To Catch a Kraken

Note: Been absent from the blog for a few months now (three or so?), but I’ve been working on my novel, editing and rewriting for the most part. Here’s a little bit I’ve recently gone over that I feel especially happy with if not proud of… I distinctly recall the process when writing it, and having just gone over the copy with minimal revisions, and feeling a slight rush reading through it, I can’t help but be compelled to share it. I hope those who happen upon these words get some enjoyment out of them.

 

Mind, this is a bit of a segue in the novel, not necessarily spoiling anything in the “awesome, super-original” plot. ūüėÄ

 

Jasper, an Odhinist monk, stood on the prow of a seafaring ship, looking out into the open ocean. He was on pilgrimage and soon to engage in the final act that would render him one with Yggdrasil.

   

The ship, a runic relic said to have been sailed by Odin himself, crewed by none other than the lone monk, was near its destination, now. It was steered mentally by those trained in such disciplines of the mind. The monk began to strip naked, shearing his hempen travel clothes. His pale, slender body was covered in tattoos. Despite his slight frame, his toned physique spoke of highly developed functional strength and agility.

   

As the ship slowed at Jasper’s mental directives, approaching the appointed coordinates in the water, he removed his eyepatch, revealing a sunken pair of eyelids sewn together with thick, dark thread. Completely naked and shorn of hair, he dove into the water.

 

When setting out on pilgrimage, every monk makes their way to the Northern seas. Their purpose, to seek out the Kraken. Having passed the initiation and communed with the All-father, he who begat wisdom, at the beginning of their journey as Seidhr, so too must they seek out that which will end the world and commune with it.

 

Seeking the colossal creature is not easy, though it is perhaps the simplest part of the journey. A maelstrom must be located, one which must be probed mentally, psychically, for the resonance of the ancient creature’s thoughts.

 

Many have often thought, erroneously, that the Kraken resides underneath the better known, habitually occurring vortices of Moskstraumen or Saltstaumen, but the truth is that the Kraken moves rather actively, and its telltale vortex will not likely be spotted twice in the same spot in a generation. A pilgrim may very well spend months alone at sea, following the psychic effluvia of the ancient squid, without actually chancing upon a whirlpool.

 

Jasper swam out a hundred feet away from the boat, which now sat relatively still. The semi-sentient vessel would wait for his return or, should he perish in his trial, return to the enclave whence they came. He began to tap into the runic wisdom, casting charms to strengthen his body against the currents it would be subjected to in the maelstrom and to be able to breathe beneath the water’s surface.

 

Once ready, he continued swimming until he felt the currents begin to pull him and move his body in a circular orbit counter-clockwise. Each revolution drawing him closer to the center of the funnel with increasing speed. He remained calm and focused, secure in the knowledge that he had the necessary wisdom and abilities for the task ahead. Knowing full well that he had died once before, when he had sacrificed himself to the All-father nine years prior, he was consumed by the yearning for what lay beyond the veil. Death, if it came, was welcome.

 

The ocean swallowed him and the downdraft propelled him at great speed toward the depths, where the most colossal of earth‚Äôs creatures lay in wait. Down through the water, beyond the sun‚Äôs reach, surviving pressures that would have otherwise torn his flesh apart, until the mental secretions of the Kraken became so strong that he forgot himself for a spell. Such was the enormous presence, the most ancient mind of the planet, so all-encompassing that lesser individuals were dwarfed and robbed of their sense of self by it’s relative proximity.

 

This was one of the greatest dangers of the pilgrimage. The vast majority of pilgrims who failed were lost in this manner, their minds consumed and absorbed by the Kraken. Amalgamated, assimilated into the massive intelligence.

 

Jasper, his mind swimming in that of the Kraken, which far outreached the confines of its colossal body, struggled to hold on to a minuscule sliver of self. He raged with a tiny speck of determination. He writhed and shook with a liliputian memory of power, and he vibrated until the intensity of it grew, returning to him his awareness. Every bit took superhuman effort. Every expanding inch of psychic awareness was a battle. Jasper did not let up until he had established himself an individual in the humbling presence of the world’s future ender. He had earned the right to stand, as it were, before the Kraken and retain the privilege of individual self-awareness and subjective experience.

 

Having regained control of himself and thus his body, Jasper continued his descent in the darkness. In his mind, however, the Kraken’s presence burned bright. Countless feet into the ocean, the bioluminescence of the mile-long tentacles began to manifest itself. Jasper could not help but be awed at the majesty of appendages as one reached out and took him, gently sheltering him without actually touching him, and it brought him down before the very being he had sought.

 

Hundreds of feet in front of him was the unbelievably enormous body of the Kraken, neon-white with other neon hues swimming below its skin’s surface like liquid crystal; blues, reds, yellows. A massive eye, easily half a mile in diameter, regarded him and his diminutive form. How he must look before such a creature, he wondered.

 

The strange and ancient intelligence of a creature as old as the ocean greeted him in strangely subtle ways. Psychic caresses and gentle attentions from a being that could destroy him with a mere thought buffeted him.

 

It is here that the Pilgrim is again tested, though failure at this stage is subjective, and death often comes as a consequence of the Pilgrim’s own thoughts.

