Lurking Beauty and Danger in the Rhizoda Mangrove
Whispers of the dread pirates of Captain Teyitha Contelli have long been heard in passing across the Basin of Life, from daring heists on the high seas to the transport of illegal cargo in the black market. Yet the taurian’s once-secretive crew was revealed this Shanthin as they loudly invaded the fae stronghold of the Rhizoda Mangrove: the mysterious home of the vain sea fae, the nereids. In the surprise invasion, the loboshigaru Luki Bowtail thieved a priceless Divine artifact called the Enchanted Lyre of the Siren’s Call that belonged to the nereid Callysto, the Siren Queen of Rhizoda. However, he had vastly underestimated the fury and rage his little theft had caused. As he and his jeering crew returned to the proud ship the Spotted Dogfish, the nereids vengefully capsized the boat and entrapped them on the isle as Callysto loudly cried out for anyone in the Basin of Life to help repel the invaders.
The Inner Sea frothed with Callysto’s rage as aid came from every nation, some choosing to defeat the pirates that plagued Rhizoda and others secretly doubting the intentions of the beautiful nereids. Intrepid fink cannoneers blasted away at anyone who dared to get too close, and merian swashbucklers aggressively kept away any curious onlookers with the help of cunning, fire-breathing dracnari pirates. However, it became quickly evident to Romaan, Avaris, Caleb, Gabe, and Soterasiel that the pirates desired something more than the lyre when skydiving trills captured them aboard Luki’s half-sunken ship, where a burly taurian threatened to them to reveal the location of the hidden ‘treasure’. It was Qillilitli Skydrifter of Hallifax who defeated Luki Bowtail after his morale had dropped at the devastation of his crew, but as he retreated, one of his pirates announced they had found what they truly sought – an ancient parchment that had been found within the ruins of a nearby sunken ship. With no further explanation, Luki Bowtail taunted the nereids and dropped the Enchanted Lyre of the Siren’s Call, declaring the “fishy folk” should know a red herring when they see one.
Fate, however, had other plans for Callysto’s lyre. One of the mindless bog-dwelling creatures – or “boggies” – that were strewn upon the isle leapt up to take the discarded instrument, declaring that she would not allow Callysto to bear this instrument of cruelty any longer. She warned all present not to be deceived by the silver tongue and beauty of the sea fae, saying that Callysto had done a great injustice to Kalushei and her people. The nereids sneered and denied this as Kalushei vanished into the wetlands, their new mission clear: to complete a ritual that would banish the boggies from the Rhizoda Mangrove and restore Callysto’s power over the isle.
Uzriel d’Vanecu spoke at length with Callysto, expressing sympathy for the invasion while Callysto urged him to assist her daughters in a strange ritual involving spirits shackled to the isle. Many others merely explored the isle and learned its hidden secrets, flattering the nereids as a way of obtaining intelligence. Avaris, Lysandus and Alarin however spoke to the mysterious Kalushei, who warned them against doing as the Siren Queen instructed them and begged them to assist her in ‘saving’ the boggies from the nereids’ cursed influence. In the end, however, Xenthos An’Ryshe was the first to appease one of Callysto’s daughters; in his haste, he read but a single page of the journal he had retrieved for Acaste, pledging himself blindly to her cause. After this act of betrayal, the elusive Kalushei refused to speak further of ways to assist her fallen people, only saying that they should beware of what Callysto and her daughters would soon do to Rhizoda. Many followed Xenthos to see if her ominous prophecy would hold true.
What happened is a bloodcurdling tale perhaps best left lurking in the depths of Rhizoda’s lagoons: one of cruelty and obsession, beauty and blood.