The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Three

His Typical Days

The next morning, Zuangeng woke as his room was getting lighter. He got out of his bed. He walked to the toy box. He got out some toys. He played with them until he heard Iyoseching call, “Zuangeng! Breakfast is ready!”

He left the toys where they were. He exited the room. He joined Captain Esiada and the mates in the captain’s mess. They ate some sausage, rice, eggs and fruit. The captain and mates drank coffee. Zuangeng drank milk.

Zuangeng walked back to his room. He straightened his bed. He went back to playing with his toys. When he tired of playing with them, he put them back in the box.

He walked up on deck. He walked around. He found Iyoseching. He walked up to him. He tapped him on the leg. He said, “Tag, you’re it.”

Iyoseching twirled to face him. Zuangeng took off running with Iyoseching on his tail. They ran around the deck. They ran around ropes, over or under rigging, around other equipment. They stopped at a windlass on opposite sides. They see-sawed around it a few times. Zuangeng took off. Iyoseching tagged him. The roles were reversed. Some of the other men joined in. Captain Esiada came out of his office to see what was going on. He stood there. He watched the game. They played tag until Zuangeng got tired.

Iyoseching took Zuangeng to his room. He said, “It is time for your nap, young man.”

He pulled the covers back. Zuangeng dutifully crawled into the bed. Iyoseching covered him. He exited the room. He closed the door. Zuangeng laid in the bed. His eyes remained open for a while. They eventually closed. He slept for about an hour.

He woke up. He crawled out of his bed. He walked up on deck. He encountered Iyoseching again. Iyoseching took him back to his room. Iyoseching looked into the room. The bed was unmade. The room looked dirty. He said, “You need to make your bed, again. You need to clean this room.”

Zuangeng made the bed. Iyoseching helped him. Iyoseching got a broom, dust pan and a rag. Zuangeng took the rag. He dusted the head and foot boards of the bed. He dusted the chest. He swept the floor. Iyoseching said, “Sweep under the bed as well.”

Zuangeng swept under the bed. He pulled out wads of paper and other debris. He swept it all into the dust pan. He dumped it into the trash can by the door. Iyoseching took the trash can. He emptied it. He returned it. They walked back on deck.

Zuangeng had the run of the entire ship with two exceptions. Due to the odors and the fact that sometimes a crew member assigned the duty of cleaning it out getting sick, the bilge was off limits to him. The other place off limits to him was the galley. The cook did not want him there. He did not want Zuangeng getting into the pots, pans and dishes, strewing them about. He did not want him getting into the cutlery and hurting himself. He did not want him getting into the other utensils and in the way.

“Who wants to play hide ‘n’ seek,” Zuangeng asked. Five men including Iyoseching said yes.

“Iyoseching, you hunt for us first. Close your eyes. Count to one hundred,” he said.

Iyoseching closed his eyes. He counted to one hundred. He went searching for the other players. He found the four men; but, no Zuangeng. He first looked in the captain’s office. Zuangeng was not there. He looked in the crew’s quarters. He looked in the closets, under bottom bunks, on the topmost bunks. He, even, looked under the sheets. No Zuangeng.

He went into the cargo hold. He looked around the crates. He looked behind the barrels. He looked up. On top of one stack of crates, there was a mysterious lump. Iyoseching said, “Zuangeng?”

The lump stirred. It grew longer. A head appeared, crowned in sandy blond hair. A face showed over the edge of the crate. The hair hung over the cheeks. It was Zuangeng. He said, “Boo.”

“You are the last to be found. It is your turn to count to one hundred while the rest of us hide. Come up on deck first,” Iyoseching said.

They walked up on deck. Zuangeng closed his eyes. He counted, “One. Two. Three. … One hundred.”

He opened his eyes. He searched out all the players. The game continued for a while. Sometimes, Zuangeng could be found in the crow’s nest at the top of the main mast.

Later, he stood at the starboard railing midway between the fore and main masts. He looked out over the ocean. No land could be seen. He watched the gentle swells go by. Sunlight reflected off the water. It lightened the water in color. Here and there, the water appeared white.

He turned around. He watched the men work. He walked to some of them. He asked them, “Can I help?”

“No, Zuangeng. Run off and play,” they would say.

He found Captain Esiada. The captain was between the main and mizzen masts. He was talking with one of the men. Zuangeng waited for a break in the conversation. He pleaded, “Esiada, I want to go swimming. Can I swim, please?”

“It’s ‘May I’,” Captain Esiada corrected him.

“May I go swimming? Please, pretty please?” Zuangeng pleaded again.

“Alright, you can go swimming,” Captain Esiada said, laughing.

Zuangeng disappeared below deck. He entered his room. He walked to the chest. He opened it. He rummaged through his clothing. He threw some of it onto the floor. He found his goggles. They were made of glass and brown leather. It was discovered that Zuangeng’s eyes were sensitive to the salt in the ocean water. He reappeared on deck.

He watched the men furl the sails He held onto the goggles. He listened to the men sing as they worked. He sang with them.

All the sails were furled. The men were back on deck. Captain Esiada commanded, “Drop anchors!”

The anchors were dropped into the water for added drag.

A gate in the port railing near the main mast was swung open. A rope ladder was thrown over. It unrolled down the side of the hull until the bottom rungs hit the water.

Captain Esiada and a few of the other men  stripped to their shorts. Zuangeng put his goggles on. Zuangeng climbed down the ladder first. They climbed down the ladder into the water.

They stayed close to the ship as they swam. Zuangeng wore his goggles over his eyes as he swam. Sometimes, he saw the underwater portion of the hull. It was copper clad tinged blue. He swam various strokes. Occasionally, he climbed the ladder about half way up. He dove off head first. He was adept at swimming and diving.

About an hour later, they climbed the ladder back up on deck. The ladder was pulled up It was rolled up. The gate was closed. Captain Esiada and the men who swam dressed.

