The sea swelled in a tunneling wake, then went still. Tristinia peered into the dark, deep blue with her crew. She didn’t like the stillness. She ran to the ropes connected to the main mast. Climbing one of them, she bellowed the oarsmen to turn the boat around and backward, quickly. In the wood and ropes, she felt the vibrations from the sea. “ROW!” She ordered. “ROW FAST! ROW HARD!”
A great wave swept them to the side as a giant slimy eel like body, coupled with a head of ugly teeth shot the ocean surface. Spray showered the deck timbers. The yells of horror at the creature rang in her ears. The serpent let out a deep rumbling, gargling hiss. Its body was lined with lights that twinkled like jewels in a night sky that it probably used to navigate the darkness where it lived, even though it was broad daylight. She focused on its head that sported antennae much like a snail. It reared back.
The Tiennrod from the deck below caught the wild glint in her eyes. “NOOOO!” He yelled. Tristinia severed the rope with her sword, which caught the breeze, carrying her forward and upward toward the serpents head. Letting go she flew right toward the creature with its ugly mouth gaping. She withdrew her other sword. Swiping she dug her blade in its eye. Digging her other into its flesh as it recoiled from striking, flailing in pain. For a moment she was doused with blood, dark and thick, making it hard to hold on to her weapons. Withdrawing one as the creature crashed into the water.
She felt the cleansing cold galvanize her. The beast was diving. She needed to kill it, before it attacked or dove, sending her to her death. She didn’t have time to find its heart, so she stabbed its head again, alternating swords, stabbing as she went, discouraging it from taking them further down. The dim blue filled with roiling bubbles.
She stabbed again and again, releasing one sword, digging in with the other, working round to the throat. She felt her ears pressured as water seeped in her mouth. Her eyes so only bubbles and the wrinkled blueish green gray of her opponent and the light of the surface momentarily before things darkened in the water thick with blood.
Underwater, she could feel the vibrations of her ship as well as the creature’s weaker movements as she had stabbed its throat. It sagged below, dragging her with it. Withdrawing her sword, she pulled back just in time. The dying head whirled around to face her in the swirls of red. With one last effort, she knocked out a few teeth with her weapon as its face came toward her. She saw the light die from its eyes as it descended and its dark body twinkled no more. With slowing effort, she grabbed two of the long teeth, sticking them securely in her belt and sheathed her sword. Her brain realized she wasn’t able to move but she couldn’t act on that realization. Tristinia felt her lungs descend and gravity’s gentle pull on her body as if she were falling asleep.
Above, on ship, the vikings saw the water boil and redden. Several times the serpentine body emerged from the water in its death throws, spattering the ships with blood. Then the sea stilled to reduced ripples. Tiennrod searched, panic strickened, but didn’t see her emerge. He dove into the ocean. Swimming downward, he looked around. A short distance he saw her, limbs akimbo slowly drifting down. As fast as he could he began covering the distance. The beast lashed out in one last attempt to strike at its foe catching Tiennrod’s arm. He twisted her in the water out of the way as the giant head streamed past with blood clouding visibility. Its hateful eyes glowing venomous purple light. Tristinia let out a stream of bubbles in a scream of terror as it sank pulling Tiennrod down with it. She grabbed his shirt with both hands, shaking her head. Water filling her lungs to bursting. “NOOOOOOOO.”
One could barely hear her neath the surface. She swam upward with all she had but felt herself as well being pulled down. Tiennrod pushed her with his good arm away from himself toward the golden lit blue. She could not cry in her watery environs. Her mind was slowing at this depth. She would NOT watch him disappear into darkness. She grabbed his dagger from his boot and sawed at his arm lodged in the serpent’s mouth. Its eyes were now flat and turned inside. She felt Teinnrod in pain, felt him grip her arm. She thought her arm would be crushed and heard the final crack of release as his bones separated.
Tiennrod went limp. Letting go of the dagger, she swam toward the surface where the sun danced among blue ripples. Air. She thought. Air. Each kick and stroke seemed heavier. No. She had to get them both up. She saw one of the vikings who had jumped in to look for them. The last thing she remembered before all color faded was someone swimming downward to them.He grabbed her shirt, pulling her upward, gasping as he emerged, tasting sweet air. He dragged her limp and sodden form. She wasn’t breathing.
The ship had turned toward them broadside. Vikings lowered rope. Grabbing it and twisting it round his wrist, Tiennrod’s brother by choice scaled the side of the ship while the others hauled him aboard. His people helped him as he tumbled over the railing, releasing his precious cargo onto the deck. Pale and limp and wet she lay next to Teinnrod. Taking her head in his hands, calling her name. An elder of the crew rushed over, trying to pump the water from their queen’s lungs by pushing down with both hands on her chest. After several attempts with a hushed crowd gathered round their leader, Tristinia coughed and sputtered sea water. Still weak and near deaf from so long in the water, she felt Tiennrod beside her, limp and breathing shallowly.
She turned over, cupping his face in her hands to elevate his head to breathe easier as she still coughed up ocean water. She looked into his kind and relieved face and the admiration of her crew. He couldn’t speak, but she could see everything he said in his eyes. Her eyes welled up in tears. Even as he was passing away, he squeezed her hand and smiled his eyes dancing in admiration. She was beautiful. Tristinia saw the spark she had come to love so well fade like a torch flicker and slowly fade in the wind. She whimpered, first in disbelief, silent in shock, her hand which was not holding him, still clutching his cold hand. She shivered. Held her husband to her. “Tiennrod?” she said softly. “TIENROOOOD!” She screamed. “TIENNROOOOOD!” Her body lurched with sobs and she wept, holding him, his name now a legend carried on the wind across the vast blue waters as she screamed it, echoing into the vastness. Her crew took off their helms, those who wore them and silently stood in mourning of the loss of their king.