The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Von Davildaas

Chapter Twelve

Arrival

A few more days of stop and go flying went past. Xianjeng spotted a large island ahead. As they approached it, he spotted a harbor city. There were boats of different kinds from row boats to large sailing ships. Some boats were docked. Other boats were out on the water. He descended toward the city. Zuangeng dared to look at where they were. He had never seen the city from that height. He thought he recognized it.

Xianjeng glided low over the water. A spray of water trailed behind him. He landed in the water a few yards from the shore. He folded his wings.

Zuangeng freed himself. He sat up. Xianjeng turned his head. He said, “I don’t know where we are.”

“If I recognize it, this is Amberstond,” Zuangeng said.

Xianjeng said, “This is as far as I am taking you, Zuangeng. From here, you are on your own. I hope, you have a good life from now on.”

“Will we meet again, Xianjeng,” Zuangeng asked, disappointed.

“That is something nobody can predict,” Xianjeng said.

“Can you stay? I hate to part with you,” Zuangeng said.

Xianjeng said, “No! You are now with your kind. I do not belong here. I belong in the ocean. I must go back to the sea. You need to join with other humans.”

Zuangeng said, “May I go with you?”

Xianjeng said, “No! You need to join with other humans.”

Zuangeng stood up on Xianjeng’s back. With tears in his eyes, he gave the dragon’s neck a hug. He said, “Bye, I love you. I’m going to miss you.”

“Bye, I’ll miss you, too. It’s time for you to go,” Xianjeng said.

Zuangeng turned to the right. He walked to the side. He dove into the water. He swam away from the dragon a few feet. He turned around. He tread water. With more tears in his eyes, he waved to Xianjeng. Xianjeng flapped his right wing as if to wave back.

Zuangeng continued to tread water. He watched Xianjeng disappear under water. Zuangeng was alone in the water. He remained, looking out to sea. He had a hopeful longing to find the Serikua, his home.

Eventually, Zuangeng turned toward the shore. The shore was lined with wharves. Ships were docked at some. He breast-stroked until he encountered a small red row boat crossing his path. He stopped. He tread water. He looked at the boat. There were two boys in it. One was rowing.

The boy just riding saw Zuangeng in the water. He said, “There is someone in the water to your left.”

The rower looked to his left. He scanned the water. He saw a head bobbing in the water. He stopped rowing. He left the blades in the water. He held the oars. The boat drifted. They watched.

Zuangeng continued swimming. He swam toward the boat. He reached it. He righted himself. He reached up and grabbed the gunwale. He pulled himself up. He looked at the boys. They were teenagers. They had light skin and brown hair. They wore shorts and shoes.

“Can I catch a ride,” Zuangeng asked in Dragonese. The boys just looked at him. He thought that they did not understand him.

He tried it in Cingalia, “Ceang ikala cateapa nga rilenga?”

“Walke ben haj gezaade,” the rider asked the rower.

“Ik dounet wetaam,” the rower admitted shrugging his shoulders.

“Ah?” Zuangeng said. He decided that he was going nowhere with this. He let go of the gunwale. He sank into the water. He swam around the oar and the stern of the boat. He swam toward the wharves. He swam for about a foot.

The boys watched him. The rower said, “The water is quite deep here. Maybe, we ought to help him.”

The rider said, “Looks like he’s heading for the wharves. He may drown before he gets there. Let’s help him.”

The rower lifted the blades out of the water. Water ran off the blades as they left the water. He swung the oars over the gunwales. The blades dripped water. He placed the blades in the boat.

Suddenly, Zuangeng heard a loud, “Hey!” from the boat. He stopped swimming. He turned around to face the boat. The two boys were waving him back. He swam back to the boat. He grabbed the gunwale. He pulled himself back up. The boys helped him into the boat. He went to the bow and sat facing the boys. He raised his goggles. He looked at the boys. They were taller than he was. The boys looked at him. He wore no clothes.

“Taarwil hib ju koomin nour,” the rider asked him.

Captain Esiada had taken him ashore here a number of times. One day when Zuangeng was four, the Serikua pulled into dock at Amberstond. Zuangeng stood at the starboard bow railing. He wore a pair of brown pants, nothing else. He watched the Serikua pull into dock. The main course sail was the only sail still unfurled. He watched the men on the wharf tie the ship to it.

Captain Esiada stood beside him. After the ship was secured, he looked at Zuangeng. He said, “Zuangeng, you’re coming with me. We’re going ashore.”

The gangplank was extended to the dock. The gate was opened. They walked down the gangplank to the dock.

They walked along the dock to the shore. They came to a cobblestone paved road running across the wharves. The sun was shining brightly. Zuangeng could feel the heat of the cobblestones on his bare feet. They crossed the road to the dock office. They entered the office.

They walked to a counter. Captain picked Zuangeng up. He sat him on the counter. Zuangeng’s lower legs and feet hung from the counter. Zuangeng twisted around so he could watch the proceedings.

Captain Esiada said to the clerk standing behind the counter, “Ik gegund rakkon intut dukkin. Ik hibbon sommegi vrocht ain antlodin.”

“Let me see the papers,” the clerk said.

Captain Esiada handed the papers to the clerk. The clerk looked over the papers. He said, “That will be seventy five in docking fees and fifty an hour labor.”

Captain Esiada paid the docking fee. He signed some papers the clerk gave him to sign. He picked Zuangeng up off  the counter. He set the boy on his feet on the floor. They exited the office.

They walked back to the ship. Some dock workers showed up. They helped unload cargo destined for the country. The cargo was delivered to the warehouse. It was inspected.

