This 5,000 word story was written entirely using Windows 7 VOICE RECOGNITION to prevent myself from going insane during the week or so I was unable to use both arms or hands due to tendonitus, and during a few recent evenings I logged off early to rest the hands during recovery. Loopy content warning.
This story posed with sincerest apologies to Medik Jackal.
The Squid Princess
As a rule, Virmir was generally distrustful of water. It wasn't that he couldn't swim-- he was actually fairly decent-- it was more the dampness. That and wet things were difficult to burn. Also when you got a whole lot of it together with no bits of land to break it up, he tended to feel very often numbered. Really, there should be regulations about having deep pools of this stuff all in one place.
Case in point: Here he was floating on a board in the middle of some trees-know-where salty ocean, half-starved and sunbaked. The water wasn't even drinkable. It was like special extra useless water, or something. Trees.
He grinned. At least he got the other ship too. Trees, those were some angry ferrets.
His ears perked. There was some sort of… noise. At this point, the reader may subjectively imagine the most beautiful female voice singing something along the lines of, "Aaaaaaaah aaaah aaaaaaah~…aaaaaah aaaaah aaaaaaaaaah~"
Naturally, this caused Virmir to pull his ears tightly against his head and scream at the top of his lungs, "GAAAAAAH!!!!!"
The voice hesitantly stopped, as if utterly confused by such a reaction.
A group of rocks lay ahead-- barely an island. His makeshift raft floated toward it as if caught in a whirlpool. Warily he peered at them as if they might start singing again at any moment.
"Cut it out!" he screamed.
There was another pause, followed by a disgusted, "No!"
The melody continued.
The raft bumped into some bones lining the edges of the rocks, which he deftly jumped over, and he proceeded to clamber up the slick sides on all fours, precariously perching at the tiny summit and pointing, cape flapping in the wind. "You stop that right now, or by the trees I'm gonna ram my fist down your throat and blow out your blasted voice box!"
On the other side of the rocks, a woman lay there, mouth agape. Clearly, this was not the reaction she expected. She was a tan canine-- very female--probably jackal with the white and black stripes down her slides, complete with shell bra, ruby pendant, glittering tiara, and various golden bangles. Splayed out on a flat rock with her lower half still under water, she rested her head on one arm as her shock melted away into annoyed exasperation. "You… don't find my singing infatuating?"
She scowled. "You don't find me stunning?"
"You look a little… weighed down."
She rolled onto her belly and pushed herself up, which had the effect of squeezing her chest together and increasing slope factors. "Oh, reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally?"
"Yes, with all that metal and junk."
Virmir sat on the rock like he owned it."Isn't that kind of dangerous? Doesn't it make you sink?"
The jackal pinched her sinuses. "You are male, correct?"
"Yes!" said Virmir. He then looked down and ran his fingers over his chest fluff a few times, nonchalantly smoothing it out, before adding again more firmly: "Yes."
"Okay, okay, I get it. You swing the other way. Whatever! You're not what I'm looking for, so get out of here!"
Virmir rubbed his chin confusedly. "I generally avoid swinging if I can."
"Leave! Now! You're scaring away my prey! Really, I get tons of drunks on Fridays."
Virmir folded his arms. "Now, look here! This is the driest, most solid land I've seen in days." Mist from a wave sprayed him as the rock shifted. He leaned to regain his balance. "You find somewhere else to sing, blast it! Preferably underwater!"
"If you don't leave, I'm going to start singing right now!"
"You are going to regret that!"
The jackal retorted in a singsong voice, "I am going to start siiiiiinging right nooooow~!"
"YOU ARE GOING TO REGRET THAT!"
"Aaaaaah aaaaaaah aaaaaaaaaaaah~!"
The sound that followed was very much like KA-DOOP. Smoke bellowed everywhere as tends to happen when a lot of fire is instantly extinguished by a lot of water. Next came a brief shower of pebble-rain, which is like regular rain except it's also got exploded rock bits in it. The smoke cleared just as the ocean finished reclaiming the void the second half of the tiny island previously occupied. Virmir's hand was smoking.
He sat back down on his blasted rock.
Virmir generally avoided violence on the principle that it often resulted in violence-back, which tended to be painful. However, there were some things you had to stand for.
The sea bubbled.
Something coiled around his ankle. He tugged at it-- pink seaweed? It pulled back and he went flying across the rocks, straight into the water. "Ow! Ow! OW! GAARRBLRGH!!!"
