make a most impressive scar. He glanced over to Bloom. "...Any progress?"
"Shh! I've almost got it-" Face scrunched with concentration, Bloom wiggled his lockpick delicately back and forth, hunched close so he could listen to each little tick and scrape.
"If you can get that thing off, I'll give you a silver piece. It's completely rusted solid."
Quinn gave a heavy sigh and scooted closer to watch him work. It wasn't that he wasn't excited to see what was inside, but he was rather dubious that the lock could be picked. It was old, but heavy, heavy with rust and topped with a few barnacles. Brows twitched together and he raised his watchful gaze from Bloom's hands to what he could see of his profile beneath a tangle of wild, blonde curls. "...Why did you have a shrimp in your pouch?"
"Why don't you have shrimp in your pouch? That's a better question. Dammit- I thought I had it there..."
Quinn cocked a dark brow. "Why don't I have... Because, Bloom, that's ridiculous. Keeping a shrimp in a pouch."
"Not so ridiculous when it saves your hide, now is it?" he retorted, and tried to blow the hair from his eyes with a short, heavy puff of breath. "Hm? Don't ask such silly questions."
About to summon up a counterargument, Quinn was silenced as the lock clicked and Bloom pried it open. He had actually done it, and now he'd be out a silver piece. But as his partner lifted the lid of the chest, that was the last thing on his mind. He leaned closer. "What's in there?"
Gold? Emeralds? Cat statues carved from onyx and set with rubies for eyes? Bloom's hopes ran wild in that moment, but were dashed in the same instant as his eyes settled on the contents of the chest. "What? I don't understand..." At the bottom of the chest, nestled in soggy old velvet, was a glass box that contained a handful of what appeared to be...
"...Cookies?" Quinn asked, perplexed. "Why would someone put cookies in a treasure chest?"
"No, no, that can't be it-" Bloom mumbled, and pawed through the pile of decomposing fabric. But there was nothing else to be found. "Cookies? Cookies?! I carried that damned thing three miles! Do you think we found the wrong treasure, Quinn?"
Quinn scratched his chin. "Followed the map, didn't we?"
"You're bad at directions."
"So are you."
Bloom folded his arms and regarded the contents of the treasure box with disdain. The day was ruined. They had gone all that way, followed a treasure map, Quinn had gotten pinched by a giant crab, and for what? Hundred year old treats? "This is stupid."
Quinn, however, was not listening. A sound had caught his ear, strange and sweet as it drifted across the cool, salty air. He pushed himself up and started across the sand towards the water. A strand of mussel-encrusted rocks rose from the shallows there, and thick strands of kelp danced between them, swaying their long tendrils back and forth with the gently rolling tide. Something gold peeked from the water. It disappeared, and he climbed up onto the nearest rock to try and get a better look at it. A fish? Careful as to not squash any of the fat starfish under his boots, he went closer to the edge. Another flash showed from between the shadows of the larger rocks, and he could make out the pattern of its glimmering scales. It was big. Bigger than any fish that would normally reside in such shallow water, and certainly bigger than anything that might be found in a tide pool. Not only that, but it had... "Bloom!" he called. He threw a quick glance back over his shoulder, thin wisps of dark hair tousling about in the sea breeze. "Bloom! Mermaid!"
Quinn sat with bony knees drawn up and arms draped over them, his eyes on the richly blue, calm sea. They had found a quiet cove several miles down the coastline, and now the pair sat with rears in the sun-warmed sand, Bloom wrestling with the lock on the treasure chest and Quinn mulling over the events of earlier that day. His left hand was snugly wrapped in bandaging, beneath which was packed a generous amount of herbal, oily salve to stave off any infection from the nasty slice that crustacean had given him. It ached quite terribly, but the bleeding had stopped quickly enough, and he had decided that it would