Zuangeng stayed with Captain Esiada. They walked back to the office. Captain Esiada received a new manifest and his payment minus the labor. They returned to the ship. The new cargo was loaded. Zuangeng never did bother to learn a single word. He saw no reason to learn.

The rider said, “Walke ben ju naam?”

Zuangeng said, “Ikala donaka kinala amiaku langea.”

The rower got an idea. His eyes opened wide. He smiled. He put his right hand on his bare chest. He said, “Petra.”

The rider got the idea. He, too, put his right hand on his own chest. He said, “Hans.”

Zuangeng put his own right hand on his own chest. He said, “Zuangeng.”

Petra pointed to the open ocean. He made a sweeping motion with his arm. He pointed to Zuangeng. He pointed two fingers down. He moved the fingers back and forth. Again, he made a sweeping motion at the sea. As he did that, he said, “Taarwil hib ju koomin noar?”

Zuangeng saw a single masted sailboat. He pointed at it. Petra and Hans looked where he was pointing. Zuangeng said, “Ang Serikua.”

“Taarwil tir ju gegaan,” Petra asked. He made another sweeping motion. He did it over his head. He made a full circle. He made the walking motion with his fingers. Once more, He pointed at Zuangeng.

Zuangeng just pointed to the island. Petra picked up the oars. He dipped the blades in the water. He rowed toward an empty pier. They came along side it. Petra held the starboard oar up along the boat’s side. Hans grabbed the pier. Zuangeng stood up. He climbed the ladder onto the pier. Both boys said, “Goid gilok!”

Petra pointed at his shorts. He added, “Kragin semnage klideng aan vrislatan.”

Hans shoved the boat off from the pier. Petra rowed backward. Zuangeng stood on the pier, watching them. The boat cleared the pier. Petra turned the boat around. The boys turned toward Zuangeng. They waved to him. Zuangeng waved back. Petra continued to row away. Zuangeng watched for a while.

Zuangeng turned around to face inland. He walked toward shore. He came to the end of the pier. He stopped to look around.

A three masted schooner was docked at the next pier to his right. Fully dressed men were unloading freight from the ship. An asphalt road ran past the ship. It ran down a row of piers as far as the eye could see. Some piers were occupied. He looked to his left. He saw the same thing. Wood buildings stood across the road.

He looked left again. A clipper was docked at one pier. It had the same configuration and color as the Serikua. All the sails were furled. He walked toward the ship. He hoped he was finally back home. He came to the ship. He looked at the bow. The name was made with inlaid silver. He recognized the ship as the ‘Dilewar’.

Men were loading it with cargo. They saw him. They stopped working. They looked at him. One of the crew was on deck at the bow. He looked down at him. He recognized the boy. He spoke Cingalia, “Zuangeng, what are you doing here? You should be on the Serikua.”

Zuangeng looked up at the man. He recognized him. He spoke Cingalia, his native language, “Oh! Hi, Alexi. I got swept off the ship. I’m here looking for the Serikua.”

“It hasn’t arrived yet,” Alexi said.

The foreman heard the conversation. HE did not know what was said. Few of the men around the Dilewar knew Cingalia. The foreman saw the men standing, not working. He spoke the same language that Petra and Hans used. He yelled, “Back to work!”

He saw Zuangeng standing there. He said, “Bewigin op!”

Zuangeng stood there looking at the foreman. He could not comprehend what the foreman said. The foreman walked up to Zuangeng. He grabbed the boy by the shoulders. He turned him around. He pushed the boy. The foreman repeated, “Bewigin op!”

Zuangeng got the hint. He crossed the road. He turned around. He looked toward the ship. The men had gone back to loading the ship. The foreman was standing there. He watched the boy. He had his hands on his hips. The corners of his mouth were down. His eyebrows were furrowed.

Zuangeng turned left. He walked along the building. He had an uneasy feeling that the foreman was still watching. He walked to the end of the building. He turned left. He walked down the end of the building.

 

 

 

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Eleven

The Hurricane

“It’s time to go again. It will be faster if we took to the air,” Xianjeng said.

“Now, where are we going? I’ve been wanting to know for some time,” Zuangeng finally asked.

“I’m taking you to an island with people, I know of,” Xianjeng said.

Zuangeng prepare for the flight. Xianjeng got a running start. Soon, they were airborne  Xianjeng gained altitude. They flew until it became  too late to fly.

Xianjeng landed in the water so Zuangeng could sleep in relative comfort. The sun had gone below the horizon. Zuangeng freed himself. He rolled over onto his back. He gazed up into the night sky. There were some clouds, the half moon and thousands of stars. There was a band of white light across the sky. They called that band the ‘Milky Way’. It looked like somebody had spilled milk across the heavens. He looked for patterns on the stars. He found the big and little dippers in the north. He found the constellation known as ‘Draco the dragon’. He recognized a few more constellations. He fell asleep.

Xianjeng took to the air early in the morning. He flew for about half a day. He encountered a strong headwind. He fought against it. The sky became overcast with dark clouds. Zuangeng took notice and looked. They saw flashes of lightning. A storm was heading their way. Xianjeng looked for a way around it. There was none. He could not go over it. He looked down. There were huge waves. There was no way to avoid it.

Xianjeng descended. He looked for a good place to land. He landed in a trough between two big waves. He held his head up. Zuangeng got a stronger hold on two fins. He crammed his ankles further between two more pairs.

Zuangeng got soaked in the pouring rain. He struggled to remain on Xianjeng’s back. Xianjeng started to tilt to the left. He turned to face an oncoming wave. He tilted with his front up.  He rode the wave up and over. A bolt of lightning flashed. There was a loud crack of thunder.

