The Legend of the Kraken
“The Legend of the Kraken” by Brie Barbee
In the kingdom of Arquita, there’s a tale that’s been told for generations: The legend of the kraken. A ferocious monster that could destroy fleets and turn the tides of war, the kraken was thought to possess strength unrivaled by any army.
Countless kings and queens tried to locate the creature and use its immense powers for their own — but no one was ever been able to capture it. While the kraken was known to appear on the Arquitan coasts with a crash of sound, like thunder incarnate, it always disappeared quietly, making it impossible to track.
As time passed, people stopped believing in the kraken. The story, however, persisted, until one day, a messenger came to the Royal City, placed his muddy hands at the feet of the queen, and declared the monster had been found again.
“You’ve seen this creature?” The queen, Her Royal Highness Elsbeth of Arquita, inquired of the stranger, her voice echoing through the throne room. The young man slowly raised his forehead from the ground. He looked very nervous.
“No, I didn’t see it, your Majesty,” the messenger admitted. He couldn’t have been much older than twenty.
Elsbeth frowned. She wondered if this man understood everything he was risking by coming to her. She was considered a fair ruler by most, but years of command and several assassination attempts had hardened her. Wasting her time could mean death.
“But I heard it,” the young man continued.
“Heard it? What do you mean?” Elsbeth leaned back in her seat dismissively.
“The kraken came to my village, just like in the legend.” The messenger’s eyes flicked up to meet the queen’s, but immediately returned to the floor.
“What?” The queen’s sudden informality betrayed her interest. If what this man was suggesting were true, it would not only mean great things for Arquita, but also for her legacy as queen. She had to know more.
“I was in the mountains hunting when it happened, but I could still hear it. It sounded like the mountains were breaking apart around me,” The man’s voice cracked, but he continued speaking. “When I returned to my village, the creature had gone, but everything was destroyed — like it had been swallowed up by the ocean.”
Elsbeth blinked, transfixed by the messenger’s story. “What is the name of your village?”
“Drena, your Majesty. I came as soon as I was able. Someone has to stop it.”
“You were right to come,” the queen said, not unkindly. Her mind raced as she quickly considered her next move. “But I need you to go back.” The man looked up, confused. “I need your help. We’re going to catch the kraken.”
A few hours later, Elsbeth stood on the bow of the Sovereign Rose, the first of three hundred in the fleet — with more on their way — as they made their way to the ruins once known as Drena. She proudly led her army forward, to the edge of her country, to glory, to the kraken.
It took them nearly a week to reach Drena, but as the skiff carrying the messenger and the queen ran aground on the outskirts of town, the surviving townsfolk announced the creature had been heard again. They couldn’t understand what they had done to make the kraken return, but were pleased to see their queen had come to save them.
The buildings of Drena were completely destroyed, the villagers forced to root like pigs through what little remained of their homes. Everything they had once held dear had been wiped away by the kraken; it would take them years to recover. But when they could give no more information to the monster’s whereabouts, the queen grew impatient.
The wind picked up as the small boat carrying the queen pushed off the shore and began its slow crawl back toward the Sovereign Rose. Salt and sand blew hard against Elsbeth’s face, but she continued to stare defiantly ahead, scanning the horizon for any clues as to where the creature might have gone. The ocean swelled, rocking the tiny vessel back and forth.
Elsbeth braced herself, glancing over her shoulder toward Drena. The villagers were beginning to panic, some running toward the mountains, the only place that might provide them with any shelter. The queen spun around, but she couldn’t see anything on the open water. Had the kraken returned?
From the shore, the young messenger turned to face the ocean and gasped. Waves rose to incredible proportions, whitecaps crashing into the sides of what he knew to be massive ships in the distance. Even over the sound of the wind whistling in his ears he could hear screaming.
A lump formed in the man’s stomach as the waves continued to grow. One particularly large wave split the hull of a ship as if it were made of paper. Even though he yearned to see the kraken for himself, he knew better than to stick around. He turned and began to clamber up the hills behind the village with the remaining survivors.
Behind him, a deep and sudden boom shook what little remained of his tiny village. Ocean spray splashed up the side of the mountain, drenching him, but before he knew it, the water was receding again, rushing back toward the sand, and a stillness grew over the coast.
Hesitantly, the young man began his journey back to Drena. When he arrived, he saw utter chaos on the water, capsized ships, several on fire. The dinghy that had been carrying the queen back toward her ship had vanished in the surf. The man looked out at the scene in shock. But, despite the destruction, there was no sound at all, and no sign of the kraken.
It was almost as if it had never been there to begin with.