The Nightmare Sea: A Tale of Yharnam Part 3

The Nightmare Sea: A Tale of Yharnam Part 3

This is a work of fanfiction, written to pay tribute to the video game Bloodborne, the visionary author H.P. Lovecraft, and other influences. I in no way seek financial gain from it, and the settings, concepts, and some of the characters within remain the intellectual property of From Software and Sony Entertainment.

I also cannot be held responsible for any deterioration in one’s mental faculties, resultant from the eldritch truths contained therein…those without sufficient Insight are advised not to proceed. Before proceeding to madness, first read Part 1 and Part 2.

CAPTAIN’S FINAL LOG, DAY 25: ADRIFT, THE NIGHTMARE SEA

-30-

To begin at the beginning…

-31-

We heard her before we sighted her.

We had sailed onwards for days, feasting on the flesh and imbibing of the false blood until it had run dry. The festivities now seemingly over, the crew had fallen into a lethargy, and slouched across the bloodied deck in grim mimicry of when they had joyfully lounged in the sun with their now consumed fellows, many weeks ago under friendlier skies.

I allowed this indulgence, reasoning it would make them hungry for the feast to come. And I was right.

When the song of Kosm first floated across the waves, it seemed to come both as a delicate whisper on the wind and a deep vibration in the ocean deep. Its timbre reverberated through the Solaire’s wooden planks, warming the oak and gently rousing my crew from their slumbers. This aria was a lullaby sung by a mother to her lost orphan; a shanty which recounted the story of the earth, moon, stars, the cosmos entire. The crew were naturally enraptured, and many were now standing upright upon the foredeck, holding their arms aloft in a most curious manner with one hand ascended to the heavens and the other spread to the side, their eyes straining the horizon to seek the source of this blessed sound. I saw my favoured Seawoman with tears in her eyes.

“It’s so beautiful…” She whispered.

I was having none of it.

I marched to the aft deck and seized the ship’s bell, and began a-ringing, drowning out that serpent-siren’s pitch.

“Enough! If you think that sound is bliss, think of the ecstasy imparted when you drink of her blood!”

This shook them from their fervour, and they slowly began to cheer. I ordered the Cabin Boy down from the main mast.

“You! Since you like ringing this bell so much, you will ring it continuously until the beast is slain!”

Upon descending, he gave me a look of absence, of childhood innocence lost.

But he did as I bad.

I ascended the crowsnest myself, and sat at the top of the world, scanning the horizon with my view monocle, searching for my prey.

-32-

Land burst from the skyline as if from nowhere. We had come across a brief thick fog, humid in nature and sitting above frothy waters. The crew had appeared momentarily frenzied, but upon exiting the vista that awaited us caused shocked gasps.

Off to port was a rocky land spit, an exact replica of the one that encircles the inlet to the bay of Byrgenwerth. Off our bow sat a shoreline of rocky cliffs. Within this, a beached coastal inlet, potted with caves, served to make a murky lagoon framed by the spit on one side and the cliffs on the other. Curiously, this was scattered with a graveyard of ships’ masts, all looking very much like the Solaire’s.

Further up the beachhead, atop the cliff face, stood an abandoned lighthouse of dirty white rock. A thin beam shone out of its lamphouse towards the fog behind us.

I knew this was where we would have our final battle.

Sure enough, the song of Kosm rose in volume, then abruptly ceased. And then she breached, in the centre of the lagoon amidst the ships’ masts.

-33-

How to describe a deity in the flesh, a creature so many tiers of evolution above man that the very thought of it plunges the weak-willed and the artists of the world into mental decay, the scientists into frenzied, doomed attempts at understanding, the religious into manipulations and reverence?

The entity that surfaced before our oncoming vessel was at least a half the length of our ship, and was a many layered thing. Her epidermis was a mother-of-pearl, translucent scaled-skin which seemed to undulate with gorgeous purple and pale blue veins that sat just within fishy flesh. This tapered off towards a cowl at the head, which fanned out to either side in the manner of a ray, before channelling down into two very human like arms, albeit with webbed fingers. These appendages were of the same pale flesh as the hide, and being of perhaps twice the average man’s length and girth. Towards the rear the cuttlebone-esque layer gave way to a thick tail, lizard-like in girth but finned to the dorsal angle like a fish. This muscular appendage flexed with power and suggested great propulsive speed. If, however, I make the being sound too alien, that is not the whole story, for nestled within this exotic outline was something altogether more human, and suggestively feminine.

