Surrounded by darkness and boxes of all varieties, Awabaram found itself jolted awake by a sudden, violent lurch of the wooden surface he lay upon. Confusion set in quickly. Where was this place? How had it come to be here? As these questions filtered through the creature's simple mind, a light was struck somewhere in the shadows ahead. A single lamp, burning just enough to illuminate the room, called into vision a small hold of sorts, filled with wooden crates, barrels, and other accessories useful in the shipment of goods. The bearer of the light was revealed to be a young man, black hair lank around his shoulders, and a badly-shaven goatee at the bottom of his face, dressed in the garb of a sailor. No sooner had the room been brought into focus than the events of the past day recalled themselves to Awabaram. It remembered running around just outside of Omi. Certainly, staying safe was important to guarding its precious cargo, but at the same time it felt good to stretch one's legs once and again, and Abe no Seimei-sama was always very understanding in that regard. Just as the day began to wane, and Awabaram began to tire, it noticed a small carpet laid out with boxes and chests of all varieties. Despite the knowledge that its master was waiting for its return, Awabaram could not deny that the collection of containers before it looked incredibly comfortable. Thus it was that it feel into a deep sleep, and only awakened now, in this strange place. Though not the most intelligent of monsters, Awabaram was able to reason that some humans must have mistook it for a package bound to some other destination, and shipped it away. An awkward situation, to be sure. (The player may now take control of Awabaram. I took some liberties with its personality and intelligence in order to form the introduction, but you are free to roleplay it from here on in any way you wish.)
Confusion set in quickly, but that wasn't anything different for Awabaram. As he began to unfold, spindly legs and arms extending to their full lengths, his head bumps into the ceiling! Immediately becoming frustrated, because how dare something impede his extension, he starts to lash out, stomping and swinging his arms wildly, connecting with several boxes and knocking them to the floor. This only serves to startle poor Awabaram more, and he starts to grunt and panic, his motions becoming more and more frantic with each new stimulus. Soon, there are no more boxes to flail against and knock over, some spilling their contents along the ground, and he still hasn't found anything out about where he's currently being kept. Once his fists and legs stop connecting with chests, and the noises cease, he starts to calm down and look over his surroundings. Somewhere in his brain, he realizes one thing. He's glad that he doesn't need to clean up after himself.
The young man who, up until this point, had been calmly checking over the cargo, stumbles backwards with a startled shriek. Seemingly unable to collect himself as Awabaram rampages amongst the boxes, he resorts to dodging the larger pieces of shrapnel while shouting for help. Soon, a hatch to above opens, letting a ray of sunlight into the still-shadowy room, and a voice from out of sight addresses the poor man. "What's going on down there?" "It's a m- m- m- m- monsteeer!" he yells, terror and panic raising his voice several octaves.
Caught off guard by the light, he stumbles around for a bit again and falls backwards. However, after his eyes adjust to the light, he can see an opening! He attempts to scramble to the source of sunlight, long arms and legs pushing anything out of the way that would impede his escape into the outside world. He takes slight notice of the shrill noises coming from a shape holding a light, but escape lies at the forefront of his mind.
The cowering shipmate is swept aside with one push of Awabaram's lanky arm, emitting something between a scream and a grunt as he tumbles into a pile of overturned barrels. With a few great strides and a short pull, he finds himself suddenly outside, the blazing sun beating down upon the top of Awabaram's box. He seems to be on a ship's deck, sparkling ocean surrounding him as far as the eye can see, though the beautiful spectacle is somewhat ruined by the shouts and cries of panic even now erupting from the various sailors and deckhands who saw him erupt from the trapdoor into the light. At his feet, one rather heavyset man groans and rubs his head, apparently thrown backward by Awabaram's explosive escape.
Awe struck by the sight, his feet seem to be glued to the deck of the ship. He gazes out across the ocean, the sun reflecting off of the waves glaring into his not-eyes. When he starts to hear the shouts of panic on the deck, he looks shakes himself out of the haze and tries to scramble around deck. He thinks about teleporting, but he's almost positive that if he were to do that, he'd sink to the bottom of the ocean. Almost positive, of course.
