Skull and Shackles
Merrill 17 Rova
Excerpts from Merrill’s Journal: 17 Rova 4712 AR
This has certainly all become terribly exciting. Renvel went ashore as planned but showed no signs of appearing by dawn. I employed Markuss to use his superior vision and as best he was able to make out there was a great deal of fuss ashore—I suspect they were spotted and captured. They began ferrying goods and men out to the merchantman and the Jester’s Grin began making preparations to leave, but the tide and current was presently against them so I made the decision that preventing the merchantman’s escape was more pressing, not knowing which ship might hold my crew or whether either one did. At first all went well—the nameless merchantman was surprised at our appearance and we closed almost all the distance before they could ready arms—when we came under heavy fire from a third vessel, a Chelish man-o-war concealed beyond the headland bearing the name Dominator. I know well of this ship, as to all appearances it was dispatched to pursue the bounty on Crisis and I have little doubt they will be inclined to pass up collecting the bounty on my own ship, not to mention my own head, if they can collect it.
I called for Labella to bring us alongside the merchantman, hoping the Dominator would prove reluctant to fire at their ally. This did indeed prove to be the case and in the brief respite that followed I gathered my men and led an assault on the merchantman, sweeping the decks and forcing the crew below, where we barricaded them in. We then took it upon ourselves to raise sail and, still made fast to the Bonaventure, we made for the open sea with the Dominator in pursuit.
The merchantman’s crew, in desperation or perhaps madness, set their own ship afire. An indescribable chaos resulted as I attempted to search the ship for my missing crew while Labella struggled to get the Bonaventure loose before she, too, burned and the Dominator circled like a shark awaiting the kill, all this to a chorus of roaring flames and men screaming as they were burned. Yet even as we battled this inferno, Markuss absconded with several heavy chests that the merchantman was carrying. Durgrin managed to save a few prisoners, as well, and from their hasty speech I gather that the fire was intended to destroy papers as well as the men who knew what they contained. I shudder at the ruthlessness. Renvel and the others were nowhere to be found, so I fear they are now aboard the Jester’s Grin, but pursuing that ship is now out of the question with the Dominator hard at our heels. I don’t dare head for the Island of Empty Eyes now, either, so I bid Labella make course for Deg’s Machine. We will dare that infernal device and see whether the Dominator’s infernal masters will protect them from another sort of hell.