Xianjeng topped the next wave. There was something he did not like. There was a wide, spinning wall of clouds that went all the way to the water. It was thrashing the water.

Xianjeng turned his head to look at Zuangeng. The boy looked up to see the dragon. Xianjeng yelled so he could be heard, “We will need to go under to get past this. It will be calmer underwater.”

Zuangeng silently nodded. He took a real deep breath. He held it. Xianjeng turned his head back. He dove under.

He flew underwater until Zuangeng needed air. He reached the surface. Zuangeng freed himself. He sat up. Xianjeng raised his head. The air was calm, no wind. They looked down at the water. It was as smooth as a mirror. They looked up at the clear sky. They saw the top edge of a cloud wall. They looked around them. The wall of clouds swirled around them. Xianjeng said, “We’re in the eye of the storm.”

“I’ve never been in the center of one of these storms before. We’ve always stayed as far from them as possible. We call them hurricanes,” Zuangeng said.

“We need to go back under to clear this storm,” Xianjeng said.

Zuangeng made his usual preparations. Xianjeng submerged. They were near the far edge of the storm when they resurfaced. Rain was still pouring down. They still had to contend with big waves. The main part of the storm was behind them. They saw more lightning. They heard more thunder. The storm’s edge was approaching. Xianjeng yelled, “We’ll ride out the rest of the storm on the surface.”

“Too bad, you don’t have a sail,” Zuangeng commented.

“I think, I can come up with something like one,” Xianjeng said. He raised both wings to a seventy five degree angle. He adjusted them and the way he was facing until his wings caught the wind. As they took off across the water, he said, “Whee!”

They passed the edge. He lowered his wings. The sun shone on them. The water rippled. He said, “Time for us to take off.”

Zuangeng prepared himself. Xianjeng took a running start. He flapped his wings. Soon, they were airborne, again. They gained altitude. Zuangeng felt the air brushing against his wet skin. It chilled him. He was thankful that they were out of the storm. His skin dried. The sun warmed him. His hair took a little longer to dry.

 

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Ten

Encounters with Sharks

Zuangeng slept all night and late into the morning. Xianjeng stayed awake all that time. He looked around. Nothing happened all that time. It was almost midday. Zuangeng opened his eyes. He sat up. He stretched out his arms and yawned. Xianjeng turned his head to look at him. Xianjeng said, “You slept for a long time. It’s time for us to go.”

“I’m hungry,” Zuangeng announced. He did not look at Xianjeng. He looked down.

Xianjeng said, “We’ll eat on the way. Now, get on my back and let’s go.”

Zuangeng put his hands behind him. He put them flat against the leg. He bent his knees. He planted his feet on the sand. He pushed himself up. He walked his hands up the dragon’s leg. He walked  his feet back as well. His hands reached the top of the leg. He rested the hands on top of the leg. He gave a final push. He stood up.

He turned around. He put his hands back on top of the leg. He pushed himself up. He swung his legs onto the dragon’s leg. He stood up in the leg. He reached the elbow. He reached up to grab a pair of fins. Xianjeng lifted his leg to assist him. Zuangeng grabbed a pair of fins. He pulled himself up onto the back. He crawled on his hands and knees to the middle. He laid down.

Xianjeng got up on his feet. He turned left. He headed for the water. He walked into it. He kept his head up. He waded out into the bay until he could no longer touch the bottom. He paddled out of the bay into the ocean. There were swells.

“Take a deep breath. I’m going under. Nudge me when you need air,” Xianjeng said.

Zuangeng lowered the goggles. He grabbed two fins. He wedged his feet. He took a deep breath and held it. Xianjeng dove under water. He spread his wings. He flew through the water. He beat his wings as furiously as he could. He wanted to cover as much distance as he could before Zuangeng ran out of air. Zuangeng felt water flow around his body.

A while later, Zuangeng gave Xianjeng a nudge. Xianjeng surfaced. Zuangeng freed himself. He sat up. He breathed heavily for a while. He looked around. The ocean was all he saw. The island had disappeared. He recovered his breath. He laid down. He made the usual preparations. He got a fresh lungful. Xianjeng went back under. They continued the journey. Xianjeng had to resurface, again. Again, the ocean and sky could only be seen.

On the third dive, Xianjeng plowed into a school of fish. He snatched them with his mouth.

Zuangeng had to resurface before he could catch any. He freed himself. He pushed off with first his hand then his feet. He looked up as he swam to the surface. He swam straight up.

He reached the surface. His head and neck popped out. He tread water as he caught his breath. He looked around. There was the blue ocean water; but, still no land. He looked up at the sky. It was clear. The yellow sun shone down. Light glinted off the swells. White puffy clouds floated lazily in the sky.

He took a really deep breath and held it. He pushed himself back under to join Xianjeng. He rotated until he was almost upside down. He swam down. He looked around for Xianjeng. In the distance to his right, he thought he saw a large shape approaching. He stopped and righted himself. He watched the shape. It did exist. He looked down. He found the dragon. He flipped over and continued swimming to the dragon.

He finally reached the dragon. He was close to the head. He nudged Xianjeng. The dragon saw him. Zuangeng pointed to the shape. Xianjeng looked where Zuangeng was pointing. The shape was closer. It was a shark heading toward the fish.

