Ben turned the net engine off and at once the boat began to lean back into some sort of stable fashion. There were no sounds coming from the back of the boat to indicate that the last of the nasty travellers was in any pain or breathing at all, and while Ben never really wished any harm to come to any person he was glad it was Cleodora and Lanthe who were protecting him from harm and not the other way around. Ben killed the engine of the Crushed Asian and looked around for a waterproof torch he could use to follow the lines down to the nets and cut them off the sub.
Zara popped up behind him and said...‘Those girlfriends of yours have a really nasty streak in them so please be very careful, you should see what they did to those two men who ended up in the water...downright ungodly and diabolical. I am so glad they are on your side,’ said Zara as she looked down toward the crab pot that held one of the biggest crabs she had ever seen squeaking around on top of an old wine bottle full of money.
‘So am I Zara, so am I,’ was all Ben said as he found his torch and held it under water to see if it was water tight.
‘Zara could you do me a big favour and go ask Cleodora and Lanthe to help me get to the sub to cut the nets please?’
‘Ben that’s a considerable distance on one breath!’
‘I know but if this is going to work I have to get it cut and cut it now while the other boats are pulling on the sub.’
‘Okay, be right back,’ and with that being said Zara vanished through the deck of the boat and obviously into the water. Ben started to take very deep breaths to fill his body with as much oxygen as he could before entering the cold water and depths down to the sub and tangled nets. Ben was remembering the hand that Lanthe was waving at him and it gave him chills as they seem to think of it as a play toy more than what it used to be attached to. This was a concern to Ben.
He put the torch into his pants and the knife he found into a scabbard that he attached to the belt around his waist. He needed to be hands-free on the descent into the water to fix the nets. Two voices were heard at the side of the boat and all that he heard was his name said in unison by Cleodora and Lanthe, ‘Ben we are here for you.’
Ben felt Zara pop up behind him and whisper in his ear...‘Be careful Ben if this doesn’t work you are mincemeat. I have overheard some of the conversations down there and these people don’t like me and if you drop that sub, you won’t be coming back to the surface either, understand?’
Ben turned around and said... ‘Really!! They would do that to me?’
‘In the flip of a fin Ben, so be careful okay.’
Ben nodded and went to the back of the boat and jumped into the water. It was very cold and in a blink he was joined by Lanthe and Cleodora. Ben nodded to both of them and thanked them for....helping him with the two nasty travellers on the boat and then he explained what he was about to do. He needed his new found committed exterminators to help him swim to the nets on the sub so he could cut the rope and disengage the nets from the bow to allow the other boats to pull the boat out of the Abyss and up to the safety of the ledge near Amazing and Graceful. He also explained he could not be down there for long as he had to breath and come back up for air. Both his assistants nodded and waited for Ben to fill his lungs before they each grabbed a hand and he was plunged into darkness.
Ben could hear the boats pulling and the creaking and stretching of the chains and ropes under the water. They were descending very fast and in less than 15 seconds he was next to the sub. Ben took out his torch and aimed it for the bow of the sub. It was a mess and needed his direct attention. He swam to the front of the sub and started to cut into the heavy duty nylon ropes that were holding back the sub. Cleodora and Lanthe swam either side of him and he began to feel the ache in his lungs that he needed more air to finish the job. He looked up and into the menacing teeth of Lanthe trying to smile at him and he pointed up and blew a small bubble. At once his powerful bodyguards grabbed his arms and hurtled up to the surface. The ride up seemed quicker than the ride down. He surfaced and took big gulps of air to replenish his oxygen starved body. He nodded and again he was bought back to the sub and the nylon rope that was stopping the sub from moving.
He began to cut into the rope and of all the things that could happen he dropped his knife. Ben watched it disappear into the darkness only glinting in random flashes from the torch light. He pointed up and again was hurtled to the surface by his friends. He told them he had dropped his knife and could he borrow one of theirs to cut the ropes and get the boats to pull the sub out without further delay. Cleodora and Lanthe looked at each other as if talking to each other without saying any words at all. It must have been something to do with the weird shaped knives they were carrying. There wasn’t any time to waste and Ben was being taken back down to the nylon ropes once again and when he snapped on his light Lanthe gave him her knife under water and it was as light as a feather and seemed to mould into his hand.
Ben lashed out at the nylon rope and it cut the rope like a hot knife through butter. At least it would have been quick for Sorehead and Verandah. The more he slashed at the nets the more he felt the sub rise to his feet as the boats were able to get it up finally without the nets holding it firm against the Abyss wall. With one final slash the nets came away and he pointed up but only Cleodora took his hand and swam up to the surface with him. Ben was perplexed and asked why Lanthe did not come as well.
‘She gave you her knife that has been hers since she was born and now that she has given it to you it is yours to keep and her position will be filled by another who will protect the Queen just as she did,’ was all Cleodora said then she duck dived down into the dark and was gone.
Ben swam to the Crushed Asian and restarted the net engine and retrieved all that was left of the nets under the water. He then kicked the motor into gear and made his way over to the other boats that were now pulling the sub up from the Abyss and closer to the ledge it would finally come to rest on. Zara and Hambone were now at Ben’s side and Ben got on the radio to all the boats that he could just see the conning tower about to break the surface. It was nearly over and a community of ancient proud Merrows were safe from imminent danger.
Ben looked at Zara and said....‘I know this has been a struggle all night Zara but I would ask one more favour. Could you please go and ask Queen Zillath to see me please, it’s very important.’
‘Certainly Ben’ and she was gone in the blink of an eye.
