Chapter 3: Living Forever
A gigantic splash was heard, somewhere far off in the distance, but to untrained ears it sounded so loud that you would have thought it was much closer. Every five seconds, echoes went off the dark cavern surfaces, reverberating a gradually lower and lower tone, the water making waves, acting like a speaker.
Then after the echoes, all was silent once more, and the darkness was with it. It was eerie, being on a fifty foot long, twenty foot wide, 10 foot deep barge, and knowing you weren’t the biggest thing out there. And your job was to hunt it.
Big Game fishermen learned early on to make almost no noise, everything was done in silence. One of the good things about being a dwarf was that you could feel your surroundings with your beard, antenna for vibrations like echolocation of bats. The beards used to be more effective, but over time they slowly lost their functionality. However, fishermen in caverns often learned how to use their beards to maximum effectiveness.
The oarsmen on the barge continued to push it forward- by using long poles almost a hundred feet long to hit the sides of the cavern silently, pushing the seemingly frictionless glass bottom of the barge forward without making the slightest hint of sound, and barely a vibration.
Another splash. Louder. Closer. More Echoes. The barge pulled closer to the edge of the wall, letting a smaller dwarf with a covered lantern off onto a preset path. They didn’t want creatures to know where they were until they were ready to hunt.
Another splash. Louder. But the barge was quietly deploying all ten of it’s ballistas, and loading them with sharp harpoon harpoons. Then they slowly pulled the ropes into tension, building up the hunting equipment’s strength.
Another splash. Louder. But they wanted the beast now. Everyone knew that the beast had located them, and was waiting for another signal before striking, making sure it had it’s prey before giving the first, and most important strike. To the beast, this was it’s one sure opportunity to get it’s prey. To the hunters, this was a chance to trick it.
Silence. A sure sign the beast was waiting. Someone threw a ball into the water, as far as they could. But this was no ordinary ball. No, this ball was hard as steel, and designed to make a large noise when grabbed. It also had spikes sticking out of it, curved at the ends like hooks.
A splash! The sound of metal! The beast had gone for the ball, thinking it was the prey. The spikes dug into it’s mouth, great pain building up in the creature. The short man with the lantern suddenly took off the cover, exposing a small flame. The dwarf quickly put a stick into it, then pressed it against the wall. Suddenly, the cavern lit up, revealing veins of mined out metal, igniting the red-stone.
All the dwarves in the barge saw the creature in the air, now bright as noon would be on the surface. “Dowhakus!” Yelled several of them. The creature was like a gigantic shark, slightly sleeker in it’s design, it’s eyes were smaller however, not necessary to be large in a dark cavern like this. It’s meat would be expensive. The hide? Priceless. The military often used Dowhakus hides as light armor for Goldenhold’s archers, waterproof, light, and harder than steel, making the sound metal does when meeting other metal. The Dowhakus also tended to be large- at least twice the size of the barge.
Commonly people asked the fishermen why they called it that. They never told any outsiders, but the explanation was rather simple. While a small amount of people were hunting one, the boat was destroyed. One dwarf was about to be hit by it’s tail, and while drowning yelled “Don’t Whack us!” except to the observers it sounded like “Do whak us” so therefore that was what it was known as from then on.
The leader of the barge yelled out an order to fire the harpoons. That’s what everyone did, at the same time releasing the spears like bolts of lightning, slamming with loud chinks into the side of the monster, the echoes sounding like a battle between two massive armies.
Finally, the monster returned to the water after it’s initial hop. For a second nothing happened. Then, the barge began to tip over suddenly as the monster hit the floor of the cavern.
The dwarves desperately tried to reel it in. But then, the Dowhakus for a moment was seen by all the passengers below the glass floor, coming straight at them. Expressions of surprise struck everyone’s faces. Then fear. Then death. The shark slammed into the bottom, and for a moment it seemed as if the boat would simply be lifted high into the air. But then it shattered, the floor of glass breaking, falling into the water along with the dwarves on top of it. They screamed, yelled, kicked, but most drowned. If they didn’t, then they were quickly eaten by the Dowhakus or other dark creatures of the deeps.
A few men however, grabbed the side rather than starring dumb found at the creature. One of these dwarves was Stonehand, who had an axe with him, for cutting through reeds and vines. His double braided beard was soaked from the waves however, annoying him greatly. He was holding on for dear life on the inside, but to an observer it would have looked like as if he was calm, composed, as if holding on to the end of the ship highest in the water was all part of his plan.
The mighty oversized shark jumped at him, along with anyone who had been holding on to the side of the ship. And there was a split second. The Dowhakus opened his mouth, two hundred meters from the ship. One hundred. Stonehand took out his axe with one hand, and threw it. Fifty meters away, the axe entered the monsters mouth. At that moment, Stonehand turned into legend.
The monster’s eyes rolled into it’s head. It’s mouth closed. It turned downward faster than it should have, hitting the base of the part of the barge the surviving dwarves were hanging from.
And at that moment, when the remaining dwarves flew off of the remaining bit of the barge- Stonehand laughed. The boom of it echoed through the caverns, seeming like a omnipotent being, coming to everyone without direction. And before he hit the ceiling and would have to be rescued, everyone there realized one thing-
That fighting against the greatest odds and surviving them was living forever.