Journals of the HMS Stalwart

Captain’s log 4th September 1662

The Stalwart has sunk. I lost many of my best people on that ship. I want to make it abundantly clear that it was not my intention to abandon the ship. I know that it is the first law of a captaincy – if someone is not to leave the ship in a disaster it is the captain. I was thrown off the ship and washed ashore.

Master at Arms Murdock.

Please forgive potential inaccuracies in these accounts. They have been written after the fact. I along with most of the crew were washed up on an unknown island.  After the injuries of the crew were dealt with, as best we could, I led a team into the forested island. We needed to find a secure place to make camp. We found somewhere on high ground – it was defensible and so we moved all the usable items that had washed up on the shore.
The island was something of a prison – and the first obligation of a prisoner is to escape. We had no ship and the lifeboats were damaged in whatever attacked us. The captain declared that we should build a raft.  We believed that we were close enough to a shipping lane to hopefully bring help. All through the raft’s construction the question of who would row it out was never answered. The captain, I believe, knew how dangerous it was going to be and perhaps he was hoping for volunteers. He would have volunteered himself, but those back on the island would need a leader, and if not him then who?

Captain’s log 8th September 1662

The raft has been completed.  Now however it is not a simple question of being stranded here. We have found plenty of food and survival, even comfortably, is not a problem. Last night however one of the crew disappeared. At least eight people were awake during the night, yet something was able to breach the camp and take one of our people.
The question now arises as to who will take the raft onto the dangerous seas. I would volunteer except that Sergeant Hobbs, as is his job, has pointed out that I am required here. Now however it is even money as to which location is going to be the safest.

Master at Arms Murdock.

In the end it fell to ability and profession to decide who would be on the raft. Many of the crew were still injured from the wreck, and those in security would be needed as every few nights another crew member was abducted. I selected three able-bodied crew members to accompany me on the raft.
We placed it on the water at first light.  The seas would be extremely dangerous with only moonlight to guide us, so we wanted to row in as much daylight as possible. We rowed fast at first with all four of us rowing through the sometimes vicious sea. We were motivated by the impetus of the disappearances on the island. Soon common-sense had to prevail though, and we began to row in shifts, two on and two off.

Captain’s log 14th September 1662

The raft left early this morning, my thoughts are with those brave crew members. This morning saw the disappearance of another of our party. That makes four since our arrival.  My crew are vigilant and I do not know how the abductors have got past them. I pray that Neptune is kind to the raft and they may find a ship quickly.

Master at Arms Murdock.

I’m not normally one to believe in luck but we on the raft were definitely lucky. We had a night on the raft with a large full moon as guidance. The men were becoming tired, and the sea choppy. I remember thinking that this could be our end as the raft was tossed about and I barely managed to cling on. If this was to be our end however it would have been one of honour. But Poseidon was only teasing us and as the sea settled we allowed ourselves some sleep.
The next morning I awoke to the cries of one of the other rowers. He could see a ship.  I think he wanted confirmation that it was not a mirage. If it was then we were all affected. Our voices were hoarse from having to ration water.  The ship must have had one of the best look-outs, as soon a boat came out to meet us.

Captain’s log 16th September 1662

I reckon this to be the point of no return. Either the raft has found someone or they have become victims of the sea. The disappearances have increased. If this log is ever found let it be said that the crew of the Stalwart served with distinction and valor.

Master at Arms Murdock.

The captain of the ship gave us food and water and promised to help us. I do not know if he was motivated by human decency or the potential rewards of assisting one of His Majesty’s ships. In either case they needed to deliver their cargo first. I began writing these accounts while on the ship. We estimated to be back at the island around the 1st of October. It was a long time. I didn’t mention the disappearances because it might have dashed any chances of their helping us.

Captain’s log 22nd September 1662

I feel I must now conclude that the team we sent out have been unsuccessful. This island will shortly become home to me. Yes singular – the rest of the crew have vanished now. We were never able to find out what happened. I’ll try to stay awake but sooner or later Morpheus will come. I only hope that whatever happens after I am taken that . . .

Master at Arms Murdock.

That was how we found the captain’s log – as if it had been suddenly abandoned.  Perhaps he heard something and got up to investigate. I was leading a team from the ship which the captain had put under my command.
“It seems your people have all gone,” one of them said.
One of my own people had a clever idea and it proved very effective. We gathered together some logs and laid them under a blanket. The idea was that to somebody entering the camp who wanted to abduct in a hurry it might look like a person. All we could do now was wait. We pretended to sleep as night came, keeping at least an eye open.
Suddenly there was a clattering noise. The bait had been taken.  We threw the blankets off ourselves and stood, weapons raised. Just ahead of us was a giant bird, a Roc. It screeched and we  covered our ears. I tried to fire but before I was able to do so it grabbed me and lifted me up. For as long as we were close to the ground I tried to struggle my way free, but soon I was lifted high into the sky.
The Roc flew in close and dropped me into the sea. I struggled because something was pulling me under.  I remember choking on the water as I was pulled down. About what happened next I cannot be completely sure – all I know is that I awoke in a cave. I could hear the sound of the sea but it seemed to be rushing all around.
“We’re in an underwater cave,” came a voice. I recognised it immediately as the captain’s.
He came over to me, “Your mission was something of a success then?” he said.
Before any response could be made I heard splashing approaching and a figure of a woman appeared at the edge of the cave. It was not simply a woman – I suddenly noticed that she had a glistening tail.
She threw out her hands and tossed us a red pill each. The captain ate his unquestioningly, so  I, although unsure, ate one too. The change in my body was subtle, and only when I followed them into the water did I realise what had happened – I could breathe. I swam after the mermaid and in a while came to a large deep chasm. In the sides of the rock face were built homes for these people. They swam around and I began to feel at ease. The question still remained however – why had they abducted our people?
The strangely beautiful mermaid floated in front of us. “We had to be sure about your people. We’d never seen a human before. We took the youngest crew member first because they would be less likely to be completely indoctrinated and might give us a real view of your people. Slowly we gathered more and wanted to understand what it was to be a human.”
“What have you discovered?”
“That you may be exactly what we require.”
The captain seemed to smile at that. Had he been bewitched by these women? “When your species was first becoming dominant on land the Fauns left. They took their sky ship and headed off into the black beyond. This left a gap in a great alliance: Dragons of the sky, Mer of the sea, and Fauns of the land. The Doom is rising, drawing power to them, will you join us?”

Colophon:
That was how the new great alliance began. It endured for over six hundred years. We learned to embrace our differences rather than hiding behind them. Over time the alliance expanded across the stars. And the republic that followed used every race to their best advantage. Together we prospered – peace was ours.

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