Aryx's eyes open. He lifts his head, hair wet and dripping down his face. He tastes iron on his tongue. All he sees around him is blood, and his hands are stained red and trembling. His clothes are rags, hanging in tatters into the pool. Confusion and fear storm through his mind. He blinks. That's when he notices the body, half submerged and face down, the flesh torn apart and several areas bare to the bone.
The body drifts toward him, stopping just inches away. With a shaking hand he reaches to the corpse's shoulder, flipping the body to face him. A gasp of terror and sadness fills the silence as he looks upon the face of Gardey. "No!" he sobs. "There it is." another voice says. "MacFoley's, maybe?" Aryx wonders, looking around in the shadows. Macfoley steps into view, the ship's biggest musket in hand, and pointed right at him. "What are you doi-" MacFoley cuts him off. "Shut up. You die today for what you've done, monster." Aryx raises his hands, pleading. "Please, no! Don't do this!" Aryx watches the flash of the rifle's bore, a mere inch from his head.
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Aryx sits up with a horrible scream, his breath heavy and his eyes bloodshot. Macfoley creaks open the door. "Blimey. Bad dream Cap?" Aryx lets out a sigh of relief, wiping tears from his face. He stands from the bed, walking weakly over to MacFoley. "The worst dream." Aryx says, his voice almost a whisper. He puts a hand on the Firstmate's shoulder. "Thank you." He says. "Aye. Go on 'n get dressed cap, Gardey's put some of that salt to good use." He says. The thought of seeing Garvey alive and well sounded better than anything else ever could to Aryx, so he changed out of his nightclothes and pulled on his breeches and greatcoat. He looks in the mirror, seeing his eyes were still somewhat bloodshot from his tears. He takes a deep breath, collecting himself. "Tell them." his reflection says. He nods, pushing aside the mirror and stepping out onto the deck. "Men, gather 'round." He shouts. Everyone stops what they're doing and form a half-circle around their captain, listening intently and occasionally eying the wound on his hand.
Aryx clears his throat. "Men, surely you're all aware of my injury. And I'm sure some of you have thought, as I am thinking now, of the tales of beasts much like what we killed. What they can do, and what their victims become in eventuality." Aryx says, gazing from crewman to crewman as he speaks. "For this reason, I have something to ask of you all." He states, meeting MacFoley's attentive eyes and suppressing the urge to jump in fright.
"Cast your vote. Am I to continue on as normal, leading you through the fray of these strange lands and stranger seas? Or am I to lie in the brig, for the safety of all those on board?" Aryx says. "I will not hold it against any of you, regardless of your vote, aye?" Aryx says, again looking to each face of his beloved crew. "Aye." They all say, quietly. "Perhaps it would help our decision if we saw the bite itself?" Gardey says. Aryx nods in agreement, wincing slightly as he unravels the bandages on his hand. He holds his right hand out, palm up for his men to see. The wound's silvery darkness seems to have spread slightly from yesterday, and his veins in his hand are popping significantly, themselves discolored somewhat darkly as well.
The men all seem to gasp upon seeing it, and Aryx holds back tears, trying to stay composed. "All in favor of my staying?" Aryx's voice quivers. Gardey's hand goes up, finally breaking Aryx's calm facade as a few tears drip to the deck and his lip twitches just slightly. The rest of the men keep their hands down. Aryx nods. "Thank you." He says. "MacFoley is in charge in my stead." Aryx stammers, rushing down the stairs with bloodshot eyes to lock himself away. The deck is silent, save for the waves and the wind, for a moment before. MacFoley makes his way somberly to the front of the circle. "Let's get back to work lads." He says, forcing a smile. The men return to their respective places, carrying out their usual jobs with a slow-to-fade sadness. MacFoley heads up to the quarterdeck and takes the wheel, steering the ship to the West and catching a good gale to sail on. The sea is calm for the next dozen hours. "How about a shanty lads?" MacFoley says, hoping to lift everyone's spirits.
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Oh sweet n hearty be the winds,
Unfurlin' sails to homeward send.
With Captain Ar-
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The men stop, their thoughts of their captain returning. "It's not right to go on like this! I won't stand for et! Who's wit me?" Durhaney, the ship's blacksmith cries. The responding "I!" From the rest of the crew solidifies his choice. The crew head down the stairs to the brig. They find Aryx laying in the jailcell of the brig, the keys to its door lying on the opposite wall, out of his reach. A sore sight for the crew, emboldening them further. "Cap?" Durhaney's boistrous voice softens. Aryx rolls over, looking confused then overjoyed. He stands, walking over to the bars of his cell and greeting the men with a smile. "Good to see you lads." He says. Aryx is puzzled as he looks down at his crew, whose expressions seem to be between fear and disbelief. "What's wrong?" He asks, getting no reply. Aryx notices a tightness all around his body. Looking down, he sees his prized greatcoat stretched to the point of tearing, the whole garment looking ready to bust off at any moment. He pulls it off quickly, tossing it onto the bed behind him. Again, Aryx examines himself, seeing that his chest is broad and muscular, far more so than normal, and that he stands at least two feet taller than the crew before him. Aryx begins to comprehend his crew's shock as he looks at his arms, seeing that they too have grown big and heavily muscled, along with his legs. "I'm surely changing, you'd best clear out." Aryx says, noticing his slightly deeper voice. The men nod and shuffle quickly out of the room, shutting the door and barring it, staring through the small window of the door, Aryx can hear the men whispering. "What'd he eat?" Gardey asks, spurring the rest of the crew to laugh. Durhaney speaks up. "Part of me still wants to see our captain up on deck where he belongs, giant or otherwise." He starts. "But if the old German tales are right, we'd better not, lest we all want to end up what he eats next." He says, his former resolve to release the captain crumbling away. "What if he can control himself? What if he'd still be Captain Aryx, just big and furry?" One of the riggers says. "Dunno about that. I think it's best we just keep him well fed and watch to see if anything bad happens. If not, maybe we let him out." Gardey says. The rest of the men seem to agree, and return to their roles with a newfound hope.ns22.214.171.124da2