CHAPTER THREE- Tempest Rising
I knew there was something different about those four from the moment I laid eyes on them. Besmara smiles on their actions and, I am sure guides their hands. There was a new air about the four of them following the weddings and the disastrous events therein. Jasper died (which saddened me greatly) and Edward left the ship in order to rule over Windward Isle (which surprised me greatly). The remaining officers were mostly competent pirates and sailors but Captain Mameha, First Mate Gian, Master Gunner Titus and Master Carpenter Kaheed were the ones really running the show.
I bought this new journal (my third since my press-ganging on the Wormwood) at the market-stall at Piren’s Bluff- a quiet and picturesque fishing town on the beautiful Windward Isle. As I write these words I am sitting on a grassy, flower-covered hill overlooking the town and the dock beyond. We were given a month of shore leave to enjoy our victories, celebrate the weddings and mourn the fallen.
There are more additions to the crew- the vicious leader of the Sahuagin, Isabella Locke (or ‘Inkskin’ as she is known) has joined along with the surviving crew from her ship the Thresher – a move which surprised many of the crew (myself included) and angered many more. The Captain explained that the two had made an agreement. Apparently Inkskin had attacked us under orders of Barnabas Harrigan. Clearly the theft of his ship had not escaped his mind, but more worryingly he may now know the true identify of our squibbed vessel. Inkskin had reportedly been promised to Harrigan in marriage, but the bastard betrayed her and used her to attack us, taking over her tribe while she was away. Her father was killed by Harrigan and the Sahuagin chief installed by Harrigan as new leader of her tribe. Mameha promised to help Isabella to re-take her home if she made peace with the crew of the Bastard. We shall see if this truce (and the exchange of tattoos as a mark of respect) is a good idea. I’m sure Besmara is watching over us.
Mameha has been busy making more friends during her own shore leave. She has been seen hanging around with Nobu a lot more and socialising with our crew in general as they enjoy the taverns and street food of Piren’s Bluff. She also managed to convince Almir Vendikon, the brother of the ousted Baron to pay for the blacksmith order left unpaid after the Baron’s untimely death. This has helped to ease the tension between the Vendikon and Smythee/Van Helgen dynasties.
Titus and Kaheed have been gone for a week or so. They took a small cutter and a handful of crew (including some deserters from the Piren’s Bluff town guard!) and went sailing around the islands and villages nearby to sell some of the plunder we recovered over the last few weeks. They are then heading to Drakeclaw for more supplies.
Gian and Cog seem very happy also. They have hardly been seen, and when they have they have been inseparable. There have even been whispers of an engagement but getting two words out of the sullen Boatswain is hard enough at the best of times.
Our shore leave over we set sail east by north-east, skirting the jagged archipelago that is the Shackles, following Isabella’s directions and the cryptic map tattooed between her shoulder-blades. Good thing she wears little clothing else we may have been lost. Her dress (it barely qualifies as such) has been the talk of many of the female crew members and the subject of gaze for many of the male ones since she joined our ship. Her crew are equally talked about- the polar opposites to Isabella. Where she is tall, beautiful and barely dressed, they are vicious, rude, smelly and ill-kept. They seem capable however and it may prove useful to have more competent sailors aboard.
We arrived at Mancatcher Cove, the reported burial site of Cyrus Wolfe’s main treasure hoard by night. Isabella assures us the treasure is there kept safe by her tribe and we are entitled to a fair share of it once the mission is complete. The lookout spots a ship anchored in the wide cove, her crew revelling on deck but armed guards visible patrolling also. The Captain orders the ship to run dark- using starlight to navigate through the waters in the hopes of getting the drop on the ship which we believed to be Harrigan’s men (closer inspection of their colours later confirmed this as they were flying his ragged banner).
The Captain couldn’t turn the wheel however- something had jammed the rudder and we were heading straight for the cliffs at full speed! Sure enough fins could be seen circling the ship- sharks with Sahuagin riders. Gian shouted for sails to be stowed to try and slow our speed while Kaheed grabbed a repair crew and ran to stern to rappel down the back of the ship and try to fix whatever damage the sea-devils had wrought. Titus fired his bow at the Sahuagin trailing us, thinning their numbers while Kaheed fought off a rider and his shark while splashing in our wake. Not quick enough though, as one raised a conch horn and blew- the sound echoing across the silent waters, surely alerting Harrigan’s ship to our approach.
He managed to fight them off as well, using his incredible mastery of unarmed combat to evade the attacks of rider and mount and even caused them to attack each other!
Just in time the rudder was unjammed and the ship turned away from the coast and we continued towards the enemy and the cove. By now the were prepared for us and opened fire with a blistering broadside almost immediately. They had a cannon tower on the island nearby which also opened fire. The Bastard made directly for the enemy ship, the Red Jackal while firing the trebuchet at the tower, Titus commanded the gun crews to target the enemy ship and the marines to prepare for boarding. We took a few more broadsides before we rammed her in the port side. Our crew made slow progress through the tangled rigging but eventually boarded her. Kaheed was already across engaging the enemy Captain and his officers alone. Titus spotted and eliminated the enemy sorceress while Gian glided through the rigging and ended more lives with her red knives.
The battle was over after the enemy Captain had his throat cut and the fight went out of the survivors. Both ships had suffered heavy damage and multiple casualties. I began triage straight away, Cog was found under a pile of bodies with a cutlass through his belly and multiple pistol bullets in him. It looked bad and Gian ran over in tears. Through some miracle, Taisho the Captain’s Kami companion and acting Chaplain had managed to stem the worst of the damage and keep him alive until I could apply my healing knowledge and Besmara’s blessings to the man. Luckily all our wounded were treatable. We even captured some twenty new crew members- we’d need them if we wanted to take both ships which seemed to be the idea.
Not wanting to waste the element of surprise (or what was left of it) the officers decided to press the attack. Mameha, Gian, Titus, Kaheed and Isabella dove off the ship after imbibing some magical potions to allow underwater breath and taking some aquatic blessings from myself and swam straight down, following Isabella’s lead to a secret entrance to the Sahuagin caves. I hoped she was trustworthy as she could quite easily have led them all to their dooms in an underwater trap or ambush.
Meanwhile aboard ship we bound the captives on the deck of their ship and looted what we could from their hold. It looked like they had already helped themselves to Cyrus Wolfe’s hoard (an encouraging sign that did exist!) which I helped Rosie transfer to our own hold.
When the officers eventually returned, battered and bruised but alive and victorious. They brought with them a large elaborate chest. Not much loot I thought, until they opened it, revealing an extra-dimensional space inside which contained the rest of Cyrus Wolfe’s hoard and whatever else they could carry from the Sahuagin caves.
The rest of the night and most of the next day was spent sorting out the loot, deciding which crew would take which ship and the next course of action in general.