The Sea Kingdoms

The Youngest Son, Captain Olpendurf's Ship
The Youngest Son, Captain Olpendurf’s Ship

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    They called him Captain Fisher, because no one ever knew his real name. At the rate they were going, it wouldn’t matter much.

Their ship, similar in many respects to a small, three-masted caravel, had come an unfathomable distance across the sea and they had indeed discovered a land previously unknown; at least, unknown to them. Since the massive flooding that had overtaken Dremuc, caused by a power struggle and ensuing industrial productivity competition between the world’s leading nations, the remaining people and lands of Dremuc had been cut off from each other by vast stretches of sea. It took years for boats to again ply the waters, but even then, each voyage out was a dangerous adventure into the unknown. There had been strange mutations caused by radiation and chemical run-off; experimental gene-manipulation projects had escaped the labs of Bresugese scientists; resources were rarer than ever, and no map was valid anymore. Satellites had all been shot down throughout the battles that had raged off-world as different nations had tried to put refugee populations into space to escape the disasters. The last remaining point of civilization, as far as anyone knew, on the entire planet was the remains of the Xanya nation, which had always been built on an archipelago of rocky islands that now proved to be their final solace. It was true that the Xanyay people had played their part in the pollution of the world and the resulting climate change, but it was also true that some of their cities, built at water level, were the first to go.

So it was that eventually brave men and women had come to build ships in the old way, now that manufacturing was reserved for more immediate needs such as food and shelter, medical equipment and similar necessities. Hope held out that other lands had escaped the flooding, and so the brave had set forth into the new unknown to find what they could. Most never returned, and the ones that did brought back tales of days, weeks, months at sea with nothing to see but blue.

Then, when Captain Fisher and his crew had spotted land, they had at first been jubilant. This joy quickly turned to despair when they found that the land had sheer cliffs as far as they could explore, and did not have a place to moor their ship. They were as close to being on shore as if they had never seen land at all.

Following the coast north, they found a new sight which at first amazed them, and sent rounds of applause from the hardy crew- they’d found a settlement!

They, however, could not believe their luck when they tried to dock at the tiny port. They were told by the residents that they could not land here, for they lacked the correct paperwork. Evidently the town was part of some sort of vagabond nation, a loose network of surivor settlements strung through a series of reasonably large islands. Then they saw massive warships, made in the old style like their own, patrolling the waters within view of their spyglasses. To have come all this way, to have discovered this, only to be attacked and likely killed or marooned out here? It was nearly unbearable. Still, they had no choice now but to try and make port somewhere, as they were in need of food and water if they were going to make it back to Xanya and report their findings.

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    Trebi loved his life; so free, so wild. He was the captain of a sleek ship, a wolf of the waves, her sails dyed red as the sea often was behind her. He was a pirate through and through, one of many anonymous ‘citizens’ of the Sea Kingdoms, a loose network of villages and towns that had banded together in the wake of the flooding of Dremuc. Trebi routinely preyed on his fellow pirates, and also of course the many trade ships that had begun to ply the sea around the isles. He liked his life; adventure, thrills, and lots and lots of money. He was already on his third ship, payed in cash. He hopped from island to island, never staying long, and he was never too proud to flee when the odds turned against him. Mostly he liked lone vessels sailing far out from land, and these he sunk mercilessly, taking what he could from each.

The Baron of the Sea Kingdoms wanted him to work; Trebi wanted none of that. He had been a poor shopkeeper in a grocery store before the floods. He’d dreamed of a life like this, spent his youth reading about pirates and sea captains and the like, and never in a billion years thought that such a life would come to him. He wouldn’t give it up now for anything, and even if the Baron’s ships came after him, he’d rather die than work for a wage again.

Presently he was in the tiny port of Acimonid, a cluster of houses and shops perched on the edge of a natural harbor, some of the villagers building up the steep cliffs of the simmering volcano that formed the isle’s apex. Besides this the isle was covered with lush forests the whole way round, and ships came and went from all over the Sea Kingdoms. He watched with hungry eyes, taking note of which holds were loaded the most and which the least, so that later when he put to sea he could pick his targets wisely.

First, though, he had to wait for his vessel to be repaired. She’d taken some rather heavy fire in his last engagement; he hadn’t thought he’d escape for a bit, but luck had blown his way as usual. He had plenty of money to cover the expense, but time spent locked on land made him nervous.

Finally the hour came, the anchor was raised, and the freedom of the sea rolled beneath him again.

In one outing Trebi and his crew sunk at least eight ships; they soon lost count. They hauled in a full cargo hold of booty back to Acimonid, consisting of timber, sugar, rum, coffee, and weapons. The ship had taken only a few glancing blows in the process, not even worth repairing. At this rate, he’d soon be the richest man on the sea; at least, unless some other pirate came after him to settle one of his many scores. That night in port Trebi had one of his restless sleeps where he kept hearing the creak of the chest at the foot of his bed, the clink of coins being secreted away, the footsteps of thieves and murderers intruding on his cabin. He never slept ashore if he could avoid it; he felt that many must know of his exploits, and he likely had at least one dead-set enemy in every port.

But luck was his champion, his guide, his god, and luck had always been good to him.

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