It’s the dead of night on the boardwalk. Golden light filters from posted lamps, luring dramoth from the beach. They cluster around the soft glow, wings fluttering. It was warm.
Humid. Dew beads on silken wings. The dramoth cluster and grow still.
A massive wave swells off the coast of the Ebony Wreath.
The tidal wave roars, racing across the ocean-- but not faster than the shocks that hit the shore first, sand and shells leaping from the ground as windworn dunes crumble, ancient sentinels fallen. The empty beach vibrates as the earthquake rips through it, tremors rippling far beyond the Wreath.
Fluorspar feels it the worst. Bread wakes in the embrace of their parents, startled by books as they fly off the shelves. The cherub tugs on Vespilet’s fur, staring out the window at the broken sky. Before the vespire wakes, the shock has passed them by. One of many. Once again the sleepy town wakes, bracing themselves in doorways and weathering the oncoming storm.
The wave pounds the coast, racing over fallen dunes and into the forest around Fluorspar. It hits the woods like cement, toppling trees and crumpling wildflowers. It rushes right up against the mountain town, battering the stone upon which the city of misfits sat. Then it recedes, claiming the wood as its own and taking stick and stone with it. The city stands. Another tremor rips through the land, cracking stone.
Splinters of wood litter the beach. The city stands, but the forest was gone.
The aftershocks are felt everywhere, from Marshgrave to Asterfall. The ocean roils, and one by one the Citremery boardwalk lights flicker, then go out. The dramoth huddle closer. Thunder rumbles, the smell of ozone clinging to their wings.
There is one light left in the darkness. The flanks of the princess glow, the colors shifting almost before they can be perceived, turbulent. Naia stands where the sand meets sea, tide rolling over her hooves as she gazes out into the water. Another shock trembles beneath her and she takes a step out into the surf.
Seafoam and dew gather around her like a cloak, masking her in the dark. The light winks out. Dark eyes look towards the crack lancing across the sky, leading west. The surf rocks against her, water choppy, discontent. It drags at her ankles and beckons her further. A song. But not a happy one. Sad, tormented.
She listens, then follows the receding surf. The ocean pulls away from her, fast, faster. Hermyte scuttle and crowd around her feet before racing back to shore as fast as they can. The sea rumbles as the trading port slumbers. Boats rock against each other and fight their moorings as the water dips underneath them, pulling further out to sea.
The tide pulls past coral and old forgotten ubra traps, flotsam littered bare before her. The princess keeps up, glancing furtively at the sky as the building storm gives up the ghost. The clouds open up and rain pelts her face. She closes her eyes, takes a deep breath.
Lightning flickers, illuminating the building wave before her. Thunder chases the lightning across the sky as the aquamarine light fades from the depths of death. She faces it alone, so small in the face of the wall of water. A tidal wave of this size would decimate Citremery, putting the port city out of commission for months at best, and… well… the worst was best not to think about.
The capricorn princess stands before the end of it all and grits her teeth. She reaches deep inside of herself as the sea recedes, building, building. The wellspring was within her. It was within all of them. Salt and flame. Harness it. Take it between your teeth and--
Her eyes light up with a fierce inner fire and her color explodes through the cloak of dew and foam. Reds, blues, greens. The wave rumbles and she rumbles back, screaming so far off the shore nobody could hear her anymore.
Thunder cracks as Naia faces the ocean alone, blowing the tidal wave back. The sea sprays her and fights, but she fights *harder*. The cold bites like teeth as the wave swells impossibly large before her, challenging, fighting just as she did for the right to exist.
The wave defies her, arcing high above her head before crashing down. In the end she was just another living thing, one of many, and the sea that brought life to them all had cold hands. They reach for her throat now, caring not if she lived or died. The capricorn screams, bubbles cascading in a spiral towards the surface as the wave engulfs her.
It reaches for shore. It reaches for the boardwalk with it’s darkened lights. It reaches for the ships straining against their lashings. It reaches for the clustered dramoth. It reaches for sleepy merchants in their beds. But she can’t-- no, she won’t let it.
The water swells around her, steam wafting off the surface as a blinding light envelops one small, frail capricorn. The wave circles back, whirling around her, power rushing through the salt as the sea begins to boil.
Then, without a sound, it explodes into a million molten tears.
The brine rains down on her, indistinguishable from the storm. The wave-- what was left of it-- settles, rocking against her and racing back towards shore at a safe, manageable level. Citremery would wake to a lower than average sea level, some of the larger ships grounded. But they survived, none the wiser.
If she had to be a part of their world, there needed to be a world to be a part of.
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