Message in a Bottle

By Roger Carbol and Ryan St.

In a floating bottle

As first mate of The Whore of Cloaks, I swear this is a true account of the preceding twelve days.

It began with the killing of the captain, poisoned by an exotic Zoma toxin than Muiz provided the cook. I could care less how he got it; the Zoma are his obsession, not mine.

We painted the ship’s new name — The Whore of Cloaks — across the mainmast, rather than on the ship proper, as no paint nor tar nor barnacle would long hold to her Hunish hull. Her old name, The Tooth of Bokk, had always been a source of consternation.

The slaves were overjoyed, and not merely to be unchained. Balo women all, we had captured them in a recent raid — or rescued them, as they leapt into our arms as quickly as we could carry them away.

When they discovered their fate was to be thrown into the Witching Sea as sacrifice to the Behemoth, their wailing and pleading began — to no avail.

Still, the mutiny could not have occurred without them. As before, the captain insisted they remain unsullied by the crew. Their wine-dark eyes and silken hair proved irresistible, and after a crew's council, we decided to enjoy what was ours by right.

For three days we drifted without aim, content to gorge ourselves on wine and women. On the fourth, Muiz suggested we follow his map to a treasure, never before been seen by living eyes, lying only nine days sail from us. We agreed.

That night, some bestial appetite took hold of everyone aboard.

I've been sailing since I could barely lift an oar, and I've seen the lust of men who have been at sea a great hundred days or more — indeed, felt such lust myself. Such feelings, and their inevitable satiation, were but a pale shadow of that night.

The women were touched by more than mere men that night. Their eyes, once bright and seductive, are now dull and staring. They do not eat or drink, nor speak or sleep. Their fine hair fell out in hanks, which Muiz collected for his own foul purposes. And they began to hum, inaudibly at first but with a strength growing daily; a tuneless harmony that turned the stomachs of men born on the waves.

The winds and current failed, and yet our ship's Hunish hull ever continued to cut through the water, drawn inexorably towards our destination. Muiz left the wheel only to consult his map. I stole a glance at it once, to see a twisting maze of lines that left my head aching. A single name was clear, though I scarcely dare even now to write it, for it is madness to suggest a map charting that forever-lost city.

The dawn is breaking, but I dare not bring myself to yet see what new strange horizon is there to greet us.