Zuangeng separated from Xianjeng. He swam into the school of fish. He righted himself. He found himself within the school. He spun around completely. He was sur4rounded by the fish. They swam in circles around him. He felt some fish brush against him. He looked for a good fish to eat. He found the fish he wanted. He quickly reached out with both hands. He caught the fish. Some of his nails sunk into it. The fish bled and thrashed about. He left the school with it. He swam toward Xianjeng. He left a trail of blood. He held the  fish with one hand. He used his free hand for swimming.

The shark sensed the fish struggling. It sensed the blood in the water. It followed the blood trail. It swam toward Zuangeng. Zuangeng saw the shark. It swam faster. Xianjeng became aware of the danger. He swam toward Zuangeng.

The shark was very close. Its mouth was wide open. Rows of razor sharp teeth could be seen. It was ready to attack Zuangeng. Xianjeng got in front of the boy. He butted heads with the shark. The shark missed its target.

It swam away for a short distance. It circled around for another attack. Zuangeng rotated to see the shark return. He stopped swimming. He righted himself. Xianjeng had his eyes on Zuangeng and the shark. He flew under Zuangeng. Zuangeng rotated again and grabbed one of the back fins with his free hand. Xianjeng swallowed some water.

The shark came close. Xianjeng shot a powerful stream of water at it. The stream knocked the shark off course. The shark veered off. It came around for another attack.

Xianjeng started to surface. He angled up. The shark changed directions. It approached at an angle to match. Xianjeng started to roll. The shark was too close. It hit the dragon’s right wing. It knocked Xianjeng over abruptly. Zuangeng lost his grip. Xianjeng remained between the boy and shark.

The shark tried for Xianjeng’s right flipper. Xianjeng turned the flipper into a leg. He swiped at the shark. The sharp claws on the paw raked across the shark’s nose, leaving bloody gashes. The shark tried another attack. It left a blood trail. It was stopped by another forceful stream of water from the dragon.

Zuangeng had been calmly watching the proceedings. He had encountered sharks before. He was three years old when he first encountered one. He had been swimming with Captain Esiada and Iyoseching. They were in the shallows near the shore of an island. The Serikua was anchored nearby. The sails were all furled. It was a clear day. The sun was brightly reflected off the water. A gentle breeze blew inland. The water lapped the shore. Zuangeng stood waist deep in the shallows. The water was crystal blue. He could see his bare feet on the rocky floor. He looked a few yards in front of him. He saw his first shark. He looked around. He found Captain Esiada about a foot from him on the right. Captain Esiada looked at him. Zuangeng walked to him. He pointed toward the shark. He said, “Esiada, what is that?”

Captain Esiada looked in that direction. He said, “That is a shark.”

Zuangeng looked scared. He had listened to the men telling tales of sharks attacking and killing people.Celinga told of an encounter he had with a shark. Zuangeng and five men listened.

Celinga said, “One day, I was out in an outrigger. I was sittin’ in the stern. The sail was down, layin’ on the deck. The mast stood up bare. I was rowin’ along jist fine. I unexpectedly  run onto a san’ bar. I was stuck fast. I was force to git outta da boat. I step out into ankle deep water. I picked up da bow. I pushed it until I was hip deep. I saw some sharks swimmin’ around.

“I lost me footin’. I lost me grip on da boat. Da boat floated away. I fell inta water wit’ a splash. I started to swim to da boat. A shark swum up under me. It grabbed me right leg in its mouth. It shook me somethin’ fierce. Da water turned red wit’ me blood. I managed ta turn so da shark was upside down. It went docil’ I pried da shark’s mouth open wit’ me hands. I pushed da shark from me.

“I swum to da boat. I quickly clum inta da boat afore any other shark reached me. Scent of blood attract sharks. I ripped me shirt off an’ wrapped it around da wound. I rowed home. To dis day I bear da proof.”

He stood up. He pulled his pants down. There was a semicircular gouge in his right thigh.

Captain Esiada advised, “Stay calm, Zuangeng. Calmly and steadily walk to the shore. The shark won’t bother you.”

All three walked up onto the beach. Iyoseching said, “Zuangeng, when you see a shark, never panic. Panicking only invites a shark attack. A shark will see you as a wounded fish.”

Zuangeng heard that advice numerous times. He still held onto the fish. The fish had stopped bleeding. He headed for the surface. He swam steadily with even strokes and kicks. He broke surface.

The shark gave up the attacks. It swam away.

Xianjeng surfaced after the shark left. Zuangeng saw him. He swam to Xianjeng. He pulled the fish off his nails. He held it in his right hand. He tread water with his left hand. He threw the fish onto the dragon’s back. He got onto the back. He sat up. He cleaned the fish. He finally got to eat.

 

 

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Nine

Memories

Captain Esiada stood on the port bow of the Serikua. He was looking out over the ocean. The wind was strong. It was coming from port and stern. The sun was warm. The sky was mostly clear. Some cirrus clouds streaked the sky. The water was choppy. The ship was fully rigged. It was clipping along pretty well for a sailing vessel.

He was depressed over the loss of Zuangeng. He loved the boy. He considered  him to be his son. He was not sure if he was.

He had known Zuangeng’s mother for many years before his birth. She was a beautiful, bewitching Cingala woman. She had dark brown skin and black hair. She was about his height. He felt that he had come under her spell. He had not trusted her, though. He had been dating her. He knew that she was dating other men. He remembered the day that Zuangeng came into his life.

The Serikua was docked at Mojienes. It was a major harbor city on Cinga. Cinga was the largest island of the archipelago.

Captain Esiada stood on the wharf. He stood next to the bow. He watched the men move crates of cargo up the gangplank. He checked each crate against a manifest he held in his hands. There was a grand piano destined for Amberstond, a table destined for Kulathra and other cargo being loaded. Iyoseching was on deck. He directed the crates to the cargo hold. They were due to set sail later that day.

