It takes a village...

“It takes an entire town to build a ship…” That is what Oslo’s father used to say back with he was still called Oslo, started Vhaethuin. The old sage, rasped as the tale of the “Morbid Gale” was being told in the dark corner of the Prospector, a tavern in the village of Stonehaven. “The cavern was like the insides of some giant sea beast, ringed with pale ridges of start stone in contrast to the dark earth they held out. The water beneath the behemoth trireme was dark and reflected the dull red light that oozed through the cavern, as if everything were spied through red lenses.” Vhaethuin continued for his now gathering crowd, “The deck beneath Os Sordidum, the true name for the man and the demon within, was sticky with half dried blood, the fiend mused to himself about the irony of those sacrificed, “truly an entire town.”

Vhaethuin, the lore keeper, drank briefly from the wine at hand, “Long ago Oslo had found the demon, Sdiariarchist, it lurked beneath the waves outside of Pyro’s Landing. Always seeking to devour the souls and ships of the unwary. The fiend had punished the citizens of Celador as if they were responsible for its torment, but that is an older story for another time.” Vhaethuin professed, clearly pleased with himself. “Already a proud sailor, pirate and mage, Oslo captained a ship, “The Barnicle Black” it was called. This pirate vessel was taken by darkness and cast deep into the sea, pulled deep by the will of Sdiariarchist. Only through sheer will was the arcane power of Oslo able to keep the hull together. Deeper and deeper beneath the waves Sdiariachist pushed the vessel and when the face of the demon could be seen and the crew no longer clung to life, save Oslo, the demon forced the ship into a blackened undersea cave. The rush of air and surge of the ship accelerating through the blackened water forced Oslo to the decking, his magic finally failing and his ship being shattered into little more than flotsam, bobbing like a decaying corpse in the deep, black cavern.” Vhaethuin took a long rasping breath and allowed his eyes to focus beyond the gathered crowd, silence stealing in the room as if even the fire dared not interrupt the lore keeper.

The gathered miners and farmers leaned in close hanging on every word, Vhaethuin continued in the low rasping voice, “Oslo awoke, cold and soaked upon the rock ledge that drove out into the dark abyss like a pier. The demon had gone, his ship had gone, the crew dead for their weakness. It would take many months but Oslo wound his way through the dark recesses and caves, many ending in dead ends or dark pools. The Sdiariarchist was always there, haunting his dreams and chewing at this sanity. Always Oslo would find the rage to continue, refusing to fail the Red King, refusing to allow his father to be right, and refusing to die. So it came to pass that deep within a cold dark pool not far from the great cavern Oslo found the remains of another tormented guest of Sdiariachist. The former, another mage by his trappings held tight to his skeletal chest a tome, perfect in its repose, though the body and attire of the owner long since rotted and left in sticky wet tatters, bound by the once-flesh ooze of the dead. The Librum Turpis.

“Oslo’s battle with the demon was a thing too complex and hard to describe for my feeble abilities, yet it is known that neither won the contest but were merged into one another. Oslo used his own body to capture the demon, like a treasure map corked within a bottle. Once removed from its physical being, Sdiariachist was no match for Oslo’s will, or was it the other way about?” Vheathuin postulated. “Os Sordidum was born that day, his body transformed, a wicked gash filled with shark-like teeth filled the space where his mouth had been, his eyes pale and without pupils as if belonging to a long-drowned sailor. The secrets of his prison now laid bare, Os Sordidum returned to his Red King, a plan was made plain to the MeKuShu and preparations begun for the Morbid Gale.”

“Time passed, sacrifices were made,” Vhaethuin relaxed a moment into the story, “Until the day came that the ship would be christened the “Morbid Gale”, the ritual to bind the demon within the Corsair-Mage to the ship was nearly complete. The Red King would be pleased.” Vhaethuin used the mention of the Red King as a natural pause to the story. “Terror, like the screaming breath of a thousand sacrifices, would fill the sails of the massive trireme, negating the need for actual winds. Os Sordidum approached the bone-crafted altar that served as the helm of the Morbid Gale. There the Librum Turpis lay open to the final pages of the binding spell, bound in the skin of a Kraken its pages pressed from the fine inner-hide skin of great carcharodons. The tome had laid out the requirements, each step painstakingly followed, now Os Sordidum would have a ship, even the mage’s father could have never matched.”

Vhaethuin drank deeply from his wine and prepared the final part of his tale, “The final sacrifice was laid naked and bound upon the ships decking. Already the blood from his ritual wounds fed the bestial ship beneath him. The Morbid Gale drank deeply of the shipwright’s life, leaving barely a vestige of the man alive. Os Sordidum raised the ancient blade above his head, finishing the incantation flowing through him from the Librum Turpis. With a lightning like stroke the blade fell, severing the craftsman’s life and sending his essence throughout the ancient and now demon bound ship. As the power flowed through Os Sordidum, he fell to his knees, the binding of man, demon and ship was complete. Soft words escaped the curled and wretched lips of the Pirate-Mage…”Farewell…father…”

Vhaethuin rasped the last line in almost a whisper, audible gasps were his payment for the yarn well spun. The lore keeper smiled, not warmly but in a dark and haunted manner. “Fear the Red King and his MeKuShu, but know that there are others under the Blood-stained banner that are equally vile,” he rasped.
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