The naked midnight battle
The Kurstav. She was a good ship and my first command, but she didn’t last long. After taking her in a swift boarding action, the Captains decided to sail back to Rickety’s Squibs as it was still fairly close in order to sell the ship for scrap and maybe convince the old shipwright to add a few upgrades to the Bastard.
I was put in command of sailing the Kurstav with a skeleton crew; Conchobhar, Jasper and Titus as first officers and Samms, Tilly, Shivikah, Kitesh, Mbintu and Badger to fill out the ranks. It was exciting to finally be in charge of my own ship, even if it was simply to follow behind the Bastard. Ordering Titus about was a particular highlight.
The sail was easy, the weather held up and there were no complications along the way which made for a nice change of pace.
Things were right back on track however when we arrived at Rickety’s. The place had been destroyed. The buildings were still smouldering and everyone was dead. The crew were understandably quite shaken up, myself included. Rickety had been good to us (true we had paid him an extortionate amount of money for the squibbing of the Man’s Promise but still..) and his little shipyard had been our first bit of land some of us had seen since Bonewrack Isle.
Searching the wreckage uncovered a few scraps of useful materials for the ship but the majority was taken. Titus informed everyone that Sahuagin had been responsible according to the tracks, although a humanoid was apparently present commanding them. We were by Sahuagin in the seas near here, could this be some sort of coincidence? Why would they want to raze a tiny shipyard on the coast?
We packed up what we could take and set off for Drakeclaw, it seemed my new command would last just a little longer. Our skeleton crew couldn’t keep up with the Bastard’s full compliment in the strong winds however so both ships dropped anchor and waited for the storm to pass. As we prepared to leave later that day, the Bastard signalled that they had spotted a ship ahead and were moving to investigate.
By the time we had caught up to their position and saw that the ship was actually Rickety Hake’s personal vessel the Piccarine, news was already circulating around the crew of what had happened. Hannah had been chosen by Captain Eikou to swim aboard and search for any survivors. She had not returned so Captain Van Helgen went aboard along with Kaheed and Gian to investigate. They walked right into a trap. Four vicious Sahuagin were hiding below deck. The Officers managed to fend off the attackers but it was already too late for Hannah. Her body was brought back across for a sea burial. Jasper was visibly distraught for the rest of the journey, the two of them had been close. Captain Eikou was also shaken up, Hannah was the first crew member to have died directly as a result of her orders. Rickety wasn’t aboard the ship either, it was clearly just a trap laid by the Sahuagin and that realisation dawned on us as we sailed away. But why? Why were the Sahuagin after us? We had only defended ourselves against their sudden raid the previous week, now they had burned a shipyard and set a trap looking for us. So many dead but why? When we eventually figured out the reasoning behind the attack all became clear, and vengeance became the only option. But that is a story for a later book.
We finally arrived at Drakeclaw, and not too soon. The Officers were busy meeting merchants and buyers for the plunder in our hold while Jasper was furiously trying to divide each crew member’s shares up. Before long, each of us had gold in hand and were on our way to exchange it for whatever alcohol this town had to offer. By Besmara’s tits it was hot here! The nearby jungle created enough humidity to force us all to strip down to the essential clothing items. I purchased a new hat to keep the sun out of my eyes then found a shady spot to enjoy some quality time with drink and food. The others spread through the town taking in all the sights and sounds of a city after being so long at sea, upgrading their equipment or seeking leads for information. Eventually though, we all ended up in the Screaming Doldrum; a delightful drinking establishment on the wharfside. They had everything we needed, alcohol, food, wenches, song and beds. There was even some interesting local narcotic doing the rounds called flayleaf which was rolled into a joint and smoked. They weren’t bad although Kaheed had something against them, at the time I didn’t understand it but he later explained he was trying to clean up the streets for the local temple in exchange for re-growing his leg. Seemed fair, I wasn’t going to get in his way, but I managed to stash a few joints for later.
Jasper seemed to cheer up a little that night. He said that the Officers had visited a fortune teller named Lady Mokislav and had all had the cards read. Damned fool notion if you ask me. Why bother knowing the future if you can’t change it? Better off kicking back and enjoying what Besmara gives you now, before she decides she’s given you enough. Anyway, whatever the crone said to them really affected them. Mameha seemed to stare off into the distance a lot that evening and Jasper was real friendly all of a sudden, kept buying me drinks and pinching my ass. I didn’t mind, he was a good looking guy back then so I went along with it. There’s nothing in the code about sexual behaviour. In fact there wasn’t a lot in the code at all so I decided it couldn’t hurt.
We didn’t get very far before we were woken up by a scream. We didn’t pay any heed to it until the screams got more numerous and were interspersed with gunshots and the unmistakeable steel-on-steel sound that only a pitched battle can deliver. We peeked out of the window to see Kaheed and Mameha squaring off against a squad of Sahuagin who were storming in towards the tavern from the surrounding streets. A loud gunshot from below announced Edward’s involvement also. ‘More Sahuagin!?’ I remember thinking. What in the abyssal sea had we done to deserve such aggression? As Jasper burst through the window, barely dressed but cutlass in hand I was reminded that it wasn’t the time for philosophical thoughts. I grabbed my rapier and followed suit.
The battle was tough. The Sahuagin just kept on coming, we must have killed over a dozen not to mention the Grindylows which also joined in and the summoned monsters they brought with them. Titus must have seen the battle from wherever he had snuck off with Samms because the two of them appeared on a rooftop some hundred feet away supporting with arrow fire. Gian also appeared half-dressed with the look of a woman interrupted across her face. Eventually we beat off the raiders but not without severe injuries (myself included) and several dead civilians. It turned out that the raid was led by the Brinebrood Queen, the Grindylow matriarch whose followers captured Giffer and I back on Bonewrack Isle before the mutiny. At the time we had no idea of her involvement with the Sahuagin but it explained the Grindylow and possibly part of the aggression.
Regardless, the attack was staved off and we were thanked by one Ridley Chautfort, a councillor of Drakeclaw. Apparently he had no idea the sea monsters were after us and thanked us for assisting the town. Getting back to sleep that night was difficult, the thought of a brine-soaked monster hiding outside the window was too hard to suppress. I woke up early, leaving Jasper snoring and went down to the waterfront to watch the fishermen bring in the first catch of the day. I sat and stared out into the wide blue horizon, wondering what else was waiting out there for us.