Setting Sun Log (Skull & Shackles)
- This is a work in progress.
Drail Steel tooth
New story: Heard of Tidewater Rock. No pirate had dominion over it, but several had had before. Among them were the last known, Bertram Smithee of the Wale and his three other ships. He was attacked by Carola Antacus who tricked him into the eye of the Bendego. Carola was helped by Barney.
A "Ship Ohoy!" rang out, spurring everybody to action. Everyone wanted to see what could be our first catch as crew of the Setting Sun. It was a sailing ship heading due east. It couldn't mean much else than Rickety Squibs or Bloodcove. As I headed for my stash of Aspis Consortium things I noted that Baako was really exited. I think that man has the makings of a good pirate. Returning topside I pinned the Aspis patch on my chest as I had seen others wear it and readied the flag. Whoever they were, they wouldn't be surprised by an Aspis Consortium ship in those waters, and would probably let us closer than otherwise. We hoisted it early to make sure it wouldn't look like we were hesitating between flags.
Getting closer they raised an Aspis Consortium flag too and we could make out more details. Their ship wasn't heavy in the water, so she wasn't filled with heavy treasure and had catapults in the bow. I remembered Esteban mentioning waiting for reinforcements from the consortium. I grew worried and when we came closer we started to see the gleam of armor on the troops gathering on board the other ship. I asked Baako if he was ready to heave to, but also to set full sails at a moments notice. He nodded affirmatively, so I climbed up on the railing to show myself and waved, steeling myself for trying to imitate the secret signs I had witnessed at Nightfall Station. I was relieved as a man stepped up on the other ship to greet me friendly, if some what reserved.
Both ships heaved to and met slowly at hailing distance. We were asked to put a boat in the sea and trade rumors. We did and I was joined by Fox as my aid and Baako and Nyoka as shiphands to help out. I was more formally greeted by a man called Irius Trock. He started out in a tongue I didn't recognize. From his indignation when switching to common I guessed it was some more exotic language reserved for the noble families in the Great Kingdoms. He was the leader of the soldiers on their way to Bloodcove, as I had suspected. I introduced myself as Wenori Wight, working for Kelim Esteban, having hired the ship to bring supplies to Bloodcove. I introduced Ryoko as my aid. Being asked to join him in a glass of wine and to tell of any news I told of savage elves coming in large numbers from the jungle further inland. When asked further questions I referred to my aid and Fox started talking with him, but it was a short conversation and he directed her to his aid. Trying to distract him I said that it was a most interesting wine. It apparently struck a nerve as it was his family vineyard and I was able to fake an interest. He was obviously not the captain of the ship, but we never saw the captain and even the crew was keeping away. As we left soon after Trock supplied me with three bottles of his wine.
We set full sails and headed almost due south to get lower in the wind and higher speed away from our meeting. I was pretty sure he didn't suspect anything, but as soon as he found Esteban he would probably be furious. Oh well. Can't win them all and I hoped to never see him again. We celebrated our getaway with drinking one of the bottles of wine. I gave the other two to Grok. She wasn't very impressed by the wine and I trust her taste in those matters much more than my own.
Heading east north east there was an "Ohoy" from the look out in the crowsnest. It was Fox who had spotted shadows moving close to the surface nearer the islands replacing the coastline. Nyeka joined her and recognized it as manta rays. Not known for keeping treasure we ignored them and kept our course hight into the wind.
"Ship Ohoy!" rang out and filled with anticipation I ran out to see what might be our first pray. It turned out to be a fisherman's boat and not really a ship. We settled for buying fresh fish and questioning the fishermen for rumors. The most interesting was that they had seen a pirate hunter not very long ago. It was the Dominator out of Relastra of the Great Kingdoms. They described her black sails, long sleek hull, large rudder and armament. According to the fishermen she had at least twenty ballistas and a few catapults as well. I found myself both intimidated by the Dominator's description and attracted to the ship. I would like to sail on such a ship one day.
