Robert set off at a sprint towards the mast whilst Jiim found a good vantage point, levelled his musket and fired at the beast. His aim was as true as ever, but it was as if he was firing at a cloud – his bullet passed straight through the creature, with no discernible effect. Tregellan hollered “Get back to the maelstrom, I didn’t invite you!” and Bennett muttered a quick prayer to Neptune to remove the beast so that they could win the race for His Glory. Tregellan cast a quick confused glance in the Bosun’s direction, clearly thinking that the race was all about Anton’s glory.
The beast, perched up high in the crow’s nest, hurled a bolt of electricity at the nearest crewman, Croissant. The charge, amplified by the metallic weapons carried by the poor French crewman, burned him instantly beyond recognition, and his blackened body fell to the deck. Manuel, who was stationed near the bow, gathered up a length of wet rope and ran towards the mainmast. The captain readied one of his grenades and, somewhat improbably, hurled it with great accuracy and saw it nestle in the crow’s nest just beneath the beast. The resulting explosion vapourised the crow’s nest itself, but the shrapnel had no effect on the lightning.
Bennett, continuing his disconcerting trend of mental alacrity, rushed below decks. He reasoned that metallic objects such as bullets and shrapnel were having no effect on the creature, and remembered that they had a supply of wooden harpoons stored away. He began rummaging around for them as quickly as he could. Meanwhile, with no obvious targets available to the beast, it launched a bolt directly down towards the mainsail, instantly setting it aflame despite the pouring rain. And then it spotted Robert attempting to climb the mast below, and another crack of electricity was heard as a bolt shot towards him. Striking him in the chest, again amplified by Robert’s twin swords, it caused a vicious burn. Robert managed to shrug it off, but it was clearly enough to send the swordsman fleeing towards the bow of the ship once again to reconsider his approach.
Seeing the possible effects of even carrying anything metallic, Manuel continued to sprint towards the mast carrying his length of rope, and several thuds could be heard as the Spaniard flicked his daggers into the deck of the ship as he ran, to ensure they would not be swept away. Jiim, meanwhile, stowed his musket and other metallic objects and ripped off a length of wood from a nearby crate. Utterly fed up, the usual steely, quiet Dutchman finally snapped. Weeks of being at sea, and now finding himself in a storm, facing something that couldn’t be shot, finally tipped him over the edge. Wielding his improvised club, the landlubber ran towards the mast, cursing the beast, the sea, the boat, the storm, and anything else he could think of. The rest of the crew were momentarily shocked and a little terrified by the outburst from the normally-unflappable Dutchman.
Tregellan yelled an order for four crewmen to go below and fetch lengths of chain, which they reluctantly obeyed, having seen what happened to people carrying metal. The rest were ordered up the mainmast to put out the fire on the mainsail. Sadly crewman Browning was fried to a crisp with a bolt from the beast as he was obeying the order. Tregellan then sprinted towards Manuel and grabbed the other end of the rope that was being carried by the Spaniard, and then made for the edge of ship.
Manuel was struck with a bolt from the creature as he started his climb up the mast, which stunned him. Bennett emerged from below deck with four harpoons and lobbed one up at the thing. It definitely struck the beast, but did not appear to slow it down at all. But this was the encouragement they all needed. It seemed that wooden items could have some effect. The angry Dutchman started scaling the mast at a scarcely believable speed, as Robert reluctantly stowed his weapons as well, and Manuel recovered from the shock he had received.
The crewmen started shinning up the mast to put out the fire, as Bennett hurled his second harpoon, which seemed to have the effect of dazing the beast. As Tregellan removed his iron shirt and all other conductive items, Jiim once again scurried up the mast to draw level with the creature, which sizzled at him. Manuel was not so proficient, and couldn’t get a decent grip on the slick, wet mast.
Tregellan himself started to scale the mast and his natural agility made it look easy. Bennett threw his third harpoon, this time narrowly missing and it sailed over the mast and into the sea. As the crew kept climbing, Jiim braced his feet against the mast and clubbed at the beast, stunning it again. It quickly recovered, and electrocuted the Dutchman, causing a vicious burn and standing his hair on end. Jiim, after actually being struck by something, was fuelled by rage now. He shrugged off the burn, turned, spat, and glared at the being.
Manuel had managed to start the long climb up the mast carrying the rope, and the crew also continued climbing towards the sail, which by now was burning like a beacon. The slick conditions and the wind caught a couple of them out though, and they fell. Déjà vu recovered, but Escargot snapped his neck in the fall. Jiim beat the beast back with his plank, stunning it again, just as the last harpoon from Bennett buried itself in the beast. A loud crackle was heard – could that be interpreted as a howl of pain?
Tregellan finally reached the top and swiped at the entity with the two clubs he was wielding; both of them missing badly. “Shit, I brought my maracas” was the cry from the Captain. Bennett retreated below decks once more to search for more harpoons, and it was just as well that Tregellan missed as Jiim was in no mood to be denied. He lashed out with his plank once more, clubbing the thing into oblivion.
As soon as the beast was vanquished the storm started easing, and a few rays of sunshine could be seen poking through the dark clouds. Bennett re-emerged with another handful of harpoons, and was almost a little disappointed that he wouldn’t get to use then. The fire on the mainsail was quickly doused, and the crew surveyed their situation. Three crewmen had been lost, and the mainsail had suffered considerable damage from the fire. The top speed of the War Pig would be greatly reduced until it could be repaired. But in the now-improved conditions, there was no time to dwell, as they spotted the Red Knave a few hundred yards behind them off their starboard quarter. No other ships could be seen.
Seeing the small island of Coaming Point in the distance, and spotting the Kraken which marked the finish line, Bennett took to the helm once more and both ships hurtled across the waves. The Captain, clearly caught up in the moment, suggested hurling the anchor overboard to shed some weight – an idea that was quickly dismissed when it was pointed out that this was the usual way to stop a ship!It was clear though that all the risks they had taken throughout the race, all the hazards they had faced, and Bennett’s skill at the helm had paid off. The Red Knave could not make up the distance, and with Tregellan standing on the bow with his arms aloft, the War Pig crossed the finish line, winning the Regatta. The Red Knave crossed a few minutes later, but Mauser did not stick around to congratulate the victors and continued on sailing into the distance.
Summoned on board the Kraken, with Tregellan donning his Tiger Skin hat, the crew were presented with their prizes. Firstly, the purse – 32000 pieces of eight. Tregellan was granted his seat on the Pirate Council, and the Master of Gales placed a broken silver manacle on his wrist, symbolising his freedom from the laws of nations. They were also granted the deed to an island close to the Spanish Main. However the deed is just a piece of paper. In order to lay claim to it, they will need to explore it and deal with anything they find on the ‘Isle of Empty Eyes’…