CLOSED Briny Tears and Seafoam Maladies

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the clairvoyant pterodactyl
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The water kept on rising. For days, months, years. The ocean consumed everything. Extinguished humanity's last spark and swallowed his sins whole, delegating them to the bottom of the seas. Out of sight, out of mind, out of the perpetually greedy grasp and existence of mankind— who had persisted outside and within the apocrypha, blessed and blasphemous in spirit and soul. Some rose above the beckoning wave with a flourish of stone and steel, not waiting for their savior to chariot them above. Some rode the storms, inconstant and against all odds until there was nothing left but the gentle, rocking bosom of her never-ending ocean and the lullabying cries of songbirds who had found land.

According to the priests, at least, tucked away in Heaven's Spire— the white-washed stone tower that was lost to the clouds, forever and a day upwards.

Hard-earned oil kept the Spire Lights running, kept the priests and the upper echelon of New Haven purified and well fed. It kept the whaling rigs running, kept the diving operations functional, and kept humanity's spark alive. But it was small acts of kindness that made the days bearable, that made the achingly hot sun worth treading under day after day. It was the kindness of the Davidian Sisters, healing those stricken with maladies under the weight of their hooded robes and the kindness of strangers, tossing scraps to invalids and the hungry day after day to ensure all life, no matter how meager, was worth living. From the slums of the Steppes of Haven to the salt-slick Layman's Quarter and the violent Point Pleasant, kindness is what made New Haven life's last bastion, no matter what any priest or naysayer proclaimed.

It was instinct, then, for the Wharfmaster to clear his throat and shift the current attention towards him.

It was Tax Day and another poor bloke was getting put through the ringer.

"Put his debt on my tab," Arthur said with a consoling grunt to the tax man, chewing on the edge of an unlit cigar.

"This will be the— the third time this season, Mr. Scully, that you've fronted another man's debt."

"And?" There wasn't an ounce of rudeness in his tone and perhaps that was what shook the tax man out of his cockle-vision reverie. "Do the priests not teach us to help thy neighbors? Help thy selves?"

The stringy man sniffed, rising a skeptical brow and walking forwards, his gait uneven against the minute rocking of the pier. He held a finger aloft towards the Wharfmaster, before letting it fall to his sides when he realized it barely cleared his naval. "Yes, they do." The Tax Man said with a pained expression, as if he couldn't believe he had to explain something so rudimentary. "But keep on bailing everyone out and we'll start to get curious. Might get curious enough to come looking. Come asking. Make sure no dirty dealings or shady blackmail is taking place at your there Inn, Wharfmaster."

"If it settles the nerves of the Priests in the Spire, I only ask that you give me a few days to procure some appropriate refreshments for the holy ones." Arthur Scully said softly, the tiniest bit of humor escaping into his voice. "The Davidian Sisters adore the fish stew, but I know the air sick priests prefer something much more delicate." Arthur bowed his head, sure to not let his hat tip over as he glanced sidelong at the fisherman's son who just reached his maturity and was having a hell of a time getting used to the boat without his father's presence.

"To the Inn, boy, and don't let Nanne Olly get a whack at you. Tell 'er I'll get back to wiping tables soon enough."

He didn't even hesitate and that seemed upset the tax man even more.

Nothing that a few extra cockle shells couldn't fix though.


There was a storm brewing, Arthur could tell by the sharp scent in the eastward breeze, by the foamy buildup upon the horizon, by the lack of coral and red clouds, bleeding into one gradient of a color that always heralded in the best and most fortuitous of nights. Skipper talk, they called it. Cowardice. He simply yearned for their safety, for trips out to sea where everyone returned with glorious stories (and treasures) to tell. He hated to see so many of them gearing up, shoveling down bite after bite of his fish stew, but not all of them were his men; he couldn't tell them scrubbing the wharf tiles were more important or how they needed to de-barnacle the vessels immediately— anything to convince them that their lives were much more precious than a dive beneath the waves.

Arthur bit down on his cigar hard, pouring the lonely Sister in front of him a strong stout that was on the house.

"To your good deeds," he said with a jovial smile.

"To your fish stew, Mr. Scully!"

