Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'TLOPO Events' started by Dread Poet Roberts, Jan 8, 2017.
As for the first part you quoted, I cannot entirely take credit. That is paraphrased from an actual speech attributed to Black Sam himself as recorded in "A General History of the Pyrates" published in 1724. I hated to change any of it because it is simply beautiful on it's own, so I tried to change as little as possible.
Spoiler: Black Sam's Speech to the Merchant Captain
"I am sorry they won't let you have your sloop again, for I scorn to do any one a mischief, when it is not to my advantage; d*** the sloop, we must sink her, and she might be of use to you. Though you are a sneaking puppy, and so are all those who will submit to be governed by laws which rich men have made for their own security; for the cowardly whelps have not the courage otherwise to defend what they get by knavery; but d*** ye altogether: d*** them for a pack of crafty rascals, and you, who serve them, for a parcel of hen-hearted numbskulls. They vilify us, the scoundrels do, when there is only this difference, they rob the poor under the cover of law, forsooth, and we plunder the rich under the protection of our own courage. Had you not better make then one of us, than sneak after these villains for employment?"
[The merchant captain replied that his conscience would not let him break the law by becoming a pirate]
"You are a devilish conscience rascal! I am a free prince, and I have as much authority to make war on the whole world as he who has a hundred sail of ships at sea and an army of 100,000 men in the field; and this my conscience tells me! But there is no arguing with such snivelling puppies, who allow superiors to kick them about deck at pleasure."
As for the second, that part was actually slated to be cut. But I wanted Sam to have a happy ending darn it, so I rolled with it. In my research I found that there are a dozen different stories about how the story of Black Sam ended; most agree he drowned on the Whydah in the storm, but there are a few stories that mention a man matching his description being spotted in town after the storm. I swear I saw this particular ending I went with somewhere, but for the life of my I have not been able to find the original source since.
That speech always makes me tear up a little. I love Black Sam, and I loved your poem.
Any version of the story that ends with Sam and Maria being reunited is fine by me.
The Heart, and Love's Grace were presented by Coron Ach at Valentine's Day Story Time, 02/12/2018
My heart, possessed
My soul, enslaved
My mind now captured which once was free
Flames consume me
so embraced by yearning
and so enfeebled by love so strong
In my dreams I have seen you
In my thoughts is your presence
And, upon your face my aloneness looks
Pour it out
this blood of mine
that flows not but by your willing
The stream finds the sea
The flower finds the light
But I am alone in love’s ecstasy
Can hope be an error?
Can longing be despised?
The flames consume me as I burn in this pyre
At least I know
that in this life
the door to paradise is a human heart
As the moth seeks the light,
let your heart yearn for fullness
As the moth scorches in the flame,
let your love burnish in the pyre
Follow love wherever it finds you
Seek its comfort and its pain
When it beckons to you, reach out
and yield to its consummation
When it speaks to you,
listen deeply to its message
For the infinite is born of love
and all creation stands on its pillar
Love of Another was presented by Canon Bluefire at Valentine's Day Story Time, 02/12/2018
Love of Another
You were made to have need of another
with passions, the depths to yet discover
in a true friendship that does not smother
but grows deep in pure love’s breathing cover
Let your passion for your beloved bathe free
in the warmth of the spring of truth and caring
and through the vapors let your soul’s eye see
that your heart succumbs to selfless sharing
Provide the space within yourself to listen
unto your hearts throbbing dance with your soul
in a song of perfect kindness it will glisten
in knowledge of the oneness of the whole
And, in an extension of self you mesh
in a release into one mind and flesh
Overlooking the Baby
There was once a lady who lived on a small Carribean island.
She was the wife of wealthy importer, and they lived together in their villa with no servants and together raised their infant daughter.
His business would often take him away to far away places, and the lady would spend her time alone, missing him and longing for his return.
While he was gone, she would always wear dresses of blue, for that was his favorite color, and it would remind her of him.
One day, while her husband is away on business in Europe, a strange woman arrived on the island, a drifter named Korrigan.
She was beautiful, with pale blonde hair and red lined eyes, and while the stranger made her nervous, the lady welcomed the newcomer to her island.
Korrigan asked permission to stay on the villa grounds for a little while. The island's tiny tavern had no room for her, and she was looking for a place to make a camp.
The lady immediately said yes,
for to refuse would have been rude, and the lady prided herself on her hospitality.
That night, the lady watched as Korrigan made her tiny camp and prepare her meager meal, and she felt very guilty.
So she invited her into the villa to share her meal, and the two began to talk and trade stories.
Korrigan had once been a pirate but had eventually grown tired of it. Now she was traveling through the less populated islands of the Caribbean, exploring and learning and meeting new people.
She was pleasant enough to talk to, but the lady was repulsed by her table manners.
However, she figured anyone that had once been a pirate should be expected to have a few rough edges.
Nevertheless, she was grateful when Korrigan returned to her tent outside.
The days passed, and the two women become more comfortable with each other. Korrigan would ask the lady to comb and plait her hair, for it was too long for her to manage on her own.
As she sat still beneath the lady's comb, she would sing the saddest songs with the most beautiful voice the lady had ever heard.
Korrigan would try to help out around the villa, but she could only do so much.
The lady's infant daughter would cry without relief whenever she was held by the stranger.
"She is such a fussy thing," Korrigan would complain bitterly.
"Not always," the lady said, "but perhaps she is catching croup."
Korrigan was fascinated with becoming a mother, and asked many questions about the baby and giving birth. About love and life with her husband.
She would listen hungrily and stare at mother and child like a wolf.
"I was pregnant once," she said angrily, "but I lost the baby. It was not to be, I suppose."
One day, a letter arrived from the lady's husband. He was on his way home and should be back by the end of the month.
The lady wasn't excited until she saw the date on the letter.
It had been sitting in Port Royal for weeks! That meant he will be home any day now!
She showed the letter to Korrigan, and the pirate smiled coldly.
