I hope the day finds you well, I have a little gift for you,
I figured now that Nocturna League Episode 5: The Black Eye is only 3 days away it would be prudent to release a teaser of sorts. I present to you the first three chapters in Nocturna League’s very first full-length novel! Enjoy!
Chapter One: The Point of No Return
This longer story of The Nocturna and her crew begins familiarly enough. Colette and Dunks are sparring in the ship’s small, gray gymnasium.
Colette, soaring with momentum, slides across a wall and pushes off to aim another hit. Dunklestein is just standing, one arm at his hip and the other with a pint of lager.
“How about this?” Colette flies forward with trained, acrobatic poise, her fist raised high to grand-slam her opponent.
Dunklestein only needs to raise his leg to intercept her and impact her speed against his knee. “How about what?” he asks as Colette buckles over in pain. With a desperate rebound, she tosses onto her back and shoots a foot in-between his legs. Again Dunklestein only needs to move his knee to the side to block the hit and follow up by weighing his foot down on her leg, locking her in place. Colette kicks with her other leg again and again, but it seems like nothing can move him. Dunks crosses his arms with a smile as he watches Colette flex up, wrap her arms around his leg and attempt to move it that way.
“You’re…” Colette hisses. “You’re too fat, Dunks! Dammit!” She falls back to the plush floor, exhausted after ten straight minutes of this maddening exertion.
Dunklestein shrugs as he takes a gulp of his beer. “I’m not sure how much this is helping.”
“What?” She says between pants.
“I mean, this: our sparring. It helped you alright for a little while. You’ve gotten way better at fighting and you’re as fast n’ strong as most any man on board, but you’re just about at your limit, I reckon.” He takes his foot off her.
With a burst of energy, she shoots back up to her feet. “No! Not even close to it! Come on, another round!”
Dunks shakes his head. “I can’t be standin’ around hours each day kicking your pa’toosh, kiddo. I actually do have a job on the ship, and you seem to have gotten to a point where you can’t get any better.”
Colette tightens up in exasperation. “Don’t do this to me, Dunks. I’m trusting you… The Captain’s trusting you to do your job training me!”
“Yeah, but some of the boys on board have been getting a little rowdy when I’ve been gone.”
“The Captain can take care of them.”
He takes another sip. “He’s way busier than either us, Colette. All that nonsensical stuff he does from day to day is actually saving our lives without us knowing it.”
“Yeah, so what do you mean to say?”
Dunklestein finishes his pint, places it aside and addresses her. “He can’t be bothered with petty trouble like whatever-” he raises his hands to make quotations, “degenerate activity the other jobbers are getting themselves into. It’s all fun and games until someone loses their soul or gets split in half, except the boys do think that’s fun, so I gotta keep th’ peace.”
Colette points her finger as if she has the perfect response, but she lowers it back in line. “So you’re saying we’re done.”
Dunks shrugs again. “I’m saying I’ve taught you all you can learn from me. Maybe you should talk to The Captain about learning under someone else. Maybe Estradia.”
“Gross.” She scowls.
“I don’t need to learn how to cook.”
“As a sparring partner.”
Colette cringes. “Thanks, but I think I’ll skip that.”
Dunklestein nods with a superior grin. “Then that’s that. If you really want to keep sparring, maybe learn a few pointers from some of the other folks on the ship. If you’re looking for a sounder kicking that I can give you, I hear the dude in Enforcement’s a right good fi-…” Dunks inhales sharply.
Colette’s indignant expression melts into a sort of blank curiosity. “Wait… Enforcement?”
Dunklestein flinches, realizing he said something he shouldn’t have. “Uh, nevermind.”
“You mean that room labeled ‘Enforcement’ on the third deck?”
Her features sharpen with intrigue. “The one that’s always locked, just like the lower decks?”
Dunklestein takes a deep breath. “You didn’t hear it from me, got it?”
Colette raises a blond brow and comes to a slow nod. “What guy in Enforcement?”
Dunks’ smile returns as quickly as it had left, and he bumps her on the shoulder with his fist. “Right. Now I’m going to hang with the boys. It’s usually around this time that they’re up to no good anyway.” He puts one foot out the door. “Bit of advice: even if you know about the guy that doesn’t mean he could help you. If you ask me you’re as far as a human girl can get.” He disappears out the door, leaving a contested Colette.
