|Castalia tried to concentrate on the notes she was making. It was important to record each aspect of the trip so that she would have accurate data when she returned to the campus. She was rather sorry that she was going to miss out on the activities at Deb U, October was always such a fun month with Harby’s visit, but her research had to come first. Her notes on squid mating patterns would be invaluable. At least to her. |
But she was having some difficulty keeping her thoughts moving in a coherent pattern, because every few minutes, a loud boom sounded from somewhere above her, followed by the scrabbling of small, clawed feet. Cas sighed, closing her notebook. She simply hoped whatever the imps were doing wasn’t going to get her kicked off the ship. She hadn’t wanted them to come along on this voyage, but as usual, they just followed her onboard no matter what she said. While they almost always acquiesced to the requests she made, when it came to getting rid of them, they blithely ignored her.
Exiting her cabin, she climbed up to the open deck of the tall ship she had the pleasure of sailing on, and looked around to see what the creatures were up to. And her jaw dropped.
“Elohehtnierif!” screamed an imp, and seconds later a cannon fired. Which explained the booms.
The scrabbling of the feet was explained a moment later as all the imps onboard rushed to one side of the deck, leaning over the railing to watch the projectile that had been fired hit the sea.
“Riadoog,” commented one of the imps.
“Tohsymnorehtruftnewi,” disparaged the imp next to it.
A dripping wet imp that was pulling itself up the side of the ship panted, “Redloctogretaw.”
Castalia rushed to the railing, the imps making way for their beloved evil little redhead, and saw several of the otherworldly creatures bobbing in the water, at various stages of swimming back to the ship. Even as she watched, the imp manning the cannon screamed out another warning, and she turned in time to see a bluish-grey body shoot out of it, flying end over end through the air. “You’re firing each other out of the cannon?” she demanded incredulously. “Why?”
An imp shrugged, “Nufs’ti.”
“Ityrt,” urged the cannon firing imp. It tugged on her hand and while chattered something at her far too rapidly for her to understand another imp poured gunpowder down the tube, then crawled into the end of the barrel.
Castalia shrugged. The others didn’t seem any worse for wear, so why not. Taking the smoldering stick an imp offered her, she touched it to the fuse, then stepped back to watch. The cannon kicked back from the force of the blast, a loud boom accompanying yet another imp sailing through the air to land with a splash. “You’re right,” she grinned. “That is fun.”
The imps cheered at her approval of their activities and as one they swarmed forward, lifting her off her feet.
“Hey!” she cried. “No, put me down. Bad imps! Bad! Down!”
“Nrutruoy!” cried several of the imps.
“My turn? My turn for what?” Cas asked with growing dread. As they moved toward the cannon, carrying her above their little impy heads, she was very much afraid she already knew the answer. “No, no I don’t want a turn. I don’t to go in the cannon. No!”
“Sey!” yelled the imps in return.
“Nufs’ti,” one of them tried to reassure her.
Despite her screams and protests, Castalia was stuffed headfirst into the cannon. Unfortunately she was somewhat larger than your standard imp, so she didn’t quite fit. Not to worry, the imps had a solution for that. They had a large plunger usually used for tamping down cannon balls. Placing it Castalia’s rump, they took turns trying to ram her further into the barrel, ignoring her cries of pain and pleading for release. But no matter how hard they tried, they could only get her about half way down the cannon.
One of the imps sighed, “Tegotgniogs’tisadoogsas’taht.”
“Hguonedoog,” shrugged another.
“Elohehtnierif!” screamed several imps simultaneously.
There was a boom. And a splat. But Castalia didn’t go anywhere. She did however stop kicking, which the imps took as a good sign.
“Redwoperomsdeen,” nodded one imp sagely.
The imps nodded amongst themselves. Not wanting to have to go through the tamping process again, they left their imp queen where she was, running to fetch a funnel. After pouring in more gunpowder through the funnel placed in the fuse hole, they inserted the fuse and fired again. This time there was a spectacular splatter as Castalia’s legs cart wheeled through the air. The rest of her just sort of sprayed all over the place as the top half of her had been destroyed with the first abortive blast. The deck was slick with ichor and plasma. The sea near the ship turned red and pink as blood and pulverized body organs stained the area, sure to draw predators and scavengers.
“Very nicely done,” commented the Harbinger of Death as he faded into view.
“Uoyknaht,” replied the spokesimp. “Srehtoehthtiwdenrutereblliwehs? Kcabrehtnawew.”
“Of course,” the hooded figure promised smoothly. “And thank you again for your assistance.”
“Emoclewer’uoy,” replied the spokesimp. Then he and the others went back to gleefully shooting each other out of the cannon, the game much more fun now that the sharks had shown up.