“Ready arms!” I balled from the crowsnest, and even as I slid down the mast I could hear a cacophony of swords being drawn, battle cries being sung, harpoons being seized and tied. On reaching the deck I grabbed one myself, and holding the spear aloft like a javelin sprinted to the foredeck.

“KosMMMMM!” I hollered as I reached the bow and hurled my spear at my mark. Propelled by my runup, the harpoon flew true, in a high arch above the sunken ship’s masts in the lagoon. But before it landed, the Cosmic Mother sounded beneath the waters.

The crew gasped, suddenly in fright as they could not see their opponent. I saw my old friend the Oarsman with his musket, frantically trying to search for a target utop the aft deck.

“Cabin Boy- off that bell and up the crow’s nest. Look into the deep, find her!” I yelled, countermanding my previous order. I saw we were rapidly approaching the shallows.

“Coxswain, bring us hard to Starboard, lest we be beached!” I yelled, and the ship rapidly turned about so that out portside was facing the land.

“Where is she Cap’n?” stammered a nearby crewmate.

“Stay alert, she is nigh!” I snarled, and approached the port railing, brandishing my harpoon.

The Cosmic Mother erupted out of the water in front of me with such force that the Solaire pitched precariously to starboard. There were shrieks of awe and anguish as she towered over the deck, her tail smacking the port-side hull as it flapped in steady time, enabling her to keep perfect pace with us as she loomed over the ship inquisitively. With her torso twisted at such an angle we could now see her anterior aspect, and everyone stood frozen on the slanted deck, paralyzed by the apparition before us.

The wide, fish-fleshy hood previously described now hung over the deck, creating an shadowy awning. Just beneath its crest, a swarm of long, grey, whip-like tentacles had extended, and were probing the rigging, where the terrified Cabin Boy was still trying to make his way to the crowsnest. To the side of these, the gargantuan humanoid hands had descended to grip the railing, and the ship creaked worryingly.

Enshrouded beneath this cowl was the form of what was, or perhaps once had been, a human woman. Oh, her skin was that all-encompassing translucent pearl shade, and her legs were fused into a serpentine trunk which devolved further down the body into that formidable, thrusting finned tail. She had excessive musculature about the shoulders, which joined bilaterally to the giant arms previously described. But she had what were unmistakingly breasts, lined with rivulets of grey veins, as well as a sensual figure with a flat abdomen, which was curiously marked with a great scar…

My unbelieving eyes drank in each of these details as she hovered aloft along side us. I suppose I wanted to look anywhere other than the one detail I have thus far missed. For when I elevated my gaze, I saw that she had the face of the First Mate, crowned by those writhing great tentacles. She smiled down benevolently at me.

“My love…” I gasped, dropping to my knees and on instinct extending one hand to the heavens and the other to my side. The tentacles reached out to embrace me…

The immense boom of the cannon exploded to my left. The muzzle spat fire and the ball slammed into Kosm’s abdomen at close range, right at the scar’s level, and she emitted an all too human wail as she was knocked back into the water with a mighty splash.

I turned to see the Able Seawoman, straddling the still-smoking cannon and grinning wildly.

“Stay off her, you sea-bitch!” She declared triumphantly.

I knew not in that moment if I wanted to embrace my saviour or run her through with a harpoon. We all once again leaned over the railing, aside from the Cabin Boy who was still clinging to the rigging in fright, and the Seawoman, who was still gripping the cannon between her legs and laughing maniacally.

“Lady Cap’n, look! I smashed that rotten siren into fishy white pulp!”

With the ship still under sail, the crumpled form of Kosm was being left in our wake, a fetal-form of flesh appearing much like a punctured jellyfish.

“Is…is…she dead?” Stammered the Oarsman, his musket still gripped in his hand.

The Seawoman continued her taunting of the wounded deity, riding her cannon as she did so. “Did you want more of this, you filthy monstrosity? What good’s your immortality now! Try stirring up trouble in this sorry state! All mangled and twisted, with every inside on the outside, for all the world to see…”

An inhuman, mournful note of great pitch and volume sounded in the lagoon like a foghorn, echoing off the cliff walls around us. We held our ears, for the sound was great, but as soon as it had started it ceased.

