Beast of the Seas
Content Warning: This story features graphic violence, crude language, crude humor and ideologically sensitive themes.
Margus pushed himself forward with all his strength.
He knew that he couldn't match the creature in a battle of pure physical strength. He would have to play this smart.
That strength could also be the creatures greatest weakness.
As the large foe brought down it's heavy blade, Margus side stepped, moving the center force of the blow away from his body and towards the edge of his shield.
The strike skipped off the shield and down to the side. Even at a glancing blow the strike felt like it was going to tear the man's arm out of socket, but he held strong.
Setting his foot behind him, he thrust at the large creatures center mass.
With reflexes matching the cat like appearance of the creature, the large man-beast leapt backwards and brought it's blade up to parry the blow.
Keep it on the back foot. Wait for your opening.
Margus lunged forward, bringing blow after blow with his blade, each strike going lower and lower – and leaving Margus ever the more exposed.
Finally, with one downward swing, Margus missed the creature's blade all together and bit into one of the wooden railing on the side of vessel.
Growling triumphantly, the large maned beast brought up it's own blade to strike down the staggered foe.
This is it. Do or die time.
As the blade descended, Margus released his grip on the buried blade and pushed himself straight backwards with all his might. The large iron blade of his foes weapon sailing through the air mere inches in front of his face before burying itself in the water swollen boards of the deck.
Confused, the creature tried to pull the blade out, but the weight of the weapon had trapped it deep within the boards.
Margus having released his own blade, fell to his knees and pulled his bronze commanders dagger. With a quick motion, he slid it across the large creatures right ankle.
A loud roar of pain accompanied a titanic fall as the creature fell down onto one knee. It whipped it's head upward with a furious glare in just enough time to see Margus' shield on course with it's face.
A splash of blood and a few broken teeth were sent flying by the impact.
The creature, knocked cold, fell backwards onto the deck.
“Not as tough as you thought.” Quipped Margus with a grin as he pulled his falcata from the railing.
He was beginning to move off to the rest of the marines to join the fight when he felt a sudden tug on his leg.
Looking down, he saw the young boy whom had followed him to his death, had reached up to grab his commanders leg as he had walked by.
The boy had tears coursing down his face as he whimpered for help through labored breaths.
“Admiral... please don't leave me....I...I... It hurts, please I want to go home!”
Margus knelt down beside the wounded soldier and looked over his wounds.
Done for. Only thing that can be done now is one final act of mercy.
“I....I want my mother.... I... take me.....please...”
He lifted the boys head onto his knee and cradled it lightly as he reached for his dagger with the other hand.
“Shhh... I'll take you home.”
With a quick thrust, he stabbed the dagger into the side of the boys head.
His eyes bulged momentarily in surprise before becoming glossy. Margus could feel the boys body twitch for a moment before growing still. Feeling like a certain energy had left. Like a flame dying with a quiet whimper.
Margus laid the boys head back down onto the deck before hovering his hand over his chest.
He had intended to say a small prayer for the boy, but a terrible realization occurred to him.
He didn't even know the boys name.
Damn this war. Damn these beasts, damn this command! He should have been learning from his father to plow a field, or how to court a lady. Not out here fighting a losing battle over a worthless island.
The cries of the battle going on farther down the deck jolted Margus back to reality. More of his men were dying on the deck of this vessel.
No time to mourn for just one. Leaping to his feet, Margus dove into the battle alongside his marines.
Coming upon Urrbara grappling with one of the creatures of a more typical size, Margus, brought his blade backwards towards his own chest and thrust it through the creatures back. It promptly doubled over on top of Urrbara with a loud yelp.
“Gods almighty! Get this fleabag off of me!”
Margus bent over and hefted the heavy creature off of his friend.
“Thank me for saving your wrinkled behind later. Lets finish this before anyone else needlessly die.”
Urrbara nodded and lightly kicked the body of the fallen foe.
“All marines! Onto me! Form ranks and push! Move fast and heave the guts and bodies over the side!
When the battle had ended, the decks were awash with blood, human and otherwise.
As mighty as the beasts were, they could not sustain an attack against several foes at once.
Most had died in honorable combat. A few had leapt over the side to swim away. A handful had been captured.
Margus surveyed the grim scene with an audible sigh. Such a waste of life.
“The day is ours, Admiral... But at great cost.” Urrbara had come alongside him.
“Whats the damage?”
“23 dead. Mostly recruits. 3 veterans though. 18 wounded, several of which will be out of commission for good.”
Margus simply continued to stare across the bloody deck in silence.