He inclined his head with a simple blush, catching the crown of a white-haired someone. Arthur threw a cleaning rag over his left shoulder, wondering whether it was the new tenant or one of the twins on an evening escapade. Surely neither would be as simple to go out in such superstitious weather.

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Water rushed down her skin in rivulets, steam lifting and rising from the near boiling heat to join the fog against her tiny bathroom window. The rag was dipped again in the fire-heated water, and again it scrubbed, hard and diligent, against the woman's face. She'd been sick that morning. Onya couldn't explain the how's or why's of it; she only knew that she, a woman who always slept fitfully within New Haven's gently rocking cradle, was awakened by a sudden and violent need to purge whatever it was that had been plaguing her insides. She had long since washed, but the ill humor seemed to stick to her like a bad stench sensed only by herself. It was...strangely unsettling. Unnerving, even. She did not enjoy feeling so off-balance. Grimacing, the diver took the remainder of the water and poured it over her face in a baptismal wave.

Ram had approached her. The leering merchant was not a man you'd care to be alone with in a dark alley, but his contacts were reliable and the money was good. Two hundred shells, he'd said, for a retrieval off the Firefly wreckage. She'd pocketed half upfront and used it to hire Captain Sosa's boat, and the rest had gone to fixing her gear.

That was before she'd noticed the sky.

Platitudes and good wishes only went so far. A good sailor and diver knew the ocean better than they knew land. The air about it was still, like a held breath, the tension pulled taut to portend a coming change. The clouds were pregnant with unshed rain. How light or heavy it would be was of yet indeterminate; Onya eyed the greying sky outside with a slight frown as she put on her gear, the slick rubber weighing heavily on her shoulders.

She had gone on dives in the rain before. The rain itself was not an issue; what concerned her were the waves. Should the wind kick up, and a tempestuous storm could settle within the ocean's bosom, stirring the water up into towering, furious waves. The current would grow more difficult. A foolish diver who stayed too long could get hurt that way...or worse.

Still. If she left early enough...

Two hundred cockle shells were quite a hefty payment. She could rest later.

Coming down from her apartment into the Inn's dining area was always a sharp contrast in noise. Onya passed quietly through the rows of customers and tables jockeying for space, her head jerking into a nod if and whenever she was greeted. Mr. Scully stood at his post at the bar. She eyed the man with a touch more familiarity. He was naturally a good man, and an even kinder man for allowing her to move into one of the few remaining apartments above the Inn. Onya had tried initially to be as distant as possible with him, as was her wont, but ah-

Surely, a moth could only avoid a warm flame for so long.

"How about a drink for the road?" Onya said in lieu of a greeting.

She slid into a barstool in front of Mr. Scully, hefting her diving gear onto the floor besides her.



The thud made him wince. Caused him to hear phantasmal claps of thunder and the bone-shrilling wind between slats of damp wood. The Wharfmaster nodded almost sadly as he reached for a large conch shell tankard and filled it to the brim with a dark stout.

"On the house," Arthur said with a small smile, one that was half hidden by his mustache. If he wasn't such a superstitious man he would have followed up with, 'In the hopes it's not your last,' but he couldn't bring himself to wish even more ill will on such an inauspicious night. He could barely even bring himself to smile; but ah, one good fortune against all odds was better than nothing.

"Bout the busiest diver I know, Missus Sallow," Arthur said with begrudging earnestly, incapable of keeping his disappointment hidden as he shook his head. He bit on the end of his cigar as he wiped clean his side of the bar, dumping the pile of spent dishes in the basin behind him that were delivered by an imp of an old woman. "If you have need of a bowl o' stew or some fish steaks, I can get ya' that too."
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In a world where every lick or hint of a cockle shell was fought tooth and nail over, where the disease of poverty clung to a man's body like a dreadful malaise, unshakable even in their proudest moments, the simple offer of a free drink with no strings attached was disconcerting. The diver wasn't used to such generosity, and it showed.