The floating body of Kosm now seethed with violet lightning. With an awful crack she discharged an electrical anomaly into the lagoon about her, sending vast bolt-waves of electromagnetism cascading in all directions. In less than a second  a great voltive torrent of purple bolts was surging towards the Solaire, accompanied by a static wail which sounded like a thousand waterfalls.

“Brace!” I bellowed, but all was too late.

As the static wave hit us, every metallic object aboard ship conducted its awful charge. The cocky Able Seawoman, sitting astride her cannon, shot backwards in a shower of sparks, her back cracking as she slammed into the opposite railing, her inner thighs smouldering red with fresh electrical burns, her body spasming violently and drool foaming at her mouth. Across the rest of the crew, shrieks were heard and the clanging of metallic weapons hitting the deck. I dropped my own harpoon in shock, and looked down to see a crimson blister bubbling in my palm where it had been in my grip.

The crackling lightning proceeded to work its way up the masts as it dispersed, and the rigging promptly burst into flames. I heard a child-like scream, and the burning body of the Cabin Boy fell to the deck. He thrashed in a fiery hell-cage for a few seconds, but quickly went still.

The Solaire was now coasting with sails aflame, trailing a line of thick black smoke behind us. We did not have time to recover, as dull thud knocked us all off our feet. At the stern of the ship, I saw that ray-like hood looming over the aftcastle. I had only a moment to marvel at her speed at having reached us so quickly, then I heard a smash of tinkling glass as Kosm swiped one great hand through the panoramic windows of the great cabin at the ship’s rear, obliterating them. She then gripped the resultant ledge and heaved the stern of the ship downwards into the water.

With the ship now pitched at this angle, bow skywards, we began to slide down the deck towards the beast. I seized the foremast to prevent my fall. Screams were intermingled with the gurgling sound of sea water rushing into the great cabin through the now submerged window pane. She was sinking us, dragging us beneath the waves.

“We are stove!” Yelled the Oarsman. “Abandon ship!”

Several of the remaining crew, himself included, tried to steady themselves against the steep gradient and make for the away-boats still tied to the ship on either side, now precariously close to the waterline. Most did not get far, however, as from the Great One’s cowl shot an assortment of tentacles, which reached over the stern railing and wrapped around the escapees’ feet. She then proceeded to throw them into the air like ragdolls, before either slamming them down to break against the deck or pulling them beneath the waves by her flanks. One of the the beings great hands rose up on the port side, and came down to smash the away-boat there to splinters, cutting off that exit route.

On the opposite deck a small group, including the Oursman, had commandeered the other away-boat, and having managed to cut adrift were attempting to put distance between themselves and the sinking ship.

With water now bubbling up over the stern railing, it was clear the Solaire was now flooded to a terminal degree, and she was now going down by the stern. The Cosmic Mother seemed to realise this, and broke off to pursue the fleeing away-boat.

With great clarity I now realised what had to be done. I released my grip on the fore mast, and slid down the slanting deck towards the entrance gangway to the great cabin. As I plummeted into its gaping maw I was instantly plunged into both darkness and sea water, for the whole rear of the ship was now flooded. I dived deep into the cabin, and sure enough could quickly make out the spectral blue glow of the chest of surrogates. By their light I could see the ruined window pane at the rear of the great cabin, through which the sandy seabed was visible, coming up to meet us.

Briefly, I surfaced into an air pocket at the top of the cabin. I grasped a floating wooden object to catch my breath, and noticed to my surprise it was the writing bureau, with these very parchments still scattered utop it. Without thinking I stuffed both them and a quill into the flax lining of my garb. I then sounded and retrieved the chest from the cabin floor, and hauled it out of the deck-side entrance to the surface.

I attempted to haul my quarry a few paces up the deck, but the incline was now very great. No matter. I opened the chest to reveal the writhing invertebrates, and by some instinct knew which one was ours. Mine and the First Mate’s, that is. I thrust it under my arm and stood, precariously, just in time to see the Cosmic Mother rearing up out of the water, bearing down upon the remaining away-boat.

