Header Photo by Alan
A dimly lit tavern and it’s quiet shanty tunes offer a night of reprieve for weary sailors on this dark and stormy night.
Oh, and the mead. The mead helps a lot.
Resting in the corner with drink in hand sits a lone pirate. He mumbles to himself between drinks as a duo comes through the door. Soaked in rain, one of them is a burly woman of sorts, covered in tattoos, and the other a scrawny man missing a hand. They each take a seat next to the drunken pirate.
Betwixt their idle conversation, he lifts his head.
“Dark night,” he says.
“Aye,” the woman responds, “cold as well.”
“No colder than the night me and my crew met The Queen of Crests.”
The man sighs.
“Gods, not this again. Every bleedin’ tavern this happens,” he moans.
He gets up with, “can’t a man just have a drink in peace.”
The pirate man lies his head back down.
The duo get up to leave.
The pirate slams a few blue-ish coins on the table. They glow in the faint lamp-light. The woman and man look on with awe.
“What are these?” the woman asks, her eyes fixated on the their beauty.
“The story’s true, if ye care to hear it,” the pirate responds with a sly smirk.
Slowly they both sit back down.
The pirate takes a long chug of his mead.
“Our tale begins on a night much like this…”
Outside, the storm is only beginning to show it’s inner fury. But, with perfect resolve, one pirate, a tall, lanky one emblazoned with tattoos, thick black hair, a keen eye for treasure spotting, and wearing only a jacket, boards the ship.
“Quickly Dead Man Dan, we’ve a storm to catch!” another pirate says with a laugh.
He’s of similar build, with tattoos that could not have been done by anyone professional nor sober, and wearing nothing but his pants.
“If you say so Cap’n Shammy. The treasure ain’t goin’ anywheres.”
Shammy smiles as he walks below deck.
“It’s be fine!” he echos under the boards.
Dan shrugs and begins to raise the anchor. Shammy returns with mead in hand, drinking every one like it was his last.
With the anchor up and sails down, Shammy flings the wheel to the right and the journey begins.
Of course, misfortune always seems to follow The Gaymen and their ship The Shimmy Sham. With naught but a few miles behind them, the storm is in full force, but something else is more worrisome.
“Cap’n, over to the right!” Dan shouts.
Shammy looks over to see a rather large and eerie pink fin sticking out of the water.
“I think that’s the megalodon.” Dan ponders.
“The megalo-” Dan begins before the ship is sudden hit hard from the side. The crew had taken purchase in her seas, and The Queen of Crests was not happy about it.
“What do we do?!” Dan screams out between thunder strikes.
“As if I’d know!”
Even next to the rocks, The Queen of Crests was not one to abandon the fight, and as she opened her jaws wide up, showing her rows and rows of teeth, the last thing that was heard was Dead Man Dan crying out in terror.
“Wait a bleedin’ second!” The man interrupts, “If the furkin’ Queen of Crests came after ye, how’re you still here?!”
To that, Shammy shrugs.
“I haven’t the faintest my friend. All I know is Dead Man Dan and I washed ashore some days later to a familiar face.”
“And who’d that be?” The woman asks curiously.
Shammy opens his eyes to a stout man with a iron-square of a chest, and matching burnt red hair and mustache.
“Well look ‘ere! It’s No Feet Alan! How ya doing, No Feet?”
“What happened to the boat?” No Feet asks sternly.
“Our boat, idiot!”
Shammy sits up to find he’s washed up on a new beach, with clear blue skies, and an empty dock. Next to him is Dead Man Dan, seemingly no worse for wear, sans their jacket being lost at sea.
“Well that’s a problem,” Shammy spouts.
Shammy gets up and brushes the sand off his pants.
“What’re we gonna do without a boat?” No Feet asks.
Shammy gives him a pat on the shoulder as he walks by.
“We’ll figure it out, No Feet. We always do!”
No Feet turns around to see Shammy walking further into the island.
“Where’re you going?” he calls out.
“Where else,” Shammy shouts back, “to get a drink!”
“Aye, and you drank yourself stupid all the way into the night,” the bartender says between pouring new cups.
“It was a good night,” Shammy says softly.
Shammy holds tightly onto his cup, lost in thought.
