Turn Five: Articles of War!“Ye hearty Mariners
That ply our native seas!
Whose flags have braved a hundred years
The battle and the breeze!
Your glorious standard launch again
To match another foe;
And sweep through the deep,
While the stormy winds do blow!
While the battle rages loud and long
And the stormy winds do blow.”Torktuga Sea Region, Early Autumn, 1785
“Fire!” roared Captain Pierce as the Indignation moved along the enemy vessel and unleashed another round of broadsides.
The crisp morning air once more filled with the sound of thunder and a cloud of smoke, the polished guns sending another series of iron balls into the unnatural Tomb Ship, the timbers cracking under the salvo as the mast began to creak and snap, twisted rigging falling upon the deck of the Jewel of Vitae like giant spider webs. Small fires began to spread as the stern groaned and began to collapse, yet the skeleton crew continued to ply their oars and move around the small wooded island ahead.
From around the bend of the island came the Epine du Sang, her banners snapping in the breeze, her full sails billowing out like cerulean clods as her gun ports were pushed open, batteries of fresh guns gleaming in the morning sunlight. The Man O War moved to intercept the fleeing sloop, while the Indignation made sure there was no escaping, tacking across her port side and readying another volley.
Prince Sobek, from his shattered stern, glared at the hated human vessels, cursing his own ship for failing to bring him to safety from this peril. The ancient Tomb King coldly regarded the Indignation as she changed course, his ruined throat silently mouthing orders to his loyal crew to unleash the remaining catapults. Ancient sinews stretched back and the lever arms drew taunt, Sobek’s scimitar rose and fell and a battery of rocks whistled through the air, the crude missiles crunching into the newly painted wood of the Indignation, the impact causing the forecastle to buckle and casting several crewmen into the cold sea. Silently the skeletons moved to pull back the firing arms of the weapons once more, even as debris continued to topple down from above, the mast finally groaning one last time. As the wooden shaft pierced the decks below, the stern collapsed as the doomed vessel snapped in half, the cold waters streaming in through the rent and consigning the ancient war galley to an icy grave. Prince Sobek himself pitched into the ocean, his vestments flowing around him like gossamer wings in the dark waters as he sank into the cold depths, his glowing eyes open and staring upward with burning hatred as the Karibbean opened up its maw and swallowed the ancient king…Nordlund, Early Autumn, 1785, Gallows
Ned stood silent as his shipmate Vigo was led; arms and legs shackled, to the rope dangling next to him by a pair of Imperial soldiers, the tight-corded noose swinging in the stiff breeze as rough hands forced the rogue into position. A hooded figure of the hangman stepped forward once more and stretched down the noose until it was level with the convict’s neck, pulling the rope over his head and savagely yanking it into place with a grunt.
Staring across his left shoulder, Ned locked stares with executioner two sets of cold uncaring eyes, until Ned snorted and hacked a stream of phlegm at the feet of the hangman.
“Looks as if ye gonna earn yer boots today Jack Ketch, ain’t ye? The crew of the Barnacle Belle ain’t gonna go lightly, I can ensure ye of ‘hat.”
The hangman regarded the pirate for a few seconds more before the next crewman of the Barnacle Belle was dragged into position before a third noose, his legs having left him, forcing the guards to drag him by his shoulders. Blood trickled from his swollen feet, splinters of wood having pierced his skin by the rough handling, as he too joined his brethren with a sharp pull of the noose. Tears of grief and fear ran down the dirty cheeks of the pirate, this one not quite ready to leave this mortal coil.
“Well mates, I be thinkin this be our final voyage, the voyage into the great salt brine. The Captain was crazy to trust Tremonte, I told him as much when we first met that effete snob. Led us right into the hands of Jack Ketch it did!” intoned Ned, defiant to the last as he had promised himself he would be.
As more crewmen were brought forth from the jail, a crowd began to gather below the gallows, the people of Nordlund had suffered the depredations of the pirates for far too long. The new Governor had pledged to rid their sea lanes of all buccaneers and lawless rogues, that part of this pledge came at the expense of pardoning a known pirate made the spectacle of today lose some of its luster.
A hush fell across the crowd as the first group of eleven pirates had been secured in the nooses and the judge came forward to list the charges against the crew of the Barnacle Belle. As his voice boomed across the square, Captain Tremonte listened to the charges with keen interest. The dandy sat on a cushioned divan that overlooked the square, sipping mulled wine from Nassau. He marveled at his fortunes of late, the current surroundings most fitting to one of his stature, the Governor’s house merely an extension of the fortress that surrounded the town. As he chuckled to himself, he cast his gaze at the Governor and his wife, both of whom watched the events unfolding below.
