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The single mast cargo ship plowed through the warm water of the Rauhallinen Sea. The blue-green water sweeping up the bow and then off to either side as her hull rose and plunged with the waves. The lavender sail rippled in the wind. High above them was the pale blue sky with streaks of wispy white clouds that on any other day would have been a delight. The sun, shining hot and bright, looked down from its mid-day perch. Today, however, no one noticed. The SS Kraken Bay was running for her life.
“They are closing Captain! Four hundred yards!” The call came from the crow’s nest above.
“Keep her steady Mr. Borning. Keep her steady.” The captain said to the helmsman beside him.
Briskly, the captain walked forward to the railing of the aftcastle, where he looked down at the men below. They were assembled and waited for the inevitable. “Look lively boys. The Kraken Bay is the finest ship in the fleet! She is manned by the finest crew in the fleet! She yields to no one. Especially not to this rabble of pirates. An extra copper crown to all when we drive these cowards off!”
The men cheered in unison. Looking to one another they made ready to repulse the expected boarding party. Each sailor gripped and re-gripped their swords in anticipation. Sweat beaded on their foreheads. Five of the sailors checked their crossbows. They were set back from the starboard side, the side the pirates would scramble over in just a few more minutes, to allow them one or two additional shots before they would have to join in the close quarter fighting.
“Mr. Quint!” The captain turned his gaze to his first mate.
A broad man stepped forward from below, looking up he yelled back. “Aye Captain?”
“On my command Mr. Quint. I want...” He never finished the statement. A wall of water shot up thirty feet directly in front of the ship. The Kraken Bay crashed bow first into the wall, and all its momentum stopped abruptly. The sudden stop caused everyone and everything not batten down to lurch forward. Men closest to the bow and sides flew overboard. Boxes and ropes skidded along the deck violently hitting anything and anyone in its path. Sailors lost their grip on their weapons, and they clattered across the deck or slid overboard. The captain standing next to the rail of the aftcastle went head first over the railing, falling to the deck below. The wind, as if on command, suddenly stopped and left the sails to collapse against the mast. With no air movement, it became hot and stuffy. The Kraken Bay lay listless, dead in the water.
“Mr. Borning?” The captain growled as he regained his footing.
“It was not me Captain!”
The pirate ship, its sails still powered by the ocean wind, swiftly made up the distance to the crippled vessel. The crew on the black ship scrambled along the deck in preparation for the call to board their prey. Its captain looked smugly across to his prize. “This will be a fine catch and a welcome addition to the pascha’s fleet.” Out of the mob of pirates, an elven figure strode to the front. His black robes contrasted with his bone-white flowing hair and equally white skin. So deathly white was his appearance that most of the crew avoided him, put off from his unnatural look. His eyes, even more disturbing than his skin, were a deep scarlet red. Clearly visible around his neck was an elaborate necklace, with a sizeable jeweled pendant. Planting his feet in a wide stance against the motion of the ship, he crossed his arms and looked out across the waves at the Kraken Bay and smiled.
Back on the Kranken Bay, the sailors were just getting to their feet as the black pirate ship came alongside the stricken cog. Most were now weaponless, panic started to swell up in their ranks. Then, the call came out, and all hopes were gone.
“An Elemental!” The figure in black was spotted for what he was. Elemental mages were scarce, especially out at sea. They usually inhabited castles in the mountains, but in truth, they were at home anywhere in the world. Generally, they preferred to be reclusive, it was said that using the energy of the elements corrupted the mind and made alliances short lived. Paranoia was rampant in their ranks as was a quick, deadly temper. Even those working with an elemental mage would be in constant worry of angering them. To employ one would be near impossible except for the most powerful. Controlling an elemental mage was a continuous struggle that few felt worth the effort.
Grappling hooks arched across the decks of the ships and pulled the two hulls together. The wall of water had returned to the sea, and now the wind blew naturally. The two boats, tied together, rode the waves in unison. A horde of screaming cutthroats jumped the railings. Their blood-curdling screams and crazed facial expressions terrified even the stoutest of the Kraken Bay’s crew. It was over before it had begun. The sailors of the Kraken Bay lost their nerve, and with that, all chance for a unified resistance. Those not initially shot overboard by the abrupt stop scrambled to find either a weapon or a hiding place. Some, in such a panic about the elemental mage, chose to jump overboard and take their chances in the sea. There was no fight left in the crew. Initially, the pirates showed no mercy and struck down the ones unlucky enough to be closest to the first wave of boarders, but, then, the pirate captain put a halt to the violence and strode across to his new ship.
The captain of the Kraken Bay, Harding Robles was in his forties. He grew up on the sea, working first as a cabin boy at the age of eight. A mate at sixteen and a first mate by twenty-one. Made captain at twenty-four, success followed wherever he went.