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Chapter 3—Donauworth

Location: Field Outside Donauworth, Germany
Time: 2:25 PM, September 1, 1372

The mayor of Donauworth wasn’t thrilled to see them. After one look at Pucorl, he refused any of them entrance into the city, even the cardinal.

Bertrand looked at the city that Paris made into a small town. He looked over at Pucorl and his cavalry, and wondered if he could take this city. That would be an extremely bad idea, starting a war between France and the Holy Roman Empire, so he bit down on his irritation and agreed to camp outside town.

As they were setting up camp, he asked Monsignor Savona to see about negotiating with the city’s burghers for entrance into the city. Only during daylight hours, and only to arrange to buy boats, barges, and food, for which they would pay in good French silver.


Monsignor Savona, Cardinal de Monteruc and the priests were refused entrance, but the senior local priest came to the gate and explained. “Since whatever it was happened, the city has been beset. The kobolds are spoiling the milk, the wild hunts run most nights, and the nixes are dancing naked up and down the river and singing in voices that tempt our young to debauchery and death.”

“There are wards, Father,” Monsignor Savona said. “Wilber Hyde-Davis is becoming adept at their use. And so is Doctor Delaflote.”

“Why would you accompany those who traffic with demons?” the priest asked. “Especially after your experience with the demons raising the dead to grim war.”

That brought on discussion of what happened in Paris and it was admitted that they were using demons to fight demons. Monsignor Savona introduced Raphico and when the priest held out his cross as though to ward off the phone, the phone’s screen lit with a golden cross on a field of white. Monsignor Savona mentioned that among the functions of the angel-enchanted phone was one of healing. And that even if the townsfolk wouldn’t let them in, they were still willing to heal the sick.

The priest promised to consider it.

Location: Field Outside Donauworth, Germany
Time: 10:15 PM, September 1, 1372

They came through the night, blowing ghostly horns that sent terror straight into the bones. They rode around the town, over the water as though it was firm land, then straight at the camp.

Bertrand was wakened by the howl of the trumpets and came out of his tent, sword in hand. Tiphaine was at the Happytime Motel, but after the warnings Bertrand, Roger, and Wilber had decided to spend the night in camp. Just in case.

Wilber was outside his tent, making magical gestures and intoning something in demonic. Roger had the Sword of Themis riding on his back, and as the wild hunt rode into view, Pucorl appeared in the middle of camp.

Leading the hunt was a tall man in armor that glowed silver. The man had long hair so pale it was white in the moonlight. He had no beard and his eyes were slanted up. He had pointed ears and his laugh was cold and evil. He rode straight at the wards with his companions and his hounds all about him.

As he reached the barrier, Roger drew the Sword of Themis, which lit with fire. And then the wild hunt hit the wards . . .

. . . and splashed.

First the dogs hit, and were ripped to bloody mist. And though the elf lord tried to turn, he wasn’t in time. He ran into the wall of magical force and his front half was turned into mist. There was a pause as the rest of the wild hunt diverted around the wards, some of them riding right through the walls of Donauworth as they tried to avoid the wards. They went around the wards, rode on, and then turned around. The wild hunt came back. By now, the elf lord was re-forming. His horse was still half bone, but he himself was almost back to his form, save for his right hand, which was bone with flesh starting to re-form on it.

In a voice like a banshee, he shouted, “Who dares interfere with my hunt?”

Roger looked at Bertrand. Bertrand looked at Roger.

In a loud voice, Wilber said, “That would be me. Now what are you doing in the mortal realms?”

“I go where I wish, mortal. These are my lands, whether mortal or fairy. Mortals are mine to hunt.”

“I’m right here. Hunt away.”

Suddenly a woman stood in the clearing. She held a book in one hand and scales in the other. It was Themis, and divinity glowed from her. She looked around, walked the wards, and while she did so everyone was held motionless. Within the wards, outside the wards, mortal and elf in the field and on the walls of Donauworth, no one could move but to look at her. She examined Wilber’s wards and clucked her tongue, pointing at flaws. Wilber blushed.

She looked at the elf lord, and he said, “This is not your place.”

“As justice is everywhere, I am everywhere. As decency is everywhere, I am everywhere.”

Then she went over to Roger. “But, Roger, there is also freedom. Theirs as well as yours. So this I lay upon you. You may use my sword to defend yourself and your companions.” She looked around, saw Leona sitting on Pucorl’s dashboard and smiled. “Even to the cat who has joined your company. However, you may not use my sword simply to strike those you dislike or disapprove of.” The book became a torch and she held it high. “For they too have freedom.”

