“We’ll have some of the grey stuff all around, Cookie!” I shouted walking into the mess hall. I clapped my hands on the broad back of the man at my side as I added, “And maybe a little extra for Sieg!” The Fathers and I waltzed over to our table, our spot. Various members of the Sea Monster coming by and congratulating us on a job well done down below. Prism ran up, a lot more strength to her movements and brightness in her eyes as she grabbed my hand and raised it high above my head.
“Three cheers for Tariq!” and the whole ensemble of the Sea Monster echoed “Three cheers for Tariq!”
“Man, Tariq, I gotta say I didn’t see any of that coming, the way you handled almost everyone on your own?” Kipa mused.
“Truly you are an honorable warrior, and someone I am proud to call my brother.” Aereus followed.
“I can’t say I’ve ever met anyone as strong as you.” Sieghart bellowed.
“Guys, please, please, it was nothing. I just did what any of us would have done!” I retorted in a faux humility.
Earl lifted me onto his shoulder, and from my new seat I could see them, the whole crew of the Sea Monster looking up at me. SEEING me. In his gravely velvet of a voice, Earl started “We’ve all been talking…”
“…and we’ve come to the realization that…” Nalomi interjected.
“You should be the Captain of The Sea Monster!” Jake finished excitedly.
“Really?? Guys, you have no idea what this means to me!” tears started to stream down my face, as Earl put me down on top of the table, on my own little platform for the world to see me. Jake hopped up, and with a grand gesture took his captains hat from his own head, and moved to rest it on mine, the brim of the hat hiding my face which was becoming more of a blubbering mess. You got this Tariq. Say something inspirational, like Fal’kjun would. I gathered my thoughts, steeled myself before lifting the hat to look out over my adoring mass.
I raised the hat to address them all, to look them each in the eyes as they all finally acknowledged me, “I only hope to be a Captain that will make you all pr–”, my eyes met with horror. Blood pooled thick in the mess hall, the Father’s bodies lie mangled and beaten, Earl surrounded by explosion burns from his cannon as he lay in two large pieces on the floor. Every crew member lay dead at my feet. I tried to recoil, to react, to retch. I was frozen stiff. No, no, NO. This can’t be happening, this isn’t real!
Then, in unison, every corpse of every crew mate, of every friend I have and know, began to shudder, then to writhe, then to reach out… towards me. I tried to move, to run, to fend them off. Their hands reached me, began to pull, to lift this slithering mass of bodies up onto me, pulling their way up and over me, swallowing me in their limbs and viscera. Their mouths all moved at once, and a ghastly unified voice hissed from my now dead crew. “Three… cheerssss… for Tariq.. Three… cheersss… for Tariq.”
I tried to cry out, tried to push this macabre mess off me.
“Join… us… Tariq…”, the message rang through my skull. I shut my eyes tight, I had no strength to fight it. “Give in. to ussss…” and with the final eerie statement, I opened my eyes. My many eyes. I wasn’t on the Sea Monster; I was swimming just outside the tower in the Maw of the Deep. I had strong arms, A fin protruding from my back. A mouth that could swallow a man whole. I must serve my master. My creator. I must serve Selroc.
-The Journals and Chronicling of the Sea Monster by the Great and Glorius, Tariq Daynjerine