In the middle of the night I was woken up by the ringing bell. Alarm! Getting out of my hammock I hurried out into the corridor casting protective magical armor. I noted Fox preparing in a similar fashion leaving the captains cabin. I opened the door leading out on deck. There I barely saw a half-shark-half-man-creature fighting with Nyeka in the dim light outside. I found that greasing the deck had an effect on the shark-creature's ability to stand on land. Fox ran through the open door grabbing the top and swung up onto the quarterdeck and disappearing from my view. Nyeka killed the shark-man crawling in front of her and ran aft. Myself, I stepped out onto the deck finding another creature fighting a few crewmen outside. In the darkness my fiery ray missed it's target and as it was getting swarmed by arriving crew members I left for the quarterdeck arriving only to see another of the creatures, but with four arms, getting killed by Nyeka.
The fight died down and in the aftermath one sailor had been felled but survived and another was injured. As I noted Sandara stepping out just below me I shouted Captain on deck. She joined us and helped with the wounded crewmen.
Deep platinum in amulet
We arrived at Tidewater Rock and set a steady course heading for it. I wasn't sure of what to expect or what to do there, but as we closed in we could see a stone tower overlooking a small harbor. There were a few houses suggesting a few people living there, but there were not much stirring. We dropped anchor and put a boat in the sea. Closing the harbor we were hailed. They did not want visitors and I think they suspected that we were looking to make a name for ourselves by conquering the rock. It had been tried before. Even by Barney himself, I was told. We choose to talk instead.
Bertram Smithee's widow, Lady Augusta Smithee, was still the ruler of the island. She received us unarmed, overseen by her eight young but spirited and heavily armored guards. She was joined by Royster McCleagh, a former officer of her husbands ship. Fox discussed our futures with lady Smithee while McCleagh grunted his support at most.
Wine ok when cold.
Suggested place as our home harbor.
In need of trade.
Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togethew today.
Pirate council among us.
I married Lady Augusta Smithee to Captain Sandara Quinn. I might not be a priest or even a Captain, but as our priest and captain was getting married I stepped up and performed the ceremony and even mentioned Besmara before Zagyg.
Finding it was finally time for some pirating we set out to search the sea for prey. We kept close to the Rock due to a smaller shipping lane passing by. After only a few days during the early hours of the night a ship was sighted. It was a smaller ship, but fully rigged. It came from south east and down wind. Having been awoken and looking at my charts I suggested that we could take a rout around some nearby islands in the dark and thereby appear much closer to them without them suspecting anyone navigating such dangerous waters during night. It was a perfect plan, but Baako and the new crew weren't used to the size of the ship and the orders to adjust sails were a little to late and done a little to slow. It was worsened by the wind loosing strength. Our surprise appearance dragged out for hours. I napped on deck awaiting word of action. It never came. At dawn it was clear that we wouldn't catch them as the distance grew. Suddenly the other ship changed course in a way not characteristic to the chase. I took out the magical looking glass that we got as a gift from ???. Looking at the other ship through it I used it's magic to listen in on the ship. It turned out they spoke a strange sounding language. Fox knew the magic of tongues and cast it on me. The look out had spotted another ship that they suspected to be pirates. The course change had been to avoid them.
We lost our prey and the other ship, a long low boat with oars and a dragons head at the prow lost them too. They showed little interest in us. Although Nyeka did several tries to get us to attack them no one else were interested. She has lots to learn before she can call herself a pirate.
Later, in the evening, we spotted another ship gaining on us upwind. Those who saw in the falling night thought it looked like a whaler with torn sails sailing against the wind. It came at us but disappeared before I could see anything else but faint lights from a possible lantern and hear a vague clang from a broken ships bell, loosing it in a fog bank.
A few days later we saw a smaller cog as they were turning to avoid us. They flew the colors of the Aspis Consortium and I got ours and hoisted them. It lulled them into a false security that Nyeka saw no gain in. She was annoyingly stubborn in demanding we fly our own new flag. She had absolutely no clue in how to gain the upper hand in the elaborate game of cat and mouse that the catching of a ship at sea had turned out to be. With the suspicious, but not fleeing ship close, we suddenly changed colors and cast our grappling hooks. With the ship secured we started our boarding action. There were four guards with boarding pikes trying to repell our boarding party. Nyeka swung down from the mast over them, Baako ran along the ship aft and swung around them and Fox swung in from over their deck, all aiming for their quarterdeck. They couldn't avoid the long boarding pikes of the guard but still defeated them quickly with the aid of my magic missiles felling one of the guards. Their captain soon yielded and I stabilized the bleeding guards with the help of Fox.