Roger looked at her, then he looked at the elf lord who was starting to smile. “What about my rifle?”

Themis laughed. “You too are free, Roger. But don’t use my sword for this.” She looked around again and then faded away.

Roger put the Sword of Themis over his back, and turned to his tent, but one of the squires was ahead of him. The lad, perhaps seventeen, had the rifle in his hands and was running over to bring it to Roger.

“Thank you,” Roger said, taking the rifle.

“Husband,” said a beautiful elven woman with flaming hair and glowing eyes, “will you let the night’s sport be spoiled by this rude interruption and these mortals who think themselves our equals?”

Until that moment, Roger noted, there was at least a chance that the wild hunt would pack it in for the night. But not now. He sighed, and lifted the rifle.

“Coward!” roared the elf lord. “Hiding behind your wards while you attack me from afar.”

Roger looked at him, then at Bertrand.

Bertrand shrugged. “He has a point. But, at the same time, if he’s after a duel, it should be between you and him.”

“The thing that I’m worried about,” Roger said quietly as he walked over to Bertrand, “is the town. Those people have no defense against the wild hunt and the way the powers that be are reacting, they aren’t going to have one either. They won’t even let us help them unless we demonstrate that we are on the side of the angels, so to speak. If we do nothing but sit here in our camp, those folk—” He hooked a thumb at the wild hunt. “—are going to take their frustration out on the town.”

“If you desire a duel, elf lord, then face him one on one!” Bertrand shouted.

The elf lord waved away his fellows. He sheathed his sword, and gathered up an elven bow, then dismounted and walked to stand a ways off. Roger opened the rifle. It was a breech loading weapon that opened like a shotgun. He loaded it with an iron bolt that had a lead sabot around it, then with a block of shaped black powder. That last wouldn’t work without the demon that resided in the firing chamber.

Roger closed the weapon and carefully stepped over the glowing wards without touching them. He could feel the magic flow around him.


The elf lord watched the mortal step out from the wards and let the rage take him. How dare this flyspeck consort with titans and embarrass him before his lady? But there was calculation in his heart as well as rage, for the fool brought the Sword of Themis with him. And to the victor goeth the spoils. He smiled and laid the elven shaft into the bow. He waited.


Roger moved slowly, rifle held ready to fire. The rifle was a distance weapon. It had rifling and enchanted sights. That would let him see where the bolt would go. But that wouldn’t matter much today, because there wouldn’t be time to aim. This was more a wild west gunfight than a formal duel. It would start when one of them started to move.

Roger watched, right hand on the trigger, left hand holding the barrel. Roger was a good shot, and before they were brought here, he had hunted birds and shot skeet with his father.

He was never sure what it was that brought him to decision, but in a moment he was moving, and so was the elf lord. As the elf lord lifted the bow and pulled the bowstring, Roger lifted the barrel of his rifle with his left hand and pulled the trigger long before the rifle reached his shoulder.

The hammer struck the home of the salamander and the little demonic creature of flame was released. It consumed the charge of black powder in a tiny fraction of a second, then retreated back to its home as the bullet sped across the field.

The elf lord’s bow came up and as the bowstring touched his cheek, he heard the crack and felt the iron bullet rip through him, and it ripped him in a way that bronze or wood could never do. It ripped and twisted the connections that made him what he was. The bow was a part of him, the arrow was a part of him, as was his horse and to an extent the whole wild hunt. All were a part of him.

No more. All those connections were ripped asunder as the cold iron bolt ripped through him.

The elf shot bolt was bereft. In the normal course of things, it would be guided by its master to the target. But now it was loose, with no guidance. It went looking for a target, flying in random spirals.

It saw the strange cart that stank of magic, decided that was a target worthy of its attention, and flew at it.

It never got there.

It hit the wards and was broken and shattered into nothingness.


This cannot be, the elf lady thought in shocked horror. My lord is a being of magic. He cannot be harmed by a mortal. This was sport, nothing more. The worst that could possibly happen was that he might be forced back underhill to the netherworld, to return on another night. But truly damaged . . .

In horror, she ran.

And the wild hunt ran with her.

Location: Outside Donauworth, Germany
Time: Dawn, September 2, 1372

As the sun peeped over the horizon, the gates of Donauworth opened and the townspeople came out. Not all of them, but a goodly number. First were the poor and the sick, who came to see if the healing that Monsignor Savona promised was as real as the wild hunt and the fight seen by the city guard last night.

