Inktober III: Bait in Endhaven | World Anvil
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Inktober III: Bait

"No! No, please! I'll do anything!" The man pleaded with his former crewmates, wriggling about in his bindings as he was lowered over the side of the ship, ultimately unable to free himself. "I can get you anything you want if you let me reach land! Grog! Women! Anything, please!" However, his cries went unheeded as his body entered the waters, and after a few more cranks of the wheel onboard, he was out of sight.   Captain Wolff doffed his hat, allowing the harsh midday sun to scorch his grey, scraggy beard hiding the lower half of his gaunt, scarred, pale face. He quickly replaced the tricorne and turned to those of his crew who were still with him, numbering perhaps half a dozen at this point. He double-checked, making sure that the heat and pain coming from his stomach weren't distracting him from counting. All in all, himself included, there were now eight men left on the Fair Wench.   "Alright men," he tried his best to shout, despite the dry cracking he could feel in his throat. "I want all former armsmen to have cannons or spears aimed at the water where Jacobson just was. With as scummy as he was alive, he should serve as fine chum for a hungry shark or two." Three of the men gave half-hearted nods and made their way below deck, running as fast as their skeletal forms could carry them.   Captain Wolff's chest rattled as he bent over and coughed harshly into his fist, feeling his throat tearing apart as he did so. He quickly wiped off his bloody hand onto the front of his shirt, already coated in copious amounts of sweat, grime, and other layers of filth that had been accumulated over this seemingly eternal journey. He cleared his throat as best he could before beginning again.   "Everyone else here will be responsible for scouting. Half will do so for any ships or land, and the other half will watch for any kind of food." He swept his eyes over the crowd, but many of theirs seemed glazed over and unfocused. "That means dolphin, shark, binfish, anything. If so much as an albatross is sighted within a mile, I want it down on the deck within a heartbeat."   Without waiting for an answer, he sauntered over to the side of the deck where the former boatswain was deposited. Jacobson had been a good man, but his ideas of mutiny and betrayal were too strong for a man with such a big appetite. It was a shame, but it was nessecary for the survival of the honest men still alive and aboard.   Wolff kept eyes on the water alongside the others for the next several hours. None spoke as they watched the waves; their throats would likely tear apart at the utterance of any words more than a few syllables, and all had been said long before now.   Long after the sun had set, Wolff felt a series of rapid taps at his shoulder. While keeping an eye on the water, he turned towards the crewmate who had notified him, and noticed a compass in his other hand. Wolff's blood ran cold as he picked up the compass, looking towards the mate.   "You can't be serious?" the words scratched their way through his hoarse throat. The shiphand could only nod, pointing to the needle. It pointed north, but Wolff could see it shaking ever so slightly in his soft grasp. Then, he noticed it slowly rotating to the northwest before it rapidly flew back north. It shook between the two before spinning fully around, and centering back around northwest.   Wolff darted to the other side of the deck, unable to see anything on the water but the moon's pale reflection. But under the soft, white, spherical glow, he saw another light hidden inside it, burning orange and crimson. Wolff slowly doffed his tricorne once more. "May the spirits guide us."

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