Skull and Shackles
The Journal of Ezikial Hands, Journeyman Gunner Part Fifteen
Whilst we were waiting in anticipation of the Deathknell, we did discover a fishing trawler that had been savaged and left to sink. Being of the sea ourselves, we went to offer aid, should it be required, or to take plunder should it be left unattended.
Chopper, Feruzi and Reiko boarded and let us know, afterward, that the ship had been stripped and that they had dispatched several sahuagin that may have been responsible for the trawler’s sinking. For his trouble, our captain claimed a necklace of what was later discovered to be Deep Platinum, a rare form of platinum found only in the darkest depths of the sea.
In the latter part of the day, in expectation of the night’s attack by the Deathknell, Mr. Kroop did let us all know the tale of that dread ship and its captain, Whalebone Pilk:
“They say he took the whaler Belle Dame to sea from Magnimar. Sich was his success tha’ they called ‘im Whalebone fer leavin’ naught else behind, an’ they called ‘is ship th’ Bell, fer the way he rang it with such furor ever’ time ‘e seen a whale’s spout.
bq). “Pilk chased a pod o’ bowheads off th’ shoulder o’Hermea, headin’ south. Beat ‘is knuckles bloody ringin’ that bell, chased ‘em out t’ sea an’ away from th’ world, ‘til th’ crew mutinied. Ol’ Pilk had th’ ringleader tied t’ th’ mast an’ ordered th’ mate t’ lash ‘im s’long’s the Cap’n kept ringin’ th’ bell. The mate’s arm gave out afore Pilk’s did. Once the mutineer was dead, Pilk had ‘im skinned an’ rendered inna try-pot, an’ nailed ‘is skull t’ th’ mainmast as a warnin’. Weren’t long after when a huge bull bowhead rammed th’ ship an breached ‘er hull. Pilk cursed th’ whales and cursed ‘is men and kept right on ringin’ that bell all the way down ter the sea bottom, two thousand miles from land. They say ‘e kin ne’er rest ‘til e’s taken th’ skulls o’ a thousand victims.”
After such a tale, we were well alert to the sound of a ringing bell when it came over the ocean to us. The captain cried out for me to shoot the bell should the chance arise, and when it the Deathknell came alongside, I was granted the opportunity. Truly, in striking the bell from its post, I gained the direct attention of Pilk himself and his ghostly hand.
The Deathknell sent its rotting and undead sailors to our deck, but Reiko and I managed to board them in turn. Whilst she did combat with Pilk, thereby earning her the attention of his ghostly hand, I did keep those undead crewmen from assaulting her. I did notice at that time, though the battle did stir my blood, it seems the death and blood of living creature is what may raise my battle madness.
Having, then, dispatched the dreaded Captain Pilk, the remaining cursed crew did leave off their fleshly shells and so ended or fight. The Deathknell herself did seem to mourn the loss of her captain for, at his destruction, she began to break up. Taking what plunder we could find, and the bell and ship’s wheel as trophies, we did leave that fell ship to her fate.
Sandara did then tell us that by destroying the bell, for it was holding the curse of the Deathknell and Captain Pilk, we could end that curse forever. Upon the forge did we hammer it into a twisted lump and as we did so, we heard the Deathknell break beneath the waves of the sea.