How about that, Fable-fans? The Harvester meets a fiery demise at the hands of a wandering Hero. I wouldn’t fret too much over it, something tells me that such a haunting character won’t stay dead. He’ll be back to haunt your dreams before too long. As the Hero goes on his merry way, let us turn an eye to the high seas where the gallant pirate captain Crimson and an opportunity that is too good to be true.
Captain Crimson stands on the poop deck staring at the flaming remains of what used to be a rival pirate captain’s blockade. The smell of burning gunpowder, ship, and ride the salty ocean breeze into Crimson’s nostrils.
“I love the smell of piracy in the morning,” quips Crimson as he leaps down to the main deck. Nothing puts a spring in the Captain’s step more than total naval domination, and what domination it was. Two brigs and a frigate could not hold the Mystic Wave in the channel, between Crimson’s flare for naval strategy, the crew’s amazing efficiency and coordination, and the sheer might of the Mystic Wave. The culmination of these advantages is displayed in the trail of smoldering ships that lie in the Wave’s wake, not just today, but in days, months, and years past. This has garnered Captain Crimson quite the reputation, and quite the following, which comes with quite the target on one’s back. Whether someone is after his accumulated treasure, seeking to settle a score with the Captain, or wanting the fame that would come from sinking the great Captain Crimson, it seems at times that everyone is gunning for the crew and captain of the Mystic Wave. Crimson would have it no other way. In his mind nothing on the rolling sea could match him, his crew, or his ship and anyone who challenged them would end up the same as these poor sods. Sunk to the bottom or worse.
“Well Captain,” calls first-mate Cole as he saunters to the ship’s wheel, “we have a hold full of treasure and can’t hold much more. Frankly, the boys and I would like a nip of rum and some warm food. A soft place to lay the ole noggin would be nice as well.”
Captain Crimson nods in agreement, “We’ve done everything we can do on this trip, my lads. Let us away to store the treasure, and then set off for a pleasure cruise Mr. Cole. A trip to Killingsly port to fill our cupboards and to paint the town is just what the doctor ordered!”
The crew roars their approval, scattering across the deck, feverishly loosing the sails that will carry them onward towards creature comforts and dry land.
After depositing the majority of their booty on Captain Crimson’s secret hideaway, the jolly crew set sail for the port of Killingsly, reaching it within a few days' journey. Killingsly is a bustling city, and to sailors, it’s the good-time capital of the high seas. The biggest port on an island nestled in a small collection of islands northwest of Cremouth, Killingsly is a hub for ships heading eastward to the realms. The island has proven a refuge for merchants and pirates alike. The town was a free-for-all but the island’s society held things in check. The attack of ships heading in and out of the island is forbidden, as is anything more violent than your typical bar brawl. Pirates agreed that if they were to properly supply the floating oasis, they would need the help of merchant ships. The only violence that would be allowed is violence against any naval ships that would try to police the islands, but at this point, the authorities had given up hope of controlling the islands. The perfect place for Captain Crimson and crew to celebrate a successful raiding voyage.
The Mystic Wave slips across the waves towards the port. Kane guides the ship gently to the docks and several crewmembers leap off the side of the ship, repelling down the ship’s side to moor the Mystic Wave to the dock
Captain Crimson and the crew saunter down the gangway, prepared to be met with a raucous welcome (and an instance or two of indignation from those who they’ve wronged) from the dock workers of Killingsly port. Instead, the jolly band is met by nothing but the sound of ocean waves, a seagull crying loudly as it takes off into the ocean air. Almost everything was as it should be; ships are lashed to their moorings, supplies are set out on the dock to be loaded. Almost everything. There wasn’t a dock worker, merchant, or fisherman in sight, despite all the boats moored to the dock.
The party journeys up the boardwalk into the heart of the port city, surveying the abandoned city. Like the docks, most everything seemed to be in place. A barrel was tipped over, a merchant’s sign was hanging on one hook, but other than that the town was tidy and empty.
Like any pirate crew, the first establishment the crew visits is the local tavern. It being deserted, like the rest of the town, the crew enjoyed themselves freely, drinking as much as they could stand, rough-housing, and singing inebriated melodies. Seeing no one enforce the previously discussed social expectations, they did what any self-respecting pirate would do, pillaging the whole town and living like kings.
The town’s vacancy doesn’t bother a member of the crew, save for Captain Crimson who is becoming increasingly uneasy from the absence of activity. Crimson makes his way across the street to the town forge. Crimson leans on the door and it opens straight-away. Crimson looks around the shop. Several swords, axes, hammers, spears, shovels, and other tools lay around in various stages of completion. Then, Crimson saw it.
