When she was a little girl, Tisandra had asked her father about The Fool’s Hope. Or more specifically, the ferocious painting of it that hung in his study: a stubborn galleon done in oil, struggling in the center of a violent storm. Amid the greys and blacks and white streaks of rain, Tisandra could see it fighting for survival, dangling in the sky as if held by the thinnest of strings. With portholes for eyes and splashes of red across its bow, it seemed to almost grin amidst the boiling air.

He told her that he had always favored that ship. That for all its menace, all its insatiable hunger and spur, it had been a strong and reliable boat, haunting the dreams of his enemies. Even, he said, her grandfather. Her eyes widened at this and he chortled. “Oh yes, sweetheart, he was terrified of that old scow”.

Hoisting her up to the table below it, he told her that her mother had been stolen aboard that ship, held captive for days. “And though she would never admit it, and hates that painting to this day, it was the place where I first met her. And fell for her breathtaking beauty.”

“Who painted it for you?” Tisandra asked. She leaned in closer, looking for new details. Admist the rain she could now see the decapitated heads littering the ship, faces she had mistaken for simple lanterns, their ghastly expressions lit up by the small candles flickering in their gaping jaws. Soaked with rain, the sailors busied themselves with work, snarling at the boiling air. Every movement seemingly trapped alive.

“It was a gift, honey” he told her, bringing her back to the floor. “From your Uncle Kurlos. To remind me of our days together during the war” he said, pausing. “Old times long gone.”

“Oh” she said and left the knowledge hanging between them in silence. It seemed the kind of thing Uncle Kurlos would give.

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