November 12, 2018 at 5:22 PM #1778
A place where folks can post their Pirates inspired stories, fan-fics, extended flavor texts, etc. Any work of fiction inspired by the game can go here.November 12, 2018 at 5:27 PM #1779
I’ll start things off! This was the story introduction for the ‘Free the Pirate King’ fleet challenge I hosted on MT.
Jack Hawkins was not in a good mood. Locked away in his cabin, he had given strict orders to not be disturbed, yet there was a pounding on his door. Rolling out of his hammock, Hawkins strode to the door and wrenched it open.
“I thought I was VERY specific sailor, I was not to be disturbed, not even if Jones himself came upon us.”
“Aye sir, you did say that, but captain…..”
“This had better be good sailor, or it’s your head.”
Hawkins shoved past the frightened pirate and clambered up onto deck. Squinting in the brightness, Jack looked around, and quickly noted another ship bearing down from the starboard. Slung low in the water, her sails were unmistakable.
“Seems you were right to rouse me sailor, All hands, prepare to board, we have company!”
The crew burst into action, readying cannons, grapples, and weapons, when jack shouted again,
“Stay the cannons lads, we won’t be needing them.”
He then strode to the starboard rail, a hand on his sword. The Star of Siam was soon broadside, and lines were thrown from both ships, and a gangway lowered. Wesley ‘the Dread Pirate’, soon came across, accompanied by two stout and burly souls. Jack walked back away from the rail to stand amid ships.
“Have a table and chairs brought forth.”
Two crewmen scurried to obey and soon returned with a rickety table, and sagging chairs, Jack sat down in one, and motioned for Wesley to do the same.
“To what do I owe the great pleasure of a meeting with the ‘Dread Pirate’?”
“I have news, Jack, and a Summons.”
“A summons? For me? From whom?”
Wesley produced a tattered and folded parchment from inside his coat, laid it on the table, and slid it across to Jack. He looked at it dubiously, then picked it up and unfolded it. It was a royal missive, clearly intercepted by Wesley, but what it said……
Jack looked from the parchment to Wesley and back again.
“Is this true?”
“Aye Jack it is, I had my spies confirm it.”
Jack folded the parchment again, and slipped it into his own coat, the crew gathered on deck looked on in confusion. Jack leaned back in his chair, the chair protesting as he did so.
“Your summons is from the others isn’t it?”
“Aye, a gathering has been called, and we must honor the summon Jack.”
Jack chewed his lip, not liking what he was hearing.
“Are they thinking of a rescue?”
“I believe they’re going to try something like that. Calico and the Angel are already waiting, and I hear even Blackheart is coming. I went to inform and bring you Jack.”
“Angus will be there eh? Hope he’s forgiven me for all the past duels, and if not I’ll simply beat him again.”
“Be careful Jack, they say Blackheart is worse than Jones nowadays.”
“Then it’s a good thing I’m not afraid of either one! Very well ‘Dread Pirate’ I’ll go to your little gathering and maybe I’ll help with your little rescue, but only so I can keep these waters safe for our kind.”
Wesley stood and motioned to his two guards, and the three of them returned to their ship. Jack waited until they were halfway across before shouting,
“Cast off lads! Adjust course to follow the Star! Full sail!”
The crew burst into action, hauling in lines, and unfurling sail. Jack retreated back to his cabin, closed and locked his door, and sat at his desk. He pulled out the parchment Wesley had given him, and once again unfolded it look at it.
“Seems your luck has either run out, or is good enough to summon the Lords together, Mysion.”November 12, 2018 at 5:47 PM #1780
This was the fleet description for my entry to the ‘City of Gold’ fleet challenge on MT. In the actual fleet, links were inserted into places to make reference to the other fleets participating, past challenges, and other game pieces WK official and Custom. For example, when Hammersmith talks about ‘John’, he’s referring to a custom pirate crew of mine called One-Handed John, who is an extremely blood-thirsty pirate.
Going off of the ‘Free the King’ story-line, this takes place after the events of the Pirates united efforts to free Captain Mysion, the Pirate king.
Hammersmith looked up from the primitive charts he had drawn and gazed out of his cabin’s window. The sun had long set, and light was only available in limited amounts from the guttering candles. He could barely see the other two ships in his voyage; the Longshanks dwarfed the Banshee’s Cry, practically hiding in its shadow. The vessel he currently resided on he’d stolen from the Spanish, for he’d heard tales of how her holds were larger on the inside than on the outside, making room for plenty of gold.
‘Gold is getting harder and harder to come by these days.‘ He thought to himself as his eyes returned to his charts.
He knew he was no Cartographer or map-maker, but he prided himself on his hastily done work. The charts had come from a former member of the Spanish Navy who had been onboard when he’d stolen the ship, and who Hammersmith had ‘persuaded’ to give up his valuable information. The charts showed a rough outline of a river in the Southern Americans, a place the Spaniard had called ‘Orinoco’. According to the Spaniard a Conquistador had been there in the 1500’s and had found traces of a ‘city of gold’. Hammersmith chuckled to himself,
“If such a thing existed, someone would have found it already…..probably.”
The venture this Conquistador had gone on had been over 150 years ago, since then no one had found a lost golden city. Then again, no one had really explored the new world much in the last 150 years anyway. The only reason Hammersmith even considered undertaking this voyage was the immense wealth it promised to bring him, and the freedom that wealth promised. He’d made powerful enemies after attempting to free the Pirate King, and not just Blackheart. There was a newcomer on the scene that made Blackheart seem kind and generous.
“That one handed Bastard…” he growled.
At the head of his appropriately named ‘Carnage’, John had sailed into Mysion’s Pirate haven, burnt it to the ground, and made off with all of Mysion’s treasure, leaving an empty throne for Blackheart. To make an even bigger statement, John had done the unthinkable and had laid low half of the Pirate lords. Rumor was that John had amassed a fortune to rival that of any imperial power, and he was spending most of it on his own vendetta of blood and violence against what seemed like the entire world. Hammersmith knew like a few Englishmen that money and not arcane power was what made the world go around, and he also knew that if he had enough of it he could buy his way to safety.
So he had double crossed Blackheart, leaving him to the English, and made out on his own in search of great wealth to secure his freedom. Doing so however, had enraged Blackheart, who escaped English custody and then ‘convinced’ the surviving Pirate lords to join him in his hunt for vengeance. Even more concerning than Blackheart and One-handed was the rumor floating around that Jones had been overthrown, and that El Fantasma was now the embodiment of the Cursed. Fantasma was sure to be looking for ancient relics to spread his domain, and a city of Gold would surely have caught his attention.
A knock on is door snapped Hammersmith from his musings. He covered his charts and strode to the door, opening it slowly. The light from his candles and lamps revealed Le Requin, the French Pirate. Hammersmith allowed himself a rare smile. Requin was one of the few remaining Pirates who was not loyal to Blackheart, or cowed by One-handed. Hammersmith gestured for him to come in, and closed the door behind him, securing it firmly. Returning to his chair, he uncovered his Charts and looked up at Requin.
Requin sat down opposite him, and took several folded pieces of paper out of his worn red coat. He placed them on the table and slid them across to Hammersmith.
“These were not easy to acquire, do you have any idea how hard it was to find him, not get killed, and get him drunk enough to sneak into his rooms?”
“I take it you had some help from the Madam?”
Le Requin smiled and leaned back in his chair, pulling a small bottle from his coat as he did so.
Hammersmith un-folded the papers, revealing several much more accurate charts than his own hand drawn ones. He smiled again, and then quickly frowned as he noticed a series of red lines, leading in the same direction he was heading.
“Is someone else on the chase?”
Requin took a long drought from his bottle, returned it to his coat, and leaned forward again.
“Yes. The King has sent an expedition to try and find this great treasure. He intends to use it to fund a war with the English. What’s more, he’d found out that we weren’t the only ones interested as well, almost everyone is. The Spanish have at least two separate expeditions, one privately funded, the other sponsored by the King. The English have at least two as well, and the Americans are also rumored to be on the hunt.”
Hammersmith leaned back and looked at the wooden ceiling above him, counting the nails in the wood to calm himself. Requin, seeing this as a sign to continue,
“That’s not all, I’ve heard from our ugly friend that Fantasma has put together a small outing as well, though he had to entrance some countrymen to help him.”
Hammersmith looked back to Requin,
“Have you heard about any other pirates?”
Requin shook his head,
“Only scattered rumors about the Cat helping the English; seems she’s related to that Gunn bastard.”
“That’s good. We can’t afford to have Blackeart and John breathing down our backs as well as half the modern world.”
Requin nodded and reached for his bottle again. Hammersmith returned his attention to the charts and maps before him. He quickly marked their current position, just outside of Charlestown, about a week’s journey to the southern Americans, less maybe if they went under full sail.
“When did the other expeditions set sail?”
Requin hiccupped and put his now empty bottle back in his coat,
“I’m not sure, even he didn’t know. These are all secret voyages, so as not to garner attention from folk like us, and those damned Cursed men.”
“So we might have an early lead, even over the Americans?”
“Maybe. I heard that they’re looking to hire native guides to help them, but natives from the pacific as I hear.”
Hammersmith nodded, and looked out the window again. He could see storm clouds in the distance, gray against the night sky. He recalled another such storm, when he had made his grand return to piracy.
‘Once again I have to be the stronger force….’
“Rouse the crew, and signal the others, we’re setting sail, NOW.”
Hammersmith rose and strode to the door, shrugging into his coat as he did so, Requin following close behind.
Hammersmith strode quickly from his cabin and out into the main corridor, rapidly ascending the stairs.
“South, for now. South is where the Lost City is, so South is where we go.”
Requin nodded and returned below deck to raise the crew, Hammersmith strode toward the helm. Settling himself behind the wheel, he gently turned it, all the while thinking,
‘The strong survive…Yes, once again I must be the stronger force.’
A grim smile crept across his face……..December 8, 2018 at 3:15 AM #2319
Hello everyone! My first post in this thread will be a callback to the first set I heavily worked on, Fiends of the Blood Islands! These are the story inserts for the English Bonus pack: Honor and Glory. These stories all take place before the main story arc of the actual expansion. Hopefully that clears up any confusion ?
1. HMS Iron Predator:
It was a sunny day, the skies clear, and the wind blowing strong; perfect weather for hunting pirates. Admiral Victor Rose was on his way to the harbor. His superiors had informed him that they had something important for him to see. He doubted it was worth his time; probably just the construction schedule for a new frigate, or the confirmation of a new trade route. Either way, he was neither pleased, nor interested.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
“There she is, Rose: Your new ship. What do you think?”
Grand Admiral Jason Thorn gestured towards the shipyard where a gray Scorpion floated by the dock. The name HMS Iron Predator was written across the side of her hull in big silver letters. Stunned silence was the only response Victor could supply for the expectant Grand Admiral.
“I-I don’t know…what- Why?”, he finally stammered out.
The Grand Admiral barked out a loud laugh.
“Because you deserve it!”, he said, giving Victor a hearty slap on the back. “This is our first and only Scorpion ship, Rose. It should be commanded by the best of the best.”
He pointed at Victor. “And that would be you.”
