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Shouganai

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June 9, 1700. The Red Sea.

In all your twenty-five years of life, you’ve never seen a storm like this.

The clouds are almost dark enough to be mistaken for the cover of night. Rain absolutely pours onto your ship like it’s from an overturned bucket, gushing out of the scuppers along the deck and into the choppy saltwater below. It rocks the foundation upon which you stand, and had you been a less experienced captain, you may have felt the chords of fear within you being struck. Instead you stand, one hand on your hip and the other on the gunwalls of the ship in order to prevent you from being tossed out into the bottomless waters.

“Samuel!” You bark. Your brows furrow under the cover of your tricorn hat, anchored onto your head just from the sheer amount of rainwater that it absorbed. You hear a faint call over the sound of the storm and you squint, spotting a shadow that straightens out once it hears its name. “To the helm!”

“Aye, Captain!”

You turn towards the starboard, again searching for a familiar figure through the grey cover of the abundant rain. The ship rocks and you can hear cargo in the hold crashing about; you flinch, picturing the priceless treasures that you’d so carefully packed up being scattered across the floor.

“Tobias!” You call out once your eyes focus. Again, the shadow stands tall at your voice, but this one moves closer to you. You can barely make out his gnarled face but you can already tell it’s pinched in an expression of concern, his salt-and-pepper eyebrows slanted much like yours. “Where’s Michael?”

“His quarters in the hull, last time I checked.” Tobias shouts back at you. You scowl, the hand on your hip going to rest on the hilt of your cutlass out of pure vexation.

“Well, tell him to get his arse up here! Samuel will need all the help he can get at the helm!”

Tobias nods and you curse lowly to yourself, hand tightening on the railing of the gunwall as a particularly tall wave crashes into the side of your ship. Storms are nothing new to your crew, yet every time the sky darkens and the waters begin to rise, they seem to lose their heads.

Oh, well. There was a reason you were the captain of this ship, after all.

You let out another small curse at the unmistakable sound of thunder rolling above you. This is bad, really bad, but you can’t hide below deck like some of your crew. You have a ship to man, a bay to dock in, and people to loot. You’ve never let a man get in your way, and you’ll be damned if you allow some pesky water to do so either.

You scowl up at the sky, as if to personally invite the gods of the sea to come quarrel with you. This isn’t what you planned; of course, you never plan for storms, but one of this caliber seems almost unholy. You immediately feel a ball of dread form in the pit of your stomach at the next roll of thunder, watching with thinly-veiled panic in your eyes as lightning creates spiderweb cracks along the clouds.The killick at the side of the ship thumps a rhythm that matches the beating of your heart. The rigging of the sails groans in the wind, rope whipping around like the hair of an untamed woman. Your ship is mighty. She is strong. But most of all, she is terrifying.

“Captain.” Tobias’ voice cuts through the confusion of the storm as he appears in front of you again, dual-colored hair plastered to his freckled forehead. “I cannot find him. He’s gone.”

“What do you mean he’s gone?” You seethe, the last part of your sentence swallowed by thunder. “I ought to hang him from the yardarm, that coward!”

“Captain, he’s gone without a trace. I scoured every room, he’s nowhere to be found.”

Your mouth sets into a sneer as you open it to reply, but your words will never be heard. Time seems to stop as a bolt of lightning flies through the air, striking the top of your mast within the blink of an eye. Your sail immediately catches aflame, the orange wisps enveloping the top of the canvas in a matter of seconds, raging despite the amount of rain coming down. You stand there, agape, as your right-hand-man shouts a curse towards the gods that you can barely hear over the roaring in your ears. You let go of the railing just for a second, but that’s all it takes.

With another rock to the ship you’re suddenly flying, your feet slipping out from under you as you fall backwards. Your lower back hits the gunwall for a brief second but you have no time to feel relief; it’s not tall enough to stop the momentum of your movement, to keep you on your beloved ship. With a sharp cry you’re flung overboard, weightless for only a moment before you start to fall to the inky black waters below.

“Captain!” Tobias calls, panic clear in his voice. You reach an arm out, as if to grab for him.

The last thing you see on earth is your ship rocking in the wind, your sail aflame and your beloved right-hand calling out to you, his own arm reaching for yours. You close your eyes, bracing yourself internally for the impact of water around you.

It never comes.

If you had to describe the feeling, you’d say it was like everything paused for a moment to right itself. The sound of the storm around you ceases to exist. You’re not weightless, but close to it; and then, suddenly, there’s ground beneath your feet and a bright light seeping through your eyelids.

You open them.

Stark whiteness surrounds you as you step from the shadows. There’s doors lining the seemingly endless hallway in front of you, with only a desk to disrupt your view. Your eyes widen and your mouth goes slack.

There’s a man at the desk. A little machine sits next to his elbow; ‘Pick a Number’, it says. You continue to gape.

The newspaper the man holds is in English. ‘LEGENDARY CREW LOST AT SEA’, the headline reads, and you stare at it for what seems like forever. It may only be a few moments. Nonetheless, the man folds the newspaper back onto his desk and peers at you, with abnormally large blue eyes. They remind you of a calm ocean.

“Next.” He says.

In the summer of 1700, infamous pirate Captain [Name] Sterling set out to sail the Red Sea on her ship, The Rosemary. On board were some of the most feared pirates in all of history— Tobias Walker, Samuel de la Fontaine, Michael Ramsay, Cyril Benét, and Jonathan Gaspard— well-known for terrorizing people on both land and sea. It is rumored that Sterling’s ship was heading towards Gamsha Bay with the intent of looting the surrounding area. They never arrived.

No remains of the ship or crew has ever been found.