Vanna: Pavel… Who is Salty Joe?
Pavel’s eyes go wide. Vanna is giving him her most unimpressed stare. In the background, the islands they are passing now are ragged and broken, spindly dead trees and dilapidated ruins the only things that remain, even on land, in the ghostwater. Pavel, sweating, tries to come up with an answer for his mother.
Pavel: He’s… um. I…
Vanna: Pavel Leon Morena… I know you only give names to the seaghosts you’ve seen TWICE. But you shouldn’t have seen ANY seaghosts while you’ve been staying over at the Aquifer. Have you been sneaking out to the Ghostwater, Pavel?
Vanna looks down at her son, stern and demanding. Pavel seems to gulp and goes stiff, clamping his mouth shut- which answers the question clearly enough.
He spreads his arms wide, waving them in desperate explanation.
Pavel: I’ve been paddling out to FEED SEAGHOSTS, okay?! You said it might stop them from biting, so…
Vanna: I… I can’t even believe… You’ve really been-- ?! Gods, I should watch what I say… Pavel, feeding them doesn’t make them less hungry. IT NEVER HAS. Please, PLEASE promise me you won’t go out there again. It’s too dangerous.
Below the boat, the lights buzz on cheerfully. The seaghosts, especially Salty Joe, wait, moaning, just beyond where the light can reach, hoping something with a soul will fall overboard and into the shadows.