If we seemed like weaklings, it would only hurt our clients' confidence in us.
Herja: But if you're causing conflict in front of our client just to show off, you could even end up endangering the mission. Then what?
Iron Spear 3: ...
Iron Spear 2: Well... We won't get paid if we don't complete the request.
Herja: Precisely. So I expect you to be more careful about what you say. I'm sure you don't want to drag the name of the Iron Spear through the mud.
Iron Spear 2: I'm sorry, Commander. I wasn't thinking straight...
Herja: I'm glad you see it my way. Well then! I believe you were on lookout duty, so get back to it. I'll speak to the skyfarers.
Iron Spear 3: Speak to them? What about?
Herja: I need to apologize—
Iron Spear 3: Wait just one moment!
Herja: Excuse me?
Herja's eyes widen as another Iron Spear's discontent overflows.
Iron Spear 3: Commander, I saw you apologizing to those skyfarers earlier too!
Herja: Yes, because this petty fighting isn't good for any of us.
Iron Spear 3: So they're just as important in your eyes as we are, now...
Iron Spear 3: Before, you would always have backed us up, Commander! But ever since you started hanging around with (Captain)'s crew, you've been acting like you're on the skyfarers' side!
Iron Spear 3: Doesn't your position as our leader mean anything to you anymore?
Herja: What? I... I...
Iron Spear 2: Hey, c'mon now! That's going... a little... far?
Iron Spear 1: I'm sorry, Commander. We know you have a responsibility to act like a leader here.
Iron Spear 1: You all aren't proud of picking fights with the skyfarers, are you? Be honest.
Iron Spear 3: No... Sorry, Commander. We know where you're coming from.
Iron Spear 3: But it's hard to see our leader bowing her head, no matter what the reason. I'm ashamed for being so petty, but...
The dejected young mercenary trails off, shoulders slumped.
Herja responds quietly.
Herja: Stand up straight, Iron Spear. This is partially my fault. I wasn't taking your feelings into account.
Iron Spear 1: No, Commander, you—
Herja: I'm going to give this some more thought. I'll take this watch shift. The rest of you, get some rest.
Herja turns on her heel and hurries away as if she were a cork propelled by the mounting tension in that room.
The words "ever since you started hanging around with (Captain)'s crew" run through her mind over and over.
Her Chosen Path: Scene 2
(Captain) and the others convince Herja to take a tea break with them. As they talk, Herja realizes that the reason the Grandcypher crew works together so harmoniously is the members' mutual respect for each other's differing strengths. Herja thanks them for showing her the path forward.
Perched in the crow's nest, Herja sighs deeply.
Herja: (I just can't seem to unite my subordinates the way (Captain) does.)
Herja: (What makes the Iron Spear and the Grandcypher crew so different? (Captain)'s skyfarers don't seem hung up on status or professional rivalries.)
Herja: (Even if they do quarrel sometimes, it's never born of malice. In a way, those shows of temper are just proof of how much they trust one another.)
Herja: (And what about me? The wall separating skyfarers from mercenaries is so trivial, and yet there seems to be nothing I can do to tear it down.)
Herja: (Have I really changed that much? Did I do something to make them think my actions were motivated by opportunism rather than the Iron Spear's best interests?)
Herja's thoughts chase each other in circles.
A cheery voice cuts across Herja's inner monologue.
Lyria: Herjaaa! Hellooo! Do you want to take a break with us?
Vyrn: Mike gave us some tasty-lookin' snacks! Let's chow down!
Herja: (Captain), Lyria, Vyrn...
Herja: No, I'm not tired yet. You go ahead.
Choose: Really? 'Cause you sure look tired.
- Really? 'Cause you sure look tired.
- Your mercs are worried about you.
Vyrn: You've seemed real tense since we started this job. You need a little refreshment!
Herja: I guess I wasn't hiding it as well as I thought. I still have some work to do in that department.Choose: Your mercs are worried about you.
Lyria: The other Iron Spears told us they thought you needed a rest.
Lyria: So why don't you join us? At least for a little while?
