The Pirate Game
Outside the box
As my body rests and my mind swims free, I hear the whispers. At the edge of my memory lies something else… something more. Perhaps the future?
I see myself, floating, amidst ruins. Green ruins. The light is dim and moves in unexpected ways, shadows moving this way and that – then sudden sparks as light hits mirrored mail, gone before the eye can focus.
Despite the crushing weight of age, many stones still stand. Even, here and there, a doorway – sized for giants. I float just beyond the remnants of a wall, its stones far larger than man or elf could move without magic.
Inside the wall, the ruins are darker. As if the light refracts around them but also because of the smoke streaming upwards amidst bubbles and great heat from somewhere deeper within the ruins. The water here is uncomfortably warm and hard to breathe and few fish can be seen but, as I touch the coral necklace at my throat, the heat and the choking ash fade from my awareness as my lungs fill with cool, clean water.
I strain my eyes, seeking to part the darkness. Even from where I wait, I can feel a presence lying therein. A dark siren song, seeking to lure me in – to crush me in its embrace. Perhaps soon I will answer and we will see whose grip is the stronger.
Not today, though. Today I have another task.
I spin in place, pulling my gaze from the ruins. There. At the limit of my sight it flickers in and out of existence with the shifting light. Tattered remnants of sails and rope wave gently above its dark bulk. A single kick propels me effortlessly towards it.
As I approach, its size becomes clear. A four-master. I move to the prow and check the figurehead. It is a one-horned horse – a landbeast they call a ‘unicorn’, I’m told – confirming the rumours we heard in port and the charts recovered from the ship’s sole survivor. This is the ship we seek; a Taldane merchantman lost two months hence after its captain turned from his expected course, drawn away from his destination in Cheliax and out into the open ocean by the dark call from within the ruins – I now suspect – never to be seen again.
Never seen again by surface dwellers, that is. The denizens of the deep ocean marked its passage and from their sightings I traced the path from its last known location to here, this upswelling of ocean floor with its strange ruins.
I finish scouting around the ship, my trident pulsing as it notes the various creatures that have taken up residence and determining the danger that they pose to myself and those who will follow. Tentacles the colour of wood shift minutely as I approach – a huge octopus trying to decide whether I should be feared… or food. With my body wrapped in enchanted shark-skin, I have little to fear from such a creature, but the blood that would spill should it seek to entangle me might attract other, more dangerous foes.
Thus I retreat, circling wide and allowing myself to drift back upwards to where the dark silhouette of my companions’ ship waits. As I break the surface, I gesture with my trident and the others begin their laborious preparations for undersea exploration.
I float, warm sun on my face and cool water beneath me as I wait to lead them into my domain.
Sharkskin Mail. Wild-changey? Damage to attackers?
Trident of Warning.
Necklace of Adaptation. Aquatic one – lovely cool water in the lungs/gills…