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Andrea Piera Laguzzi (an amazing artist)
“Bumbastika” for the word “fat”
“Underwater Love” for the word “big”
“Flag (sRB)” for the word “mermaid”
All other words in “Fresnel”
Bob Wilson, host of Radio Citrus Q95.9 FM ( )
[+ Charlie Ward+], author of “” and “”
(Skip If This Bores You)
This story is the second in the “Funny Stories for Kids” series, as recorded from legend by myself, Dr. Dexter Dweezel, and by my esteemed colleague, Parnassus Pallie.
Years ago I pioneered a method of extrapolating information from a text, information that was not written in the words per se, but rather could be inferred from the text. Thus, I called the method “indirect reading.” Using this method I have been able to discover many important elements buried in old stories, tales that we all know and love.
It has been quite surprising for me to find how much more humorous and exciting these stories have become once properly restored, but alas, I cannot take credit for this. I did not invent these from scratch. The words were already there, waiting to be inferred.
Amazingly, my associate and famed anthropologist, Professor Pallie, discovered many of the same stories himself. I had, in fact, done the work of translating most of this story, which has become “The Big Fat Mermaid,” when I had the fortune of meeting Professor Pallie. As it turned out he had already recorded this and other tales in his travels near and far. By this we have two reference points, proof that these tales are ancient beyond recount, and thusly much more amazing.
Dexter Dweezel, Doctor of Psychiatry
A Long Expected (and Then Ruined) Party
Once upon a time, in an underwater kingdom comprised of beautiful corals and questionably-shaped sandstone castles, an evil witch and an enormous maiden… You know what? Never mind the introduction, let’s just skip to the action!
“You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Crustacean,” whispered Poseidon, merman King of Atlantis, the underwater kingdom. He was shirtless and muscular, wearing a shining gold crown, and had a long white beard that floated about as he spoke.
“T’ank you, you’ highness,” whispered back Crustacean, the talking lobster with a Caribbean accent. “Only da’ best of performances for you’ birt’day.”
The two were sitting in a special box in a spacious white stone amphitheater. Mermen, mermaids, fish, turtles, crabs, sea stars, octopi, and many other water creatures sat (or rested, as not all sea creatures have butts to sit on) enjoying the show. The show was an opera composed specifically for King Poseidon’s birthday, which had come to be titled “La Boheme, Good Version,” or, alternatively, “Hildegarde Strikes Back.”
“I can’t wait,” whispered Poseidon with barely contained glee, “To see what you saved for this final scene.”
Onstage a dashing merman actor, playing the role of Sea Czar,* was singing to an assembly of distinguished swordfish.
*(Sea Czar A Just Fish became first emperor of the sea after putting down the Ocean Senate in bloody warfare in retaliation for their murder of his uncle, Jewels In Fist Sea Czar. – Dweezel and Pallie)
And now, all senators, ye,
I bring a gift, quite large, to thee.
If you will give me my power due
then I’ll give my own daughter to you.
She’s no small prize, you’ll see
she’s the widest thing in the sea.
Hand your laurel crowns to me
and you can have this shell’s contents for free.
A massive closed clam was wheeled in onstage, then, pushed by two burly angel fish dressed as slaves.
One of the swordfish actors began to sing.
My lord, we know it’s true,
we now owe our allegiance to you.
Though no gift can restore our glory
open the clam so we can end this story.
“Very well,” sang Sea Czar in response. “Open the shell.”
“This is going to be great,” said Poseidon, rubbing his hands together and enjoying the show.
The slave angel fish actors heaved open the gigantic clam. It sprung open, but it was completely empty.
The audience gasped. So did the actors.
“What a twist!” cried Poseidon. “Who knew that the Sea Czar would offend the senate by giving them an empty clam shell?!”
Crustacean, however, did not look pleased at the compliment, he looked terrified. He quickly scurried off the king’s special box and swam backstage.
The handsome merman actor playing Sea Czar, still looking shocked, began to sing again.
“Uh, yeah,” he sang haltingly, “I’m really sticking it to you, I said my daughter was in there… but it’s not true. But I think it will probably be true… in just a minute, because we’ll send that clam back, and try it again, um, part two!”
The slave fish actors looked at the Sea Czar actor with blank expressions, and he whispered loudly, “Take it backstage again!”
At that moment a young, frightened-looking actress swam onstage. She all but yelled to the actors, “Aria’s not backstage! We can’t find her anywhere!”
A pause, and then the actors slouched over and face palmed. The audience groaned and began to boo.
“The king’s daughter did it again!” yelled an orange jellyfish in the audience.
“Just like the princess did last year!” shouted an angry dolphin.
Crustacean now swam onstage and looked up at the king in his box. The lobster laughed nervously and shrugged his big pincer claws.
Poseidon’s face grew bright red. Boiling water shot out his ears. He rose out of his seat and yelled, “ARIA!”
Poseidon made his way down into the crowd.
“No, You’ Majesty!” cried Crustacean, “Remember you’ blood pressure!”
Poseidon punched a random merman square in the jaw. He smacked a mermaid on the back of the head. He clunked two fish together. He flung the orange octopus away. He slammed the organist into the keys, knocking her out cold with a shriek of the organ.
“It be alright,” said Crustacean, dodging fleeing actors, “You see. Crustacean fix dis!”
The King made his way up to the stage, picked up a prop statue, and hurled it through the set.
“Oh, Aria,” said Crustacean, hiding under his pincers as guests ran out of the chamber screaming, “What was so important dat you would turn you father’s birt’day into dis catastrophe?”
“Yum, nom nom nom,” said Aria, smacking her lips. “This is really good, it’s like a party in my mouth.”
Introducing now our protagonist, Aria, also known as the Big Fat Mermaid. She had red hair and a green fin, like one might expect a mermaid in this sort of tale to have, and of course she was modest enough to clothe herself with a set of clam shells, but, unlike other mermaids, this mermaid had more folds than you could ever hold and more flabs than you could ever hope to grab. Her gut rolled in on itself continuously, yet her skin was also stretched out tight and fit to burst. Her overall appearance was something like an overfilled water balloon, or a grocery bag filled with jello, or a trash bag full of bacon grease.
Her cheeks were round and bloated, and she had many, many chins. Even her fin was extra wide. In short, Aria the mermaid was so fat that no joke could ever communicate her true massiveness.
“Aria, come on, it’s getting late,” said Tortly, a large and nervous looking turtle with a boyish voice.
The sun was setting into the ocean. The sky swirled with orange and pink light, gradually fading into dark blue. A large sailing ship floated lazily on the ocean water, with lanterns lit and sails unattended. On its deck was its whole crew, singing, laughing, drinking, eating. It was a sailor’s party.
Below them, to the port* and on the water’s surface, another party was also happening, made very merry as a sailor emptied a barrel of rotten bread off the side of the ship. Though the sailor didn’t see it most of the bread landed into an open mouth; Aria’s mouth.
*(In ocean lingo ‘starboard’ means on the right side of a ship, and ‘port’ means on the left. An easy way to remember this is that port and left both have four letters. – Pallie)
“Oh, we really shouldn’t be here,” said Tortly, “It’s not safe and your dad’s gonna be so mad.”
“So what? I don’t care. This food’s amazing,” said Aria in her whining, nasally voice as she scooped up as many of the rotted loaves of bread as she could into her mouth. “You just worry too much.”
“But,” began Tortly, “If your dad finds out you’ve been eating human food he’s gonna blow his top. I don’t want to be between you and him when he does.”
“Don’t. Care,” said Aria.
“Aria,” said Tortly gently, “If we go home then maybe we can work on your emotional difficulties and figure out why you’re eating so much. Maybe you’re addicted to food.”
“You know what I think about that?” asked Aria, then belched loudly into Tortly’s face.
“Aria,” began Tortly helpfully, “If you just ate seaweed like the rest of us maybe you wouldn’t be so gassy.”
“Shut up, Tortly!” shouted Aria.
DING DING DING DING DING
In the dark distance an approaching vessel ominously appeared on the horizon…
Aria perked up at the sounding bell.
“Uh-oh, Aria” said Tortly nervously, “That’s no dinner bell.”
Aboard the whaling ship the Moldy Crow’s Nest a sailor rang the bell to signal general quarters, or all hands on deck.
“Yar,” called Ahab, the grizzled sea captain. He had a knatted and long grey beard, a thick, dark coat, a wooden leg, and a pipe in his mouth. “Thar she blows, off the port bow. Leviathan of the deep, Jonah’s fish, the white whale what bit off me leg clean in two. We got her this time!”
The sailors had assembled on deck now in varying states of dress.
“Cap’n,” questioned the captain’s first mate, a plump man named Burger, “Ya mean that massive beast astarboard that ship there?” He pointed off into the water by another much larger sailing vessel where none other than Aria, the Big Fat Mermaid was feasting on her rotten bread, along with her turtle pal Tortly.
“Aye, that be her. That be the whale. Blessed and cursed be the day that I forget the sight. Cabin boy, bring me me biggest harpoon!”
“Right away!” called the boy in reply, running.
“I got her this time,” said Ahab to no one in particular. “There’ll be no escape… Helmsman!” Ahab called, “Come alongside her. Burger!” Ahab said, turning to the man, “Yeh’ll be takin’ the ship. Now ready the boats, I’ll be takin’ one of ‘em.”
Men scurried to ready the three boats that were held on the ship’s side when not in use, their use being to carry the crew out to harpoon whales.
“But cap’n!” said Burger, “She be too close to that other ship!”
“I decide what be too close, ya swab,” snapped Ahab, eyes narrowed and fixed on his subordinate. “I tell ya’ now that nothin’ will stand in the way of me and me whale, nothin’!”
“Cap’n!” said one of the sea hands, “Are you sure that’s a whale? It looks almost like a mermaid. A big, fat mermaid!”
“Nay, ya superstitious sponge,” said Ahab, shaking his head. “There be no such thing as mermaids… Unicorns and leprechauns that business be. See here,” said Ahab, pointing to the mermaid, “This beast be far too fat to be a mermaid, if such a beast did ever be. Yea, she be too fat to be anything but a whale.”
Some sailors nodded their heads in agreement. Others furrowed their brows at the worrisome logic.
“Next, it be an established fact that a whale bit off me leg.”
The first mate looked like he might raise an objection, but Ahab continued without noticing.
“Finally, if that beast over there be a whale, and if it be a whale what bit off me leg, then, it stands to reason, that this whale be the one what bit off me leg!”
Even the uneducated and superstitious sailors seemed alarmed at this crazed reasoning.
“But captain,” said the sailor carefully, “Are you sure that, um, makes sense?”
His question was never answered.
“Cap’n!” interrupted the lookout in the crow’s nest urgently, “She’s spotted us.”
Aria had begun to lazily swim away from both ships, with Tortly following closely.
“Full speed ahead!” ordered Ahab. “She not be gettin’ away this time!”
Once the sails were made ready the ship quickly gained speed and caught up with Aria.
Ahab ran, hobbled by his wooden leg, and climbed onto one of the boats. Each boat had two rowers and a harpooner.
“Launch!” Ahab called. The men sat and held on tight as the boats crashed into the water.
“Row!” Ahab yelled. “Row faster than ye ever rowed before! Harpooners be quick, make every spear count!”
The men heaved and grunted as they rowed. The boats sped out to form a ring around Aria. She stopped swimming, turned around, and crossed her arms, smiling smugly.
“The beast has stopped!” cried a mate captaining one of the other boats.
“I can’t believe you’re chasing me again!” whined Aria in her nasal voice. “Don’t you have anything better to do?”
“What’s that?” said Burger. “What did she say?”
“She be making her whale song!” cried Ahab. “Do not listen to her dulcet tones, they be like the siren song designed to lure men to their doom!”
“It kind of sounded like words to me, captain,” said one of the mates.
“Nay, it’s all devilry! Now we got to be quick before she dives down to the murky depths!” said Ahab. He moved to the front of the boat, harpoon held high. “Throw ‘em now!”
Just as the three harpooners were ready to throw their deadly lances Aria made a ‘siren song’ that sounded something like, “It’s time to go, Tortly, but first I need to wave goodbye.” She raised up her big green fin and slapped the ocean surface.
A loud crash, and a wave spread from where her tail had smacked the water. When it reached the boats they were thrown up high.
Ahab dropped his harpoon as he flew into the water. Other men had fallen in as well. The bell could be heard on the Moldy Crow’s Nest amid calls of “Man overboard!”
“No,” gasped Ahab as he surfaced. “Don’t let her get away!”
But the mermaid, with Tortly in tow, flipped up her tail and dived into the water.
“Blast,” said Ahab, unbelieving. “Ya’ elude me, whale, but I’ll get ya’. I’ll have me revenge.”
Revenge of the Sea King
“That guy’s an idiot,” complained Aria in her whining voice. She was swimming down into the darkness of the ocean.
“Aria,” said Tortly, swimming fast to keep up, “We got away from the crazy human this time, but maybe next time we won’t be so lucky.” He panted and swerved past a school of guppies.
In time they reached a large cavern in the deep that Aria had claimed some time before as her own secret lair. Once there Aria rolled open the stone door and she and Tortly swam inside.
In her secret cave she had been accumulating a sort of trove of things that she had salvaged and stolen from humans. Well, not “things” so much as foods. Loaded on many shelves around the grotto were casks of foods dropped from ships, some good, many bad. Bottles of wine, bloated bits of meat, soggy pastries, waterlogged fruits. The Big Fat Mermaid had it all.
Aria grabbed a wing of some bird from one of the shelves and plopped herself down on a big stone couch.
“Aria,” said Tortly, “Why are you so obsessed with getting human food?”
“Tortly,” Aria said with her mouth full of meat, “Let me tell you a little something about human food.” She took another bite of meat and opened her mouth wide to sing.
