by anita marie moscoso
the Soul Food Cafe Writing Prompt:
Gravamina: The part of a charge or an accusation that weighs most substantially against the accused.
Starving and near madness I am at the end of my life and I’m sailing to the End of The World on a ship called Gravamina, and she’s perfect for this Journey because she knows Death.
She is herself as dead as the Black Waters I sail across, as dead as the Crew that still haunt her decks and tend to her needs. She is as Dead as the Corpses that lie in the Catacombs I stole her compass from a week ago.
“ Finding the Gravamina won’t be as hard for you as it is for others. You’ll need the Heart of The Gravamina to find the Caravanserai,” the Hanged Man’s Skull whispered to me from his shelf in my library. “ But tell me, why do you want to join the Caravanserai?”
I walked to the shelf and turned the sectioned skull towards me and looked into his empty eyes and said, “ Because I’m tired of you, I’m tired of this house and I’m very tired of pretending to be something I’m not.”
“ You trail Death behind as if it were a train on a woman’s gown Azi Dahaka. When the Caravanserai become wise to you…they’ll destroy you and then you’ll join me here on this shelf and we’ll have nothing for company except each other’s Sins.
I took the Hanged Man’s Skull from the shelf and wrapped it carefully in linen decorated with a language no living person has ever spoken. “ You wish,” I told it. Then with the Skull, and nothing else in my possession I went into the world to find the Heart of The Gravamina.
The Hanged Man’s Skull told me on our long journey to the Catacombs about the Heart of The Gravamina and why it is entombed and the rest of the Gravamina rots in a Grotto below the City.
Then Hanged Man started his story not with ” once upon a time” He Started his story with “the Heart of The Gravamina doesn’t beat like a drum.
The Heart of the Gravamina screams.”
“All Ships are alive, you know that Azi Dahaka and the Gravamina was alive too…maybe more so then any of her Sisters
Once long ago something dark and wicked boarded The Gravamina and killed her crew.
Now, it was assumed it was the Plague, but of course it wasn’t…it was a Demon and it drained the blood and life from every living thing on board the Gravamina and with no crew the Gravamina drifted and dreamed.
And then she went mad.
Like most Insane things the Gravamina was very good at pretending to be normal and after she was repaired and sold and even re-named she sailed and reacted to her world, as any Ship should
But then she started killing things.
She took the lives of her crew, the fish that swam around her as she sailed the Seas and when she was bored she made the food and water and wine go bad that had been stored below her decks.
Then one day a young sailor whose mother was a Witch and whose father was a Demon from the Mountains boarded the Gravamina and she tried to kill him to…for sport.
But he knew what to do and he tore her Compass from her chest and he took it to the Catacombs and he buried it.
He buried it alive.
So the Heart of the Gravamina Screams in anger and rage and the rest of her dreams and rots and then one day a woman named Azi Dahaka went down into those tombs and brought it back out.
Azi Dahaka put the Compass back into her chest and the Gravamina’ s Sails captured a long dead gust of wind and her Crew came from the darkness and now they are all sailing to a port where this is dancing and music and art and poetry.
Lots of them. And Azi Dahaka is very, very hungry.”