Orithia- Skull & Shackles
Today has been amazing. The other pilrims and I set off from Karubaq with the sound of cheers and well wishes in our ears. We took a boat to the nearby town of Alamsyr, where we soon found ourselves as part of a caravan headed to the city of Nurieth. I have already seen much and am eager to get started with my new life.
Some of my fellow pilgrims seem scared about the unknown life ahead of them, but I know with my father’s training and a true heart I can return to Karubaq with my head held high, and my heart beating strong.
It took longer to reach Nurieth than I had expected. We travelled by land across vast deserts and mountains. I had to walk much of it, as there were too few camels to carry us all. I have never been so long from the sea. and I miss the cool breeze that surrounds my on the open ocean. However, I have already learned much. I have been told of the wonders of the far world and of the adventures I am bound to have.
While some of my pilgram brothers have begun to grow excited about the world ahead, a few are still worried, and have not been put at ease by the long tales of foreigners and different cultures. I do my best to put my nervous brothers at ease, but that normally only provides a temporary repreive. However, the one time we are all at peace is in the morning during our meditations. It is the part of my day that keeps me connected to my home and my spirit, and it always feels good to practice my stances with brothers.
We arrived at Nurieth yesterday. We were told that the best way to get out into the world is to sign up with a travelling merchant. So I went down to the waterfront and found a friendly man who told me that there is no finer ship on the sea than the one he sails on, the Drunken Wench, and he said I could sign on as a deck hand and receive a share of the profits. I am very privilaged to not only find a ship willing to carry me off into the world, but I am paid to do so on the best ship in the sea.
I spent the evening with my brothers. Wishing them well in their journeys. Some have also signed up with ships, but others delay. I can understand their hesitance, but I know the only way to begin my spiritual journey is to set off, far from home and the comforts I have grown accustomed to.
The work is hard, the food is not what I had hoped for and there hasn’t yet been much in the way of adventure. I have been told by one of the few sailors who speaks Qadi, that we are sailing for a land called Kondar. I have never heard of it, but I am told it is quite different from Alaris, so I am happy.
It will supposedly take another three weeks to reach Kondar, so I should do my best to enjoy the life aboard the ship. While few of the crew speak Qadi, those that do are friendly and have helped me learn a few word in the languages often spoken by sailors. I now know enough to follow orders and complete my duties.
The culture aboard the ship is very new to me. Many of the crew enjoy consuming beverages which seem to turn them into fools. They roll about and lose the power of speech. I am unsure what, or why, they drink, but I feel it is not good for my soul, and so I have avoided it.
I am beginning to enjoy life aboard this vessel. It may not be the fastest, the biggest, or even cleanest, but I am feeling more at home here. I have made a few friends, despite the lack of a common language. I work hard, and the crew seem to respect that. I have even been invited to join in some of their games, which involve pieces of card with different symbols and colours. I am unsure of the rules, so I rarely win, but I enjoy the commradery.
I have been thinking of home in the last few days. I sorely miss my family, and the security of the Karubaq. I would also like to be able to converse with the Elders. I did not realise how much I valued their guidance until I no longer had it. I look at the many remaining pages of my Journal, and I am filled with both excitement of the experiences I will have, and trepidation about how long it will be before I see my home once again.
There has been a terrible storm the last few days. I have been working non-stop trying to secure the ship and help the sailors with their duties. I have never seen a storm like this before. It appeared to me that the ship was being targeted by the wrath of nature. Lightning struck all around us, filling the sea with flashes of blue. The wind swirled around us, trapping us in, and making it impossible to guide the ship.
Fortunately it is over now. The ship took quite a beating, and so we must make sail to the nearest city to dock for repairs. The crew are relieved to finally be out of the storm, as even the most experienced of them had never before seen such terrible seas.
However, it was a truely remarkable experience. To see the sky at its most violent. To have it all around me, circling and striking, like a hunter. I will never forget that storm, and no storm will ever match it in my mind.
We have arrived in a city called Forlien, in Ealdim. I have been to Ealdim before, but this city is very different. The colours are brighter, and there appears to be much wealthier, but more unhappy, citizens. They also have many items I have never before seen. I saw one man hold what looks like a long, hollow pole of wood and metal, from which fire erupted with a loud bang. This town must surely stand as one of the greatest innovators in all the world, as no land I have been to have tools such as these. The enable the weakest man to fell the strongest of beasts, with no effort and little training. While I marvel at it’s inginuity, I tremble at the thought of these devices sweeping the across the world. Maybe that is why they are confined to this town.
Many of the crew are also amazed by this town, reporting to have seen things they have never seen before. However, in the evening several of the crew got into a fight with some of the citizens. I do not know the reason for it, but it is most unlike them. They have so far been friendly and curteous to the inhabitants of the places we make port. The crew were shouting about the others being wrong about something. I couldn’t make out the details, having a weaker grasp of Ealdime than I would like, but I am sure it is a one off incident. I suspect it has been caused by the stress of the storm.
We stayed docked at Forlien for five days before the ship had received the neccessary repairs. After the first day, few crew left the ship. They seemed afraid of it almost, claiming that it is not right. They were eager to leave, and morale soon picked up after we left. However, I still hear whispers now and again. I don’t fully understand them, but it sounds as if the crew learned something, which they do not like or agree with.
We land in a Kondar city tomorrow. I have never been to Kondar City before, and am looking forward to it. I am told it has only been around for a few hundred years, which fairly new for a city. From what I can gather it is a bustling trade city, always growing, and is well repected as a good place to unwind after a long sea voyage.
There is a feeling about the crew that something good will happen in Kondar City. They were clearly disturbed by something in Forlien, but I am glad we will soon be in a place the crew knows.
Today has been very bizarre. The city is a vast place, with endless boundaries and countless buildings; I cannot explain such a feat of human labour. Its docks seem to stretch out for miles, and towers stretch out at the sky. We had a hard time knowing where to dock, but the captain fortunately found us a safe harbour.
The crew were in a state of panic. I don’t understand. They were both terrified of the city, but desperate to reach it. They leapt from the ship as soon as it was secured and many began rushing around, grabbing hold of the dock-workers, shaking them and demanding answers to questions I couldn’t quite make out. It was all very strange, and the crew seemed to take great offence to the answers. Some broke down into tears, other just ran off into the town, the captain however, just stood at the prow of the ship and took in the sight of the town. I watched him as he stood perfectly still for many minutes before taking out a picute of his wife. He kissed it gently then took out his knife and plunged it into his chest. Before I knew what was happening he had fallen from the ship into the water below.
I did not venture out into the town today.
The ship has been abandoned. I have seen no sign of any of the crew and the harbour-master has told me that if no-one returns in a few days he will have no choice but to remove the ship. I tried pleading with him, but he would not listen.
I went out into the town to find some of the crew, but I could not. It was also very strange in the town. I saw more of those devices of metal and fire; their spread has been very swift. The people are also different to any I have encountered before. They wear different clothes, and have different accents. The food is more refined, the buildings are more elaborate and everything is very expensive. I barely had enough money to buy myself some food, and the sellers spent much longer than normal inspecting my coins.
I returned to the ship late evening to find it still empty.
The ship was taken away yesterday. I do not know what they did with it. I have been wandering the city for days looking for crew, but none were to be found until today. I went down a dark alleyway where I found a group of people sitting around on the floor. I recognised one of them as a rigger aboard the Drunken Wench. I rushed up to speak to him, but to my horror he was dead. His wrists had been cut, and as I looked around I saw many other faces I recognised. They were all dead, with pictures of loved ones in their hands.
I ran from there to the docks, to get aboard the first ship I could find. I stumbled into a gruff looking man with a patch over his eye. He asked my if I was looking for work. I said yes, and so he pointed me towards an even rougher looking ship. I asked when it was leaving; he told me today. I asked where we were headed; he said Port Blacksand.
Day 405 (Ship Day 1)
I awoke in a small dark room with a handful of allsorted others. They are a varied bunch, but fate has thrown us together. We have been taken aboard a ship and have been tasked with becoming crewmembers. This is an odd turn of events, but nevertheless I should see what journey this path takes me down. The rest of the day continued to be eventful; myself and the other new crew were assigned duties according to our abilities. Two fellows were given the role of ‘riggers’, this was decided by a climbing contest. This was an interesting experience as one of the new crew appeared to take an instant dislike to be and shouted abuse in a language I did not understand. Afterwards I was assigned to the role of ’cook’s mate’; which I volunteered for given my exerience of cooking Skillers. The other 3, two women and a male half-orc, were given the role of ‘swab’. I am glad I avoided this role as from what I can tell of the other crew around me, the swabs have a tedious role.
