Chapter 8 Page 61
Posted May 4, 2024 at 03:47 am

Hey so like what was going on with Cody then. Thanks for waiting for this page; it took some extra effort to get Cryptide right, as you can probably imagine! Please consider supporting my future flights of fancy by chipping in to Paranatural's Patreon. Thanks for reading!



        Davy looked past drifting fishbones, shattered ships, and open sea... into the single staring eye of his enormous kraken spirit.

        Cryptide had never quite realized just how vast she had become; she still chose puny crannies for their games of hide and seek. Despite the losing streak that this had led to, it was still the only game Cryptide would pick when given a choice of what to play, and she’d take cover in the same nook every countdown. Davy’s spirit was a creature of habit... or perhaps just hadn’t grown her brain to scale.

        “Oh, I can’t stay mad at you, my precious little cuddlefish!” Davy slapped his knees, whistling at his mighty grudge spirit like the seadog that she was. “C’mere, girl! C’mere! I found you, old girl! Where’s daddy’s prize??”

        Cryptide unfurled from behind her shipwreck sanctuary in a delighted flurry of tentacles, seizing Davy in a bone-crushing embrace.

        “Oho-ho! That’s right, Cryptide! Much to celebrate, much to celebrate!” Davy scratched at her hull-slicing beak with the hook she called home. “At last, this sleepy little town will dream MY dream! A dream of endless life in sunless paradise!” He cast a glance that could have launched a musical number across the ocean of his spirit world. “A dream of profit, of peace and security! The rightful rulers of the food chain at its peak, no longer forced to flee from prey with stakes and shortsighted scruples!”

        The shifting shadows schooled like fish upon the gaunt face of the vampire.

        “A dream of VENGEANCE,” Davy spat, suddenly vicious. “Of insects FLUSHED from hiding. Dredged up from the DEPTHS of their DECEIT to be DISSECTED on sands STAINED with BRINE and BLOOD!” His hook flashed in the darkness. “TAKE the hand I LENT your dream, will you?! Crush MINE, seal me away to ROT, WILL YOU?! Well I DON’T ROT ANYMORE, DO I?! I didn’t GIVE UP like you WANTED! The GRUDGE I held was STRONGER than the one that LET ME GO!!”

        Davy turned a placid smile on a cooing, unfazed Cryptide, whose puppy love for him was inadvisably unconditional.

        “Of course, revenge comes second. Family, community, my high-minded ideals—they’re what’s MOST important... next to YOU!” Davy tickled Cryptide’s tentacles until she writhed with giddy glee. “A little spite to fill one’s sails can never hurt, though, don’t you think?” He laughed. “Ah, but you don’t think, do you? You don’t think at all, my beautiful, brainless barnacle! No you don’t! Oh no you don’t!”

        Davy had raised Cryptide since the spirit was a small fry, slicing minnows into guppies and small pebbles into sand. He’d spoiled Cryptide silly in his youth, when all that he had wanted was a friend. Once he was old enough to recognize her potential, however, Davy had pruned his partner carefully. His own righteous fury had stoked hers, and Cryptide had swelled into a massive grudge whose power knew few limits... besides that of her leash. Davy wanted a blade, not a bomb; he’d never let Cryptide’s gray spectral energy grow any paler than it was. She was his sword, his secret weapon. Together, they’d done the impossible, thwarted unkillable forces of nature—together, they had cut the age of Great Wights to its close.

        But this was a new age. It called for new weapons.

        Davy stared past Cryptide’s bulk to a strange object in the distance. A free-standing locker, half-buried in sand, stood out like a sore thumb in the shallows of his spirit trance.

        It was an appropriate projection, considering the spirit at its source: a child’s idea of safety and security, of keeping grown-ups out... and yet a locker trapped whoever hid inside it, too. Despite their differences, Davy sympathized with the poor thing, really, having sprung free from a prison they’d once shared.

        Cryptide hissed; she’d noticed his drifting attention. She coiled around her master protectively, and her form began to shift and swell. Davy stroked her softly.

        “There, there, darling. Daddy has two hearts. There’s plenty of room for both of you.”

        The locker’s thin slats widened imperceptibly, like the gills of a fish on its deathbed. Davy could practically feel the curiosity of the wide eyes watching from within—indeed, he was drawing more and more power from it with each passing day. There was envy, too, as it looked out on him and Cryptide.

        It wanted to play. It was hiding, and it wanted to be found. Hadn’t someone promised they would find it? Hadn’t someone promised they would free it? Someone had wanted that once... hadn’t they? It was growing less sure every day.

        Davy smiled. He’d had to gather helping hands—some thralls, a Witch, a phony god—and the countdown had been slowed by intermittent interference... but now he had no doubt he would succeed. He’d never lost a game of hide and seek.

        “Ready or not,” Davy smirked beneath his breath, “here I come.”