I remember reading years ago about South Sea Islanders hunting for large octopus by using a person as bait, with the octopus coming out from the reef to eat the person. His accomplice then swims down and bites through the octopus' brain, located between the eyes.
It occurred to me that this would make a wonderful short story set in Harrhein so I did some research.
I quickly tracked down the story I read, which was by Arthur Grimble in A Pattern of Islands, written about 1949. There was also a newspaper article. The story was pretty much as I remembered and I could already see two of my heroes from In Search of Spice fishing in this wonderful manner. I have already worked out Pat's reaction when Hinatea asks him to be bait : "Fuck off! Are you out of your tiny mind! I'm not letting one of those monsters chew on me - have you seen the size of it's beak!" The plot is coming together nicely. It would be lovely to have it inside In Search of Spice but the book is already big enough and it will be better as a short story.
In great excitement I researched octopus fishing methods and also the octopus in general. Well, there is one big enough for sure, the Giant Pacific Octopus can have ten foot tentacles and have been found weighing over 150lbs, 70kg. That would be a nasty piece of work. But they are restricted to the cold water from Japan to Alaska. Damn.
Grimble mentions Octopus vulgaris, the common octopus. Great! Trouble is, it doesn't live in the Pacific. It is also not very big. There is the seven armed octopus, recently caught off New Zealand, which is just about big enough.
But I can track down nothing about large octopus in the Pacific Islands, and nothing about eccentric methods of catching them. I know about the stones that octopus put outside their holes, and how you can tell where it is when it is not at home but the way the stones are scattered. I know you can tell if there is an octopus in the hole, from the stones, and to catch one you just push a stick in the hole, it grabs the stick, and slowly you pull it out.
Sadly, I must deduce that dear Sir Arthur Grimble was writing fantasy all those years ago, and even managed to get it published by credulous editors. Good on him!
And of course it frees me to tell the story to the limits of my imagination... I wonder how intelligent the octopus should be? Could it conceivably and believably befriend them and join the ship? Nah.... surely not.... But it sure can become the stuff of nightmares, drowning and eating people. Oh, what a fun story that one will be!
Now, how about a title? Would I be totally out of order to call it The Demon from the Eight Circle of Hell?