When Ringo Flinthammer regained consciousness, he was underwater, surrounded by icy black in all directions.
There were vague shapes in the darkness — masts and prows of older shipwrecks, with glowing debris dropping past them in the gloom. He’d heard that this coast was a dangerous one, where some ill-fated Gilnean expedition had sunk in the days following the Cataclysm, but no one aboard had been clear on the details.
He saw no sign of Frostmaw, or any of the crew members. But he couldn’t worry about that just yet: already his lungs were beginning to burn and he felt the powerful urge to take a breath — a fatal urge if he gave into it.
Fighting to stay calm to make the most of what air he had left, Ringo did slow and measured frog-kicks toward the surface, sculling with his large hands as he rose.
Ringo felt his ankle grow numb. Looking down, he saw thick translucent fingers closing around it and felt himself being jerked back downward.
“Grol will kill you!” a voice reverberated up through the inky blackness. Despite being underwater, Ringo suddenly smelled blood and smoke and heard distant hopeless screams.
Ringo kicked at the hand, which was now definitely pulling him further from the surface and the air above. He felt around — he had his gun, but it was wrapped in oilcloth. And he had gotten lazy in recent years, no longer carrying an axe as he once had.
Ringo’s chest felt like it was full of flames now and had to bite his lips together to keep from opening his mouth and gulping in the Forbidding Sea.
The dimming light from above — still flashing with explosions as Iron Stars hit their marks — flickered and grew dimmer. But it wasn’t him drowning, at least, not yet, but shadowy figures streaming down from above their claws and silvery teeth flashing as they tore at the hand. There was a roar of outrage from whatever in the darkness was pulling Ringo down and suddenly he was free, propelled upward like a cork toward the air above.
Once at the surface, Ringo gasped, sucking in the smoke-filled air, letting the waves carry him to shore.