A cold wind blows in the night as the pirates sail toward an uncertain fate. Golden Eye is in the crow’s nest, watching for trouble. He spots a line of vessels, and far behind it a cliff that matches the description of the Fortress of Inciendas. He cries out, “Enemy ships, dead ahead! Fortress in sight!”
Cannons are adjusted as the dark smudges in the night resolve as enemy vessels. A splash is heard nearby, followed by a “whoosh!” The enemy has lost no time in trying to sink the approaching ships! lightchest says, “Steady! Wait until we’re in a reasonable range…” After a sound of splintering wood erupts from a cannon shot nearby, he snarls and yells, “FIRE!”
Explosions resound in rapid succession as cannon balls are sent hurtling toward Inciendas’s fleet. Cpt Henna says, “Syraxx! Silent Assassin! Let’s head under the shadow of the cliffs. If it’s deep enough, we may be able to sneak past their line and flank them.”
The vessels on both sides jockey for position as they seek the upper hand. Cannons are fired, followed by muskets as the gap narrows. Small iron balls graze D233’s scalp and he throws himself to the deck. D shouts to the helmsman, “Watch it! I don’t want to spend the rest of my life with grapeshot-patterned baldness!” Red Beard says, “I fear no volley! Ram the nearest vessel!” The Pope follows alongside as the two target enemy ships.
Then an orange light appears from high on the cliff ahead. It arcs up into the sky, then plummets toward the sea. Flames can be seen as it seems to grow in size, then the massive fireball collides into Red Beard’s ship, followed by explosions from gun powder, pitch, and other flammables. The Pope’s vessel is rapidly engulfed, as well, and the fire lights up the night as screams come from the crew, flinging themselves into the water.
The Pope makes his way to a long boat, and shouts, “Thou shalt rue the day thou didst make me thine adversary, Inciendas!”
Then Anonymous comes shooting past on a light clipper. He asks, “Ready to heat things up, Professor?”
Professor Kyo looks over with a serious expression and gives a curt nod. Then he releases the Greek Fire. As Anonymous steers the ship, dodging between the other vessels and flying ammunition, liquid flame causes passing ships to blossom with radiant heat. Bubbles stares agape in horrified fascination as three enemy combatants on fire leap into the water, only to find that there is no relief to be had there. He says, “Damn! That’s horrible!” Groany steps beside him and says, “Yeah. I’m glad I’m not on the receiving end of that. Why don’t we go give them ‘mercy’?” The two proceed to target burning swimmers, taking them out with their pistols. They find two men on fire climbing Kyosji Fisher’s boat, and blast them before they set it aflame.
Another massive fireball is hurled down from the north cliffs, narrowly missing Anonymous’s clipper and hitting an enemy ship. Professor Kyo looks toward the cliff top, saying, “Inciendas. Your assistance is appreciated.” Anonymous smiles and waves up at the now-visible figure on the cliff. He shouts, “Feel free to take out more! I won’t complain, as long as you stick to destroying your own ships!”
Suddenly, a gap closes and the clipper crashes into two other ships. Kyosji Fisher leaps from one ship to another just before an explosion. lightchest helps him up, and they battle their way to the helm and hijack the vessel. Kyosji mans the helm while lightchest removes further threats on deck, and their ship makes it out of a tight not of pure chaos just before it gets really ugly. Then grappling hooks attach to the rail and Groany and Bubbles climb aboard. Groany asks, “I hope you don’t mind if we join you?”
Bubbles points. “There,” he says. “That’s the sneak attack coming from the north cliffs. I told you they had something else coming.” Groany shrugs, and says, “Head that way. We need to cripple their momentum before they reinforce Inciendas’s forces.” Kyosji Fisher says, “No problem. I’ll cut across their bows, and set this vessel on target for that ship. Then we each start boarding and killing!” “Sounds fun!” says Bubbles with a frightening smile.