The anchors were cranked up. The men went aloft. They reset the sails. They sang as they worked. Zuangeng sang with them.

The ship was back under way.

Zuangeng stood at the starboard railing between the main and mizzen masts. He had his goggles up on his forehead. He looked out over the ocean. All he saw was water. He spotted a pod of blue whales in the distance. He stood there watching them. Occasionally, one leaped out of the water. The whale landed either on its belly of side. Walls of water rose into the air. Occasionally, he watched geysers of water as the whales exhaled.

After supper, Zuangeng and Esamoda got into a game of chess. Esamoda played the white pieces. Zuangeng played the black pieces. Zuangeng check mated his opponent. Captain Esiada sent him to bed.

The next day, Zuangeng stood at the starboard bow railing before the fore mast. He looked over the rail. He looked down at where the bow met the water. He watched the water pile up against the hull. It rolled over into a wave. He watched it flow past the ship. It spread out from the ship. As he watched, three dolphins rode the bow waves.

Later, he was at the stern railing. He watched the ship leave a wake behind it. The wake spread out.

He got with some of the men. He watched them work. They taught him some of the techniques of what they were doing.

One man stood at the port railing. He was holding a pole over it. A line was attached at the end. It was partly in the water. Several men stood beside him. Zuangeng stood near them. He looked out over the ocean. The line tightened. A fish jumped out of the water. Part of the line hung form its mouth. Zuangeng said excitedly, “A shark! You caught a shark! Bring it in!”

They brought the shark in. They killed it. They butchered it on deck. The meat was taken below. The remains were thrown over into the water. The deck was scrubbed.

He was in the rec room. He sat at a table. He had some paper on it. He held a pencil in his right hand. He drew some pictures on the paper.

These two days were some of the typical days on board the Serikua.

This night was a special night. All the crew, even the night crew, were on the main deck. It was dark. Stars could be seen in the thousands. The moon was full. Lamps were lit around the deck. They were on the masts, the railings, even, hanging from the lower yardarms. Tables and chairs were placed on the deck. One table had the food, plates, silverware and cups. Everybody served themselves. Some of the meat was from shark caught earlier. Zuangeng had some of it. They feasted.

When they finished the feast, they cleared the tables. The tables and chairs were moved to clear a space. Some of the crew gathered some instruments. They played some music. The other crew sang and danced. Zuangeng enjoyed the festivity. He sang and danced as well.

Once, he was alone out there. The rest stood or sat and watched him. He sang and danced solo. He sang one of his favorites. The song was of his love of the ocean, the ship and the crew. Land was not in the picture. He barely knew anything of land. He had no feelings toward land. The ocean and the ship were his life.

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Two

Ang Iyoka

It was the day Zuangeng met his future guardian. It was a few days before the storm. Zuangeng was standing with the forestay between his legs. His right foot was planted on the varnished oak jib boom in front of the forestay. He had planted his left foot on the varnished oak bowsprit behind the forestay. He held onto the forestay with his left hand. His right arm dangled freely.

The crew used to warn him about being out there. He looked down. Beneath him and the bowsprit and jib boom was water. They would say to him, “Zuangeng! That is no place for a boy your age! You could fall off into the water, get ran over by the ship and drown!”

He generally ignored the warnings. He still went out on the bowsprit and jib boom. Sometimes, he went to the tip of the jib boom. Not once did he have a mishap. They had ceased to warn him. They had become accustomed to his being out there. They still worried.

He looked out over the greenish blue ocean. It stretched out to the horizon. The water had gentle waves. No land could be seen. The blue sky had some white wispy clouds. The sun warmed him. A cool wind blew off the ocean. It blew his hair around, sometimes into his face. He brushed it from his face with his free hand.

The jib boom slanted up in front of him. The leading edge of the white jib next to him was on the left. Two more white jibs billowed out to his left in front of him. The stay that he was holding was attached where the jib boom and bowsprit overlapped. Two other stays were attached to the jib boom at two various points. The stays and jibs disappeared over his head and behind him.

Iyoseching occasionally tested him in his knowledge of the ship. The other day, Iyoseching found him at the starboard bow railing. Zuangeng was looking out over the water. Iyoseching said, “Look to your left, Zuangeng. What are those sails?”

Zuangeng looked at the sails. He said, “Jibs.”

“What are the jibs from the closest out,” Iyoseching asked.

“They are the inner, outer and flying jibs,” Zuangeng answered.

“What are the stays in the same order,” Iyoseching asked.

“They are the fore, fore topmast and fore topgallant stays,” Zuangeng said.

The captain was sitting behind his desk in his office. He was studying a chart of the ocean. Most of the chart was blue. Some of the chart was brown and green indicating islands. Light blue indicated atolls. Lines crisscrossed the chart. The lines had numbers beside them indicating degrees and minutes of longitude and latitude. There were names of islands, atolls, seas and major harbors. On the chart he had marked their last known location based on the last reading he took that morning. He wrote the time and date of the reading. He was making sure that they were on the right course. A glass of water sat on the right side of the chart.

The sea dragon was floating stretched out on the ocean surface. His scaly wings were spread out on the surface. His long cone-shaped tail stretched out behind him. His legs dangled in the water. His head laid on the surface.

The wind blew over him. Waves lapped against his right side. Waves washed over his right wing. He was unaware of any of this. His eyes were closed. He was in a sleep so deep that all senses were shut off.

Zuangeng loved being on and the view from the bowsprit or jib boom. He had seen the same sight thousands of times. He never tired of it. He imagined what was out there, real or not. He hardly imagined the same things each time.

Today, he imagined himself as a blue sea dragon. He flew through the ocean. He had two rows of fins running from his shoulders to his tail. He had two horizontal flippers where his front legs would have been. Where his hind legs would have been were downward slanting fins. His tail was similar to that of a shark’s.