“Aria’s Desires” (Sung to the melody of “Part of that World” from The Little Mermaid)
Look at my stash, see all the treats?
See all the cupcakes and pickled pigs feet?
You can see I’m a mermaid
who wants to eat… everything!
I eat every second I’m waking
I’m so fat that I’m breaking the floor
I got twenty!
But so what?
I don’t care!
I want more!
I need to eat what the humans eat
I’d like to eat when the food is still dry
I want to eat some fresh…
*(At this point Aria made a sort of drooling, gurgling, longing noise that is impossible to put into written words.)
Down in the brine the food tastes so bad,
when all you’re allowed is some seaweed to live by,
None of that stuff that’s so salty and…
mmm mmm mmm… Sweet!
What do I care
if all the laws
say we have to stay hidden?
And what do I care
if eating of meat
is strictly forbidden?
I’m addicted to food
but it tastes so good
so I don’t give a single crumb about rules;
want more yummies, dipped in honey,
no one to intrude.
Off by the ships
I get just get what drips
off of the sides, or they throw in barrels.
No primo stuff like
fresh dip and…
[_ uggh...* chips! _]
*(See prior footnote for pronunciation.)
I want to munch,
I want to brunch,
I want to eat the thing they call lunch!
Sweets and the meats…
I need to eat
all of that food…
“ARIA!” boomed a voice.
Tortly jumped. Aria choked on a bit of the food she’d had in her mouth while she’d been singing.
Poseidon was standing in the doorway to the cave. His face was almost as red as Crustacean, who was standing at the king’s feet.
“Dad?” asked Aria.
“Yes, Aria,” said Poseidon darkly, “It is your father. What is this place?”
“It’s my stash,” said Aria insolently.
“Stash?” Poseidon repeated. “Stash?!”
“Oh, now you done it!” said Crustacean, his voice full of ghoulish delight, his claws waving.
“You ruined my birthday!” shouted Poseidon.
“How did I ruin your birthday?” asked Aria, bored.
“You were supposed to sing!” shouted Poseidon. “After all, today was my special day to be honored not only by my family, but, more importantly, the entire kingdom! The performance was a disaster! Poor Crustacean, he didn’t know how to end the opera without the fat lady singing at the end! We had to wait 3 hours until your Aunt Myrtle learned the part.”
“Mmm, hmm,” said Crustacean, his arms crossed and nodding his head solemnly. “It was very bad. We know you’ Aunt Myrtle is a little pudgy, but she’s no Aria! The breastplate was way too roomy, we had to pad it wit’ seaweed. I’m surprised she even finished the song, what with you’ father smacking her every time she went off key. And den’ when you’ father pulled down the set he almost killed poor Crustacean!”
“Aria,” said Tortly, “I told you. We should have gone to his party!”
“His party operas are so BORING,” whined Aria. “I get so sick of sitting for hours in that clamshell waiting for my part at the end every year. Anyways, haven’t you had enough birthdays?”
“No!” Poseidon yelled. “I’m not here to discuss how many birthdays I get to have! Listen here, missy, I’m the king, and I’m allowed to have as many birthdays as I want to!”
The king took a deep breath and continued, in a slightly more patient tone. “What was so important that you had to miss my perfect day? Was it this food?” He looked around at the shelves and shook his head. “This is getting to be a real problem. Look at how much weight you’ve gained! You’re becoming disgustingly fat.”
“Mmm, hmm,” agreed Crustacean. “Mighty big flabs.”
“Aria, we’re a sophisticated society,” said Poseidon, beginning a familiar lecture. “Hundreds of years ago we put our barbaric ways behind us and stopped eating the flesh of others. That’s why we only eat seaweed. It’s one of—”
Aria ripped a big bite off the bird leg and said, mouth full, “Don’t knock it till you try it.”
“Don’t you be interrupting with you’ mouth full of food,” said Crustacean, wagging his claw in her direction. “Show you’ father some respect.”
“If you want,” said Aria, ignoring Crustacean, “You can try some of that stuff in the corner. I don’t like it.” She motioned to a floating cloud of something thick, pale, and grey.
“That’s it!” shouted Poseidon, tearing at his beard. Tortly scurried to hide behind Aria’s couch. “I’ve had it up to here,” he motioned his hand up high. “Enough of your angsty adolescent attitude!”
Poseidon raised up his hand. On his finger was a golden ring, now glowing and humming with energy.
“Oh no!” cried Tortly, retreating into his shell, “He’s going to use his magic ring of power!”
The ring flashed and then… ZZZPOW, light shot from the ring and struck Aria’s little black mini fridge, exploding it to kingdom come.
“My snausages!” cried Aria.
Poseidon exploded another shelf, then another. If he didn’t look so angry you might have thought he was enjoying himself.
“I’m enjoying myself!” said Poseidon, blowing up a cask and proving that that last sentence really shouldn’t have given him the benefit of the doubt.
Aria looked panicked. “You can’t blow everything up!” she yelled. She raced over to the shelves and began to gobble up the food as fast as she could.
“I’m your father,” Poseidon said through clenched teeth, exploding food as fast as he could. “I know what’s best for you.”
Aria had to stop eating for a moment as she tried to cough up a huge glob of peanut butter that she shoved into her mouth.
“We’re gonna fix you,” said Poseidon, “This has gone on far too long.”
“Far, far too long,” agreed Crustacean. “About time somebody do somet’ing about it.”
“With you back to eating seaweed you’ll start shedding those pounds,” said the King. Aria was turning blue.
“Best t’ing for everyone,” said Crustacean.
“And to be sure you keep those pounds off Crustacean will be your personal trainer,” said the King.
“Oh yes,” nodded Crustacean, “Very good t’inking— wh-what?” he stammered in shock. “ME?! But I’m just a composer!”
“Yes, you, Crustacean, you! I’m counting on you to get her back into shape, so she can sing and not get stuck in the clam for my next birthday. No more distractions. She can finally focus on what makes ME happy. I’m making it part of your duties as my court musician.”
“Forget that,” said Aria as she she finally swallowed the peanut butter glob. “I’m going to go live on the land.”
Aria swam past Crustacean and Poseidon out the door of her cave.
“Good luck wit’ dat!” called Crustacean.
“Don’t worry,” Crustacean reassured the King, “She won’t get far on an empty stomach.”
Poseidon made to swim after her, yelling, “I’ll show you the land!” while smacking his fists together.
“Don’t worry, You’ Majesty,” said Crustacean with a wave of his hand, “She’s so fat. She just need time to cool her fins and she be back. Besides, it not like she going to go to the water witch or something drastic like that!”
Crustacean, Poseidon, and Tortly shared a hearty laugh.
Aria Goes to the Water Witch
It was a couple of days since the King had exploded Aria’s snausages, and, except for slamming doors and the pleas of fish injured during the King’s birthday performance, things seemed to have settled back to normal.
At midnight, Crustacean decided to help himself to a warm cup of seaweed milk, so, donning a little bathrobe, he made for a quick visit down to the palace kitchen. He entered the great hall just beyond the entrance to the palace, which led right up to the king’s throne. The room was dark, and all was vacant and peaceful.
Crustacean noticed that one of the tall double entrance doors was open, and swinging a bit in the current. He swam over to the door and peeked out. He could see a gigantic form with a wide green tail swimming away through the outdoor plaza, emitting bubbles and followed closely by a turtle.
“Aria!” called Crustacean. “Where are you two going off to at dis late hour? You’re not sneaking off to find more human food are you?”
“Nope. We’re going to the water witch.”
“What?!” shrieked Crustacean, throwing off his robe and swimming fast to try to catch up. “Oh no you not! Over my crunchy red body!”
“I tried to tell her not to but she won’t listen!” said Tortly over his shoulder.
Crustacean flapped his lobster tail faster. “Ohhh… wait ‘til I tell you’ father!” said Crustacean.
“If you want to risk waking him up then go for it,” said Aria, not looking at Crustacean.
“Oh, no!” squeaked Crustacean. “That be a mighty poor choice for me. When he wake up he not going to be very happy.”
“He’s never happy,” Aria whined, farting.
“Well, sometimes he’s happy,” said Tortly helpfully. “Like when he’s yelling at you.”
They were swimming into a dark and shady part of town, with dilapidated looking ships and trash all over the street.
“Show some respect to you’ father,” said Crustacean. “He is da’ king, you know. Now why don’t we just turn back around and act like dis’ never happen.”
“Yeah Aria, that’s a good idea,” said Tortly.
“No way. We’re already here,” said Aria
“Uh-oh,” said Tortly, pulling his head in his shell a bit.
Aria was waiting outside a run down building with a sign that read, “The Water Witch’s Legitimate Store.” There was a dim colored light moving about, visible through the dirty windows.
“Don’t go in dere’,” warned Crustacean, “You father be so disappointed in ya’, child.”
“Aria, I don’t like the looks of this place,” said Tortly nervously. “I’m just gonna stay out here… in my shell.” He popped his head and limbs into his shell.
“Aria,” said Crustacean, “Let me try to convince you with a little song about seaweed.” A dozen fish with little musical instruments showed up around Crustacean, who began to sing.
“Eat the Seaweed” (To the melody of “Under the Sea”)
The seaweed is always yummy,
when it’s the only thing you eat.
Instead of eating fish for dinner,
seaweed’s our favorite treat!
Eat da seaweed!
Eat da seaweed!
“Can it!” said Aria. “The plot’s moving too fast for that song!”
The fish band dispersed.
“If you swim in dere’,” began Crustacean, “Don’t you expect me to do any heroics. I wash me claws of dis’. I be out here when you decide to come to you’ senses.” He crossed his claws and turned away from Aria and the store.
The door to the shop squealed loudly as Aria swung the door open and swam in.
The place was dark, with shelves and stands filled with vials, crystal balls, herb cuttings, and mushrooms. Plant stalks were hung on the ceiling and waved in the small currents of the water. Aria’s eyes were immediately drawn to a large, glowing, cauldron that swirled with a thick orange fluid.
“Enter, my dear…” called a high, overly sweet voice. “Be sure to close the door behind you, don’t want to let all the darkness out, do we?” The voice laughed sweetly, then… “Hey!” the voice called, tone changing from menacing sugar to being deeper and more demanding, “Step away from that pot, it’s not for eating!”
Aria had swum over to a cauldron and had two handfuls of orange stuff in her hands. She gave a sullen look and wiped the stuff back into the pot.
A mermaid, slight and bony, with greying black hair and a broad black fin, swum out of the shadows and shooed Aria away from the cauldron. Once the greying mermaid had secured the cauldron, she asked (again falsely sweet), “Now is there something I can help you with?”
“Are you the water witch?” asked Aria.
“Well, my actual name is Booan but, why yes, I am. But I’m a good witch.”
“Oh,” said Aria, “Never mind then. I’m looking for the evil water witch.”
The black haired mermaid witch moved to block Aria from swimming back out the door. “Fine,” she said, “I am the evil water witch. What do you need?”
“I have a little problem,” said Aria.
Booan scoffed. “More like a big problem. You want to be thin.”
“No, that’s not it,” said Aria.
“What?” said the water witch. She already had some vials in her hands and had begun pouring them into a small cauldron. “You must be joking.”
“Nope. I want to go on the land.”
“Oh thank goodness,” said the witch, wiping her brow in relief, “That would have depleted my ingredient stores, if it was possible at all, and it would have taken forever to replace all those fairy wings.”
Aria yawned in boredom.
“But no matter,” continued the witch, “A mermaid going to the land, that’s a tricky one, oh yes. A very tricky one. But I can do it. But first, let me explain the terms of this… agreement.”
Booan cleared her throat and practiced a few chords, then began to sing.
“The Witch’s Ring” (To the melody of “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane)
One ring’s made me powerful
and one ring’s made me strong
it’s that same ring my good for nothing loser of an ex-husband gave me
allows me to do anything I want;
because it’s magic
I can do it all.
Say you want power and some wealth
or you need to learn how to read
or you’re in some very poor health
or anything else you need
ask the sea witch,
she can do the deed.
If you’re stuck in a tight spot
and you don’t know where to go,
or you want something a whole lot
and you just don’t have the dough…
ask the sea witch
she won’t say no.
While Poseidon has his own ring
I’m much more generous than the King.
In the end
I’m your only friend!
Booan finished this last line hunched down low, like she was on her knees, except she had a fin. She also held the note for far, far too long. She was clearly very into her music.
“Do you sing that a lot?” asked Aria.
“Well, less than I used to, fin traffic is down. But nevermind that, my dear. Because of my song you know how powerful I am. You see, my pet, if you want to go on land then you’ll need some legs, and if I’m going to give you legs I’ll need—” the witch grinned darkly, “—Your soul.”
“Well, if that’s the price,” said Aria offhandedly. “I was going to give you my father’s magic ring, but I guess I can just take that back to him.”
“Your father?” said Booan.
“Yeah, Poseidon. Ever hear of him?”
“Poseidon… You are Poseidon’s daughter? Interesting…” Booan seemed lost in thought for a moment, then came back to herself. “Wait, you’re saying you have his ring?!” she asked, suddenly excited. “Can I see it?”
Aria pulled a gold ring out of one of her rolls and flipped it out to the witch. Booan caught it easily and examined it. She brought up her own hand and on it she had a different gold ring, her own magic ring. She brought Poseidon’s ring and her own ring together. They looked exactly the same. As they drew closer they both began to pulsate a dim light, their glow forming a sort of instant harmony.
The witch gasped, then giggled wildly. She looked as though she’d forgotten that there was anyone else in the room with her, which was especially notable when you realized just how much of the room was being occupied by the other person present.
“There were two rings given to the sea kings,” said Booan quietly. “Apart they’re powerful, but together…” Booan looked up at Aria, paused for a moment, then cleared her throat. “Oh, well,” she said, barely containing gleeful laughter, “You, my dear, drive a hard bargain, but I think this ring can work in place of your soul… But just barely.”