Madame Greta was a fine figure of a woman for sure, a seed of youth blossoming into the full flower of her young womanhood. She wore the style of the times, a tight corset that drew her ample figure tight and highlighted all of her delicious curves. Her curled brown hair was set with ribbons and seedlings, falling well past her perfect waist. Tremonte could not help but to return his gaze time and again to the beauty, he found she regarded him back beneath thick lashes, a hint of playfulness clearly there. He returned her gaze with a roguish smile, even as the scene concluded below.
“And so,” finished the judge “we find you seadogs guilty on all accounts. You are hereby commanded to hang by your necks until ye be dead!”
A motion to the hangman, a lever pulled and the eleven sailors fell into oblivion to the roaring approval of the crowd, as Tremonte contemplated his next move…Torktuga, Bottom of the Sea
Prince Sobek stared into the darkness of the ocean, the preesure having little effect on the Tomb King. Tangled in the mass of rigging and sails, his cherished weapon just out of reach, Sobek was trapped. Small schools of fish swarmed around the trapped Monarch, the temeprature of the water as cold and dark as the hatred that festered in his ruined breast.Petite-Goval, Early Autumn, 1785 IC
“Admiral Le Fevre, I am so glad to see you.”
Marcel nodded, “Yes, it seems we Bretonnians here in the New World are having a year fraught with …”, and then he paused before saying, “… challenges”
, before proceeding, “My men have just arrived from Isabella Sound, where we’ve had repairs being done from our entanglement with the local Estalian fleet, heard of your predicament here, and have sailed to provide the supplies that you’ve been requesting.”
“I can pay you well, good sir.”
“And I’m glad you can, for it seems the war back home has spread to the Karibbean, and I suspect what you pay us from your treasury, can help us get what we need here without worrying about whatever may or may not be sent to us from back in Bretonnia. And that is why I’ve already started to have the things we have brought unloaded, we will finish before the day is out, but we will be gone in the morning.”
“Is it possible, you are traveling past Basse-Terre, and can perhaps bring word of your good ways to my wife, as well as the rest of the refugees that have gone there?”
Marcel turned his head away, and then turned it back again towards Lord Mayor de Goval, “I was not planning to put into port there, but I can have a couple of my ships make a side trip to Basse-Terre, and deliver your message.”
“Thank you again, good sir. And when your men are done unloading the supplies, I can point them in the direction of where the gold is.
"That sounds very suitable."
"May the Lady look favorably upon you, and yours, and your travels.”
"Now it is my turn to thank you," which saw Marcel give a short bow before finishing with, "And I bid you adieu."At Sea, End of Early Autumn, 1785 IC
The wind was providing just enough lift to the sails of the Estalian fleet to propel it in the direction of where Admiral Hector Guerra would be looking again for the Bretonnian fleet here in the Karibbean. And when the sea provided fresh air as it was now, Hector’s adrenalin flowed.
The Estalian admiral’s last battle with Le Fevre’s armada had been a minor victory. It had started out with low visibility making it hard to discern the enemy’s plan of attack, and as the enemy vessels sprung their move, Hector’s defensive line held, exchanging cannon fire which took out both sides’ sailors and sails.
However, Hector’s own ship had gotten lucky when a cannon shot had penetrated one of the Bretonnian Man O’War with an explosion that had been so large, it had even spread fire to another nearby enemy vessel. The ship that had its armaments explode quickly come to a crawl, and the other one’s fire spread rapidly as it veered from the battle line.
Then the wind changed, and suddenly it had occurred to Hector that here was a good moment to do something that he’d never tried before. As both fleets continued to exchange broadsides, Hector had his signaler send messages down both ends of his line for each of his own vessels to follow the ship directly next to them that was towards the flag ship.
By the time confirmation was received back up through the line and had reached the flag ship, one end of the Bretonnian line had already begun to try to close down the hole that had opened where the two seriously wounded ships had been holding, but the Hector had already started La Boehm for the gap. In moments Hector had his vessel steered to block a union of Bretonnians, and as his own ship stalled to barrage and delay the closest enemy ship, the closest Estalian sister ships floated past his own helping keep the enemy fleet divided as they began to stream beyond and let the Estalian ships through the hole as well.
Another hour and it was over. With the continued low visibility, the Bretonnians had become confused and disorganized, while the Estalians had succeeded in continuing their movement through the line and then beyond. Hector’s fleet had done a bit more damage than the enemy had to them, and at another time perhaps it could achieve a better position in future fight.
And it now, having finished with various repairs, Hector’s sailors were back at sea and the search was on for the right time to strike.Basse-Terre, Autumn, 1785
The bayou stretched before him, patient as an open grave. The Lord Mayor’s shirt clings heavily to his skin, channeling rivers of sweat down his back as he poled the pirogue further into the swamp. A slight breeze stirs and the swamp whispers words no man can understand.
