The last time we saw our handsome heroes, the frail Marksman was attended to by Dr. Wolf and the Wizard. After the Wizard gave the Marksman a tea made from the herbs obtained from the Herbalist, we were given a glimpse into the Marksman’s past, his history with the Order, and the predator that pursues him. Now we find our heroes gathered in the Captain’s quarters listening to a presentation of the Inventor and the Scribe…
The Scribe pushes the intricately designed boat across the board. It was a beautifully carved piece of brass, as were the other pieces the Inventor had constructed. In fact, the strategy board built by the Inventor was a work of art. It was a giant map that took up a whole wall of the ship. The pieces stuck to the board and could be moved around by the user and the waves rose and fell along with the rhythm of the ship. The Inventor even created new land masses on the board to represent what they had found in the ancient text. In a world where ancient magic and scientific innovation was sometimes indistinguishable, the Scribe was unable to tell which the board was.
“The ancient text speaks about a meteorite that hit the Earth a long, long time ago. That is what the island is, is the remains of that meteor. The impact created two upheavals in the crust that split the area around the island into three distinct “zones” if you will,” explains the Scribe, pointing at the three land masses the Inventor created in the far northwest.
“The meteorite has a strange energy attached to it. It’s theorized to have created strange beings out of the area's inhabitants when it crashed there. Of course, there’s the dark dwarves themselves that lived there. They travelled these parts regularly until they suddenly stopped.There have been several voyages to find them but few make it to the island and only a few return. Of the ones that do return, none have ever actually set foot on the island. They either turned back, using their better judgement, or their comrades who did make landfall never returned so the others retreated,” says the Inventor darkly.
Captain Crimson’s macaw, Crackers, lit on his roost, cuts loose a whistling snore.
“Cowards,” chuckles the Hero.
“Not cowards, lad,” booms Captain Crimson, “mortal men who valued their lives over what is on that island.”
“From what accounts we have found,” interjects the Scribe, “sea monsters begin to appear a few miles from the mouth of the first upheaval and have been reported all the way through the second…”
First-mate Cole swings open the door and yells, “CAPTAIN, three vessels flying the jolly roger are moving to intercept us!”
Captain Crimson quickly stands up, and follows Cole to the poop deck, bellowing orders as he goes.
“MAN THE CANNONS! MAN YOUR BATTLE STATIONS! TAKE UP THE SAILS! SET THE DECK GUN TO FIRE AT THE FOREMOST SHIP! MOVE IT YOU LIMEY DOGS,” barks the Captain.
Several crew-members scurry by, carrying ammunition or running to the masts to take up the sails. The Inventor has made several improvements to the ship, including creating cranks that allows crewmates to crank the sails up and down from the deck, instead of climbing the masts.
When Crimson reaches the poop deck, he grabs hold of one of the many new levers that were now lined up by the Captain’s wheel, and pulls back. The lever acts as a clutch, allowing the steam to retain built up pressure, while the paddle wheel in the back of the boat slows to a stop. The ship slips forward slowly, carried by momentum alone. Crackers the macaw, flies out of the captain’s quarter’s window and lights on the Captain's shoulder. The Captain walks over to the metal tube that runs up the back mast and speaks softly into the horn.
“Aye lads, keep the fire burning hot. We’ll need that power at a moment's notice,” says the Captain.
The three galleons passed in front of the Mystic Wave, the final ship drifting broadside on the Wave’s prow. The first ship circles and sets adrift on the port side, the second ship drifts starboard. The three galleons were large for typical ships, but were still considerably smaller than the Mystic Wave. Still, outnumbering the Mystic Wave three-to-one, lent them the advantage.
“Hello thar,” came the greeting from the second ship. Captain Crimson peers over the bannister to see a pirate captain waiving from the poop deck. Captain Crimson thinks the ship looks familiar.
“Remember us,” cries the captain, “or do you forget those by which your fortune sprung?”
“Not really ringing any bells,” replies Crimson.
“The Tarauqan blockade!” cries the captain.
“Ah yes,” muses Crimson, “Kennit, Pugwash, and Nutt! How delightful to see ye again. Although if I do remember correctly, it was your misfortune and my seizing of the moment that granted me such good fortune. I wouldn’t say that any of my fortune was a direct result of you, but you did have your part to play I do suppose.”
“IT’S CAPTAIN NUTT! And that was our raid! You snuck in, UNINVITED might I add, and during all the confusion, stole everything worth having! By the time we defeated the blockade, there was nothing left!” screams Captain Nutt.
“And for that I am truly sorry Mr. Nutt, but ye see there was very little there actually worth having, so maybe the next time you plan a raid, you would do well to know a little more about what you have to gain from yer target,” chuckles Captain Crimson.
“YOU’RE GOING TO PAY FOR THIS CRIMSON!” screams Captain Nutt.
While Captain Nutt was still screaming, Crimson strokes his manicured mustache, held in place by a balm that smells of salted vanilla and coconut. Crackers flies off of the Captain’s shoulder, again, lighting on first-mate Cole’s shoulder, quietly squawking “Fire away me lads. Fire away.”
Cole turns to the Captain and the Captain who is side-eyeing the first mate, and gives a slight nod. Cole leans out over the bannister overlooking the main deck and yells, “OPEN FIRE!”