Deep in the murk, another tendril coiled around his other leg. Then both his arms. Then his neck. He was hoisted up into the light once more, gagging as he hung, limbs stretched out, chin forced up. He could feel the suckers on the thick tentacles grasping at his fur.
He panted, water dripping off his nose. Her form came into view through blurred eyes. She had her head cocked to one side, arms folded across her chest. He could see more of her body now-- tan belly, wide hips-- then the fur abruptly stopped, giving way to glossy hot pink membrane that split into many tentacles beneath the water's surface. She had a lot more than she needed to restrain him with. Trees!
She brought him nose-to-nose, and asked, "Do you have any gills?"
"Erm... no?" Virmir gurgled.
She flashed a wicked grin, then disappeared under the waves. The tentacles grew taunt and the ocean crashed down upon him.
Deep blue turned to murky blackness. The pressure became so great, Virmir thought his eyeballs would pop out. He would have gagged out the remaining air in his lungs, except the tentacle wrapped around his face was tight enough to seal it in. Agonizing seconds passed before lights and blurred shapes revealed themselves.
Finally, he was released, left to clutch his throat and squirm. There were sounds almost like speech and the click of what might have been a chest. Oxygen-starved, he flailed in a direction that might have been up before a tentacle wrapped around his ankle and gently pulled him back.
"Now, now," said the jackal, "if you want to drown, keep squirming. I'll even let you go. But if you want to breathe, put this on." She dangled a ruby pendant before his snout, then dropped it.
The glittering gem fell in slow motion. Virmir caught it with numb hands, hastily weighing his options. Obvious trap, or certain death? He hated it when that happened.
He had it on before he could think about it more. The sides of his neck felt funny, then there were some sharp pricks and relief finally flowed in. Reflexively he expelled the last of the air in his lungs and sucked in water. That was a mistake.
Laughter roared around him as he spasmed. "Your lungs are still for air, fool. Stop trying to use them!"
Virmir curled into a fetal position and floated for a moment. His chest still burned, but he realized he wasn't going to die. Shapes and sounds were coming and more clearly now. There before him was the great jackal-squid-girl, hands on hips, tentacled lower half splayed like a star. It looked like she had a number of shorter, thicker tentacles, perhaps six, plus two extra long thin ones stretched to either side menacingly. Flanking those were a small gang of mermaids with tridents. Trees!
"Erm…" said Virmir, "Well, you showed me. Won't be doing that again. I'll just be on my way!" He looked in the direction that was probably up. Nothing but blackness above. It looked as good a direction as any to flounder, so he did. The pendant suddenly grew warm and his muscles stiffened. "G-GRK!!" He said as his body filled with pain akin to electric shock. He crashed face-first into the sandy ocean floor. Oh, well there's down. A crab eyed him warily.
More laughter. "Everyone who wears my trinkets does what I say… or else. It is of course entirely voluntary. Go ahead, take it off and see what happens."
Virmir fingered the pendant and then his gills, thinking better of it. "Where… are we?" he asked. Maybe he could gather the up direction and note it for later.
The jackal-squid splayed her arms and tentacles grandly. "This is the lost city of Atlantis!" A few crooked stone rectangles dotted the sandy ocean floor in between tall shoots of seaweed. Here and there broken marble pillars lay on top of each other. The rock in the center might have been a statue of a fish man, although it was hard to tell with the missing head. Scattered around were some sorts of lights on poles which gave the effect of street lamps, providing the only source of illumination against the deep surrounding blackness. It was mostly empty, save for the mermaid gang and a solitary souvenir stand, cobbled together with what looked like wood from a ship wreck and occupied by a very bored fish. The sign hanging above his selection of broken stone bits and coral read, GENUINE ATLANTIS MEMORABILIA.
"No…" Virmir shook his head. "No, no, no! Every blasted underwater-anything is Atlantis!" He flailed his arms wildly. "I've been to like, three of them! New Atlantis, Neo Atlantis, Really Atlantis--"
A tentacle shot out and slapped him in the face, sending him spinning. "Silence!"
When the vertigo subsided, Virmir found the mermaids had closed in. The crab was walking at him sideways and the fish vendor giving him a bored stare. "Erm... You're not all going to start singing at me and are you?"
"Princess Jacklyn," ventured an armored mermaid, "are you going to eat him?"
Princess Jacklyn folded her arms and two front tentacles, turning her chin in disgust. "I only eat men infatuated by my song."
Virmir, listening intently, said, "Phew."
