BNN: Rise of the Scalis Part 2
Abram was startled from his sleep as the words appeared in his mind. The old sailor, shielding the gaze of his one eye as he fixed it upon his younger shipmate, struggled a moment to realize what was said.
"A mast?" Adrenaline now coursed through Abram's veins. The two seaborne scavengers had left port in Nujel'm almost a week ago. Adrift in the Britannian sea onboard an unsuitable scow, the thought of ending this job was almost too much for him. They had managed to deal for the last known location of a derelict, the Cirein, the lone survivor of which having died just days before. Under Britannian maritime law, this makes the cargo of the lost ship very valuable to the first crew that claims her.
"Yero!" Abram called to his partner when he didn't respond.
"Aye. Well," Yero squinted, seeming a bit unsure of himself, "Aye. At least three sea miles out."
There weren't many ships in these waters this time of year. The exceptions being the occasional crew, like that of the Cirein, making a trade run through Vesper. The Cirein was a large fishing vessel Abram was quite familiar with. It was well reputed for its large catches. No doubt they were able to barter a great wealth of cargo from their time in Vesper. Just two days after leaving port one of the Cirein's crew washed ashore, a short time from death by the time he was found.
Yero punctuated the silence as he mumbled a bit of poem, "From the greatest depths arose a beast, set mightily against old - "
"Oi!" Abram's leathery face became flush with agitation, "Enough of that!"
Yero only chuckled. "You ain't heard that one, eh?"
"Of course I'd heard it! You always be singin' the same tune, poxy bugger!" For a moment Abram had forgotten what was at hand. Nevertheless, their course was already set for the silhouette in the distance and it would be a while before they traversed the distance. The skies were growing dark and the winds were chill, but their scow kept on, crashing through the waves toward riches.
"Aye," Yero offered no argument, "that lad from the Cirein got me thinkin' about it. Mumbling on like that about an enforcer."
Abram seemed to consider this for a moment. "What's a song got to do with that?"
"No song. It be a bit piece from an epic of the seas." Yero shifted uncomfortably. He had essentially just admitted to his salvage partner that he read poetry.
"Alright, what's it on about?" Abram had time to spare, anyway, and he sure wasn't going to enjoy it in this weather.
"It be tellin' a tale of a sea beastie terrorizing the kingdoms of the ol' world."
Abram could not contain a derisive snort, "Sea monsters? We've got sea monsters."
"After a great battle off the coast of Fawn," Yero continued, "a king and his two youngin's commanded it return to the depths and not be seen again."
"And it just went?" Abram laughed, again picking at the young man's story.
Yero nodded, "Aye. But not before a warning." Yero cleared his throat and attempted a more theatrical voice as he recited from the story, " 'I am the Enforcer of the sea, you pillage a domain my own, to protect with all my might, your people will see me again, when sea creatures meet their plight.' "
"The salty blowfish speaks?" Abram seemed honestly inquisitive, despite his choice of words.
Yero sighed, "It be an old story, Abram. I find meself surprised you ain't heard it before. Not many a tale exist from the days before British. But this one here," Yero paused a moment to gauge the distance toward the other ship, "most a sailor be rememberin' it, that's for right."
"Aye, but it's just a child's story, Yero!" Though Abram didn't show it, the story did make him feel a bit uneasy. An ancient being from the days of Akalabeth and before, returning to exact vengeance. Such a creature would surely be the bane of any mariner.
Abram pushed these thoughts behind him, and instead concentrated on what was now just a short distance off their bow. Approaching the ship, he could see she was bare mast and adrift. It certainty appeared to be a derelict of some regard, anyway, and Abram will be pleased with whatever they find. They had squandered the last of their gold in the City of Pleasure, and were desperate to have something they could barter with.
"Look at that!" Yero nearly shouted his surprise.
Abram looked in the direction Yero's finger pointed, and was taken aback. The ship's mizzen-mast had been entirely snapped in two. The main-mast still stood, but most of its rigging had been torn from the spar. The hull of the ship was riddled with large holes far too large for any cannonball to make. As they approached, various debris bounced off their hull. Flotsam, mostly, but the occasional arrow shaft floating by caused Abram's heart to sink. If they had done battle with pirates, no doubt the cargo had already been picked.
"Abram, toss me the gaff." Yero, now leaning off the starboard bow, called back.
Pirates couldn't have done this, Abram thought as they rounded the ship.
As if reading Abram's mind, Yero stood up and shouted back, "Pirates didn't do this!"
To emphasize his point Yero held up a small chunk of strikingly white flesh. There was no question in their minds, than, the ship had done battle with Leviathan. Traders and fishermen were most often ill-equipped to deal with the creature, and rarely survived its attacks. The thought of the most feared creature of the sea having been here, even if days before, filled both men with terror.
"Abram," Yero's voice was pleading, "let's be goin'. Forget this ol' ship."
Abram did not respond, but nor did he disagree with his young crewmate. He continued maneuvering their boat, bringing them across the ship's stern and to the port side. Yero suddenly let out a gasp and nearly fell back. As Abram's line of sight cleared the derelict, he too felt his heart go into a panic. The sight before them was gruesome enough to paralyze the men in fear.
A large bloodied mass floated just port of the ship. What was left of it resembled Leviathan, but the way in which its body was shredded was incomprehensible to Abram. Only the center mass of the great beast remained, the rest having been torn off and discarded in a wide radius around them.
Everything grew quiet, save the short panicked breaths of the two scavengers. A light tapping sounded at the stern of their vessel, under Abram, and slowly increased in cadence as it approached the bow. Just as suddenly as it began, the tapping stopped. It was Yero who finally found his voice.
"Abram," his voice oddly calm, "Come about. Come about, let's get -" his sentence was interrupted by rapid splashes around them.
Abram watched in horror as eels seemed to launch out of the water and land upon the young man. Yero let out a series of blood curdling screeches as the foul little serpents latched into every bit of his body they could find hold. Abram rushed to his aid, but to no avail. His partner was taken down to the deck, and soon overcome.
The older scavenger, alone now, rushed back to stern and retrieved his small crossbow. It'd do little good against the tangle of eel, but it was all he had. The scow suddenly rocked hard, nearly knocking Abram's footing out from under him. Recovering, he looked up and a beheld a beast of unimaginable ferocity. Large, almost humanoid in appearance, but big enough to make any being feel like a mere ant in its presence. Tentacles as large as Abram covered its mouth. Parts of its body were covered in an armor plate of barnacles. Where the beast's right hand would have been, a large crushing pincer took its place.
"Of height to the heavens and power replete." Abram whispered in awe. Though his pride never would have allowed him to admit it, he knew the epic Yero spoke of. He knew it well, as every sailor did. Abram finally found the will to move. He aimed his small crossbow at the beasts heart and fired. If it ever reached his target he wouldn't know, he quickly lost sight of the bolt against the broad backdrop of the beast's torso.
Nonetheless, the creature reacted. Reaching down it plucked Abram off his boat with its large claw and held him in front of his eyes. Abram was helpless in the massive being's grasp, as he and it stared at each other for what seemed to Abram an eternity.
Held firm, unable to help to resist the giant's grasp, he whispered one last line of the poem, "Seized upon those whom take from the sea."
The creature, as if acting on cue, tightened its grip.