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A Short Clad Tale

By WateredByTheShade All Rights Reserved ©

Adventure / Fantasy

Chapter 1


A boy clad in shorts lounged on his boat. His clothes were stained with sea salt, but that smell was only natural in the vast sea. His boots bore no dirt, but that was also expected of the ocean goers. The boat swayed him gently, rocking slightly from port to starboard. The wind was a caressing breeze that did not anger the sea, nor rushed the clouds dotting the blue sky. 

His boat was of modest size and decoration. Two meters long, half as that wide, it boasted a blue coat of paint with bold red stripes on the edges. It had no rows, nor a cabin, nor an anchor, but a small sail in the middle of the boat, a rudder in the shape of a dead man’s hand in the back, and several hooks for lanterns at the prowl. A lantern sat at the boat’s rear with an ability to synthesize almost anything from thin air; a strangeness that the lantern prided itself in only second to its’ ability to speak.

That’s right, the lantern was alive. It had known hundreds of masters, thousands of storms, millions of nights, and countless adventures on the open seas. The boy and the lantern both lived for deadly voyages.

But today, the boy grew bored out of loneliness. While the fellowship of the lantern was the boy’s most cherished belonging, he began to desire the company of another human being. He decided to search for a maiden fair, after all that’s how most of these kinds of tales went, and there had to be some truth in them if those stories were still told to this day (and puberty was knocking at his door). The red and yellow rectangular box was his only partner in this empty blue world, so the boy asked help of it.

 “Not all companionships are those with whom you can talk with,” the lantern replied. “Some of the best ones are muted, invisible, yet always by your side.” But the lad was stubborn in his decision, and the lantern relented.

“Strain your ears lad” the flames flickered, “I hear the crying of a maiden towards deeper waters.” The lantern produced a giant fan that gorged the lone sail with wind and rushed towards the deeper waters.

 Their journey led them to a lone island, a small one. It was an atoll done in a circle, with a palm tree in the middle. Save for that tree, all else of the island was sand. A party of five was to set a maiden into a boiling pot of water and vegetables. The five were all sinister-looking brutes, who stood three meters high, and a meter wide. They bore masks, spears and glaives all decorated with deities, spirits and curses most foul.

 The lad wasted no time in dispatching his foes. He drew his two swords, made from the lowest branches of Hyperion, the world’s oldest tree, and wrapped his left fore-arm around his shield, then charged towards battle.  The five brutes yelled a battle cry and meet the lad’s charge with one of their own. The sword-equipped lad left a bright red gash on the face of the first brute, and then spun to deliver a twin slash to the backbone of the second brute. The third brute went berserk on the lad, hammering and pounding his axe on the lad’s shield, driving him backwards. On one such hammering, the lad flicked his shield upwards, causing the brute’s weapon to ricochet into his own head. A sudden sweep of the legs left the third brute unconscious. The fourth brute was dispatched with a stab to the pupils of its’ eyes, and the fifth fell down to a punch delivered in to the sternum.

 With the dinner host’s unconscious and drowning, the shorts-clad adventurer undid the binds of the maiden, and gave her a big look-through. He did not like her.  Her nose was long and curved like the crescent of the moon, with two moles growing on each side. Her skin was green and scaly, while her teeth were made out of wooden splinters. Speechless he left the atoll.

But forfeit his quest he did not. No story hero ever achieved his goal in the first try anyway, thought the lad, I will try again. So, once again he asked the lantern for help.

And again his companion responded. “Strain your ears lad; I hear the crying of a thing that cannot be called good by even the kindest of all the graces. We sail towards deeper waters.”  The flame fumed a coal powered paddle rower and sped onwards to deeper waters.

The vile howling that sounded like a washboard put to the chalkboard in a duet with a shrinking live bird put to the oven preceded the view of their destination.  As they drew ever closer, they identified the source of the vile cacophony as a fortress in the shape of a large tree stump protruding from the sea. The lantern gave the lad a hammer, and with it in hand, the shorts-clad lad charged the fortress gates.

Once inside, the boy found himself in a large room, with three grotesque elephant-like daemons guarding a bound maiden. The room was outfitted with many speakers, all which produced the vile ear torture. The boy smashed the nearest one.