"We'll feed him to the queen."
Virmir, listening more intently, said, "Grk."
Virmir found himself treading water in the middle of a large underwater coliseum. Open seats surrounded him, all filled with coral growths, seaweed, barnacles, and all that weird junk that grows everywhere under water. He considered touching down to the bottom, but that was all pointy and filled with the same. Princess Jacklyn sprawled over the balcony seat like a Caesar. The mermaid gang spread out and sat on various walls, barely within shouting distance of each other. "This is an honor, you know," declared the princess. "Much less disgraceful than drowning."
"Oh, well, thanks," said Virmir, weakly.
"Well actually, this is far more entertaining, and the queen much prefers fresh meat."
"What was that?"
"Oh, nothing!" The princess' own ruby pendant began to glow. "Queen! I summon thee!"
Virmir weighed his options. The hammer was out-- too much drag underwater. And fire was, erm, uh… He scratched his head, trying to imagine his opponent. Okay, if the princess looked like that, the queen was probably much the same. Except fat. Whenever you had an attractive princess, you always got a fat queen. Unless the princess was good. Then you've got an evil queen (fat optional). So if you had an evil princess, then just maybe--
His thoughts were interrupted by what could only be approximated as Godzilla's roar.
The water vibrated, stirring his body. Bits of coral disintegrated underneath. The coliseum crumbled slightly. The mermaid gang cheered. They were all looking up.
Virmir wasn't terribly familiar with marine life. He might have been able to tell the difference between an octopus and squid if he had pictures and access to Google search. But the thing above him he could only classify as Blasted Huge With Tons Of Blasted Tentacles That Were Also Blasted Huge.
Virmir said, "GAH"
"Queen!" bellowed the princess, pointing, "use your Slam attack, now!"
Virmir eye-bulged as a thick black pillar rocketed his way. With a WHAM, he was sent spiraling into a far wall, blocks tumbling upon him. "Yaaaaaay~!" cheered the mermaids.
Twitching, Virmir pushed rocks off. From here he could see the whole monster, accented by the eerie underwater lights. A gigantic octopus-thing, bulbous eyes on either side of a mammoth fleshy mass searching him out.
"Queen! Constrict!" came the command.
The monster lurched, tentacles spread wide.
Virmir took a wide stance and cupped his hands to his side as if he were going to throw a fireball. The water churned around, then boiled-- ow, ow, ow! Tentacles surrounded him. He pulled the swirling mass above his head and threw.
"EEEEEEYAAARKGH!!!!!" went the beast.
A tentacle whipped past his face and out spilled a cloud of jet black ink.* Blinded, he picked a random direction and swam for his life.
(* An observant reader will note that real octopuses and squid do not shoot ink from their tentacles. However, one must be careful not to confuse a real squid and a cartoon squid.)
"That ink is extremely valuable," the princess called after, "Restorative, magical even. Just don't get too much in your mouth!"
Inside the blackness, Virmir felt something coil around his ankle. With a yank, he flew out of the cloud towards an opening that could only be the monster's mouth. "That was too fast," he could hear the princess groan, "Oh well, go ahead and eat him! But do try to spit the pendant out! It's my last one!"
Virmir was in some place dark and squishy. He flailed, but found himself sliding further in. He thrust out his hands and they stuck into something sticky that stung. It wasn't water. Naturally, as a fire mage, Virmir asks himself a fundamental question when encountering an unknown substance: Will it burn?
Outside, the monster made a face like, "Urk." Then its head exploded.
Stunned mermaids, fish, and squid princess watched with mouth agape as giant squishy invertebrate bits floated above. Squirming tentacles flopped upon the coliseum floor. Virmir frantically was freeing himself from a cloud of goo, clearing it off his gills first before dislodging it from his cape.
"He… killed the queen!" whispered a mermaid.
"But, how will we sink ships and collect treasure now?"
"Atlantis needs a guardian!"
Expectant eyes turned towards the princess. "Will you be the next queen?"
The question knocked princess Jacklyn out of her shock. "W-what? Me?" Horror overcame her features. "But, I can't! I'm the princess!"
"But the princess must--"
"SILENCE!" the princess seethed."That wretched little mage… He will pay!"
Virmir, in the meantime, had disappeared from the goop cloud and was now a little speck floundering in the general upward direction. Suddenly, he cried out in pain as the pendant glowed and his limbs spasmed. Princess Jacklyn overtook him quickly. Tentacles coiled around his arms and legs. Brought face to face with the jackal, he grinned nervously. "Well… you didn't say not to fight back!"