Adjusting his wide brimmed hat, Maurice Boudreaux drew his arm across his forehead, the sweat and mass of insects swarming there displaced with a shake of his hand. It was often his custom to rise before dawn, drawn forth his prized hunting rifle, and go forth into the swamps to hunt the native predators. Maurice had been quite good at this for many years, as the number of stuffed heads adorning his trophy room could attest. He had even on occasion hunted the native Karibs, the thrill of that hunt unlike anything he could have hoped for! Maurice was a vicious man, one that periodically ordered the extermination of Karibs he deemed dissidents or trouble makers, the power afforded him by the Crown of Bretonnia all the justification he required.
He pushed the small punk under a moss-laden cypress, its ancient branches clutching at his arms and tearing his regal cotton shirt. A cottonmouth, angry at the intrusion, dropped into his boat from the tree. Maurice was quick to ply his pole, flipping the deadly serpent out of the boat and into the water in one fluid motion.
“You won’t take me so easily Old Man, “ he rasped, “not while I be breathing still,”
A web of rotting vegetation suddenly bubbled up under his pirogue, forcing the boat to an abrupt stop. The Bretonnian struggled against the pole, but the snag held fast. Wearily, the Lord Mayor knelt in the boat and submerged his arm to help free the boat.
A slimy hand suddenly grasps his own! Before he can pull free, a second takes his arm. The stench of centuries old rot assails his nostrils, choking his lungs and draining his strength. His struggles become desperate as he realizes he is beyond help and likely to be taken into the murky depths without as much as a whimper. Pulling against the grip, he begins to beat at the entangling arm with his own good arm, letting the pole drop into the waters of the swamp. One good yank and he topples back into the boat as the grip is broken, the suddenness of it causing the pirogue to capsize, his rifle slipping into the muck with a splash.
Kicking to the surface, Maurice struggled to find a patch of land. Spying a small hillock to his right, he began to swim for it, fear propelling his legs and arms as he desperately sought to get out of the water. As he paused to draw in air, he saw a dark shape slip into the water ahead of him, a crocodile for sure! The reptile slid into the murky water and powerful legs and tail propelled it towards the swimmer, who threw forth his buoy knife and made ready to strike the reptile. As it reared out of the water, its mouth rimed with sharp teeth, Maurice thrust forward with his knife, taking it in the throat and forcing it back. Raising the knife over his head once more, his arm was grasped once more by the slimy hand; this time the pressure on his wrist caused him to drop the weapon into the muddy waters. Staring back in horror, Maurice saw the creature, its biped body covered in moss and swamp detris, water dripping from its open mouth as Paramalfait smiled through rotted teeth, holding the struggling man as the crocodile moved in for the kill. The screams of the nobleman stayed trapped in his throat as the monstrous reptile once more opened its jaws wide…
The empty pirogue rocked in the current and floated free, drifting into the channel, no sign of anyone being on board. Decades later the mysterious circumstances surrounding the disappearance of Lord Mayor Maurice Boudreaux would be debated over campfires on hot summer nights…Of Letters, Beginning of Early Autumn, 1785 IC
- - - The Governor, Port-Au-Prince - - -
Mathias von Anderstadt entered his employer’s office for the umpteenth time and spoke as he walked, "Lord Governor, I have brought the draft of the letter that we discussed.”
Langston Hughes stood quickly, reached, and once it was in his hands and in front of his eyes, he read.Your Eminence,
General von Gruberheim and Admiral von Hallenhof have reminded me that no leader in the Imperial provinces has openly sided with either Bretonnians nor Estalians back in the Olde World. My home responsibilities, as I’m sure you are aware, lie with Nordland, and I’ve spent considerable finances strengthening Imperial Defenses in Port-Au-Prince and Nordlund. In order to further our protection from Pirates and rumors of Karib rebellion, there are plans for more.
My previous correspondence, although including a request for co-operation, did not foresee all of the developments that are happening now, and I suspect will only grow by the time you have received this note. At the same time, there is no reason for intervention by those Imperials that reside here in the Karibbean, between the those here who might choose to emulate the Olde World activities nor between those who might bring them here. My co-operation request is the same as before, and if there is no interest in this because of my expression of neutrality, then neither of us stands to gain from what otherwise might be possible.
Since last writing, I have been working with the joint Fleet Captains of the Monarchy towards the progress I have previously suggested we work towards. I hope you will join us.
Sincerely and respectfully,
Lord Governor Langston Hughes
“That looks well done, Mathias, and I want you to be certain that who we discussed previously is the man to deliver it. I don’t want to risk it not getting there and he’s likely the best man for the job.”
“Most certainly, Lord Governor, most certainly.”
- - - The Lady, Domingo Sound - - -
The day was overcast, with a slight bit of humidity in the air, like the kind that happens before a storm arrives.
Lady Ellsabeth de Coranado had just finished reading the letter that she now held in her left hand with the ink facing Harlow Montigarreo. Her other hand reached for a small white hand kerchief.
“My, oh my, this is what you were referring to?”
“Yes, my lady, that is it.”
