The rustic spires of Caeli rose up around them, the snap of dyed red cloth ricocheting through the close cut buildings like the echoing crack of a bullwhip. Oceanus was a world of layers, with a dense clustered land mass at its heart, constantly shifting on carefully interlocked tectonic plates. Caeli was one of two cities on Oceanus, two cities, one above, one below, and neither aware of the other. To most anyway, Mack mused as he fell in step with Eleni. The streets of Caeli were bustling with their usual late afternoon fervor, not a hint of concern over the apocalyptic doom trawling their oceans.
Krakens. He sneered. He hated the cold bastards and he didn't relish how much might he'd have to summon on his own to send them scuttling back their own dark realm. The thought planted a cold seed of dread inside him. From the beginning, the Edgewise and Mack maintained a symbiotic relationship, relying on one another for protection, for power and energy. He'd never questioned that relationship. Never doubted the Edgewise as anything but a neutral and even benevolent entity. Why had it tinkered with his mind? Why had it altered his very memory? His hand brushed his vest pocket, listening for the crinkle of the photograph even as the connection to his blood reminded him it existed. A piece of evidence without context left him with nothing but doubts. Mack glanced over his shoulder at his apprentice, her expression rapt as she absorbed their surroundings.
A woman the Edgewise insisted he bring into their world despite the weakness she created in the tavern's defenses. It would be easy to shift the blame to her, easy and unfair. He couldn't do such a disservice to her. No, he had to figure this out on his own, preferably before their mystery madman brought the multiverse down around their ears.
"Bloody Krakens," he muttered. He nudged Eleni. "How long have they been here?"
Eleni pursed her lips, gold eyes squinting as she looked out over the bustling market. "Near a month by my reckon.'"
Mack frowned. That was about the time they'd been gone. "For that length of time, this world is remarkably unscathed."
The Captain grinned at him, revealing her pearl like teeth. A few of them might have been actual pearls. "Well, aren't you confident in our self sufficiency."
He raised a brow at her. "Your people are plenty self sufficient, but I know how the Kraken operate--" He stopped, circling to the same horrible thought he'd had since boarding her ship. Of course Caeli would be relatively unscathed if the Kraken were pre-occupied elsewhere.
"What? What is it? You might know Krakens but I know you, Macklemore. Where has your mind gone?"
He glanced around the bustling street, Eleni's words swallowed up in the cacophony of bartering merchants and customers, haggling over prices on everything from fresh fish to engine parts. That sort of milling activity was a form of camouflage but he couldn't risk the casual passerby picking up a word of what he had to say. "We need a private place to talk, Eleni. Can you secure us a room at the Drunken Eel?"
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***Winner of the Wattys 2016 for Hidden Gems*** The Edgewise exists everywhere and nowhere. A sanctuary to all realms, should you find the door. Managed by one Macklemore Edgewise, proprietor, guardian of the between places, and barman of mystery...