She tugs up the sleeve of her work clothes. Compacted, thick, trained musculature- the signs of a body put through incredible stress. She approaches the mirror and hums. Gone is the feminine softness she had only a small bearing of growing up, and to stay are the fruits of her training. Her fitness has gotten to a point that she’s rounding out like a bear. If someone didn’t inspect her closely enough, they might think her an effeminate male, or if they noticed her as a female, just overweight, when quite the opposite is true. She looks over the weight racks, those now-familiar tools of strain, wondering if she’s really at the peak of what her body will allow. Benching a grown man’s weight in kilos is more than a little impressive for a girl her age, but she must admit that her growth has slowed. A few weeks after the mist gauntlet incident she reached her physical max, a level that most would consider Olympian. Yet its been months since then, and she’s seen minimal improvements in comparison to that first month.
Colette can’t bear to think of the possibility that this might be as far as she can get. If she’s going to kill the overlord and save her town, her friend, and herself, she’s going to need something more. She thinks back to all the relics and magic and monstrosities she’s seen on The Eversea, and then she nods. She knows she’s going to have to go beyond a point of no return to get the power she needs… but how?
Colette leaves the gym and notices something gross that had flopped onto the deck and died some time ago- exuding a wonderfully-terrible stench. She gets her mop and starts cleaning when an explosion comes from the kitchen.Running from the event is a coughing Grancis, her hair tied into a messy, smoked bun.
“BE OF THE TAKING OF THE BREAK, APPRENTICE MEAT, AND AS FOR YOU, DEMON OF THE COOKING, YOU SHALL BE OF THE LEARNING TO BE OF THE RESPECTING!” Screams Boris from inside the kitchen just as flames spew out capable of cooking any fleshly creature.
“Burn in the fires of vengeance, crustacean tormentor scum! I’ll show you what real cooking is!” Another voice sounds from the kitchen as the flames rage out.
Grancis wipes her face of soot as she steps over to Colette.
“Having fun?” Colette asks as she wipes away a dozen-so eyes into the water.
Grancis giggles. “Yeah.” She stretches with the railing. “The flame… demon… thing that Boris trapped in the stove to cook with finally got out and-”
“LOBSTER IS NOT OF THE COOKING, DEMON OF THE COOKING, YOU ARE OF THE COOKING!” Boris yells out from within the flamethrower that is now kitchen
“For the last time, you bastard. I’m a fire elemental!” the other voice responds just as the fire blazes out like a geyser of death.
Grancis nods as the sounds of crashing and smashing ring out from the kitchen. “It’s been an eventful morning. How’ve you been?” She asks with a smile.
Colette nods as another explosion bursts from the kitchen and Boris starts screaming in aquatic anger. “I don’t know. Dunks feels like I’ve gotten about as good as… a girl can be, I guess.”
“Oh! That’s quite a compliment.”
She shakes her head. “No. Like, I’m not strong enough to kill the overlord, not yet; and if Dunks is right and I’m as far as I can go… like this, then I’ll have to find some other way.” Colette looks out to the shifting Eversea, continuously confounding and terrible to her.
Grancis’ smile dies the moment she hears Colette say “like this”. She knows where this is headed. “So… What do you intend to do about it?”
“Well, Dunks told me abo- uh, well, about a way I might be able to get better by training under someone else.”
Grancis hums. “Do I know this person?”
“No, probably not.”
“Are they… on the ship?”
“Yes.” Colette looks aside, hoping with every part of her that Grancis doesn’t pry further.
Grancis gains the sort of face an interrogator would have when testing for the weaknesses of a new captive- a very Captain-like look. “Oh?”
Colette sighs. “Y-yeah.”
“Okay, Colette, but I don’t want you to give up something important just so you can get a little more strength… It’d be better to be the overlord’s wife and still human, I think.”
Suddenly, a spark lights in Colette’s eye and she looks to her friend. “Are you kidding me? I’d sooner die than be that bastard’s plaything. Why wouldn’t I sacrifice a part of myself, or even all of myself to kill him? Don’t you think it’d be worth it to spend one person to save hundreds more?”
Grancis bites her lip. “N-no, Colette. The people of the village were fine.”
Colette’s glare becomes considerably more vindictive. “Yeah, until I fucked it all up?”
Grancis takes a deep breath. “I would be lying if I said you weren’t the cause of a lot of the town’s problems.”
The ocean waves sing as the fire from the kitchen die down in the silence.