I was introduced to the ship’s cook, Ambrose, who seems an amenable, but druken fellow. I am sure he is grateful to have someone to do his work for him, but I wont complain, as I look forward to the challenge. Later in the same day an older crew member was punished for a misdeed by keelhauling. This appeared to be a most painful and elaborate execuation which I will endevour to avoid.
I have also been given something that the other crew call ‘rum’. I had tried rum previously, but this new liquer was wholely new to me and most unpleasant. It made me most unwell, but I was informed that it was a mandatory part of being onboard the ship, and having seen what happens to those that disobey, I obliged.
Day 406 (Ship Day 2)
This morning we were greeted by some other crewmembers who seemed to be determined to start a fight. I protested and attempted to dissolve thier violent intentions, but it was to no avail and a conflict ensued. For my part in the dispute I was given 6 strikes from a long leather cord, which is refered to as a whip. This was a wholely unpleasant experience, and I will attempt to avoid any further punishment.
Day 408 (Ship Day 4)
The last two days have been relatively uneventful. I have been cooking for the crew, mostly with the absence of the ship’s actual cook, and attempting to integrate myself into the crew. Today myself and the other new arrivals were sent to the deepest reccesses of the ship to clear out a nest of vermin. The rats we found were much larger than I have seen before, and required a great deal of aggression on our part to dispatch them. Unfortunately several of us, including myself, were biten, and I was informed that it is likely that these creatures carried disease. On this ship, with the lack of privacy and time to recover, I do hope I am able to overcome the illness quickly.
Day 409 (Ship Day 5)
I am fortunate that I seem unaffected by whatever contagions the vermin carried, and am able to continue with my duties without incurring any lashes. However, in the evening, the crew put on some sport, by forcing one of us new arrivals to fight a creature that has the form of a man, but acts like a beast. I have heard of such things, but had not yet had contact with one. I was curious to see how such a beast would behave in combat, so I volunteered myself for the combat. Unfortunately, the creature suffered from the gracelessness of man, and the myopia of a beast. It was clear that the beast had no heart for the fight, but in such a situation I felt it would be more merciful to quickly subdue it than to prolong its torture, as several times it attempted to break off the fight, but was only thrown back in.
I do regret the encounter with the beast, which I am told is called ‘Owlbear’. I had hoped to be able to learn something of how the mind of an animal would act inside the shell of a man. What I learned was that it would attack an opponent it felt inferiour with ferocity, but quickly switch tactic at any sign of resistence. I suppose in a way that is true of all men, but never have I seen it so salient and parodied as in this creature.
I will attempt to show the beast some kindness in the future. I suspect that, like a dog, now that it knows who is it’s superior, it will quickly fall to heel.
Day 411 (Ship Day 7)
We have been experiencing the most vicious storms these last two days. All the crew have been frantic in thier attempts to keep the ship from breaking apart. I have also been exposed to a most immodest scene. All the women aboard, save a select few, striped off their shirts to expose themselves. I have never before seen such indecency and I can not claim to fully understand the reasons for it. They claim it was to appease their sea god ‘Basmara’, but if he is impressed by such things I truely doubt he is a god of much repute or power. However, I kept this opinion to myself to avoid the scorn of the crew.
Due to the weather, much of the crew shelters below decks, in quite close confines. This has brought me into contacgt with a woman called ‘Badger’ from Alaris, who hails from one of the more southern regions. While she still speaks the Qadi, it is clear that she is more at home aboard this ship than she would be back in her homeland. I mourn the loss of a fellow Alarisian soul, who has cut ties with her heritage and her spirituality. Nevertheless, I shall endevour to rekindle the flame of our home within her, and hopefully illuminate her path.
Day 413 (Ship Day 9)
The last few days have been very hard on the crew, and as such mistakes have been made by many, including myself. I am still unused to a ship of this size and have little understanding of how to handle the larger sails. As such I have now experienced what the rest of the crew call ‘The Cat’. It is a wicked weapon that inflicts a great deal of pain and suffering. I cannot say I would be happy to receive such a thrashing again, but I was fortunate enough to remain conscious throughout. I would hate to have to find some way to re-experience it.
Day 415 (Ship Day 11)
This day brought with it a pleasant blend of the old and new. I was sent off to catch some crabs for the crews’ dinner. This almost made me feel back home, the cool waters and the hot sun were very reinvigorating. However, not all was so blissfully reminiscent. While crabbing myself and a few others were set upon by some large beasts that were later described to me as reefclaws. They resembled lobsters, but were the size of a small man and covered in cruel, poisoned barbs. Fortunately we were able to kill them without any serious injuries, and afterwards Ambrose taught me a delightful recipe for Reefclaw Soup.
Day 417 (Ship Day 13)
This has been a very eventful day. Firstly, for the last two days the wind has become very weak, and eventually died altogether. This is an understandable disaster for a ship with limited supplies, but it was incedible how quickly the crew started to blame others for nature’s whim. The especially turned upon a half-orc called Jasper, who was captured with me two weeks ago. They claimed he was cursed, and tried a great many suggestions for someway to break it, including attacking the mast. This seemed a most counterproductive solution. Eventually they decided that Jasper, myself and the others who were captured recently should row to a nearby island and sacrifice a noble Boer Goat. He had been kept below in the stores for meat! Fortunately the fellows I were with were amenable and allowed me to free the him once we reached the island. While the island isn’t as fine a home as I would have liked to have provided, it was still preferable to a life as a prisoner.
It seems that the sacrifice was merely a pretence, and our true goal was to capture more unwitting souls for the ship. There were four people stranded on this island, and they were near the point of starvation, so they reluctantly agreed to follow us. However, this island wasn’t as uninhabited as it appeared, and several small creatures, called ‘gremlins’ attacked us. They were scaley, slimey creatures, which walked like a man, but were the size of a young boy. We killed them in self defence, but they were led by an evil hag, who would surely hunt and kill the goat once we had left, so to protect him the hag had to be killed. I am unsure of the motivations the others had for killing the hag, but their help was invaluable. I am starting to feel humbled amongst my fellows, as some, particuarly a man called Titus, possess a fine martial prowess. However, I am still learning, and training, so I hope to stand with them on equal footing soon.
I got the feeling that it was in fact this hag that had caused to drop in the wind, as the wind returned as soon as she died. This pleased the crew, and turned their muderous attentions away from the innocent Jasper.
Day 419 (Ship Day 15)
Today myself and my fellow captives were taught how to board another vessel. It was simple enough, but the man Titus seems to delight in competing with me. This even drives him to sabotage my efforts. I do not understand what I have done to offend him, but I will do my best to avoid his frustrations.
The lesson when fairly well, but having it troubled me. I do not wish to be a part of an attack on any ship. While sailing as a trader I heard of many tales of pirate attacks, and know them to be brutal and bloodly. Few people are spared, and many are killed simply for the evil enjoyment of killing. While I feel it would a valuable experience to live through a pirate raid first had, I do not relish the thought of ending an innocent life in pursuit of riches.
Day 425 (Ship Day 21)
The last three days have been almost unbearable. It started with myself hearing a cry from the bilges while I was working in the kitchen. I went out to investigate and found that Mameha, the exotic woman who was captured with me, was being attacked by two ruffians. Not knowing who had instigated the attack, but seeing that Mameha was badly hurt, I jumped down to attempt to diffuse it. However, I was quickly turned apon by the ruffians and was overpowered. I was knocked uncoscious by a blow to the head and regained consciousness in a small metal box. I spent a long time in this box. I now know that it was just over a full day, but it felt like a lifetime. The box was on deck, and the punishing sun heated the box to an unbearable temperature. I was trapped in a constant waking nightmare, not knowing if I was sleeping or awake. Fortuantely, the kindly sailor woman called Sandara was occasionally allowed to give me some water. I also found that I was in a box next to Mameha. Her occasional conversations kept me going through the suffering, but I was grieved that so gentle a flower must also suffer such a fate.
When I was eventually let out I was given merely a few hours to recover before being informed that we were about to launch an attack on a trading ship. I went out on deck to prepare myself, and to my horror saw that the ship we were about to attack was an Alarisian trading vessel. The battle was quickly joined, but my heart was not in the fight. MY brothers were being killed by the people I have come to know as friends. I dispaired at the sight, but was eventually forced across to the other ship by the treats of those behind me.
On board I encountered a Suli and his soul-bound Efreeti. They proved a powerful pair and I was overcome by a blow to the head from the Efreeti. The regained my senses briefly a few times during the fight, but all I remember is seeing blood and carmage and chaos. Such violence I had never seen before. The crew of the Alarisian vessel were being butchered, dozens died in a matter of minutes and all I could do is stand an watch and mourn. A small part of me was lost in that fight. I felt so powerless, so lost. The hate in men was never more aparrant than that moment. Lives lost over the hope of gold.
