“Hold the line and stow the cannon! Prepare to board! We have the enemy on the low end!”
“Aye sir!” I cried out with the rest of the crew.
Seriously, why did I bother joining up with Jolly Jon and his crew?
Sure, it seemed like a grand idea. I was in a no-where, no-nothing farm town. Jolly Jon was passing through, laughing it up, and telling the tales of their exploits and adventures.
It had most of the young men spellbound for sure! But, little did I realize, until the ship started to sail away from port; the run was little more than a slave recruitment drive.
The next few months were spent in brutal training regimens, sword play, musket use, and the ins and outs of being a ship hand.
Ship slave is more like it. I begrudgingly thought as I swung my boarding hook with the rest of the crew, preparing myself to risk my life again to make that fat pirate rich.
But before our ships could close the distance, an enormous tentacle rose, snapping the lines.
“Kraken! And she’s in her giant form!” Jon cried out. “Lose those hooks, re-arm the cannon, full sail! Boat master hard starboard! Make the ship know what its like to spin on a dime!”
Without skipping a heartbeat, our crew loosed the lines and sprung into action.
“Watch out, Captain! She’s after you!” I cried out.
Captain Jolly Jon had only enough time to turn, and cry out like a woman being dunked into ice cold water as one of the purple tentacles of the Kraken wrapped around him.
Even in the midst of all the panic, I couldn't help but laugh at seeing my captain being hung upside down, without his pants, as the Kraken claimed her prize.
“Dear sisters!” The Kraken called out in a booming voice. “Thank you for your assistance. I finally have the rascal who evaded me all those years ago! My thanks shall be committing these brave men to the deep!”
I jumped- a gigantic tentacle smashed into both ships, splitting them in two.
A collective cry of joy sounded from all around as a multitude of mamono started to claim the men who fell into the water, or clung to their sinking ships.
“Oooh! Oooh! I want the one on the mast!”
“No fair! I want him!”
“Hands off the boat master! He’s mine!”
“Quick! Quick! This group doesn't have many handsome ones!”
Calm, focus I breathed, making my way to a bit a rubble, it was little more than a crate on a bit of shattered deck. Thankfully, it floated, and the crate would keep me hidden. I grunted, struggling as I got out of the water and into the crate.
“Oh no.” I moaned, seeing a large splinter in my leg and shoulder. I had heard and seen the dreaded wolf-sharks that existed in these parts of the sea. A particularly bad memory of the captain placing a few of the crew, including me, in a net and dunked us into the water.
“Blood, its what binds us.” The captain said with a gleeful voice, holding out his hand above the water. “It’s also what dooms us, as you will soon see.” He said and pricked his finger, allowing one drop to fall into the ocean.
They accused us of stealing food. I never knew who did it, but everyone in the net died except me. I shuddered, remembering the screams as the sharks swam around, nipping the fingers of the sailers who hung onto the nets, then the hands, until at last they tore them apart through the holes. The only reason I lived was because I was strong enough to climb the rope, dragging the net (and a few bones) with me.
What can I say? It impressed the captain, and he let me live.
I panted staring at the sky, trembling all over with the thought of sharks, those black, soulless eyes, the teeth… the sounds of ripping flesh, the screams…
I cried out, not realizing I must have greyed out for a while. I tried to look, but I was weak.
“Lads? Is that you?” I called out, trying to get up, but couldn’t.
“No, they have all been claimed. I pushed this makeshift raft of yours away. I’ve been watching you. I was too late to save the others, but I watched in amazement on how you were so strong,”
“Huh?” At last I was able to turn my head. I saw a pair of black and golden eyes looking at me from under long grey-blue hair and pale blue skin. A pair of delicate hands gripped the side of my raft, and the wreckage of the ship was nowhere to be seen.
“Don’t you remember? You climbed the rope, with the nets and everything still hanging on you!” The eyes brightened and blinked in a joyous manner.
“Wh-who are you?”