Zuangeng’s mother walked up to Captain Esiada. She was well advanced in pregnancy with Zuangeng. She showed it with a bulging stomach. Her hair hung down to her waist. She wore a dress that went to her ankles. She greeted him with, “Hello, Esiada. Honey, I need a passage on the Serikua to Langasa.”

Langasa was a port city on an island south of the archipelago. It is famous for helping with difficult deliveries. The voyage would take over a month by clipper.

“You are welcome aboard, milady Mikela,” Captain Esiada said graciously with a slight bow.

“I will be back with my luggage,” she said.

“We will not be ready to sail until after midday,” Captain Esiada said.

She returned later that day. She came on a carriage with a driver. She had her trunk on the top. The ship was fully loaded. Captain Esiada and two crewmen were waiting for her. Captain Esiada walked up to the carriage. He opened the door. He held his right hand out. Mikela stood in the doorway. She took his hand in her left hand. She stepped out of the carriage. The two crewmen took the trunk off.

Captain Esiada escorted Mikela to her quarters. The crewmen carried the trunk behind them. Her quarters were next to his own. They entered the room. The walls, floor and ceiling were bare varnished oak. A chandelier of oil lamps hung from the ceiling. Some windows were on the far wall. They were covered with pink curtains. A bed was against the right wall. A rug was on the floor beside the bed. A dresser stood on the left wall. A vanity with a chair was next to the dresser. A closet was on the left of the door.

“I hope this is to your liking,” Captain Esiada said.

“It will do. Please, put my trunk over there,” Mikela said. She pointed to the foot of the bed. The men set the trunk there.

“I will inform milady when it is suppertime. You will be dining with me, tonight,” Captain Esiada said. He bowed slightly. The three men left. She busied herself with unpacking. She put everything where it belonged.

Captain Esiada and the two crewmen walked up on deck. Captain Esiada gathered the men. He gave them commands. The crew went to work. They cast off. The ship became fully rigged. They were  under way. The captain set the course for Langasa.

Usually Captain Esiada had meals  with the mates. Tonight, the mates ate with the rest of the crew. Captain Esiada had supper with Mikela alone. She was not much of a seafood eater. So, they had roast beef, rice and a vegetable.

“Do you have a name for the child,” Captain Esiada asked.

“I have several names for it. I’ll know which one at birth,” Mikela answered.

“Do you know who the father is,” he asked.

“No,” Mikela replied sharply. Captain Esiada had a nagging feeling that she did know. She was not about to reveal it. He knew better than to press her on the subject. The conversation continued on other subjects throughout supper.

They walked on deck after supper. They took a stroll. It was a nice evening. The sky was clear. Thousands of stars and a full moon shone in the sky. Lamps were lit around the deck. Men worked or stood vigil. The lights of the harbor city were receding behind them. They had many such meals and strolls.

About three weeks into the voyage, there was no land in sight. It was overcast all day with grey clouds. The wind was brisk. Waves lapped against the hull.

Mikela went into labor early in the morning. Captain Esiada was with her. They were in her quarters. She laid on the bed. He walked to the door. A crewman was passing by. He sent the crewman for the ship’s doctor. Together, the doctor and Captain Esiada aided her in the delivery. The labor was extremely difficult. She was left exhausted and weak. She was told that the baby was a boy. She became deathly ill. She laid in her bed fighting for her life. Captain Esiada sat in a chair beside her bed throughout the day. The doctor was in and out trying to treat her.

They were alone together that evening. Mikela signaled Captain Esiada to get closer to her. He got out of the chair. He sat on the edge of the bed on her right. He faced her. He leaned over her. He rested his right hand on the bed on her left side. He looked at her.

“My dear Esiada. I am afraid, I will not make it,” she said softly. She hesitated for a while.

She continued, “Promise me a few things. I have known many men; but, you are the only man I can trust. Promise me that you will raise my son like you would your own.”

He said, “I will raise him like he was my son.”

She continued, “I will reveal the name I have chosen. I need you to promise me that you will reveal it to no one. Promise me that you will only reveal it to my son when he comes of age.”

“I will do as you ask of me, my dear Mikela,” Captain Esiada said. He got even closer. She told him, softer than before, the boy’s name.

“Now, tell me who is the boy’s father,” he demanded. Mikela died, taking that secret with her.

Captain Esiada walked up on deck. He found two men standing together. He told them, “I have an unpleasant task for you. Come with me.”

“Aye, sir,” the two men said. They followed him below deck. They got a blanket. They walked to Mikela’s quarters.

“Take her body and wrap it in that blanket,” Captain Esiada said. They laid the blanket on the floor. The two men picked up the body. They laid her on the edge of the blanket nearest the bed. They rolled the blanket and body to the other edge.

“Carry that up on deck,” Captain Esiada said. The men picked up the blanket with the body. They set it on their right shoulders. They held it in place. Captain Esiadaa led them to the deck. They walked to the port railing. They stopped beside the main mast. They set the body on the deck in front of a gate. The feet of the body was closest to the gate. They covered the body with a Cinga flag.

The sky was clear. Thousands of stars winkled in the sky. A half moon shone. Lamps were lit. Captain Esiada gathered all the men together. They held a memorial service in Mikela’s honor. Captain Esiada opened with, “We are gathered here to honor Mikela. She lived her life to the fullest. She has begotten a son into this world.”

