Working on the docks, I got to hear a lot of stories. Stories about legendary Pirates hunting for treasure, about entire fleets of ships being ripped apart by sea monsters; but there is one story that all sailors told at least once. The first time I heard the story, I had just finished my second day working with a bunch of sailors who had just returned from a long voyage along the Slithering Coast. They were surrounded by peasants, all excited to hear a new tale of bloody battles and buxom wenches. And the sailors indulged them a little, talking of fish people who leapt out of the sea and stole folk who would never be seen again, probably eaten or used as some kind of slave in an alternate dimension. But they always got this look in their eye when they started to talk about the Red Shirts. I don’t know if it was respect, pity or pride, but these creatures were the best crew to have on a ship.
Most people describe them as Dwarves. One sailor once said that they were the spawn of Besmara herself, protecting the ships. Some people don’t even speculate, saying that they don’t want to look a gift horse in the mouth. They are always men, and they always wear a Red Shirt; to attract attention they say.
“The ugly thing stuck it’s spear toward me,” Said one man, “but ole’ Chum wouldn’t ‘ave that. It wouldn’a taken more than a second for the thing to kill ‘im, but I swear on me ma’ms grave, Chum had a grin on his face as he leapt in front o’ me. ‘e saved my life ’e did, and I won’ ever get ta thank him.”
Then he goes on to tell of how the very next time the left port, there was a fellow who looked an awful lot like Chum scrubbing away at the deck, wearing his red shirt. But it couldn’t have been him, because Ole’ Chum was taken to the depths by the monsters that killed him.
There are countless tales just the same, of men getting killed and then being replaced soon after by another. Men, who in their death, save those who have surely been blessed by Besmara.
All I know is, if I’m ever on a boat, I want a Red Shirt by my side.