Merina and Adrian were out on the frigid water just off the coast of the Isle of Somerset, where they lived. As fisher-folk, the determined husband and wife were diligently casting out their nets despite the rough weather. The water, usually as flat and clear as glass in this season, was a churning tempest of waves and wind. The fishing was hard and demanded their full concentration, so much so that they didn't see the sloop full of dangerous ruffians that quickly approached. The pirates pulled up alongside the meek couple and quickly boarded the defenseless vessel. Adrian was knocked out with a strike of a hilt to the back of his head while he desperately searched for something in the boat that he could use as a weapon. Merina was taken; the only booty to be found for the lonely brutes.
For the first few days of her captivity, Merina was kept tied up and terrified below deck in the hull of the sloop. Amid the barrels of stolen goods and hanging hammocks, the smell of the bilge below and body odour of the sleeping men suffocated her. She was lost in darkness most of the time, a trick the pirates used so she would lose her bearings and quickly give up the idea of any sort of rescue. But for her the worst came from the crew. With threatening hands and cruel fists, the men took turns with her until she should have been a mere husk of the woman she had been before. She was physically at their mercy, and she spent many an hour weeping forlornly alone in the dark either in pain, or in anger at the lot she had been given.
She was allowed up on deck for the first time by the surprised men, when deep in the bow of the ship, with her eye blackened and painful mouth bloodied from her last attack, she began to sing. The pirates were mystified and charmed by the moving sound, and so granted her the freedom to see the light of day and to walk among them. Merina should have been pale and desperate, but after stepping up on deck and dropping her sun-shielding arm away from her eyes, the light touched her features and they could see that despite her many bruises she yet had rosy cheeks and hummed peacefully to herself. Her spirit had not been broken, and this was largely due to the secret she had been hiding. For although they had been unkind, her belly now swelled, and she knew that the husband she still loved was the father. She had sorrowfully come to terms with the fact that she would never see him again, but she would always have this little piece of him to lend her the strength she needed to carry on.
A few months later, the babe was born in the berth during a monsoon that threatened to rip the sales from their riggings. The boat was tossed, dwarfed by the size of the waves coming at them. During the storm that still raged close to midnight, life changed for the men that had taken Merina captive. She proudly presented to them the pink babe, and each one thinking it was his, swore to protect it from any harm. If the infant squalled, there was always someone to feed her or caudal her, and although she had no cradle, she spent the first year of her life falling asleep in the tattooed corded arms of a killer. Because of the way the child had displaced the lives of the crew, and had caused a wave of love to cascade over every man on the ship, the woman had named her daughter Tsunami. Her surname came from the monsoon that they had survived the night she had been born. Tsunami Monsoon learned much about fishing from her mother over the next few years, who by now had earned a rightful place on the ship. From her many fathers, Tsunami learned how to be ruthless, and became proficient at sailing and planning attacks on unsuspecting merchant ships. She knew how to think outside the box, and had become a true asset to their family of freebooters.
Even as a child, anyone would have considered Tsunami to be beautiful, and her mother feared that when her daughter ended up blossoming into womanhood, the horrible fate which had befallen Marina on many an occasion would become a torture Tsunami would have to endure. But every man on the ship saw her only as kin, and so never lifted a finger to her that might cause her real harm. The girl was showered with gifts after every robbery, and she began to appreciate and follow Merric, the god of the seas and most sailors.
One day, Tsunami was bored and ended up sitting in the bowels of the ship counting treasure. She became excited upon finding a curious leather roll of artifacts, and as her fingers traced its contours and carefully unfurled it, she discovered that she was in the possession of a well-stocked healing kit. She started to experiment with its contents and cheerfully began the hobby of seeing to her family's wounds. Along with the roll, she had found a leather bound hand written book. Its author had been well versed in medicine and the art of healing. This suited Tsunami, who learned quickly, taking it all in like a sponge. She got very good at being able to tell what was ailing one of her guardians, and after growing up around violence and injury, she felt no squeamishness at the sight of blood. Her mother's lessons on stitching, which had been meant to teach her to sew her own clothes, was put to good use repairing the gashes of her many dads. She was so efficient at these tasks, that she was soon seen primarily as the ship's doctor.
