The Skull and Shackles

The Legend of Henry Avery

The Tall Tales and Trials of a Pirate Captain

I grew up on shipboard. My family being old and distinguished mainly in the imperial navy I was following the family tradition.

So I hear father is involved in the Chexian Armada intent on scouring the Shackles free from Pirates, can’t say I am surprised. Always known that he had a deep burning hatred for Pirates. Married though? I never thought he would get over mothers death. Old Admiral Avery marrying without his son there to enjoy the party.

How rude.

I Also suspect that he knows where I am, let’s face it people already know my name, soon I am sure it will be on everyone’s lips… I guess I should take some responsibility for what happened, I did not have to kill the swine but by the gods he deserved it. It was a duel, the rules were not exactly broken. Anyhow my life is better out of the Navy than in it, I was not made to follow orders.

I don’t know if they seek me, thought it best not to risk it. The dead Lord had powerful friends back in the capital.

The pirate life suits me, freedom to go where I please, to do what I want. To forge my own legend as the most daring and famous pirate to ever sail the waters.

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Old Shoguns and sharp swords.

Alicia might well get me killed one of these days. Her flaming tattoo map only being translated by the bloody High Shogun himself… Though I was somewhat distracted by his daughter, a real stunner that one. Though I did see the look Alicia gave her, something the girl seemed to enjoy, that’s for sure.

We ended up at the Shogun’s father, he translated the map for us… It showed way to the legendary hoard of Cyrus Wolf, who was the most legendary and famous pirate of them all, well at least until I take his place. Turns out the son the old Shogun was planning on betraying us and sailing out to take the treasure himself.

Fuck that.

The old man had courage, I grant you that. He sensed his end was near and asked us to ease his passing. I am not one to be shy. I took up his blade, as my fingers touched the metal I felt something. Like a recognition, perhaps it could read the fates and see the riches and glory that lay ahead of me?

The man plunged his knife into his guts.

Messy.

I know when my time comes I want it to mean something… Though let’s face it I am not going to die anytime soon!

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I took the old guys head.

The hilt of the blade went hot, the blood on the metal seeming to darken and then absorb into the metal itself. I felt an instant of communion as Useme’s soul become part of the weapon. My eyes were drawn to Alicia and Amerasru luckily they were too distracted by the old mans passing to notice anything out of the ordinary.

We had to make it back to the ship and get the hell out of there and find the lost riches before any other greedy hands got there first. We didn’t flee, but I admit we made good speed as we ran for The Last Laugh.

No one noticed the Beast as it erupted out of the ground and leapt at us, I nimbly dodged aside, Black was that instant too slow and took the brunt of it’s charge.

I slew the beast, the black bladed katana quickly dispatching its head from its misbegotten shoulders. As the beast died I could feel the old Shoguns satisfaction coming from deep in the blade, clearly some mystical connection formed as I used the blade to ease his suffering.

Blackmatch did not make it, the beast pretty much ripped off poor Blackie’s head from his shoulders. We paused, making ready to carry our companion back for a proper send off but even the fates had not finished with my pilot, the side of the cliff heaved, throwing his body out deep into the waters. Bloody bad luck that, I didn’t even get a chance to grab Sandara’s hat before the bloody deaths claimed his body.

Though we all know he had the social graces of a wounded shark no one could say he was a coward. Let’s be honest, not many a man would venture into a Ghoul Fuck Tent, let alone return for seconds. I remember meeting him for those first few days, down in the bilge he drawn steel on me. By Besmara he even had the audacity to swing at me with his knife… I spared him though I do admit I never forgotten that instant.

He died well and I shall miss him.

Inconvenienced by Blackmatch’s death I had to take the wheel myself, though how much skill was his or from the blessed hat of Besmara he stole from Sandara is a good question. Will need to pick up a new pilot, some good enough to fill Black Matches shoes. That is not going to be easy.

We sailed with all speed to Mancatcher Cove. I saw Alicia and Amaterasu whispering sweet nothings as they cling together. God knows what her game is this time, but what I do know is that it takes more than 5 seconds, a kiss and snuggle to fall in love. She come and spoke to me, I think she expected me to be angry or something. I guess the easiest lies are those that we tell ourselves.

I am not going to get in their way, it’s likely for the best anyhow, it’s not like I loved her and she was probably just using me. Though I admit she was good company, maybe I should talk her round.

Anyhow my love is for Besmara alone, and God knows it will be good to have our Priest ship side once more.

Turns out that Amaterasu is some kind of ninja, though between us I think she is more likely to cut herself than do any real damage. She was throwing these little discs about, not sure what she expected them to do against something the size of that beast, maybe she was just trying to distract the beast? I will have to pick up a good pistol for her… Something pretty and packing a good punch. She is a distracting girl, I can see what Alicia sees in her. An exotic beauty, reminds me of that girl I picked up at Tiger Lillies, I wonder if she has the same talents?

With her come a warrior named Hajiko, he looked like a real Samurai out of legend. Old and experienced with a steady hand. Looks real handy with his oversized Katana, I was planning on recruiting someone to lead the boarding crews, a Master of Marines even. He did say stuff about oaths, and that he broke his oath to the Shogun. Good on him, any oath to that bastard should be broken at least once.