“Uh-huh,” said Aria. “Let’s get with the voodoo magic so I can get to chompin’.”
“Then it’s a deal,” said the witch, placing Poseidon’s ring on her other hand. She closed her eyes and held her hands up high, laughing shrilly.
“Hey!” yelled Aria. “My legs!”
“Hmm?” asked Booan absently. “Oh, right. All you need to do is drink this pot of potion.” She gestured toward the orange glowing goo in the cauldron that she’d had to shoo Aria away from a few minutes ago.
Aria swam over, lifted the cauldron, and drank up its contents in a few gulps.
“I feel funny,” Aria said.
In a flash of green light Aria’s fins split and turned into legs, something in her chest changed and her new lungs began to fill rapidly with water, and as her mermaid ballasts were replaced with fatty buoyancy she began to rise and, in an instant, her gigantic and squirming form exploded up through the ceiling of the water witch’s store.
“That’ll cost you extra for damaging my property!” shouted the water witch.
Outside the store Tortly screamed and swam away as fast as he could to escape the flying shards of wood.
“Oh no!” cried Crustacean, ducking some debris, “Now you did it, you bad girl! Oh, Aria, you’ father will kill me if I don’t come back wit’ you!” Having said this, Crustacean began to swim to where Aria was quickly rising, toward the surface of the ocean. “I bring you back one way or another!”
Villagers Find Aria
Did you know, reader, that fat rises in water? And have you, reader, ever been in a pool and held a ball underwater, then let it go and watched it fly up out of the water? If so then you can imagine how Aria exploded out of the ocean when she first got her legs.
After destroying the water witch’s store Aria rose up through the entire ocean in 15 seconds, then flew up naked 10 yards into the air, smacked her head on a rock as she fell back down, and washed limply ashore.
She had lain on the shore for several minutes before a human villager spotted her. He approached her cautiously and curiously. “Hey, what’s this then?” he said. He came closer, grabbed a piece of driftwood, and poked the big, white, flabby form of Aria, the Big Fat Human.
Aria didn’t stir at all, but it seemed to spook the man a bit as he jumped back after the poke. He turned around and put his hand up to his mouth like a horn, and called, “Hey, everybody! Come look at this! Something’s come washed up ashore!”
It was about this time that Crustacean surfaced. Having spotted Aria he was frightened to see a small crowd of funnily-dressed land mermaids gathering around her limp form. He swam to a rock that was close to Aria and hid.
“My, my,” gasped a big approaching servant woman, “That is rather large.”
“Oh!” cried an old farmer, “It have a foul stench about it!”
“What is it?” A young woman asked a man to her side, clutching his arm.
“Looks to me to be a dead walrus,” said the young man.
“No,” said a sea hand, “It’s obviously a sea manatee, and it’s just sleeping.”
“You can tell by the way it smells,” said Mr. Nigel Fuzzybottoms, a trader, “That it was once a seal. Their bloated carcasses float up to shore every so often this season. I’ve seen these before on my runs back from the Queendom. Don’t you think it’s a seal, Flemming?”
Flemming, a surly looking boy, shrugged his shoulders in a bored way.
“No,” disagreed a leather faced seaman, nodding solemnly, “I seen this up north before, that be an iceberg.”
“No,” said a precocious girl, “It’s too warm to be an iceberg!”
Shambling out of the seaside tavern came a man with a big beard, a pipe, a cane, and a wooden leg: Ahab.
“What be all the commotion?” Ahab called out in his grizzled voice.
“Captain,” replied one of the sea hands, “What do you make of this?”
As Ahab approached he almost fell over himself. “That be the whale what bit off me leg! The scourge of the seas, the beast of the deep!”
“That can’t be a whale,” said the big servant woman, “It has to be a—”
“Don’t be daft woman!” Ahab cried, “It be a whale! She be full of blubber, and see here,” he said, pointing with his cane at the body, “Be the blowhole. Aye, she be a whale, and she be my whale.
“Boy!” he called back toward the tavern, “Fetch me harpoon!”
“Aye, Captain!” answered the boy, running off into the distance.
Crustacean, still hiding behind his rock, gasped.
“Now I have me revenge,” said Ahab, “And I make me fortune from all the barrels of whale oil.”
“Wait, stop!” The crowd turned as a whole to see a group of shabby-looking beach bums, most with bandanas wrapped around their heads and wearing no shoes, run up to the group as fast as they could.
“Oh, no,” groaned the Mr. Fuzzybottoms, “Here come those goofballs from W.H.A.L.E.”
“Stop!” cried the leader of the goofballs, a man with a short nasty beard, wearing only shorts and an open vest. “We’re here with Water Helpers Always Love Everything and we can’t let you harm this beautiful, amazing sea creature!”
The crowd shared small gasps and disbelieving looks. A polite youth asked, “Are you sure this is beautiful? We thought it was dead.”
The leader of the W.H.A.L.E. group gave Aria a good look. He grimaced and said, “Well, maybe it’s not the prettiest animal in the world, but we’re committed to help everything.”
Ahab smacked the man on the crown of his head with his cane and said wildly, “No one gets in the way of me and me whale! Anyone gets in me way and I’ll wear their guts for garters!”
W.H.A.L.E.’s leader fell to the ground. He pulled Ahab’s wooden leg out from under him, then pulled it off completely. As Ahab went down a grubby man, also with WHALE, tried to punch him. He missed as Ahab fell and punched the fat servant woman square in the face.
The whole crowd burst into a small but heated riot. Crustacean, seeing the chaos, scurried up to Aria and tried, grabbing her with his little pinchers, to drag her back into the sea.
It was futile. She didn’t budge.
In this moment a large red and gilded carriage came bumping down the nearby road pulled by four white horses, decorated with flags and ushered by mounted soldiers. In the carriage was Prince Daniel II, the ruler of the Etenland Principality*. He was a distinguished man, but not old. He wore white pants and white gloves, riding boots, and a red coat with many medals pinned to it.
[_ *(A principality is like a kingdom, except a kingdom is ruled by a king and a principality is ruled by a prince. -Dweezel) _]
Prince Daniel looked out of the carriage window at the brawling group of hippies, sailors, and villagers. “Oh, no,” groaned Daniel, “They’re at it again.” Raising his voice in command he said, “Let’s go defuse this situation before things get out of hand.”
The carriage swerved off of the road and went bumping down the sandy beach. The guards dismounted and went into the crowd, yelling, “Break it up!” Crustacean pulled a flap of Aria’s fat over himself and hid.
A servant opened the door to the carriage, pulling out some little stairs for the royal feet to step on, and Prince Daniel promptly stepped out onto it. The crowd was still.
“What is the meaning of this disturbance?” asked the prince.
Ahab was the first to answer. “Them long-haired fruits,” he said, pointing to the activists, “Be trying to cheat me out of me whale!”
“No!” cried a woman from W.H.A.L.E. in passionate response, “It’s not your whale! It may be hideous and weird but it deserves to live!”
The prince approached the creature in question, looking it over. His jaw dropped. “That,” he said quietly to himself, “Is the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen… Those curves… She’s like a fluffy pillow…”
“This is no animal,” announced the prince, shaking off his swoon, standing and turning to the crowd, “This is a woman.” The crowd gasped in shock and disbelief. The prince continued, “She’s passed out, probably injured and in need of urgent care. Guards: Help her into the carriage and take her to my palace where she can be cared for in dignity and respect. See to it that all of her needs are met and that she is not disturbed.”
At this the guards had to restrain the raging Ahab. “No!” he yelled in a frenzy, “Don’t be fooled! She be a crafty beast!”
“Nonsense,” said the prince easily. “I’m sure she’s no beast.”
“Ye be makin’ the biggest mistake of yer lives!” cried Ahab.
After rigging up makeshift lever and pulley systems and with some “heave”s and some “ho”s the now-exhausted guards, prince, and villagers managed to get Aria into the prince’s carriage. Crustacean, the unfortunate lobster, had become stuck in one of the girl’s flabs and was along for the ride.
With the girl safely in and filling up the carriage Prince Daniel moved up to sit by the driver in the open air and gave the signal to be off.
At the flick of the reigns the four horses began to slowly pull the carriage forward again, their legs shaking and their eyes bugging with the effort, giving sad and strained cries (the W.H.A.L.E. activists looked at the beasts in pity), and the carriage turned around and made its way back towards the prince’s palace.
The Witch is Back
Down in the white stone palace of Atlantis, Poseidon was holding court and preparing to pass strict judgment on one of his subjects for the crime of stealing a seahorse (likely involving several punches to the face inflicted by the King himself), when a series of distant BOOMs and screams began to sound in the distance.
Less than a minute later a thin soldier, very lightly armored, burst through the palace doors and yelled, without approaching the king, “Sire! The water witch has broken through the city walls* and is making her way to the palace as we speak! You need to stop her!”
*(Since, in the ocean, someone can just swim over traditional walls, merfolk city walls are actually a giant dome covering for a city, which they open and close in many large spaces like gates. – Pallie)
(Indeed. There is no fitting word for this structure in the English language. – Dweezel)
“Booan?” demanded the king.
“Yes, Sire,” said the scout, nodding quickly.
“How can she do this?!” cried one of the nobles in attendance.
“Her hatred of me knows no bounds,” said the King gravely. “I will no longer be merciful. I’ll see this old hag blasted back to the depths where she was spawned!”
ZZZPOW! The scout was sent flying as the front wall of the palace exploded inward with a green flash of light.
Large pieces of stone rubble flew into the room, injuring many of the nobles and courtiers. The King, along with his throne, had been blown off of their stone dais.
Through the dust and floating debris a dark form entered. A bony mermaid with a black fin and greying hair. Booan.
As she entered she shot two tight white beams of light at the guards who made to stop her, frying them instantly. A third guard dropped his spear and showed his empty hands.
Poseidon threw the throne off of himself and swam forward. “Stop!” he yelled.
Slowing before Booan he raised his hand high in the air and made to shoot her with the power of his ring.
“What the…?” He looked down at his hand and on his finger, where his ring belonged, was what we would call an onion ring.
“Lose something, Poseidon?” asked the witch with spiteful haughtiness, flipping a gold ring in one hand while showing its twin on the other.
“Aria!” shouted the King, punching his own face in rage. “Darsh blammit!*”
[_ *(Since these books are not allowed to swear this is the best that we could do. -Dweezel and Pallie) _]
Aria Breaks the Floor
“Aria?” said Crustacean, pinching and poking at the Big Fat Girl’s face. “Hello? Wake up!”
Aria grunted, then rolled over on top of the lobster.
“What?” she asked groggily. “Who’s there? What do you want?”
Aria looked around. She was dressed in an airy nightgown, lying in a large soft canopy bed. The room she was in was papered richly and bathed in sunlight.
One sight quickly seized Aria’s attention. Along one wall of the stately bedroom was a table which was laid with fruits, chocolate, and other fine delicacies that the former mermaid had never seen before.
Aria made to move a bit. The bed squealed in pain.
“Why do I feel so heavy?” she complained. Forgetting she wasn’t in the water, Aria raised her arms up high and tried to swim out of the bed to the table of food.
She fell face-first out of the bed, crushing a nightstand, making the walls shake and even cracking the stone floor.
Crustacean, free of his flabby suffocation, gasped in deep breaths.
“Why can’t I float?” said Aria, flopping on the floor like a (huge) fish out of water.
“You stupid girl!” spat Crustacean. “You traded you’ fins for feet! You cannot swim anymore!”
The bedroom door swung open. Crustacean burrowed into the sheets as a thin and upright servant came running in.
“Madam,” he asked properly, “Are you alright? I felt an earthquake and, oh no, it shook you out of bed!”
He rushed to her side and began tugging at her arms to lift her up.
“Huh?” honked Aria. The tugging wasn’t helping. “Who are you?”
“I am McButler, Prince Daniel’s steward. He has tasked me with your well being.”
Aria put her hand on the servant’s head and, making him “Yelp!” in pain, used him as a cane to stand up. Where she’d fallen there was a gut print in the stone.
Aria strode in an ungainly way toward the table of treats and began to dig in.
Rubbing his neck and smoothing back out his hair, the servant asked patiently, “May I ask your name, madam?”
“Aria,” she said.
“Ah, Aria. A beautiful name. Aria, tonight is a special ball in your honor.”
Aria groaned in pleasure as she tasted the chocolate. “What is this stuff?” she asked.
“Chocolate,” said the Prince’s steward, blushing. “It is quite tasty, isn’t it?”
“Oh, yeah,” said Aria, shoving as much of it in her mouth as she could, smearing it on her face and hands.
The servant cleared his throat and said, “In the closet there’s a gown that’s been sewn especially for you.”
“What is that?” asked Aria, some bits of nut flying out of her mouth.
“What is what?” asked the servant man.
“That word you said.”
“Oh, gown? Well… a dress.”
“What’s a dress?” asked Aria.
“You know… clothes? Fancy clothes. Coverings for your nakedness.”
“Where I come from,” said Aria, shoving a whole apple into her mouth, “We don’t wear clothes. Sometimes I wear clams.”
The servant groaned in dismay. “Oh, you must come from the southern islands. They are a bit less… conservative than we are here.” His face brightened again. “But I’m sure you’ll find your attire quite fitting for a lady of your… stature. It is quite elaborate.”
At this point a woman entered the room, shouting in a servile accent, saying, “Mistress! Your bath is ready!”
“Ow!” cried Aria, covering her ears. “Why are you talking so loud?”
“Excuse me, miss,” said the servant woman, “I didn’t know you could speak our language*.”
