The Tale of the Sea Drake
How Captain Haryklon’s Vessel Sailed West, and Possibly Returned.
Sorn Littleknot found himself one night, amongst the other men, all filthy from fish grime and raunchy. The men he spent his days with were stupid and ignorant but for the most part hard working and trustworthy enough to do their share of the netting. They sat atop the bow deck, in a soft and mild-mannered breeze, and not a sight or sound could they hear among the waves. They were making good timing, returning to the Grand Harbor from a very successful catch. Smiles were plentiful. The next year would be a good one, that is until they drank their coin away in Cillandar.
The crew of the Staunchion had just hauled in one of their last nettings, gutted and salted the load. Stored below just under the Captain’s quarters. Of course, the Captain, happy and drunk, no doubt was now dreaming of the coin he’d earn back too. Here he was, only several weeks now removed from seeing his new child, born whilst he was at sea. For some reason, as the Captain lay in his hammock trying to picture his child’s precious face, he knew. Knew that tonight would be the one that Garolin, the old dwarf, most senior of the “working crew” as the Haulers liked to call themselves, would tell the Tale of the Sea Drake.
But on deck, Sorn continued with his netting. It was Sorn’s first voyage to sea that was true. He knew Garolin was said to have been involved in the Sea Drake somehow. But like others on the vessel, he knew that he wasn’t to mention it. He wondered, how much the old dwarf had really been involved, tales like this had a way of becoming fishy after a few tellings on a moonless sea; he had never heard him mention it before. The telling of this tale, as with all good Celn tales needed a setting worthy of it’s inspiring power to send chills down a sailor’s spine. It was said to only be told properly while at sea, and he knew Garolin was as superstitious as the rest of the Celns. That old fool had kept them waiting purposefully for nearly 10 months. Patient bastard! Sorn was sure it would be tonight….
The wind lightly flapped the sails above, and every so often the clicking of metal on the boon was heard along with a gentle splash upon the oaken planks at the water line. The boat listed side to side, and Garolin began at just a perfect moment as if this is when it had been scheduled…
“Captain Haryklon was a stout man. Brave in words and deeds.”
“So said the men who had sailed with him.”
“I know ….because I sailed with him. Yes, that’s right laddies! Not much to look at now am I, but yours truly sailed with Hariklon himself! And I can tell you every word you’ve heard of the man’s character is true! Hariklon was tenacious! He was mean spirited. But, he was also brave as a trek to the Ketian Hells. If he told you he’d do something , well shit lads, he did it.”
“And so, when word came to the docks that he was attempting to build a vessel that could sail West, nobody doubted him, and some even eagerly joined or attempted to; some just gave him coin, investing in the future riches he’d return with. Well, when it came time to pick his crew, he had his pick of the lot too, he did.”
“Bet that’s why you didn’t go, eh Garolin!” smirked Troubidor. Troubidor was an officer of the vessel, in charge mostly of overseeing the proper treatment of the ship, but he spent too much time with the Haulers and for that they nicknamed him Traitor.
“Ay, Traitor! They turned me down. Turned me down because I had a wife and child though not on account of my tiller being too long like you’d have guessed, you arse! None could go that were a father…”
Troubidor didn’t seem to see that coming, and had no reply. Garolin went on.
“That is, until Hariklon returned from the West one night. Of course, his men didn’t do much talking then. Mostly gnashing. Gnawing. Biting. And ripping…”
“What do you mean, Garolin? The Sea Drake never returned! Far Realm were established, all in the Dread Isles. The Sea Drake was lost at sea. It was never seen again.” This time it was Derg Moromit, a small, but hairy Halfling that did much of the tinkering on netting in the water. “No craft had ever returned from the West before the His Majesty’s Colonial Fleet!”
“Ah, yes, that’s right. The Sea Drake never returned. They made sure it didn’t return officially. Boys, I tell a lot of tales, but this is the only one that could get me inquisitioned. And that’s why I won’t mention again, and if anyone asks, it won’t be me you heard it from.”
“Sure, sure Garolin. Now we’re all spooked. Great night for it too.” One of the sailors joked, but there was a hint of seriousness in his voice as well.
Garolin turned to the lad, took a puff on his pipe, blew it out slowly. It caught the breeze and was gone. “Let me ask you this Derg…how many of you remember the Great Fire of 65? The one that nearly destroyed the Grand Harbor’s Standing Armada?”
There were nods all around. Everyone had heard that story of course.
“What do you remember about it, exactly, Gentlemen?” This time, Garolin took a puff and slowly inhaled, letting the sweet but bitter smoke drift through his lips and nostrils. He stared out into the sea, remembering that night. The night Captain Hariklon’s vessel returned. The night he was asked to set the Harbor ablaze.
The Tale of the Sea Drake