Jacklyn cocked her head to one side, rage morphing into a subtle grin. A predatory one. "You'll be working that one off."
Virmir opened his mouth to retort, but a tentacle was instantly shoved inside. He tried to bite down, but it was so thick has mouth was stretched. "G-GRK!!!!"
She leaned in close, covering up his gills and speaking into his ear. "Now, swallow."
Vile tasting ink filled his throat, backing up into his mouth from the pressure. He gagged and swallowed reflexively, unable to keep it out. It filled his belly uncomfortably full, the pressure forcing it to stretch. He could feel it enter his limbs as they grew taunt and stiff. When she finally let go, he can only float inertly and say, "Urk."
"Take him to the dungeon!" the princess commanded.
"Erm, we don't have a dungeon, princess."
"THEN MAKE ONE!!"
Virmir felt woozy as he was dragged along by two mermaids. His head spun and voices were muffled. He would be surprised if ink weren't leaking out of his ears. Eventually, he was thrust into a cave of some sort and a boulder rolled over to the entrance. Not that he could move anyway. He sort of floated there for awhile until he lost consciousness completely.
When he woke up he felt much better. Although a little… strange. The bloat was mostly gone, though now his legs and tail felt tingly, rubbery even. His toes seemed to have fused together, forming a single pointy, fleshy mass on each foot. He folded his arms and sighed, suspecting what was happening. Aquatic ones were the worst. He hated it when this happened.
The arm folding felt a little off too. A little bit of the ink bloat was still in his chest, apparently. He prodded it a bit and then inspected the rest of his body. Nothing else out of place on his upper half.
One of those light sources hung from the ceiling. Up close, he could tell it was some sort of glowing crystal encased in a ball. He was tempted to mess with it, but he didn't want to risk plunging the room in to pitch blackness just yet. The cavern room itself was jagged stone all around, save for the entrance. It would be extremely uncomfortable in here if treading water weren't so easy. No cracks or loose gravel or anything. Blast.
He turned his attention to the boulder blocking his escape. Tentative pushes obviously yielded nothing. It was a pretty tight fit save for a little crack in the lower right hand corner. He looked inside, then stuck his nose in as far as it would go, promptly getting it stuck. With a puuuuuuull, it snapped out and struck him in the face with a twang. Gaaaaaaaah…
Really, only one idea came to mind.
Virmir was locked in a full nelson, tightly pressed against the rock hard barrel of a chest of an extremely muscled merman. That was not a good idea.
"We expected you to do that," said the armored mermaid. Her upper half looked like a grey fox, although she was smaller than Virmir, with a bright red fish tail and armored plates to match. "Looked forward to it, even. The Drop Down From The Ceiling When Someone Opens The Door Trick is classic."
"Oh, well you know, just trying to keep you on your toes." Virmir regarded her fishtail, then quickly added, "Erm, uh, I mean--"
"We'll keep it simple. This is a container of magic squid ink," she said, indicating a clear cylinder in her hand. It was almost like a long baby bottle, so the contents would not spill out into the encompassing water. "You drink it voluntarily, and you get to have your meal." She indicated a small box. "You refuse to drink it, and Ziegfried and I force it down your throat and you get no meal today. "
"Yah," said Ziegfried.
Virmir wasn't sure how smells worked underwater, but he hadn't eaten in a while and the box smelled appetizing. How did they cook fish underwater anyway? But that ink… "I drank enough of that junk already! It makes meEE--AH" His voice cracked.
"Ah, that was quick," remarked the mermaid.
"What do you--" came out of Virmir's mouth in a higher pitch. He cleared his throat, then tried again, this time sounding normal. "What do you mean?"
The mermaid pointed at Virmir's chest. "Well, you'll need a shell bra in a day or two,"she said, grinning.
Virmir blinked, then blushed, realizing that the slight swelling in his chest was not, in fact, leftover bloat from being stuffed with ink. At least, not exactly. He hated it when this happened. "Blaaaaaaast it..."
"This is taking too long. Ziegfried, pry his mouth open."
"Yah," said Ziegfried.
Arms like tree trunks encapsulated Virmir's head. "Waaaaaaaait! I'll drink it! I'll drink it!"
The ink tasted terrible again. At least the fish was good.
But he had another idea.