After the fighting I went back to the kitchen and sat there fore many hours. I was at the point of collapse, but I dreaded what horrors my dreams may bring. I now see the purpose of the Pilgrimage. I would have never believed, or truely felt, what I do now if I were merely told it. To experience this is to know man, and to fear the cruelty that lives in us all.
Day 426 (Ship Day 22)
I was relieved to hear that several of the crew of the Alarisian ship, called The Man’s Promise, had survived and agreed to join the crew. Among them, the Suli Soul-Bound, who I found was called Kitesh. He is a quiet man, not quick to anger, but as I know, a powful advesary. I had heard of the Soul-Bound before, but had never met one. So in my spare time, I attempted to converse with him and learn from him.
With the addition of a new ship, new crew had to be sent over to man it. Myself and my fellow cpatives, as well as Ambrose, Sandara and several others who had treated me kindly were sent over. So too was Kitesh, and several of the crew who had taken an active dislike towards my fellows. The next few days will surely prove eventful, as tensions aboard The Man’s Promise are very high, and near breaking point.
Day 430 (Ship Day 26)
My predictions have proven true. The crew aboard The Man’s Promise have mutinied and killed the captain. It was a mercifully short battle, with few deaths, and after the captain fell the remaining hostile crew quickly gave up the fight. However, during the battle some strange creatures appeared on deck. They appeared as frogs crossed with men, and I do not know if they were somehow summoned, or appeared by chance, but they attacked indiscriminately and chose no side amongst thew warring crew. Unfortunately in the combat one of my fellow captives, Edward, suffered a grievous injury, and lost a leg. He lives, but will have to suffer with his loss for the rest of his life.
I regret that violence was called for, but know that without drastic action myself and those of the crew who had shown us kindness would have met with an unkind fate. After the fight a count was taken and we were found to be missing Sandara and another crewmate who I do not know. We believe that they had been taken by the foul creatures that appeared during the battle. Titus again proved himself a useful ally by discovering that the creatures were residing on a nearby island, and so that is the likely location of our missing crew.
One problem with the mutiny was quickly revealed in that we now had to decide on a new captian. Both Mameha and Edward were in competition for the role. Both had strong claims to the role, but I felt that both were too eager. I am suspicious of their true motivations, as I would not want to replace one cruel tyrant with another. However, eventually they decided to share the role. This appears to me a flawed idea, but I am happy to see what comes of it. Mameha will lead the ship during normal sailing, but Edward will assume command during battle, which I can agree with, as I find it hard to see such a gentle creature as Mameha leading a charge or ordering an attack.
The rest of the ship’s roles were placed according to who the crew felt would best fill the roles. I stayed as the cook’s mate, as I enjoy my work, and as I feel I am getting quite proficient in the kitchen. Unfortunately though, there was no-one to take the role of ship’s surgeon/carpenter, and for some reason I was asked to take the role, at least until Sandara is found. I reluctantly accepted, but found my task much more difficult than I imagined. Firstly we had been experiencing another storm, which had caused us to collide with a reef, causing some damage to the hull of the ship. Also, I had to tend to Edward’s leg, something I was wholely inexperienced at. Gratefully, Badger aided me and between us we were able to make adequate repairs to the ship and staunch Edward’s wound. However, I do hope we find Sandara soon as I do not feel that a life as a surgeon is what I am best suited to, and although I am glad to have experienced it, I am eager to hand the role to someone more capable than myself.
Day 432 (Ship Day 28)
Such pain as I have never known. I am currently lying on the surgeon’s table, under the gentle care of Sandara, who we were able to rescue. Myself and several of my fellows went to the island in search of Sandara and the other missing crew member. After some time we eventually found an underwater cave which we believed to be where they were being held captive. As one of the better swimmers I went in first, but soon discovered the cave filled with vile creatures the others called ‘Greendiloes’. They fought ferociously agianst our intrusion, but we eventually managed to beat them back, with a great deal of difficulty. However, eventually we came to a large chamber. Within this chamber was a creature born of both the ocean and hell. It was larger than a fishing boat and lashed out with many wickedly barbed tentacles. We fought it defensively, trying to make sure no-one would be snared in it’s grasp, but in a cruel moment my leg was siezed and it plunged me feet first into it’s mouth. I remember little of what happened after that, but I awoke back on board the ship, with Sandara standing over me. I am in such pain, looking down I see what remains of my left leg. It is a mangled stump below the knee, and I was told I was lucky to have that much. I’m not sure what kind of fate awaits me now. I have lost something most precious to me. It will take a long time for me to be able to return to my normal life. I doubt I could even stand as I am now. Sandara informs me that with a wooden leg I should be able to walk around, and possibly still even swim. In my current condition her words ring hollow and meaningless. Even still, I am glad to have so caring a healer. I am eternally grateful to her, and others, who managed to bring back to safety. To have ended my story in that cave would have brought no good to anyone.
Day 433 (Ship Day 29)
I reluctantly went with several of the crew back to the island today. The ship is in desperate need of wood, water and food, as the storm had caused much of the ship to be damaged, and stores lost. With my missing leg I stayed on the beach and aided the cutting and transporting of the trees on the beach. I began work on crafting a wooden leg for myself and Edward. I have several ideas for how to improve on the standard design which should return some specific function to the user. Edward’s will be made with a hooked end, which should help him with climbing rigging. Mine will more likely have a flattened end, like a flipper, to help me with swimming. It is unlikely that either of us will ever return to how we were.
Titus, Memeha, Gian, Jasper and some other crew members ventured further into the island to see if there was any useful supplies to be found, and more importantly, to find a fresh supply of water. They succeeded, but returned gravely wounded, and Jasper was deathly ill. I was told he was infected with a Ghoulish sickness, which if it should kill him will return him as a flesh eating monster. I surely hope we can find a way to help him.
These last few days have been a terrible experience. To experience so much pain, suffering and violence in such a short time, it has been an awakening for me. I have decided to dedicate myself to ‘The Way of the Bent Knee’. As such I pledge myself to the captians and officers of this ship. I will serve them in whatever way they require of me, and I will do so until the end of my journey. They have earned my respect, and so they shall have my obedience. I know my father would be dissapointed, but I cannot live my life by his way. The always wished I would choose ‘The Way of the Closed Fist’ like him, but I feel a life of trying to forge my own way with violence and aggression is not for me. I have seen what happens when men use force to take what they want, and I will not walk down that path. My path is set now, with this ship, and this crew. They will guide me, and I them, and together we shall forge our own way.
Day 436 (Ship Day 32)
The last few days have been pleasantly uneventful. I have had some time to recover by health and spirit. I have been able to carve myself a leg out of some palm wood we recovered on the island, and now I am able to move around again with relative haste. While I mourn the loss of my limb I must try to make do with what I still have. Fortunately my work rarely involves much running or climbing, or else I think I would have far more difficulty fulfilling my duties. I have also been spending several hours training in my new combat style. ‘The Way of the Bent Knee’ favours defence and holding one’s position, which is serendipidous considering my new state.
This evening we have sighted Rickity Squibs, a place I am told we can alter the ship’s appearance, so that we are harder to spot as being ‘The Man’s Promise’. This will be invaluable in avoiding Captain Harrigan’s wrath.
Day 438 (Ship Day 34)
I have cherished being back aboard land for more time than it takes to kill it’s inhabitants. I have spent some time regaining my ‘land legs’ and walking in the woods that surround the town. I have also had the opportunity to earn some money by setting up a small food stall. I have mainly been selling food that typifies the food I would have eaten at home, although it must be adapted to accomodate the lack of certain ingredients.
However, less enjoyable was a sudden attack by a swarm of freakishly large wasps. They killed several of the towns people, but fortunately the crew of the Man’s Promise were able to escape alive. I am no longer surprised by the sheer consistency of the leathality of these islands. No matter where we go, or what we do, deadly monsters are not far behind. It feels almost as if there is some powerful force at work, guiding these creatures to us, as a punishment, or test. Either way, I am determined to survive, and to live long enough to return home and speak my story to my people.
Day 439 (Ship Day 35)
Today, my companions and myself narrowly avoided a conflict with a highly regarded pirate captain. It seems he was in need of the Squibs services, and as our ship was currently in the dry dock, we reached somewhat of an impass. Fortunately we were able to strike a deal. We agreed to undertake a mission for him where we will attack a fort, and in return he will not kill us and take our gold. It was unexpected, but fair, considering the alternative. However, I do not look forward to the assault. It will surely be grueling and dangerous, and will involve attacking those with which I have no quarrel. On the other hand, I have been doing that for some time now, so am getting used to it. I am beginning to miss my home, and the peace and tranquility of the life I lead there, but while I am here, I will attempt to walk the path that is being laid out before myself and my companions and learn from it as best I can.
