THE GHOSTSHIP 'VARTERAN'

LEGEND/MYTH - IMPORTANCE

The 'Varteran' is a legendary Ghostship of Avennorian origin, which - though its origin is claimed to have been nearly two millenia ago - is still said to sail the Adanian Sea today, occasionally appearing to unsuspecting traders or fishermen. Rumour says that it is steered by its dead captain, who was left at the ship to suffer a cruel and certain death. You will still hear the legend of the vandrek 'Varteran' along the eastern coasts of Santharia today, especially in the Manthrian region.

Legend/Myth. Below is the narration of the Ghostship Legend of the 'Varteran' as told by a Neprisian local, Andulf Isthvin, who gladly allowed the use of this old sailor's lore by the Santharian Compendium:

"Thomgeir was a captain a long, long time ago, even before King Santhros united the realms to form the Kingdom of Santharia, back when the lands we live in now bore the name Avennoria..." [Note that the narrator inhabits the Manthrian region] "...Thomgeir travelled often and far, from Marcogg to Strata and even far to the south to the deserts of Aeruillin. He was a well-known trader and proud of it, renowned in all those lands and he brought the most exotic goods from afar to the shores of Sarvonia.

One day he sailed in a ship known as the 'Varteran' from Marcogg to the Isle of Doranthakar, which now harbours the small Kingdom of Dorania, when something unexpected happened...

The Ghostship Varteran
Image description: The Ghostship Varteran. Picture by Fiorellina.

Another ship approached, which soon turned out to belong to ruthless pirates. Thomgeir's ship was only a small one, a vandrek, not the big barek he was used to commanding, and small was his crew and also the treasure.

The pirates caught up and finally boarded the ship by force. Thomgeir's crew tried to fend the intruders off, but it was to no avail. The little treasure there was they transfered to the other ship, and seeing that the vandrek was already severely damaged during the fight and in danger of sinking, the pirates offered to take the whole crew as prisoners avoard their vessel and release them as soon as they reached land.

Indeed, the men accepted, but Thomgeir refused to leave his ship as he still thought he could make it to safety if given a free hand. The pirate captain disagreed, but Thomgeir kept insisting.

Indeed as it turned out, the pirate captain had no patience with Thomgeir and his love for his ship. And so he finally gave the gruesome order to leave the captain on his ship, tied to the mast, leaving him to the waves. But if that were not enough, one of the pirates even took a hammer and a large nail and drove it right through the forehead of the doomed captain to keep him quiet once and for all. And though, so the story goes, this didn't happen: It is said that Thomgeir was still alive when the pirate's ship left him on the open sea, toy of the tides.

The members of his crew who had survived the raid later told the tale, and they also claim that he was shouting at the pirates when they left him, cursing them. Yes, he did so, though nailed to the mast he was.

And so ends the story of Thomgeir. Though everyone here at Mossy Rocks Cove will confirm that the vandrek of Thomgeir, the 'Varteran', is still out there somewhere on the ocean. Throughout generations people have reported to have seen this small ship, crewless, and some say as well that they have watched the rotten corpse of Thomgeir nailed to the mast, passing them by and then disappearing in the fog again.

None can say if this appearance is Thomgeir's spirit, which still hasn't come to rest and seeks revenge at the pirates' ancestors or if he only wants to warn others of the dangers he faced."


-- Oral narration by Andulf Istherin, written down for the Compendium by Artimidor of New-Santhala
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Importance. Stories like these are common among the Avennorians, a folk often said to be overly superstitious, but also good at inventing certain "additional details" of perhaps originally not-so-dramatic stories. Be it as it is, the story of the 'Varteran' has certainly kept many Avennorians from becoming traders, and made those who did into heroes, those few who valiantly set out into the danger of the seas where cruel pirates await.

Aside from the selfmade heroism of the Avennorians for which the story of the Ghostship 'Varteran' may be mainly responsible, the ship became even more famous due to the "Ode to the Heavens" written in this context, done by theunforgettable Marcoggian poet Monsonius.

In his ode Monsonius describes the last moments of the dying captain, nailed to the mast, half-consciously watching the sky, being carried only by the waves. The ode is written from the perspective of the dying captain, who slowly returns to the world of the living from an initial unconsciousness. He realizes that he is tied to the mast and only bit by bit begins to discover his complete inability to move and to think coherently, finally also realizing the broad nail driven through his forehead.

Nevertheless the poem is not about the realization of this cruelty, but quite to the contrary, an extraordinarily well-done piece about a man learning to love the beauty of the endless sky and the waves which support him, even though he is doomed to a certain death. The rhythm of the poem finally lulls the reader into a wonderful dream, which - for the captain tied to the mast - may be equivalent to his death (though the author leaves this interpretation open).

Since Monsonius' re-discovery in the 15th century this remarkable poem stands also for the difficulties of the individual to deal with a world around him he cannot control anymore and where the Gods, for many, have lost their guiding or comforting role. It appears that Monsonius when writting this ode in the 13th century was indeed far ahead his time.
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