The Lady spun, turning completely away from her assistant and chief plantation supervisor. She seemed to take a deep breath, and then used the hand kerchief to wipe her brow ever so slightly. There was a long pause of silence, and Harlow hadn’t obtained his position by speaking to her until she spoke to him again.
The moments ticked past, and then she slowly came back around to face Harlow, “Take heed and listen good, my dear Harlow. I have an idea, and I want to know what you think of it.”
Harlow knew not to speak next either and listened to the Lady, as she expected.
- - - The Inquisitor, On Board “El Justeriero”, Cabos - - -
The Inquisitor sat at his small desk inside his cabin, and Brother Miguel stood in front of it.
“I see this letter says here that they are looking for help. You’ve read it, and what do you think?”
“It could be an opportunity that takes our mission in a new direction or …”, and then there was a slight pause, “… it could delay us from the rest of our plan.”
Inquisitor Alphonse Rodriquez Cabrillio raised one hand to his chin and he stroked it like he had a beard even though he did not.
“We need to consolidate our efforts here first, and that means taking out Crab Key next. There can be no more resistance here in the Cabos region of any kind. If we intend to move on, whether or not we help them, that means every last Karib in this area needs to be taken out. Completely.”
“That sounds very reasonable, and I can inform the others for you. We could be under way, tomorrow morning.”
“That sounds wonderful. But we’ll take only the El Justeriero and the Lanza Punta with half the soldiers. The Crab Key doesn’t hold nearly the number of Karibs as Cabos itself, nor the gathering at Bushiabama. And additionally maintaining a decent garrison here seems obligatory.”
“Most definitely, and I will see to your instructions.”
“Excellent, and be certain to return with a favorable update.”Domingo Sound, Autumn, 1785
“Incoming!” yelled the sailor as the cannonball hit the deck, exploding timbers and shredding flesh and the same time. The aft mast groaned under the impact, jerking the Lion of Lashiek
to port as the thunderous barrage of cannons from the Indomitable continued to pound the frigate.
“Aft cannons fire!” roared Captain Achmed Al Kuds, “Lest In flay the skin from your unworthy backs!”
Smoke and flame shot forth from the gun decks below, ripping into the amidships of the Indomitable, pitching men into the air amid several explosions as the Lion’s gunners proved true,
As the two vessels traded shots, the sleek form of the Capricious Maiden
slid into view through the smoke, Captain Guildemont at the helm as he sought to bring his vessel to the aide of the Maiden. As he cleared the smoke, Guildemont was horrified to see the massive bulk of the Great Glutton
lumber into view, blotting out the sun with her massive sails.
“Me bully-boys, unleash the guns! Let em speak fer us as we drive these dogs into the cold embrace of the Locker!”
Dozens of cannons roared into life, smashing into the Maiden
and tearing apart her gun decks. As her cannons returned fire, the timbers of the Glutton shuddered under the impact, Master Gunner Demote targeting the weaker stern of the Man O War. He was allowed a grim smile of satisfaction as the Glutton
continued to shudder, explosions from below decks ripping through the ship/
“Run out all canvas! Run out all canvas!” Guildemont screamed to his men as the Glutton
continued to approach. “More speed!”
As the Maiden
lurched to port, the bulk of the Glutton
slammed into her amidships, the crunching of wood drowned out by the screams of sailors that were crushed to a pulp in an instant. The Maiden
lurched sideways as the Man O War threatened to drive her over on her sides, the cannons of both ships taking heavy tolls at this close range.The Indomitable
changed course, bringing the winds back into her sails as the Lion circled back to catch the wind as well, both ships circling each other like two predators. Captain Alfonso ordered his men about smartly; the cannon exchange had done little real damage to the Indomitable, more cosmetic than anything else.
“Take heed lads, she comes from port once more! Lock the tackles and reload. She truly is a big fish, but my Indomitable will see us through the day!”
had reloaded her guns and once more a broadsides volley roared towards the Indomitable, many falling short but several more taking the Schooner in her amidships. The Bow groaned under the impact but failed to slow the Privateer vessel.
“Aim for her sails you dogs!” roared Achmed once more, the damage to his own vessel slightly more telling. Several cannons had been blown apart by the last volley, and the crew reported the lower decks were flooding.
Ghostpaw gazed through the series of glass prisms that made up the scope, the vast bulk of the Thing-Thing
sliding through the waves unnoticed. The crazed Captain thrashed his tail as he watched the humans exchanging fire, the burning wrecks of several ships locked in their death struggles.
Drawing forth one of the talk-speaker tube from the side of the scope, the Skaven ordered his crew.
“More speed slow-slows! We get close now to big Fat-belly ship now. Firing tubes at the ready-go!”The Maiden’s
hold began to fill with water as her amidships broke apart. Dozens of crewman pitched into the water only to be ground into red smears as the vessel relentlessly pushed forward. Her masts toppled, her cannons slid into the murky depths as the Maiden finally surrendered to the bulk of the Ogre crewed Glutton
and broke apart. Captain Guildemont fell screaming from the helm of his beloved vessel as the sails tumbled onto the wheel house, smashing the helmsman flat before sinking, her yards of canvas trapping ailors in the water and drawing them into the depths like a death shroud.