Herja: I've worried you and the Iron Spear, then...Continue 1
Herja: Sigh... Not only am I failing to rally my subordinates the way I want—now I'm causing both them and you to worry.
Choose: Why don't you tell us what's on your mind?
- Why don't you tell us what's on your mind?
Vyrn: Sometimes bouncin' your thoughts off someone else is the best way to sort 'em all out.
Herja: You may have a point... I'm certainly not getting anywhere on my own.
Herja follows (Captain) and the others to the lounge.
The fragrance of freshly-brewed tea fills the room.
Calmed by its warmth and bouquet, Herja shares what has been troubling her.
Vyrn: So you've been wondering how to get the mercs an' skyfarers away from each other's throats.
Herja: Yes. I was mediating in hopes of improving relations.
Herja: I thought if I, as the leader of the Iron Spear, demonstrated my respect for skyfarers, it would avert conflict.
Herja: That's what I've been attempting to do throughout this mission...
The ripples in her cup are mirrored in Herja's troubled eyes.
Herja: It doesn't seem to be working. One of my mercenaries told me he preferred the old me—before I became a part of your crew.
Herja: Here I thought I was doing the noble thing by taking the blame for their behavior, when in actuality all I was doing was losing my own comrades' trust.
No matter what she does, Herja can't seem to bridge the gap between her ideals and her subordinates' feelings.
(Captain) speaks up to comfort her.
Choose: They still care a lot about you, you know.
- They still care a lot about you, you know.
- I don't think you're wrong.
Lyria: That's right, Herja! The Iron Spear members all love you!
Vyrn: They were all tryin' to get along when we left port, or at least make it look like they were.
Vyrn: That's 'cause you told 'em not to bicker, right? If they didn't care about you, I don't think they woulda made the effort.
Herja: Oh...Choose: I don't think you're wrong.
Lyria: Neither do I! I want everyone to get along too!
Lyria: I'm sure the members of the Iron Spear feel that way too... deep down. Maybe really deep down.
Vyrn: The first time they met, they did get in a pretty nasty fight. Makes sense things'd still be awkward.
Herja: Thank you. That does make me feel a little better.Continue 2
Herja: But the fact remains that my mercenaries aren't happy with how I've been conducting myself.
Herja's gaze turns toward (Captain).
Herja: Your crew doesn't have these kinds of pointless squabbles over status, does it?
Vyrn: Well... You can't really run a crew if people're always tryin' to hog the glory at everyone else's expense.
Herja: Exactly... Both mercenaries and skyfarers should be well aware that there's nothing to be gained by acting like this, and yet...
Lyria: Mmm... I think the Iron Spear members really want to respect your wishes, Herja.
Herja: Then why is everything still such a mess? Please, (Captain), can you help me make sense of this?
(Captain) falls silent, giving the matter some serious thought before answering.
Choose: It's because our crew is so close.
- It's because our crew is so close.
- Sometimes you just need to butt heads.
Lyria: That's true, since we all live together aboard the Grandcypher.
Vyrn: Yeah, but do you really think living together would make those mercs an' skyfarers get along any better?
Herja: I feel like that would just give them more time to fight, and widen the gulf between them.
Herja: Sigh... I can't help feeling it comes down to leadership. We each have our own parts to play...Choose: Sometimes you just need to butt heads.
Vyrn: Yeah, if you always keep things bottled up, then when it really counts, you might not be able to communicate properly. That could cost you a mission.
Herja: But voicing all one's complaints seems even more likely to put people in the sort of situation you're describing.
Herja: Right now, with both groups competing for supremacy...
Vyrn: Yeah, it ties my stomach in knots just bein' around 'em. Honestly, I don't think either of 'em is better than the other.
Herja: Agreed. Without the skyfarers' ship, we couldn't complete this assignment, and without the Iron Spear, the ship would have been sunk by monsters...Continue 3
Herja's troubled expression suddenly clears, and she looks at (Captain).
Her gaze is so piercing (Captain) is forced to look away, but gives a small nod.
