Tales of the Shackles

Oathday, 9th Neth, 4711 A.R.

“Can’t wait ta get on dry land”, I said. “Lookin’ forward to a real bed”, I said.

Couldn’t’a been more wrong! Waitin’ fer this ship ta be done’s like waitin’ in th’afterlife fer me just reward. It’s so blasted ‘ot ’ere, and there’s ‘ardly enough water fer to be goin’ around. On top o’ that, the beer’s foul.

An’ we’ve ‘ad enough excitement today to last us, that’s the truth.

First were the wasps. Big as carts, they was. Come out of the jungle, slaverin’ wi’ poisonous drool an’ stuff. Carried off a bunch o’ these shipwrights, an’ we was almost with ‘em, but Black ’Ands used Besmara’s Tricorne to make a cover for us. ‘Ee knew it’d only work fer one o’ Queen Bes’s worshipers, an’ you shoulda ‘eard ’im yellin’ at Bert, tryin’ ta get the poor lug ta convert o’ the spot, right while ‘ee were sword-deep in a giant wasp. Funniest thing I seen since they started keepin’ Scourge locked up, that’s fer sure.

Anyhoo, after the wasps’d gone, there’s this big Chelish flute i’ th’ estuary. Floatin’ there pretty as a friar’s penny, just fer all the world like nothin’s goin’ on and there ain’t giant wasps invadin’.

Turns out it’s Cap’n Pegsworthy, a true free cap’n o’ the Shackles. ’ee’s come in without peepin’ th’ Man’s Promise. So we got this problem, now. ‘Cos ’ee’s seen the ship, ‘alfway through the squibbin’, which pretty much does away wi’ the whole point o’ squibbin ‘er i’ the first place.

No matter. ‘Ee seemed like a good sort, so we let ’im stick around an’ share a little grog. Meanwhile, Black ‘Ands, Perri an’ Bert went off up th’ ‘ill ta see whass up wi’ the lookout what were supposed to stop mixups like this from ‘appenin’.

Turns out ’ee’d died o’ somethin’-or-other. None o’ the boys ‘ad a clue what’d put ‘im in the dead-book though. Not to worry, they brought back two fresh boars… and it probably wasn’t poison boar meat what killed ’im. Right? Probably not.

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Toilday, 7th Neth, 4711 A.R.

Well, today was one o’ those ‘good news and bad news’ type o’ days. The good news is that I won meself twenty coppers off a couple o’ these ‘ere halflings, arm-wrestlin’ in their taproom. Bad news is that it turns out I shoulda been down the jetty near the dry dock, ‘cos our cap’n and ‘is buddies were playin’ a friendly game o’ nine pins which rapidly turned into a tussle wi’ a spell-slinging river-worm thingamubob. Seems like nothin’s ever straightforward wi’ them lot.

One o’ Rickety Hake’s coopers, some gal named Emiline or somesuch, was pulled over the side and bitten by this thing’s poisonous bite. Bert jumped in an’ managed to drag ‘er out (that boy sure does ’ave an ’abit fer chucking ’imself into the drink), but she didn’t make it. Rickety’s got an ‘ealer ’ere – some woman called Chandra Bristlewick – but even she ain’t goin’ to do much fer poor Emiline ’cept read ’er the last rites and bung ’er in an ’ole.

The boys made the best o’ a bad situation, though. While Bert was draggin’ ‘is soggy carcass out o’ the river, Cap’n Black ‘Ands just ups and grabs this thing clean out o’ the water and drags it out on the dust! Thing were fixin’ to charm ‘im and get ’im to chuck ’imself in the water too, but Perry was wise to it – ’ee told the cap’n to be wary o’ spells an’ Black ‘Ands shook off the spell. Once this thing were up on the shore and Bert got in round the back o’ it, they managed to get a couple good slashes in – though Bert ended up puttin’ a pretty ‘efty ’ole through the wall o’ the dry dock.

So it were a sad day, an’ it weren’t made any easier by this drought. Still, I got me twenty coppers.

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Sunday, 5th Neth, 4711 A.R.