Magg roared his approval as the Maiden
sank beneath the choppy water, his crew joining in. Their joy was short-lived however as a spread of gyro propelled torpedoes struck the vessel below her waterline, a jagged hole ripped into the hold and took out her mid cannon deck, dozens of Gnoblars were incinerated in the blast, though later on they would provide ready cooked delicacies for the crew!
A second spread of torpedoes struck the Lion
in her starboard, her gun decks obliterated in the blast. A chain reaction of explosions ripped into her hold as the Lion
spun away from the blast. The dark form of Thing-Thing
roses form the dark water, the jagged metal and wooden vessel covered in rivets and patchwork repairs.
“Blow hatches, let in air-air slimy seadogs!” bellowed Ghostpaw into his talk-speak tube.
The hatches on the main deck were flung open as the foul air of the submersible wafted out through a series of mesh covered tubes. A swarm of Skaven clambered onto the deck, many gasping for air, others moving to man the chaser guns on the bow of the strange vessel.
Achmed pondered his choices at this point, the fires still raging below decks. Reports came in that there were creaking and groans coming from the bowels of the Lion
, her cannons a twisted wreck of metal and human remains. He ordered his helm to tack across the bow of Thing-Thing, the sails straining against the sharp turn as the Lion
, trailing thick smoke, moved to the starboard of the Skaven vessel.
“Make the shots count dogs! Destroy the infidel weapon; send it to the cleansing depths!”The Lion’s
cannons spoke loudly, the broadsides raking the deck of Thing-Thing
, blowing apart the crew on deck and throwing fire into the open hatches. Ghostpaw was livid!
“Hot-hot! Close the hatches quick-quick!”
As the Lion
drew closer, Achmed cast a glance to the horizon, where the form of the Great Glutton
drew further away. The flaming wreckage of her sails poured thick smoke into the air, the damage great and the maneuvering of the massive vessel unable because her rudder had been destroyed. To make a turn in time to help the trapped frigate would take far too long and so Achmed ordered the signaler to send a message to Captain Magg that to return was foolish, the Lion
would accept her fate with honor! So be it thought Achmed, the battle has raged past and now we are alone. He silently vowed that he would take the infidels with him.
A new barrage from port took the Lion unawares, the Indomitable
moving back into position. Caught between the two enemy vessels the crew of the Lion of Lasheik
vowed to sell their lives dearly, Achmed drawing his cutlass and uttering curses to the Indomitable crew and her captain! His monkey mimicked the move, raising its toy wooden sword into the air and shrieking!
The fire in the hold spread into the powder stores and the Lion
exploded in a fireball that roared into the sky, raining flaming debris down upon the Indomitable
alike. Her crew was sent screaming into the next life as the fires incinerated many of them, the blast having done the most damage though as crew were ripped apart by flying debris or smashed against the wooden bulkheads. The Lion
sunk rapidly, no sign of her captain since the explosion, the fires fizzling out in the cold waters as the frigate disappeared into the depths of Domingo Sound…Nassau, Early Autumn, 1785
“Heave lads! Out your backs into it!” shouted Fritz von Weaver, Master Engineer late of Nuln. “I want those braces in place before we load the cannons!”
Dozens of workers grunted and groaned with their burden, heavy stone braces supported by a cunning series of block and tackles, which rose some fifty feet into the warm Karibbean breeze. From the upper levels of the fortress, Fritz stared down as the workmen pulled harder, the smoothly greased ropes sliding through his specially crafted pulley locks. Making several scribbles onto a notebook, the engineer moved back to his sexton that rested on a tripod. He sighted along the instrument and out into the harbor.
His calculations had been extensive but now the project was coming together. The Lord Mayor had requested a new battery of cannons to defend Nassau from possible attack and he had showered the engineer with gold and land grants to complete the project. Fritz remembered fondly the bartering phase of the project, where he had negotiated a large land grant, including miles of sugarcane fields, in addition to the gold coins he had asked for in advance for the new weapons. Shrewd bargaining with the Dwarf and his rum-drunk cat had yielded the needed weapons and braces at a discounted rate and Fritz had pocketed the difference.
The first stone mounting brace appeared over the walls of the fortress, and Fritz snapped out of his daydreams and rushed forward to make sure his minions knew where they went! In Port, Early Autumn, 1785 IC
Captain Tavish McBride had The Wandering Falcon
lead his captured prize into the harbor and up to the docks. The remains of the pirate pinnace had been placed in behind his own at the same spot in port. And then harbormaster came forward from his post to meet the Captain as he walked down the narrow gang plank.
“Well, well, well, I’m sure he’ll be quite pleased when I bring him the news.”
