The Emerasian Ocean was, in its time, the only true wonder of the world. From the shore, she looked like a sheet of stained glass; the white crest of the waves created a mosaic of disjointed reflections from the sand out past where sane islanders knew to swim, and beyond. From sunrise to sunset, the Glory of Emerase always had something magnificent to reflect into the eyes of the curious, leaving even the most weathered and old land-dweller awe-struck.
Captain Dariyus Overbejn was not looking at the Ocean in the daytime, however, nor was he looking at her from pearly white sands of the shore, and the cascading waves of the Ocean to him reflected something altogether different:
Trouble, of the most fantastic kind.
Shadows flashed around his ship both above and below, fore and aft, and the deck crew struggled to identify and track each one in the glow of the moonlight.
“Black drifter, 50 metres off the starboard bow, sir, about 100 metres below the cloudline”
“Sir, a school of razorgill is tailing us 30 metres back, sir. That means at least one okano 40 metres to our stern.”
“I count 14 skimmers circling us about 200 metres up, captain”
Captain Overbejn, a 3rd-generation captain of Her Majesty’s Oceanic Guard, absorbed and processed the information of his ship’s uninvited travel companions without registering any outward emotion. He stared straight out at the wind-whipped peaks of onyx water that tossed his ship to and fro, calculating how much further they had to travel before reaching the island.
“300 leagues to travel, and you need to be there yesterday”. The words of Fleet Admiral Zoriar overtook the sound of crashing waves in the captain’s mind. “You must see to it that Observator Beta arrives safely, and in time to broker a peaceful resolution to the conflict”. The admiral’s command was filled with the forceful authority that comes with giving orders for the better part of 25 years. But this time was different, Captain Overbejn thought as the silhouette of an okano, roughly 20 metres long from its head to its dorsal fin, passed under the front of the ship.
The admiral’s command had a subtle tone of unsurety about it this time, though. Most ears would not have caught the difference in tone or what it meant, but Captain Overbejn had been in Admiral Zoriar’s graces, good and otherwise, more than any three other men in the Oceanic Guard combined, and he could read Zoriar better than even the old man ever would have guessed.
“Six more black drifters off the port side, captain!”
“And now we’ve sailed right into the middle of a bloody skirmish of bloody swimmers and bloody sky hawks”, the captain thought sourly.
A sharp clacking sounds alerted to captain to the presence of the Observator, who had left his cabin and made his way aft to where the captain was standing.
“Observator, you should return to your cabin. The deck of a ship is seldom safe in waves such as these, even less so at night”, Captain Overbejn suggested politely to his (political) superior.
“I heard the crew shouting, captain. I’ve heard them shouting for some time now, which has made sleep a rather diifficult commodity to come by. I thought that, seeing how everyone else is up here making noise, I might come and join in. Maybe with my help, there’ll soon be nothing to shout about and I may retire peacefully.”
The captain quite literally bit his tongue at the remark and examined the Observator for the first time since the ship departed several days prior. In the daytime, the traditional Observator garb stood out against the work-worn rags most of his crew wore like an azure-breasted ice-swooper flying amongst common gulls. In the evening, however, the Observator resembled more a shadow than anything one might consider a physical form. His black velvet nightgown seemed to swallow the moonlight as the deep pockets did his hands, and the silver-threaded ornamentation of his Order was the only thing that lent shape to the diplomat.