WOW. THIS WAS SO AWESOME. I can suddenly write again! Thank you Erin, for being amazing. [3
Today was an extremely eventful day. We were intending to travel the docks of the fishing community Navale. The people of Navale are renowned for their fish—they are supposedly the greatest catchers of fish in the West Seas. It was Hastings’ idea to go among the docks; Hastings himself came from a fishing village, and he is partial to boats and sailors. I have often wondered why he gave up his life at sea for one that is decidedly land-loving.
Rigel agreed with Hastings, for once, and so we set out in the early hours of the morning to help the fishermen fix the various broken pieces of their ships.
I do not care for fish, and I do not believe that Rigel does, either. I have never learned to swim, and the stench of salt water and decaying seaweed is almost too much for me to bear. I wrinkled my nose up the second we arrived in Navale, and I do not think that I have unwrinkled it yet. The air rising from the ocean is harsh, and my eyes are watering. I can tell that Rigel, stone-faced as he may be, hates it every bit as much as I myself do. But Hastings loves it, and as we rode our horses down to the shipyard, he sang at the top of his lungs; a fine, strong sea-song that I would have loved had it not been about the sea.
When we came to the shipyard, however, Hastings stopped singing. For there was a ship docked there that had not been expected, and was clearly much the worse for wear. As far as I could tell, shipyards were always bustling with activity, but today the activity was frenzied, nervous. People’s cries rang out, but far from being the harsh, loud cries that they usually were, they were desperate.
“Doctor! We need a doctor!” someone cried out, and Rigel leaped from his horse’s back.
“Here!” he called, in his gruff voice. “We can help! We are magicians!”
This was how I came to be bandaging the arm of a wounded cabin boy.
He was just a boy, perhaps five years younger than I. He told me his name was Tristan; an odd name, perhaps, but one that seemed to fit him. This is the story he told me.
“We were sailing through a peculiar stretch of silty water when it attacked.” He said, shuddering. “The sailors had been bragging about their battles at sea. One man had even claimed to have once seen the spined back of the Leviathan, and we all called out his mistruth. Leviathans do not have spined backs; they have smooth, dark ones.”
I chose not to ask this boy what a Leviathan was, but made a mental note to ask Hastings. I now know that a Leviathan is the worst of all sea monsters; a vicious brute of a beast who swims around. It has fire in its belly, and can swallow a flagon of ships whole. At least, this is what Hastings tells me, and Hastings is prone to hyperbole.
“That night, a serpent attacked the ship,” the boy said, shuddering, “I have fought many serpents since I became a cabin boy, for I have been one since I was but nine. But none of those serpents were like this one. He was easily four times the length of the Marie at the waterline.” (the Marie was the boy’s maimed ship) “And his scales were as dark as the water. We were rushing around, preparing the harpoons to spear the monster, and someone cried out, “Oh, God! Save us! It’s the Leviathan!” And immediately men began to wail in despair.”
“What did you do?” I asked, forgetting momentarily the stench of brine that filled my nostrils.
“We attacked the bloody beast.” Tristan answered with vengeance. “But there was a lot of men lost. The serpents have a nasty habit of picking men right off the top of the ship, and drowning ‘em before eating ‘em. They’re bloody impossible to harm, ‘cause they flat-out refuse to die unless you spear ‘em through the head.” This was a lovely picture, and Tristan continued to make it even more gruesome by continuing his story with the graphic detail and painstaking clarity of a shell-shocked sailor.
“This serpent was an old man of a serpent, and he knew all the tricks. He picked off almost half the crew before one of the sailors, John Drew, managed to stick a harpoon down the things throat.” I didn’t have to ask to knew what’d happened to John Drew.
“It still didn’t die?”
“No, ma’am. It just got madder. By now, the men were going crazy tryin’ to kill it. I grabbed a harpoon that one of the men ‘ad dropped, and just stood there, waiting for my orders. Then, out of nowhere, came the big head of that snake! It was headed straight for me, with that huge mouth wide open, and those big fangs, and its poisonous blood pouring out onto the deck!” Tristan swung his good arm in a wide , dramatic arc, and I winced.
“What did you do?”
“Well, I flung that harpoon, didn’t I?” he said, sounding victoriously in awe of himself. “And that thing flung itself around like the great serpent ‘imself, and ended up writing down in the ocean ‘til we couldn’t see it no more, couldn’t see nothing but it’s blood boiling the waters and turning it black.”
“You killed it?” I was in awe.
“Yes.” He agreed.
And now I am lying in a cot that an innkeeper was kind enough to provide me with. Rigel is telling me to go to sleep. I can still smell the retching scent of fish blood all over my skin.