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Wherein we record the strange and wonderful tales making their way about Shalazar....
The Fate of the Sea-Pearl
"...ah, yes, many have heard of the Great Pearl which was once possessed by the Sea Dragons. In those days they flew above land and water, and were not bound to the sea as they are today. The Pearl it was that gave them this power and they guarded it jealously. However, in time there was a mighty battle against the dragons of the north, and the Pearl fell into the ocean and was lost. From that time they have always swum in the sea like fish and may only threaten those that sail upon the sea.
Did I say always? My words were not entirely true. In every generation there are born men and women of courage who will stare into the face of Impossibility and see only Invitation. In a forgotten time a company of such adventurers went in quest of the Great Pearl. Their names are forgotten now, for their only families struck their names from all records and most have no graves. Their fellowship however is sometimes spoken of as the Company of the Silver Tern, for that was the name of their ship.
With powerful magics the company found out the resting place of the Pearl, and raised it to the surface of the water. When they had it safe aboard and thought to return home, they were beset by sea dragons, and forced into flight. The Pearl was the mightiest treasure of the Dragon King, and his people were dutybound to try and reclaim it. For years the Silver Tern sailed unhappy seas, all the while fleeing the dragons of the sea. Sometimes through conjured mists and magical songs to entrance the eye with sleep, they managed to outpace the dragons, and found islands where they might stop for provisions. Before they could think of returning home, however, there would be a crow's nest cry of "Dragon!" and they would put to sea again with all sails a-swell.
At last they were chased even to the seas of the Jade Empire, where the Silver Tern met its destruction. An Eastern dragon, understanding that the sea dragons were now free to rain destruction from the skies, attacked the ship and tore away its hull. Into the deepest seas in all the world sank the Silver Tern, her bold crew and the Great Pearl.
There was only one member of that company who survived, and when he returned to his own land years later, he hid his face for he heard his name and those of his companions cursed. Many had had their homes destroyed by the sea dragons while they had the freedom of the air. In time he trusted a few with his story, but I cannot tell you how it was that he escaped the abysmal seas that swallowed the Silver Tern. If he told a living soul this secret, then they too held their tongue, and the knowledge is probably lost..."
The Lady of Hair
There was once a man who was deeply troubled by the loss of his one true love, and decided to bring her back from the dead. All he had of her remains was a single hair, but he learned forbidden arts until he could summon her back. Of course, this was evil in the eye of Shaliq, and his punishment was that his wife returned to him as a creature made entirely of hair, and without a soul. In time she grew envious of her husband for his fleshliness, and he sensed that she meant him ill. He found excuses to sleep in a different bedchamber, and each night bolted his door. By his bed-side he placed some flowers, so frail that they would tremble in the slightest wind, so that if his wife managed to open the door the flowers would move in the draft and warn him.
The lady of hair knew of his precautions, however, and one night she made up her mind to slay him in spite of them. She unravelled herself into a mass of long tresses, then tied them end to end into a mighty rope. She then crawled like a snake beneath his door, crept onto his bed and started to strangle him. As he wrestled with her, his mind was struck with the full horror of his folly, and he sincerely repented and offered up his sorrowful prayers to Shaliq. In her mercy, she caused the flowers by his bed-side to burst into flame, and the woman of hair was consumed. In the flames the man lost one eyebrow and half his hair, but he never lamented the fact since it reminded him of Shaliq's gracious mercy and his own folly. It is said that he lived out the rest of his days in piety.
The Might Sea Dragon of Muna
"... and although he pretended that he was willing to join the pirates, all the while the poor captive merchant despised their bloody profession, and hoped to escape. One day he learned that the very next day they planned to seek out a small port and put all to the sword. He could not bear to think of being a part of such butchery, so that very night he made up his mind to slip away, although the ship was out of sight of land and he little knew which route he should take to find the unhappy port and bring warning.
He was a canny trader with much knowledge of the finer luxuries, and the pirates had long since allowed him the key to the spice-hold, for he could tell them how each should be kept without spoiling, and which would become poison if held in a keg of oak, and which would give out a maddening fume when the moon was rosy. That night he crept down to the hold and stole the great wooden lid from the largest spice chest. Then he lowered it into the water, lowered himself onto it, and paddled away with two wooden spice scoops as best he could.
As the sky brightened and Shaliq's radiant golden eye opened to light her world once more, the trader thought he glimpsed land amid the mists. He seemed to see two beacon fires lit high on a mighty hill to aid travellers, and he fancied he heard the sound of breakers. You may imagine his dismay when he realised that the breakers were the sound of vast flippers smiting the waves, that the beacons were eyes and that the hill was the back of an enormous Sea Dragon.
Feeling the great, red eyes upon him, the merchant threw himself prostrate on his face in an attitude of the utmost respect.
'Hail, Incomparable Dragon and Most Terrible of Lizards, feared and revered by almost all that stride or crawl upon the earth, and by those that dip their oars or fins into the seas...'
The Dragon, which had unthinkingly opened its jaws to swallow this morsel, paused as it heard his words.
'Almost? Who has dared to speak disrespectfully of me?' The thrashing of its tail churned waves the size of houses to the north and the south, as it tried to imagine what mighty creature could have found the courage to speak slightingly of it. 'It cannot be the Black Dragon of the Undersea - she is so afraid of me that she would offer me her own eggs to let her be. And it cannot be the Skeleton Dragon with the Heart of Flame. He is terrified of me - if I were to ask it, he would offer me his slenderest bones so that I might pick my teeth after eating well. Besides, he is timorous of the water and would never dare the waves to face me.'
'No, Unparalleled Reptile, I speak of a group of foolish pirates, who claim that they mean to slay you, and drag you home behind their vessel. See, oh great one, their sails upon the horizon.' The pirates had, of course, been following the scent of spice on the breeze in the hope of recapturing the merchant.
The roar of rage which the Dragon gave as it lunged towards the distant sail was so loud that the merchant was slightly deaf ever after. The wave stirred by its great lunge all but capsized him, and when he dared to open his eyes again, he had been swept within sight of land. When the pieces of the pirate ship were washed onto the shore some hours later, none of them were bigger than a man's little finger..."