After that night the Alaouite Dynasty was returned to its prior state. The people awoke from the illusion in which the qareen had cursed them to live, and the Sorceress vanished from Tangier altogether.
The Sorceress, I have guessed from Molly’s description, was a gypsy born far from Morocco, as she had told Molly that night. What I wouldn’t give to have met the Sorceress! I can only imagine what infinite magical knowledge she possessed. She was apparently an adept producer of potions, for she created things I’ve never heard tell of before, such as the concoction that cloaked Molly from sight. What interested me most, though, was that the Sorceress could project herself, using the violet aura Molly described.
Projection is not a common magic. I’ve never heard of its being used by a mortal. In fact, I’ve never heard of its being used in the modern world by anyone or anything alive, outside of legends. Projection is often thought to be a fictional magic, for no one, not even a gemseeker, has been able to describe to me how one could use magic to produce anything like what the Sorceress from Molly’s tale did. Most gemseekers swear that one can manipulate the elements only with a gem whose composition agrees with the substance being manipulated. None of them knows of anything violet in color that could not only command the winds but also project an image of the user to such a large scale as what was witnessed in the port of Tangier. How strange.
Thomas was on his feet again soon after the incident in Tangier. I often think he would have fared better during his capture had he not been temporarily weakened by the effects of the curse-inhibiting tattoo on his back. Doing just as it was meant to, the Arabic inscription most likely caused Tom’s body to fail to produce enough of the werewolf hormone to combat the destructive effects of the silver in his flesh. Tangier was simply an unfortunate and unexpected turn of events that no one aboard the ship could have predicted. They had been so careful, but then again, bad luck had always seemed to foul up Thomas Crowe’s otherwise intelligent decisions.
Bad luck is an interesting thing to me, because it seems, like all things of a bad nature, to come in threes. In this case, Spain and Tangier would be bad luck’s first two strikes. Tom’s ship was allowed a few days of peace as it sailed through the Mediterranean, through the Strait of Gibralter and out into the vast Atlantic, but even far from land and the violent world of man, danger is never in short supply.
I ask the reader: what do you know of the legends of the sea? Surely the reader has heard tales of harrowing bravery upon the high seas, the romantic clash between lawless pirates and noble adventurers, and the myths of the great and horrible beasts that hunt men who dare to cross the deepest of waters, such as the Kraken and the Great Whale. The next chapter of Tom and Molly’s story is one that would long after be told again and again by sailors young and old, from the ports of the Caribbean to the seaside boroughs of Europe. The reader is now familiar with stories of werewolves and vampires, but what I describe next is the tale of a true monster.
Never before has lived a beast as terrific as the Leviathan. It has been called the Devil’s Lighthouse, the Atlantean Worm and the Great Mouth. Sailing men have told me that they would rather die standing before me than go out to sea again if it meant meeting the Leviathan. The monster, they say, is not of our world; too large to have been bred in oceans so small, they say; too powerful to have been unleashed upon the seas of the earth by coincidence, they say.
What distinguishes the Leviathan from all other oceanic horrors is its frightening cunning. Stretching its upper body high into the air above the surface of the sea on dark or foggy nights, it casts a bright light from the luminous ridges atop its head. Beneath the surface of the waves, its serpentine body whips round in circles, treading water and creating a violent whirlpool great distances in diameter. Consequently, its head rotates round and round, luring in ships with the promise of safe land, hence its nickname, the Devil’s Lighthouse. The cyclic current it generates not only draws in sailors foolish enough to come close, but also manipulates the elements high above in the sky, creating twisting tempests that tear vessels to scrap as the beast dives down, mouth agape, into the carefully crafted kill zone.
One sailor, an old, eroded fellow with part of his left jaw missing and little sight left in his eyes, told me, through haggard breaths, that he’d seen the Leviathan and lived. His ship was lost, his fellows drowned and eaten and his captain driven to hysterical suicide. “When I saw it,” he said, referring to the swirling current, “I thought the Ninth Circle had opened up and was singing us our death song. The furious gales hushed as the ship was drawn toward the abyss. Just as silence fell on the thrashing waves, the clouds drew back and the beast came down from the sky, shining like the glorious sun, stealing from us our sight and blinding us to the most hopeless moment of the ordeal, in which we were delivered to the cold depths.”
May 15, 1833