He encountered a sunken sailing ship. Its three masts laid across the main deck to the port. The tops of the masts rested on the seafloor. There was a gaping hole in the deck and port side. It was encrusted with grey sediment. Fish swam around it. Some went in or out of the hole.

He flew through the hole. He flew down several decks until he came to an undamaged deck. It was part of the cargo hold. His eyes glowed in the darkness. His flippers and bottom hind fins became legs. His shark’s tail became conical. He landed on the deck. He folded his wings. He walked among crates. He walked over some crates. The crates were scattered on the deck. Some were broken.

He discovered a large chest. It was a rectangular box with a semicircular lid. There were three brass bands circling the chest. Each band had a clasp to keep the lid closed. The middle one had a lock. The lock was easy to break. He loosened the clasps. He pried the lid open. Gold and silver coins fell to the deck. He rummaged through the coins. He found gold goblets and chalices. Some were ornate with rubies, diamonds, amethyst and sapphires. There were gold and silver necklaces, rings and bracelets. Some had jewels embedded in them. There were jewels of all kinds. He looked at some of the treasures, admiring the fine workmanship. He left it all. He exited the ship. He left it behind.

He flew on. He came across a mountain range. It was covered with coral. Swimming among the coral were exotic creatures. There were snake-like eels. They were grey, some with red fins running their length both tip and bottom. There were greyish brown oceanic lizards. There were some sea turtles. There were fish of various shapes and colors. There were rainbow colored fish with feathery fins. Some fish blended in with the coral. A mermaid swam among the coral. She was covered in silvery scales from head to tail. Her tail resembled that of a dolphin. Her torso and head resembled a human. She used her hands to pull herself along. She saw him and grinned. He flew on. He flew between two mountains that reached out of the water.

He reached the other side. He flew down to the sea floor. His flippers and rear fins transformed into legs. He landed on the muddy bottom. Clouds of mud floated off the surface. He folded his wings. He walked on the floor. Each step sent clouds of mud into the water. Octupi crawled on the floor. They varied in color and pattern. Some changed their coloration and pattern. There were starfish. They varied in size, color and number of arms. Some had whip-like arms. He saw mollusks of different shapes, sizes and colors of shells. There were floor dwelling fish. They varied in shape, size and color. Some were flat. Their eyes were on top of their heads. Some buried themselves in the mud.

He took off. He flew again. His limbs transformed back to flippers and fins. There were squids of different sizes and colors. Mantas flew through the water. Jellyfish floated or swam in the water. They were translucent.

A shudder brought Zuangeng to reality. The ship lurched to a halt. A vibration went through the bowsprit and jib boom. He swore, “Was that a roar I just heard?”

He lost  his balance. He quickly wrapped his right leg around the forestay. He grabbed it with his other hand. He regained his balance.

The sea dragon woke up abruptly. Pain shot through his body. His lower jaw went under water about an inch. The upper jaw went up. He let out a loud roar of pain. The roar sent ripples through the water.

He raised his head. He turned it to his right to see what had interrupted his nap. He found it was a ship’s bow. The starboard anchor hung from a hole in the bow. ‘Serikua’ was emblazoned in gold above the anchor. The bowsprit and jib boom extended over him. The boom tip was close to his head. He moved his head right to avoid the boom.

He faced the ship. The first thing he noticed was a naked boy. The boy’s skin was brown. His hair was sandy blond. The dragon muttered to himself in Dragonese, “No doubt, his hair must be bleached by the sun and sea salt. It must be long enough to hang over his shoulders. The boy seems to be six years old.”

Beyond the boy, there was the fore mast. Four square sails hung at different heights on the mast. Part of another sail was visible above the top most sail on the fore mast. The top part of the main topgallant mast  and the crow’s nest were visible above that sail. Shrouds came from the side of the hull up. They disappeared behind the course sail. More shrouds went from the bottom of the topmast to disappear behind the top sail. One more set of shrouds went from the bottom of the topgallant mast to disappear behind the topgallant sail. They reappeared above the royal sail to disappear into the crow’s nest.

Zuangeng looked up to see the head appear. He recognized it to be the head of a sea dragon. The mouth was open. The lips were curled in a snarl. There were white teeth. Two pairs of teeth, one on each side, were bigger than the others. The upper pair were the longest. The gums were blood red. The tongue was dark red, almost black. The eyes were blood red with black spots in the center. The eyebrows were furrowed. The nostrils were flared. The dragon growled. Zuangeng said in Cingalia, “You must be angry.”

Zuangeng swung around. A few men ran toward him. He put his right hand to his mouth. He yelled loudly, “Iyoka, iyoka, iyoka.”

The men saw the dragon. They yelled, “Zuangeng, get off there! Get away from that dragon!”

Everybody, including Zuangeng, knew the reputation of the sea dragons. They had a propensity to sink ships that bothered them. Zuangeng remembered the tale of the whaling ship, Aleb.

The ill-fated Aleb was on her final voyage hunting whales. The Aleb was a three masted, square-rigged whaling ship.

Johnathon was in the crow’s nest at the top of the main mast. He looked out over the ocean. He saw a large, long grey mass in the blue water. From his vantage point, the mass looked like a whale. He looked down to the main deck. There were a few men below him. He yelled, “The’e be a whale off the sta’boa’d bow.”

Captain Jaycob heard him. He looked off the starboard bow. He saw the whale. He said to the man standing next to him, “Alexi, gather your men. Take a long boat and go after that whale.”

“Aye, captain,” Alexi said. He walked below. He got his harpoon. He got eight men. They walked up on deck. They walked to a long boat near the starboard bow. They pulled the canvass cover off the boat. They lowered the boat to the water. They got into the boat. Alexi sat in the bow.

They released the boat. The eight men grabbed the oars. They rowed the boat  toward the whale. Alexi tied the harpoon to a rope stored at the bow.

They came within range of the whale. Alexi stood up. He held the harpoon over his right shoulder. He hurled the harpoon with all his might. The harpoon hit its target. It sank into the flesh.