Then there were merchants and boatmen who, whatever the town fathers said, came to see if they might make a profit dealing with these people.

Liane Boucher pointed her camera, DW, at the child and the camera saw, but it saw with magic as well as integrated circuits. It saw—with advice from Raphico and knowledge from high school health and biology texts—how to see illness and what the things it saw in the little girl’s body meant, and then it sent that knowledge to Raphico by bluetooth connection.

By the time the little girl got to the angel-enchanted smartphone, Raphico knew what was wrong with her. She had tuberculosis, and Raphico went through not only wiping out the tubular bacilli, but explaining to the little girl’s body how to recognize them and fight them on its own.

With the images from DW, it took little energy.

The next patient had tapeworms. He was a man of thirty-five. And after him came a man with an infected jaw, the result of a decaying, impacted wisdom tooth.

It went on all day, with Raphico and DW having to take cooling breaks, for even with demonic help, each healing used the circuits of the camera and phone to direct the energies of the demon and angel, and that use heated the CPUs.

As it went on, several of the priests of the town watched. Finally, around two in the afternoon, one of the priests asked, “How can you believe that is an angel if it is so willing to talk with a demon?”

Cardinal de Monteruc said, “I have asked the same question many times. Raphico insists that the politics of Heaven are more complicated than mortals realize, or want to realize. For myself, I am skeptical of Raphico’s true allegiance. At the same time, I know that he is healing the sick and doing so in God’s name. And that I cannot condemn, not while I am not certain he is evil.”

Several of the local priests nodded as a man with a broken hand was healed.


The barge maker, after getting permission, went to Pucorl and, grabbing his front bumper, lifted. Well, tried to lift. Pucorl didn’t help and weighed over four thousand pounds even empty. After grunting a bit he stood, looked at the van, shook his head and said. “It’s too big, too heavy. The water is shallow in many places this far up the Danube. The cart will make the barge sink three, maybe four, feet into the water and that’s too much draft. Better you go downriver to Ingolstadt.”

The barge he was talking about had thick walls of wood and would weigh a considerable amount even empty. Jennifer had a better—or at least different—idea. She wanted a thin-walled flotation chamber made from a wooden structure wrapped in cloth which would then be painted with boiled pine resin. The idea was to produce something between the doped canvas wings of a WWI airplane and a fiberglass boat body.

But as long as she was the one bringing it up, the bargeman was uninterested. When Bertrand demanded that he listen, his attitude changed. Mostly that was because Bertrand was a large, scary man, not an attractive teenage girl. But, in large part, it was because he assumed that Bertrand was in charge of the money, which wasn’t true.

As it happened, the biggest part of the twenty-firsters’ funds were owned by Mrs. Grady and her son Paul, who had sold a phone and a computer to the king of France. The next largest part was owned by Liane Boucher, because the pope, after a long, private talk with Monsignor Savona, had decided that she should be paid for her phone by the church. Even if she did give it directly to God, and not the church, it was given to God in care of the church.

More surprising than the church paying was that it stayed with Monsignor Savona instead of returning to Avignon with the pope. Raphico, however, had insisted. Cardinal de Monteruc had his own funds, and Bertrand had a chest of silver for expenses, but the people who would be paying for the barge—at least Pucoral’s barge—were going to be the twenty-firsters. So after two days of negotiations, Jennifer got her way.

Wilber didn’t have much in the way of cash, but he was in an excellent position to work his magic with the aid of Merlin. With Archimedes the crow, Doctor Delaflote and Wilber were fairly capable wizards.


“We,” the mayor, a fat man with an ermine cloak and a wide leather belt, said pompously, “will consider letting your party enter the city.” He looked around the tent. There were two rickety looking tables and six chairs. Seated in the chairs were Bertrand du Guesclin, his wife Tiphaine, Wilber Hyde-Davis, Gabriel Delaflote, and Mrs. Amelia Grady.

“Don’t trouble yourself,” said Wilber Hyde-Davis in excellent German. “It’s no trouble at all for us to stay here while we do our business. After all, Pucorl’s lands are only a moment away.” He waved at Merlin, who was open on the table, and the screen changed to show Pucorl’s lands with the dryads’ grove, the Happytime Motel, the garage and shop, and the little brook that wound its way around behind the garage and through the dryads’ grove.