Victor looked at the Grand Admiral. A smile slowly spread across his face as he thought of the pirates he could bring to justice with his new ship.
“Thank you, Grand Admiral”, he said with a salute. “I promise you, you won’t regret your decision.”
2. Admiral Victor Rose:
The First Mate walked quickly to the Admiral’s Quarters. He knocked nervously on the heavy wooden door, dreading the impending conversation.
The deep rasp of Admiral Rose’s voice sent a shiver down his spine. Breathing deeply, he opened the door.
It was dim in the cabin, and the air was thick with candle smoke and the smell of alcohol. Admiral Rose was a vague silhouette leaning back in a large wooden chair behind an ebony desk at the back of the cabin.
“What do you have to report?”, the silhouette leaned forward, resting its elbows on the desk as it spoke.
“We have just gotten word, sir”, said the First Mate, carefully. “It would seem that your daughter-”
A glass bottle flew past his head, shattering against the wall.
“SHE IS NO DAUGHTER OF MINE!”, Admiral Rose roared at the messenger, who was now pressed against the door of the cabin in fear.
“My apologies, sir, I-”
“Get to your point.”
His quiet tone was somehow scarier than his yell.
“The HMS Crusader was spotted near Tortuga carrying smuggled goods and counterfeit documents of pardon from the King.”
The following silence felt like eternity.
“Tortuga, you said?”, asked the Admiral, breaking the silence.
“Yes sir”, began the First Mate. “She was-”
“Then we have our heading.” The Admiral stood up behind his desk, and turned his back to the First Mate.
“Load the cannons and raise the scythe; it’s time to hunt.”
3. Captain James Atlas:
The candle on the cabin desk was dim and dying. The tired eyes of Captain James Atlas strained to see the details of the faded maps he was bent over. He stood up straight, easing the cramped muscles in his back. There was a quiet knock on the door. Atlas sighed and limped over to open the door.
“Sir, pardon my interruption-“, began the crewman.
Atlas looked down and took the messenger’s envelope. He then looked the man in the eye, said a quiet, “Thank you”, and promptly shut the door in his face. It was too late for excuses and explanations. Or was it too early? Atlas squinted out through the windows into the pitch black sea air.
Giving up on the windows, Atlas turned his attention to the messenger’s envelope. It was marked with the Grand Admiral’s seal.
This can’t be good news, he thought.
The Grand Admiral’s letter was brief and to the point: “The Iron Predator was seen docked at Tortuga about two days ago; sources say that she left at midnight and was allegedly looking for the Red Rayven”.
Atlas slumped down into his chair. He knew that his orders were to investigate the actions of and bring back Admiral Rose. But Atlas feared that his family’s piracy streak may have claimed it’s final member.
4. HMS Mantle:
Captain Atlas stood nervously on the deck of the HMS Mantle, looking over at the HMS Iron Predator. Her guns were ready to fire, and her scythe towered over the hulls of both ships menacingly. A thick fog was rolling in from behind the Iron Predator. Admiral Rose stepped into view, a grim expression on his face.
“What are you doing here, James?”, shouted the Admiral.
“I was sent to call you back to port”, replied Atlas. “The Grand Admiral has requested a meeting-”
“We both know he’s going to court martial me for deserting a fleet on personal reasons, James. Go home. I’m not coming back.”
Rose’s words stung like a sword. Atlas watched in stunned silence as the Iron Predator began to turn away from the Mantle.
“No.”, said Atlas. “Intercept the Iron Predator! Maneuver broadsides of her bow; prepare cannons and a boarding party!”
They’d have to chance her scythe to stop Rose.
As the Mantle pulled broadside of the Iron Predator, Atlas called out to Rose.
“Victor! If you do not stop your ship, I will have no choice but to consider you a pirate, and attack, in the name of England!”
As he said this, the Mantle was crossing in front of the Predator’s scythe. Rose appeared through the thickening fog, sword drawn.
“Then so be it.”
As the scythe whizzed down, cannons rang out on the open sea.
5. First Mate Joseph Walker:
“Are you ready?”
The First Mate looked over at his twin brother, waiting for his response.
“Of course”, was Thomas’s confident reply.
“Good”, said Joseph with a grin. “Then you’ll probably get shot.”
The brothers shared a brief laugh as the HMS Belle of Exeter pulled along the far side the Meropis. The Meropis was receiving routine cargo inspection, as it was passing through English-controlled waters next to Ramsgate. The boarding planks were lowered, and the Walker brothers crossed the narrow bridges onto the Meropis.
Her crew looked like a ragtag collection of criminals and savages, wearing mostly tattered vests, stolen gray uniform pants, and bandannas or hats. They stared with silent scowls as the Englishmen boarded their ship. The Belle’s captain was crossing the planks and speaking broadly to the mercenary crew.
“This is a routine inspection. We will simply look through your cargo hold, check for stolen or illegal goods, and then leave. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.”
Suddenly, there was a gunshot, and the captain jerked back. His hand went to his bleeding neck before he fell off the planks and into the water between the ships. The shocked silence was short lived, becoming a chaotic, brawl.
Thomas looked around for his brother, but couldn’t see him. He heard another gunshot, and excruciating pain exploded in his shoulder. Falling backwards, he stumbled and crawled back to the plank bridges. Managing to stand up, Thomas looked forward and saw a large man with an eye patch slash Joseph across his upper chest. Before he could react, he was pulled back aboard the Belle of Exeter by an English crew member.
A thundering volley of cannon fire was released from Ramsgate, and the Meropis’s deck and hull erupted into wooden shards and splinters.
With luck I will post more from FoBI in this thread. I can also post these in the custom ships thread if it is so desired.
Will hopefully post tomorrow!
-J. W. DarkhurstJanuary 25, 2019 at 3:02 AM #2849
It’s been a while since I’ve posted here in the Black Mongoose Tavern, and sorry, but I’m gonna skip over some FoBI to get to the new stuff.
I give to you now: Story Pages for Pirates of the Dark Tides!!
Sir Heathcliff, the Red Paladin
The final rays of sunlight were creeping across the deck of the RNS Blood Pact. The light slowly made its way down the short hallway that lead to the captain’s cabin. The rays struck the base of the white, wooden door. As the sun descended further, illuminating the whole of the stylized red cross painted on the smoothly sanded surface, the fading light shone upon the one aspect of the door not devoted to the Blood Cross. In the cross’s center, where its arms intersected its body, there was a small glass window. The sunlight drifted through the glass, amplifying its brightness and intensity. Brilliant rays of light landed upon the weary face of the captain, who had been trying, fruitlessly, to get some decent rest after the week-long assault against the City of Ouroboros. Waking from his light and fitful dozing, the captain sighed, and sat up. Sleep had been evading him since the Blood Pact had set sail from the ruins of Ouroboros; and it seemed intent on staying that way.
The captain stood up, and in two strides, was before the small mirror atop the desk in the corner closest to the door. In the dim light, he could see almost nothing. Faint, dying rays of light streaming through the small window in his door made the dust particles in the air visible as they danced around, indifferent to the world outside the cabin’s door.
With a heavy sigh, the captain grabbed his coat, glanced at the emblem upon its breast, and attached his sword to his belt. Opening the door, he made his way out onto the deck of the Blood Pact. He took a deep breath of the twilight air, and then strode towards the gangplank, and the city beyond.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Most of Genova’s docks were occupied with merchant ships and trading vessels. Among these travel-wearied beauties were the occasional private sailing boats of higher class English nobles on personal vacation. Sir Heathcliff, the Blood Pact’s captain, looked at the lavish boats with unveiled disdain. There was no reason for such a waste of fine materials and craftsmanship. As if those nobles even knew how to sail on their own, he thought with a scowl.
He strode up the pier towards the city’s seaside taverns. He couldn’t help the feeling of unease that came over him as he left his ship under the first mate’s supervision.
It was nothing personal; he just didn’t like the idea of someone else in charge of his ship. He entered the closest tavern; a small, wooden building with a worn sign reading, “Il Lanciatore Vuoto”, or, “The Empty Pitcher”. The sign was somewhat misleading, however, as upon entering, Sir Heathcliff was struck by a cacophony of noise mostly emanating from a group of very drunken and jovial Italian merchants in the far left corner. He searched for an empty table or a familiar face, but to his dismay found neither.
His eye caught upon an old, weathered man with a well-trimmed white beard and moustache. He was sitting alone with a mug at a table, and seemed ignored by everyone else in the room.
Heathcliff approached the old man and gestured towards the empty chair across from him.
“May I have this seat?“, he asked in perfect Italian.
The old man looked up at Heathcliff and nodded with a genuine smile.
“You may. And to what do I owe the pleasure of your company?“, the man spoke Italian with a slight Spanish accent; as if he hadn’t spoken the language in many long years.
“Nothing in particular,” Heathcliff replied, producing a small, metal flask. “You looked lonely and I needed someone to share a drink with.”
At this the man laughed; a hollow, lonely sound.
“That’s true, I suppose,” the man, noticing Heathcliff’s uniform, spoke in accented English. “I am not popular company in this city nowadays.”
“And why is that, if you don’t mind me asking?” Heathcliff accompanied his inquiry with a gesture, offering the metal flask to his new acquaintance.
The man sighed and accepted the flask. He poured a decent quantity of its contents into his empty mug. Handing the flask back to the Englishman, he began to tell his tale.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When the older man finished, he downed the last of his alcohol, and looked up at Heathcliff. The English captain leaned back and sighed, a sad expression on his face.
“That truly is an unfortunate story,” He paused for a brief moment before continuing. “Would it be fair to assume that you are no longer loyal to the Spanish?”
The old man spat on the ground.
“They promised me a life of fame and valor, but instead here I am, alone, dishonored, and with no one to call family or friend in my own home. They hold no place in my heart.”
Heathcliff nodded slowly. He then rose from his seat, placing his hand upon the table near the older man.
“This port is merely a stopping point for myself and my crew. Before our most recent quest we had heard rumors that the Spanish war fleet was planning an invasion against some of our territories. Not long after we arrived here, those rumors were confirmed.” Heathcliff sighed deeply. “I will more than likely be assigned to combat the armada head on. I doubt I will return here for quite some time.” The Englishman lifted his hand, revealing enough coins for another drink.
“From one friend to another”, he said with a kind smile.
The old man looked up at Heathcliff in surprise.
“I must be going now, but I will remember you during the battle, Signore Freda. Buonasera.”
And with that, Sir Heathcliff turned and left his baffled new friend, to begin the weary voyage back to home; and to impending war.
(This is the first story of ten, featuring crew from PoDT. The rest shall come as I refine and complete them.)
Until next post
-J. W. DarkhurstJanuary 25, 2019 at 3:06 PM #2852
JW posted the first of them, here are the rest of the convention pack story insets for Fiends of the Blood Islands.
The captain of the USS Ironsides looked warily back towards the fleet of rotting, bone-encrusted ships on the horizon.
“This wasn’t part of the plan…”, his voice nervously trailed off as he glanced at his two escorts.
