The crew were on the deck of the Deathknell, faced by half a dozen undead sailors with rotten, bloated bodies and slimy greenish skin. They wore the soggy remains of their former sailor’s garb, and left soggy footprints as they shuffled along. On the quarterdeck, furiously ringing the ship’s bell, was Captain Whalebone Pilk, wearing a belt of skulls and still carrying his rusty harpoon. The sight of the undead was too much for Captain Hall to bear, and he retreated to the longboats to join the rest of the crew that were too afraid to join the coming battle. The only crewmen plucky enough to go on deck were Leech, Enfield and Makarov.
Anton, in inimitable fashion, stepped into the middle and began to hurl insults at the undead crew. Leech levelled his musketoon and took careful aim at one of the zombies, whilst everyone else ran forward into the fray. Bennett, in a feat of athletisicm, leapt onto the ships rail and ran along it, bypassing the zombies in his way giving him a clear path to Pilk. Leech’s shot missed its mark, and Enfield and Makarov were also unable to connect with their cutlasses. Jiim, at extreme range, managed to fire a great shot off at Pilk, who was still ringing the bell, but the shot did not appear to harm the Captain. Louise lashed out with her short sword and deftly removed one of the zombies’ heads.
One of the undead crew moved to intercept Bennett but was unable to stop him, however another engaged with Enfield and struck him down. Anton ran to avenge Enfield, wounding it with his dagger. As Pilk continued to ring that infernal bell, Anton finished off one zombie. Bennett slashed out at another, but when he missed he continues his run towards Pilk. The zombie lashed out with his cutlass as Bennett made his move, injuring him. Jiim once again failed to shoot the Captain, and whilst Anton finished another off, Virginia ran to Enfield’s side, and patched him up as best she could.
Just as the battle seemed to be going in favour of the heroes, four more undead sailors boiled up from the hold below. As Louise dispatched another zombie, Bennett ran up to Pilk. The undead captain grappled with Bennett, and he felt a discomfort in his chest, but managed to shake it off. Tregellan ran up to two sailors, slashing the throat of one with his dagger but having no luck with his rapier. Louise continued her killing spree, slicing through another zombie, and Pilk once again grappled with Bennett. This time he could not fend it off, and he felt a crushing force round his lungs, making every breath a struggle. Bennett attempted to damage the ship’s bell, but Pilk then stabbed out at him with his harpoon, once again wounding him badly.
With a clear path, Anton sprinted towards the quarterdeck. A zombie lunged at Louise, but she deflected his strike and riposted, killing it. Virginia took out her knife and attempted to lash out at a zombie, and managed to wound it. Bennett at this point was critically wounded, and decided to defend as best he could against the Captain. With every last ounce of strength, he somehow managed to deflect the harpoon that was aimed squarely at his chest. Louise and Jiim both sprint forward, Jiim reloading as he ran, and one of the undead crew now on the quarterdeck managed to catch Louise with a lucky blow. Anton leapt over the rails and tried to knock over the Captain and the sailor next to him; the sailor went flying but Pilk proved too sturdy. Bennett feebly swung at Pilk, but as the air was being crushed out of his lungs, the strike was brushed aside.
Jiim, from a little further back, thrusted his bayonet at the ships bell whilst at the same time letting off a shot. The old bell shattered, and the remaining zombies collapsed to the floor, and Pilk let out an inhuman wail. He reached out to grapple with Anton, but the Lord of Tidewater Rock nimbly sidestepped, and casually winked at Pilk as he did so. Louise stabbed Pilk with her dagger, causing him a vicious wound, and although everyone else missed, Louise finished him off with two expertly delivered blows.
The instant Pilk fell to the floor, the ship around them starting turning to dust, disintegrating and falling apart into the sea. They all made their way rapidly off the boat, collecting the unconscious Enfield along the way. As they made their way back to the longboats, Enfield came around; Virginia’s first aid proved the difference between life and death for him.
Despite their epic victory over a legendary scourge of the seas, their joy was short lived, as they found themselves adrift, with just three days rations each. Even Tregellan’s attempts to lift spirits with songs failed to lighten the mood. The officers remembered that Captain Hall had stocked the longboats with fishing tackle, and they all tried their hand at fishing. Somewhat miraculously, Jiim proved to be the best fisherman of the lot, and they caught a few fish to supplement their rations. But the lack of water was proving to be the real issue. Days from known land, or even from any major shipping lane, their fate looked grim. Louise bravely decided to try on one of the Fishmen necklaces, in the hope it would somehow allow seawater to become drinkable. She donned the necklace, and whilst it didn’t have the effect she was after, she did discover that it allowed her to breathe underwater! Once the rations had ran out, it was not long before Bennett, weak from his injuries, passed out.