“What happened then?” The woman asks.
Shammy startles to life once more, “oh, aye, well… we had no ship fer a while ya see…”
“How long is ‘a while’?” the man inquires.
“Oh I dunno. Three, four kegs of mead’s worth.”
The man puts his head into his hands in disbelief.
“But once we got a new ship, our adventure started anew!”
Out walking along the dock is Dead Man Dan, No Feet Alan, and Cap’n Shammy.
“What’s today’s voyage, dear crew?”
Dead Man opens up a glowing blue piece of parchment.
“We need to kill Captain Parrrley.”
Shammy breaks out laughing.
“Oh, that’s golden there!” he utters.
Shammy looks over to No Feet, who hasn’t said a word.
“Do ye get it, No Feet?” Shammy queries.
No Feet simply stares at him.
No Feet’s face is stone.
“Parrrrrrrrley?” Shammy says again with a big gesture.
“Awww, fine.” Shammy relinquishes the joke with a wave.
Now onboard the ship, with Dead Man Dan navigating and No Feet Alan on sails, Cap’n Shammy takes the wheel and steers hard into the sea.
The slaying of Captain Parrrley was rather rather uneventful, or at least, as uneventful as slaying an undead skeleton pirate captain can be. Now, with a new chest in hand, the crew returns to The Shimmy Sham. As the tales tell however, misfortune always follows The Gaymen.
“What’s that on the horizon?” Dead Man announces.
They take out their spyglass and No Feet follows suit.
“A ship?” Dead Man adds.
“No, uh… it’s a ghost ship.” No Feet remarks.
“A what?!” Shammy shouts from behind the sails.
“Ghost! Ship!” No Feet declares.
“And it’s comin’ real fuckin’ close Cap’n!” Dead Man shouts.
Shammy looks out left to see a ship, about twice the size of The Shimmy Sham, with tattered glowing sails and some very angry looking skeletons aboard, setting a course alongside them.
The skeletons shout something indercernable and let loose a barrage of cannon fire right into the hull of the ship.
“That’s bad!” Shammy exclaims.
“Oh really?!” Dead Man and No Feet shout back.
“Ready the cannons!” Shammy orders, and the crew become like lightning, running below deck to grab cannonballs and loading the leftward cannons to fire into the massive hunk that is the ghost ship.
“How long did the battle go fer?” The man asks, learning forward in his chair.
“Gods, it felt like it lasted days. I could swear I saw the sun go down and up again.”
“Without any food?”
“Well, we had bananas below deck.”
A set of other pirates at another table raise their bananas to the air in unison. Shammy downs another cup of mead.
“So how’d the fight go?” The woman asks impatiently, “surely you won?”
Shammy averts his eyes.
“Fuckin’ hell we’re taking on so much water!” Dead Man bellows below deck.
“I’m gonna help,” No Feet shouts.
He runs down below and the duo become a machine of water recycling. No matter how much they soak up and throw out with buckets, the boundless sea always returns more to the ship.
“We can use wood to repair the holes!” Shammy offers.
No Feet and Dead Man find the barrel and begin to plug up cannonball hole after cannonball hole. One would begin to think it’s a miracle they survived at all.
“Okay we got most of the holes, but we’re out of wood.”
Shammy take a deep breath. He runs below deck and to the tabletop map.
“Here,” he says.
He points to a crude drawing of some rocks labeled ‘Skeleton Plunder Outpost’.
“We need to get to the nearest outpost. We can restock there.”
The crew doesn’t even have time to affirm with the amount of water their throwing out of The Shimmy Sham.
So Shammy runs back up top and takes to the wheel with a vague sense of direction.
“Hold there!” someone says. A tiny soul of a man, though built to last and missing an eye, takes a seat at the table.
“Do you speak of ‘Bucket Hands Alan’?
“Aye, the same,” Shammy answers.
“The Bucket Hands Alan?” The first man asks. His eyes are wide open now.
“I’ve heard the tales,” the woman says, “some say he shoveled water for days without food or drink.”
She leans back in her chair in a sweat, “the man’s a legend.”
“Or a myth,” The tiny man says.
Shammy shrugs with a smile.
“Another drink if I may,” Shammy tells the bartender.
