When stories are told, the senses are all that matter. They relate the storyteller to the audience and bring all into a shared experience. But even though I’ve had some time to think on all we did that day, everything is overpowered by the smells of copper and salt.
It had been weeks aboard the Smoke Over Water and I was pining for the days of being chased across the mountains and hills by the Circle. Even our sojourn South in the ship earlier that year was preferable because there was ample time for hunting and roaming ashore. Here we were trapped on all sides by nothing but the rolling and roiling seas.
If not for the strong stomach gifted by my kind it would have been excruciating for many reasons. Truly, the crew showed their discomfort for my being aboard when it came time to chain me to the mast belowdecks under the light of the full moon. None were more pleased than I when the only means we had to communicate with our friends began to spin out of control and the decision was made to come alongside and finish stalking our prey. The peaks of the island had been visible for well over a day and the restlessness aboard had been growing unceasingly.
As the grappling hooks were tossed aboard and cinched, a chilling scream split the air. Even sliding over the black seas in the dark, I could make out clearly the familiar shapes of my comrades arraying themselves around a doorway, weapons freeing themselves of their confinement.
The pups had barely waited for the ship to secure itself before they leapt aboard and flipped through the decking into the holds below. I could scarcely control my reaction, instinct once again taking control. With my own howl, I released what little command I have over the beast. Senses overwhelming, the salt air ruled over all and painfully flared on the crown of my head even as my bone and musculature cracked and snapped into place.
Once again, after what seemed an eternity, it was set loose on a problem only fang and claw could solve and while the pain remained it faded to but a dull throb. With glee I followed the twins and dove headfirst into the lower decks. Recognizing soldiers of the invading empire, we ripped through them before they could endanger too greatly the few crewmen attempting to defend themselves.
Above, there was a scream of pain and frustration from what must have been Fenrin. Later, he would share that it was his own blade that felled one of the Dapper Dolphin’s crew. It would be but a few more moments before what paltry distraction these soldiers belowdecks offered was dealt with. I rushed back after the pups yet again as they raced towards the main deck and the worst of the conflict.
Leaping up, barely using the ladder for little more than control of where I would land, it was clusters of chaos. The makla were weaving in and out of combat, one spinning what looked like a blocky blade on a chain to deadly effect and the other moving around and sometimes through the crew.
As I approached these threats whose complicated names I couldn’t be asked to remember, the militia closed in ranks alongside and we proceeded to enter the melee proper.
From there, the specific order of things I can’t quite piece together. The blood covering the deck challenged the seas slopping over the deck as our sapling brewed stormclouds overhead. As I glanced back at her, electricity cracked from her hands and eyes before striking down onto our opponents, meeting with the chained weapon and its makla keeper. Kaia’s feet appeared to touch the decking more out of a begrudging obligation than need as she danced around with blades slashing and searching for openings. The elf stabbed and stabbed again at the massive foes while I likewise raked claw and tooth at their armored forms.
Our assault did not come without cost. As we whittled down our enemies, they too reduced our effectiveness. Crewmen fell, including the captain of the Dolphin and several of the militia brought along solely through our own convincing. Whether they understood the risk or the powers that would be faced will never be made clear.
Eventually, all of his bodyguards did fall and their charge emerged from the cabins. This learned makla took up arms and was swarmed by the enraged crew. Even so, he knocked down several of our comrades before the sapling was able to restrain him in place. As the elf made a futile attempt at diplomacy the rest of us caught our breath and dove back in as he broke his bonds. Somewhere in the fray a sword was stripped from his grip but still he gave little pause. In a show of baffling power he reached out and threw us aside like dolls, breaking some and eradicating others.
Eventually the sapling saved us from more loss as she called down the lightning again on his form, stilling him and bringing an end to the conflict. In all the battles and odd things that I have witnessed in my time with this crew, nothing came about at such a cost.
As the conjured storms above settled and receded, the night was punctuated by the attempt to attend or revive our fallen on the blood-slicked deck. The island continued to loom over us in the dark, unmoved by our sacrifice. It remains to be seen if anything it could possibly hold would be worth the losses suffered. Either way we would go on and see it through, to whatever ends be our fate.