The Sirens of Travelers

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By: Chryseas Posted on: October 21, 2006

Perhaps it is just a story told to scare children, but it is one worth telling to make them aware of the dangers in traveling. Some children dream and long for adventures far from home, but little take time to understand its dangers as well. For those, this story may give some pause to think before fleeting away from their parents' homes.

Jadesil, Ildy, Rubia... never a more odd pact was formed. These Sirens are said to have been gifted by the Goddess of Chaos herself, Eris, as a reward for their continuing devotion to mischief and strife. The gift, of a faded life, in which they could only survive on the living souls of others. But, we journey too far in our story.


All three in the beginnings of their adult life, were Nobles of Hashan at a young age with Rubia at 17, Jadesil at 19, and Ildy at 20. Born into Noble houses, they attended similar events with their families, who hoped they would become friends to secure the bond between their houses of power. They each were groomed to the classes their families had mastered for many generations.

By far the most beautiful of the three, Ildy was short, but full of grace. Her silken, red hair seemed to sway fluidly with her body when she walked and her green eyes would sparkle brilliantly to mesmerize you. She was gifted with little talent in Jestering as her family would have it. She would not become the entertainment of the court, by wiggling her fingers or juggling balls. She took pleasure and enjoyment out of the pranks to be pulled on an unsuspecting audience, such as releasing various bombs, while distracting them with her other more "mundane" talents, as she saw it.

Rubia, with hair like cascading rubies and eyes of amber light, she was slight of build, almost to the point of seeming frail, but her eyes showed great ferocity of spirit. Although she was the youngest of them, she showed a great penchant for the arts of a Magi, particularly the ones involving illusions. She would often be paraded by Ildy's side for their families to boast over her talents, while berating Ildy at only specializing in her one area of Jester skills.

Jadesil, the most modest looking of the three, she was not ugly, but quite plain and unfortunate in her youth. Her flaxen, blonde hair encompassed her one true beauty, the blue depths of her eyes that could hypnotize any who dared look upon her, which was marred only by the two unseemly scars across her face. One scar was jagged, extending from the middle of her cheek across her nose, the other, was deep and wide, from under her ear to before her chin. Her family could trace their lineage to Loki and Ekanel, themselves, and as such prided themselves on being the purest line of Serpents. During her early lessons, Jadesil received her scars, having been bitten by a family member in anger of her ineptitudes, left lasting reminders of what it meant to fail. Being of a slower mind, she was never adept in learning quickly, but strove constantly to become more powerful some day and put all her energy into it.

It became clear early on, through their lessons and their leisure times that Ildy was the weakest of spirit, dependent on the other two for what she could not receive at home. Her home offered little in understanding and she found herself drawn to the stronger wills of the other two. Rubia only had one desire: admiration. She took to Ildy quickly, feeding off her giving nature and returning the veneer of friendship to continue her friend's attentions. When together, you could practically feel the room become warm as they fed off each other's energies, desiring more attention and admiration of the other. Jadesil brought their talents to a focal point, in her ambition to become more powerful. She saw the potential these two could give her, and sped after it, like a thirsty man discovering water in a desert.

Each with their own agenda, they set off to conquer the world. Each desiring something the others had. Ildy always envied Rubia's natural talent at succoring crowds to her greatness. Rubia coveted Jadesil's powerful nature for her own to enslave others to her will and grant her her deepest desire for attention. Jadesil desired both Ildy and Rubia, constantly wishing to engulf them within herself as if she could absorb their qualities of beauty and talent.

It began innocently enough, as most things do, they combined their skills to steal for sport. They would haunt the Inns and deftly capture men into their beds, while robbing them, giggling as they later heard the tale in the news. Jadesil would be often discontent on her own, forcing Rubia to give her illusions to make her more beautiful to the men. Rubia conceded, but her will was strong as well, and often would let the illusions slip at opportune moments, if Jadesil angered her enough. Innocently snickering later on at Jadesil's anger, Ildy would console both in an attempt to keep them at bay. Always torn between the two Ildy felt inferior to their stronger spirits, she was often pushed and pulled between the other two in their arguments.

Eventually, their pranks turned more serious and they began murdering some of the men, the three began to grow a bloodlust to see the expressions on their victims' faces at discovering their treachery. They also began attacking some of the Noblewomen to gain certain prestige and rank within the city.

