Dark Fantasy: Nogoloth – The Emerald Ships

In which I continue to pen some seriously Lovecraft-inspired dark fantasy.

On the western shore of Nogoloth sits the city called Cwnuihd, where strange emerald-sailed ships crewed by ebon-skinned men dock thrice annually. None within the city claim to know the origins of these vessels, nor their destinations. All that is known is that the sailors who debark from the caravels and carracks speak – and often sing – in a tongue unknown even to the greatest scholars of Nogoloth. The captains of these crafts superficially resemble the men they lead, but can carry on great discourse in the common speech of the island-continent they visit each time the trade winds shift and the two moons of Nogoloth join together to raise the tides high enough to allow passage across the great reef that elsewise bars the harbor.

These mariner kings seldom speak of what they have seen in the unchartered waters of the world, but when they do they wax poetic, even rhapsodic, telling tales of great, impossible leviathans whose eyes burn with hatred for all the men and beasts of the land. It is whispered that only these sea dogs may traverse the greatest oceans of the world, though whether due to their extreme bravery or, perhaps, to some dark pact they have made with the rulers of the court beneath the waves none may say.

It is tradition amongst the women of Cwnuihd to greet the arrival of the Emerald Ships by dyeing their hair jet black and serenading the crews from the docks with songs that their mothers’ mothers learned from the first such fleets to brave the dark waters of the bay and anchor at the docks that were already present when the city itself was founded in centuries passed. The men of Cwnuihd are made ill-at-ease by the melodies that comprise these alien chanties – though, in truth, it is the frequently wanton behavior the ladies engage in when in the company of those who sail with the Emerald Ships that truly troubles the fathers of unwed daughters in the city. Despite the rather orgiastic scenes that often play out in the dockside taverns, no child has ever been born in Cwnuihd who even faintly resembles the sailors.

I happened to be visiting Cwnuihd one spring when the Ships arrived, and I struck up a brief-but-companionable relationship with the captain of one of the vessels – a man by the name of Vaul – in whose company I passed two fascinating evenings filled with stories of the sort that one would be inclined to take for little more than the tall tales of a man who has spent too much time away from even the sight of land. Yet there was, in his manner and upon his face, an indescribable sincerity so powerful that I would warrant his narratives to even Ste. Sibille the Blind herself.

It was from Captain Vaul that I acquired the Lantern of U’um’nn, an artifact of a different age that may well serve to render my ultimate goal achievable. Vaul refused to accept payment of any sort for the Lantern, insisting that he had already been well compensated for delivering it to my hands.

I am told by the old men of Cwnuihd that they had never heard tell of anyone – let alone a cripple such as I – being offered passage aboard one of the Emerald Ships. Yet I was indeed invited to sail with Captain Vaul and his crew when the time came for them to leave the shores of Nogoloth. I regret that I was unable to accept this unique proposition, but my work here requires that I remain ashore, at least for now. If I should chance upon the good captain and his crew once my task is complete, I will readily board their craft if the opportunity is afforded me again.

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