The Lost Minnow

Title: The Lost Minnow
Time Period: June 14, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: The sea is not as pleasant a place as Luna Owens once thought. While Eduard and Jørn become the heroes of the day, Constance is provided with an opportunity to make her presence known.

The wind's held up for a few hours into the journey. All six sails are puffed full from the wind and propelling the vessel further away from Dornie than Luna has ever been in her life. Jorn, up at the bow, seems as giddy as a schoolboy. When they first started out, he was pretending to be flying. Until his voice went hoarse about a half an hour prior. The blonde woman would have joined him but she's been watching the water since they left, looking for signs of her kin. The few seals she's seen along the coast have seemed normal, disappointing. Turning to look over her shoulder, she spies Hossfeld through the porthole to the captain's cabin, pouring over maps of currents and land masses between here and there.

"Jorn!" She's started calling him by his first name since they set foot on the boat. All of them actually. "Jorn come quick, come see this. I think it's a selkie queen!" Through the round window, her excited gazes meets Eduard's before she points into the water. Summer has turned it an incredible shade of blue, except for one spot near starboard, it's a very large and disturbing shade of black.

There's a huge difference between living in a waterside town, and being on the sea. It has not been literally forever since Jorn was at sea, but being in a place where it's always so close and so far can get to a guy that was practically born on a fishing boat. As long as he forgets about his father, being on a boat at sea always tends to have him smiling and acting half his age. Less great for his vocal chords, perfectly well for the crew he went to help. The initial whip of excitement will wear off before long, but for the time being he revels in hawking off the front of the boat, feeling the spray on his face and arms. The white cloak usually sitting around his shoulders is doubled up under itself as it always is during the warm season, and according to one man that asked, he keeps it on above deck so that perhaps it might find the sea invigorating. Inanimate or not, it's a sentimental notion.

Jorn had also best get used to hearing Luna calling for him, he thinks. Especially now that she's been using his first name. As long as he doesn't hear it in his sleep, it will be fine.

"What is it?" Bumped out of his reverie again, Jorn wets the salty water off of his mouth and turns off from the bow to find the source of Luna and her beckoning cries. "Are you sure they've got queens?" When he gets here, Jorn shades his eyes to look out across the water, the blue and white brightness of the clear day making it just a smidge easier to spot where Luna is pointing to.

"It is something, possibly." His voice is still hoarse, but the scratchiness will go before the night's out.

And excited gaze and gesture down into the water isn't much to go on. Sure, Hossfeld pulls himself away from the maps and charts (he may not be adept at reading them, but there's no reason not to fix that just in case) and moves outdoors to see what the fuss is over. After he first checks the revolver at his hip to make sure he did, in fact, load it. It's not paranoid to suppose that most of the world is trying to kill him when, in fact, most of it is. And then, with the weapon back in its holster, outdoors.

"Was ist los, schmetterling?" he calls out once he feels he's within a reasonable distance, which is not yet close enough to look over at whatever it is that Luna- and apparently also Jorn- find so interesting? "Do you see something? A sea serpent, maybe?" Rather than wait for an answer, the German elects to finish his walk and peer over the bow as well, and then wait for an answer.

The shape in the water grows larger. Luna, no longer paying attention to it as much as her companions opts to argue. "Of course selkies have queens, they're the largest of them. Fifty feet in length and the size of giants." The blonde woman wrinkles her nose as she looks Jorn over, giving him a haughty sniff. "You'd be put to shame with the size of a selkie queen, they only take the most handsome of mermen as lovers."

It might be that Eduard Hossfeld is some sort of mage. A psychic or fortune teller. Whatever the case, Luna's fairy tale is just that. A story.

A fin crests the water as the ship is jolted on the side, hard enough to send the small blonde reeling into one of the masts. The sailors are old sea hands, none of them are unfortunate enough to spill overboard. Shouts from all over break the sound of the water lapping up against the hull. "Port!" The call from the crow's nest comes a little too late as another nudge from the shadowy creature rocks the boat.

It's a bit of a challenge to stay hidden when you've smuggled yourself aboard a ship, but Constance has done her best to keep from being discovered and causing them to turn the boat around and deposit the young woman back where she came from. It's one thing for that to happen, it's another to keep hiding out when there is danger of some sort. The boat rocks more so than normal, and so the young blonde emerges from below deck. She's certain her presence won't be smiled upon, but there's all sorts of shouting and she figures if they're all going to die miserable deaths from something horrifying and tragic, she should at least be present. As she emerges from the innards of the ship, she peeks around. "Are we being attacked by pirates?" She figures that's the most likely scenario.

"I used to be a fisherboy, you'd think that's good enough…" Jorn's mouth creases as he speaks, and his set gaze on the shape creeping closer fails to waver. Leave it to Luna to not be the one ready for impact, either, once it is clear that the thing isn't stopping. Jorn braces his feet and fixes one hand around the side just before the fin breaks the surface and something heady bumps into the side of the boat.