Her lips twitched. She fought within herself before finally opting to keep quiet, simply nodding her head in thanks. The scent of black currant filled her nose as she raised her tankard to her lips. Some folks hated the dark, bitter taste of stout. But Onya felt the burnt earthen tastes grounded her, warming her in a way best paired with stew or warm, heavy sheets. It left a familiar burn in her throat as Arthur spoke again, and the tan woman grimaced, though whether from his statement or the stout was unclear.

"They know I always follow through on a job," She stated bluntly. It was a kinder way of saying she never turned her nose up to any paying gig. "Besides, Mr. Scully -- I got to pay my rent on time. The money's needed."

Onya paused, studying him. She wondered if it would be rude to refuse his offer for stew. Then again, she never ate before a dive. However...

"I'll take you up on that stew when I get back," She finally conceded. A small smile appeared, making her look younger. "We're not headed out too far today. Just to an old shipwreck, just south of the Meridia."

And the storm should be passed by then. Should.

She didn't say, but the thought made her frown. She took the rest of her tankard and down it quickly like a seasoned sailor.



No reasonin' with divehounds, Arthur Scully thought to himself with a small defeated sigh. He knew that quite well, after all, having been obsessed with the lull and sway and the weighted weightlessness of the underwater world. Life was just... more than that. More than the next sink, line, and dive. At least his new tenant recognized that in some regard, though her rent wasn't as heavy of a burden on him as she thought.

He just liked populating his little wharf— his little part of the end of the world —with good people. With good hearts and good intentions.

The Wharfmaster nodded approvingly, pulling himself out of his inner world filled with drowned ghosts and waterlogged waterpipes and complemented her fine chug. There was a flick of his mustache as he smirked, "There'll be a Mug Chug next month, you represent the Inn and you'll drink free for the rest of the season if ya' help us win.

"Don Jem and Sister Wyneth could use a third to round out the team against the..."

His mood soured as he noticed a handful of patrons, half decked out in their gear already, stand and make their way out of the inn.

No reasonin' with divehounds, Arthur thought again, self-assurance against the superstitious inevitable.

"I'll have a bowl waitin' for ya." The wharfmaster promised with a clap against the bar, taking her tankard to be cleaned. "Don't let it get cold."
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Was that disappointment on The Wharfmaster's face?

Onya stared in the wake of it, unsure of what exactly she had said to merit it. She could be a callous woman at times, she knew; she had been lashed upon enough by both salt-soaked wind and venomous tongue, and both had thickened the woman's skin into a good, tough leather. Manners were best reserved for fine folk who didn't have to fret daily for where they found their next meal. Perhaps she should have audibly said thank you for the stout. Arthur did not seem the sort to take matters to heart in spite of his heart of gold, and yet--

Ah. He was moving, his features having since brightened.

"Oh," She said, a light laugh escaping her. "No, I don't think I'm that strong a drinker. Not like Sister Wyneth."

There were whales that consumed krill in great big insatiable gulps, and then there was Sister Wyneth and her alcohol. Onya had never known a woman to pack away as many beers as the sister did in one sitting. And Don Jem had once drunk a man down into an unconscious stupor that did not release him for a day and a half.

Or so the story went. Could be that the legend spreaders had had more than a fair share of drinks themselves.

There was the jangle of metal harnesses and the clunk of rubber shoes on the wood; from her peripheral vision, Onya spied her fellow trench swimmers making for the door. It occurred to her that she ought to have been doing the same.

She shrugged on her gear, grunting as the weight rested against her body. Her eyes lifted to meet Scully's.

"I'll be back before you even set it on the table. That's a promise."

She paused.

"And thank you."

With a final heft of her bag slung across her shoulder, she turned away, making her way towards the door.


White as a whale's bones, the sky cast a somber pallor over the hustle and bustle of the docks. Somewhere, there on the far edges of the horizon, a purplish-gray hue was bleeding across and atop of the ocean waves in a slow curl, unfurling against the tepid wind. Onya glanced at it once as she left at the warmth of the Inn, once as she shoved through the considerably thinned rabble of the docks, and one final time as she stepped on the gangway to Captain Sosa's boat, a strange churning in her stomach.

