The Silver Kings Awash in Crimson
Lintha: 'Tree Borne by the Sea'
Lintha Hai Lin Sarvenza
‘Tree Borne by the Sea’
My birth was not an auspicious one; there were no priests, no fortune was read and fate was not consulted for a name. I simply slipped from my mother and was, some see such a thing as wrong, but they are the ones who pervert the miracle of birth. I believe when we look at our fates – we change them. I sometimes sit and reminisce about my childhood and think, nothing I am now would be if I had consulted my future. To gaze upon it is to change it. To take it into your hands is to shatter it beyond recognition. I can understand His1 hate for the manipulation of fate. It is a beauteous thing that is warped and broken by the mummeries of gods and men.
The land of my birth was not a place to meddle in such matters of fate. Little Tah-ang, an island scarcely thirty miles on its sides found between the Great Isles of Smoke and Mist, Tah and Ang. It was a quiet life, most of the time, Tah and Ang had warred for hundreds of years before my birth and now their warriors met here to say their peace – that is to say what they needed of one another to see peace continue. I remember watching the feathered warriors of Ang strut about the village like great peacocks and my eye would often follow the champions of Tah in their gleaming obsidian. I did not understand as a child, but I know now that it is all a show, neither nation has fought in centuries and their “warriors” are but props giving trade negotiations an echo of darker days of glory. We just watched, watched others trapped in bygone days playing through the movements. Pining away for something they could no longer understand and in love with ghosts of the past they could not recognize.
I could not stay there, I love my home, but it offered nothing but an endless parade. Soon after I passed my trials of manhood I took a canoe to the mainland – to the steaming jungles of the Silent Crescent and the first steps of my destiny. The bounty of that land were greater than any I had experienced on the islands. Great towering trees of teak, mahogany and sandalwood. I fell in love with the jungle and made my livelihood listening to the forest as it guided me to the eldest of these tree, so old they were as silent as the grave. All on the islands have heard of the Silent Crescent and many are given to wonder how such a raucous place, alive with the screaming of monkeys and moaning of braches, could be called by such a name. Those who have been here know, the silence is that of death and it visits any who stay within the jungles too long. The jungle was not silent to me though, I listened and it told me much. Even silence can speak volumes, what is left unsaid can say more than as many words. So it was that I was one of the few to hew a life from those vaulted heights of green.
Perhaps that is why they choose me. The woods I brought to market were rare and priceless and I had a talent for getting the buyer what he needed from the jungle. For years I simply thought I supplied Koa, Cocobolo and Parota woods to shipbuilders out of An-Tang. Some favored me more than others and before long I found myself exclusively procuring trees for the Sennong Shipping Concern. The demands that their business made upon me quickly lead to my requesting a ship built to meet this greater flow of business. Much of my time is spent ferreting lumber up along the coast and to meet demand I needed a larger ship with a deeper berth. With those few words I was theirs and I had joined the pirates of dread, I was Lintha.
~ End Part I ~
Life was not all that much different for me within the Lintha family, perhaps that is why I so quickly forgot the whispered stories of my youth. The Lintha were good to their word and delivered my ship unto me in a scale of time beyond my imagining and great wealth came with it. I hired a crew to aid me in loading lumber and piloting the Cannibal, a joke of rather little taste, my wooden ship consuming more of its own. It seems the rumors about the Lintha are true in that regard and I was asked sternly to change it, I rechristened it Sea Copse. Still, working for someone and being in their family are quite different. It was around this time that, my sixth voyage or three years since I received the Sea Copse, that I was instructed to leave her at port and come aboard their ship the Lamprey. I was to be formally inducted into the family, and upon going below decks I saw that my youngest brother Itsy was on board as well. It was good to catch up with family affairs and Itsy was well in the dark as to what I’d gotten him into at this point. Itsy, now fourteen, was no longer the youngest and I had three new sisters and another brother at home now. Father still dug out trees for canoes but his age was starting to show and two of my brothers were apprenticed under him already. Mother’s health is in decline, Itsy whispers that her last birth took a lot out of her, and mostly stays indoors or in bed now. When the Lintha came ashore to gather up Itsy, they came as press gangers, and my family was happy to take the money for one less mouth to feed. The bonds of the Lintha are stronger than that – they would never sell one of their own.