The smashed speaker regenerated in the likeliness of a blooming flower. The petals, pink and white scattered upon growing back to its original size, revealing a speaker. A speaker that worked still, maybe even better than before it was smashed.

The lad grew furious. The music, foul and not pleasant, was too much for him to take. Speakers from which the music budded that couldn’t be splattered into total annihilation were his breaking point. He proceeded to destroy the place. Hammer in hand he went on a rampage of smashing, he even called in the lantern for a long range shelling of the fortress. The ever resourceful lantern-turned-battleship-juggernaut, called in aerial assaults from the navy. In the mists of explosions and rains of bombs the boy fought the daemons too. Trunks squared off against his hammer, elephant feet trade hits with his human arms, and roars of both parties fought the unsettling noise of the speakers.

Some when in that confusion, he rescued the maiden, who turned out to be fair. “Thank you for rescuing me, young lad” spoke the maiden fair, “But the music here is so well done that I couldn’t help myself to be drawn to this place. Oh, I so wish not to leave it ever.”

Those were the only words she ever said to the lad. The shorts-clothed now daemon fighter found her unbelievable. How someone could be drawn to a sound that makes the scratching howls of a madman whose voice box was replaced by a pair of shrills sound like a lullaby? He packed her off onto a passing by barge and hoped to see her again never.

When the daemons were finally subdued, and the fortress hammered to pulp, the lad returned to his boat, his quest unfulfilled. Third time’s the charm, he reasoned, and asked the lantern to scout for another maiden in peril.

 “Strain your ears lad” announced the red fury of the lantern. “I hear the sobs of a captured maiden in waters deeper than these.”

So far were these waters that the lantern had to produce four twin-turbine engines and two inter-dimensional gateways to reach their destination in a timely manner. What met the duo was a storm of galleons, which poured down arrows, whose war horns could outdo the strength of the typhoon, whose destruction could only be paralleled by which ended the dinosaur. And in the center of this storm, on the highest plank of the tallest ship, walked a captured maiden over a pool of sharks.

The short clad lad set course for the captured maiden and steered his brave boat into the storm. He maneuvered his boat to dodge the ships aflame cruising for his. On his prowl, he spun his swords two to deflect any arrows that rained his way; his companion grew large arms of the fiercest flame and smashed anything that came near them.

For seven days and seven nights, the lad fought the storm. He smashed his flaming rows against the wooden that of his foes. He boarded ships, and subdued their crews, setting all that could be used against him on fire. He withstood cannon fire, sword cuts, pistol shots, spells that summoned lighting and dark beasts. He quenched his hunger and thirst in the cabin halls of the pillaged ships, but never did he tire.

And on the seventh night, in the eye of the storm, he fought the Boss. A man with a beard darker than the hearts of evil men. A man who had four pegs of Gatling guns on his right foot, a man who had blades forged into his skin. A man who fought more as a beast than anything remotely human. With sound-breaking speed, and death-bending strength the Boss wounded the lad within a kiss’ reach of death. But with a fortunately placed head butt to the Boss’ chin, the lad stumbled the Boss backwards. The Boss’s right foot was unsure of its’ footing, and slipped over the edge of the boat into shark infested waters.

The rescued maiden, fair and all, was not pleased with the lad’s actions. “You did it all wrong! First, you were a decade and a half too young. Second, you should have donned platinum armor, came riding straight for the Boss from above steering a pure-white Pegasus. Then, you should have ended the whole fleet with a giant lighting spell. Then-“
 No maiden is better than a clearly insane maiden, reasoned the shorts-clad lad, who with a small hustle nested himself back into his small boat. Without a word of adieu, the lad and the lantern sailed off quietly and alone into the ocean.

“I don’t understand why you would need another friend” burned the lantern bright. “You have the greatest companionship anyone can ever ask, right here.”

 “Aye,” said the lad. He lounged on his small boat, the boat swayed him gently, rocking slightly from port to starboard, and his eyes set on the blue horizon. What adventures lie for me to discover in deeper waters, wondered the lad.

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