Scent Notes: Salty sea water, kelp and sea moss, metal, smoke.
Captain Mullins awoke with a start to the sound of a woman screaming. He jumped out of his narrow bed so quickly he hit his head on a low plank, causing him to curse loudly. He tripped up the steps, stubbing his toe on the top one, so he came on deck limping and in a very bad mood. “What happened?!” he yelled, expecting to find his crew in the midst of a raging storm, or fighting off another band of rival pirates, or perhaps someone else lost a limb, which happened often when you were a roaming, fighting gang of swashbucklers stealing on the high seas, aka, pirates. Instead, he found his crew sitting on deck in a circle, holding torches, not a woman in sight. Captain Mullins made an angry noise in the back of his throat. “Don’t tell me you were telling ghost stories again.” They all nodded, whimpering. “Billy was telling us about Fathom’s Wrath, and we got scared,” his most fearsome fighter, Longblade, said. Longblade was also the biggest man in the crew, covered from the neck down in fierce tattoos, most of which he did himself while bored at sea, and the captain knew it was Longblade’s high-pitched screams that had awoken him in the first place. Captain Mullins sat down between Billy and Longblade. “Billy, you’re new to the pirate life. You’re talking nonsense. Fathom’s Wrath isn’t a real ship, it’s an old legend that’s been passed down for years.”
Billy, the youngest and newest onboard the ship, puffed out his tiny chest in defiance. “It IS true! I heard other pirates talking about it at the pirate cove where you picked me up. And I saw it when I was a boy! It’s my life’s journey to find the ship again!” Longblade let out a shriek. The captain rolled his eyes. “You’re still basically a wee lad. This is all nonsense.” “It is NOT!” Billy said. “Just listen to me. We need to be prepared in case they try to attack us.” With his crew so thoroughly invested (and scared), he decided to let Billy talk. It’d be interesting to hear what, exactly, Billy’s interpretation of the old legend was anyway. Captain Mullins let out another sigh. “Fine. Go ahead, but stop scaring the whole crew! None of ya will get any sleep and then you will be absolutely useless to me tomorrow. We have pirate work to do.” Billy nodded, and started his story from the beginning.
“Fathom’s Wrath is an ancient pirate ship, full of dead, rotting, zombie pirates.” Longblade shrieked again, and Captain Mullins glared, then softened, and let out another long-suffering sigh. “Calm down ya ninny. Here, keep your mouth on this,” the captain said, handing Longblade his flask. “Worst case, bite on it to keep your mouth from flappin’ open.” Billy continued on, unfazed, with just a quick glare at Longblade. “The ship travels the seven seas and every other body of open water it can, hunting down other pirates to join its undead crew. The legend goes that it can only board another ship when the moon is full, at the precise stroke of midnight. They say the sails are made of human flesh, and the ship is made of the blackest metal. It glides through the water without a sound. You only know it’s close when you smell iron upon the sea. And once you do, it’s too late. You’re all going to die!” The rest of the crew began to scream again, a few holding onto one another in their fright. “No! It’s nearly a full moon! I don’t want that! I still have so many people to rob and murder; I’m too young to die!” Longblade said between sobs. Captain Mullins pulled Longblade in and let him cry on his shoulder, as he turned to Billy with fury in his eyes. “Look what you’ve done to Longblade! He’s crying again! Stop this now. Besides, you’ve got it wrong. They’re not zombies, they’re just bones. And they don’t attack on full moons, they attack when there’s no moon in the sky, so it’s completely dark. The ship is old and wooden, held together by cobwebs and bad intentions. Whoever told you the legend got it wrong, and I’m ordering you to stop this at once!” Longblade sniffled and pulled away from the captain. “Yeah, quit it, Billy,” he mumbled down to the ground.
Billy just chuckled and shook his head. “Fine, don’t believe me. Think I’m wrong. It’s fine, ya scallywags. I saw ‘em with my own eyes. My father was captured by them, but I was just a baby so they let me go. I’ve been searching for them since I’ve been old enough to work aboard ships. Something is telling me we’ll see them soon. I could swear I smelled iron on the water today….” “Well I sure smell something disgusting, and it’s man-made,” the captain retorted. “All of ye, get to bed. Now!” The rest of the crew headed to their quarters, but Billy stayed put. “I’m keeping watch,” he said sternly to Captain Mullins. The captain just sighed and nodded his head. He saw Longblade hanging behind him abashedly, so he escorted Longblade down to his hammock, sang him a lullaby, and tucked him in nice and tight. By the time he walked to his cabin, Longblade was sucking his thumb, content for the moment.
Hardly anyone slept that night, but they awoke the next morning to calm seas and a rival band of pirates in the distance. Captain Mullins made sure to remind Billy, with a great eye roll, that nothing had happened, and made Billy do all the grunt work that day until Billy eventually passed out on the poop deck. They found him there after the rest of the crew pillaged the rival ship until nothing was left. “That’s what happens when ya don’t sleep and make everyone else stay awake half the night worryin’ for nothin’,” the captain said when he saw Billy asleep on the deck. By that evening, after taking Billy’s sleeping body down to the crew hold, talk of Fathom’s Wrath had ceased. How silly they were to believe in ghost stories and be so afraid of a legend designed to scare pirates out of the piratin’ life and back into normal society! How absurd! To compensate, that night they made sure the rum flowed heartily, and the pirates gambled with their newfound wealth from early evening until the moon was out and full. Drunk and lazy, they collapsed onto the deck singing their favorite songs about pillaging and the pirate’s life, when Billy suddenly burst onto the deck. “Have I missed them?” he asked, sweat covering his whole body. He stopped and sniffed the air. “No, I haven’t. They’re near. Can’t you smell the iron in the air?” “We smell nothing of the kind!” Captain Mullins answered, taking a swig of rum. Except … now that Billy mentioned it, there was a whisper of something metallic coming off of the sea. Sure, he smelled the usual salt and moss that he was so used to smelling that he hardly registered it anymore, but there was something else there. Something smokey and sinister. Something….
The captain stood and looked out at the water. Pulling up next to them was a ship so dark it could hardly be seen, even in the moonlight. Flashes of metal caught the moonbeams, reflecting straight into the captain’s eyes. Billy’s face had turned into a dark rictus grin of delight and absolute terror. Longblade stood, saw the ship, wet himself, and jumped overboard without another thought. The sails made of flesh were flowing in the breeze, and now the ship was right beside them. Ghoulish figures swarmed the deck, and the scent of metal became overpowering. The captain finally realized what was happening, and he cried out. “Abandon ship! Fathom’s Wrath is upon us!”
Scent Notes: Salty sea water, kelp and sea moss, metal, smoke.