Colette puts her mop aside and leans over the railing. “Then… If I really am that much of a bother to everyone… why would you care that I decided to risk my life for ‘em?”
Grancis weighs her words a moment. “People are in charge for a reason, Colette. The overlord… may have… hurt us in the past, but as bad as he might be, at least he lets us live our lives.”
Colette stare on blankly. “You’ve lost hope, haven’t you?”
Grancis focuses her gaze on Colette, who only stares out to sea. “Colette, we’re best friends. I know I’d want you to talk me out of a bad decision. I’d rather live with you as a slave in that guy’s castle than see you turn into something like the guys on this ship.”
“…What do you mean?”
“Like, part animal, part human. A monstrosity. It’s unnatural.”
“So is slavery,” Colette says, peeking at Grancis from the side.
Grancis looks down in thought. “You don’t care that much about what you become, so long as its still you, do you?”
Colette thinks on it, and nods. “If you did it to save the people you love… wouldn’t you?”
Grancis sighs, scans her eyes over the ocean, but can’t quite find the words. “Be careful… Okay?”
Colette stares out at the misted horizon, scoffs, and finally turns to her friend. “Of course I will. Someone like me better stay on her toes if all she does is screw others over.”
“C-Colette! I didn’t mean it like tha-”
“Then how did you mean it? Was it a problem I was born… or that my mom got sick… or that I decided that I was tired of seeing you get bullied and that you needed a friend?” Grancis inhales with a skewed sob. Colette ‘s gaze is mercilessly direct, with absolutely no room for empathy. “Well?” Colette adds.
Grancis takes labored, poisoned breaths. “I-”
“APPRENTICE MEAT! I AM OF THE TAMING OF THE DEMON OF THE COOKING!” Boris yells out loudly enough for the whole ship to hear it.
“I told you I’m a flame elemental! You will rue this day!” Yells the now-muffled voice of the re-imprisoned elemental.
Grancis, the beginning of tears on the brim of her eyes, straightens up. “I… I have to go and clean up.”
Colette stares Grancis down for a few bitter seconds. “Yeah, fine.”
Grancis turns back to the kitchen and Colette back to the ocean. Colette leans into herself spitefully as she mutters to herself. As she wonders just how much of what Grancis said was true, the side of a ship appears in the mist a kilometer out. She fails to register just what this appearance means for a second, and then her anger flashes into horror. She runs for the deck alarm and hits it for the very first time.
A blaring, alien sound spouts from The Nocturna’s speakers, and crew-members of all sorts peek their heads from port-holes to behold the ship approaching rapidly. Colette looks forward at the new vessel. Made of wood, unlike the metallic Nocturna, and with a sinister red glow. Colette pulls in a long breath of eldritch sea air, equal parts salt and blood, and reaches for her revolver.
“That will be quite unnecessary, Miss Ketiere,” a measured, refined voice says from behind. Colette checks and spots none other than The Captain, a bottle of Dugal’s scotch in one hand and two glasses in the other. “Shooting one’s guests is usually considered bad form, though I’m sure a lady of your abilities could make it the new hot thing if she really desired to.”
Colette looks back with The Captain as the ship pulls up to the side and a floating aberration hails the two.
“Ahoy me hearties! I trust yee have the libations prepared?”
The Captain raises the bottle and clinks the glasses together. “As always, Captain Livingstone.”
Chapter Two: The Invitation and The Really-Quite-Obvious Trap
“Salt,” Colette addresses as the man of the other ship, looking like the ghost of a skeleton that was at one time a ship captain, floats down onto the deck equal the others.
“Cookie,” The Captain responds.
“Allow me to introduce you to him.” The Captain places the two glasses atop the neck of the bottle and takes the ghost skeleton’s hand. “Captain Russhaw Livingstone,” The Captain says, shaking hands with the ghost like any mortal would to another.
“The Captain,” Russhaw says with a distinctively ectoplasmic accent.
It may just be her imagination, but Colette has a hunch that this ghost captain is at least a little bit afraid of The Captain- the aberration seems uneasy.
“I trust you’ve come here to exchange more than simple pleasantries.”
Russhaw releases a hearty laugh, sounding like the screams of a city being drowned in the sea. “Of course, me hearty! Seems our beloved mayor’s been sending out a missive bounty for ye.”
The Captain hums. “I see… an attempt to have me put down and brought to justice, perhaps?”
