I once thought they were a myth. I was a young lad, fresh from the university, and I thought I knew better. After all, who can trust the accounts of a bunch of drunken sailors?
I had a lot to learn about humility and the horrors of this world.
I was heading south, leaving Vigil and just beginning my travels. The sailors warned me not to have any lights on deck after dark, but I thought I knew better. I thought they were just a bunch of drunken, superstitious morons.
I left my cabin while the crew was sleeping and stepped out onto the deck for some fresh air. The poor souls who’d drawn night watch that night were snoring blissfully rather than keeping an eye out for pirates or denizens of the deep.
I took their lax attitude and their drunken slumber as further proof that what they had to say was meaningless. After all, they hadn’t spent years studying as I had. They hadn’t seen real monsters up close the way I had.
That’s what I told myself anyway.
I strolled up to the railing with my lantern in hand and looked out over the dark ocean. It was beautiful.
It was also unbelievably stupid.
I’m not sure how long I stood there putting us all in danger like that, but one of the crew finally noticed me. I’m not sure if it was one of the ones who were passed out or someone else who couldn’t sleep.
I felt his firm hand on my shoulder. He turned me around roughly. Ripped the lantern out of my hands and doused it before I knew what had happened.
He backhanded me, and I staggered back holding my cheek like a child. What can I say? I’d been stuck studying books for so long I’d almost forgotten what it felt like to get hit.
“You’re an idiot,” he told me.
I forget what exactly I said at the time. Something to the effect of me knowing better. No doubt something arrogant and idiotic.
Then the ship rocked, and I stumbled. Even in the darkness, I saw the fear in his eyes.
“It’s just the waves,” I said.
He looked at me then the way I look at particularly dense students.
“See many waves out there? Feel any wind?” the man said. His words were heated, and a vein throbbed on his temple so aggressively I thought it might burst.
Then he ran up and down the ship rousing everyone. His voice was panicked.
I shook my head, muttering something about sailors being idiots.
Then, the ship rocked so violently I slammed into the railing, and the air left my lungs in a whoosh.
I blinked spots out of my eyes and took in rasping breaths. People were yelling, the ship was rocking, and I held onto the railing so tight my knuckles were white.
I looked up and came face to face with the result of my arrogance.
Or rather… I looked up and saw row upon row of razor-sharp teeth. Each one larger than I was.
One of the sailors yanked me back away from it, and another shoved me below deck. The ship rocked, and deafening roars drowned out everything else.
More sailors and a few wizards they’d brought along for security rushed past me onto the main deck, and the ship groaned so violently I thought it might snap like a twig.
I can’t testify as to what happened given that I couldn’t see anything, but what felt like hours later I was getting reprimanded by the captain who was extremely keen on throwing me overboard.
I honestly can’t say I blame him.
Apparently, the only reason we’d managed to get away was that a second serpent attracted by the ruckus had attacked the first and we’d slipped away while the two snapped at each other.
Just the waves from their movements and their deafening roars had nearly torn our ship apart.
So, when you travel by sea, I strongly advise you to listen to the sailors and put whatever you think you know aside. It just might save your life.
I haven’t had another encounter with a Sea serpent, and I wasn’t exactly in the best position to study that specimen, but what I can say is that they are massive in the extreme. Quite possibly even larger than dragons.
It dwarfed our ship, and most of its bulk was deep beneath the water.
Don’t seek them out. If you have to study them, do so from other people’s accounts. They cannot be observed safely. Don’t try to lure one to the surface. Just pray they never find you.
- Nicholas Wolfram, Professor of Monsterology at Lestria University