The next day Virmir's legs were longer and thinner. His feet had disappeared entirely, gray proto-tentacles in their place. His tail was much the same, although it retained some fluff near the base. Furthermore, there were some new protrusions growing out of the sides of his hips. If he concentrated he could wiggle them a little, but they were still small and undeveloped at this point.
On top of that, he had grown a definite, if small buxom, and his hips seemed wider than normal. Internally, he noted now would be the time to change pronouns.
"Don't take it personally," said the mermaid during that morning's ink and meal session, "Princess Jacklyn tends to turn men who don't like her singing into women. Says she has an image to keep up." She gave a wink.
Virmir blinked and considered the curvy mermaid's form. "Ohhhhh… So, uh, how did she get you?" His-- er, her voice was more consistently feminine now.
The mermaid laughed. "Not all of us are here against our will. She's actually pretty reasonable. She's just touchy about her singing. That and attempts at blowing her up."
Virmir folded her arms and said something like, "Hmmrph."
"We'll get you your shell bra in another day or two, since you've still got some filling out to do."
Virmir made a face and said, "Grk."
Virmir threw the shells away. Those were just stupid. G-rated toons didn't need to cover anything up. It was a pride thing. "Look, there's nothing to see!… See!" She swam around the room and mumbled things about "support" and rude mermaids.
Over the past few days she had developed six thick gray tentacles plus two longer thinner ones much like the squid princess. She was amazed at how prehensile all of them were. These certainly could amplify productivity factors… hmmmmm… On top of that, she could move them lightning quick through the water. Currently she was practicing zipping from one side of the room to the other by spreading them all out and contracting them.
If only the princess hadn't begun personally appearing at mealtime. She was sure she could take those blasted mermaids now. That blasted pendant…
But now was the time to get out of here. The squishy invertebrate skin was starting to creep up past her waistline, and she was beginning to worry how far it would go. She thought she was getting bigger too.
She placed four tentacles on the rock doorway and braced the rest to push. Blast, no super strength yet. She then began prodding the little crack where the rock didn't quite fit the shape of the entryway completely. Tentatively she squeezed one tentacle in there. Octopuses and squid and stuff could squeeze into super tight places, right? She squeezed another. Then another. Making a face, she squeezed the rest in, gritting her teeth as her eyes bulged. Toon sweat drops flew off her face and dissipated into the water. Puuuuuuuuuush. With a "G-grk,"her upper body was in, squished long and thin.*
(* Here Virmir demonstrates the toon property known as Homogeneous Trait Applicability, whereas even though his/her upper body is not invertebrate, invertebrate traits may be applied to Virmir as a whole in certain situations because adjectives such as "squidy" may be applied to Virmir as a whole in certain situations. Also, toons are squishy.)
She could feel her tentacles wiggling out the other end. Curling them back against the rock, she gave a mighty pull and shot out the other and with a SPLRT. Free at last!
It took only a moment to peel herself off the opposite wall. Which way? There-- dim light at the end of the tunnel. She jetted towards it, slowing down to peer out the cavern entrance. All clear!
Instantly a tentacle wrapped around the mermaid's tail. WHAM she went, right into the cavern's rock wall. Toon swirl eyes activated.
More mermaids surrounded Virmir. Virmir balled her fists and waved her tentacles menacingly. "Come on!" Heads knocked together, tails were grabbed and spun, and bodies were squeezed and stretched. "Make me drink blasted ink, will you!"
With a DOOF the last mermaid landed in the ocean's sandy floor head first. What now? Up up up! Virmir spread her tentacles wide, then contracted, shooting for what she hoped was the surface. Was the blackness turning blue?
Suddenly, the pendant burned and her limbs froze. "G-gah!"
"Leaving so soon?" Princess Jacklyn rose to Virmir's level, arms folded, pink tentacles waving hypnotically.
While Virmir's upper body was merely paralyzed, her lower body-- the tentacles-- moved of their own accord. Gracefully they spread wide, then bowing into a bell like a dress, two lifted upwards and Virmir's whole body tipped forward in a polite curtsy.
"Did I mention I have complete control over all the parts of you that are fishy?" Princess Jacklyn giggled. "How do you think I controlled that monster?"
"Are… squids even fish?" Virmir stammered through the paralysis.
The princess gave a blank look, then made one of Virmir's tentacles slap herself in the face.
Virmir seemed to giggle. "I can… beat you."
"What? Oh really now?"
"… At… singing."
The paralysis stopped. The princess raised a brow.
"I can sing better than you, " Virmir said with a smug grin, folding her arms and re-collecting her tentacles.
