In Jules Verne’s classic 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, a character debuted that brimmed with life and vitality and deserved more stories be told about him. He was a man of strength, both physically and emotionally. He was not educated, but he was intelligent in ways necessary for a man of the world. He was skilled in the ways of a sailor and known as The Prince of Harpooners. While Captain Nemo continued on into other stories, however, this singular man of the sea, Nemo’s opposite in so many ways, did not.
The Further Adventures of Ned Land sets sail with five new stories featuring Verne’s forgotten hero. Never venturing far from the water, Ned reaches for the stars in five exciting and thrilling tales. Sail along with the storytelling sailor into the action tales only a hero such as he deserves!
It’s been 20 years since the Nautilus, and Master Harpooner Ned Land, is still sailing the world having bigger-than-life adventures; a twisted cult of Squid worshipers captures Ned and his crew- Will they convert to the perversion of worship or be sacrificed to the beast?
Excerpt from The Further Adventures of Ned Land © Copyright 2022 Ernest Russell
Pushing away from the railing, Ned turned toward the group. The sanguinary sunset was behind him as he spoke, the mood of his words darker than his silhouette. “Many of you know I have sailed a raft of years and had many strange adventures. Some of you may even have heard of my adventures under this sea we so blithely sail upon. While aboard the Nautilus we sailed these waters. Under them are creatures so vast they are the sources of man’s fear of the boundless oceans with no solid land under their feet. It was here, not far away by the look of the islands, I fought and almost died to such a creature. Many good men were lost that day, torn apart in its titanic fury. I still have nightmares, lo these 20 years later, of the gigantic horned beak descending upon me. I was saved that day by a madman, and together we drove off its attack, leaving the great beast mortally wounded, one of my harpoons through its eye as a grim souvenir this world no longer belongs to their kind. Ever since, I’ve kept a sharp watch when in these waters, for where there is one, there are sure to be more.”
Ned turned back to scanning the horizons as the sun set, almost hissing in its fiery descent. Others turned back to their circle, muted now, for Ned was a man of passion, his stories generally ribald and adventurous, and the melancholy of his words was infectious. The somber effect of his speech left the ship quiet through the night. The creaks and groans of the rigging were the only testament humans were abroad in the world.
The rising sun burned away the night. With its light, a brighter mood soon enveloped the ship. The eyes up top were doubled against Ned’s unknown monsters and in recollection of the promise to look out for survivors.
Mid-morning the cry came from up-top, “Smoke!”
“Six points off the port!”
“How far off?”
“Fifteen miles and closing!”
As the Blackwood tacked to a new heading, the distant spot of smoke in short order became a thick column. Quickly it became obvious this was a controlled fire, not a wild burn. There was a solid chance this would be the work of a survivor or survivors seeking help.
The Blackwood anchored in the bay off the northern tip of the island, and a whaleboat, prepared in route, was launched. Ned, Fudu, Stijn, Dantel, Tikhon, Aiden and last, as a sort of mascot, Jean-Luc were aboard. Aiden raised sail, heading for the beach in search of whoever had lit the fire which summoned them.
Beaching the whaleboat, the party scanned the strip of sand for any signs of people. The cliffs rose on either side of the bay forming a crescent. There were no signs of survivors in sight, but the pillar of smoke could be seen on a nearby cliff top to the east.
“Fudu, take Stijn and Dantel and find a way up that cliff. Try to find out who is tending that fire,” Ned ordered. “The rest of us will search along the jungle line and beach for any signs of survivors.”
Just then, the forlorn sound of a horn reverberated off the cliffs. Almost at once, a resounding bellow came from the bay. The crew looked toward the bay, only to see the Blackwood engulfed in tentacles. Most were wrapped completely around the ship, while two waved crewmen in the air.
The report of the whaler cracking in twain echoed from the cliffs on either side of the bay as it disappeared under the blue waters.
“NOOoooo!!!!” screamed Jean-Luc, running toward the water. Fudu managed to grab him as the lad fell to his knees in the wet sand, his tears mingling with the salt waters which had just claimed his family.
All the boy could do was to rock and whimper, “Robert. Mama. Papa.”
Ned stared at the scene, momentarily stunned. That creature was the same species which had almost killed him. The rest of the crew looking to him for guidance shook Ned from his reverie. “All right, same plan. If there are already survivors here, let’s find them. We can try to work together to sail to another island.”
“Sir, I do not think we need to look for them.” Everyone turned in the direction Stijn pointed. They were surrounded by a pack of well-tanned, loincloth-clad men, armed with knives and harpoons and adorned with strange-looking gold jewelry. Their approach had been silent, while all attention was on the Blackwood. The pack’s combative stance made clear their intent.
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