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The Underwater Abyss

Chapter Five

Xena

Three nights had passed since I first began the journey to find my mother. For three nights I had not rested and for three nights I longed for the air and the warm smile of the sun. The shark seemed to notice my discomfort and it would occasionally swim faster as if it thought that would help me. And it did in a way, I suppose, but it didn't change the fact that maybe, for the first time in a long time, I was afraid. I had always been with my mother or the Hunters ever since my birth so this was the first time I had truly “left the nest” so to speak.

At first, upon joining the Hunters, I had not truly thought about the consequences which I would face. I was simply excited at the prospect of adventuring with the immortal maidens and finding lands that had not been discovered at the time and claiming them as our own. I had been absolutely giddy with excitement and my younger self dreamed of adventuring to unknown places. As a nymph, my mother was bound to the seas so could not travel long distances on land; that may have been one of the factors that caused me to leave.

But whichever the reason, I had not known that one day I might regret it.


The shark slowed down suddenly, as if it picked up the scent of something. I took the hint and dismounted the creature so it could find food. For a few moments I floated in the water and watched the schools of fish swim about the coral reefs, and for the first time I realized the sea could be peaceful too, if it wished. Despite the moment of rest, however, I did not expect to be attacked.

The crab was gigantic, and I knew right away it would not end well if I attacked it head-on. As I swam to the left to avoid its pincers, I realized just what this creature was. My mother had told me stories of it when I was a little girl...and Heracles had killed it. It was carcinus, and it had been killed easily before, but in the water – despite it being my element – I was at a disadvantage. There was no possible way I could use my arrows here and the crab was much faster than I.

I would have cursed if the water allowed me, but bubbles only escaped my mouth. The monster appeared to be watching my movements. Monsters were rarely smart before; I wonder when that had changed.

I dodged the right pincer again, but just as I moved my body away its pincer grazed the heel of my right foot. I felt a wound open up and sea water rushed it, effectively stinging it. I winced and on impulse I stupidly kicked the pincer but as I thought that only irritated the beast. I used my arms to propel myself away from the monster and that worked for a few seconds, then it caught up with me again. Running seemed to be my only option, but it would not take long for the beast to catch up with me, and the shark...I could not abandon it.

I was always taught running was the coward's way out, but I would much rather be a coward than dead.

I felt something to my left and saw the shark swimming towards the monster. I saw something in its eyes, something human. Something...protective. Like the way the dog guards its owner when a stranger is nearby.

I reached out my hand in an attempt to stop the animal but it continued to swim towards the monster. I turned my head and saw the monster attacking the shark; within minutes I knew the shark would lose. I could not let it die because of me.

I concentrated my energy and propelled myself towards the giant crab as its pincer was bitten savagely by the shark. Even though a part of the pincer was torn off, the crab didn't seem too affected by it...the pincer was too tough. But maybe...

I started to swim under the crab but it stopped me by grabbing my leg and pulling me back roughly. I felt more skin break open but I ignored the pain for the time.

I reached for the dagger I kept on my belt and pulled it out just as a pincer grabbed me again. Using the dagger, I managed to create a gash in the leg and the crab recoiled. Seeing the shark would be unharmed for a few seconds at least, I quickly swam to the underbelly of the monster. With the dagger I created a long gash on the weak belly and it dissolved into the water.

I stopped and floated for a few seconds, still amazed for the moment, but I was brought back to the present by the stinging pain in my leg. Then I noticed the cloud of blood around me. I brought my leg up and touched it with my hands as if that would do anything, but I didn't have the healing touch like my mother. But I still pressed both my palms to the wound in the hopes that it would heal just the tiniest bit.

Nothing happened.

I would just have to make an air bubble around it for now. I moved my hands around my leg and a pocket of air formed around it.

The shark brushed my left elbow and I turned my head around and looked at it. Its eyes were dark, like any other sharks, but I could have sworn something almost human reflected in them. I held on to its dorsal fin as the shark swam in the original direction we were going.

And for the smallest of moments, I could feel something out there, something human. It was faint, but it was definite. Perhaps I was not entirely alone after all.

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