Meanwhile, Syraxx seemingly appears from nowhere and rapidly fires cannons on the rear element of the fleet, decimating its numbers and enraging the officers, laughing hysterically the entire time. Then Henna, cruising in his wake, thrusts past and engages the far portion of the rear, carving a hole in their back that can’t be ignored. Silent Assassin waits for them to draw the enemy’s attention further. Then, as soon as they maneuver to pursue Syraxx and Henna, Silent Assassin speeds out of the shadows of the east cliff and sinks several vessels, igniting the rest with Greek Fire.
A friendly vessel slips past them heading for the northeast cliff junction. Aboard it, the Pope says, “Take heed of the shoals, but draw us as near as thou mayest. We must mount the rocks with haste.” Part of the rear is aflame, and Captain Muncher is busy extinguishing the fire. “I’m starving,” he says. Red Beard glances over, saying, “Hardly a time to worry about meals. Though I suppose there’s plenty of protein aboard, if yer not too picky about yer meat.”
Muncher looks down at a cooked human thigh and carves off a chunk with his knife. Then he downs it. The others look at him in expressions of shock, disgust, or amusement. “True, what dey say…taste kinda like pork.”
Golden Eye brings the vessel near the cliff, then it runs onto a sand bank. The pirates leave the boat and take to the crack in the cliff side, scaling by lantern and torch light. Archers from above make things difficult for them, and pick off some of the pirates, but the ones who make it to the top take them out.
The fighting continues as more pirates make their way to the fortress. It’s a fierce and bloody battle, and hours pass as casualties are accrued on both sides.
Finally, Golden Eye spots Inciendas as he hurls another fireball down on the ships below from atop a battlement. He says, “There’s the bastard. Let’s make him pay…and I don’t mean financially.”
Red Beard bounds toward him and the warlock spins to face him, sending forth a lance of fire. The skullbearer barely dodges and lunges with his sword. Inciendas goes up in flames, and the metal of the sword blade melts. Red Beard screams and drops it, attacking with his axe, but Inciendas leaps from the wall into the courtyard. He sends out another fire lance which burns through the legs of several pirates, crippling them, while his men fight off the rest.
Red Beard positions himself to leap down onto Inciendas, but a Scottish Grappling Hook wraps around his legs, throwing him off balance.
Iron Beard steps forward and says, “’Bout time I paid you back for our last encounter,” and he double kicks Red Beard off the wall as the pirate swings his axe. Red Beard stumbles backward, wavers, and then plummets to the water below. Iron Beard turns away with an axe wound to his left arm, but steels himself as he drops to the courtyard below.
Inciendas stands with a wall of flame about him which burns up all arrows fired at him. Men and women who approach him fall to their knees, choking and gasping for breath. The warlock has stripped all oxygen from the courtyard save for where he stands. Iron Beard rushes the dark one, heedless of the flame, and hurls himself at him. Heat sears his flesh as he passes through the wall, but Inciendas is knocked to the ground.
Iron Beard stabs his sword through his hand and head butts the warlock, then inhales fresh air. Inciendas tries to fend him off, but is not strong enough in such close quarters, and finds his windpipe cut off. With his face only inches from the warlock, Iron Beard speaks: “I have come to exact vengeance for all the wrongs incurred upon my great-grandfather, Old Ironbeard. You will now tell me how to find and destroy the Mad Sea God, or I shall make you suffer as I intend him to!”
Inciendas quails and struggles to draw breath. He acquiesces. Inciendas rasps, “There is one of my order who can aid you…one who has always mistrusted the Sea King…Relampagas! You will find him in the Warlock Sanctum, in Guaitecas Archipelego, upon the Isle of the Star. He knows a way to destroy Millalobo…but it will do you no good! The Dark King of the Waters will smite you into dust and scatter you on the wind!”
Iron Beard looks pensive. He says, “We shall see. I will send you to meet you brother now.” And he slashes Inciendas’s throat with his blade.
Iron Beard stands up. “Looks like I’ve got to see a man about a god.”