The Tale of the Seafarer, the Secret Scroll and the Underground Cavern
wherein Love Conquers All
Deep were the waters lapping around the isle and treacherous, though the azure blue beckoned like the warm thighs of a maiden on midsummer’s night. Earl swung his muscular legs across the stern of his ship and wiped the sweat from his forehead. He gazed at the map in his hands, his long hair framing a handsome face. Twelve moons he had sailed the oceans to the Inner Isles beyond the Lands of Spice, and still, he had not found her.
A gentle hiss on his neck, “Yes, Nigel, I know you are hungry.” He stroked the dragon distractedly. A full two lengths above the mast the dragon stood, his iridescent wings shimmering gently in the sun. Enormous claws the size of a man’s hand gripped the ship’s side.
Earl took another swig of water as the island up ahead drew closer. There were trees and a beach to the left, and a waterfall carved between craggy silver mountains to the right, above a small harbour. Was this the Isle of No Return? Is this where he would find her? “Go, Nigel, go. Go and seek out the land,” he said, “I will follow.” The dragon unfurled his wings in a graceful motion, and was gone.
With his ship safely moored, Earl set off, armed with his sword and map. No sound could be heard as night came. No birds, or crickets, or frogs dash here, nothing but the sound of water gently lapping against the side of his ship. Of the dragon too, there was no sign.
Earl crept through the forest, quietly measuring his breath, his ears alerted to danger. The trees, scrawny silhouettes clawing towards him in the bleak nightscape, creaked in the light wind.
In the middle of small clearing, scattered with the bones of the dead, stood a large tree, its roots convoluted. 23 degrees N to NW, just as the map showed. And there, tangled in its branches was the scroll, exactly where it should have been. Even in the darkness, Earl could see the many jewels encrusted on the scroll’s protective cover – emeralds, rubies, and diamonds worth a king’s ransom.
The silence became more ominous as Earl drew his dagger across both arms releasing his blood onto the tree trunk together with the words of the secret invocation. Three times the words were spoken, three times was Earl’s blood released onto the tree. Only then was he free to remove the secret scroll, only then did the tree draw back its roots to release it.
‘Thank you’ said Earl with a deep bow, turning away to leave.
‘So, you have come, my brave…’ said a honeyed voice. And there she was, as beautiful as he remembered, danger glinting in every curve of her body ‘you have come at last. But I wonder, is it me or the scroll you are after?’ And in a flash she was gone, only to reappear in the distance, naked, laughing as she ran towards the entrance to the underground cavern. Yes, he remembered it well.
Earl stood frozen, his sword raised, his heart thumping, indecision and passion stealing his every breath. For the scroll was needed back in the kingdom, but she is what he needed, and he must have.
Yet he knew that entry into the underground cavern was forbidden to mortals, and once he followed her in, there was no return. He would be changed forever.
The wind grew to a howl. Earl grabbed the scroll, tucked it into his sleeve and was off toward the cavern where she stood waiting.
‘Well Nigel,’ said Earl to the dragon lying guarding the entrance, ‘I guess this is one tale I will never return to tell. Take this scroll back to my father with my greetings. Tell him I have chosen to enter the underground cavern. He will understand. Good bye my friend.’
With a flap of his wings the dragon was gone and Earl was left to unravel his own treasure.