The harbor was densely populated. Fishing vessels and battle ships clogged the shoreline, and still they pressed forward, rowing fiercely to break through the masses.
“Do you smell that?” Arlen Hreg, the first mate of Dresfield asked, turning his nose into the air trying to catch the scent again. He leaned his head back into the main mass of the vessel, smiling as he felt the familiar rumble of the Dresfield vibrating upward and around him. He said. “Its slightly sulfuric, but it is definitely smoke.”
The captain, or so the boat thief had dubbed himself, narrowed his eye and searched the air himself. All of his rotten crew did. Smelling nothing, he raised his fisted hand, ready to cup Arlen one more time across the face for good measure. He had already humiliated the young man, beat him near unconscious, stealing his best hat and tying him to the mast of Dresfield, in the hot sun, in the event he wanted to whip him again. It was all a vile show to keep the small crew in line.
The true Captain he meant to kill, that was as soon as he found out who the true captain was. That was why Arlen had been so banged up. It was a means to draw out the Captain. A means that did not seem to be working. After all, he could not have the ship if its Captain still drew breath.
Nevertheless the man had decided he would butcher the entire crew, Arlen included, and claim Dresfield as his own, just as soon as they reached land. If they reached land.
The arcid gurgle of a waking water dragon had broken through the surface of the sea water nearly an hour ago and had sent out its foul scent for three square miles. The scent was that of a water dragon waking for hunting. The only safety was found in Charm harbor; blessed ground that that kept dragons and their fire from coming ashore. Anyone left in the sea would be roasted.
“Shut your mouth, before I toss you overboard! Maybe your sour meat will give the beast a belly ache and cause it to retreat.” His hand landed hard against Arlen’s swollen cheek and made him fall at an awkward angle, tangling him up in the ropes that bound him.
The boat bucked beneath them and sent a ripple of waves that forced several ships ahead, some running aground into the sandy harbor, while others splintered against each other. The captain stumbled forward and caught himself on the rail of Dresfield before tipping completely over the edge.
It was then that he saw it, the large, scaly, ribcage of the water dragon, taking in oxygen, expanding and heating to a point that it made the water around it sizzle.
“Its underneath us!” He shouted pushing himself away from the railing. His swarthy face miraculously washed into a shade of petrified white. “We’re doomed!”
Arlen eased himself into seated position as the head of the water dragon rose up and back, dripping heated water from its scaly face upon the planks of the boat strapped against its back like a saddle.
“It is about time, Captain Dresfield,” Arlen shouted upward, meeting the serpentine gaze of the water dragon. “I was beginning to believe that you didn’t want dinner, Sir. Or that you had truly decided to claim a new crew. Either way your tardiness is bad form.”
Dresfield’s head reared upward, shooting a fountain of fire into the air, with light and black smoke. Then he turned his eyes upon the captain.
Arlen nodded and followed in turn, another smile blooming on his bruised face as he addressed the intruder. “Do not worry, captain. Captain Dresfield is a clean eater. I would almost suspect you won’t feel a thing. I just hope you don’t give the captain a belly ache on your way down. You do look awfully sour.”
Its an odd thing. I was feeling so sleepy and hungry, an thought to take my happy hips to bed. But then the opening lines of this story kept repeating in my head and I couldn’t help but write them down. I must say, however, that I did not expect for the ship to be the dragon everyone feared or for the dragon to be the Captain. That is the fun of being a writer, and allowing one’s creativity to move as it pleases (within reason of course) you never miss the opportunity to be surprised! What has proven even better is that it goes well with another of the freewrites I wrote early on when I first began this blog. In other words, this is part of a novel that I have jotted down ideas for but haven’t really sat down to write. But soon…until then, here is a link to the first freewrite (LINK: Auboline)