@freewritehouse March Madness Chapter 21 ”Hammer”

in marchmadness •  29 days ago

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I'm am taking part in March Madness by the @freewritehouse! This is the first attempt from me and I hope I can see it through! I will try. If you would like to play along please check out more here.

Thanks for reading these free writes and I hope to one day edit them all! I am open to constructive criticism.

Word count: 2,332
Total count: 37,197

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Chapter 21
Hammer

The water was relatively calm and the cold air sprayed the men with ocean mist as they pushed farther out to sea. The small fishing compliment of twenty men set out at dawn in hopes of bringing home a large feast of Baltic Tuna. Eighteen burley men manned the oars of the Long Ship, the days rowing was easy work with a north wind filling the sail of the ship.

The forecastle man sat in the rear of the ship manning the rudder and rhythmically chanting his rowing command.

“Pull!”, he would yell and a second later he would be answered by the rowing men in unison with a guttural “Ogghhhh” as they dug the oars into the sea. The rowing men sat with their backs to the bow of the ship facing the forecastle man and aided the sail in the propulsion of the vessel.

So far their nets had been empty. Grant stood on the bow of the ship overlooking the sea searching for a spot that he hoped would hold a school of large tuna. The blood stain on the bow of the ship had already dried in the autumn sun. Before setting out to sea, the men had sacrificed a goat to the gods in hopes of a bountiful trip. The head was cast into the sea in honor of Njord, god of the ocean, and the body was saved on board to be used as bait.

Grant was beginning to doubt their day would be successful, it was already late and he was not sure they would find any fish. If it were up to Grant, he would turn the ship back and try again in the morning. The forecastle man, a giant man, was relentless and Grant knew he would not quit until the storage bins were full of fresh fish.

Grant’s success as a fisherman was largely based on perception and a little luck. He had been trained his whole life in the mechanics of fishing but when it came down to finding fish, he knew a general location from experience but would use his own intuition to pinpoint the schools of tuna, salmon, or trout. The crew had begun to rely on him for this and the forecastle man was losing his patience.

“Grant!”, the man broke from his rowing commands, “Shall we drop the nets here?”

“Just a little farther!” Grant replied.

As if on cue, a strong gust of wind picked up and accelerated the ship as the full sails gave the men a break.

“Return Oars!” Commanded the forecastle man.

“Ahhhh!” The men cried out in relief.

As the wind increased the giant man commanding the ship grabbed on hard to the rudder and kept the fishing vessel on a straight course. Soon he would have to lower the sail, he thought, it feels like a storm is coming.

Grant felt the storm too and years of experience at sea taught him to search to his left side for storms when the wind was at your back. Grant peered over the port side of the ship towards the horizon and saw the thunderhead forming to the East.

“Storm!” Grant shouted as he pointed out to sea.

“Haul in the sail, prepare to come about!” Screamed the forecastle man over the increasing roaring winds.

The rowing men went to work, they secured all loose equipment and brought down the sail. The ship was ready to return to port.

The oars were now back in operational status and the boat groaned as the Giant man pushed hard on her rudder to bring her about. Men on the starboard side placed their oars in the water to assist with the u-turn maneuver.

Once the ship came about, the forecastle man speaking with a quicker pace began shouting his rowing commands again.

“Pull!”

“Ogghhh!”

“Pull!”

“Oggghh!!!”

The thrill of the approaching storm and the thought of home propelled the men as they dug deeper into the sea, rowing harder and harder.

The sensation of static electricity was filling the sky and thunder could now be heard and the storm approached the seemingly tiny ship in the vast ocean.

A steady rain began to bombard the ship with stinging projectiles and the wind increased as the storm grew larger and nearer. The wolf skin adorning Grant’s shoulders was now completely drenched and seawater and rain dripped down off of his long red beard. The hammer he used to incapacitate the fish when caught, was dangling freely by his side secured by a leather strap to his belt.

