Sinking Among Lilies
Cory Skerry 2012
originally published at Beneath Ceaseless Skies at beneath-ceaseless-skies.com
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I studied the village of Keyward from the packed gravel by the water. Judging by the skulls roped to the pylons in the estuary, the people here knew how to take care of themselves. But even if there was no fight to be had, perhaps the townsfolk would be interested in the one and only book I had to sell.
I peered at one of the skulls as I passed. It had been there long enough to have lost the lower jaw and most of the teeth; mussels the size of my thumbnails had attached themselves to the sides like bristling purple sideburns.
It was common enough on the coast to tie pirate corpses out for the gulls, but I couldn't help but remember how easily I might have become a pirate myself all those years ago, suddenly homeless with only my learned violence to serve me. I shuddered and renewed the tactic of Floating Among Lilies, taking a deep breath and transforming the air into a false pink light that only I could see, caressing the edges of my vision as I exhaled. Thus calmed, I guided my horse along the muddy sand that bordered Keyward.