The Kraken’s Quest: Lost at Sea


(To read the previous installation in the ongoing saga, click here.)

Hello again, dear readers!

Daisy the Dragon here. It has been a lonely week here with Karl gone on his Quest. I’ve spent much of it gazing out the window, which is the habitual expression of forlornness in literature. Though I repeated to myself that sending Karl on a daring and dangerous quest was the right thing to do, I could not help but imagine the perils he might be facing. Had I unknowingly sentenced him to his doom?

I was greatly relieved, therefore, when the post arrived today, and in amongst the various calls for blurbs from up-and-coming dragon authors, I found a letter written in Karl’s own hand. (Or tentacle, I should say.)

I have typed it up here in full for your benefit:

My dearest dragon,

Often have I found myself in the position of acknowledging the superiority of your advice in matters concerning my personal wellbeing. Now, once again, I owe you a debt of gratitude for encouraging me to embark on this fantastic quest to parts unknown in search of the potentially-nefarious Waldo. Already I feel as rejuvenated and excited as I have on those rare occasions when I have found a sympathetic depiction of a kraken in the human literary canon.

Upon leaving the Bookmarks bookstore, I headed straight to the open ocean. My going was rough. For not two days into my journey, I encountered a tremendous storm which blew me off course and into uncharted waters. So cruelly was I tossed this way and that, and so deep was I pulled by the surging tide, that even my infallible sense of navigation proved fallible, and I was forced to search for landmarks that might give me some indication of where I had been blown.

Once the sea had subsided peered out over the surface. In the distance I saw the rocky shore of an island, yet I hesitated to lay a metaphorical anchor. Unlike humans, krakens have no need to make landfall while at sea, and to do so might have been more dangerous than remaining in the water. But perhaps, I thought, there might be civilized and hospitable strangers on that island who could point me in the direction of the object of my quest. In any case, unless Waldo possessed great powers of metamorphosis, I was sure I would not find him in the water. 

So I ventured inland. I had not gone far up the slope of the cliffs before I encountered a group of wild but seemingly harmless pigs. 

“Greetings, my good sirs,” said I, but they seemed not to understand a word I spoke. “Perhaps you do not speak English,” I ventured. “Bonjour, mes bons cochons! Guten Tag, meine Schweine! Mar haban, yaa khanaaziir!” And so on, until I had exhausted my extensive knowledge of the world’s living languages. As a last resort, I turned to tongues I believed to be long dead.

“Chaire, O hyoi!”

And to my shock, their tufted ears perked up. They seemed to understand this ancient Attic salutation better than any I had yet uttered. Employing my textbook knowledge of Greek as best I could, I asked them what creatures lived on this island other than pigs. In reply, they snorted wildly and stomped on the ground so fiercely that I feared they might trample my tentacles under their hoofs. One of them padded up to me and, giving me a fearful look, spoke in an archaic dialect.

“Turn back, O tentacled one! Many sailors have been wrecked on these shores, and they have all met a terrible fate!”

DP258803“My dear unhappy ungulates,” said I, “what fate can you mean?”

“Why, look at us!” he cried. “We have been transformed into horrible beasts!”

“How tragic!” said I. “And how fortunate that you were able to escape that fate in the end. Tell me how you were transformed back into pigs, so that I too might be saved from danger of this island.”

The pig now gave me a puzzled look and said, “But we have not been transformed back! We are still pigs!”

“Then you were never transformed into horrible beasts in the first place?” I asked.

“No, we were most surely transformed into beasts, and we have not been changed back,” said the pig.

“Why, I do not know what to believe!” I said. “You contradict yourself at every turn. First you say you have been transformed into monstrous beasts, when you are obviously now no more than pigs – and then to insist that you have not been cured at all! Perhaps the sun has addled your brains and made you think you were transformed. I shall seek directions elsewhere and tax you no further.” 

And so I bade them farewell, even as they squealed and snorted behind me. It was, perhaps, an interesting study in the effects of isolation on a population of wild animals. All sorts of strange local beliefs spring up among such island-bound societies. Were I on a more academic mission, I might have stayed and learned their ways, but I had no time to talk nonsense with such a pack of perplexed porcines.

That island, I concluded, showed little promise to my quest. I had observed at the festival that the mysterious Waldo tended to hide himself in large crowds. A remote island inhabited only by roving bands of snouted nomads seemed unsuited to his lifestyle.

I apologize, but I must break off this brief epistle in something of a hurry, for I have caught sight of something most extraordinary in the open ocean: a mouse paddling over the waves in a tiny coracle. I have resolved to follow him, for I suspect he comes from a land most fantastical.

Until next I write,

Yours at sea,

Karl the Kraken


Dragon’s Postscript:

Since receiving this letter I have endeavored to assist Karl in any way I can, which, given the resources that currently surround me, means looking through books for clues to Karl’s location, so that I might help him navigate these treacherous waters.

I alighted upon a tale of sailors being transformed into pigs in that oldest and greatest of epics, Homer’s Odyssey. I was surprised Karl did not recognize the allusion when it was staring him straight in the face, but I am told that krakens edit out most of the Odyssey in their retelling and skip straight to the section about Scylla and Charybdis.

I have written to Karl to tell him that he has somehow washed up in the Late Bronze Age Aegean. Not knowing what address to use on my letter, I employed the ancient method of contacting sailors lost at sea: I engraved my message on a piece of driftwood, dedicated it to the local water deities, and sent it floating into the open ocean. I hope Karl gets it soon, or he may become even more lost than he already is.


5 thoughts on “The Kraken’s Quest: Lost at Sea

  1. Looks as if Karl is trying out that ancient literary form called The Travel Journal. How do I get on his list of recipients?


    1. Hello there, dear reader! Daisy the Dragon here. Indeed, Karl is engaging in a very time-honored literary tradition stretching back to the ancient krakens of the Mediterranean, who were some of the main sources for Herodotus in the fifth century. Scholars are also reconsidering the translation of a certain hieroglyph in the ancient Egyptian Tale of Sinuhe, which is commonly understood as meaning “fig,” but which may actually mean “kraken.” Thus, where Sinuhe says that he found “cultivated figs” in Palestine, it is now clear that he meant “cultivated krakens” (i.e., krakens with impeccable literary taste). So krakens have had an important role in travel writing for a very long time.

      To receive Karl’s latest missives as soon as I have transcribed them, you should be able to click the “Follow” button in the lower right corner of the window. Happy reading!


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