"Luna, get inside." The northman tramps the few strides to her side before the thing bumps the boat again, and he braces a hand on the mast when he takes her up by the elbow. As Jorn has turned himself to lead her away, he gets a lovely view of, and decent volume of, Constance emerging from her stowaway hidey-hole. For a split second he does feel as if he should be yelling, however he seems to decide a fuming expression and a loud growl shall suffice, before he flags his hand down at the younger woman as well. "Both of you. Can't have anyone falling off, hurry up."

That makes three at the bow that weren't quite ready, but still with luck good enough that they don't go tumbling over the side. Unlike Jorn, who promptly busies himself with getting Luna, and any other ladies to safety, Hossfeld rights himself and, gripping some of the ship's rigging that's in gripping distance, draws his sidearm again, this time with the intent of using it. "Will it run if we fight?" he shouts to nobody in particular. Whether he gets an answer or not may well influence what he feels is the next appropriate course of action.

Sailors swing by rope around the companions, trying to get from one area of the ship to another. Each vying to get into a position that's exactly what Hossfeld has proposed. "We can hope!" is the shouted answer from the man at the wheel. His firm grip is released and the ship courses toward the beast whose shadow is now looming over the deck.

It's not just the shadow that was black, the beast itself is slick and dark as pitch. Ivory teeth extend in sharp triangles from a gaping maw that strikes as switfly as a snake for one of the flying sailors. He's caught up with a shriek and quickly silenced as the monster tosses him up in the air, twice catching him before gulping him down whole.

Luna is frozen in fear. To her credit, she doesn't attract attention by screaming but digs a set of nails into Jorn's arm, tighter and harder as she watches the sailor being eaten. "I'm not going to die." It's a firm resolve and she yanks herself from the norseman's grip. As the ship pitches to and fro, she staggers, sometimes on angle, toward the railing.

Constance does her best to keep her feet braced, and she's about to turn and head for the interior of the ship once again when she notices that Luna is not running. Well, that's certainly not fair! It's only then that she actually sees the monster eating something that she moves to, instead, grab onto some kind of rope tied to somethingoranother that Constance has no idea is used for. Ships are foreign creations to her. She doesn't want to hide in the ship if she's gonna get eaten, but the young blonde does indeed look terrified. So much for putting on a brave face.

One thing to be impertinent when the issue at hand is small- but when it is very big, blubbery, and carnivorous, it is another matter. Jorn snarls after her, grabbing at air where coat used to be.

"Uvitende kvinne-" He curses loudly, gaze turned just long enough to watch the last bit of tattered coat drop from between teeth. "get back, get down there!" Whether or not Luna claims she won't die, Jorn would rather not take that chance. They may all end up in the water, for all he knows. But he is still going to put up a fight. The sword so usually snug at his back itches a hole in his willpower, and he draws it up and out. There are already too many guns- and bullets are bullets.

"Sjoormen!" One could say that yes, he is yelling at it. Pointy end ready, of course.

Realistically, a predator like this is going to have a thicker hide around its head, on account of that being the part most likely to be injured by prey. Of course, Eduard Hossfeld is no biologist, or really even a naturalist, so whether or not this is actually true is, in the end, irrelevant. It makes sense to him. Which is why when he begins discharging his revolver, he aims not at the monster's face, but at where he imagines it would have lungs, were it human.

Not that he expects his piddly little six-gun to seriously injure this beast: He'll need his rifle to do real damage, and that is safely stowed below deck to avoid accidents. But he might be able to distract it long enough to allow someone else with a bigger gun to get a clean shot. Or to give Jorn the opening he needs. He's never had or even seen it, but he's heard the Far Eastern delicacy called 'sushi' is quite tasty.

Thus far the monster has ignored the vibrant colors of Luna's jewel colored dress. She nears, her long fingers curled around a pole strapped to the underside of the railing. Some of the sailors have already begun taking their weapons and readying for an assault. None so quick as Hossfeld's revolver though, theirs are barbed arrows and harpoons.

The prostitute pauses when a loud tearing sound causes her to look behind her. Not the ideal moment to look for or come upon a wardrobe malfunction but it's not her. Thankfully. Just one of the sails as the beast rips through it.

"Constance get below before we turn this thing around and deliver you back to your father!" Whether or not Luna is actually angry at the girl can't be determined but she utilizes the emotion to heave the harpoon toward the sea monster.

It bounces.

"You won't turn it around!" Constance isn't sure if that's true or not, but the threat is moot if they're all in the belly of some sea creature. It isn't really something that she wants to think about, though, and she figures if they do make it out it'd be better to not cause trouble. So the smaller blonde reluctantly heads down below the decks. "Don't die!" She shouts, though it's hard to tell to whom.

