The Legend of the Lost Seagreen Elves is told here by Oceanus of the Manaan as translated by Kellin and Elmorth. It may be the first time it has been spoken in any language other than the Olven tongue. Most recountings amount to little more than parents warning their children to behave or else the Great Pirate might get them. When provided to stalwart heroes, it could make all the difference for justice and mortality.
The Legend of the Lost Seagreen Elves
Posted with permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
Even with our long lives and contemplative nature, the collective memories of we aquatic elves are uncertain regarding events that date back hundreds of years. So too, while it is present to a degree, our literary tradition is not exhaustive, permanent records being laborious constructions below the sea. It is for that reason that certain parts of our history should be taken, shall we say, with a sip of brine. If it were not for these recent tales of a ghost ship that rises from the sea, one would not be completely unjustified in questioning the truth of a certain tale normally told only to children before the quiet hours of rest in our grottos below the Javan Bay.
Some say it was half, others two or more millennia ago, but the legend speaks of a small cadre of young warriors who were punished for some minor infraction with the duty to guard a small kelp forest a full day’s swim southeast of the coral halls. Duty was assigned for two months and it was dull, this particular post being secure, but necessarily maintained to keep the border with the Ardfinian mermen. It should come as no surprise that as the days and nights dragged on, the restless young elves looked for diversion. They found it in a copse of wild rapture weed in a nearby sandy hollow.
At first, they regulated their dereliction, indulging only during alternating shifts off active duty. But before long, as the tedium wore on, all restraint and propriety went out with the tide. And that was when it happened.
Just as night fell, out of the south came the roaring of a great rushing current. A phosphorescent ship, far from sinking, porpoised determinedly down upon them led by a frenzy of thresher sharks. The sharks encircled and clustered the elves with their great whip-like tails as they would a hapless school of fish. The eerily glowing ship lowered sail and settled softly upon the seafloor.
After the initial roar, silence lingered unnaturally. Then suddenly a giant of a pirate, with a great unkempt beard and long hair barely restrained by a green kerchief, grabbed the ship’s anchor, leapt overboard, thrust the chained stone upon the elves and commanded in a terrible voice: “Hold down my ship until I return.” Then off he swam, faster than was mortally possible, in the direction from which he had come with the host of sharks in tow. As they departed from sight, the glow of the ship faded.
The young elves were dumbstruck as together they held their burden. After a few minutes, they had the courage to blink. Fear had sobered them, and relieved them of the telltale greenish blush that the rapture weed had left upon their cheeks. Finally, one of them, the youngest, spoke up and suggested they hurry home and inform their king. But, the others all shouted him down. What about when the pirate came back, as surely he would? So together they held the heavy anchor all through the night.
Just before sunrise, the Great Pirate returned. Over his shoulder, and held by the tail, was slung a beautiful mermaid, though whether alive or dead they could not tell. He grabbed the anchor with his free hand, tossed it up to the ship, and demanded, “Bring me refreshment! I had to test every maid in the sea last night before finding the right one!” Free of the weight, the elves were only too happy to speed the end their dreadful service and brought him a fond of rapture weed.
“Wonderful!” He exclaimed. “I have had nothing better. And so you shall be rewarded.” Inhaling the water so deeply that the resulting current blew off his kerchief, the Great Pirate then reversed the flow and let out a mighty gush that buoyed the elves right into his ship and returned to their cheeks the greenish blush with which they had become well acquainted. As the ship sailed away into the murky waters, only the youngest elf was left behind. He pick up the kerchief and returned home to the Grottos of the Manaan.
He kept that bit of cloth for most of his life, and prospered greatly, eventually even becoming King of our tribe. But always he was suspicious of it, thinking the kerchief an offense to Deep Sashelas. When he grew old and satisfied that he could do no better in life, having many grandchildren and more wealth than he could ever spend upon them, he tossed it aside and let it drift away. After that, he lost all of his family in successive wars and before he died, he was deposed and beggardly.
His comrades were never seen again. That is, until possibly recently.
The Legend of the Lost Seagreen Elves was developed to help incorporate into a Saltmarsh campaign The Ghostship Gambit, an old basic D&D module from Dungeon 9. It arose out my necessity of explaining why on Oerth would there be a band of neutral non-violent pirate aquatic elves crewing a ship that could travel under water as is the case in the module.
The Great Pirate is none other than the demigod called the Green Man in the module UK1 Beyond the Crystal Cave. As with the pirates of the Ghostship, the Great Pirate of the Legend is a false threat. The unstated part of the story is that the Green Man returned to Porphero’s Garden with the aquatic elves, who stayed for a short while becoming his disciples before returning with the undersea ship, their reward. Although they only stayed in the Garden for a short while, hundreds of years passed due to the time dilatation of the Garden. Of course, the pirate elves are improperly modeling what they think to be divine behavior, and will be only too happy to reform when they learn the error of their ways and how to better serve the Green Man.
The Legend is closely modeled after the Danish wild hunt story of The Green Hunter, but in deference to the fine cultural bent of the Us and UKs, echoes are incorporated of others such wild hunt stories from Great Britain involving King Herla, Gawain and Wod (Odin). If Hern’s horns are there, they are only heard in the roar of the ship, or seen on the heads of the mermen.