The Legend of Captain Hagar Claw

 

The wind howls bleakly, blowing around the labyrinths of the coastal cliffs, desolately and mournfully it moans, glancing at the inanimate rocks. Seasoned sailors say that it is not the wind that is wailing but the soul of Hagar Claw himself, a ruthless pirate captain that dispensed of many a life in his time. And if anyone wants to hear the sad story of the murdering devil of the sea Claw, then any old sea wolf taking time out at a port tavern to wet his whiskers with some strong rum and to smoke a pipe of fragrant tobacco, will take great pleasure in telling them all about the wild rogue.
When the last handful of earth had been scattered on the grave of the young Hagar’s mother and the crowd of villagers grieving her untimely death had left the cemetery, the little boy fell to his knees and wept bitterly. A year earlier the unexpected news, of the death of his father, killed in battle in the Plateau of Silence, had come and before the pain of the loss had a chance to subside this new grief engulfed Hagar’s heart. A frail hand touched the boy’s shoulder causing the orphan to flinch in surprise. He lifted his head and through his tears he saw the face of his neighbour Gollade, filled with compassion and tenderness. The girl’s face was so gentle and full of compassion that the young Hagar thought for the first time in these past few days that his fate mattered to somebody. The two of them sat by his mother’s grave until morning, holding hands in total silence. And from that day on they never parted.
The years passed. Hagar came of age and the time came to think about his military service. However painful it was to part from his beloved Gollade, his duty forced him to leave his home. Tenderly kissing his fiancée as he left, Hagar went off to fight, keeping love and hope for a speedy return in his heart. Gollade was heartbroken when she saw the young man leave, but she did not allow herself to cry and decided that the time apart would be a test of their passionate love. Before parting the couple swore their eternal love for one another and sealed this promise with a kiss.
Right from the outset Hagar proved himself to be a skilled warrior. Commanders praised his fearlessness and ingenuity, he became a first-class warrior and his presence in any battle guaranteed victory. After one such battle, when he was resting in a camp at a mountain pass, the young lad met one of his countrymen that had joined the detachment the day before. The countrymen were overjoyed to see each other: they spent the entire night chatting by the fire. Hagar was eager to ask his companion about his beloved Gollade. But upon hearing her name, the fellow went silent and he cast his eyes down. Turning pale in horror, Hagar, who fate had not accustomed to pleasant surprises, prepared himself to hear the worst. Seeing his suffering, the countryman rushed to soothe the young lad and told him the girl was alive. But what came next hurt Hagar just as badly. He learned that the lovely Gollade had not remained alone for long and without awaiting his return she had married. Hagar’s heart was broken. The news felt like an arrow in his heart, making him scream in pain. The one person in the world for whom he lived and loved with all his heart had betrayed him. Believing his friend’s words and crazy with grief, the young lad fled the camp. For several weeks he wondered around the world, finding shelter in the shade of the trees until he joined up with a detachment heading south. Life lost all purpose for Hagar and he tried to end it. Like a wounded beast he flung himself into the very thick of battle, crushing enemies and calling for death, but every time he came out of battle fit and well. Hagar spoke to nobody, he became dark and gloomy. In his heart there was a doubt that would not leave him along. Upon hearing about Gollade’s betrayal, he had not doubted it even for a second. Why was he so quick to believe that his beloved had not been loyal? This tormented Hagar, but the fear of coming face to face with the truth prevented him from returning home. Most of all he feared that he would look into Gollade’s eyes and see that he had betrayed the girl in that moment when he doubted the sincerity of love and faithfulness.
Battles were the only thing he found comfort in. The other warriors kept away from the surly Hagar so they were not surprised when one day he left the detachment. After meeting some sailors in a port tavern, the young lad joined the crew of a pirate ship. Pretty soon the desperate and crazy Hagar, achieving notoriety for his foolhardiness and thirst for risk and boundless cruelty, was able to lead a revolt and take over the ship. The crew accepted the new leader without hesitation, feeling both a fear of him and complete respect. Due to his love of stringing up delinquent sailors, tying the rope on a rusty iron hook known as the claw of the beast, Hagar received his nickname of Claw. Captain Claw’s atrocities are all that was talked about in every port inn and tavern. They say he sent plundered ships to the bottom of the ocean, nailing entire crews to the deck with huge stakes, that he was ruthless even with women and children. He became a real danger of the seas, joining the ranks of the notorious low lifes and scoundrels of Faeo while still alive. Right until his death the captain was always morose, he spoke very little and always about business and he also liked to say that you could never trust anyone: not friends and certainly not women. An old boatswain that sailed under Claw said the evil Claw had many eccentricities but he had no soul. That sailor swears that one evening he saw through a crack in the door to the captain’s cabin how Hagar looked at a portrait and repeated, as if in delirium, one name - Gollade...



 
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