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The bathtub puttered its way across the choppy ocean waters, thin mechanical legs making a steady, slow trek away from the island. Ostentatious Mullins, de-facto First Mate of the Soggy Bottom Pirates through process of elimination, sighed and hugged her legs close to her chest. When she'd pictured being second-in-command of a pirate ship it had always felt more impressive in her mind. Instead, she was in a small bathtub on the open ocean. Her Captain was fuming, she'd just watched all her friends turn to puddy via sudden draconic intervention... and almost all the bubbles were gone.

 

"Captain? Do we know where we're going?"

 

Annay didn't immediately respond. Unless of course, grinding teeth was considered a response. Mullins had picked up the occasional whiff of a plan- Annay had been muttering, threatening, promising things, all under her breath, a near constant violent whisper in tune with the chugging of the mechanical bathtub motor. And of course, the mermaid's tail would flap sporadically, usually hitting Mullins in the face. Given the fact that the Foggy Ocean was difficult to navigate even in a seaworthy vessel, Mullins was becoming increasingly nervous that a rogue wave would end up capsizing their bathtub before any decision was made. Unless, maybe a rogue wave WAS the plan?

 

Finally, Annay broke her silence. Flapping her tail and gripping the lip of the bathtub, she set her face and glared toward her crew. Singular crew. "Alright. I know what we're going to do. I know how we can get our revenge on that geek-faced poet and his pet dragon. It won't be easy. It won't be pretty. It won't be simple. But we're going to do it, and we're going to make him suffer."

 

"Hey, howya' doin?"

 

Mullins and Annay turned to see a reform school of sharks by the portside of the bathtub. Annay groaned. "Oh no, not you all again."

 

"Youse stole from us!" the lead shark exclaimed. "You come into MY HOUSE, and you disrespect ME! We'se were the sacred guardians of the blue-stone-"

 

"I didn't even USE it."

 

The sharks paused at this interruption, taking turns looking between each other. Which took awhile, as sharks are not known for being able to turn their heads.

 

"Wait whaddya mean?" the lead shark growled.

 

"Your key. The blue-stone whatever, that's supposed to open the treasure chamber, wherein lay the Sword of the Sea. Useless. Pointless. Someone else got there first. They opened it up, they took the sword."

 

"Did he uh, jimmy the door open then?" one of the sharks asked.

 

"Did he use a CAHD?" said another, very helpfully. "Y'know, like he put the CAHD in the door and he-"

 

"You know I didn't think to ask him that," Annay snapped. "I didn't think to ask if he had some lockpicks, or a CARD, or some magical wand of opening things! It didn't seem important, what with the DRAGON he sicced on us!"

 

"Ohh, yeah, yeah, we saw that guy. Big scary flyin' guy, yeah," the lead shark paused for an awkward minute. "Yeah, we hung back when we sees him. We were gonna get our revenge on you for stealin' our closely guarded treasure-"

 

"That we didn't get to use," Mullins added helpfully.

 

"-right, that youse didn't get to use, but we figured we could wait a little!"

 

An awkward silence descended upon both parties. Annay's face scrunched up in thought. "Wait to get your revenge until... when?"

 

The shark grinned. "Right about nows."

 

---

 

Chalk awoke beneath a tree. It was not the easiest place in the world to wake up- but it beat several other places. Such as the inside of a coffin. Barely.

 

He was vaguely aware that he'd been on fire at some point. Being a tiefling, this wasn't as big a deal as it could have been. Long ago in his family line, a mortal had risked 3rd degree burns for some 3rd degree love, and thanks to that brave sacrifice, Chalk had never worried about burns. It did mean his glasses were melted to his forehead and his clothes were ash, but he supposed this was a minor complaint. The bigger complaint being he was stuck under a tree and a very weak boy.

 

Scrunching up his face and tucking in his very tiny gut, Chalk tried to wiggle free. But his arms were pinned at his side, and all he managed to do was a very terrible impression of a snake.

 

"Vagina! I found you!"

 

Chalk blinked. Then understanding took hold. "It's VERVALVULVIVIDIOUS! My name is Vervalvulvividious Chalk!"

 

The tree was abruptly lifted up off him, and Chalk looked up into the hulking form of Luna Fenrisetta. "How hard is that to remember!" Chalk said. "VERV-VAL-VULV-"

 

Luna was already ignoring him. She flung the tree trunk away and then cleared her nose violently, surveying the ruined beach. "What in the hells happened here?"

 

"I've no idea. There was a scary sound from the jungle, then I got knocked out." Chalk clambered to his feet and looked around. "Oh, it's a huge mess. Is that-"

 

Chalk stuttered to a stop, looking at the wreckage of the S.S Prickly Lady. What could have caused THAT to happen?

 

"Do you know where the Captain is?" Luna asked. "I woulda' been here sooner, but I got thrown. Off a cliff."

 

"Oh no," Chalk said. "Is the cliff alright?"

 

Luna ignored him, looking around. "Y'know, I think we might be unemployed, Vervalvulvividious."

 

Chalk sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. The ocean was dangerous enough with Captain Annay. A very scary lady, constantly stealing things, running cons, and running them into danger. The idea that something could wander out of the jungle and swallow her and the entire crew, put things into a very scary perspective. How were they even going to get off the island? Would they-

 

Chalk blinked. "I'm sorry, did you just get my name right?"

 

Luna paused. "I... think? What did I say?"

 

The tiefling's groan echoed across the ruined beach.

 

---

 

Rum and Molotov paddled across the choppy waters, hugging the coast of the island and watching the wreckage of the pirate camp gradually diminish behind them. Rum would have been in brighter spirits leaving it all behind, were it not for the clank of his sword against the side of the boat. Gods, I'm calling it MY sword now! Who was the last person to hold onto this thing? I can certainly understand why he decided to give it to a bunch of people living underneath a beach...

 

The boat had been half-burned in the dragon attack but still was, unbelievably, sea-worthy. Rum tried very hard not to think about all the ash at the bottom of it, and if it'd been a person before. He also tried very hard not to think about how he'd unwittingly murdered an entire pirate crew by simply suggesting the action to a dragon. And the dragon was SLEEPING on the island, just waiting for someone to come along and pick up MY sword! I mean- THE sword. How powerful is this thing?

 

Oddly enough, after everything, it was hard to be anxious or terrified. He'd been in a terrified haze over the past few days, ever since a mermaid had popped up out of the ocean and struck him in the face. It was impossible to maintain it any longer. How did I ever find that girl attractive? Such bad qualities. Very rude, a terrible temper. And she tried to kill me.

 

Still, with it all gradually fading behind him, he was more excited. Excited to sit down, to write down all the terrifying things he'd somehow survived. Did he have it all straight in his head? Somehow, he felt like he was missing something. Some critical part of the story. I suppose I can just fill in the blanks. It IS a work of fiction I'm writing- just heavily inspired by my... actual adventures that I'm now having. I'm having actual adventures. Oh gosh... I sure wish Dad were here to see this.

 

... of course, I did steal the family fortune, spent it all on a boat, and took to the sea in order to write adventure novels. So maybe it's good he's not here.

 

Because he's trying to kill me for that.

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A note from NeedlesCaligula

Hey everyone! Thanks for reading so far. This friday will be the last chapter of the first arc.

 

We'll go straight into more shenanigans after that!


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NeedlesCaligula

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