Ghost of the Navigator
The high seas be fraught with perils. Our story begins with a young blue Mynci by the name of Connor on Krawk Island.
"Yo Ho! Ye filthy bilge rats!" Connor shouted with the best "pirate" style accent he could.
"Hoist the main sail! Raise the anchor! Set forth to plund--" he said before breaking out into a heavy coughing fit.
"This pirate talk really does a number on the throat," Conner said to himself after regaining his composure.
Connor always dreamed of being a sailor. He'd read anything involving ships and the ocean. He would have done anything to become a sailor. If you asked him what his favorite part of the idea was, he wouldn't be able to tell you. He just knew that his place was on the high seas.
Finally, the perfect opportunity prevented itself. The famed Pteri pirate, Blackhawk, recently announced that he needed some more deckhands for an upcoming voyage. Wasting no time, Connor rushed to sign up. It was a great idea to him. Getting to work as a sailor and get paid. Little did he know what being a sailor would actually encompass.
Blackhawk was a named to be feared. Only the bravest or the foolish dared to walk among his crew. Rumors circulated about him, how he was a descendant of pirate legends or how he once took down a full ship with nothing but his bare wings. Some deemed him insane, but never to his face, as the last man who did "found a new home near Maraqua."
It was the day before the crew of Blackhawk's ship, the Wings of Night, was to leave port. Connor sat in one of the taverns in the town with a few other crew mates
"Do you think we'll find any treasure?" one asked.
"What if there isn't any treasure to be found?" asked another.
"This drink... I like it! ANOTHER!" someone shouted from across the room.
Connor was listening intently to everything around him. He knew only as much as the other crew members, but he was by far the most enthusiastic about this.
From the shadows of the room, a figure approached the table. "Argh," he grunted, "ye would be fools to be searching for the treasure of Bloodhook." It was an old Grarrl sailor. "There be many horrors on the seven seas, none as mysterious as the Ghost Ship."
Bloodhook was one of the most famous pirates in all of Neopia. A skilled captain and navigator, he took more ships and loot than anyone else. The Buried Treasure game on Krawk Island was a testament to the legend of Bloodhook.
The Ghost Ship was a hushed rumor among sailors. Cap'n Bloodhook never made it back to port after the fallout with his crew. There were some who said the ship still sails, haunted by the spirits of the captain and the crew. Most people who talked about this were deemed crazy. The legends said that the famous treasure was still on board the ship.
"I seen it with me own eyes." the old Grarrl continued, despite the fact that most of the crew was ignoring him. Yet Connor listened intently. He may not have fully believed in ghosts or ghosts ships for that matter, but he did love a good tale of the high seas. "Tattered sails, broken hull, spirits abound." the Grarrl sailor was rambling now and even Connor had written him off as nuts.
"Whatever, loony," Connor said before turning in for the night.
Promptly at dawn the next day, the crew was ready to set sail. All sails had been prepped and the supplies had been loaded. Connor was the first one up and on the ship, the anticipation unbearable. He was finally going to be a sailor.
"Hoist the main sail! Raise anchor!" These two phrases rang out. The crew raised the anchor and departed the port. Connor, being a lowly deckhand, was delegated mostly to cleaning the ship decks. Contrary to popular belief, pirates try to avoid getting sick with scurvy and whatnot.
"Umm, Captain Blackhawk, sir?" Connor asked the captain as he stood on deck, inspecting Connor's work.
"What is it, swabbie?" the captain shouted at Connor, making him wince in fear.
"What exactly are we searching for on this voyage?"
"Ohohohoho, laddie. Ye haven't the faintest idea?" Connor shook his head lightly in response.
"We be searching for the greatest treasure of all!"
"You don't... you don't mean...?"
"Aye. We be searching for the Ghost Ship and all the booty aboard!" Blackhawk laughed.
"But... but..." Connor stammered, unsure of the captain's mental capacity.
"No buts laddie, or I'll haul yours to Davy Jones's locker," the pirate Pteri snapped. "Now, get back to work!"
Connor quickly got back to work with his mop, making sure the deck was as clean as possible. "I've got a very bad feeling about this voyage," Connor thought to himself.
Night had fallen on the ship. Most of the crew was asleep, with only a few working to prevent the ship from crashing into the rocks. Connor was lying in his bunk below decks, unable to fall asleep, partly due to the ebb and flow of the ship, partly because of his own fears. "How are we going to find a ship that may or may not exist" Connor thought. He didn't know why, but he had an immediate sense of dread. Something was going to happen soon, but what was anyone's guess. The sound of the waves hitting the side of the ship eventually lulled Connor to sleep.
