Chapter 1:

The Island


The old man stood at the doorway to the small wooden shack, reminiscing about something. Against a backdrop of waves crashing against several jagged rocks surrounding the island, all silhouetted on a flaming orange sunset, this scenery looked straight from a painting. I unconsciously burned this image into my mind, so that I'd never forget it,
no matter how much I wanted to.

I stood a little down the hill on the island, the top of which the shack stood on. I was holding a few bundles of firewood I'd collected from the small forest near the base of the island. We'd cut the trees in advance a few weeks ago, so I was just bringing up the amount we'd need for the night and the following few days.

The sound of my sister calling my name out from behind me snapped me out of my reverie.

"Brother, come here!" Her voice echoed through the air. It sounded shaky, like she had been frightened by something.

I set the logs on the ground and jogged down the hill towards her voice to check what had happened. She was crouched down on the ground, inspecting something. I couldn't see what it was from this distance, so I moved closer in order to get a better view.

"Shit." I muttered, when I saw it.

It was the carcass of a shark. It stretched to more than 5 feet long, taller than me and my sister and probably the same height as the old man. By the look, and smell of it, it had been rotting for a while now. It's skin was brown and loose, hanging from the exposed bone like a cloth on a tent. It had huge bite marks near it's gills, probably the cause of death from another shark or something. Several bugs flew around the corpse, and there were a group of seagulls circling it in the sky. I'm sure there would've been maggots if I'd cut it open.
Ugh. The thought revolted me.

"Ember, get away from it. You'll get an infection," I informed my sister.

But it was useless. She was staring wide-eyed at the corpse, the way a child would stare at a new toy. Issue is, she was in fact a child at the time.

"To think such a majestic creature of the sea would die such a death," she muttered.

I didn't reply to this. I knew exactly what she was pointing at, and the thought made me furious. Some people do deserve such a death, I thought, suppressing my emotions.

I was knocked out of my reverie yet again, this time by the voice of the old man.

"Ignis! Ember! I've made dinner!" His voice rung out distantly from the top of the hill.

As his words reached us, Ember's stomach let out a loud growl. She blushed with embarrassment as a smile formed on my face.
With her, it was difficult to stay angry for too long.

We were at the table, in the middle of finishing a rustic vegetable stew when Ember decided to share her discovery to the old man.

"I saw the carcass of a shark earlier," she revealed in a brazen tone, speaking through a mouthful of vegetables.

The old man froze for a moment, processing her words.

"Are you sure it was a shark? It wasn't a small whale or something similar?" He asked in a hesitant tone.

"No, it was a shark. I think it was killed by a bigger shark or something, I don't know. It had bite marks near it's gills," she replied.

"Oh, now that's a problem." He leaned backwards into his chair.

"Problem?" I asked, curious.

"You see, among us sailors, there's a saying that seeing a dead shark is a bad omen. And among the bad omens, this is probably the worst one. It's said that the one who discovered it will bear the brunt of the misfortune," he said, sighing after the last sentence.

I took a moment to process what he said.

"Old man, you've said some dumb shit a couple times before, but this takes the cake for the dumbest. Right, Ember?" I turned towards her, but stopped when I saw her. She was visibly uncomfortable, and I could see the expression of fear start to form on her face.

That expression, beginning to form.

"Come on, Ember, snap out of it! You know what he's saying is bullshit," I said, patting her on the back playfully. I glared at the old man who was finishing his bowl of stew.
When he met my eyes, he got the hint.

"Don't worry though, since we sailors also have a ritual to break bad omens. It's not easy though."

Ember's expression changed as he looked up at him. Thankfully.

"Really?" She asked in a small voice.

"Yes, really," affirmed the old man before explaining.

As he went on and on about a ritual that was performed by good behavior, obviously a made up attempt to make her feel better, I wondered why that expression had affected me so much. Maybe it was because of the first and last time I had saw it,

When we saw our mother being brutally raped and killed right in front of us, all those years ago.