“What sad songs the lonely leviathan sings.”

The words rattled through his mouth and blew away across the black waters. The stars were their sole audience now, the stars and the ship. All the timbers of the Leiden groaned beneath his feet, as though the vessel itself spoke back to its commander.

“I see your eyes upon mine own. Feel the weight of your drowning infinities. Aye, look upon me, Singer of the Depths. I am but a minnow compared to you, yet as the ant devours man so too shall men devour the whale. I am your hunter, and you are my prey, mine have killed a hundred of your kind, and we’ll kill a thousand more before I become salt and sea.”

He raised a wineskin to his lips, and sweet honeyed mead trickled down his throat. All was calm tonight, and he alone had taken the watch, where he might speak his thoughts aloud. The thoughts of a man who would one day be king, though tonight he was as any man should be.

King aboard his ship, king of the land he stood upon and the seas he sighted. King as far as his blade might reach.

“We’ll come with harpoon, line, and drogue and take our knives to you, for ours is the world of steel and rope and wood.”

Reverence clashed with excitement at the hunt’s promise. All the Sormet had sailed forth now in their mad dash to hunt the seas, to bring their prizes back for the Warding. Only his lurked here, off the tattered shores of the Arm of Tarva in search of the great, lost beast of legend that roamed its waters. It called to him now, haunted his dreams and waking hours.

The beckoning of destiny.

“Will you still sing then, a song to pierce the hearts we left ashore? By the gods, I still think I have one, cold and briney perhaps. Aye, Singer, sing me a song so that I may feel it…”

Magnus of the Leiden rasped out a final word for the darkness.


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