It is refreshing to once again be on the sea as the past four days have rejuvenated me. This resurrection of spirit is in no small part due to the great fortunes which have joined us on our voyage! Despite any misgivings I have had previously about this band which I now find myself leading, they have proven themselves more than worthy to hold positions within my crew. I could not be prouder of their abilities given the events of our previous day at sea.
The old saying, “better to have a poor ship and a fine crew, than a fine ship and a poor crew” was proven to me to be true words of wisdom coming down to us through the ages from sages of the sea. Upon setting sail I found I was a bit uneasy as our ship was entering into potentially unfriendly waters with not so much as one single cannon gracing our broadsides, but only the dragon cannon affixed to our bow. We were outgunned by anything more than a pleasure barge and our encounter with the navy only served to bolster my private worries.
Though our time together has been brief, I find that I have fondness for Wayland. He is, without a doubt, a curious fellow, even among this crew of characters. I find that he possesses a wealth of technical knowledge and physical strength, but has not one handful of knowledge or understanding of the nature of men at all. Even so, I admire his skills and together we hastily fashioned three cannons out of the parts we purchased before leaving port. No sooner had we finished the three than the trouble I so feared appeared on the western horizon. What did fate have in store for us?
Compounding our troubles with armament, we fly black sails. Under more favorable conditions this would trouble me but not at all, but as we had only three broadsides to show, the fact that black sails, the sign of the Pirate Queen, would invite unwanted attention from both navy and pirate alike was like a dark star on our horizon. It is true that in my many years at sea I have experienced my share of overmatched encounters, but not knowing the experience or abilities of this crew, on this boat which we had been with for less than a week, was a truly unsettling reality. Putting my spyglass to my eye I saw that the ship headed for us carried 18 guns. Our successful departure would depend on cunning and guile… and only the best of fortune.
The ship requested parlay and without any options available to us but to run, we agreed and I put to sea in the ship’s launch with, of all people, the Marchioness. It did not seem prudent given her recent actions that could have cost us the ship, but if we had to bluff our way out of combat with overwhelming against us, I needed someone who could read the opposition and help navigate the situation expertly. Despite his strength and doubtless combat experience, Wayland was not man (or woman) for the task at hand.
How the Marchioness would have sought to confound my counterpart will never be known. As we approached the rendezvous point, the captain and his boatman fired at us and attempted to sink our boat in an act of utter treachery and little surprise. These are the moments that test the mettle of those who would be masters and commanders of men – to turn and run while be being defenseless and taking fire or to press the fight and meet the enemy head on? Without hesitation we continued to row right into their boat. Their treachery would be met with unshakeable resolve and only one party would return to their ship.
“Parlay, captain – And take our message to the gates of hell!”*
Without need for my signal, the Marchioness sprang from our craft, drew her pistol and, whilst flying through the air, shot the captain’s mate right between his eyes, rendering him dead before she landed on the wood of their boat. It appears her mysteriousness is matched by her combat expertise! Upon crashing into their craft, I also drew my pistols and began a savage hail of shots into my counterpart who was all but helpless to react.
Bleeding heavily, the captain, either resigned to his fate or scared beyond thought, jumped out of the boat amidst sharks that were circling us. I finished him off as he attempted to swim away. The sharks did the rest.
Watching the foray which just saw their party slain, the pirate ship, now known to be the Salt Spray, began to position herself for combat. Meanwhile, Alcades, having shadowed our path to the rendezvous, made use of his abilities to charm one of the circling sharks and made way for the Salt Spray riding the shark by fin!
One of the most helpless feelings any captain will ever experience is having no choice but to watch his ship and crew fight from afar. The Marchioness and myself, unable to do anything more from our position on the launches, began rowing away from the paths of the two ships which were quickly closing range.
The battle was now in the hands of my first mate, Papa Samedi, a man of whom upon first meeting I had serious personal doubts. However, he rallied the crew and took up a ramming course for the Salt Spray which was turning to present broadside to the Maelstrom. He has more than earned my trust. Deftly, Alcades commanded the shark to ram the Salt Spray’s rudder and begin shredding it. This was evidently enough to wrest control of the ship away from the crew and begin turning the ship to a head-on course with Maelstrom.
The ships collided in grand fashion and the dragon cannon erupted into the lower deck of the Salt Spray. On the decks, both crews prepared for boarding while the Marchioness and I rowed ourselves back to Maelstrom. At this, a familiar voice and then face emerged from behind the opposing crew – Belumbor, wailing his wrathful demand for the custody of Tebrilith. That wretched dog had put to sea before us and laid in wait. Having escaped him once, escaping him a second seemed to test fate, but given what had already transpired on this day, I was confident.