“So what happened with the outpost?” the bartender responds whilst filling his drink.
“Ah, that. Simply put, I should’ve read the ‘skeleton’ part of ‘Skeleton Plunder Outpost’ more closely.”
“One of those, huh?”
Shammy’s tilts his head all the way back as he drinks the entire mug in one fell swoop.
“There’s not much to this part of the story truth be told.”
Shammy stands up and starts swinging the mug around like a sword with a huge grin on his face.
“Cept maybe a little skeleton fighting here and there!”
“You fought Skeletons?” The woman asks.
“No.” His smile drops. “I sat on the boat.”
He plops back down at his chair; starts tracing his finger around the top of his mug.
“What happened next though is where the story gets interesting.”
Shammy and the crew are at port, looking on to their ship. By all accounts, it survived the excursion with the ghost ship, but barely. There’s no less than ten boarded up holes in the ship and much more debris all around it.
Shammy takes out a few pieces of paper.
“Talked to the merchant back a ways and got us some new treasure maps.”
He starts walking to the ship with, “I’ll go ahead and get us set up!”
No Feet follows behind and preps the sails while Shammy maps out the first treasure island below deck. Upon coming back up, he sees that Dan is talking to someone he can barely see, so he naturally takes out his sniper rifle to get a closer look.
After a while, Dan looks over to Shammy and waves. Dan and the unknown man walk up the pier.
“What’s with the chest he’s holdin’?” Shammy asks, pointing to the large wooden crate the man has.
“That?” Dan says, “They told me they wanted to put it in our ship and use it as bait to sink us.”
“Who’s they?” Shammy asks.
The unknown man opens his mouth, and apparently speaks, but says nothing.
“Yeah, him,” Dan affirms.
Shammy shakes his head in shock.
“What he’d say?”
“Oh, you didn’t hear him?”
“I can’t hear him either,” Alan adds.
“Why couldn’t you hear him?” The tiny man wonders.
Shammy wears a look of completely confusion.
“I have not one clue,” he says, “but somehow Dan was able to interpret them so quickly you’d think it was their native tongue.”
“Seems like Dan is a hell of a pirate,” the woman cheers.
Shammy puts a foot up and begins to lean back in his chair.
“Only the best of the best formed The Gaymen.”
Shammy takes his drink and leans back further with it.
The chair loses itself and smashes to the ground with Shammy.
The bartender looks over the counter at the drunken pirate.
“So, what then?”
“Well,” Shammy begins, still on the ground, “Not bein’ able to tell head from arse in their tongue aisde, we became mighty mates right quick, ‘cept for one problem.”
“And what was that?”
Shammy begins to clamber back up to the table. Fixes his chair. Sits back down.
“The other guy was a terrible sailor.”
“A grave insult there friend.”
Shammy furrows his brow.
“I don’t think you understand.”
“Tell him to stop! Stop! Stop stop stop!” Shammy shouts.
A boat, smaller than The Shimmy Sham, but still big enough to take it down in its current state hurtles towards the ship with expert speed. The man gestures to the ship driver and he stops mere feet from The Shimmy Sham and a disaster of goldy proportions.
“I see what you mean.”
Shammy just nods.
“So what became of them?” The woman asks.
“We gave them a sailor’s farewell.”
“Show’d ‘em yer maps?”
“All three of us.”
Everyone listening bows their heads.
“Much respect,” one of them whispers.
“But,” Shammy says with a sigh, “it wasn’t long ‘ere we saw them again.
“You’d think us a magnet for storms!” Shammy shouts amidst the rain and thunder.
But he was shouting to no one, or at least no one who could listen as the only nearby soul was one of the other crew, flying a flagless ship uncomfortably close to The Shimmy Sham. Dan and Alan were out on the nearby island in search of treasure, and by luck, or misfortune, The Flagless crew had a bounty to claim on a skeleton captain’s head, and said captain was putting up quite the fight. Shammy unloaded what felt like hundreds of sniper rounds into the captain’s thick skull, but nothing seemed to break him.
Meanwhile, Dan and No Feet rush from around the corner, chest in tow. They grab a nearby rowboat to sail out to the ship, but the waves are ferocious, as it something deep below had been rattled from its slumber.
