Beyond the Realm of Expectation

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What is it like to be dead? It was something Camille often reflected on in her spare time. The most common ideology seemed to be that it was that is was cold, dark, and weightless. Floating forever through nothingness, void of consciousness and sensation, much like a dreamless sleep. The priests had always told her that if she lived a Perfect life according to Those Who Lived Before, she would ascend to Their side in the firmament, a place of eternal bliss, rainbows, unicorns, and other frilly nonsense. But if you lived imperfectly? Well, you were either sent back to earth in another body to try again, or, you were cast out, into the fires of the Underworld, where pain and torment at the talons of Chaos awaited you.

Camille decided that's where she must have been. The heat of hell's flames beat down from high above, singeing her scalp. She also figured out that she must have been strapped to some sort of infernal torture device, a reverse rack that held her hunched over, allowing her to dig her fingernails into splintering wood, her back stiff and kinked in pain. High above her tortured form she could hear the Demons and Fallen Ones screeching in delight, a horrific, high pitched sound. There must have been dozens of them, maybe hundreds, circling about.

But why was there so much damn water?

A wave of ocean water lapped over her arm, slapping her lazily in the face. Salt stung at her eyes, and she screwed them shut even tighter. A moment later she was forced to open them, blinking away tears.

She found herself bobbing up and down on the waves of the ocean, a length of shattered driftwood clutched inbetween her arms. High above, under the golden rays of the sun circled gulls, chortling endlessly during their hunt for fish.

Well, she thought, this is step up.

She tried to remember where she was, what she was doing, though the effort was similar to stirring up silt in a puddle. A plethora of memories and images pushed through the mire of her exhaustion and dehydration- cotton sails, pregnant with the wind, a gap-toothed grin, the glint of steel.

All around, as far as the eye could see, there was no land, just the gentle roll of the waves on a peaceful day. Thankfully no storms had passed through, otherwise she'd be little more than a corpse for the fish to feed upon. Just as hopelessness was beginning to sink in, however, a shadow crested the waves, blocking the sun's scorching rays. The ship crashed into the water nearby with a thunderous boom, spraying sea foam over Camille's wretched form. Who could this be? Slavers, pirates perhaps? Her day was no doubt bound to get worse. Or maybe fate smiled on her, and it was merely passenger vessel, or perhaps a frigate with sailors kind and wise enough to escort her to the nearest port? Whatever the reality, there was little use fretting over it now- the sailors onboard had spotted her, and were now shouting and pointing. Beneath the ocean's waves, Camille's toes began to wiggle in excitement.
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