“Sure he will. In da meantime, I be auctionin’ da remains of da Dusty Doberman …”, as McBride thumbed his right hand over his shoulder in the direction of the wrecked ship that had stowed in behind his own vessel, “… and hope da next owna has anuff sense to change her darned name, eh?”
The harbor master looked over at the forecastle of the soon to be sold former pirate ship and chuckled, “Yes, that there seems to be an unusual one. Any former crew to report?”
“Oh ya, dems down in da hold chained to dare own ship. Six of dem, and da forma Captain, he’s in my own brig. Understand you here can get me da reward for dem dare souls?”
“I most certainly can. Was there any cargo on board?”
“Nope, nothin’, mostly lots of junk, da usual stuff, a parrot, a plush chair dat has holes in it, half dozen silva mugs, couple uh crystal watchama call its, a chest uh clothes, and lots of useless stuff dat might sell in da local shops somewhere. Udder den dat, nothin' else.”
“No pirate's treasure?”
“What da yuh dink? And if dare was, I’d give it to my crew.”
“Yes, of course, ok. One more thing, I got something here for you from him.”
The harbormaster handed over a sealed piece of parchment.
McBride looked at the side opposite of the seal and said, “I see.”Domingo Sound, Beach, Midnight, 1785
Achmed awoke to sand being kicked in his face, his monkey trying to raise his amster from his slumber. He knew not how long he had lain on the ebach, save his skin was burned on exposed places, some from the sun, some from the inferno of his exploding vessel. His face a ruined mass of scar tissue, the corsair rolled onto his back with a groan...Middle Plantation, Sandy Cay, Autumn, 1785
The sounds of trees being felled woke Dungree from his slumber, the carpenter was weary from the pace of the past weeks, The project was ambitious and enormous at the same time and Dungree and his fellows regretted accepting the project from the start. It had seemed reasonable enough; modify the existing buildings and docks into a working shipyard. That seemed a reasonable enough request, and the Halflings paid extremely well! The ships arrived bearing tons of lumber, nails, tools and over three hundred workers. And it was the workers that caused the regret, for they were little more than savages, Karib warriors with stern gazes and ill intent.
The Halflings left the project under the care of one of their adjuncts over a week ago, setting forth in immense catamarans, taking hundreds of Karibs with them. The Karibs left behind could barely hide their contempt for the overseers and carpenters, and that situation led to open fights from time to time, the Karibs quick to unleash their anger. Since the project had begun, nearly a dozen carpenters and overseers had been wounded or killed in these fights, but the project continued despite this.
The Chameleon Skink lay among the pile of lumber, its sleek form changing color to match the wood and braches that lay near the pile. Its cold alien eyes moved to and fro, watching the humans as they went about their daily worker. He had remained thusly for well over a week now, moving occasionally to different positions so as to get a better vantage of the activities going on below. Its tongue flicked out from behinds its fangs, tasting the air and sending messages to its primitive brain, messages it sent forth to its kin. Its kin that even now gathered in the depths of the jungle under the banners of the Old Ones. A new generation of Lizardmen was spawning in the sacred pools, sleek Saurus and mighty Kroxigor answering the primeval call of their progenitors.Domingo Sound, Port, 1785
Captain Guildemont sailed into port aboard the good ship Dandy, having been plucked from the seas by the passing merchant vessel. A provedn sailor, Guildemont had crewed with the merchants in exchange for passage back to Domingo Sound. It had been back-breaking work but he had relished the chance to work out the pain at the loss of his ship and crew, and to fester a new hatred for the Pirates of the Karibbean.The Karibbean Sea, north of Tezcatipocas, 1785
churned along under the cool waters of the Karibbean, its damaged warp engines straining to keep the screws turning. The damage had been severe at the hands of the Lion of Lashiek
, forcing the Skaven to withdraw from the battle at Domingo Sound before it could search for scrap.
Diving far beneath the surface suddenly showed the extent of the damage, several crew rats were killed by water pressure related accidents. At the depths the Thing-Thing
had fallen too the water forced through the small rents in the surface of the ship became deadly, the lets severing limbs and torsos better than a sword blade. Forced to travel above the surface of the sea while repairs were being made, Captain Ghostpaw continued his journey south towards the Karibbean Sea.
Under the cover of night, the submersible chugged along the mirror surface, nary a hint of a zephyr broke the placid surface. Many leagues off in the distance was the rugged outline of an island, a craggy mesa thrusting up from the unimagined depths of the Karibbean. And upon that island perched a man-made edifice of stone, Hidalgo’s Perch lighthouse. The clear beam of the mirrored lights shone brightly in the gloom this night, and it was as well as the Thing-Thing glided slowly towards the island, for the numerous reefs that surrounded the island were clearly pointed out.
Suddenly the night sky was lit by an explosion, the tell-tale flash of a cannon muzzle to starboard. Seconds later the water around the Thing-Thing
was pierced by the cannonball, spray and salt raining down upon the decks of the Skaven ship.