A sailor's intuition was as good and stalwart as a mother's natural love. The inconsistencies of the sea were enough to put any sane man on edge, and for a moment, for the slimmest of moments, Onya ignored the guarantee of a financial return and thought instead of the waves. The howling, frigid, merciless beating of the waves. Would the storm stir the ocean so? Or would it pass westward, as Captain Sosa claimed, and leave them be to their riches? His breath was in her ear, tickling against her neck as he said something about the ship. Twenty years he'd sailed, and many a storm he'd weathered, he was saying. She did not turn to look at him, but she knew his great brown beard was moving about with every word, like a big hairy beast had attached itself to his chin. Still she stared ahead, thinking. And thinking. And thinking…

200 cockle shells.

Onya shook her head and went up onto the deck, the captain quick to follow.


The rain did not come until many hours later. It came timidly at first, sprinkling lightly against the tin-covered shanties of New Haven and the mismatched planks of the docks. Then there was a prod of thunder and lightning in the west, stabbing and breaking through the pregnant clouds with a hook's point. When the water broke, it brought forth a flood from the heavens.

In turn, The Wharfmaster's Inn found itself dealing with another flood entirely.

If the front entrance had not been a revolving door earlier in the day, it certainly was now, each crack of thunder or slap of rain seeming to drag in yet another water-soaked soul. Fisherman, diver, sailor, merchant, beggar alike–they all flocked to Scully's Inn in dire need of a warm hearth and a warm meal. The kitchen staff was beginning to strain under the rapid inundation of business.

"Another order of vegetable stew, Ernie!"

"Yeah, yeah…"

In Scully's absence, the kitchen was attuned to Ernie's and Ernie's fingers alone. The short, stout old man reminded one of a good brandy: rough at the exterior, slow to act, yet filling one with a pervading sense of comfort and warmth. The old man had come to The Wharfmaster after his wife had passed. It just wasn't right cooking only for himself – not anymore. And he enjoyed taking care of others, no matter how grumpy he looked.

Unfortunately, it meant a good long wait for anyone who was hungry. A drop of amber could drip, drip, drip down the side of a tree and somehow reach the ground before Ernie so much as moved his boot from getting hit.

"What's taking so long?" A patron barked. Felix, the bus boy, glanced uneasily in his direction. The customer had ordered close to an hour ago – and he wasn't the only one.

On the docks, masked by the steady thrum of rain, a familiar ship had laid anchor at the docks. Captain Sosa and his crew had returned, and the bearded captain looked worse for wear. He was soaked through to the bone, his eyes sunken and hollow as he stumbled off the gangway unevenly, nearly tumbling off into the sea.

"Ya alright?" A concerned sailor called, but the captain surged past, his eyes fixed on the Inn.

"Mead and a good meal is all I need," He muttered, "Mead and a good meal."

He pushed through the Inn's doors, shuffling through with his ragtag crew close behind.


Children were miracles wrapped in soiled, sweaty, and stained clothing with attitudes as capricious as the wind. Arthur settled down for another bedtime story, each knee numb under the weight of his adopted twins, their hair as white as bleached shells and as thick as a tangle of seaweed. They took turns tickling his nose as they twisted and turned, getting comfortable, once or twice headbutting him in the process. Oh, the pain of love. They were nearing their teenage years and still begged every night for a story to ease them into their dreamworlds. Perhaps it was tradition at this point, something he had no one to blame for but himself. He would, blame himself that is, if he didn't enjoy it as much as they.

He cleared his throat dramatically, using both of his hands to tuck stray locks of hair behind their ears before beginning.

"Once upon a time—"

"Why they always start with 'once upon a time'?" Florence asked with a huff, contorting a bit to gaze up at him with wide, suspicious eyes.

"Hush." Ezra replied, nuzzling into Arthur's shoulder with a frown, "I want to hear the story Flor."

His sister pouted and huffed even louder, but conceded and nuzzled closer as well.

"Once upon a time, long before the storm swept calamity, an everlasting peace had seized the world. Flowers grew unabashedly, more than just the rare few yellows and blues we have now, ya'know— pinks and reds and even greens! These flowers were magical, everyone knew that—"

"Well where are they now?!" Florence cried out, her eyes alight with wonder and awe and indignant anger.

Ezra groaned and hushed his sister quiet once more and Arthur tried his best not to laugh.