One particularly lengthy endeavor was when they were advocating against a law that would ban Sirens in the city, except by female guard escort. Of course, the law only became stricter, as their victims were found and confirmed as having been slain by Sirens. Rubia cast an illusion which had to last for several days as she entrenched herself in the home of one of the Regents of Hashan. She appeared to her as a lost, abandoned child, terribly hurt and unable to speak their language, but seeming to be quite intelligent with her radiant eyes. The Regent, a noblewoman, unable to bear children, thought she had found her prayers answered, gently coaxing the false child out of hiding and took her home where she was fed, bathed, and clothed in finery. Meanwhile, Ildy used her born talents, to entice another Regent to her chambers, dining with him every night thereafter and more. Jadesil took a more brute approach, as was her nature, and chose the lowliest voter of the group who would be easiest to lure despite her scarred face.


Rubia, as the lost child, learned the language quickly, too quickly, but the noblewoman gave no pause to this. And on the third day, the noblewoman's heartstrings were stolen and trapped by the illusion. For the next two days leading to the vote by the Regents, Rubia would go into frightened, fitful tantrums, whenever the idea of the vote would crop up. She managed to convey her thoughts that she was scared for herself, being born of a Siren, and that she'd have to run away again, "like in that... 'other' place."

"Hush child, no, you're safe, here with me. What the Regents decide, we will abide by, because it is the will of the city. But, we'll manage a home for you somehow, dear child."

But, Rubia the child, could not be appeased or satiated, she took on the best look of terror at the thought of the vote passing stricter laws against Sirens and began to sneak about the Regent's home as if to run away. The noblewoman was terribly distraught at the possibility of losing this beloved child and did not wish her to run away. So it was in the night that she resolved to vote for the law to be retracted.


Ildy had much success, with the man she chose to lure, and gave him many a pleasurable evening in her company. Giggling, conversing, and joking with one another at every meal, gradually building to her bedding him. By forcing him to wait for her to appear to be persuaded to him, she allowed him to feel the conquest of her in his grasp. On the final night, before the vote, sleepy pillow talk gave her an opening to discuss her concerns.

"You could have the world, my beautiful darling. I am a powerful man here; you know I'd protect you. I'd give you the world with all my heart. You cannot be so worried for such a small thing, dearest?"

Through well-practiced sobs, "We could not live the life we'd want. It would be a false reality of life, sweetie. I don't think I could survive another let down. My past fiances, having run off without any word to me of their whereabouts. I cannot live like a prisoner-"

"-And you won't! Not by my last breath. I'll protect you. Always."

He embraced her in a warm, comforting hug and her eyes glittered with victory as she tucked her head under his chin as if needing more comfort.


Jadesil preyed on the weakest male of the Regents. Persuading him into her confidences with a sad story of how she had attained her scars, seeming quite lowly and demure. After a few days of stringing him along in this manner, he began to trust her, and as men tend to do he starting trying to protect her. He took her into his home, tried to show her the kind of caring "she never had" and it was then that she struck.

The night before the vote, "See, Jadesil, even amongst your fellow man there can be kindness and good will still. The vote tomorrow does nothing to harm those who are good of heart as yourself. Keep the way and you shall always be safe."

"Yes, but, two reminder scars is enough. I... it was too horrible... the fear of it... how could anyone be so heartless?? her eyes looked incredibly grief-stricken and locked onto his.

"I'm....", but his voice froze, as she bared her serpentine fangs and bored her gaze into his eyes, hypnotizing him as he stood in mid-reach attempting to comfort her.

"Ah, pretty pet. Who leads you now?"

"Jadesil, mistress."

"Good. Good. Now, how shall you vote tomorrow?"

His body gave a small wince as if fighting her, then his body relaxed completely as he stared right at her, "Sirens will walk freely, mistress. My vote is No."

With a satisfied smile, she relaxed her gaze, knowing the taste of triumph, as she quietly departed, not caring to hide her visit to his home. She met with her friends at a predetermined location in the dark of night, before the rising of the sun, but late enough where most would be asleep.


Each woman arrived with satisfied triumphant smiles and Jadesil studied them a moment before nodding her approval to the other two.

"Good. All is set and we should be ready. Did you both take care to the final steps in our plan?"

