Three For Three
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Three For Three
Erik leaned against the rail and quietly watched as the gulls circling the mast one by one made their way back to the island that floated past off the port side of the transport ship. The gods would be pleased to see this sunset, but alas, he had but these simple Japanese sailors to share it with.
Most of the deck work was finished and several of the deck hands had headed below for dinner. Two of them were fishing off the stern with their cane poles bobbing as the churning wake of the boat tugged at their lines.
The captain strolled up to Erik, with a grin and a mock bow. Captain Sasha Dmitriev, or “Hayato”, as the crew addressed him, was a Russian pirate. Peddling black market goods between the mainland and “the island”, as the thin man referred to Japan, was the name of Hayato’s game. The name “Hayato” meant falcon-man in Japanese, playfully referring to the way the captain’s speedy vessel regularly swooped gracefully around would-be encounters with the law.
In functional Japanese, Hayato greeted Erik in familiar words. Erik returned the greeting inquisitively. Though Hayato was a ruthless businessman, he was also of a gentle demeanor. Trading stories throughout the trip was one of the primary ways Erik and the captain spent idle time. The stories the captain told needed little embellishment. This man had seen much and done much in his short lifespan and Erik had a unique respect for him.
The two men were of humorously differing builds; one tall, brawny, and blond, the other short, thin, and brunette. As they small-talked about the weather and of Lady Luck, their attention was suddenly directed to the men at the stern as one shouted excitedly. He tugged at his pole as it bent precariously towards the sea. With the help of the other sailor, the two dragged aboard a strange creature.
To Erik, the creature seemed a cross between a monkey and a fish, with sharp teeth and golden scales. “Ningyo,” uttered Hayato with widened eyes. Ningyo. Hayato had described this creature of legend as a bringer of storms and misfortune if left aboard a boat. The captain scrambled to the creature, stumbling over himself in panic, and reached to grab it. The creature was as long as Hayato was tall, and it flailed violently as the captain wrapped his arms about it and dragged it to the rail.
With a grunt and a sigh, Hayato heaved the golden-scaled ningyo overboard with a splash. Leaning over the rail after the creature, Hayato’s jaw dropped. Joining him in leaning over the rail, Erik was met with the gaze of several dozen of these creatures as they overtook the ship. The ship began to shudder as the creatures slammed themselves against it.
“They wish to drown us!” Hayato ran towards the bow and began calling to the deckhands below, “To arms! To arms! The Ningyo have come to bring us under!”
Erik glanced back down into the depths and watched the vicious creatures curiously. Perhaps this was exactly what he needed to cure his unbearable itch. He grinned and launched himself overboard shouting, “I’ve been looking forward to trying some sushi! JERN, TITAN KILLER!”
Hayato brought the ship to bear and ran to the rail to watch the incredible slaughter. The waves seemed to calm as if the sea also watched in awe. Golden-scaled figures rose slowly to the surface in droves, some a few pieces at a time. There was an occasional splash, but after a few minutes the whole ocean seemed to be holding its breath.
Erik sputtered to the surface with a piece of ningyo between his grinning teeth. His eyes sparkled of Divine power and he looked up at Hayato triumphantly. Hayato simply stared on in amazement. Two sailors tossed a rope down to the Norseman and he scaled the side of the boat expertly.
“Do we have any rice on this ship?” Svärdsøn dropped the piece of golden ningyo flesh into his hand and his greataxe disappeared in an arc of blue lightning.
Early the next morning, as the top edge of the sun barely kissed the horizon, Erik and Hayato watched as the sailors hurriedly prepared the ship for docking.
“Are you sure you must depart?” Hayato was smiling, but his eyes couldn’t lie. He would miss this legendary man.
“This island pulses with an ancient power and the air is heavy with fate. There are adventures here to be had, my friend Hayato. I did not traverse the heart of the motherland just to visit the edge of the world and sail back.” Erik’s gaze was already fixed on the mountain range ahead.
“Then I wish for you your adventures, Svärdsøn.” Hayato patted the blond hulk of a man on the shoulder and strolled back to his cabin with a sigh.
The sailors tied off to the dock posts and began dutifully unloading nondescript cargo. Erik tightened his bootstraps and leapt over the rail, landing heavily on the wooden planks below.
“It is a nice day. I think I’ll find myself a good domestic brew, some new friends, and maybe a good fight.” Erik spoke to himself aloud, drawing the curious stares of local Japanese sailors.
He didn’t realize he’d go three for three before sunset.