The ship was carrying a cargo of weapons and armor. It was a good catch even though not as much as could have been hoped for. I looked for magical items and found that the captains rapier was macical and that he kept thre magical potions in his coat pockets. I looked through the captains cabin for papers about Aspis Consortium business in the Shackles. I wanted to know if there were more slave camps near the coast that I perhaps might convince the crew to join in actions against. I didn't hate Aspis as much as the scarlet brotherhood but they came as a close second. If I could punish them I would. I found notes on the rutters telling of the location of their ports. I marked them on my map and left. If we had taken the ships chest, if they had one, it would probably not be much money in it and probably just deprive the crew of their pay. As we were finishing up loading our loot including their catapult, one of the recovering guards asked to join us. I was surprised by it but relized i should have asked as I had the Aspis employed guards before. We gladly accepted and two of the sailors follower their friend to our ship.
A dense fog came rolling in over the waves. It reminded us of the fog we saw when the ghostly whaler haunted us earlier. Strangely dampened by the fog the sound of the cracked ships bell found it's way to our ears, slowly beating, hauntingly. It got closer and out of the fog the same whaler as before came sailing without using the wind. It passed us by showing us the name on the stern. It read "Death Nell". I recognized it. I had heard the story and told it again. The Death Nell was the ship captained by Whalebone Pilk. He sailed the seas in hunt for whales and sea snakes that when caught was cooked for oil. He ran a hard ship not tolerating much from the crew. Once when following a knot of sea snakes they fled out to sea, but not faster than Pilk could follow, almost as they were leading the ship further and further out to sea. After several days, weeks even, the crew found that the food wouldn't be enough for the trip home and still Pilk followed the snakes further from land. One man organized a mutiny but it failed. Pilk went crazy with rage. He ordered the man strapped to the main mast and the bosun to give him one lash of the whip for each time Pilk rang the bell. "Ding, whoosh, clatch!", it sounded over and over again. He rang the bell with an awful strength until the bosun grew too tired, but it didn't matter any more. The man was already dead, his flesh whipped from his bones. Then what the sea snakes had led them to appeared. It was a huge sea serpent that rose from the deep. Pilk set the course straight for it and the Death Nell rammed the serpent and was lost forever.
I ended the story with the bad omen that went with the story. Any ship that has sighted the Death Nell twice, will forever be on Pilk's charts, her position known and sure to be hunted with the same perseverance as he had hunted the sea snakes. Saw two times
There was some talk aboard after my story. Some of the deck hands were truly afraid. Fox walked among them, telling them everything would be fine. To get their thoughts off ghost ships we held a competition. Our new soldier from the ??? told everyone how to operate the new catapult. Then every man in the crew, except the officers, were divided into groups of four. The groups then had three tries each to try to hit a barrel we dragged behind the ship. The winners would be put on catapult duty, but I went below instead.
There I looked through our new unused cabins. There was a big one where someone had left a few weapons. I returned them to the hold and started to prepare the cabin for serving as an alchemy and magic laboratory. I had worked on it for some hours when Nyeka showed up complaining about her weapons. I told her it was a marooning offense to not keep her weapons at her hammock or in her chest. She said she didn't use any hammock and some of the weapons belonged to the ship. I told her of the storage in the bow. She was upset and clearly not used to life aboard a ship. I must tell Fox to let her know the rules
Sandara said that having a magic laboratory would be a topic for a general vote. As I prepared for a vote mentioning that it would include an alchemical laboratory somehow the ones opposed quieted down. I guess they'd rather have an alchemists fire than magical items available.
We otherwise prepared for an upcoming fight with the ghost ship Death Nell. I turned in early to be alert when it would finally appear. I was asleep when the alarm was sounded. Arriving on deck bringing our magical looking glass I looked for our enemy. I was surprised at how close it was and were told it had risen from below the waves. We were chased by it for hours even though I'm not sure why. It was going to catch up with us sooner or later anyways, but Baako was maneuvering for positions. As positions go, we did not come out great.
