“If you’re gonna tell the story, best get it right.”

Emerging from the oil-lamp shadows and parting the hushed crowd, Baha limped over to the table and sat down heavily. Without asking, she took the bottle of hooch from Dickenson and poured herself a double shot in Mariah’s glass, downing it before proceeding.

“I was a young woman,” she said. Then, stabbing a finger in Mariah’s direction: “Scarcely older than this tot.”

“I beg your-” Mariah began.

“My lover was a whaling captain, tall and proud. And even though the men thought a lady terrible bad luck on a ship, my man smuggled me aboard, such was our love for one another.”

Dickenson looked at Baha’s scarred visage and embroidered eyepatch, as well as the silvery barbed claw that took the place of her left hand. “Can’t imagine what that must have been like,” he muttered.

“Believe it,” snapped Baha. “Once upon a time this face lured men like him to their doom. But it was not to be, for this time it was true love torn asunder too soon.”

She slammed her good hand on the table, rattling the others’ drinks. “The whalers attacked an eldritch horror from beyond the stars thinking it was a whale, realizing their mistake only when the unearthly tentacles arose, black and billious, from the waves, driving some mad by the mere sight of them.”

Baha took another drink, this time bypassing Mariah’s glass altogether and simply drinking rum from the bottle. “I took command after my lover was killed,” she said, “as I was the only one with the werewithal to fight back after he was enveloped and consumed by that maw. But it still took every man jack of the crew to the bottom.”

“So you’ve come to kill it, then?” Mariah said. “The lurker at the threshold, the thing on the doorstep, that we’re all here to see put down for good and all?”

“Aye. I call it the ‘weird whale’ and ever since I was hauled aboard a Nantucket square-rig from a whaleboat, I have sailed the seven seas with a new crew in search of the ‘weird whale.’ I mean to avenge myself upon it.”

“Kill that which scarred you physically and emotionally, is that it?” said Dickenson.

“Aye. Finding an equally weird being here…what can it be but the “weird whale” arisen anew, somehow?”

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