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I Am (The Heart Of The Tempest)

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This is who she is.

Nami is a girl whose life began in the heart of a tempest. She wasn’t born there, it isn’t even where her adoptive mother met her, but that is where she started.

It began when she and Nojiko and Bellemere were on a boat together, the three of them barely fitting into the dinghy, and sailing into a storm.

This is who she is.

It begins when three lives, a woman and two children, solidify a bond. It begins with their first shared experience, first life-changing event together, first moment of mutual trust.

It begins when three fates connect.

This is who she is.

They’re not blood. Nami and Nojiko are war children, orphans of a conflict they know little about. Bellemere is their mother by coincidence, by being there at the right moment and saving them.

She wasn’t even supposed to be there, but a storm had delayed her boat so she’d been on hand when reports began coming to the marine base in of a port city under attack by forces unknown.

She was there to find a little girl with blue hair and scared eyes clutching a baby who is too young to be fully aware of the dangers that surround them.

She was there to step forward, cease giving up, and save a pair of children.

(Though she knows, in her heart, that they saved her.)

This is who she is.

Because it really begins with rain. With clouds and lightning and wind-tossed waves. Their lives entwine in the heart of a hurricane, their bonds forged in the eye of the storm.

Three lives in a boat they know is too small to contain their fate, too damaged and battered and old to carry them to an island Bellemere left years ago, where she hopes to make them a home.

Stepping onto it and casting off from the dock is a challenge, a declaration, a hail-Mary-pass.

Letting go of the ropes that tether them to the shore is a message to the world, however soft and small and unimportant it may seem.

Because it is the most significant thing of all. It is letting go of their future and and their past all in one action. In this moment, they exist only in the present as they turn their fate over to the sea.

Letting the sea gods choose their path, whether to be mischievous in directing them to unfamiliar shores, wrathful by wrecking their fragile vessel and devouring their bodies, or magnanimous by allowing them to reach a place that will become their new home should they live and not succumb to the cold depths.

And this time, the sea chooses mercy, though not without testing them first.

The gods send a storm, to speed their way and illuminate their position.

Fates are forged in the hearts of tempests.’ It is a dictum all true sailors know, those singular few who respect and know the sea as a tempestuous creature, friend-foe-wild-thing that it is.

In the eye of the storm character is revealed. There is no room for lies there, no posturing, no illusion. It is a place for truths. For finding them, choosing them, seeing them with wide open eyes.

For seeing anew, without fear of chicanery.

It is not a kind place, for the gravity of reality is often harsh.

It is instead almost sacred, for all that it lasts only until the waves and wind die down. For while no sane entity worships the sea, those who live and breathe and die within it can say they have been honored with the kind of absolute knowledge of self one finds there.

This is who she is.

Nami and Nojiko and Bellemere enter it, and they leave changed.

They leave knowing the world and themselves for what they have been, are, could be.

They surrendered control for a chance at being a family, and they gained that and more.

This is who she is.

They sailed into the heart of a storm and they came out the other end alive. Not unscathed, by any sense of the word, but still whole.

This is who she is.

The girl Nami grew up to be began in the heart of a tempest. She was not born there, but the baby she had been, shielded by her mother and sister, was changed there.

It wasn’t when they met, but the magical moment they shared in the heart of a storm will stay with her for the rest of her life.

When Bellemere died they buried her in a grave overlooking the ocean, on a cliff racked by wind and rain when the clouds open up and thunder splits the heavens.

This is who she is.

Nami was not born in the eye of a storm, but her fate was decided there. And as she sails with the man who would be king, she knows she will die there, among the clashing of sea and sky.

This is who she is.

And when her fate - the one she chose as a child caught among forces of nature - is complete, she will accept it.

This is who she is.

And she will die with no regrets.

This.

Is.

Who.

She.

Is.

A single moment in the eye of a storm.

This is who she is.

A name, chosen as tribute to the force of nature known as a tsunami.

This is who she is.

A fate forged, a family found, a path chosen.

This is who she is.

The heart of a tempest in human form.

This is who she is.

Nami.