“What! Lookout-Seer, where did that come from?” roared Ghostpaw. “Empty-clear you said these water-wet places were!”
“Captain-leader! The shot came from ahead, not seen-discovered though. Maybe we send slave rats on deck-deck and look out?”
Considering the option of sending the slaves on deck, as fun as that could be, Ghostpaw gnawed on his tale as he considered. The Thing-Thing could not dive so escaping was not an option. But with the damage already taken, it wasn’t up to fighting an enemy vessel either!
“Cut-cut engines scum! Dose all lights! Run dark-dark we must!”
All across the vessel Skaven hurried to dose their lights. All repairs stopped, the engines were shut down before their glow could be targeted, and even the interior lanterns and torches were put out. The Thing-Thing
continued to move forward, though the incoming waves began to slow its progress and it was at the mercy of the waves now. Not a single squeak could be heard on the vessel, as all the crew waited for the tell-tale shriek of another cannon blast.
Aboard the Green Thunder
, Captain Marbaruck signaled to his charges, waving his makeshift scepter at them in menacing fashion. Chocolate Biscuit, his dark brown monkey perched on Ted’s shoulder, his every move watched by the hundreds of natives aboard the giant catamaran.
“Say conga wanna degonna, savvy, “ordered Marbaruck, telling the natives to reload their pillaged cannons and ready their harpoons.
“Looks as if we had a sea monster, eh CB? Did you see how it dived when we dropped a cannonball in its flank? I wonder if it would go well with a dry white wine and fig salad.”
Looking to his sister ship, Captain Marbaruck could see the Filet Mignon
sailing to his starboard, the litter bearing Captain Buzz Moleman clearly visible by the burning torches surrounding the Halfling. Both Halflings bore the paints of holy men upon their arms and faces, the Karibs natives treating them like the deities they believed they were. When the Halflings had arrived among the Karibs, they were almost put in the proverbial stewpot, until the Karibs saw their hairy feet and bodies and took them to be messengers sent by the Great Monkey. Since, the Halflings had been treated as cherished prisoners, taken on raids, taught the magic of the tribesmen by their shamans and taken into battle as good luck charms. Under their leadership, the tribes had grown in wealth and size, plundering the lands of the Karibbean and amassing a fleet of warships, including the two Man O War that they presently sailed upon.
Buzz waved his scepter back in greeting to Ted and continued to usher his vessel forward. The strange ship, he was sure he had seen lights, had disappeared once more into the darkness. Curiosity had gotten the best of him and Buzz would see what manner of vessel it was, for the brief image did not reveal sails. Perhaps a war galley?
From the rough timber decks of Morkz Stabba
, Wizgit Bonecruncha urged his ladz forward, the Orc shaman using his powers to find the image of the vessel in the darkness, his eyes closed in concentration as the vessel coalesced in his mind, he could see it as it moved with the waves and snapped out of his trance.
“To port ladz! Da zoggin fing be right off our portside!” bellowed Wizgit as he drew forth a wad of foul smelling detris, which he cast into the darkness with a powerful throw. A brilliant flash of green light lit the darkness as the hull of Thing-Thing began to glow with eldritch light, a beacon to the rest of the Castaways fleet that clogged the narrow strait.
“Crap-crap! My eyes!” wailed a suddenly blinded Ghostpaw. “The enemy cans see-spy us now, foul magic it is!”
As soon as the flash revealed the strange vessel, Buzz drew back in his chair and screamed to his subjects to let fly their ballistae. Taunt arms jerked forward as the massive sharpened palm trunks tore through the air and impacted upon the Thing-Thing
. Most of the wooden missiles shattered upon the metal hull of the Skaven vessel but one pierced the wooden skin of the gun deck, smashing aside the chaser gun and driving into the hull. The prow groaned under the impact of the weapon, wires showered sparks across the command cabin and she began to take on water.
Not to be outdone, Wizgit threw up his arms amid a chanting song and suddenly a giant green foot materialized out of the darkness and descended upon the Thing-Thing, smashing apart the forecastle and further damaging her gun decks.
Crippled and nearly weaponless, Ghostpaw ordered the crew to diving stations, the Skaven Captain knowing full well they could not win this battle. The giant foot rose once more above the Thing-Thing
as the submersible went under in foaming mass of water, the cold waters pouring in through the damaged forecastle even as the water tight doors ground close, trapping dozens of the crew between the bulkhead and rushing water.
Wizgit cursed loudly as the Foot of Gork fell upon empty waves, for the Thing-Thing
was no longer there…Coquina Harbor, Autumn, 1785
The square shouldered Karib fisherman rattled the cup in his club-like hands, the curved and polished bones inside bouncing around, waiting for a chance to tumble forth, the central table in the Landfall Tavern occupied by four other players, the place a maelstrom of noise and movement. The days catch had been bountiful and the locals were now enjoying the fruits of their labor, a night of drinking and wildness, tall tales, and an occasional fight to blow off steam, and with tomorrow being market day, the crews would not have to be to work until two days hence. Tobacco smoke swirled above the patron’s heads, drawn by the lazy breeze that drifted in through closed shutters, for the fury of a coming storm was on the air and relentless winds drove before it.
