(I wrote this for a short-story contest a while back. I actually like this story a bit, it is however written in such a way as my audience are people who know a good deal about mythology and literature. I suspect that is why the judges didn’t care for it much – and their critique was one of the most useless I’ve ever had.
When confronted with a great evil, a warrior and a wizard find assistance from an unexpected source.)
“Doko demo mizu, mizu…”
“What’s that Ginji?” Bimblefast turned from the bow of the skiff, pushing his voluminous robes around behind him.
“Oh, sorry, nothing,” the short, dark-haired man said, “it just reminds me of a poem I heard once.” Ginji grunted, pulling on the oars, driving the boat towards the rocky island where the ship, its square sails in tatters, lay beached.
“Why again, Ginji, did you summon me, instead of the rangers?” Asked the old wizard.
“Because I know this ship, and if the Mariner is aboard her, the rangers cannot help me, you can.”
Bimblefast turned back to the object of their voyage. The ship, obviously once brightly painted, was grey and dingy, the color of driftwood. It lay upon the rocks of the outer shoal, as if blown there by a storm.
“Hmm.” Pondered Bimblefast, “Who is this Mariner?”
“Was. Who was this Mariner? He was a sailor, a merchantman who dishonored himself and paid a most steep price. Now he is a wraith who traps sailors and lures them to their deaths. It is said to be his penance.”
The skiff bumped aground and Bimblefast leapt over the railings, taking a rope, he tied it around a log on the shore. Ginji stowed the oars in their slots, picking up the wrapped package that lay at his feet. Together they walked towards the grounded ship a short distance away.
Bimblefast noted the ship’s obviously foreign design; flat, slab sides, a flat bow missing the masthead so common in the region, two large rudders amidships. The sterncastle still resting in water swept to twice the height of the main deck, and numerous portholes pierced the ship’s hull.
“High tide may push it free…,” speculated Bimblefast.
“Then it is a threat to the ships coming into port.” Said Ginji, kneeling to unroll his package.
“Duke wouldn’t like that. I don’t relish having to climb aboard. I know, let’s burn it.” Bimblefast raised his arms, snapping his hands out towards the ship, “Kuglavatrena!” a spark appeared between the wizards outstretched hands, it swirled and glowed as an ember, growing, growing, growing to the size of large melon. “NOU!” The orb of churning flame shot forth from Bimblefast’s hands slamming into the side of the ship and exploding. Then, nothing.
Bimblefast stood, one eyebrow raised.
“Won’t work. Mortal magick is little better than a toy firestick against this atrocity.” Said Ginji, softly, sliding his katana and wakazashi into his sash. Stepping ahead of Bimblefast toward the ship. “The ship is the wraith; the wraith is the ship, as long as the one exists, so does the other.” He stopped, turned to Bimblefast. “The Kamiken,” he tapped his katana, a powerful magickal sword, “and Mijikai,” he tapped his short-sword, its sister, “may be the only hope to end this menace.”
“And I’m here to protect you.”
“Or destroy me, should it become necessary. The Mariner, he traps sailors with his eye, holds them in a thrall, in his service until they die. They become part of his demonic crew, but when they fade, he must find a new crew. I know not what has brought this monster here, but he must be destroyed or dispelled.” Ginji looked to his belt, and the swords there, then back to his friend, said quietly, “The wraith must not have the God Swords.” Bimblefast, after a moment, recognizing the danger of allowing those weapons, the swords of the demon slayer, to fall into demon hands, inclined his head in agreement and the men turned to the wreck resolved in their mission.
“And what, exactly are you two doing?” a lilting female voice came from behind the wizard and the samurai. Ginji’s head fell to his chest and Bimblefast started, whipped around so as to entangle himself in his own robes, raising his hands. Bimblefast stood staring at Kit Karamoto, Ginji’s wife. She stood behind the pair, in her clean white kimono, embroidered cherry blossoms flowing up her left side and a blood red obi, to match the inner lining of the robe. Her mismatched, blue and green eyes, flashing in annoyance.
Bimblefast, a skilled adventurer and keen witness, noted that in spite of being hundreds of yards from the shore, Kit was neither wet, nor dirty. She appeared in fact, pristine. “Uh…” looking back to Ginji who’s right hand was now at his face, his forefinger and thumb pinching his nose, “But…how? Kit, how in the name of God’s buttocks did you…”
“Never mind that. What are you two up to?”
Ginji, removing his hand from his face, glanced at his friend and turned to his wife, greeting her with a slight bow, “Kania, my wife, do you not recognize the ship? It is the Mariner, he must be destroyed.”
“Indeed? The Mariner you say? I guess that would explain the guarding Albatross?” Kit, never looking away from the two men, pointed to the sky, which was silently filling with large white and black birds.
Bimblefast, looking up, startled exclaimed, “I say, that’s unusual….”
“Indeed.” Kit walked past the men towards the wreck. “I will speak with him.”
Bimblefast, confused, looked to Ginji, who with a resigned look on his face, dropped cross-legged to sit in the sand. Looking back to his friend’s spouse, the wizard observed in surprise as her kimono fell to the ground revealing a womanly form covered in a thatch of thick white and grey fur. It took a moment for Bimblefast to realize that Kit was changing form, she fell to all fours, her face already foxish, took a greater likeness to the wily animal, with first one, then two, then three tails…
Dropping to the sand beside his friend, he saw Kit, now in the fiery form of a many-tailed fox, leap onto the ship. He dipped his hand into his robe, bringing forth a package of crisps. Tearing them open, he offered them to his friend.
“I think I might feel sorry for this poor sap….”