“Yer don’t say,” the old pirate lifted his eyepatch to inspect the map. “Treasure you say?”
“Treasure a’ plenty. A hoard fit for a king,” the Gold Hoarder rubbed his golden chin with a gnarled finger. “A small price for such a princely reward, is it not?” a wry smile played upon his lips as he pushed himself back into his chair.
“30 pieces?” the old pirate peered over the map at the hoarder.
“Alright,” the coins rattled on the table as the old pirate counted them out.
“Return with the chest, and the reward is yours. Steal it, and sea will steal it back,” the Gold Hoarder cautioned.
“Anything else?” The old pirate folded the map and tucked it inside his jacket.
“Aye, they do tell of a beast that darkens the sea just before it feasts,” the Hoarder laughed manically.
“Come on men, we’ve treasure to find,” the old pirate drained his grog and belched aloud. “To the ship and the sea beyond.”
An ill wind whipped the crest of the waves across the deck as The Stolen Sea rode the swell skirting the broiling storm. Captain Bloodbeard stared at the map sliding his hand over the dotted islands searching for the one pictured on the Gold Hoarder’s map.
“Any sign Cap’n?” Bo’sun lumbered across to the map table his immense frame blocking out most of the lamplight. “Sorry sir,” he unhooked the lantern holding over the table. “There she is south-by-southwest.”
“So, it is,” Bloodbeard tapped the map with his cutlass. “Tell the helm to set a course for Kraken’s Fall.” Bo’sun half-ran toward the stairs at the center of the deck, his peg-leg thumping on the boards. Bloodbeard adjusted his patch and smiled to himself before following Bo’sun to the main deck.
The wind scourged the sea lashing the crew with a sting of salt and the occasional fish. The roar of the ocean against the hull was broken by the smash of waves across the deck soaking everyone and everything in its dark embrace. The day was soon lost to the night and the storm nothing more than a memory. The sea rolled and fell with the comforting ease of an ample bosom. “Put out the lamps; we’re not the only ship in this sea of thieves.” Bloodbeard lifted the glass of the nearest lamp and blew it out through the gap in his teeth. All was dark on board the ship; its black sails punched holes in the white of the moon as it sailed ever southward to Kraken’s Fall.
The morning sun extracted itself from the dark morass of the and sea rose into the sky. Ribbons of orange and yellow rippled over the waters bringing the hope of fair weather to the Mariners.
“Ship ahoy!” came the cry from the crow’s nest. “Dead ahead.”
Captain Bloodbeard ran to the prow raising a spyglass to his eye, “The gulls are circling something. Aye, there she is, just a sloop. ‘Tis my guess the crew is down in a wreck.” The Captain passed the spyglass to Bo’sun.
“But she be many leagues away Cap’n, not worth our bother,” Bo’sun squinted through the scope.
“Yer blithering land lubber, yer looking through the wrong end,” Bloodbeard snatched the spyglass from Bo’sun. “Raise the mid and foresails. Take us in slow.”
The sails ascended the masts creaking and groaning like an old sailor climbing the stairs. The Stolen Sea eased alongside the sloop until there were just a few scant feet between them. Deep scratches scored the hull of the sloop some deep enough to glimpse the lamp burning on the table inside. A cutlass lay on the deck still held in the severed hand. A low groan carried up from the depths of the sea scattering the circling sharks. “There’s nothing to salvage here,” Bo’sun dropped the mainsail in a bid to be gone from the bloody wreck.
“We be no more than half a day’s sail from Kraken’s Fall. They’ll be plenty of rich pickings to be had there,” Bloodbeard shuddered involuntarily. “The more distance between that sloop and us the better.”
A fresh breath of wind blew out the sails driving The Stolen Sea across the ocean like a skimming stone. None of the crew witnessed the demise of the sloop as the dark tendril coiled around its hull dragging it to the depths.
They skirted around a small island bristling with defensive forts and palisades. A solitary canon belched out its charge. A smoky trail scored the sky as the fireball surged toward them. The flaming ball crossed their prow hissing out in the cool blue of the ocean. A second missile was already on its way from the fort though it would fall deep in the wake of The Stole Sea. Further barrages chased the vessel out into safer waters beneath the heat of the afternoon sun.
“Land ahoy,” Black Corvus cawed from the crow’s nest. “Kraken’s Fall approaches to the port side.”
“Raise the fore and mainsails, look lively, yer bilge rats,” Bloodbeard barked. “There’s booty waiting to be plucked.”
“Ooh, ‘ark at her,” Bo’son giggled. “Who’s the lucky lass?” he said with a wink and a nudge.
“What are you blabbering about man! Booty is treasure, not some whore’s knickers.” The Captain left Bo’sun scratching his head and eating the lice he found. “Drop the anchor.”
“Ow! I’ve never known such pain,” Bo’sun hopped around on his peg leg clutching his good foot.
“Drop it in the bloody water, man,” Bloodbeard peered over the rail, “ Come on lads, time for a dip.” The Captain leaped the rail landing with a splash. Bo’sun followed close behind together with Spotted Dick, a man with more holes in his face than a sea sponge.