He talked on about her. Then, Iyoseching said a few things about her, too. Nobody else had anything to say. Captain Esiada closed with, “We, now, commit her body to the sea from which all life came. The sea – From which we came – Which is in all Cingala blood.”

Two men picked up the flag. They reverently folded it. Iyoseching took it from them. He presented it to Captain Esiada. Captain Esiada accepted it. He put it under his left arm. One man opened the gate. Two men picked up the blanket. They set it on the edge of the deck. The end with the feet hung over the water. They picked up the end with the head. They lifted it until the body slid into the water. It went under and was gone.

“Remain here. I have someone everybody need to meet,” Captain Esiada said. He walked below. He walked to his quarters. He picked up the baby. The boy was wrapped in a towel. He had some black hair already on his head.

Captain Esiada carried the baby up to the deck. He stood in front of the men. He held the boy where everybody could see him. They looked at him with admiration. Captain Esiada said, “This is Mikela’s newborn son. We will be calling him ‘Zuangeng’. I name him so, for he was born on this ship, this morning, while we were at sea. We need to go to the nearest port for provisions for the child.”

Everybody knew that ‘Zuangeng’ meant ‘child of the ocean’ or ‘ocean child’ whatever the preference. Captain Esiada never revealed the boy’s given name. He gave the baby to Iyoseching. Everybody gathered around Iyoseching to get a closer look at the child.

Captain Esiada took readings of their position off the stars. He walked to his office. He took a chart out. He laid it on his desk. He sat in the chair behind the desk. He plotted their location. He studied the chart. He found an island with a suitable port nearby. He plotted their course on the chart. He checked the needed heading. He exited the office. He walked to the helm. He gave the helmsman the new heading. Captain Esiada found Esamoda. He said, “Have the men adjust the sails. We are on a new course.”

Esamoda relayed the message. The men grabbed sheets and hauled on them. They reset the sails.

Captain Esiada continued to reflect on the past. Something appeared on the horizon. It brought him back to the present. He walked to the stern. He walked into his office. He retrieved his spyglass. He returned to the bow. They were closer to the object. He looked at the object through the spyglass. The object was a small island. They were heading straight for it. He walked astern to the helm.

“Turn to starboard,” he commanded the helmsman. The helmsman turned the helm to the right. The ship turned to the right. The crew went to adjust the sails. Captain Esiada walked to the port railing. He looked toward the bow. He watched the bow and island.

When he was satisfied that they were going to miss the island, he said, “Straighten the rudder.”

The helmsman straightened the rudder/ The island kept getting closer. It was becoming bigger and clearer. The ship came close enough for them to see the beach, grass and trees. It was getting dark. Captain Esiada saw some black specks above the trees. They appeared to be on the other side of the island. He looked through the spyglass at the specks. They were dragons leaving.

The ship sailed past the island. The island was astern. Captain Esiada plotted their new course. The helmsman steered the ship to the new heading. The island disappeared behind them.

 

 

The Fiction of Wolf Moisan

The Boy and the Sea Dragon

Chapter Eight

The Dragon Meet

Zuangeng woke up. Xianjeng felt him stir. He stopped swimming. He turned his head to look at Zuangeng. Zuangeng was sitting up. He had his head down. Xianjeng said, “Feeling any better?”

Zuangeng looked up. He had not fully recovered from his bout of melancholy. He was still missing his home. He sadly complained, “I’m hungry.”

“We’ll see what is available. Hold your breath,” Xianjeng said. Zuangeng lowered his goggles. He laid down. He wedged his feet between fins. He grabbed fins. He took a deep breath. He held it.

Xianjeng turned his head back. He dove. He flew around. Zuangeng looked down the dragon’s left side in front of the wing. He was amazed at what he saw. The left front leg transformed into a dolphin’s flipper. Zuangeng’s hair waved on the flow of the water.

Xiamjeng resurfaced. Zuangeng released his breath. He panted a while. He let go of the fins. He got up on his elbows. He said, “I wish I was like you. I wish I could transform myself into something suitable to water.”

Xianjeng said, “Oh!  That would take some magic. You’re too young to do any magic. I sometimes do it without thinking. I am adapted to a life in the ocean, humans are not. I have seen nothing to eat. I may need to call on some friends. I need to go back under to do so.”

 

Zuangeng laid back down. He grabbed some fins. He took a really deep breath. He held it. He nudged Xianjeng with his feet. Xianjeng dove under the water. He flew through the water. He made all sorts of deep, low frequency sounds as he flew. Zuangeng could hear Xianjeng make noises that sounded like low guttural grunts, whistles and groans among others. He felt the dragon’s back vibrate.

Zuangeng could hardly hold his breath any longer. He let go of Xianjeng. He freed his feet. He swam to the surface. He tread water, swinging his arms back and forth while kicking his feet. He looked around as he recovered his breath. All he saw was water and the sky. Waves gently lapped against his neck. The sky was clear. He was about to take another deep breath. He saw Xianjeng resurface a couple of feet from him.

Xianjeng had felt Zuangeng leave his back. He finished the call for a meeting. He resurfaced not far from where Zuangeng left him. He looked around. He found Zuangeng swimming toward him. Xianjeng turned around and swam toward the boy.

They finally met. Zuangeng swam to the dragon’s right side. He turned around. He held onto the right wing with his left hand. He remained in the water. Xianjeng turned his head to face the boy. Zuangeng looked up to face the dragon. Xianjeng said, “I have called for a dragon meet. Get on my back, we need to be going. We’ll go by air. This time, I’ll be gentle with my turns and landing.”