The Pequod and the Swamp Fox had both been selected to serve as escorts for the Ironsides’s maiden voyage. They were there primarily as a safety net for the crew in case something happened to the prototype Ironclad. No one had anticipated to intercept a Cursed war fleet.
The Cursed fleet had spotted the three American vessels, and five galleons were already en route and gaining rapidly. The Ironsides had been equipped with a full barrage of cannons and munitions as well as a full crew so as to test her speed in a combat scenario, but they hadn’t been expecting to need them on this voyage.
The Swamp Fox began to slow and turn around, her numerous gun ports opening. From behind the American vessels, a single cannon was heard. The captain of the Ironsides turned incredulously at the sound.
‘Do they really think they can hit us from that far away?‘, he thought.
Then he heard it: The sound of a chain-shot closely flying through the air. With a terrifying crunch, the Swamp Fox’s main mast snapped in half, the upper part toppling into the ocean.
More cannons were fired, and as the Swamp Fox was destroyed, the Pequod and Ironsides turned around to meet their fate.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It was the only thing El Fantasma could think to say when the Ironsides finally began to vanish beneath the waves.
Standing at the railing of the King Jones, he was struck with an idea.
“Captain!” he called.
“Yes, sir?” replied the half-decayed corpse wearing a black coat.
“Signal to the Hellhound and the Skell’s Hand. They are to return to Aguinvari-Gakhali immediately for repairs.”
Nodding curtly, the captain left El Fantasma to execute his orders. El Fantasma walked leisurely into the below decks of the King Jones. He pushed open the door to the room underneath the captain’s quarters.
“Master Scribe?” he said to the elderly man who was shakily scratching away at a scroll behind a desk.
“Yes, yes; what do you want?” the ancient scribe was clearly very irritated at the interruption to his work.
“I need you to record our current coordinates at this spot. There’s something I want to retrieve later.”
The library was dark; lit by only a couple candles on the work desk. A thin man sat at the desk, scrawling on a piece of paper, attempting to translate and copy a small, strange journal. He leaned back in his chair, and removed his large round glasses, tiredly rubbing his eyes. Placing his glasses back on the tip of his nose, he looked over at the timepiece on his desk.
Twenty minutes to three. Another sleepless night.
He sighed, and glanced at the name placard on the desk: Dr. Milo A. Thackeray; Professor of Linguistics and History. If the expedition went well, that name would soon be known the world over.
Milo shook the tiredness from his head and leaned over the desk again. He needed these translations; even if it took him all night.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Early in the morning, Professor Milo Thackeray stood on the command deck of the USS Whitmore. Gripping the railing tightly, he looked out through the main window in the front of the submarine with a combination of excitement and fear. The Whitmore was about to launch; and his quest to discover the lost Empire of Atlantis was about to begin.
‘Day 20 of the Atlantis Voyage; USS Whitmore; Professor’s Log:
The captain seems worried about the mission’s success. We have about half a month’s worth of food and supplies before we have to abandon the quest. Even with the journal and all of its clues, the Lost Empire continues to evade me! I feel the crew is beginning to give up hope on this expedition.
And speaking of the crew, I clearly remember asking for a professional crew for the mission; not the questionable band of… mercenaries that have been placed on this vessel. I do not trust any of the men or women aboard this submersible. I fear disaster or much worse-‘
The professor stopped writing in his log book. He hesitated to write the one word that strikes fear in all sailors: Mutiny.
He sighed heavily, closing his book. He pushed up his glasses and rubbed his strained eyes.
The dim red light on the wall of his cramped room gave him a headache, and made him miss the sunlight and bright colors above the surface of the water.
The professor rose from his cot and left his room, heading for the command deck.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
On the deck, some of the crew were huddled together, whispering to each other suspiciously. As he glanced over at them, they stopped and looked up at him. The captain, an ex-military commander named Tiberius Rouran, stood up and walked over to him.
“You’re sure this place exists?” asked Rouran. “We’ve checked and rechecked these coordinates over and over. Where’s the city?”
Milo breathed deeply, trying to calm his nerves.
“Mr. Rouran, the empire does exist. It’s just hidden well.” Rouran raised an eyebrow skeptically.
Milo continued, “I know that none of you want to wait any longer, but-”
Milo was cut off when another crew member ran into the room.
“We found it! The Ulysses found the entrance!” he exclaimed.
Milo ran to the front window of the Whitmore. Sure enough, in the light from the Whitmore’s forward lamps, he could see the back half of the Ulysses turning downwards into a cave.
As the Whitmore began to descend into the deep, a feeling of dread slowly came over the professor. Whatever happened down here would change the course of history.
Milo looked hopelessly across the Atlantean harbor. The USS Whitmore was approaching the submerged tunnel that led to open ocean. Milo’s crew had mutinied against him, tried to kill him, and were now getting away with an ancient relic that the natives called, “The Heart of Atlantis”.
The Ulysses was being left behind due to her slow pace and size. She was moored at a sturdy wooden pier not far from where the Whitmore had just launched.
Desperately, Milo turned to the daughter of the murdered Atlantean King. They had become close acquaintances before Milo’s crew had turned against him.
“Is there anything we can do?” he asked her.
She looked at him with a saddened face.
“There is one thing”, she said. “But I need you to gather as many people as you can, and prepare that vessel for our escape.” She pointed to the Ulysses before turning and running towards the city’s remains.
“Kida!” Milo called, starting after her. “Kida, wait!”
Her pace never wavered. Before long, Milo could no longer see her wild mane of white hair.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
When Kida returned to the beach, Milo was finishing up the preparations to launch the submarine.
“Where did you-”
“No time, we must leave now!”
Kida’s voice cut off the professor’s weak protests.
A deafening roar echoed through the city. Milo needed no further encouragement to board the Ulysses.
“What the hell was that?!” Milo exclaimed as he began to submerge the Ulysses.
“I had no choice, Milo”, Kida’s voice was somber. “There is no chance those traitors can escape now.”
Behind the Ulysses, Atlantis shook. The city began to crumble and collapse, caving inward as the ground beneath it sank.
“I have done the unthinkable” Kida’s voice was shaking. “I have awakened the last Guardian: The Grimm.”
As the Ulysses escaped through the remains of the city, a massive air bubble breached the surface near where the Whitmore was last seen.
The captain slowly made his way down from the wheelhouse, taking care to note all the minute details as he went. Little nicks and scratches in the paint and wood, rough spots made smooth by constant usage, a different colored plank showing where repairs had been done. He ran his hand along the guardrail, once rough now smooth from countless days at sea and constant usage. He looked up at the masts, the spars and sails. He could make out all the places where repairs had been done, both to wood and cloth. Heaving a sigh, he finally turned and walked down the gangway to the pier. Old Montana was there, grizzled and graying, waving to him as he descended.
“Saying a final goodbye?”
“Something like that.”
Montana grunted, and offered a pipe to the captain, which he accepted.
“They don’t make ‘em like this anymore, ships fall apart in a few months nowadays.” Montana grunted as the two strode along the pier.
“I remember the first time I saw her, back when I was a young buck, up till then nothing had ever impressed me, she did.”
The captain grunted in agreement.
“She was old then; it’s amazing she’s held up this long, a testament to her crew, and captain.”
The pair reached the other end of the pier, where a ship was sitting moored, fresh new sails and trim, practically glowing in the afternoon light. Scribed across the bow was the word Excelsior.
“So this is the replacement?” the captain asked.
“All bright and new, bet she lasts two months, tops.”
“Oh, don’t be so down Montana.”
“Like I said earlier James, they don’t make ships like the Enterprise anymore.”
Scarborough’s docks were cold and partially frozen in the winter night air. A man was slowly staggering through the harsh, snowy air towards the churning black water at the end of the docks. He was wearing a tattered, red sailor’s uniform under a thin blanket that was draped over his emaciated frame. He walked with a limp, favoring his right leg. He’d been pinned against a cannon during a fight at sea, and had been relieved of duty once he could stand again.
Shivering uncontrollably, he made his way to the end of the dock, where a Schooner was moored. A man in an impressive-looking captain’s uniform was standing outside the ship by the gangplank. Seemingly unaffected by the frigid air, he called out to the limping man.
“Sir! Have you come to enlist your service to the Orion Solstice?”
The man nodded jerkily, teeth chattering.
“Then step right up, sir! The Solstice is always happy to have new recruits”, the uniformed man was energetic and welcoming as he guided the cold man up the gangplank.
Snow was building up on the deck of the Solstice, but there was a cleared path from the side of the ship to the hatch leading below decks. Entering the dim lamp light below the ship’s top deck, a wave of warmth washed over the cold man. Turning to thank the uniformed man for accepting him onboard his ship, he noticed that the walls and floor of the Solstice were an unusual deep red color; almost black.
Before he could comment, a boot heel slammed into his face, knocking him onto the hard wooden floor. Blood pouring from his broken nose, he looked up at the uniformed man in shock and terror.
A cruel smile spread across his face. His uniform was now covered in bloodstains and sword punctures. At certain points along his limbs and torso, his skeleton was visible.
“Welcome aboard the Orion Solstice” he said, his voice fading. “Where not a single soul escapes…”
As he lost consciousness, the man heard muffled screams through the bloodstained wooden floor.
Hell awaited him hungrily.
Captain Scott Dacsh
The sea was stormy and treacherous. Waves washed over the deck of the HMS Orion Solstice as she sailed alongside the HMS Benjamin. Captain Scott Dash was at the Solstice’s helm, guiding her and the Benjamin through the rough, dark seas.
Lightning flashed in the sky, drawing Captain Dash’s attention to the Solstice’s starboard side. As the ensuing thunder sounded, he froze, staring out into the rainy night air. Something was out there. He’d seen it in the distant flash.
When the lightning flashed again, he was staring straight at them. Two Cursed galleons were closing in on the Solstice and the Benjamin, gliding effortlessly over the choppy waves.
“All hands to battle stations!” Dash shouted over the rain and wind. The crew responded quickly and without question. The schooner’s gun ports opened, loaded cannons sliding forward, ready to fire upon the incoming ships.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The storm had died long ago. The Orion Solstice was tied to the Hellfire. She floated, damaged, but not ruined, broadside of the Cursed galleon. The Plague had been damaged severely by the Solstice, and had fled halfway through the battle. The Benjamin had escaped thanks to the efforts of the Solstice and her crew.
Now, captain Dash and what remained of his crew were surrounded at sword-point by the fiends who manned the Hellfire. Her captain, a ghostly pale man in a tattered old American navy uniform, stepped forward.
“Which of ye be captain Dash?”
Dash stepped towards the phantom and looked into his colorless, dead eyes.
“I am”, he stated challengingly.
“Restrain ‘im”, the captain gave his orders in a lifeless monotone. “Take th’ crew below and slaughter ’em all.”
“No!” Dash’s cry was panicked and scared. “I beg you, take my life, take me prisoner, do what you will to me. But leave my crew. They were only following my orders!”
The Cursed officer looked back at Dash. A smile curled at the edge of his mouth.
“And what makes ye think we’re not gonna kill ye either way?”
Before he could react, Dash heard a gunshot and felt his right knee explode.
