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The Curse of the Bragashrin

by KH Obergfoll 10 months ago in Short Story
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The Mysterious Dredge's of Knotting Lake Canal

ADOBESPARK: Bragashrin's Curse

Her eyes burned as she felt herself floating up to the top of the water’s surface. Waves bobbed lightly against the edge of her face as she floated unforgivingly close to the burning ship she had just been standing in moments before. The water and air were calm around her, there were no screams or cries to be heard, no noise save for the pounding of her own heart beating profusely in her ears. Kallie Calypso had just been saved but how and from what? The last thing she remembered was being pulled from the ship as she sank mercilessly alongside it to the bottom of the blackened waters below. She watched bubbles of air escape the clutches of her lips, drifting aimlessly towards the quiet waters above—just out of reach, lucky to be free from the paralyzing clutches of whatever held her captive.

There was something in the water with her, but what? Hours before she had been warned this would happen but she couldn’t believe it had. The boats captain ordered them all to keep watch for a change in the water—said it would come on fast, threatening their very lives as they stalled helplessly in the foreboding fog. It didn’t help knowing they couldn’t see beyond the rails of the bulbous bow as they watched the waves push off the sides of the ship as the eerily calm waters crashed up against the invisible wall around them.

Kallie had been ordered to stand at the front center of the ship as it was thought they could buy their safe passage by presenting the lone female passenger as a token of payment but they couldn’t have better prepared for what would come next. There was nothing more to be done as the crew had done all they could to guard the boat as the waters ceased to move around them. Panic and shuffling of feet could be heard on the tattered deck as something was spotted resting just beneath the surface of the still waves, nestled in the undercurrent. Kallie watched several men lean over the rails towards the lapping sprays below before being snatched back—“you are too close”—on of them barked nervously.

Fear burrowed itself deep in the pit of their stomachs; they couldn’t turn back now. Kallie watched as her father—the captain held his breath and silently steered them into the unknown. It was the first time in her entire life Kallie had ever seen him appear shaken. She hugged herself tightly, daring not to breathe the overpowering mist as it wrapped itself around them separating her from the other passengers as she stood starkly in the center of the boat feet away from her father and other crew members. She knew what would happen next, the last thing she saw was her father as he disappeared into the mist, his fists tightly clutching the ships wheel; the look of horror etched on his forlorn face as he gave an all-too-knowing smile. The screams of their crew-mates faded as the fog enveloped them one-by-one; the Bragashrin had arrived.

In that very second Kallie thought back to the stories from that day as she whispered with other crew-mates about the curse of the Bragashrin, a lurid water nymph; a monster, a beast, a killer of man— a creature that lurked in the particles of water completely hidden from sight until her prey was firmly planted in her clutches—which was when she would make her move, feeding off their fears, thriving off the quickening beat of hapless hearts and panicked cries; payback for their superstitious ignorance, or was it because they were just cursed men? What made them so special, so cursed, so inflicted, so unfortunate? Of course while Kallie knew it was bad-luck to have a woman on board, being the only woman on a ship full of dying men didn’t make this her lucky day— but it was her ship after all; they sailed under her direction doing exactly as she said.

Kallie knew most of the stories—she had practically invented them— feeding off the fears of crew-mates as they divulged their deepest darkest fears to her. It had been said that the lure of the down-winded scents of men traveling in the Bragashrin’s direction would awaken her lust for blood. The Bragashrin—or so it was told—was thought to be as beautiful as any creature one could imagine but once she took the form of a ghostly siren, your life was hers. She would appear as a translucent being with medusa-like hair formed from muddied sea-water and submerged pond weeds that flowed out in all directions. The Bragashrin could be anyone—your worst enemy, your long-lost love, your dead wife, the woman nearest you, a woman you had never met—but the reality was, the Bragashrin was the last woman you would ever see and as the stories go—the Bragashrin formed from the water itself as an all-enveloping force thought to wait in any small narrow and windingly deep bodies of water such as the one they were steering into—The Dredge’s of Knotting Lake Canal— this was the only consistent part of every story, a mile-wide canal that led hundreds of thousands of unnamed sailors to their watery graves.

Once the Bragashrin came alive, her physical being manifested itself right in front of her victims eyes as she began to piece herself together in all her haunting glory—her ghostly skin dripping in remnants of murky pond-scum before unleashing a vengeful fury of silent murderous rage as ghostly spiders crawled along the silvery silken webs that floated precariously above her orb like a crown of snaking arachnid infested seaweed—eager to build her trap and snag her new prey.

