SHARE
TWEET

Great [Monster] Journey 38

RSanon Jul 13th, 2014 1,574 Never
Not a member of Pastebin yet? Sign Up, it unlocks many cool features!
  1. “Galen. It’s time.”
  2.  
  3. “Mm,” was all he said, his gaze vacant and outward amongst the stars. Seira had to help him along with a push to get him moving.
  4.  
  5. Before they had made their way back to the docks, Seira had decided to scout ahead, knowing Galen’s father might not let him leave so easily. She’d been correct. The dock was saturated with soldiers, and Galen’s father had been supervising them. Had they shown up and tried to leave, Galen never would’ve made it to their boat. Seira had also reported the Kraken wasn’t with the boat. She may have been chased off, or was waiting for them underwater. Unfortunately, they had no way to check. When asked what to do, Galen had mumbled about how the Kraken wouldn’t leave them behind, but nothing more. Seira had taken the initiative to plan their escape--nothing complicated, really. The soldiers were likely only looking for Galen, so Sybyll and Mino would go ahead, secure the boat and get the Kraken to disembark. Once clear of the dock, Seira would carry Galen in a short flight and land him right in the boat. With the speed the Kraken could give them and a head start, they’d be able to outrun any pursuers.
  6.  
  7. “I’ll get up on the rooftops, make sure everything’s fine with Sybyll and Mino and that we still have a clear path. Stay here, and stay alert.”
  8.  
  9. “That won’t be necessary.”
  10.  
  11. Two sets of eyes went right to the one approaching, relaxing once they saw who it was.
  12.  
  13. “Sybyll,” said Seira, “What’s wrong? Why did you come back?”
  14.  
  15. “Our boat is gone, and someone is standing right where it was docked.”
  16.  
  17. “S-someone?” asked Galen, something of dread entering his voice.
  18.  
  19. “Your father. It seems he figured out something was amiss. Unfortunately, we cannot take just any boat anchored here. Only the one we were using has an apparatus for the Kraken to pull it by, and the other boats are either too small to make the voyage or too large to be managed by a crew as small as us. Also, I must admit to a lack of knowledge when it comes to sailing.” She crossed her arms. “Our best bet would be to ask your father where the boat has gone.”
  20.  
  21. Galen bit his lip. He should’ve seen something like this coming. His father wasn’t one to take chances where Galen was concerned, especially after hearing about everything Galen had accomplished on his journey here. “Can we do that, though? Wouldn’t I be captured as soon as I showed my face?”
  22.  
  23. “Oddly enough, the dock is rather vacant of soldiers at the moment. Mino and I checked the surrounding area; they aren’t waiting in ambush, either. Your father is alone.”
  24.  
  25. Galen’s eyes darted around, as if hoping to find something that would get them out of the mess thrust upon them. No, thrust upon Galen. His father wasn’t doing this for anyone else. “And I’ll bet the only way we’ll learn where the boat is if I go meet him.”
  26.  
  27. “That is a safe assumption, yes.”
  28.  
  29. This time, when Galen bit his lip, he drew blood. Something else atop the mountain of troubles he was already having. But… he did owe this much to his dad, didn’t he? After raising Galen for so many years, after Galen had run out on him so suddenly, after being lenient enough to allow Galen to fix Toneruth--yes, Galen did owe his father at least this much. So, with a grinding of teeth, Galen set out for the docks.
  30.  
  31. “Are you sure about this?” asked Seira.
  32.  
  33. Galen said nothing because he knew neither of them wanted to hear the answer.
  34.  
  35. The walk was much shorter than it needed to be. His legs ate up the distance like a feast, his heart beat as if he was sprinting, and he sweat as if the sun was bearing down directly on him. He needed something to say, but nothing came. There were no excuses to give; Galen didn’t regret leaving on his own, and he had no doubts about his mission--those were all about himself. Yet, as those weighed heavy on his back, his legs kept moving.
  36.  
  37. Galen raised his head as he entered the dock. Hoem was easy to spot, the only human present, with a convenient line or torches leading right to him. How could he convince a parent, one who knew fighting too well, to let him continue down this path? How could a father give up his only son?
  38.  