"It is just as well," she said, "as I need to go as well. We had a pleasant visit certainly? Come please," she asked, "and comb my hair one more time?"
When the lady's husband returned home, he found the villa empty.
His wife and daughter were missing.
Down by the shore, he found a woman's body rolling in the surf.
On the docks of Port Royal, a young mother in a blue dress disembarked from her ship.
Held tightly in her arms, her infant daughter cried and cried.
The Cursed Blade
Listen well to this cautionary tale my friends, of how greed be the downfall of man; of how unchecked desire leads to ruin and of what price must be paid for such greed.
There once was a band of four friends, brothers under the Black flag who lived as they pleased, seeking adventure and riches.
Now they, like so many of ye here, found hunting for cursed blades was a good sport, although nary one of them had ever laid eyes on one.
They spent many a day of toil down in the Cursed Caverns of Isla Tormenta battling back the untiring crew of Davy Jones. Yet despite their dedication to the hunt, not one cursed blade had been found. Soon days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months; months without sunlight or the sweet caress of the Caribbean breeze on their cheek, as they only retired to the safety of their ship to rest at night.
Patience began to wear thin among them, tempers flared hot and provisions began to run low. They would soon have to give up their search lest their strength fail them for want of good food and rest in more friendly locals.
But! Just as all hope had seemed to flee their cause, the youngest among them discovered a grand chest ornamented with a gilded skull. The three others looked on as he broke the lock and opened the lid. With a joyous cry he lifted aloft a wretched looking sword; blackened steel encrusted with teeth of coral.
"I've found one! I've found one of the blades!" He shouted in triumph to his friends. The smile on his face could not be likened to any other; there was an echoing CRACK throughout the caves and crimson bloomed across his linen shirt. He dropped dead still wearing that smile on his lips.
His one time friend, Henry stood holding the smoking pistol and complete madness was written on his features. The body had barely hit the ground before he darted forward and snatched the sword from lifeless fingers.
Barely had he done so when the other two tackled him to the ground.
"For God's sake!" One of them yelled as they grappled with Henry, "what devil has possessed you?! You just murdered a man!"
As they pinned him to the ground he faced the glassy eyed corpse and he was struck with terror, what had he done? Filled with animal strength that only fear for your own life brings, he threw the other two off and fled-- still holding the sword.
"Curse him to the depths!" Snarled one of the two, Julian, "we have to find him!"
"Agreed," said the other, Marcus, "we must bring him back to civilization to face justice for what he's done."
Julian paused; he had not thought of capturing Henry to pay for his crime, but to take back the sword. "Of course. This cave is enormous however. It would be for the best if we split up to find him."
Finding this agreeable, the two split up to hunt for Henry. Marcus could not believe what he had just witnessed. The four of them had been friends for years, enduring all manner of hardships.
They had entered the life of piracy together, stealing from the Navy and living as freely as they pleased. But this venture to find these cursed blades had driven a great rift between them...
Marcus gasped as something grabbed him from behind by around the neck, cutting off his air. He struggled, but they were too strong for him to break free of. As darkness overcame his vision, he thought of his friends and he felt sorrow for what had become of them.
Eventually, Marcus' struggling ceased and Julian dropped his body to the ground.
"I am truly sorry old friend," Julian said to the corpse, "but if I was between you and that sword, you would have done me the same."
Leaving Marcus' body behind him, Julian continued the search for Henry.
"HENRY!" Julian called out, "Henry where are you? Come away from hiding. Marcus and I have had some time to cool our heads. We know you didn't mean what you did."
"What have I done Julian?" Henry's voice echoed off the walls, "I killed a man in cold blood. I murdered my friend."
"Come out, I promise no harm will come to you," Julian coaxed.
Henry looked out from behind a rock, “I don't know what I am to do.”
“Do you still have the sword?” Julian asked eagerly.
Henry looked down at the blade still gripped in his hand, “Aye. I don't know what I am to do with it either.”
“Come here and let me see it,” Julian said.
Henry walked over to him, “How can look Marcus in the face ever again? They were like brothers.”
“You won't need to worry about that,” Julian told him.
Frowning, Henry asked him, “How can that be?”
“Because,” Julian looked up at Henry, no emotion shown on his face, “Marcus is dead, as you shall be shortly!”
Julian drew his sword and swung, Henry barely jumping away in time. They parried back and forth briefly, but Henry had always been the better swordsman and Julian's mad thirst for the cursed sword made him sloppy. With a wrenching pain in his own chest, Henry drove his sword home into Julian's heart.
Julian's eyes went wide with shock. He spoke no final words as he drew his last breath and gave up his soul to the other side.
Pulling back his sword, Henry turned and fled as fast as he could. Bursting out of the cave into the sunlight, he was momentarily stunned by the brightness after so long in the dark. When the spots cleared from his eyes, he spotted a little sloop anchored in the shallows.
"AHOY!" Cried Henry, "Ahoy! Please! Please help me!"
The captain of the ship heard his shout and came to the gunwale, "what ails you lad? You have a look of madness about you."
"Please sir I beg of you! Take me away from this wretched island!" Henry wailed.
Narrowing his eyes, the captain asked, "what is it you carry there in your hand?"
Henry looked down as though he we're startled to still see himself holding the cursed sword.
"This! This cursed sword is the cause of all my ills! If you will not take me away, I beg of you to take it far away from me instead!"
"Throw it here!" Ordered the captain and Henry quickly complied.
The captain caught it easily. He studied it for a minute, then threw back his head and gave a roaring laugh.
"What! What cause have you to laugh?!" Henry shouted angrily.
"This is no cursed blade boy!" The captain shook his head, "tis nothing more than a rusty old cutlass."
A friendship irreparably broken and blood needlessly spilled, all for naught. Enraged by greed, they were blind to the truth and that truth is this:
Greed will cause good men to do unspeakable things and leave them friendless for the trouble. So take a care all ye pirates gathered here, do not forsake your friends in favor of cold treasures.