Russhaw shrugs. “Ay cannah say f’sure.” He pulls from his ghostly bounds a nice-smelling pinkish envelope with The Captain’s name on it, written with flowing, graceful penstrokes.
The Captain takes the letter and shrugs. “All to be disclosed once we go up to the study, enjoy a few drinks, and read the letter together, yes?”
Russhaw laughs again and takes up The Captain’s shoulder as the two ascend the steps to his study and open the door.
“Captain!” Colette shouts up before he closes the door behind him and Russhaw.
“Yes?” he calls back down.
Colette shrugs out her arms as if she’s supposed to be let in on something, like just what the guy’s doing here, what she should be doing while they’re talking, or what Boris is cooking for dinner tonight – anybody’s guess.
The Captain shrugs back, and closes the door without a word.
“The hell,” she mutters under her breath as a few other crew members congregate near the side of the ship.
“Outta’ the way!” Engineer Luisoix yells as he hauls a huge bin of random crap that he got from under his bunk. “Outta’ the way!” He says again in desperation as a small skull peeks out from the tall side of the other ship.
“Ayyyyyy-” starts a small skeleton with his own bin full of crap.
“Ayyyheyyyyyy!” Luisoix responds in an equally annoying manner. The skeleton comes down with all sorts of other creatures, both living and dead, each with something to trade.
The unsure atmosphere shifts instantly to mercantilism as sailors from The Nocturna rush off to go get things of their own to trade, but Luisoix was ready the moment he spotted the ship.
“Tell me you have it,” Luisoix demands as he pushes his bin in front of the skeleton and Colette.
The small skeleton chuckles and digs around through his goods. “You mean…” with a flash he pulls out the latest issue of “Omniverse Biology” Magazine. This issue devoted entirely to beautiful pictures of aquatic life. “This?”
Luisoix’s angler-fish lure perks up in a way Colette could only describe at the moment as “sketchy.”
“Th-that’s it! Oh yes! Yes!” A foaming Luisoix grasps for the magazine just as the skeleton pulls back with a grin.
“Gonna cost ya’.”
“Y-yeah, of course!” Luisoix desperately piles out all sorts of baubles, items of magic, a folder of Omni-deck(TM) trading cards, rare foods and medicines and a few magazines containing some especially questionable material that the narrator would not be all that comfortable describing.
The dwarf skeleton coos in wonder as he looks through the mountain of stuff in front of a confused Colette who is unsure if she should be fascinated or disgusted. “This stuff’s sorta normz,” the skeleton says with an unimpressed tone as he finishes his initial observation.
Luisoix trembles. “Come on! This stuff is priceless!”
“Sure, but I know how much you want it, right?” The skeleton opens the marine biology magazine just enough for a poster flap to unfold and float from the pages enticingly. Colette hums as Luisoix gasps in adoration: it’s a poster pin up of a colorful fish laying eggs in a smoothed out nest- it really is a pretty picture, Colette thinks, but it’s not that pretty. Several of The Nocturna’s sailors nearby exclaim in shock upon seeing the image- as if some priceless work of art is being displayed to a crowd of cultured onlookers. Colette assumes she just can’t understand the taste. It must be some pretty high-class art if they’re reacting this way. “I’m waiting,” the skeleton says.
“Nice!” A salivating sailor from behind Colette says.
“All those eggs!” Another one says in a frustrated tone that reminds Colette of some of the boys back at the village when discussing Grancis.
Luisoix takes a deep, finalizing breath, and opens up the card folder. He pulls out a card that has the likeness of an angular, blacker-than-pitch figure that Colette thinks looks sort of like it has sharp, thin bunny ears- “a book character?”, she wonders as she looks over its wide, senseless smile and its glowing, soul-imprisoning gaze. There’s no way something like that could exist in real life.
The skeleton flinches and looks on in awe. “No shit… This real?”
“See for yourself!” Luisoix hands the skeleton the small, shiny card.
“I never thought I’d get to see a third gen Chaos… That is, if it really is legit… May I?”
Luisoix nods, and the skeleton slowly folds the card. Colette looks on in curiosity, assuming that the skeleton would rather keep the card undamaged, but after the skeleton crumbled the card into a ball, the card unfolds by itself, eliminating any creases and looking as good as the day it was enchanted with preservation magic hundreds of years ago.
The skeleton grips the card like the deed to a well-earned home. “Yeah, it’s real alright… This for the mag? Really?”