It was, in its—to Wilber’s mind—tacky way, a nice place and much better than sharing a bedbug-infested canvas sack filled with hay in one of the local inns. But Wilber knew perfectly well that that wasn’t what this was about. This meeting was about kobolds and wards to keep the wild hunt out of Donauworth— and for that matter, off the backs of the peasants harvesting the grain that would feed the region for the winter into next spring. Mayor Fats was trying for bargaining points. “On the other hand, if you want to talk to Cardinal de Monteruc, I’m sure he will be pleased to know the town is now open to him.”

Wilber hid a smile as the mayor’s face congealed before his eyes.

The mayor looked around at the rest of those present, and Bertrand spoke.

“Well, I thank you for your city council’s forbearance. My men will be better for the occasional night in a tavern.”

“There are conditions.” The mayor jumped back on script like a starving dog on a steak.

“I’ll instruct my men to be on their best behavior,” Bertrand offered airily.

“It’s not that. It’s . . . well, it’s the elves and the kobolds. You have to get rid of them for us.”

“That’s easier said than done,” Gabriel said. “And it may not be possible at all.”

“But they’re demons! Fey creatures! And you’re wizards. You have to be able to get rid of them.” The mayor went from bluster to begging in a moment, and in spite of the way they had been treated, Wilber felt for the guy.

But that didn’t change the facts. The veil was in shreds, and kobolds didn’t live far below the surface in places like this. Donauworth had been here for centuries and its echos affected the netherworld. On the other side of the veil was a fairly close copy of Donauworth, and that copy was the home of kobolds, one for every structure in the town. They lived there and were affected by the actions of the inhabitants of Donauworth for the simple reason that the netherworld, that other universe that impinged on the imperial plane, had little structure of its own. The netherworld got imprinted, and by now the beings in that other realm were mostly converted into what the people living here for the last thousand years or so thought was there.

And now they could cross from their copies of the houses of Donauworth right into the real world houses. Usually at the hearth, because that was the center of most homes.

“We can’t make them leave,” Wilber said, “because they live here too. Always have. It’s only that their ‘here’ is a half a beat to the side. Out of the corner of your eye. And they had nothing to do with the ripping up of the veil that separates our world from theirs.”

“Then you can’t help us? But you fought off the wild hunt.”

“That was different,” Bertrand said. “While the fey are local to the region, the wild hunt participants aren’t local to Donauworth, and they are from a couple of levels farther away. It was Roger and his rifle that did for the elflord. But at least for the town proper, Wilber and Doctor Delaflote should be able to produce wards to keep the wild hunt away.”

“And,” added Tiphaine, “with the aid of Pucorl and the twenty-firsters, if you are willing and reasonable, we should be able to negotiate some sort of rapprochement with the kobolds and other fey creatures that inhabit your town. Back in our lands in France, we managed fairly well with simple courtesy.”

The discussion went on. Ways and means, what the town wanted, and what it would accept. Then, after they had a rough idea of what the powerful in Donauworth wanted, it was time to find out what the kobolds wanted.

They would open the gates and Pucorl would drive to the central square, and then slip across into the netherworld. Not back to his place, but to that part of the netherworld that matched this place.


The sun was bright as Pucorl, with Annabelle, Roger, Wilber, and Doctor Delaflote shifted. The sun dimmed as though it was behind a cloud, but it wasn’t. The sun was still there, glowing yellow in a blue sky, but a bit dimmer. The town too was dimmer, and the houses were shorter, to suit the size of the people who were mostly kobolds. There were others of the magic world here, some with names of legend, some with no name that any living human would know. The arrival of Pucorl in their midst was a shock for them and the Landdísir of Donauworth. In truth, she was the Landdísir of Donauworth before Donauworth was Donauworth, back when it was a fishing village and a crossing point before Christianity got to this part of the world. Her name was long since forgotten by any living person, but she was the mistress and mother to the kobolds of Donauworth and the other fey of the area. Her name was long and complex and not something she was willing to share, but a thousand years before, when the villagers offered gifts at her shrine, she was called Mareike ves Landdisir.

Talks with Mareike were complicated by the fact that she was miffed that she had been forgotten, and not at all pleased with the Catholic church, which had enforced the forgetting. Her priestesses had been murdered by Christian mobs.

“I think we are going to need Raphico for this,” Wilber told Roger a few minutes in.

“I think we are going to need Tiphaine,” Roger said.

“Let’s wrap this up and go get them both.”