Shipwreck was presented by Horatio Stormchaser at Story Time, 3/26/2018
Down on the beach, a peaceful, calm scene
All calm, and quiet, and very serene
Small waves lapping, quietly slapping the shore
A relaxing of Nature from tenseness before
Hurricanes blow through the isles by the score
Twisting and turning ‘round strong-centered cores
With towering tempest and deafening roar
Of the isles these maelstroms have blasted and tore
A victim of one lies out on the reef
A war ship well battered beyond all relief
Its scars from its battles leave one to believe, it
Was abandoned and given a terminal leave
Left to float or to sink as the gods would thus please
Long drifting on tides and shoved by the seas
Near finished before the storms took the helm
Hurricane seasons could well overwhelm
Overwhelm they did in blasting great wind
And wind whipped up waves with froth that was skinned
Torrents of water in bludgeoning blow
Walls of great water to knock it below
But buried it was not, it was cast on its grave
The winds and the waves left little to save
Tossed by the seas as rejected and scorned
Foreign, not Nature, and not to be mourned
Ran firm on the reef, a large coral thorn
Back to the land from whence it was born
A blast, a knock, a shock by all means
Timbers to splinters, smashed smithereens
As impaled on the reef it has a slight list
At times it looks floating on skimming-low mist
But float it will never, the hull is well shot
And encrusted by barnacle, plundered by rot
Topmasts hang broken, tangled in shroud
Of utter destruction, as all have avowed
The yardarms askew to which tattered sails cling
The sails are all torn to rag strips and shred string
Blocks, sheets, and stays are in tangled array
In webs of despair and drooping dismay
What’s left of the sails is weeping the mist
All feeding the rot, one ship-sized black cyst
Loadstone in the binnacle, wavering slight
A slow rock to the deck as though nursing the blight
The black wheel swings slightly to take up the slack
The rudder moves not, it jammed in its track
The cavern, its bottom, the holes in its sides
Leave plenty of entries for evening high tides
The picture slow-changes with all the wave crests
For in the troughs to follow, the waves find new quests
As it decays and succumbs to Nature’s strong force
A thought is forthcoming in reflective set course
Though originally a creation of Man’s strong, fit hand
It is Nature, yet, that still has command
The World Eater
There once was a prophecy that said the end of all things would be wrought by the World Eater. An ever-hungering beast--nay a primordial monster older than the heathen god's themselves. It is said the creature was like a serpent, so long that it encircled the whole of the world and it slumbered beyond the horizon's edge.
So to preserve themselves and their creations the Old Gods decided this deathless creature must be slain. They chose from their number one whom they conceded could not fail. His province has no word in our modern tongue, but he was the god of vigor and unceasing life. His strength was that of life that did not die and surely he could not fail.
The smith god forged for him a mighty sword which was unlike any other made before or made since. It was so sharp it could cleave even mountains or oceans in two.
Confident of his victory, he took a ship given to him by the ocean goddess and sailed beyond the horizon, the sun shrinking behind him until it no longer hung in the sky. He drifted in a windless place where the sky was endless night and the ocean was like a mirror of ink. There was naught to guide him by and even for the immortal god, it felt as though an eternity passed in that darkness. All about him was hushed and still, not even the prow of his ship stirred the waters. He perceived a great cold in the air though it bothered him not.
A ripple broke the onyx water and slapped the side of his ship. At once the sound roused him to action and he leapt up to the bow of the ship. All was silent again for so long that the god decided he must have imagined it. He sighed, sitting down on the side of the ship.
At once the water behind him roared upwards! The lively god sprang to his feet, drawing his sword out as he spun around. Behind him rose a giant shape; he could see it not except for it's outline, for it was so dark itself it seemed to make the blackness around it lighter. And the god, who himself could sense the thrum of life in every living thing, felt a gross queasiness overcome him, for where this serpentine shape loomed above him, he could feel nothing at all but a void that pulled at everything around it.
The monster roared so loud it shook the timbers of the ship. The god gave his own war cry as the monster dove towards him. There was an almighty crash! The sword glanced off the World Eater's scales and made sparks which lodged themselves in the lightless sky. But the blade barely scratched the serpent and for the first time in his existence, the god felt fear grip him.
Back and forth they fought, the World Eater lunging for the god and the god parrying it away with his sword. The ship pitched and rocked as the water churned but the god kept his feet. It seemed the battle would be doomed to continue for eternity, but the god misstepped and the serpent fastened it's icy teeth over the god's shoulder, swinging him across the deck of the ship. He hit the wood with a cry.
Yet, as the god of deathlessness bled and his vitality weakened, so too did the World Eater's immortality. The god rolled aside as the serpent struck again and the god slashed at its hide. The World Eater shrieked and coiled back! But it struck forward again and again the god lashed out at it, catching it across the face with his sword. Blood like tar dripped from the serpent's snout and splashed the deck, making the timber smoke. In the water the blood of the lively god mingled with the foul monster's, making ribbons of red that twisted and took the form of smaller serpents.
Still the immortals traded blows, the god again wounded, but the World Eater was struck more numerously and finally suffering from it's injuries. As the monster writhed in pain the wounds open and shut like little mouths screaming in agony. But the World Eater was not dead yet.
The World Eater coiled back to strike, it's cavernous maw stretched open wide as the valiant young god charged forward with a fearsome cry. They met with a crash so powerful it shook the weakest of the infant stars from the heavens and it was if the sky was weeping stardust.
For though the god's blood-streaked sword had struck home in the monster's skull, the World Eater's teeth had at last dealt the deathless god with a mortal wound. The god drew back his sword and the serpent fell into the ocean with a crash, the waves rushing to cover over its body. For a moment the waters churned, then returned to the stillness they had always maintained since the beginning, as if nothing had ever happened.
The god staggered and he fell to his knees, his bloody sword falling into the sea. The World Eater Serpent would threaten creation no longer, but the deathless god drew his last shuddering breath and from then onward, anything that was immortal could be slain.
