An extract from Gone Fishing, a Darksiders story
On Earth, a couple decades after the forging of the Seals
The three eyes above Strife’s brow light up and for an agonizing instant I fear he will reveal that his magics allow him to read minds as well as the future. But the sudden tension in his stance is a warning. Something is amiss.
A roaring whoosh, as of a great wave pulling in the sands, silences my question before I can voice it. Strife dashes back. I leap up and dig in my feet, bracing for impact. But nothing happens. No towering wave crashes down upon us, though the water is disturbed. Flat waves coming from the open seas mingle with curved waves coming from the south.
“What in the Nine Hells…?” Strife mutters, pulling out his pistols. Although I cannot see or sense any threat yet, I draw Chaoseater too before I turn in the direction of his focused stare.
On the beach, a hundred paces away, half in the sand and half in the water, lies a behemoth easily as long as the walls of Bastion are tall, its smooth hide glistening in the moonlight and a single beady eye watching us from its side. Its head is round and blunt, with no nose or mouth I can see; its body is that of a giant fish. When it flaps its two-pronged tail, the waters under it burst up to twice my height, sending choppy waves through the shallows.
“What manner of beast is this?” I take a few steps closer. As I stare at the giant, it unleashes a geyser of foaming water from the top of its head. “Brother? Is it of this realm?”
“Uh… I think so?” I hear the light tap of Strife’s footsteps following a short way behind. “I’ve seen its kind—or something like it—from the air a few times, but never on dry land. They roam the depths far from the shores.”
“A sea monster?”
“A sea creature.”
“What’s the difference?”
“Seriously?” I can see him with the corner of my eye now, to my left, moving to flank it. “Monsters are evil, sadistic bastards. This is just a beast. It hunts for food, not for sport.”
Slay it anyhow, Chaoseater whispers, wordless, in the back of my mind. It imposes on me a vision of the sun rising a few hours from now to find the shallows crimson with blood as I stand, triumphant, on top of the giant, its hide crisscrossed with deep cuts and Chaoseater lodged into its massive skull.
I ignore it.
The beast is within the reach of my sword now, but it makes no move to attack or defend itself. The futile thrashing of its heavy tail is the only sign it gives of life. My instincts say it’s harmless. But I remain on guard.
“What is it you seek outside your domain, leviathan of the seas?” I call.
Strife, who has taken position on the other side of the giant, looks my way and shrugs.
I ask the same question in the dominant languages of Heaven and Hell, with the same result.
“Are the beasts of this realm without speech, brother?”
“No clue. Never tried to talk to any. Well, not counting that cat a few years back. Who didn’t reply. The humans talk to some of their pets and beasts of burden, though.”
“It may respond if you address it in a human language.”
“I guess. Lemme think.” He spins his pistols before returning them to their holsters, clears his throat, and utters some gibberish in a theatrical, albeit halting voice. Unsurprisingly, the beast does not react. Strife spreads his arms in defeat.
I walk a few steps closer, staring in the eye of the giant, until at last, I put Chaoseater away. “It looks helpless.”
“Yeah. A fish out of water.” Strife approaches too and regards it with arms squared at his sides. “What do you suppose brought it to the shore?”
“Perhaps it was defeated by one of its kind and driven into the shallows.” The vision of two such behemoths doing battle under the waves makes my heart beat faster.
“Doesn’t look banged up,” Strife points out. “Maybe it was lured into a trap by more cunning, and nimbler, prey?”
“I like my version better.” I stroke the beast, dragging the gauntlet gently along its slippery head till my boots begin to sink. “It’s magnificent.”
“Its ‘magnificence’ will be its doom. Look.” He walks a short way inland to a crest in the sands covered with flotsam. “This is about as far as the tide will reach. It won’t be enough to pull it back. These shallows go on for half a mile before the water turns deep, and the waves will only push it further out on the shore.”
“Let us help it back to the depths.”
Strife takes a step back, making a grimace of exaggerated surprise. “Okay—who are you, and what have you done with my brother, War, who is definitely into killing shit for fun?”
“I would never strike a helpless foe.” I lay my sword on the cobblestones above the tideline and begin to remove my armor.
“Uh… no? You want to be the guy who’d never strike a helpless foe, but you strike them alright. I’ve seen it.”
“What you saw was… a well-justified exception.”
“I’ve seen it more than once.”
I pause to give him a pointed look, and after a moment, he lifts his hands in the air. “’Ight. Droppin’ it. Ain’t no one got time to talk about the sins of the past when there’s wildlife to rescue.”
Busy fiddling with the straps and buckles, boots and gauntlet, I fail to notice that Strife has seated himself on a nearby rock, fully clothed and posing as royalty while he watches me idly.
“Won’t you join me?”
“Nah, I’m good.”
He helped me rescue the leviathan after all. I hesitated to give the beast a proper shove from the beach for fear of harming it, and could not find enough purchase in the water to pull it free by the tail. So, in the end, I pulled, swimming, while Strife pushed. It took more effort than I had anticipated, but it was well worth it. The giant seemed to understand our intent and did not fret or resist. Once it could turn about and head into the depths on its own, we swam a way after it, and witnessed its grace and power under the waves. It bid us farewell with a song, and I thought I could hear the voices of its kin calling from afar.
Of course it could speak.