They all arrived on the beach together, the soft white sand yielding beneath their boots. The island was a tropical paradise. Lush green and red ferns hung with bowed heads in the shade of palm trees. Long grasses tugged by the wind, edged worn pathways deep into the interior of the island.
“The map says the treasure is under the gaze of a beast at the sun rock on the far side that lagoon,” Bo’sun and Spotted Dick followed the Captain’s pointing finger. “Let’s be goin’.” The three men drew their swords and set off at a trot, keen to find the hidden gold. They skirted around the giant bones and driftwood littering the shoreline. Climbing over hulls half buried in the sand they worked their way along the shore until at last; they stood before the remains of what appeared to be giant cobra fixed to a rock. A crudely painted sun had been daubed in crimson on the face of the stone beneath which was an engraved message. ‘Dance a merry ditty, and the reward shall be pretty. But, should it be a dirge then from the sand they surge.’
“If you pass through raging waters in the sea, you shall not drown,” Spotted Dick lamented.
The eyes of the cobra glowed red. The sand around them hissed with smoked as skeletal hands reached for the sky. “Have at them,” Captain Bloodbeard swung his cutlass at the first skeleton striking its head with a fierce blow. The skeleton reached up and felt its shattered skull. It looked at the captain then surged forward whirling its sword above its head. Bloodbeard swept the clumsy lunge aside and struck again, this time shattering the skeleton into a pile of bones. Two more skeletons advanced on pirates. “Cut them down,” Bloodbeard bellowed at his quaking crew. The captain sang as he fought, “Friggin ‘ in the riggin’, friggin’ in the riggin’.”
“on a sunny afternoon,” his crewmates sang along.
The eyes of the cobra glowed green. The ground rumbled beneath their feet. Bo’sun punched a skeleton in the face spinning its head from north to south. The skeleton staggered off in the opposite direction. Spotted Dick leaped forward missing his skeleton completely. Bloodbeard swung his blade upward smashing through the skeleton’s ribcage; it vanished in a puff of dust.
The ground stopped quaking and there in their midst sat a golden chest bound by black chains. “It’s our boys. Get over here Dick and help carry this back to the ship while I send that last rattling bag of bones back to the grave.
Dick and Bo’sun hefted chest and scuttled back along the shore to the ship while the captain happily dispatched the final skeleton, “And stay dead,” he spat on the rattling heap of bones. By the time they reached the ship the light was already fading. “Weigh the anchor,” the Captain called.
“Nine stone six, sir,” Bo’sun replied heaving on the anchor chain. Bloodbeard took the chest into his quarters.
With the wind at their backs, The Stolen Sea cut through the waves. The sky darkened to an inky black peppered with stars. A pale green light followed in their foaming wake keeping pace with ease. Night became day beneath a blood red sky. The leagues passed swiftly beneath the hull until at last the outpost came up on the horizon.
“Prepare the sails,” Bloodbeard strolled around the poop deck kicking dried turds into the water. “Oh, crap!” he yelped ducking a flailing tentacle. The water around the ship turned an inky black. “Kraken!”
Two more tentacles slithered around the deck. Bo’sun made a dash for the cabin but became stuck when his peg leg caught in a knothole in the deck. “Cap’n,” he cried as a tentacle plucked him from the deck and swung him around in the air.
Spotted Dick slid on slime right beneath another groping tentacle. There was a dull clang as his head collided with a canon. Bloodbeard lashed out at a tentacle severing it in two; he ran down the stairs to the main deck. The sanctuary of the outpost drew ever nearer.
A huge eyeball on a stalk burst from the ocean followed by a vast gaping maw filled with more teeth than a whole shoal of sharks. Bloodbeard ducked again, “’Scuse me Cap’n,” Bo’sun said as he swung by narrowly missing the captain. Bo’sun was tossed up into the air, tumbling slowly toward the gaping mouth of the Kraken. The beach was in sight now.
Bloodbeard ran into his cabin reappearing with the treasure strapped to his back. He climbed up the rigging to the top of the main mast where a fetched up a rope and ran along the main spar as the ship swept alongside the dock. Out he sailed over the shallow waters, graceful as a gull until the rope went taught and the Captain spiraled toward the beach landing with a heavy groan.
The eye of the Kraken turned toward the shore.
Bloodbeard pulled himself up out of the sand and ran toward the Hoarder’s golden tent. Gasping for breath and spitting sand the Captain cut the cord around his back dropping the chest to the ground.
“Here’s yer chest, now pay.” The Captain turned toward the sound of crashing timbers; The Stolen Sea had run aground.
“Hold on,” the Gold Hoarder slid a token from his pocket and put it on the chest. The chains fell off, and chest popped open. “All yours,” the Hoarder held out a large sack of coins.
A long black tendril snaked its way toward the rear of the tent. Bloodbeard took the money and ran. The Hoarder lifted a single shimmering egg from the chest. He kissed it laughing gleefully. He gulped as a something slid up his trouser leg and seized his jewels. “Oh bugger!” he whimpered as he was yanked out of the tent never to be seen again.
Inspired by the game: Sea of Thieves by Rare.