Swords of the Weeping Towers, Part 2

Rough draft continued…

“The Weeping Towers?” Kytun called his attention back to the matter at hand.

Radaam stared at Kytun a moment, catching up. He’d drank even more than Finn and Lurissa. “Yes.”

“One of the southern bays of the isle?”

“Yes. Desolation Isle. Bloody well named piss-pot of an island.” Radaam chuckled, amused at his wit. “Piss-pot Isle. That’s what I would have called it.”

A serving wench leaned down to fill Radaam’s tankard from the large pitcher.

Radaam ignored the generous display of cleavage to look her in the face. “Piss-pot Isle! What do you think of that, eh?”

Kytun caught her eye, nodded her away.

Radaam watched the girl move off. “Wonder what she costs?”

“This bay.”

Radaam focused on Kytun. “Treacherous. Reefs. Shifting sandbars. Murderous eighteen foot tide comes charging up your arse one minute, then drags you onto the rocks or beaches you on the black sand. Try to shelter in the eastern half of the bay, tide goes out and you’re trapped in them marshes. Cut off from the sea by black mud and sand flats. I’ve heard stories of them that should be dead wandering out of those marshes during the dark of night. And lights. Greenish lights under the water.” Radaam stopped, studying his tankard, lost in some thought or memory.

“But you’ve been there and returned.”

Kytun pushed what remained of a loaf of brown bread to Radaam. The Captain ignored the offering, instead digging into the leather satchel by his feet. With no thought to his surroundings, Radaam cleared space on the table between them and laid out a rough chart.

Sitting as they were, at the end of a table, Kytun checked that the men further down paid them no attention.

Radaam followed the faded lines of the chart as he spoke, “Marsh to the east, cliffs to the north and west, and that bloody tide running in and out the only channel. And the Weeping Towers themselves, hanging off the side of the rock, two-three hundred feet up, like ripe, wet, green and black fruit. ‘Course, that’s when the fog lets up long enough to see the buggers.”

Radaam reached for the bread, filled his mouth and continued, spraying an occasional crumb on the parchment. “I know of two ships lost trying to get in that bay. That’s how I found it. Picked up a survivor from the first. Now he’s part of my crew.”

“This chart is sparse.”

“I’ve got better aboard the Reaper.” Radaam smiled at Kytun. “I’m not so drunk as I look, you see.”

Kytun reserved judgement.

“You won’t be the first folk I’ve landed there. She tell you that?”

Lurissa had failed to mention that fact when she approached he and Finn with her proposal.

“Dropped the first group in a dinghy, anchored them to a spear of rock near the cliff face, then ran like hell before the tide turned. Came back in for five days running. Never saw a one of them again.”

“Why a dinghy? Why not leave them on the sand?”

“Ain’t no sand during high tide. Water plays directly on the cliff. Swallows all the caves save the biggest. And don’t be thinking it’s that easy. I’ve taken a boat into that big cave. Nothing there but rock and shellfish. Dead end thirty or so feet inside.”

Radaam placed a finger on the chart. “Put the second group on the sand right here during low tide. Tough men they were, too. Saw all seven of them go into a cave.”

“You anchored in the bay?”

“Tried to. Line broke when the tide went out. Almost ended up on the rocks. We sailed right back in there when the tide changed.”

“No sign of them, either?”

Radaam had another drink, then looked at Kytun, increasingly sober. “Found one of them. Nasty little rogue from your neck of the woods. Kyross. Hard man by reputation. Floated out of a cave. Been less than twelve hours, but looked like the crabs had been at him for days.”

Radaam dug into the pouch at his belt. He laid a large gold coin on the table. Kytun picked it up. The lines were faded, but some sort of looped cord or possibly a serpent decorated one side, the vague outline of a face the other. Kytun had never seen the like.

“He had fourteen of them in his boots.” Radaam laid a ruby the size of a man’s thumbnail on the table. “That was in his belt. Little bastard probably wasn’t going to share.”

Kytun held the ruby up to his eye. It was flawless, glowing blood-red in the light of the lanterns.

Radaam wrapped his hand round Kytun’s, hiding the ruby from sight.

“I lie to no man. No mistake, it’s dangerous as hell. Like everything on Desolation Isle. Lost cities, haunted temples to nameless gods, trackless bog and marsh, mountains, a big damned volcano. All littered with relics of some civilization where man was not the master. Well, we’ve found her. Us! There she is…” Radaam pointed beyond the walls to the east. “…like some crazed virgin with a bloody knife, waiting for the first man to try her. But this virgin is rich. Stinking buy-a-kingdom rich.”

Tony Graham


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