Rubia quickly spoke, taking the opportunity for attention, "I left an illusion on the old woman so she would think her 'little Ruby' slept sound asleep in bed while she left. But, I gave her Creeps embedding in her sleeping chambers to further her resolve. Her eyes were quite resolute finally last night. The old woman... took forever too."

Jadesil nodded, not trusting Rubia's observation of the woman being "resolute", preferring her method of hearing it blatantly from her victim that he would vote properly. She turned her attention to Ildy, the question on her face, "And you?"

"The man was quite taken with me, and slowly gave over his heart. Playing my part of grief and innocence, he told me last night he would protect me as best he could and that the others would have to accept his choice," Ildy finished with a sparkling smile, relishing in her accomplishments.

Jadesil pursed her lips, allowing jealousy to course through her at Ildy's obvious ease with flaunting her beauty, but gave a dignified, satisfactory nod at a job well done.

"Then it is settled. But, take care of the evidence later after the vote."

The three nodded solemnly and departed to rest for the night.


In two days time, three bewildered Regents stared out into the crowd of citizens gathered to hear the decision on the newest law. There was much disconcerted and hushed mutterings and mumblings as the head Seneschal called out that the law had not passed.

"And furthermore, the best we can do at this moment, without a law in place, is to forewarn ALL citizens to be wary. Men especially should arm themselves with bellwort and travel in the company of trusted women if necessary. Our women to men ratio of guards will be increased, to ensure vigilance, even if they will not be needed for guarding ALL sirens. Thank you."

The city was in confusion; a small fraction of people who were related to sirens gave a sigh of relief, yet a great many others were angry. Why did Regents not care? Has the Seneschal finally turned a blind eye to the welfare of his city, despite the increasing number of robberies and murders? Why did half the Regents themselves seem so confused and distraught?

But, it was true; the victimized Regents were all in a state, because their "beloved" ones had gone missing shortly after placing their votes. They each scanned the crowd for signs of any of them; darting eyes around every corner as they trudged slowly home.

Rubia appeared to the woman under the dim light of the moon, and the Regent stared at the horror of "her child", seemingly all grown now. You could barely hear her muffled screams as Rubia sped her on to Thoth's domain.

To Ildy's slight regret, she caught her consort at home alone, and sent in a small army of suicide mice to bed with him. As soon as he began the slow, purposeful breaths of deep sleep, the mice all reacted at once, leaving behind charred remains.

Jadesil approached her man directly, as he did not remember her after the hypnosis she gave him, but quickly latched onto his eyes before he could question why she impeded his path. The vacant stare present again in his eyes as she slowly bit her fangs deeply into him, filling him with poison until he lay limply in her arms. She carried his corpse to a secluded street and dumped it precariously among another pile of garbage.


At first, everyone speculated that those three were being murdered for voting No. But, it soon became apparent that, the cases were linked in more ways than one. Shrouded female guards gave information to the remaining Regents that were enough for them to call Jadesil, Rubia, and Ildy forth for questioning.

"Our families are important citizens to Hashan. You cannot restrain us without proper evidence! Enemying us would also bring dire consequences to your precious bank vaults," Jadesil gave an unbecoming sneer, made worse by her scars.

Rubia and Ildy were more enchanting, talking with the male questioners in honey-sweet voices, attempting to show their innocence. "Jadesil is just cranky. We have not had much luck on the hunt of late. Our families have come down awful hard on us for not being as good as the other noblewomen's daughters in town."

Rubia and Ildy spun their stories in sorrowful tones as Jadesil, calmed and listened. The men began to soften slightly, forgetting the information they already had at hand. Then the 3 began to sing, beautifully, and dominated him. Jadesil hypnotized him into believing their innocence and for a last touch; Rubia cast an illusion over the three.

"Huh? .... Wha-? What are you three doing here? You young lasses should be getting home before sundown. Now, scoot!"

The three were disguised as young lady apprentices and walked, with their head bowed down, out of the offices. They were not recognized as they departed the building; in silent agreement they fled in different directions, breaking the illusion. Each ran home to pack and they only met once again outside the city walls.

Rubia unable to hold her anger any longer, "Jadesil what were you thinking?! Calm! It's what we agreed! Makes me glad to do what I did with Saruc and you!"

Rubia suddenly colored at her error and Jadesil's eyes seemed to flame, "SO! You're the reason he left me? What did you do?! Disgusting! That's what you are! Horrible, filthy illusionist."