Day 440 (Ship Day 36)
We set sail again today. In some ways I was glad to be back on the ocean. I’m starting to feel more at home on the sea than on land. I have my role to fill and I enjoy my work. However, the peace onboard was broken by a surprise inspection of the crew’s lockers and possessions. I can understand the Captains wanted to avoid any leathal conflicts onboard, but forcibly searching the crew has been terrible for their spirit. Tensions are running high, and I fear that soon there will be an unpeasant situation for the officers, as they lose the support of the crew.
I feel that I should attempt to help calm the crew. I have been making sure that the crew are well fed and have plenty of access to the ‘rum’ they like, but its not enough. I’m not sure what more I could do at this moment, but certainly something needs to be done.
It’s times like this I wish I had an intimate relationship aboard this vessel; someone with who I can share my thoughts and desires. I have been watching many of my other companions and have seen them grow very close to other members of the crew: Gian has Cog, Titus has Samms, Jasper has Rosie. My closest friend aboard this ship is Ambrose, and while I enjoy is sporadic bouts of curse words and infeasable stories, I would like to have someone who cares for me. I am becoming quite lonely. I have found myself a one-legged cook’s mate, aboard an unknown pirate vessel, with noone who knows me. Nevertheless, this is the path that has been laid before me, and I must trust that it has been done so for a reason. I will walk my path and learn from the experiences it brings.
Day 441 (Ship Day 37)
Today we met with another ship in order to plan the attack on the fort. I missed much of what was exchanged between the captains as I was busy below deck, but from what I can gather we will stealthly unload the fort of it’s bounty while the other ship distracts the fort’s defenders.
I must admit I am slightly hesitant about engaging an enemy I know nothing about, and could be good men. However, we honourably entered into this deal, and so I have no choice but to assist the captains in their assault of the fort. I have also begun to challenge my previously held notions of good and evil. It is evil to attack a man in order help another? I’m not sure. I had been taught to only use violence as a last resort, but here, on these wild oceans it seems to be the currency and the one universal language. Besides, I have never before attacked an Urnst fort. I hear their soldiers can be quite proficient and dedicated; I look forward to testing myself against them. It will surely be an experience to remember.
Day 442 (Ship Day 38)
Once again I came perilously close to death today. We launched our attack with the rising sun, using it to our advantage to approach the fort undetected. However, we were still spotted before we made it to the walls and were fired upon, luckily resulting in little harm. At the walls a crane manned by some of our allied pirates began lowering good down to our ship. However, their position was very hazardous, so serveral of the crew, myself included scaled the walls to go to their aid. Unfortunately the walls were well defended and we lost three of the four allies in the fort. Jasper was also forced to destroy the crane in a dramatic fashion to slow the reinforcements. This prevented us from obtaining all the good we could, but at this point the heavy weapon at the fort had been brought to bear against us, and there was no way for us to hold our position. Even Gian, posibly the most capable of my companions, was badly hurt and required aid in escaping with the rest of us.
Once back aboard the ship we set sail again, but found that the inhabitants of the fort had a ship of their own and were giving chase. Having had a head start, they soon caught us and Captain Mameha was forced to ram the enemy ship. This worked quite well in our advantage, as it caused far more damage to them than us, and allowed Titus to throw a barrel filled with fire onto the deck of the pursuing vessel! However, it did mean we were within baording distance, but we were fortunate and defended ourselves well. We were even able to press our advantage back over onto the enemy ship. This gave the crew an opportunity to engage in their most favourite of activities: steal what you see. I cant say I approve, but in order to fit in I felt I should give it a go. Although, we had limited time, as an explosion below decks caused the enemy ship to start sinking. I was surprised by this, as I assumed that there was no honour to be found in these waters. These Urnst soldiers would rather die than become slaves to their enemies; which also applied to their vessel.
With this over we regrouped with our allies and split the spoils. I’m not certain, but I think I saw some of the crew hiding some of the shared bounty in hidden compartments at the behest of the Captains. I’m sure they had their reasons, but I am uncomfortable betraying men who put their lives at risk to help us. However, I held my tounge, as I did not see everything, and besides, I am only the cook’s mate and my word has little sway on this ship. This is something I am, and should, coming to accept. Earlier today, while being pursued by the Urnst ship I attempted to help the crew by preparing them mentally for, what I perceived, as a certain battle. However, this caused many of the crew to prepare themselves physically, and by doing so removed themselves from vital positions. I should learn from now on to keep myself removed from speaking out of turn and remember that I am not a sailor, I am only a humble fisherman. By pretending otherwise I only harm others and myself.
Day 443 (Ship Day 39)
Today’s sailing was quite pleasant and relaxed. Also, Captain Mameha asked if I would be willing to take the position of ship’s carpenter. I was slightly surprise and flattered. I accepted, but am fairly hesitant about if I will be competent. I have helped repair fishing boats back in Karubaq, and my recent experience with carving has helped remind me of some of the old tricks, but still, a large ship such as this is beyond me. Nevertheless I will try my best. We ended the day moored in an inlet close to where the crew were promised that we would find riches and plunder.
Since today had gone well I felt it was a good opportunity to discuss my idea for helping raise the crew’s morale. I suggested that a friendly boxing evemt might help the crew to vent some of their frustrations. It was often the case at home for the men to fight if they had some kind of quarrel. It was always well regulated and overseen by an elder, and would often resolve the issue before it had a chance to fester. In the absence of an elder I offer that I oversee the fights. However, when I finished explaining the rules I suggested that Titus demonstrate the rules by challenging a crew member. I was quite surprised when he challenged me. I know Titus is a good fighter, so I thought he could display his prowess to the crew in order to improve his esteem amoung the crew. However, I do not pull my punches.. and neither did he. We were both injured from the fight, but since I defeated Titus my plan slightly backfired.
Later that night I was woken to the sounds of fighting above me. I got out of bed and rushed out to see what was happening, but ran straight into a group of strange creatures outside the crew’s quarters. They appeared to me to be a cross between a shark and a man, wielding spears and crossbows. I decided to fall back to the stairs in order to draw the creatures away from the sleeping crew and to force them to come at me one by one. I was unfortunately still quite painful from by bout with Titus and so struggled. Thankfully I had Jasper and Sandara at my back to help, and Gian and Ben quickly appeared to lethal effect. With that over I returned to my bed to recover.
I am continually surprised by Gian’s deadly efficiency. She seems to strike quickly and always with brutal accuracy. I think it would be wise to stay on her good side. Thankfully she seems to have taken a liking to me and presented me with a cake for helping her in the raid on the fort. I was very grateful for her gift and shared it with some of my friends on board the ship.
I was also invited to join Titus, Jasper, Rosie and Edward for what they call a ’Gentleman’s Club’. This name confused me as Rosie is neither a man or gentle, but when I queried this I was quite fiercly rebuked, so I think it would be better to leave it alone. I am grateful for the invite and I feel that maybe I am starting to be accepted.
Day 444 (Ship Day 40)
We had planned to leave our mooring today, but as we travelled up the inlet we encountered a huge ship which I was told belonged to the Capataverate. I had heard of them, but didn’t think I would find myself in such immediate danger from them.
After some scouting it was decided that we should sabotague the ship in order to slip past without fear of pursuit. I volunteered to help the boarding party as I felt that I could more easily damage vital components. We waited till the cover of darkness and made our attack. In the group was Titus, Jasper, Gian and myself. We managed to get aboard relatively easily, but once inside the rudder room we attracted the attention of some the enemy sailors. I helped Titus hold back the sailors while Gian and Jasper disabled the rudder before making our escape. We mostly managed to escape without injury, except for Gian who took a brutal wound from a crossbow bolt as we swam away. She was worryingly close to death before Sandara was able to stop the bleeding, but I am told she will make a full recovery.
Day 445 (Ship Day 41)
Today has been fairly uneventful. I have been continuing with my duties as Ship’s Carpenter. I think I am certainly gettting a feel for the work. Gian has been recovering, and I managed to find time to bring her some Shorbat, she seemed to appreciate that. I’m glad Cog also managed to find to visit.
I am told that tomorrow is going to be a big day. We have a map with the locations of various lizard nests. As far as I know these lizards are large and vicious creatures. They attack without provocation and without mercy. I am also told that they have a tendency to hoard gold. I am helping Ambrose prepare tomorrow’s breakfast in advance as we plan to attack with first light. I hope all goes well tomorrow, I am getting a little tired of constant violence.
Day 446 (Ship Day 42)
I was very much lied to. As I write this I am sitting on a beach watching a village burn. The attack didn’t go quite as I expected. I was informed that we would be attacking simple animals, but instead we came up against organised defences. These lizard-people were more than animals, they had homes, leaders, families. This is surely the last time I trust Titus’ word.
