They came back two hours later surprisingly uninjured. I waited on the gunwales with Badger and Samms ready to get to work on the wounded but there were none. The officers were carrying a strange chest on a hexagonal black plinth with incredible care. I later learned that the chest was ethereal and that they believed the chest would slide off and fall through the earth and be lost forever if they tilted it too far. Good thing that wasn’t how it worked because that launch was rocking all over the place!
With the help of the ship’s winches the launch, chest and crew were all brought aboard. Kitesh sailed us out to a safe distance from the shore and kept an eye on the crew as Captains had called all officers into their quarters for a meeting. It turned out that this ethereal chest was some sort of Juju artefact and all the treasure from the temple was stuck on some sort of demiplane. The only way to get at the treasure was to enter this plane and retrieve it. We looked around at each other and shrugged. None of us had the faintest idea about Juju.
As it happened, Giffer was a Wendifa. That is to say she spoke to spirits and practised juju with enough proficiency to lead the officers into the so-called Wendo Chest. I can’t say that I was entirely happy about the whole situation. I wasn’t officially ship’s Chaplain but a lot of the crew did look up to me as a representative of Besmaran faith on board the ship. While the officers were busy crafting juju dolls and arcane fetishes for their trip, I did the rounds and spoke to the crew, ensuring them that no curses were being drawn down on them.
They had still not come back by nightfall and some of the crew were getting restless. Strange sounds had been heard coming from the jungle and flickering lights could be seen among the trees. We were being watched. Cog, as Boatswain decided we were better off heading out to sea slightly so we worked in shifts to keep the sails worked and eat.
At around midnight, the crew was woken by the night watch ringing the ship’s bell and calling all hands to deck. A ship had been spotted off to the southwest. Cog, Kitesh and Chakka agreed it was a trading lugger and Cog gave the order to pursue. Moussa and Rosie called the crew to battle-stations and the Bastard was away with a good wind behind her.
For a slow lugger, she gave a good chase. The weather had worsened severely during the night. The Kurstav had thought to sail into the storm to evade us, hoping that their thicker hull would see them through and we’d cut off the chase. But we are Shackles pirates sailing with Besmara’s will! We finally caught up to the Kurstav at first light and the crew were chomping at the bit to board her but the armoury was still locked and Moussa was nowhere to be seen. Cog was too busy commanding the ship through the difficult conditions to notice and most crew were busy in the rigging, but I could see that weapons need to be handed out soon if boarding was to be a possibility.
Just at that moment, the door to the Captains’ quarters flew open and the officers emerged. They had returned from their soujourn to the spirit world and just in time for a fight…
The battle went well. Mameha took the wheel of the Bastard and Edward relieved Cog of command. Titus got the armoury open and the ballistae firing. We closed on the Kurstav as she came about, hoping to outwit us, but Mameha drove the ram home into her port side, ending all hope of escape. As soon as the hulls crashed together, Rosie and Cog led their boarding parties across onto the Kurstav while Moussa and I kept our squads in reserve, aiding with ranged support and medical assistance. Kaheed and Gian also went across to take the fight to the enemy. Kaheed provided an immovable barrier, preventing any enemy sailors from getting past him onto the Bastard while Gian swang through the ropes like a Vanara Ninja, gracefully swinging low and ending a man’s life with her knives before disappearing into the rigging again, a deadly ghost of the seas. The Kurstav launched a trained Manticore from their deck to attack us by air, but a clever combo of Tanglefoot Bag and Stinking Cloud from Jasper put paid to that threat and left the best drowning in our wake. As the battle closed, Titus and Edward leapt aboard the Kurstav to stop a wizard from causing trouble with his spells as Gian and Kaheed apprehended the Dwarf Captain of the vessel.
The last few sailors surrendered and were taken to the bilges. The Kurstav was ours!