Three days later, Anton spotted land through the Farglass, and they gleefully made their way towards it. They had come across a small uncharted island, and rowed up onto the beach, grateful to once again be on land. Securing supplies was the first priority, and Jiim climbed a tree to scout inland. He noted that the jungle seemed to thin out a couple of miles inland, so Jiim and Anton, along with six crewmembers, set off into the jungle, leaving the rest to tend to Bennett and make camp on the beach. Despite her best attempts, Louise was unable to get a fire going.
After trekking for a while, the jungle sunk into a swamp. Gnarled trees rose out of slick, black waters, buzzing with mosquitoes. As they contemplated their surroundings, Jiim found a plant which was rich with sap, and the away team could quench their thirst a little. The movement had alerted something, though, and a huge constrictor snake rose out of the water and struck out at the party. The crewmen took careful aim at the beast with their musketoons, as Jiim lunged with his bayonet, but missed. As Anton was still telling the snake what articles of clothing and accessories he would turn it into, a volley of fire opened up from the crewmen, and Metford’s shot was true, piercing the snake through the brain and dropping it. Anton congratulated the crewman, and they kept hold of the beast, as it would provide valuable food.
At this point, Jiim heard the faintest strains of banjo music wafting across the still water. Deducing which direction it was coming from, he snuck off, eventually spotting a pale glow of a lantern. Up ahead, he could see an old shack rising out of the water on mossy stilts. The shack’s lone window was casting an amber glow on the porch, where he could see an old man rocking back and forth in a chair, smoking a pipe. Raising his hands above his head, he approached.
The old hermit was a little taken aback by the appearance of a man out of the swamp, but it soon became clear that he was a friendly, if somewhat strange, old soul. Jiim explained his crew’s predicament, and the old man, introducing himself as Jesse, was quick to invite the whole crew round. He had plenty of food and water, and was happy to share it with the crew, grateful to have some company. Jiim called back to Anton to approach, and they sent two crewmen back to the beach to collect the rest.
The crew explained how they had come to be on the island (leaving out the ramming ‘incident’) and Jesse had indeed heard of the Deathknell and was suitably impressed that the crew had vanquished it. He explained nonchalantly that the banjo music was being played by his old crewmate Bob, who had died some years ago from fever in the swamp – he seemed almost annoyed by the music. As the evening wore on, and the crew refreshed themselves, they asked how Jesse came to be here, and how he kept himself supplied. Jesse explained that there was a cove a few leagues away where pirate ships sometimes stopped off to resupply with fresh water. Bob would let him know when they arrived, and he would buy supplies off them.
Jesse then told the crew his story: Years ago he was a sailor on board the “Crimson Death”, a small Spanish vessel owned by Duke Rafael Sanchez that was part of the fabled Spanish Treasure Fleet. The Crimson Death turned astray from the rest of the fleet and fled, making for Santo Domingo where Rafael Sanchez lived, and the treasure aboard disappeared. When he died, Rafael left the only map to its whereabouts to his son, Baron Paco Sanchez. But knowing their greedy, evil ways, Ol’ Jesse grabbed part of the map and tore it in half and made his getaway. He has been living here on this island in hiding ever since. He offered a deal to the crew – he will give them his half of the map if they agree to kill the evil Spaniard Baron Paco Sanchez, allowing him to come out of hiding. The crew quickly agreed, despite some rumbling from Louise “Oh, so NOW it’s fine to kill Spaniards!”
Jesse handed over the map. It contained little detail apart from a cryptic message “Beyond death follow the North Star to Heaven and God”, and a few annotations from Jesse himself. After a couple of days, Bob alerted Jesse to the presence of a ship in the lagoon. Jesse told them he’s not interested in how they get themselves off the island, he just requested that they allow him to purchase some supplies first. The crew handed over a few coins to Jesse to thank him for his hospitality, and he led them off through the swamp up to the cove. Sure enough, anchored in the middle of the cove is a ship – a French barque called La Triomphe. She was ablaze with lights from below deck, and the sounds of drunken laughter echo across the water. Jesse rowed over in his small canoe and climbed aboard, returning shortly after with his supplies, leaving the crew to contemplate how best to proceed…