By David Sparkes
In the depths of the ocean, out of sight, but not of mind, buried in the silt and pebbles and dappled by the shadow of distant flotsam and jetsam, lies an ancient claw of prodigious size. Clutched in the claw is a mess of weed and dabberlock as black and tangled as eternity. Bound up in the mass are all the secrets of the Sound and, some say, the world.
When the sun, the moon and the stars align, the water recedes sufficiently that the most adventurous and hardy wisdom-seekers can swim to the extremity of their lungs and prise, untangle and detach fragments therefrom. For the few who awake ashore or are dragged from the waves clutching some primordial knot or bend, many more return without a hitch and as many again are never more seen, the bubbles of their final breaths clutched and enclosed as their bodies are wracked and kelped.
Every year, the brightest and fittest youths, or the hardiest and most stubborn veterans, of the Sound swim to find the Knot as it is known for, while the price may be grave, the prize is greater than pearls or sunken doubloons. Some claim that the ancient strands may be traded for a boon from the witches of sea and sand, particularly those skeins decorated with unblemished bladders; others maintain that the sea (whether Neptune, Poseidon or Davy Jones) can no
longer lay claim to any mariner that has passed the test; most agree that any sailor who carries such a token has such perfect knowledge of weather and tide such that no mishap can befall them. Whatever the belief, the recipients of the Knot's blessing are in great demand as navigators or sea-Captains, for good fortune is all but guaranteed.