Sometimes it is only through terrible trials and an unexpected journey that deeper truths are revealed about a person.
The same can be said for dreams. Though they are merely constructs of imagination, they stem from the deepest parts of consciousness, and so hide nothing and make no attempt at deception...if understood correctly.
"I-I'm Olivia. I, uh…I'm called Sparrow sometimes." Clearing my throat, I answered the skeletal captain's question, awkwardly looking at the rest of his crew as he stood over me menacingly.
Captain Sallow regarded me in silence for but a few moments, and eventually let out a thundering laugh.
"Welcome aboard my ship, Olivia, or Sparrow, heheh...forgive our appearances, it's been quite some time since we've guests. Here, take it." Throwing the cube back at me to catch, Captain Sallow merely shrugged as I looked at him in bewilderment. "Aye, I could take it. I want it, in fact. But such things are not easily transferred as by theft, lass…and I have no wish to accrue yet another curse upon myself."
Uneasily accepting his offer, I slid the cube into my robe once more and followed as he beckoned. His crew got back to work, attending lines and stations that seemed to move on their own, as if by muscle memory of the ship itself.
"You see the horizon? She comes, indeed, the World-Eater comes." Bringing me to the wheel, where his navigator was busy turning it about in an opposite direction to the darkening waters. "Even the sea knows to fear her."
"…What is she, exactly?" I asked hesitantly. "I've heard of her, that she wants to devour Somnus and the waking world…but nothing else."
"She has many names, as you've probably heard, lass. World-Eater, Drr-Kraie…the one that most would speak of is the Spider." Captain Sallow answered, glaring at the blackening sky with a silver spyglass. "She wants it. All of it. The skies, the earth, the sea, the stars themselves. It's in her nature to consume, you see, just as it is in mine to be a pirate. There's no malevolence in such a thing, no cruelty…it is nature, what we are drawn to become."
"Well, that monster's nature is going to obliterate everything we know…so I'm not exactly sympathizing." I admitted, earning a hearty chuckle from the captain.
"So how did you come about here, Olivia? You wear the trappings of old, but they wear poorly on one such as you. No, you come from another time. What year do you hail from?"
"Yeah, it's…it's…" Though I opened my mouth to speak, I found myself unsure of the answer. The captain regarded me quizzically, turning away from his spyglass, as I found my answer. "It's September 17th, 2003."
With a skeleton for a body, Captain Sallow could show little expression, and he showed none as he heard the date.
"…I see. That's interesting." He merely remarked, turning back to his gazing. "It has been many years since I've sailed in the waking world. I imagine they've forgotten my name by now, even with the many deeds I committed."
"I…made a friend some time ago. I found out that she died a long time before I was even born, that she had been trapped in Somnus for all this time, alone and afraid." Remembering Helen, I felt my mood quickly drop. "I can't imagine what it's like, being stuck here forever."
"It's a hell of my own creation, I must say." Sallow offered, sweeping his arms out to the infinite ocean around him. "To sail forever on my beloved ship, with my trusted crew…but to never encounter others, to never pirate again."
"Wait…how long has it been since you've met someone else?"
"They come, now and then. Dreamers who are lost and ignorant of where they are." Shaking his head in apparent disgust, Sallow tapping his curved sword with a chuckle. "I woke them up easily enough."
"…But you can't leave yourself?"
"To do so, I would need these artifacts. I found one when I first was damned here, and the other is in your possession." Sallow shrugged, stroking the pyramid around his neck possessively. "The third was yours, as you claim."
"My…friend, Sasha, has it." I swallowed tightly as he eyed me, and the cube hidden in my robes, greedily before snapping back with a growl.
"It is yet more folly. Even if I slew you and took the artifact for myself, and found the last…it is pointless." Extending a bony finger out to the sky, Sallow's mood had notably lessened. "Escape is pointless if I am climbing into another noose. The Spider is coming, and I would be devoured in the realm of waking as easily as I would be here."
"I can stop her, I just need your artifact." I offered, and he picked up his sword.
"It is mine. I have sailed these accursed seas for innumerable years, with only this to comfort me in my search to escape." He hissed angrily. "And you want me to surrender it so easily?!"
"U-Uh, I mean…" Sweeping out his cloak, he began to step towards me, a terrible glare on his skull face.
"These artifacts are not freely given, woman…they must be taken from their masters by force." Brandishing his sword, Sallow seemed fixated on the cube, staring at my robes. "Perhaps I should take it from you. It would be easy, to slice your belly open and leave you to die."
"E-Even if you escape, you won't make it. It's like what you said, isn't it?" I pointed towards the skies, and he merely laughed.
"I've suffered here for centuries…and it would take the Spider some matter of years to break through into the waking world. I would trade all of your miserable worlds, all your lives, for but a chance to awaken." With a swipe, his blade crackled with red lightning, and Sallow pushed me out into the deck. "And I have much more than just a chance, with you having been so kind as to bring me a second artifact."
"You'll never find the third." I warned.
"Your friend will come looking for you eventually…and I'll kill her too. Now fight me, Olivia, defend your life or surrender it along with the cube!" With his crew looking on and cheering with hoarse, bony screeches, Sallow adjusted his hat and readied his blade, aiming it as if to slash me in two.
I gulped, looking around for a weapon to defend myself with, and managed to grasp a rusty sword from the clutches of one of his crewmates, nervously holding it out against the captain.
"It doesn't have to be like this, I can help you! I can save everyone!" I pleaded with Sallow, who scoffed.
"I don't care about everyone. My name is Captain Tarkus Sallow of the Maw, and I will be free once more to bring terror upon the seas! Now, fight me or DIE!"