Jacklyn stared for a moment, then smirked. "A contest then." She addressed the handful of mermaids who had cautiously crept up from below, "Leave us. Take the males far away and plug their ears." She waited a moment until they were alone, then folded her arms to match Virmir's pose. "So you can sing now? This I must hear."
"Oh certainly, my princess. After you."
"Uh-uh, the champion always goes last."
"Precisely, princess." Virmir stared and said nothing more.
Jacklyn clenched her fists and teeth. "Are you mocking me? I can make you do anything I want!"
"But you can't make me sing."
Jacklyn twitched, fuming. After a moment she regained her composure. "I see. You're trying to make me mad to mess me up. Very well, I'll sing first and show you how it's done!" She closed her eyes and spread her arms, a high note emanating from her bosom.
Like a flash, one of Virmir's longer tentacles wrapped around Jacklyn's pendant chain and snapped it clean off.
Jacklyn's gills disappeared.
"GRRK--!!" The princess choked, tentacles writhing.
Virmir threw the pendant away as hard as she could, then darted for the surface. Away away away!
Tentacles latched onto her own. The writhing princess climbed up, grabbing and tangling. The two wrestled in the dark sea, knots forming, bubbles all around. A frantic struggle ensued as Virmir desperately tried to free herself from the clawing princess.
Virmir lay sprawled upon hard rock, gaping air. Her lungs burned and the dead fish smelled terrible, but she was breathing air and it felt wonderful.
She pulled herself up. One, two… six tentacles free. The other two were hopelessly tangled within the dead pink mass that was Princess--
"Grhk!" coughed Princess Jacklyn.
"You… you spared me…" Jacklyn struggled to sit up. "you could have left me to drown… But you didn't. You spared me."
Virmir blinked, then hid the head-sized rock, ideal for smashing things of similar size, behind her back. "Oh… well, yes, yes I did." She gave a tug at the knots that made the two inseparable.
Jacklyn's eyes fell upon the knots, and being much more experienced with tentacles, unraveled the two of them after a few moments with only a handful of utterances of the flavor, "ouch," "no, back your way!" and "a reverse fishermen's hook? How on earth…"
"Look, I'm sorry…"said the princess after a long pause. "I just get a little testy when people don't like my singing. Also, when they try to blow me up. I really hate that."
"Erm…" said Virmir, rubbing the back of her head, "I'm sorry I blew up your sea monster. In self defense."
"That pendant… May I have it back? I need it to return home."
"Oh, sure." Virmir's gills disappeared with a SLLRP upon removal of the pendant.
Placing it around her neck, the princess grew hers back and promptly dove underwater, head popping back out a few dozen feet away. "In return for sparing my life and returning my pendant, I'll allow you to keep that form!"
"Oh, that's very kind of-- WAIT"
"Don't drink too much of your ink, otherwise you'll end up like the queen. Although I think you have a ways to go still since I think you'll just get fat first." With that, she was gone.
"Erm, I'll keep that in mind," Virmir said to the waves.
"Halt," said Ronald, the legitimate seafaring merchant. "Who be ye? Arr." There was a suspicious lady trying to board the boat. She was a gray fox in a Victorian dress, with an extremely poofy bell-shaped lower half that covered her feet.
"Lucile." She bowed. "Lucile Virmir. I'm here to collect payment on behalf of my… associate. I believe your treasure was protected from a single pirate attack as per the contract."
"Virmir… You his sister or somethin'?"
"More like his… other half."
"Well he didn't do his job! He got the pirates, but our ship sunk too! Blew a hole clean in the deck!"
"But the treasure was protected from pirate attack."
"The treasure sunk too! Well, most of it. What we couldn't fit on the lifeboats. After the women and children 'course. The important ones, anyway."
Lucile floated forward. It was like she moved without taking steps. Or maybe like a bunch of tiny tiptoes. "I hope you're not suggesting you don't intend to pay."
Ronald was a hardened sailor. He knew how to deal with these types.
Ronald took a step back and pointed. "Gorton, throw this unruly woman in the brine! Arr harr harr!"
"Yah," said Gorton.
Suddenly a gray tentacle shot out from under the dress, snaring the buff old otter Gorton around the leg and throwing him through a sail.
Swords were drawn by a blank faced crew. "Sea witch! Arrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!"
More tentacles shot out from under the dress. Heads knocked together, eyes bulged from squeezed torsos, deck boards splintered like Swiss cheese. And Virmir got paid that day.