The Pirate Game
A Small Tale
Tale telling is not my forte and, especially, I have difficulty telling tall tales. I have never understood why stories so outrageous as to be unbelievable by anyone of the slightest intelligence attract so much attention and, even, respect. Surely, there are wonders enough in this great world that such embellishment is unnecessary – except, of course, by those who wish to place themselves in the centre of stories to which they do not, rightly, belong.
Thus, when my turn comes to entertain the crew with tales of imagined deeds, I struggle to find the right words to make them understand. Of course, that has long been my lot in life, so I persevere. Perhaps, once they know better my story and myself, they will understand why I see no need for embellishment.
My birth was foretold, sixteen centuries past, by the Waveseer – greatest prophet that my people have ever known: To be born within three rings, beneath the crashing waves, during a storm of greater ferocity than any seen since Earthfall; and destined to wrest the secrets from the depths and the depths beneath the depths.
My parents had both served in the Seaguard for their entire adult lives, manning the swift and powerful ships that have kept unwanted guests from both our homeland and our inheritance in the shattered remnants of Azlant since our return from Sovyrian. I say, without fear of contradiction, that the Seaguard are the finest sailors on the Steaming Sea, yet even their skills were no match for the great storm.
Seemingly propelled by malice beyond nature’s ken, the storm arrived with no warning and less mercy, concentrated between the cliffs and channels of shattered Azlant. My parents’ ship foundered and sank, all hands but one lost beneath the churning foam. The sole survivor was the ship’s Channelfinder, a druid whose magics protected her from the storm’s fury, but even she could do no more than take shelter in a sea-cave well beneath the surface.
It was from here that she saw the first sign: a great school of sharks circling, above. Nothing unusual following a shipwreck but, beyond the circle, a greater ring of smaller fish was gathering, while, within, a pod of dolphins formed a tighter ring. Strangely, none of the creatures seemed to pay the others any mind at all – the fish ignored the sharks and the sharks the dolphins. At the very centre of the ever-spinning rings, floated a single figure, its appearance obscured by stirred up sediment and flotsam.
Hoping against hope that the dolphins’ behaviour signalled a survivor, the Channelfinder girt herself about with what magics she retained and braved both the pummelling swell of the channel and the growing array of sea creatures to seek out the truth. In the centre of the three rings, she found me.
Torn, early, from my mother’s body by the stress of storm and crashing waves, I floated peacefully, not breathing but with eyes open and alert. The druid used the last of her magics upon me and, as she carried me back to the sea-cave, my first breath was of storm-lashed sea water.
I will not bore you with the remainder of the tale – the weeks-long journey back across the Steaming Sea to Mordant Spire and the additional proofs that mine was the birth foretold. I simply ask you to understand why it is that I tell no tall tales.