  39. His father watched Galen as closely as Galen watched his father. The aged wood of the dock creaked under his steps, letting out a long, low groan as Galen came to a halt. He left a comfortable distance between his father and himself. They’d done their greeting earlier. This was a negotiation.
  40.  
  41. Galen expected his father to speak first, but all the man did was cross his arms and wait. No need to say anything now that Galen thought about it. He knew exactly why his father was here.
  42.  
  43. “I have to go, dad.” He gulped down a knot in his throat. ‘Dad’ seemed like such an odd word choice here. ‘Father’ would’ve worked better.
  44.  
  45. “And I have to send you away,” Hoem said, uncrossing his arms. “It seems we’re at an impasse.” His eyes scanned over the scene, his brow twitching in concentration. Galen’s friends must’ve been waiting out there somewhere, just as he expected. But they weren’t a part of this.
  46.  
  47. “Tell me where the boat is.”
  48.  
  49. “You’ll have to earn that.” Hoem’s eyes snapped right back to Galen. “I won’t try convincing you to go back home--you’ve already shown words don’t quite work that way on you anymore--and I won’t waste your time discussing letting you go where-ever it is you’ve got your mind set on. That stubbornness of yours was inherited from me.”
  50.  
  51. That knot rose back up, and again Galen swallowed it down. “Then how are we going to get anywhere with this?”
  52.  
  53. “I thought about what to do here for a while, you know. As soon as I saw that manticore of yours scouting this place out earlier today, I knew you’d try to sneak by, and I had to figure out how to stop you. I could have called all the soldiers to guard the area and capture you as soon as you showed up, or even set a trap for you here, but that’s not the sort of conclusion I could accept and therefore one I knew you wouldn’t accept, either. I knew I had to end this here, tonight.” With a smooth, swift motion, Galen’s father reached for his sword and pulled it free, the metal hissing as it left the scabbard. Galen’s eyes locked onto the gleaming iron. “I could use my position as a captain to stop you, but not accept my decision. Only my position as a father can do that. If I defeat you, you’ll be sent home straightaway and give up on whatever madness you have planned. If you defeat me…” His voice trailed off, that rigid face softening for a moment. “Well, I suppose I’ll have to accept my son can stand up for himself.”
  54.  
  55. This--this was crazy! Galen wanted to say. A bare-blade duel? Against his father? Sure, he had some experience after his journey and the training from home, but he was still no match for his father. A sword fight wouldn’t last twenty seconds! Then again, what choice did he have? His father knew where the boat was, Hoem had carefully decided this was the only way he’d give up that information. He’d said he wouldn’t waste Galen’s time discussing the matter--it would be disrespectful for Galen to throw that in his face and talk like his father could be any more convinced away from his position than Galen could.
  56.  
  57. “I can’t spend a single moment doing anything other than moving forward with all my power.”
  58.  
  59. That wasn’t the first time Galen had said it, and he wasn’t going to back down on his words, not when they mattered the most. His father and he had approached this encounter with a full understanding of the situation. There was no arguing to be had, only action. If the full of Galen’s power couldn’t clear the way, then maybe he would be better off going home.
  60.  
  61. Galen’s hand dug into Toneruth’s grip and he pulled the sword free. The iron hummed as it cleared the sheath, low and clear, announcing it’s arrival into battle for the first time in hundreds of years. Galen’s other hand joined the first, a dull heat flowing through them as he positioned the blade between his father and himself.
  62.  
  63. “You repaired it, I see.”
  64.  
  65. “This isn’t really how I intended to use it, though.”
  66.  
  67. “That’s how it usually is with swords.”
  68.  
  69. Hoem leapt in and Galen reacted. Their swords met with a clang that echoed throughout the shadowed, empty docks. Galen could see his father’s face more clearly now, the nearby torches glowing on the etched lines of concentration and weariness. Hoem gave no time for Galen to consider the sight, flicking Toneruth off and going for Galen’s ankles with his next attack. A sharp inhale accompanied Galen’s leap back and he reset his sword’s position. He was quick enough to react to his father’s attacks for the most part, but that was probably a result of youth more than skill. His father had a wealth more of experience, and Galen had learned almost everything about swordfighting from him. While Nox’s master-of-arms was technically the one who taught swordplay, Hoem had never been content with the knowledge Galen brought home and had always sought to build upon it. Nothing Galen could come up with would surprise his father--his only option was to keep up with Hoem’s movements and try to find some sort of pattern or weakness. Galen’s eyes darkened to the tone of the night. Finding something like that would be very difficult, if not impossible for a novice like him.
