Arc 718, 100th of Ashan
Meditation was supposed to be good for her, right? Rynata wondered this as she sat aboard her ship with her knees tucked close to her chin. The empty crate that was her perch gave her access to a magnificent ocean view, but the sunlit scenery was quite a contrast from her current mood. She felt so separate from the balmy Ashan trial. Oriand, her cat, was off sunning herself and Caravel was busy snacking on some leaves. At least they seemed to have their life together. Why couldn’t it be so, for her?
Meditation. That was what she had been taught after the incident and what she had done her best to continue practicing afterwards. It was supposed to aid the healing process. However, even with all her efforts, Rynata could still tell that something was not quite right with her. Something she had taken for granted was not as it should be. It was the small things that truly beat it over her head that she was damaged. For example, somehow, a little after the mess of being flayed, Rynata realized that she was unable to recall any recent dreams. Not good dreams, nonsensical dreams, or even fragments of bad dreams. This led her to eventually suspect that she simply wasn’t having any nighttime visions anymore. Cut off, as she was, from something that made her whole as a person. Yet despite this strange revelation, it was a sad joke that she still jolted awake at night, almost as though she had been terrified by a nightmare. The difference was that there was no nightmare to reflect upon. Only fear and paranoia kept her company during the dark half of the trial.
Rynata wished her efforts would start showing more concrete results, and soon. Perhaps that was not the way to go about something as calm and enlightened as meditation, but she couldn’t help feeling an anxious hurry to get back to her normal state. Any more of this cruel limbo, and she feared that there might never be a normal again. At least, not the kind she wanted.
Seeming to sense Rynata’s disquiet, Oriand wandered over from a sun patch on the ship’s deck and came to rest in the shadow of the crate. Her dark fur glistened healthily and seemed to radiate the warmth that it had soaked up during her daily sun bathing. Large, green eyes gazed curiously, and it was almost too easy to see something like real concern in them.
Managing to crack a smile at her catish friend, Rynata leaned over for a few words.
“Lunch isn't for about another break or two, you know. But don't worry, we'll catch you some food later,"
she said, finding some normalcy in the fact that her cat was hungry. "Do you want to come up?”
she added, patting the stretch of sun baked wood beside her invitingly. However, Oriand merely kept staring. Not even a twitch of her tail indicated that she was willing to leap up onto the crate. “No? Alright, then.”
Returning to the problem at hand, Rynata looked away from Oriand and back toward the horizon. One of the hardest things about this practice of calming the mind was that being idle tended to bring bad thoughts to the forefront. Instead of peaceful serenity, her head conjured up just about everything that was wrong with the situation as well as everything that could go wrong. This was the challenge of balancing just the right amount of concentration. Just enough to relax, but not enough tension so as to start spiraling downwards. Thinking that focusing on a physical object might help, Rynata fished about in her pockets for something suitable and brushed against the rounded metallic edges of a coin. Funny. That pocket wasn't where she usually slipped spare change. However, uncurling her fingers from around the piece revealed that it was the oddity she had picked up not so long ago.
The coin was just slightly different from others of its kind and it glinted sharply in the light. Rynata must have slipped it in her vest during her mission in the Sweetwine Woods where she had found the trinket. In all the excitement, she had nearly forgotten about it as well as the unlikelihood that she would come across such a thing deep in the woods. Now that the coin was rediscovered, it winked cheerfully up at her.
Letting the metal piece roll between her fingers, Rynata absentmindedly watched its meandering path, to and fro. Perhaps this really would help. She wondered if any of the doctors she knew back on Scalvoris island would consider this therapeutic. Still, she didn't yet feel like talking to anyone about it. There was always the uncertainty that they would react badly, and perhaps more importantly, that Rynata herself would react badly.
