‘Twas a dark and stormy night
Fog and sleet infesting the atmosphere
Sails tearing from the rigging
And mutineers lurking in the hull.
Battered by these insalubrious ethers
Weakened by these vindictive souls
I forge forward
Over towering crest and yawning trough.
My treasures safe in the hold
My bow impregnable
And though my deck be treacherous with ice
My rudder steers us true.
Hours pass of heaving and sawing
Poison passes into the sternway
Forging forward toward the dawn.
Hark! The howling wind misses a step
See: dim light breaks the fog
The storm falters
Dull gloom melts away!
Our passage unimpeded through the night
Waves relent their angry play
Wind contrives from foe to friend
Sleet melting upon the sea.
Tomorrow holds keen promise
The dawn zephyr hastens relief
My rigging now urges us forward
Into the light of a brand-new day.
’Twas a clear breeze which came with the glowing light of dawn
And the gulls’ calls brought a rising hope
The crew slowly began waking
To assess my state.
Rigging had been rent
And sails torn,
Yet my masts still stand strong
And my prow still holds tight.
‘Ahoy! Land ahoy!’
Cries rise from them all
Riding over cresting wave
We glimpse the horizon’s dark speck.
The ice is cleared and the decks are cleaned
The hatches flung open
And the stalls steam:
The cool chill air of Autumn pours through
Hark! Something rubs the hull!
From below decks comes the word
The captain’s frame becomes rigid
Fear lurks in the watery depths.
Movement explodes before the command even ends
The wind fills them and we begin to surge forward again
Murmured prayers rise in the name of the sea.
We forge through the choppy waves
Yet there is another touch,
And another, and another!
A tentacle feels at my keel.
Twas a dour and chill mourn
As the sails poured forth,
A snake-like form sliding through the waters
And chills run through the crew.
‘Avast! Be hearty!’ The captain spurs them on
My lines are taught
And the breeze fills fully
As the ship’s bell tolls alarm.
Slipping from their slimy embrace
My hull surges from the monster’s grasp
My keep escapes a snatch
Our course runs true to the wind.
Past the wooden decks
No soul there may be
Betwixt cruel titan and distant shore
None may proffer aid.
Suddenly towering above mainmast
A serpentine form soars!
Dark and glistening and sinister
It lashes toward the topsails!
‘Tack starboard, make haste!’
The captain hauls at the wheel
The crew heaves at the lines
We careen from its grasp.
The gleaming appendage flies by
Glancing the stern and spraying white
As it plummets into the waves
And we hasten our escape.
Twas a fever’d escape through the morn light
Stern askew and ropes frayed,
The treasure chests abused
And all nerves on edge.
Behind us safety of landfall dwindles,
The winds pursue us farther yet.
A glimpse of a tentacle thrashing
In our leeway left distant.
The rising sun streams through the clouds and mist
My hull surges from crest to crest
The crew intent on mending what broke
And the galley emanating enticing aromas.
Of course we surge away from danger
Away from harm yet away from safety
Aware of danger
Aware of the merciless sea ahead.
The airy regions clear and the waves remit
The clouds begin to thin and break,
The crew begins morning meal
Yet the fear is palpable.
I remain steadfast, the helmsman steers us true!
My hull not a leak, mast not one part loose!
Keel and rudder true and tight
But on to where, neither the captain may know.
Fear, that great Superior.
Knower of souls yet ignorant still.
We flee that which lays behind,
In terror still of what lays ahead.
‘Twas a fearsome dash
Fear striking deep into the crew’s hearts
A fine match for the chill weather!
Choppy seas flow beneath us
We continue our flight from the tentacled menace
The icy winds of winter
Hurl us farther into the open seas.
Yet while the monster lurks distantly astern
More evil lurks still in my hull.
The treasure chest has been rent open
And the crew’s valuables have been removed.
‘All hands on deck!’ The captain’s furious visage
Greeting shipmates and passengers alike,
‘Mutiny and treason be treated alike aboard!’
Deathly silence quiets even the wind.
In twos and threes the crew steps out
Knowing who was with whom
And passengers find evidence
Alibis discharging guilt.
Alone are left three:
A mage in white;
A grey major; and,
A dark nurse.
The depth of mystery
And the mystery of the deep
‘Search stem to stern!’
The cautions passengers mill about my deck.`
Twas a shrill cry
Far above the main sail
That turned all eyes skyward:
The three suspects
The milling passengers
And the crew alike
All instantly tense.
The gull which called the alert
And sank down along the breeze
Silently to the icy waters.
Only the rigging continued its rhythmic rap
Accompanied by creaking deck
The sun began her first sliver of covering
‘Where be my talisman?’
‘Forsaken we be!!’
As the gloom shrouds the sea
Frothy wave peaks shimmer and gleam
Activity bursts from stem to stern
Last Sight averts all eyes.
Gangways and stairways thrumming with frightened steps
Sails and keel knotted tight
Wind and sea drive us on!
I carry us true.
‘Twas a deepening twilight
Descending upon the sea
Obscuring the clouds
Fear striking deep inside.
‘Harken unto me!’
Now three-quarters gone
‘Cast forth true Light I shall!’
Sol irrevocably exits Her righteous throne.
Upon my decks
Drawn to the dignified call
Of the grizzled hierophant.
‘Nay a-folly shall befall the Pure!’
Hands up-raised and face up-turned
‘Tarry not! Obeisance!’
Followers converge at her feet.
My very hull hews into the waters
Her power draws us all closer to the waves
The chanting throng rings forth
The Heavens vibrate in accord!
‘Your Supplicants praise Thee!
Purified Petition we must beseech Thee!’
Yet Her hallowed Disc continues
Its inexorable obfuscation.
As Sol retreats behind Her darkened guise
Stars emerge from the indigo
And my hull regains buoyancy
As the chorus degenerates into a whimper.