*(The fact that the merpeople and the humans of this land spoke the same language implies heavy and regular contact. This astonishing observation is, unfortunately, not explored in the source material for this fairy tale and must remain mysterious for the time being. – Dweezel)
“And you thought yelling would help?” said McButler in disgust. “Nevermind,” he said, waving off the servant woman’s response and turning to the chocolate-faced girl. “Aria, I’ll leave you to your bath. I’ll be back to fetch you when dinner is ready. This woman will help you prepare.” He bowed and excused himself.
“Did he say dinner?” asked Aria, hopefully.
“Oh yes, ma’am. You’ll have a right big supper tonight!”
Aria smiled and let the servant woman lead her out of the room. “I think I’m gonna like it here.” she said, then fell on the servant woman, killing her instantly.
Happy Hour at the Tavern
In a tavern on the beach a rowdy gathering of sailors, many with beards and crusts of salt on their clothes, passed around flagons of rum and other strong grogs, making merry after an especially good haul, and this is what they sang:
“The High Seas” (to a simplified melody of “High Hopes”)
The ocean is a wonderful scene
to find a fortune for you and for me.
Adventure, excitement, and plenty to see…
the ocean’s the only place we want to be
Mast and spar and bowsprit and jib
a sail ship’s the only place we want to live!
Only the wood between you and the sea,
the ocean’s the only place that you’re free.
On the high seas
On the high seas
following the ocean sprays
and the sea breeze
Ahab’s a man who does what he can
to see to the fortunes of every man.
Takes us to where there’s fish a plenty
that’s how we make our hard earned money!
Ahab put his hand in the air to show that he had something to say. He sang to them mournfully.
Lads, the ocean be our life it is true
but down in the depths of the watery blue
lay monsters and horrors that are fiendish to see
like the white whale what bit off me leg at the knee…
The singing paused here for a moment.
“Wait, Ahab,” called a sailor, “Didn’t you lose your leg to diabetes?”
“That be wrong,” said Ahab with clenched fists. “It was the whale I tell ya, chomping down on me flesh.”
“I was sure,” said another sailor, “That it was the saltwater taffy what gave you diabetes.”
“Yeah,” chimed in another sailor, “And you never take your insulin shots.”
“I don’t need insulin shots,” barked Ahab.
“Yeah,” said another sailor, “My aunt Helenkules said that and she lost her foot.”
“Eh! Enough, ya’ swabs!” Ahab cracked the two closest sailor’s heads together like coconuts (innocent bystanders). “Less talk and more singin’!”
The sailors and Ahab all joined in for a couple more rousing choruses.
We love to live
on the the high seas!
On the high seas!
Where there’s no one will tell you to do anything
you don’t please!
There’s nothing better than living
on the the high seas!
On the high seas!
Following the ocean sprays
and the sea breeze!
They clinked their mugs and all drank them down, cheering. Ahab sat down at a table.
“So when you gonna get that white whale?” asked a sailor.
“You mean,” said Ahab, “That beast what walks on the land now?”
“What’cha say Cap’n?” yelled a young sailor from across the tavern.
“It be a land whale now,” said Ahab with fire in his eyes, “What be walkin’ about with the Prince’s crew. It all be a trick. First she gets in all chummy with the Prince, then down the hatch he goes, then the whale be ready to swallow the entire country!”
“You sayin’ that that fat girl that the Prince took up to the palace was your whale?”
“Aye, she be the whale, and she be a land whale now.”
“Well how’d she do that?”
“Turns out she been amphibious all along,” said Ahab, “Like a turtle.”
“Like a turtle ya say Ahab?”
“Aye,” said Ahab, “”Like a turtle.”
“So it’s got a shell Ahab?” asked a sailor sitting at the bar.
“ ‘Course it ain’t got no shell,” said a sailor next to him, smacking him across the back of the head.
“Aye, no shell,” said Ahab, “But the lungs be the same.”
“Well what are ya gonna do about it Ahab?”
“I’ll tell yeh what I’m gonna do,” said Ahab, rising back to his feet, “I’m gonna gut me a landwhale!”
The sailors cheered and sang, one last time,
There’s nothing better than living
on the the high seas!
On the high seas!
Following the ocean sprays
and the sea breeze!
Aria’s First Formal Dinner
CREAK. CRACK. SPLINTER.
That was the sound with each step that Aria took. McButler, the Prince’s steward, was escorting her to dinner, her hand in his arm. Aria wore a blue dress, beautifully decorated with reflective sequins, a blue sash, and puffy upper arms*.
*(This style used to be called leg o’ mutton. It is loose on the upper arms and then tight on the lower arms. -Dweezel)
They entered the large and fabulous palace dining room. In one corner of the room were four men playing lovely music on stringed instruments. In the center of the room was a very long table, the Prince seated at the head, a seat open to his left, and all of the other seats occupied by well-dressed nobles in fine coats and ladies with elaborate wigs, looking quite astonished at Aria’s size.
The men rose as Aria entered the room.
Aria’s eyes widened as she saw what was sure to be the most interesting part of her evening: The food. There were all manner of delicacies, such as pudding, veal, exotic fruits, desserts, and lots of sea creatures that Aria recognized from under the ocean… They even had lobster!
“Ladies and gentleman,” said Prince Daniel II as McButler escorted Aria to the Prince’s side, “May I introduce you to our distinguished guest? I am told that her name is Aria.”
“That’s right,” she said, keeping her eyes on the delicious spread of the table.
“Aria,” said Daniel, his face flushed, “A beautiful name… Truly beautiful. Well,” he said, shaking himself, “Let me introduce you to my distinguished guests.” Daniel then introduced Aria to a number of guests whose names nobody needs to remember, with the exception of, “Fritzen Heinzburg, visiting dignitary from the tribes to the north.”
“Zes,” said the old courtier with a foreign accent. He looked less put together than the other guests, his coat rough and his wig askew, “Very nice. And now ve eat?”
“Yeah!” yelled Aria, “Everybody shut up so I can eat!”
The crowd gasped.
After a moment Prince Daniel laughed. “A good sense of humor, too? Very well, let us eat!”
The ladies sat down, the men pushing their chairs in behind them.
Prince Daniel pulled out the fancy wooden chair at his side and motioned for Aria to sit on it. Aria looked at the smiling and expectant prince and servant, then she lowered her backside onto the chair.
The chair shattered and Aria fell screaming on the floor. Her dress fell around her immodestly.
“Oh my!” gasped a lady. The King and the men rushed to Aria’s side to help her up. The string quartet’s music faltered.
“I am so sorry, mistress,” said McButler, kicking out pieces of wood debris, “That chair must have been defective!”
“Yes,” said Prince Daniel, “That must be it. Steward, fetch her that chair over there!”
“Right away,” said McButler, retrieving a spare chair from the corner of the room.
“Zoo are sure zat is a good idea?” asked Heinzburg.
“Oh yes, Mr. Heinzburg, of course,” said Daniel. “She can’t sit on the broken chair!”
“Zis is not vat I meant,” said the diplomat.
McButler slid the chair behind Aria.
“This had better work this time,” complained Aria.
As she sat the chair splintered into a thousand pieces, and Aria fell and rolled onto the floor again.
“Oh my!” gasped the same lady as before.
Aria shambled up again, yelling and swearing. After a bit of applied logic the prince was convinced of the need for a stronger chair, and a small crew of stout men were called to haul in the sturdiest chair in the palace. Unfortunately, that chair had come from the dungeon. The steward did what he could to nicen it, draping it with a fuzzy pink blanket, but there was no hiding the grotesque faces cast into the metal.
Aria looked at the chair apprehensively.
“Go ahead,” said the Prince, motioning to the chair. It was far too heavy to attempt sliding it under Aria as she sat. “I’m sure this one will… Mmm,” said the Prince, thinking, “Well, I don’t think it will break. Go on.”
Aria sat. The chair creaked, but it did not break. The guests clapped and cheered, and the men finally took their seats.
“Aria,” said Daniel, “I’m so glad you’re feeling well enough to join us. We were worried, what with finding you passed out on the beach. How did you find yourself there?”
Aria ignored him, eyeballing the food.
“What’s that?” she asked, pointing to a stuffed bird.
“Roasted pheasant,” answered Daniel.
Aria reached halfway across the table and shred off a piece of the bird’s midsection, then stuffed it in her mouth..
“My lady,” said the monocled courtier seated to Aria’s left, “We typically have Bishop McCowan lead us in a prayer of thanks before our meal.”
A bald and angry-looking man in black robes stood, his head bowed.
Aria belched, shooting some pheasant bits onto the table and onto her neighbor’s monocle. The man took out a handkerchief and cleaned it off.
Prince Daniel rose up. “To honor our guest’s foreign sensibilities,” he said, in a voice of announcement, “We will dispense with the usual formalities for the evening.” Bishop McCowan glowered and slowly sat down. “Further,” said Daniel, “Perhaps we ought to embrace her manners for the evening, to make her feel more comfortable.”
The prince removed his white gloves and placed them in a neat pile on the table. This done, he grabbed a leg of pheasant delicately between his finger and thumb, tore it, and then brought it to his lips, where he nibbled it daintily.
Some of the other guests, taking his cue, tried something similar, though most were openly disapproving and continued to use their silverware.
“It’s about time ve make zis place less stuffy,” said Heinzburg, ripping off a hunk of meat with gusto.
A man with small silver spectacles cleared his throat. “And where do you hail from, Miss Aria?” he asked.
“The ocean,” yelled Aria, mouth full.
“Oh yes,” said the man, “You’re a sailing people like us.”
“What’s that?” asked Aria, pointing at some pudding. Her blue dress was now very greasy.
“That is—” a courtier attempted to answer.
“Mmm,” moaned Aria loudly as she sucked at a pheasant bone.
The court was wide eyed in awkward silence.
“How was the temperature of your bath, milady?” asked a wrinkled woman, attempting to salvage the situation socially. “Was it quite to your liking? I do love lilac oil in my water. How about you?”
Aria had now moved on to a big handful of pudding. “Where I come from,” she said, “I don’t have to bathe.”
The woman looked taken aback, and gasps were heard around the table.
“How uncivilized,” said a woman.
“You must hail from the barbarian tribes to the north,” said a waxy-mustached courtier, knowingly.
“Ve are not barbarians,” said Heinzburg, throwing his fork (which shot over the bishop’s head) and rising to his feet.
“No, of course not,” said Daniel diplomatically. “An honorable people. Great warriors, and even better neighbors.”
“Yup,” said Aria, as Heinzburg returned to his seat huffily, “I really like this fluffy stuff.”
“Oh yes, that’s cake,” said a young lady with an intricate wig. “Delicious isn’t it?”
Aria scrunched up her face and farted super loud and super long.
For a time no one spoke, and everyone’s face was full of shock, with the exception of the foreign diplomat, who laughed loudly and slapped his knee.
“Where I come from,” said Aria, “These come out like bubbles.”
A few moments passed before another guest spoke. It was the young man with the bewigged young woman. “Thank you, Prince Daniel, for the fine dinner. You must excuse me as my wife is feeling… rather ill.”
It turned out that many of the guests found themselves ill, and in ones and twos the guests retreated.
“Zis vas a very funny night,” said Heinzburg as he eventually stepped away from the table. “I like zis fat girl.”
Heinzburg clapped Aria on the back and she burped.
“Aria,” said the Prince once they were alone, “You’re not like any woman I’ve ever met before. What do you say I show you Etenland tomorrow?”
“Whatever,” said Aria.
A Romantic-Comedy Montage in Written Form
The next day…
“May I have this dance?” asked Prince Daniel, his hand extended to the gorgeously-dressed Aria. They were in the ballroom of the palace. The ceiling was high, the room was full of light, and the wooden floor was polished to a shine.
“I don’t know how to dance,” she said.
“Oh,” said Daniel, “It’ easy. Don’t worry, I’ll lead.”
Aria put down a hunk of ham and stepped onto the dance floor.
“That’s it. We put our hands here,” said Daniel, positioning her hands to proper positions. “Now follow my lead. One, two, three,” he said, stepping, and Aria began to follow his lead. “One, two—”
Aria fell through the floor.
Outside, in the prince’s stables, with the smell of hay and horse…
“Maybe the dancing was a little too much to start with,” said Daniel, wearing riding pants and readying a fine dappled mare. “A nice, peaceful ride in the country will be the perfect way to show you the principality!”
“I dunno…” said Aria, eyeing the big animal uneasily.
“Don’t worry,” said Daniel. “You’ll love it!”
Daniel gave orders for a servant to help lift Aria onto the horse. After he screamed out in pain, clutching his back, more servants were called. Grunting and pushing with all their might they managed to get Aria onto the horse.
The horses legs began to shake.
“Uh-oh!” called a servant. “Stand back.”
“My dapple!” cried the fat, bald groom.
“It’s too late,” said a man, holding the groom back. “There’s no helping her now…”
A few loud snaps, then the horse collapsed.
It was dead.
Working remarkably fast, a crew of workers had reinforced the ballroom floor by placing stone pillars in the room below, and they had assured Prince Daniel that it could now support an elephant, if he had a mind to bring one in.
“Now you’ve got it!” said Daniel, leading Aria in a waltz.
Aria was now stepping in time with Daniel, and both began to laugh.
SNAP! Aria stepped on Daniel’s foot.
Prince Daniel screamed, jumping up and down with his foot in his hand.
It was evening, at the Prince’s private dock, with a salty breeze and the sound of small waves…
“Now to top the evening off with a moonlit boat ride,” said Daniel, stepping onto a rowboat and holding his hand out to Aria. His foot was wrapped and splinted; the physicians had said only time would tell if it would need to be amputated.
Aria took his hand and stepped onto the boat, which exploded under her immense weight, sending out a hail of wooden shrapnel for miles.
Crustacean Tries to Do His Job
Down by the water, on the pier, there was a fine restaurant called Catch of the Day. Decorated with flowers and smelling of the finest delicacies, it was small, but always busy. Aria was here, seated alone at a table right by the water (in a special chair, of course).
