The fears we refuse to face become our limits.
If there was a chance that Doppo didn't believe in jinxes before this voyage, he sure believed in them now. When they first boarded the ships, the weather was optimal. The skies were clear, the sun was bright and warm, and the gentle gusts of wind aided the Knights in pushing the ships along. By all means, it was the perfect day to set out on sea. But just an hour after that thought, everything spiralled into chaos.
An overcast of storm clouds covered the horizon as a relentless downpour rained down upon the small fleet of ships with raindrops the size of bullets. The wind violently rocked their ships from side to side, the rainfall was so heavy that you couldn't see or hear anyone well unless you were right against them, and bolts of lightning struck alarmingly close, briefly illuminating the world around them in their perilous flashes. It was the most violent storm the Major General had ever seen, and if not for state-of-the-art ships and competent Rune Knights, any other vessel would've been swallowed by the sea by now. But even with their skills, fighting against a storm of this magnitude would be difficult even for professionals.
Doppo was at the head of the flagship, squinting up into the stormy sky as the rain hit his face. As expected, the Rune Knights were quick to act when faced with their enemies. Magical barriers engulfed the vessels in the fleet, while he could see another Knight redirect lightning away from the ships through every illuminating flash. The wind and water mages did their best to keep the boats from capsizing, while all other personnel tended to the ship's damages and protecting the passengers they had promised a safe voyage to. But they wouldn't cross the Fishy Fish Sea by just avoiding capsizing—they had to proceed through the storm if they ever wanted to touch land again.
"Major General, sir!" shouted out a Lieutenant Colonel, their arm held up to shield their faces from the violent winds and heavy rainfall. Doppo turned around to face them when he realized that they were close, his lips sealed into a frown, and his baby blues ignited with a spark of determination. "Status report!"
Doppo shouted back so that he could be heard, his red hair whipping in the gusts of wind.
"Yes, sir! Two of our etherano barriers have been temporarily disabled, and the remaining ten cannot hold out for much longer! There are no casualties to report, but our two vulnerable vessels have suffered damages to the ship, sir!""Disabled? But that would mean..."
Doppo looked up at the sky again and the flashes of lightning being redirected away from them. Whoever was responsible for the redirections wasn't the ultimate shield, however. Lightning bolts still struck the barriers or missed them by a hair, and it was lazy of them to leave it all to the fellow in the sky. But more importantly, the redheaded Major General had a realization. He continued to look up at the sky as his baby blue eyes began to glow this faint, magical light. Suddenly, a pair of goose's wings stretched out from his back in all of the colors natural to the animal, except large enough to support his human body. "Disable this vessel's barrier for a moment, Lieutenant."
"Yes, sir!" the Lieutenant Colonel obliged without a lick of hesitation before disappearing into the darkness of the downpour. A few moments later, the magical barrier that shielded the flagship from the unsettling lightning strikes dissipated, leaving the entire vessel at the mercy of the storm.
Surely enough, it wasn't long before they were laid to pay the price for such a questionable decision as a light flashed throughout the storm clouds. Doppo ascended into the air with his face heavenward, his wings flapping as the water bounced off of them, and his arm transforming into the flesh of yet another animal he's consumed—an electric eel. Just as expected, lightning came striking down at the Major General in an attempt to send him to an early death and then the Knights on the ship below him. Poomb!
The lightning struck him like a dart on a bullseye, but Doppo remained in the sky as it did. On closer inspection, the lightning hit the palm of his modified arm and was absorbed by it's electrified, slimy skin until the lightning was no more.
Doppo calmly dropped back down to the deck of the flagship, with the Lieutenant Colonel standing there, waiting for him. He stared at his arm, sparking with electricity from its recent absorption. The Major General could take on exaggerated and enhanced properties of the plants and animals he's eaten, like the wings of a goose or the electrical elements of an electric eel, and create an arsenal of versatile weapons and abilities to aid him in a variety of unique situations. In addition to his Y-class label, he didn't fidget when accepting the brunt of nature's natural power, but when he did, he confirmed his suspicions.I knew something was off when it kept targeting our ships like this... the lightning's magical. With a spell this massive, it's no wonder that our shields are breaking. Someone or something is casting this... but who, and where?
