High upon a silver tow'r,
above the blighted trees,
the legacy of Vel Karam Dwel't in mystery.
Vel Karam was spoken of, in tones of quiet fear.
The tongues would change from town to town,
the details never clear.
Said to be a mighty witch,
or sometimes called a Kraekan. Necromancer, demoness
or that which man can't fathom.
That Vel Karam became a tale,
had muddied history.
But men who told the tale agreed,
she was born of the sea.
And when she travel'd to your town,
your harvest would be bless'd.
And not a copper would she take,
she'd ask only for rest.
So your town would welcome her,
an oracle of light.
But once their trust and hearts she had,
she'd vanish in the night.
And when she'd been gone 13 days,
a gray mist would come down.
And tragedy and misery,
would wash over the town.
T'wasn't drought or failing crops,
amidst the silver mist.
But children maim'd but left alive,
With limbs cleav'd at the wrist.
The childrens' wounds were not of blade,
but of a magic dark.
Stich'd and heal'd and clean of blood,
by witchcraft they were marr'd.
So villages from near and far,
grew in a dismal shade.
Generation bore the mark,
that Vel Karam had made.
Smiths and merchants,
and the vestment-clad,
lived full lives dismember'd still: Shades of Vel Karam.
Decades pass'd, the fable grew,
but somehow she walk'd freely.
Guileless towns welcomed her still,
So doomed to misery.
In one town a hero grew,
not knowing full his fate.
He'd practice parry, thrust, riposte,
while not at hoe and spade.
The hero's name was Eggari,
Of Nort Hamero clan.
He bore the evil witch's work,
Eggari's missing hand.
The bitterness had curs'd him not,
he dwel't not in the past.
He'd not be victim to the crone,
her legacy so ghastly.
And young Eggari practiced well,
and grew into a man:
A swordsman fierce, a dueler,
Despite his missing hand.
A day into his nineteenth year,
Eggari did embark.
In mail, with sword, pack, supplies,
He march'd into the dark.
His journey took him through the woods,
Through valleys so abyssal.
The nights were fraught with dreadful sounds,
the days were not less dismal.
A crossbow that Eggari built,
he used in hunting game.
And mushrooms, wild berries, roots,
he gather'd to sustain him.
A fortnight through the woods of pitch,
he came upon a clearing.
In the distance rose the spire.
He knew what he was nearing.
But not a moment had gone by,
when arrow struck his back,
a shout, another from the trees!
An ambush! An attack!
Drawing steel with fencing hand,
Eggari faced the threat.
The one-arm'd hero scann'd the trees,
the brigands number'd 10.
Arrows flew from every side,
but wither'd at his mail.
And he became a whirlwind of blades;
a bloody gale.
Eggari slashed the throat of one,
another he impaled.
Opening a third and fourth,
the ground grew wet with red.
Dodging dirk and wooden club,
He hewed and hacked and sliced.
An ear, a nose, an arm, a leg,
a hand still clutching knife!
The routed brigands fled in turn,
their numbers now just two.
Eggari's bow was swifter still,
the bolts he loosed flew true.
Bloodied, but yet resolute,
and under light of moon,
He tended scrapes and minor wounds,
his journey could resume.
3 days of marching forth again,
the spire loomed ahead,
Eggari knew just what it was:
that wicked witch's stead.
The spire's gate was mir'd in thorns,
twisted and entangled.
Eggari hacked at branch and thistle,
hot with righteous anger.
Cold damp stone, overgrown,
Smear'd in ancient grime.
Eggari set foot on the stair,
and steadily he climbed.
The staircase ended 'neath the sky:
The ruins of Vel Karam.
Eggari came upon a door
wreath'd in sever'd hands.
They showed no sign of age or rot,
but twitched with life arcane.
present all the same.
Reaching for the door handle,
Eggari turned it easily.
Those sever'd hands, yet wreath'd in twine,
reach'd at his, but feebly.
Creeping into room beyond,
a place so black and morbid,
Eggari witnessed such a sight,
he had seen naught so horrid.
Baskets lined the floor below,
And twine was strung in banners.
Piled in baskets, strung in twine,
Were scores of sever'd hands.
They twitched and squirmed, touched and grasped,
and were they trying to cry?
The crone had not just stolen flesh,
she'd taken bits of life.
In the corner, shrouded,
hunched, rocking in a chair.
What is she? Vel Karam?
Simply sitting there?
“Witch, I've come to banish thee
to th'icy realm below.”
He raised his sword,
but faltered when a creaky voice said “No.”
He brought his blade down viciously,
upon the ragged mass,
it fell from chair, a pile of bones,
and from behind: a laugh.
And there she stood, all veil'd in dark,
with skin all ghostly white.
A maiden young, with silver hair,
and garments weav'd of sky.
“You've journeyed far, my handsome knight,
but now is time to rest.
Come, my child,
and lay your weary head upon my breast.”
But Eggari would not be thralled,
by guile or charm or trick.
Bold and steeled, he plunged his blade
into the witch's neck.
Her magick was so powerful,
But here it gave no aid.
Her lifeblood spilled from gaping wound,
and her strength gave way.
Her skin, at first so young and fresh,
aged before his eyes.
Fast decrepid, wrinkled, gray,
leaking wicked life.
“Look at you, you utter fool,”
she croaked to Eggari.
“You've doom'd them all, the childes I took:
our threads of life were linked.”
Eggari coiled back in fear,
surveilling what he'd wrought.
The hands were quickly growing foul
surrendering to rot.
The stench became unbearable,
he left that charnel place.
Returning from the Citadel,
he found his home in waste.
Those who had lost bits of them,
to evil Vel Karam,
had suddenly begun to rot,
from whence they lost their hands.
The rotted stumps were spreading quick,
and took most unaware,
a lucky few took blade to flesh:
those lucky few were spared.
The rest were taken by the rot,
a blight so fiercely spreading,
their minds, decayed and blind with rage,
knew naught but hunger pangs.
And so the blighted plagued the land,
devouring living men,
spreading rot that eats the soul,
heralding the end.
And Eggari, the one-armed knight,
The usher of the damned,
he spent his days atoning, purging,
Childes of Vel Karam.
And when he'd slaughtered every ghoul,
down to the last man,
the living folk did tell the tale:
The Tale of Vel Karam.
- The Tale of Vel Karam Stanzas 1-53