“Hello, my name is Hans and I’ll be your waiter,” said a young man wearing a white coat. “Today’s special is poached goose served in hollandaise sauce.”
“I thought this was a seafood place,” sneered Aria. “I want me some seafood.”
“Yes, ma’am, but the fisherman aren’t bringing in much fish. They say some sort of monster is sinking the fishing boats.”
“Whatever,” said Aria, yawning. “I want all the fish you’ve got.”
“But lady,” said the waiter with wide eyes, “Because of the shortages we had to raise our prices for seafood. Ordering all of our fish would cost a fortune!”
“Just put it on the prince’s tab,” said Aria.
“Wait, the prince? Well… um, yeah, okay!”
The waiter scampered away.
“Aria,” whispered a Caribbean accented voice. Aria looked around her, looking for the source.
“Over here,” whispered the voice again.
Aria looked down and to her side to where the pier met the ocean. There, his little red legs stuck into the wood, was Crustacean.
“Come on!” he whispered urgently, motioning his big claws toward the water. “It da perfect chance! Quick, jump in da water! We got to get you back to da water witch so you can get back you’ fins!”
“Hmm,” said Aria mock-thoughtfully, “No, I’m not doing that.”
“But you must!” yelled Crustacean. He jumped, put his claw to his mouth, and looked around to make sure no one had heard him. Speaking again in a whisper, he said, “It da only way.”
“Nah,” said Aria, “The food up here is WAY better than anything we’ve got down there,” pointing to the ocean. “Besides, I’ve got this prince feeding me out of the palm of his hand. He feeds me whatever I want.”
“But surely,” said Crustacean, “You miss you’ father and the rest of us fish people?”
“Eh,” shrugged Aria.
“Listen missy,” Crustacean whispered sternly, “Maybe you got it good now but maybe they find out you a fish, den what gonna happen? Maybe den it be you on dat plate.”
Crustacean hid again as a mustached man in a fine suit, followed by half a dozen waiters, approached Aria’s table in a line, their hands burdened with massive covered platters.
“Lady Aria,” said the suited man, “I am Milton Crumpet, and I am the manager of this humble restaurant.” He bowed, and the waiters began to set up the food platters on little wooden stands. “We are honored to have you here at our humble restaurant. We have moved with all possible speed to provide you with your request. We hope, of course, that you will be satisfied.”
“How do you know my name?” demanded Aria, pointing at him suspiciously.
“My dear lady,” said the manager, “This is a small principality. Word travels fast. You’ve made quite an… um…” the man rubbed his mustache as he sought for a polite word, “Impression on some of our more noble clientele. I only apologize that our maitre’d did not recognize you when you first entered—”
“Shut up!” yelled Aria, pounding her fists on the table. “I want to eat!”
The restaurant hushed. The manager’s mouth hung open for a moment, the waiters looked at him nervously. He cleared his throat and said, “Very well, madam. Please do call if you need anything.” He signaled the waiters away and they left in as neat a line as they had entered in.
The other guests watched their departure before resuming conversation.
Aria rubbed her hands together and pulled over her first platter. Removing the lid she smiled as she saw a cooked yellow and blue tropical fish surrounded by breaded shrimps.
“All right, this ought to be delish!”
Crustacean gasped. “Don’t you touch that fish!” he yelled, surprising himself with his volume. “The fish are you’ loyal royal subjects,” he continued, now whispering forcefully, “Not you’ dinner.”
“Yeah,” said Aria excitedly, “But these humans have something called deep fat frying. I like my royal subjects better this way.”
“Aria,” said Crustacean, “I thought somet’ing like dis might happen. Now you listen here, child, I brought some local fish to help explain dis to you in a more… musical way.”
A group of turtles, frogs, and colorful fish surfaced in the water, neatly arranged and holding little pieces of sheet music. They began to hum and sway in time.
“Don’t Eat the Fish” (To the melody of “Kiss the Girl”)
Greedy, Sang Crustacean.
Der, you see it?
Laying der on you’ plate?
You thinking it will taste so great
because of how nice dey cook it.
But you know da fish talk
and dat should mean a lot.
You cannot eat da fish.
Aria picked the fish up off her plate and eyed it. Crustacean shook his head.
You know you be so stupid
da way you only eat da food?
There is plenty uh’der t’ings to do
without trying every single dish.
What say we swim around
so you can shed those pounds?
There’ no need to eat da fish.
The fish in the water began to sing and circle in synchronized swimming around Crustacean, who had thrown caution to the wind and was now singing with full vigor.
Sha la la la la la
He never had a prayer.
You cannot eat da fish!
Other guests of the restaurant were now jumping from their seats and gathering in amazement around the singing sea creatures, pressing up against Aria who yelled and swore as she tried to bring the fish up to her mouth.
Sha la la la la la
You see his life, dey end?
You cannot eat da fish!
You can do it.
Show you belly who da boss.
Put down da lemon and da sauce
and stop eating dis instant!
Eating fish is bad,
it make Crustacean sad.
You cannot eat da fish!
The sea creatures now got up onto the pier and invaded the restaurant. Turtles slowly stormed the wooden floor, fish threw themselves out of the water and flopped around. Frogs jumped onto tables and into the women’s hair. Crabs pinched men’s fingers. Big seagulls joined the party, flying in circles over the restaurant, singing along and swooping to steal bread and peck the guests.
The guests screamed wildly and ran for the exits, with men throwing their dates to the animals to cover their escape, and the restaurant staff flipping some tables over to cower behind against the onslaught.
Crustacean and some octopi came up onto the pier and tugged at Aria, trying to pull her into the water, as all of the animals continued to sing.
Sha la la la la la
Mind you dad,
he gonna be so mad!
You cannot eat da fish!
Sha la la la la la
It make us cry,
if you eat fishy guy.
You cannot eat da fish!
Sha la la la la la
A bad deal…
to be somebody’s meal!
You cannot eat da fish!
Sha la la la la la
It so wrong,
listen to this song!
You cannot eat da fish!
You can’t eat the fish! Sang a bird.
Please don’t eat the fish! Pleaded a frog.
You mustn’t eat the fish! Sang a flopping fish.
Don’t eat the fish! Sang/demanded Crustacean, yanking at her with all his might.
“Ahhh!” screamed Aria.
Just as she had been about to sink her teeth into the cooked fish a spear flew into it and ripped it from Aria’s hands. The spear soared through the air and stapled the fish to the wall with a SPROING.
“Arrr! Blast, I blew it!” cried Ahab, who was standing in a rowboat, his hand up high in the air from having thrown the spear. “We’ll never get another chance like this again! I almost got me whale!”
Ahab turned to the young man seated behind him. “Row, boy! Row like you’ve never rowed before!”
At this point a retinue of the prince’s guards ran into the restaurant. “There he is, men!” shouted their captain, a man with a colorful uniform, “That’s the crazy coot that must have caused this disturbance! Get him!”
The guards removed their cuirasses* and boots as fast as they could before jumping into the water and swimming toward Ahab’s boat, but the boat was gaining speed and the pursuit was hopeless.
*(A cuirass is a piece of armor that has a breastplate and a backplate. – Pallie)
“Grr,” mumbled a pouting Ahab, just quietly enough to be heard from shore. “Shoulda’ brought more spears.
Prince Daniel, dressed in his usual suit with medals and riding boots, ran into the restaurant, which looked like a riot had passed through it. There was food all over the floors, shreds of clothing, frog footprints, blood, and a (once) finely dressed manager with his shirt ripped open and screaming.
Amidst the chaotic mess was Aria, who was rolling on the floor to salvage bits of her scattered fish dinners.
“Aria!” shouted Daniel, dashing to her side. “Are you all right? Did he hurt you?”
Aria made piglike noises in non-reply as she shoved handfuls of dirty food into her mouth.
“Oh, Aria, I can’t believe that the sea captain did this! But here,” he said, stooping down, “Let me help you back up.”
After some grunting and impacted vertebrae Aria was back on her feet and seated at the again uprighted table and reinforced chair.
“Aria,” said the prince, fixing a chair and sitting on it next to the girl, “I actually came here for a very special reason. This sea captain mess has frustrated my plan somewhat, but it makes me think more than ever that I’m making the right choice.”
Aria was licking a plate and then her fingers, not seeming to pay attention.
“There’s something that I want to ask you,” continued Daniel. “It might be a little forward. Aria,” said the prince, dropping to one knee, “Would you do me the honor of becoming my bride, and the princess of this noble land?”
Aria burped in his face.
“I know it would pain you to be away from your people,” said Daniel, “But know this. If you say ‘yes,’ then all of this will be yours.”
Prince Daniel spread open his hands to gesture toward the entirety of his principality.
“I always wanted my own restaurant,” said Aria, ignorantly misunderstanding Daniel’s meaning. “You got a deal.”
“Oh, Aria,” said Daniel with tears in his eyes, “You’ve made me the happiest man in the world!”
“Just keep swimming, just keep swimming,” sang a blue fish in a voice that sounded like Ellen DeGeneres.
A huge shark gobbled the fish up.
Down in Atlantis things had never been so dark. In the city square there were dozens, maybe hundreds, of octopi, merpeople, fish and all other sorts of sea creatures, all shackled together and heaving large boulders, carving, and otherwise being forced to work as hard as they could. Razor-toothed hammerheads, great whites, and makos rained down lashes from their whips, and chomped at any fish that got out of line.
As a result of all this labor some changes were taking place. Buildings had been demolished for construction material, and in their place the sea people were being forced to raise up a wondrously-sized monument. It depicted Booan standing proud, beautiful, dignified, heroic, and triumphant. Groveling at her feet was Poseidon: Servile, dopily stupid, with his tongue lolling about and his hand scratching his butt.
Poseidon himself was part of the construction-tasked chain gang, and shackled around him were members of his court, and also of his household, including Aria’s turtle, Tortly. They each had their hands (or appendages, as the case may be) supporting one huge boulder—which had been formed from the demolition of one of the oldest stores in town—and were carrying it to the building site.
“Not bad, I say,” said a brown hammerhead shark to Poseidon, pointing his fin up at the statue of Poseidon. “He looks just like you.”
“Nah,” said a smaller blue mako, “They forgot to chisel him with his eyes crossed!”
The two sharks laughed.
“Shut your mouths!” shouted Poseidon, his face going red. “If I had my ring, why I’d…”
A third shark swam over to join in, a huge great white shark with dark scars across his face, and the other two sharks sobered up a bit. They called him ‘Fang,’ and this great white had become something like the water witch’s right hand man, and infamous for his cruel whippings that he used as punishments for even the smallest of offenses.
“Not so tough now, huh?” said the white shark slowly, sneering and quiet, looking down at the king. “Old man. No crown, no magic rings. Heh.”
Poseidon howled in rage. Then he noticed the shark’s set of keys, at his side held on by a belt.
“Oh, am I upsetting you old man? Does it upset you that we sharks have finally taken your city? Does it make you angry that you can’t protect your people? That you’re powerless?”
The progress of the boulder was faltering a bit now as the other prisoners eyed Poseidon and the sharks with increasing fear.
The shark swum in front of Poseidon’s face, and smiled.
“You know Poseidon, we sharks have had it good since old Booan took over. We do whatever we want. No laws, no rules.”
“Yeah,” chuckled the hammerhead, “And it’s been great now that us sharks don’t have to do those twelve steps anymore. Fish are food, not friends.”
“You know,” continued Fang, ignoring the interruption, “Just yesterday I ate this real good angel fish. Maybe you knew her?”
With all his might Poseidon pulled back his fist and punched the shark square in the nose. The boulder dropped to the ground with a crash and the sea people scattered as far away from it as they could in their chains
The huge shark barked, and a small amount of black blood leaked out of his nose. At the scent of the blood, the two nearby sharks’ eyes turned suddenly ravenous and slightly mad.
The great white turned to face the sharks and bared his teeth.
The blue mako and the brown hammerhead charged the great white in a fury, maddened by the smell of blood.
While the great white shark had his back turned Poseidon ripped the key ring off of his belt and unlocked his shackles.
He swam to Tortly, who was screaming and flailing about against his chain.
“Tortly!” yelled Poseidon, “Calm down!”
Tortly screamed in Poseidon’s face.
The great white punched out the hammerhead in the initial charge, putting him out cold.
Poseidon clapped his hand over Tortly’s mouth.
“Shut up!” commanded Poseidon, pulling out a small scroll of paper from his beard. “You have to get this to Aria. She’ll know what to do. Do you understand me, Tortly?”
Tortly’s eyes were wide, but he wasn’t struggling anymore.
The great white bit at the fin of the mako, who shook his head and seemed to snap out of his blood fury.
“Tortly,” said Poseidon urgently, “Get this message to Aria. Do you understand?”
“Yes,” said Tortly weakly, nodding his head.
“Good,” said Poseidon, and he put the little paper scroll into Tortly’s shell. “Then go!” yelled Poseidon. “Go as fast as you can and don’t stop until you’ve found my daughter!”
Tortly made to swim away as a fourth shark guard, noticing the struggle, swam in front of him to block his escape.
“Just where do you think you’re going?” said the shark.
Poseidon pushed the shark’s head back, grabbed him by the tail, and swung him around three times before hurling the shark away over his head, directly into the face of the big great white, who had been swimming back to attack Poseidon.
“Hurry, Tortly!” shouted Poseidon, “Get out of here while you still can!”
Tortly swam away as fast as he could, then turned back once to see a dozen sharks converge on Poseidon and take him down.
Tortly didn’t look back again.
Ahab Stirs Up the Men
Back down at that seaside tavern Ahab stepped in mournfully. The tavern was not full of song like it had been a few days before; now it was solemn, with sailors staring into their drinks.
“What be the matter with all yeh?” asked Ahab, throwing off his coat, and sitting down heavily at an occupied table.
