Tales of the Shackles

Oathday, 21st Kuthona, 4711 A.R.

I’ve got a chill about me.

After we left Goats’ead the other day we set a nor’norwesterly course which brought us up the channel between the south side o’ Motaku Isle an’ Taldas Isle. Blank ‘Ands an’ ‘is boys wanted us to ’unt for some shippin’, so the rest o’ the crew spent the day busy on the lines while I took the day off an’ lounged around on deck enjoyin’ the sun. I knew they wouldn’t catch nothin’ in these waters so late in the year, and besides, I figure I do enough for them curs to gift meself a ’oly day once in a while. I reckon Besmara would approve.

Anyway, they did a lot o’ shoutin’, and a whole bunch o’ runnin’ around, and a great deal o’ nothin’, an’ they didn’t catch no ships. Still, just as th’ sun’s dippin’ behind the western ‘orizon, there’s this ship. An old whaler, looks like it might be out o’ somewhere in Varisia by ‘er lines. She’s spry, an’ she’s out o’ the reach o’ the Mistress anyway, but she’s sailin’ right into the wind. There’s this long shadow, then there’s nothin’.

Well, nothin’ but the last plaintive ringin’ o’ ‘er ship’s bell.

Them chimes stayed wi’ me while I tried to sleep that night. Somethin’ not right about ’em.

So next day, we carry on in toward Taldas. The officers are thinkin’ about takin’ a break in one o’ the towns round ‘ere – gods know why. There ain’t nothin’ to see ‘ere but them pointy-nose poets an’ a load o’ misguided blokes what reckon they’re knights. Good place to go see some opera, maybe, but that ain’t exactly my mug o’ grog. Anyway, it takes us most o’ the day to navigate through them tiny pinpricks o’ land that dot the seas round ‘ere, and we all need to think pretty ’ard, and keep our good eyes out fer reefs and that. By evenin’ we’ve all but forgotten about that whaler, then there she is again! Comin’ out o’ the gloom, that cursed bell ringin’.

She’s listin’ ‘ard to starboard, an ’er gunwales are rottin’ an’ worm-eaten. Bes knows ‘ow she’s still sailin’. Ain’t no natural way a ship like that could outrun us so easy into the wind. Then Perri spies ‘er nameplate – Deathknell. ’Ee knows all about this ship – it’s the ghost ship o’ Whalebone Pilk, the whaler what returned from the grave an’ chases ships out on the open sea fer three days before takin’ ‘em wi’ all ’ands.

This mornin’, we pulled into a safe cove an’ stayed off the ocean. But I know once we get back out on the deep blue, Pilk’ll be only too ’appy to resume ’is ’unt.

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