Wild Waves, Wicked Women

Chapter 3

Wild Waves, Wicked Women
Chapter 02

The sun was half way up the sky when the Black Gull dropped anchor in the shallow lagoon. Fully loaded, the ship ran precariously close to the bottom, but the captain was confident he could get her back out to sea and the lagoon would provide some protection from the elements should the weather turn again.

Harry listened intently, eagerly soaking up the knowledge so freely offered. When the captain selected the landing party Harry was the first to volunteer, followed by Hermione. Harry was eager to explore, see what mysteries or dangers the island might hold. Hermione just wanted off the boat.

"Cast off!"

The small craft launched and headed for shore. Harry and Vargas sat in the lead boat and were the first feet on land, scouring the beach for signs of life as the others consecutively hit sand and were hauled up.

"Land!" Hermione cried, leaping from the dinghy and giving the beach a highly overdramatic greeting.

"You'd think she didn't like the boat or something," Merle quipped with a Cheshire grin.

"Look lively people," shouted the first mate. "Let's get set up so we can get to work."

The men went about their tasks expeditiously. Little was said and much was done which greatly impressed Harry. Never had he seen such a large group work so efficiently. The D.A. had certainly never been so easy to manage.

Feeling a sense of industry, he continued to scour the beach, though there wasn't much to find. Evidence of the storm lay strewn about but anything that may have indicated inhabitants had been blown or washed away.

At least, that's what he thought till he saw Vargas hunched over with a look of deep concentration, "Find something?"

The paladin held up what Harry at first thought was just a black stick. Strange kind of stick, sprouting sharp pointy rocks at the end. Harry took the item and examined it more closely, "Some sort of arrow?"

It was only half again as long as the bolts in the crossbows some of the men had brought with them. Harry couldn't imagine what else it might be used for.

"It's a spear," said Vargas.

"A spear! Awful tiny for a spear."

"For us perhaps."

Harry quickly caught on to what the paladin was implying, "What made it."

"Froaker probably."

Harry had no idea what a froaker was, but he was about to find out. They burst from the water some twenty feet from the boats and hit the sand running. The crew halted what they'd been doing and frantically dove for their weapons.

Vargas turned to face them, placing his hand on his sword but waiting to draw it. Harry just stared. His first impression was 'who knew Dobby had such ugly cousins'. An unfair assessment, given his own relations, but at first glance he couldn't help but see a resemblance.

They were not tall, perhaps four feet if they stood on their toes. Their bodies were squat and round as were their heads which only made their long gangly limbs look that much more peculiar. Neither wore any clothing save a simple belt with shells and fish tied to it.

Each carried a spear like the one in Harry's hand, but it was quickly evident they'd no plans to use them. They hardly spared the humans a second look as they dashed across the beach and vanished between the trees.

"Froaker's?"

"Indeed."

"Did they seem like they were in a hurry?"

No sooner had the observation been made did they hear the first cry from the ship. Everyone turned just as a barrage of grappling cords erupted from the water and fell upon the landing crew like sticky hail.

"Mermaids!"

Harry and Vargas rushed to their aid, absently noting the half fish creatures thrashing just above the surface as they fought to drag the crew in. Vargas drew his sword and sliced cleanly through the nearest cord while Harry, having no sharp object of his own, used the crude froaker spear.

"You boys sure are popular," Merle cackled as she bounced from man to man, slicing at their bindings with her razor-sharp claws.

The mermaids screamed angrily as their lines were cut one by one. But it was the deep groaning roar that got everyone's attention. The source introducing itself by latching onto one side of the ship with its big thick tentacles and hauling the connected body part way out of the water.

"Kraken!"

"Looks like the fish girls brought their pet," said Merle, bounding up to the two men.

"It's just a pup," said Vargas. "A full-grown Kraken would tear that ship in two easily."

Merle scowled at the paladin, "It's big enough."

Harry agreed, "Just how are we supposed to fight it?"

The answer, as with so many things, was FIRE. That was how Sorsha chose to do it anyway. From a distance it was hard to tell how effective it was though.

"She won't be able to keep that up forever," said Merle.

"And we can't get out there and help them until we clear the space between." Unsure which group to go after the mermaids milled about in the water, blocking their path to the ship.

"Hermione! We need some ideas," Harry shouted, unsure where his friend had gotten to and starting to feel a headache coming on.

"All my stuffs still on the ship," she called back from behind one of the dinghy's.

Harry gave an aggravated sigh, "Squishy meat." This development did not improve his headache, nor did one of the mermaids taking a shot at him with her grappling line.

