I apologize for the brevity of this post: Unfortunately, we’ve had two weeks off because people are “doing fun and/or important things” like, “defending their thesis,” “moving across the country because they got promoted,” and “having birthdays,” and “going to Disneyland,” and “being taken to dinner by that cute bartender,” so we haven’t actually had a session in two weeks. As such, in order to ensure that there’s content for you next week, this is more of a continuation of last week’s session.
Rest assured, next week we will be back to regular post lengths, and presumably we won’t have to take a break for a while. If for whatever reason, there is another break, I’ve been working on some more of Ziggy’s backstory so there will be a post.
After a full night’s rest at the Slovenly Halfling—a fitting name, as the rooms were dirty and the beds were all much smaller than average—Ziggy headed over to the Sleeping Sailor after he awoke and ordered himself some breakfast. He was joined shortly by the rest of the group. As they ate, Ziggy noticed a quietly haunting tune being hummed by one of the other patrons. He nudged Knucklebones, who was seated next to him and gestured towards the young man with a nod of his head.
Knucklebones, now aware of the nuisance looked over his shoulder. “Hey,” he called. “Do ya mind?”
The dark haired man blinked suddenly, as he was jarred from inside of his own head and looked around the room to see that everyone was staring at him.
“I’m so sorry,” he mumbled.
Griselda dropped off a side of boiled ham on the bar in front of Ziggy. “He’s been like that for almost a month,” she said with quiet concern.
“Weeks?” Ziggy echoed.
Griselda nodded. “Dunno what happened to ‘im. Kel was always so happy, but now he just keeps sayin’ that he can’t get that song out of his head.”
She turned and set about doing some other chores. Ziggy, meanwhile, nicked a piece of ham from the plate, hopped off the chair, and made his way over to the tortured man.
“Kel?” Ziggy asked, causing the man to look up. “Can I sit with you? Ask you a few questions?”
Kel just gestured to one of the open chairs, which Ziggy pulled himself into.
“Griselda mentioned that you’ve been having trouble with this song for a little while, is that true?”
Kel nodded, staring at the table. “I’m sorry, I’ll try and keep it down. It’s just… I’m even hearing it in my dreams. I haven’t had a good night’s sleep in weeks.”
Ziggy motioned for Marcenda to come over. She approached, with Schrodinger strutting in tow behind her.
“Kel, is there anything that you know of that could have caused this?” Ziggy asked. “Anything that you can think of that happened on the day that might have triggered it?”
Kel sat in silence for a moment, wracking his brains. Finally, he shook his head. “No. Nothing.”
“When was the last time that you remember not singing the song?” Marcenda pressed. “What were you doing?”
“I… had come in from a day on the lake. I was out fishing. Someone mentioned it to me later that evening. That was the first time I noticed it.”
Ziggy looked over at Marcenda, who held her hand out over Kel’s head. She closed her eyes and concentrated for a moment. When they opened, they flared a bright orange color and it looked as if she could see things that were a secret to her.
“Something has a powerful hold over him,” she announced, causing Kel to slide down in his seat slightly, wide-eyed.
“Kel,” Ziggy said, causing the young man’s attention to snap from Marcenda to the gnome, who was pulling his fiddle off of its place on his back. “I’m going to try something. Sit tight, okay?”
Ziggy tucked the fiddle under his chin and pulled the bow across the strings, playing an upbeat melody. Almost immediately, Kel’s eyes appeared to clear and his full attention was focused on the gnome’s performance. The young man stood up and hugged the gnome. “Thank you,” the man whispered.
“You’re welcome,” Ziggy smiled, as he stopped playing.
The final note from Ziggy’s fiddle faded from the inside of the tavern, and Kel suddenly collapsed on the floor, once again singing, almost shrieking, the tune of the now all too familiar, hypnotic song. Ziggy looked at Marcenda once again. Her eyes still burned orange as she looked at Kel’s convulsing body, then towards the door.
“Come on,” she said to no one in particular.