And as for the god's sword...the god's mighty sword which could already destroy land and sea, it lay stained with the World Eater's blood and by the blood it was corrupted. For the World Eater was a monster without a soul. Its nature was in its flesh and blood. So by that blood, the World Eater lived yet. It's hunger lives on in that tainted blade, a hunger that craves destruction.
There once was a prophecy.
It said the end of all things would be wrought by the World Eater.
And the World Eater's hunger continues to grow.
Ahoy Poets, Storytellers and Jokesters!
This coming Monday, April 23rd at 10:30pm EST - Dread's Storytime Returns to Barbossa's Grotto on Fragilles.
Pull up a rock and listen to yer fellow pirate spin yarns, tell tale tales and perform feats of literary do! Dread has asked me to host this night, so if ye wish to partake, kindly post me a note so I can add ye to the proceedin's.
Many thanks to those who attended last night. Especially to our tellers,
The next Story Time is scheduled for May 7th. Expect our resident bard, Dread Poet to return to the rock.
Old Doyle's Visit
Doyle were a bitter sot, a soul full of rot
If he'd met Lucifer, he'd spit in his eye
He'd wronged me plenty, sins more than twenty
Once striking me crown when his temper did fly
Came a pounding one night, I awoke afright
Some lost soul seeking a shelter to dry?
When I let them in, I sees it was him!
Doyle hisself and looking fit to cry.
This once wicked man offered his hand
"I hope ye'll forgive every wound and lie
Knowing death be near, the spirits made clear
I need to sets me many wrongs to right."
I poured him a drink, t'was gone in a blink.
Soon followed by a whole bottle of rye.
We laughed and drank, until clock bell clank.
"It was good of you to visit," says I.
With weary eye, he looks to the orange sky
And says, 'Oh how the time she did fly.'
He took a last sip, gave his a hat a tip
Then gave me a loving wink of his eye
'Fair winds to ye, son. I best be gone.
I can hear them calling me nigh.'
Turned the old bloke, like a whiff of smoke
He was gone... with the morning tide.
That night at the bar, I showed'em my scar.
And shared how Old Doyle came stopping by.
Silent grew the din, then said barkeep Quinn
"Old Doyle were away at sea and he'd died."
Village of Lost Hope
We are all familiar with those times, when day turns to night, when the wind howls and lightning crashes without a cloud in the sky.
The times when the barrier between our world and the beyond is broken, when Jolly Roger's power is greatest, and his dead armies wrestle from their graves and march on the lands of the living.
It happens everywhere within reach of Jolly's power. Some towns are fortunate, places like Port Royal, Tortuga, and the Padres,
places where pirate and Navy stand together, shoulder to shoulder, and defend their homes.
.They're called invasions...
But elsewhere in the Caribbean, there are countless smaller, less fortunate settlements. They each must deal with the invasions in their own way. Some flee to the jungle, surrendering their homes to the walking dead,
returning only when Jolly's fury has been exhausted. Such as the unfortunate village in the Rat's Nest...
Some villages stand and fight,
risking everything in the hopes that they can hold out long enough for Jolly's attention to turn elsewhere. Sometimes they are successful.
Sometimes... well, the alternative is too horrible to consider.
And sometimes, they compromise and make a pact with the Devil himself...
The village of Perdido Esperanza was one such place. A tiny settlement on a forgotten beach on a nameless island, it was no place a pirate would covet nor would Navy visit.
When the skies darkened and thunder shook the tree tops, and that shadowy vessel slipped into their bay on shredded sails, they knew there was no one to help them but themselves...
It was the seventh day of the seventh storm. Waves battered the shores below the village, having long ago washed away and shattered their miserable fishing boats.
Nets and buoys were scattered everywhere. Many huts were abandoned, wrecked by the winds and rains and high tides.
It was a miserable place, already long in suffering, but when Jolly's dread horn sounded, the women wept and the men trembled.
They all knew the unthinkable had to be done once again.
"Oddball" Odd Larr struggled his way through the surf.
Briefly, he considered rescuing his dingy from the waves but then changed his mind. The tiny bucket had carried him as far as it ever would and would no further.
He grinned toothily at the memory
of the pirate ship aflame and taking on water, of the Navy victorious, of he alone making his escape within the Captain's dingy.
"I'll fight fer gold," he chuckled to himself,
"but I'll risk me life fer no man, arr..."
Now he trudged through the downpour, down the strand between shore and waves, trying to keep from being washed away, trying to keep from being battered into the jungle's trees.
He could have sworn, as he was fighting to keep his dingy afloat, that he saw the lights of a village shining against the darkness of this island.
But then that strange horn sounded, and the wind rose like a banshee, swirling the already driving rain into a maelstrom.
Now all has fallen pitch black, and he couldn't see a thing. Pulling his soaked leather riding coat tighter around his throat, he cursed his ill luck and kept on moving.
Soon, he came upon the wrecked fishing boats, the nets, and other clutter, and he knew a village was near. But this seemed a village empty of life.
Its huts were shut up and dark. Its streets barren. Not a dog nor lamb nor chicken moved. Not a soul stirred.
Odd trudged through the knee-deep mud towards the center of town, calling out against the storm to someone, anyone, while the downpour turned the streets into rivers.
At the crossroads, he stopped before the village capilla, and his hand reached for the hilt of his cutlass.
A ghost, a phantom hung there before its wooden doors, glowing white in the stormy darkness. Then it stirred and whimpered, and Odd caught his breath.
Not a ghost, nay, but a child. A girl, no more than 12 years, give or take. A dark haired senorita in a white shift, a bloody cross painted on her forehead, now streaked and running from the rain and her tears.
She cowered at his approach and screamed in honest terror.
She struggled to escape, and the clatter of chains rang loudly against the doors. She had been chained to the doors of the church.
"What be this, little miss?" Odd murmured suspiciously,
looking about for signs of an ambush. "I'm just here for a bit of warm fire?" he promised, speaking loudly to the empty village and its silent huts.
