By B M Kelly
Rip Skrimgnaw spat out a mouthful of salty sea water and nearly doubled over wretching as a series of violent coughs raked up and out of his throat. He shook himself furiously from side to side, trying to cast as much brine out of his thick black fur as possible, before grasping a length of his sodden and torn mustard yellow tunic in his paws and wringing it out tightly. He could swim as well as any of Clan Skurvy worth their salt and years of plundering the length of the Tilean coast had seen him leap from the side of a ship more times than he dared try to count, but he'd never had to suffer the indignity of being thrown overboard. He cast his one good eye up and down the length of the beach, scratching absently at the metal eyepatch hammered into his skull across the other, but could see no sign of his companions, just the seemingly endless strip of golden sand, bordered by a foreboding dark tree line of the encroaching jungle on one side, and the endless cobalt ocean stretching to the horizon on the other. Good, he thought to himself, perhaps they had all drowned, the good-for-nothing flea-ridden land-squeaks. Better off without them for all the help they'd been.