A Sailor's Worth
He smelled of sea and wind and sun when he got off the sailboat. A sailor’s life had made him weathered and tough, and he had wisdom to prove his worth. Though retired from his work at the docks of Mystery Island, Walker greatly missed his job and decided to get a sailboat of his own to make up for lost time at sea. No matter how much he loved water, however, he couldn’t stay in it forever.
The silver Kougra sighed and touched the frame cap on his forehead. It was lined with gold embroidery just above the bill and on the front was a small golden anchor to signify his captain’s position. He gave a wry smile and rubbed his white, whiskery jaw. Whether it made him seem old or not, reminiscing about the past was one thing Walker just couldn’t get enough of.
As the hardy Kougra tied his sailboat up for the day, he could smell a storm coming. He hated to be leaving The Dauntless so early—it was only three in the afternoon—but it had to be done. A storm on Mystery Island was the single most dangerous natural disaster possible. The winds were already whipping up and stirring the seas, bending palm trees and sending islanders running for their homes. They could only hope it would be safe in there.
Walker turned around and began to leave. But something suddenly stopped him. Something small, something struggling, could be seen at the corner of his eye and he was frantic. Turning on his heels, he looked towards the source of all the moving. It was a... Faerie?
“Mmm... ‘Tis dangerous for anyone out there,” he muttered in a deep, gruff voice. His long blue jacket, lined with gold, sailed in the wind behind him as he faced the roaring gusts.
Anyone, including himself. Faeries were immortal beings anyway... Weren’t they? Perhaps the Darkest Faerie had been banished to a thousand-year sleep, but... He gritted his teeth as he saw the Faerie continued to struggle in the roiling waves. The sea surged and swelled with awesome power, playing with her body like a rag doll.
“Forget it!” hissed the Kougra. He dove right into the sea, angered at how helpless the Faerie seemed against the ocean.
Walker continued against the ocean. Once more, he had to put his muscles to the test. The Kougra swam with powerful strokes and used his tail as balance, lashing out just as wildly to the ocean as it had to him. Walker was a tough creature, having weathered storms far harsher than this even on a boat, but the sea was getting to him. He could feel his power weakening against the driving wind. The rain pelted his body with cold, stinging droplets. But he was so close... so close to that Faerie that he couldn’t stop now.
She suddenly stopped. Slowly, horrifying, she sank into the ocean.
“No!” Walker cried out.
His tired limbs suddenly felt rejuvenated. With a deep breath, he dove into the untamed sea.
It was dark, murky, but the force here almost seemed to be less in the water than at the surface. He swam until he finally felt a falling limb touch his paw. Walker grabbed it... She felt so weak and so light in his arms. Taking the Faerie up, the Kougra went back up to the surface and took a well-earned breath. The salty taste of seawater remained in his mouth for a little longer than he had expected.
It was true. He had been out for far too long, and too far besides. Walker was so far out from land that he could hardly make out the shoreline from here. The Kougra’s heart dropped in his chest as he was slammed around by the waves. He was too far, too tired... His eyes widened. He couldn’t swim anymore, not in this weather, not in this water, not with a water Faerie in his arms.
He was going to die with the shoreline in sight.
But he didn’t die a noisy death. Walker set the Faerie under one arm and swam for his life. It didn’t matter that he was never going to make it; just as long as he died fighting. He had been one with the sea and now he was fighting against it. He smiled as he began to feel his strength fading halfway to the shore.
Slowly, Walker faded away into the depths of the sea, letting the water Faerie go down with him.
The bright morning sun was a bit too liberal with the light today, or so Walker thought. Am I dead? he thought as his eyes winced open. No, he couldn’t be. Being dead couldn’t possibly hurt this much, no matter where he had ended up. The Kougra’s body ached all over and the seawater had dried on his fur, making it a little more stiff that he would’ve liked. His clothes were tattered and just as rigid as his whiskers when he felt them against his back.
The sky above was clear. The sand beneath was familiar. What was not familiar was the unusual pendant that had been put around his neck. Walker looked down. He could just make out a blue, teardrop-shaped stone by his collarbone. The Kougra sat up and spluttered in amazement.