The attack itself was hard going. We lost one of the crew and several others were badly wounded. Gian once again found herself on the receiving end of a vicious injury. I can’t help but feel sorry for her, she has been having a hard time of late. Also, Jasper, in an attempt to aid me was terribly wounded, losing an eye in the process. I will do what I can to repay him for his valour. However, I have no sympathy for Titus, despite the injuries he received. His leading of the crew was laughable. His ‘orders’ were to stay onboard the ship and attack from afar, which is a decent plan, but of course the crew, upon sight of a huge statue of gold, jumped overboard and made for the shore. However, Titus’ true error lay in the handling of the disobedience. He scolded them like children, grown men and women. Even in my peaceful home would such flagrant disobedience warrant more than a ‘telling off’. I am also beginning to question the wisdom of having two Captains. When the crew are unsure of what to do, they do not know who to turn to. Often I would see them glancing between Edward and Captian Mameha, not sure who was in charge. While it didn’t cause to much trouble today, I think it may prove to be a folly in the future.
I feel I have learned a lot from this attack. I have seen what tactics and weakness are to be found in the raiding pirates. They will act impulsively, almost recklessly, in order to obtain riches. This will surely be useful in the defence of Karubaq. If we were to place an obvious display of wealth in a clear sight then the attackers will be drawn to it like a moth to a flame. Then they will be vulnerable to counter-attack.
However, I do feel bad for having attacked this village and killing so many innocent ‘people’, even though I was following the orders of my Captain. Despite their solid defence they seemed to be a mostly peaceful fishing village, not unlike my own home. I can’t help but feel a bit of kinship with these lizards, and that we will be punished for this act somehow….
Punishment was swift and terrifying. As the village burned, a terrible roar was heard from across the inlet, and the shape of a Dragon was seen flying directly towards us. The crew panicked and fled in all different directions. I took shelter behind a beached canoe and waited. What I saw was incredible. Edward at the top of his lungs began shouting about how pleased he was to see the Dragon. I couldn’t believe my ears, and apparently neither could the Dragon, as it landed with a crash only a few feet from him. I had never before seen a real Dragon. It was a creature of majesty and power. It’s scales were like beaten bronze and looked as hard as steel. It addressed Edward with a voice unlike anything I have heard before. It was a voice that expected unwavering loyalty and as powerful as a crash of thunder. It began questioning him on his reason for being here, and what happened to the village. Edward’s lies held up well, but the Dragon was no simple beast, and began to suspect trickery. At that point Edward fired his pistol at the Dragon, merely a few feet from it. The Dragon’s reaction was immediate and violent. The ensuing combat was ferocious. I will admit, at first, I was hesitant to engage it with my fists, and instead chose to use my crossbow. Edward, Gian and myself managed to score a few good hits before it flew off, only to return with a Lizard man as a rider. Between them they rained fire and lightning down on the crew. Injuring Edward, Captain Mameha and Gian quite badly. I was still sheltered some way down the beach, so was relatively ignored. However, it wasn’t long before the dragon turned his attention to me. It swept down towards me, and it’s rider fired deadly rays of fire. I was able to dodge away, but the Dragon landed next to me, and I had nowhere to run. I had to fight it.
My plan was simple. If I got onto the back of the Dragon it would have difficulty attacking me with its claws and teeth, since its arms and neck weren’t that long. It worked briefly, but required me to grapple with it’s rider. I was even able to use my perch to attack at the back of the Dragon’s neck. This caused it to rear up and throw me from it, back onto the beach. I lay there dazed and confused. I tried to crawl away, but was too disorientated. However, to my surprise I saw Jasper and Titus appear infront of the dragon, squaring off against it. They both leveled guns and fired. The blast caught the Dragon in the chest, killing it, and causing it to crash down beside me. The Lizard rider promptly surrendered.
I regained my senses and thanked my rescuers. The next few hours saw myself, and all the other crew profient with the skinning, gutting and filetting of animals, carve up the Dragon. I was informed by Jasper that many of the dragon’s organs are very valuable. I was also asked by Cog to keep an eye on Gian, as she was wounded by the dragon. I agreed, looked around and saw her being carried on deck by Titus. Since she was clearly in safe hands I let her go, but still asked if Badger could make sure she is well as she goes about her duties.
With the Dragon successfully disected, we packed it all onboard and enjoyed a hearty meal of dragon steaks. This seemed to cheer the crew and lift spirits after the bitter won victory over the Lizard people. I was also told that the Lizard rider had informed Captain Mameha of a secret cave where the dragon slept and kept it’s bounty. I am not sure why the Lizard would so freely give up this information, but I assume that their culture has little use for deceit or secrets. This makes me feel worse about the outcome of their seemingly harmonious existence.
Captain Mameha selected Titus, Jasper, Edward, Gian and myself to go with her to the cave. It took a little while to find it, as it was hidden behind ivy and creepers. Once inside I was in awe. It was a place of such beauty and serenity. I would have sorely liked to spend more time there, but we had pressing matters to attend to. Titus and Jasper swiftly located the ‘booty’ and we carried it back to the ship in sacks.
This day has been quite enlightening for me. I have seen the destruction and pludering of beauty, serenity and power, all by the hands of greedy and desperate men. I can’t help but feel that this is one event in the long path to the world’s end. All that is of worth in the world will be spoiled and tainted by lesser creatures and selfish desires. I will continue to record my travels, and do nothing to swerve from my given path, but once home, I know I will pledge my life to the preservation of the world’s peace, innocence and serenity.
Day 447 (Ship Day 43)
Today we continued our exploration and destruction of all that the Lizards’ hold sacred. We ventured into their temple with the hope of finding things of value to take. Unfortunately, all we found was pain and suffering. The temple was guarded by many traps, and the walking dead. We had barely made any ground into the temple before it’s defenders appeared. They were the animated skeletons of long dead Lizard people. They were heavily armed and led by a terrifing creature; it was much like the others, but larger and more preserved. It looked at me with it’s hollow eyes and I became rigid with despair. I tried to break out of my paralysis as the creatures stalked forward and started attacking my companions, but I couldn’t. Not until all seemed lost was I able to regain myself, but by that point Captain Mameha, Gian and Jasper had been incapacitated, and Edward was in the clutches of their leader. Titus and I were forced to fight back to back against many of the skeletons, and we both gave it our all. We fought for our lives and the lives of our friends, and thankfully we survived.
With the combat over, I helped to move my unconscious companions to safety while Titus kept watch. I didn’t say anything, but I saw that Titus was considering running away during the fight with the guardians. If he had, I, and everyone else, would have surely died. I am grateful that he made the noble choice, and I will endevour to repay his valour.
We returned to the ship defeated, but I think we will return tomorrow to try again.
Day 448 (Ship Day 44)
Today we re-entered the temple, recovered and re-armed. However, on the way over we came across a Lizardman on the beach. It quickly ran off into the jungle and we gave chase. It seems though we all had slightly different intentions regarding the creature. I wished to converse with it, but Edward had the sole desire of killing it. Gian, however, was the one who eventually reached it first and ended the lizard’s retreat with the flick of her wrist. Edward seemed pleased about this outcome, but was quite angry at me for not having the desire to kill this defenceless creature. Fortunately, Captain Mameha calmed him down before we made it to the temple.
To our surprise and relief we found the temple empty of further guardians, so we were free to explore without further injury. This didn’t stop Titus scaring Gian with a dead Dragon, he found it funny, but I suspect he’ll regret it in the future. Gian isn’t one to upset lightly.
What we did find in the temple was surprising. We found the body of a dead Gold Dragon, and an ornate chest, which was enchanted so that it was not fully of the physical world. It was visible, but you could pass your hand through it with the ease of air. Jasper and Captian Mameha conversed and agreed that we should bring it back to the ship for further study. This presented an entertaining problem as it would have to be moved on top of the black stone plinth on which it rested. Transporting it on the jolly boat through the breakers made me smile; Titus and Edward desperately tried to keep it level.
Back on the ship, one of the crew had some information about the nature of the chest. We were told we would have to venture into the spirit world in order to retrieve the contents of the chest. Everyone, including me, was very excited for this. In order to do this we had to create avatars for ourselves to occupy. Mine was carved from coral, but others opted for wood, silk or lead. We joined hands and underwent some strange ritual, and soon I was floating away, looking down at my body.
We found ourselves in a world made purely of darkness and light. The non-physical had become physical and our bodies were made of the substance from which we had carved our avatars. Even our clothing and weapons had taken on the nature of the material we were made of. The knives I carry had become the barbed spines of a fish and my trousers were like kelp. I also felt some elation to look down at my legs to see I had both. I ran around and performed some stances and found that my leg felt better, but still suffered from weakness.