He thought to himself as he stared at his arm, feeling the additional mana run through it and disappear. This entire storm was likely the product of someone's or something's magic. But for a spell this massive and destructive, who or what was powerful enough to cast it? The blinding downpour made it impossible for the majority of the Knights to detect its source so easily, and if that wasn't enough, they had civilians they had to worry about protecting. Understanding the new circumstances, Doppo turned to face his subordinate once again. "Lieutenant Colonel, I want every etherano barrier back up and running and damages repaired as soon as possible. Inform all of our scouting mages to look for casters outside of our fleet! Our number one priority is safely evading this storm, understood? Infuse your own mana into those barriers if you have to!"
The situation was clear. Not everything could be beaten and put into cuffs. The storm was a force beyond their control, despite the efforts Doppo knew they were going to make. If the scouts couldn't locate the caster, or if they did and the caster wound up being of a class that outmatched their fleet, evasion was their only choice. Perhaps if they didn't have civilians on board, the Rune Knights could focus on counter-attacking the enemy, but security was their number one priority. It was never an easy job, was it? If that wasn't enough, another problem stirred beneath the waters amidst the chaos.
"Yes, sir—?!!" the Lieutenant Colonel shouted in a surprising panic as the silhouette of a creature burst out from the sea below, and only when it was right upon the man did Doppo and others see it clearly. It was a giant fish, and almost like a dolphin, it jumped out the waters and over the deck, taking the Lieutenant Colonel within its mouth before its inevitable dive back into the sea. "Lieutenant! Shit!"
Doppo exclaimed, his feathered goose wings dissipating into mana and new features manifesting on his neck. The gills of fish he's eaten suddenly developed, and as soon as they did, the redheaded Major General followed the giant fish into the sea without hesitation.
The underwater battle was brief, the flashes of lightning illuminating the dark sea beneath the vessels in an intermittent rhythm. Doppo's eyes glowed with its magical light, enabling him to use most sea creatures' night vision as he maneuvered the violent riptides below. He saw the enormous fish continue to pull the struggling Lieutenant Colonel deeper into the sea, and before his breath gave way, Doppo dove down. His other arm manifested into the bill of a swordfish, piercing the eye of the fish and forcing it to release his subordinate in its agony, swimming away into the darkness.
The Lieutenant Colonel, recognizing his freedom, propelled himself back onto the flagship with his own magic after that, leaving the Major General underwater to assess their new situation. With the light of the lighting flashes in addition to his night vision, the underwater circumstances were more hectic than he thought. All of the local Fishy Fish fauna thrashed about in the water, agitated as they hopped out of the sea and over the vulnerable ships in the fleet like before. Some of them returned back into the sea in bloody pieces, likely from the other Rune Knights' fending them off with the power and precision expected of the Combat Corps. The vessels that still had their barrier up prevented the fauna from penetrating them at all, though at the rate the lightning struck and the fish threw themselves at it, it wouldn't be for long. That was that, but then the Major General caught glimpse of something horrifying in the waters just nearby. He squinted as if he wasn't seeing things right, but then baby blues widened when he realized what he was looking at.
With every flash of lightning, the silhouette of something massive appeared in the water. Its skin was covered in barnacles, and its several legs floated around aimlessly. It's tiny eyes glowed with a dangerous, magical light, and its voice gurgled as if it were growling. The mana it was radiating was greater than Doppo's, and it was likely the caster of this storm.
It was a Kraken.
|| Word Count:
1602 || Thread WC:
2,394 (personal) || WC Needed
1500 || Job Approval
Giant Fish, Kraken