Monday, October 7, 2019

The Ship

An 18th-century print of a royal barge as used by Caligula
Throughout the world are old stories about isolated harbors. It is an obscure field, but studies of these stories and their common features will be found in exceptional libraries. To wit: at known intervals, years apart, a great ship from a "land of wonders" would arrive at a designated coastal sacred site. Those outside this place would never see the ship, or be able to recall its passage. 

The ship awaited volunteers who would give service to the masters of its land. They would board this ship, sometimes promised an eventual return, but would never be seen again. In exchange their people were given simple tools with miraculous qualities, which functioned until the time of exchange came again. Kingdoms flourished while sacrifice was maintained. They gained wealth and power far beyond their neighbors.
The gifts of the ship included self-turning millstones, baskets of replenishing fruit, and ever-burning unfueled ovens without smoke or vapor. Bells that summoned rain, rods that fertilized barren earth, unerring arrows, and blades that split all things into smooth halves. These were trinkets of the masters power, hairs from a lions head. It is implied that witnessing their glory in person was reward all its own. These objects may still be found, with near intangible auras of their old powers. Now only props for old stories, they are valuable for Magical research. They prove that the contours of the old stories are correct, with the tables and charts of those obscure books. The ship is real and can be found.

Receiving no sacrifice it has given no gifts, always to eventually return. It could still be boarded, once it arrives. The land of wonders could be seen, and the masters could be met. It is surrounded by a distant shimmer like rippled glass. It will not be seen unless you are at a designated harbor at the designated time. It comes by night, arriving after sunset and leaving before dawn.
Immense, oppressive. Long oars out each side, hints of stately architecture seen on topmost desk. It comes to shore, impossibly close, with the bow opening like praying hands separating. On an emerging walkway stands a figure with an impassive head of swirling marble, subtle shining metal accents glint in moonlight wearing flowing robes of neutral colors. With gloved hands spread wide, spoken with your inner voice, an audible thought intrudes: “Who is offered up for service to the masters, and will journey to the land of wonder?”

The Attendants
On the ship are many Lesser Attendants, and a Greater one. The Greater Attendant is described above, with statuesque stone head minimal and elegant. The Lesser ones have simpler forms, they are cruder. Less clearly human. They dress in leggings with knee-length tunics of rougher, quilted fabric. Their hands are also gloved, and like the Greater Attendant you cannot see any of their skin. Image result for henry moore head Related image
The Greater Attendant can "speak" using the inner voice of all onboard the ship or in its presence, while the Lessers cannot make a sound. Both Lessers and Greater can hear and see in ways that are approximately human. They do not tire or grow hungry. They do not thirst, or age, or suffer sickness. The fleshy parts of their bodies feel pain and typical sensations, but not in ways that mean a thing to them. If cut or crushed they quickly mend. You cannot kill them, or crack their stone.

They are here in Service, and have been changed as part of it. They do not steer the ship, and do not control it. The vessel is autonomous, and for centuries and centuries they have gone along with the strict choreography of this ritual exchange. Beneath their clothes the head, neck, and torso are all smooth stone, the gently changing marble. Their limbs by contrast are all flesh. This is attached by narrow  rims or brands of metal. All of it is mismatched. These limbs all came from many other bodies.

The Boarding & Departure
All offered will enter the ship with the Greater Attendant, and stand in a dimly lit room surrounded by curtains. An incense haze, a whisper of unearthly music. Simultaneously, the gift will be given to recipients on the shore by several Lessers. They will return, and the bow will swiftly close. The ship departs sudden and smooth. The Greater welcomes those offered with gravitas and poise, thanking them for their upcoming service, as Lesser Attendants emerge from behind and gently pull them into a smaller, dimmer darkness. In this curtained space they will be anointed with fragrant oils, while a necklace is offered to them and gestured to be worn. Hands move around them performing obscure gestures as they are given a sweet nectar drink and drift into stupefaction. Lulled into sleep by strange narcotics as now droning, chiming music plays. Attendants are meek and pitiful if you resist this at any stage. You are merely in a room with cloth partitions and clever lighting, and could tear it all apart. They will be overawed, and will cower. The Greater will beg for calmness, peace. It will apologize. You can ask it all you want, and it will answer. It cannot stop this.

The necklace, if willingly worn or placed, cannot be removed. If torn off it will still be there. A simple disk on a simple cord, it completely defies you. The Greater does not know what it is for, or what it does, should you ask it.

The nectar is delectable and harmless. It makes you warm and dulls the senses with fuzzy bliss. You will awake from sleep after uncounted days, nourished and relaxed, atop a heap of downy cushions.

Next: The Voyage

1 comment:

  1. Weird... do you awaken as a lesser attendant??? I must know more