Saltwater


Nautical vistas creeped through the rounded window at the edge of the empty bedroom, spitting light onto a large chest next to an unmade bed. An array of swords were seemingly struck into a metal made vase, a strange container for deadly weapons.

The broad-shouldered Colonel ran his eyes through the room in a seamless scan.

Next to the cast container of blades stood a thick desk, an ancient one at that. Carvings from the owner’s ancestors lay etched into the desk’s being, almost describing a family tree on dead wood. The ancestral history of the table probably made it seem like the oldest object in the room, but the large chest next to the bed had it beat by a long shot.

Atop the desk should’ve been the gun. “Saltwater Slayer” it was called, a weapon that had delivered countless corpses to the sea, and several souls to the sky. The room smelt of ocean water, the thick air, and a sudden faint hint of unknown blood.

The source of the rusted, bloodied odor seemed to stem from the markings next to the wall, tally marks traced onto the surface with crimson life water. The owner probably performed the act himself, slicing his own skin to mark the walls of the days past. And if not, a collection of foreign blood tallies acted as sinister wallpaper.

The drawer slid open by a white gloved hand, pulling with force to reveal its contents. Untouched parchment paper and papyrus had absolutely no use to the search, so there was more work to do.

This unmade bed appeared cold and unused for a decent amount of days. No one had entered this room in a while, and if they had, none achieved rest here. The muffled yelling of men from the upper deck contrasted the calm of ocean waves crashing against the ship.

Another pull of the drawer revealed a bit more, but it wasn’t what the search was meant for. Only some used parchment depicting a landscape, a map. Complimenting the family etchings on the desk, the large map unfolded to reveal the surrounding mainland and islands, and where each of these ancestors were born:

William Wester the First was born right above the peninsula of the mainland, William Wester the Second on an island far east of here. His daughter Emilia born in the same place, but her sisters Charlotte and Felicity were born on an island not far from this ship’s current location.

Emilia’s three sons were born here, on this ship, according to the crude drawing of the ship depicted on this map. Born to the sea, so is the life of those sea runners, those sailors,  one that the Colonel could not completely comprehend. These three brothers maintained an impressive trade union within this sea, and their apparent absence had major repercussions on the organization of local trade and commerce. Was a fraternal fallout perhaps the reason?

The Colonel continued to yank away at the drawers, searching for answers. The third pull of the drawers revealed a red captains hat, no, the red captains hat of their Maroon Brothers Trade Company. So, if there was truly betrayal between siblings, why would no one make claim to the most symbolic item of their group’s leadership?

The Colonel raised the hat in confusion, analysis. More questions raised in his head than answers. He flipped the crimson cap around to view the interior and discovered exactly what he was searching for: Inside a brilliant secret compartment sat the key.

His smirk released all frustrations, as the hefty key gripped tight by his white gloved hand. Approaching the chest, the answers could finally be met, and the investigation could near its conclusion. It felt almost sweet, but the air began to grow restless, cold, ominous.

Loud BANGS of cannons shook the ship, as the yells grew fiercer. It was probably time to depart, but the Colonel refused to leave without answers. He unsteadily made his way to the large chest and shoved the key with ferocity. A strong-armed turn of the lock nearly shattered the keyhole, and following it was a slam of the opening chest coupled with the slams and thuds from the rest of the ship.

The seasoned Colonel peered into the open chest with shock: Three severed heads stared blankly at the armed bureaucrat.

A foreign laugh. The Colonel twisted behind, and the last thing he witnessed was the Saltwater Slayer.

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