 

To be welcomed into the bosom of the Kraken’s mind is to experience the universe in a potential state. Here is a creature that must lie semi-dormant for ages, tasked with the destruction of the very world that shelters it, yet fraught with the very protogenic soup of creation. It is the dream of the Kraken.

 

There in the mind of the Kraken, the seed of a mortal’s mind can produce an infinity of things, brought into existence there and only there, for the Kraken to witness and consume. In doing so, the Kraken, perhaps, compares the mental emanations of the Pilgrim against unknown criteria. Perhaps, it simply seeks to amuse itself. What is known is that the colossal proto-god takes what those in its presence produce and then expands upon the proto-oniric creations. It reacts with its own, logically-projected coherent creations, sequentially following in some evolutionary path of the original seed provided by the Pilgrim, and lets these all run free for a time within its mind.

 

A wise, mentally agile and steadfast Pilgrim will react in turn and immerse himself into the play, joining the creations in a dream-ballet, until some form of order or balance has been struck. This can be by harmoniously coexisting with the creations and all that follows, or by vanquishing them in some manner. An unapt Pilgrim will fall prey to the creations and be summarily consumed, forgetting themselves absolutely.

 

Jasper carefully controlled his mental emissions, measuring all that formed in his tiny mind, allowing pleasant concepts and emotions to flourish, eliminating any hint of darkness or unpleasant ones that might escape into the Kraken’s proto-oniric sphere.

 

Out flowed color that sped away from him like a puddle of paint spilling across a listless surface in time-lapse, a light-yellow that faded into the massive consciousness of the Kraken and, in return, out burst a prismatic display of colors that reached Jasper.

 

The monk split himself mentally, images of himself fanning out, each one to meet a single color as it reached his small sphere of consciousness. He returned the chromatic volley and split each color into even more hues.
The dance continued for untold ages, eternities dilating into oceans of colors even Jasper did not comprehend. It was there, he realized, that he must end the performance lest he lose himself in the multitudinal rainbow. Instantly devising a way to conclude, he homogenized the chromatic ladder that fanned out across the proto-oniric space, touching them in one deft movement and reaching into their source.

 

Just as it had begun, in a featureless void, so the panoply of colors evolved into a void-like homogenous dream-substance. The original void now a substratum beneath the mind-breaking dreamscape. Jasper, having brought himself to the point where he almost lost himself amid the psychic excretions, had masterfully seen his trial to completion.

 

Floating still within the now womb-like warmth of the Kraken’s mind, the afterglow of their psychic exchange engulfing him, he began to realize that he had triumphed where so many would fail. Slowly, a subdued sense of elation suffused him.

 

In the sweet languor permeating his mind from the exertions of the trial, he came to realize that he had not only survived, but that he had actually touched the ancient one and that, in doing so, he had been given another gift.

 

A seed had been placed within Jasper in exchange for that which he had placed within the Kraken’s mind. He had been given a gift that would perpetuate his existence beyond the comprehension of his currently human form.

 

With the strangest sweetness he had ever experienced foremost in his mind, he parted ways with the Kraken, not unlike parting from a lover’s embrace, rising meteorically to the surface. His runic drakkar, his semi-sentient boat, still waited for his return. He noted, in passing, just an afterthought, that it was now well into the night. He looked up at the sky and noted with wonder that he could see even more stars than he ever had before. The firmament was quite literally aglitter, studded with the most beautifully breathtaking display of luminous bodies he had ever bore witness to. It was like he was looking at all the night skies the Earth ever bore witness to. He smiled.

 

He swam back to his ship and boarded, not bothering to dry himself off or put on his discarded clothes. Physical elements were not an issue at that point.

 

Stepping into the inner chambers of the ship, he noticed that something was different. A small pool of water had appeared next to his bunk, where he had slumbered in his journey to find the maelstrom. It was an opening that now appeared there, as if it had always been a part of the ship, its walls decorated with countless runes. He understood at once what it meant.

 

The gift he had been given exacted one final price; his consciousness would soon leave his human body. He walked over to the small pool and began to heave dryly, his stomach contracting violently. He was only barely aware of there being pain, but his consciousness was already migrating to a new vessel.

   

    Only a few violent seconds later a small, pale thing exited through his mouth and fell into the small pool with a plopping sound. It was a tiny, white octopus with neon-blue spots, no bigger than a baby’s hand.

 

    Jasper’s consciousness, now housed inside the small creature, watched from the pool as his body plummeted to the floor next to the pool. He felt a small tinge of sadness, nostalgia at the loss of his human form, and wondered if he would lose his sense of humanity in turn. He would find out soon enough, he supposed, but would he be conscious of it?

 

    The semi-sentient boat would return to the enclave, carrying the newly spawned child of the Kraken and Jasper’s human corpse. The Odhnist brotherhood would think their brother dead, like those who had brought such specimens before him, and give the Kraken’s blessing a home in their runic pool.

 

    One day, in a not-so-far-off future, Jasper would outgrow his corporeal octopod form, becoming something else entirely, to swim in a sea of dreams. An ocean in a plane far removed for humanity’s awaited him.

 

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