Today is All King’s Day in the land of Galt, when those rebellious coves celebrate the Red Revolution, where they had a great party an’ cut off the bonces of all their lords. It always makes me a little reflective… thinkin’ on all them high-up types reapin’ what they sowed. Goes to show there’s no point chasin’ glory an’ status… Me, I’ll just settle for the gold.

We’ve had gustin’ winds these last couple o’ days, and made good time to th’ Slitherin’ Coast. It’s hot and ‘umid here, and everyone looks sweaty and ’orrible – even more sweaty and ’orrible than usual, I mean. The crew are lookin’ forward to gettin’ into port.

We eased round th’ headland into Ricket’s estuary this afternoon, just after the sun passed the yard arm. Rickety came out on his longboat, the Peccarine an’ took a look over the Man’s Promise. After a little singin’ o’ ‘is favorite shanties, Rickety settled on a price o’ 1,800 king’s ‘eads for the work, most o’ which was paid for in the weird an’ wonderful loot the boys ‘ad collected. I even seen a weddin’ dress in there, although Besmara knows where that came from. I didn’t ask no questions.

Tonight we’ll be back on dry land again, an’ not sleepin’ on a crab-infested beach or danglin’ from a cavern roof neither. A proper port… well, as proper a port as you’ll find out ‘ere on th’ Slitherin’ Coast. Me, I’m for a mug o’ grog and a soft bed. G’night, diary!

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Fireday, 3rd Neth 4711 A.R.

I’ve ‘ad quite the adventure! Dragged over the gunwales by a gaggle o’ stinkin’ octopus goblin thingamubobs! ‘Twere me and Scrimshaw up on watch when they come aboard. First think I know, I’m bound in this seaweed stuff an’ carried out past Bonewrack Isle by the little buggers.

I couldn’t really tell ‘ow long I was down in them there caverns, but it sounds like two days. I ’ad a lot o’ time to think, reckonin’ how we was goin’ to deal wi’ Plugg an’ his cronies. Figured I’d get a way out o’ there eventually, and I was right. Them boys from the ship rolled in an’ put the queen monter ta the sword, her an’ her bloated son. I ‘ad to watch ’er fawnin’ over that massive lug for what felt like all o’ time, so I was only too ’appy to see ’em both done in.

I was dropped under that water with Scrimshaw, and it was only Bert’s quick thinkin’ what brought me back up to breathe the sea air again. They’re a good bunch the lot of ’em, but that one… Well, I guess I owe ’im now.

Any road, we made a camp an’ crept back aboard the Man’s Promise while Scourge was still a-snorin’ in ‘is bunk. I put Aretta Bansion on ’er face with a stern word – she’s never been a-one fer thinkin’ fer herself, so it weren’t hard. Down belowdecks, it all got a bit more rough-and-tumble. I remember smackin’ a candlestick over someone’s ‘ead – I think it were Giffer Tibbs. Couldn’t swear to it, though.

Long story short – Plugg got spiked through the neck like a humpback whale an’ Scourge dropped ‘is whip and ’is pretense o’ self-importance with it. Now ’ee’s belowdecks somewhere… Actually, now I comes to think on it, I don’t really know where ’ee is…

So we’re lords o’ the ship now. The boys drew coins in the way Queen Besmara decrees, and the Pirate Queen smiled on Black ‘Ands. So now we sail under ’is flag. We’re on our way to Rickety’s Squibs to get the lines changed on the Man’s Promise.

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Toilday, 31st Lamashan, 4711 A.R.

(This day’s journal entry is missing. The page is stained with seawater, blood, and something green and unidentifiable.)

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Moonday, 30th Lamashan, 4711 A.R.

There’s a couple o’ likely sorts on the crew wi’ me. Old Black Hands, that mad halfling, and the shipwright, Bert, all sail wi’ me, as does Jack Scrimshaw and a couple others. Plugg an’ Scourge still ‘old the cards fer th’ time bein’, but I can smell an uprisin’. It’s bad luck to say the ‘M’ word aboard ship, but I reckon the day’s a-comin’.

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Sunday, 29th Lamashan, 4711 A.R.

Cap’n’s given the Man’s Promise to Plugg and Scourge to take back to Port Peril to sell. Then ’ee’s goin’ to come an’ pick ‘is boys up again later in the Wormwood. I’m on the skeleton crew goin’ back there now, and I don’t like it one bit. This skeleton crew might well end up livin’ up to that name one shake or t’other before the sun sets on the voyage of the Man’s Promise.

