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Friday, September 27, 2013

Last Song

"It was a witch.  She was supposed to be just another mark, an easy target.  Me and my crew had been in town for a few weeks 'cause the pressure was on.  We needed it to die down a bit before we returned to the port.  Turns out someone fingered the ship and, before you know it, word gets out that there's a bounty on our heads.  Now, it's not a big bounty, nothing to brag about at the watering hole, but it was enough to attract the more… desperate men out there.  And desperate men are often the most dangerous.

"So me and the lads were getting low on cash.  Some of 'em thought to earn a wage, but what self-respecting pirate would do that?  We've all tried getting work; that's why we're pirates!  It pays!  So a 'Proper' Job is in order, and we found one: an old lady, lives on her own, likes to help others, if a bit eccentric.  The way I figure it, you've got a right to some eccentricities if you've made it that far in life.  Well, we had heard that she was "special."  That she could do magic.  I'm not one to believe old wives' tales, but sailors can be a superstitious lot.  The men were nervous, but we were getting desperate, and desperate men…

"Four of us volunteered.  There was Fletcher, Crow, Red, and myself.  It was supposed to be: in, grab what we could, and out.  Pawn anything valuable in the town over and we're home free.  Heck, magic stuff might even fetch a little more.  But it didn't work that way.

"By the time we got in, it was already too late.  Her whole house was just a trap... an illusion.  To be honest, I'm not even sure anything was there at all.  We decided to go in the back door, just in case someone was watching.  Red went in first.  He walked in… and then he was just gone, like the blackness swallowed him up.  Fletcher and I went in after him.  Crow, he's out lookout.  Hangs out in the Crow's Nest, see?  Well, Fletcher and I couldn't find him.  Everywhere we looked there was nothing to steal.  No food, no clothes, no coin, no nothing.  Nothing, that is, but a book.  It was covered in writing that I'd never seen before, and just sitting on a table in the middle of the room.  I figure it had to be worth something.

"Before I got to it, though, Crow came in.  Someone was coming – probably the old lady.  Well, I grabbed the book and ran for it, but my feet wouldn't move.  That's when she walked in.

"At first there was just silence.  All three of us saw her walk into the room, like a spirit or a ghost.  Her clothes were transparent, and so was her skin, all the way to her bone.   Then, we heard music.  Each of us, something else.  We talked about it later, and we agree that none of us heard the same thing.  'Fools,' she said, like she was straight out of a fairy tale.  'Fools, you should not have come here.  You seek knowledge beyond your ken, and now you shall have it!'  Of course, I wasn't seeking knowledge, I just wanted some quick cash.

"My feet come loose, and I assume theirs did to with how fast we all moved.  Suddenly we were making a made dash for the door, but we weren't getting any closer to it.  The music, though, was getting louder.  'Remember it well. for this is the last song you shall ever hear!'  That was it.  She said that, and then the house was gone, and we were standing on the street with a bundle of rags in my arms.

"And that's it, that's my story.  Well, most of it.  You see, Red was there with us, but he was never the same.  He never talked about what he saw, or what he heard.  In fact, he never talked again.  That night we were walking back to the ship and we hear a bar tune from a pub.  He gets all nervous and runs away from it, but he tripped and rolled down a hill into a river.  Poor sap drowned.  Crow thinks he did it on purpose.

"It didn't take us long to realize that those songs we heard were the last ones we would ever hear, just maybe not right away.  Fletcher said that his song was the same as the one in the pub, so when we got back to the ship he… well, let's just say he doesn't hear so well anymore.  Crow.. well, Crow's a nervous wreck.  He doesn't want anyone to know what his song is, so if he ever hears someone singing, he starts to sing 'Merry old Elf' over and over."

"What about you, Captain?" the old salt asked, giving a toothless grin across the small round table that had been stained with the rings of a thousand ales.

"Me?  Oh, everyone knows what my song is," he said as he stood up from the table and grabbed his hat.  "It's a lullaby, one I heard when I was a kid."

"How do you handle knowing that it will be the last song you hear before you die?  Wouldn’t' that drive you mad?"

The captain gave a suave grin.  "Of course not.  I do hope my tale was worth the drink," he said, fixing his hat on his head.  He then bowed and sauntered away from the table to the pub door, whistling a lullaby all the while.

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