The Bragashrin’s glowing eyes would lull her unsuspecting victims into a false sense of comfort as she steered their hijacked ship into the deepest parts of the water towards waiting rocks. If one was to be lucky in this story, their death would be quick and painless as the weathered wooden shells of the ships slammed into the sharp rocks trapping drowning men underwater, leaving the remaining crew at her mercy. Those desperate enough to light torches or hide below deck were no match for the Bragashrin’s reach. Their futile attempts to live did nothing but stifle the Bragashrin’s thirst as she slowly formed an all-encompassing barrier around them, picking each of them off one-by-one into a painfully treacherous death as she fed off their lifeless bodies.

Of course, the crew on Kallie Calypso’s ship couldn’t have known how dangerous the calm waters could be on that very day. No one had taken the stories seriously and unfortunately for them, they had run out of food and water. They had no other choice but to steer their ship into the darkened canal and take their chances. The Bragashrin—as they would soon learn— cut quite a haunting figure as she ravaged through each passing ship, decimating everything in her wake. There had been no survivors up until this point; none save for Kallie Calypso herself, and it proved to be quite a profitable story that she spun to each willing sailor who signed up for a chance to sail somewhere new, for some it was endearing to think there had been a survivor, for others it only deepened their superstitious beliefs—having a woman on board did indeed heighten their bad luck—but by the time they found out the truth, it would be too late.

Kallie Calypso had heard tales of sunken ships dotting the bottom of these darkened waters amid rumors of water-logged underwater palaces that supposedly housed the Bragashrin in all her glory. She talked of long-lost hidden treasures that had settled into the muddy canal-floors beneath their very feet and how the Bragashrin decorated her gilded walls with the bones of countless victims. She promised her men it would be worth it to sail into the most expensive canal in all the seas and if they were lucky, they might even be able to catch a glimpse of priceless treasures glittering up from the sandy seabed, all lost possessions of ships passed.

Kallie was determined not to be next as she stared defiantly into the thick white mist, daring someone or something to stare back; almost afraid of what she might see. She was unsure of what fate awaited her as she stood breathless—keenly aware she wasn’t alone. It was then she felt herself being flung forward as the ship crashed into something massive and split apart beneath her feet. The gush of icy waters began pooling around her ankles and the hem of her dress flowered out around her knees; she dared not breathe as she perched against a piece of splintered debris fearing what would happen next.

The salty air burned her eyes more than the fiery wreckage as plumes of black smoke wound their way up through the fog gliding gently against the cloudless clouds of what Kallie only assumed was the Bragashrin. She saw no face, no rows of sharp teeth, unhinged jaw or stream of beckoning lights; there wasn’t a muse or a glittering gill in sight. Kallie was certain the monstrous Bragashrin was the water itself, but she couldn’t prove it. She lay motionless and paralyzed as the water drifted her farther from safety.

Within seconds Kallie was fully submerged in the deep waters as she fought to hold onto the sinking pieces of ship but it proved to be too much as she began to sink further down, clawing at the slippery algae covered stone from a nearby rock as she was pulled beneath the depths by something she had yet to see, herself. As her eyes adjusted to the plummeting abyss below she realized the rocks were in-fact large towers from a hollowed out castle of some sort that took up the entirety of the canal bottom, pieces of ships melded into the stone as plants and other sea-life took over.

The water was much clearer than Kallie remembered as she clutched tightly to the beast that coiled around her waist as slimy gills appeared on her sun-kissed skin. Her legs webbed apart and sprouted into hundreds of barnacle encrusted appendages that snaked off from her hips into a mind of their own, rolling haphazardly over towards the edges of the canal, curiously prowling for more victims as she pulled the meat off the bones of her former shipmates in one fell swoop before tossing the remains down into the vacant halls below.

She had never been out of the dark waters this long but somehow she felt a sense of peace; she felt alive but more-so, it was as though she had just awoken a long-lost part of herself—and just like the tempting taste of a warm-winters fog creeping along an unsuspecting river bank or the smell of a storm that had yet to mangle any shores—she reveled in the taste of fresh blood as she set about stirring the bottom depths of the open water—cycling through, taking lives of greedy men in her wake. It was apparent the Bragashrin could be everywhere or nowhere all at once; Kallie Calypso made sure of this as she kept the sordid stories of the Bragashrin alive and well at the next port her ghostly ship would be docking. She found her seat at the head of the table next to her father, and once the fog dissipated and the fiery pieces of her ship began to rebuild themselves she watched as her ship floated up to the surface once more as she readied herself for the next unsuspecting crews final voyage.

Short Story

About the author

KH Obergfoll

Mid thirties--Writing my way through life, looking for the next great adventure!!!

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