Ildy decided to step in, "Jadesil, Rubia does have a point, you lost your temper..." She paused, noticing Jadesil's lethal glance and cleared her throat, "B-b-but... but, yes, Rubia was out of line for sending threats to Saruc out of anger. It was a petty thing actually. Heh heh... you had stolen her comb and mirror. Not enough to..."

Rubia stared daggers at Ildy, mouth slightly open as she watched her spill her secrets. Ildy chuckled nervously and bowed her head.

The three carried on for another few minutes, nearly coming to blows when the Goddess of Chaos herself descended on the three, "ENOUGH! Will you bicker throughout my visit with you?"

They quickly stopped and bowed to Eris, their long ago chosen patron. In unison, "We're sorry, Goddess Eris."

"Your offerings have not gone unnoticed, your dedication to the true nature of chaos has been proven many times over. But, true Chaos, exacts a price from mortals. Which lingers in death. Your prayers can be answered, but... are you prepared to sacrifice?"

From bowed heads, they no longer felt the desire to look at one another, and nodded their agreement to serve true Chaos. Eris, felt their hesitant feelings towards one another, new as it was, "That is good. But, each on your own will fail. You must be bound, three as one, to succeed as you have in the past."

At this, they each looked up in slight shock and disgust, glancing to one another. Jadesil spoke first, "Surely, we're skilled enough now on our own. We can survive your trials despite what may come."

Eris spoke with a steady voice, "No. You're being discovered even at this moment. Hashan women fighters have been hired to find you. You three are marked for death, already enemied to the city of your birth. Choose as one, or be gone from my sight."

They looked vehemently at one another, but through their longtime partnership, they knew what their answer would be. As one, they spoke with firm voices, "Yes, Goddess Eris. As one."

Eris laid hands on the three, touching palm to brow three times, and spoke ominous words, "So shall your chaos continue, from now beyond death, you'll need not food, water, shelter as other mortals, but you'll hunger for something... more." With a cackling, cryptic laugh she ascended and vanished for parts unknown.

The three glanced at one another, unsure of what happened, but smiles broke out across each face in equal measure.

"I feel great! Like I've rested soundly for 3 days!"

"The laughter, I feel... full and peaceful."

"I feel calmer and more confident. I also feel stronger."

They skipped down the path, cleverly avoiding the women guards sent to hunt them down, and laughing over their little triumphs. As the day dragged, the sunset, and they smelled a fire burning. Their senses felt heightened since their godly gift and their powers had strengthened as well.

Rubia rubbed at her stomach absent-mindedly, "Gods, but I'm hungry!"

Ildy blushed as her stomach protested as well and Jadesil gave an annoyed glare at her own, "What is this? She said we'd no longer need food!"

Jadesil gave a growl, which quickly turned to a drool as the smell of cooking drifted on the air.

Ildy spoke meekly, "Maybe, we should, just go see. We can always take as we will if the person is not hospitable."

Jadesil snapped, "We'll take as we will either way. It is our destiny."

Rubia quickly kept pace and cast an illusion of frailty and poverty on them as they approached the door. Giving three sharp raps, Jadesil gave way to Ildy's more honeyed nature, and an elderly man opened it.

"What? Huh? Oh... yes, what can I do for you... ladies?" The man was grizzled and haggard, unused to company and rightly so for the visitors who tried to come. His mannerisms were abrupt and nonchalant, wearing well slept in clothing, and he peered at the three unscrupulously.

Ildy, attempting to hide her disdain for the man, spoke sweetly as ever, "Sir, we're in need of food, if you have the kindness for it. We've been chased off by Hashan guards for simply being Sirens. At our ripe age, whom could we harm?? But, we've been chased away from having decent food and a comfortable Inn. Might you spare a night of your hospitality?"

The man gave a gruff snort, "The name's Ely. And I suppose so. Damn Hashan Regents... they've become scared and paranoid those politicians! Disgusting is what it is! Well, come on in if you're going to come. Or stay out there and deal with it on your own."

Ildy gave a pleased smile and they entered, his cottage was sparse with a bed to one side of the room, fireplace opposite, and many skins lying about. There were no signs of washing anywhere and it even seemed the dust plumed and swirl at every slight breath. Rubia wrinkled her nose at the condition of his home, but sat in a nearby chair with just the right appearance of infirmity.

