When Magic Ruled The Worlds
Eight Arms Of Evil
The winds also caused the rain to sting their eyes and faces, and produced great waves that foamed angrily as they crested high above the flat raft. As the avalanche of water came crashing down upon their tiny vessel Svarthofdi and Vilmeid held on to the mast for dear life. Vidolf desperately clung to the rudder, as she tried to keep the raft pointed into the waves so they would not capsize. Again and again thirty foot walls of water slapped them with their great force and tried to wash them overboard to drown in the deadly menace that this ocean had become.
Svarthofdi, who was normally the calmest of the trio, became as terrified as his companions when his magic did nothing to alleviate their plight. And although his logic told him that screaming would not help them in any way, shape, or form, he found himself howling just as loud as Vilmeid every time a wave crashed down upon them and threatened to wash them overboard. These same horrific waves did have one benefit, however, for they washed the vomit overboard before the sea sick travelers had a chance to wretch once again.
How long the storm raged none of them could tell. But whether it was merely hours, or many days, they lived only in the moment as they tried with all their might to survive each perilous instant. Most, who are about to die, have only a short time to reflect upon their demise. Svarthofdi, Vilmeid, and Vidolf, however, relived this horror each and every time a wave curled over their raft and crashed down upon them.
When the storm finally began to abate it happened gradually over a long period of time. The rain was the first to stop. The hurricane force winds were slowed at first to a furious gale, before they turned themselves into a mere brisk breeze. The waves, however, took the longest to calm themselves. Long after the clouds had lifted, and the skies had lightened, the swells continued to be well over twenty feet high, which rocked the raft back and forth mercilessly, and threatened to break the severely stretched bindings that held the logs together.
Later, when the swells had diminished, Vilmeid wept as he helped Svarthofdi raise the sail. The Light Elf did not shed a tear himself, but he also did not make fun of the Dwarf for expressing his great relief that they had survived. What concerned Svarthofdi much more than Vilmeid's sudden emotional outburst was Vidolf's quiet demeanor as she stoically steered the raft forward with the increased power provided by the sail. The Light Elf watched the Giantess closely as she stared out at the sea almost as if she were searching for something,...., or waiting for something. And after what they had just been through Svarthofdi hoped with all his heart that she did not find it !
Svarthofdi was about to comment to Vilmeid about Vidolf's quiet demeanor when he noticed that the Dward was staring at something much closer.
" What is it Vilmeid ? " the Light Elf asked.
The Dwarf shook his head.
" I do not know. Maybe it is a strange type of fish that was washed up onto our raft during the storm. " he told Svarthofdi without looking away from it.
The Light Elf did not see the creature at first, but then it wriggled slightly and he was able to make it out more clearly.
" Strange,...., it seems to have no eyes. " he commented as the creature moved again.
Vilmeid slowly stood up and pointed to the sea creature.
" Is it my imagination or is it growing in size ?! " he asked the Light Elf nervously.
Vidolf woke up from her vision and let go of the rudder. She pulled out her axe and moved forward before answering for Svarthofdi.
" That is merely one small finger of the creature that lies deep below us ! " she explained as she ran towards the " finger" that was slowly beginning to pull under that corner of their raft.
The Jotuness let out a loud scream as she swung her sharp stone axe at the appendage that she considered to be one small part of a much larger sea monster. The heavy axe easily sliced through the rubbery flesh of the creature, and cut deep into the wooden slat of the raft that lay beneath it. The longer end of the finger quickly recoiled back into the water as it lost its grip on their vessel.
As the Giantess pulled hard on her axe, to extricate it from the deep cut she had made in the timber, she noticed that the end of the appendage was still moving slightly, almost as though it had a life of its own. When the wood released her axe she reached down with her free hand and picked up the wriggling "finger" and quickly tried to throw it overboard. To her horror and dismay this tiny piece of the creature remained in her hand. She tried again to release it, but she quickly realized that it had a hold of her, and not the other way around. As the Dwarf and Light Elf watched in terror the Giantess put her axe in her belt and used her other hand to pry the creature off of her. Holding it by just a few of her fingers she once again tried to fling it overboard. This time it went flying through the air and landed with a splash in the water not far from the edge of their craft. While she watched the small piece of the much larger creature sink into the abyss she pulled out her axe again and held it high overhead just in case the larger part of the creature decided to return.
" It appears to have suckers on the underside of its finger which can grab hold of objects. " she told her shipmates as she examined the red circles on her hand.
When Vilmeid and Svarthofdi did not respond she turned and looked over her shoulder at them. The expressions on their faces told her much more than if they both had responded to her observation.
" Oh,.....,! " Was all she was able to say after she slowly turned her head to where her comrades were already staring. What Vidolf saw frightened her so badly that she backed away to the other side of the raft to avoid it.
The Jotuness had expected to see another, "finger", possibly larger this time, but still just a "finger". What she saw instead was a large eye in the middle of a huge black head that seemed to bob up and down in the water like a cork. Vidolf quickly looked to her left and right to see how large the body of this creature truly was. But this sea beast apparently had no body, at least not above the waterline. What it did have, however, were a number of long arms, each of which had a number of those strong suckers on them.
" Do something ! " she screamed as the arms slithered towards them like sea snakes.
