Chapter LXXV – The Sea-Serpent

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The big ones could swallow a man . . . or even a boat!

According to the ship’s navigator, looking through his telescope, the sea serpent is about 100 yards long. Chypa says that makes it one of the bigger ones, and probably slower than this yacht. So why we’re still heading directly toward it, I don’t know. The captain isn’t too happy, either. Only when Chypa tells him that I’ll be armed with a spell to kill it does he stop protesting.

Chypa’s standing on the port side, facing out to sea. I’m standing about a dozen feet further along the side, and Inacha is just behind me. Chypa’s had the captain order the crew down from the rigging. “Don’t want to tempt the beastie with too many snacks,” she jokes.

I can see the serpent’s head, hump, and tail all briefly emerge as it undulates its way toward us. It’s bright red and green. Chypa says that marks it out as venomous.

The creature closes within twenty feet of the ship when Chypa starts making growling noises in her throat and stamps on the deck. The ship shudders as part of the serpent strikes it. Chypa groans even louder, and jumps up and down. It would be quite comical, if a monster that could crush us wasn’t at hand.

The serpent rears up, its head lifted out of the water maybe fifty feet. It has six eyes, a crest of blue, and fangs that look to be as tall as a man. It lets out a hideous roar.

In response, Chypa growls again, and does some more foot-stomping. This gets the monster’s attention. It drops the upper part of its body onto the deck, smashing the railing in the process, and comes face-to-face with Chypa.

To my utmost astonishment, Chypa advances and climbs onto its head, mounting all the way to the top, where she growls, stamps her feet, and scratches the creature’s comb. Meanwhile, it’s looking at me, its long, forked tongue flickering in and out of its mouth, almost reaching me.

Abruptly, the creature tosses back its head, rears up until it towers over the ship, and drops back into the water. As we watch, it rises once again, gives another great roar, and then sinks into the sea. And then it starts moving away.

Chypa gets up from the deck where she’s fallen. She comes over to us. The captain also joins us. He says to her, “I’ve never seen the like of that before.”

Chypa smiles. “Oh, it’s a trick I learned on the Eastern Sea. The big ones don’t eat very often, so usually they’re just curious. You talk to them, scratch their sensitive spots, and they’ll be on their way. No point in harming the poor creature when it means no harm to you.”

“So the story of you slaying the one mounted in Tanifisay is just a legend?” I ask.

“Oh, no. I’d never seen one before. Scared me so much I pissed myself. I not only killed it, I made sure it died painfully.”

Chypa goes to change her clothes, as they are wet from contact with the serpent. She asks me to come along because she wants to talk to me. As she’s slipping out of her clothes, she says to me, “You understood the lesson.”

“I think so. Don’t assume you’re dealing with a monster that has to be exterminated, when you might find it’s a lot cheaper to cooperate with it. And I’m supposed to apply that to Vorana.” If it were any other woman with whom I was in a relationship, I’d take her nakedness as an invitation. But Chypa has her ways of signaling when those kind of attentions are wanted and when they are not, and this is a time when they are not.

She’s pulling clothes out of her trunk and doesn’t resume talking until she’s putting some clothes on. “Exactly so. The only problem is that it may not be Vorana we’re facing. I was communicating with her an hour ago when something intervened and shut down our communications.”

“It would take a very capable magician to do that,” I observe.

“Or a god,” Chypa replies. “You’ve crossed paths with two gods recently. I have an ill feeling you’re not done with them yet.”

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