  70.  
  71. The next attack came for his hip, forcing Galen to block at an angle he wasn’t used to. The sheer force of the attack almost allowed Hoem’s sword to touch his body, but Galen’s strength was just enough and Toneruth held. Leaping away, Galen had just enough time to reset before Hoem attacked again, this time at the shoulder. This time, Galen caught the attack much more easily, but it turned out the true attack wasn’t aimed at Galen’s shoulder, but to force Galen to block exactly how he did. Hoem’s sword slide rapidly down Toneruth, crashing against the guard and shaking the sword so hard Galen’s grip almost slipped. Gritting his teeth, Galen tossed the attack sword’s tip aside, but just as he moved to cut in retaliation, a kick connected with his gut, forcing him back several steps. He doubled over to cough, but fought hard enough to keep his hands on his sword and his vision straight, allowing him to catch the next attack, a thrust, aimed at his thigh.
  72.  
  73. “Have you really been fighting monsters while you were gone? Your swordplay is as clumsy as it was when you left.”
  74.  
  75. Galen grimaced. His father wasn’t wrong, and if the fighting kept up like this, he’d be losing very soon. In truth, he hadn’t really improved in sword fighting against other swordsmen at all. The fights he had won--against the orcs, the lamia, the harpies--were all with the help of his companions and none were using swords. In this fight, his father’s advantages were only growing.
  76.  
  77. A grunt gave away Galen’s first true attack, a stab at his father’s chest, and it was swatted away with little effort. Galen barely evaded the counterattack with an off-balance hop to the side, and deflected the follow-up aimed at his shoulder--but not well enough. His father’s iron cut through clothes and skin, biting into Galen like a harsh, frozen wind. He cringed, ready for more pain, but it never came. His normally-throbbing shoulder was unusually calm at the moment, and the resulting confusion almost cost Galen another wound on his leg. He backed up enough to give himself time to breath and wipe the sweat from his brow.
  78.  
  79. His father’s attacks came without interruption and total confidence in their aim. Galen, in contrast, could only wonder where he might be able to sneak aggression in, and every time he tried, Hoem shoved it back in his face two-fold. Where Galen had once known concentration, a burning frustration began to build instead. How was he supposed to win like this? They’d been fighting for minutes, yet his body sagged like it’d been hours. He’d always known Toneruth was heavy, but now it seemed to try to wrench from his hands and fall to the ground. Not only that, but the fact it only had a blade on one side meant he didn’t have the breadth of attacks his father did. Entering this fight had been fruitless, and he was just now realizing it. His arrogance had thought he stood a chance, but now that they’d fought, he could see all the advantages were his father’s. The thought made him grip Toneruth harder. Moping wouldn’t help him. He had to win this fight. He had to think.
  80.  
  81. The blunt side of his father’s blade rapped Galen in the side of his head, ripping him out of his dozing state and sending him stumbling.
  82.  
  83. “What are you doing, taking a nap? We’re fighting!”
  84.  
  85. Galen shook his head, trying to orient himself. He’d never been hit with a sword like that. Using the flat of the blade like that was incredibly inefficient and really only for toying around with someone or knocking them out without killing them. Of course, the sword was a rather terrible tool for the latter. His father must’ve been taking him lightly the entire time.
  86.  
  87. …or was he?
  88.  
  89. Several blinks later, Galen could make out his father approaching fast, sword up at the ready. His eyes flickered in the torchlight. No, his father wouldn’t toy around any more than Galen would. They both knew what was on the line, why they had to win. There was no room for foolishness, for hesitation. And if that was the case, the only reason his father would attack like that would mean he was trying to incapacitate Galen. Galen squinted, taking a step back as he blocked his father’s next attack. Of course his father was avoiding killing him--doing so would defeat the entire purpose of this fight. Galen thought back to all the other attacks: they’d been aimed at his legs, his arms, and his sides. Those were all places Galen could take a hit without risk of death. The only attacks at his neck or chest were feints meant to land other hits. Hoem’s sword was probably the worst tool for the job he wanted it to do.
