The cloud cover wasn’t entirely flat or even just gentle rolls. It was often dotted by clumps of clouds that rose higher than the others. There were clouds above us too and sometimes colomns rose up between the two layers. Sometimes above us were stars, but there was always clouds below us. Some of the more gentler swells of clouds the cloud vessel could easily handle, riding up then down the other side. As the clouds began to get more sparse we navigated around the holes, but between two holes was a lump of fluffy cloud that we had no choice to glide over.
CRACK! The sound of the hull splintering resonated throughout the ship. We had collided with something. We had secured the sails and had been under steam power while navigating the edge of the clouds. The power of the steam could not get us over whatever we’d hit. The Captain, Webb and myself, followed by a few others made double time to the bottom of the Deceit to assess the damage.
“Is that a finger?” Remy asked from behind us, I examined what we had punctured our hull on. There was a tear in the hull and Remy was right, what looked like a massive index finger, made of copper that had turned green, through the hole in the hull and through the clouds I could barely make out the hand it was attached to. Apparently there was a statue below us that was pointing to the sky.
“Is that it?” Webb asked Sam angrily who had also joined us down below. “Is that part of Draco Island?” He reached out and grabbed Sam by his shirt. Sam tried to shove him off, and it was the Captain who had placed his cutlass on Webb’s arm. Webb immediately released Sam.
“I don’t know what that is,” Sam stated finally.
“Well someone is gonna have to go down there to and cut the finger off so we can move,” I stated. I looked at the men and felt all their eyes on me. I thought of the Sky Kraken and the danger of being under the clouds. The worry must’ve shown on my face.
“You’ll have your fork, you’ll be fine,” Webb said with a chuckle. I gave him a universal gesture of ‘up yours.’
“We’ll put you in the cage,” the Captain suggested as if that was to make me feel better. The cage was for safety against sharks, it would do nothing against the Sky Kraken.
“Might as well serve me to the Kraken on a platter,” I stated.
“I’m pretty sure the Sky Kraken is sleeping off his last meal,” the Captain insisted. However every time we mentioned Sky Kraken, we whispered.
“Yeah an entire damn island,” I retorted.
“You won’t be alone, take Remington with you,” the Captain stated and I heard Remy gulp audibly.
The cage was a steel assembly meant to protect a diver against sharks and other cloud life that was bent on eating said diver. It did hold room for two, and was lowered by a crane from the deck. It was a bit cramped, with Remy trying to take his half of the cage out of the middle. In the floor of the cage I had a tool box including a small torch to cut the finger with. I was nervous about being lowered into the clouds, I wore a coat now, and it was warmer above the clouds than inside them. Once inside the clouds we’d become covered with water droplets. I almost held my breath as the cage lowered down the side of the ship, past the spined fins on the sides, and slowly the clouds covered our feet, then our calves, then our thighs, I could feel the temperature dropping, the clouds rose to our chests, and finally over our heads.
“Breathe normally Remy,” I instructed. Sound was severely muted in the clouds. He was nearly hyperventilating. “First time in the clouds?” I asked and he nodded vigorously. It was very damp and already I could feel the water droplets forming on my face, my hands and my neck. My clothes and hair were already beginning to get damp. I usually held my hair up on my head with pins and I know it was a messy job, but I lacked a mirror to see what I was doing, all I knew was it was off my neck. Now I had it covered with a bandana. We were finally lower than the hull, I could see the hand that had the digit outstretched. I couldn’t see the entire statue, but my best guess it was some man or woman pointing to the heavens. I had no clue why someone would build a statue down in the clouds. How could they have built it without getting the attention of the Sky Kraken? Why build a statue no one could see?
I loaded the grappling hook into the musket. I aimed and fired, the hook slammed into the finger with a resounding clang. I realized that Remy and I were holding our breaths. We were just waiting for the bellow of the Sky Kraken. Only silence, I slowly exhaled. There were other forms of life in the clouds. Little yellow fish with long trailing fins flitted in and out of the cage, the nibbled on my hair and coat tails. They seemed to be most attracted to the shiny buttons of my coat. I slowly began to reel in the cable to the grappling hook, pulling the cage towards the finger.
I lit the torch and suddenly noticed that the little yellow fish had scattered and were no longer in the cage with us. A dark shadow passed through the clouds. The visibility in the clouds was only two feet or so. If I outstretched my arm I could not see my fingers on the end of it, and I could not see my booted feet.
“Is that-?” Remy suddenly had me by the sleeve and I practically set my face on fire when he jerked the arm that held the torch. I had yet to put on the goggles that would protect my vision from the torch as it cut the metal. I stared hard into the clouds. My heart was pounding and I thought for a moment that it would burst from my chest from pounding so hard.
The shadow glided around us several times and finally the bright red winged form came into view. I angrily jerked my sleeve from Remy’s grasp, and put the goggles over my eyes and began the slow task of cutting the metal of the finger to free our ship. The red delicate winged creature was a ray, they were docile creatures, but they fed on the smaller fish. About halfway around the index finger, Remy grabbed my arm again. I lifted the goggles, and he was pointing wildly. His mouth gaped, and my heart froze in my chest. Curled in the clouds was the large pink suckered tentacle of the Sky Kraken.
I immediately shut off the torch and stared at it. I could not see any other tentacles, just the single one and it seemed to be curling and uncurling, almost leisurely.
“Is it sleeping?” Remy’s whisper barely made it to my ear even though he was right next to me.
“Why are you asking me? Do I look like a Sky Kraken expert?” I whispered harshly back to him. He suddenly gripped my arm as pointed as the tentacle seemed to spasm before going back to its former curling and uncurling.
“What is it doing?” He asked and I gave him a more vehement ‘up yours’ gesture than I’d given Webb. I didn’t dare to keep cutting the finger while the Sky Kraken was so close. I had no way to communicate with the ship that it was right under them. The tentacle spasmed again. I observed it as best I could. It wasn’t far away, but the clouds made it hard to see as they moved around us. I was now totally soaked. It felt like forever passed, before the tentacle finally came into view a little better and I breathed a sigh of relief. What we had thought was the Sky Kraken was in fact one of the eel like tentacle offspring. It slowly slithered to through the clouds towards us.
“What is that?” Remy asked.
“Sky Kraken spawn,” I replied as it slipped between the bars of the cage, and I slowly reached out and touched it. It felt like a tongue, but it seemed to kindly and lovingly wrap around my wrist and hand. I smiled, but only for a moment thinking this thing was going to be the next Sky Kraken. My free hand slid into my pocket and wrapped around my fork. I should just kill it, one less Sky Kraken, plunge my fork as far as I could into its eye socket. The tentacle eel unwrapped from my hand and wrist and slithered off into the clouds. I let go of my fork. I’ve forked people with no problem, but I had issues killing a single Kraken eel.
“Let’s finish the job,” I stated to Remy and relit the torch, pulled my goggles over my eyes and went back to cutting the finger off the metal statue. The cage was attached to the statue by a grappling hook, the cage was attached to the ship by a metal cord that was attached to a crane on the deck. I was nearly done, the finger was currently only held on by a sliver of metal, but suddenly we jerked as if something had a hold of the cord of the cage. I turned the torch off, once again I removed the goggles from my face. We looked up, able to see the cracked hull of the Deceit. The cage jerked again, something was messing with the cord above us. I couldn’t see through the clouds. Perhaps the Captain was trying to pull us up?