The next morning, it was almost as if it could have still been night. "There be a storm brewing," Blackhawk addressed the crew. Needless to say, the crew was frightened. Not many of them knew how to deal with a storm. The sky was dark and cloudy, indicating the predicted storm. The crew spent most of the day prepping the ship in case there was a storm. It was near the end of the day, the time when Blackhawk would have dismissed the crew when Connor felt it: Rain.
"Argh!" cried Blackhawk. "Batten down the hatches! Brace for the storm!"
The crew went below decks to finish prepping the ship. The ship was built so that it wouldn't capsize no matter the waves or the wind, but it still had to be prepped to prevent flooding and leaks.
The waves weren't any larger than they had been earlier. It was just raining and much darker than the other night. Connor, unable to sleep again, went above deck where some of the other crew members were continuing to steer the ship in the middle of the rain. Among those above deck was Blackhawk.
"I've naught seen conditions like this in all my time at sea," Blackhawk said, partly to himself and partly to Connor.
"CAPTAIN! TARGET HAS BEEN SIGHTED!" the navigator shouted from the position on the top of the ship.
"WHAT!?" Blackhawk and Connor shouted in unison. "Report, sailor!" The captain shouted back.
"The Ghost Ship! Off the port bow!"
"Aye," said Blackhawk under his breath. At initial glance, it might have just been a trick of the rain. But it was no trick. It was the legendary ghost ship.
Connor stared at the ghost ship in disbelief. There it was, about thirty meters to the left of the ship. "The Grarrl was right," Connor said, still disillusioned. The ship looked rotted with holes in the sails and the ship. The ship had a faint blue aura around it and seemed to be moving very smoothly despite the rain. It almost looked like the rain was falling through the ship.
"ALL MEN REPORT TO THE MAIN DECK!" The order shook Connor out of his mesmerized state. The entire crew went above deck, all of them agitated, and with good reason. They were all just awakened and called into the rain. "Avast, men. Off the port side lay our target! The infamous Ghost Ship!" Like Connor, all of the men stared at the ship. Some in awe, others in shock, others in horror.
"Crew, today we go down in history. Today, we become legends. Today, we Take. That. Ship!" Blackhawk shouted to the crew to motivate them. "All hands, prepare to plunder that ship." The crew began preparing ropes that they were going to use to get board the ghost ship. The captain steered the Wings of Night towards the other ship.
"Fifteen meters out, Captain!" the navigator called out. "Men, prepare yourselves. This should be our biggest haul yet!" Blackhawk yelled to the crew. All the crew members began pulling out swords and similar weapons, excited to get the treasure. Connor took a dagger off one of the walls of the ship. He hoped he wouldn't have to use it.
The Wings of Night was quickly approaching the ghost ship. "Ready, men?" Blackwing asked his men. The crew hollered in excitement. Suddenly, the ghost ship turned, putting the two ships on a direct collision course. The captain had no time to react; the ships were to close to turn away. Seeing the ghost ship was about to collide with theirs, Connor's face went pale and he fainted. He heard a crash, and then silence.
Connor awoke soon enough. He had no idea where he was. All he could tell was that he was dry, meaning he was below deck somewhere. "Whe- Where is everybody? Hello? Anyone there?" Connor asked into the darkness, but the only response was the sound of the boat creaking and the rain falling, with the occasional boom of thunder. There was some light leaking through the holes in the ship that helped Connor see a path. "Wait, holes? In the ship?" Connor thought out loud. He knew where he was now, but it was still a horrifying thought. Connor followed the dim light leaking into the ghost ship, eventually finding a door. He wasn't sure what was on the other side, but there was no other way to go. "I've got to do this" Connor thought. Gripping his dagger tightly, he opened the door slowly, unaware of what lay on the other side.
Connor's eyes went wide in shock. In the room, were crewmen, but they weren't his crewmates. What's worse, they were all ghosts. Spirits of the crew on the ghost ship. He saw a few sleeping, others talking, and some playing cards. On the other side of the room, he saw some stairs. Deciding that it was the only way to go, he steeled his nerves and walked through the room. The ghosts did nothing. They were like drones, permanently stuck in a single cycle. Upon reaching the staircase, Connor found it lead to a hatch which had light leaking through it. Seeing no other way to go, he slowly opened it and was greeted by the pouring rain.
Coming onto the deck of the ghost ship, Connor saw what kind of condition it was in: Tattered sails and rotting wood. He then noticed something tied to the mast of the ship. "Captain!" he said as he recognized what was there.
"Lad, get out of here now," Blackhawk said weakly, obviously in pain.
"But, Captain..." Connor stammered.
"NOW! That's a captain's order."
"No. I can't leave you or anyone behind!" Connor shouted with a determined fire in his eyes. He pulled out the dagger and began cutting the ropes binding Blackhawk.
The pirate cry startled Connor, causing him to drop the dagger. He turned to face the source of the noise. Standing before him was none other than the saltiest pirate and one of the best navigators on the seven seas, Bloodhook. Somehow, he was still alive. Old, but he was the sole living soul who stayed on the ghost ship.