We were told to follow a path which leads through a forest of shifting trees, which appeared as solid shadows. The others began joking, making up name for the plane we were in, and as they did so the very nature of the environment shifted to reflect the chosen names. Before long we came across a stepped pyramid that was a facsimile of the Lizard temple, except the walls were made of shards of impenetrable darkness. As we ventured closer I found myself suddenly inside a dark corridor, which was filled with water. I swam up to the surface and could see or hear nothing of my companions. The water filled corridor soon gave way to dry land, but the corridor split off into many intersections and I realised I was lost in a maze.
I didn’t have much time to dwell on this as a ghostly creature reached out of the wall and attempted to strike me. There was a quick combat, but the creature was not made out of solid material and my fists simply passed through it. However, I remembered a teaching of Elder Yusuf who often spoke of the enemy unseen and unfelt. Instead of swinging at it with just my body, I attacked with my mind and spirit too. The creature recoiled with the spiritual onslaught and fled back into the wall.
It wasn’t long before I heard sounds of my companions and made my way to them. They were also being ambushed by the ghostly creatures and also a solid creature, made of bone and a robe of shadow. We overcame them, but were shaken, as these creatures had the ability to disappear and reappear at will. It wasn’t long after that we found a chest of the same style as the one we found in the Lizard temple, but it was solid and wrapped in chains. Titus was short of patience, so cleaved the chains with his axe. The chains fell away and the chest opened, revealing a brilliant light. The dark temple melted away and we found ourselves standing in a pleasant meadow. We didn’t stay long and repeated the ritual to return to our physical bodies. I will miss this experience, and hope to someday return.
… (Ship Day 45)
Upon our return to our bodies we awoke on the floor of the cabin to the sound of shouts and the rolling of waves. We hastily regained our senses and made our way onto the deck. It seems that our spirit journey, despite feeling only hours, had taken just over a day, and that we were now in pursuit of a trading ship. Our aim was to board it and take everything of worth and hence live up to our name as pirates. The chase wasn’t very long, but the heavy winds made travelling dangerous, and we nearly lost crew to the waves. Once we caught up to the ship, Captain Mameha employed the ship’s ram and lodged our ship in the side of the enemy. Gian and I made our way over onto their ship and she taught me the true fleeting nature of life as men who were breathing and living one second were lifeless in another. We did manage to capture the Captain alive, who was not too happy to have been attacked. The ship was plundered, the surviving enemy crew were secured and we hailed a victory. I went to the officer’s quarters for some quiet in order to regain myself.
I reflect on the last month of my life. I have surely gained many experiences in a short time, much more than if I had decided to stay aboard the trading ship. I also use this time to think about the spirit world we had entered. I wonder if since time passed differently it might be possible to make it so that time passed slower in the spirit world. I would be able to spend days in peaceful meditation and only hours will have passed in the physical world. To be able to do this would mean people could reach enlightenment a few years, instead of the decades it normally takes. The wisdom and teachings of the Elders would be so vastly increased, and found in much younger ages. They would then have the strength and energy to travel to our brothers in far off lands. I will endeavour to learn the method for transporting into the immaterial world; it would surely be a wonderful gift for my brothers and sisters.
Day 450 (Ship Day 47)
The last two days have been pleasantly uneventful. We are sailing to Rickety Squibs again, in order to sell the captured ship. I have had time to myself, and to relax. I have also taken the time to speak to Giffer about the spirit world she introduced me too. She explained that what I propose is inpractical, as the spirit world is often a dangerous place. Despite this I would still like to learn more. It may one day be made safer.
Day 451 (Ship Day 48)
We had an unpleasant surprise today. Rickety Squibs had been razed, there were no survivors and all the buildings had been destroyed. Titus believes the attackers were the shark people that attacked our ship a few weeks ago. They seem to be becoming more aggressive and tales of their raids have been circling the ship for some time.
This was not helped later in the day, as we found Rickety’s own ship. It appeared to me as if they tried fleeing, but the ship was clearly dead in the water, and was sinking. One of the crew was sent over to investigate, but she didn’t return. I went over, with Edward and Gian, to discover that the shark men were onboard, and our crew member dead. We defeated the shark men and carried the falled crew member back to our ship. I felt uneasy with this, as Jasper was close with her. I expressed my sympathies, but Jasper was too emotional to accept my words.
With this loss we make our way to Drakeclaw, a small town south of here. Our hope is to sell off the various goods we have collected and to give the crew some much needed rest. I have to admit I would cherish some time on land, especially in a civilised town. Although, I have been warned that the degree of civility may not be what I hope for. Even still I have hope for some pleasant experiences and a chance to learn more about this culture I find myself in.
Day 452 (Ship Day 49)
We landed in Drakeclaw today. The heat of the town almost reminded me of home, but for the wetness in the air. The crew eargerly scattered into the town, and I have to admit I was quite excited to explore. I accompanied Gian for a while, finding ourselves in a weaponsmith, where she could have some dragon claws made into daggers. She then advised we go to the temple for The Great Wheel. She claims these are the gods of civilised people, but when we got there it seemed quite unused and unwelcoming. The cleric there answered my questions with a great deal of enthusiasm, but little knowledge. So then I set off for the larger temple devoted to the goodly dragon god called Bahamut. This temple was a much grander, but I could tell I was less welcome. The priest there answered my questions with much more knowledge, but far less enthusiasm. It is unfortunate that they are mutually exclusive. However, the priest did say that it may be possible to restore my lost leg. At this my heart soared, and I agreed to do whatever I he asked. Sadly, he not only asked for a large sum of gold, he also asked that I investigate a new drug that has been found in Drakeclaw. The priest knows little about the drug or where it is coming from, and so asked me to put a stop to it’s distribution. I readily agreed, perhaps a bit too hastiliy, but he seemed dubious about my ability to accomplish this task. So, in order to reassure him, and to ensure he would maintain his end of the deal, I gave him a portion of the gold he asked for.
The tavern he recommended as my starting point was already filled with smoke when I arrived, and to my surprise many of my companions were already there. I asked around about the drug, but had little success. I was told though that the supplier had just left, and was due to come back, so I am waiting. While I wait, I joined my companions in a tent where, supposedly, our futures will be revealed. I have to admit, I was a little disappointed by my reading, as she simply said I would receive ‘a gift of flesh’. I can only assume that means my leg, and while it is impressive she knew, it tells me nothing. I now sit in the tarvern waiting for the supplier to return, with the hope he will be forthcoming about the source of the drug.
Day 453 (Ship Day 50)
I have returned from the temple today, and for the first time in a month, on both legs. I cannot describe the joy I feel for having my leg returned. I know I should not place too high a value on the magical powers of mages and priests, but I cannot be amazed at the power shown by the emissary of Bahamut, the dragon god.
Last night I spent several hours investigating the source of the drug, and discovered that the leader of the operation was called Johan the Knife. However, no sooner had I discovered this, the city was attacked by a swarm of shark men. They began killing innocent citizens as soon as they arrived, but it was clear that myself and my companions were the real target. I did my best to save as many as I could, but lives were lost. Fortunately, the shark men were defeated, and I am told that their leader was none other than the Queen who we encountered many weeks ago. It seems that she had been following us for some time, but with her death, I hope that we will see the end of them.
Afterwards I assisted the guard in clearing the bodies of the fallen. This gave me a good opportunity to find out more about Johan, who I am told lives in a camp a few miles into the forest. I was also told that what he is doing is perfectly legal in the city of Drakeclaw. So despite the damage he is doing, there is nothing the guard can do. It also means that if they were to be killed, the killers would be guilty of murder.
In the next morning I set off with my companions to find this Johan. With their help he was quickly located. I first tried asking him to stop, for the good of the people, but his greed was worth more to him than the health of the city. They quickly resorted to violence, and in the ensuing fight I was badly injured and Johan escaped. However, we were able to capture his supply of drugs, meaning that the city will be rid of it for at least some weeks. Jasper and Titus took charge of the drugs, assuring me that they would be better taken from the city, than being given to the guard, who would probably use it.
My return to the temple left me in awe. There was a large silver coloured dragon standing in the centre. Raised up on his hind legs, he was surely a sight to behold. He thanked me for my service, and despite not being able to capture Johan, he was grateful for the work I had done. More-so than the preists, who did not look so kindly on my efforts. I paid the balance, and the dragon took me aside before casting his spell.
I have to admit, the process was most unpleasant. To see my leg regrow itself distrubed me greatly, and despite my curiousity, I could not help but wince. My bones regrew first, followed by flesh, then skin. Afterwards I was left with a leg which looked as if it had never been used. The skin was pale and smooth, with no hair, and no muscle tone. However, the feeling of having it returned turned me to tears, and I thanked the dragon with all my heart. I cannot help but feel guilty about the death of the bronze dragon back in the lizard man town. If we was anything like the one I met today, its death is surely a loss to us all.