Falling to the ground, screaming in pain, and on the verge of passing out, Dash could faintly hear the captain’s final words to him: “Welcome to Th’ Cursed, Cap’n Dash. Prepare for Hell.”
Captain Shamshere smiled to himself. His day was going exceptionally well. In the space of a single afternoon, The Phantom had sunk two English cargo vessels and their escorts, ransacked Thompson’s Island, and now the Arbiter, the most feared pirate ship on the seas, was within his sights.
Shamshere stood at the helm as he gave his commands.
“Full canvas. Prepare cannons and a boarding party. Today, we take the sea back from the pirates.”
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Arbiter had fought bravely, but she was no match for The Phantom. She was now barely afloat next to The Phantom; her crew had been forced onto their knees and lined up on deck. Shamshere stood before them, looking at what remained. His eyes settled on a woman with short blonde hair near the far end of the line of sailors.
He moved to stand in front of her.
“Are you the captain of this fine vessel?” he asked, mockingly while gesturing towards the derelict Arbiter.
In response, the woman looked him in the eyes and glared.
“I take that as a yes.”
The undead captain looked over to his first mate.
“Lock them in the brig and set course for Aguinvari-Gakhali. Make sure The Phantom’s well-fed for the trip, but keep this one”, he said, gesturing to the short-haired woman, “alive.”
“Aye, captain…”, the cursed sailor said, his voice like a serpent’s hiss.
“What’re you planning to do to us?!”
The frightened and angry inquiry came from the blonde woman, who had been taken aback by Shamshere’s request to keep her alive.
Turning back around to face her, Shamshere’s face split into a cruel grin.
“Well, for those of you that survive your time in the brig, you’ll be put to work immediately. The Empire is in need of a new ship and a fierce crew.”
Realization dawning on the pirates’ faces, they tried once more to overcome The Phantom’s undead crew, but to no avail. As the pirates were subdued and dragged into the bowels of The Phantom, Shamshere let out a harsh laugh. Davy Jones was sure to promote him for this.
“Captain!” the cry cane from the crow’s nest. “There’s a large ship following us; looks to be a galleon, sir!”
Robert Surcouf looked back from the stern of La Possession. Sure enough, a four-mast galleon was visible in the distance. There were vague, white designs on her otherwise black sails.
“What colors are they flying?” Surcouf called to the lookout.
There was a lengthy pause.
“The Red Skull, Sir” came the lookout’s response. “And Sir, there are white coffins on her sails.”
Surcouf’s heart skipped a beat. Every sailor had heard the same description of the ship with white coffins on her sails: No ship can escape her; nothing can stop her; and no one survives her.
The Laughing Coffin.
“Full canvas! Keep guns loaded and primed! Throw unnecessary cargo overboard!”
Surcouf was running from section to section of the Possession, giving quick and precise orders to the crew.
He climbed to the helmsman’s post, taking the wheel. Turning to look back at the Coffin, it was already closer than before. Frantically, he glanced across the deck of the Possession, searching for a way to make her faster. He looked back again. The Coffin’s sail designs were now clear as day. Soon she’d be within firing range.
Sweat was running down Surcouf’s brow and face.
“Bring guns to the stern! Prepare to fire on-”
Before Surcouf could finish his commands, the deck where he stood exploded, sending shards of wood, glass, and metal through the air. La Possession’s back mast collapsed into the ocean behind her, and the next one fell forward into the main deck, cracking it severely.
The Laughing Coffin was now broadsides of La Possession. Cannons opened fire, tearing through the hull of the Possession. When the powder magazine went off, the guns stopped.
In the ringing silence, there was the faint sound of laughter.
The captain lowered his spyglass. The Two Spanish ships the Fury was chasing were making for an island that was getting steadily closer. He smiled, they were no doubt seeking a natural cove or bay where they could take shelter and hide, but there was nowhere for them to run to.
“Full canvas, I want those Spanish sunk by nightfall!” he cried, with a resounding cheer from his crew who could still speak.
*** *** ***
The captain lowered his glass, he didn’t need it anymore, he could plainly see the names of the ships he was chasing. One was called ‘Monarca’, and the other was something ‘Isabel’. As it had turned out there was a natural cove at this island, and these two ships were indeed trying to take shelter there. “Ready cannons, boarding party at the ready, I want these Spanish dead!”
Suddenly a sound like thunder ripped through the air, and the deck of the Fury was thrown into chaos as wood shattered and the main mast fell. The Captain looked ahead at the Spanish ships, which had parted as they entered the cove. Between them sat a ship larger than any he’d ever seen, with countless rows of gun ports, all open and smoking. The Spanish colors flew proudly from the main mast above the gathering clouds of smoke, the captain looked on in stunned silence as the giant ship reloaded it’s cannons. He made out the name ‘Santissima Trinidad’ on the bow, then a deafening boom as the Fury flew apart.
Elyse Rose looked around deck at the motley pirates around her. Being 14 and surrounded by Pirates was usually not a good thing, but Elyse had won them over when she took the ship, and welcomed them aboard. Besides most of the ‘pirates’ were barely older than her anyway.
The call came from her newly appointed first mate, who was making his way toward her from the wheelhouse.
“What is it Mr. Arc?”
“We’re approaching Tortuga captain-“
“Excellent, ahead of schedule.”
“We are approaching Tortuga, but some of the lads are worried we may be fired on by the Dead Man’s Point, since we still resemble a Royal navy Ship.”
Elyse thought for a moment.
“Run up a black flag, that should convince the gunners on the fort not shoot at us, although we’re barely a target worth shooting at.”
Arc and some others hurried to carry out her commands; Elyse ambled up to the bow, looking over the railing to see the name HMS Crusader still emblazoned on the hull.
That needs fixing, but what to call you my dear? she thought, absently stroking the scythe she carried at her side, her thumb tracing the crescent of the blade. Suddenly she was struck with an idea, and called for Mr. Arc.
“Bring up some paint; it’s time to give our ship a proper name.”
“What would you have us scribe?”
Elyse smiled, her pale eyes lighting up.
Elyse Rose was watching over as her boys loaded supplies onto the Crescent Rose, food, water, rum, cannonballs, powder, all things needed for a ship.
It was the man in the crow’s nest, who was holding a glass to his eye.
“What be it Mr. Winchester?”
“A ship, out beyond the reef, English by the look of it.”
Elyse’s heart skipped a beat.
“Have they spotted us?”
“I cannot say captain, though it looks as though they’re turning away.”
The lookout’s voice had grown fearful. All of the crew knew who she was, and who was chasing her. Elyse looked around at her lads, who had all but stopped moving.
“Load those supplies, double time! I’ll be back!”
She ran down the gangway and into the town of Tortuga, and stopped in front of a shabby looking tavern. Steeling her nerves she pushed open the door and waked in.
*** *** ***
Elyse stood by the helmsman and plotted their course.
“You’re sure of this route captain?”
“Yes I am. Got it from a reliable fellow in the bar by the pier.”
“All right, I’ll make the adjustments captain; but, you know, we’ll be skirting past Cursed territory?”
“We’ll be fine.”
Elyse left the helmsman to plot his course in the wheelhouse, and walked along deck to the bow, doubt beginning to eat her.
He WAS a funny fellow, that Skyme. She thought, turning her gaze to the horizon and the encroaching darkness.
Julie Rose looked from the ship to her mother and back again.
“You cannot be serious.”
Red Rayven responded with a slap across the face. Julie winced and held back tears, looking again at the sloop tied to the stern of the Branwen.
It was small, but had taken Rayven nearly a whole day to capture; it was so quick and agile. And now it was going to be hers. Not because she’d earned it, but because her mother was getting rid of it, and her in the process.
Even though it had taken them so much effort to catch, Rayven wasn’t keeping it, as it had been the personal yacht of some English businessman and it was sure to attract attention.
“That ship is yours now, Julie. Make good use of it.”
Julie snorted and allowed herself to be rowed over to the ship, upon which she clambered aboard and hopped on deck of the small sloop. The men who rowed her over almost seemed gleeful when they cut the tow rope and began drifting away, waving to her from their rowboat.
Julie cursed at them, loud enough from them to hear. Their waving and jeering stopped, replaced by scowls.
Not even a single deckhand….
Julie paced across the deck quickly, and soon set herself to work, hauling lines and canvas, and plotting a course. She reached shallow waters by nightfall and made anchor, noting her position on a map in the captains, no, HER cabin. Exhausted she slumped down into her cot, the rolling of the waves calming her exhausted fury.
Suddenly she spied something in a glass cabinet she hadn’t noticed before. Picking herself up out of her cot she opened it and examined it. It was a small crate, with several sealed bottles of amber liquid inside. Julie smiled, pulled out a bottle and popped the cork.
“All mine now….” She said, as she dropped back into her cot and slowly drank the whole bottle down.
Maybe things aren’t so bad she thought as she drifted off to sleep.
The water had run out three days ago, the food was dwindling and she was exhausted. But what was really bothering Julie Rose was that the Spiced Rum had run out yesterday. She pulled on a line, and looked toward the bow into the fog. She could hear it; there was a ship out there. She secured her line and looked over the rail toward the bow at the water. The trails were faint, but it was there, and she was catching up.
She’d been tracking this ship for two days now, determined to take it and make it her own, and maybe convince a few souls to join her. Suddenly she straightened up, listening intently. The sound of water lapping at a hull, the creak of ropes and spars, a dark shape loomed out of the gloom off her port side. Grinning, she ran to the wheelhouse and adjusted her course to point straight at the ship. A faint breeze caught her sails and she picked up speed.
Coming to stand on the bow, she looked up at the ship as it grew more defined. She counted numerous gun ports, and made out the name ‘HMS Gallows’. Her ship rose with a small wave and smashed into the starboard side of the ship, making a tremendous noise. She should have been crushed on the bow, but jumped, her red eyes flashing, golden hair trailing like a comets tail.
She landed on deck, surrounded by surprised and stunned redcoats.
*** *** ***
The fight hadn’t lasted long; the redcoats had folded like they were made of paper, and the sailors had cleared out of her way in fear. She stood before them now, atop a table on deck, looking at weary faces.
Yes….. They’re English, but I can work with them, make them mine. She thought.
She smiled, revealing teeth almost like fangs.
and then, mother, you and I are going to have a nice little chat.
Rayven stood at the railing of the Branwen, looking out at the sea. It was dark grey today, the water a little choppy; dark storm clouds gathered on the horizon, but the sun shone on her and ship. Rayven closed her eyes and unbidden memories rose before her.
Learning she was pregnant, feeling Julie grow inside her, giving birth, teaching Julie how to read the waves and the water, her first sword- which she’d broken moments later picking a fight with the bosun. Her tenth birthday, when Rayven had allowed her to take part in a raid, the day she’d sent her away on that little sloop, all those years ago.
Rayven opened her eyes, cutting off the memory. Julie probably didn’t understand why she’d forced her away, members of her crew had begun to ask questions about her, who her father was. More troubling to Rayven was the way some of the men had looked at her. Sending her away was the best thing she could have done for her little girl.
“Captain, ship approaching from the west!”
Rayven roused herself from her musings, and called back to the lookout
“None I recognize captain, but there’s something strange.”