"Stop there!" a commanding voice cuts through the confusion. It takes Awabaram a moment to realize it isn't addressing him, "Give the thing some room! Can't you see it's terrified?" The shiphands around Awabaram slowly fall back, their panic giving way to discipline with the emergence of a leader, leaving a wide ring around the monster. Several of them still hold unsheathed weapons and coils of rope, gripped tightly and ready to use in their hands, but they make no overt moves at him, instead watching Awabaram warily. As the mass of sailors parts, the source of the voice is revealed. An older man of middling height strides forward, his black hair streaked with grey and tied back in a ponytail, a well-groomed beard on his chin. He runs his fingers through those peppered whiskers now, his dark eyes taking in Awabaram, appraising him without fear. "What are you?" he asks after a moment, then waits to see if the creature before him will answer.
Awabaram's gaze passes over the various persons, all holding things that could surely injure him if they were given enough time. Like if they were isolated. In the middle of an ocean. Just as he's about to begin panicking again, he hears a booming voice from the crowd. As they start to back away, Awabaram visibly begins to calm down. He notices the source of the voice as he separates himself from the crowd and decides he can trust someone who would make an entire crowd back away from him. The man walks up and asks him a question. What was the question? What... What are I? He tentatively starts to answer what he thinks the question is, trying to watch the man's facial expressions to see if he says the wrong thing. "S-sleep. Scared. Are sleep and scared."
The bearded man grins, one golden tooth glinting in the sun. "You see? I almost understood that. He's scared, get away from him, put those damn weapons down." At his behest, the rest of the crew slowly lower their various armaments, dropping coils of rope to the ground and sheathing katana and cutlass alike. They give Awabaram more room, but their eyes do not leave the chest-like monster for a moment. "If my guess is right, we must have picked you up with our cargo by accident. Or maybe you're a stowaway. Trying to hitch a ride somewhere?" the man, presumably the captain, keeps a few arm's distance from Awabaram, making certain to speak in a calm, even tone.
Awabaram knows someone who might like the shiny thing in that man's face. Or was it someone he knew? He couldn't remember. But after the person stops talking, he raises his own hand to his "mouth" and tries to enunciate "Shine. Why?" After saying that, he notices that the captain is a bit confused, and then realizes he was probably asked something. He runs what he can remember through his head, then responds in turn. "Seimei let run. Comfy home." He feels as if he's satisfied the man's curiosity, then starts toward the him with one hand raised and a finger extended towards his mouth.
The golden-toothed man holds his ground for a moment, then takes a few steps backward as Awabaram lurches forward, hand outstretched. His previous bravado is still there, but it is now mixed with an expression indicating that he too is wary of the creature in front of him. "Hey, wait just a moment there, I don't follow," he gestures to his own mouth, "My teeth? They shine because I lost a few of them and needed to replace them, but what's this about a comfy home? Who's Seimei?" Before Awabaram has a chance to reply, there comes a sharp retort from the top of the nearby mast, as well as a hurried shouting. "Another ship to the east, heading straight for us!" The deckhands around them burst into life, no longer concerned with Awabaram, and rush to various positions about the ship, pulling ropes, tying knots, and performing other various nautical tasks. Sure enough, a large black ship of unfamiliar design has appeared below the horizon to the right of the pair. The golden-toothed man stays his ground, and keeps one eye on Awabaram, but mutters a curse under his breath. "How the hell did they get so close without us noticing?"
Awabaram picks up on the rising tension among the ship's crew. He immediately stops his approach towards the man with the Shiny Face Hole, fearing that he's the one who caused the uproar. It takes a few moments for Awabaram to realize that nearly everyone's forgotten about him except the captain. The chest takes this as an opportunity to step a little bit closer, lowering his hand before going forward. He'd rather the attention he lost stays lost. "What happened? What do?" Awabaram attempts to say this calmly but it comes out in his normal rasp of a tone. What must be at least a minute after the crew starts to scramble, he finally takes note of the ship that's gotten everybody into an uproar. Awabaram isn't exactly the best combatant, and would rather not change homes again so soon. He pulls his legs and arms back inside of him, then looks to the captain. "Who close?"
