Beyond the sands and shallow water
There sits a rock named Solemn Daughter
Perpetual mourning into the sea
Where the water comes not up past your knee.
Standing guard alone against the elements
Where the legends talk of spirits malevolent
Her features carved by rains and years
The bay nourished by her rocky tears.
Here where the rocks are hidden all around
Should seek and scheme to run your boat aground
They would force you out into the icy water
To be consumed by the Solemn Daughter.
A sailor will fear to speak of things
A story that misfortune brings
The Daughter makes their voices waiver
And accentuates eerie behaviour.
They fear her tale and fear her face
And even more her cold embrace
Yet if you persist to know the truth
They set you to the Inn of Stony Roof.
It was there I heard a man remark
That when the night grows cold and dark
The only way you will see her face
Is to catch the lines her breath will trace.
I ask how she breathes if not alive
And he simply smiles and shifts aside
Sets himself ready here to regale
The sorrow of the Daughter’s tale.
Her legend is one old and tragic
Touched by an evil cursed and magic
Told as truth, no superstition:
This horror has but one rendition.
He beckons me sit and lean in close
As he whispers to me soft and hoarse;
His breath is foul and his hair is thin
And his eyes light up his crooked grin:
Two score years ago her father died
Killed by shadows upon the high tide
She stood at the spot where his body lay
Weeping as the waves washed his form away.
Solemn in her vigil she turned to rock
Fixed in situ right upon that spot
To await return of what she thought were men
But too young was she to comprehend.
Her father was a black arts alchemist
Searching things forgotten he did persist
Digging deeper and deeper with words and spells
Waking curses and demons from all the hells.
Banished he was from the ancient order
Exiled and sent further north of the border
The evils came for his child and wife
But he sold her soul for his daughter’s life.
Not knowing the reality of what he agreed
The pact held fast until his own soul freed
Her life forfeit to hell at age twenty – one
With a signature in blood, he was soon gone.
Then at this village did he arrive
Scarred but lucky to be alive
And made here his home and life anew
To put right the wrongs that went askew.
He toiled hard and toiled away
To keep the evil curse at bay
But try he did and how he did fail
His whole life’s work to no avail.
So here they lived for years together
Forever if not for this endeavour
Until that night when the shadows came
To claim her theirs agreed by name.
He fought and fought their forms of men
And she rushed out to deal with them
Her fathers love was all it took
To fight the shadows light forsook.
As it cost her father all that he had
He lay dying, his face contoured sad
And she swore vengeance upon all
Who search for spirits enrapt in thrall.
Her curse it haunts these waters hence
While searching for her recompense
To take all those who dare come near
The resting place of her father dear.
I was no more intrigued to find
This daughter now within my mind
Than anything that had brought me here
And yet I could not find my fear.
So we set forth to the shallow water
To try and draw out this Solemn Daughter
By the rock we crouched between trees
Where the water reached not past our knees.
The moon was a sliver, a silver shine
Reflecting ripples through black brine
Beneath the dark fabric of the sky
Torn by the stars that don’t seem high.
Here we waited and waited some more
Huddled for warmth chilled to the core
My bones a tremble due to cold
By days, then years I felt so old.
As the hours past and the moon it waned
There were no ghosts lest I’m insane!
And I started to turn as if to leave
When I heard someone not of us breathe.
Lapping currents heard by silence breaking
Set my companion’s pose to shaking
His mouth it shook and his jaw chattered
Harder and harder til his teeth shattered.
His eyes grew wide and out and wider still
And he shrieked so coarse and guttural
His nose it bled, his screaming stopped
Deathly silence until eyes popped.
As it seemed the moonlight grew so dim
I saw her stand up high and over him
Her aura: instantly foreboding, vicious
Her countenance: smiling, quite malicious.
I beheld the terror of the Solemn Daughter
The more she rose up out the water
I yearned for instant absolution
And I filled the air with noise pollution.
Then a sound; a wail incessant
The moon grew red, a bloody crescent
What evil trick, what jape so cruel?
No joke it was, but reflecting pool.
The moon ran red from life blood pure
Twas my companions I was so sure
And I watched him fall to a watery grave
His body gone, swallowed by a wave.
I turned to flee and splashed ashore
My curiosity piqued no more.
Yet with fingertips or wisps of smoke
I felt the Daughter start to choke.
Dropped to my knees, water to my waist,
All urgency halted no sense of haste.
No more could I see through surrounding mist
All instincts in me were to not resist.
I fell back into rising tidal water
Saline eroding my life ever shorter
She was upon me pressing me into the bed
As she glowered down, no words were said.
I pitied the girl that succumbed to this fate
Cursed and evil eyes naught but hate
Her figure loomed over pushing me down
As the demons danced here all around.
My fight was gone my heart rate dropped
My body limp as my breathing stopped
Her face was fury, vengeful, frowning
Too late for me now I’d accepted drowning.
As morning broke up over the dock
No body remained, just shapeless rock
Hidden just beneath these waves possessed
I’d lay forever at the Daughter’s request.
© Kris Blackburn 19/08/12