Taras writes "In the 567th year CY, a ship was lost off the cost of Ahlissa. Of the 67 men on board, two survived that horrific night. Here is the story of one of those men.
Author: Taras Guarhoth (email@example.com)
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Tale of Kaldak von Shargallen
Navigator of the ship, Procan’s Breath, lost off the coast of Ahlissa on the 5th of Reaping, CY 567
That cursed beacon was out, and our ship ran into the rock along the coast with a storm rapidly moving in. She was holed, and pretty badly damaged, and it looked like she was gonna sink, so we abandoned her before the storm hit, and smashed her to splinters on the cliffs.
We went ashore very close to the cursed remains of Lezt Lechtfeur. That hellish spire of ice could be clearly seen by all the men, and the cold could be clearly felt. We were gonna have to pass real close to that gods forsaken place if we intended to ever make it off that rock. We wrapped ourselves as best as we could against the cold, and headed off, trying to get away from there as fast as we could. Well, Ralishaz must have been with us, because that storm hit quicker than we’d thought, and we were stuck there on the rock.
We were forced to take shelter in one of the caves on the southern end of the rock, since the wind and the waves and the cold would have killed us before we had a chance to go more than a mile. In the cave, we burned what we’d salvaged in the way of wood from the ship to try and keep warm, and prayed to Procan to make the storm short. Well, Procan apparently wasn’t listening that day, and the storm raged on for hours.
Some of the lads, being more brave than wise, decided to explore a bit further into the caves. Now, the rest of us, we weren’t about to do anything that foolish, knowing that such a place was certainly cursed by the gods. Well, they wouldn’t listen to us, so a handful of them wandered off deeper into the caves, looking for pirate gold or somesuch. It wasn’t more than a half hour later that the first of them died. His screams echoed through the caverns, and had us all on edge, wondering what kind of horrors he’d unleashed on us.
Now, we weren’t about to be foolish and run and try and save him, only to get ourselves killed. It was bad enough that he was stirring up whatever was deeper into the caves. We weren’t about to run on down and make it nice and easy for it to find us. So we sat there, huddled around our fires, trying to stay silent and keep warm, hoping that the critters from inside the caves wouldn’t come after us.
Shortly afterwards, the next one fell. Not sure why we didn’t hear no screaming or fighting or hollering after the first of them died, but, well, we sure heard it with the second one. They all started hollering and yelling and cursing various gods. One of them was yelling about returning to the main cave, where we were all at. Thankfully, he got himself killed right quick, and didn’t lead the abomination back to us. Who or what killed him, I don’t know.
After a short bit, where quite a ruckus was raised, the noise died down. We could hear what sounded like lots of whispering from deeper in the caverns, even over the noise of the storm. It spooked quite a few of us. The first mate, Jarlok, decided his chances were better off out in the storm. He offered up a quick prayer to Procan, and rushed out of the cave. Never did see him again, but, at least he died a clean death.
The storm kept raging on, and we were stuck there, hearing that infernal whispering. It just wouldn’t stop. At times, it’d get quieter, like it was farther away, and then it’d get all loud, like they were right next to us, only there wasn’t nothing there. Nothing could stop us from hearing whatever it was, even though the winds were howling and raging outside. It was getting late, and it started to get even darker, so the men really started to get afraid.
A couple more decided to try their luck out in the storm. One came back a few minutes later, covered in ice where the rain had frozen to him. He didn’t live long. At least they all got clean deaths. More than I can say for the lads who wandered deeper into the caves. I think the whispering started to get to some of the men. A few of them started to see things that weren’t there. They would cower in fear from some manner of beast that wasn’t there, thinking it was in the midst of us. We had to keep watch over them to keep them from running deeper into the caves. One managed to escape and flee into the caves. Another of the sailors foolishly followed, trying to drag him back. Both were screaming a minute or two later, and we knew that the horrors had gotten them.
The night wore on, and we knew it was night, because it’d gotten a lot darker out and a lot colder. Still the storm raged. The lookouts at the entrance to the cave said the storm was actually getting worse, whipping up the waves. I went to see, and they were right. Our ship was completely gone, just bits of wood here and there getting smashed against the cliffs. I heard a scream from the main cave, and ran back.
Thankfully, this wasn’t one of the horrors. Seems one of the men had gotten a little too close to the fire, and had burned himself. But, he had an odd look in his eyes. I was careful to keep an eye on him after that. Good thing I did, too, because he up and tried to gut one of his mates shortly afterwards. Poor fellow must have been driven mad by the whispering. Strangely, the whispering quit for a time when he tried to murder one of the other men. It sure picked back up as soon as we’d been forced to knock him out and tie him up, though. We would have killed him, but it wasn’t fitting for anyone to die in those caves.
As the night continued to slowly pass, the wood began to run out. It didn’t look like we’d make it until morning with what we had left. That sent another of the men out into the storm to take his chances. We heard his dying scream as he was broken on the rocks.
I eventually managed to doze off, despite the storm and the whispers. I guess I shouldn’t have been working so hard on the ship. I awoke to a scream. There was one of the horrors, in the room with us. The fires had died down, so I didn’t get much of a look at it, but, I could see, or, rather feel, it’s evil as it destroyed the life of one of the men. The crazy ones started howling and screeching at this. I sensed another one of the horrors approaching from deeper in the caves, and was overcome with a sudden, overwhelming fear. I ran. I ran to the entrance of the cave. I barely managed to mouth a prayer to Procan and Rudd as I ran. The lookouts at the entrance heard the screaming, and saw the look on my face, and quickly followed. One was apparently a bit slow in getting out of the cave. We heard his screams as something got him. I sure didn’t look back. I just kept running.
All told, 67 of us were on the ship. 44 survived to make it to the cave. The first group that left had 7 in it. They all presumably died. 14 others ran from the cave at various times during the storm (not counting those I left with). They all presumably died. Twenty men were in the caves when I ran. I don’t think any of them lived. Three of us made it out at the end there, counting me. Gavrin was killed when he slipped and fell into the ocean. Haddar ended up dying a few days later from what the cold did to him. Me? I got lucky. I managed to get back to the lands of men. Mostly in one piece, well, except my foot.
If I ever set foot on a ship, or anywhere near that hellish place again, I’m gonna offer a quick prayer up to Procan, and dive overboard.
Note: Ahlissa, CthulhuHawk"