an: apparently my muse is still alive and kicking, it just likes to spend almost an entire year dormant before doing me a solid. this is heavily inspired by ‘uprooted’ my naomi novik, but it’s completely unnecessary to know anything at all about it, though you should definitely read it and cry about it with me.
Summary: Killian Jones has no desire to return to Misthaven, but his captain and his crew are tied to the kingdom in a way he has never understood, and they consider it a duty to be there for the Choosing. Once every fifteen years, the witch in her high tower chooses a man or woman among them and whisks them away, in payment for all she has done to save this kingdom, and to most it is considered a blessing to be chosen. All Killian wants is for the Choosing to be finished and The Jewel to return to sea, and to forget once again all that Misthaven has taken from him.
The Price: Chapter One
There was a hum of quiet anticipation hanging over the bay when The Jewel of the Realm docked in port, despite the teeming masses of ships, boats and dingys all huddled in together - and Killian sighed as he surveyed the place. He’d been too young to really remember the last Choosing, but Liam had woven him grand stories of it - of the mass of people who returned to their homeland, of the ceremony and the excitement bubbling among the residents of this land, of the tense wonder of the people as they waited to see who would be chosen from their ranks. Killian, for his part, didn’t understand it. He’d spent so little time ashore in this kingdom, he could hardly understand why this day, this day that happened once every fifteen years, was so important to the people of Misthaven.
Liam, for all his stories of the land they’d been born in, had no way of explaining the importance of this day. His own memories of growing up amidst the sailors and pirates who frequented their mothers inn while on land were more emotion than anything else, and no matter the tales Liam spun of the place he remembered so fondly, Killian had never quite understood what he meant when he called the place home.
To Killian it was nothing more than a place to resupply.
It was meant to be an honor, being chosen, the greatest honor a man or woman of Misthaven could receive, but for himself, it seemed more like imprisonment.
“Who d’you think it’ll be, this time?”
Killian bit out a sigh, turning to give their quartermaster an unimpressed look. They’d only returned for fear the crew might mutiny if not given the chance to be among those the Swan could choose from - despite an understanding among the crew that of anyone in Misthaven, these merchant sailors were some of the least likely to be chosen in the entire realm, there was a feeling among most of them that even the dream of a chance would be enough. At the very least, they wanted a story to tell, desired that bit of genuine truth to the tales they spun in taverns and whorehouses across the world. The Choosing, they imagined, would make for a larger than life story.
“I’d just as soon cut off my own hand as make idle speculations about what sort of person an immortal sorceress prefers for a servant, Turk. The sooner it’s done and we’re on our way, the better, I say.”
Turk, for his own part, seemed scandalized by the insinuation that the Chosen were merely servants, but Killian had never been led to believe otherwise. Those few who spent their years with the Swan rarely ever spoke of them, and though they never said a single derogatory thing about the witch in her high tower, they never spoke a kind word, either.