"It's one of those damned Black Ships. I guess it's been luck that we haven't run into them up to this point," the Shiny Face Hole man says, speaking more to himself than Awabaram. He then turns to the box, now lying on the deck much like an ordinary treasure chest. His face lights up and he gives a gin, teeth sparkling in the noonday sun. "Alright, Hako. I've got an idea," he says, leaning down confidentially to speak to Awabaram on the ground, "We're going to try to negotiate, but if that doesn't work out, we might have to fight. I'm not going to ask you to attack anyone, you're obviously not that kind of box monster, but when I give the signal, I want you to pop up, arms and legs waving, and make as much noise as you can. You got that, Hako?"
Awabaram sits and stays as a box for the moment, listening intently to sparkle tooth. He manages to piece together that the captain wants him to make noise and big motions. When was that? Was it now? He starts to unfold again, and then catches a disapproving glance from the captain and folds back into himself. During these moments, he Awabaram likes to reflect on life and how he got to where he's at now. He remembers running in a field, then falling asleep. He remembers waking up and almost getting cut up by several angry looking men. And now this man with the Sparkle Tooth is plotting with him. What was he called? Hako? Awabaram decides he can trust Hako. He waits for anything that could be meant as a signal.
The man Awabaram has chosen to call "Hako" makes his way to the edge of the ship. He waves some sort of flag, and the distant vessel approaches ponderously. When it is almost upon them, the sheer size of the black ship is made apparent. It dwarfs the smaller construction, towering over Hako and Awabaram, all obsidian walls and stygian masts, every inch of wood painted in the same midnight black. Shortly, a gangplank is lowered and another person, tall, and wearing a bluish robe-like garment, descends to speak with the captain. He discusses something with Hako for a few moments, expressions unreadable under the featureless golden mask that makes his face look oddly like the beak of a giant, sinister bird. Hako's voice is raised, they seem to be getting into an argument. After only a minute more of this, the captain angrily tosses something to the ground, a small wooden case that rolls in front of Awabaram and pops open, revealing nothing inside. Nothing except, perhaps, the signal?
Awabaram sees Hako of the Shiny Tooth confront this newcomer to the ship, and immediately senses something is awry. Why would Hako of the Ever Illuminated Incisor talk to a bird that walks on two legs? Doesn't he know that there's no such thing? Hako, the Man with the Majestic Molar shouldn't tolerate this sort of tomfoolery, especially from someone who is obviously invading his ship. Then he drops the box. Awabarm immediately unfurls himself to his full height and begins to stop and smash and generally rage is way in place, before making his way to the Bird, his tongue lolling about as guttural sounds escape his maw.
Chaos erupts around the ship as Awabaram unfolds himself and begins stomping around violently. Men are shouting, blades are clashing, and Hako of the 12-Carat Canine can be seen briefly kicking the boarding ramp from the other vessel. There are some shouted orders, and the bird man stumbled backward, overwhelmed by the monstrous box before him. He starts stuttering in a language Awabaram doesn't understand, and shrieks with an inhuman voice. Just like a bird. For a moment, it seems like the smaller ship will get away. The wind is in the sail, and the black galleon begins, slowly but steadily, to move away from their position. But then, just as a ragged cheer goes up among the sailors, there's a heavy thunk as several grappling hooks sink their points into the rear of the hull. Heavyset men with helmets covering their faces are visible on the edges of the galleon, hauling powerfully on ropes and bringing the vessels closer together again. Not only that, but the bird man seems to have composed himself enough to draw a small, curved, and wicked-looking knife from somewhere in his blue robes. Though he is still prone on the ground, he lifts it up, apparently ready to attack should Awabaram approach.
Awabaram notices the bird man with the cruel talon held in his hands and pauses for just a second, before continuing his rampage in the other direction. He takes his tantrum to the side of the ship, where he sees the ropes that are attached to the other ship. How can these strange, upside down buckets with legs pull a ship this large?! He makes a racket and starts to point at the ropes, but he can't count how many there are. Awabaram could be a brave box, but being brave only gets you confused and trapped in a dark room to be woken up by a screaming person. Despite this previous knowledge, he knows that he has to do something to help Hako, the man with the Brilliant Bite, as he seems to be the only one that has understood him at all in this adventure. Against his better judgement, he leaps off of the ship uses his Ki to land on one of the ropes. One by one, he attempts to pull them free of the ship, but with an average human's strength, who knows how many he could get loose? As panic fills his head, he readies himself to teleport back onto the ship at the slightest sense of danger.
