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Print at Oct 14, 2019 3:39:10 PM

Posted by xioubarker at Oct 6, 2011 3:18:34 AM
Re: Tales of Cat Sparrow [Entry Thread]
Mooseabuse, Midnight Ocean

Category 2, Written only

Story Title: The Leopard of the Sea

This is the tale of Cat Sparrow, the Cursed Man-Beast, born lowly Thomas Sparrow. Thomas was hungry for adventure and gold, so he pledged himself to help defend nearby towns and villages from plundering Vikings. He honed his fencing skills against the hardy Norsemen until he matched them in strength and ferocity, and his reputation grew with his fortune. The Vikings who preyed on small, helpless villages were no longer a match for Thomas. They turned their longships back to sea when they heard he was at the head of a crew of defenders. He was stronger than the bear, more cunning than the raven, more savage than the wolf. By now Thomas had made enough gold that he could have retired comfortably on some peaceful island, but he was not satisfied. He wanted more adventure, more gold!

Thomas heard of a fierce warrior queen who prowled the seas with her thanemen. He used some of his new fortune to purchase and outfit a ship, and hired a crew of bloodthirsty brigands whose taste for battle matched his own. He sought her, and he found her: Brynhild, the daughter of frost. The fighting was fierce, but Thomas and his crew triumphed. And what a pile of plunder they won: far more than the pittance he had earned driving the raiders from land. Soon Thomas was chasing after more than Vikings. Gretchen's gold, Azarbad's jewels, Madam Yu Jian's jade--nothing was safe. And nothing would satisfy. He always wanted more, more, more! His ship would appear on the horizon like a harmless bird, and in a blink of an eye he would be upon them, with a swift and deadly strike. Azarbad's trembling slaves began to say he was like a terrible, hungry leopard...and the name stuck. Thomas, the Leopard of the Sea, was insatiable.

One day Thomas and his merry band fell in with an odd lot. Vargas was their leader's name, and they fought like no others had fought before--like madmen. But Thomas's crew defeated them in the end. Among the booty was a collection of bizarre books. Thomas studied them as he roved the seas in search of his next battle. One was a dusty old history, and in it was the tale of Catigern, a Welsh warrior prince who had met his end in battle against Horsa, a Saxon lord, but not without striking a fatal blow against Horsa. Thomas felt himself drawn to the story--after all, he had first made a name for himself in battle against the northern hordes. Why not name himself after a famous foe of theirs? And so, from that day on, he called himself Catigern Sparrow.

But whether Thomas or Catigern, the Leopard of the Sea still longed for more adventure and more gold. Sailing under his flag of a leopard, he roamed endlessly, fighting, winning, hoarding, but it was never enough. He continued to read the strange books plundered from Vargas, but they could no more satisfy him than the piles of gold and silk and jewels he had accumulated. The very last book was an odd-smelling, stained grimoire, the pages ripped and faded. It told of an island, shrouded in fog, on which one could find a treasure "more precious than any other." Catigern resolved to sail there. Normal treasure would no longer satisfy. Perhaps he would find what he was looking for on this island.

As he and his crew went ashore, a band of gibbering lunatics attacked them. They fought strangely, fiercely, irrationally, fanatically. Catigern and his crew had faced formidable enemies before, but these were different. They had no regard for anything, not even their own lives. His crew was overwhelmed. Catigern was alone, surrounded by an ever-growing sea of painted, screaming madmen. He was struck down by one of their spears to his shoulder, and his sword fell to the sand. Hazily, he saw as they lifted him and carried him through a fetid swamp full of snapping alligators and hissing snakes. They came to a cabin and threw him down at its doorstep.

"So this is the Leopard of the Sea," said a cracked, giggling voice. Catigern looked up into the wooden eyes of a horned, feathered mask. "Always hungry! Always hunting! You came here for your next meal? Then eat up, Cat Sparrow!"

Catigern gagged as a foul-tasting, burning-hot potion was poured down his throat. The fire quickly spread outward to his skin. A prickly feeling as fur forced its way up through his pores...a terrible ache in his bones as his fingers and toes cracked and reformed into paws...he opened his mouth to scream, and out came an awful growl. The masked creature giggled as the mindless followers picked him up again and tossed him into a pit in the swamp. He rolled over the stinking mud, poked by tree roots and bits of broken pottery and the bones of strange creatures, until he splashed into a dark, shallow pool. His throat still burned from the potion; he felt as if he would die of thirst. He splashed a hand--no, a spotted, clawed paw!--into the foul black water, breaking the scummy green surface, and brought some to his mouth. But he dropped the water in horror when he saw his reflection--wild, yellow, ferocious eyes, whiskers, fangs! He gave a small moan and put both paws to his furry face. He tried to say, "What has happened to me?" but all that came out was a strange, rough grunt.

"Did you enjoy your meal, Cat Sparrow?" The masked one's shrill cackle echoed through the swamp. "You will have plenty more! Searching ever for what you want, never shall you quit the hunt; until you find what's not desired, your spots will never be retired!"

Cat Sparrow sprang up and fled through the swamp until he came to the shore. There were two of his crewmen--but they were hideous leopard-creatures, like himself. Their eyes were hollow and glinted only with a mindless greed. And his ship--torn to shreds! The mast broken in two, his proud and colorful leopard banner now a dirty, ripped rag. Only a tiny lifeboat, just big enough for himself and two others, remained. In it, his sword and a spyglass awaited. And the hunger! The terrible, gnawing hunger in his belly...he felt as if nothing would ever satisfy it. He staggered to the boat and pushed it off the beach, coughing from the thick green fog that covered everything. The two feline beasts followed him. He knew he had to find a way to break this curse.

And so Cat Sparrow and his crew of Leopard-Men search endlessly for something Cat Sparrow does not want. Every lonely and forgotten spit and sandbar, every uncharted waste. They row ashore in their little boat and wait as Cat Sparrow surveys the forlorn sandy beach through his spyglass--but his greedy yellow eye always falls upon something he wants! He must own this tiny island--he could build a fort here someday. He must have this hidden, forsaken spot--he could bury part of his treasure here. He must claim this desolate pile of rocks--perhaps someone else has hidden treasure here. He and his spotted sailors will never rest...

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