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Nocturna league (episode.., p.2
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       Nocturna League (Episode 3: The Sunken Breath), p.2

           Kell Inkston
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  Chapter 2: A Cold Realization, and General Spookery

  After supper it’s business as usual. Crew members are delegated to their cabins after the night bell is wrung. Colette and Grancis are in the common cabin, filled with all manner of men, fish men, and fish. Grancis lays herself into her cozy hammock, in a pair with Colette who is at the front so that she can accept all challengers who would strike in the night. Grancis cuddles in with her stuffed lobster, Colette descending into her bunk right after— and after a moment of staring up at the ceiling, roll call begins. Their names are called by Dunklestein, and they give their answers. He goes down the list of names.

  “So, how was the fishing?” Colette asks.

  Grancis hums. “Short, I just had enough time to get Cap’s for the night. Some guy was drunk.”

  “Jack Backhem?” Dunklestein calls.

  “Here,” Jack, a man with a sea lamprey for an arm, responds.

  “Drunk?” Colette says. “Did he do anything?”

  “Tried to kill himself… I think,” Grancis answers.

  “Nert Bertaloux?” The next on the list is called.

  “Oi, here.”

  “Kill himself? Was he depressed?” Colette asks.

  Grancis shrugs. “I don’t know. He kept going on about some b-”

  “Jess Turranine?” Dunklestein calls. The cabin is silent. “Jess Turranine? You here?” Dunklestein calls out again. Another pause. “Anybody seen him?”

  “I saw him at dinner.”

  “Yeah, me too,” a couple of voices respond in the dark.

  Dunklestein sighs. “Hey, Captain.”

  The wind blows, and everyone can hear someone speak from the other end of the cabin door. “What is it, Dunklestein the Daring?” the suave, thoughtful, voice of The Captain chimes in.

  “Did you see Jess recently?”

  “I didn’t. I assume he’s not in the cabin?” The Captain asks.

  Dunklestein takes one last look over to Jess’ bunk. “No.”

  “Most concerning. I’ll take a look around. I’ll ensure he’s promptly punished once I find him. He should know what happens to sailors outside the living quarters after curfew.”

  There’s a conjoined sighing and cringing, everyone in the cabin remembering the one and only time they had broken a rule on the Nocturna— everyone save Grancis; she’s a good girl, really.

  “W-well good luck, Cap,” Dunklestein says with a hint of forced professionalism.

  “Thank you. Good night, everyone,” The Captain says, turning from the door.

  “Night, Cap’!”

  “Sweet dreams, Captain.”

  “Hope you find ‘em, Cappy!”

  “Stay cozy, Cappin’.” A group of at least a dozen voices respond with more tenderness than a hardened sea dog like Dunklestein finds appropriate. He sighs and takes up his own bunk.

  Grancis turns to Colette. “Jess, that’s the guy that tried to jump in.”

  Colette furrows her brow. “You don’t think that… Naw, he’s probably just sleeping at the bar. Goodnight.”

  “Night, Colette, hope you have good dreams.”

  “Thanks, hopefully the night bell will be the last I hear tonight,” Colette says, snuggling into her blanket complete with knife kit in case of an ambush.

  Both Grancis’ gaze and smile widens at the utterance. “W-wait, what? Bells?”

  “Nothing, just something from the dreams. Ni-”

  “W- a-are you being called?” Grancis mutters.

  Colette looks over her shoulder. “Am I what?”

  Grancis clears her throat. “Eh, nothing, sorry.”

  Colette stares at Grancis a moment and then shakes her head. “Get some sleep, Gran.”

  “Y-yes ma’am.”

  “Don’t call me ma’am, Gran. You’re older than me.”

  “Yes m-…Colette. Goodnight,” Grancis says, a sense of impending tragedy overcoming her. Colette turns into her pillow, and in but a minute, she’s out and snoring loudly. Grancis, however, cannot bring herself to sleep. There’s that rare chill in her spine, when she knows something’s wrong, and that it endangers those she cares about. She needs to tell someone about Colette’s dream— the bells, just like Jess; perhaps Colette’s on the same path. She needs to know. In the chorus of snoring, she mulls over her options. She could wake up Dunks and ask him, but he probably wouldn’t even know; she’d also wake up everyone-else in the process. Would it be worth embarrassing Colette and herself? There must be a better way.

  Slowly, grievously, she turns and looks to the door, the porthole showing just a glint of the cold deck lights outside. She could talk to The Captain— but would he allow the exception? Surely if it were a life or death situation … She thinks on it and sighs. No, she couldn’t risk it. Perhaps Doctor Estradia— she’s never met him before, but she hears he’s awake all night in the infirmary. As the resident psychologist, he would know if there’s some connection, surely. She’s made her decision; even the chance that Colette’s in danger is enough reason to take action. Grancis slips into the wall-side of the bunk, compressing herself to squeeze through the slight notch of space. She then creeps below along the floor and across the room.

  The bunk of Dunklestein, the world-class light sleeper himself, is right next to the door to the outside. Quite witty of The Captain to put him there as an alarm system in case the sailors try to ditch their bunks to sneak into the bar, or perhaps take a chance to steal one of the fabled lower decks keys. Grancis is not trained in espionage arts, so the best she can manage is to creep up to the door, and very, very slowly turn the handle.
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