Awabaram struggles with the ropes. Though they are not very sturdy, and the grapples not very far embedded in the ship's hull, it's difficult to get enough leverage to budge them. He scrambles, pulling with all his might until... success! Three of the grapples pop free, leaving only three attached, and the smaller vessel begins to visibly increase its distance from the black galleon. A ragged cheer goes up from the other deck, and Awabaram can vaguely make out Hako, his golden tooth gleaming as he faces off with the bird man, cutlass ringing against the other's dagger as the blue-robed man is driven backward toward the side of the ship. The victory is short-lived, however, as another sound reaches whatever serves as the equivalent to Awabaram's ears. A whoosh-whoosh humming sound. One of the upside-down buckets on the other ship seems to have taken notice of him, and is swinging an unfamiliar weapon around his head. A twisted blade on the end of a dark reddish rope cuts through the air with each rotation, making the buzzing noise. He looks ready to throw it at any moment.
Awabaram suddenly comes to the conclusion that he's spent enough time off of the ship's deck and on these ropes. He suddenly comes up with what seems like a good plan to aid Hako in reclaiming his ship from this rude bird. He teleports back to the ship's deck, far enough away from the bird man that the dagger can't reach him, but close enough to start making an unexpected racket and hopefully throw him off balance.
The bird-masked man looks between Hako and Awabaram. Though the box is well out of range of any actual melee attacks, he's making such a huge racket, tongue lolling, and arms flailing, that the blue-robed figure is obviously put on his guard. With a guttural, muttered phrase in a language Awabaram doesn't understand, but which sounds like a curse, he throws himself over the side of the ship and lands in the water below with a muted splash. As if on cue, the remaining grapples affixed to the back of the ship snap under tension, and the smaller vessel surges forward in a sudden burst of speed. The crew cheers, and Hako slaps Awabaram on his... back? ... grinning wildly with his gold tooth shining like the sun. "You sure did it, Hako," he guffaws, watching the black galleon rapidly disappear into the distance, "I doubt that's the last we'll see of them, but it won't be easy to catch up with us again."
Awabaram grins in the only way he can, his chest-mouth opening up into a gaping maw, the tongue flopping out like a dog's. "Hako did good fighting. Why did bird man go into the sea? Birds can't swim. Coward try to fight Hako on own ship. Coward bird." But he's comfortable in the fact that the bird man is dealt with for the moment. He turns to face the rest of the ship and examine the crew. They don't seem as scared of him as they did before. Is the praise for him?
The sailors do indeed seem to be cheering for Awabaram. One of them, a short, monkey-like man with an eyepatch and a wide swath of hair missing from his head, even goes so far as to elbow the box playfully in where his ribs would be, were he a human. "You're right about that, Hako. They were cowards, you proved that well enough," Hako says from behind him, the grin still apparent in his voice, "Anyway, we're about to enter into Hojo waters. I don't think they'll chase us any further for now." He looks up at the monster, with his lolling tongue and gaping maw, and wipes a small speck of spittle off his face. "Say, is there anything we can do to repay you? You were a mighty big help. Might not've made it out of that scrape if we didn't have a box like you around."
When the man who belongs in trees raises fists to Awabaram, he begins to mimic the motion before he gets tapped a few times in the boxcage. A low growl almost escapes from his maw, only until he notices that the cheering does not stop. Surely they wouldn't cheer someone taking down the Hero, Awabaram?! So this must be a joke! He taps the man a few times in his rib cage, then listens to Hako talk. "Repay? Awabaram has only need to go home. Seimei-sama not like Awabaram going far." He hesitates for a moment, then decides Hako is good people. He unfastens several locks and security measures and shows Hako the black box that Awabaram is responsible for keeping safe for the lady in purple. Or is it safe from? After what feels like a reasonable amount of time has passed, his practiced fingers deftly close up the compartment and reengage the safety measures to ensure that the box isn't put in peril. "Awabaram protect this for Corpse Lady. Seimei-Sama and Corpse lady not need another reason to fight, specially if Awabaram fault." He becomes a bit downcast at that, wondering how the two are getting on now with Awabaram gone. He always was the glue that held those two together.