It was a dark and stormy night, lit only by intermittent flashes of blue-white lightning and their reflection against the sea's writhing surface. Had the wind not been so strenuous the water would have been a perfectly glossed mirror of blues and greens, marred only by the occasional patch of floating wreckage and the rippling wake of a ship with a black flag. As it was, those details were lost in the blurred edges of the driving rain. Furious waves pounded what remained of the Merry Blue, seemingly angry that the majority of the vessel had already sunk and was even now descending ponderously towards the sea floor. The storm seemed determined to punish every piece of flotsam left of the ship, heedless of the child clinging to a barrel's top and the sailors' desperate attempts to grasp something, anything, that might help them float.
The child seemed oblivious, rain and tears streaking down its face indiscriminately as it peered in the approximate direction of the Storm's Wrath. If the child had been less shellshocked it might have found irony in the name. As it was, it only knew that its home was sailing away.
It heard the cries of drowning men as they fought for the few pieces of flotsam large and buoyant enough to offer some hope of survival and shied away from them, glad that the angry men were too far away to pose a threat. The child had been jettisoned after the battle, tossed overboard just far enough for safety but close enough to hear the souls it had condemned.
Why, why had it told the captain what it saw from the rigging? It knew what the crew were about, knew that they were starving for blood and riches. They hadn't had prey in weeks-- of course they wouldn't care about the risks of the approaching storm.
The child pressed its face into the rough wet grain of its barrel, heedless of the splinters and small cuts that had already started smarting in the brine. Closing its eyes, it tried to block out the memories. It still cowered from the shouting among the tall men as they stomped around on deck, felt the phantom of the captain's blood painting its face, heard the chaos as half protested the violence and the others clamored for more.
It had thrown itself over the captain, trying to wake him up, small hands slipping in blood and the storm's first spits of rain. Until that point the child had lived five, maybe six years-- death was something whispered about but never confirmed. It had asked a crew member, a large, nice man who sometimes bought it sweets, and he said death was just a different kind of sleeping.
But the captain didn't wake up. And the child, shaking with anger and grief and confusion, had thrown itself at the murderer.
Now the child clutched the barrel tighter, closed its eyes, and waited for that different kind of sleep.