We had fair sailing for a few days. Little did we know they were to be our last aboard the fair Rebecca. Iranthis warned us of great beasts in these waters but it wasn’t until the ship shuddered with the first impact, that we truly believed him.
It was at night and in a storm as these always are. We battled to keep the ship together but many of our crew including our super were swept into the maw of some vast monster of the deep. The captain and I were able to guide the ship and beach her, stranding us on the Savage Isle.
When morning came, we took account of our dead and began to salvage what we could from the hulk of the Rebecca. I took a small party west to seek out provisions as all our salt beef and much of other food had been swept to see with our ill-fated fallen shipmates.
The shore of the Savage Isle is mostly volcanic rock, tough to march through and can cut your feet open with one misplaced step. By high noon, we were tired and thirsty but sharp-eyed Roqi had spotted another ship, a skiff beached like the Rebecca. We were cautious in our approach although Aneiela Asa swore we were being watched.
The skiff had a large hole in her keel but it looked reparable. It wouldn’t take all of the remaining crew but perhaps some could go and others could wait for rescue. As we examined her (finding claw marks and dried blood), Aneiela quietly got my attention. We were being watched by a large reptile on two legs, just peeking out from the foliage.
I remembered a trick Iron John had pulled to kill a mountain lion back in Nova Scotia. I quietly ordered Roqi to play wounded and vulnerable while the rest of us moved to the other side of the wreck. He would be able to scuttle into the wreck if he really got in danger but I wanted to lure out the beast and surprise it.
Well, mountain lions never pulled a trick like these reptiles did. We were watching one and another sprinting out from another side to snap up poor Roqi. Brak was prepared as always and thundered a blast of shot into our new friend, dropping it to the sand with a sickening crunch.
Nigel leapt forth bravely, took his shot and missed. “Oh Barnacles!”
The original creature was far more cautious and seeing all of us swarm forth, it ran. Iranthis was quickest and cut the beast down before it could escape. We dragged its body back to the other one.
“Die No Sore,” I pronounced carefully. These creatures seemed to have stepped right out of the tales that Englishman told in the tavern… Owen… Richard Owen. “These are dinosaurs if my old friend Richard was right. There are many other kinds and let us hope we never meet them as we did these two.”
“I hear ’em called Yellowbacks,” said Roqi simply as he began to butcher them for their meat.
We loaded up with the meat to take back for the rest of the crew and headed out. I took more than my share to lessen the load on the others, though I was winded by the time we returned to the Rebecca.
Still half a mile away, we saw a column of smoke ahead where we’d left the Rebecca. Reaching her, we found her burned to the waterline and the rest of the crew missing. A quick search revealed much blood, expended pistols, and marks where our crewmates had been dragged off into the jungle.
“We should rest and recover our strength, go in the morning,” counseled one of our party.
“Never!” I snapped. “They could still be alive and I’ll not leave them to some ugly redman fate. Check your pistol loads and lets follow them…. Anyone have Tracking?”
We plunged after our captured fellows, trudging into the haunted jungle and then stumbling on a trail. One mile quickly became two. We’d begun to hear deep drumming that chilled the blood. Soon chanting seemed to come out of every direction causing us to slow down, looking around with caution.
The scene we reached was out of our worst nightmares. The savage Redmen were chanting, drumming and dancing in an ancient clearing. Some fallen temple lay half-hidden under jungle growth, it’s worn stones marked with indecipherable runes and splattered with blood. In the center of it all was a pool of blood as big as a longboat. Behind the pool, half hidden in the shadows of the great jungle trees was a massive stone statue of an ape.
Our captain and other crew were bound, kneeling by the edge of the burbling and sizzling blood pool, beaten but alive. Fearing the jungle kept us from making a more subtle plan and we charged ahead to save them.
Before we could fire our first shot, the Redmen leader kicked the Captain into the blood pool where he screamed and died and burning, horrible death. Young Roqi ran fast, hurling a knife at the nearest Redman, getting him to flinch and stumble. The newest crew member, that Irish fellow from the Royal Marines stepped up smartly and put a rifle round straight through the head of another savage. Nigel’s luck had not turned, his pistol shot falling short into the pool from too little powder.
After this first volley, more Redmen swept out of the jungle to rush Sean and Roqi. Brak snuck up the edge of the jungle toward the pool followed by that monkey. His blunderbuss took its bloody toll, shredding a savage. Aneiela ran to help Roqi and the marine, slaying another Redman. I thundered two shots and took down another Redman.
Iranthis strode into the clearing as if he had nothing to fear from shot or steel and raised his rubbery hands. In one a cloud of mist began to form while the other let loose an arc of lightning that flew across the pool into the mouth of the Redman leader, throwing the savage back burning and dead.
