Maplewood at Sea
Human Bard, Dread Pirate!
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A long, short time ago, a young lad sits staring into Avalon Inlet, dreaming that one day he would see what is beyond the horizon. He dreams of travel, adventure, conquest, and most of all the burning desire to find his own way there. On that day he made a vow, “one day I will find my way beyond the horizon and others will speak my name in stories of legend”.
Suddenly a throbbing feeling takes over his thoughts. A warm red flow streams down his cheek, as the roaring sounds of ghoulish laughter pierces his mind. Avalon Inlet, once crisp and glaring becomes fuzzy and opaque. He glances down to see a piece of drift wood slowly become covered in his blood. His thoughts turn to nothingness as he slumps back cradled by the warm sandy shores. As he lies basking in the mid-day sun, his eyes begin to go dark. As the light turns to crescent, he sees 3 fuzzy figures, roaring in amusement. Then, Nothing…
“Samuel, Samuel… Hey! Wake up, Samuel. Are you alright?”
“Wha…Wha…Wha happened?” Slowly opening his eyes, he sees his dear friend Marco. Marco is a stout little boy, not more than 12 years old. “Oh, bloody hell… my head!”
“I heard them laughing”, he said. “Those damn Garrison boys”.
Samuel tried standing to his feet, but gravity was proving to be quite an adversary. Slowly, his thoughts returned thru the piercing pain and returned with vengence. The anger welled up inside him like a teapot with no whistle. The once ordinary piece of driftwood, now looked as if it had been bedazzled. Tiny pieces of sand and sea glass adorned the hefty piece of wood, clinging to his blood. It sparkled and shined in the evening sun as he reached down. Grasping the piece of wood like a cave man with a club, he started off following the footsteps in the sand.
“Where are you going”, shouted Marco.
He simply kept walking, club in hand, toward what would become his destiny. The next morning a goat farmer, tending his herd, would happen across two young boys. Both savagely mauled and beaten as though a muskox had run them down and wiped his feet on their now cold and disfigured carcasses. What on earth could have done something so vicious? Their faces were hardly recognizable and a mysterious “glitter” adorned their wounds. No one would ever see Samuel again in this town. The Garrison family would greave the loss of their 3 sons, one of which was never found. Marco would wonder what ever happened that fateful night, wondering if he could have done something to prevent this? The towns folk would never speak Samuel’s name again.
Years pass. Samuel has found himself aboard a small merchant ship called “The Namia”. The wages are poor, the hours quite long, the sea unforgiving, but adventure awaits. The Namia was a quaint little ship, not fancy but boy was she fast. She only had a crew of a dozen semi-able young seamen. Most of them, were young lads like Samuel. It was aboard this ship that Samuel’s love affair with the sea would become a burning romance. As a year passed abord the ship, Samuel slowly worked his way to being an able sailor and earning half a share. Most of the young lads came and went over the year’s voyages, but Samuel seemed to have a knack for sailing and an affection for the ship’s captain, Capt. Crunch. Captian Crunch was a dirty old man, near his 50’s in age. He had a dirty humor that most found appauling, but Samuel seemed to find it endearing. He was known for giving words of “wisdom” to his young crew and seemed to dwell on a mysterious Woman he met on the Isle of Keyes. He was reknowned for reciting a poetical limerick to every young lad that came aboard his ship, and it went a-little something like this… “Listen up lads, I have somethin portant ta say!” “There’s a wench on the Ilse of Keyes, here tits hang down to her knees, here breathe is quite musty, here pussy is crusty, She’ll give you a nasty disease.” After which he would roar into a hideous laughter and stomp down the stairs to his quarters. Samuel, never grew tired of hearing the dirty old man’s jokes, but the dirty old man’s stories would be short told. Apparently, there really was an Isle of Keyes… Capt. Crunch soon fell to a horrid fever and was buried at sea. Samuel would greeve the loss of his favored Captain and soon left The Namia in search of greater things.
He soon got hired onto another ship, “Le Baleine Blanche”. This was a larger merchant vessel which carried loads of wine and ale from Montaigne to the ports at The Purple Towns. The Captain of the vessel was a tall slender Montaignian, in his mid-30’s, named Marquis Chef de Gras. The crew was a mixed bag of Montaignese, Castillian, and Eisen sailors, except for the one other Avalonian, Charles Henry. Charles was a beast of a young man. Over 6 feet tall and weighing nearly 140 kilos. Charles Henry and Samuel soon became fast friends aboard the Blache. Constantly defending themselves from insults like “chien avalonienne” and “Movida bajo el mar Avaloniana” and “Avalonier Schwein”, their friendship grew to be like that of two brothers. Charles saw the younger Samuel as that of his younger brother that died two years prior. He seemed to blame himself for his brothers death, but would never talk about what had happened. It’s also aboard this ship that Samual learned to speak fluent Montaignese, Castillian, and Eisen. Let’s face it, there’s no better way to insult a fellow crewman than in his own language. Charles and Samuel started a few fights, usually ending with Charles finishing the fights, alone. For eight months, Samuel and Charles travelled the open sea for many voyages to and from the Purple Towns and Montaigne, sometimes narrowly avoiding pirate ships and horrific storms that certainly would have been their end. To their benefit, Captain Chef de Gras was a very able captain, often making the right critical decision at the perfect time. Unfortunately, his luck and skill would soon be outmatch by a vicious Montaigne Captain of the Rose Revenge. Shortly after leaving the Montaignian port of Echine with a hold full of Montaignese wine and a “secret” cargo, the Rose Revenge struck the Le Baliene Blanche with heavy cannon fire and a sea pursuit ensued. The Le Blanche captain did all that he could to outrun and out-manuver the Rose Revenge, but she was just too fast. It would seem that Captain VanDamme could predict every move that Chef de Gras would make, and bettered his every action with a brutal barrage of cannon fire. The situation looked incredibly bleak as the Le Blanche began to slow and the Rose Revenge closed the distance. Then on the horizon, a fleet of sails appeared and Captain Chef de Gras made a bold decision to head straight for the sails of the oncoming ships, not knowing if they were friend or foe. This would be one decision that Captain VanDamme could not best. Slowly the larger, more powerful, Montaignese Ships of the Line came into view and Captain Chef de Gras sent praises to Theah. Knowing that he could not best these all powerful warships, Captain VanDamme turned and disappeared over the horizon. The Le Blanche limped back to port, but nearly half her crew had been lost and the ship was so badly damaged that months of repairs would be needed before she would be fit to sail again. Charles and Samuel would survive this encounter with the Rose Revenge but Charles would never be the same. On a barrage of cannon fire from the Rose Revenge, Charles was injured badly on his left leg and right arm. Later, at port, his left leg would be amputated at the knee. His right arm would heal, but he had lost some much feeling in his hand that he would never be able to sail again. Samuel looked after his brother Charles for several months, but Charles knew Samuel’s passion for the sea would soon call him back. And with that, Charles sent Samuel on his way back to the life he knew Samuel wanted to live. The Le Blanche was again to set sail for the Purple Towns, and having served aboard the Le Blanche for so many months, Captain Chef de Gras granted Samuel passage. Samuel hugged his brother goodbye and once again set out in search of his destiny.