He smacked the grapple hard into the sand with his staff, earning him an ugly look from the fish woman as she yanked her line back. A groan from the 'small' giant cephalopod was followed by a large splash as its mass fell back into the water, tilting the ship precariously as it clung to the boat with a single tentacle.

The mermaids screamed furiously and rushed the ship, hurling their bodies at the tilting vessel intent on sending it all the way over, "They're gonna tip it!"

"We have to get out there."

Their shouts were deafening in Harrys ears and he felt his headache explode into something else entirely, something oddly familiar, "Get away from the water," he whispered.

"What?"

"Get away from the water!"

Energy pulsed from his body and his words echoed like thunder. Somewhere beneath the surging energy Harry tried to focus, staring hard at the ship and its attackers, willing it in that direction. Lightning surged through his hands and danced across the water like a frantic ballet. The screams of the mermaids were only just less horrible than the cry of the Kraken as they were all filled with unmeasurable power.

"Uh, Harry? Harry! You can stop now."

Merle's words sounded odd to Harry, muted, far off.

"Druid, enough!"

The commanding bark of the paladin on the other hand came through loud and clear. With a near herculean effort he tried to draw the power back. It didn't want to be, that was clear, but he struggled till he had it. Once under control it was like someone hit the off switch. One minute he was fighting to contain himself, the next he was fighting to remain upright.

"Harry! Harry are you alright?" Merle shouted, jumping to support him before he toppled over.

"That, that was… what was that?" He felt like he was made of lead. Not a moment earlier he'd thought he was going to explode with all the power coursing through him. With it gone it was as though those channels of power had been filled with cement.

"What the hell was that just now?" demanded the first mate as he stomped up to the group.

"What, you've never seen a man pull lighting out of his ass."

The seaman scowled at the smirking feline then, overtly, chose to ignore her, "You gonna live Druid?"

"I'll have to get back to you on that one," he groaned.

"How are the others?" Vargas asked, changing the subject.

"Rattled, but they'll get over it," he replied, "Captain'll want to harvest that beast now. Even a small Kraken be worth good coin."

"What about them?" asked Harry, gesturing at the school of mermaids belly up around the ship.

The first mate shrugged, "Shark bait."

"Maybe we should pull them out of the water then," said Merle, "before we attract anything worse."

So, while Vargas and the first mate rowed back out to the ship for a quick consultation with the captain, Harry sat and watched Merle prowl up and down the beach while the crew pulled mermaid corpses from the water and finished setting up their camp.

"Harry, how do you feel?"

Harry gave his bushy-haired friend a weak smile but hesitated to answer. How did he feel? Heavy, sluggish, he was still conscious at least. "I'm fine Hermione." He'd said it often enough, maybe one day it would actually be true.

"You're a terrible liar you know," she said, kneeling next to him.

"Yeah I know," he said, "but I'm getting better."

She shook her head and laughed, only then noticing the stick he was holding, "What's that?"

"Froaker spear."

"Is that what those things were earlier, the ones that jumped out of the water before the mermaids attacked?"

Harry nodded, "I was holding this when I did, that, with the lightning."

"Really?" she leaned in for a closer look only to bounce back with a squeak when the tip sparked, "Sweet Merlin!"

"Yeah, been doin that since I sat down. Ass weird," he slurred as he struggled against the magical exhaustion.

"The rock must be holding a charge," she said, glaring at the sparking stone.

Harry shrugged, he'd hang onto it regardless. Seemed like a thing he ought to do.

"Looks like they're coming back," Merle announced as a small boat was launched from the ship. "Best get ready to work!" she chirped with an obnoxious amount of enthusiasm.

Grunting and groaning Harry struggled to his feet while Hermione looked on with concern, "Harry, you should rest," she insisted.

He shook his head, "Not here to rest," he said, leaning heavily on his staff. "We're here to work."

Tucking the sparking spear into his belt where it finally decided to stop, he trudged down the beach to meet the boat with Hermione close behind. He felt like he was dragging a concrete block, but he wouldn't let that stop him from doing his job. He'd work till they were done, then he'd pass out like a sissy.

"Harry. Promise me you'll at least stay out of trouble." Harry couldn't help but grin. That his friend would even ask him something like that. "Don't grin at me like that, I'm serious."

This only made his grin bigger, "No, you're Hermione. If you were Sirius, you wouldn't be asking me to stay out of trouble."

The bard growled at his stupid joke, "That is not funny."

"Something else you wouldn't say if you were Sirius."

The girl groaned and gave the uncooperative boy a stern glare, "You stay out of trouble, you hear me Harry Potter."

He did, not that it made much difference, "Don't tell me, tell the universe." Maybe it would listen. Probably not.