“Got the chest!” Dan yells, covered in as much rainwater as ocean water.
Dead man wastes no time running to the sails.
“Shit!” Shammy screams as The Flagless crew’s ship is wistfully hurtled toward The Shimmy Sham by the storm waters.
“Getting wood ready!” No Feet hollers. He’s grease on the deck, sliding around with full focus on keeping the ship above sea level.
“Damn this rifle!” Shammy exclaims. He runs to the cannon and takes aim at the skeleton captain.
“Tell them to move!” he commands to Dan.
“He says outta the way!” Dan relays, and The Flagless crew walk back.
A thunderous explosion rocks the ship backwards as the cannonball is let loose into the skeleton captain. When the smoke clears, there’s nothing but bones left.
The Flagless wave their thanks to The Gaymen and board their ship with their own ill-gotten gains in hand. Even within the raging storm, they move well with the winds and sail northbound.
“Alright gentlemen,” Dan heaves loudly, “I need to take a break. I’ll be in the bed below deck.”
No Feet and Shammy nod, and Dan takes their leave.
Shammy slouches forward and relaxes on the captains wheel, letting the sounds of the storm fade a away for merely a moment.
“Captain! Captain!” No Feet shouts excitedly.
“Yes, No Feet?” Shammy responds without raising his head.
“Look behind you!”
“Behind you dumbass!”
So Shammy raises his head to turn around, and as if they hadn’t seen enough already, there was a gods damned kraken trying to take down The Flagless crew’s ship.
“Now wait a ferkin’ minute!” The man shouts, “You’re telling me you encountered the Queen of Crests and a kraken?!”
“Aye, I am,” Shammy nods.
“I believed your tale to here, old man, but that’s a load of shite.”
The man gets up once again and turns around, coming face-to-face with a blonde woman bearing more scars than toes on her face alone.
“The tale’s true, you fool,” she says whilst crossing her arms and revealing her double hooked hands.
The man’s eyes narrow.
“And how would you know? Ya gonna tell me ya were ‘ere too?”
“There? No. I spied the kraken from a nearby port. Hard to miss the giant ferkin’ tentacles flailin’ about.”
The hooked-handed woman brushes past the man and takes his seat at the table.
“So tell me,” she begins, “how’d you return that creature to the depths?”
“And he took it down too?! Fer fook’s sake!” the man exclaims.
The hook-handed woman turns around with a demonic grimace.
“Are ye callin’ me a liar, boy?”
The man falls silent, and stays standing at the table.
“It was No Feet Alan n’ I together that slew the beast,” Shammy says with a chuckle, “along with a little help from The Flagless crew, seein’ as they’re trapped in the kraken’s grip.”
“What’s the plan Captain?” No Feet asks.
Where we goin’ next?”
No Feet pops open his compass.
“I don’t suppose that’s-”
“Through the kraken, yeah.”
Shammy shakes his head, but there’s a wide smile hidden underneath.
“Well, a little heroics never hurt anyone!”
No Feet takes to the sails immediately, and The Shimmy Sham heads for the kraken.
Maybe too head on though, as No Feet remarks with, “we should go left a bit, so we don’t get stuck with them.”
So The Shimmy Sham pulls up alongside the kraken, with it’s sinister tentacles desperately trying to bring The Flagless ship down to its domain, held off only by crew’s resolve and high-impact cannonballs.
While The Shimmy Sham forms a slow circle around the beast, Shammy and No Feet quickly load cannon after cannon and fire at the outward tentacles in the hopes of downing the monster. Several times it looks like The Flagless will go down, but they hold strong.
It was another long, grueling battle in that stormy night, but in time the kraken either falls fatally or merely recedes, and no one is brave enough to dive down and find out which.
“It’s done,” No Feet says in a huff as The Shimmy Sham slowly comes alongside The Flagless.
With perfect timing, Dead Man Dead returns from below deck.
“What did I miss?”
Shammy simply collapses to the ground.
“Kraken,” No Feet spouts.
“A kraken? What?”
“Aye,” Shammy mummers, half dead and still on the floor.
The sound of someone splashing into the water and the climbing a latter awakens Shammy. Turns out it’s one of The Flagless with a chest in his arms. He drops it on the ship and jumps back off.