On the wall hangs a magnificent sword, unlike anything the Captain had ever seen. This sword is monstrous, the large blade shaped into recurve. The weight of the thick bevel drives the razor-sharp edge, giving the sword’s belly the heavy swing of an ax. The belly of the recurved shape sweeps up into a sharp point. The handle sports a wide knuckle guard and a stacked leather grip capped off with a polished diamond pommel. Crossing swords with the owner of this sword would be a difficult task indeed.
Crimson marvels at the sword. It is a grand sword, but also the sword seems perfectly tailored for himself. Crimson was a rather large man, and finding a sword that fit his intimidating stature was impossible. He takes it from its resting place on the wall and waves it around in the air. The balance was impeccable. Crimson takes the scabbard hanging on the wall and straps it to his belt and sheathes his new weapon.
He continues to look around and notices the forge, a blade still hanging in vice grips and white coals still smoldering in the firepot. A good forge could keep these coals alive for a week or more, but what concerns Crimson is the blade still hanging over the heat.
Crimson strolls back into the street and pulls aside first-mate Cole who is sauntering down the street in joyous revelry. “Go back to the Wave and drop the landing boats here at the harbor,” instructs Crimson, “Anchor her out in the bay. The crew will spend the night here, and we will venture out to the surrounding islands looking for clues tomorrow. Something is wrong here and it makes me uneasy, but my curiosity won’t let me rest, of this I am sure.”
“But Captain, can’t I send some of the other boys to the ship,” asks Cole pleadingly, “I’ve found a place to rest my weary bones. I was looking forward to sleeping off the ship tonight.”
Crimson thinks for a second. Crimson would rather have Cole back on the ship, watching over things. However, he’s been a great first-mate, working hard to keep the crew in line. He deserves a night off.
“Sure. Put the Johnson boys in charge of the boat. Mitch can guide the ship in and out of the port, Lester and Porky can almost handle the rigging themselves. Not to mention that they’ve probably had enough enjoyment for one outing. Have them take a few men to watch the ship tonight,” relents Crimson.
Cole carries on his merry way to inform the Johnson boys of their assignment, while Crimson turns to look back in the blacksmith shop once more. A small notebook lies open on the grind-stone bench. Crimson’s interest is piqued…
Cole lies sleeping in the presidential bedroom of the town’s hotel. Only the most legendary pirates stayed in this room, Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Sir Francis Drake, and Henry Morgan slept here. The room featured a heated bathtub, a king-sized bed, and the finest furniture.
It was the finest sleep a sea-weary pirate could ask for, but suddenly Cole is awakened by the sound of a shuffling in the room. Cole rolls over, coming face-to-face with a face of rotting flesh. The shocking sight causes Cole to take a sharp intake of breath and an exhale of panic. The creature hadn’t noticed Cole’s presence yet, but that sound alerts it to the first-mate’s presence. The abomination begins to stumble towards Cole, and Cole reaches for his gun. On the ship it would be hanging right next to his bunk, but in this luxurious suite, it’s hanging from the chair across the room. Panic creeps into Cole as he realizes there’s nothing that he can do. The rotting corpse quickly staggers towards Cole, when a loud whistle splits the air, followed by the sound of a hammer hitting a watermelon. The zombie’s head bounces across the floor as Captain Crimson resheathes his sword.
“I thought I was a goner,” stammers Cole as he sits up shakily.
“You’re welcome, me lad,” whispers Captain Crimson, “I picked up something was funny with the town deserted and all. Then I read through the blacksmith’s journal and knew there was evil afoot. The undead swarmed the town around nightfall. The rest of the boys and I have been setting up our escape.”
Cole, now fully dressed and ready to run, follows Crimson downstairs. One of the crewmembers sits by the door with a fuse in one hand and a match in the other.
“Ready sir?” asks the crewmember.
“Light it up,” confirms Captain Crimson. The crewmember strikes the match against the wooden floor and puts the burning match head to the fuse. Sparks leap off the match and burn off across the town. Out in the street there are hundreds of the brain dead monsters roaming through town, like a herd of carnivorous livestock aimlessly searching for their next meal. Several still have scraps of clothing hanging from them. One has a doctor’s coat on, another the garb of a general store clerk, a zombie judge and a zombie barmaid stumble through the town side-by-side. These were what was left of the good people of Killingsly. The sizzling of the burning fuse alerts the zombies, turning to discern what the sound was and where it was coming from. The bright burning fuse, along with the sound and motion draw the herd. The fuse was moving towards a box laying on the general store porch. A box with six or seven red cylinders laying in hay. A box with “high explosives” stamped on the side.