  90.  
  91. Recognition hit Galen at the same time as his father’s attack, this time his right shin. He cried out and almost lost his footing, but had the presence of mind to duck under a follow-up kick and stumbled away. Toneruth didn’t have the same restriction as his father’s sword. Galen had that one advantage, and that was all he needed. He started deflecting his father’s attack with purpose now, wincing every time he had to put weight on his cut shin. His father’s sword had broken skin at least three times, and those injuries would only lead to more. There was no more time for indecisiveness--he needed to end this, to bet everything on that one advantage and charge through.
  92.  
  93. ‘I must always move forward with everything I am.’
  94.  
  95. Finally, Hoem’s attack came for the right place. A jab aimed at his shoulder, but Galen didn’t want it connecting there. Galen gritted his teeth, and sent his father’s attack off-course… right for his heart. At the same moment, he stepped forward, into the attack, and brought Toneruth to bear.
  96.  
  97. Hoem’s strict visage finally broke and he hollered, pulling his sword back and away as quickly as possible, leaving himself open and off-balance. Galen screamed at the wave of instinct pushing him away from his father, the instinct that told him a sword strike would truly kill. His entire body tensed, his hands dug into Toneruth with every ounce of his strength, and he shoved the blade into his father’s chest.
  98.  
  99. A wicked hiss and rasping cry met Galen’s ears as a frigid cold rushed up Toneruth into his hands and arms, the familiar touch of it’s power. Still tense as a drawstring, Galen yanked Toneruth free and took a step back, watching his father with wild concern and curiosity. Was it over?
  100.  
  101. Hoem’s sword fell to the dock with a clang as the man himself dropped to a knee, seizing the wound with all the strength his weakened body could muster. “Guuh!” he coughed, an attempt a speaking that came out as nothing intelligible. Galen rushed over, kneeling beside his father, and grabbed his shoulders.
  102.  
  103. “Are you alright?”
  104.  
  105. Deep laughter devolved to a fit of coughing so harsh Galen was sure his father would spit something up. Hoem grabbed his son’s arm, shaking his head. “You shove a sword into my chest and now ask--“ He cut himself off to swallow a great breath of air and recompose himself. “And now ask if I’m alright?”
  106.  
  107. “It’s not like I was trying to kill you!”
  108.  
  109. “Coulda fooled me.” Hoem released the wound, using the hand to brace himself against the ground. “Damn. I can hardly keep myself from falling over. I don’t know what that sword did, but it did the job.” He struck the ground with a fist. “Damn!”
  110.  
  111. Galen let some of the tension of his muscles. At least he knew his father was fine, but he also knew why Hoem was so angry. He’d lost, and that meant letting Galen go on. Hoem wasn’t one to let anger show on his face, but Galen could tell because he’d be feeling the exact same way if he’d lost. In truth, he didn’t even feel like he deserved the win. His father had been fighting with a significant disadvantage using a real sword. Hoem could’ve just as easily pulled out wooden practice swords to put them on equal footing, then beat Galen with his superior experience--but he didn’t. A stranger might look at it and say it was overconfidence, but that wasn’t how Hoem would do things. He went sword-to-sword because he thought it was the right thing to do.
  112.  
  113. Galen’s mouth kept twisting about, trying to figure out whether to smile or grimace. Every time he tried to smile, he saw himself thrusting Toneruth into his father’s chest and felt that resonating chill rush up his arms. He’d won the fight, but it hadn’t ended so simply.
  114.  
  115. “It’s on the far south side of the dock, not far from the water. I stuck it under one of the larger tarps so it’d just look like a pile of junk.”
  116.  
  117. Galen raised his head. “What?”
  118.  
  119. “Your damn boat.” A harsh breath rushed through Hoem’s teeth. “South side, under a tarp.”
  120.  
  121. “Dad…”
  122.  
  123. Hoem slapped a hand against Galen’s side. “Yeah, it’s just like you to try to gentle the blow after crushing your opponent. You won, Galen! Don’t feel sorry about it, or you’ll never stop doubting yourself.”