Rayven quickly climbed to the lookouts nest and took his glass, and held it to her eye. Coming directly at them was a large ship, looking to have once been English, but the flag that flew from the topmast was not the union jack, it was a bright yellow and red, with what looked like crossed fists on it.
“Looks like we’ve some fellow pirate company, they shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Look at the bow captain.”
Rayven trained the glass on the bow of the approaching ship, and her breath caught in her throat. She was standing there, her golden hair flowing about her like a lion’s mane. Rayven lowered the glass,
“Julie……”March 3, 2019 at 12:37 AM #3486JackParticipant
I’ve been working on a glorified fanfic loosely based on Hawkins/Blackheart/Lady Arcadia. May post a link to the doc in the coming weeks, my idea is to make it so that it can be read front to back as a continuous story or as a short story collection.March 3, 2019 at 2:09 AM #3489
Looking forward to seeing it!March 9, 2019 at 3:06 AM #3625
I’m back at the tavern tonight to tell another story from the Dark Tides
Tonight, we join a pair of cursed sailors, as they make the mistake of antagonizing the Spanish…
Adrián de la Cruz
Philippe Desailly and Keith Atkinson were on their knees, hands tied behind their backs with gags in their mouths. They looked around the deck of the Spanish Galleon. About half a dozen men from both of their crews were lined up next to them, each one similarly bound.
The galleon’s captain had yet to show himself, but the other Spanish sailors surrounded the Cursed hostages, guns at the ready. Smoke drifted across the deck of the galleon, obscuring the remains of the Plague and Furies Whip from view.
A pair of loud explosions were heard, emanating from the direction where their ships were, both powerful enough to make the galleon rock. Desailly looked over at Atkinson. Absolute terror was visible in his eyes. Sweat ran down his brow, and tears threatened to descend his cheeks. The mental message he was sending Desailly was clear: I didn’t sign up for this!
A small pang of guilt passed through Philippe. He’d convinced Keith to join him in his attempt to take El Castilla del Infanta. It wasn’t his fault of course; how was he supposed to know the shipping schedule for the Spanish armada? Regardless, they were stuck in this situation now. But Desailly wasn’t worried. He’d find a way to escape.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Keith Atkinson heard shouts behind him. He tried to turn and look, but his movement was met with the butt of a rifle. Bending forward in pain, his fears made themselves known in the form of a quiet sob. This is not what he was promised by his freak of a brother. The shouts behind him became clearer. Someone was speaking rapid-fire Spanish with such hatred and venom that he thought he’d be sick. He’d learned some Spanish back in England, and what he could understand from the angry voice made him wish he hadn’t.
The speaker stepped into view as he finished barking his orders. He wore a simple sailor’s uniform but had a sword with a gilded hilt. He looked down at the Cursed Sailors spread out behind Atkinson and Desailly.
“Matarlos a todos”, he said gesturing towards Atkinson’s and Desailly’s respective crews.
The Spanish sailors leveled their guns at the heads of the oblivious cursed men and fired.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Desailly felt a sliver of fear lodge itself into his heart. The Spaniard looked down at him and Atkinson with such disgust and scorn that he suddenly wished there was a deity he could pray to.
“¿Son ustedes dos los capitanes?”
His words meant nothing to Desailly, but Atkinson seemed to understand. He was grunting and nodding, gesturing frantically to Desailly. Worry filled Philippe. What did he ask?, he wondered.
Whatever it was, Atkinson had supplied him with the wrong answer. The man (Desailly assumed he was the captain) kicked Keith in the face, knocking him onto his back. Keith was coughing up the teeth he almost swallowed when the captain’s sword impaled him, stabbing through his chest, and pinning him to the deck.
A muffled yelp of pain escaped the gag in Atkinson’s mouth. He twitched for a moment, then went still.
The captain pulled his sword from Keith’s body and turned to Desailly.
“You are the Capitan?”
His voice held a thick Spanish accent, but it was understandable to Philippe.
In response, Philippe glared up at him.
The captain smirked, and reached for a pendant he wore on a necklace. The pendant was a large wooden cross with a sharpened long end. The sharp end was stained a deep blood red.
Desailly began to struggle and shout through his gag. The Spaniards behind him held him still as the captain raised the cross-dagger above his head. He swung down, and the Cursed prisoner released a brief, unearthly screech.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Adrián de la Cruz kneeled before the full-size cross in his simple quarters. His wooden cross-dagger was floating in a basin of holy water for cleansing. When he finished his silent prayers, he rose and walked over to the wall behind his bed. He scratched two lines into the wood, adding up with over two hundred others already there. One for each Cursed ship the Cruz de Cristo had sunk.
And that concludes the third story from the Dark Tides.
I do not know when the next tale will be told, but I’ll be sure to come back to the Black Mongoose to tell it. Until then, good night.
-J. W. DarkhurstAugust 7, 2019 at 2:14 PM #8800
I’m back at the Tavern; so you know what that means. Another tale from the Dark Tides.
Today, we join a pirate captain, awoken in the dead of night…
There was a loud knock on the door. A voice spoke loudly through the thick wood: “Cap’n! There’s, uhh… A situation on deck.”
One-Eyed Bennett had woken up at the sound of the knock, and was prepared to throw this man overboard until he heard the uncertainty in his voice. Clearly something was wrong.
Draping his coat on his shoulders and fastening the top button, Bennett approached the door and opened it, lit lantern in hand.
“What’s th’ proble- Mr. Nautilus??”
Bennett looked with furious surprise at the face of the Storm Stalker’s helmsman.
“What the devil are you doing away from your post?!?”
The helmsman tried to answer, but was at a loss for words. Quite a worrisome detail, as it was normally difficult to get Nicholas Nautilus to shut up.
“It’s best if you come see, Cap’n.”
The captain grunted and began to follow the helmsman. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“The first mate, Mr. McBain had th’ crew drop anchor, sir.” Nautilus was leading the captain to the main deck of the ship. “He sent me to to wake ye up. The lookouts weren’t at their stations, what with the storm. So no one saw the longboat until he… It was already on board the Storm Stalker.”
Bennett raised an eye brow at the brief stutter. He was about to ask Nautilus to explain when they reached the Storm Stalker’s main deck.
The sea was rough, rain drenching the sails and deck of the Storm Stalker. Lightning flashed, briefly illuminating the tense scene before Captain Bennett and Mr. Nautilus: the first mate, Scott McBain, had his sword drawn, pointed at a pale, figure while the rest of the crew stood at the ready, prepared to draw their swords, daggers, or pistols. Bennett’s one eye widened in disbelief. He made his way up next to McBain, and stared at the figure before him. It was tall and thin, dressed in threadbare navy pants, a stained white shirt, and a tattered cerulean coat. A dark red bandanna adorned the smooth surface of its scalp. Underneath all of the soaked clothes stood a skeleton. A bony frame covered in ghostly flesh. A faint grimace became visible on the figure’s spectral visage. The skeletal man spoke:
“Cap’n Cutlass… It’s been a while.”
Bennett’s look of shock faded into a deep scowl.
“Mr. Brine.” The pirate took a shaky breath. “Indeed it has.”
Thus concludes the third story from the Dark Tides.
I will be back soon enough to tell the next tale, my fellow sailors. Until then, enjoy your drinks at the Black Mongoose. Good day.
-J. W. DarkhurstAugust 8, 2019 at 4:22 PM #8850
Another day, another drink at the Tavern.
Today, I bring another Tale from the Dark Tides. A tale of harsh bitterness in the frozen heart of winter…
Nobleman Jacques Schofield
Ice frosted the elaborate glass window panes in Jacques Schofield’s study. He sat at his desk, admiring a new portrait and sipping a glass of fine wine from his winter stash. The flickering candlelight created a warm atmosphere which contrasted dramatically with the stark white suit and hair of the nobleman. A fireplace was bright and crackling on the wall furthest from the door.
Jacques stood and walked over to the frosted window and looked into the storm outside. It was a blizzard out there. Schofield sighed and turned back towards his desk. There was a knock at the door.
“Come in,” Schofield said in a bored voice. A man entered the room, brushing snow off of his damp uniform. He saluted the nobleman, a gesture Jacques appreciated very much.
“What do you have to report, Mr. Klein?”, the nobleman asked. The man stood, slightly out of breath by the open door. His face was red from the cold, and there was melting frost on his uniform and at his hairline. He spoke in a stuttering voice, teeth chattering from the cold draft that came in through the open doorway.
“S-sir. The w-workers have refused t-to work in these weather conditions. They have demanded-”
Schofield held up his hand to the man.
“Mr. Klein, what do you mean, “they refuse to work”?”
“Well… Sir, they’ve said that they won’t work unless the factories are supplied with proper fireplaces. And they have demanded that-”
Schofield’s voice was soft, but stern. His white eyebrows arched in a disapproving scowl. The nobleman sighed, clearly disappointed.
“I suppose I should’ve expected this leniency from you, Mr. Klein, so let me make this very clear to you.” Schofield walked up to the man, who was clearly intimidated.
“Those workers do not demand anything. This is not the “Workers’ Ironworks & Ship-Building Company”, is it?”
Mr. Klein tried to stammer out an answer, but Schofield cut him off.
“No. This is the Schofield Ironworks & Ship-Building Company. So tell me, Mr. Klein, what do you mean, “They won’t work?” They do not make that decision. I do. And unless they want to spend this winter unemployed and on the streets, they will work until I tell them otherwise.”
Klein gave Jacques a look full of dread. The Schofield Company was infamous throughout England. It never stopped; the factories were never silent; the workers had no days off. Klein sighed.
“Of course, sir,” he said, saluting the nobleman. “I shall…inform the guards of your wishes. Good day.”
“Klein,” Schofield spoke calmly. The man stopped cold in his tracks.
“You and I both know that words have no real effect on these lowlife workers,” the nobleman had a cold, disturbingly pleased look in his eyes. “Tell the guards that they may use whatever method of persuasion they feel is necessary to get the workers going again.”
Klein took a shuddering breath before salting Schofield, and then left, closing the door behind him. Jacques Schofield returned to the window and gazed through the frosted windows and beyond the tempest, towards the factories. A smile slowly spread across his face in anticipation of the first gunshot.
This concludes the fourth story from the Dark Tides.
In roughly two day’s time, there will be new ships and sailors introduced from the Eldest Seas.
Until then, my fellow sailors, Good day
-J. W. DarkhurstOctober 1, 2021 at 3:16 AM #13983
Hello once again, my friends! It’s been a while since we sat together in the Black Mongoose, and even longer since I had a story for ya…
Yes, it be that special time again; time for another Tale of the Tavern. This one be a new tale, with new pirates, sailors, and maybe even new monsters, too. So settle down, grab a drink, or maybe something to eat while I once again tell you a story…
The White Cliffs were an especially wonderful sight in the mid morning light, as a man made his way up the dock from where the RMS Winter Storm was moored. His common attire certainly didn’t match the elegance of the ship that had arrived on. His old black boots and trousers were the finest-looking parts of his outfit, clashing slightly with his tan buttoned shirt and the red bandana loosely tied around his neck. Topping it all off, a well-worn, brown slouch hat with a folded brim sat atop his short, ruffled black hair.
