Skull and Shackles

Excerpt from "Hero's Guide: The Complete Writings of Errol Karn- Vol. IV" -- continued

Wedding bells

“As we headed back upriver to the sea, we found a small Chilaxian vessel ahead of us. We weren’t about to let them escape so Erlik scared them a bit with the catapult before we rammed them, splitting the boat in half. As their crew tried desperately to swim to shore, Erlik hit them with one of his stinkbombs causing the poor souls to both vomit and drown at the same time. They clearly weren’t there alone so we took one of them as hostage to find out where they were trying to escape to. He was…reluctant to give us any information. I wasn’t going to waste any more time on him and just gave him to Erlik to do the kinds of things Erlik likes to do. Except he did something unexpected, and unnerving. He revealed this disgusting, talking, growth from his body that he apparently calls “Mr. Stinky”. At this point, our hostage, fearing a fate worse than death, told us everything we needed to know.
They were returning to a man’o’war named the Dominatrix sitting just outside the river’s mouth. Commander Kind was planning on blowing us out of the water as soon as we tried to leave. We were no match for a ship of that class so we devised a plan sacrificing only the lives of Erlik and Jerrick. They were to take some water breathing potions and sneak under the Dominatrix, placing bombs on the rudder to hopefully immobilize it, at which point we’d shoot out of the river like an arrow. We on the DDD waited while they made their slow trek under water. We eventually heard the boom and went full sail. Sure enough, the stern of the Dominatrix was in flames and there was a storm cloud throwing lightning down upon their crew. Still, they did a number on us with their vast armaments but we managed to get out of their firing range with the ship mostly intact. Looking back, we saw Erlik and Jerrick floating back in his hat boat… boat hat…thing. Nice hat though. So we waited for them to get to the ship before continuing our escape."

“Now free from Commander Kind’s ambush, we decided it was time to return to The Rock to see if Lady Smithy had heard tale of our exploits and was ready for our marriage. On the way there one evening, we saw a ship on the horizon. Only got a glimpse of it before it disappeared. The following night, a heavy fog had set in but we could hear a ships bell clanging in the dark. We then got another brief sighting of this ship before it was lost again in the fog. Somebody recalled a story about a ghost ship called the Death Knell. Story went that Captain Pilk liked to stalk his prey for several nights before killing them. I slept fine that night but fear that my crew did not. But sure enough, the Death Knell showed up again for the next night and this time with violent intent. They attacked us and during the melee, Captain Pilk shoved his ghostly hand right through Erliks chest, bringing him to the ground. Seeing this, I ran along the ships railing and flipped behind the ghost captain, skewering him as he, and his hat, vaporized into nothingness. We quickly sailed off as the Death Knell sank into the ocean. From now on, the legend of the Death Knell would have a new ending and a new villain.”

“Approaching The Rock, we found it to be under attack by pirates. We rushed to defend the outpost and rammed right into their ship. Quinn had the idea to use the momentum of the colliding ships to fling himself over to theirs. Unfortunately, one of their crew, a berserk looking guy named Knuckles, had the same idea and the two crashed together with the impact of a shipwreck. The ensuing battle was a bit of a struggle because they had a witch who hovered continuously out of reach of my sword. After having killed most of the crew and Knuckles however, she flew out of sight having been scared away by our might. We went on to The Rock and I chatted for a while with the lovely Lady Smithy. She had indeed heard many stories of the Great Captain Karn. Of Karn the Fearless. Of the Infamous, Handsome Karn. Only one thing remained before she would agree to our marriage. And that was the witch who will still moored just outside. Kill her, and the marriage would go ahead. A simple task for the crew of the notorious Dread Double Doubloon. So that’s exactly what we did. We went back out there, found the witch, and brought her down to our level with a grappling hook so we could finish her off. Quinn might be blind but I expect that that’ll get better in a few days.”

“Wait. What the hell is that thing growing out of Erlik!?”

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