Changing his blade from hand to hand, Jorn lopes after the harpoon that rebounds back onto deck after Luna's throw, which did little more than add to air traffic. When Jorn gets his hand around it, however, he apparently decides that lobbing it defensively is less ideal than the sailors make it seem.

Instead of hiking it up and tossing it, he waits only until the serpent is gnawing on the masts again before getting closer; all to have a bigger target to aim at when he finally reels the spear back and drives it hard- either through the air, or if the beast is ignorant enough of him and near enough to deck- right into its hide.

It's only after he's fired his last shot that Hossfeld realizes he has a big problem: safety demands he keep one hand free so he can steady himself, lest he fall over the side, but his weapon demands that he use both hands to reload it. It has nowhere to go but back to its holster to be secured in place, out of the fight for the moment and leaving the German effectively unarmed. Scheiße.

For now, it's up to the rest of the crew, eyes quickly dancing over them and their action in hopes of cobbling together some sort of genius plan to save the day.

Arrows snap against the thick hide of the serpent, making it angry more than warding it away. At the wheel, the captain fights to keep the ship on a straight course rather than letting their foe coax the vessel to one side or another.

Jorn's harpoon sticks into the side of the creature, making a lovely step for one of the sailors to leap onto. The barb snaps off inside the monster as a knife is plunged into its belly. Not an effective method of killing but it wounds the creature enough to distract it from the screaming women.

Crack Pop Pow

Hossfeld's rifle might have been stored for safety but some of the women that Duncan sent along didn't have the foresight or safety of the crew in mind when they kept hold of theirs. Following the german's line of fire, the smaller holes that he made into the flesh are burned bigger by his compatriots.

To the battle hardened it's looking more and more like they might emerge victorious. To Constance, something much different is becoming clear. Down below, her feet become soaked to the ankle with briny water as the ship takes on more weight from a crack on its underbelly.

"Oh gran, please don't let me die here…" Luna's little prayer to her ancestor, perhaps her kin, falls on deaf ears as a fin sweeps her across the deck.

Standing so near to the thing, the smell of it fills Jorn's nose with that salty, fishy tang, bitter and damp. Between the firing rifles and the man who uses Jorn's wound to help make his own, the northman pedals back and away, glancing across his shoulders for the young woman now swept off her feet and around the deck. Jorn's feet stumble a moment, and he picks himself off of one knee and back up to trail after Luna.

"At least hold on?" He can't win this game, can he? There's a wheel of rope nearby, the metal spindle bolted to the deck.

It's at this moment, at the bow of a ship that is being rocked by both the sea and the sea serpent, with rifles discharging on its less-than-stable deck, that Eduard Hossfeld concludes this is exactly where he does not want to be. All it takes is one stray bullet to ruin his day, and maybe his life. And so it is that while the rest of the crew is busy with the creature towering over them, Hossfeld is making his way along the deck to somewhere relatively safer, trying very hard to look inoffensive and inedible as he does, stopping only long enough to drop to one knee and tap the empty shells from his revolver.

The shells roll across the planks of the deck, some catching and skittering sideways as the boat pitches in a different direction. Just like the empty casings, Hossfeld is tossed about to finally end up against the railing. The wet skin of the serpent pressing hard with every breath against the militia man's back. Blood seeps into the man's clothing, becoming noticeable just as a giant head swings down to look him directly in the eye. One of its slitted pupils constricts before it rears back and opens its maw to let out a sound that's a high pitched squeal more than a roar.

Stuck between its back teeth is a hand, likely from the recently devoured sailor.

Dazed but not completely out cold, Luna stares up at Jorn, confused for a moment. "Wh— " when she sees the beast something dawns in her eyes and she scrambles toward the norseman. "We can't die here Jorn! We haven't made it to Liverpool!" Grabbing at his shirt, she makes a feeble attempt to shake him, as if to try to push him into some sort of action. "Kill it!" As if that conclusion hadn't been already reached by every battle ready soldier and sailor on the ship.

Constance finds herself stuck between a rock and a hard place… or rather, a monster and a wet place. The order to have her below deck had been heeded, but there's no way that she's staying below now. Her eyes scan for the crack, but she's at a loss for any way to patch the ship. So instead she scrambles back to the deck, panicked eyes searching for the monster to make sure she's not instantly eaten as she emerges. "We're sinking! There's water down there!" She hollers to anyone who will listen. It only occurs to her after a moment that yelling might attract unwante attention as well.

Jorn only has one hand to push Luna around with, but it's enough. She isn't that big, even if she is clingier than some sort of possum. He wrenches her arm away, steering her around and practically putting it around the metal wheel with its coiled rope. Once he has put her arm around it, he grabs her sharply by the face. It's a gesture that is just short of actually slapping her. "Shut. Up. Hold on."

