“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”
― William James
The captain emptied her bottle and gazed out into the fog. Even the gin is gone, she sighed to herself sullenly. She regretted that she’d ordered the Scylla to launch from Anvilgard in a hurry and without a proper resupply. She had taken a risk after hearing of a bounty on a selkie that had been sinking trading ships all over Charwind Coast. While great in size, selkies were dumb and easy prey for a seasoned crew of corsairs. The hunt would be over in a few days. Etharen, the ships sorceress, quickly located the creature and the crew set to work. They would use cannons to drive the selkie into shallower water to hamper its movement. They would then harpoon it and drag it closer so the corsairs could hop onto its back to cut it apart. Her plans were ruined when the selkie decided to escape into open waters instead of the shore. The gunners managed to harpoon the beast regardless, but not kill it. Now they would wait for the beast to tire itself out and then close in for the kill. To the crews horror the selkie didn’t tire, but dragged them further and further from Anvilgard. For two days it tirelessly swam and by some miraculous means dodger the cannon fire they tried to kill it with. Then the selkie swam into a storm. Had they seen the storm coming they would have given up the hunt, but it sprung up supernaturally quick, and they were right in the center of the storm when they finally cut through the steel-reinforced lines. The memory made the captain shudder and she strolled, driftwood prosthesis rythmically clacking, to the other side of the deck to ward of the chill. While she was grateful her pegleg had been enchanted to flex like her original leg, she would gladly chance the enchantment for one that would silence the clacking. The sound gnawed at her psyche and constantly reminded her of the catastrophic hunt that had cost her her real leg.
She thought back to the storm. Etharen had tried to calm the tempest with a spell, but the raging waves claimed her, along with a third of the crew, before she could cast it. Despite the roiling sea the Captain managed to get the ship through the storm mostly intact. She now wished that the sea had claimed them instead. Beyond the storm they found themselves surrounded by mist and utter calmness. The Captain was sure they had stumbled into a realmgate by accident and ended up in Ulgu, the Realm of Shadow. The Captain had no love for Aqshy, or Anvilgard and its stuffy halls and unappreciative inhabitants, but Ulgu was something else entirely. A place of lies made manifest. It felt like the very air conspired to harm you, carrying half-heard whispers of safe harbor or promising that the seawater was safe for consumption. Or maybe that was the thirst and fatigue talking. Everywhere she looked, she could see only fog. The same was true for the past three days, or what had felt like three days to the crew of the Scylla. Some of the crew insisted that they had seen pale green lights in the distance, or in the depths, but the Captain was sure they were illusions conjured up by frightened minds. Fear had already led two sailors to cut their veins open to avoid starvation, or whatever they thought waited for them in the mist. She examined her compass. The magical instrument had guided her through the storm to safety, as it was meant to, but it seem that this time safety was a relative concept. Now the needle only spun lazily around. Just as she was about to put the compass away the needle froze. She rubber her eyes, it had to be an illusion. But the needle kept pointing to just a little starboard of the prow. She was about to take a step forward when the lookout shouted:
“MAN OVERBOARD! STARBOARD SIDE!”
So there you go. The first mini of my corsair warband. The whole thing was inspired by Bruticus and his Aelves of the Black Sloth Hell, so thanks if you’re reading this Bruticus.
I have had the theme in my head for a long time though. There’s just something to sea, fog and horrors of the deep that resonates with me. I’ve also wanted to do a stuff involving piscine and cephalopod motifs/imagery (tried to incorporate these into the armor and the rim of the hood in addition to the existing ones) since I first saw Lokhir Fell and Scale75s Abyssal Warlord
There’ll be more story and I’ve got most of the warband in a WIP stage, but I’ll be focusing on my Iron Sleet Invitational entry for the next couple of weeks.