"Keep goin' papa," he begged, "Don't let her interrupt anymore!"

Arthur ruffled both of their hair and continued after a fashion, "Once upon a time..."


It was always a bit startling, the change in atmosphere between levels. The topmost floor belonged to him, the twins, and his oldest confidant, Nanne Olly. The second story had been refurbished some twenty years ago, back in his diver days when his father was still alive, into separate individual lodgings. They were small rooms, true, but they were warm, had flowing water and functional pipes, and a deadbolt that was nigh impossible to pick. Most importantly, the twelve or so rooms were affordable and he was picky with who he chose for tenets.

As his boots thud-thud-thudded down the stairs, he smiled shyly, content with the current roster of individuals that made up his abode. Even the newcomer, Onya; bristly and tight-lipped, true, but Arthur was rarely ever wrong when it came to choosing quality people. She was one of them.

He just knew it.

Just as he knew the floor-level would be a rowdy mess, with tables to bus, counters to wipe, and Ernie's stew to finish.

"Scully, finally! We're starvin' down here!"

There was a chorus of complaints and the frantic, apologetic eyes of Felix the bus boy. Arthur gave the kid a clap on the back, nearly toppling him over, and hushed the crowd with the promise of food. He shooed Nanne away from Ernie who was busy racking his knuckles with a wooden spoon for being so tardy, and asked her to go upstairs and take it easy for the night. After a while, by the time a new loaf of bread was ready and there was the music of pattering rain on the wharf's tiles that heralded in new customers, he asked the same of Ernie.

"I won't put any fish innit, I promise." Arthur replied, noting the panicked look on the elderly man's face. "Fish and veggies don't really mix well anyways. Not to me at least and I don't serve noffin' I won't eat myself!"

That seemed to settle his nerves, though he still disengaged from the warm kitchen reluctantly, suspiciously. It was at least another twenty minutes before the first handful of bowls were sent out into the voracious crowd. He plopped in another four loaves of bread before manning the bar once more, washrag draped over his left shoulder.

"Keep rollin' the stew out, Felix," Arthur said with a firm, approving nod. "Let me know when the bread's ready to be—"

"S-sir?" Felix asked after a moment of silence, tracing Arthur's gaze to the far side of the inn, where the hearth's heat mingled with the heat of the scented braziers. "What are you... That's Cap'n Sosa, right?"

All Arthur could do in that moment was grunt as his eyes took in the rest of his patrons, jumping from one crown to the next, from one face to the other.

"Say," Arthur said softly under his breath, "Did the new tenant make her way upstairs while I was in the kitchen with Erns"

"No, sir, not that I noticed. I-I'm sorry."

"No need to be sorry, lad," Arthur said with a forced smile, pulling his gaze away from the crowd to peg the ginger-haired bus boy with a sharp gaze. "You've got good eyes. I trust you.

"Do me a favor, aye? Run upstairs real quick and tell Nanne Olly that she needs to keep a close eye on the twins tonight."

At this point Felix had learned better than to ask too many questions and hurried across the room, tripping on the second step as he ascended. Arthur grabbed a bottle of rum from behind the bar and made rounds around the spacious room, pouring thimble-shots to faces he was intimate with, making small talk with those he wasn't, until finally he was across from Captain Sosa. He held up the bottle in question and the man nodded happily, opening his mouth to speak.

Arthur didn't let him.

He had not earned his titles on a whim. Coral Scull. Whalekin. Skipper. Papa. Captain. Wharfmaster.

He slammed the bottle of rum into the captain's right hand, shattering the glass instantly and impaling it through flesh and driftwood. The room went quiet. There were no gasps of fear or quips of alarm. Shifty glances aplenty were shared between Sosa's ragtag crew, but no one moved and no one spoke and Arthur's eyes had went dark.

"You done left her, didn't cha?" He turned to the crowd, his towering form backlit by the blazing hearth. He eyed everyone soaked and shivering from the storm's raging tears.

