The Harpooned Whale

'The Harpooned Whale' is set on the high seas and follows the adventures of Erin, a steely young woman with a violent streak, and Scarlet who is thrown into her world.

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9. Chapter Nine: Erin

 

      Everything was different. It was hard to put my finger on but it was almost as if everything was brighter or in higher definition. But it wasn’t just my sight that had changed. My hearing and sense of smell had improved as well. I had heard Scarlet coming. I had smelled his fear. It was strange but somehow I knew that it would be Callum waiting for me in the crow’s nest. His eyes were bright and full of panic as he handed me my spyglass.

      “What do ya think?” he asked.

      I saw the ship straight away. It was barely staying afloat and looked as if it had taken heavy fire. The mast was broken and half of it was floating in the sea. I couldn’t see any sign of survivors.

      When I didn’t say anything Callum asked. “Navy?”

      I didn’t answer. I was staring at the ship. It was as if it was calling to me. A deep humming was filling my head.

      “Erin?”

      Snapping out of it I slid the spyglass into my belt. “Wake the Cap’n. We’re going over there.”

 

      My father agreed that we should go to the shipwreck. But his reasoning was that there might be survivors or some goods that we could steal. The closer we got to the shipwreck the more intense the humming became. Glancing at the crew who had all gathered on deck I wondered if any of them could hear and feel the humming. Alderman met my gaze. He was anxious and kept on glancing up at the moon in the sky. It was a sickly green. Alderman’s thoughts were on the storm. It would start soon. I could sense it. Climbing up onto the side of the ship I waited until we were close to the shipwreck before jumping. I landed in a crouch and turned back to find everyone gaping at me.

      “Not too many men,” I said ignoring their amazement at the length of my jump. “She’ll be fully under soon.”

      My father sent four men over and we explored the ship. We didn’t find any survivors or bodies but there were crates full of food and ale which fortunately hadn’t been claimed by the sea yet. While the others transferred them to the Harpooned Whale I scanned the deck, searching for the source of the humming.

      “Come on, Erin,” my father called. There was a crack of lightning and he yelled. “Get back on board now!”

      The storm was starting. The hair on my arms and the back of my neck rose and I felt the magic in my heart stir. Over on the Harpooned Whale Alderman started chanting a protection spell. I was now the only one on the shipwreck.

      “Now, Erin,” my father bellowed.

      Jumping up onto the side of the ship I examined the deck one last time. That was when I saw something flicker behind a pile of broken wood. I stepped down onto the deck oblivious to my father’s cries and the rain that was now falling. I reached behind the wood and picked up the source of the humming, tucking it in my jacket before returning to the Harpooned Whale.

      “Erin,” Alderman whispered in awe. “How did you do that?”

      “Do what?”

      He gestured to my dry clothes. “You shielded yourself from the rain. You created a barrier around yourself, I could see it.”

      Glancing down at myself I saw that he was right. I was bone dry. “I... I don’t know.”

      “Did you mutter an incantation?”

      I shook my head. “I don’t know any spells.”

      Everyone was silent and my father put a hand on my shoulder. “Look what the rain is doing to the shipwreck,” he told me.

      It was melting. I watched as the wood turned to liquid and the shipwreck disappeared into the ocean. Then as suddenly as it had started, the rain stopped. Alderman lifted the protection spell and leaned against the side of the ship drained of energy.

      “That could have been you, Erin,” my father growled unhappily. “Why didn’t you return when I told you?”

      “Because of this,” I pulled the source of the humming from my jacket and set it on the deck.

      There was a collective gasp and several of the crew crossed themselves.

      Staring up at me through big, wide eyes was a baby dragon.

 

      By the time the Suns rose hours later we still hadn’t decided what to do with the dragon. Most of the men wanted to kill it.

      “Dragons can’t be tamed,” Edgar kept muttering. “If we let that thing live it will kill us all... That’s what dragons do. They kill.”

      We were all gathered on the deck, the dragon sitting still as it regarded us all with intelligent eyes. It was the length of my forearm and its scales were a silvery blue. Scarlet was staring at it with a mixture of wonder and fear.

      “What do you think we should do with it?” he asked, resting his gaze on me.

      I shrugged. I’d heard tales of the destruction caused by dragons. Maybe it would be a good thing if we killed it. As if the baby dragon knew what I was thinking, it tilted its head and blinked its huge eyes at me. The hum changed in pitch and I rested my hand on the hilt of my cutlass warily. 

      Alderman was stood nearby. “It seems very interested in you, Erin,” he commented.

      I grunted and said. “How did it get on that ship and what happened to the crew? There weren’t any bodies.”

      “Can’t have been the navy then,” Drew muttered.

      The navy were notorious for slaughtering any pirates that happened to cross their path.

      Alderman scratched his belly. “Maybe there was another storm before we came?”

      I shook my head. “What and it replaced the crew with a baby dragon? That doesn’t explain what happened to the ship.”

      “That’s it,” my father sighed. “We’re havin’ a vote. Everyone wantin’ to kill the dragon, raise yer hand.”

      My hand went into the air as well as nearly everyone else’s. Only three people didn’t raise their hands; Alderman, Scarlet and Kit. I arched an eyebrow in surprise at Kit who flinched when he realised I was paying him attention. He rubbed his crooked nose absently. Kit was one of the newest members of the crew. He had found out the hard way that I didn’t like being touched.

      “Right,” my father said drawing his cutlass. “I’ll kill it.”

      Stepping forwards I stopped him. “No, I’ll do it.”

      I unsheathed my cutlass and approached the dragon. It got to its feet as I neared and the humming became almost like a purr. It was happy. The baby dragon flexed its wings and flicked its tail. The crew surrounding us gasped and muttered among themselves. I raised my cutlass to kill the creature and an image flowed into my mind. It was of me holding the dragon. It wanted me to touch it. Lowering my arm I frowned at the dragon. How had it done that? The image flashed in my head again. Around me the crew started murmuring, wondering what I was doing. I found myself putting my cutlass away and kneeling down. I held out a hand to the baby dragon and it bounded forwards eagerly, its head colliding with my fingers. Its scales were soft to the touch but I knew that they were as hard as diamond. It was a dragon’s underbelly that was its weakness. The flesh there was unprotected. The purring increased and this time it was out loud and not in my head. Picking the dragon up, I cradled it in my arms.

      “Erin,” my father started to say but I pushed past him.

      I stopped by the galley for some strips of meat before going to my cabin. Setting the baby dragon onto my hammock I held one of the strips out to it. “Are you hungry?” I asked.

      The dragon sniffed at the meat and quickly snapped it up. It burped creating a ring of smoke and my lips twitched into a smile.

      “Want another one?”

      The dragon licked its lips at the sight of more food and soon the rest of the strips were gone. Climbing into the hammock I let the dragon lick my fingers. It nudged me with its head and jumped up onto my stomach where it curled up into a ball. I stroked it gently, wondering if I had done the right thing sparing its life. The crew would be wondering why I had saved it. Why had I done it? Had it been because the creature had made me feel special sending its desires into my head? Or was it because the dragon had reminded me of the baby I had lost?

 

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