I now wait for the rest of my companions to meet back at the tavern. I have been told that Edward would like to visit an old man in a tower, who has power over curses. I think they want to finally put to rest the rumours of Jasper’s curse.
Day 454 (Ship Day 51)
I am sitting in a dark room. My head feels as if I have spent the night being beaten. I can barely stand, I can barely think, and I am pretty sure that the life I knew is over. I’m not even sure what I am doing any more. My head is telling me to stop, that this is pointless, but my heart says continue.
Yesterday I met with a man who by all accounts was an Elder, but what he said was unbelievable. He claimed my home, Karubaq, has been destroyed for nearly 500 years. I obviously regected this, it was impossible. I was there, I grew up there. I have family, friends and memories there, but the more he talked and explained, the more unsure I grew. He gave me a book about the destruction, and it’s details were uncanny. If it were untrue it was surely an inpractically elaborate hoax. To know this much about Karubaq would surely require someone who had spent time there to write it. It also looked old, very old. I am no expert, but I don’t know how you would go about making a new book look centuries old. As I read it, about the Elders who trained me, who guided me, my father, my home, I became aware of the fact that I was weeping. The way they described the last stand of my family. They fought to the last. The women and children gathered in the main temple. The Elders, with the aid of my father, gathered the men in the entrance. They fought for days, without sleep, without food or water. I cannot help but feel a sorrowful pride in this. My people, fighting against an unstoppable army, took such a toll as to ensure their sacrifice was not forgotten… But they all died. They died 500 hundred years ago. They are gone, Karubaq is gone, and I remain.
What do I do now? I have no home to go to. I have no Elders to give my journal, no means of completing my prilgrimage. They don’t even do pilgimages anymore! They have gone along with everything else. I am lost in time, the last pilgrim of Karubaq.
Day 456 (Ship Day 53)
I have spent the last few days visiting Elder Darshan and his pupil Cael. I have been learning about how the martial art of Mysrh Alfwaq has changed over time. Unfortunately the Elder is not a master of combat, favouring the mental arts, but even still he knows more than I, and to practice with Cael has made me feel that small piece of home again. He continues to educate me on how Mysrh Alwfaq has changed. It is no longer based in Alaris, instead it has moved to this continent. To an area far to the north. I will be sure to visit there one day.
I have slowly been coming to terms with my reality. I have to admit it was hard to accept, but this is my path now. I cannot reject what I am forced into living, so I must find a way to walk it with my head held high. I know what I must do now. I will return to Karubaq with a journal full of a life lived and experience gained. I may not need my journal anymore, but I made the promise to not return until it was full, and it is a promise I will keep. So until then I will still seek out the experiences life has to offer, I will learn all I can and return to home with all the wisdom of a completed pilgrimage.
Day 458 (Ship Day 55)
Today we encountered a pair of ships in the middle of a battle. The Captain immediately ordered us to engage and target the more threatening looking ship. It turned out to be a Capataverate ship, and it quickly turned to meet us. We quickly closed ground and boarded their ship. The fighting was hard, and wasn’t helped by the other ship also coming about to board us. Unlike the usual sailors we have encountered, these Capatarerate were trained soldiers, with thick armour and well trained. Fortunately the second vessel was also a pirate vessel, and decided they would fare better if they sided with us against the Capataverate. With that shift, the tide was quickly turned and the enemy vessel was overcome.
Captain Mameha made a deal with the other pirate captain for the enemy ship’s stores, but that meant giving up the surrendered soldiers. I do not know what will become of them, but I am sure it is a fate worse than they would have aboard our ship.
From what Titus told me later that day, the Capataverate follow an evil god, and will often pray to it. I cannot comprehend the reasons for this. An evil god would just as happily watch its followers die rather than help them. Why would a large and powerful civilisation chose this as their patron? It makes no sense to me, but they have clearly prospered, so there must be some benefit to it. Maybe their god delights in it’s followers, favouring them as long as they continue to do its will. I am sure this is not the last we will see of them.
Day 459 (Ship Day 56)
We will land in Mgange Cove tomorrow. I am told it is the centre of the Juju religion. I am not sure what I think of the Juju ways anymore. Only recently I thought it would make a useful tool to aid mediation, and so would help my people upon my return, but there is now no-one to return to. I may consider continuing to study it, but from what I have learned, the use of Juju brings more risk than benefit. I may therefore abandon its pursuit, and instead focus on learning more about the Lile ways, and how they have influenced Mysrh Alfwaq over the last 500 years.
I still find it hard to accept this. I do not know how I could have been shifted in time like this and while I know I cannot change it, I would like to understand it better. Maybe there is someone in Mgange that can help me to understand how this could have happened.
The last few days have given me a chance to get to know the new crew a bit better. The young girl Melanie has taken an interest in my meditations, and now joins me in the mornings. I enjoy the company, despite her difficulty keeping quiet. She gives me hope that Mysrh Alfwaq can be rekindled, with new people finding their way. However, less enjoyable is the interests of another crew member, who appears infatuated with me. She makes no secret of her physical desires, which makes me very uncomfortable. When I decide to join with someone, I would hope to have a union of the spirits, not just of bodies. I try to explain this to her, but it only seems to have the undesired effect, making appear to desire me more. I may need more time to understand this, and may require help from my companions.
Day 460 (Ship Day 57)
We landed in Mgange Cove today, the home of the Juju religion. Giffer told us to be wary of the laws of the land, which can be confusing and severe. I decided it best to stay with Captain Mameha and keep quiet. Unfortunately, she made her way straight to the main temple, or city hall, I am not sure. I was not welcome there, so I had the choice to wait outside or go find Jasper, Titus and Edward. I didn’t feel that waiting alone in a new and strange city was the wisest option, so I set off to find the others. I had no idea where they were, but figured the most likely location would be the tavern. I was not disappointed, and I found them in conversation with a group of surprisingly elegant looking patrons. I joined them, but kept quiet in the conversation. It seemed that a deal was being negotiated, and I’ve learned by now that my input in these deals is rarely appreciated. However, I was very surprised with both Edward and Jasper proposed a marriage with the two women in exchange for our assistance with some task. I didn’t know what do with me, so I returned to the ship, which is now quiet. I arranged for some repairs to be done which we are in dock, and I made myself some food. I am sitting on the back of the ship overlooking the bay. These last few months have been both terrible and amazing. I have done, seen and learned things I would never have imagined. I have grown stronger, faster and I hope, wiser. I am not the man that set out from Karubaq, or even who awoke on the Wormwood 57 days ago. I hope this change is for the better, and I find myself looking towards the future with hope.
Day 461 (Ship Day 58)
Today Captain Mameha informed the officers that we had been given a job to rescue a local village from mysterious attacks. She told us that it was for gold, but I do not think anyone really believed her. She has another reason for this job, but that is her right. We found the village in a terrible state. There were only a dozen survivors and they were mostly frail and exhausted. They told us that their friends and family had been drawn into the jungle my compelling music, and never returned.
We investigated the surrounding jungle, and with the aid of Captain Mameha’s strange animated statue we located a camp which was the source of the music. A spirit creature which had the body of a man and the legs of a goat was springing around playing music on a set of pipes with some bedraggled looking villagers wearily raising a glass in forced enjoyment. Titus, Jasper and Edward went forward to investigate. It was fortunate that Titus was there, as Edward and Jasper seemed more interested in joining the revelry than trying to ascertain the fate of the villagers. When Titus returned he explained that this creature was forcing the villagers to party until they expired. There were only 3 left, from a village of several score. Titus had struck a deal with the creature, where if we clear it’s home of evil wizards it would go back from whence it came, leaving the village in peace. I briefly raised the question of why we are allowing this clearly evil and dangerous spirit creature to dictate our actions, but my query was quickly dismissed.
Back at the village I did my best to secure the survivors in one of the few standing, defendable buildings. It appears that Titus used this opportunity to do some looting, I felt like intervening, but Captain Mameha seemed to be allowing it, so I let it pass. It was fortunate that the villagers were secured, as we were attacked during the night by a group of savage men and evil creatures. We were victorious, but something very peculiar happened during the combat. Captain Mameha began dancing as soon as the fighting began, and didn’t stop until it was over. She persisted despite receiving several injuries. It was quite disturbing, but fortunately she survived. She later explained she couldn’t stop, so we theorised that it must have been the goat spirit we encountered earlier.
I now sit with the surviving villagers as the other Basterd officers enjoy what of the villages alcohol remains. The villagers don’t seem best pleased, but I am sure they will be glad to be alive after the village is safe.