A dragon’s head popped out of the water. The harpoon was lodged behind the shoulder. The dragon roared in pain. Alexi yelled, “Aye, tis a sea dragon, not a whale! Row back, row back!”

Alexi untied the rope from the boat. The men frantically rowed away from the dragon. The dragon turned its head around to face the boat. It saw Alexi standing in the bow. The dragon turned its body around. It swam after the boat. It came close. It quickly lowered its head toward Alexi. Alexi saw the mouth wide open, white teeth showing. The eyes were blood red.  The dragon grabbed Alexi in its mouth. It picked him up. Alexi screamed and struggled. The dragon squeezed him. Alexi felt and heard his ribs break. He became limp in the dragon’s mouth. He was silent and dead. The dragon threw Alexi’s body into the ocean.

It rapidly lowered its head at the boat. The eight men jumped into the sea. The head slammed on the boat’s middle. Splinters flew as the boat broke in half. The halves flipped over. The men swam to the halves. They grabbed them. They held on.

The dragon found the Aleb. It thrashed the water as it struggled into the air. It flapped its wings. The men in the water watched it. The wing on the side with the harpoon did not move as well as the other wing. It became airborne. The rope hung from the harpoon.

Captain Jaycob saw the dragon approach the Aleb. He noticed that it was injured. He said to the men, “Gather all the harpoons! Prepare to fight!”

The men went below. They gathered the harpoons. They brought them up on deck. They waited.

The dragon arrived at the ship. It dove at it. The crew threw the harpoons at the dragon. It dodged or swatted the flying harpoons.

The dragon came at the main mast. It bit the topgallant mast below the royal yardarm. The topgallant mast snapped like a twig. The front claws ripped the topgallant sail. The topgallant mast toppled. The rigging kept it from going all the way. Johnathon was not so lucky. He fell out of the crow’s nest. He hit the deck.

The dragon wheeled around. It came at the ship from the bow. It grabbed the royal yardarm on the fore mast with its right front claw. It tore the yardarm off. The rigging snapped. The sail flapped. The dragon tore the sail off with the left front claw.

It stopped and hovered, nearly vertical, above the ship. It threw the yardarm with such force that the yardarm lodged in the upper two decks. The dragon did the same to the mizzen royal yardarm.

The dragon went to tearing the rigging and sails. The broken main topgallant mast fell to the water. The dragon snapped more of the masts. The pieces fell into the sea. The dragon continued to dodge the harpoons.

The dragon clumsily landed in the water on the port side. Water rose up from the landing site. It opened its mouth wide. It bit through t he hull and main deck. Splinters and broken planks went flying. The dragon spat the pieces in its mouth out at the crew. The crew dodged the debris. It beat on the ship with its head and tail. More splinters, pieces of wood and planks went flying. The water was so agitated that it splashed through the holes into the ship. The ship listed to port admitting more water.

Captain Jaycob commanded, “Abandon ship! Everybody to the long boats!”

The men scurried to the boats. They uncovered them. They frantically lowered them. The dragon stopped and made room. The men clambered into them. They released the boats from the ship. They rowed away from it. The boats rocked in the still agitated water.

The dragon went back to the ship. While the men watched, The dragon slammed it front legs on the ship. Planks buckled. During the struggle, the imbedded harpoon in the dragon broke at the skin. They say to this day, the harpoon’s head is still in the dragon.

The Aleb broke in half and sank. The dragon disappeared under water. It spared the lives of the crew in the long boats. The crew of one boat picked up the men in the water. The entire remaining crew of the Aleb were picked up by a passing ship. They lived to tell the tale of the sinking of the Aleb.

Serikua’s captain felt the ship shudder. The desk shook enough to tip the glass over. The captain reached out and caught the glass. He set it back upright. He got up. He walked around the desk. He exited the office.

Iyoseching was heading his way. Iyoseching was a burly man. Everybody on the Serikua had brown skin. He had a dorag on his head. His hair hung outside of it. He wore brown leather boots, khaki pants and a white shirt. The captain said in Cingalia, the only language spoken on the ship, “What happened?”

“We ran afoul of a dragon. That is what the men are saying,” Iyoseching said.

The captain said, “Where is Zuangeng?”

Iyoseching said, “He is on the bowsprit where the dragon is.”

Zuangeng turned back around. The dragon was turning its head around. It raised its wings high, water running off them. The wing tips rose above the jib boom tip. It brought the wings down fast and hard. The wings slapped the water with a force that sent walls of water high into the air. The walls rose high above the boom. The part of the wall closest to Zuangeng  drenched him and the bottoms of the jibs.

The dragon sank its head in the water. It arched its back. It dove under water. The tail was the last to go. Zuangeng watched the dragon’s distorted image. The tail seemed to shorten and transform into one similar to a shark’s. The tail moved to the left. The dragon flapped its wings as it flew underwater. The wing tips rose above the water. Water sprayed when they came down. The dragon turned to the port side of the ship.

Zuangeng spun around the forestay. He unwrapped his legs. He went around the forestay onto the bowsprit. He let go of the forestay. He sprinted along the bowsprit, one foot in front of the other, to the bow. He past the varnished mahogany bow railing. He jumped right to the deck.

He ran astern along the port railing. He ducked under or ran around rigging in his way as he sprinted. He stopped at the main mast. He stuck his head between two shrouds and ratlines. He looked out over the ocean. It stretched out to the horizon. No land could be seen. He searched for the dragon. He spied the dragon’s distorted silhouette in the water. It was heading toward the ship.

The captain said, “Iyo, get Zuang off and away from that dragon!”

“Aye, sir,” Iyoseching said. He headed to the bow. Before he reached it, he saw Zuangeng running astern. He returned to the captain.

“He’s no longer on the bowsprit. He’s running this way,” Iyoseching reported.

“Good,” was all the captain said.

