But enough ‘o me: you be here to hear about the good ship Wormwood, and I be happy to oblige.
It were only a week or two after the bitch ‘o the sea – Besmara – finally caught me, though I gave her a good chase. Marked me at birth, she did, with the jolly roger. The last voyage my luck finally ran out, and I were in a stormy sea and called out to her – if she would toss me a line, I would serve. Not a moment after, a half-empty keg of rum came within my reach an I were saved. A made it ashore, drank the rum and got religion. Never thought I’d be castin spells and callin on the goddess, but here I be.
First thing I remember is wakin’ belowdecks with a splitting head. “Pressganged!” I thought, and so it were. Me and four others. In a moment we were hauled on deck and I got me first look at ’em.
The usual mix, a couple ‘o humans – mebbe a half-elf – and two half orcs. Big lads the two of em. Capn’ made the usual speech, an we were taken away to be put to work. There were two officers: Mr Plug, who were in charge ‘o discipline, and Master Lash, who were also in charge ‘o discipline. And a nasty looking pair they were.
Being pressganged is specific to recruiting in the Royal Navy, rather than being something that pirates do. Pirates Shanghai people rather than impressing them, I think, the distinction being that impressment was legal, whereas shanghaing is outright kidnapping and a very different thing.
Well, two of us were handy in the rigging – I’m were old for it, even then – and the lass was taken off to be cook. Meself and one of the haf orc was made swabs. But I’d been sailin a fair few years, and now I were workin for Besmara wouldn’t be long before I weren’t swabbing the deck, I thought.
There were a priestess on board, and she took a bit of a shine to us. Good thing, I thought, as I were new to the clericing business. She gave our two half-orcs back their swords: a bloody great two-handed sword and a bloody great scimitar – a falchion. A score of new faces, of course, that we were going to have to live with for the next few months at the very least. I tried to ingratiate meself with the quartermaster, but no luck there. I decided I might just have to stick to me work.
Then came the Bloody Hour, when the floggings were done. Before dinner, o course, not after. Can’t have the men throwing up their rations. They keelhauled a man for thieving and tossed him to the sharks. I think it made an impression on the lads, which is always the point of punishment.
When our watch was over, we went belowdecks and gambled and slept. One of the lads – the sneaky type – wanted me to have a look at something for him. A bottle of holy water, it were. There’s a lad with brass, I thought, to go thieving first day after seeing a man keelhauled for it. I congratulated him on not getting caught, an told him it were sovereign against the undead of the sea and the town watch.
After not enough sleep, it were time for our watch. But a couple of lads were blocking our way. Seems they were looking for a fight, so we obliged. Just fists, o’ course: and me prayin to Besmara to give my lads a boost. Seems the lass is a sorceress – she used a spell. Coloured lights, or something, which will daze a man for a moment. But it didn’t seem to work. I stayed behind the half orcs.
We won, but we were a few seconds late on deck. “Yer late!”, says Mr Plug, “three lashes at bloody hour!”. Some of us protested – the sneaky bloke most of all – but it was pointless. If you ask me, Mr Plug set it up to make sure we all got a taste of the lash early on. Good for discipline. I told him I overslept, which he and I both knew was a tale.
I decided to have a bit of a chat with them during the day. It’s a pirate ship, and it’s important to not show fear. Cowards get thrown over.
All in all, a good start to the campaign.