Herja: That's it!
Lyria: Huh? What is? What's it?
The legs of Herja's chair screech across the floor as she jumps to her feet.
Herja: I've been so focused on avoiding conflict that I forgot something far more important.
Herja clasps (Captain)'s hand in both of hers.
Herja: Thank you, (Captain). Thank you Vyrn—and Lyria too.
Herja: I'm going to go do what I have to as commander of the Iron Spear to make sure this mission is a success!
Vyrn: Huh? Okay, sure. Break a leg, I guess...
Herja strides out of the lounge, more bright-eyed and bushy-tailed than she's looked since they left port.
(Captain) watches her go, confident that the commander of the Iron Spear has found her answer.
Her Chosen Path: Scene 3
Herja finds a mercenary and a skyfarer fighting over who should take the next watch. Herja correctly guesses that the skyfarer is worried about the unusual air currents, while the mercenary has realized a flock of monsters is nearby. Alerted to both problems, the mercenary and skyfarer put aside their differences to find a solution.
After her talk with (Captain) and the others, Herja heads back toward the crow's nest to finish out her watch.
Before she can get there, however, she runs across a skyfarer and an Iron Spear arguing.
Skyfarer 1: Look, I'm not joking around here—you guys can't handle this!
Iron Spear 2: That's my line! If you're not looking to do a swan dive into the Crimson Horizon, you need to listen to me!
Herja: What's going on here?
Herja jumps in between the pair.
There is a moment of tense silence before their anger gets the better of them.
Iron Spear 2: Commander, listen! He said he should take my watch shift because I'm not up to it!
Skyfarer 1: This is no time to leave the watch up to someone with no airship experience!
Herja: This argument is over. Do you hear me?
Skyfarer and mercenary both nod silently.
Herja turns to the skyfarer.
Herja: Earlier, the cloud movement around the ship looked odd to me. You suggested switching shifts because you were worried about changes in the air currents, didn't you?
Skyfarer 1: That's right... If the alarm isn't sounded soon enough, we could lose control of the rudder and find ourselves at the bottom of the skies.
Skyfarer 1: And if one of our passengers fell outta the crow's nest because the ride was unsteady, it'd make us look bad.
The skyfarer seems surprised to find that Herja understands the exact reason for his actions, and quickly elaborates.
Herja turns next to the Iron Spear.
Iron Spear 2: But, Commander!
Herja: You're worried that flock of monsters is about to attack again, and soon.
Iron Spear 2: Y-yes, exactly! So—
Herja: I do smell monsters on the air, although it's faint. The flock is probably circling around from downwind to upwind, planning to ride the air current back to us.
Iron Spear 2: Yeah...
Skyfarer 1: ...
Herja: Neither of these concerns is to be taken lightly, now, is it?
Herja looks seriously at each of them in turn.
Herja: There's really no point in arguing over which of our professions is superior. True, we may sometimes compete over the same jobs.
Herja: But our perspectives and functions are different. We're certainly all intelligent enough not to squabble when it could cost us our lives. Aren't we?
Iron Spear 2: I... I'm sorry...
Skyfarer 1: Yeah... Me too...
Herja: No, I take full responsibility for this. It was my lack of experience that allowed the situation to deteriorate this far.
Herja: I decided it was more important to avoid conflict by being polite and keeping our thoughts to ourselves, but that only made matters worse.
Herja: Please allow me the chance to make amends. Let's talk about how we can cooperate to overcome the danger we now face.
Herja: I have experience both as the leader of a band of mercenaries and as a skyfarer. I think I'm in a good position to see both sides of this rivalry.
Herja bows in apology to both of them.
Herja: For the sake of the Iron Spear's reputation and this crew's, I earnestly request another chance to set this right.
Iron Spear 2: Commander, please don't do that! Stand up!
Skyfarer 1: You're making me feel like the worst kinda bully right now. You win! We'll talk this out!
Iron Spear 2: So... Let's get the rest of our buddies out here, huh?
Skyfarer 1: Right. The monsters and the air currents both need dealing with.
