Skull and Shackles
Captain's Log 8
Plugg took Zeek’s booze today, but that’s the least of the “captain’s” fuckery. His deeper sin was taking a private letter Sandara had apparently intended for me – I later learned that Mister Hands was to deliver when the opportunity arose – and read it aloud to the entire crew (except for Leila, but I’ll get to that). Puttin’ one’s feelin’s for another down on paper for them to read when you don’t know how they feel about you is hard enough to do in the best of circumstances. But to have those words aired to a buncha hateful, spiteful, irreverent, bloodthirsty, contemptuous, slack-jawed, corrupt jack-asses…
So, of course I called him a sonova bitch to his face, which, remarkably, the vicious little sod took in stride. In an effort not to shame Sandara further, I didn’t look at her. The bastards would get no show from me at her expense. I turned to climb back into the rigging and burn off my fury with work.
My anger was great, but no less was Zeek’s, and he called Plugg’s ability to lead into question, which managed something that my simple namecalling had not – raise the bald man’s ire. He called me back down and promoted me to ship’s carpenter/surgeon so that I could begin work on a sweat box, in which Zeek would be confined for punishment once it was complete. Anticlimactically, everyone just kind of went back to work after that.
I was so distracted by the recent turn of events that I neglected to seek out an opportunity to speak with Sandara. Gods alone might have any inkling what I was going to say to her, but still an’ all. She’d suffered enough because of Plugg. I shouldn’t let my uncertainty add to that.
So, right. Leila wasn’t around for the whole thing. She reappeared shortly after, but we didn’t get a chance to talk until after dinner. We shared notes, including the fact that the ship had changed course – northeast to east – the previous night. Suspicious. Reiko suggested that perhaps he meant to refit the ship and pick up a new crew, no doubt getting rid of us in the process at some point. Leila, who had been creeping about the officers’ quarters, said that Plugg had gold enough to do both.
I suggested that she steal the gold and plunder and toss it all overboard the next time. No one agreed with the simple genius of that plan, so once more the topic of mutiny came up. This time, I think we are actively seeking out opportunities.
I confronted Zeek about the letter, and he explained himself. It was disappointingly reasonable. He also gave me a pearl bracelet, part of his cut from the plunder of the Man’s Promise, suggesting I could present it to her as a gift. My thoughts aswirl, I wandered away to seek my rest.
* * *
A couple of days later, I finished the sweatbox, but Plugg decided to wait until the following day to put Zeek in the damned thing. Naturally, that’s when a storm hit in the early morning. Mister Hands and I took the opportunity to toss Maheem overboard, since his earlier punishment didn’t seem to be forthcoming.
It felt satisfying, but we couldn’t revel in it for too long, because the storm seemed to gain strength from the dawn. We were forced to cut sails or lose them as rocky outcroppings and sharp reefs loomed all about us. For a few tense moments, I found myself alone in the rigging, but then others climbed back up and started helping again.
And then the Man’s Promise smashed into the rocks anyway.
* * *
Maheem wasn’t the only hand to go missing during the storm. Shortstone, and more importantly Sandara, were also missing during roll call. Feruzi found her holy symbol lying on the deck. My throat was suddenly dry. I never- I wanted to- I…
There were pieces of some manner of tentacles creature that I hadn’t even seen, and Reiko mentioned fighting them. I think Plugg called ’em Grindylows. He ordered me to go below and find out how badly the ship was damaged. I was too stunned to even offer any sass.
It was pretty bad. We’d lost the fresh water, and there was a big whole in the main hold on the starboard side. We had enough wood that could be cannibalized to patch the hole, but we would need fresh water and soon.
Plugg ordered us to go ashore on the nearby island and seek out the water and any supplies we could use. I insisted that Leila accompany us and he gave over. We took the cutter, and on the way, she said somethin’ about being worried about what we might find. I asked if she thought it could be worse than what we’d left behind on the ship.
Acourse, that’s when we spotted a small, twisted skeleton twined in sinew and covered in scrimshaw. I gotta learn to stop asking what I think are rhetorical questions…