There was also the fact that while the kobolds were Mareike’s children, they weren’t the most obedient of children. There was some question as to whether she could command them to behave, even if she wanted to.


Even with the inclusion of Tiphaine and Raphico, the negotiations took the rest of the time they were in Donauworth and were still ongoing when they left. What was in place was more like a framework for the individual households of Donauworth to make their own deal with the kobold of their house or the river spirits for fishermen, that sort of thing.


What the twenty-firsters, and especially Pucorl, got out of the deal were several barges, including a large purpose-built, flat-bottomed enchanted barge for Pucorl. They needed the enchantment for two things.

One because the barge without enchantment wouldn’t last the trip down the river. It was too flimsy and, as it turned out, a lot of fish found the resin-soaked cloth that was its skin absolutely delicious. The demon who inhabited the barge managed to make the little fishes leave it alone by making the barge seem a large hungry predator, which was what the spirit they called to the barge was—a kraken from the sea next to Themis’ lands. It had gotten caught up in the battle for Paris, and was looking for a new body.

The first thing the kraken, who chose to be called Joe Kraken, did was demand that the poles that pushed the barge along the river be replaced. Not good enough, not flexible enough, according to Joe Kraken.

Instead . . .

“That’s kind of creepy,” said Jennifer, as she watched the workmen attach the leather and canvas tentacles with their leather suckers to the bottom rear of the barge. There were ten of the things, eight that were ten meters long and a half meter thick at the base, and two that were fifteen meters long and a meter wide at the base.

“That’s not the half of it,” Roger said, pointing at the back of the kraken barge where they were installing—also at the kraken’s insistence—a beak made of wrought iron, a leather tongue embedded with “teeth,” and a gullet that went into the body of the barge. The kraken would be able to eat.

Once the new tentacles, mouth and so on were added, they re-did the enchantment. As they had learned with Pucorl, repeating the enchantment process let the kraken migrate into its new additions to its body.


Roger, Jennifer, Annabelle and Wilber watched as workmen with poles levered the newly modified barge onto greased wooden rails and slid it down into the river. It was thirty feet long with a flat area for the first twenty-two feet and an eight foot long, ten foot wide cabin in the back. The front had a liftable ramp that could carry Pucorl and was how he would drive onto and off the barge. The cabin in the back was eight feet tall with a slightly curved roof, so that rain would poor off. It had two eyes, one to either side, and there were a matching pair below the waterline, so that Joe Kraken could see the bottom of the river. Behind the eyes and in the back were the tentacles, eight thirty feet long, and two forty-five feet long. And they writhed as Joe was slid down the rails to the river.

A tentacle grabbed a bush and pulled it out of the ground, then tossed it away. Jennifer shuddered.

Once in the water, the tentacles were mostly hidden. The bases of the upper ones could be seen, but they quickly bent down into the water and the water roiled with their movement. Joe Kraken twisted about, using his tentacles to shift the barge back and forth, then pushed out into the middle of the river, scooted over to the far bank, and turned back. A tentacle came out of the water and grabbed a tree, then flexed, pushing the barge quickly down the river. Then the barge turned and crossed the river again. Back on this side, a tentacle grabbed a rock for purchase, and they could almost see that it was doing the same thing underwater.

Jennifer shuddered again. “Creepy.”


The next day, Joe Kraken was still learning his body configuration. Jennifer and Roger were aboard, sitting on the roof of the cabin. Jennifer was there to examine how her design was working. Roger was there in case someone wanted to take the barge away from Jennifer. The Danube was not the safe, policed river of the twenty-first century.

They were two miles downriver from Donauworth when one of the two longer tentacles came up out of the water and grabbed a cow. The cow was pulled against, which moved the barge, then was picked up and pulled beneath the river. Its subsequent fate was unclear because of the muddy water but almost certainly not good.

“Oh, that’s really creepy,” said Jennifer. She glared at Roger, standing next to her. “How do you know that . . . that thing won’t use one of us for a snack next time?”

“It’s not mine.” Roger was wondering the same thing himself. “Hey, Joe. You’re not supposed to eat the wildlife.”

Joe didn’t answer.

“Joe Kraken, answer me.” They knew that the kraken could hear them. It had microphones and speakers in the cabin and outside it, as well. The silence made him nervous. He didn’t want to be on a sea monster that had gone rogue.

He reached up and grabbed Themis. “Excuse me. Could we get a little help here?”