Svarthofdi and Vilmeid, who had been staring in stunned silence at the creature, looked at one another with disbelief plastered upon their faces. In unison they both replied to her question in a befuddled tone.
" What should we do ?! " they asked in return.
Vidolf pointed her axe at the creature before shouting back angrily at them.
" Use your damned magic ! " she cried out desperately.
Vilmeid quickly scrambled over to his bag to retrieve his magic rune sticks. Before he could reach it, however, one of the arms slithered over it blocking him from gaining access to it. As the Dwarf retreated away from the advancing arm he glanced over at the Light Elf, who was already holding his magic wand high over his head. Svarthofdi appeared to be reciting a spell, but Vilmeid could not quite make out what he was saying over the wind blowing into the sail.
For a brief moment the Dwarf thought that the Light Elf had successfully finished casting his spell, but when one of the giant arms wrapped itself around Svarthofdi, lifting him off of the deck of the raft, the Elf dropped his wand, making Vilmeid feel that all was now lost. As he watched his friends plight the stocky Dwarf also found himself in the grip of one of this creature's strong arms. With a look of horror on his face, and tears in his eyes, he glanced back at Vidolf as if to say "goodbye".
The Jotuness felt an upsurge of rage, brought on by her complete sense of helplessness, rise up within her. With eyes narrowed, and her face turning a darker shade of blue than usual, she lurched forward, jumped up, reached her arm as far back as she could make it go, and with a grunt that sounded as if it came from a wild animal, released her weapon with all her might at the creature's head.
Vidolf's perception of time slowed down. She watched as her axe rotated over and over through the air. Handle, head, handle, head, handle, head. Again and again it spun around as it flew towards its intended victim. As she waited for what she hoped would be a fortunate impact it seemed as though her ears were picking up different frequencies of sound through each of her ears. Her left heard the higher pitched screams of the Light Elf, while the right detected only the lower frequency of the Dwarf's cries for help.
Then suddenly a third sound drowned out the other two, and made time revert to its normal course. The noise that rose above all others was a sickening sound that reminded the Jotuness of an egg cracking open. As she stared directly at the creature she saw that her axe had hit it in the eye. Moments later the creature's arms began to flail around in the water causing the sea to become a whirling mass of foam that tossed the little craft dangerously from side to side, much the way the storm had done the previous days. Then, just as quickly, the churning sea turned pitch black as the creature slowly began to slip back into the depths from where it had come.
At this point Vidolf had to make some hard choices. Svarthofdi, still in the grip of one of the creature's arms, though not as securely, was being pulled overboard. Meanwhile, the arm that had wrapped itself around Vilmeid had released him but as it slowly slithered back into the ocean it began to pull the Dwarf's pack with it. To Vidolf's complete surprise the Dwarf ignored his pack, stumbled forward and grabbed hold of Svarthofdi just as the Light Elf's feet hit the water. The Jotuness, seeing that this would buy her time, dove to the edge of the raft and caught hold of the Dwarf's pack moments before it was knocked into the churning sea.
" Help me ! I am losing my grip on him ! " Vilmeid screamed.
Vidolf rolled over and threw the bag towards the mast, and then scrambled up onto her feet to help the Dwarf.
" Hold on ! I'm coming ! " Vidolf shouted as she dove forward with her arms fully stretched out.
With one hand the Jotuness grabbed the arm of the terrified Elf, while with the other she reached down into the water and grabbed hold of his belt. With all the might Vidolf could muster she pulled against the weight of the immense creature that was dragging Svarthofdi down with it. For a moment it appeared as if the creature, whose great body was tipping the raft over would drown them all, but as it died the creature slowly released its grip on the little Elf, and after several very tense moments they were able to drag him back onboard.
For a long time all three sat on the edge of the raft barely moving and not saying a word to each other. Then Svarthofdi slowly rose up on shaky legs and walked over towards the mast. Here he picked up his wand and continued on to the opposite side of the raft. The Light Elf pointed his wand at the water, which was still churning, and in a shaky quiet voice began to repeat a magic verse over and over.
" From the depths, that beneath us now boil and churn,
Lies my friend's deadly weapon, a mighty stone axe,
To its rightful owner, I humbly ask that it now return,
So she may continue to give our enemies fatal whacks ! "
Before long the wind began to blow and a swift whirlpool formed on the side of the tiny raft. Deep in the center of this swirling water an object appeared and rose up from the dark void where it had been dragged. Moments later, and with a hard thud, Vidolf's axe landed on the raft less than a foot from where she sat. With a trembling hand she reached over and wrapped her fingers around its handle. As she placed it back in her belt she looked over at the Little Elf and remarked:
" Now you use your magic ! "
Vilmeid walked over to Svarthofdi and placed his hand on the Elf's shoulder.
" You did just fine ! " he assured his friend.
Then the Dwarf bent over a little and whispered in Svarthofdi's ear.
" So she may continue to give our enemies fatal whacks ? "
Svarthofdi bobbed his head back and forth and shrugged his shoulders.
" Sorry ! After all we have just been through I am not thinking as clearly as I usually do. "
Vilmeid laughed and kissed the little Elf on the head. For a long time they stood together and watched the whirlpool as it slowly dissipated.
- End Chapter 8
- Next : Chapter 9 : Land !
- Glenn Bergen, ( Ravensheart ), © Copyright, 2019.