Damnation

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Prologue

"Do you think we'll make it?"

At that moment, she wanted to look up but the chilling sound of a child crying, muffling his sobs into his cupped hands, kept her rooted in place. Her back was hunched over, chin titled downwards to avoid meeting the gaze of her unwillingly travelling companions.

The ship rocked back and forth, but it was nothing like the calm sway they had endured at the beginning of the voyage. Even at the bowel of the ship, she could still hear the deafening howls of the wind and the cracks of thunder that echoed through the empty halls. 

"Don't talk like that, of course, we will!" Another voice interjected, an older man this time, yet despite his insistence, she could hear the uncertainty in his voice. He didn't think they would make it out alive either.

In all honesty, that didn't bother her; whether they lived or died. She had nothing left waiting for her and no lost future to cry over. No one on this ship did, but they all still feared death, even her. 

The thought of dying surrounding by crying women and children did not bring her a whole lot of comfort, but in the end, it didn't really matter; she'd still be dead. 

"Let's talk about something else, shall we?" A softer, gentler voice spoke up. "Take our minds off the storm, alright?" 

Despite their situation, she felt the voice was calming, easing even the most horrific worries. She wasn't alone in that either, as after the woman had spoken; no one moved to disagree.

"Is everyone here from Ka no Kuni?" The woman asked, her voice slightly drowned out by the harrowing cries of the storm outside. "Any family back home? Lovers, children? Siblings?"

No one spoke at first until one man cleared his throat and begun, "my mother." His voice trembled nervously, "she's always been sickly, ever since I was young. I tend to travel a lot, even to countries like Ka no Kuni, trading spices and that. But she worries, and I suppose she's right to worry," he chuckled softly. "Moving between enemy countries isn't the safest, so... I've decided to return home, to her.. her health isn't the best and I thought it was time to stay permanently by her side."

"That's nice." The woman from earlier said after he'd finished, likely smiling. "Anyone else?"

"I've got no one waiting for me," Someone else interjected, "but I plan to retire in So no Kuni. Live a quiet life by the countryside, maybe open up a farm, grow some crops. Something peaceful, away from all this fighting."

The ship jolted and she gripped the wall to stay grounded, frowning at the gasps erupting around her. 

"Calm down everyone, just a bit of a shake, we're fine." The woman tried to laugh it off, but she could feel that the calm mood had ended.

"What about you, child? The girl hiding off in the corner, come join us. I'm sure it's much warmer."

Silence. It took a few seconds for her to realise the woman was speaking to her. "Me?" She finally lifted her head, pale-blonde hair shifting as she did.

She saw the woman sitting across from her, cradling a newborn child in her arms, rocking it back and forth to keep it quiet. The woman smiled broadly at her, offering a hand out for her to take.

"Yes, you. Come sit with us, here." The woman held her hand out higher.

Hesitantly, she picked herself up off of the ground, bringing a sense of relief to her aching bones; eager to finally move after days of sitting in one spot. The dirt of her ragged dress clung to her thin frame as she crossed the room, legs trembling as the ship rocked.

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