Only the Oursman remained, standing in the boat and unloading his musket at the creature, defiant to the end. With a single swipe of a spindly, giant hand Kosm knocked him overboard. The force was so great he was likely dead before he hit the water.

I placed my foot upon the chest.

“Kosmmmmm!” I bellowed.

“Do you yearn for your surrogates”?

The foghorn-esque sound began again, although more anxious and foreboding this time as she twisted her upper body to face me, the now empty away boat drifting to her starboard. Her feminine figure danced above the waves.

“Well come hither, and get them!” I roared and kicked the chest into the water. The lid spilled open and the shoal of glowing invertebrates burst out in panic, encircling the sinking ship, save for the poor dear I still held under my arm.

Kosm let rip a howl of anguish and began to crackle with that ultra-violet lighting, and for a horrible second I thought I had misjudged her. But sure enough, these charges were soon extinguished, and she launched herself back to the Solaire, to salvage her precious proxies.

I did not have long. I turned and began to climb the now near-vertical deck. Using rigging, bulkheads, whatever I could find, I scaled the sinking ship as if it were a cliff face, heading towards the bow, which pointed skywards like an accusing finger. This was an exhausting task with the frightened, squirming surrogate under my arm, and debris still afire falling about us, but I soldiered upwards.

Only once did I dare to look down, resting atop the now horizontal foremast, and beheld a sight both majestic and awful. Kosm was circling the ship, still emitting that mournful horn sound and churning the water with her tail. She was frantically trying to gather the fluorescent-blue surrogates with her human hands and alien tentacles, and bring them within her fishy cowl. In that moment, I almost felt sympathy for the beast, but I hardened my heart and continued my ascent.

I finally reached the summit, and sat atop the bow of the slowly sinking Solaire, next to the bowsprit. This was the very spot that I had last seen my love the First Mate in the true waking world. I looked down at our surrogate, her final legacy, and held her in my arms. The sweet little creature made a light squeak, and inquisitively reached its tentacles out towards my cheek. Below, our Cosmic Mother continued her doomed rescue of the little being’s cousins.

“I’m sorry…” I whispered to the surrogate. Then I squeezed it as hard as I could in my arms.

It squealed and began to thrash in my grip, but I held fast.

“Ssh…shh…” I hissed, and squeezed yet tighter. The creature began to glow an intense, burning blue, and its flesh felt hot against my breast. It scrabbled at my hair with its tentacles but could do nothing.

Kosm now heard the commotion and looked up at us, encircled by her escaping kin, and I saw her face was contorted and shifting, now the First Mate, now the Fake Scholar, now the Chief Constable, now the slain Second Mate, now the Surgeon, now the Seawoman, now the Cabin Boy, now the First Mate again. But I was not to be dissuaded from my course.

“It’s all your fault!” I yelled, then brought my knees to my chest atop the ship, increasing my crushing grip on the surrogate yet further. I was bathed in a blue which now bordered on white in its intensity. I felt the flesh give way in my arms.

A hot rock shot from the heavens, riding a tail of fire, and plummeted into the water beneath us. It struck the Cosmic Mother in the flank. She shrieked and began to thrash, the water becoming a tumultuous torrent of steam and white froth. A second rock, this time with all the appearance of a cannonball of ice slammed into the beast. She wailed, and electricity began to crackle spasmodically around the bow. I squeezed tighter, tears streaming down my cheeks, as I ended both surrogate and Mother. Rocks of all shapes and sizes were now plummeting from the heavens and into the tempest, which we were nearly submerged within ourselves.

I waited for the end. As bow began to descend into those hellish rapids I held fast. I felt an enormous hand clamp around my ankle.

A meteorite smashed into the bowsprit next to my head. I sank into unconsciousness.  

-34-

And thus unto the end…

I came to, in the same fetal position I had blacked out in, but I was now on my side. As I wearily sat aloft, I opened my arms, and the crushed, still body of the invertebrate surrogate fell into my lap. I surveyed the perplexing scene about me.

I was sitting in the bottom of the second away-boat. How I had got here I could not recall. I was alone but for the invertebrate corpse. We were drifting into a thick, steamy mist on the end of a light beam whose source was the lighthouse atop the cliff face, back on the receding shoreline. The fog was not yet so thick that I could not see the remains of the carnage in the lagoon.

