The Waters of Dawn Cove
~Story 4~

Uraimo cursed and held on to the wheel. He'd told his clilent that they would need to wait out this storm but his client had not dared to do so after Uraimo and his team had uncovered some assassins in the tavern. They had done their job, but the attempt had spooked their client beyond rational reason.
And now they were barely keeping themselves from sinking. Winds battered his ship at all sides, threatening to tear the sails. Waves crashed on their hull and Uraimo was barely keeping the ship afloat. He no longer knew where they were and could only hope they had not drifted closer to land than was prudent. Lightning flashed and thunder roared.
"Captain, I think they're taking water." Rubozu yelled.
Only a few heartbeats later did a wooden scream pierce the storm. The ship they were meant to guard had broken in two and only the most lucky of it's crew were able to leap into the water. But their fate was sealed anyway as there was no way they would ever be able to ride out the storm. Winds and waves swept Uraimo's ship away from the swimmers.
Alerted by the unusual sound of a ship dieing, all members of Uraimo's crew had poured onto the deck, but they were powerless. But maybe luck was with them as that meant that when their ship crashed on the rocks, that everyone had a fighting chance to survive since being trapped in the hull was the surest way to drowning.
In the water people swung, grasped and tried to stay afloat. People yelled, some gulped in seawater and coughed, others remained eerily silent. Frightened shrieks sounded as dark shapes in the water dragged people away.
Panic gave Uraimo strength and he managed to swim to calmer waters and finally to shore. As he lay on the sand gasping, he heard others reach land. He managed to sit up and saw three of his crew mates make it out of the water.
Rubozu and Wahemi dragged a half unconscious Yofue between them. The young man, more a boy still, had been a recent hire and probably had some divine blessing to have been found by the two most caring crew members. Rubozu quickly gave Wahemi the space she needed to examine Yofue.
"I'm going to need some time." the sturdy woman called, "How about you try to start a fire so we can get warm."
Both Robuzo and Uraimo nodded and distanced themselves, giving Wahemi the opportunity to undo the bindings that obstructed some of Yofue's breathing. She wondered about why a young woman who, although she was probably a bit older than she'd told them when they'd hired her, had lied about her gender when it really wouldn't have mattered. Yofue had probably realised too late after she'd seen that Wahemi was also working on board the ship.
"Wake up Yofue." Wahemi said, shaking the young woman.
For now she would keep her secret.
Yofue was only just sitting up, trying to calm the quivering in their legs and arms, when Robuzo and Uraimo returned. With joined powers they got the fire burning and huddled around it.
"What was with us in the water?" Rubozu asked.
"I don't know. No-one else has washed ashore." Wahemi said.
"Whatever they were, they were big and aquatic. Only a small part of the seas have been mapped." Uraimo offered, "But there wasn't blood."
"They sang." Yofue whispered.
"Sang?" Wahemi asked calmly, trying not to spook Yofue.
"I could hear them while I was submerged. Long undulating sounds, like a melody calling me."
Wahemi looked worriedly at Yofue and put her arm around the younger sailor, offering what solace she could.
"We're out of the water now. Let's make the best of it. We can look for food in the morning and try to figure out where we are."
"Let's hope the storm passes before the sun rises." Uraimo added.

The next morning came with clear skies and pastel colours. Robuzo was keeping watch when he heard the sounds of people approaching. Quickly waking up the others, they were all standing at the ready when humans appeared on the beach.
"Are you okay?" one of them asked.
Slowly relaxing, Wahemi called back: "Fine now that you are here. Could you tell us where we are?"
Uraimo and Rubozu stayed at the ready behind her since they all knew that people with bad intentions preyed on the weak.
"You're near Dawn Cove. We got word that two ships had gone down and that we needed to come look for survivors."
"A lot of our friends didn't make it." Wahemi acknowledged with sadness in her voice.
"I don't think any were lost." the man at the forefront said, "The nekrats managed to drag a lot of them to safety but they said some strong swimmers had made it to shore without them."
Faced with this unlikely news Uraimo stepped forward and grasped the man's wrists."
"They were saved?"
"Yes. You were lucky the storm brought you here though. Without the nekrats you wouldn't have fared s well."
"What are nekrats?" Yofue finally voiced their thoughts.
"Sea dragons."
At that moment a large tail splashed out of the water and when it came down, a streamlined creature with a lot of fins jumped from the water. When it hit the water again it was replaced by a large fountain of water that left the sailors dumbfounded.
Introductions were made and the support crew of Dawn Cove quickly led the four sailors back toward their village where they met the rest of their crew and the crew of their client. They were offered food, dry, clean clothes and a bed.

The next day, their client unceremoniously fired them from his service and arranged for Gejuisu's crew to escort them to their destination over land. Uraimo really couldn't blame them. But before the caravan manager headed off he invited the four of them for a private talk.
"I'm sorry to see you lose employment." Gejuisu started.
"It's to be expected." Uraimo shrugged.
"Even if it wasn't our fault." Wahemi said, less forgiving.
"We're happy to walk away with our lives." Rubozu added optimistically.
"I might not want to leave." Yofue admitted.
Their plan had always been to find a place to live. Dawn Cove was pretty openminded, the people were friendly and most importantly, it was on dry land. Maybe here they would be able to find a place to be themselves.
"I was hoping for that." Gejuisu continued, "You have seen and met our seadragons. We're always looking for people to bond to more of them. It's my wish to build more settlements across the coast. I'm a merchant at heart so I can't deny that profit is part of the motivation. But as you know, we could also prevent so many casualties with more nekrats to patrol the coastline."
"I will stay." Yofue promised.
The other three looked at each other. They had more to lose, more to adjust.
"I lost my ship, I doubt I'll be able to get another anytime soon." Uraimo said.
It was the reality of the situation and needed to be taken into consideration. Rubozu nodded and said:
"If you can use another guard I don't mind waiting here and working for you until Uraimo gets back on track."
"I guess I can do that too." Wahemi supplemented.
"Bonding one of these nekrats is permanent though, right?" Uraimo asked.
"Like I said, we wouldn't require you to live in the settlement. But you would always have a place here and we would be more than happy to have you join us until you are ready to leave."
"I don't think we can refuse such a generous offer then." Uraimo concluded.

Stats and Nekrats:

All images found with google
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