The sun slowly dipped beneath the wind whipped waves of the Sea of Darkness, casting a crimson glow to glittering across the waters and silhouetting the three masted form of the struggling vessel. The last waning light causing its nameplate, “Dowager Maiden” to gleam as the ship sluggishly turned its bow into an oncoming wave. The waters sweeping across the Dowager’s deck as the wave broke, sailors cursing as they struggled to keep their places. One desperate scream abruptly broke off as a figure was torn from the fore-deck, his rope harness snapping.
At the helm, the massive figure of the captain strained at the great wheel, holding the massive vessel to its course seemingly with only brute strength. The spray and wind whipping his silver streaked, crimson hair and beard. His bull like voice roared over the tumult, extolling the sailors back to their posts with sharp orders and furious curses at some of the men not moving fast enough to suite him.
Despite the giant mans focus on his work, he couldn’t help but spare a brief thought for the last couple of weeks. “Bring a woman aboard, they said. She’s good luck, They said. Damned Fool.. fallin fer a pair of sparklin eyes and a fist full of gold.” Dorven had been hired for a simple transport job. A wealthy lords daughter had to be taken across the Sea of Darkness to join her husband to be. At least now he knew why the job had paid enough gold that it would have sunk the Dowager if he’d put it in her holds. Two weeks of calm, ideal winds, only a couple of days of rain. Fish almost jumping into their nets... now, only two days from their destination, and without any warning... This. Not a cloud in the sky, but the first gust of wind had nearly torn the main mast from the Dowagers deck. Only frantic trimming of her sail had saved it. Now, two hours later, the ocean had been whipped up to a frenzy. Massive troughs between the waves almost swamping the Dowager every time it fell into one of their depths. Dorven’s experienced hand and massive strength on the wheel, and the crews desperate efforts, were the only things that had kept her from capsizing. Four of his men had already been lost to the waves and wind, swept overboard or torn free from the rigging by the violence of the ocean.
So, when the door to the main cabin opened and his passenger stepped calmly and confidently out onto the deck, it isn’t really all that surprising that Dorven’s jaw went slack. The slender noble woman’s pale skin immediately dampening to glisten in the waning light of the setting sun. Her rich gown and skirts flying around her in the wind, and the ships heaving deck not bothering her in the least. Despite the violent motion, she glided smoothly up the steps to the aft deck beside Captain Dorven. Her petite figure dwarfed by his giant one, pale skin contrasting his sea burned tan.
“Lady Gastie, what be ye doin? Ye need t’ git back inside, lass” the captain growled as he forcibly dragged his attention back to the ship in time to bring her bow around a couple of degree’s to meet the next wave. The young woman’s bright, merry laugh, rich with amusement and pleasure, once again made Dorven look at her in shock. No words even came to mind. “Oh captain” the young Lady Gastie giggled. “You worry about the ship, I’ll take care of the rest”.
And with that, and a gentle touch of her hand on the captains arm, she stepped lightly forward, rolling easily even mid-stride, with another sharp roll of the vessel’s deck. Planting her bare feet firmly on the deck, her arms rose to her sides. The wind tearing and ripping the expensive, loose garment as it flared out behind her. Her delicate features rose to the sky as the amazed captain watched. Even many of the crew pausing their scrambling to watch. A pale blue aura started to glow around the woman’s hands, her lips moving in an unheard chant.
Shaking his head as the Dowager’s bow started to rise a bit off kilter, Dorven’s roared command tore through the screaming wind and creaking timbers to rally his crew back to their duties: “BACK AT IT YE SCABROUS DOGS, ER I’LL BE USIN YER HIDES AS ME NEXT SAILS!!”. The crew responded to their captains tone without thought, scrambling back to their duties even before the wind swept the last of his roar from their ears.
The next ten minutes were afterwards a haze in the captains mind as this young woman, barely sixteen summers of age and never before at sea, stood swaying without anchor or support at the fore railing of the aft deck. Face raised to the rising moon and arms rising to her sides throughout, the blue glow slowly expanding until it shrouded her entire body in a pale, eerie light that pushed back the gathering darkness. Her gown and skirts swiftly being torn to shreds in the howling wind and bullet like spray of the sea, though she seemed oblivious to all. An expression of ecstasy clearly visible to the captain in the brief glimpses he caught of her features. Captain Dorven’s great arms fighting every wave and swirl of the wind to hold the Dowager into the waves, forcing her bow to cut squarely into each swell.
Captain Dorven was nearing the end of his strength, even his mighty arms wearying and trembling with the strain of fighting the sea as the young Lady Gastie’s bell like voice rose to clear the roaring of the wind and waves as easily as the captains own deep bull roars could. “LET THE DARKNESS BE TURNED TO LIGHT, RISE NOW, MANTLE OF THE NIGHT AND SHROUD US AGAINST ALL FRIGHT. SO I BESEECH AND COMMAND”. The glow surrounding blazing brightly, like a small star on the deck of the storm tossed vessel, forcing back the black night.
The cries of the crew and Dorven’s own roar of surprise as he reflexively drew an arm over his eyes, fell to a shocked silence as the very ocean around the beleaguered ship began to glow to match the noble girls own aura. A mass of tendrils, seemingly composed of the same light, erupted from seas to wrap themselves around the railing and hull of large caravel. The shock and awe among the crew, combined with their terror, froze even the bravest of them. Preventing anyone from taking action as a glowing gelatinous membrane pulled itself free from the waters directly in front of the Dowager’s bowsprit, its weight pulling the ship into its embrace.
The glowing creature wasted no time wrapping its parachute like membrane around the ship. Half pulling it beneath the waves, water rushing over the Dowager’s sides momentarily before the creatures weight evened out. A massive wave washing over the membrane, sweeping over the vessel harmlessly even as the creature pulled itself beneath the waves, dragging the Dowager down harmlessly with it.
The captain and crews eyes traveled to the young woman as the glow surrounding her faded and she began to sway. Instinctively, Dorven released the now useless wheel and darted forward to scoop up Lady Gastie’s nearly weightless body in his arms as she collapsed.
Her eyes flickered open to look at the captain with a mix of resignation and anticipation as she whispered: “All things have a price, captain... your ship, silence, and life cost mere gold. My life and magics have a cost we must both pay... bound forever more are our fates and lives.” With that, she reached one hand out to tenderly caress the nearest tendril wrapped around the railing nearby. Her other hand resting on the captains bared chest before she lifted herself to press her lips to his salt chapped ones, passionately.
The fire’s of desire that swept both of them in that moment, filled their ears with the roaring thunder of the others pounding heart. Drowning out the screams of terror and pain as dozens of the giant jellyfish’s tendrils began lashing the deck, stinging and grasping sailors until the ship was swept clear of all life but the blue glow, and passionate fire atop the highest deck. Their own bodies glowing crimson with the heat, creating a blazing silhouette against the vibrant electric blue membrane surrounding the vessel.
A faint, distant voice sounded as a whispered echo, unheard, around the couple: “Across the sea, the Gastie line must flee, or ever after fail. Nobility of the sea will be your savior, take to the darkness to find your fate... or only darkness and ruin shall be yours. Go not with expectation, but only hope. At the break of night, shall your future be revealed”.
~ Arnaya, Soulmistress
Lore, history and other content by the citizens of Underlight preserved for posterity.
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The most important lesson I've learned over this past year, is not to let anyone make you cruel. No matter how badly you want to give the world a taste of it's own bitter medicine, it is never worth losing yourself.
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