"Some grog and vittles?" he called to the darkness,
"A place to rest my weary head, perhaps?"
Not getting a response, he turned to the girl. "I'm not lookin' fer anything scandalous, savvy? Just someplace where I may spend a bit of me meager funds?"
He felt about for his coin purse and gave her a wink.
"Very meager, aye?" He gave it a tiny jiggle, and its few coins jingled. The child moaned and shied away, and Odd sighed.
"This be the strangest ambush I have ever seen..." He leaned in closer and peered at her. Cleaned up, dried off, calmed down, she might actually be rather pretty.
"And ye be the oddest bait I've ever seen..."
At that, her eyes grew wide, and she began to shriek and struggle against her chains. Odd squinted and stepped back. "Now I don't think..."
It was the squelch of mud behind him that caused him to turn around. Moving down the flooded path towards the capilla, a figure of maggot eyes and septic stench rose from the mud.
It not so much walked as slithered. Rotten flesh stretched and snapped like jerky across mossy bones, a saber rusted and caked with grave soil held in its hand.
Behind it were others, kin and brethren, so many others. "Bloody heck, just me luck..."
Odd drew and swung as the nearest reached the capilla's steps, cleaving through bone and gristle, leaving naught but a clattering jawbone hanging from its neck.
As it fell, he turned back to the girl, "I must apologize for the company I keep..."
"Senor," the girl cried, "They come for me, not you!"
"If you flee now," she urged through her tears, "ye may still get away, senor! It be Sepultura, Captain of the Jolly. He comes for me now."
Odd stepped back and stared. "Whaaat?"
Again, that unearthly horn sounded, slicing through the storm. He turned and looked down the street. "Oh, bloody heck..."
The next couple undead were stepping over the bones of their comrade. Beyond, scores of others were marching. Line after line, filling the running streets of the village with their disease.
And beyond them was the shore and its storm swollen waves. And on those waters, a dark ship loomed, a decrepit sloop, its ragged sails and rigging glowing with a sickly blue nimbus.
Odd spun, smashing his blade into the nearest skeleton, sending it tumbling into the arms of the other. A quick draw of his pistol, and he turned the ribs of both inside out.
He turned and smiled at the girl. "Time to go, missy."
Wedging the blade of his cutlass beneath the bracket nailed to the doors, he gave a mighty heave and ripped the chains away. "So they put ye up here as a gift to ol' Capitaine Sepultura, aye?"
She nodded quickly, glancing at the approaching horde. Odd grinned and struck a match against a blackened tooth.
With a flick of his wrist, he tossed a grenade over his shoulder. It bounced down the steps and exploded at the feet of the skeletons, showering the front of the capilla with smoking bone.
"What's yer name, missy?"
"Pureza, senor," she whispered, wiping her tears. "May I ask, why are you doing this?"
Coiling her chains around his fist, he jerked her up to her toes.
"I'll risk me life fer no man," he leered, "but I'll fight fer gold, savvy?"
She shook her head, "But there is no gold here, senor. We are a poor village."
His mouth twitched. "Bloody heck. Just me luck. Let us just try anyway, shall we?"
And so they fled, his pistol cracking like lightning, clearing the undead from their path.
(Cut because of length. For the rest, go to my Facebook note.)
One day in Tortuga, three pirates were drinking outside the Faithful Bride.
And Andros Mallet walked by, pulling a cart on his way to the graveyard. In the cart was the sad sight of a dead man.
One of the pirates leaped to his feet. "Hey, I know that guy! It's Joshua Scat!"
"Ahoy, Andros!" the second pirate said, "Who killed good Joshua?"
Andros rubbed at his chin and swabbed his brow. Everyone always had questions, but no one ever wanted to help with the work. "Death did," he said smartly.
The three pirates rocked back on their heels. "Ach, Death did?"
"Ol' Joshua was as good a mate as any!"
"Ain't right that some Death would come up and kill him like that!"
And so properly outraged, the three swore an oath to find Death and take their revenge.
Armed with their blades and drunken courage, they marched into Tortuga Graveyard in search of Death.
Instead, they found an old woman wandering through the broken pieces of forgotten gravestones.
"Ahoy there! Who are you, old woman?" the first pirate demanded, for he didn't know what Death looked like, and he figured it could be anyone.
The old woman peered at him with sharp silver eyes. "Ah be Mama Tombrose, brave one," she answered sweetly.
"I've heard Death is nearby. Why aren't you dead?" he demanded.
"Death?" she asked, "Yah... Ah have asked many a time, but he refuse to claim me..." Her old face brightened with a smile.
"Seek yah death?"
"Yes!" the three replied.
She pointed deeper into the forest. "Go then into the Rat's Nest, and near the base of a candle wood tree, yah shall fin' him."
So the three doughty pirates marched into the Rat's Nest, and after some searching, they indeed found a candle wood tree.
At the base, they were overjoyed to discover a pair of chests recently uncovered and filled with coin.
The pirates were beside themselves and embraced each other happily.
Thus, their quest to slay Death was quickly forgotten.
"There's a lot of treasure here!" exclaimed the first.
"It'll be thirsty work bringing it all back to Tortuga."
"Someone should go back into town for food and drink while the others stay here and guard the treasure. And we shall bring it back in the morning!"
They all liked the idea, so it was agreed to send the youngest of the three back into town, as his back was strongest and his legs most spry.
But while he was gone, the other two conspired. "This much treasure is a boon divided evenly. But imagine how much more it would be if shared between just us..."
Unaware of their plotting, the youngest returned to Tortuga and bitterly cursed the others for making him take the long journey alone, simply because they wanted to wet their tongues.
As he was leaving the King's Arm tavern, with food and drink enough for the three, he passed by Fabiola and her wagon, and a dark thought crossed his mind.
What a fitting end it would be if those two scoundrels choked on their rum and all that treasure was his alone!
And so he purchased a powerful poison from Fabiola and soured two bottles of rum with it.
Upon his return to the candle wood tree, he passed around the rum, and the three toasted to their good fortunes.