Zuangeng climbed on Xianjeng’s back. He laid down. He wedged his feet between two pairs of fins. He held onto two more fins. He gave Xianjeng a little nudge.

Xianjeng took off. He flew through the air with utmost speed. Zuangeng had difficulties breathing with the air rushing past him. He moved his head to find a way to breath. His hair flapped wildly. He endured the discomfort of the flight. Xianjeng did not bank so steeply as before in the turns.

Xianjeng saw their destination. It was a small island covered in trees and encircled by a sandy beach. HE started the descent. Zuangeng turned and raised his head for a look. He watched as the island grew bigger. A bay was on the left. Xianjeng headed to the bay’s beach. Zuangeng watched the trees grow bigger and taller. Xianjeng neared the ground. He pulled up. He landed on the sand with all four feet. He ran a short distance upon touch down.

“Ah! A four point landing,” Xianjeng could not resist commenting. Zuangeng giggled at that. Xianjeng folded his wings.

Zuangeng dislodged his feet. He sat up. He commented, “That was some flight. I had some difficulty breathing.”

“That’s another thing we need to address,” Xianjeng said.

Zuangeng looked to his left. They were on the edge of a wide, deep bay. The sand extended out into the water until it disappeared in the crystal blue water. He looked to his right. The sand extended to meet grass. Further inland was a forest of tropical trees.

Xianjeng turned left. He walked into the bay. Zuangeng looked down Xianjeng’s left side. He watched the left front leg. Each step sent up a flurry of sand. He saw nothing edible. Xianjeng came to deep water. He floated. He swam out a little further.

Zuangeng pulled up his goggles. He looked up into the sky. Dragons were flying their way. They landed in the water, some with a splash. One landed close enough to get Zuangeng wet. Zuangeng lowered his head as water came down on top of him. He looked up to see more dragons appear out of the water. He took a quick count of the dragons. There must have been twenty five of them, including Xianjeng, here. Five of the dragons were the same color as Xianjeng. The others were of different colors.

Zuangeng looked at one particular dragon. It was bright red with some yellow streaks. The head was narrower than Xianjeng’s head. Bright red, frilly flaps along the head’s back edge on both sides looked like gills. The dragon looked at Zuangeng.

The dragons usually held their meetings in remote places like this one. They wanted no prying humans to know any of their dragon business. This dragon demanded, “Why is this human child at our meeting!?”

“He is the reason for this meeting! His name is Zuangeng,” Xianjeng replied.

“What is the purpose for this meeting since he is involved,” the red dragon asked.

“It is two fold. The first is food. The boy needs to stay with me so I can’t go far nor deep to find some. I need your help in procuring food for him as well as for myself. I am limited on how deep and long I can go underwater. You are not,” Xianjeng said.

“Where did he come from? How did he come to be with you,” another dragon asked.

“I came from the sailing vessel known as the ‘Serikua’,” Zuangeng replied.

“He speaks Dragonese,” the red dragon said.

“I taught him to speak it. The ship is lost. I rescued Zuangeng from drowning during a storm. I am assuming the possibility that the storm sunk it,” Xianjeng said.

“I do not believe that. The ship is well built. It is crewed by capable sailors and a capable captain. They are well seasoned and experienced,” Zuangeng said.

“That brings us to the second point. Be on the look out for the ship. If any of you hear any news of or see the Serikua, let me know. If it is still floats, I want to return the boy to it. Now, what about some food,” Xianjeng said.

The dragons dispersed. Xianjeng and Zuangeng remained in the bay alone. It was not long before some came back. Not everyone came back. Those that did brought sea food of different kinds. One brought a small squid. It put the squid on its back. It said, “Does the boy eat squid?”

“I do. Thank you,” Zuangeng said. The dragon took the squid in its mouth. It swam toward Xianjeng. Zuangeng took the squid from the dragon’s mouth. He laid it on Xianjeng’s back.

Another dragon brought some seaweed. Zuangeng said, “Let me look at that plant, please.”

The dragon swam to him. Zuangeng took the seaweed out of the dragon’s mouth. He looked it over. It was similar to quinsing. It was reddish brown instead. He said, “I’ll this,too. Thank you. Please, take me ashore, Xianjeng.”

Xianjeng paddled around. He swam toward the shore. He touched bottom. He walked up onto the dry sand. He laid down on his belly. Zuangeng threw the squid and seaweed to the sand on the right. He stepped over the fins. He sat. He put his hands on the dragon’s side. HE pulled himself forward. He laid back. He slid down Xianjeng’s wing to the sand.  His feet touched the sand. His legs buckled. He ended up on his hands and knees. The sand was bearably hot. He stood up. He brushed the sand off his hands and knees. He picked up the squid in his left arm. He picked up the seaweed with his right hand. He shook the sand off. He draped the seaweed over the squid. He put them under his left arm. He walked away.

Xianjeng stood up. He turned to his left. He returned to the water. Other dragons showed up with more food. Xianjeng joined all of them. The dragons had a feast.

Zuangeng walked up the beach to the grass. He continued to walk. He came to the forest. He looked up into the trees. He found some bananas and coconuts among other trees. He entered the forest. He walked among the trees. They towered over him. He walked through some underbrush. He heard birds chattering. He looked up. Birds flew among the trees. Some had red bodies, brown wings and long multicolored tails. Others were blue with red heads.