For all our valor, we were too late. The pool heaved as a massive ape began to rise from it, the blood itself forming its bone and flesh as it pulled from the surface.
“The Devil himself!” I shouted, remembering what the Preacher had taught about the Devil and its many terrible forms.
Brak reacted quickest. His monkey had reloaded the blunderbuss and he let loose again pulling blood and chest-thumping scream from the great ape.
Undaunted by this horrible development, we fought on. I cut down another Redman while Sean pulled his pistol to kill another. The marine set to quick reloading his rifle. I struggled to reach the ape as Redmen ducked the swing of my lucky sword. Nigel fired at the ape but it did not seem to notice the ball of his pistol.
The ape tore a sapling from between the stones of the temple floor and used it as a large weapon, sweeping it across us. I was hit hard, my left arm going numb from the pain. Roqi was struck and flung back into a tree trunk, landing hard on his left leg, out of the fight. Only Nigel seemed quick enough to duck the ape’s tree club.
Emulating Iranthis, Aneiela threw a blast of water at the ape, but it splashed off of it’s thick hide. The kraken lets loose another bolt of lightning but his aim was wide, striking Nigel in the back.
While the ape rampaged, we each fires or swung at it, doing it no serious harm. It wasn’t until Nigel jumped to the edge of the pool that the battle was won. He plunged one sword at its chest, breaking the hide and slid his second deep into the wound, piercing the foul abominations heart. It roared pain and defiance as it slid back into the pool from which it had come. All that remained was the beast’s spleen, inexplicably stuck to Nigel’s sword.
The last Redmen broke and disappeared into the jungle.
“I’ve heard of these,” said Nigel. “I was in a dockside tavern in Brigandy Bay. These blood pools let the Redmen summon their gods and other evil acts. It is blood yet more than that. Never touch it.”
The Captain was gone and all that remained of the captured crew were five men: Smith, Mongrel, Senor Figuroa, and the Cath twins. That showed that we still had some luck since Caras Cath had been the Carpenter’s Mate. With his skill, we had a chance of repairing the smaller ship and escaping the Savage Isle…
Feeling the deck of the newly repaired and christened Zephyr filled my heart to bursting. With the unfortunate death of Captain Abraham, I had succeeded to being Captain of this crew, fulfilling my lifelong dream.
We’d made repairs to the skiff in good time, filled her hold with timber from the Rebecca and provisions and set sail for Brigandy Bay. While the sea air made surviving all the sweeter, we still had some troubles. Our super had been lost in the attack on the Rebecca along with the ship’s log book. We had no legal proof to our ownership of the Zephyr or her cargo. Abraham had always avoided “pirate ports” but we had no other choice now.
Less than a day out from the Savage Isle, eagle-eyed Roqi in the topmast spotted a field of debris in the sea. We approached and discovered another ship of victims of the Redmen and their shark god. Victims, that is, with the exception of one: a scurillian. We parleyed with the creature and invited him onboard if he would swear in as part of the crew. The curmudgeonly crab man agreed.
Equias, as he called himself, appeared quite learned with maps and scrolls and a measuring rod. I had to grin when I saw his shell stenciled with the tattoo of a super.
“I’m measuring the death of our world,” explained Equias as he examined each of us and took our grossest dimensions with his measuring rod. Somehow he decided that Nigel’s name was “Spleen”, Roqi was “Rocky”, and Aneiela’s was “Why?”. Hard to tell if the creature’s understanding of humans is so limited or if it is humor.
As the Zephyr sailed into the night, we gathered in my Captain’s Cabin to chart a course for our future…
New Ship, the Zephyr
Nigel Harold Wittington the Third…
…Soon to be Lord (0)
…Vanquisher of the Walking Dead (1)
…Collector of Spleens (2)
Brain eaten by zombie in longboat. (1)
Sucked out of the bottom of the ship by a shark god. (2)
The Maiming of Roqi
Mauled by the undead, hideous facial Scar (1)
Flung against tree by giant ape god, Lame (temporary) (2)
(G-Money) Nigel (upon missing his target): “Oh Barnacles!”
(Big Dog) Jericho Thunder: “We must go into the jungle after them…. anyone have Tracking?”
Jericho: “Who has Stealth?”
GM: “YOU do.”
Jericho: “I’m delegating… and I don’t want to be eaten by a tree.”
(Rory) Iranthis: “Release! the Kraken!”
(Jo) Aneiela: “You ARE the kraken.”
Iranthis: “Release… Me!”
(After Roqi hits the Incapacitation Table again) “Call him ‘Near Death’ Roqi.”