Assent of the Whale


4th of Enasembra, 1219AP

The man and the boy pushed the boat into the bay, ankles deep in the Shattrasi. When the water came up past their knees they knew, without a word between them, it was time to jump in. It rocked, but held their weight, and the momentum carried them past the breaking waves. The water was rougher than usual today.

The two had done this many times prior. In the boy’s young life, he knew he had been out at sea more days than not with the older man. Their suncharred skin vouched for that. Many in their small village would starve if not for their work in the Shattrasi.

Two sets of oars were knotted to the boat’s sides, one set in the front and the other towards the rear. The man took the bow, and the boy took the stern. They pushed on, the boy keeping stride with the man’s rowing. He watched the rhythmic rippling of the muscles on the man’s back as he pulled, tugged, and pushed his oars into the water. They shifted underneath his agemark tattoos. Each new agemark was awarded at the start of the year, just after Prime Zenith. The boy saw the latest mark, denoting the man was now in his 31st year, was still red around the ink. The boy’s own back stung under Sol’Enasé’s light, just under his left shoulder. He was proud of the sensation it brought him. It was his first large agemark, awarded for his 10th year.

Behind them the Shattrakani shores shrunk as they went further out, its blue canopies becoming but a blue line over light sand.

The boat’s white paint had begun chipping away, revealing more of the pronounced blue wood they so revered in Shattrakan. It was far more buoyant than other varieties, which other peoples of Atelinor chose to favor.

The man stopped his rowing, as did the boy. The boy knew to fully remove the oars from the water while the man performed a calming. He pushed the butt of his oars all the way down to the bottom of the deck, and locked them in place under his legs. The last time he let one slip while the man performed a calming the oar had snapped in half. He wouldn’t let that happen again. The waves were choppy, an issue common on windy days such as this. It would not be an easy calming.

The man leaned forward, over the bow, and placed both hands in the water. Long ago the man had taught himself to use the knowledge unlocked by a Fumarin, a large red paradox he had found deep within the Shattrakani Forest. The man wasn’t the best anomalurgist the boy had ever known, but one who used his abilities to reach his end the best. With it he pushed out to calm the waters beneath the boat. The man understood water to a degree infinitesimally greater than your average man, when he opened his mind to it. He knew the water. But on days such as today, where water chose to be disagreeable, calming wasn’t quite so simple.

Minutes passed and the man grew tired. He arms shook, the calming taking much of his strength. But at last, the rough waves around the boat quelled. Soon even the ripples silenced. Placid waters circled them, not giving way to the heave of the waves outside of the circle. The man removed his hands and the boy pulled him in, asking if he was alright. The man nodded, not letting his concentration waver, even slightly.

Several more minutes passed of silent waiting for the boy and intense concentration for the man. The man’s eyes were shut, and he shook as more and more of his strength was relegated to the calming. The boy leaned over the starboard side of the boat, peering into the smooth depths.

Eventually it came. A shadow passed beneath the boat, large and ominous. He called to the man, deep in his concentration, to hold the calm a while longer. The shape beneath the water appeared again, much closer this time, stopping just underneath the ship. It wouldn’t be able to break through the calm, but it was still a threatening site to behold. A large eye stared up at the boy, who nodded, before the eye blinked and the beast left.

The great whales ruled the Shattrasi and all seas, and it was by their blessing alone to allow men the right of fishing within them. The calming was only a formality.

The boy patted the man on the back, allowing him to close his mind to the anomaly. He was glad to do so, and the boy saw the tension fade from his muscles and ease from his mind. Slowly he opened his eyes, and the circle of still water became like it previously was. The man held up a fist, in wait once more.

A large tail kicked up out of the water some distance from them, spraying the air with a salty white mist. If the whale agreed to their fishing today, it would wave them forward, or simply sink its tail back into the water with no splash. If it decided not to allow them to fish today, it would let them know, slapping its tail on the surface of the Shattrasi. It hovered there for a moment, before making its decision. Whether for dramatics or for true consideration, the boy never knew, but he readied the nets regardless.

The whale waved its tail forward, and let its flukes sink into the depths without a splash. The man yelled for him to drop the nets, but the boy knew well enough already. He dropped the net, and he saw the shadow of the whale pass below them again. Behind the whale, a school of comparatively tiny fish swam after it. And the small net caught what it could manage with those fish swimming nearest the surface.

This is a brief tale I chose to write today. I just watched the Star Wars Rebels episode, ‘The Call,’ which had space whales in it. Inspiring, I know. Afterward I learned that it was World Whale Day today, so I decided to make this brief piece. It’s only 1000 words. Hope you enjoyed. I haven’t got to explore the more tribal life of those southern Shattrakani yet, so this is a start.