A wave crashed against the shore, sending mist into the air to sparkle in the predawn light. The horizon was about the only place where gray wisps of clouds didn't obscure the sky, letting loose their perpetual drizzle. On the barren rocky outcropping protruding into the sea, a lone crab scuttled about. Another wave crashed and a thick spray of salty brine fell toward the little crab to wash it away.
But it never felt a drop. For the turn had started and a body had appeared.
The woman inhaled sharply in surprise. She stood motionless for a brief moment before dropping to a knee, resting most of her weight on the pole-like weapon in her left hand. She looked up at it between the wet strands of long brown hair over her eyes. Her trident, she realized. She took her right hand off of her knee and examined the appendage. Five fingers with five nails covered in caramel skin. It was hers, but a moment ago it was nobody’s. A moment ago it didn't exist.
With a heave, she stood. Her fish scale mail making little tinkling sounds as she did. “I am… me.” The sound of her own voice seemed out of place here, but it did comfort her.
“Who am I? What am I? Why, am I?” Of course she already knew the answer to the first two. She was Melissa Ray. A level one barbarian Findamancer, popped to no side. The “why” remained a mystery, however. It was an answer she knew would be difficult for even a Findamancer to find.
Melissa closed her eyes, tilted her head back, and drew in a proper breath. She then looked over her shoulder at the sun rising above the choppy waves. It was her first dawn, and it was brisk, and it was gloomy, and it was beautiful. She knew in that instant she wanted to live to see a second.
In one swift movement Melissa spun the point of her trident downward and speared the ground between her feet. She then brought the point up to eye level and examined the little crab that was now skewered to her weapon. Her trident had found its target, naturally, and now she had the beginnings of some rations. It wasn't nearly enough, but it was a start. Melissa felt sorry for the little critter that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, but at the same time realized it had to be either the crab or herself. And she would always choose herself.
A resounding crunch met her ear as Melissa forced herself to bite into the crustacean’s carapace. The shell was gritty and the little bit of meat within was slimy and slid around on her tongue. The Findamancer opened her mouth as she fought the gag reflex and little bits fell out. But eventually she managed to close her mouth around what remained and forced herself to swallow. She looked at the point of her trident and what was left of the crab and shuddered at the thought of taking a second bite. “Maybe if I had something to wash it down with…”
Melissa looked around for something to drink and noticed two containers hanging behind her from her waist. It was a canteen and a small pouch. She opened them up and turned them over. Both empty. She spotted a tide pool on the ground not far from where she was standing. Kneeling down next to it, Melissa cupped a hand and took a sip. It was salty, as expected. She swished the liquid around in her mouth before spitting it back out into the pool.
She was about to stand up when her reflection in the water caught her eye. It was a curious thing. Long brown hair framed her tanned face and was held mostly at bay by a coral headband. Her angled jaw line matched her hard brown eyes. She reached toward the reflection but pulled her hand back when she caused the water to ripple.
“Enough with such frivolities.” She stood once more and began her walk off of the rocky shore where she had popped. Before her was a dark cliffside which extended for some distance in both directions. There wasn't much space along most of the shoreline between the cliff and the sea, but there was enough. Melissa turned to the left and took the southerly rout. She would gather rations along the way and eat them after she found something to drink as well.
After only making it two hexes further along the coastline, Melissa realized that the move penalties could become a serious problem for her survival. She had managed to find a couple more crabs, a small fish, and some edible sponges, but still no freshwater. Searching aimlessly wasn’t getting her very far. She was afraid she may have to resort to licking water off of the drizzle drenched Cliffside. Melissa rested her rump and her trident against a barnacle encrusted boulder as she pondered a solution. She was a Findamancer after all. There should be something she could do to find water.
Out of the corner of her eye, Melissa spotted a Y-shaped piece of driftwood lodged between two rocks. It gave her an idea. Walking over to the small piece of soaked timber, she picked it up and held the two short ends. “Dowse!” she commanded. An exhilarating rush of juice surged from her hands and through the piece of wood. The point at the other end immediately started tugging in a different direction. She was soon being pulled across the rough terrain toward an area of the cliff near the hex boarder. Just when she thought she was going to have to nullify the spell to avoid passing into the next hex and leaving her spear behind, her makeshift dowsing rod turned toward a crevice in the cliffside.
There, hidden among the rocks, was a steady stream of water no wider than her pinky finger. Melissa opened her mouth and tilted her head so the water could drip in as it fell. It tasted dirty, but it would have to do. She set her canteen underneath to start filling, then retrieved her weapon and the rations that were skewered to the end of it.
By the time Melissa used up all of her move, she was in a hex with a sandy beach and a clearer sky. There were still a lot of large rocks about, but it wasn't as difficult to navigate. She made sure the hex was free of any hostile units before collecting up more scraps of driftwood and beach grass to make a pitifully small fire. As the sun set and the moon lit up the sky, Melissa managed to turn her collection of edibles into a small meal of crabby pâté and sponge kabobs. Something she still didn't like the taste of, but was much more palatable than eating them raw.
The sound of waves washing ashore eventually lulled Melissa to sleep, where she had dreams about what she may come to find tomorrow.