“Come on lads! Put your backs into it!”
I was getting tired of their lazy attitude. If they think this ship can steer itself then what the hell would I need them for?! My patience is wearing thin for them lot. I just need to get to my treasure. I have already wasted so much time trying to find this powerful scroll all because other pirates wanted to lead me on a jolly and send me in the wrong direction and after the wrong treasure. I don’t care about the Fountain of Youth or Cortés’ Treasure; those are for pirate plebs! I’m after the real stuff, the thing that will make me a true ruler of the seas.
I can’t tell the crew what the scroll contains though… they’ll fight me for it… or even kill me for it! That scroll is mine, and mine alone. No one is going to keep me from it.
By now, we were almost at our destination, a tiny uninhabited island with a forgotten name. I was lucky to find this place. One night a few months ago, I was sitting in a bustling pub somewhere in Cornwall, England minding my own business with a drink, when I overheard an obscure conversation about an old, enchanted scroll. I knew exactly which scroll they were on about! I shoved my nose straight in between the men and demanded to hear everything they knew about it else I’d feed them to the pigs – aggressive things those Cornish pigs. I may have also slammed my knife in between one man’s fingers which helped persuade them. The gentlemen were rather kind after that and drew me a map. That same night, I got myself together a crew and set sail.
To most, the seas were an unpredictable mistress not to be trifled with, but to me the sea had always felt like home. I could feel the changes in the winds and tides long before the crew could. It was as if the boat connected me directly to the sea, allowing it to seamlessly become a part of me. It’s what made me such a successful and famous captain. I haven’t told anyone about this connection, but it obviously cannot be hidden. My old crews have spread tales of my leadership like they were ghost stories, or as if I am also an unpredictable thing not to be trifled with. I have come to like my new-found reputation; it has attracted the sturdiest of crews that are loyal to a fault. Perfect. I needed that loyalty to look past some of my more… “unstable” qualities, as some might say. Which I thought was to be expected after chasing such a treasure for 20 years!
I was dragged out of my thoughts and back to the real world by a faint change in the air pressure.
“Buckle up boys, another tropical storm is on the way.” I said, with complete certainty.
“Are you serious? There’s not a cloud in the sky, Captain!” said Kai, the youngest and skinniest of the crew.
“Didn’t I say not to question me, boy?! Just you wait.”
And sure enough, two hours later we were in the middle of the worst tropical storm yet. The skies suddenly darkened, covered by thick angry clouds. The winds were deafening and threatened to throw you overboard. There was a mad rush to bring in the sails before they were ripped off the masts. I told the crew to hunker down and make sure the ship would survive the horrific crashing around amongst the waves. The rain fell out of the sky in floods, slicking the deck. We had to endure that for what felt like half a day. Eventually, the winds and rain eased up and we were able to sail comfortably again. The sun popped out from behind the clouds with a blazing heat as if to make up for the sudden soaking. This warmed the sailors inside and out and lifted spirits once again.
“Land ahoy!” Cried the lookout. Words everyone were almost dying to hear. With the island being so close, I could barely keep it together. If it didn’t take me four times as long, I would have dived off the ship then and there and swam to shore. The crew started babbling about how much they wanted to be on solid ground and enjoy fresh water and blah blah blah. To be honest, I didn’t really care. It was the usual things that were said every time we saw land.
As we grew closer to shore, I took in the full sights of the bay: golden sands in the centre of the horseshoe with a lush green background of the forest, all framed by imposing mountains on either side. As soon as we were in the shallows, I called for the anchor to be thrown and for us to get moving straight away. I called on Davey, Finn and Hawkins to accompany me. They seemed to be the most level-headed of the crew and I probably needed that for the trek ahead. The rest could stay behind to watch the ship and gather any supplies they could.
We waded our way onto the beach and had a couple of seconds to enjoy the feeling of solid ground beneath our feet. It was such a difference to being on the sea – I felt like something was missing. I could not be on land for long before I started feeling the emptiness consume me. With that in mind, we better get on!
“Right you lot, we need to trek up that mountain there and find a cave that holds the scroll. Clear? Good, let’s go.”
“Sir, how long do you think the trek’ll be?”
“Not long, a few days at most”. I really wanted to believe that it would only be a few days…
We found an entrance into the dense forest via the mouth of a river that bled into the sea and decided to follow it up-stream. This ended up taking us through the heart of the forest and what a glorious sight it was to see only green surrounding us. But I still can’t feel the winds or the gentle rocking of the waves. How do people live on land?
I wonder if I’ll feel the scroll when I’m near it? Will there be an energy coming off it? Hopefully, the others won’t feel it if it does have an energy, I can’t risk them getting it first and reading aloud the words inscribed. What would be ideal is if they went one way and I went another… Yes… In my searching, I would find the cave with the scroll sitting slightly out of sight but not enough for me to miss it. I’d pick up the scroll and dash back down the mountain and maybe find another beach, one no one had found yet. I could wade out hip-deep into the sea and speak the words of the scroll and become ruler of the seas! Yes, that would be perfect.
With the captain absorbed in his delusions, the crew had noticed his occasional outbursts of “Ah-hah” and “Yes!” all the while being completely oblivious to the effects of the forest. The crew, however, were fully aware of the heaviness of the forest’s humidity and were drenched in sweat. The birdsong that had started out gently at the mouth of the river was now harsh and loud as they walked deeper into the forest. They could hear the scurrying of animals at their feet but could never catch a glimpse of the creatures. In the distance, there were some fearsome roars followed by petrified screeches. They felt as if the forest was enveloping them, blocking all signs of exit including the skies above. They had no way of knowing the time of day or exactly which direction in which they were headed. The unease started to creep in, much like the thick black clouds did from the earlier storm.
