by Micheal "Swoop" Zajac
As the last sounds of struggle faded into the gentle pull of the current, I had always known that this would be how it would end. Lost at sea, drowned deep beneath the waves as gently glowing jellyfish embraced us in their deadly caress. I knew at some point I would pay for my crimes, that the sea would take its vengeance upon me. My last sight was the panic in my friend’s eyes, as they desperately attempted to escape this fate in vain. My last thought of my dear mother, her eyes looking lovingly as she hummed her favorite shanty as I lay down to sleep as a young boy. As I find rest on the bottom of the sea bed, poison coursing through my body, I realize there will be no one to tell my story. So please, allow me to tell the tale of the day Swoop drowned at sea.
It started months ago, when Sayeh was taken. Well, “commandeered”. A being identifying as The Divine Harlot gave her a choice to become her avatar in this time of great need. As the spirit entered her body, she demanded Tuilli to attack her, where she disappeared in a puff of smoke leaving only a map behind. Later Tuilli, Axel and myself received visions from this being to travel north to the Sapphire Isle, Sayeh’s home. As we gathered and planned, we were attacked by a being who taunted us to seek the Bronze King. I was familiar with the tale of the Bronze King, a king who had ordered a sword to be made of bronze from a witch and a warlock. But as he tried to slice with the sword it would not cut. As he ordered the witch and warlock to death, they cursed him with their final breaths, foretelling of his queen perishing to the sea and his heir to never sit on the throne. Thus the story goes, his great defeat at the Battle of Nettles, and the how his queen threw herself in the ocean. We knew not of how this would relate to Sayeh’s disappearance, but we knew we must stop this being to get her back.
As we gathered on the port with our fleet of ships and band of adventuring crew, we set sail north. For five days we sailed, assaulted by waves, icebergs, sharks, and overtly aggressive seagulls. We managed to procure some eggs from a sea creature that allowed us to breathe underwater, and we descended the depths. There we found a thriving ecosystem, with sharks, crabs and vicious whirlpools. There also was a lone figure, her fair voice carrying easily over the waves. I looked curiously on as some stopped and started drifting towards her, as if entranced, while others held their hands to their ears in pain. For me, it was just gentle music, as I stand there unaffected. As I spoke to her, we learned these sirens were women dragged down to the bottom of the sea, worthy brides for the Bronze King. While those found unworthy were simply drowned, those who were found loyal were transformed into these mythical creatures.
As the creatures cleared a lone sea hag found us, offering unwarranted advances and items to aid us in our quest. She told us of where to go to advance forward. As we swam across the way, we entered a dark cavern, which we shortly found was a living whale! After traveling for a time, the whale spat us out near a passing vessel.
Unfortunately, this was no friendly vessel. A roving band of bounty hunters recognized our faces, and soon the ship was a brawl. While Tuilli and Axel were self-proclaimed pirates, my wanted poster was from a life I tried to flee from. While we almost took the ship, a flash of smoke put us into a deep sleep as we were thrown into the brig.
While we lay in the brig, separated into two groups, I reflected on the past. Deep down I knew I could not run from this fate forever. As fellow adventures gazed at the wanted posters hanging on the wall, most were confused by the unfamiliar name beneath my face. While most ignored the odd pairing, a few realized no mother names their child Swoop. As I tried to explain, we were interrupted by the realization that there were keys hidden around the brig to free us! We quickly began searching every nook and cranny, finding keys and a lockpick set stashed away. We heard various manly grunts and cheers coming from the other brig, assuming they were finding similar clues to escape. The ship was starting to lean, a tell-tale it was taking on water, so time was of the essence. While the men in the other brig managed to free themselves, a lone lock was all that stood in our way. The water was rising fast, but the last tumbler would not give. Finally with an exasperated cry for aid, the final lock clicked as we rushed out into the deep sea.
We rejoined our companions as we fought our way to a shipwreck. The sharks became bolder in the dark, and many were lost to their rows of sharp teeth. A pair of sirens guarded the ships, drawing in unwary adventurers. Axel acted quickly and pulled a ritual dagger we found and managed to banish the two before they could cause more harm. From there we managed to find two chests guarded by angry crabs, where we found trinkets from lost sailors. From there, Axel felt a tingle, and his egg that he had been carrying for a year began to roll away on its own. We hurried after it as it rolled into the deeper ocean, where it began to crack open. A mighty creature emerged from it, half kraken, and half loch-ness monster, what we ended up calling a krakniss. The creature began to follow its nose for food as it led us on the next leg of our quest....