The ships bell hanging on the front of the tavern chimed eleven times, as the night wore on and the seas grew darker. On the horizon there was a brief flash of lightning, followed by the hollow, still-distant rumbling of thunder. The ocean was churned high and white, and somewhere out to sea a storm was building…Cayman Straits, Autumn, 1785The Indomitable
struggled in a short wind, her sails billowing awkwardly as Captain Alfonso fought to tack with the wind. Having left Domingo Sound a fortnight ago following the battle with the Pirates of the Karibbean, and had pursued the Great Glutton
with abandon. Pierce was not about to let the loss of his friend, Captain Guildemont, going unsettled. He knew the Ogre’s vessel was wounded and he followed in hopes of delivering the final blow.
“Heave to lads! We needs to tack faster and catch the breeze!” he ordered and his men fought to bring about the new heading, the damaged rudder working on makeshift repairs. Alfonso gave the wheel to his helmsman, who was immediately turning hard on the wheel, wood groaning as he forced the wheel to turn, the protesting rudder fighting him every step of the way. Training his eyes forward, Pierce looked through his brass telescope, where he could still see the dark profile of the Great Glutton
on the horizon, just beyond a series of small jungle-covered islands. Sliding it shut with a click, he turned to his lieutenants.
“Gentlemen, to stations.” he said calmly. The Indomitable
cut through the waves like a warm knife through butter, gaining the distance between the foundering Glutton
with ease, the Schooner gaining speed as she closed. Alfonso moved among the gunners, observing placement of cannons, clapping men on their backs as they readied the weapons for one more battle. He clambered up the stairs to the forecastle where he could see the burned wreckage on the stern of the Great Glutton
. He allowed himself a smile as his vessel drew close to the Ogres.
His heart sunk in his gut when he saw the Glutton
tack starboard, revealing the masts of two more pirate vessels, the Asp
and the Widowmaker
, that were closing on the Indomitable. Already their cannons spoke, cannonballs whistling through the air, tearing into the Indomitable
as the Glutton
tacked right and brought its remaining broadsides to bear.
“Left helm, left!” screamed the Alfonso as he saw his folly. The swift Asp
approached from aft while the Widowmaker
changed direction to cut off the Indomitable to starboard. The Indomitable
was trapped, her speed her own enemy as the helmsman struggled to turn the rudder with the help of several other crewmen. A sickening snap followed as the damaged rudder broke loose and slipped into the dark water of the Straits.
The gun ports of the Glutton
opened fire, the report of the cannons echoing in Alfonso’s ears as the forecastle exploded in a mass of wood and iron, pitching the Captain into the sea even as the Asp
took down the Indomitable’s
mast with a blast of chain shot. The Captain disappeared into the depths with little more than a splash and did not rise from the cold depths. Meantime the greenskins massed on the deck of the sloop as she drew close, small weapons fire erupting between the Indomitable’s
marines and the Orc pirates.
Scores of salt water crocodiles slid into the churning waters of the Straits, as the blood of the dead and dying drifted like clouds in the crystal blue water. A feeding frenzy erupted amid the flailing arms of the crews bobbing in the water as the monstrous crocs closed in for the kill.
While repelling the Orc boarding parties, the crew of the Indomitable
was taken unawares by a blast from the bow cannon of the Widowmaker
which had tacked to port and came up on their blind side, the shot destroying the gun deck and sparking a series of roaring fires that swept across the decks as Orc and human alike leapt from the burning wreck and into the sea, the crocodiles ensured that the struggling crew did not struggle long. Captain Kera stood upon her prow, her wild eyes flashing at the carnage her vessel had, as she sheathed her axe, thoughts of boarding gone when the extent of the damage caused by the Widowmaker’s
cannon were revealed.
As her masts finally collapsed in a raging inferno, the Glutton
put another broadsides into the stricken vessel, her hull splitting apart as the waves rushed in, drowning the crew trapped below decks and pitching her colors into the blood-filled waters. A final round from the Widowmaker
shattered the stern of the Indomitable
, the mass breaking off the front of the vessel and plunging into the waves, finally putting the Indomitable
out of her misery…
Weeks later, the body of Captain Alfonso was found by a group of fisherman out of Nordlund, battered and torn with no sign of life in the savaged form. It appeared that every little creature from Domingo Sound to Nordlund had taken a bite out of the Captain, and it took several priests of Mannon over a fortnight to breath life back into his body. And so it was that Captain Alfonso returned from Morr's Garden, somewhat less than whole for the priests had been unable to save his left arm, instead a stub of bone and muscle remained where a healthy arm had once been...