"You can leave now and never return or you can stay, repent with your guilt, and pray she makes it back. Make that choice now."
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To his one and only point of credit, the unscrupulous Captain Sosa did not scream when the glass tore through the flesh of his hand. Nay, nor did he cry. But his tongue suffered for it, bite as he did through it. The man's head snapped back, wild eyes meeting the muted anger in that lay The Wharfmaster's glare.

"Hell!" The man finally sputtered, his hand writhing in pain. "What the hell-"

A rebuttal came, as did the desire to fight, like a nasty little seed in his head. But Arthur's size alone rendered that moot, and the captain could not rely on his crew. Not a man among them had made a move, their silence a damning void of support. Sosa's confidence fled, and he shrank against his seat. Still, his head whipped about, seeking a sympathetic audience.

"You don't understand! That crazy woman wanted to keep diving! I tol' her the storm was getting bad– we had to go back, or we would have bloody been capsized! I wasn't-"

He hissed at the pain in his hand.

"It's not my fault. Damn it, I left her the rowboat! I-"

"Cap'n's lying," one of the sailors suddenly piped up. He was young, his freckled face twisted in misery. "Thas not wha' all happen'. He got…"



Onya turned. One of the sailors aboard Sosa's boat had slunk up alongside her at the bow of the ship. He grinned at her, freckles dotting his skin like stars in the night sky.

"I says, are ya spooked?" He repeated. He jerked his thumb towards the greying sky. "By the coming storm."

Her body shifted with the gentle swaying of the boat as she hoisted a leg over the side. "No. Should I be?"

"Aye. Cap'n's spooked. Says we go'a go back 'fore i' hits."

"Oh yeah? Well he knows I'm quick."

Lance–now she remembered. Lance was the kid's name. He kept watching as she put on the slick rubber of her diving suit, and Onya was oddly reminded of a cat that looked idly at the fish swarming about beneath the shallow waves, a lazy interest resting in those slanted eyes of his. Eventually he was pushed out of the way by the older men coming lower down her rowboat. The height of the ship was much too high to dive, especially into relatively shallow ocean depths. Divers were lowered first to the sea via rowboat, where they would then paddle out a reasonable distance away to dive. The rowboat would remain tied to the main ship by rope so as not to drift away.

Captain Sosa eventually emerged over the edge of the ship, grinning down at Onya.

"Alright, woman! You've got one hour before we turn back! Bring back a nice haul, yeah?"

In answer, Onya waved her hand. Sosa continued to watch as the diver rowed her way back; the minute her body, dipped in black, slipped beneath the tumultuous waves, his expression shifted, his eyes darkening. Miggens, his first mate, threw an uneasy look his way.


"Quiet, boy. I'll not tempt the hand of fate."

He jerked his head towards the long rope trailing from Onya's rowboat to their ship.

"Cut it."


Glass shattered. Sosa lunged at Lance, his hands open claws.

"Confound it, boy! Ya bloody well had to open your mo-"

"We shud have stayed!" Lance cried. "You shudn't have lef' her out there inna storm!"

Outside, the rain beat against the Inn and docks with the fury of fists. The sky had cooled into a pallid white, and the waves, though vibrant still, had calmed in their fits. Old fisherwoman Beatnix was pulling in her nets from the docks edge when she paused, squinting out over the ocean. Something was bobbing along the horizons: a tiny little rowboat, gently being rocked along the waves towards the harbor…


"I ought to call the law," Scully growled as he lunged forward, grabbing Sosa by the collar and manhandling him back to his seat before he could do any damage to the only bloke who had a shred of decency. "But I ain't interested in givin' you what you stole out from under your diver."

He bent down, mustache and nostrils both flared, "You'll hang from the plank that faces south. Atone for your sins, Sosa. Watch the southern seas and who knows, maybe Onya'll return before the rope gets you good and purple and bloated."

Arthur called out to the rest of Sosa's men, half in challenge, half in earnest. "You can stay, join my dock crew and scrub the wharf for three weeks— I pay my men ten cockles a day and that's what I'll pay you sorry son's of bitches —or you can leave my property and never return. Choice is yours." He held up a fist as he finished, "Or you can take our your frustrations now. Try and make a move together. All o' you against little ol' me?"