Putting their differences aside for the moment, the two rush off to collect their fellows and decide how to deal with the oncoming threats.
They soon settle on a plan.
Skyfarer 1: Two. Shadows. Off. Port. Side!
Iron Spear 2: Those. Are. Not. Monsters!
The skyfarer in the crow's nest and the mercenary standing on deck gesture at each other with expansive arm movements.
Vyrn: Uh... Why're those two dancing and glaring at each other?
Herja: They decided it would be dangerous for my mercenary to stand in the crow's nest, since he isn't a seasoned skyfarer and we're about to hit turbulence.
Herja: They came up with some quick and dirty arm signals so the skyfarer can alert my subordinate there if he spots anything that looks like a monster.
Skyfarer 1: Tur. Bu. Lence!
Iron Spear 2: What?
Skyfarer 1: Hold. On!
Iron Spear 2: Whoa!
Herja: Ow... As you can see, there are still some kinks to be worked out.
Lyria: Ahaha... But they're working together. That's a start.
Iron Spear 2: That! Hurt! Dumbass!
Skyfarer 1: Should. Have. Listened!
Vyrn: Seems like they're still fightin'.
Herja: Even so, it's an improvement. Hopefully the first step of many.
Skyfarer 1: ...!
Skyfarer 1: Look. At. That!
Iron Spear 2: Get. Down. Here! Shift. Over!
The mercenary blows a loud blast on a whistle to sound the monster alert.
The monster flock follows shortly.
Whether it's the talk they had earlier, or the process of inventing their own sign language, the two groups seem strangely well-coordinated.
Working together, they handle even the toughest monsters in the flock with ease.
Just as they are on the verge of finishing off the flock, a massive wyvern swoops over the deck.
Skyfarer 1: Agh! That thing is huge!
Iron Spear 2: Commander! The alpha's here!
Herja: I'll handle it! Switch places with me!
Herja: (Captain), I need you!
(Captain) changes stance and locks eyes with Herja.
Then, moving in perfect harmony, airship captain and mercenary commander rush forward to meet the alpha wyvern.
Her Chosen Path: Scene 4
Thanks to Herja's new tack, the skyfarers and mercenaries begin to communicate more openly and cooperate even without her constant intercession. Herja thanks (Captain) and expresses her desire to stay aboard the Grandcypher and continue studying leadership from the captain's example.
The monster attack is successfully repelled, but Herja continues issuing orders even once the airship has safely touched down on the island where their destination lies.
Skyfarer 1: With this much cargo, given the distance we have to cover... we should need about this many carts.
Skyfarer 1: Hey! Could you go rent us some carts? I wrote down the rental business's address here.
Skyfarer 1: We've got an in with the owner. If you mention our crew's name, he should hook you up quick.
Iron Spear 2: Why should I rent them? If you know the owner, why don't you do it?
Herja: Once we're on land, the Iron Spear is in charge of security. Leaving cart selection to us is the right choice.
Herja: While my mercenaries are handling that, could I ask you skyfarers to divide up the cargo and prepare it for loading?
Skyfarer 1: Yep, that was the plan. We're the ones who packed it into the hold, so we'll probably be able to unload it most efficiently.
Iron Spear 2: Oh, that makes sense! Well, I'll find the sturdiest carts they've got, so make sure you have that cargo ready for us!
Skyfarer 1: You got it! We'll wrap it up so it's easy to load and carry!
Iron Spear 3: Uh-oh...
Hey, skyfarers! Gonna need you to push the carts for a bit!
Skyfarer 2: Aw, what's wrong? Our big, bad mercenary escorts getting tired already?
Iron Spear 3: Pssht, no! Take a look at the road, wouldja?
Herja: There are multiple sets of disorderly footprints around the edges of the road here.
Herja: Judging by their shape, they weren't left by armor-wearing knights. Looks like bandits to me.
Skyfarer 2: Now that you mention it, I heard a rumor at the port about a bandit hideout around here.
Herja: A caravan like this would be quite the prize. We should assume they're already targeting us.