"Yohohohohoh! Ye be after me treasure, aren't ye scurvy dogs?" Bloodhook asked, fully knowing the answer. "What do you want with us?" Blackhawk asked, beginning to fear for his life. "You, ye be the captain of that other vessel," he gestured to the Wings of Night, which was right next to the ghost ship, "and a captain always goes down with his ship. As for the Mynci, ye got a choice lad: Join me crew, or be sent to a watery grave." Bloodhook laughed at the captain and the young sailor. "The choice be yours, matey."
Conner, seeing only one way out of this, said nothing. Instead, he picked up the dagger he had been using to cut the ropes. "We're taking you and this ship to the bottom of the sea, Bloodhook" Connor pointed the dagger at the elderly captain, issuing a challenge. "Very well," Bloodhook said, drawing his own sword. "Prepare to learn the Davy Jones' locker combination".
"What am I doing? I can't fight, let alone against one of the best pirates on the sea," Connor thought to himself as he walked towards the old pirate. "En Guarde!" Bloodhook shouted, and with that, the fight was on. Bloodhook, despite being old, was fast and skilled with a blade. He quickly slashed and stabbed to try and end the Mynci. Connor, being inexperienced in any sort of combat, wasn't able to attack at all. He focused on dodging and blocking.
The storm increased in intensity, with larger waves beginning to form. With each attack he blocked and dodged, Connor moved backwards. As he was doing this, mainly just out of reflex, he began to form a plan. A simple, but dangerous plan. Connor continued blocking and dodging, backing up towards the port bow of the ghost ship. The wind and rain continued to grow in strength, yet Connor's determination was helping him follow his plan.
The dueling pirates neared the edge of the ship. A single misstep and Connor would have fallen into the churning waters below. Seeing how close they were, Bloodhook found that it would be better to just knock him off the ship instead of skewering him. Lightning cracked as he raised his sword to land the finishing blow. "Embrace the briny deep!" Bloodhook shouted as he swung his sword.
The moment he swung his sword, Connor put the final touches on his plan. He quickly slid through Bloodhook's legs, causing him to lose his balance. In an instant, the young Mynci sailor gave a strong shove to the pirate, sending him overboard.
"YE HAVEN'T SEEN THE LAST OF ME!" Bloodhook shouted as he fell. A few moments later, a faint splash was heard over the howling wind. "Welcome to the deep freezer, Bloodhook," Connor said smugly, remembering what else he had to do.
He took the dagger and freed the Pteri captain from the ropes. "Aye, ye done good, lad. Now, we need to get back to our ship," Blackhawk said as Connor helped him up. Looking around, the captain saw only one way back to their ship. "Up the mast. Now, sailor." The two climbed the mast of the ghost ship, even though Connor had no idea why. They got to the riggings where the sails and ropes were hung from. Immediately seeing what he had to do, Connor and Blackhawk grabbed a rope. "Let go when I tell you," Blackhawk said. They held tightly to the rope, and then they jumped off the rigging. "NOW!" Blackhawk shouted, and they let go.
Connor felt as if he was flying. It was a moment of freedom and of terror. As they let go, Connor heard a bloodcurdling scream. It either came from him or from the ghost ship, he wasn't sure.
The duo landed on the Wings of Night. Upon their crash landing, they found the rest of the crew unconscious on the deck.
No one was hurt. Connor, exhausted from the events of the evening, also collapsed, with a view of the ghost ship fading away the last thing he saw.
Connor awoke the next day and saw he was the only one below deck. "Awake at last, are ya lad?" Blackhawk said to him.
"Captain, wha- where is everyone?" asked Conner in a daze. "Above deck. Some mighty fine work you did last night. We let you sleep late," Blackhawk said. "Now that you're up, come above deck. We have something for you."
Connor did as he was told and followed the captain. Upon getting to the deck, Connor was greeted by the bright sun and rousing applause and cheers from his crewmates. "I told everyone what happened and what you did last night," Blackhawk quickly explained.
"Attention!" Captain Blackhawk called to the crew. "As I'm sure you've heard, this young lad saved us all from the ghost ship and the Pirate, Bloodhook. As such, I'd like to make him an offer." Blackhawk turned to Connor. "We're going back to Krawk Island to resupply and drop off a few crew workers. After that, we're going to continue sailing and looking for other famous treasures." Blackhawk held out the dagger from the previous night. "I'm asking for you to be my first mate in future journeys, lad. Do you accept?"
Connor didn't hesitate for even a moment. "I'd be honored to be the ship's first mate," he said as he took the dagger.
So Connor's first experience as a sailor comes to a close. He was finally living his dream. And so he sailed on with the wind at his back, pushing him forward towards brighter days.