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       The Hollow, p.16

           Andrew Day
 
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its shaft like it was a nail, and he thought, Soa.

  The wave of force he cast struck the harpoon and cracked the shaft in two, but pushed the barbed tip deeper into the kraken’s body, and by luck severed something important. Its tentacles continued to writhe and thrash even as it died, until one of the creature’s brethren, perhaps sensing its sudden end, grasped it in its own tentacles and dragged it deeper into the sea.

  Caellix jumped down from the rail. “Throw the ropes! Quickly, before-”

  The ship rocked again, and this time Serrel stumbled and fell on one knee. He saw a flash of red, and threw up his shield, just a pair of tentacles slithered over the side of the ship and struck at him. One tentacle hit his shield and bounced off, giving Serrel a close up view he wasn’t really looking for. It was as thick as his leg, its lower surface covered with huge suckers, each one with a vicious curved hook in its center.

  He pointed his staff and said, “Fieren.”

  A gout of fire shot from the end of his staff, and burned the creatures flesh, giving off a foul chemical smell that made him light headed. He pushed himself upright, and weaved fire again. The tentacle jerked away, and retreated quickly back into the water.

  He looked to his left in time to see Caellix hacking at the second tentacle with an axe until it fell in half and lay coiling on itself on the deck. Then he heard the ship’s captain screaming, and spun around.

  A second kraken was attacking from the port side. Gigantic tentacles were rising from the water, straight up into the air. They were almost as tall as the ship’s mast. Then they dropped, landing on the deck hard enough to break several planks, and causing the ship to bob up and down.

  As they slid backwards to the sea, one brushed against the Captain, and sensing him, quickly wrapped itself around his body and pulled him along with it. He screamed in terror as the Hounds and his crew hacked frantically at it, but he was soon lifted from the deck, and carried away.

  Serrel ran across the deck, and reignited the flame from his staff. He weaved the fire into a form hotter and fiercer than before, and turned it on the next tentacle. Its flesh blackened and burned in seconds, causing it to lash out in pain. The Hounds hacked and slashed at it, filled it with arrows, until it slid from the deck and disappeared.

  When they turned back to the sinking ship, it was gone. On a few pieces of flotsam drifting on the surface and just over a dozen survivors flailing frantically in the water. The Hounds and the crew pulled them out as fast as they could, but could only watch as a red shadow rose beneath the final man and dragged him under.

  Serrel looked out across the flotilla, and saw that they were not alone in their battle. Kraken had attacked half the ships, damaging several. Before his eyes, the largest tentacles yet wrapped themselves around one ship and crushed it in half.

  Slowly the fight wound down, as the Legion fought off the attacking monsters, and the rest of the creatures set off after the fleeing whales or settled for a meal of their injured or dying brethren. Eventually, the sea was calm again, disturbed only by the wreckage of broken ships. Anything remotely edible was taken.

  “Gods,” Holly breathed. She was deathly pale.

  Caellix shook her head rapidly, and drenched Serrel for the third time. “I. Hate. The sea.”

  “Yes,” said Serrel. “You mentioned.”

  Snow was barking orders, “Get those men someplace warm and dry. You,” he pointed at one sailor who blanched. “You’re the captain now, correct?”

  “I... I don’t know...”

  “No? Fine. You,” he pointed to the next man. “I hereby dub thee captain of the good ship Dragonfly. Congratulations.”

  “Yes, Sir,” the man could only stutter.

  “Good man. I know nothing about boats and ship building, so perhaps you would like to take a gander below and make sure we’re still water tight and so forth. See about patching whatever damage you can. And take a look at this deck, it would be rather embarrassing if it were to collapse on us now, wouldn’t it? Make us look like a right bunch of ninnies.”

  “Yes, Sir.”

  “Off you go. You lot. Might as well make ourselves useful. Set course for that vessel there. See if we can’t drag any other poor souls from the sea. The rest of you, try to look busy.”

  “Sir, I can help with the repairs,” Serrel said.

  “Ship builder, were you?”

  “Carpenter.”

  “Works for me. Good lad, down you go.”

  “What’s that?” said a voice.

  Everyone turned to look at Holly, who was staring at the sky. They followed her gaze.

  The sun was dazzling, but Serrel thought he could just make out something in the sky, flying high above them.

  “It’s just a bird,” said Brant.

  “It’s... big...” said a sailor.

  “Is that a tail?”

  It didn’t look like a bird, at least not like any bird Serrel had ever seen. It circled overhead, around and around, then suddenly broke away and flew off, heading east.

  To the Faelands.

  “I love bird watching as much as the next man,” said Snow. “But I don’t feel like getting wet again today. Everyone knows what they should be doing, hop to it, chaps.”

  Serrel made his way below-deck, looking for something, anything to do that could take his mind off the previous moments of his life.

 
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