Having fled Port Royal to escape the gallows, my fortunes had not improved when I was discovered by the captain of the ship I had stowed away on after we made port on the lawless island of Tortuga. I was luckily saved by the hand of Captain Callaghan, who overheard the commotion and decided to stick his nose in, as he enlisted me as a deckhand in his crew.
Captain Callaghan began recruiting for his next plundering spree at the Faithful Bride after regaling us with tales of his exploits. I found myself at ease while listening to his lively recollections, as it took me back to when I most enjoyed myself in my home port - listening to tavern tales. While I abstained from drinking, I noticed that the rest of the crew was intoxicated from an excess of good rum, which was perhaps the worst recipe for disaster.
It so happened that at that very moment, another crew was recruiting men for their own bout of pilfering. One of our men attempted to poach a candidate of theirs, one thing led to another, and a scuffle broke out. Words were exchanged, along with bottles, fists, and chairs.
Once the fighting stopped, the furious captain of our rival crew walked up to our good captain and informed him of his intention to battle us to the death in the forests of Tortuga, in order to defend his sullied honour and make us pay for our actions. Not one to back down from a challenge, our captain accepted this offer. I had no way of deserting my crew, not without being robbed of any chance of living, then and there. The crew was ready to go fight its challengers under the open sky in the aptly named Pillager’s Pass - where all arguments among pirates were settled by combat.
I was overcome with fear like never before, as my hand had never grasped the hilt of a weapon, and I had never even dreamt of doing so. The sharp steel of the blade that was handed to me glinted in the torchlight, cutting a wound deep into my sense of self-preservation as I realized that my death would eventually come by the weapon I so anxiously held in my right hand.
The battle began with our opposing crews valorously charging at one another before a pool of water in the Pass. Blood was spilled as knife edges made their way into skin. We outnumbered our foes by around seven pirates, and it seemed to me as though we were about to win, until I noticed the weapon that one of our enemies wielded. A staff.
I stood along the periphery of the ensuing battle along with three others, as the pit of my stomach filled with a sense of dread like never before. And as soon as the wizard began conjuring voodoo in our direction, burning alive two of our best fighters, I found myself frozen on the spot. I could only turn my head and watch as the other two non-participants ran deep into the forests. A beam of magic with the face of an evil ghoul tore into our captain, exhuming his bones from his skin, breaking whatever fighting spirit the remainder of our combatants held on to. And that’s when I ran away with the intent of living to see another day, with the chances of doing so being gradually pillaged away.
I mustered the will to turn around and look at those fiends, and noticed that as they cackled and trudged forward toward us, their skin slowly dissipated away, revealing naught but bone and withered exteriors. The moonlight revealed a form that will haunt my memories 'til the day I die.