“He just said thanks,” Dan says, “and offered this to us.”
Shammy stares at the chest.
“I don’t know what to say. That’s so kind of them.”
“Do they need any wood?”
Dan calls out to The Flagless, and then hears back.
“Nah, they good.”
And with that, the two crews say their goodbyes once more, and this time with feeling.
Shammy takes out his accordion and begins to play a soulful tune as The Flagless ship sails way. Soon, Dan joins on the hurdy-gurdy and Alan on the drum, lit only by the lamplight on the bow of The Shimmy Sham. Even in the darkness, the crew can see those of The Flagless showing their treasure maps.
Shammy face weakens.
“I almost want to cry,” he says tearfully.
Then, without a moment’s notice, The Queen of Crests rises from the ocean and takes a massive chunk out of the back of The Flagless.
Shammy’s eyes open wide.
“Time to raise anchor!” He screams to the crew, and one would think No Feet Alan had the strength of ten men with how fast that anchor was raised and sails were drawn.
“Seems like The Queen of Crests had it out fer ye,” the woman says.
“This wasn’t their first encounter?” The hook-handed woman asks.
“Nay, The Queen took down the crew’s first ship some days before.”
“How’d you survive that?” The hook-handed woman asks.
“Not now,” the man interrupts, “I wanna know how the story ends.”
Shammy smirks and takes a long swig of his drink.
“Well believe it or not, the Queen of Crests didn’t put up much of a fight.”
Several of the pirates at the table gasp.
“I shant believe that!” the tiny man exclaims.
“Tis true,” Shammy continues, “the Queen was laid low rather easily with some expert maneuvering and cannon fire.”
“What kind of maneuvering?” the bartender asks.
“Circling,” Shammy quickly responds.
“Circling? Is that some kind of advanced captain’s tactic?” the man asks.
“We sailed in big circles,” says Shammy, gesturing a giant circle with his finger.
“Expert tactic,” the hook-handed woman says.
“Aye,” agrees the tiny man.
“I know,” Shammy says with another swig.
The man looks on in disbelief.
“So, what then?”
After another heartfelt farewell, Shammy and company look on to the freshly rising sun.
“Now let’s get to our final spot,” Shammy says, sounding completely exhausted.
“So, raise the anchor?” No Feet Alan asks.
And with that, the anchor is raised once more, and the wind finally catches the sails just right, giving good speed to The Shimmy Sham.
On the way, the crew passes by the same island where they fought the skeleton with the snipers and cannons, and Shammy notices the rowboat still neatly parked at the shore.
“Would you look at that!” Shammy shouts, mosty in jest, “it’s your rowboat No Feet!”
Without a word No Feet jumps off the side of the ship and swims to the shore.
“Gods,” Shammy mutters under his breath, “lower the anchor Dead Man!”
The ship comes to a halt and Shammy spots No Feet Alan rowing back with the boat.
“So he’s Boat Feet Alan,” says the hook-handed woman.
“I thought he was Bucket Hand Alan,” the woman inquires.
“He’s a man of many legends, that one,” Shammy says.
“I’ve heard,” the hook-handed woman continues, “that he still has that boat to this day. Heard the tales from his partner that No Feet calls it his ‘emotional support boat’.”
“I’ve seen it in his own homestead meself, actually,” Shammy recalls.
“Man must have a massive room to house that thing,” the man says.
Shammy stifles a laugh.
“Place is quite small, actually.”
“Then how do him and his partner manage?”
Shammy’s eyes glaze over, recalling an old day sitting in a chair at No Feet Alan’s home, watching him and his partner shouting over the boat.
“It’s complicated,” he finally says.
“So did ye ever find that last bit o’ treasure?” The tiny man inquires.
“Aye, we did,” Shammy says softly.
“Tis time we finish this tale.”
With the roatboat in tow, Shammy takes one last look out across the sea while the anchor is raised.
“So, there’s good news and bad news,” he announces, “which would ye like to hear first?”
“The good news?” Dead Man Dan asks cautiously.
“Aye, the good news is our fellows of The Flagless are peacefully sailing away. I think they’re safe now.”
“That’s great!” Dan reponds.
“Bad news?” No Feet Alan asks.