“Not all bad news though. I counted at least 33 o' the man-eaters dead. Even better, we captured a whole dozen of 'em alive. A truly rare prize.”
Margus turned towards his Lieutenant before crossing his hands behind his back.
“Well, lets see them then.”
The two men strolled to the aft deck where a group of the furred figures sat on the ground, heavy chains binding them together with little slack.
Margus quickly scanned the group. Most of the group cast their gaze downwards, no doubt in shame at being captured. Some were taller than others, others had peculiar patterns in their fur, reminiscent of large cats. Some had large bushy manes, while others did not. Based on their curvature, some were certainly female.
One however stood out from the rest. Unlike the others, this creature did not hang it's head in shame, but instead glared challengingly towards the surrounding humans. Loud hisses and growls slipping from broken teeth.
It was the creature that had killed the boy in the beginning of the battle.
“They're pacified right now, Admiral, but 'ah wouldn't get too close if I were you. Quite nasty they are. Take your face clean off with a single bite.”
“Especially watch out for big old snaggle-tooth there.” Stated Urrbara with a slight prod of his spear towards the large creature. The beast reciprocated with a menacing hiss.
“He and I are already acquainted.” stated Margus, a slight frown on his face.
“He, sir? Don't tell me yer checking under their skirts and whatnot.”
Margus huffed once before pointing at snaggle-tooth's large mane.
“Like a lion, Archos.” Margus then pointed towards one of the mane-less creatures.
“Notice something about the ones without the manes?” Margus turned towards the Lieutenant with a wry grin.
The grizzled veteran looked closely over the form of the captured creature who become more agitated by the moment. His face suddenly twisted into an expression of sudden realization – and embarrassment.
“Oh...Well. I'll be damned. I never noticed they had...well...”
Margus patted his friend on the back and made his way towards the chained group.
“It's alright, Archos. I know a sailor such as you isn't familiar with the form of a lady...
“Yeah....Hey, what is that supposed to mean!”
Margus laughed softly but paid no mind to the protests of his friend. He knelt down beside snaggle-tooth, who began to growl lowly.
“Remember me, eh? Sorry 'bout the gob, but I don't think you'll be using it for a while.” Margus batted at the creatures maw.
He had expected the creature to attempt a snap or two at his fingers, but it instead lunged for his face, jaws snapping shut mere inches from his nose. Close enough that he could feel his hot breath against his own face.
Several of the nearby marines lowered their spears at the chained creature, but were waved off by Margus who stood up once more.
“Straight for the kill. I like that.... But it would be a mistake to fuck with me.”
Balling his fist, Margus struck the creature across his face, spittle and blood landing across the deck.
“I don't know if you can even understand me, but if you can, I tell you this: Don't try my patience.”
Snaggle-tooth simply stared at him for a moment, eyes narrowed to vengeful slits before emitting a series of peculiar sounds.
To Margus, they sounded like a bunch of varied warbles and growls. A bunch of nonsense, although several of the captive creatures perked their heads up to listen to whatever snaggle-tooth was saying.
He could, however, make out two repeating phrases in the vocal stream: “Orresh” and “Asharr”.
Whatever “Orresh” and “Asharr” meant was beyond Margus... And to be quite frank, he didn't care. He had enough problems to worry about without deciphering the language of giant cat-dog-men.
A swift kick to the stomach quieted the loud creature, who went back to growling at the Admiral.
“Quiet. Your incessant warbling is giving me a headache.”
Several marines approached the group and cast confused glances between one another before turning to the Admiral.
“Sir... What do you want us to do with these prisoners?”
Several of the surrounding sailors piped up with their own ideas.
“We ought to toss 'em overboard with their chains still on!”
“To hell with that, that fur would make a nice coat this winter!”
“We should eat them!”
Margus stomped his foot on the deck to quiet them.
“Whoever suggested we eat the prisoners just earned themselves a bread and water diet until they come to understand the dignity of service within this fleet. We are proud sailors of the North, not mountain barbarians.”
“Besides... I have a better idea on how we could use them....”
Margus turned towards Urrbara.
“Archos. I want you to escort our new....”Guests” down to the oar house. Dismiss the row crew for the night and have these fur-bags chained to the oars. We'll put those powerful muscles to good use.”
Urrbara began to grin devilishly.
“Oh, whoever said being a sailor wasn't worth the perks...”
Margus reciprocated the grin before motioning the soldiers to assist the Lieutenant.
“Oh, and Archos... If they give you any hassle, I'm sure the oar master will gladly loan you his whip to ensure....compliance.”
“You needn't even say, sir.”