And after they drank their fill of rum, the two pirates fell upon the third, and their blades drank their fill of blood.
Pirates will be pirates.
Oh, what a cruel twist when afterwards they felt those first stabs of pain in their own guts.
And a few minutes later, the two suffered slow, painful deaths themselves.
Indeed, all three did succeed in finding Death.
Oh my o.o
William the Waylayer
William the Waylayer was a rogue.
Handsome and strong, charming and deceitful, graceful and savage, with well formed limbs and flashing green eyes.
He was a cad, a scoundrel, who took what he wanted without remorse, be it gold, loot, fame, or women.
While his cunning and wit served him well, his prized possession was the Benthic Pearl, an artifact that when invoked shrouded its bearer in its own pocket sphere of darkness.
Whenever he was threatened, he'd clasp the pearl and disappear from this world, hiding in a realm of impenetrable darkness until the danger passed.
Be it Navy redcoat or EITC henchman or dishonored father, husband, or beau, he knew with the Pearl he could escape any threat he could not otherwise fight or flee.
So it was on one stormy night that he booked passage aboard a merchant galleon.
He did not know why the Navy warship fired across its bow, or why they engaged in battle.
But when the galleon began to crumble around him, in smoke and match stick flames, he took shelter in a skiff.
Setting sail in the churning waters, he pulled away a safe distance, beating back other sailors with the oars.
When he was sure there were no more living men upon the water, he clasped the Benthic Pearl and entered the darkness. And bided his time while the skiff floated through the battle and the storm.
When he emerged from safety, the skiff had come ashore upon a strange jungle island, its shores a relative calm with the storm raging around it.
Picking his way inland, he found its forests to be remarkable and lush, but strangely filled with sharp bladed vines and piebald ravens.
The birds coughed and barked with strange intelligence, and they stared at him in sidelong ways that left him uneasy.
Finding a narrow path, he followed it to a saltwater slough, and there he met a vision of uncommon beauty.
A girl stood within the shallows, hunting frogs. She was of delightful animation, charming manners, and exquisite appearance. Dark skinned and black haired, her face was both innocent and clever.
Shells and flowers and tiny bones hung from her braids, and delicate tattoos spiraled across her cheeks and down her neck and across her fingers and toes.
Her peasant dress was tucked into her belt, showing legs slender and toned. Her top draped over chests supple and round, her waist narrow and taut.
Oh, how well she would look beneath him! William was immediately filled with hungry desire. Soon her face will be stained by tears of bitter anger.
He darted to the shore and posed dramatically.
"Ahoy, child, rejoice! For I have deemed you worthy of my passions! Embrace your fate, and I shall bring you to the limits of earthly pleasure!
Resist, and your fate will remain the same, but the pleasures shall be mine alone!"
She turned slowly to regard William, and crouching in the water, she gave him a sweet smile.
And then flung a handful of swamp mud into his face.
He staggered back, cursing and clawing at his eyes, and when his vision cleared, he saw her standing nearby on the shore.
With a curse, he flung himself at her, intent to met out a suitable punishment for her impudence.
But his charge was arrested just inches from her bodice as roots coiled from the soil, wrapping about his legs and trunk. Thorned vines captured had captured him, squeezing with his every breath.
The ravens spiraled out of the trees, and it was only with a timely duck of his head that he managed to avoid their razor sharp talons scourging his face.
"I am a voodoo priestess, pirate," the girl said. There was some amusement in her voice, but not the triumph he would have expected.
"The spirits of this island are my guardians. The plants and animals are my kin. I know the names of the Four Winds, and the voodoo loa owe me many favors. You can do nothing to me here that I would not allow."
"And well that is the case," William spat, as he struggled against his restraints, "for the things I would do as payback for this outrage would greatly offend your allies!"
With a twitch of her hand, the vines twisted, and great thorns like knives pressed against his throat and belly and vitals. He could feel their edges splitting his skin.
"Um, on the other hand, perhaps we can negotiate matters?"
Smiling at him, she made a slow turn. "Like you my shapely form, pirate?"
"Want you to possess me?"
"Know that I have been granted a geas, pirate, that no man can do to me what I do not desire. But it comes with a likewise price.
Should I grant my consent to a man, he may then possess me in whatever way he so chooses."
"In ANY way?"
"Aye," William said, "That is what I wish.
Grant me your consent, my sweet, and I will deliver unto you more pleasures than any woman has right to enjoy."
"Tempting as that is, before I can do that, pirate, you must render unto me a service."
With a toss of her head, the vines fell away from William. Turning on her toes, she began to walk away. "Follow me, and I will tell you."
Carrying her frogs, she led him to a small shack deep within the jungle.
While they walked, William admired her figure from behind, and many thoughts crossed his mind. Thoughts of darkness and blood and sweet, sweet tears.
But ravens crouched on every branch, and he had no desire to test the limits of her protections. At least not yet.
Pausing at the door of her shack, she said to him, "In the course of our transactions, you may know me as Crowe."
"Child, whatever you say, but know upon the completion of our transaction, I will know YOU in every way possible."
"We shall see if you can make good upon that boast." And she led him inside.
Crowe's home was spare and simple with few comforts and fewer decorations. But one object stood out, at the back wall, a tapestry hung.
William was stunned by its beauty, woven from threads of glimmering gold and silver and copper. It shone in the darkness like a living thing, and he wondered at its value.
The tapestry appeared to portray a wheel design, a roulette, a Wheel or Fortune, of almost infinite complexity. Spoke upon spoke, color upon color, mixing, weaving.
But the tapestry had been cruelly vandalized, cut in half with a single savage slice, and only the top half hung on the wall.
"This is the mandala of the world," Crowe said reverentially. "It teaches the cycle and balances of life and death, good and evil, light and dark.
Every power in the world is here, if you look close enough, along with its opposite."
William studied the half wheel. At the end of each spoke was an image. Crab, scorpion, gator, and so on. But with the loss of the bottom half, their opposites were unknown.
