The Light in the Deeps

by Peter

Night has come already and the stars look down upon us as we prepare to leave. Only once before have I been out to perform this duty with another. Sixty years ago I was the young boy helping move the coracle, ready to be inducted into the penance, to give myself up to his service. Sixty years ago, as now, night was upon us before the boat was ready to leave, and sixty years ago the stars watched us also.

Now, I am the one bent over with age and the weary pilings of service gone on too long. Now I shall impart the beginnings of wisdom to my new ward and set him on the path.

We begin to make our way out to the open seas, safe in the knowledge that no storm, nor tempest, nor any wind will harm us here. Not when he watches us so carefully in this, his penance.

“Long ago. Long, long ago. Before the Namers were bound, before the world was set in stone, when all was change, there was one who dwelt in the seas, in the bottomless deeps, who made the creatures of the deep, the kelp, the dulse, the weeds of the sea, his own. The Lord of the Deeps, profound and terrible in the depths.

Inhuman were his thoughts. Slow and following currents unseen, as unfathomable as the depths of the oceans was his mind. Remember that. Do not forget it. The penance we pay on his behalf, it is to something beyond us in every way that matters. Deep he runs, and deep he is. Many are lost staring down into his Realm. Remember whose penance we are paying, keep your mind on the surface, on wind and waves, on rain and hail.

Long, long ago, so I was told by the one who sat here before me, the Lord of the Deeps, conceived of a love, if love it can be called, for the Light. From the yawning depths of his realm he looked upon the shining myriad beauty of the stars and found in them something lacking from his place. In their glimmer, in their radiance, he found something and in that something he found a love, a desire.

But the Light is distant, the Light cares nothing for Love, nor the yearnings of a cold and impenetrable being who dwells in the depths. The Light wished to be rid of his admiration, of his desires and so it retreated from the Deeps and left him in the dark. No more could he see the stars at night, nor could the sun’s rays penetrate the bottomless depths, darkness was consigned to his realm.

But the Lord of the Deeps is like the deepest of currents and once his course is set, nothing will stop him, not rocks in the deep, not wind chasing the tops of the waves and not the will of one such as the Light. Alone in the dark, alone with the radiance of the stars forever withheld from his gaze, the Lord of the Deeps created his own light, his own stars. A reef he formed in the oceans, in the deepest and darkest place and into it he set his own lights, his own stars to gaze upon and love. The Stars of the Deeps, his creation, his love.

Whatever the Light judged this to be, blasphemy or irrelevance, it had renounced its jurisdiction over the deeps, so long as the Stars of the Deep remained where they were, it could do nothing.

Listen to the oldest stories of the sea, the first stories from the first sailors, passed down from hand to hand and you will hear of the Stars of the Deep, of the sky at night alive in Southern waters, of the sparkling beauty.”

I can see it now, a fat wallowing merchantman, a brig, maybe 50 souls aboard, more if there are passengers. It will be enough. Whenever the penance must be paid, there is always a fat merchantman, or a Manowar, weighed down with marines, or a fishing fleet, lost and far from home. Always.

“But he whose penance we now pay, he saw the Stars of the Deep, and grew jealous of the beauty he saw. He desired it, wanted it, and so he called up the greatest tempest within his power. The sea roiled, exploded, burst and in the violence of that storm the deeps themselves were set to such tumult as it had never before seen. Such was the brutality, the ferocity, that the Stars of the Deep was broken and pieces were drawn to the surface where he whose penance we now pay took them for his own.

But away from the depths, away from the Lord of the Deep’s realm, this perversion of the Light, this travesty of its splendor, withered and grew sickly. Away from the nurturing love and care of The Deepest One, and in full view of the Light, of the very entity which it was merely the palest copy, how could it survive as anything other than a twisted and ailing thing?”

No simple storm this. No raging skies. Dark clouds shall not gather on the horizon to race across open seas and engulf this ship. Calm, utter calm must attend this penance. So I draw to me the winds, coruscating, tightly reined and tightly leashed. Around I fling it, around and round and round, invisible to the doomed brig’s watch. They are enclosed now, enrounded by a circling maelstrom of winds. The sea itself is flat, no wave to mar the surface, the wake absorbed into the water and no movement through the water. And where they find themselves? Calm. Utter Calm.

And now they see it. The watch calling out the alarums, the captain upon deck dressed in bedclothes and a Priest of Trade Winds making propriations, requests, falling to his knees and begging. But Trade Winds will do nothing here, he knows this is not his to interfere with. The light from below, the light which first drew the attention of the watch, it suffuses the ship, shines forth and for all the world I cannot but think, the sky at night lies beneath us and the heavens above are but a pale replica.

“This is our penance boy, because it is his penance. It is a heavy burden willingly accepted. It is his penance because when he looked upon what he had done, upon the pieces of the Stars of the Deep less than a shadow of itself, he knew that in his greed he had destroyed the thing he coveted.”

The panic is truly setting in now. The captain, standing to, weapon in hand cutting down those trying to flee, still under the illusion that he commands this ship now. Sometimes it happens like this. Sometimes there is a quiet acceptance of their fate, all sitting, awaiting they know not what.

“He whose penance we pay undertook to make reparations for the theft, to return the broken pieces of the Stars of the Deep to their home. But he whose penance we pay, he was careless. He lost a part of the Stars of the Deep, lost it and never found it again. The theft became irreparable. The price to pay, never-ending. You uphold this penance, like me, you accept it.”

Blood is seeping off the deck and into the waters around.

“You will, as I have done these past sixty years, prepare the penance.”

The Stars of the Deep are shining all the more brightly now.

“You will witness the payment.”

The Captain is dead or dying, throat open, still trying to mouth orders.

“You will accept the price.”

The crew are silenced by what they see approaching them from the depths.

“And when your time is come, you will do as I have done tonight. You will find another and you will pass on your burden, your penance.”

I am chanting now. Time is slow as the final moments of this brig, the Golden Sands, speed past.

misc/fiction/lightinthedeep.txt · Last modified: 2011/04/05 19:32 by osj01
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