While he’d been meaning to visit the famed port city and see the sights, his mind was preoccupied with the Grand Admiral’s letter that had requested his presence in the first place. Requested was putting it lightly; he had been all but forced onto the vessel by Redcoats, who brought him before her commander, a Mr. Maxwell Burns. Burns had then presented him with a letter bearing the English Grand Admiral’s seal, and informed him that he was leaving immediately for Dover aboard the Winter Storm, and that his equipment, supplies, and his exploration team would be picked up by the RMS Morpheus and brought to a rendezvous point by Fort Brompton within a fortnight.
As he reached the beginning of the dock, the man looked about, unsure of what was really expected of him. Surely, the English Grand Admiral had better things to do than schedule a meeting with an expatriate adventurer like himself.
And yet, before his very eyes, a gilded, horse drawn carriage pulled up right in front of him, almost running him over. The driver wore a sharp, finely tailored uniform, with a white feather lined hat, and gold epaulets. The horses were pure white stallions, tall and large, with red feather headdresses. Dark blue curtains kept the passenger hidden from view, but it was easy enough to guess who could be waiting inside. The driver opened the door, revealing both the luxurious interior of the carriage, and the stern face of its single passenger: Grand Admiral Stafford Whitley.
“You are Mr. Sam Grant?” Whitley asked, though it sounded more like a statement than an inquiry. Sam gave a hesitant nod before climbing into the carriage across from the Grand Admiral. He adopted a casual sitting pose, crossing one leg over the other, and crossing his arms. Annoyance and disappointment struggled for control over Whitley’s face for a moment before he cleared his throat and spoke.
“Mr. Grant, I imagine you’ve understood by now that we, of the English Royal Navy, have sought you out to hire your services. Rest assured, the duration of your employment with us will be far more hospitable than the unfortunate nature of your transit to this location.” Sam blinked, unimpressed by the Grand Admiral’s formalities.
“What is it you want from me, Admiral? Can we get to that point, already? I have to pack and prepare for a return expedition to China in the next two months-”
“Mr. Grant,” Whitley cut off Sam’s response. “It seems you didn’t understand me the first time, so let me be clear: You work for the English Royal Navy now. Your reputation, as much as I hate to say it, speaks for itself. Your ventures into the East and the South, as well as the discoveries you and your team made on those journeys have impressed the Monarchy. Against my better judgement, you will be provided letters of marque, and a vessel to command, or steer, at any rate, in the direction we tell you to. You will be responsible, Mr. Grant, for the greatest discovery of our, or in fact, all times.”
At this remark, Sam’s eyes widened. Sitting upright, he suddenly became quite serious.
“What do you mean, ‘Greatest discovery of all time’?”
Whitley smirked, a seemingly natural expression for his face.
“Surely, with such a reputation as yours, you must know, Mr. Grant. The world’s maps are filling in, the edges explored, and every unmarked island named or conquered. The World Powers had thought it had all been seen and found, but we have found something new. Hard proof of a previously unrecorded region: an undiscovered continent.”
The carriage came to a halt as Whitley finished talking. The driver opened the door, revealing a different dock, with a newly finished galleon moored to it. Her masts stood tall, sails still furled upon the spars, unused. Her bow was adorned with a gold plate that had the name HMS Orient painted upon it in fine black script.
Sam sat in the carriage, looking at the ship in disbelief.
“And you’re hiring me…to lead the expedition to this continent?” Sam asked, as he stepped down from the carriage.
“Mr. Grant, that is exactly what I have spent the last few minutes telling you. For your sake, you had better be more capable at exploring foreign lands than you apparently are at understanding a simple conversation. Now, the Orient will serve as your ship, and you shall be working closely with Captain Amelia Smollett, and a Mr. Rodney Rathbone. Captain Smollett will be sharing the voyage with you on her own vessel, the HMS Arcturian, while Mr. Rathbone will meet up with you during the last stretch before you arrive at this Farthest Shore. In addition to those two, Mr. Burns, whom I believe you met before your arrival here in Dover, will be keeping a close eye on you, your crew, and your team,” Whitley had stepped from the carriage himself, and joined Sam to look out at the Orient.
“I believe it goes without saying, Mr. Grant, that if Mr. Burns ever feels that you have failed to deliver on your end of this arrangement, consequences will be severe, and swift. Good day.”
Whitley stepped back into the carriage, and a moment later, it took off once again, leaving Sam with the weight of the world on his shoulders.
And thus concludes Part One of the Story of the Farthest Shore! New lands and new threats await those brave enough to explore to the Farthest Shores of the world and beyond; so come back again to hear the next part; you won’t want to miss it!
But until then, my fellow sailors, a toast to us all, and a good night; drink up me hearties, Yo-ho!
-J. W. DarkhurstOctober 20, 2021 at 2:41 AM #14033
Welcome again, friends! Tonight, we continue our tales from the Farthest Shore. And who better to continue with than the Americans! So pull up a chair, pour yourself a drink, and listen to tonight’s Tale of the Tavern…
Admiral Nicholas Jackson stood in his quarters aboard the Justice II. He looked out the windows towards the golden sunset on the horizon. He squinted his one good eye as the sun dipped below the water’s edge. Sighing, he turned towards the door, glancing at the clock on the wall. ‘They’re late’, he thought, with annoyance. ‘Again’.
A commotion slowly approached the outside of his door, and Admiral Jackson braced himself for whatever feeble excuse Jacob Raines would have for his tardiness this time. There was a loud knock at the door, followed by an “Enter” from the Admiral.
The door swung open, and five people stepped into the cabin. The first was a scholarly looking man in a brown coat with glasses and a well groomed mustache. Behind him came two men, both wearing clothing similar to that of the brave few who ventured into the heat of the African plains. One of the men had black hair and sideburns, a holstered revolver on his leg; the other was clean-shaven, with brown hair, and a matching revolver. The two seemed to be calmly arguing about something.
After them, a woman in a white coat with light red hair entered. She was tall, with angular, but not unpleasant features, and also carried a gun on her hip. The last to enter was a shorter man wearing a thin, white, sleeveless shirt, and a tattered and faded soldier’s cap on his shaved head. He closed the door behind him and leaned against it silently, crossing his arms.
Upon entry, the scholar immediately saluted the Admiral, saying, “I apologize for our lateness, sir. I was-” Jackson cut him off with a wave of his hand
“I think we both know that you are not at fault for your team’s lower standards of etiquette, professor”, the Admiral said calmly, sending a one-eyed glare at the two men who were still bickering quietly in a corner. Jackson cleared his throat and they both froze and looked up towards the Admiral.
“Mr. Raines, if you and Mr. Richards are quite finished, we have business to discuss.” Jackson’s voice was enough of a warning to make both of the men stop and focus on the officer.
“ Now,” Jackson continued. “Today, we stand on the edges of the history books. America happens to be among the few countries in the world that have discovered the last of the unexplored lands. We know where these islands are, and so do many of our allies and rivals. No doubt this land will hold new resources and riches for whoever explores it first,” while he’d been talking, Admiral Jackson had pulled a map from his desk, and unrolled it on the desk’s top. He pointed to a few locations in the map’s ocean, stating, “The English are here, the French are here, and the Spanish are there. As it stands, our fleet is the closest to this land. We have time to rally our merchant vessels, but they need proper, experienced crews.”
Jackson sighed and looked up at the people assembled before him.
“Against my better judgement,” he shot a disapproving look at the man with the sideburns. “You five are our best suited for this job.”
A shocked silence followed the Admiral’s complementary statement. The professor spoke up first.
“Sir, I don’t understand. We’re the most qualified for this task?”
“Yes. Your team’s background in archeological exploration will prove invaluable in determining what we have to gain from this land. You will be provided with an adequate vessel for your needs; I’ve heard she’s just out of the shipyard, and on her way to Fort Crusoe now, a day’s travel from here.”
The man with the sideburns spoke this time. “All due respect Admiral, what exactly do you need me for? I’m no archaeologist like Helena, Brent, or Professor Hale,” he gestured to the woman, the man he’d been arguing with, and the professor.
“Well,” Jackson replied, “also unlike Professor Hale, you’re a trained marksman who knows how to operate cannons and firearms. You don’t really think that the Spanish are just going to let you get there first do you? You and Mr. Richards both, will be providing combat experience, and defense to the mission. It will be your job to keep Hale and the rest of the crew safe aboard the USS Quest. You will additionally be in charge of weapons and artillery, should it be necessary. Is that understood?”
Mr. Richards and Jacob Raines looked at each other and then back at the Admiral.
“Yes sir,” Richards said with a salute. Raines halfheartedly mimicked Richards’s response.
Jackson nodded at the two, and then turned his attention back to the group as a whole.
“There will be room here on the Justice to get you to Fort Crusoe by tomorrow evening. The Quest will need to be prepared for your voyages; so think about what equipment you’ll need to bring with you, and be prepared to inform the dock workers of your needs,” Jackson turned his gaze to the man by the door, who looked as though he wanted to ask something. “And yes, Mr. McCloud, the USS Quest is the ship you will be given. I made sure to get a copy of her schematics for you, but she is a standard merchant ship. Nothing unique or irregular.”
The Admiral produced a rolled up schematic and held it out to McCloud, who stepped forward, took the paper, and immediately began to look over it.
“That is all. Find your quarters and get rest; I doubt you’ll get much on your voyage. Dismissed.”
The assembled individuals all saluted the Admiral with mixed levels of commitment, and left the room. The outside light was almost completely gone now, and the few lamps Jackson had lit before their arrival filled the cabin with a warm glow. He sat down in his chair and sighed. Shaking his head, he thought, ‘This is our best hope… They’d better not let us down.’
And there we have it! The second Story of the Farthest Shore! While America is preparing and planning, our next Tale will tell of a group that already has a plan laid out for them; and the decision of whether to follow it.
But until then, me lads, have a good drink, and a good night!
-J. W. DarkhurstNovember 9, 2021 at 5:33 AM #14051
Welcome again, ye laddies and lasses, to the Black Mongoose Tavern! And tonight, I’ll be continuing me tale from the Farthest Shore.
Tonight’s story is all about only the best, most respected people of the sea: Pirates! Just like ourselves! Now settle down, grab your favorite drink, and listen to tonight’s chapter of the Tale of the Farthest Shore…
The tavern’s private room was dimly lit, flickering candles causing distorted shadows to dance along the edges of the lighted circle of pirates. There were twelve of them seated at the table in the room; handfuls of others were gathered in small groups behind almost every chair. Each pirate had displayed an old medallion or a letter with a broken seal of the Pirate King before taking a seat at the table. The pirates eyed each other, hands on a sword hilt or pistol handle attached to their belts. Trust was not easily bought among thieves and murderers.
There was a distant ruckus from behind the closed door: some shouting, the sound of a fight, breaking glass, a couple of gunshots; the usual Tortuga ambiance. The noise quieted, drawing the attention of the assembled men and women in the room to the closed door. The silence lasted mere moments, broken by a muffled, yet jovial voice. The words spoken weren’t clear enough to understand, but when the voice stopped, the whole tavern cheered loudly. Shortly after, the door opened, and two men walked in, followed by a number of women in lavish, revealing clothes, each carrying a tray laden with full mugs. The women spread out in the room, and left a mug in front of each of the pirates, leaning down to give them good views and seductive winks before backing to the edges of the room.
