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Reflection (IC, Past)

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My father was a giant. His voice reverberated in the swollen wood of the ship, a slap on the back made your bones ache, and when he stared down at you it was as if the eyes of the Twelve were measuring the worth of your soul. Nothing he did was small, no action insignificant. Like a storm he affected anyone’s life he passed through. For some it was devastating: merciless raids at sea made his name one to be muttered lest the wind might carry your scent to him. For most, however, he was inspiring. He had a way of breaking through gloom and fear to get a smile and making you realize the best in yourself. As his daughter and only child, I received both the gentle rain and the typhoon that was Ankahaerz Merlbharsyn, pirate captain of the Merrowfin.


The first time I fought back against him he laughed. He had been deep in jests and fish tales with the longshoremen and had expected me to stay below deck as usual when we arrived in port. That day I refused. I wanted to see Vesper Bay firsthand, to find out if the sun hitting the waves really did look like an ocean of gold.


“You are a fool, pup.”


I thought I had steeled myself, turned my heart to iron and could spit right into the abyss. But as he stood and dwarfed me, enveloping me in his ravenous shadow, I trembled. I was a fool.


“You have your mother’s looks but my salt, girl.”


The words stung fierce, perhaps because a part of me wished they were true.


“I am nothing like you…”


“Speak up,” he roared with amusement, “I don’t allow whimpering cowards aboard my ship!”




I screamed the answer to drown out my fear, my throat searing. I had been quiet for so long, wandering the ship like a ghost. My voice so inexperienced the shout threatened to tear my lungs apart.


At my outburst came his silence. Even his stillness was immense, cold and monolithic as a glacier. In seconds he had the back of my head in one calloused hand, my (mother’s) cerulean hair tangled in his fingers. He forced my head down over the side of the rail, till the sea spray licked my face.


“Blood’s thicker than water, Aisi.”


My childhood nickname was worse than a boot to the ribs, and he knew it.


“You have your mother’s face, aye, but look at yourself. Look. Those are my eyes. Cold and harsh as winter, stilling the blood of whatever they fall on.”


I stared into the water that churned below me, my pale piercing eyes impassively watching the scene. His eyes.


“And it will always be so. ‘Less you want to pluck them out, of course.”


The growl in his tone became a viscous torrent of laughter and he let me go, so suddenly that I had to reel and catch myself before I fell off the ship. My fingers dug into the deck until blood welled forth. I might have cried, might have ran below to the galley as I had so many times before.


I would have had my eyes not seen the sun on the waves of Vesper Bay, turning the tides to molten gold.

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