Whenever the titan wasn’t present in person, she could talk to Roger through the sword—and on those occasions she was something of a mind-reader.

<You needn’t worry. The kraken’s not all that smart, but he’s smart enough to know the difference between a person and an animal. He won’t harm anyone unless he is ordered to.>

“Ordered by whom?”

<By the owner of its vehicle. Haven’t you been paying attention for the last almost a year? In this case, Pucorl owns his vehicle, so Pucorl is his master. I have some authority, since I created him with the help of my nephew, Poseidon.>

Roger was still not satisfied. “But that cow belonged to somebody. We’re not going to make ourselves real popular if our demon-possessed river barge is lunching on livestock and pets as we go along.”

<He won’t bother any animal clearly attached to a human. By a tether, a leash, whatever. If the animal’s not attached, you’ll have to instruct him not to eat it. And now, I’m busy. This is not important.>

And she was gone.

After Roger explained the gist of the conversation, Jennifer shook her head. “It’s still creepy. You’d better give the thing its instructions now, though, before we run across any more domestic munchies.”

“It’s not listening to me.”

“Then call Pucorl.”

“Why me?” He was practically whining by now.

“Never mind.” She called Pucorl. “Pucorl, you need to talk to your barge. It’s ignoring us. And it’s eating the local livestock.”

“Do I have to?” complained a deep fog horn of a voice through the external speakers, clearly in response to Pucorl’s instructions. But at least it was speaking though the speakers.

“Kraken,” said Roger. Then, in the vague hope that personalizing the creature might be of help, he asked, “Joe?”

“Joe,” the speaker agreed.

“Don’t eat any more cows, Joe. Or a horse. Or a sheep. Or a pig. Or a goat. Or a dog.” Each was accompanied by a mental image. “Or . . . I guess that’s enough.”

“You didn’t tell him to stay away from cats and chickens,” said Jennifer.

“Who cares about chickens? And I don’t like cats.”

“Well, we have a cat with us. And if Joe eats Leona, much less Kitten, there’s going to be hell to pay.”

“Then you tell him.”

Jennifer did, but she wasn’t entirely sure that she was getting through, so she called Wilber.


Wilber called Joe by way of his built-in crystal set. And to clarify, he sent it a list of animals with their images. Then he called Jennifer back. She put her phone on speaker so Roger could hear.

“Squid brains are really different from human brains. They don’t have voices at all, and they barely have ears. They communicate with colored patterns on their skin. It’s a language and a way of thinking that’s so strange it gives me fits, in spite of my magic.

“But we put in speakers and microphones, and it does talk.”

“Yes, but I’m not so sure how much it understands. That’s why the pictures.”

Jennifer had to be satisfied with that.

Location: North Bank of the Danube at Donauworth, Germany
Time: Dawn, September 19, 1372

One last time they brought Joe Kraken up onto the shore and repaired the pentagram. The pentagram was made of river plants and fish parts from the Danube, ground into a paste and blessed by Monsignor Savona and the local priests. The latter based on the notion that a kraken in the Danube would be a bit safer if the priests of Donauworth were involved. Joe Kraken, the boat, was a complex combination of magic, twenty-firster technology, and courtesy. Joe Kraken, the demon, was contacted by the twenty-firsters before they reached Donauworth. When it became clear that the twenty-firsters would have to have a specialized boat built to spec, Joe was asked what he would like in his new body. As it turned out he could communicate with them through their cell phones, and communicate reasonably well with Pucorl.

Sort of. It was a bit like talking to a three year old. His calling name was discussed too. Kraken because he was a sea monster, and Joe after Joe Louis, because he was a fighter. Especially now that he had tentacles to punch with.

Joe Kraken wanted four eyes, two permanently fixed on the boat’s pilot house. That way he could see without having to constantly heave himself above the surface, and two more painted on the sides below the waterline. Happily, the pilot house eyes didn’t need to be the size of Joe’s own eyes. That would have been beyond the skill of the local glassmakers.

In front of the pilot house was a long and wide flat surface that Pucorl would ride on, and inside the body of the boat was a leather sack that had openings in the bow and stern. That was an experiment to see if Joe Kraken was able to use it like a squid’s bladder to propel itself through the water. Not use the bladder itself—it was much too small—but somehow make it work as a surrogate.

Roger didn’t ask too many questions. The less he had to contemplate what was happening at the barge’s bottom, the better. Jennifer was right. It was really creepy.

But it worked.

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