Half the knowledge was missing, and so all the knowledge was missing.
"When restored, this mandala would show the secrets of this world and grant powers over them.
Pirate, I would have you return to me the portion of the mandala that was stolen. Do this, and I will grant you possession of my body, my soul, and all that I am, to do with whatever you desire."
"Witch, this seems like a lot of trouble. Why not just consent to me now and do away with any delays?
Perhaps then, together, our forces combined, we can find the rest of this pretty thing."
"If only I could, but my mandala must be restored first."
"Very well! I shall find this tapestry of yours!... Where is it again?"
"Take your little boat and sail to the nearby sister island. There, you will find a ruin. Within the ruin, you will find a pit. Within the pit, there is an altar.
Upon the altar, you will find the tapestry. Return it to me, and what you desire shall be yours."
"That sounds easy enough."
"So you say. But beware, for the altar is also a sepulcher. A tomb for all those who have dared go before you. For the pit is the lair of a protector, Flense the Unavoidable."
"What? What is this Flense?"
"Know you the loa Jolly Roger?"
"Flense is akin to Jolly. Only different. Powerful, dangerous, deadly. You must beware lest Flense claims you like the others."
Overcome with desire for the witch Crowe, William departed against his better judgement.
He pushed his small skiff into the water, vowing that as soon as he possessed the girl, he would inflict ten thousand delicious torments upon her,
and then ten thousand more before his anger would be sated for this offense.
He sailed into the storm, and just as the witch's island disappeared to his stern, he sighted a new island ahead.
Finding only one bay with a sandy bottom, he ran his boat aground and stepped ashore.
He turned the skiff about so it pointed towards the bay, anticipating that he may need to depart quickly.
He found a trail leading into the trees, and despite the remoteness of this place, it seemed strangely well traveled.
He checked the priming on his pistol, ensured his blade was loose in its scabbard, and took a lantern to light his way.
He followed the path to a clearing of carven stones, overgrown and ruined, but not as much as he would have expected.
At the center of the ruins, he found a narrow flight of stairs leading down into darkness.
And these led him to a chamber deep underground, dripping with the dampness of the bayou above.
Pillars stood in a circle, and at the center was an altar. And upon the altar was the lost half of the tapestry.
But William was too clever to allow himself to celebrate prematurely. He would not yet let down his guard.
He carefully circled the room, shining his lantern upon the walls and ceiling, seeking places where a foe may attempt an ambush.
There were no other entrances. No pits in the floor. No openings in the ceiling. No place where an enemy could hide. No place for the mysterious Flense to lurk. Rivulets of murky water ran down the walls and pooled onto the floor.
The only movement were the shadows of the pillars as they twisted in the beam of his lantern. And the ripples in the water made by his boots.
Carefully he entered the circle of the pillars. The altar was a simple stone block. The tapestry lying upon it was tantalizingly close...
Winding up his courage, he snatched up the tapestry and turned for the exit.
And then he heard the noise.
Like iron nails dragged against stone.
Cut because of length. Go here for the rest.
There was once an old locksmith, who lived on Padres del Fuego amid its violence and anger.
Every day, he would stand by the docks and greet the incoming ships. And query their crews about their adventures and plunder.
His fingers were skilled, and he could open any chest, any safe, any lock, and many pirates would avail themselves of his talents.
Who else could open all the chests pirates capture during their plundering?
His only companion was his cat, who grew just as old, grey, and bent as he. His old sloop sat aground next to his shack, moldering and peeling in the hot Caribbean sun.
He would spend his time playing lonely hands of blackjack against himself. And he always lost. Honey bees nested over his front door, but he let them be.
Oh, he missed dear Clara...
Why did she leave him?
Would she ever come back?
Was she looking for him just as he looked for her?
He would write Clara letters, sealing them in tightly corked bottles. And sent adrift with the tide or dispatched by friendly sailors.
But they would always return upon the strand just outside his door, unopened.
Despite his age, ladies took notice of him. He was not handsome or wealthy, but there was something about his bearing that drew fascination.
When he went into Los Padres, many women watched him. Perhaps he would make someone a good husband, they say. He's a widower, they say.
Is he a good man? Who is to know?
But he never noticed their attention.
One day, he paid a visit to Pelagia to buy a sweet doll.
"Angelo, who is the lucky wench?" the gypsy girl asked.
"My granddaughter, my sweet granddaughter," he answered softly.
He did not notice her yearning look.
Next he visited Ratskellar to get himself drunk.
The old salts there greeted him with a nod and gave him some distance.
After a few drinks of rum, he began to tell a story. No one asked, but when he began to speak, the tavern quieted to listen.
"There's an orphanage here in town, did ya know? Ya might not, fore it has no sign, and the children are as quiet as mice. But it's there.
When the mountain shakes, sometimes ye can hear its bell ring.
One day, I remember, the caretakers had collected enough coin to treat the sickest children to a special treat. They were to take a cruise to Port Royal. Some sort of fool festival or another. I don't know.
Beam to stern, the ship was filled with poor sick children and their caretaker. All seeking a day in the sun. But just outside the harbor here, she began to take on water.
The orphanage had no coin to hire better passage, you see.
She began to sink. Not in deep water at all, but deep enough. Just in sight from here. The swabs in this very tavern looked out that window and watched it all happening.
That old woman, she surfaced quickly, screaming for help. But no children came up after her.
Finally men from the harbor swam and rowed out there. They swam into the ship, looking for children.
None were found. All were dead.
All were dead.
How can you tell me there is a god after seeing something like that? Tell me that, ya cursed rogues!
If I could go back, I would change things, aye. Every night I sleep, hoping when I wake things would be back to the way they were.
That you would be with me again. I have nothing but frustration, disappointment. I need you, Clara.
I need you more than anything in the world. Loving you is the only thing I've ever done right."
And then he wept and pressed his cheek against the bar. Gently, Giladoga took him by the shoulder and led him outside.
The younger pirates in the bar scoffed, but the locals hushed them.