Luisoix nods with a sobered up tone. “Like you said, I want it bad- besides, I’ve quit playing.”
“My man…” The skeleton scoffs, nods and hands over the marine life magazine. Luisoix’s composure erupts back into perverted euphoria as he takes the magazine, packs up his stuff and rushes off back to his bunk.
Colette watches Luisoix shut the door behind him and she turns to the skeleton.
“So people trade things between vessels.”
The skeleton nods with a few satisfying *clack* sounds. “Yeah. Luisoix and I trade each time Ol’ Stones and The Reaper have a drink to exchange news.”
Colette squints an eye. “The Reaper?” She asks in an amused tone.
The skeleton chuckles. “ Yeah, you know: “The Nocturnal Reaper”? What do you call ‘em?”
“Uh, The Captain?”
The skeleton shrugs. “Yeah, makes sense I guess… So do you want anything or are you just gonna hold up the line?”
Colette looks behind herself and finally notices the four other sailors that have their arms filled with stuff for bartering. “Uh… what all do you have?” she asks, looking over everything.
“Well,” the trader starts as he begins pointing things out, starting with a bunch of vials filled with suspicious-looking fluids and dried things, “I got you month-long supplies of hash, rickity, deadeye, and a single shot of weir for the same value.” He points across a row of baubles next, “soul gems, filled or empty, last names, first names, eye colors, most any body-transfigurator short of seasortage, enchanted bullets for any thirty cal-”
“How about… that?” She points at a small, unassuming octopus plushie, smiling brightly as it wraps around a stuffed anchor.
The skeleton pauses amidst his exposition of wares, and sighs. “Ahh, you just want this?”
Colette looks to the kitchen and spots the bare silhouette of a bleak-faced Grancis wiping down sooted cookery. “It’s kinda… cute?” She asks as if it were a question. Colette’s not exactly sure what cute is per se, but she’s pretty sure this is it.
“Uh, yeah. Yeah I guess it is, but more importantly what do you have for it?”
Colette looks to the side in thought and then reaches for her coat.
Half an hour passes, and finally Captain Russhaw Livingstone exits The Captain’s study with The Captain himself and they break up the parlay. The ghouls and ghosts return to the great wooden ship and they turn off back to the mist. Colette waves them off with a couple of the other more less-macho sailors as The Captain steps up next to Colette.
“Made some friends?” he asks, watching the vessel leave.
“Made some contacts,” she corrects.
“A most captainly way of putting it, my croissant.”
She looks over to him. “So, what’d captain calcium want?”
The Captain scoffs. “He wouldn’t appreciate such a nickname, I assure you. He’s quite sensitive about his non-mortality.”
She raises a brow in humor. “Terrifying.”
“Most other captains would agree, though I find him a good drinking companion… He wanted to deliver a message from the Mayor of Wreckwind Port.”
Colette’s brow squints down in suspicion. “Wait… What? Isn’t that-”
“It is indeed the same mayor that took flight in her airship some months ago and attempted to blow us to smithereens as we made our daring escape.”
Colette hums the way one would when hearing about a scheming ex’s latest depravities. “So…—”
“What is it?”
The Captain nods and turns to the others. “Sailors of The Nocturna. I have an announcement to make.”
A few doors along the various deck floors crack open to listen as others fly open to allow the flood of attentive crew members to get a good spot to hear from. Colette snaps around and sees, just barely, a scant line of darkness revealed inside the enforcement closet on the third floor deck- someone really is in there, and they just opened the door a sliver.
“Judging that this message I’ve received from captain Livingstone is true, Mayor Irefall of Wreckwind Port wishes to administer us a pardon. She desires I meet with her personally to discuss things formally during the Irefall Manor Ball. I’ll be attending this ball, will work out the negotiations, as assure our safe travel to and from the port from here on. We set our course for Wreckwind, do you understand?”
Salutes across the board.
“Yes, sir!” is the resounding response from the majority of the sailors in uncanny unity.
The Captain nods. “Very good then. Any questions before we set off?”
Itrim Kalamest slowly raises his hand, only to be given a dirty glare from Hoqq Lorenzo, that one constantly angry dude that has a harpoon gun for one arm and a wriggling, biting shark for the other. Itrim lowers his hand as quickly as he had raised it, figuring he’ll ask someone when the time comes.
“Excellent!” The Captain exclaims, “Then we’re off. Carry on.”