The two men shook hands, and one of them, wearing a plain brown coat, took a mug, and joined the rest of the standing pirates. The other man, clad in a fine uniform coat, sat down in a grandiose chair at the head of the table, and took a long swig from his cup. Sighing and kicking his feet up on the tabletop, he cleared his throat and stated, “Well, I imagine you’re all wondering why you’re here.”
Amongst the sighs and irritated grunts, a woman’s voice stated the mood of the room clearly.
“What the hell do you want, Tyrannous? I don’t appreciate your time-wasting theatrics. Some of us have things to do with our lives.”
“My, my,” the man called Tyrannous replied. “Well said, Red Rayven. So why don’t I tell you all why I gathered you here today.”
Most of the pirates leaned forward and towards Tyrannous. The rest were either staring at the “barmaids” or had no intention of playing along with the young Pirate King’s games.
“Some of you are aware of the state of the world right now, but I know many of you just keep your head down and don’t get involved. So, for those of you who don’t know, the world powers are scrambling to claim the last, unexplored continent for themselves. I’m sure some of you are familiar with those waters, and where they are. The leading Imperial countries have been planning their moves for months now, trying to set their fleets in the direction of this land without drawing the attention of their competitors. It’s only a matter of time until they become aware of each other’s fleets, and at that point, the race will begin. But more importantly, by that point, we need to be ready for our move.”
“And what move would that be?” The question came from a younger man with matted, stringy black hair and a couple days’ worth stubble. His voice was curious, yet guarded; interested in what Tyrannous had to say, but concerned about what would be asked of him. Tyrannous smiled at the question.
“An excellent inquiry, Captain Flint. Allow me to enlighten you all to a plan that none of you will be able to refuse.” A chorus of irritated groans came from a number of pirates in the room, but there were no objections to the Pirate King’s statement; merely annoyance at his dramatics.
“You all like money, correct? And want fame, and fortune? Power, even? The freedom to live your life bound to no man? To live a life free from servitude to an unfair master? To take what you want from this world, with no one to say you can’t have it? To fight the countries that thought branding you as a “Pirate” was an insult? You all want to stick it to those “civilized” bastards that think all free men or women are some kind of evil menace that must be eradicated, don’t you?”
At each question, the gathered pirates cheered, first low and tentative, and then increasing until the room was filled with a cacophony of voices calling out at once. Tyrannous held up his hands and the pirates fell quiet.
“I promise you, if we get to that land first,” he said in the tense silence. “It will all be ours.”
This time, none of the Pirates refused the drinks Tyrannous offered, as they all raised a rowdy toast to his declaration of success.
And thus concludes part three of me Tale! With the Pirates on the move, other powers are also preparing for action. Though they be even less civil than the Pirates. But that story will have to wait until next time. For now, drink up, and enjoy your stay at the Black Mongoose!
-J. W. DarkhurstNovember 18, 2021 at 3:50 AM #14060
Welcome again, friends, to the Black Mongoose Tavern! I see yer back again, for another story, no doubt! So pull up a chair and grab a drink, and we’ll get right to it! Now where was I…?
The knock on Davy Jones’ door was surprising. Most of the men, along with the other, indescribable creatures of the undead, were too afraid to even look in his general direction, let alone seek a private audience with him. Whoever was outside his quarters was either very bold, or very stupid.
Jones rose from his desk, and walked to the door, pulling his signature dark coat over his pale, bare torso. Upon opening the door, Jones was met with the ghostly visage of one of Shamshere’s sailors; or rather, the remains of one of the Phantom’s meals. As surprised as he had been by the knock on his door, he was caught further off-guard by one of the Phantom’s officers standing before him.
“Howlinger,” Jones said, covering up his surprise. “What is the purpose of this interruption?”
The specter removed its hat and tipped its head respectfully to the leader of The Cursed Empire.
“Beggin’ your pardon, Sir. I just had a few concerns I’d like to speak with you about.”
Jones raised an eyebrow and looked curiously at the glowing, blue figure.
“Your captain is my right-hand man, and you decide that you must speak with me, directly? What could possibly be so important that you would skip the chain of command and seek me out personally?”
If Howlinger could swallow nervously, he would’ve. The ghost made a gesture of clearing his throat, an involuntary tic from when he was alive, and met Jones’ eyes.
“All due respect, Sir, but Shamshere’s loyalty to you is nearly to a fault. He would never question you-”
“And you feel that you can?” Davy Jones’ voice was deadly calm; a razor blade hidden under a soft-spoken statement.
“No! No sir! I- I just have concerns about-”
“Your concerns are neither a priority or concern of my own, officer. If you’ve nothing better to do than bother your highest superior, then you should just jump back into the Phantom’s maw and get it over with.”
The intonation of Jones’s voice was enough to make the specter flinch back and flicker in fear. Jones was closing his door when Howlinger found the courage to voice what he’d wanted to say when he arrived.
“Sir, all of the imperial nations have discovered the location of the Farthest Shore, and are preparing to bring full-fledged war fleets to its waters. If we don’t mobilize now to intercept, I fear our forces will soon be insufficient to fight their armadas. Sir, I respectfully request to know what we plan to do in response to this amassing force.”
Jones stood, back turned, door half-closed, frozen, mid stride. He breathed in deeply and sighed. Jones turned his head, face barely visible through his long, white hair.
“Officer, your concerns, pointless as they are, have been noted. The situation is well under control, and has been for some time now. If you wish to continue questioning my authority, and confirm to me your insubordinate nature, Shamshere will be more than happy to personally remind you of his loyalty to me. Good day, officer.”
The door closed quietly, as though casually shut by someone trying to avoid a loud noise. To Howlinger, with Jones’s unhidden threat still fresh in his mind, it may as well have been a full broadside volley.
The messenger was leaving. Davy Jones, true to his cruel nature, sent one of his mortal followers to deliver the message. The horrors experienced by the man would forever scar his short life. Not the ones experienced on the journey; but the ones he faced when he landed on the Island of Crux. No doubt, the reward for such a crucial voyage would be to join the undead ranks of The Cursed Empire. A light chuckle echoed in the darkness, emanating from a rough, black throne, cast in shadows.
The figure of Baron Typhonus rose from his throne. Violet fire danced across his high coat collar, and up the length of his staff. Jones was finally calling upon the Baron’s forces; he was finally cashing in his favor. It was time to reveal to the Alliance that they were not alone in the unexplored regions.
And on that cliffhanger, this part of the story comes to a close! A close up look at The Cursed, for all ye that’re curious about our dear undead friends. Unfortunately, that’s all I got for ye tonight; but come back again, and I just might remember the next part of me Story! Until then, enjoy yer drinks and be merry, me fellow sailors!
-J. W. DarkhurstJanuary 24, 2022 at 4:03 AM #14366
Ah, welcome back friends! It’s been a while, but I’m here again, and you’re here again! And I imagine you’re here for another story, eh? Well yer in luck! Because I happen to know the next part of the story of the Farthest Shore….
Capitán José Miranda loosened and straightened the collar of his shirt. He knew Almirante Garcia-Fernandez would notice, but it was an unusually humid day, and besides, this was no public appearance or meeting. Yes, Miranda may be a Capitán of the Royal Armada, but he was a simple sailor at heart, and all this military business was becoming a burden he had neither anticipated nor wanted for. And besides the private meeting had been set up two days ago by Almirante Garcia-Fernandez, for all available Capitáns and higher ranking officers. His uniform, while respected, did not need to be ready for a full Royal Inspection; just tidy enough to go unnoticed.
All hopes of avoiding the meeting through active duty were dashed when Garcia-Fernandez ordered a temporary, yet mandatory lockdown of all military vessels. Miranda would never suggest it, but it almost seemed like paranoia had gripped the Royal Armada’s leadership.
The sound of hurried footsteps behind him gradually getting closer made the Capitán check who was approaching. A fellow officer, Capitán Daniel de la Vega, was all but running to catch up to Miranda.
“Buenos dias, Capitán,” Miranda said with a slight smile. De la Vega nodded in acknowledgement, but kept pace, passing Miranda with a simple, “We’re late,” in reply.
The doors to Almirante Garcia-Fernandez’s meeting room opened, and Capitáns Miranda and De la Vega entered, slightly out of breath. They looked around with growing embarrassment at the room, realizing that they were the last two to arrive.
“Ah, welcome gentlemen,” Garcia-Fernandez spoke with a calm, but clearly irritated voice. “Please join us. We were about to begin.”
The two Capitáns took their seats, and the Almirante began to speak.
“As some of you are aware, English and American naval activity has doubled in a matter of days. Their sailing patterns match a prediction that myself and the other Almirantes feared. It seems that they have also discovered the Farthest Shore.”
At this remark the Almirantes and some of the other higher ranking officers began talking to each other in hushed whispers before Garcia-Fernandez silenced them with a cough.
“With all Pirate activity vanishing from our waters, and from the territories nearby, it is safe to assume that they, too, are directing focus to the Imperial Navies, in hopes of stealing what they can from them. Gentlemen, there is only one course of action we can take: We must reach the Farthest Shore before the other world powers.”
In the hushed discussion among the officers, Capitán Miranda whispered to De la Vega, “What’s this “Farthest Shore” he’s talking about?”
De la Vega shook his head, clearly unsure, himself.
The gathered officers fell silent once again, and Garcia-Fernandez continued his speech.
“This mission will be overseen by Almirante Jaime de Titán,” a large, bald man stood forth from the line of Almirantes, and nodded to Garcia-Fernandez. “Going through reports of his military history, Almirante de Titán is best suited to head this quest. Any man who commands a ship will be working alongside him for the duration.”
At the Almirante’s introduction, Miranda got shivers. He’d heard of the madman, and his unrelenting “negotiation” tactics. Holding the record for both most prisoners executed, and most collateral damage in combat, it was a surprise that Garcia-Fernandez would entrust Almirante de Titán with a matter of such import. Capitán Miranda swallowed nervously as the Almirantes explained the plans for the armada. A new fear slowly crept upon the young Capitán as he realized who he’d be reporting to from this day onward; and how deeply involved he had become in the hunt for this Farthest Shore. His days as a simple sailor were behind him now, whether he wanted them to be or not.
And that be the end of this part of the story. But come back soon for the next part; the story’s almost finished. And I’m sure ye don’t want to miss the ending.
-J. W. DarkhurstSeptember 16, 2022 at 11:21 PM #15430
It’s been a long time, my friends. But of course, I come with another part of our story. Gather ’round, pour yer preferred brew; for our story is about to begin…
Capitaine Mathis Artus sat across from Commandant François Moreau at the table. He studied Moreau’s face as the news was broken to the room. Gasps of surprise and shocked whispers erupted around the room when Amiral Chapelle announced that the English were already making their move. Moreau’s expression barely flinched: he’d already known that the other world powers were racing to the Farthest Shore. Not that it was unexpected; Moreau had been one of the best Capitaines since Garnier or St. Croix. But Artus thought he alone, had been informed of the situation ahead of time, and was to take charge in the advancement of the French fleet. The apparent prior inclusion of Moreau in the Amirals’ plans dashed his visions of greatness, and filled him with a feeling of betrayal.