Hambone stayed next to Ben as the conning tower came into sight and underneath the sub scraped its way onto the ledge. Ben called all the boats to halt their collective pulling on the ropes and chains to see if the sub was going to roll over at all. It started to lean back toward the Abyss and Ben yelled for all the boats to pull together for another 20 feet to clear the edge once and for all. This put the sub on a 50 degree angle toward Amazing and Graceful.
It was done and finally all the ropes and chains could be taken off or cut depending on what the case may be. Ben asked that all Captains to weight anchor and leave the ropes attached till morning when he was able to see what state the sub was in.
He personally rowed each Captain and crew back to the hotel and Agnes gave them all rooms for the night. Agnes bitterly complained that some of them who smelt so bad she insisted they shower before bed ...and they all did. Ben was the last to tie up his little boat and walk around to the other side where the conning tower that was out of the water for the first time in 60 years.
His friends were safe and now he had to figure out how to explain this all to Aubrey. He checked his phone. 68 messages from Australia, OOPS!!!!.
‘Land person Ben, you asked for me,’ came a very regal and relieved voice from the water’s edge.
‘Yes Queen Zillath I did. I have taken the submarine away from doing any harm to your family and kin below the surface in the Abyss or Dx4H as I call it.’
‘Dx4H, how curious, what does that stand for?’ asked Zillath perplexed at the name.
‘It means deep, deep, double deep hole your majesty.’
‘Ah yes I can see that this would be what you would call it but we call it our home and you have saved it for us.’
‘My friends helped me along the way and that is why I asked to see you.’ The queen tilted her head listening to all that Ben had to say to her and she was smiling all the time he spoke.
‘I ran out of air in my tanks that I breath from under water and it was only by having Cleodore and Lanthe help me in the end that I was able to cut the ropes and nets away from the rocks. When I dropped my knife Lanthe gave me hers to finish the otherwise impossible job for a land person under water.’
It was now that the smile left the Queen’s face and she seemed troubled.
‘I have her knife her with me Queen Zillath and without the help that was so graciously given by your bodyguard to me underwater who is now my friend, I could not have completed this task that now sits resting on this ledge before you.’ The Queen listened to Ben and moved closer. ‘I am asking would it be possible for you to give Lanthe back her knife as I know how important it is to her because Cleodora told me and I just wanted to help you and.....’
‘Enough land person Ben, please be still for a moment and wait while I summon her...and some others that wish to see you.’
‘Okie dokies,’ said Ben and he sat down on a rock and waited. Queen Zillath was swimming into the Dx4H thinking about the word ‘okie dokies’ and then she summoned Lanthe and Cleodora in her own tongue. She did not have to wait long and both Merrow bodyguards appeared in a flash by her side.
‘Follow me,’ and both mermaids complied.
Ben was sitting with Hambone waiting for the return of the Queen and when three faces appeared out of the water he smiled and bowed again as was his custom to his friend’s right from the very outset of their first meeting.
‘Say your words land person Ben, Lanthe will listen.’
‘Okay... ladies I just wanted to tell you how grateful I am that you helped me down and up and down and up to the surface all those times to cut the sub away from that rocky crag that it was attached to. I could not have done it without you both.’ The ladies all listened intently to Ben as he spoke. ‘On the last trip down to the sub I dropped my knife and Lanthe you were kind enough to give me your knife to finish cutting the sub out of the nets that held it in its place.’
Lanthe dropped her gaze into the water as if ashamed.
‘I have spoken to Queen Zillath and because of your selflessness and strength of purpose under the water when your home was in danger and you only thought of saving your family and kin I am pleased to present you back the knife that saved your people. I am so proud to have you Lanthe, Cleodora, Queen Zillath and your people as my friends.’
Ben extended his hand with the handle of the blade pointed toward Lanthe and she looked from Cleodora to the Queen before she made a move. Queen Zillath nodded approval and Cleodora smiled at her friend and Lanthe gently took the sword that instantly moulded back into the shape of her hand once again. She was smiling again and Ben really wished she wouldn’t because flashes of her waving that hand came back again in an instant.
‘Land person Ben you have proven to a people that for centuries have been hidden and misunderstood that there is kindness, sincerity and integrity in the land people and I am forever in your debt for saving my people and our homes.’ Queen Zillath swam over the edge and Ben came down to the water’s edge to potentially shake her hand.
‘Bow young man,’ she almost commanded.
Ben did as he was told and around his head came to rest a beautiful necklace with a very peculiar shell at its end.
‘I here by decree that Land Person Ben shall be the gatekeeper between our underworld and the Land for herein after. He has been our protector and saviour in these past weeks and his trust has been well earned.’
Suddenly around the submarine heads started to bob up out of the water, it seems the entire Merrow population had come to say thank you to Ben. There were hundreds of them. There were men, women, and children all swimming close to the sub and Queen Zillath to give thanks to Ben for all of his hard work.
All of them wanted to shake his hand and swim with him.
Ben jumped back into the water into a shallow area and hugged everyone.
The time had come for all to say goodnight and go back to their collective homes. Ben was so muscle sore from hugging and shaking hands he felt like he had been in a car crash. He knew he was going to be sore in the morning. Ben staggered back inside and all of the crew and Captains of each boat were well into the red wine and singing at the top of their voices inside the reception centre.
Agnes was fighting off advances left right and centre and as soon as Ben came in she excused herself and went to bed. Ben grabbed a glass of wine and went outside with a warm blanket wrapped around him and leaned up against the kennel looking out over the water. He had done a good thing and saved a lot of people and that was good.
68 messages from Australia were not so good.
This was going to be hard to explain!