“We lost our ship to the sea monster,” said a pink-eyed sailor.
“Our captain’ssss gone,” said an especially drunk sailor.
“The monster’s out on the ocean and we can’t leave port,” said a comparatively nondescript sailor, not lifting his head from his table.
“We have barely any money left for rum,” another sailor chimed in sadly. Other sailors voiced their agreement.
“Aye,” said Ahab sadly. “We all lost something to that beast of the deep.” He put his wooden leg on the table and patted it. “I just got back from breakin’ into the palace,” he continued. “Caught. Now I be not allowed within 500 feet of the place. Banned fer life.”
Some sailors shook their heads, and there was a long silence.
Ahab scrunched up his face in thought.
“See here, lads,” said Ahab at length, “Maybe I can’t get me monster right now, but I know how to fix yer problem.”
“What are you goin’ on about, Ahab?” asked a tired sailor.
“I been up at the palace watchin’ the land whale with me own eyes, cavorting and gallivanting with the prince,” Ahab replied. “She ain’t been back to her waters for some time. That leaves the waters wide open for easy money to be made.”
“You sayin’ that your white land whale be the monster what’s been destroyin’ our ships?” asked a sailor.
“That be exactly what I’m sayin’,” said Ahab, speaking with more energy. “She been goin’ back and forth, trickin’ the prince then breakin’ our boats. But now she be accounted for.”
“I don’t know, Ahab, are you sure?” asked a sailor.
“I ain’t been more sure of anythin’ in me life!” said Ahab, jumping from his chair. He forgot he had removed his wooden leg, but fortunately a couple of smelly sailors caught his fall. His speaking didn’t skip a beat. “With the sea monster up in the palace, lappin’ up the king’s grub, the sea be clear as glass and smooth as a dolphin skin, and the depths be loaded with fish ripe for the nettin’.”
The sailors at the tables and bar began looking at each other with excitement.
“What say ye all?” asked Ahab in full charisma. “Are we men or guppies?!”
“Men!” shouted the sailors in answer.
“Grab your nets and grab your poles,” said Ahab, “Tonight we take back the sea!”
A Beautiful Wedding (Not)
The wooden docks of Etenland’s harbor were beautifully decorated with banners, flowers, ice sculptures, and whitewashed canopies. Hundreds of white chairs were set out in neat rows and were filled by the nobility of the country. The stinking and rough ocean-faring men, who would normally frequent this part of the land, had been ejected for the evening.
Prince Daniel, standing below a white wedding arbor, was dressed in his most colorful costumery, wearing a mantle, all of his medals, a golden sword scabbard at his hip, and his crown decorated with precious stones. To his sides were the handsomely-suited men and beautifully-dressed women that composed the wedding party. Behind him was Bishop McCowan, wearing black robes and a scarlet cap, and holding an old leather book.
A chamber orchestra, its members under their own gazebo, began to play a traditional wedding fanfare. The guests rose from their seats and turned backwards to get a good look at the bride.
At the back of the aisle, in a huge white dress, (which had needed to be expanded after it was initially fitted,) was Aria. Her red hair was curled and put up, the size of a large vase, and she held a bouquet of big blue flowers. At her side she was holding onto Mr. Heinzburg, the visiting diplomat, who had been selected to walk her down the aisle after all other guests had fallen ill at the suggestion.
Slowly, step by step, Heinzburg walked Aria down the aisle toward Prince Daniel, who looked as happy as anyone had ever seen him.
“My brothers and sisters,” announced Bishop McCowan, as the guests took their seats again, “It is my sacred duty, by the request of His Royal Highness, to unite this couple in holy matrimony. Marriage is a special gift, given from heaven, to unite man and woman together in bonds which can never be broken. Be it known that no power on earth or in heaven can disrupt the solemn covenant of marriage. On the earth there is no more sacred trust, no greater—-”
Out from the water a large green sea turtle heaved himself onto the docks and came running up the aisle.
“Aria!,” it yelled in a squeaking voice. “Aria!”
“Ahh!” yelled a guest, spitting out her beverage. “A talking turtle!”
Other guests shouted similarly in surprise and began to crowd around the talking turtle.
(Some of the more jaded guests, meanwhile, suggested that one talking turtle was nothing, as they had recently seen a whole choir and synchronized dance crew of talking and singing animals.)
“Tortly, what are you doing?” demanded a Caribbean-voiced red lobster, inching forth from Aria’s massive hair. “You can’t be talking, you got to be hiding from the humans like me.” Crustacean looked around at the surprised wedding guests, gasped, and ducked back into Aria’s hair.
“What was that, Aria?” asked Prince Daniel, looking for the source of the Caribbean voice.
Tortly, panting, made his way up to Aria and the prince.
“I have a message from your father,” Tortly said. “It’s in here somewhere.” He put his head into his shell and rummaged about for something.
“Tortly!” bellowed Aria, “You’re ruining my wedding!”
“My dear,” said Daniel patiently. “Your father has a trained turtle. You probably ought to hear what it says.”
“Fine,” said Aria. “Spit it out, Tortly.”
“Okay, got it,” said Tortly, retrieving a small paper scroll from inside his shell. Rolling it open, and clearing his throat, Tortly began to read.
“Aria, years ago you served me as my oldest daughter. Now, I beg your assistance. The water witch has my ring and has taken over the kingdom. Help me, Aria, you’re my only hope. Love, Dad. P.S. You’re in big trouble for the onion ring.”
“Huh,” said Aria dismissively. “Well, let’s get back to my wedding!”
Crustacean’s red little lobster face popped back out of Aria’s hair.
“You father need you’ help!” said Crustacean with a wag of his claw. “You need to go rescue him now. You got a duty to you’ people!”
Aria, refusing to acknowledge him, pushed Crustacean back into her hair.
“Yeah, Aria” said Tortly, still standing in the middle of the wedding aisle. “It’s really bad. She’s making everybody build an ugly scary statue of her face. And sharks are everywhere!”
“Well, dad should’ve thought about that before he broke my fridge,” said Aria with a huff. “Let’s get this wedding going! I got a mighty powerful appetite and I can’t wait for my surf and turf wedding dinner!”
“Thousands of years ago,” resumed Bishop McCowan with a heavy scowl, “The pattern of marriage was given to us by the example of—”
A guest named Hunkules stood up on his chair, then (having been waiting all day for an opportunity to draw attention to himself, as any man who’s named himself “Hunkules” can only be expected to do) and, pointing out to the harbor, yelled, “What’s that?” The priest looked infuriated at the second interruption, and the guests all turned around to see what was the matter.
Standing on the crow’s nest of a large fishing vessel was Ahab the sea captain, floating quickly into port. The ship he was riding on was battered, splintered, and had two large holes in its sides. It was sinking fast.
“Hey,” said another guest, “That’s the guy that attacked the restaurant!”
“And that broke into the palace!” said another guest.
“Now he’s here to spoil the wedding!” said a third guest (actually Hunkules again, trying—as always—to recapture some of his momentary thunder before moving on to hit on a bridesmaid).
The ship sped up to the dock, sinking as it went, so that when the moment came for the ship to be completely submerged, all the way up to the crow’s nest, Ahab was able to lightly, if sadly, step off of the nest and onto the pier without even wetting his boots. The ship disappeared into the deadly blue behind him.
As Ahab concluded his dramatic entrance guards were, of course, already waiting and immediately seized him.
“I was wrong, she not be the beast!” cried Ahab mournfully, pointing at Aria. “The beast be still out there, in the black waves! The monster not be a whale at all but a big nasty black squid. I seen it with me own eyes. It turns out this thing,” he said, motioning with disgust to Aria, “Just be… well… I guess she just be a really fat girl. My apologies, miss.”
Aria rolled her eyes.
Looks of sympathy spread through the wedding party, and guards brought Ahab a chair to rest on and also be under arrest on.
“My foolishness,” lamented Ahab, “Cost the life of me crew, me ship, and me silent parrot Charlie. If it weren’t for the brave sacrifice of me crew I wouldn’t have made it out alive.”
“But doesn’t the captain always go down with his ship?” asked a wedding guest.
“Aye,” said Ahab, shaking his head sadly. “Sometimes, but they be the dead ones. Something needs to be done about that beast before this whole principality goes down to a watery grave.”
Daniel looked nervous.
Aria looked irritated.
“Nobody cares about that!” shouted Aria. “Get on with the ceremony!”
Bishop McCowan cleared his throat, and continued again. “Friends,” said the bishop, “We are gathered here together to celebrate the joining of this man, Prince Daniel Acheron Ecthelion the Second, and this woman, Aria No Last Name, in the bonds of holy matri—-”
“Excuse me!” sobbed a fat chef wearing a white apron as he ran his way up the aisle. “I’m so sorry to interrupt,” he said, breathing hard and doubled over as he reached the bride and groom. The bishop swore and ripped his liturgy book in half over his knee.
“Your Majesty,” continued the chef, “We’re all out of fish, so we can’t serve the seafood part of the wedding dinner!”
“It be what I been telling ye,” said Ahab, “All the fishing ships been ravaged by the beast! Those sailors that aren’t dead be hidin’ in their drinks, and not a single fish be escapin’ from the sea.”
“Serves ya right for harvesting me sea friends to fry up and eat!” yelled Crustacean, still hiding in Aria’s hair.
“What about my surf and turf dinner?!” Aria bellowed at the chef.
“I’m afraid, madam, that we have had to change your surf and turf dinner to just… turf and turf.”
“What the shell is that?”
“Well… it is, ah… Beef, and also beef.”
“Over my extremely massive body!”
“Should I bother continuing with the ceremony?” asked the priest.
“No way,” said Aria, throwing down the bouquet of flowers that she was holding. “I’m not getting married without my surf and turf. Dan!” she yelled, turning to the prince. “Whatcha’ gonna do about this?”
“Aria, my beautiful princess,” Prince Daniel said slowly, taking her hand, “It pains me to postpone our wedding, even for one minute, but you’re right. Our people need us now. Admiral Zaarin,” Daniel said to a decorated man among the guests. “Ready your flotilla. Sea captain,” Daniel said, turning to Ahab, “I release you from your arrest and order you, no… ask you, to find local sailors and convince them to join our cause to defeat this vile monster.”
“Aye,” said Ahab, rising from his seat as the guards gave him some space. “I’ve convinced men to go to their watery dooms before, and I can do it again.”
“Then it’s settled,” said the prince. “We’ll assemble in this harbor and sail at morning’s first light. The safety of the principality depends on it.”
“Yeah,” said Aria, “I’m eating fish for dinner tomorrow.”
Villagers watched a little navy leaving port, off to attack a monstrous squid that had been ravaging the coast. Three proud, tall ships, the Prince Daniel, the Goddess, and the Hammer formed the prince’s defense flotilla, and with them were twenty mismatched fishing, whaling, and shipping vessels of various sizes and levels of combat strength. These were the only ships in port at the appointed time as many ships had been destroyed, some had been out of the area when the attacks began and so were now avoiding their motherland, and a few, sadly, had fled the port after the prince’s call to arms and had sailed straight to their watery dooms.
The three warships had taken the front, with the fishing vessels following close behind. The warships had large cannons that could be fired from their sides, and crews well trained in naval maneuvering, firing, and boarding, but the fishing vessels were not so uniformly suited. Some of the vessels were quite used to boarding, in what they insisted was “legitimate business”, but others were used only to the netting of fish.
Onboard the flag ship, The Prince Daniel, the prince himself had decided to come and command the battle personally. To ensure that they didn’t ruin everything (in her own words), Aria, the formerly Big Fat Mermaid, had come along as well, though her extra weight made The Prince Daniel ride very low on the water. She was busying herself by opening the saved casks of food and drink on the ship and devouring them almost too quickly to even taste them.
In the crow’s nest of the flagship Ahab was humming an old fisherman’s tune, polishing a harpoon, and seemed as happy as could be. His scruffy hat and jacket and his wild beard made him stand out from the rest of the prince’s crew, who wore brightly-buttoned uniforms.
Ahab set aside his harpoon for a moment. He lifted a spyglass to his eye and began to scan the horizon.
Undeviating dark blue ocean met light blue sky around for miles, with the exception of two small fishing boats, crewed by about twenty men: The Iron Hook and Lucky Duck, which had been sent ahead to scout the waters and find trace of the sea monster.
With a gasp Ahab saw a bony mermaid surface from the water. Booan. Her greying black hair swayed as she began to dance enticingly. Her mouth was moving so that it looked like she was singing.
“Ahoy, Prince Danny,” called Ahab. “By the scout ships… there be a mermaid surfaced, one which we saw before the giant squid ripped me boat in half. I think she be the messenger for the beast!”
“I’ve got her, sirs,” said a navigator on the main deck holding a spyglass. “Looks to be 4 miles away, bearing 120 degrees.”
“All hands on deck!” commanded the captain.
“Gimme that,” yelled Aria, ripping the glass from the navigator and looking through it. “Ugh, it’s the water witch.”
“Water witch?” asked Daniel. “How do you know of her?”
Aria belched, ignoring the question.
“ Signal the fleet that we’ve made contact,” ordered Admiral Zaarin, a middle aged man with a black tricorn* hat.
*(A tricorn hat has three corners. It’s the sort you could see in any movie about the American Revolution. – Pallie)
A boy ran to a trunk by the main mast and raised up a yellow flag.
“Captain Ahab,” asked Prince Daniel, “You say a mermaid came to you before the monster attacked your ship?”
“Aye, it be true,” said Ahab.
“Do you have any idea what she wants?” asked Daniel.
“Only to feed the belly of the beast, I’d say. ‘Course,” said Ahab, trailing off a bit, “We never did see the monster and the woman together…”
Return of the King
Tortly followed close behind Crustacean as they swam into the dark waters of the ocean.