Jorn leaves it at that, and leaves Luna where she is, taking up and off across the deck again. Between the squawling of the creature and the rattle of the boat, he does not hear what Constance says- but he can at least recognize her yell in the air. Teeth gritting, Jorn's hilt finds both of his hands when he dives in again, coming at the creature's exposed side with a reaching slash.

Moving was a great idea, because now Eduard is in a much better place than he was before. Once again, he has no mind to stay where he presently is, and seizes the brief opening when- hopefully- the flash of movement he sees in the corner of his eyes will provide a suitable distraction to hurl himself to his feet and legs it across the deck. "Nicht heute!"

Of course, the last thing on the German's mind is getting to safety. Rather, his mind is focused on getting to a better position to attack from. And possibly to a harpoon as well. Even if all they've done so far has made the serpent angrier, there is still one thing they haven't tried yet that is sure to swing the tide of battle: Something Dangerously Stupid.

Not today.

Jorn's sword finds purchase right behind a set of slitted gills. Letting out another squeal, the creature veers away carrying the sword and the norseman attached to it. Jorn is strong but the serpent is just a little stronger. As they move, Jorn is sprayed from head to belt buckle with ichor. Thick blood that reeks of rotting fish. Or a bad night at the Dovetail.

While there are many better positions to harpoon from on the ship, the three that come immediately into view are: The quarterdeck before the wheel, the crow's nest, and one of the booms that's come loose from its rigging. It swings toward Eduard, nicking the creature in the head and knocking the norseman and his sword from its neck. When Jorn finishes a small tumble he lands a few paces away. The view for both of them is quite spectacular. The sword's cut is deep enough that they can see bone.

While the militia and a grand majority of the sailors are occupied with fending off the giant creature, the captain is busy trying to get the wheel under control. Two of the sailors push past Constance toward the belly of the ship, alarmed by her screams. Sloshing through the icy water, they come upon the crack in the hull. It big enough that their own shouts of alarm bring a few more of the sailors away from their most immediate danger and down below.

The young Rowntree is torn on what to do. There's no where really safe at this point, given that below deck there is water and above there's a fishy looking for noms. As the sailors head past her, she stumbles a little unsteadily, but mostly stays in place, unsure of what to do. Her eyes scan the deck quickly for Luna, looking to make sure the other blonde hasn't been swept away by anything be it sea or sea creature.

Jorn holds on as quickly as he had told Luna the same; his free hand jams sudden and deep into the gills, grabbing for purchase to keep him adjoined to the creature. Though, to its credit, it is just as hard to hold on in there. He gives his head a shake to clear the ichor, just when the thing is clapped in the head by swinging boom and it jerks him off in the process. The tumble is hard, though Jorn fortunately does not land on anything important.

Still holding his blade in one hand, Jorn rights himself and pushes up onto his feet again, boots planting and legs searching for balance; his wolfish smile and the glitter of his eyes contrasts against the off-red and sheen of fluid.

Maybe it will leave now, badly injured as it is. Maybe it will keep fighting until it's dead, badly injured as it is. Although survival in the old cities is very much dependent on being unremarkable, survival in the new world as a whole often depends on a key quality that is equal parts beneficial and detrimental: Guts. Shoving his sidearm into its holster and hefting up the nearest free harpoon, Hossfeld reaches with his hands and 'slips' with his feet at the same time when the boom swings round past him, using the inertia to swing up onto it (and causing no small amount of discomfort and pain in his arm and shoulder), perching precariously like a great bird of prey. With a shout of "Fischgesicht!" as the booms swings back around towards the serpent again, Eduard Hossfeld does what is undoubtedly the most idiotic thing he could possible do given the situation: He leaps off the boom and, gripping his weapon with both hands, stabs out with it in the hope that it will actually attempt to follow his instructions. "Iss mich!"

Because while a solid wound anywhere on its head might do the trick, the most vulnerable point will be the back of its throat. A final attack made with nothing supporting it other than guts and blind, idiotic luck.

"Constance!" Luna's shriek across the deck calls the monster's attention, giving Eduard ample room for surprise. As the prostitute runs toward the Rowntree girl, she is blind to the fact that a giant mouth full of teeth are following close behind her. Constance, on the other hand, is granted first row seating to the jaws, the teeth, and her father's mistress nearly being devoured.

Until Hossfeld leaps. The harpoon spears neatly through the back of the creature's neck and out through the tongue and the cleave of its lower jaw. Like a sir, the German surfs down onto the deck, feet planted as firmly as they can be on the top of the slithering beast's skull.

The final puff of air from the sea monster's lungs whips through both Luna and Constance's hair. The smell of the fish, blood, and onion heavy on its breath, carries into their faces.

Unfortunately, their work is not done. With sails ripped through and a boat swiftly taking on water, the twelve pleasant hours of sailing they were promised are quickly turning into a three hour tour of hell.