Maelle sat in silence, peering down into the inky black waters that lapped around his bare, dangling feet. Of all the places in Bilgewater, this was the one he liked the most. Unlike the cacophonous bustle of the main streets and piers, this quiet little dock sat forgotten and silent alongside a shady cliff face, sheltering it from the rest of the town.
Here, far away from the pick pockets, merchants and cut throats, Maelle felt truly safe. At peace. He loved to feel the water on his toes, and listen to the quiet lapping of the waves beneath him. In places like this, it was hard to believe the sea was dangerous at all. It seemed contented, like the fat old cat that lived in the pub Maelle's father used to take him to.
If Maelle had had a mother, she'd have surely warned the boy of the dangers of the dark and quiet corners of Bilgewater, and the terrors that lurked within them, but alas. It was not to be. Perhaps such a warning might have saved him.
The groan of rotten, salt-soaked wood alerted him all too late of the woman that had been stalking him. Maelle jumped, his head spinning round to face the source of the noise. He sat frozen with fear, staring at his stalker. She was an imposing beast of a woman, her face mottled with scars and a unsettling, lopsided grin. Hoisted over her shoulder was a huge, rotted basket. Maelle knew who this woman was. The Snatcher.
Maelle's father had once told him that anything could be sold or bought in Bilgewater. The Snatcher had taken a liking to the low risk, high reward business of child slavery, and there wasn't a man, woman or child that didn't know who she was. They say she could steal a suckling babe from a mothers very bosom, leaving a swaddled rat corpse in its place. No child was safe from her grip, so it was claimed, and once she had you, no god nor man could free you. This woman was a monster, a legend, a twisted horror from the underbelly of Bilgewater, and Maelle was staring her straight in the eyes.
A pained, wheezing chuckle broke the silence, and the monstrous wench barrelled towards the terrified young lad. Maelle scrambled desperately backwards, his hand slipping on a long discarded bottle of rum. He didn't waste his fortune - using all his might, he hurled it at his assailant. The dusty glass exploded against her face and sent her recoiling backwards, shrieking in pain. Blood splattered the dock, dripping down into the waters below. As if excited by the sudden outburst of violence, the seas began to churn and swell. The Snatcher howled, clutching at her bloodied eye.
Maelle looked around, hoping for another bottle, a rock - anything to fend her off - as she began to advance towards him.
There was nothing. Caught between the churning sea, and this monstrous woman, Maelle chose the sea. He fell backwards towards the water below, and tried to hold his breath, only for it to be knocked out of his lungs as an iron grip seized his tattered shirt and yanked him upwards.
"Mine!", she barked, staring him down with what was now her only good eye.
She was _drooling_.
Maelle trembled, his eyes watering as the fabric tightened around his neck. He closed his eyes, praying for something, anything, to save him, as she pulled him up towards a fate worse than death.
All too suddenly, Maelle felt a chill pass over him, like an icy cold wave. The sensation was agonising, as if his very soul was being frozen. Forcing one eye open, just a crack, he saw the Snatcher had hunched over one knee, still clutching his shirt tightly, her blood suspended in mid air as it wept from her wounds. There was an intense fear in her eyes as the strange coldness washed over her too.
A shadowy shape materialised behind her, like ink swirling in water, and Maelle's attention was drawn to the unnatural glint of a blade in its hand. Blue eyes flashed from the shadows as the blade cut through the air towards him, piercing his shoulder and then snapping backwards, freeing him from the Snatchers grip. Yelping, Maelle flew through the air, landing painfully at the shadows feet. Warmth returned to his body and he shuddered, his body trembling with pain. The shadow then yanked the blade out, causing Maelle to scream.
"Silence." growled the shadow, as it slid over him towards the Snatcher.
The Snatcher got to her feet and let out an animalistic roar, charging towards the stranger. It tried to avoid her, but she grasped it's head in a meaty paw and slammed it into the cliff face in one smooth motion. There was no blood. No crack of bone on rock. Instead, all that could be heard was the strangers guttural laughter. Horrified, the woman staggered backwards, and Maelle saw the strangers monstrous grin peering out from the rock.
The Snatcher turned and ran, unwilling to face a monster more terrifying than herself. Still laughing, the shadow peeled itself from the cliff face, and without warning the wood beneath its feet exploded into fragments as it launched itself towards her. Maelle could no longer see them, but he heard the crashing of wood, and then, a series of bone chilling screams.
The ocean roared, crashing against the dock, threatening to tear both he and it to pieces. The boy clung to the wood with the last of his strength, holding strong despite the pain in his shoulder. Soon, the screams were cut short, and as they were, so the waves began to settle. Moments passed, and they were calm once more.
Exhausted, Maelle relinquished his grip on the dock. As his eyes closed and the world went black, he heard the strangers voice gurgling in his ear.
"Too light to sink. For now."
_Thanks for taking the time to read this! I'm not usually a writer, more of a visual artist, so this was a fun change to say the least!_
_I wanted to write a story that showed more of the things in Bilgewater we don't normally hear about, and how the people (or monstrous child snatchers) that live there interact with some of the characters we know and love. _
_I fell in love with Pyke and his lore and kit the second I saw him, so I wanted to try and write something that included him in it, like a vignette of life/stuff in Bilgewater. _
_As a note, this story is 998 words. As an extra note, I use UK english and not US english :3_