The dragon resurfaced. He faced the Serikua. The Serikua was a clipper ship under full sail. The hull above the water was dark blue. A little copper showed above the water. The ship was about two hundred feet in length. The ship had three masts. The middle one was the tallest. Each mast was made in three pieces. Each mast supported four square sails. Between each pair of masts, there were two triangular sails, one over the other. Behind the mizzen mast was a large rectangular mizzen sail. It was supported by two spars. One was at the bottom. It stuck straight out from the mast. The other was at the top, slanting up from the mast. Both extended past the stern. Above the mizzen, flew the national flag of Cinga Archipelago. The flag was ocean blue. Twenty white stars were at the upper left corner. Each star represented a major island of the archipelago. Three triangular jib sails were before the foremast. The flag waved in the wind. All sails were billowed out.

The dragon came along the ship’s side. It folded its wings. It paddled its feet to keep up with the ship. It turned its head to face the ship. It saw the men standing back. Fear showed in their faces. The boy stood at the railing. He was looking at the dragon. He had a look of curiosity. His hair was still wet from the drenching. It hung down over his shoulders. Some of it was in his face. Beads of water were all over his skin.

The dragon was still upset over the ordeal. It said sternly and in Dragonese, “I need to talk to your captain!”

Zuangeng cocked his head to his right. He said nothing for a short while. All he  eventually said was, “Eh?”

The dragon repeated, “I need to talk with your captain, now!”

Zuangeng just stared at the dragon for a moment. He turned his body half way around. He turned his head to face the men. The men had a look of deep fear in their faces. He thought, “They fear for my safety as well as the ship’s.”

He said aloud, “Ang iyoka lakea!”

The dragon realized that the boy had not understood him. It said on Dragonese, “Oh!”

Zuangeng turned back around to face the dragon again. The dragon continued, “You speak Cingalia, not Dragonese.”

It spoke Cingalia, “Ikala melonga telukiapa amiaku kapitain!”

“Ah,” Zuangeng said. Now, he knew what the dragon wanted. He ran to find the captain. His hair bounced as he ran. He found the captain with Iyoseching. They stood on the deck in front of the captain’s office. The office was at the stern of the ship. The captain stood about five feet and ten inches tall. He wore blue denim pants. He wore a white shirt and jacket. Three gold bars were on each jacket sleeve. A white cap sat on his head. He looked down at Zuangeng.

Zuangeng stood in front of the captain. He looked up. He pointed to port. He said, “Ang iyoka watelapa telukia amia, Esiada.”

“Siala pina,” Captain Esiada said. Zuangeng led him to the dragon. Captain Esiada looked at the dragon. The dragon’s forehead was furrowed. The inside corners of the eyebrows were down. The corners of the mouth were down.

Captain Esiada said gruffly in Dragonese, “What do you want?”

Zuangeng stood the listening. A puzzled look was on his face. He looked from one to the other. He could not comprehend what they were saying. He thought, “They must be discussing what happened.”

The dragon spoke sharply, “Watch it! Your ship hit me between my right hind leg and tail! It hurt!”

Captain Esiada spoke defensively, “We did not see you. Your coloration makes you blend into the ocean.”

The dragon warned him, “If you had done it deliberately, I would have sunk you! You are fortunate that you have a child on board!”

Before Captain Esiada could say anything else, the dragon dove back under water. It flew under the ship. Zuangeng watched the dragon. He ran to the starboard railing. He watched the dragon reappear from under the ship. The dragon was on its own way.

Captain Esiada, the two mates and Zuangeng were in the captain’s mess. They were having the evening meal. They were sitting at a rectangular table. Captain Esiada and Iyoseching were sitting one at each end. Zuangeng and the second mate, Esamoda, were sitting on the sides opposite of each other. Above the table hung a circular chandelier with oil lamps burning brightly. Behind Esamoda stood a varnished oak cabinet. It had two doors at the top. There were five drawers under the doors. Six extra chairs stood against the wall behind Zuangeng. Behind Iyoseching was the door to the mess. Serving dishes were on the table. They contained shark, vegetables and fruit. There was a bowl containing a salad of lettuce, carrots, spinach and quinsing – a sea plant. The captain and mates had glasses of wine. Zuangeng had water.

After supper, they retired to another room. There were three square tables. Chairs were around them. Each table had an oil lamp hanging over it. One table had a chess set ready to be played. Next to the door sat a table with oil lamps. The table had a drawer and two doors underneath. Two large doors were in one wall.

Esamoda went to the table with the lamps. He opened the drawer. He pulled out a long match. He walked to the chess set. He lit the match and the lamp.

Captain Esiada sat in the chair in front of the white pieces. Zuangeng sat in his lap. He leaned back against the captain to watch. Iyoseching sat in the chair in front of the black oieces. Esamoda sat in the chair on the captain’s left. The game began. The game lasted a long time. Each player spent some time studying the board before each move.

About half way through the game, Zuangeng started to nod off. His head fell down to his chest. Suddenly, he woke up. His head jerked up. Captain Esiada felt him do this. He looked down at him. Zuangeng’s eyes closed again. His head fell down. Captain Esiada said, “Looks like it is somebody’s bedtime. Please, excuse me while I put the boy to bed.”

Captain Esiada turned Zuangeng around. Zuangeng wrapped his arms around the captain’s neck. He laid his head on the captain’s shoulder. Captain Esiada wrapped his left arm around Zuangeng’s waist.

Esamoda got up. He walked to the table with the lamps. He pulled the drawer open, again. He got a long match. He lit a lamp. He picked it up. He waited at the table.

Captain Esiada stood up. He carried Zuangeng to the door. Esamoda gave the lantern to him. Captain Esiada took the lantern in his right hand. He walked through the door. The mates said, “Good night, Zuangeng.”

Zuangeng looked up. He sleepily waved. He laid his head back on the shoulder.

Captain Esiada turned right. He walked to his quarters. He entered his quarters. He turned left. He went to a door in the far wall. He put the lamp down on the floor. He opened the door. He picked up the lamp.