"Don't blame you fer thinkin' it, but you might want to rethink."
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There were fates worse than death, to be sure. Onya had felt the clawing of starvation and poverty in her bones for many suns and moons, when the idea of licking the crumbs from a rich man's table and boots had consumed her until she had gone sick with hatred of herself and her own desperation. The men and women laying half mad and feeble in the infirmaries when the first plague had struck the isle - surely that had been a purgatory of its own making, with even Onya not wishing this fate on even her worst enemy.

But she had since found another path marred with suffering.

Gods. Her bones. Her muscles. They moved by rote memory, the pain and ache having since numbed until she wondered if her very limbs had been taken from her long ago and now were pulled by an invisible puppeteer in the heavens. The waves had battered her to the point where the water sat upon bruised flesh like a second skin. Each swell of the water threatened to capsize her tiny rowboat entirely. In the absence of failure, she flourished; the waves pushed her along, an invisible hand aiding her in her weakness. The very thing that threatened to kill her chose with each tug and pull to save her instead.

She didn't even know if she was going in the right direction. Only her arms continued to move; her head had long since drooped against her chest, her eyes shut against the onslaught of salt water and brine threatening to blind her.

What would have happened, she wondered? What would have happened if she hadn't returned to her rowboat early after having forgotten her wares basket? If she hadn't seen the jaunty flag of Sosa's ship flailing in its retreat, her rowboat having been batted leagues away by the oncoming storm?

She kept rowing.



Old fisherwoman Beatnix was neither quiet nor a coward. The tiny old woman stood with her hands upon her hips in the foyer of the inn, her chest puffed out like a rooster. There was some kerfuffle or the other between Sosa and his men and Arthur Scully but--

Bah! The petty fights between men meant nothing to her.

"I need one of you lot to come out 'ere and gimme a hand." She jerked her thumb behind her. "Some girlie's out there half-drowned docking in MY boat space!"

By the docks, Onya's boat had been tethered. What was decidedly not tethered was the teetering, stumbling figure that had crawled out of the boat and staggered to her feet. The world was spinning still; she blinked away the rain, eyes wild as she shoved away the hair plastered to her face. Her entire being was numb, her vision dim. She could just barely feel diver's knife in her shaking hands, the blurry silhouette of the Wharfmaster's Inn swimming before her.

She trudged forward.

Beatnix's words had barely left her mouth before the half-drowned "girlie" herself came careening through the Inn doors, her entrance silencing all who looked upon her. Onya tilted, back and forth, on her heels, teetering, a pool of water forming under her feet from her drenched hair and clothes. Beatnix gaped at her.

Wild eyes peered out at her from the veil of hair. The knife lifted.

"Where's. Sosa?" The swamp thing croaked.

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The palpable tension within the inn was broke by old lady Beatnix, her indignant anger surmounting the likes boiling inside him. A part of him cursed the tiny woman, his old bones itching to bleed the captain in his grasp dry. The man embodied everything that was wrong in this world. He demonstrated why it was impossible for humanity to crawl its way back out of sea. Arthur's grip shifted swiftly, releasing Sosa's collar only to wrap his abnormally large hands around the man's neck.

He glanced down almost curiously as he dragged them both forward, "Is this your lucky day—"

Another clang of thunder and another bang-bang of the inn's front doors.

Arthur smiled at Onya's return, at her raised blade. His heart swelled and with a brief prayer (and a motion for Beatnix to get the hell out of the way), Arthur threw Sosa in the pool of saltwater at Onya's feet. "Do as you will, as the Wharfmaster I sanction it."
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Kill him.

The ocean's rage had manifested in the diver's freezing bones. By God, it was only the reason she had the strength to stand. Onya stared at Sosa, his own wretched features growing more horrible and pathetic the longer she looked. The big man, Arthur, said something; he was behind the disgraced sea captain, looming over him like a wall while Sosa remained its pitiful quivering shadow. Sosa was saying something too, but the ocean--the waves roared still in her ears.

"I'm sorry-" Sosa was babbling now, nearly in tears, cowering. His face began to blur around the edges.

Kill him.

"I didn't mean to! I promise to God, I'll never let you down again! Jus' let me go-"

It was now or never.



