Part One: The Misfortune of Sea Monsters
NOTE: if you have not read part one (link above), this will make little to no sense. I am trying my hand at a serialized story, and you really do need to read it, part by part. Thank you.
Part Two: The Hafgufa and The Harpoon
Captain Magnus tried to stop Young Ned from leaping to a certainly lost cause, but he was too late. The Return swayed, but no man was more made more steady on his feet than a captain whose ship was an extension of himself. The large ripples the beast made, as it bore Meigs down, tried their best to topple him. He heard some of his men falter and gasp, but he would have none of that.
“You’re a fool, Young Ned. A brave one, but a fool all the same.” The captain stayed at the side of his ship, speaking to an uncaring sea, waiting for any sign.
The foolish Young Ned was far below, swimming downward. His labor was fierce, as the creature tunneled the water as it should, and Young Ned was handicapped by the harpoon he knew he must have. Meigs was a rag doll in the monster of the deep’s tentacles, and his mate, his friend, felt it was already too late, but this feeling only propelled him to swim faster.
The “Vanishing Island” (for so the Hafgufa has been called) belched a stream of what Young Ned thought would be if one could smell underwater, noxious fumes. Stopping its descent, it turned towards Young Ned, its eyes locking onto him. A tentacle was thrust towards him, then another and another. Each time the attack was thwarted by a right blow of the exquisite sharpness of the harpoon that Young Ned wielded. Both he and the monster scored points, but none were as deep or as ruinous as what came from the well-placed pike.
He was fast losing the last of his air reserves when a tremendous blow freed the undulating sea body of SM Meigs. Young Ned grabbed his comrade and began his ascent. The creature, leaking foul fluids from the many contact hits delivered, sent out a spasm of its own pain and struck Young Ned across his back, sending the harpoon spiraling out of Young Ned’s hand and knocking him unconscious.
The deck of The Return was hard and wet under Young Ned’s back as he coughed up the bracken seawater. Retching was a rude awakening, but any revival from what seemed like certain death was a good one. Captain Magnus gave his one good hand to Young Ned and helped him stand. Young Ned politely shook him off, bent at the knees, and expelled the last of the wretched substance.
Standing up, Young Ned looked around him. There, amidships, by the mizzenmast, lay the body of SM Meigs. Nothing was said: he knew Meigs was dead as sure as he knew the Hafgufa would pay, and pay dearly. Young Ned also noticed one other thing: the harpoon he carried into battle lay at his feet.
Puzzled, he bent and picked it up. “Captain, how…” he began.
“I know, lad, I know. You should have been as dead as poor Meigs. Too much time had passed, and the lads and, sadly, I had given up all hope. The sea waters were thrashing for all to see, then they went still. I had said my prayers and sent you Godspeed to Davey Jones’s embrace when…well…”
“What? Please, Captain. I don’t understand why I am still alive here on deck. I felt a blow across my back, a shattering pain lanced through, and I felt the sea enter me as I quickly lost all awareness.”
Captain Magnus stared hard at Young Ned. He turned his head and spat over the rail. Turning back, it was the first time the captain would not make eye contact.
“You know me for an honest man, as honest as the sea will allow one to be. The crew saw this too, or I wouldn’t have believed it myself. We had given up all hope, but…the mysteries of the seas are deep. The still water broke apart, Young Ned, and you, Meigs, and that blasted harpoon were on the back of a narwhal. This one was male, a lovely helical tusk, as woven as a twisted knot of hair. It floated long enough for us to retrieve you and poor Meigs. We thought you were gone too, but, well, you coughed up the sea as it coughed up yourself.”
“The narwhal?” Young Ned inquired.
“Slid away and gone. Come…no use scratching our heads about this. You are alive, Young Ned, and I am glad that I can keep my promise to your sister that you stay that way. Well, at least for today.” Captain Magnus smiled, slapped Young Ned on the back, and turned, barking orders to set course for land and home.
Walking over to the body of his friend, Young Ned knelt and said some prayers. He also vowed, in these moments of silence, to seek vengeance, so dreadful and sincere. Lost in his moments of grief, it was only the collision of the boatswain, Mr. Diggs, that brought him around to a deck that was beginning to tilt and the noses of men in a panic.
“Diggs…what is it, man?”
The boatswain, face ashen, said, “Look starboard; look what you’ve brought upon us!”
Pushing the man away, harpoon still in hand, Ned rushed starboard, pulling himself up so he could look over the rail:
The Hafgufa’s tentacles were climbing the sides of The Return, tilting the ship. One passed by his head and twisted onto the mizzenmast behind him. One solid jerk, and the Hafgufa and Young Ned were staring at one another, connected by sea, wood, and bone.
The Return cried a mournful sound upon the waters.
to be continued…