The next morning, the pumping mechanism in the pen was engaged by the villagers, and the inhabitants of the octagonal enclosure were encouraged by immaculate engineering, to revisit the seas from whence they had been captured.
It took little time after Allamar’s edict of augmentation, for the unwed fishermen of the village to have docked their boats later, and later into the day than they had ever done before.
And it was certainly with no great surprise that this occurred, considering the loveliness of the chief’s daughter, and the potential elevation in stature at hand. Each eligible bachelor was more than eager to earn the hand of the most desirable prize in the village, and thus, the extra hours of trawling upon the open waters seemed a marginal sacrifice.
What came as a complete surprise, was the commotion that surged from the docks, a curiously brief fortnight after Allamar made his announcement.
“I can’t believe it!”
“What an incredible feat.”
“Could it possibly be that the great fish has been captured again, so soon?”
A cacophony of shouted statements and interrogatives emanated from this small crowd that gathered at the docks, in the middle of the afternoon, approximately two full weeks after Allamar declared his village rules change. A thrashing came from the rear of the boat which a young nautical huntsman was securing to the darkened, soggy, dock post.
The usually peaceful village was quick to react to such audible imposition, and the news, if not the noise, travelled swiftly to Allamar’s ear.
Before the young fisherman could haul his catch from the water, Allamar had joined the growing throng of sycophantic onlookers, and began to muscle his way towards the front.
“MOVE! The chief is here!” someone bellowed.
The squawking mass shifted, allowing gaps through which Allamar deftly navigated. Once he made his way to the front, he found a walking space upon the docks between the crowd, and the fisherman struggling with a rope tied to the rear of his boat.
Allamar approached, and with his years of built of strength in his muscles from his own fishing experience, and the dexterity he garnered from these pursuits, helped the youth to haul the creature, once in tow, onto the pier.
The gargantuan twitched upon the boards, gawping at the air, while Allamar and the boy villager huffed and gasped after their exertion. Once sated of oxygen needs, the old and young fishermen turned towards each other.
“This is quite the catch. The highest of accolades to you goodman. What may I call you?”
“Furous sir. Chief, I mean. My name is Furous.”
“I spent many long hours and days at my craft before catching the leviathan that allowed me the position I have today. You are quite fortunate to have made such a catch, youthful as you are.”
“I had a great mentor, my father you see, provided me with excellent tutelage by which i could reel in this prize. Clearly he taught me very, very well,” Furous stated.
“It would seem.” Allamar peered over Furous’s shoulder at the shuddering fish, its gills expanding, and heaving with the lack of water flow, and felt sad. He frowned. “It would certainly seem,” Allamar mouthed with melancholy.
The giant fish slapped against the boards with diminishing intensity, the vigorous whap-whap, changing to a slap-slap, then a fip-fip, as the crowd stood observing the standoff silently.
Allamar broke the semi-macabre scene by stepping towards the slowly dying fish on the dock. He focused on the dorsal, and the small silver ring that he saw punctured through the fin.
“It looks quite similar to the ring that I affixed to the fish that I caught.”
“Because this is the same fish, and that is the same ring,” Furous spat venemously.
“No offense intended young man. I am merely shocked at the time it took, or rather, how quickly, this beast was secured.”
“Likely it did not swim far from its spot of release, therefore, I was able to catch it so quickly.”
“It looks, well, honestly, it looks smaller than I recall.”
“This is the same fish. The ring is attached. How many great fish out in the sea could possibly have a silver ring stuck into their fin as this one does?”
“Only one of which I am aware.”
There was an intense pause in their dialogue, as both fishermen regarded each other stoically. Small waves rippled upon the docks, and made sounds like that of a dog lapping in a water dish. The fish’s tail continued to tap the boards, and the crowd whispered anxiously.
Allamar turned to the crowd.
“May I have several, able, individuals to assist please? We need to get to this fish to the pen as soon as possible.”
The crowd flexed and shifted as several villagers broke from the group, then scurried forward to help.
“We should need only four,” Allamar said.
Furous tensed as several of the volunteers backed away, leaving himself, Allamar, and four grisled, seaworn villagefolk standing on the narrow pier, as the crowd instinctively moved away from the group of six.
There were several assumptive nods, and a guttural “Umph,” as they gathered around the giant fish, wrapped their arms under its floundering mass, and heaved.
The procession resembled more a funeral, than that of celebration, as the great beast continued to decline during their solemn portage. It barely twitched, as they crossed the village to approach the pen, and only wiggled slightly as they descended the stairs towards the enclosure.
“Stop,” Allamar commanded, as they drew within ten paces of the pen.
Furous shouted, “This fish won’t survive much longer! We have to get it to pen!”
“Don’t you think that should have been more of a concern before I helped you pull it from the water at the dock?”
“I never asked for your help, you assisted without my request.”
“That’s what a leader should do.”
Five men stood frozen, ten feet from the octagonal pen, and waited for Allamar to dictate their next action. The crowd that had followed them waited at a distance without so much as a whimper. The only sound came from the subtle swish of leaves at the behest of a gentile breeze.
“This fish has been out of the water just before you brought it to the dock Furous.”
Allamar held the body of the fish with his bulky, sinewy right arm, and gestured to the crowd with his left with an expansive motion.
“You know that this is the truth. DON”T YOU!?”
The crowd murmured collectively, and a large section of the group, the fisherman of the village, nodded acquiescently in agreement.
“To the scale,” Allamar demanded of his porters.
The group shuffled towards the markings made over multiple generations, and catches upon the wood. They carefully carried the great fish towards the burned in designators that had indicated the great reel-ins of chiefs. They shifted to align the fish in their arms to near the measurements that marked Allamar’s appointment as chief of the village.
Furous’s catch was two feet shy of the mark.