Wayland took up a frontal position on the bow, ready to storm the Salt Spray. Within moments, the battle was met and the crews engaged. Wayland, expertly wielding his scythe, led the way and began to cut down his unfortunate foes. At the same time, Alcades and his monster shark exploded out of the water and onto the deck, causing mass confusion for Belumbor’s crew.
Out of the chaos we heard a woman’s voice yell that if Belumbor should fall, half of the men would lay down arms. It was difficult to make sense of it all given the clamor of melee across the decks. Quickly, Alcades disappeared below the waves once more and out of sight.
Meanwhile, Papa took up position near Walen and the Marchioness and I returned to the ship and quickly climbed aboard. Combat continued and I fired some shots into the foray striking opposing crewmen.
Suddenly, Alcades once again emerged from the sea, this time clutching a woman. At almost the same time, Belumbor appeared on our deck behind our lines! He quickly struck down one of our crew before he could react. It was then that the picture became clear. Alcades yelled to all that if Belumbor was killed, half of the Salt Spray’s crew would lay down arms, having been pressed into service against their will.
In the span of a few moments, Papa was able to snare Belumbor with a whip, and render him immobile. In a last ditch effort to rescue their captain, some of the more fanatical members of his crew attempted to run through the battle lines to his aid, but they were cut down before they could reach him. At that, I issued a demand to the opposing crew to lay down their arms and surrender, which they did.
Belumbor attempted to speak and tempt us with reasons to let him go, but having just fallen victim to his treachery – attacked, under the good faith of parlay – I ordered him shot dead and confirmed to be so. Thus ends the story of Belumbor Thrul – defeated and hastily disposed.
The woman, we came to learn, was named Soari Ocelil, cleric of Besmera. She had been captured and pressed into service under Belumbor. With him now dead, she asked for the ship to be returned to her and the crew so that they might regain their lives and freedom. Having no quarrel with her or them, I agreed with conditions.
- Of the 18 guns on board the Salt Spray, 14 would be transferred to the Maelstrom. This would leave them some means of defense for their voyage to nearest port. This would also fill out the Maelstrom’s compliment, leaving us 4 extra for spares or to be sold for profit.
- They would be left 3 days rations, enough to ensure they could make it to the nearest port, but not enough that they could delay or set course for any other port.**
- All excess valuables would be plundered and taken as spoils for our victory. For I am first, and foremost, a pirate.
Soari asked for a chest of money to be left to them as offering to Besmera. I agreed to allow them 10 gold pieces for each surviving crew member to be offered to Besmera. I realize that Soari felt this was insulting to Besmera, being such a small amount. I suspect that some of my crew feel the same. Yet I consider it tribute enough to liberate from forced servitude one of Besmera’s clerics and her followers. If our views on this matter differ, it is regretful that I cannot offer apology. For I am a son of the sea and a pirate’s life – if not even the gift of one’s life and liberty are not enough to sate the desires of gods and men, it is a pity – for we are then, in truth, nothing more than slaves to our mortal trappings. For a pirate wants but two things – loot and liberty.
Finally, I had the flag of the Pirate Queen burned and a victory pennant sewn and flown from the Maelstrom’s mainmast. Ours was indeed a great victory – outgunned six to one and not a man lost! Fate has smiled graciously upon us!
For my crew, I can speak only the highest praise. Having been together for such a short time, we have overcome tremendous odds and they, for their part, have displayed the highest level of skill and resourcefulness in the face of a treacherous and tactically superior enemy. The fates smile not just on me as captain, but on us all. I shall buy them all a generous round upon our next visit to port! The pride is theirs and I can only share in it. For it cannot be said that they are cowards, but rather the bravest band of mariners!
*It is regrettable that we were forced to assault the captain and his crewman and slay them as they were undoubtedly forced to act in accordance with Belumbor’s will. But the code of the sea is paramount and I do not regret that we defended ourselves with such efficiency and zeal.
**Many years of experience guided my decision to limit the Salt Spray’s provision and armaments and capture all their valuables. First, it left them no choice but to make an expedient return to port. While I do not doubt their intentions, were they of a different mind, this offers them little choice but to comply. Second, if they were intercepted by another pirate vessel during their voyage to port, it renders them a worthless target, thus improving their chances of being left alone.