The massive storm was now bearing down directly on the men and their small fishing ship, but they showed little fear and in fact most enjoyed the thrill of the excitement. The waves were growing larger and larger and the ship was riding directly on them.

The Giant man had no choice but to aim the ship head on to the growing waves in order to avoid being capsized. He would rather prolong their voyage home by riding out the storm than wind up as a sacrifice to the gods himself.

Soon the storm had darkened the sky and there was no sign left of the sun. Visibility was practically inexistent and the ship was feeling out the sea as she made little progression.

“Puuull!”

“Oggghhh!”

The pace of the ship was slowing down, and the men struggled to keep her on course. Lighting was the only source of light as it filled the sky with roaring wind and pounding thunder.

The flashes of light gave the men a glimpse of the oncoming waves as they braced for each one. Water was flowing over the sides and onto the floor of the ship and no man was spared from being drenched in the icy salt water.

Grant was standing firm on the bow of the ship and even though none of the men could see him he remained strong in hopes of inspiring them to keep their composure as well. Grant kept his eyes on the sea watching the approaching waves, searching for a ship killer. The waves were large but they were nothing he hadn’t seen before and he knew that if they kept on course they would survive.

Grant could sense another wave approaching based on the rhythm of the sea but in the darkened sky he could not see it approaching.

A flash of lightning filled the air right as a wave approached the ship and she began to make her ascent up the wave. Off the Port Bow, a dark flash of color not of the sea caught Grant’s eye in the blackened ocean. A bolt of fear gripped him, he wasn’t sure what it was. It had to be a fish, he thought. As the ship crested the wave and began its journey down the back side of it, Grant glanced behind him to check on the status of the men.

They were all working hard doing their job and no one else seemed to have noticed the object in the water.

While Grant was looking behind him at the men, a large jolt rocked the ship. The ship had entered the trough of the wave and had landed hard on something solid with an earth-shattering crash. The shock of the collision was so strong that the ship’s mast snapped at the base and went crashing down striking a row man directly on his head. He slumped over off of his seat onto the floor of the ship as the mast rest on the hull of the ship.

The ship seemed intact and she wasn't taking in wonder, but what had caused such a crash Grant thought.

Several men quickly worked to clear the damaged mast from the inside of the ship. It was too damaged to be reused so they would have to rely on the oars from this point forward.

“Puulllll!”
“Oghhhh” The men shouted louder as they continued to work on the oars.

The ship moved freely through the water now, and the forecastle man was attempting to keep his sailors rowing. Without hesitation Grant lept to the motionless man. Grant was standing in sea water stained with the mans blood as it sloshed around the floor of the boat.

“He's gone.” Grant yelled.

“You, give me a hand!” Grant commanded to a man rowing near by. “Grab him we need to toss him over.” Grant continued to motivate the man. The man looked defiantly and Grant and he could tell it was a friend of his.

“His fait is sealed, ours is yet to be decided. Lets go!” Grant shouted with no sympathy in his voice.

The two men threw the dead sailor into the water then Grant took the dead mans place on the oar. I am not going to die today, he thought as he put his back into the oar.

The ship was beginning to climb another wave now, and in complete darkness, the men leaned back rowing with all their might.

“Puuuulllll!”

“OGHHHHHH!!!!”

There was no way of knowing how large the next wave was, until lighting filled the air once again and illuminated the giant wave towering in front of their ship.

In the lit up sky the men strained to look over their shoulder at the oncoming wave, no longer rowing just staring in awe. They were stunned by what they saw. Swimming through the wave was a giant snake that appeared to be three to four times larger than the ship itself.

The men were silent and still looking up at the wave as if it were frozen, suspended in space. The ship continued its accent without the aid of the oars and as it neared the top of the wave the serpent broke through the surface of the water and dove down underneath the ship.

With complete disregard for the ship, several men stood up and drew their weapons in a reactionary motion. Swords, a Spear, and several shields all were twinkling underneath the lightning lit sky.