Jadesil tried to disguise her hunger, but sniffed the air often as the fire blazed around a cookpot. The man spoke up, "Well, it's stew. Not much, but I'm sure the warmth will help your weariness despite it."

Rubia nodded and said demurely, "Yes, kind sir, yes it will."

As he served the stew, they each breathed deeply of the stew, but it was not the stew their hunger desired. Despite the man's age, his soul had a vivacity to it that could not be ignored and suddenly, their eyes turned hungrily to his hands as he placed the bowls before them. Rubia, caught his hand, and he stared at her indignantly, then fear began to grow in them as she stared back. She kissed the back of his hand, tasting of his soul, and sighed heavily in pleasure at her hunger being fed.

The man felt drained of energy and he stared wide-eyed at them, "What the-? Who ARE you??"

Before he knew what happened, Rubia broke the illusion, "Ladies, he is the one we hunger for. Not the food. And..." She took the whole of the man in her gaze, her eyes twinkling dangerously, "He tastes delicious."

They descended on the man, stealing his life as they fed on his essence. His soul sped to Thoth, as they finished their new meal.


Their lives continued the same. In cities, Rubia would play the lost child, bringing their food home when she could as to attract less attention. At others, Ildy was sent to find men, who quickly proposed to her and on their wedding night, she bedded them before dining on him. They often offered the corpses to the Goddess Eris, who would, unbeknownst to them, cackle in pleasure as she drank of the corpses as well.

They had to feed, once a week to not feel the pangs of hunger. For this new hunger, was not an empty pain in their stomach, but their very souls seemed to want to rip from their bodies. Jadesil decided one day, that feeding once a week was not enough, they must allow themselves to be satiated, not simply hunt for survival.

Jadesil led the plan, assisted by Rubia's intellect in strategy, to acquire at least 3 mortals at once, so they could feast like kings. Their one flaw was targeting Shallam.


Ildy murmured, "I don't like the feel of this Holy city. It burns my skin and makes me itch."

"Hush! Or are you satisfied eating like rats? Foraging for scraps?"

"No, but we should choose somewhere else."

"No! If it is to be done, it will be done close to our forest sanctuary. It is closest to our home."

Ildy acquiesced, but the other two could not deny the itching in their skin. By this time, a third generation of mortals had been born since their pact with Eris. For all this time, they retained their beauty and youth, but the hunger had only grown. The one thing they counted on now was that it had been many years since Hashan had even heard the names of Jadesil, Rubia, and Ildy.

They stalked through the city, winding through the streets shrouded and protected by Rubia's illusions. They seemed like normal Shallamese, though fidgety, they appeared to be like every other citizen in the streets. They finally found their quarry, three young men, sitting alone in Sahart's. The women approached them with care, but not one bit less of charm for it.

The sirens had not fed in over a week and a half, due to their planning for this endeavor; their hunger was strong and made them ambitious. Soon, the men were playing to their every whim, ordering them food and wine, never noticing how none of the women ever ate or drank of the men's indulgences. Cayar, Zaek, and Grimwold never even saw what happened next. Each woman has begun whispering soft, delicious secrets in their ears, taking in the men's life essence at their necks, drinking... drinking... until they were each satiated.


A serving waitress standing in the doorway with more wine and desserts dropped the entire tray. She saw their last moments and ran, calling for help from the Shallam guards as she fled from Sahart's Restaurant.

Jadesil, Rubia, and Ildy were too stunned to think, finally having their hunger sated; they started after the woman, but too late. The guards were upon them and secured them before they could struggle. The Shallamese gloried in the capture of such evil criminals and held them up in the arena for any who wished to give punishment to the evildoers.

They tried to sing their way out, but their guards were all women to their dismay. As onslaught of fighters came, Jadesil cried out, "Kill us! Do as you will! We will never truly die and you will all become our victims in time!"

The town laughed and mocked them, becoming more outraged at their insolence. Jadesil, Rubia, and Ildy struggled for a time, but after two weeks of being strung up in the arena for public humiliation, they were becoming too weak to shout their insults and threats. A female guard passed under them, "Finally given up? Or shall we send you more quickly on your way. Disgusting creatures."