Mancatcher Cove

With my hand on the wheel we made best time ever, though I suspect that Tua Tura with the right training will make a right skilled pilot. It’s good to be able to rely on someone, even if it’s a seven foot mountain of a lizard. He is a quick learner, he can even communicate properly now to the rest of the crew.

I spotted the shrouded cove, it was almost invisible but sharp eyes can pierce even the most hidden of treasure. Out of the Cove come the most disgusting ship I have had the misfortune of laying my eyes upon, even the most poor hard up begger would have been embarrassed to be anywhere near it. I took the reigns from Tua Tura and maneuvered for the attack.

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On board the wreak was some bitch, covered in tattoos far too similar to Alicia’s for my liking… She filed down her teeth, she almost seemed to fit in with the the filth she had masquerading as crew. The bitch was powerful, sending huge blasts of lightening into the Last Laugh, seeing that she needed more than Lightening to take us down she summoned a torrent of fire down onto me. I ignored the flaming rain and focused my will against the witches foul power as it attempted to throw me up into the sky. Rosie was not so fortunate. The poor girl was thrown up high and landed with a sickening lifeless crunch.

She killed one of my crew, for that alone I will hunt her from one ocean to the next.

I outmaneuvered the wreak, ordering the cannons to fire we filled her full of lead. Alicia putting her rigging ablaze soon slowed the wreak down. With one last burst of cannon fire we almost spilt the excuse for a ship apart. With a skilled twist of the wheel I pulled alongside and the grapples were thrown.

Sighting the Witch, I leaped across the decks and dodged past her sorry excuse for a crew and put my sword deep into the bitch’s ribs. Clearly surprised and outclassed by my skill the witch retreated back from my onslaught, she reached out stealing the life’s force of one of the men defending her in some paltry attempt to protect herself. I cut her once more, I could feel the Black blade thrusting for her blood and vengeance, if it was the old Shogun or the Blade communicating I was not sure. I took a moment to ponder what would happen if her soul joined that of the old Shogun Useme’s but she killed Rosie and had to die. As I made ready to take her head she stepped back, leaping over board and vanished beneath the waves.

The bitch, the cowardly scum. She will get what is coming, that I swear even if I have to sail every known sea.

There was not much loot to gain from the junk, taking what was worthwhile we let the wreak sink and made our way into Mancatcher Cove.

We went ashore to search the beach, finding nothing of interest we took the boat back and started for the Last Laugh, nearing the ship we were ambushed by giant sharks and fish men. Tua Tura and the Hajiko the Master at Arms cut into the beasts quickly dispatching the foolish creatures.

Things were looking like they would be quickly settled until the canopy above our heads shambled into life. Even the bravest pirate struggles to fight such a creature. It throw down huge tendrils which ripped into the men, one man it grasped and lifted up to its cursed maw and swallowed him whole.

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Seeing that this fiend was a real threat to my men and ship I threw myself back onto the Last Laugh, dodging its failing limbs I ran to the mast and started climbing.

I could see my friends and crew look stupidity at me with mouths wide open in surprise, but what did they expect? I am not going to let some mouthy horror kill my men. No one gets to harm my men, not without dire consequences.

Sometimes I even surprise myself.

Seeing it rip into my men I threw caution to the wind and almost flew up the rigging to the very top of the mast. Taking my grapple out I sighted on the beast and let fly, my aim as always struck true the grapple securing next to the beast. Climbing the rope, I dodged its attempts to strike me. Now I was close to the beast I could smell its foul breath, steeling myself against the acrid stench I summoned up my focus and with some intense blasts of magic blew the thing apart. Granted, I could have used my magic to become invisible but my men needed to see their Captain respond and put some steel into their spines.

The creature now dead lost its grip on the cliff top, quickly feeling the slack as it gave way and started to fall with me still attached to it. Uttering both a curse and a prayer I turned my fall into a dive… Luckily Alicia had seen the potential danger and had prepared her magics to catch me as I fell. Honestly it was likely Hajiko following in my wake and slipping be off that tipped her off. Will have to thank them both as it would have been a high dive.

We followed the clues and unearthed the burial location of the old Wolfs hoard. Even I was a little aghast when we found that a sinkhole had formed and had sunk the whole loot down deep into the water filled caverns below. Well he old Admiral did teach me that nothing worthwhile comes easy.

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Interlude

Aboard the Devils Breath, a Chelaxian Man O War and Admiral Avery’s personal command ship.

Inside the Captain’s cabin the admiral speaks to a figure swathed in midnight black, a hood obscuring his features though his eyes gleam softly red. “Report.” The admiral commands his tone one used to being obeyed. The figure replies his voice containing an almost snake like quality to it. “I am not yours to command.” It replies it’s eyes gleaming a deeper now almost blood red. The admiral replies his voice cold steel. “You are a gifted servant one that I will use as I see fit.” The creature glares almost murderously but his tone lowers
becoming more servile. “I found him, it was like you said; he was making no pains to hide. He is now Captain of his own Ship, the Last Laugh is how it’s known. Tales flow of his exploits for those willing to listen.”

The creature pauses, his look calculating. “The mission was successful, the pieces are in place and the boy has no idea.” It nods more respectfully “An impressive plan my lord. Getting someone close is a wise, she will…” With a sharp motion of his hand the Admiral cuts the creature off. “Enough.” He commands. “Leave me.” The creature flourishes a bow and vanishes in a flash of smoke.

“Henry why did you run?” He whispers to a now empty cabin.

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