The Mist is Hostile
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"Never set sail when the mist rises" was a common phrase in Solaris. The town had its fair share of skeptics and disbelievers, but the majority of Solarians believed the old warnings about the sea. Far too many a sailor had gone missing since the town's foundation, always disappearing when the mist crept up from below the ocean's surface. Despite the skepticism that floated around the quiet corners of Solaris, on the ears of lesser sailors, even in the bones of the elderly, a solid explanation behind the disappearances was never established. There wasn’t any official law that forbade sailing into the mist, but one would be remiss to ignore the signs.

Captain Roorke grew up on the docks, learned how to sail before he learned how to walk. He was a stocky man, with a thick beard and a strong sense of adventure. He'd worked on The Intrepid on his sixteenth birthday and kept the ship sailing better than anyone working on it at the time. He began as a rower, working below deck with the outsiders. Before long, Roorke proved himself capable of more than rowing and the then Captain allowed him to secure the cargo. Up the chain, Roorke went, and eventually, he murdered the old Captain and took his place. The crew was hesitant about the sudden shift in leadership but, after Roorke keelhauled anyone resisting the change, they followed his lead without hesitation.

Roorke’s brother Agnar went missing a few years back, right around the time Roorke became Captain. Agnus set sail on the Quatermaster’s word about some glory that lay in the Land Beyond the Horizon. He left just before sunset. The mist rose and swallowed the ship like it was nothing. The next day the mist dissipated and not so much as a piece of driftwood was found. Roorke was just a boy then, not having seen his sixteenth summer, but the memory never left him. Now as the Captain of The Intrepid Roorke could finally set sail to his own destination. He needed to find out what happened.

Solaris shrunk away as The Intrepid sailed closer to the horizon. Roorke felt his heart beat faster the further away he sailed from the port-town. The mist rose almost on cue, as if it were waiting for The Intrepid to cross its waters. Roorke’s heart jumped into his throat. He barked at his crew and kept The Intrepid on course. In seconds the ship was coated in a thin layer of writhing mist. It grabbed at Roorke’s feet and poured down the stairs below the deck. A hush sung in Roorke’s ear. The Captain called for the weapons to be drawn and leaped from the helm. When he looked around he saw nothing in the mist, save for his crew and their cutlasses drawn and a mix of confusion and fear on their faces.

Captain Roorke rushed to the rails and stared into the mist. It was too dense to see clearly that far beyond the ship, but Roorke could just barely make out the massive shadow being cast a half a kilometer away. There was something strange about it, unlike anything Roorke had encountered before. The Captain had seen his fair share of horrible sights sailing the seas, but this… whatever was casting this shadow was something unnatural. Anger filled Roorke’s body as he shouted for all cannons to fire on the shadow. The eruption of cannon fire rang through the mist, but each shot missed their mark. He wasn’t sure what was happening, but the Captain’s hands were trembling. Roorke turned and demanded another volley be launched but when he turned back around the target had vanished.

They sailed through the mist for days. The thought of letting down their guard or their cutlasses never crossed anyone’s mind. Half of the supplies had been consumed and morale was low. The temptation of casting oneself overboard grew stronger in each sailor’s mind every day. Roorke could only think of his brother though, and he tried to impart his ironclad will onto the rest of his crew. But a captain could only do so much, and Roorke could see that his men were losing faith in the mission. And in him. Captain Roorke called for a meeting on the deck and assured that the mist would dispel soon, and that the Land Beyond the Horizon was near. With reluctant compliance, the crew stifled their negative thoughts and tried to focus on the task at hand. In his quarters, the Captain worried about how much longer they could last on the open seas. Men had gone mad from staying adrift for too long, and he feared the same thing might be happening to him and his crew, maybe the same fate befell Agnar. He consulted a bottle of rum, which seemed to reassure him that things were going well.

The bottom of the bottle reintroduced Roorke to the whisper he’d heard earlier. It was more clear now, although Roorke pretended not to hear what it was saying. He left the cabin and the massive shadow drew his attention once again. He overheard sailors talking about some whisper that wouldn’t leave their ears but before he could address that, he heard shouting from the crow’s nest. The man in the crow's nest screamed that there were people in the mist. People that he recognized. The man leaped from the nest though not all of his body made it into the ocean. Another sailor scraped the rest of him into the water. Roorke called for the cannons to be fired again, but his crew were walking on shaky legs. More and more he heard sailors repeating the same thing the man in the crow’s nest did. Roorke shouted and raved for everyone to stay away from the rails, but only half of the crew seemed to listen. The rest walked over the edge of the ship, their feet guided by the mist. Roorke rushed to the railing and cast a line that none would take. Captain Roorke stormed up to the helm and turned the ship away from the shadow, back to where he believed Solaris was. The shadow persisted though, growing larger with every passing moment. Captain Roorke again ordered for the cannons to be fired. A dozen eruptions rang out from the ship, and a dozen cannonballs vanished into the mist. He looked over his shoulder. Nothing was there.

The next day Captain Roorke lit the sails ablaze. They must have been close enough to The Land Beyond the Horizon or Solaris to let the current guide The Intrepid to safety. The mist hissed and shriek as the fires burned it away. The Captain could finally see with the clarity he so desperately needed. The only thing that he saw were the bodies in the mist. Those sick, perverted images of his crew walked on the water's surface toward The Intrepid. They couldn’t be real. At least, that’s what Roorke and the remainder of his crew tried their damndest to convince themselves. Roorke ordered the sail to be put out immediately, by any means necessary. He lost three good sailors to a gust of wind that carried them overboard, and another three to the burning sheet that fell on them after they untied it. Roorke pushed them into the water then spent the next hour convincing himself that it was the humane thing to do.

The mist engulfed The Intrepid without hesitation once the flames were gone. The whisper returned to Roorke’s ear. It was much louder now. Something about the words rocked the Captain to the foundation of his being. He looked through the mist. The shadow was much closer now too, adjacent with The Intrepid. Captain Roorke’s knees bent, no cohesive thoughts could form nor could any words or noises escape his lips. The creator of the shadow was a gargantuan perversion against nature. The very fabric of its being was demented, warped by some unholy forces. The trap doors where the cannons would be on a normal ship housed a thousand eyes instead. The thing expanded and contracted slowly, more and more mist seeping out of the cracks between its wood with every movement. A thousand eyes stared at The Intrepid. A thousand more stared at Captain Roorke. It moved through the water in bursts, suddenly coming to a halt when the bow pierced the hull of The Intrepid. The bow of that thing was cracked in such a way that it resembled a wicked smile and from each tooth hung a corpse. Captain Roorke's nerves left him as he gazed upon the monstrosity. The crew tried to secure the lifeboats for themselves but the mist grabbed their ankles and pulled them closer to the creature. A dozen human looking creatures formed out of the mist, grabbing hold of anyone they could get their wispy hands on. One of them came for Captain Roorke. He slashed the creature with his cutlass. His heart sunk as his blade passed through it unabated.

Captain Roorke struggled with all of his might but could not best the mist. As he was dragged across the water Captain Roorke finally found his voice and called for help. His words fell on deaf ears, the mist absorbed the sound of his screams and the screams of his crew. The Captain lost the fight against the tears coming out of his eyes. As water filled Roorke's lungs, his mind focused on Solaris and on Agnar. Maybe that's what made the mist creature take on such a familiar shape. He heard the whisper once more, as if it were coming from the mist itself.

"You found me."

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