“What are we doing again, Crustacean?” asked Tortly.
“We’re going to rescue da king, of course. It is our duty as his royal subjects.”
“Oh, I forgot,” said Tortly shivering. “Doesn’t that sound a bit too dangerous?”
“Nonsense,” said Crustacean. “Danger Shmanger. It be dangerous for who ever get in our way!”
“But how are we supposed to rescue him?” said Tortly. “We’re just a lobster and a turtle.”
“Tortly, even da smallest creature can change da course of the da future. Now come on, let’s go down to the dark dungeon.”
“Oh no, Crustacean,” whimpered the turtle, skipping a beat as he swam. “But that place hasn’t been used in years!”
“Somet’ing give me da feeling dat it being used now…”
There was a light guard on the city walls, which Crustacean and Tortly were easily able to swim past. There was little more attention as they approached the king’s palace. They broke in through a side window and swam down several dark staircases, Crustacean leading the way.
They made the descent to the bottom basements of the castle, the light growing scarcer as they descended.
Just as Crustacean and Tortly were about to round a corner a bell began to sound frantically ahead.
“There’s a battle!” yelled a high-pitched voice. “Every shark that’s not fighting better get up to the surface quick!”
Crustacean and Tortly hid behind a shirtless and angry bust of one of Poseidon’s ancestors as a bunch of sharks swam past them towards the call.
“Oh, good,” said Crustacean, swimming into a long, dark, stinking, dirty dungeon. Its cells were full of sad-looking sea citizens. “See, Tortly, dis gonna be easy! It like I always say, a good Crustacean is a—”
Crustacean swam directly into a shark.
The shark turned around and growled, showing its wide smile of sharp teeth.
“Oh my!” Crustacean gasped.
“Crustacean?” asked Poseidon. He was in a barred metal cell which was full of finely-dressed (though dirty) fish and mermen.
“Intruders!” shouted the shark. He opened his mouth and went to bite Crustacean.
Crustacean dodged the charging shark with some quick swimming moves, but Tortly, behind him, was too slow. Tortly screamed and went into his shell.
The shark caught Tortly in his mouth. He bit down on the turtle’s shell, which became wedged in his mouth.
Crustacean came from behind, now, and began pinching the shark with his lobster pincers.
“Take some of dis!” Crustacean shouted, poking and pinching, “And some of dis! Not so tough now without you’ scary teeth!”
Crustacean wound up his little red claws and poked them both into the shark’s eyes.
The shark screamed in anger. He flailed around and charged blindly into the metal bars of a cell, getting himself stuck and ejecting Tortly from his mouth.
Poseidon, who was in the cell that the shark had got himself stuck in, pulled the prison keys from… somewhere on the shark and let open the dungeon door.
“Good work, Crustacean, Tortly,” said the king. He urged the other prisoners from the cell before he shut and locked the door again and then kicked the stuck shark all the way into the cell.
“Quickly!” said Poseidon, tossing the keys to Crustacean. “Free as many people as you can, and have them meet me in the armory. We’re going to take back Atlantis!”
Release the Kraken
The Lucky Duck was a small, single-masted fishing vessel which held about twenty sailors. It’s bowsprit* was in the unique shape of a duck with a pair of dice in its mouth. It, along with another small fishing boat, t he Iron Hook, had been sent ahead of the main fleet to bait the sea monster into revealing its position.
*(A bowsprit is that pointy thing at the front of a sailing ship. It’s not meant for ramming, like you might think, but is actually used to tie sails to. – Pallie)
A gangly mermaid danced her way up through the surface of the water, bouncing her hips from side to side with her hands raised over her head. Her fin and hair were black. It was Booan.
“Lally, Lally, loo lee boo bee,” sang Booan. They were just nonsense words.
“That can’t be that monster what scared old Ahab!” said Rumpaye, one of the Lucky Duck’s hands.
“No, I reckon not,” said Visser, the captain, pulling off his droopy hat. “She almost be more like one of them enchanting sirens that have been told of old.”
“Sirens?” asked Rumpaye.
“Aye,” said Captain Visser . “Sirens be beautiful creatures, with voices so enchanting that they turn men mad.”
“But this one,” said a boy on deck, shaking his head, “Ain’t the least bit pretty, and her voice sounds like a seagull’s!”
“Aye,” said Rumpaye nodding in solemn agreement, “She be more like a harpy.”
Booan stopped dancing suddenly.
“Hey!” she shouted furiously, “I can hear you, you know!”
The sailors looked at each other shamefacedly.
“I was just going to make you swim out to me and make you drown,” the witch continued, “But now you’ve done it!”
She turned her head and yelled a series of biting and barking noises, then crossed her arms and looked to be waiting.
In moments ten sharks rose up out of the water. They were all different species, but they all had fierce looks in their eyes and huge mouths full of sharp teeth. Stranger, they held spears with their fins and they all wore bronze helmets with sharp points on the tops.
Men had gathered on the deck of the Lucky Duck and were frozen in shock at the armed sea animals.
“Sharks…” ordered the willowy mermaid, “Charge!”
Clutching their spears tight, the sharks shot forth into the water at full speed and swam towards the boat.
Ten shark fins sped ominously toward the Lucky Duck.
The ship shuddered mightily and immediately began to sink.
A man ran up from the bottom of the boat.
“Captain!” he yelled in a panic. “Sharks! Sharks rammed through the ship! In one side then out the other! They had little helmets!”
Rumpaye, Ernest, and the other gathered sailors looked spellbound at what they had seen.
The captain stared at the men in stunned disbelief for a moment, glanced at the mermaid, who was sneering smugly, then shouted, “Abandon ship!”
Men on the closest ship, the Iron Hook, moved in to help, and one of the men aboard shot Booan with a musket.
“AHH!” screamed the ugly mermaid in rage, clutching her arm and no longer singing and dancing. “You little bunks! I’ll show you what for!”
The crone pointed her ringed hands toward herself and shot out two shimmering black energy bolts.
She threw her arms out and they immediately began to stretch and split into multiple strands. The color of her fin spread up her body, turning her skin black as it traveled up to her head. Her eyes became huge and moved down her head, which grew and grew.
Her arms split off into six separate tentacles and the witch began to look more like a squid. She continued to grow in size, first the size of a rowboat, then a fishing boat, then finally slowing as she became almost as large as one of the prince’s ships of the line. Her tentacles were long, themselves reaching twice as long as her body, and strong.
Lifting one of these powerful tentacles, she smashed it down on the Iron Hook.
The ship ripped in half as the tip of the tentacle tore through the wooden hull.
“Ha, ha, ha!” laughed Booan. “You humans have been bothering the fish for too long!”
“Your Majesty,” said the admiral, peering through a spyglass at the carnage as the squid continued to the batter the floating remains of the Iron Hook, “She’s much bigger than we’d expected, perhaps a hundred feet. This is no mere giant squid, this is a monster… a *_kraken_.”
*(A kraken is a legendary sea monster that might have looked like a squid, crab, or whale. No matter it’s shape it was said to be a giant ship destroyer. – Pallie)
Men in bright uniforms gasped at the word.
“She be bigger than I remember,” said Ahab. “With twice as many tentacles. Those tentacles, as ya’ saw, Prince Danny, can rip a ship in two; and watch out for her bite, for she’ll swallow men whole.”
“Dan!” whined Aria, thudding over to the officers and causing the ship to quake with each step. In her arms was a barrel. “What’s this stuff?”
“Uh,” stammered Daniel, “That’s spoiled cheese, my dear.”
“Orders, admiral?” interrupted the captain.
The admiral turned to the prince, who looked away from Aria and nodded his assent. The admiral turned to his men. “Signal the fleet,” he commanded. “Spread out and target on starboard. Ready cannons and—”
“Dan!” yelled Aria. “This cheese tastes like garbage.” Her face was covered in smears of orange and green cheese remains.
“Remember dear, it is spoiled,” said Daniel.
“Well, I demand some decent cheese.”
“Soon, my sweet pie. Soon,” said Daniel.
Aria walked away in a huff and continued to stomp around the ship, holding her barrel of rotten cheese and hassling and bothering the sailors.
A sequence of flags were raised to give orders to the fleet. Men pulled on ropes to make adjustments to the sails, turned helms, and loaded guns on those ships that were blessed to have them.
The ships began to take distance relative to each other as they drew closer to their target. The squid didn’t move.
“Why doesn’t she do something?” asked a sailor, tying down a rope.
“It’s a bad omen, that,” said another sailor.
“I don’t know, sir,” said the captain, looking to the admiral. “I’ve known naval combat my whole life but never have I faced a foe like this…”
“Fire!” commanded the officer below deck.
Men brought flaming fuses to the massive cannons below the main deck of the Prince Daniel.
BOOM, BOOM BOOM!
The cannons fired rapidly, shooting a dozen large metal balls from the Prince Daniel, the Goddess, and the Hammer at the gigantic, thrashing squid.
“Sir!” shouted a uniformed sailor with a spyglass in hand, “She doesn’t seem to be hurt.”
Another volley exploded from the ships circling the witch.
“Nothing!” reported the sailor.
The captain shook his head. “They’re just bouncing off of her hide.”
“You can’t hurt me with your weak cannons,” rumbled Booan, “You are no match for me!”
Booan lifted up two of her tentacles, each of which had a little gold ring digging into the massive flesh, and pointed them to the sky. She shot forth two shadowy blasts, and clouds began to circle and swirl around the beams. The sky darkened, lightning crashed, rain fell, and heavy winds began to blow.
“Another devilry,” said the admiral.
“See here,” shouted Ahab, to the prince, from the crow’s nest. “The sharks be back!”
Dozens of sharks in neat rows and columns, armed with swords and spears, wearing bronze armor and pointed helmets, surfaced near the angry black squid. In their front was a massive great white shark with dark scars over his face. It was Fang.
The twenty or so ships, mustered to attack the monster that had been besieging Etenland, continued to circle around their foe from a distance as the sharks split up into groups and sped toward different targets.
“Ready the small arms!” ordered Prince Daniel.
“Signal the fleet!” ordered Admiral Zaarin.
“Make me a ham sandwich!” ordered Aria.
“Command the fishing boats,” continued Zaarin, “To intercept these sharks and keep them off of our warships.”
“And don’t forget my ham sandwich,” commanded Aria urgently, stepping in front of the admiral.
The sailor with the flags looked confused, not knowing which order to take.
“Order The Goddess and Hammer to move up 50 yards with us,” ordered the admiral, scowling and pushing past Aria, “And begin continuous cannon volleys ‘til we send her back to Hades.”
“Who are you sending to Hades?” asked Aria.
The admiral slapped his forehead.
With remarkable speed the fleet reformed, with the three warships spaced apart as they circled the sea monster, and each ringed in by several smaller ships and boats.
Sharks frothed in the water around the ships, ramming their pointed helmets into the hulls of the boats.
Men with muskets and pistolas shot lead balls at the sharks.
“It’s like shooting fish in a barrel!” said a man aboard one of the small ships.
“Aye,” said a sailor in response, “Except it be sharks you’re shootin’ and ya‘ miss a lot, and there be no barrel.”
“Your Majesty,” reported the admiral aboard the Prince Daniel, “The sharks have overwhelmed the Funky Monkey and the Tricky Wench.”
Indeed, two fishing ships that circled the prince’s flagship were taking on water and sinking fast. Men were loading onto lifeboats.
Daniel shook his head slowly. “Some evil gives speed to these sharks…” he said. “Sets their will against us.”
Aria had ordered some of the ship’s hands to set up a hammock for her between two of the ship’s masts.
“Keep it down!” she yelled from her hammock, rolling over and causing the ship to lurch.
Cannon shots that impacted on the squid’s hide were leaving small tears, and dark blood oozed out at several places.
Booan’s squid face contorted in fury and she yelled a series of cusswords. She brought her titanic tentacles up around her head and slowly submerged back into the water.
At once the sharks jumped through the air and back into the water, leaving their targets at peace for a moment.
“They’ve retreated!” cheered some of the men.
The rain-soaked gentlemen officers shook their heads toward each other incredulously.
“Maybe we did more damage than we thought?” offered the captain.
“Ahab,” called Prince Daniel up to the crow’s nest, “Do you have any idea what the monster is planning?”
“None!” he barked. “But I say—”
Before he could finish his sentence the kraken exploded out of the water with incredible force and speed, slamming back against the surface of the water with a deafening clap.
Around her impact a wave rose up, tall as the masts of the largest ships, which spread in a widening circle away from the witch.
Bells rang aboard the ships.
“Hard to starboard!” ordered the captain. “Face us into the wave!”
All of the ships turned as fast as they could into the oncoming wave.
“It’s too late!” screamed men aboard the Goddess, “We’re not going to make it!”
Bishop McCowan could be seen running up and down the ship giving sailors their last rites.
Men jumped from the Goddess, which was still sideways, when the wave struck.
The Prince Daniel, the Hammer, and many of the fishing boats had faced into the wave and rode the mountain of water up high.
Men fell to the back of their ships, some overboard, and others clung on tightly to ropes and anything that was nailed down. Ahab, up on the crow’s nest, was tied in loosely, and he fell out and hung from his legs, while his harpoon flew and wedged into the stern of the ship. Aria was was spun and tangled in her hammock. Zaarin, at the full height of the wave, lost his grip on a rope and fell overboard.
The grand warship, the Goddess, was flipped over, its tall masts cracking and breaking into the water as it capsized.
It wasn’t the only one. Several of the fishing vessels suffered the same fate.
The Prince Daniel and other survivors slowly rode the wave back down.
“Lost the Goddess!” Reported an officer to Prince Daniel, soaked in saltwater.
“The Crusty Clam, too. And Rum Bucket!”
Booan laughed. “You’re no match for an armed and fully operational kraken!”