“Duck for cover,” whispers Crimson. The crew tuck their heads in-between their legs and plug their ears.
The burning fuse disappears into the box, followed by a loud thunderclap. The force of the explosion levels the general store and four other nearby buildings. It blows the glass out of the rest of the businesses. The undead run towards the burning building, drawn to the sound and sight of the explosion like a swarm of moths to a light.
“Now’s our chance,” says Crimson in a low tone. No one could hear him, even plugging their ears didn’t spare them from the power of the explosion, however everyone could see his lips and the hand motions beckoning them onward.The pirate crew crept out onto the street and they began sprinting towards the dock.
It was a perfect plan, executed perfectly. But as the saying goes, if something can go wrong, it will. A straggling zombie, making its way towards the sound (and what it hopes will be its next meal) runs out from between two buildings. Unfortunately, its path intersects with a pirate crewmember. The two collide, and the zombie realizes it has stumbled upon its prey. The zombie crawls on top of the sailor, who is struggling to keep the zombie from latching onto his face with its rotten teeth. The undead are relentless and this one was no different, the sailor is unable to get free. There are fates worse than death and becoming an undead scavenger ranks pretty high on that list. Maybe he can free his left hand, and if he has a free hand, he can maybe reach his pistol….
Captain Crimson turns around and sees the struggle, he draws his sword and runs over to aid his crewmember, when he sees him reach for the gun. “NOOOO,” cries Crimson in a low tone.
The gunshot rings out. The zombie’s head splatters, leaving the crewmember drenched in viscera. Every zombie who had swarmed to the general store now looks in the crew’s direction. The crew, frozen for just a moment, then realize it was a race for survival and begin to tear off towards the docks as quickly as humanly possible. The crewmember that fired the shot takes off running too, but in vain. The wave of undead overtakes him before he can rejoin the others.
Captain Crimson and the rest of the crew are nearly to the stairs leading down to the docks, however the undead are gaining. Crimson is concerned that they won’t be able to launch their landing boats before the undead overwhelmed them. Then, he had an idea. Crimson pulls a flare from his belt. “I hope that explosion has those Johnson boys awake,” thinks Crimson to himself.
He lights the flare, waving it over his head as he runs towards the stairs. He stops at the top, allowing the rest of the crew to proceed down first as he waves the flare aggressively over his head. Finally, when he believes he can wait no longer he drops the flare at the top of the stairs and begins his descent. The undead were getting closer, they were nearly to the top of the stairs. Just as Crimson thinks his efforts were in vain, the sound of salvation erupts. At first it sounds like popcorn popping in the kettle, then whistles fill the air, and finally explosions erupt all around the docks as the Mystic Wave opens its cannons up on the terrace and stairs that lead down to the dock. The sudden barrage stymies the zombies in their tracks. The sounds of cannon fire mix with the cheers both of crewmembers rowing quickly away from the docks and also the hoots and hollers of the Johnson boys lighting up the night, producing a pyrotechnic light show with the cannons of the Mystic Wave.
Today was a productive day. The three custom sabers were completed ahead of schedule. After a final sharpening and polish, the recurve blade will be complete as well. It is quite a unique blade, perhaps the only one of its kind. One of my greatest creations yet, although it will take a mountain of a man to command it, that much is clear. Today was also a rather odd day. Around noon, a man with skin dark like the coal of my forge and with strange tattoos the likes of which I had never seen, came into the town square. He was dressed in tribal garb. He screamed several words in a language I’ve never heard and then drew a primitive looking knife made of some sort of ivory or bone. He stabbed the knife deep into the Earth, and for a moment it looked as if the Earth bled. He then sprinkled some sort of strange powder onto the substance leaking out of the gash in the earth. Then, as soon as it sprang up, it disappeared. Several of the townsfolk were disturbed by the man, claiming to be a witch doctor. They ran him out of town on a rail, forcing him to paddle off to another island.
Several people have taken ill, fevering with cold sweats. Some think he’s cursed the town. I think it’s mass hysteria. We all just need to drink more water and quit worrying over some stupid “voodoo magic.” Well, it’s time to get back to work. I have several more orders to fill. I’d like to go to sleep sometime, but you know what they say, “You can sleep when you’re dead.”
Narrated by Brandon Warner