“I am Suna. And you are William.”
“How do you know my name?”
“Avast! I never seen a sailor as strong as master William here! Guess he’ll be shark bait some other time.”
I groaned and closed my eyes, terrified of the memory, and somewhat amused at how she was able to imitate his speech so well. The groan turned into a retching and vomiting.
“Are you okay? You are wounded.” She pulled up higher on the raft.
I froze in horror, and screamed- It was a mershark! A woman-shark monster!
I screamed, my vision jittering from her teeth to her black eyes. Her lips and mouth moved, but I couldn't understand or hear her. My energy almost immediately gave out, I was to weak to even scream anymore.
“Please.” I begged, “Don’t hurt me! Oh no, oh no!”
“Sssh, don’t worry. Let me help you!” She cooed, now fully on the raft. She held up a bottle and pressed it to my lips. “Here, drink. It’s fresh water.”
I gulped down the sweet, cold water with my eyes closed. Trembling as the Mershark placed my head upon her lap.
“Why are you so afraid?” I heard her whisper.
“Sh-sharks.” I said, my teeth now chattering. “They killed them. Their eyes…. teeth…. soulless….tearing….”
“William, please.” Suna said, her voice wet, and sad.
I opened my eyes, and looked into Suna’s, my heart pounding, almost hurting my chest.
“Do you see that, when you see me?” She said, her teeth flashing as her lips moved.
I looked into her wet, sad eyes that were full of emotion. Her lower lip trembled and was pulled into a sad expression as well.
“No.” I said, feeling my heart slow a bit. “No, its not the same.”
“But, I am a part shark. Am I so different from the wolves?”
I sighed. “No, when I look at you, I see something human too. I look into your eyes, and I can see emotion, a soul.”
Suna blushed and smiled, her teeth flashed in the setting sun. “Oops!” She squeaked and covered her mouth. “Sorry!”
“Am I going to die?” I said, looking at my wounds. They stopped bleeding, but it was obvious I lost a lot of blood.
“Hmmm, I do not think so; I am here. I will take care of you.” Suna sighed. She eased my head from her lap. “I’ve been pushing this raft to a the home of a Sea Bishop I know. She has many healing potions, and she will transform you so that you can live with me.”
“Live with you? What?” I sputtered.
Suna nodded, holding onto the raft, her head above the water again. “Yes. I love you. Don’t you love me?” She asked.
“I- I don’t know, I mean- I just met you.”
“I know! Isn’t it beautiful!” Suna said, her face full of delirious happiness. “Of all the sea, and of all the land; there exists between our souls a paired chorus. I could hear it from far away. It’s just when you were dunked in the water, when I could finally find you. Where have you been?”
I sputtered. “I- what- I am from the farmland.”
Her eyes brightened. “Oooh! So that’s why your song was so faint until now.” She reached out and took my hand and kissed it. “My love, I swear to you. I will not keep you, if you desire freedom over love.” Her eyes blinked and stared into my own. “But, what greater adventure could there be to explore the sea like I can?”
I was about to answer, but she dove underwater with a flick of her tail.
I lay there, thinking for a long time. The night passed by and the moon tumbled along in the sky. I didn’t sleep, I just thought about the strange events my life took.
“Hello William. Oh my- you weren’t exaggerating Suna.”
I looked, another face was next to Suna’s It was a fair looking woman with green hair and fins in place of ears.
“I know! Hurry!” Suna begged.
“William, my name is Holly. I am a Seabishop. You are mortally wounded, unless you take this potion.” She handed me a small pink vial.
I opened my mouth and drank, feeling my strength return as if I woke from a long night’s sleep. I got up, and sat with my shins in the water. “Thank you.”
“Good, now that, that’s taken care of. Are you ready to be Bonded to Suna?”
“I- I don’t know.” I admitted.
Holly turned to Suna. “He must make this decision willingly.”
“William, please?” Suna begged. “I saved your life? I love you?” She whispered.
