Skull and Shackles
Merrill 18 Rova
17 Rova 4712 >>
Excerpts from Merrill’s Journal: 18 Rova 4712 AR
Twelve hours of cat-and-mouse with the Dominator and we are finally within reach of the Machine. The tide, of course, is at the worst possible degree for making this run, but by no means impossible even with the damage the Dominator has inflicted. I am not a praying man, usually, but I feel inspired now should any friendly god be watching at this moment. Few shipmasters understand the trick of the Machine, which is a vast submerged engine fashioned of mountain-sized stone blocks in some forgotten age. The blocks shift in a pattern that seems almost random, endlessly churning the waters for miles around. Many is the Captain who has lost his nerve at the sight of some vast stone bearing down on his ship, but the wave that rolls ahead of it is what keeps you safe. Turn aside from the threat, and another block moving invisibly below will suck you down into the depths. I place our lives in Labella’s hands.
Oddly enough, but now is when I receive a message from Feruzi, no doubt detailing her progress on the Island. I would read it, but with the state my nerves are in I cannot bring myself to do it. Instead, I find myself almost hypnotized by the movement of the Machine, wincing uncontrollably whenever a part of it heaves into view under the water. The Dominator hangs back, reluctant to commit, but if they do not follow soon we will be out of their reach either way.
I swear that Labella and Feruzi between them are conspiring to drive me to an early grave. The Dominator finally sets its sails to follow us, and what does Labella do? She runs us aground. A more hideous noise I never care to hear again, the poor ship screaming in agony as she is lifted twenty, thirty feet into the air and then dropped, like a careless child might drop a toy. Somehow, she still holds together, though her belly is rapidly filling with seawater and I am not sure the pumps can keep her afloat. Not even the sight of the Dominator suffering a similar fate moments later can cheer me. They have broken off pursuit, but if we make it out of here in one piece I swear that I am never attempting this run again. Labella thinks we can pull in at a place she knows not far from here to make emergency repairs. I don’t dare sleep until then, so what do I do? I open Feruzi’s note. Great merciful gods, woman, whatever possessed you to write to me and tell me about the lovely ghosts, revenants, and ancient curses you’ve discovered, but not tell me how it all turned out?! I can only struggle to maintain my composure by reminding myself that she must have been alive when she sent it, at least. If I am not gray and haggard by now it is no fault of these women.