As the coin rolled into a comfortable position over her thumb, Rynata abruptly flicked that digit, causing the coin to flutter upwards. A smart chime surfaced over the sound of the waves as her nail clicked against the hard material and shortly after, the coin landed satisfyingly into her palm once again. Gearing up to repeat the motion, Rynata was suddenly surprised as a black streak of fur came dancing into her lap. Spluttering and caught completely off guard, she just managed to prevent Oriand from careening overboard. However, her temporary plaything was not so lucky as it was abandoned over concern for the cat. All too quickly there was a soft plunk as the coin floated down through the waves.
Holding up Oriand so that their eyes were level with hers, Rynata stared reproachfully at the culprit. She had thought cats to be rather graceful creatures. Now there was at least one case of them leaping before they looked. Yet even under her owner's accusing look, Rynata would never see such innocent eyes as the ones Oriand was making at her right now. The sea green irises were as large and as nonchalant as ever. She had only wanted to bat at the sparkling trinket. Most likely, any cat would.
Rynata sighed and placed her unrepentant friend down onto the deck, watching as she sauntered off to tease Caravel. Leaning over the rails she squinted hard into the water directly under the ship to try and see if she could still catch sight of the coin. The waters here were not incredibly deep, and if she really wanted, she could try and fish it out. However, despite the sun steadily warming the sea around Scalvoris, there was still a significant bite to the water. Ready to give up, Rynata pushed of from the side of the ship, but it was then that a different kind of gleam caught her eye.
The light reflecting off something in the depths was definitely not of just one coin. It covered far too much area for that. Had she not been looking for it, Rynata would have missed it, but there seemed to a whole bulk of coins resting on the sea bed, mingling with the sand and rocks.
Spine suddenly shooting straight and eyes wide, the Rynata scanned the surrounding water for anyone else that might lay claim to the find. However, as before, there was no one sailing in this particular stretch of the Hollow Sea. Excited fingers fumbling with her garments, Rynata kicked off her shoes and stripped off whatever was impractical under water. Yes, the sea would be cold but Chrien take her if she passed up this sort of treasure. All the same she took the extra time to lash and sling a length of rope off the side of the ship, just in case. Swinging over the rail of The Gilded Siren
, deliberately, for the first time in a while, Rynata clambered down toward the waves, holding on as long as she could with her hands.
As predicted, from the moment her toe dipped in, the water chilled her skin to the point that it almost felt painful. For a while, the best she could do was shudder and take in irregular breaths as she tried to get used to the temperature. When she thought that she had gotten as used to the water as she was going to get, Rynata took a deep breath and ducked, legs kicking hard to fight against her own buoyancy. Cracking her eyes open, she dove deeper until she was directly over the mass she had spotted from the deck of her ship. It really was mound of coins scattered across the sea floor. The short trail it made led to a heavily damaged looking money box. Well, there was really no question as to what she should do. As her people said, finders keepers.
Surfacing for air, Rynata inhaled deeply, trying not to get any salt water into her system. While she caught her breath, she also made simple plans as to how she would get the coins up onto the ship. The money box had one blasted side, but it had looked sturdy enough to at least work as a sort of bucket. There was also her safety rope to use in order to tug up the extra luggage. Confident in her strategy, Rynata took another bracing breath and headed beneath the waves once more. It took several dives to scrape the coins into what was probably their original container and another few in order to adequately secure the rope round the damaged box. By the time she heaved herself up onto The Gilded Siren
, dripping unceremoniously, Rynata was thoroughly chilled. Relying on the sun to shine some warmth back into her limbs, she tugged the end of the rope on board, and along with it, the money box.
The contents it seemed, was a considerable amount, and she realized that this was probably exactly what was meant when people talked of an unexpected windfall. Rushing toward Oriand in celebration, Rynata only managed to get a disdainful meow as the cat was picked up by its soaking wet human. Though the black cat may not have realized, her careless prank had just made them very rich, and though Rynata hadn't managed to find the original coin lost overboard and into the shifting sand, she supposed that it was more than an equal exchange for everything else she had managed to pull back to the ship.