The Solemn Daughter

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

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