There are cheers and agreements abounding among the men as they go off to either go back to napping or ensure the ship’s readiness for departure, depending on their job.
Colette and Captain are left watching the scores of men meander off to their day-to-day activities.
She addresses him. “So… She wants to apologize?”
He straightens his cap. “Probably not the term she would use, but yes.”
“And you believe her?”
The Captain smirks, his bandages curling up slyly around his mouth. “Not in the slightest. I’ll have you to my study, Miss Ketiere.”
Chapter Three: Kolette’s allowed into The Kaptain’s Klub 4 Kool Kidz
Colette’s let into the cool, dark study of The Captain, rich with the scent of wreathed pipe smoke and some other imperceptible scent Colette seems to only recognize in this one room – like something from far off childhood.
“A drink?” He pops open a bottle of some caramel-colored fluid.
She squints an eye. “Didn’t you just have one?”
“That was scotch, this is rum- wildly different drinks. You support a properly rounded-out diet, don’t you?”
“Sure.” She takes a glass. “Now what d’ya need?” She leans into her chair with a satisfying, leathery *puff*.
The Captain pulls down his spectacles a slight as if to assume an incriminating glare. “You really have grown quite friendly with me. Allow me to remind you that you are still but a jobber upon this crew.”
She takes a sip. “And?”
“And as such you should address me with the respect owed to one’s superior. Do you understand?”
“We’ve been over this. I’m not being disrespectful, just friendly! You know, keepin’ it light.” She says this with a decidedly comfortable smile, as if this were her study, rather than his.
The Captain takes his own seat. “Light on proper formality, for certain.”
She smirks as she takes the glass to her lip. “So, sir, what did you need me for?”
The Captain raises his glass and puts down a decisive gulp. “While you are but a jobber, you are also my apprentice. I feel it’s right to let you in on our plan.”
“Plan. We’re going to Wreckwind Port for a specific reason other than receiving the pardon?”
The Captain scoffs with the lightness of a feather. “The pardon is intended to bait us, my dear. There is simply no way in or out of The Eversea that Miss Irefall would actually pardon me.”
She leans forward. “You have a history?”
He takes a long sip. “ ‘Epic saga’ would be more accurate.”
“So… a long history?”
“Precisely; the amount of stories I have of her and she has of me could fill volumes I’d imagine, but that’s beside the point. She’s has something up her sleeve and will definitely pull it out the moment it suits her best. She’ll likely see my sailors behind bars, and my head on a stake.”
“Whoa.” Is all she says.
The Captain nods. “Indeed. Once you get to know her she’s… an ambitious lady and is not quite so interested as you or I might be about making lasting friends.” he chuckles for some reason. “So don’t be deceived- she’s as captainly as they come… in comparison to other captains, that is, not in comparison to me- I’m far more captainly.
“Obviously. So I fully intend on taking this pardon, if she does in fact intend to give me a temporary one just to have me lower my guard, but I won’t be led along like some fool. I’ll take the opportunity at her abode and steal her most prized possession. Something far more valuable than all the port and all its exports.”
Colette leans in a bit more after taking another sip. “Go on.”
“Pertalaine thinks she’s a clever one, as if no one would notice, could notice; but this upcoming week will be her downfall. In the end— ” He leans back into his chair, flipping one leg over the other. “She’s a degenerate like all the rest- only grasping for what she feels will fulfill her ambition… I suppose I shouldn’t step on her too much. We have many similarities, She and I… ” He scratches his chin. “But then again… Tell me, Colette, would you rather be wise, or be powerful?” He looks forward, to and through her.
He hums softly. “Something the matter, Miss Ketiere?”
She decides not to say it, but this is the first time he’s used her first name in a long time, if ever- she can’t remember. It sounds strange coming from him, anyway. “Uh, no, nothing… I think I’d… I’d like to be wise.”
The Captain pushes his glasses to the bridge of his nose, the spectacles glinting grimly in the porthole light. “Would you?”
Colette looks aside in thought. “No. No I wouldn’t. I’d rather be powerful. If you’re powerful you can gain wisdom, but not the other way around.”
The Captain smiles. “So you think it would be easier to be strong and become wise, rather than to be wise and then become strong?”
She squints as she looks deep into her glass. “I… yeah. Yeah, that’s how it would work, I’m sure, because you would be strong enough to get any kind of knowledge, right? I mean, you could just smash into a library and read if you started strong, but if you started wise, you couldn’t guarantee getting as strong as the person who started strong… I guess.”