We travelled for days and days and were finally at the top of the mountain. I had barely noticed the passage of time but looking back at my crew once we reached the top, the toll of the journey was all over their sweaty bodies and petrified faces. I thought that was odd as it seemed like a perfectly fine route. Oh well.
I followed a natural mountain path and came across a fork. This would work perfectly with my plan!
“Right, you three go to the left and I’ll carry on straight. Meet back here by dusk?” I said as I was heading up the fork without waiting for agreement.
“Why don’t I go with you, Captain. That way it’s two and two.” I always had a soft spot for Finn, and I could only remember why in times like this. But he’ll get in the way. He’ll ruin my plan. I can’t allow this!
“No, Finn. I think your expertise is needed with Davey and Hawkins, go with them.”
“Nah, they’re fine. Let’s go.” Damn it. I’ll have to shake him off another way.
We started up the slight incline that seemed to circle the outside of the mountain. After an hour or two we came to a section lined with different sized caves. Perfect! I can send him on a merry chase and leave myself to get the scroll.
“Oh, look at that. Why don’t you carry on ahead and see if there are more caves on the next bend above us and I’ll check out these caves.” I suggested, gently.
“I’ll help you Cap’, it’ll get done quicker that way.”
“No! Get your ass up the mountain and check the other caves!” I snapped. I couldn’t control myself. I had grabbed Finn by the collar and pulled his face to mine while I shouted.
“Uh, ok sir.” Visibly rattle, he obeyed and carried on the path. He shot one or two nervous glances my way but kept going. Wait, was that weird pang I’m feeling this thing called ‘guilt’? Nah, must’ve been something I ate. On with the search!
There looked to be 6 entrances in total, so I took them each in turn. The first four were shallow caves, ample enough to provide simple shelter in storms. No hidey holes in them though.
The fifth cave was slightly deeper and felt colder than the others. I wandered in, trying to gauge any presence of the scroll. I couldn’t sense anything so decided to fumble about the walls and the floor and the ceiling for hiding places. No luck.
Ok, last cave. Walking in, I hit a wall of ice-cold air. This has got to be it.
The sun shone in and caught on one of the walls. In that spot there was a faint outline of something. This is it! I looked closer and found it to be an ancient drawing depicting a story of what looks like a Chief of the island and the Kraken. The Chief and the Kraken looked to be making an agreement: if the Chief left the sea alone, the Kraken would leave the Chief’s people alone. But the Chief could not help but meddle with sea life and was encouraging the children to play with the sea turtles. The Kraken was furious with the constant disruptions and waged war on the civilisation. A witch appeared and bound the Kraken to a scroll. Whoever read from the scroll would bid them full control over the Kraken. The witch knew that the scroll would fall into the wrong hands if left to the masses, so she went far away, to this island to hide the scroll.
This was it. This. Was. It! After 20 years of searching, I had finally found the resting place of the scroll. I was giddy! I spun on my heels to make sure Finn hadn’t returned and was pleased to find myself alone. I explored deeper into the cave as it got shorter and narrower. It got to the point where I had to crawl on my belly to keep going. After what felt like an eternity, but was probably only 10 minutes, I punched something solid and hollow as I tried to crawl forward. I stuck both hands out, in the dark, to try and feel what it could be. It was small, square and wooden? Great! I shuffled my way back out of the tunnel to the cave so I could open it and inspect its contents in the light. I flopped back onto my backside and faced the front of the box to me. It was a dark wood, engraved with runes, symbols, and words from another language. There was a solid metal clasp keeping the lid closed, and it was emblazoned with an image of the Kraken. I went to lift the clasp, hands shaking with excitement. The metal was slightly rusted from the years of neglect in a damp cave, so I had to yank it open. It finally released and seemed to let out a faint sigh. A shiver went down my spine at the same moment. It knew I was coming. It knew I was the one to claim its power.
I opened the lid fully and found inside what looked to be an ordinary scroll of paper with a simple piece of string tied around it. I opened the scroll and read the words silently. I could not stop my face from breaking out into a smile, my feet picking myself up and ran back out the cave and down the path. I almost knocked Finn off the side of the mountain as he had reappeared to tell me of his unsuccessful venture ahead of us, no doubt. I ignored him and kept going. I fulfilled the fantasy I had made in my head on the way up here and ran non-stop to the nearest beach I could find. Luckily, it was empty.
I carried on running until I was hip-deep in the glorious sea. I felt myself come alive as I contacted my home again, I could feel its mood, I could feel what it was deciding to do. I closed my eyes and took in those feelings for a split second, then I couldn’t wait any longer.
Kryglan the Great Kraken!
I call to you as your companion
Hear me and accept me
Bestow upon me your great power
And we will be unstoppable
As rulers of the Great Seas!
I shouted into the sea and winds as forcefully as I could to make myself heard. I was met with nothing more than the graceful crashing of the waves on the beach behind me. Doubt was starting to creep in – Had I read the words right? Did I mis-pronounce the name?
My rapid thoughts were interrupted by a humongous shadow looming in the sea before me. Slowly, the Kraken rose out of the sea. I had to crane my neck back to take in the 15-foot-tall creature.
“I heard your calls.” A deep, soft voice told me in my head. Is that the Kraken? Am I going mad?
“Thank you for unbinding me, it’s been a long time coming. I can feel how the sea accepts you and always has. That is of great benefit to me. As my companion, I require you to ensure the needs of the seas are at the forefront of your mind. No one else is to distract you of this. I shall teach you of my past while we are on our travels so that you understand the great importance of our tasks.”
Absolutely dumbfounded, I could only find it in myself to smile and nod. The Kraken was talking to me, in my head. And accepting me! I can finally rule the seas with the most powerful sea creature in which all pirates feared. This was going to be amazing.