My, that’s quite the haul ye have, there!
Won at the tables, was it?
Here’s to your very good health.
I’ll not be rollin’ the dice with ye.
Not a gamblin’ man no more
or so I tells me self
There were a time, though…
The River King happened, that’s what.
That old devil Tahm Kench.
He’s what happened.
I was bilge-poor
beg your pardon
and livinn’ in a flophous
Had nothin’ to me name
not ‘til a single gold Kraken
aye, this one ‘ere
came into my possession.
I could tell you how, but you’d call me a liar, heh.
with this one coin
what I oughta done was pay me debts, and find a new crew to join.
I was a harpooner, see.
Shoulda put aside whatever was left for the future.
Been responsible, like.
Harpoonin’s a harsh life, even for a younger man.
But that’s when the River King found me.
“Why work someone else’s ship,” he says
riskin’ your life for next t’ nothin’
when ye might ‘ave a ship o’ your own?”
I just had to think bigger, like.
O’ course, one Kraken won’t buy a ship
but ‘e had an answer to that, didn’t he.
One good throw o’ the bones, an’ I’d ‘ave enough to start me own little operation.
Others could do the danger work, while I sits back, nice and plum, enjoyin’ the profits.
An’ after a few more drinks, you understand
that crooked devil’s advice starts to make a lot o’ sense to my ears.
blinded by greed and possibility
I went along wi’ it.
That night were a blur
I awoke well after noon the next day
me head fairly poundin’!
Had no idea where I was
some fancy bawdy-house, as it turns out
but on the dresser
were me previous night’s winnings…
More than enough to purchase me self a ship!
but the River King
‘e’d given me a taste for somethin’ more.
Why should young Lars content his self with a single ship, when he could ‘ave a fleet?
Just needed to chance me hand a few more times…
There’s riches to be had
if you’re willin’ to risk everything
over and over.
With old Two-Coat’s arm around me, I was led from the dice tables to other halls of avarice
from backroom card games to gamblin’ and bettin’ parlors, high and low.
I spent a fortune
lost a fortune
then made it all back again.
Around and around in that allurin’ spiral I went.
I was feelin’ the hunger, the yearning
and it was pullin’ me down like a whirlpool.
Years passed, an’ somewhere along the way
I’m ashamed to say I forgot what I was doing all this for.
I forgot who I was.
I had it all, but
it never were enough.
I wanted more.
And then I started losin’ big.
That made me double-down
go for broke
looking for the big stakes to put me back on top.
I was in a worse state than I’d been to start with.
Sleepin’ in the gutter
Catching rats to eat
if I were lucky.
I begged borrowed and stole from everyone who’d ever shown me any kindness.
Lost all me mates
chasing the dream.
‘E feeds on misery, see, does Tahm Kench.
As old as sin, ‘e is, and older than Bilgewater by far.
Been ‘round since the start of things
gorgin’ his self on the desperation what comes with the greed and sorrow in men’s hearts.
I mean, I’d done it to me self
but it were him what give me the means.
Ye might say, ‘e took me to the cliff’s edge
but I were the numpty what threw me self off
beg your pardon
and that old glutton revelled in me despair.
Came to me once more, ‘e did,
when I was at me very lowest
drinkin’ from puddles
havin’ sold me own leg to be used for chum.
In the darkest night, whisperin’ an’ cajolin’,
‘e pressed this gold Kraken back into me hand, with a knowin’ wink.
Twere the same one I’d ‘ad back at the start!
It were this damn coin what started me on that wretched path!
Eh, ‘e opened his mouth up wide, and says,
“It’s not too late, Lars. Never too late. Come with me, an’ we’ll find you a fortune again…”
Even after everythin’, I was tempted.
‘Course I was! But no. I resisted – Mother Serpent knows how.
Two-Coats only laughed.
Said he’d be there when I changed me mind.
And, sure enough, the temptation’s still there
now, every day.
So here I am.
All the best years of me life behind me, wasted in those lost decades.
Can’t remember most of it, neither, so I’ve no idea if I even enjoyed me self.
Anyways. Enough o’ my ramblin’.
There’s a lesson to be learned, ‘ere
– keep your purse strings tight, and never, ever make a deal wi’ the River King.
Ye’ve always got more to lose…