“I know- and I’m so grateful. But-” I ran my hand over my face. “It almost feels like I am being guilted into this!”
Holly turned to Suna, “Guilt is not the way of the sea. He must be set free.”
Suna sobbed, “If only it weren’t for that fat pirate captain!” She wailed.
Holly’s face drew into lines of deep concern. “What of the pirate captain, I take it you are referring to Jolly Jon?”
Suna nodded, “He taunted the sea, he fed his crew, who were only guilty of being hungry to the wolves!”
Holly’s face fell into shock. “He dared to commit heresy against the cycle of life?”
“Suna, return William to the shore, I will do what I can.” Holly said and was off.
Suna turned to me, her eyes downcast and sad. “We are close to the Isle of calm. I shall get you there.” She mumbled and continued to push the raft.
I lay back down, an immense sickness washed over me. Guilt tore through my entire being; guilt from Suna and Holly healing me, guilt in being let go, despite the effort both mamono went through.
She saved your life? Isn't that worth something? Anything?
I glanced over, looking at Suna’s black-and-gold eyes, her sharp teeth gritted in determination and felt another tremendous terror and chill rip through me as I remembered the blood, re-imagined the screams and the crew begging for mercy.
I can’t…. I wailed in my mind. It was too much, I couldn’t… as beautiful as she was, and as gentle. I just couldn’t even bring myself to look upon her.
“William, we have arrived.” Suna said, her voice in deep sorrow.
I jumped off the raft and found myself in thigh deep water. I tried to look back, but couldn’t.
“Suna, I- I’m sorry. I can’t- it’s too much.” I croaked out.
“William, just promise me, do not forget that I love you. And I will always wait for you here.”
My heart burst, and in spite of my fear I turned-
“Hello William, beloved of Suna.”
-And cried out as I saw the Kraken, bringing Jolly Jon in tow.
“Hu-hello.” I said, feeling my fear take on a new aspect.
“Boy! Help me! Do something!” Jon cried out, and was silenced by a tentacle of the Kraken.
“William, I heard an amazing story.” The Kraken said, brining Jon off to the side, between me and herself. “Holly just told me that my lover killed several of your crew by letting the nobel wolf-sharks eat them… alive.” She leveled her gaze to me. “And you were almost eaten with them, yes?”
“I see.” The Kraken looked to Jon and shook her head. “William you have my most sincere apologies for that. The wolf-sharks are a presence of balance. They only attack injured or dying things. That Jon put you all in a net, restricted your movements. The wolves thought you were immobile and injured. They would have never attacked you otherwise.” She moved closer with Jon in tow. “And so, by my magic, I shall transplant the horror I see in your eyes, into its rightful place, if you will allow me.”
“In you, I see a terrible guilt. You are torn. And it ll stems from the lamentable actions of my husband.” She wagged a finger in front of his face. “He is a crafty one, and has escaped me multiple times. But, I think that I know of a way to keep him from escaping.” She looked up. “I keep many wolves as my pets. They will keep him in place, and you will be free from your fears. That is…. if you wish it.”
I looked to Suna, and back. “Yes. Please.”
The Kraken moved closer. “Look into my eyes.”
I blinked, noticing the Kraken smiling at me.
“Did you do it?” I mumbled.
“Well, what do you think?” She said, and gestured with her hand-
-And there, sitting on a rock was my Suna. Her moist, beautiful black-and-gold eyes held a delicate, hopeful vibe. She smiled, her pearly white teeth glinted in the midday sun.
She was beautiful.
“Yes.” I said, not bothering to glance at Jon who started to cry out again, and rushed over to Suna.
With a happy squeak, Suna hopped off the rock and into my arms. I waded into the water that we were now both able to freely hold each other. She smiled, and leaned forward, pressing her lips to mine, and nibbled on my neck.
“Suna.” I sighed, closing my eyes, feeling a deep peace amidst the waves, where I had at last come home.