“There’s two ghost ships.”
“What?!” Dan shouts.
“Take a look yerself,” Shammy says.
Dan takes out their spyglass.
“Northeast and Northwest respectively,” Shammy says, compass in hand.
“And it looks like one of ‘em is rightly parked where we need to be.”
“So, what do we do?”
Shammy smiles wide.
“I’ve an idea.”
Shammy goes on to explain the plan. He’ll take The Shimmy Sham around a nearby rock and park it out of sight from the ghost ship. Then, No Feet Alan will sail the rowboat to the island where Dan will use their expert treasure tracking skills to get the chest and get out before they’re noticed. Worst case, they row back to Shammy, who’s already prepped the cannons to finally take down that accursed ship.
“So, did the plan work?” someone asks.
“Didn’t have to,” Shammy says.
“I don’t understand,” says another.
“Turns out, the ship had already moved on to another island. There was no plan to be had.”
A few patrons lean back in their chairs, disgruntled.
“Well that’s anticlimactic,” says the bartender.
“That’s what I said at the time,” says Shammy with a hearty laugh.
“And that’s it? That’s the story?”
“Well, we did get the treasure.”
“But that’s the end?”
A twinkle shines in Shammy’s eye.
With treasures filling up the hull, the crew finally sets sail for the nearest outpost, and for a while, it’s smooth sailing. Of course, as we know, misfortune follows The Gaymen and The Shimmy Sham, so a storm wells up just outside the outpost docks.
“Not again,” Shammy says. There’s almost a sour tone in his voice now.
“Left side!” No Feet shouts, and out comes a giant blue fin from the water.
“It can’t be,” Dan says in awe, “The King?”
“No more!” Shammy shouts, louder than the storm now, loud enough to reach the heavens, “we’re going home!”
As if the divine heard his plea, the wind changes forcefully and the sails take hold. The Shimmy Sham soars through the storm, faster than The King of Crests and into the nearest outpost…
“The King as well,” the man says somberly.
“So you saved all the treasure, then?” asks the woman.
“Aye, we did.” Shammy kicks up his feet.
“With our newfound fortune, Dead Man Dan was able to got a new pair of boots and a new hurdy gurdy with much less seawater in it. No Feet Alan got one of his peg-legs replaced-”
“And what about you? What’d ye purchase?”
Shammy places his drink on his chest and looks to the ceiling.
“There was this beautiful hat, the kind that keeps the blasted sun out of yer eye, and has a little feather to impress all the lads at the tavern. It was something I’d wanted fer so long.”
“So, you finally got your dream hat?” the tiny man asks, a warm smile encroaching his face.
“Nay. T’was out of stock.”
The tiny man face plants the table. The rest look on with disappointed frowns.
“Aw, ye needn’t worry. One day soon it’ll be there, and I’ll be ready!”
Shammy chugs his last drink.
“Least, long as I’m not out nabbin’ treasure.”
“When do ya think you’ll head out again?”
Suddenly a door slams open, fully letting in the sounds of the storm. A few patrons by the door get soaked in the rain water.
“Shut the door!” one of them shouts.
The door flies shut and leaves two new people standing inside.
One of them is a tall, lanky pirate with fresh boots and not much else, the other a double peg-legged, red haired bulwark of a man.
“Heya Cap’n!” the tall one shouts.
“That’s…” the man begins.
“The legends be true…” the tiny man continues.
“Dead Man Dan and No Feet Alan. Gods…” The hook-handed woman mutters.
“Welcome back you two,” the bartender joyfully calls out.
No Feet Alan gives a courtesy wave.
“Well lads and lasses,” Shammy says as he puts his feet down, “I’d best be on me way.”
Shammy stands up and picks up the glowing blue coins on the table. He walks to the crew.
“Seems like a pretty stormy night for an adventure,” Shammy says to Dan.
“No worse than the day we fought The Queen of Crests,” Dan responds wistfully.
“And the kraken,” Alan adds.
“Aye, too true,” Shammy says.
The door swings open again. Dan and Alan depart.
With his hand of the door, Shammy looks back to everyone.
“Thank ye all for giving an ol’ pirate time to tell his tale, but I must go. Adventure awaits.”