  124.  
  125. “But--“
  126.  
  127. Hoem looked up, freezing Galen’s words in his mouth with a stare. "You must not let your reason for action be fear! You cannot dread the unknown, shamble with shaky legs towards your goal, bear the beast of failure on your back while it whispers into your ear all that might befall you should you falter. You must venture forward for hope of what you might gain should you win." He gestured to the spot Galen had struck on his chest. “This was necessary. You did what you had to--that’s how things work. And you gained accordingly.”
  128.  
  129. Now THAT made Galen want to punch something. One of his hands curled up into fist and just about slammed into the dock. ‘That’s how things work.’
  130.  
  131. “Get going. I need to lie down, rest a bit. Can’t talk any more.”
  132.  
  133. Forcing an apology back down his throat, Galen nodded and stood. “I know you didn’t want me to leave--both Nox and here--but it’s so I could grow into someone you can be proud of. I’m going to prove it.” With that, he ran off. He’d need everyone’s help to get the boat back out onto the water.
  134.  
  135. Hoem fell onto his rear, watching his son leave, and hid his smile from the torchlight. “You never had to worry about that.”
  136.  
  137. After fetching everyone, Galen found their ship in short order. Seira was able to tear the tarp off in one fell swoop, allowing everyone a brief sigh of relief. It was just as they left it, so all they needed to do was get it back in the water. Galen, Seira, and Sybyll were about to do just that when a couple adventurous tentacles snuck out of the water, slipped around Galen’s waist, and pulled him up into the air.
  138.  
  139. “Gah!”
  140.  
  141. He grabbed at the tentacles, squirming about in the air in panic, but when he saw a familiar face rise from the water along with several other tentacles, his panic drained as quickly as it had come.
  142.  
  143. “Kraken. Can you let me down?”
  144.  
  145. “Ara ara, I don’t know if I should. You might try running away from me,” she said, running a finger along her teasing smile. More tentacles moved to Galen, lightly grabbing his arms and legs. A familiar, vicious growl sent shivers down Galen’s spine. This teasing was going to get one or both of them in a lot of trouble.
  146.  
  147. “Please. We need to set out, sooner rather than later. Let me go.”
  148.  
  149. “Hmmm.” She tapped her cheek, eyeing Galen up and down. “I guess so. For now.”
  150.  
  151. Slowly, she set him back on the dock, but took her time removing her tentacles. Once free of Galen, they all gravitated toward their land-bound ship and lifted it up with ease. When Galen’s stare went wide, the Kraken sent him a wink.
  152.  
  153. “I didn’t know you were so strong,” he said.
  154.  
  155. The ship hit the water with a splash, sending a light mist onto Galen which tingled on his bare skin.
  156.  
  157. “My tentacles are capable of many surprising things.” One brushed up against Galen’s cheek, earning another growl, this time much closer.
  158.  
  159. He quickly pushed the tentacle away, but not before his face flushed red. “Let’s get going now, shall we?” His shaky voice didn’t help, either. A large paw seized Galen by the arm, dragged him over to the boat, and tossed him in with no ceremony. The boat’s sudden sway under the new weight almost stole Galen’s balance from him, but he’d been in boats long enough to keep himself upright. Mino whooped when she hopped him after him, followed by Sybyll and Seira, the latter of whom took a seat uncomfortably close to Galen.
  160.  
  161. Odd how Seira was always so protective with her actions, but she rarely spoke about them, like acknowledging them would somehow flip the world upside down. A sly smile formed on Galen’s face. He didn’t know why he was in the mood. Maybe it had something to do with the gushing pride from earning a victory over his father, or maybe he was relieved his father had at least accepted his choice to travel his own journey. It could be the Kraken was rubbing off on him, too. Whatever the reason, he tossed his self-perservation instinct out the window and opened his mouth.
  162.  
  163. “What’s the matter, Seira?” He poked her in the side. “Jealous?”
  164.  
  165. As a small, lonely boat sailed out of Uuluth’s port in the dead of night, a scream echoed out across the water.
RAW Paste Data
We use cookies for various purposes including analytics. By continuing to use Pastebin, you agree to our use of cookies as described in the Cookies Policy. OK, I Understand
Top