Craaaaackkkkkk, Booommmm!

Lightning and thunder was erupting all around the ship and the serpent was nowhere to be seen. The ship was resting in the trough of the wave again and the men all stood now waiting for the snake to appear.

The next wave was coming and it was lifting the fishing vessel into the air, she was now off course and ascended the wave on an angle.

As the ship climbed a man shouted “Port side!” Grant snapped his attention to port and caught the tail of the snake sinking under the water only 20 feet from the side of the ship.

As the sideways ship crested the wave the forecastle man shouted his command; “Brace!”

The men, all together, crouched down and braced for the impact.

A violent crash sent men and supplies over the side of the ship as all chaos was breaking out. Men were shouting over the loud wind and thunder, as rain continued its assault on the fully exposed men that remained on the ship. Three men could be seen in the water shouting and flailing their arms. Grant and two other men each grabbed an oar and were trying to reach the over board men. It was of no use the men were too far from the ship.

After only a few seconds overboard a small mountain of water began to rise under the group of helpless men in the sea. Their screams grew more frantic as the beast broke through the surface in one violent shot and swallowed the men up. Standing there in a daze the remaining men watched from their shop as their comrades got eaten whole, the snake returning to the depths.

“Oars!!!” The forecastle man shouted at the remains crew.

Dispersing equally onto each side of the vessel the men grabbed onto the remaining oars.

“Puuuuuuuuulllllll!” Screamed the forecastle man.

“OOOOOGGHHHHH!!!” They cried. Longer and louder than ever before.

“Pull!!”

“Oghhhhh!!!!”

Grant was rowing on the Port side as the ship straightened out and began to mount the oncoming wave head on. Once over the crest the ship tore through the water speeding up on its way down when the entire ship began to tilt towards her starboard side. If the mast had still been intact it would have pointed 45 degrees starboard as another mountain of water formed in unison with the descending ship on her port side.

“Pull!” The large man continued showing no break in his voice.

“Oggghhh!!”

Grant peered over the side and saw the serpents head nearing the surface of the water. Its jaws were already opening as it broke the surface right next to grant. As the Serpant rose from the sea, Grant rose from his rowing bench an held his hammer high in the air above his head as a bolt of lightning illuminated the ocean around the ship.

Grant felt no fear, he was fueled by anger. He had never felt so much hate in his life. The snake's eyes were filled with fury and grant could see his own reflection in them, while holding his hammer high, in those glossy windows of hell.

Matching the speed of the ship, the snake drew down on Grant with its jaws wide open and eyes now shut. Grant took advantage of the blinded snake and dodged the strike by stepping to the side. As he moved out of the strike zone, with the hammer still high in the air, Grant reached in the snake's mouth with his free hand and grabbed it by its tongue.

As the Snake began to squirm in pain under the surface of the water a whirlpool of bubbles was vibrating the ship with its turbulent wake. Grant pulled on the young even harder as he drew down his hammer and struck the beast right in the head and it sunk below back into the depths of the sea.

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Gripping! Grant is some kid!

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Wow. You must really know the sea!! It was "sit on the edge of your seat" kind of reading!! And the tongue of the snake must have been huge...

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Most of what I know I read in the Icelandic Sagas. They go into some detail about sea life! Thanks so much for reading! 😊

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Hi @balticbadger, I will come back here again to read this, know it will be a great story. Today is Saturday at my side so abit packed. But will be back later.

Meanwhile... I am here to deliver the next prompt.

I know I am late but better than nothing. If you haven't checked out the next prompt, here it is ➡️ 'bark'.

Also, don't forget to read the latest posts from our new page to join more awesome contests at the
FREEWRITE HOUSE!

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Click the graphic to join in the fun!

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Thanks a lot! I completely understand my reading list is overwhelming at the moment too!

I am actually just finishing up my ”bark” prompt weekends are tough with everyone at home but getting after it!

Thanks again! Enjoy your Saturday!

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