The final instalment in a seven part series, Nifi, a short story, follows the character of Nifidorian Feltwood, who lost his mother when he was just a boy, and now at the age of fifteen has to deal with the potential loss of his father. He embarks on a search but along the way encounters interesting characters and creatures whilst also having to deal with not having the very person he is searching for beside him. A desire for wanting to explore the world in search of a purpose outside of seal hunting turns into him having no choice but to do so. All of this is intertwined within a fantasy backdrop within the port town of Glaceport.
. . .
Finale: Part Seven
Nifi looked around him to find the closest piece of debris and to his left there was a large piece of wood, that seemed to be the remains of some decking. He deemed this would take his weight as he was only light, despite being tall. He was leaner than most men his age and was still growing into his body. He lifted himself up onto the piece of decking and felt the cold breeze go through him as he emerged. He looked around as he bobbed on the makeshift raft and the scene he saw was surprisingly tranquil. The ship he had been thrown out of was no more and the beast appeared to have followed it down into the depths, back where it came from. The shimmering fins had returned, piercing the water gracefully and the bright, burning flowers sat on the water undisturbed. The only evidence that remained of the destruction were the floating planks of wood and food rations or linen that had once been part of the fishing vessels.
Nifi’s wet skin, teamed with the arctic airs coming from outside the volcanic pools was making his warmth an issue. He was beginning to shiver uncontrollably. He used his hand as a paddle through the still waters and made for the shoreline that lay three hundred metres to the right. The shoreline held tall pine trees packed so tightly together that Nifi could not see through the first wave. Despite this, he could see what he thought was smoke rising above the trees. Smoke meant fire and fire meant warmth. He began to paddle faster.
Nifi reached the shoreline which was made up of glistening man-sized rocks jutting out dangerously, meaning one wrong step and they could pierce a man, sending them back into the sea to meet their agonising demise. Nifi, therefore, navigated them cautiously and managed to clamber up to reach solid ground lying around ten feet above the sea level. As he stepped up, the scent of smoke drew faintly up his nose and was coming from within the trees directly in front of him. As he drew closer to the natural boundary the trees created, he could hear the crackling of fire. As he stepped beyond the boundary he saw the fire but no one looking over it. Just the fire crackling with no sign of anyone. Nifi slowly made his way towards the fire, but before he knew it there was an arm around his neck and he was yanked down and backwards. Nifi found himself bent so far backwards he was doubled over into the position of a crab.
“Oh, shit. It’s you,” said a gruff voice coming from the individual throttling Nifi. He was released and as he swiveled to identify his attacker he found to his relief that it was Norn, the little man who had bruised his arm in greeting before Safe Passage set sail.
“You’re alive?” Nifi questioned. He was in shock that anyone had escaped the destruction.
“An inquisitive one you are lad,” Norn replied sarcastically.
“I had the sense to abandon ship whilst you were making eyes at that bloody beast. I dragged the cap’ain over board with me but it doesn’t seem to ‘ave done him much good. It’s just you and me.”
Nifi comprehended that for a moment, how thirty men could just be wiped out and ended in the space of seconds. Life was fragile. “Where are you to go?” Nifi asked.
“Fuck knows,” Norn responded, with an air of resignation. “I best make me way back to Glaceport, tell people what’s happened ‘ere. Although they’ll probably figure it out when debris sails into harbour instead o’ ships.”
“I’ll accompany you, I have to get home,” Nifi stated.
“Alright, get some sleep, it’s too late t’ travel now. If we move at dawn, we’ll be at Glaceport before the sun sets tomorrow. Keep up though. Us dwarves may be small, but we travel like any full-sized man,” Norn asserted, with an almost childish grin. He then walked back towards the fire and lay himself on the bare, brown earth scattered with fallen pines. Nifi did the same and when he shut his eyes he thought of Norn and his fellow dwarves, it explained why they were so small, he had never had a chance to ask. Then to his surprise he fell into a dreamless sleep.
Nifi awoke at dawn to a kick from Norn and they began travelling north-west. They had no possessions to pack up, the red tunic Norn wore was probably all he had left. At least Nifi had a cabin in Glaceport to go back to that held the majority of his things. His companion had most likely lost everything in the events of yesterday. Nifi felt for him, however he did not express this as Norn would most probably dislike the sympathy.
On their journey back, Nifi realised that Norn was either massively overestimating the speed at which he could travel or he was mocking himself with his comments last night. For someone the height of Nifi it was nothing more than a stroll. They did not speak much, Nifi merely looked up at the trees. The tall, thin trunks of the pine with their green spiked arms stretching out around twenty feet up, their bottom halves bare. After a few hours this sight soon got boring but it did not relent until the woodland opened up to the East side of Glaceport.
He quickly realised he was approaching the beach where it had all taken place the day before. Where he had lost his father. It felt different since the last time. Where the day before there was darkness and despair, now there was an inner sadness but a realisation within himself that this was not the end. He was alone and it was daunting, but it presented an opportunity to explore the world and find his purpose. It was a strange thought to think, but perhaps his father leaving the world was him letting Nifi go to fulfil his dream. That thought warmed his heart and that was the thought that would keep him going. He owed these thoughts to the Captain, his words when Nifi least expected them would keep him going through adversity.
These thoughts allowed Nifi to enter the cabin that he and his father had slept in just two nights previously and collect his belongings for the road and exit without pain. He instead exited with a recollection of the memories he had enjoyed there and the fondness he could experience when he recalled them from his mind. He received a punch to the arm from Norn and reciprocated. With a bruised arm and a determined heart Nifi stepped out of the boundary of Glaceport on its south side and ventured into the world.