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The Boatman

"I saw the thing from a distance, watching silently as dockworkers unloaded its cargo, replacing it with great crates full of bottled oil. As I watched, a person approached it slowly, something tucked under their arm. They didn't seem creed-wracked, as their bare arms showed none of the tell-tale marks. The Boatman regarded the person with seeming indifference, its masked face showing no emotion, its expression hidden. It just stood there, a good foot taller than them, looking down. Then, the person revealed what they were hiding to the Boatman, and its demeanor changed. A flash of white was visible for a moment, then whatever the person was holding disappeared under the Boatman's cloak, and they were ushered on board with the crates."
— From a dockworker's diary
  There are few figures in Gamburg more perplexing than the one known as the Boatman, precisely for a single reason: it isn’t always in Gamburg. It is common knowledge that in order to find one’s way to the Whaler’s Grave, one needs the guidance of a Creed-wracked who is seeking the whale. Only they can navigate the Pariah’s Tides in order to find their impossible quarry, Wrong John. And no Creed-wracked would ever dare to leave the town. No Creed-wracked would turn their back on their hopeless quest to kill the ground they stand on. And yet, the Boatman manages it. It somehow possesses the ability to take its great vessel to the whale, and then turn right around and head for land.  

A False Appearance

To the uneducated or simply ignorant, the boatman’s identity is clear. It covers its entire body with heavy, concealing clothing. It speaks in even, measured tones, rarely varying in pitch, speed, or volume. It wears a mask of porcelain, with a painted, fixed smile. Looking upon this, you would think that it was only one thing: a Hollow Man. And yet, this is not the case, for one reason, and one reason alone: the Boatman has a name. Its true name, of course, is completely unknown. But the fact remains that it possesses the ability to be named, and therefore a name. It is called the Boatman. Not ‘you over there’ or ‘that creepy clay thing’ or any other form of address typically used for Hollow Men, for they perplexingly cannot be named in any way. It is the Boatman, and therefore must be just as hollow as you or me.   But while it may have a name, and is therefore probably nothing too monstrous at the very least, the exact nature of its identity remains a mystery. After all, people have been concealing their names long before they realized that they could do away with them entirely. And the Boatman has done an admirable job of it. No record exists of a creature dressed like it, nor of a boat matching its description, other than in the context of it in its current form and the trade that it performs.  

Marine Merchant

The Boatman has proven itself indispensable to the residents of Gamburg, even if none of them truly trust the enigmatic creature. Its ability to travel back and forth between land and whale means that it is capable of offering them the supplies that they can’t create or harvest from Wrong John. Things like clothing, raw material like wood and metal, and food that isn’t whale louse. It is even willing to ferry passengers to and from Gamburg, though the price to leave the town far exceeds that required to enter it.
In exchange for its services, the boatman does not request money, for such frivolous things as coins and bills do not have a place in Gamburg. Instead, it operates strictly on the barter system, giving food, clothes, and anything else the residents of Gamburg need in exchange for the... unique resources Wrong John offers. Primarily oil, gathered by the venturesome Flensers, as it is the most useful and most plentiful resource that can be harvested from the body of Wrong John. It is also known to buy other things, especially whalebone, which is exceptionally rare.

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