A Nasty Surprise for the Enemy
“Don’t give up, Danny!” yelled Ahab, hanging upside down, his wooden leg missing and his beard sopping wet. “This be our only chance! One good shot on the beast and she be dead and gone forever!”
Aria stomped up from the back of the boat, with the remnants of her hammock wrapped around her massive body.
“Dan!” she yelled, “You end this fight quick, I’m hungry and the food on this ship is terrible!”
The captain of the flagship came running up from the back of the boat. He was drenched in water. He looked for the admiral and, not seeing him, set his gaze on Daniel, waiting for orders.
Daniel paused for a moment. He nodded to himself, as though coming to a decision.
“Circle the monster,” he said. “Bring us to 30 yards and fire at will.”
“Atta boy, Danny,” said Ahab proudly, still upside down, his face red with blood.
“But sir,” protested the captain, “At that range we won’t be able to avoid her tentacles.”
“No,” said Daniel, “We won’t. But it’s our best chance to end this fight.”
The captain nodded slowly in agreement. “And her waves?”
“If we see her go down then we’ll know another wave is coming,” said Daniel. “That may give us enough time to turn the ships into her wave.”
Sharks had resurfaced and began to gobble up the men who had been thrown overboard.
“They’re eating them!” shrieked a sailor. “They’re gonna eat us all!”
Ahab pulled out a knife from off of his belt and cut the rope that he was hanging by. He fell to a heap on the floor and then, with surprising speed for a man of his age, ran to the side of the ship and took a musket out of a man’s hand.
Scanning quickly for a target, he found a shark just about to swallow up a sailor that was swimming away frantically.
Ahab pulled the trigger and hit the shark in face.
The Prince Daniel lurched as an impact hit the side of the ship.
“What’s that?” demanded the Prince.
“It be these blamed sharks again!” cried Ahab. “Pummeling the sides of our boat! They be tryin’ to bring us down!”
A sailor who had been repairing some rigging looked down and shouted to Daniel, “We have to flee, Your Highness! We can’t take down the monster and these sharks!”
“Mind your words!” ordered the captain as lightning flashed through the air and thunder rumbled. “I’ll have none of that talk on my ship!”
Another shudder ran through the deck.
A shining spear flew up from the water and stabbed into Ahab’s arm.
“Argh!” he screamed, dropping his gun.
“Dan!” yelled Aria, having gotten back in her hammock. “Can’t you make them fight any quieter? How am I supposed to get my beauty sleep?”
“I don’t think so, my dear,” said Daniel as he ran to Ahab and pulled him away from the gunwale to safety.
Fang was in the battle with the ships, sneering and tailed by a small guard of his own. He swam close to the side of the Prince Daniel.
“You’re next,” growled the shark to Daniel.
A golden spear stabbed through the shark’s chest from the back.
Fang looked down at the spear in disbelief and rage.
The great white shark was lifted out of the water by the spear as a muscular merman with a long white beard appeared below him, holding the shark in triumph.
“What’s that?” demanded the captain.
“More enemies!” screamed a sailor.
“Ugh!” groaned Aria, shuffling over to the side of the ship. “That’s my dad! Dan,” she whined, “I told you I didn’t want him at my wedding!”
“You’re in so much trouble, Missy!” yelled Poseidon, pulling the dying great white shark off his spear and hurling him far away with a spin. “When this battle’s over you’re going to wish I was still locked up!”
Following their leader’s example, sharks all over the water suddenly looked down in shock as weapons popped out of them.
Mermen appeared by the dozens holding spears, swords, clubs, and even pieces of wreckage to use as weapons, and began battering the sharks.
The sharks and mermen began to clash and many took the fighting underwater, to more familiar territory, giving the ships a reprieve from fending off the sharks.
“Get back here you stupid fish!” yelled the witch.
Tortly now swam up to the surface of the water, carrying Crustacean on his back. They waved to the prince.
Daniel waved back awkwardly, puzzled by the animals’ behavior.
“Take us in close!” ordered Daniel after a moment. “30 yards!”
“Already in progress, sir,” replied the captain.
As the ships approached dangerously close to the black sea monster she growled and submerged.
“Thar!” yelled Ahab, sitting on the deck and clutching his arm. “She’s gone under again.”
“Hard to port!” yelled the captain.
The kraken shot up above the water again, causing a giant wave as she crashed back into the water.
The sailors knew, this time, what to expect, but they weren’t all fast enough. Sailors were knocked over as their ships climbed the colossal wave. A few ships that had turned too slow were capsized and sinking, the rest rode the wave slowly back down.
“Captain!” shouted a panicked man from below the main deck. “We’re taking on too much water! The pumps can’t keep up!”
They were now in close enough to be in reach of the monster’s tentacles.
“Cap’n!” cried a sailor hysterically, approaching Daniel and the captain. “It’s horrible! Truly horrible!”
The captain turned to the sailor, and gripped him by his shirt.
“What is it, man?” the captain demanded.
“I tried to tell her… but she wouldn’t listen!” He gasped and fell to the floor of the ship, sobbing. “She wouldn’t listen!”
“What is it?” demanded Daniel in fear. “Is it Aria? Is she hurt? Tell me!”
“I tried,” said the sailor, his head in his hands, “To tell her that the poop deck wasn’t for poopin’… but she wouldn’t listen!”
Daniel’s cheeks glowed with embarrassment.
“She just wouldn’t listen! It was horrible! Just horrible!”
“It’s all right, son,” the captain said grimly, patting the man, “Best get back to fighting the giant sea monster to get your mind off the horror you’ve witnessed.”
The Prince Daniel, the Hammer, and many other ships fired their cannons, now at near point-blank range. Most ships were only as far from the leviathan as they were long. Her huge black head filled their vision, her massive eyes mocking them.
A black tentacle came down from high in the air onto Pillager, a rough old ship, and cracked it in half. Booan opened her mouth and shook in laughter as men fell and screamed into the water.
“We got to end this now or die tryin’,” said Ahab.
“Fire the guns into her face!” ordered Daniel.
Men carried the order down the line to the Hammer, which was close enough to hear their yells.
Ships were bumping against each other as they clamored for point-blank fire. They were close enough to the kraken that they could almost touch the monster. Her foul, briny stench flooded their noses.
BOOM, BOOM BOOM, BOOM
Shots fired from all of the gathered ships, including handheld firearms, directly into the beast’s head. A cannon ball hit the witch’s eye, causing her to pound her massive tentacles in fury.
“You little fetchers!” shouted Booan with explosive volume.
Booan reached out her massive tentacles and grabbed the Hammer, lifting it up above her head and, with a deafening crack, ripped the ship in half.
A Desperate Measure
Booan held the two pieces of the Hammer in her tentacles, having ripped the massive ship apart. She flipped the pieces over and shook out the supplies, cannons, and men.
Etenland’s makeshift navy had lost ten fishing ships and two of its three large warships. The Prince’s flagship was all that remained of the powerful vessels.
The captain of the Prince Daniel turned slowly to the prince. “Permission to retreat?”
The prince looked at the crashing ships, the men struggling in the water, the explosions of canons firing, the dark blood oozing from the kraken’s minor wounds.
Daniel’s heart ached for the many men who had already died, and those who struggled on still, certain death awaiting them.
The beast was too strong. They had tried their best but the beast was just too strong.
“Permission to retreat?” asked the captain again.
“Over my great big dead body!” came a loud, whining voice.
The prince, the captain, Ahab, and all the other sailors looked up.
Aria, in all of her immense glory, stood up high on the main mast, which was creaking dangerously under her weight.
“How’d ya manage to get up there?” asked Ahab.
“Aria, what are you doing?!” asked Daniel in alarm. “Get down from there!”
Aria shook her head, and said, “This old potion huckster’s not gonna stop me from having my surf and turf dinner!”
“Aria, please,” said Daniel in fear. “Whatever you’re planning, don’t do it.”
“It has to be this way,” said Aria melodramatically, farting mid-sentence. She took a rope and wrapped it around her leg.
Booan noticed Aria up on the mast. She turned her colossal squid body to the girl. “So,” boomed the squid with deafening volume, “The big fat mermaid has become the big fat girl. Daddy must be so proud. Enjoying your legs, piggie?” She turned her head up and gave a laugh that shook the ship.
“You know what they say,” said Aria, lightning cracking behind her, “If you want something done right, you got to eat it yourself.” She pulled out a big bottle of wasabi.
“Aria, no!” cried Daniel.
Aria, holding on tight to the rope, swung over to the sea witch. With a loud CRACK! the mast split and fell into the sea, and Aria landed directly on the monster’s head.
Shrieking in surprise, the squid’s head, the size of an entire ship, fell below the water under Aria’s massive weight and both Aria and Booan disappeared from sight.
“Aria!” shouted the prince in despair. “No!”
The huge black tentacles flailed madly, rocking and launching the ships wildy.
“Get us out of here!” ordered the captain.
Other ships had the same idea and were pulling away from the battle.
“Turn the ship back around,” ordered Daniel desperately, “We have to go back!”
“No, Your Majesty,” said the captain, holding Daniel back, “She’s gone.”
“She can’t be!” shouted Daniel. “She’s my everything, my whole world!”
“Nay,” said Ahab, “Her girth just be like a whole world’s.”
“Turn the ship around,” ordered Daniel.
Tentacles continued frothing in the water. Ships were beginning to turn from the monster. On board the Prince Daniel, despite the prince’s objections, men were frantically altering rigging to move the ship away from the scene.
“Your Majesty,” said the captain gently, “Aria gave her life so that we could escape. This is our only chance. The monster may be dead, or it might not be. If it’s alive, and we stay here, we will die for sure. We have to escape now. We have to honor her sacrifice.”
At length Daniel nodded. He stumbled to the stern of the ship, the loss of his fiancée like a lead weight crushing his body.
His eyes were wet with tears as he looked to where Aria had jumped onto Booan. The flailing tentacles slowly stilled and fell back into the water.
The lightning stopped its flashing and the rain began to clear.
The six surviving ships, with holes, destroyed masts, ripped sails, and broken bowsprits, sailed away as best they could, like animals limping away from a fight gone bad.
The Burp Heard ‘Round the World
“That fatty girl,” said Ahab, struggling to his feet, “What I thought was me white whale, has saved us all by her sacrifice.”
Poseidon appeared from the water, followed by Tortly and Crustacean.
“Oh, Aria,” said Crustacean sadly, “I told ya not to go into dat evil witch’s shop. Dat food done put ya’ to an early grave.”
Poseidon was red in the face. “How am I supposed to punish her if she’s dead?!”
“Aria’s dead?” squeaked Tortly, his lip trembling.
“Oh, Aria,” said Daniel, “You truly were an angel. Now you’re floating above us all on your wings.”
“Aye,” nodded Ahab in agreement, “And some mighty big wings they be.”
At this somber moment bubbles began to break through the water. At first a few small ones, then more, and larger bubbles.
“What’s that?” wondered Ahab, pointing at the bubbly water.
“Somet’ing going on, somet’ing strange,” said Crustacean.
“Eww,” said Tortly, plugging his nose. “Those bubbles stink!”
“Aria!” said Daniel brightly.
Slowly rising from the water, black goo in her bright red hair, was Aria, holding a big hunk of tentacle in her hands and chewing away at it fiercely.
The men on the ships looked on at her in disbelief, as well as all of her loved ones.
“Aria!” cried Daniel, “Are you okay?”
Aria moved the squid tentacle from her face for a moment.
Aria belched as loud and as long as any living being has ever done*, and at the end two golden rings flew into her hand. Booan’s and Poseidon’s.
*(Some say that if you hold a seashell up to your ear you can still hear the echoes of that famous burp. – Pallie)
The crowd was silent for a moment, and then they began to laugh and cheer.
“Now I seen everything,” said Ahab, shaking his head.
“Yay!” cried Tortly, “She’s alive!”
Tortly swam his little turtle self to Aria’s side as fast as he could and hugged her.
“Uh, Crustacean,” said Poseidon quietly, “Do you think now would be a good time to tell Aria that Booan was actually my ex-wife and… her mother?”
Crustacean shook his head in slow horror at the suggestion. “No, You’ Majesty,” he said, “I t’ink we be taking dis one to our graves.”
Shaking off the gravity of their conversation, Crustacean raised up his voice as loud as he could.
“Oh, Aria,” he said with a huge smile on his face, “It look like you finally got you’ fish dinner after all!”
Aria couldn’t help but smile because, for the first time in her life, she felt full.
After the events told above Crustacean was able to give up on being a personal trainer and resumed his passion: Writing long and overly pompous operas.
Tortly came out of his shell.
Poseidon, having gotten back both of his magic wedding rings, rebuilt4 Atlantis far past its former glory. He tried anger management classes but was eventually asked to leave when he threw the counselor out of a window.
Ahab managed to rebuild one of the wrecked ships and began chasing a new whale, an actual white whale that he named Flowbee Stick.
Aria and Prince Daniel’s wedding went off without any further interruptions, though with many fewer guests than planned due to the massive loss of life.
Over the next several years Princess Aria gained more weight than anyone thought humanly possible. But Aria wasn’t just human. She was a big fat human, and she was happy.
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“Lily White and the Horrible Dwarves” is the first story in the “Funny Stories for Kids” series. This story is available for free download on and .
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In a galaxy ravaged by tyranny, planets are destroyed at the push of a button and empires are brought down by farm boys and scoundrels. Dark Zader was one of the most powerful men in the galaxy, but when he threw his emperor down a shaft, he found himself without a job. Living with his kids and down on his luck, he finds that he only has one solution, beg for his old job back from the very emperor he thought he'd killed. Read as this family of rebel scum scrambles to prepare a dinner fit for an emperor in the most ridiculous culinary experience ever. Double the excitement. Triple the laughs. Paintbrush illustrations. This is... Family Wars Episode I: The Forced Dinner