Nocturna League (Episode 2: The Mist Hour), p.2Kell Inkston
Chapter 2: Whitewave Cove
An hour later the three are close enough to the island to make out all the lights:
Before them is a shining town of many colorful lights nestled in a wide, miles-long cove. The lighthouse the brightest structure by only a lumen’s worth. Two towering mansions, both at opposing sides of the cove, flare out their own lights, one of a light, aquatic blue, and the other of a powerful, burgundy red.
Colette squints at the glowing port. “Captain, you know this place?”
The Captain hums as he looks over the lights, his glasses mixing the yellow, red and blue colors into a colorful sheen. “I haven’t. I’ve been to many ports, but not this one.”
Colette scoffs. “But knowing you, you probably forgot.”
The Captain accidentally pushes Colette off the boat. “Oh my, Boris, it seems Miss Ketiere fell off into the freezing midnight waters. We’ll have to turn around and retrieve her,” The Captain says in a dead serious tone. A few seconds later, a shivering, cussing Colette is pulled back on board. She decides she’ll stop bringing up The Captain’s capacity at thought for now.
“Boris, please warm her up,” The Captain says bluntly.
“N-no that’s quite unca-”
“THE WARMING WILL BE ME, YES?” Boris gurgles as he squeezes her with his bulking red arms. Of course, Boris being a manner of crustacean, his embrace is less “warm and soft” and more “spiky and hard”. As they sail for the island, Colette seriously questions if all this suffering will make her a more formidable person, and whether or not the world truly belongs to overlords, monsters, men, and those who have forgone their sanity in the pursuit of strength.
They dock at the commercial sector and tie up their ship. A short, official-looking man with a wig steps up with a pen and ledger in hand. “Good morning. It is twenty sins to tie the ship for a d-” Once he looked down at the people climbing up to the dock, however, he sees it is in fact a giant lobster, a soaking wet woman with a military pistol, and an official-looking, bandaged captain of a ship of horrors.
“Truly? I would appreciate it if you were to let us dock here for free until we’ve finished our business. It was one of your island’s inhabitants that kidnapped one of our crew-persons, after all,” The Captain says, towering over the official as he adjusts his glasses. The Captain, his face angled at the red mansion, gains a deep crimson sheen in the black contrast of the night.
“Uh… um, yes, please go right on ahead! I would like a name to put down, though!” The official says, watching Boris stretch his layered crustacean back.
“The Captain,” The Captain says, nodding politely to the man and heading down the dock.
“N-no, sir. Your name.”
“S-… Oh, damn it all!” The official storms back to his post after writing something very rude in place of The Captain’s name.
The three walk to a nearby canteen, open the door, and the musical, lively bar instantly goes silent.
“Good day, ladies and gentlemen. We’re searching for the ruler of this port. Would anyone be willing to help?” The Captain asks with perfect posture.
A mix of laughter and sighs are heard among the patrons, and one particularly brawny sailor speaks up. “You a captain?”
“The Captain, actually.”
The man gets up from his seat and approaches the three. He stops just an inch from The Captain’s face. “You didn’t hear about the travel embargo? You’re probably one of those hired Kalamest hands.”
The Captain hums in thought. “Kalamest? I cannot say I’m familiar.”
“Why else would you come to this gods forsaken sea rock?” The man says, cracking his knuckles as others join him in the stand.
“One of my hands has been kidnapped on the deck of our ship. This is the only island for a hundred in a hundred kilometers- the kidnapper must have taken her here.”
The men exchange a few glances, and the front one looks back to The Captain. “This kidnapper. Did it seem like he could, fly? Teleport, even?”
“Why yes, he seemed to appear and disappear in the surrounding mist at will.”
Some of the patrons get back to their seats, and the front man gives a knowing look of sympathy. “Ahh, a victim of the Kalamests, then.”
The bar slouches into a gloomy aura, the musicians taking their time, and the patrons intently listening in.
“What do you mean? Who, or what are the Kalamests?”
The man shakes his head. “Tell you what, you buy and I’ll fill you in on the story.”
The Captain nods. “Sounds fair,” he says as he goes to the man’s table, all seats but his empty, and sit down. Colette follows along, but Boris is rarely a simple person to take along.
“ARE WE OF THE SITTING?”
“The sitting is of us,” The Captain says calmly. Boris slams his giant body into a chair, shattering instantly and sending long splinters into the openings of his shell.
The Captain nods again and waves over the waitress. “Excellent, Boris and our friend here will have something that won’t kill them, but would still be considered alcoholic. Our female on the other hand will take something fruity and far less intoxicating; such is the manner of women, of course,” he says, nodding over to Colette, who is immediately offended that the waitress doesn’t seem to care.
“As if I couldn’t handle it,” she says under her breath.
The Captain looks to her. “Oh, could it be you’re willing to take control of the situation rather than have me dictate things for you?”
She shakes her head lightly with a look of confusion. “And just what would that look like, Captain?”
“Tell me, I haven’t ordered my drink yet. Are you willing to trade drinks with me? Are you so confident that you hold your own fate?” The Captain asks, pressing his glasses to the bridge of his nose.
Colette slams her fist on the table. “Of course! I can deal with anything!”
“Ahh, color me impressed, Miss Ketiere. Very well, I’ll have a pint of vinegar,” The Captain says. Colette’s jaw drops as the waitress slowly puts down the order, cringing at the thought of the unheard of order.
