Ocean swells over four meters tossed the timber long boat from left to right. The Watchmen, Hans, son of Vorge’s thick, furry hands gripped the figurehead as the sea crashed across the bow.
“Heave,” came the cry from the back of the ship. They had taken in sail and lowered the oars. The team of Nordemen rowed in perfect rhythm. “Heave.”
Lightning broke across the deepened blue clouds as rain begun to spray on the crew. “Heave.” Hans grit his teeth and held on tight, his fur cap flapped in the wind.
They had been sailing south for nearly eight days. Their target, the Southern Grasslands and the bounty of its arable lands. In the north they had no crops, and raising livestock was tough even in a long summer.
Hans knuckles whitened as he gripped the bow. Another wave crashed across the figurehead, sprayed his matted beard and stung his eyes.
“Brother,” Hans shouted back as a wooly man with a thick jaw responded from the side-mounted rudder at the stern with a nod. Hans continued, “Something roams these waters.”
“What do you see, Hans.”
“Top fin, near the size of our ship!”
The eyes of the crew shot wide as they continued to pull on the oars. As one man dropped his oar, Hans’ brother was on him. “Row you dog, the sea witch toys with us. There is no beast! Row!”
The crew grunted as they heaved, and the ship cut along the ridge of a towering swell. “Harpoon!” Hans cried as not more than twelve meters to his right, a beast the size of a house tore up out of the ocean. It broke through the surface and with what almost sounded like a wolf’s growl it flipped in the air then fell back into the deep.
His brother hurled Hans a two meter harpoon. He cut the rope that tethered it to the ship with his short sword, and locked the figurehead of the boat between his thighs.
Sweat mixed with sea water as the Hans raised the spear and beast revealed itself once more. What it looked for he did not know, but first the tip of its nose appeared, followed by a hollow black eye the size of a man’s fist. Thousands of teeth came forth from its gums as Hans stared straight down its pinkish throat.
He steeled himself. Kissed the rune of water that hung around his neck, his muscles tautened as he hurled the harpoon. It soared through the deepened sky and embedded itself in the animal’s gullet. The beast twisted fiercely. It would not die, but perhaps the wound was enough to scare it off. The creature descended into the abyss once more and Hans grit his teeth. Despite of the darkness he could still see the animals shadow beneath the surface of the water.
Hans called for another harpoon.
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