After a month at sea we made landfall on an island called Akhgar, a protectorate of Bluehaven. The island was dominated by bellowing volcanoes much like Tah and the Lintha walked openly here. I saw blue tinged flesh and flared gills upon every street mixed among the multitude of humans like stars through the black of night. The people looked no different that the people of my island Little Tah-ang, I realized these people were not of the Lintha and that they were beneath me. It was a strange feeling of elation – to be elevated above the station of my birth. We spent one night in the village, restocking the ship and some of the mortal crew taking their pleasure upon the local women. I’ll never forget the disgust upon the Brother’s faces when the men took whore and wench into their arms. I am a man and feel urges, I felt a great want to understand what so disgusted my Lintha brothers then.
The next morning the Lintha brought Itsy and myself to a secluded atoll on the far side of the isle. While my brother stood upon the sandy shore, I was lead out into the crystal blue water. A Lintha more sea than man took my face in his leathern hands as cheers of his name echoed across and above the waves, Lintha Sennong Grandfather Xun’xue, he declared to all that I would be reborn with the sea in my soul and Kimbery in my heart. Next thing I know, I am trust under the waves. I remember I was calm, for the first few seconds, then it became clear I was being drowned. I began to thrash and claw, I saw him mouthing words past the veil of sea and then everything grew dark. I woke on the sandy shore to whispers, Lintha Sennong gan Cousin…it was a question. I knew then and whispered back as salty water oozed from me between racking coughs… Sarvenza!
I’ve been Lintha Sennong gan Sarvenza ever since, though few remember, but that is a story for later. I grew to adore the Lintha, I studied their history and listened to every story in every port that involved them. I learned of Blue Haven and the Cult of Dukantha and I learned that I would never be allowed upon the banks of my new homeland so long as I was what I was. I know I should have been happy. I had wealth, men who served me, respect and fear followed like a cloak when I wished it and I had the bonds the Lintha had forged about me. Being mortal, we are never sated, and I resolved to visit Blue Haven and show my devotion to the Lintha. I would bow my head to Dukantha and gaze upon the trappings of my god. I would do this alone, by canoe, just as the last time my life changed. I had heard of the seaweed maze that surrounded the island and there would be no stars or moon as I navigated the waters at night. It was foolishness and madness, but the tiny vessel was able to slip through the reaching hands of the sargasso time and time again. Soon a bright light grew upon the horizon, like the rising of the sun hours before dawn. The Blue City, ablaze with celebration, but the island was strange even as it was cast in stark relief by the celebratory fires. The waves did no crash upon it so much as it rode upon them. Lintha Ng Oroo, an island of the flesh of Kimbery, more at place in the deep ocean than any place of rock an soil. In her way, she was the most beautiful place I’d ever seen even as my mind rebelled against me. It was already past time. Removing a cruel curved knife from my belt and pouring alcohol over the blade before taking a deep swig, I cut away what I was forbidden to bring.
That was the second time I woke from darkness with Lintha chanting in my ears. It was not my name they cried this time though, Lintha Ng Hut Dukantha, the emissary had come while I slept. The sun crested upon the lip of the world and the cries grew as I felt a presence enter. Pulling myself up as the hot blood slicked my thighs, I followed the cries to a sea cave, the fervor in the eyes of the Lintha blinded them. In the mouth a towering stark blue Lintha stood, curved horns reaching towards the sky. Before him knelled dozens of my Brothers. I moved to knell beside them and the chanting stopped.
~ End Part II ~
Lintha Ng Hut Dukantha reached down and lifted my head. His eyes studying me for the mark of the Lintha and finding it not in flesh nor blood. I saw the distaste in his eyes and I felt my heart breaking. Muttering grew out of the silence around me and cries went up for my death. I realized in that moment, I was not Lintha, that I had come where I was not welcome. Dukantha made a gesture, I was not even worthy of sacrifice to his glory, as I was carried back to the sea to bleed to death.
Floating out into the dark waters, I felt the sargasso reaching for me and embracing me as I was brought into Kimbery’s final embrace…
As I sank into the depths I heard a whisper in my ears.
“You are not like them – but you could be. I have seen that path in you. Would you serve me as you have served my sister? With your whole heart and with the blood of your life?”
What is a dying man to say to that?
“Yes. I would serve into death and beyond.”
It is a strange feeling to be embraced in a cocoon of seaweed. To feel you flesh change and you blood shift. To have secrets pour into your mind so quickly you can not hear them, yet you know them. Feeling new life grow from deadened loins.
“The pact is made. In the name of Szoreny, you are now mine. The Tree Borne by the Sea, Lintha Hai Lin Sarvenza.”
When I washed upon the shores at the end of calibration, Dukantha was gone and my flesh was blue.
~ End Part III ~