Walker touched the stone, feeling its smooth stone edges against his fingers. They felt cool and calm, but somehow saddening. In fact, it even made Walker twist his face into one of somberness. It wasn’t just that, though. He had remembered faintly what had happened back when he was swimming for his life in the swirling and churning waters of the ocean.
What had happened to that Faerie? And how on earth did she gain possession of Thyora’s Tear? There was only one like it. Had she survived? Was she dead? Who was she, anyway?
These questions fumbled around in Walker’s mind, but he didn’t have the answers for any of them. He sat, bent over, and looked at the shore, squinting his eyes in a feeble attempt to catch the Faerie once again. He didn’t find her. The Kougra wouldn’t, no matter how long he looked.
With a long sigh, he pushed himself up from his sitting spot and dragged himself up from the beach to the rich volcanic soil that made up most of Mystery Island. He turned back for a moment and saw that the sea—or the Faerie, whoever had gotten to him first—had brought him right next to the place where he had jumped into the ocean. Surprisingly enough, his sailboat was still there and in perfect condition.
So was he, Walker finally realized. Surely it had been Thyora’s Tear that protected him.
The following day, Walker decided to have his pendant examined by a jeweler. He wasn’t really sure what else he could do with it.
“Ahh... This is a very rare gem, this is. A Thyora’s Tear! I’m blessed just to touch it!” The Techo jeweler seemed far too interested in the amulet for Walker’s liking, so the Kougra snatched it away from him.
“Excuse me...” grumbled the sailor, rather unapologetically. “It’s just that it’s very precious to me.”
“Where did you get it?” asked the Techo carefully as he rubbed his aching hand.
“That doesn’t answer my...”
Walker sent a death glare the Techo’s way. “Look, I just want to know where this would belong.”
The Techo shrugged. “I’ve heard a few tales about that jewel; Nereid the Water Faerie supposedly created it to give to some Eyrie who had lost her brother in a fight with... I dunno... flying Myncies or whatever. But the important part is that Nereid apparently created it for this girl named Thyora, and it supposedly grants you invincibility against any attack for a short period of time. Like that storm last night! Whew, that was a close one.”
“Thank you,” said Walker. “I appreciate the information.”
“What would be even better is if you’d just lend—”
The Kougra whisked away before the jeweler could say another word.
From the few things he had known about the elusive Nereid, he knew that there were reports of her singing softly at night, or so they said. This was the chance, Walker believed, that he could repay her, somehow. He didn’t want Thyora’s Tear; he didn’t deserve to hold such a precious artifact in his hands. The least he could do was give it back.
So the Kougra went out sailing that night on his boat. The seas were a bit rougher and the sprays cooler as he rigged the sails to go out. He detached the sailboat and let it carry him away to approximately the point where he saw the Faerie being tossed about in the ocean.
There was no one in sight. Walker sighed and fingered Thyora’s Tear in his paw. He wouldn’t let any greedy jeweler get his hands on this precious item, but he couldn’t go out too far into the ocean. The sailor didn’t want to have to be saved by the Faerie again. Carefully, the Kougra went out to the side of the boat. Yes... He was doing the right thing.
The amulet slowly sank into the ocean. It was carried out into the waves, never to be seen again. Never to be touched again. Or so Walker thought.
As the Kougra solemnly sailed back to the docks, he faintly made out strange ripples in the water beside him. A flipper splashed out of the water and sent Thyora’s Tear right back his way. The amulet nearly smacked him in the nose.
“Hey!” Walker cried. “What was that for?”
He heard giggling as the ripples faded away. There was a voice so faint, so light, that the Kougra figured he must have been dreaming somehow.
“It’s for you, silly. I thought you were someone who I could trust with Thyora’s Tear, not someone who'd toss it back into the ocean! There are Jetsams down there!”
Walker whipped his head down back at the ocean again. There was no such sign of a flipper in the ocean, and the voice had left just as suddenly as it had come. Thyora’s Tear was still tightly gripped in his hand. Yes, he must have been dreaming... He wasn’t that special.
Strangely enough, he didn’t wake up.