All went quiet. The birds scattered. He stopped. He heard a hissing growl emanating form his right. He lowered his head. He looked to the right in front of him. A patch of bushes stood between two trees. The source of the noise was not visible. Another hissing growl came from the bushes. A head popped out of the bushes. Two front legs and shoulders followed. The head turned slightly to the left. The mouth was open in a snarl. Brown teeth could be seen. The two top canines were long enough to protrude outside of a closed mouth. The upper lips were curled up. The lower lips were curled down. A fringe of dark brown fur ran from one side of the head, over the top to the other side. The fringe extended flat over the neck. The rest of the fur was a tawny brown. The nose was black. The eyes were red encircling black. The animal made a hissing growl.

The creature leaped out of the bushes. It crouched on four legs. It blocked his path. It kept its head turned toward him. The long bushy tail curled up. The fur on its shoulders stood up. It stared at him. It continued its hissing growl. Zuangeng turned left slightly. He kept his eyes glued to the creature. The creature turned to line up with its head.

The creature slowly approached him. Zuangeng prepared to flee. His left foot was turned closer to the direction of flight. It suddenly leaped at Zuangeng. Zuangeng immediately swung around on his left foot. His hair flew out in the fast turn.

Zuangeng shrieked and bolted. He ran as fast as he could. He kept the squid and seaweed under his arm. The creature landed on its paws. It ran with a bounding gait. Its mane flopped up and down. Zuangeng ran along the path he took coming in. His hair flew out and bounced behind him. He kept a respectable distance from the animal.

He burst out of the forest. He saw the dragons in the water. He turned right and ran toward them. He screamed as loud as he could. The animal burst out of the forest behind him. He reverted to his native language – Cingalia. He continued screaming the phrase, “Helia pina!”

The dragons just finished eating. All the dragons heard him screaming. They had better hearing than any humans. They could hear noises from greater distances than the best human hearing. They turned to look. The red dragon said, “You know his language, Kilethang, not me. What is he screaming about?”

“He is calling for help,” Xianjeng explained. The dragons knew him by the name ‘Kilethang’. They saw the creature pursuing him. Xianjeng and the red dragon gulped some water. They took off toward the shore. They paddled furiously. They flapped their wings to assist their feet. They waggled their tails. Their feet touched bottom. They ran until they were airborne.

They flew toward Zuangeng. They were barely above his head level. They came close enough. They shot streams of water down over his head from their mouths. The streams of water struck the animal in its face. The animal stopped. Its face dripped water.

The red dragon landed on Zuangeng’s left. Xianjeng landed on his right. Zuangeng was between the two. He stopped just behind their front legs. He stopped screaming. He turned to face the creature. He huffed and puffed. He was all out of breath. The animal shook its head. Water sprayed off its face.

“Go back to where you came from,” the red dragon declared. The animal just stood there growling. Zuangeng looked up to Xianjeng. He noticed for the first time that Xianjeng had a slit behind his jaw. He assumed that the other side had a similar slit.

“That food is the boy’s, not yours!” Xianjeng said. The animal remained standing there, growling. It eyed Zuangeng. Both dragons shot the animal with water. This time, the whole animal was drenched. The animal shook its body. Water sprayed off it. It turned around. It ran back into the forest.

The dragons turned their attention to Zuangeng. They turned their heads to look at him. He still had the squid and seaweed I his arm. The red dragon said, “What were you doing walking off like that? Why have you not eaten yet?”

“I was looking for some place with fresh water to wash my food and drink,” Zuangeng replied. He looked at the dragon.

“If you had asked, I would have done it for you! Now, hold it up,” Xianjeng admonished.

Zuangeng turned to face Xianjeng. He put everything on the ground. He picked up the seaweed first. He held it up. Xianjeng sprayed the plants. Zuangeng got wet in the process. He draped the seaweed over his right shoulder. Water ran down his back and chest from the seaweed. He picked up the squid. He held it up. Xianjeng sprayed it.

“Never go out into a strange wild place without someone with you, Zuangeng,” the red dragon admonished him. Zuangeng looked at the dragon. He sat and ate.

Xianjeng and the red dragon walked to the bay. Xianjeng looked at the other dragons. HE said, “Unless there is any other business to attend to, this meeting is adjourned.

Nobody had any other business. They shook their heads.

Xianjeng said, “Remember, if you hear anything about the Serikua, I need to know. If you see the Serikua, report it.”

All the other dragons left. Xianjeng and Zuangeng were alone on the island.

Xianjeng turned to look at Zuangeng. Zuangeng had just finished eating. What he could not eat, he tossed away. He drank out of Xianjeng’s mouth.

He turned around to look at the forest. He started to head back to it. Xianjeng said, “What are you doing? Where are you going?”

“I saw some ripe bananas. I want one,” Zuangeng said. Xianjeng followed him. They came to the tree in question. Zuangeng reached up and wrapped his arms around the trunk. He pulled himself up. He wrapped his legs around it. He shimmied up the trunk, keeping his eyes on the prize. He reached the bananas. He found a good one. He reached for it with his right hand. He kept the left arm around the trunk. He grabbed the banana and pulled it off. He put it in his mouth. He shimmied back down. He reached the ground. He took the banana out of his mouth. He peeled and ate it. Zuangeng said, “Now, that is a good and ripe banana.”

Xianjeng noticed that Zuangeng was looking tired. Zuangegng’s eyes were half shut. Apparently, the excitement, running and tree climbing had worn him out. It was getting dark. Xianjeng looked up to the west. The forest hid the sun.

They walked to the beach. Xianjeng, again, looked to the west. The sun was on the horizon. Xianjeng said, “We’ll spend the night here.”

Xianjeng laid down on his belly. Zuangeng sat down beside Xianjeng’s left front leg. He leaned back on the leg. He was asleep. Xianjeng stayed awake. He kept watch.