He entered a small room. A single bed was at the far wall. A chest was at the foot of the bed. A box of toys was on the wall past the chest. A square porthole was at the head of the bed. He set the lamp on the chest. He pulled the covers back. He laid Zuangeng in the bed. He covered him. He bent down. He kissed the boy on his forehead. He said, “Good night, Zuangeng.”

“Good night, Esiada,” Zuangeng said sleepily. He was soon asleep.

Captain Esiada picked up the lantern in his left hand. He exited the room. He turned around. He looked into the room. Soft moonlight came in. There was a square spot of light on the floor. Zuangeng had rolled over onto his side. He faced the door. Captain Esiada grabbed the doorknob. He closed the door behind himself.

He returned to the game. He gave the lantern back to Esamoda.  Esamoda blew out the lantern. He returned it to the table by the door.

 

 

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

The Sea

From which we came

Which is in all Cingala blood

Lost at Sea

Chapter One

Ang Lingesa

The naked, brown skinned boy was up in the crow’s nest above the main royal sail. He wore a pair of goggles, made of glass and brown leather, above his forehead. The sides went up to his chest. He stood facing the bow. He enjoyed being up there. He felt like he was on top of the world. He pretended to be a king looking over his realm from high above. He saw more of the world up here than on the deck. When he looked down to the deck, he saw the men working. They looked like insects crawling on the ground.

He looked around. The ship was under full sail. A steady wind came from starboard and stern as it had been for days. It blew his long, straight sun bleached sandy blond hair about. His hair would have hung below his shoulders without the wind. They were on the same course they had been on since leaving Cinga Archipelago. He looked past the ship. The ocean extended to the horizon.

He walked around the crow’s nest. He looked past the ship. The ocean extended to the horizon everywhere he looked. No land was in sight. He came to face the stern. The sails blocked part of his view. Beyond the mizzen royal sail, he could see the ship’s wake spreading behind it.

He came back to face the bow. The sun warmed him. He looked beyond the bow. He looked at the sky. Grey clouds seemed to be increasing. A black line appeared on the horizon. It suddenly lit up at various points along its length. He watched the line get bigger and slightly lighter. The sky turned grey as it became overcast. The line became a wall of clouds – dark and ominous. They lit up on occasion.

He looked down. The men were going about their chores. They seemed oblivious of what was coming toward them. He cupped his hands around his mouth. He screamed as loud as he could, “Lingesa!”

Everybody looked up at him. He was pointing toward the bow. They looked in that direction. They saw the storm.

The sea dragon flew through the air. It was on the other side of the storm. It flew toward the storm. It came close to the storm. The air was developing almost too much turbulence to fly. The sea dragon looked to find a way around the storm. The storm reached the horizon in all directions  in front of it. He looked up. The storm’s top was rather high. The turbulence was too rough to climb. He looked down. The water was too rough to float. The wind churned the water into huge waves. The waves could swamp him. They could toss him about. He saw no other way around it. The only course of action was to go underwater. He saw the lightning flashing. By the time he made his decision, the sun had disappeared. The sky was dark grey. Rain pelted him hard.

He stopped flapping his wings. He partially folded them. He made a nearly vertical descent toward the water. He drew his wings back, like some diving birds do. He hit the water cleanly. He submerged.

He leveled out underwater. He spread his wings out. He flapped them. He flew underwater, straight through the storm. This was the safest passage through it, he knew of.

A crewman walked to the captain’s office. He knocked on the door. He heard in Cingalia, the only language spoken on the ship, “Come in.”

He opened the door and entered. The captain sat at his varnished oak desk. He was looking at the supply list.

“Sir! We are approaching a storm. It looks bad,” the crewman said.

“I’ll be out in a minute,” the captain said.

“Yes, sir,” the crewman said. He spun around on his left heel. He exited the office.

The captain put the paper in a desk drawer. He got up. He grabbed his rain gear. He exited the office.

He looked up at the sky. It was overcast with dark clouds. He walked to the bow. He traced the line of darker clouds. It went from horizon to horizon. Bolts of lightning streaked across the clouds. A bolt struck the water.

The wind blew his shoulder length straight black hair. He looked at the water. The wind churned the water into big waves. The waves came at the ship. They slapped the hull. He got his rain gear on.

The clouds darkened as the boy watched. The wind became stronger. It was changing directions. He looked down beyond the ship. The water was choppy. He felt a raindrop on his bare skin.

 

Suddenly, the wind came directly off the bow. The ship quickly lost momentum. The boy lost his balance. He staggered into the crow’s nest wall. He held onto the side with both arms as his legs buckled. He nearly fell to his knees. He stood up. He looked down. Both stay sails between the fore and main masts flapped in the wind. the square sails on the masts were pressed against them. The ship was seemingly barely moving backwards. He knew that a sailing vessel could not sail directly into the wind.

The captain ran astern. He came to the helmsman. It started to sprinkle. He stopped and turned around. He barked, “Helmsman, turn the ship starboard. Men, tighten those sails!”

The helmsman cranked the helm to the right. The ship slowly backed to port. The crew grabbed the sheets. They hauled on them. They sang.

The jibs changed over to starboard. The captain walked to the hatch leading to the crew’s quarters. He yelled down, “All hands on deck. Bring raingear for everybody.”

Everybody below, even the night crew, came up to lend a hand. They got their rain gear on as they came. More rain gear was handed out. The sails on the masts swung around. Everybody grabbed sheets or braces. They hauled on them. They sang.

It started to rain in earnest. The wind grew stronger. The sails filled with the wind. They tightened. The masts creaked under the strain. The captain barked, “Take down the royal and topgallant sails! Bring down their yardarms!”

Some of the crew jumped on the ratlines.