Day 462 (Ship Day 59)
We began the day by heading over to the goat spirit’s home, which turned out to be a graveyard. It was heavily defended by walking dead and two priests, who proved quite a challenge. They fought hard, but fled once it became clear that their ritual was ruined. Titus took particular pleasure in desecrating whatever these evil priests were doing. Mameha again began dancing at the onset of combat, but Gain seemed to sense that it was the boots that were gifted to Captain Mameha by the captain of the shark-man ship. Titus managed to remove them, but to my surprise they then exploded with a great deal of force. I have to admit, that fight looked a little dire, but I was proud of my companions, they held their ground and fought hard. Gian kindly let me use one of her fine knives which proved a more effective weapon against the walking dead than my fists.
We returned to the goat spirit with news that his home was now again vacant. He was pleased to have it again, but was dissatisfied by the news that the usurpers were not all killed. He made a terrible threat to destroy all the inhabitants of this island if he were again forced from his home. I felt that this threat should not be allowed to stand, but around us the forest came alive and walking trees strode forward in support of the goat. I looked at my companions who were tired and wounded. I could see they were not prepared for another fight, so on Captain Mameha’s command we left.
The villagers which remained reluctantly packed their belongings and left their home. There were so few of them, and little of what they originally cared for was left, so they decided it safer to make a new life in the main city of the island. They refused our offer of an escort. They were clearly distraught at the loss of their home.
Captain Mameha informed the leaders of the city of our work and we left the city in partnership with Edward’s and Jasper’s new betrothed. Our destination was Tidewater Rock, a fort which has supposedly been overrun by invaders, and rightly belongs to Edward’s fiancée. I look forward to seeing what ulterior motives will be revealed. However, taking back a fort should be quite exciting, and I am beginning to enjoy these adventures.
Day 463 (Ship Day 60)
Today we travelled to Tidwater Rock aboard the Dawn Traveller, which belongs to Jasper and Edward’s betrothed, the Smythees. They seem to be a very well off family and can afford many of the finer things in life. I am very surprised that they have agreed to be wed to my companions. It was explained to me that the only way that they could legally regain their home was if they were married. This appears to be a highly bizarre ruling, but none the less, it is in force. The Smythee women must have decided that the rule of their home was worth the cost of being married to pirates. I guess they hope that we will all sail off and never return after helping them. A very real possibility, but it still seems to me to be a shameful way to enter into a marriage.
I was very surprised today by Captain Mameha’s behaviour. She spent the day wooing the Smythee son. I didn’t know why for sure, but it appeared to me to simply be for sport. However, as I was heading for bed I overheard a commotion and found that Captain Mameha had agreed to marry the boy. I hate to admit it, but I think she may have just done it for a softer bed. I’m sure that is just cynical thinking, and I should be happy for her. Maybe she truly found a kindred spirit in this young man.
I am told that we will arrive at Tidewater Rock tomorrow morning. I am quite looking forward to this, as I think it would a good way for us to do some good. To free a tower from evil usurpers sounds like a fine thing to do. However, it will involve first infiltrating the town under false pretences. I am not sure how I feel about this. I am sure that the good people of Tidewater Rock will be very grateful to know that we have arrived to save them from the tyrant they are currently living under.
Day 464 (Ship Day 61)
Today has been very eventful, and not at all the way I had expected. When we arrived at Tidewater Rock we were briefed by one of the villagers who were working with the Smythees. He informed us that the town was almost completely controlled by the Baron. He was a man who worked for the Capataverate, the same organisation whose ship we encountered a few days ago. He had bought out the town guard and shipped in a group of elite soldiers. The people of the town had willingly given themselves over to this new ruler, adopting his foul religion and abiding by his laws. The plan was simple; we would enter the town together disguised as merchants, find a way into the tower and covertly overcome the Baron and his guards. While technically this was all accomplished, I think it probably could have been done better.
Captain Mameha began our plan by ordering me to act a mute, to not say a single word to anyone until she said so. She did this to negate my Vow of Truth. While I disagree with her use of her authority to force me to ignore my Vow, I can understand the tactical reasons behind it. The others do not understand or agree with my Vow, they think it is a foolish and dangerous way of living. I believe that the Truth will never harm more than it heals. Only the brave are able to face up to the truth, and accept it without reservation. I have lived this way for many years, and I know that my spirit is stronger for it.
We made it into the town without too many issues, but once inside everyone scattered. There was a tavern immediately inside the gateway which drew in most of my companions. The second the smell of cooking meat hit our group they were gone. Edward, Jasper, Gian and Captain Mameha thought it best to gather information in the tavern, since the shops were closed for lunch. However, Titus seemed to have plans of his own, and marched away without much explanation. I decided it safer to stay with the cart, as it was about to be taken to a merchant, and I know my companions wouldn’t be happy if their equipment was accidently sold to a local trader.
Later in the afternoon a loud bell was rung in the main street and I went to investigate. It was announced by the guard that the town was under blockade, which meant all was going according to plan outside of the town. I saw most of my companions scattered in the crowd, and Jasper, who was attempting to instigate a riot. I noticed a few guards whispering and pointing at him, but I was bound and so could not warn him of the attention he was drawing. I thought it best at this point to bring the equipment to Captain Mameha and the others in the tavern. The more concealable items were taken, but the rest had to be secured in Captain Mameha’s bedroom in the tavern. Our next steps were discussed and it appeared that Titus had quite independently decided to join the town guard. I am not very well accustomed with the rules of these types of towns, but I thought it unusual that they allowed a completely unknown villager to join and become a Sergant without anyone knowing who he was; maybe he impressed them with his swordplay… The rest of us would attempt to make contact with anyone sympathetic to the Smythees.
After several hours it was dark and the people were preparing to head to their temple for worship. I was very curious to know what evil gods expected of their followers, but I was ordered not to go by Captain Mameha. She said that I would be expected to do things I wouldn’t be able to do, such as making pledges, which is probably for the best but I would have still liked to have observed the everyday rituals observed by the profane. Instead Captain Mameha, Gain, Jasper and I went over to a different temple. It was much smaller and far more humble. Inside we were greeted by a confused old man, who mistook Gian for a woman from his past. All the events from that point took on a bit of a comical twist. The priest was questioned about his knowledge of the evil religion which has taken hold. He told us about a book which holds all the promises which have been made by the towns folk. Upon hearing about this book Jasper put down the golden bowl he was inspecting and ran out. Gian and Captain Mameha then began conferring. It was decided that we should now leave, as this old priest probably has little more to tell us, but that first we should steal the shiny sword hanging on the wall. So I silently observed as Captain Mameha distracted the priest while Gian scaled the wall to pry the sword off the wall.
After that, we went to meet a man who was willing to help us. He was only expecting Captain Mameha, so Gian and I concealed ourselves behind some crates. He appeared to me to be a very nervous man, who was quite unused to shadowy meetings. However, after a few minutes Gian leapt from her hiding place to attack the man, claiming he was working with the enemy. I figured I should probably help incapacitate the man quietly before we arouse the attention of the guard. He was quickly knocked unconscious and to my surprise his appearance changed and he became an armoured, armed man, wearing the symbol of the Capataverate. After some discussion Captain Mameha decided it would be better if we removed his gear and he was killed, and with that done we returned to the tavern to await the return of the rest of our companions.
It wasn’t long after our return before we all heard a loud crash downstairs and the sound of feet stomping up the stairs. We all assumed the worst and prepared for a fight. However, it was quickly decided that flight would be the better option, so I held the door while the others made their way out the window. The door was burst in by two of the town guard, but fortunately Gian and Captain Mameha were already outside, so I soon followed. There were more guards in the street so I ran in one direction while the Gian and Captain Mameha ran in the other. My aim way to draw away the guards so my companions could escape, but since that didn’t happen I re-joined them and we made a stand. Luckily we were able to defeat our attackers and return to retrieve the equipment we had left in our haste. We didn’t have too much time to rest though, as we saw a large explosion from the tower as it began firing upon the ships surrounding the island. We ran over and scaled the tower only to find Titus, Jasper and Edward running up the stairs from inside the tower. They were looking a little worse for wear, all of them having wounds and burns. We scared off the gun crew and Edward informed Captain Mameha that the Baron had been killed, meaning we had accomplished our goal. I am still unclear exactly what happened, but I am sure I will learn all the details in time. For now I am sitting comfortably behind the temple we visited earlier today. Captain Mameha has lifted her order since the need for secrecy is over. I paid a brief visit to the temple, making a small donation. I’m sure the sword was worth more, but hopefully he can feed more hungry mouths with the money than with a dusty sword.
I do hope that Captain Mameha doesn’t develop a taste for using her authority so directly. It was necessary, but unpleasant. Still, I am comfortable now under the stars, and tomorrow promises to be a better day.