Jadesil looked challenging at her, "You shall be remembered, guard." With the last words Jadesil spat on her while Ildy let go one suicide mice to explode by the guard's foot. Writhing in pain, the guard was taken away to be healed and mended.


"Filthy wenches!"

The town exploded in an uproar of rage. A mob came to overpower the remaining guards and they sent the three women to their deaths, drawing it out to bring out their agonized cries. And as they died, the sirens laughed... blood streaked their faces, emptied into their mouths, and they laughed... to their deaths.


They say, if you travel alone in the forest, be wary of the singsong laughter like silver bells. They appear like phantasms to feed again and men have disappeared as if vanishing off the trail.


Chandler couldn't believe how lost he was. It had seemed a simple thing to travel from Hashan to Shallam, on even such a simple task as fetching some supplies for his father. It was an agonizing trip, he knew he was still somehow in the Ithmia forest and by the setting sun; he had missed his destined marker by at least a village's breadth.

"Curse me! No food to speak of and I'll fall dead to sleep if I continue this way."

He wrapped the cloak tighter around him. Suddenly, from nowhere, laughter... sweet, beautiful laughter that made him think of bells and he smelled flowers. A red-haired child seemed to sit by the side of the path; he bent to look at her. He was taken aback a moment, by her amber eyes, so large and innocent, yet they had an uncanny wisdom to them.

"Are you lost, little one? Where are your parents?"

She sobbed gently and pointed into the forest, deep within where the shadows dwelled, "I... I... don't know. We... mommy... and aunty... lost."

He gathered her up in his strong arms, cradling her as he took a hesitant step into the woods. "Ssssh, little one. All will be well. Let's see if we can find your mother, alright?"

She cradled her head on his chest, giving a slow nod, sniffling softly, but he never noticed the strange glimmer of hunger in her eyes and she seemed to smell him. He stepped, watching the shadows, allowing the stories and myths of his grandfather come to mind of trying to beware the forest shadows. His grandfather was told tales of lost travelers as a youth by his own grandfather, and so the myths continued.

Suddenly shaken by a cold wind, he hunched and shook off his grandfather's voice. 'Nonsense', he thought to himself. 'Nothing here but shadows and a mother who must be desperately missing her child.'

Soon he came upon a small fire, with two hunched figures around it but something felt wrong about the scene. Tried as he might, he couldn't tell what nagged him about the scene before him. Then, on closer inspection they were women, of similar build and features as the young child he held. They stood, seemingly frightened of him, then seeing the child they ran to him with joyous excitement, "Ruby! You're found! Thanks the gods!"

"Mommy!! Auntie Illie!"

The three seemed to be enveloped in one warm embrace. Each, mother and aunt, hugged him and pecked him breathily in thanks. "Come, come, you must share the warmth of our fire. You must be cold in this wind."

"Aye, it is weary times for a traveler. I thank you for your hospitality."

He glanced from one woman to the next and even the girl child, all eyes were upon him. Feeling impelled to speak, "Um, my name is Chandler. Actually, maybe you could assist? I was traveling from Hashan, on my way to Shallam and-"

All three hissed at the word "Shallam" and glared sullenly at him. The pretty aunt, recovered herself first, "I'm sorry, stranger... Chandler, was it? But, we are not friends to Shallam. In fact, they've abhorred our existence for some time."

"What?? Whatever for. You seem to be decent folk. I've heard of their fervor, but surely it does not extend to homeless women with a child to raise?"

The girl child spoke with an eerily knowledgeable voice in soft whispers, "We are hated by the righteous who do not see our cause. We hunger as they do, but they cannot understand our faith. We are pure in our causes, untainted by the mortal minds of others."

Chandler had not realized he had stood up and taken a step back from the fire, away from the child. He blinked as she spoke, unable to fathom the depth in her voice, "What? Who are you? What do you want? I've no money, but you can have it all!"

The mother spoke mockingly, "'What? Who are you?'" She gave an exasperated sigh, "Why is that the first things these mortals think to say. It becomes trite hearing it over the centuries."

The other two laughed, melodically, like the laughter he had heard before. Suddenly, he realized what was wrong with the scene of them together. The fire cast no shadows where they sat. In fact, the women and child had no shadows at all. His mouth opened in horror and as he tried to flee, they descended upon him, feeding in death as much as they had in life.


Beware the traveler who hears laughing bells, for you may be a feast for tethered souls.