Moreau glanced at Artus just long enough to give him an arrogant, knowing smirk. Artus glared back, eyes full of hate. As per usual, Moreau had stolen Artus’ opportunity to prove himself in action. Ever since his start on the Premiére Republíque under Moreau, the two had butted heads, constantly at each other’s throats, both trying to gain the favor of the admiralty. Moreau’s rank always gave him an advantage, even receiving a promotion to Commandant the same day Artus received his promotion to Capitaine. As the two men continued to stare each other down, Amiral Jean D’Arc stood and began to explain what their course of action would be. They turned back to face the Amiral, like the other officers, each waiting to hear his name leading the fleet.
“And leading the fleet on this endeavor,” Amiral D’Arc said, “Will be none other than Amiral Matthieu Grievous.”
Moreau and Artus froze, and looked down the line of Amirals, searching for a face they had only heard about. A few other officers clapped as a tall man stepped forward from the line of other Amirals. His face was marked with lines and scars from his time on the seas, and despite his muscular physique, the mere task of walking to the front of the room seemed to cause him discomfort in his legs and back. The room silenced itself as he stood next to Amiral D’Arc.
“Now then,” Amiral Grievous spoke with a deep gravelly voice. “As of this moment, any man who commands a ship will report to me, and is officially under orders to prepare and set sail by this evening. The Farthest Shore will be ours, and any English bastards that get in our way will taste our cannons and our swords!”
As the Amiral’s words stirred a cheer from the gathered officers, he coughed into a handkerchief for a moment before continuing, “And that goes for the Spanish, and the Americans, too! That shore is French land, and it is our responsibility to inform the rest of the world of their mistake in thinking they can take it!”
The room erupted into cheers and many of the Capitaines left to prepare their ships to sail. Moreau and Artus looked at each other again, both bewildered. Everyone who had working ears had heard of Amiral Grievous; he took no prisoners, gave no regard to the rules of warfare, and had almost been court-martialed for immoral and inhumane treatment of both enemy and friendly sailors. The two men once again narrowed their eyes at each other and stood, turning to leave for their ships immediately. If there was any Amiral to impress, it was Grievous. And there would be many opportunities for that, now that the race for the Farthest Shore had begun.
And there we have it, me lads; tonight’s chapter has concluded. But there is still more to tell. So stick around, don’t stray too far; for it be sooner than ye think, that I’ll be here again, with the next chapter of me story, ready to tell…
-J.W. DarkhurstJuly 2, 2023 at 4:04 AM #16708
Hello good friends! It’s truly been too long.
Gather your favorite drinks, and take a seat; I’ve got yet another chapter of the story of the Farthest Shore for ye….
The shores of the Isle of Berk were stormy and tumultuous, as usual. Ships of various style, size, and flag were moored as safely as possible to the ancient docks of the island, while their owners and captains met in the great hall of the small town located close by, to avoid such weather. A large figure made its way through the pouring rain to the hall’s doors and pushed them open. The hall itself was large, with long tables on either side of the front doors that ran all the way through the building. At the tables, many men and women were seated, no uniforms or Royal insignias to be seen. Most glanced at the figure and then continued with what they were doing before it entered the room.
The figure pulled back its hood revealing a wide, scowling face on top of a massive, muscular body. A braided black beard hung from the man’s chin, with various small bones occasionally woven into the braids. He surveyed the room and sauntered towards its center, where a large, crackling fire roared.
A gray haired man with a well-trimmed beard and a fine sailor’s coat sat by the fire, watching the newcomer as he stomped over, and took a seat by the fire, himself. With a confident smile, the older man cleared his throat, and spoke to the newcomer.
“Good day; if my memory serves me correctly, you’re a more recent member of our little organization. What’s your name, and what’s your specialty, friend?”
The man with the black beard slowly turned his head to look at the older man, his expression hard and emotionless. Narrowing his eyes, the man realized who was talking to him. Nemo was getting old, but his fame and reputation spoke for itself. The bearded man nodded respectfully to Nemo, and then answered his questions.
“I am Rundark, the Barbarian. I excel at removing people’s heads from their bodies, and surviving that which kills most men.”
Nemo blinked a couple of times before replying to the Barbarian’s blunt statement.
“Well, I think your skills will be quite useful, going forward. Good to meet you, sir.”
Nemo stood, and turned to address the crowd. The finely dressed, older gentleman stood out among the scruffy, rag-tag crowd, which fell silent as he left his seat.
“My friends,” Nemo began. “Dangerous times are upon us. The imperial world powers are fighting to arrive at and conquer inhabited land. I’m sure many of you have been offered contracts and money by all sides for your services; and you have my undying gratitude for answering my call before accepting any of them yet. This meeting is to serve as both a warning, and a sharing of knowledge. While I trust you are all more than capable at your craft, you should all beware the Imperial powers; never in my long life have I seen them this focused, this deadset on anything. And that kind of determination makes people desperate. Accept any contracts with the knowledge that you may very well be forced to fight your brothers and sisters of the Mercenary Factions; and that your employers will not hesitate to fire on you should you question them or fail to perform your duties as they expect.”
The room was dead silent as Nemo paused. The collected Mercenaries glanced between each other, the weight of Nemo’s words sinking in: Tonight could be the last time they see each other in friendly terms.
“Now,” Nemo continued. “It’s time to discuss exactly what we’ll be up against in this region. All you veterans of the terrain and waters have invaluable experience that you must do your best to share with the rest of us, so that we may stand a chance. Otherwise, I would expect crippling losses for the Mercenary Factions.”
Murmurs of agreement spread through the crowd as some of the Mercenaries contemplated what information could save their compatriots in the new territory. A wiry man with short, wild, graying hair stood up.
“My name is Abraham. I am knowledgeable of the Sea creatures that inhabit those waters, and I am ready to share it with those who will listen,” he said.
A younger man with long brown hair tied into a ponytail stood up next, stating, “I am Vero. I know how the native people of those waters fight in hand-to-hand combat, and I am willing to share with those who will listen.”
One by one, the Mercenaries shared and learned with each other; men and women from countless countries, uniting to defend each other and themselves against the greed of the civilized Imperial Powers.
And that be it for this chapter of the story of the Farthest Shore. Two more chapters remain of this story; and after the story concludes, there be something very special for ye all, indeed.
But until then, I’ll be takin’ my leave. See you all again for the penultimate chapter of the Farthest Shore…..
-J.W. DarkhurstJuly 10, 2023 at 1:26 PM #16735
Coming back after almost 4 yrs…. wow. Anywho, today I bring you story number 8 of 9 of the Farthest Shore as we draw closer to that distant horizon.
Ekimu was in a state of peace. Eyes closed, hammer in hand, he stood over the anvil where a mass of metal was waiting to be forged. He swung, hammer struck metal, and sparks flew, dancing before his closed eyes. He raised his hammer again, but paused. He sensed another approaching. Opening his eyes he returned the metal to the fire and the hammer to his belt.
Ekimu turned to find an officer at the entrance to his forge.
“Mask Maker, the Duke Exeter has arrived.”
“Very well, bring him here.”
The officer departed, but returned shortly with a man in tow.
“All this on a ship?!” the newcomer exclaimed.
“Yes, good Duke. This is my home and sanctuary. Officer, you may leave us.”
The officer departed leaving Ekimu alone with Exeter.
“I am honored you have allowed me into your sanctuary Mask Maker, but I am curious as to your desire to meet personally.”
Ekimu met the piercing gaze of Exeter, then turned back to his forge and pumped a bellows.
“The outside world has found you Duke.”
Exeter blinked, not entirely sure he’d heard correctly.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean that the old world powers have found out about your little Nexus. They are coming.”
“Are you certain?”
“Sleeper agents in every major power have confirmed it. The English, French, Spanish, and Americans are all coming. They don’t intend to be nice.”
Duke Exeter shifted from foot to foot.
“How soon will they arrive?”
“Their fleets are already underway, which is why I wanted to meet with you personally, Duke.”
“Our peoples are allied, or at least are not enemies. We have experience dealing with them. Will you want our help?”
“We would not ask your people to fight the whole world with us, but will not turn away your aid, if you choose to give it.”
Ekimu finished pumping the bellows and fished a glowing piece of metal out of the fire with tongs, and drew his hammer.
“Excellent. You will hear from us again.”
He raised his hammer.
“Why offer the help, Mask Maker?”
Ekimu hesitated, then replied;
“I am proud of my people, my homeland, and I am tired of being treated as inferior, as lesser than one of them. It is time we showed them….”
Ekimu brought his hammer down.
“….Just what we can do. And then we will see who is inferior.”
That concludes chapter 8/9 of the Farthest Shore! Final chapter and an announcement in the regular forum next week!July 17, 2023 at 9:02 AM #16751
The distant horizon is upon us, chapter 9/9 of the Farthest Shore!
Duke Exeter turned to face each of his compatriots. Dr. Overton looked worried while Storm and Dalgaard shared looks of grim determination.
“I have met with the Ionic Grand Admiral, the Mask Maker, Ekimu. He confirmed what we already suspected. The Imperial powers of the old world are coming.”
“How many?” Overton asked.
“The English, French, Americans and Spanish are already en-route. But there is other troubling news.”
“What else could be troubling?” Storm asked with a chuckle.
“Pirates are beginning to appear with more and more frequency, and not just on our borders. They’re finding their way in somehow. In addition to them, Cursed activity is beginning to climb, inside and outside the Nexus.”
Dalgaard and Storm both now had worried expressions.
“What are we going to do, Duke?” Dalgaard asked.
Exeter met her gaze. While he didn’t quite trust her and occasionally wondered at her loyalty, when he looked in her eyes he saw the scared woman hiding inside. He saw it in all the rest of them.
“We fight. We defend the home we have made for ourselves. We let them know that this is our land, and they cannot take it from us!”
He slammed the pommel of his sword on the table before him for emphasis.
“Speak with your followers and lieutenants; they will be here in days. Meeting adjourned.”
He turned and strode from the room, armor clinking with each step as he made his way to the docks of Nexus Tower. He was greeted there by Commodore Epsilon.
“Deploy the fleet Beck. And engage all necessary defenses. Muster every soldier we have here, and at every outpost and base. We are at high alert.”
“Right away sir, how high alert are we?”
“Invasion, Beck. They’re coming for us.”
The Commodore’s eyes widened and he hurried to carry out the Duke’s orders. As he left, Exeter heard the massive portcullis behind him begin to lower, reaching the ground with a resounding boom. He saw the parapets of the tower manned, soldiers clad in armor with pikes and rifles standing ready. He returned his gaze to the docks where dozens of ships dropped sail and ran up their colors; then to the harbor beyond where hundreds more also dropped sail, and weighed anchor, readying for battle.
Thus the story insert series is concluded! Pirates of the Farthest Shore will be debuting shortly in the Custom Ships thread in the main forum!
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