The Mercenary Adventure (Alphabetic 18)

War came to the tiny island o’ Gibbelania. Exhibitin’ all the traits o’ the scornful stereotypes with which her rivals painted her people, they shrieked, hopped and babbled in fear. “Yarr” we cried in excitement as her castle walls fell to our cannons’ punchin’. “Zero mercy” had been declared by our patron and paymaster in this mission. Aye, we were in it for the doubloons – we owed a favour to the King of Tarsus and he’d see it repayed with the swash of our swords. Booty were also part of our enticement; a crocodile’s weight in gold on devastation of the town.

Changing from iron to incendiaries we rained flame upon the gibbering locals. Doubtless they’d offended Tarsus through their mangled speech – twas irritatin’ enough to hear ’em scream. Every dwellin’ of Gibbelania was afire and we considered our work complete and without setting boot to land, to boot. Feeling well pleased with ourselves we set sail for Tarsus and our shiny reptilian prize.

Gales whisked us to and fro about the sea, sending us twisted about the archipelago of Grim’s Basket, so named by the locals for the bastard creatures ye’re like to stumble across upon your doorstep when ye wake. Had I more wit about me I’d have delayed our passage but the allure of gold’s reliable in damping me caution. I regretted our haste when the first beastkins of the Basket pounced upon us.

Jealous of our life and freshish breath ghostly figures emerged from the sea and clawed at our timbers. Killing ’em were no option for us owing to their post-life states. Leadshot confused ’em though, shreddin’ their essence on the waves; the spirits fell behind us as we navigated the straits of the Basket. Me heart sank further as serpentine throats rose out of the rocky reefs, teeth snapping and hissing as we passed.

Now our fears’d come alive: the Morbid Serpent was a beast known to all seamen – tis the ‘cumulated memory of all those fallen to ye blade. Orange faced, spear-toothed with a hide of scales reflectin’ the faces of weeping and raging foes the creature snarled at me men – a head for each of us. Perhaps I’m less sensitive than some of me crew for rather than quail at the sight I merely loaded me whale gun and unloaded her spark-wise into the brute’s familiar patchwork skull. Quite what result I’d expected I couldn’t rightly say, but I’d certainly not imagined the meta-Morbid Serpent – a confusticated writhing of victimised serrpent flesh, turning its face inside out to reveal its own abused soul. Royally puzzled it bit off its own heads and collapsed in a swirling self-hating heap of ooze.

Suddenly smooth sea guided us out of Grim’s Basket and into the port o’ Tarsus. Twas most convenient and we fairly bounded into the King’s throneroom – makin’ clear twas to claim our prize, and definitely not to run away from the ocean. Unbeknownst to us the King had a range o’ pet crocodiles and he ushered only the smallest and unhealthiest runty lizard onto the scales for balancin’ against the gold. Virgil was the King’s name and I determined never to allow his name any sway in my future dealings – so it was that I waited till evenin’ to ensure his daughter suffered not from that burden.