Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Beyond the Shore: Session 22

Red Bull...it gives you wings...

Her hair was velvet to the touch
her mouth scornful
holding hidden truths
for those who loved too much.

She wrapped herself in ghostly white
with scarlet red at her throat
a muse indeed, for your delight,
in a soft black mourning coat.

You mourned for her
and for yourself
you knew the price you’d pay,
but every gift she gave to you
stole your heart away.

Once it was over and it was done,
she bowed your head so proud,
on your knees you worshipped
and your cries of pain were loud.

With poetic fondness
A finger traced your glossy head
“Words were your demons and saviours”
You recalled the words you said.

But you’d bargined for this inspiration
and thought it a fitting end
she promised you a brillant life
and a tragic betrayal of a lover or a friend.

At last you saw
the betrayal was your own
and you, the soul that dies,
and as she sucked your genius away,
she smothered all your cries.

Leanan Sidhe, by Starzzi


Standing in the bloody aftermath of the attack of the wha-waewae manu, Caddis ordered the watch doubled and for everyone else to work on the ship double-time. Eager to be free of the cursed island, the crew readily complied, with Wunorse informing him that the Dümplom would be sea-worthy and battle ready in about a day and a half (“real days, not faerie days”).

Meanwhile, Zarina and Oppenheimer excitedly got to work. They sawed the head off of the Dümplom’s figurehead, replacing it with the skull of the Red Bull, then recruited most of the labor crew to help them attach the ribs and other bones to the exterior of the ship, framing out and reinforcing the hull with the bones of the giant bull, and stretching the hide over them.

Leo and Rummy ordered the cooks to see if they could do anything with the bird-creatures, but no blade could be found on the ship able to cut through their magically hardened flesh. Meanwhile, during the “night”, the two of them dragged Mustardseed, one of the faerie prisoners, off into the woods and sacrificed her to Fishguts.

With Zarina’s additions, the work on the ship took nearly three days (as the crew measured it), and another half-day to wait for the tide to right the ship and get it loaded. At the Captain’s order, Zarina took the wheel and signaled to Oppenheimer to man the complicated series of levers they’d rigged up at the base of the main-mast.

“Now,” Zarina shouted, and with the pull of one lever the crow’s nest began to spin, spraying the deck of the ship with a sparkling mixture of pixie dust and powdered unicorn horn causing the Dümplom to rise slowly into the air. Another pull caused the bone and hide structures on the side of the ships to curl outward to either side, like two more sails deploying, forming a pair of giant, blood-red bat-like wings. Zarina grinned maniacally, “Where to captain?”

They officers fell to discussion, debating whether to stop by one of the towns or village’s they’d seen on the southern coast to recruit more people for their crew, but decided against such given the volatile nature of the Fae creatures they’d met so far. Caddis raised the question of whether someone in the Faerie realm might have sufficient magic to help cure his sister’s blindness or restore Sandara’s leg. Fiona suggested that a faerie named “Lean” might be able to help them.

“Where would we find her?”

“She likes crowds. You could probably find her at any of the towns, or all of them really, but the Courts would be your best bet…”

“How do we get to the courts?”

“Head inland…” Zarina said warily.

Caddis suggested that they stop by his mother’s place first to ask her for advice, since she supposedly had connections in the court. Leo objected to going to Abere’s house again, so Zarina flew the ship over the swamp and Caddis and Fiona swung down on ropes.

“Want to see my ship? It flies.” No sooner had Caddis said this to his mother than he, Fiona, and Abere all appeared back on the deck of the ship, much to Leo’s dismay. Abere, it seemed, was not a fan of this ‘Lean’, but did agree to take them to the courts and introduce them. Zarina reluctantly turned the ship north-east towards the center of the island, while the Manekineko Parade struck up a flying song.