A fresh ship’s mast had joined the graveyard in the coastal inlet. I could see the debris still expanding from where the almost-sunk Solaire  had been hit but that final meteor. A mess of timber, chests and bodies (both human and invertebrate), floated on the greeny-grey water. Beneath its surface, a constellation of shining coins could be just glimpsed, affixed to the totemic masts.

I did not at first see the Cosmic Mother, but when I extracted the viewing monocle from my garb I made out on the beachhead a white mass of flesh, washed ashore. But even as I watched it appeared as though she was fading, as if not there at all, and out at sea to port the spectral outline of a vessel could be seen making its way into the lagoon… At this point the fog became too thick as I drifted out to the ocean.

As I replaced the viewing monocle in my flaxen garb I felt these very parchments rustling therein, and gingerly removed both them and the quill. Leaning on the seating plank, I set out to complete my story.

I now sit alone in the boat, feeling numb. I think of all that I have lost. My love, my shipmates, the Solaire. I thus declare a vow to myself that I will sail this bottomless ocean, this Nightmare Sea. I will sail across worlds, dimensions, and dreams. I will sail through time itself until I find my love again and I will beg her to heed the same three adages I now present to you, dear reader.

Firstly, follow your dreams and your heart but do so in the waking world. Do not seek resolutions in the cosmos, for it cares as little for the needs and desires of humankind as we do for the remains of invertebrates that wash up upon the shore at high tide.

Secondly, do not go to Byrgenwerth, or anywhere else in Yharnam province. Beseech whatever governance your land or realm holds true to build a wall about that place, both on land, sea and in the mind itself. It is forsaken!

And finally, and most importantly: FEAR THE OLD BLOOD.

HARBOUR MASTER’S LOG, HIGH TIDE

Epilogue

I do not often write in this record, for the labours of my calling rarely permit me the time. But a most curious series of events occurred today, so I feel that for posterity there should be a record.

At the dawn high tide a low mist descended over the marina. While making my morning rounds atop the harbour walls, I did notice a small rowing vessel, emerging from the fog. I hailed the craft, and receiving no response, went to meet its pilot when it bumped up against the dock.

A weather-worn hag promptly stumbled onto the quayside, muttering to herself and concealing something beneath her tattered garb. I could tell she may once have been something of a beauty, and perhaps of some high office given her posture. But the fates had clearly not been kind, and I wondered what battles had given her this current vacant stare and nervous disposition.

In any case, when I tried to question her further she bolted with surprising speed, and disappeared into the winding, cobbled alleys of the awakening town. I did consider summoning the constables to retrieve her, but did not want to trouble them unduly with a broken madwoman. Afterall, they and the entire civic establishment have there hands full with refugees from the Yharnam crisis, who bring with them tales that some say are too dreadful for the human mind to bear…

In any case, I proceeded about my day in the usual fashion. At the second high tide, however, I was summoned back to the quayside. Apparently some great commotion was in progress.

Upon arriving, I found that very same hag, screeching at the wake of a departing ship. Not only this, but she was waving aloft the half-rotten carcass of some invertebrate creature, perhaps a cuttlefish. I promptly escorted her away from the dockside. I am secretly grateful that she did not put up much resistance, for beneath the decrepit exterior I am given the impression of great strength!

Back at my offices, I summoned the Harbour Pilot and requested that she loan our new guest a change of garb. While assisting her to dress, the Harbour Pilot did find a number of parchments about her person, which are currently sitting on my writing bureau. awaiting review.

I again considered summoning the constabulary. However, having looked in the ledger for the name of the ship our visitor had been harassing, I have noticed that its title was my very namesake! I take this as a sign that somehow, the fates of this old hag and mine own are intertwined.

I have therefore asked the Harbour Pilot to escort her back to our lodgings. Perhaps the children will take to her, or mayhaps when her present delirium is ended she will be of use about the harbour, for as I previously asserted I sense a nautical capability beneath this veneer of madness.

Yes, that is what I shall do. For I believe she has suffered enough, and we all need a little help on this lonely journey, a little jolly cooperation, do we not?

The fog is now lifted, and a brilliant sun shines down upon the harbour. Praise be!

S.

THE END.


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