Asha closed her eyes and waited for the night to settle on her senses. Cool clean breezes lightly brushed her nose carrying the familiar scents of the ocean close to shore. She could smell sea weed on the sand, salt in the air, and the unique aroma that is part of all natural creatures of the sea. Night blooming flowers and the living land added their own signature colors. Waves on the rocks, lapped rhythmically like a steady heart. She sensed nothing that did not belong in the night.

She looked back at the seven pairs of eyes waiting for her signal. Warriors all, and friends. Asha would have preferred to do this alone but Domi had insisted she take a small force. Domi was overly cautious. Perhaps, Asha reluctantly acknowledged. She could not dispute that the world they knew was becoming uncertain. Alcheros, once a vibrant island nation filled with life, culture, grand buildings and citizens of the seven races, was now sick. Things were unraveling at the edges and now one knew how it would end. She shook her head. No time for this. She looked up and acknowledged the quick nods of her scouts.

With a hand movement she indicated to make ready. Each checked the small waterproof packs which held the few supplies a scout might need. Strapped to each forearm, a sharp dark blade of hardened cetus bone. Breathing tubes were double-checked and small bladders filled with milky bitterweed sap were strapped to belts. All but invisible in the moonless night, seven heads nodded at Asha their readiness.

Taking a deep breath, Asha slowly exhaled, releasing her worries into sea breeze and began moving. She noted every slither, splash and ripple, quickly cataloging the likely creatures that were about by the sounds they made. The group slid crab-like across the stones timing their steps to the sound and motion of the waves. Eight shadows melted into the sea and began swimming purposefully to the small rocky islet that marked the midway point.

The water was dark but the Sesani were long adapted to it. Like their cousins, the Fersani, who favored the forests, their eyes effectively gathered light. Their nerves were also more sensitive to bioelectric fields than most creatures. This did not occur to them as they made their way through the water of course, it was just a part of them.

Asha noted the flickering of bioluminescent organisms and sensed the scooting movement of a large predatory humai fish disturbed by their passage. They passed over an expanse of deeper water, the tiny pulses of life tickling their senses. A change in the reflected light and waves indicated the approach of shallow water. Raising her head above water Asha looked at the small cluster of rocks broken by an irregular shape. Raising her hand slightly above the water she gave a signal. Riah slipped out of the water, a shadow among the stones. Her shape flowed with the darkness as she inspected the wrecked fishing boat. Several fisherman had disappeared in this area and a sharp eyed scout had spotted it in the mists a day earlier. Even from the water it was obvious the damage was not all caused by the river. Riah pried something from the hull and returned to the group. With hand signals she indicated that there were slash marks on the boat, then she raised her hand and showed them a wicked serrated tooth. Trogar.

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