It was in the Purple Towns that Samuel found his new life. He learned that he had a knack for telling stories and found people responded quite favorably to his talents. He would spend hours simply roaming the streets, occasionally sneaking onto ships to find anything he could sell. He’d peddle to anyone willing to listen to his magnificent relics of times long past, and made quite a few odd friendships along the way. One such odd friendship was with a woman named Jeza. Jeza is from La Bucca, near Castille. She was visiting her cousin here in the Purple Towns and was travelling to the Fortress of the Evening to board a ship bound for La Bucca. I say this was an odd friendship because Jeza is deaf. Samuel was on an errand for a special client when they met along the trail to the Fort. As Samuel spoke to Jeza, every time he would make a point in his story telling she would giggle, smile and nod. “…And that’s why you never pull someone else’s finger!”, again she smiles and laughs. Hours passed with Samuel telling her his stories of mystique until he finally noticed that the conversation was all one sided. He decided that maybe he was talking too much and if he would shut up for a minute or two, maybe she would chime in with a story of her own. He waited, and waited… still waiting… He began staring at the ground, looking towards the distance, still waiting… Then he began to think, “Hmmm, is there something wrong with this girl?” As he was looking away, she very politely taps him on the shoulder and begins to move her hands in a motion towards her mouth. She was asking him why he had quit talking? Suddenly he realized that something really was wrong with this girl. He had been telling his stories for hours and hours, and she couldn’t hear a word he was saying. Not only was she deaf, but she was also mute. Instantly, he felt like fool, as his eyes fell and a depressed frown adorned his face. She quickly stopped him, placed her hand under his chin and lifted his gaze to meet her own. As he looked into her eyes he saw something incredible. It was like their souls had connected for just an instant. They simply stared into eachothers eyes for what seemed like an eternity, but likely was only a few seconds. Then she giggled, smiled and nodded again and began skipping down the path. Dumbfounded… he shrugged and then ran to catch up to her. As he caught up he grabbed her hand and spun her to face him. He asked, “What my lovely dear is your name?” She began looking around. She ran over to a small bush and snatched a twig from it’s branches. Then in the dirt she drew “J..E..Z..A”. “Jeza”, said Samuel, “What a lovely name”. He then saked, “Why did you let me go on and on telling these stories?” She replied with a series of gestures saying, “Most people won’t talk to me when they know I’m deaf, your the first person who’s just talked to me like I’m a normal person and treated me so kindly. I’ve learned to read lips, but you speak so fluently with your mouth that your hands and body get caught up in story as well and I need not read your lips at all.” Samuel smiled, giggled and nodded and they finished their journey to the Fort together. They spent the last few hours with Samuel talking and Jeza listening, until the ship bound for La Bucca began to board and they parted ways. Samuel promised to visit Jeza if he ever travelled to La Bucca, and Jeza promised him a wonderful dinner if he ever made the journey.
Samuel lived in the Purple Towns for a couple more years until times began getting tough. His odd jobs for money seemed to dry up as the population in his city seemed to migrate to the coastline, towards the ports that brought wealth and prosperity to the island. Samuel soon got caught up in what most would consider to be the “wrong crowd”. A band of thieves and thugs name the Farside Clan that offered its services to the highest bidder and would extort local businesses to pay protection fee. Samuel was in charge of collecting fees and his silver tongue could often convince most merchants to pay the fee and avoid undue hardship or bloodshed. He earned quite a living extorting local merchants and occasionally going on a heist or two, relieving weathly benefactors of their seasons earnings. Samuel’s silver tongue soon earned him the name of “The Prophet” among the clan. As using your actual name in thievery and criminal acts would likely find yourself hanging by your neck from a noose. “The Prophet” soon just became “Prophet” and Samuel soon faded into infamy. Prophet became rather well known in the criminal circuit and his wrongful deeds often went unpunished, or punished but someone else always took the fall. He began believing that he was above the law and often would rant about certain crimes he commited or local merchants he extorted. The Farside Clan soon began to see Prophet as a threat to their security and placed a small bounty on his head. Hearing the news of his clan brothers authorizing a hit on him, Prophet fled the island aboard a smuggling vessel called the Santa Lucia and this is where the story begins…