The boy looked down. The ship was slowly turning. Men scurried to grab sheets or braces. The square sails swung around. The wind grew stronger. The sails filled and tightened. He heard the masts creak. The rain poured. He got soaked The men climbed onto the ratlines on the fore and main masts. When lightning flashed, it was too close for comfort. He said to himself, “Time to get down.”

He turned around. In the center, the top few feet on the main topgallant mast poked through. On the starboard and port sides, there were holes big enough for a heavy set adult to go through, in the wet floor. The topgallant shrouds went through the holes. He made his way to the mast. Rivers of water ran down his body. Water poured off the ends of his soaking wet hair. Water ran down the mast.

He grabbed the soaking wet port shroud. He got on a wet ratline. He climbed down through the hole. Lightning flashed. Thunder roared. He said to himself, “I must get down fast. It’s going to be rough.”

He climbed down the wet topgallant ratlines.

The jibs and topsails filled with the wind. They tightened. The helmsman straightened the rudder. The captain looked around. He did not see the boy. The first mate stood beside him. The captain said, “Iyo, is Zuang below?”

“No, sir,” Iyoseching said.

“Where is he, then,” the captain asked.

“He is at the top of the main mast, sir,” Iyoseching said.

“Get him down! That is not a place for a six year old boy to be in this weather!” the captain demanded.

“Aye, captain, sir,” Iyoseching said. He turned. He walked to the wet main mast port shroud. He climbed up the ratlines.

Zuangeng stopped when he got on the wet topmast ratlines. He looked out to the sea. The wind was churning up the water. The waves were getting larger. Some of the crew in rain gear passed him. Someone said, “Zuangeng, you need to get down to the deck, now!”

“Aye, sir,” Zuangeng replied. He continued down the ratlines. He came to the wet lower ratlines. He climbed down them. He met Iyoseching a few steps down.

Iyoseching saw him. He stopped without a word. Zuangeng looked at him as Iyoseching nodded approval. The two of them climbed down to the deck.

Zuangeng stood on the wet deck where he got off the shrouds. Iyoseching rejoined the captain. Zuangeng held onto a wet shroud. He watched the men work. Everybody, except him, wore soaking wet rain gear. Crew were on all three masts. Some crew remained on deck.

The deck crew loosened the required sheets. They let out the halyards, lowering the six yardarms.

The mast crew detached the royal sails from the yardarms. They lowered them to the deck. The deck crew freed, gathered, folded and stowed the sails. Lightning flashed and thunder roared as they worked. Rain came down in sheets. The wind howled through the rigging.

The mast crew climbed down to the topgallant sails. The same procedure was done on them. The royal yardarms were lowered to the deck. The mast crew cleared the yardarms of the rigging and the topgallant yardarms. The deck crew detached the yardarm rigging. The yardarms were stowed away. The same procedure was done on the topgallant yardarms.

The wind whipped the water into ever bigger waves. Zuangeng looked out over the water. Rain pockmarked the water. Waves came at the ship from port and bow. The ship rode the waves. The bow rose on a wave. It fell, smacking the water. Water sprayed out from the impact. Zuangeng kept a hold on the shroud. The captain and Iyoseching were steady on their feet. They rode with the ship.

The wind increased in speed and strength. Waves battered the ship. They washed over the sides. Zuangeng saw and felt one batter the shroud he was holding onto. He turned around. He felt them hit his back. Rain continued falling in sheets. It soaked everything and everyone outside. Water ran off the remaining yardarms and horizontal rigging. Water ran down the masts, shrouds and stays. He felt water pooling where his hand contacted the shroud. He felt it running over his hand and fingers.

Everybody looked up the masts. The staysails were working loose. They threatened to tear themselves to shreds. The captain yelled, “Take the staysails down before we loose them.”

The mast crew went aloft again. All the staysails were loosened and lowered to the deck. They were freed, folded and stored.

The captain ordered, “Take down the flying jib and its stay. Bring down the topgallant stays.”

The crew brought the flying jib down. They folded and stored it. The crew went aloft. They loosened the requested stays. They let them drop. The deck crew coiled and stored the stays. The captain said, “Bring the topgallant masts down.”

The deck crew got the necessary tools. They tied them to the halyards. They raised them to the crew still on the masts.

The mast crew freed the masts. They carefully lowered them to the deck. The deck crew took the crow’s nest off. It and the masts were stowed away.

Zuangeng stayed where he was. One wave came over the railing and his head. It hit the deck in front of him. The wave crest came down on top of him. He tilted his head down. The water swept over the deck.

The captain looked around. He noticed Zuangeng standing at the shroud. A streak of lightning and crack of thunder came. A wave came down on the boy. He waited until the wave was gone. He yelled at him, “Zuangeng!”

Zuangeng raised his head to look at him. The captain yelled, “Beinga siema!”

“Yeala, tiana,” Zuangeng yelled back. He turned to head for the nearest hatch. Out of the corners of his eyes, he saw a wave coming. He turned his head to watch it. He waited. The wave came up over the side. He raised his head as he watched it rise over his head. He followed it crashing down on the deck, swamping it. A lightning bolt flashed. A loud boom of thunder followed. Once the water cleared, Zuangeng made his move. He faced the hatch. He let go of the shroud. He ran toward the hatch. The captain was watching him. He turned his attention to other matters.

Zuangeng was about half way to the hatch. A huge wave came. It hit the deck near his heels. The water bounced up. It hit him in the small of the back. The force of the water knocked him onto his stomach. The water washed over the deck. It pushed him toward the hatch. It subsided. He tried to get on his feet. Another wave came. It crashed on the deck and his legs. It knocked him back down. The water pushed him past the hatch.

He managed to get back on his feet. He looked around. He cried, “Aye, ingayala! I missed the hatch!”

He turned around. He tried to make the hatch against a fierce wind. The wind continued to howl through the remaining rigging. In spite of being soaking wet, his hair thrashed about behind him. Torrents of water flowed down his body. Water sprayed form his hair. He leaned into the wind. His head was down.