The Captain coos softly and thoughtfully, manifesting one of those rare moments that makes Colette feel like she’s just answered to seal her fate forever, and she may have chosen the wrong answer. “I expected that would be your answer.”
She draws back. “…Is that a… good answer?”
He nods. “It is an answer, certainly. We’ll see in time if it’s the correct one or not.” The two listen to a pair of eldgulls screeching outside on top of the deck. Colette never thought she’d find the sound of them comforting. “Thank you, Miss Ketiere. I think you really are ready,” The Captain adds. “While I’ll be taking you and Miss Vereyrty along for the party, you will be one of the few that will know my plan at length.”
Colette tenses. Finally she’s really on his side. “Thank you, sir.”
He puts aside his glass upon the chair-side table, carved with a curling, angry depiction of a kraken-beast. “We’re going to steal an object in her possession called the Black Eye of Vathhl the Beholder, said to be able to empower the bearer with the abilities of most any seasort.”
“Seasorts… like Boris and Dunks?”
“For instance, yes. It imbues, or perhaps more accurately, corrupts the bearer with the soul shard of… I suppose the patron of the seasort desired. Everything from the lowly starfish to the heraldic eldritch gods are offered up to the bearer, giving him a devious tool for any situation. What’s more, the shards offered by the eye are only temporary, and thus do not fully corrupt the wielder, unlike folks like Boris, who are overtaken and transformed completely by the thing affecting them.”
Colette hums. “Boris was human once?”
“Probably. Could have been born that way as well, or perhaps some other race that was corrupted. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but for every day you spend on The Eversea, your perception of what is, or is not becomes… foggy. That said, this relic is what Pertalaine’s used for decades to stay at the top of both the official bureaucracy and the criminal underbelly of Wreckwind, The Eversea’s most profitable port by far.”
“So she can basically use the power of any seasort.”
“With some limitations, yes. We have little to worry about though, because once someone other than herself bonds with it, she will lose the gifts of the eye until she can retake it, which we will not allow. On the night of the ball, I plan to make a distraction that will draw the attention of both friend and foe with such ease that they will be helpless to ignore it. You will then make your way through any defenses she might have up to her bed chambers. It is there you will bond with the eye, take it, and we’ll make our escape. That is, unless you’re capable of getting The Eye earlier by some means.” He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small jar filled with clumpy white crystals, along with a smaller parchment with a strange inscription. “Here you are.”
She takes the thin, unlabeled jar and the paper slip. “What is it?”
“Occult salt- far better than regular salt when it comes to dealing with the unknown. Think back to when you were in the sewer with Engineer Luisoix. Remember that he was spreading something out to ward off the beast?”
Colette hums. “That morning was… I dunno, blurry. I don’t remember much of it…” She places a hand on her forehead. “Now that I think on it… yeah, Luisoix was real pissed when he found out it was sugar. So this is the salt stuff meant to ward off things?”
The Captain, his composure professionally measured, nods. “It works well on creatures of overwhelming evil or incorporeality. Demons, most undead things, spooks, spirits, phantoms and whatnot. The slip is to be attached to them to neutralize their anchoring to this plane of existence. She’ll likely have more than a few spirits serving her in her manor, so if you find yourself haunted, consider spreading a line between yourself and your hunter. Ideally you’ll trap them in a circle of the salt, carefully attach the slip, and that should take care of them. Just keep in mind that if your opponent is fully phantasmal it can just travel around the line and through the walls and floors of a place; something to recall if you ever find yourself chased by a ghost. Just be fast and remember that your opponent will not have to worry about the walls you do, and you should be fine.”
She rolls the slip along the small jar in her hand a moment and then tucks them away into one of her pants pockets. “Got it. I’ll keep it in mind.”
“Glad to hear it. Any questions so far before we go across the rest of it?”
“No. Fill me in,” She says.
“Glad you’re engaged; allow me to give you the details then… Aren’t you cold?”
Colette folds her arms; she doesn’t have her coat on. “No, please go ahead.”
The Captain shrugs. “Suit yourself. Here’s how it’ll work—”
Preorder The Black Eye for 75% off until the 30th by clicking here, or just search your region’s amazon store!
Hope you enjoyed and wish to hear your thoughts on the book after you’re done with it.
All the best,