Colette stares into nothingness. “W-what? Don’t you drink like… liquor?”
“Only when I don’t have a job to do. Vinegar keeps my nerves high. I hope you enjoy,” he says as the waitress turns away. Colette has nothing to say, and instead looks on blankly as the sailor begins his story.
“Alright you three. For generations there have been two families that hold the land rights to about ninety percent of our port: the Ganasteres and the Kalamests. They’ve been more or less at war against each other the whole time- usually in the shadows, but this is a whole new level. Ya’ see, the Kalamests have an heirloom, a powerful witch relic: The Gauntlet of Mist.” As the man speaks, The Captain lowers his head in thought. It all sounds so familiar. “At midnight every night it can be used for one hour, shrouding the user in mist and making them one with it. For decades the gauntlet’s been largely unused, until two weeks ago. It all started when the primary heir of the Ganasteres mysteriously disappeared into the mists of the night. There was a wide search for him until one morning four days later. He was nev-”
“Here are you drinks!… and, vinegar,” the waitress says with an uneven tone, handing out the drinks and delivering a tall pint of vinegar to Colette. She is thanked, the three men enjoy their first gulps, and Colette just takes deep breaths as she composes herself.
“Right, dead. The dude was never found again, except for a bloody scrap of his clothing found days later. Every day after that, another piece of clothing belonging to one of the disappeared people would appear somewhere in town, drenched in blood. ‘Course, the Kalamests denied having perpetrated the crimes, but that’s obviously a load of shit. The first victim was a Ganastere, and the kidnapper hasn’t exactly been subtle about using those mist powers to kidnap folks… They’re boarded up in their mansion now- we’ve actually been
“Oh gods!” Colette says after taking her first gulp of vinegar. The Captain swishes the pink drink around in his hand chipperly as he takes casual, savoring sips.
“You were saying?” The Captain nods his head.
The man takes a breath of the salt-scented bar, and nods. “Right. I was thinkin’ if you’re looking to get your friend back, you might try the Ganastere estate. I hear they’ve been planning to help the town break into the Kalamest house- and they need as much muscle as we can get, especially if the assault takes longer than a day.”
Colette wipes a look of disgust from her face. “Why just a day?”
The man leans in with a spark in his eye. “Cuz’ if they know we’re trying to oust them at midnight, the hour the gauntlet operates, we’ll be in deep shit. The gauntlet user is fast as a blink, and hits like a truck. Saw a guy pick a fight with the Kalamest using it to save his wife; he’s still in the hospital- you got me?”
Colette raises a brow, wondering just how The Captain could take a full barrage of hits, plus a bullet through his shoulder, and still be alright the minute after. “I got ya’.”
The man nods. “Hope that helped you mates well enough.”
The Captain reaches over and shakes the man’s hand. “It was perfectly helpful, my good man. We’ll take up the Gainstare home ne-”
“Ganastere, Cap,” Colette says lightly, taking deep breaths and nursing off the vinegar slowly.
The Captain nods. “Right, my dear bialy. So at that I feel it best we keep you on a steady pace to captain-hood and send you to the Krillesque estate to perform some reconnaissance; but first you must finish my drink.”
Colette winces. “Uh, but Captain. Boris hasn’t finished his drink yet! Do you expect me to rush my cr-”
“DRINK IS OF ME?” Boris asks, looking surprised.
The Captain nods. “That it is, Boris.”
The Captain barely finishing his sentence, Boris slams his head face down into the glass, shattering completely and sucking up all the delicious moisture and broken glass. The helpful man and Colette just stare for a moment as Boris gargles in euphoria. “THE DRINKING IS TO LIKE OF ME!”
“I’m glad you feel that way, Boris.” The Captain pats Boris on the head, and then turns to Colette. “Now, Miss Ketiere, if you please,” he says as he gestures to the pint-glass of vinegar, three/fourths still remaining.
Colette snuffs out contemptuous air, takes one more deep breath, and then raises it to her lips. Each gulp sounds straddled with pain and disgust, as if it were poison, and the breath she releases once she finishes has all the elements of a person who nearly drowned, only to reach the salvation of air at the very last second of consciousness. She presses her hand firmly against her face in misery, but her lips are curved up in a smile - she did succeed, even though it cost her a bit of her mind. Colette looks up seconds later, and sees a rare, almost fatherly smile on The Captain’s face.
“Well done, Miss Ketiere,” he says in a voice more tender than his usual. “Now stop wasting our time and get your ass to the Krillemolest estate,” he says in a sudden shift of sternness.
Colette nods, gets up from the table and starts out of the bar with a slight gait, like she’s about to throw up.
Boris looks to The Captain, his black, dreamless, crustacean eyes locking on with impunity. “ARE WE OF THE GOING NOW?”
The Captain nods, ushers up Boris and gives his goodbye to the helpful man. On the way out The Captain chuckles under his breath, and says “Drinking vinegar. She really doesn’t know me at all...”
At that the uniformed Captain and the towering red fortress of Boris make their way down the rain-soaked cobble of the cove to the Ganastere estate- glowing red against the gloomy forest surrounding the town.
Nocturna League (Episode 2: The Mist Hour) by Kell Inkston / Fantasy / Actions & Adventure have rating 3 out of 5 / Based on18 votes