He looked up to see a wave coming. It was the biggest he had ever seen. It landed on the deck almost at his feet. The water splashed up. It hit him in the pit of his stomach. It knocked him down. It sent him to the starboard railing.

He got back on his feet again. A bigger wave came. It nearly swamped the ship. It hit the deck close to his feet. The rebounding water picked him up. It carried him over the side. He fell on his back. He righted himself.

He landed in the ocean, feet first. He closed his eyes to keep water out of them. He submerged under water. He swam to the surface. He tread water. He shook his head vigorously. Water sprayed off his hair. He opened his eyes. He watched the ship receding through curtains of rain. He yelled at the ship. The howling of the wind through the rigging and thunder drowned out his voice. Rain and waves hit his face. Some sea water got in his eyes. It stung. His eyes watered. He pulled his goggles down over his eyes. Sea water got into his mouth. He spat it out.

He looked at the ship. Only the lower six square sails, the inner two jibs and the mizzen sail were left. He tried yelling again to no avail. Waves pushed him away from the ship.

A big wave came his way. It came crashing down on top of him. He went under water. Water got in his throat. He swam to the surface. He coughed up and spat out water. He found himself further from the ship. He had difficulty seeing it through the sheets of rain. He swam toward the ship. He could not swim fast enough. He had to fight the waves trying to push him. They were winning. Lightning flashed. Thunder roared. The ship got further from him.

Another wave sent him under again. This time, he had his mouth closed. He held his breath. He resurfaced. The ship was nowhere to be seen. He was alone in the water. He cried. He stopped swimming, finding it to be futile. He bobbed with the waves. He would never make it. His only hope would be that they would find him missing, turn around and come back to look for him. Time went by as he tread water, trying to stay on the surface. The rough water made it difficult. Several times, he almost sunk. He continued to bob with the waves. There was no such luck. He felt that there would be no rescue. He cried feeling so lost and alone. He felt that he would not make it. This was the end. He would drown.

A big wave came his way. He simply gave up. There was no sense in fighting the inevitable. The wave swamped him. He no longer struggled. He  went limp, as he sank. He closed his eyes. His mouth opened. Air bubbles escaped and rose from his mouth and nose. He breathed in water instead of air. His lungs filled with water. This made it harder to breath. He passed out as his breathing became shallower. He continued to sink. He faced downward. His arms and legs were splayed out.

The main top sail tore. The captain yelled, “Loose that sail! Bring down the remaining topsails! Bring down the top yardarms! Break out the storm sails!”

Some crew went aloft. The fore and mizzen topsails were brought down, folded and stored. The main topsail was freed. The wind blew it away. The yardarms were lowered and stowed. Other crew went below. They brought up the storm sails. The captain yelled, “Bring down the courses! Get the storm sails set!”

The courses were freed, folded and stowed. The storm sails were set in their places. These sails were smaller and stronger. The captain yelled, “Brace those yardarms! Bring down the jibs and mizzen!”

The jibs and mizzen were stowed away.

It continued to rain hard. Lightning flashed and thunder roared. Waves battered the ship. They went over the port side to crash on the deck. The men held on tightly to the rigging. Some men made it to the hatch between waves. They went below.

The captain remained on deck. He headed for the main mast. He made it to the starboard shrouds. He got on the ratlines. He held on tight due to the ship rocking. He said to himself, “I’m taking a terrible risk climbing up.”

He climbed up to the top of the topmast. He looked around himself. The storm was mostly in all directions. He saw a glimmer of hope to starboard. There was a sliver of sunlight. There was a rainbow.

He climbed down to the deck. He walked astern along the starboard rails. He reached the helm. He stood beside the helmsman. He said, “Hard starboard!”

The helmsman rapidly cranked the helm to the right. The ship turned to starboard. When he was satisfied with the direction the ship was heading, the captain said, “Straighten the rudder! Set the sails and brace them!”

The helmsman straightened the rudder. The men adjusted the sais and braced the yardarms.

The captain said, “Get below, men! Batten down the hatch!”

The men went below.

“We’ll lash down the helm,” the captain told the helmsman. They lashed the helm. This kept the helm from turning. They walked into the captain’s office. The captain locked the door. Everybody shed their raingear. They waited out the storm.

The sea dragon looked up as he flew. After a while, he saw the silhouette of a ship’s bottom. He surfaced to investigate. When he surfaced, he raised his head for a look. It was raining in sheets. He saw lightning and heard thunder. The wind was blowing something fierce. Large waves washed over him. He remained on the surface. His wings remained spread out.

He saw the ship. It was the same one that hit him a few days ago. The masts were shorter than he remembered. The only sails present were the courses. They appeared smaller the he recalled. There appeared to be no one on board. He thought, “Everybody must be below deck out of this weather.”

He sank his head in the water. He arched his back. He sank back under water. He flew for a while.

He resurfaced again. He raised his head. He was still in the storm. The rain made it a little difficult to see. Suddenly, he said to himself, “Did I see something bobbing up and down in the water?”

The ship was not in sight. A wave obscured the bobbing object, occasionally.

Out of curiosity, he swam to investigate. The object disappeared in a wave. It was not seen again. He said to himself, “Must be my imagination.”

He dove back under. He found it again, sinking. He flew closer to the object. It got bigger. He got close enough to see it clearly. It was the boy he had talked with a few days ago. The boy had something where his eyes were. The boy was not struggling for the surface. The sea dragon thought, “He must be drowning!”

The sea dragon became alarmed. He flapped his wings and wagged his shark’s tail furiously. He tried to catch the boy before he died.

He reached the boy. He circled around. He got underneath the boy. He rose up to catch him. The boy’s feet touched his back first. They were caught between two pairs of fins. One pair was on each side of his back. He continued to rise. The boy’s body settled on his back. Both arms were caught between two more pairs of fins. He banked to the right. He continued to rise. He thought, “I hope I’ll clear the storm by the time I resurface. I hope he will be alive then.”