The Warlock’s Curse

The Chilote warlock, Tinieblas, is lashed to the mainmast of Deens Brand, his grim face illuminated by the flickering of an oil lamp. The vessel surges forward in the dark, heedless of the danger posed by rocks or reefs in the coastal waters of Chiloe. The night is silent as you scour the sea for any sign of the Caleuche. You shiver as you find the warlock staring at you, and your hand automatically makes its way to the coin in your pocket. During the battle in the abandoned mission, the warlock found his powers to be ineffectual against his assailants.  The mysterious coin proved ample protection, and Tinieblas was captured. After the doppelgangers were disposed of, Old Ironbeard had the warlock hauled onto his ship. Tinieblas was forced to divulge his means of locating the Caleuche, and he produced a compass from within his robes. Using this, the crew now pursued the famous ghost ship.

“Watch it, there!” warns Old Ironbeard as the helmsman brings Deens Brand near a massive seastack. “No need to follow the compass so closely that we scuttle the ship!”  The helmsman puts more distance between the ship and the towering rock face. At once, a clear laugh is heard. Then a woman’s voice, raised in song. The hairs on the back of your neck rise as a large white ship heaves into view from the other side of the seastack. Five sails billow from each of three masts, lit up by numerous lanterns. Shadows fall upon the water as the revelers dance to the sound of woodwinds and stringed instuments.

The crew of Deens Brand stand aghast and transfixed at the sight of the legendary vessel. “Shiver me timbers!” says Old Ironbeard. Then he quickly regains his composure. He shouts, “Don’t stand ‘round like a barrel o’ dead fish! Bring us about! Bos’n! Ready the lines and prepare to board!”

Deens Brand comes alongside the Caleuche, and grappling hooks are thrown into the rigging. You secure a line and take hold, hanging and climbing hand over hand toward the ghost ship. You clamber over the rail of the Caleuche. A cold wind blows as your feet touch the deck of the ship. The lights go out, and all is silent. Light is produced, and you see the deck empty of revelers, without sign that merriment of any kind has taken place recently. A sick feeling in your gut makes you want to rush back to Deens Brand, and only the fear of the cap’n stops you.

“Search the ship, ya lazy lot! Or I’ll have ya measured fer yer chains!” shouts the captain as he steps onto the deck. Behind him some hands drag up the warlock, and toss him onto the deck. You take hold of him to prevent his escape. A large canvas bag is also brought on board. Old Ironbeard looks earnestly at the bag, then draws his falchion and cuts it open, revealing a cadaver. You are surprised to see the face of the captain’s eldest son, Ignaas, who was killed in battle months ago. The corpse stinks, despite having been well-preserved.

Men are scurrying about the ship, laying hands on all they can find. The voice of Tinieblas then scratches forth, “I warned you to take nothing! You bring certain doom upon yourself!” Old Ironbeard ignores him. He pulls Ignaas into a sitting position and holds him there, whispering something in the dead man’s ear. You begin questioning the sanity of your leader for the first time. Then you gasp as the eyes of Ignaas open and fix on Old Ironbeard, who pulls him to his feet.

“Ah! ’Swounds, yer alive! Son of my flesh! T’was true, what they said!” The two smile, and the captain shakes Ignaas by the shoulders in a friendly fashion. The previously dead man looks confused, but fully alive. You had heard the tale of dead men returning to life on this ship, but you never expected it to be true. You look at Old Ironbeard with a new feeling. The captain’s faith won out, and his son lived again! What a tale! Surely you could get a free drink for this one!

A cry comes from the pillagers. “She’s goin’ down, cap’n!” The ship is sinking! Men are securing their loot and returning to Deens Brand. Ignaas is helped down to a longboat. The warlock, Tinieblas, says to the cap’n, “You’re greed will cost you your life!” Old Ironbeard snarls and hurls himself at the man. He slashes his throat, saying, “Go back to yer master, the devil, and tell him this vessel is mine now!”

The warlock collapses upon the deck, his lifeblood flowing. Despite his severed windpipe, his voice rings out clearly with an ominous echo.  The warlock intones, “Three moons shall not pass away, and three of your most trusted followers will turn against you!  Your empire will crumble away, and your life shall be stripped in a place of shadows and terror.”

Old Ironbeard’s face goes white and fearful, then he purses his lips and heads to the longboat. You are waiting below in the boat when you see a knife spin past the captain’s face as he weaves to the right. An unseen combatant leaps at the cap’n from the shadows. The two wrestle, and a pistol goes off. Water is pouring onto the deck of the Caleuche as Old Ironbeard’s assailant leaps onto the longboat, followed by the cap’n.

The cap’n shouts, “Heave to, coxswain!” The two men stand in the boat, blades drawn as they face each other. You realize that the attacker is none other than Black Jack, the first mate. Meanwhile, you and the others paddle furiously to escape the pull of the sinking ship.

“I’ve a mind to send ye to Davy Jones’ Locker fer this!” yells Old Ironbeard.

Black Jack shrugs. “Ya can’t blame a fellow fer tryin’! Tain’t nothin’ personal, Cap’n. I jus’ thought it was my turn to command, is all.”

The cap’n grins. “I s’pose yer luck’s run out, matey! Lower yer blade an’ I’ll give ye an easy death. Blimey, despite yer caprice, ye’ve been a good first mate, and I’ll even let ya pick the means.”

Black Jack sees he’s a dead man, and sheathes his blade. Once on ship, Laurelia Cariño convinces the cap’n that there might be a better use for the mutinous first mate, and his life is temporarily spared; as, Old Ironbeard owed a life to some Incans he had once dealt with, and Black Jack would pay that debt…

Now a shadow looms over the crew. The doom the warlock pronounced has begun, and you exchange worried glances with your crewmates, wondering if this spells the beginning of the end…

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