"Who is that old salt?"
"Don't trifle with a man like that," was the reply. "Oh, we could tell you the tales! Tales of blood and rage like you've never heard!"
The inside of his humble home was a shrine to Clara. Her clothes and trinkets and jewelry. Pictures of her he has drawn, in person and from memory.
It was a home frozen in time.
This day had been bad, and the memories nearly overwhelmed him. In drunken rage and shame, he took his sword to anything within reach. All of his furniture was shattered.
When he was finished, all that was left untouched was a heavy chest in the corner.
A chest locked with no key.
The only chest he had never been able to open.
The next day, his hands still bleeding from his fury, he packed up the little doll and sought out his granddaughter. Instead, he found his wealthy son in his high town villa.
He should be proud of such a successful pirate, but instead, the old man felt only shame.
"Where is your daughter? Where is my granddaughter?" he demanded, but his son only scoffed. What does he care for women's affairs?
Children are women's work, and he'll not dirty his hands with them.
The old locksmith slapped his son to the ground and spat upon him. "My granddaughter deserves better than you!
You and that who are wife of yours are worthless, useless, and mindless! I've a mind to take that child from you!"
"You think?" his son cried in fury. "And perhaps I'll arrange that you'll never see her again! Perhaps I'll ship her off to France or Spain! Wouldn't that be a neat trick?"
"Do no such thing! Else I'll end you with me own hands!"
And he left his son in the dirt, tears stinging his eyes.
His wife would have blamed him for how their son turned out. Perhaps it was just as well that she died young.
She was never very pretty, nor charming, nor intelligent. He'd never loved that bride, nor their only offspring. She was all that would take him at the time.
That's what he gets for letting his one true love get away.
On his way back home, he found his granddaughter and her governess. Like the sun breaking through a storm, the weight on his heart lifted.
He held the child close and gave her the toy voodoo doll. She squealed with happiness and spun and twirled with her in a dance.
He spent the afternoon watching her play on the beach. After a while, he had difficulty seeing her for the tears...
Nobody knows the wind
Neither you nor I
But when the leaves bow down their heads
The wind is passing by
In the days that followed, he began to realize that his cat had fallen ill, not eating or sleeping. She yowled all night in pain.
So he resolved to ask help from Pelagia. As he stepped out of his shack with the poor animal, he watched as two pirate ships collided in the harbor.
Briefly he watched as the crews brawled, ignoring their dead and injured. Blood and flesh foamed on the surf.
"What is the purpose of that life?" he wondered before turning away.
"Someday, I wish to leave all this," he said to himself, "Perhaps when Clara returns...
I would get on my boat with Clara and my granddaughter and just float away. Never to return."
Pelagia was pleased to see him again.
"Oh, Angelo, you have returned! Want you to buy another doll? I made one special for you!"
"No, I come because my cat is ill."
"Oh, I will help you with that! Like you my new dress? I don't know what colors you like, but perhaps you like these?"
"Aye, Clara once wore dresses like that."
"Perhaps she did. But she is not here, and I am."
"Aye, she is gone, and I miss her so."
"There is a place nearby, with lovely flowers and herbs. Perhaps you would like to walk there with me?"
"Herbs you say? Would they help my cat? My cat is ill, you see."
"Why are you so cruel, Angelo?" she cried.
"What is this foolishness? Why do you speak so, girl?"
"I have feelings for you, old man," she said, "but I see you do not share them. It hurts my heart like you cannot imagine.
All you can do is speak of this woman from the past. I think no one, not me, not anyone, can match her. And so you will live in loneliness.
I will care for your beloved pet, because I have agreed to. But after that, I ask you to leave me be and not attempt to share a kind word with me ever again.
I do not wish to be hurt by you any longer."
He walked away from Pelagia's wagon in a haze. What had he done? He could not remember. He could not imagine. Was he so odious and selfish?
And out of nowhere, there was his son, bloodied and frightened. His clothes slashed and torn.
"Father, please, I need your help!"
"What is it, boy? What do you want of this old man? Can you not see my heart is pained enough?"
"Father, I am not the success that you think! I am hunted by the EITC. I am friendless, without crew or ship. Soon they will capture me and take me to Kingshead for hanging."
"Boy, I have no gold, I have nothing to give you. I have no one either. This is what you get with the life you choose.
No one to talk to. No one to read the letters you send. We are alone, invisible.
At least you have a daughter, and she is worth more than all the treasure of the Caribbean."
And again, he left his son in the dirt.
A day later, he received word from Pelagia, and he rushed to her wagon.
She had cured his old cat. She had eaten small brass key, and it had bound up her insides.
Now, she was good as new, and very very hungry.
The old locksmith was joyful, and he thanked the girl profusely. But she only turned away from him.
In a thoughtful mood, he returned home and stared at his old shack for a long time.
He had destroyed everything inside of it. Outside, his life was just as wrecked and worthless.
All he possessed of value was his cat and his granddaughter.
Lighting an oil lantern, he considered its flame,
and then he tossed it into his shack.
The flames spread quickly, and soon everything was afire.
In the flickering light, he considered his sloop. The ship that would carry him away.
Away to Clara. Or away with Clara.
Never would that happen.
So he burned the sloop as well.
The next morning, in the ashes of his hut, he found the locked chest untouched. The one thing he couldn't destroy.
He used the brass key to open its lock.
The inside was filled with bones wrapped in a gown.
Beneath it all was a letter...
Angelo, I'm sorry.
You kept me at arm's length so long with your distance, circumstances, and riddles.
Left me confused and unsure.
Also the bottle of poison she had used.
He returned to Pelagia with his cat. She blinked at him as he approached. Her lip trembled.
He stood before her, uncertain of what to say.
"Girl, I am sorry for what I have done. For I see now that I was hurting maybe the one soul here that gave a darn about me.
I am an angry man, but when I'm with you, I'm not as angry...
If you can forgive me, I'd like not to be angry any more."
She stared at him for a long time.