Author's note: please excuse any grammar errors, as this was written solely on an iPhone and I have fat, clumsy fingers.
The air was alive with a salty spray, as the Sea of Sorrows, in cahoots with the swirling maelstrom above, attempted with every ounce of their combined effort to capsize the Ardent. Whitecaps rose above and across the warped yet spotless deck of the decrepit schooner, their wispy fingers grasping at the privateers' boot as if trying to wrest them from their posts. Rugged sails, once white but now stained a dingy grey-green by years at sea, billowed high overhead. Here and there the tattered canvas tore, freeing itself from its bindings and sending cloth flails whipping frantically at the crew below.
An old human, visibly worse-for-wear, with wrinkles spanning his leathery, tan skin like a map of Tyria sprawled across his face, took a heavy blow to the back of his knees, buckling them and sent him tumbling into the waves. A young, slender sapling of a Sylvari manning the crow's nest met a lashing to the face, sending his head plummeting to the deck below, the rest of his body slumped over the rotten wooden railing.
The crew scurried from rope to rope, tightening knots and checking that the brass hinges were fastened securely like so many ants. Despite the commotion, it was easy to spot the seasoned sailors from the rest of the motley bunch; they worked quickly and efficiently, and though there was panic in their eyes and their lips mouthed endless prayers to whichever God or Goddess they favored, their hands were steady and their footing was unwaveringly sure.
Mine, in stark contrast, was undeniably not.
I had been aboard the ship for a month and a half, and it had taken the greater part of the time to pry my head from my chamberpot and amble above deck on legs quivering like a foal. Even then, I spent my time gazing into the wake behind the nimble vessel, pleading with my turning stomach to restrain from emptying itself yet again. My body refused to let me forget my having never previously been anywhere near the water due to a severe case of agoraphobia and my resulting inability to swim.
I was born and attended school in Rata Sum with a borderline-obsessive interest in the multitudinous races of Tyria. As such, I moved to the infamous Lion's Arch with the intents of studying the plethora of cultures found there. However, after Scarlett Briar's descent into insanity claimed the whole of the city, I decided to overcome my fears and study the very individuals who founded the city I called home: pirates.
I was beginning to regret my decision. I had been little more than useless during the numerous raids, and the others made sure I knew they were anything but ignorant of my poor performance.
Every moment away from my chamberpot was a flurry of dimwitted insults, most of which I had heard millions of times over. Being Asuran alone was enough to earn me the nicknames "the rat" and "munchkin", by being short and slender even by Asuran standards only compounded the issue.
Nevertheless, I kept my head up and continued my research. The pay itself would have been reason enough to stay for any sane individual, but it was assortment of races manning the Ardent I was interested in.
The humans represented the majority on board, closely followed by Sylvari eager to explore every inch of the world. There were three Charr, Krognak, Gtarg and a female Charr named Sulla. All but Z, who was surprisingly happy-go-lucky for a Charr, displayed an insatiable disdain for their human superiors. They distanced themselves from everyone save for a single Norn mercenary named Scvetka. She stood three heads taller than any man on board, and could lift twice as much. There was even a Hylec.
Perhaps most interesting of all was that I was not the only Asura on board. The other Asura's name was First Mate Sprickett. Like most Asuras, he was born in Rata Sum and attended college there, but dropped out and became a seaman at a young age. He was, by Asuran standards, considered dense though his IQ was slightly above human average. He was a tall and brawny Asura, grey with a brown splotch over his left eye. He wore his shoulder length dirty blonde hair pulled up into a sloppy ponytail at all times. He favored a great hammer of Krytan make taller than he. We had little in common other than our race.
"Little rat, grab a rope and pull, or I'll save the storm the trouble and throw you overboard myself," growled Krognak.
He was a large tabby Charr, with a long, perpetually greasy main that clung to his shoulders. He leered at me with his one good eye, the other staring into space past to my side. I knew better than to take a Charr threat as a joke.
I made my way to the Charr's side as quickly as my gelatin legs would allow and tugged the rope. I knew my presence was of little assistance, but it kept Krognak placated, so I continued on.
A cacophony of screams and the sound of splintering wood erupted from behind me. I turned to see the main mast straining against the wind, splinters jutting out of the side from which the wind blew, and bowing is wooden spine towards the sea. All at once the mast snapped, falling heavy on the deck and sliding into the sea, pulling sailors into the icy depths with it. The ship rocked violently, then followed the mast, sinking slowly sideways. Without thinking, I dropped the rope and turned to dash towards the captain's quarters. I took three strides before the schooner rolled entirely onto its side with a snapping and creaking of wood and the wails of the crew. I dug my fingernails into the wood, sliding most of the way across the wet planks before finally finding purchase in a jagged board that was tended by the mast.
Perhaps prematurely, I allowed a smile to surface, for no sooner had my facial muscles tensed and flexed, the ship capsized.