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Starday, 28th of Lamashan, 4711 A.R. - After the battle

Well, the Man’s Promise is broken, as they so often are. The battle went our way from the off, fer the most part. That mad orc just swung hisself onto the aft deck before the two ships were close enough to kiss. Mighty lucky fer ‘im that she showed when she did, what with ’im going down to the sweatbox and all. Bein’ the first of us onto the ship, an’ takin’ out enough Rahadoumi sailors to fill the sea-devil’s satchel probably saved ‘is skin – even Plugg an’ Scourge weren’t goin’ to say nothin’ after that.

Not that any o’ them new guys woulda made it ‘alf way through the fight without yours truly. Naturally. All that fog what Peppery Longfarthing conjured up made life tough fer the Rahadoumi maybe, but they knew the ship better, and it mostly made it ’ard fer us lot to see where we was. Old Black ’ands ended up bleedin’ out, and woulda been shark food if I ain’t a kicked ‘im back awake. Still, they took an officer prisoner after all o’ that, so I guess cap’n never needs know they were lyin’ down on the job.

I saw some sights today. I saw a Rahadoumi bitten in ‘alf by a shark. I saw cap’n ‘Arrigan carryin’ a man’s ‘eart in ’is ’and, still pumpin’ the last drops o’ Norgorber’s wine out on the decks. But I gots ta say. Worst thing I saw? Was that little ‘alfling… Perri Autumn, always so quick with a smile and a story, up to ’is wrists in entrails, stabbin’ away at a Rahadomi sailor who were already dead. Fair shook me to the core to see that quaint little salt all caught up in bloodlust.

Twelve Rahadoumi sailors did the right thing and joined the crew after the battle, and cap’n divvied up the loot fair an’ square. I’m goin’ to put my share aside, maybe find a use fer it back in Port Peril once the cruise is done.

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Starday, 28th of Lamashan, 4711 A.R.

‘S been quiet last week or so. Cap’n’s seen us right down to th’ Fever Sea and we’ve been without sight o’ land bigger than a spit ye couldn’t careen a canoe on fer three days now. Crew’s settlin’ into a pattern – don’t know if that’s good or if it’s jus’ the lid on a boilin’ kettle.

Black ‘ands killed a man today. Well, it were prolly him. Bert were down there too an’ so were that Bansion lass. Fipps Chuumlett were the unfortunate. ’Ee’s had it in fer Black ‘ands since ’ee got tied up weeks ago, an’ now it looks like ‘ee made ’is move. Might a’ worked too, ‘ad it been a couple o’ days ago.

There was this fight in the bilge, and Chumlett found ‘imself dead. Now Black ’ands is at the cap’n’s mercy, an’ they’re fittin’ to keelhaul ‘im, or chuck ’im in the sweatbox, when Scrimshaw up in the crow’s nest shouts down that ’ee’s spotted a sail!

It’s a Rahadoumi trader, looks like a three masted Dhow, got them funny lateen sails them Rahadoumi like so much. We’ll be on ‘er within the hour, then it’s all ‘ands to the cutlasses! Even Black ’ands gets a reprieve, and I reckon if ’ee cracks a couple ’eads during the boardin’, cap’n’ll forget all about the sweatbox, no matter what Plugg thinks.

To arms, mateys!

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Fireday, 20th Lamashan, 4711 A.R.

Today I saw Riaris Krine trainin’ the new hands on grapplin’ and climbin’ aboard the ship, so’s they’re ready when the time comes. Good bit of a chuckle! Only the ‘alf-orc managed to stay up on the line, and poor Perri – he nearly got there, one ’and on the gunwales, and ’ee got a face full o’ rotten cabbages chucked down, slid right down into the drink! ‘Ee was fine, and we all ’ad a good drink. Mind, they’re a pretty ham-handed bunch – Here’s luck to ’em when they got to do it for real.

This eve, the orc took a new peg leg out fer Riaris – Bes knows where ‘ee found it on this ship! She didn’t think much to the gift, and black ’ands got a lash for ’is efforts.

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