unseelie-x545.jpgThey flew over progressively less recognizable landforms, with the bizarre fish-leafed and marble-columned trees giving way to vaguely upright masses of colour, then tall multicoloured walls reminiscent of mountains. The ship flew higher and higher until it finally crossed the ridge of the isalnd’s tallest mountains (or what passed for mountains). Beyond the ridge, where a valley might otherwise be, there was a seemingly bottomless abyss, out of which rose an impossibly tall tree-like structure. The sky overhead gaveway from the uniform yellow they had previously seen, to a swirling mass, perfectly bisected, with one half pitch-black and the other a perfect rainbow, all pivoting around a single point directly above the tree (or perhaps where the tree touched the sky). Perched precariously on one vast branch of the tree was a palace, larger than any on earth. Each of its thousands of towers and minarets were of a different style and colour, all circling a great courtyard.
unseelie-worldtree.jpg

“Helm’s all yours…” Zarina said to Leo, as she hastily flew down below decks to hide herself.
The ship drifted to a stop hovering over the courtyard, where an impossibly long, glowing, yet transparent staircase rose to meet them, rising to exactly the height of the ship’s starboard rail. Below, in the courtyard, they could see a teeming mass of creatures of all descriptions—gelatinous monstrosities, multi-headed chimeras, dragons of every hue, humanoid shapes of pure darkness. “They all want to eat us, don’t they…” Leo said.

Thaduk-the-Unicorn.jpg
Thaduk put on the bindi they had taken from the unicorns and transformed himself from a massive, terrifying black orc into massive and terrifying black unicorn with the image of a bloody maw on its flank. Caddis laid a glamour over Rummy, making him appear like one of the captured Seelie fey in their hold. Abere simply shrank Leo and tucked him into the pocket of her apron then started down the stairs.

They marched down, to the tune of Leo’s singing from his pocket and the banging of tiny kitten drummers, towards what they could now recognize as some kind of monstrous garden party. The creatures in the courtyard milled about, mingly and chatting and paying them little mind. At the far end several tables were set up, laid out with all manner of beverages imaginable and decorated with disturbingly lifelike ice sculptures of women with panicked looks on their faces.

As they neared the bottom of the stairs, a blair of discordant trumpets and a disembodied voice announced them, “Now presenting, the Countess Abere, the Captain Caddis Duncaster, son of Abere, and retinue!” causing all eyes in the courtyard to turn their way, briefly, before resuming their various conversations.

Waiting for them at the bottom was Abere, again. The one walking with them simply stepped into this other one head on, until the two had completely merged, such that the new whole had identical faces looking out from both the front and back of her head. When asked, Leo, who was still riding in her pocket, described passing through her in this way as the most horrible and disturbing thing he’d ever experienced.

Fiona quickly rushed off to the tables, returning with a tray laden with wine-glasses which she handed out to the group. Fortified with wine, the group fanned out to look for Lean. Finally, Caddis simply stepped into the middle of the courtyard and asked loudly, “Does anyone know where we could find the Lady Lean?!”

Instantly an elegantly dressed woman, largely human in appearance and beautiful, appeared in front of him. “I am the Leanan,” she said. Caddis quickly explained that they needed her to heal members of their crew.

“Oh, I don’t have the power to do such things…but you do,” she said. And suddenly Caddis knew that what she said was true and that he had somehow gained the power to regenerate others. She sniffed, “and I see that you’ve brought some mortals into our midst…”

Immediately three more copies of the woman appeared next to Leo, Rummy, and Thaduk, all of whom found themselves back to their normal shapes and sizes. The woman (or the copies of her) placed her arms around each of them in a flirtatiously possessive way. “Oh no,” Leo said, “I’m a Faerie, I just smell mortal because I sleep with so many mortal women.”

Leo then broke out the Liar’s Broom and began sketching a circle around himself. All four copied of ‘Lean’ merged and stepped into the circle with him before he could close it. She pressed her entire body up against his and purred, “Oooh yesssss, tell us a story…” Gulping loudly he finished closing the magical circle. Instantly the attention of every being, great or small, in the courtyard was locked on him as he began, stumblingly, to recount their adventures since arriving on the faerie island.

Caddis quickly messaged Thaduk and Rummy, “Run while he’s distracting them. Just slip away…”

Thaduk and Rummy ran up the stairs back towards the ship. “I hate Leo so much right now…” Rummy muttered.

