"It was then," he said in Wexlish to no one in particular, "that I began to suspect that the crew of the Magnificent were pirates."
"We sailed to the east coast of Chult. The Captain - that was, Captain Margarita Duerte - obtained a Letter of Marque from the governor. There was a terrible battle with some pirates, but we prevailed. Well, I say, 'we', I had very little to do with it. I was busy you see. Looking after the tortoises."
Charles' small audience nodded appreciatively.
"The crew of the Venture - that was, a sister-vessel to the Magnificent, a Ranstead cargo transport, were all slaughtered, but somehow we made it back to Port Nyanzaru. And then we sailed north, far north, to the Merebaha Islands." Charles paused to flip the pages of his notebooks, exposing freshly blurred notes to the sky.
|The Things We Do for XP - Oorlof|
"But first there were sirens," he said again, after another very long pause. "The Captain tried to sail south of Shipkiller Rock, past Siren Point. There was... fog. And screaming. The Captain, the Quartermaster, that is, Thorfina, and some of the other crew went ashore."
"He... found us in the fog. Handsome John. Took the ships without a shot fired. I don't know what happened on shore, but only the Captain returned. I had to let Lemmy, Dexter, and Charlie out of their cages. They flew away. I hope they're safe." Charles' audience nodded again, waiting for the strange little man to continue his tale.
"He hung some of the men. Drove the women ashore and left them at Siren Point. I couldn't say why. Then, when we reached open sea, he offered to maroon me - as a gentleman - and the Captain - as a Captain - on this little island. I went for the boat, but... I'm afraid the Captain went for his throat. You see, he kept a noose around it, the same one that hung him on the gallows."
Another set of pages. Another pause. "I don't know how the fight ended. But I fear the Captain did not survive."
"That's... where ye'd be wrong," a voice rasped from the shore. Every head swiveled. By the white-hot light of the noon sun, a mangled corpse slowly dragged itself out of the water. Her torso was shredded. Ribs and organs protruded, mixed with sand and seaweed. Half her face was gone. But the voice was unmistakable.
"Captain... Margarita Duerte..." the corpse rasped, barely audible below the screams of the island's inhabitants, "at yer service. Listen close... for I have not much time. I know the means to slay Handsome John and reclaim my stolen treasure. The... noose around his neck..."
"Kill it!" someone shouted. A sword flashed, but simply rebounded off the corpse's flesh, as if struck against an anvil. "God's wounds! We'll build a fire."
"This mortal fire," the corpse groaned, "is as nothing compared to the... fire that awaits me."
"Not listening. Logs logs logs."
"We should leave," one said. "Charles brought us a boat. If we could make a sail, we could probably make the mainland in 2 or 3 days."
"I think there are enough palm leaves for a sail," another said.
"How many times do I have to say it, I don't speak your stupid languages!", the third replied. "Does anyone here speak Valoch? What was that little man saying? Who is he? Why was that corpse talking? Anyone?"