Without waiting for anyone, she walked out of the door of the tavern, but was quickly followed closely by Ziggy and Schrodinger, with the rest not far behind.
She paused for a moment outside and surveyed the area, pausing briefly to inspect things that the rest of the group couldn’t see. She walked in a haphazard fashion, winding her way away from the tavern, rather than in a straight line, almost as if she was following something. As they reached the outskirts of the town, she paused briefly and looked in the direction of the water.
“Siren,” she stated flatly.
The rest of the group looked around at each other. Knucklebones seemed to be the only one to know what she meant.
“There’s a siren on the shore there, can’t you see?” she demanded when no one said anything, pointing at a small figure in the distance.
As the group squinted, they saw something moving, almost rhythmically, at the shore’s edge.
Knucklebones groaned audibly. “I’ve known many a good man who have fallen victim to their song.”
“Song?” Koruk asked.
“It ensnares your mind,” the man explained. “Makes you do things you wouldn’t normally do. Sometimes ya slit your best friend’s throat. Sometimes ya start believin’ ya can breathe water better than air. Sometimes ya sail your boat straight for the rocks. Witchy, dangerous creatures.”
“What if we can’t hear them?” Ziggy posited, pulling out some bits of old rags and shoving them in one ear. He offered the rest of the scraps to the group after he had clogged his own ears.
Knucklebones, realizing that everyone else was planning to approach the creature, reluctantly deafened himself with the bits of fabric and followed the rest to the shoreline, but he was clearly still wary of the idea of approaching it.
As they approached the siren, it appeared that she was dancing around five gleaming pieces of metal. While they couldn’t hear her voice, the group could see that she was singing. Ziggy leveled his fiddle again and started playing the same tune that he had played in an attempt to aid Kel. Oddly, the siren stopped singing altogether and dropped to her hands and knees.
Suddenly, Ziggy’s mind felt like it had been intruded upon and he saw images and correlating emotions. A man who bore a striking resemblance to Kel, slaying a giant dragon with a huge broadsword: triumph. The same man being dragged down to the bottom of the lake by the lifeless corpse of the wyrm, and the sword shattering in the process: sadness. Kel, fishing: longing. The sword, in five pieces, on the beach and Kel being reunited with it: … Love?
Ziggy shook his head, and looked about. His friends all had the same look of bewilderment, and then understanding. The man was Kel’s ancestor, and apparently the slayer of this dragon, and the siren had wanted to give the blade as a token of her affection.
Marcenda stepped towards the siren, who shrunk away from her. As a show of good faith, Marcenda removed the cloth from her ears. Ziggy, reluctantly, followed suit.
“You know that you cannot…”
The siren slid one of the pieces of the blade in Marcenda’s direction. It was clear that she was aware that nothing could ever be between her and Kel.
Cautiously, Marcenda approached and to pick up a piece of the blade. The rest of the group tensed as she approached, but as she reached down, the siren made no move to threaten or attack the woman. As Marcenda lifted the shattered steel, the siren, still prostrate, produced a large, white orb from her pouch and held it in Marcenda’s direction. The woman looked at the item for a moment, but eventually took that as well, and placed it in her satchel.
“She wants us to take the sword back to Kel,” Marcenda said, picking up another bit of broadsword.
Ziggy looked over at the rest of the group. Knucklebones and Ileasa stood firm and wary, but, after a momentary pause, Koruk approached and picked up two pieces of the sword, one in each hand.
Finally, Ziggy approached and acquired the last piece. As he picked it up, he noticed that, despite being at the bottom of the lake for what must have been at least a century, the edge was still keen and uncorroded. He couldn’t be certain, but he felt that there was some sort of magical property surrounding it.
Ziggy heard a quiet splash, and looked up just in time to see the siren disappear between the water’s surface. The group looked at each other, shrugged, and turned back towards town. As they walked, Ziggy, and he assumed the rest of the group as well, felt a blast of gratitude emanating from the direction of the lake. Ziggy couldn’t help but smile a little, as the group entered the tavern to return Kel’s heirloom to him.