As Caddis and Fiona raced up the stairs behind them, Abere mother handed Caddis a stick. “You might need this.” Then gave him a small hug, “Thanks for going out of your way to come visit…”

Leo continued his story for as long as he could, despite the distraction of Lean continuing to rub her entire body against his and her ecstatic moans as he told particularly good parts. Finally he stopped. Just stopped mid-story, completely lost for words.

“Tell them about the birds,” Thaduk yelled from the stairs.

“Leo, keep stalling for 10 more seconds,” Caddis encouraged.

“Oh yessss…please…don’t stop…” Lean moaned.

With a deep breath, Leo rushed back into the story, albeit rather flatly.

“And that’s nothing. Listen to what happens next!” Thaduk, now safely over the ship’s rail, yelled. With everyone but Leo aboard, Caddis gave the orders for Thaduk and Rummy to make the ship ready to cast off, while he ran to find Jessica and test out his newly-granted power.

“Oh yeah…” Leo said distractedly, “and then…then…you and me go back to the ship and make some sweet fairy love.”

Immediately Leo and Lean vanished, reappearing in the captain’s quarters aboard the Dümplom. Lean, or rather, a half dozen Leans, sat around on the floor as Leo stood in the middle of them, completely naked and armed with a strange new instrument.

Hearing the strange song, Rummy sent Fishguts in to look around. Fishguts quickly reported back that the room was empty, save for Leo who was rocking out with his cock out. Receiving this ‘all clear’, Rummy went to the helm and told Oppenheimer to cast off.

Thaduk, meanwhile, still hearing Leo’s calls for ‘a hero’, burst into the room. He immediately found himself surrounded by a trio of Leans who asked, “So what do you do?” He responded by flexing his massive muscles for them. Suddenly, he also was nude, with a Lean caressing the muscles on either arm. “Mmmmmmmmm…it looks like you like spears…” said the third, and just as suddenly he was holding a beautiful weapon and feeling stronger than ever.

After what seemed like far too long a time, but was really only minutes, Jessica’s eyes had grown back. After several happy hugs for his sister, Caddis ran back up on deck to find his friends. Looking in his cabin, he found Leo still playing his strange song, with Thaduk dancing nakedly around him with a spear, though he saw no sign of Lean. Shaking his head, Caddis leveled Abere’s stick at them and shrank them both to about a tenth of their normal size.

The Leans’ sighed and merged back into a single woman, who picked up the tiny Leo shaking her head. “Well that’s no fun…” she said, then vanished.

She reappeared, in triplicate, below the decks, surrounding Rummy. “What do you do?” Rummy stood stoically naked and unspeaking through her flattery and cajoling and flirting. Finally she said, “You’re a killer aren’t you?” The Lean standing right in front of him unfastened the top of her dress, exposing just enough cleavage to give him a clean shot at her heart, “Show me…” she pleaded repeatedly.

Finally he lashed out with both blades, stabbing, not the inviting one, but the two Lean’s on either side of him, right in the gut. All three women vanished, though his blades were coated in blood which, no matter how he shook or wiped them, would not come off.

Apparently free of the faerie muse, the officers rushed to the deck. “Get us out of here,” Caddis said to Leo. The sailing master turned the ship back out to sea, towards the storm by which they’d come in.

Leo flew the Dümplom higher and higher. They passed right over the top of the hurricane, back out into a still-yellow sky, and found themselves looking at an almost identical island, save that the trees were more tree-like and the mountains much less colourful.

“Not over then…”

They turned around and flew headlong into the worst of the storm. Neither the wind, nor the rain, nor the lightning touched them, protected as they were by the shawl Leo was wearing. Finally they flew out the other side, to a sky that was also yellow, but not the uniform lemon-yellow of Faerie, but the streaked, multi-hued yellow of sunset at sea. The waves were blue and capped with white, and the sun was its proper shade and well-and-truly setting.

Once night fell, Leo took a reading from the stars and informed them that they were in the southern Atlantic and, judging by the constellations, that it was late spring, some 7,000 miles from where they had first entered the Faerie realms and at least six months later.

“Since we’re here, we might as well set a course for the Carribean,” Caddis ordered.

To be continued…