Clouded moon over the waves

The nearly full moon cast it silvery glow across the sea, framing the shape of a giant seagull asleep on the waters. Only the deep thrum of waves broke the silence, punctuated by creaks and clacks from wooden planks rubbing against each other. Mother slept peacefully tonight.

A young man stood on the pier, his eyes drifting listlessly over the swept hull, three masts caught in a barely visible web of rigging above it. A fine ship she was, too, not too big, nor too small, swift and well-armed. "Flies like a bird, stings like a bee", as the old hands described her. For a whole year now he'd tried lying to himself that it had been an honest mistake, boarding the wrong ship and failing to notice in the chaos preceding departure.

Deep down, he knew better.

Wet chill made him pull his coat more tightly, wrapping it with practiced motions around the sword scabbard. His family heirloom, the only thing left from an early life, now half a world away. He ought to be grateful for being granted as much.

"For we're all born of the sea, and we all return to the sea one day."

As he watched, clouds chased by the wind gathered into a tattered, ever-shifting human form that held the moon like a lantern. The twin stars of Agenates and Atepard shone brightly down on him, one blue, the other red.

"Man-of-the-Moon," he whispered, breath forming a mist in front of his face, "Man-of-the-Moon, father of the night, please don't return me to the Mother yet. Grant me this one battle. Just one, so I can die having tried my best."

A long time seemed to pass. The figure in the sky dissipated.

That was it. There was nothing more to say. At dawn they would sail into the storm, the hail of lead and iron. With luck, they would come out the other way alive, to sail free under the fiery gaze of the Lady. People said she favored the bold, and the just.

Pirates like him were neither.