Lilly Roth? Granddaughter of the legendary Rot-tooth Roth? Oh, apologies if I seem a little... giddy. It's not any old day you get to meet marine royalty. I mean, you know how I feel about pirates and all, but the Roths have as much in common with those scurvy sea rats as a... as a shark does with a goldfish.
Lilly has her granddaddy's blood in her veins; it's plain for all to see. Look at the lustre in her eyes, the ruddy blush of her skin. That there's a pirate princess, and no mistake.
You do know it's cruel to make jests of an addled mind, don't you? Nessa alive, and turned into a bloody cod? Hah! That said, you've never been wrong before so seems like I'm going to have to stare this fanciful tale in its fishy face.
She talked of the Brine King, did she? Now there's a name what can trouble the breeches off even the most jaded of poets. Though Merveil might be dead, the sea still has its seductive songs, and this time it's a big, briney baritone doing the wailing.
You won't find a sailor that doesn't whisper a quiet prayer to the Brine King before casting off. In fact, under the maddening radiance of a full moon, the more superstitious captains would drown some poor slave or failed mutineer... just to keep old Tsoagoth happy.
No, that wasn't a sneeze. That's the fish god's old Azmerian name. It's considered foul luck to speak it on board a ship. A keel-hauling offense.
Yes, we live in curious times indeed. A time when old stories are being birthed, mewling and puking, into our world of dirt and blood.
It's all a bit inspiring really, hence I've written a little something.
Ancient anecdotes Now wake from their beds Looming in our fears Towering above our heads Age-old lusts And bygone greeds Walking and wreaking As humanity bleeds Rivers of history Lakes of blood The gods stand upon us As we cower in the mud
Our marrow-sucking neighbors have fled up the ridge. Which would've been nice -- out of sight, out of mind. Except that the corpse queen had to go and find that accursed crown of hers. As old as the first Karui, some say, fashioned by the cannibal god himself, Kitava. Aye, that Kitava, I'm afraid. With its master growing fat off the lives[?] of Oriath, that crown'll be getting a taste of that same power. And so will the man-eating matriarch wearing it! I think we'd all sleep easier if that crown was in our hands, rather than those of a slavering madwoman.
As luck would have it, I've just finished the ode I was writing for your triumphant return!
To the Queen of the Cadavers Our Exile did swagger To pay their respects To the Cannibal Throne The Queen did curtsey, Our Exile did bow, Then, with a thwick and a thwack, Cut that Corpse Queen down, Up went her shriek, Off fell her crown, And home came our Exile, The savior of our town...
There you go. One of my very best, if you ask me. Yet it's an ungrateful wretch that pays only in words.
Screams. Howls and booms of unholy intonation. The shriek and clank of some unfathomable apparatus and the pervading stench of scorched flesh and boiling blood. That's Axiom Prison now that our lady of Umbra has come home to roost.
As a poet, I have nothing against a little creativity. Yet while I might mould word and wonder, Shavronne's art tends towards the visceral. Flesh, bone and soul.
Artistic pursuit is the loftiest of callings, but in this instance, I believe some rigorous criticism is in order.
The old goat's turned up his tootsies, has he? Oh wait...I feel a poem coming on.
Through the bleating flock Our exile did wade Over hoof and horn and goat blood sprayed Until at last an audience with Old King Billy Or The Cloven One Or Abberath And other names, just as silly "Dine with me, friend." Old Billy did growl. "Feed me your soul." "Feed me it, now!" Our exile just smiled and gutted that goat. So that not one more soul Would get stuffed down his old throat.
Honestly, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to find a good rhyme for 'goat', exile.
You'll not find a more renowned pirate as Weylam 'Rot Tooth' Roth. In times when Fairgraves was still a whelp earning his sea legs, Rot-tooth was prowling the Strait of Oriath in his ship, the 'Black Crest'.
It's said he build it hisself, lining its hull with the bones of some great sea beast he slew with nothing but a harpoon and a bottle o' rum. Never was there a more nimble, more ferocious vessel. Like that leviathan's spirit still lived and breathed in its timbers.
No-one's sighted Rot Tooth for twenty years or more, but I know where the Black Crest is. The Ship Graveyard, no less. Seems that Weylam Roth might have had his last meal with Lady Merveil.
Now, I'm sure you've noticed that Lioneye's Watch has seen better days. Our once bubbling township has, alas, become a brooding quagmire of gloom and despair. I blame the unrelenting weather.
As you know, I am both a humanitarian and a strong believer in the soul-sustaining power of story. Back when I was still Captain of the Merry Gull, many days at sea afforded me time to work on my thespian aspirations. I wrote a theatrical epic, a one man show entitled "Cedric and the Buxom Stranger".
I sealed the manuscript inside a roll of oiled leather and stashed it in the hold for safekeeping. Perhaps you could salvage it for me from that Tidal Island upon which my poor ship came to rest? Who knows, maybe we can bring some joy back to Lioneye's Watch with a bit of live entertainment?
Marvelous! Ah yes, yes, it's all here. Ahem, Act One, Scene One:
"Along the shoreline, the beach grass sways, A blazing sun sinks neath sparkling bays. O' strange be the night when the drowned dead rise, And a pale moon ascends upon cold skies. The Stranger still is lost to me, those silken pillows upon which I lay at sea..."
Moody, atmospheric... not as funny as I remember, but I'm sure it gets better in Act Two. Regardless, you have my thanks. Please, take something for your efforts.
And next time you're in town, do come and see the show. I'll leave your name at the door... if I can salvage a door from somewhere, that is.
Dominus might be the highest of Templars in name, but he's the lowest of malefactors in nature. What he's doing to Oriath, well, he's the one who should be washed up on the Twilight Strand, not the likes of yourself and Tarkleigh. Of course, I'd've been on the first black ship out had I spoken such a thing in fair Theopolis.
It's said that the Faun was one of the first children born after the fall of the Eternal Empire. A boy child with the head and hooves of a goat. The villagers left him to die out on the cliffs. He didn't. Returned many a year later to carry off the chieftain's daughter. Before long, there were more goat-men roaming about, and more women going missing. Not something you want to think about too hard if you like your sleep.
Roaming, rotting rhoas roosting right here in Wraeclast? Squawking, suppurating spooks stalking our sandy seashore? Blighted, bedeviled bird bones beaking about our business... what? Can't a man have even a little fun in this dismal place?
Those butchering buccaneers sailed off that way, the ones that plundered my poor Merry Gull. T'would be poetic justice if they'd stopped off for a sing-a-long with Merveil's lovely daughters on their way home.