Iron Spear 3: So we'll fan out and secure the area around the road. You all keep a tight watch over the cargo and our client, okay?
Iron Spear 3: We've had more experience fighting bandits, after all.
Skyfarer 2: All right, I can see that. The caravan'll be safe with us.
Iron Spear 3: Good. Make sure there's not a scratch on anything!
The skyfarers and mercenaries are beginning to better understand the value of each other's differing skill sets.
As they cooperate, they come to see each other as accomplished professionals in their own fields, and that respect shows in their comportment.
By the time the caravan reaches its destination, the two groups are talking amongst themselves as if all that bickering never happened.
Skyfarer 1: Hey, you're carrying that box all wrong. Gonna throw your back out.
Skyfarer 1: Hold it near your belly—that'll reduce the strain.
Iron Spear 2: Heh, thanks for the tip. Buff as I am, with your little trick, I bet I can carry twice what you can!
Skyfarer 2: Well, ain't that handy? I guess you don't need my help with the rest of these boxes then.
Iron Spear 3: Nope! Just sit back and see what an Iron Spear training regimen gets ya!
The cargo is transported amidst good-natured banter.
(Captain) and Herja are relieved to observe the change.
Herja: Phew... It seems like they've managed to bridge that gap, at least somewhat.
Vyrn: Yeah, they seem pretty buddy-buddy now.
Choose: You showed them the way, Herja.
- You showed them the way, Herja.
- It's all thanks to your leadership, Herja.
Herja: It's not so much what I said as how they put it into practice.
Herja: And your advice led me to my solution anyhow.
Lyria: But it was your diplomacy that convinced everyone to listen!Choose: It's all thanks to your leadership, Herja.
Herja: R-really, (Captain)! You're exaggerating on purpose to tease me!
Vyrn: Hehe. I really do think it worked out 'cause you were willing to jump in the middle when they were fighting.Continue 1
Herja: Haha, that's high praise coming from all of you, but...
Herja's friends' admiration brings a smile to her face.
Herja: There are still weaknesses in my leadership I need to shore up. Things happened to work out well this time, but there's no guarantee the next incident will go as smoothly.
Herja: I have some ideas for the future, however. This mission clearly demonstrated the value of cooperation, even when relations are strained.
Herja: I was able to put into practice some of the concepts I'd begun to learn from watching you, (Captain). Thank you.
Herja: If I may, I'd like to keep learning from your example, aboard the Grandcypher.
(Captain) nods and thrusts out a hand, though clearly, the captain had expected no other outcome.
Choose: Glad you'll be staying aboard!
- Glad you'll be staying aboard!
Herja: I can't wait to see what lessons I'll learn next, Captain!
(Captain) and Herja exchange a firm handshake.
Just then their client, Mike III, calls out to them.
Mike III: You really are an amazing leader, Herja, rallying such a diverse group of people to a common cause.
Mike III: You're truly talented. I'd love it if you'd sign on with me in a permanent capacity.
Herja: T-talented? Sign on with you? Per... manently? Are you saying what I think you are?
Herja flushes pink all the way out to her ears—which were rather selective in what they took from her client's offer.
Herja: Th-this is all so sudden... I mean, I...
Herja: No! I can't!
Herja leans forward, gazing earnestly into the merchant's eyes.
Herja: I'm very flattered, of course, but I'm afraid I can't accept. But I would be happy to help you in my capacity as leader of the Iron Spear!
Herja: So, er... I'm afraid that permanent arrangement will have to be strictly business. Could you possibly be satisfied with that?
Mike III: Uh... Huh? That is... Yes?
The young man is flummoxed by Herja's roundabout acceptance of his actual proposal, but decides to leave well enough alone.
Vyrn: There she goes again, getting the wrong end of the stick and running with it.
(Captain) can't help smiling as Herja and Mike III talk at cross-purposes.
But neither can (Captain) shake the impression that Herja has grown. From the confident set of her shoulders to the determined glint in her eye, she seems more at ease with the mantle of authority than ever before.