There was a weighted silence. The blade of Onya's knife was buried into the wooden planks a mere inch from Captain Sosa's skull, and with wild eyes he looked to the diver, who stood over him with shuddering breaths.

Onya may have been righteous in her vengeance. But she did not kill.


"I..." Her voice was barely audible. "I want...him cast out. Banished from here."

Sosa turned white at the proclamation, and for the first time, Onya turned to look at Arthur, blinking away the water. His face was a blur of brown quickly growing black.

"I'll have that stew now," She mumbled before her body fell back, her mind pitching forward into unconsciousness.

  • I'm SHOOK
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He was unable to catch Onya, but the Wharfmaster managed to cradle her head right before it made impact with the salty, lichen-ridden foyer. Arthur grunted, mustache bristling with impatience. She was perhaps too good of a person— allowing Sosa to repeat his mistakes by letting him live. His instinct was to disavow it... but he wasn't one to go against his word. He asked, she answered, and Sosa would suffer either way.

Ah, but at least it'll be elsewhere, Arthur thought to himself with a deep sigh, and not on my wharf.

The old wharfmaster blinked, Is that right though? Pawning off evil to the next man?

His eyes, clouded by hatred, softened when his wondering gaze noticed the little shadow by the staircase. The young man seemed to understand what he needed and without having been asked, scrambled up the stairs, shins and chin knocking against the driftwood planks. Silence still had a chokehold on his inn and all of his patrons stared, waited with baited breaths to see what would happen next. He did too. Sosa wouldn't meet his eyes, seemingly unable to keep his eyes off the blade embedded in the floor beside him. Onya was still out and beginning to shiver as the storm took a turn for the worse.

Several long minutes passed with Arthur standing over Onya's splayed out form and Sosa, on his back cowering, eyes never leaving the knife. Arthur could say nothing, staring down in disgusted bewilderment until the shuffling of robes caught his attention. He turned to Nanne Olly, pointing solemnly at the woman at his feet and the elderly woman only spared a single glance before bustling off in the opposite direction.

"Have the boy take her upstairs. I'll be there momentarily."

Arthur nodded and turned to Felix, the young man's freckles stark against the pale backdrop of his face. The Wharfmaster bent and picked Onya up, surprised at how light she was even soaking wet and deposited her gently. "Upstairs now," Arthur mumbled, "All the way up to Olly's room."

Whispering started the moment Felix left the main hall. Shuffling started soon thereafter. Lightning and thunder roared outside, the tempest sparing nothing, howling wind rushed through the minute cracks throughout the inn— creating a cacophonous opera of different whistly pitches and tunes. It was haunting.

"Captain Sosa you are hereby banished from my wharf. You will not sail out of here again, but I will not seize your vessel. It'll be tugged to the Priest's Pier once the storm settles. You will not dock here, you will not trade here, you will not step foot on these tiles and planks again."

Arthur Scully took two steps forward and yanked Onya's knife from Sosa's line of vision. Like a trained pup his gaze followed it, eyes wide with something akin to fear. It was only then that Sosa noticed him. Arthur repeated his declaration and smacked the words that attempted to scramble out of the disgraced captain's mouth. "There is no discussion. You'll stay right there until the storm lessens, where I'll then escort you out personally.


Two days passed before Nanne Olly had had enough.

"Alright, alright," A scratchy old voice hollered, "You've slept enough! I've been rotatin' out hot rocks every few hours for the past few days! I'm tired now, ya' hoot! Wakey wakey, ya' divehound! Time to get outta my bed and back into yours if you still want to sleep."

Onya would wake up in an unfamiliar location. There were windows everywhere, bright orangey light suffusing the space. It was warm under a mound of blankets, blissfully so, though mild heat radiated from the mattress itself. She wasn't in her dive gear anymore either, though she was in a nightgown that itched something fierce around the collar, due in part to the matted lace-work that was once-beautiful and now just a mish-mash of unfurled thread in a barely recognizable pattern.

Still, the smell of breakfast wafted through from somewhere beyond and Nanne Olly's voice rang out once more.

"Up and attem girlie; the storm broke last night and the sun graces us once more this morning. You should too!"
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