Looked in looking glass
As we were getting closer to weapons range I suggested a maneuvering that would trick the opponent into leaving him open for our catapult and as it turned out, my idea was good, but the aiming skills of the crew weren't. There were much more racing and some stone throwing from the catapult without hitting anything but water until we were very close. That's when i suggested my other great idea in the chase. We would start turning the sails for a starboard turn a little slowly, while secretly letting out cordage. Then suddenly we were to let it go and quickly pull on the other side and perform a quick turn to larboard instead. It was all working fine until I thought we should perform the change. Fox were better at waiting than me and told us to hold for another ten seconds. It was a wise decision that not only delayed the boarding, but also lined us up for another shot that actually hit but didn't do much damage.
As the Death Nell finally approached in our wind we had no where to turn and prepared to be boarded. I stood on the quarterdeck next to Captain Quinn ready to cast my magic as needed. As the ships touched a wave of undead seamen started to climb up our sides, but the captain, Whalebone Pilk remained aboard his ship, still ringing his ship's bell. I quickly started sending my unerring magic missiles at him. My steady stream wasn't even interrupted by Nyeka making her heavy cuts. My ninth missile finally felled Pilk, who started to melt into the deck where he had stood. Pilk's crew fell like the corpses they were as soon as their captain was defeated. Nyeka chopped away at the ship's bell, aiming to destroy it forever. I hurried into the ship to get hold of any log, maps or rutters that could be found aboard finding all of it. There was cargo taken from other ships as Pilk was hunting for crew. We managed to get about 40 tonnes aboard before the Death Nell went under for what I believe to be the last time.
Having had success in catching a ship and defeating a ghost ship I thought the crew was happy enough to be talked into raiding one of the camps Aspis Consortium had along the coast. Those outside big shipping lines and situated on the main land had to be slave camps and I wanted to free as many slaves as possible. To the crew I tried to emphasize the treasure that could be found at such places, knowing very well I was probably wrong.
Surveying the map I settled on a camp I though would be the best to attack. It was the very one the Aspis ship we boarded was heading for. The small fishing hamlet was situated i a deep bay, making sure they would get a warning well ahead of time if raided by ship. We went ashore well out of sight and spent half a day walking over land. It was hard mountainous terrain but Baako and Nyeka guided us. We reached a valley surrounded by cliffs on three sides, the fourth being the bay. There weren't much cover and it would be a hard climb down the cliffs, making any approach by land hard. Instead we decided to sail as close as we could during the night and then set the boats in the sea and row to shore just before dawn.
After having returned to the ship we explained our plan and it was agreed upon. Slowly in very little wind we moved almost majestically slowly into the bay. The boats were lowered into the sea, but only my boat out of our three was manned as we were to be given a head's start. I steered us to a shore just outside the little hamlet. As soon as we landed I turned invisible and Fox set out to bend the ogres will to her wishes with her magic. Nyeka moved up to the block house we suspected to be where they had any treasure or papers if any. She was overlooking the door when some of the guard dogs started making a lot of noise. Through a little window a was put out reaching for the sky. It was fired, I guessed, to quiet the dogs, but to no avail. It wasn't our agreed upon signal but I guessed correctly that that caused our crew to set out for the shore.
I peeked through the small window, seeing two officers, two guards and a secretary. Using my mighty magic I made a scratching noise at the door as if a dog wanted to come in. An officer went over there to open the door but was stopped by one of the guards who smelled a rat. I tried to provoke an action by changing the sound from scratching to peeing. It worked even though one of the others shouted "NO!" when the door was opened. Nyeka didn't miss the opportunity. Stepping into the door she cut the man down with a single stroke. I fired a scorching ray of fire through the window at one of the officers felling him. Soon all the armed men were all felled and the secretary was nowhere to be seen. Apparently all Aspis Consortium secretaries are mages.
All in in all Fox led the three huge and intimidating ogres against the barracks where the rest of the crew attacked and Nyeka stared down some of the local tribesmen. It all settled down. We never saw where the magically capable secretary went, but I saved the life of one of the officers by stabilizing him and we got a total of eight soldiers alive. There was talk of having them sold for ransom but I wouldn't hear of it. They would be set free where they could do the least damage. I wasn't too happy about the thought of recruiting any more of them as I didn't want to big a part of the crew from Aspis due to the risk of a mutiny. There was also the question of what to do with the tribe of fishermen that had been converted to slave gatherers and the three ogres. The only solution we could find was to bring them back to the Rock and help set them up as fishermen again. The ogres could possibly be employed as powerful workers, helping out with farming or building.