Then the distressing day came that tore Tsunami’s happy life apart. A crewmate sung out as he saw a large ship on the horizon, one whose flags promised a wonderful amount of goods for the taking. The pirate captain couldn't resist, and gave the order to venture out of the safety of the shallows where their tiny sloop had been able to evade and hide from the larger schooners of the naval fleet. They had enthusiastically sailed into the elaborate trap. Hidden under false flags, the naval battleship had been waiting and ready for the buccaneers’ expected assault, and it held too many men for the pirates to overcome.
Tsunami’s ship floated exposed and vulnerable on the open waters, and it was only minutes away from being taken by the formidable Somerset Navy. Marina saw their prey shifting direction to encounter them and recognized what was about to happen. She cried out to the men and seized her daughter by the arm. With the help of a couple of Tsunami’s dads, Marina hauled the belligerent teen down into the hold. She had not gone easily, protesting the whole way with her cutlass dragging along the ship’s deck.
“I be meanin’ to stay and fight!”
“You are going to go, and live!”
“I’ll not be called a coward, and I be not afraid of death, Mother. Ye know this to be true.”
“Not like this, Tsunami. I’ll not live to see you wear the hempen halter on land. Merric willing, you’ll go and live to fight another day on the seas.”
They pulled from the chests of treasure a scale mail shirt and dropped it over Tsunami’s head for protection. It fell down around her thin frame like a dress, almost to her knees. They hid her in a barrel, hastily thrusting her kit, a pack, and a couple of weapons alongside her. Pulling the plug in the bunghole, they threw it in, telling her to plug it from the inside, and they sealed the barrel shut. She used the hilt of her dagger to pound the plug into the hole, closing out the little light it had afforded. She sat uncomfortably, her muscles spasming painfully in the cramped black space. She worried about the fate of her crew. It wasn’t in her to cry, nor would she make any other noise that might give her away. She closed her eyes against the darkness to help fight off her growing feeling of claustrophobia, and did the only thing she could do; she prayed to Merric to sail her to safety.
The ship was commandeered and the loot from the hold was taken up on deck to be transferred to the naval vessel. Tsunami felt the world lurch under her as her tiny refuge was lifted and set down near the ship’s railing. Her breath caught in her throat at the sounds of shouting and the clanking sounds of metal on metal as one sword struck another’s parry in the battle that she should have been part of. Her fist curled around the hilt of the dagger sheathed in her boot. It was all she could do not to burst out and give herself to the foray. In the fray that continued on the ship’s main deck, Tsunami's barrel was knocked overboard by some of the men. She found herself pin-wheeling weightlessly as the barrel fell through the air, only to come to a gradual bobbing stop as it broke through the surface of the water with a splash. Her barrel proved to be watertight, and over the next few hours, Tsunami guessed that it hadn’t been by accident.
That fateful afternoon had been the last time she had seen the full light of day. Although she periodically lay on the wall of the barrel opposite the bunghole so she could unstop it, she never left it open for too long. The intruding water that invaded her tiny space whenever a wave hit chilled her, making her uncomfortable in cold wet garments that clung to her skin.
She had lost count of the passage of time after she had seen the day turn to night a couple of times. It had been all too easy to do when almost nothing but darkness and boredom filled her days. She was beyond hunger and thirst. The sounds of the unpalatable lapping salt water that usually calmed her, now tortured her. Her hand reached up to brush a maddening strand of hair from tickling her face. It took so much effort. She was so tired. Her lips were painfully chapped and her swollen tongue was parched. From that point on, she drifted in and out of consciousness until the barrel, bobbing in the sea and rolling with the waves, was dashed upon the rocky shores of Clifton.
The sudden light sent a spike of pain through her eyes, which had flown open at the impact that had smashed her dark prison apart. The icy water that now soaked through her clothes sent ripples of shivers racing through her as she washed up on the beach. For the longest time, she just laid there, her muscles continuing to cramp painfully. Once they had passed, she allowed herself to cry and smile at the same time in sorrow, relief, and thanks to Merric. Her stomach tried to wretch, but her belly had been empty for days. Eventually she would have to move, but for now she just wanted to lay there as she was; drenched and sick, and free.