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Gangrene


The sequel to Adipocere


Dramatis Personae

  • Finn Hamm (Adrian) - 36; Former captain of the Adipocere
  • Teller Lohand - 25; Captain of the Adipocere
  • Richard Cannonwalker - unknown age; Pirate King
  • Jeremiah Garland - 40; Pirate Lord of the Baltic Sea
  • Zoomer - 23; Pirate Lord of the Red Sea
  • Leonhard Bosch - 31; Pirate Lord of the Labrador Sea
  • Johnny Sea Slasher - unknown age; Pirate Lord of the North Sea
  • Lawrence Ironhawk - 39; Pirate Lord of the Gulf of Mexico
  • Slappy - 33; bounty hunter
  • Jolly Roger - old as dirt; commander of the undead army
  • Le Lapon Rouge - 56; undead captain
  • Jacques le Blanc - 89; undead admiral
  • Hex - 44; undead general
  • Ariana - 27; captain of the Holliday
  • Albert Mayhew - 48; new governor of Port Royal
  • Eileen Bates - 38; noblewoman
  • Ellison Bates - 30; friend of Adrian
  • Maman Brigitte - older than dirt; loa


Act 1

Scene 1 - Adrian Triumphant

Shipwreck Cove, the hidden base of the infamous pirate faction of the Brethren Court and one of the last pirate bastions in the world, 1750. Within the deepest bowels of the massive stronghold comprised of countless wrecked ships, merchant, military, and pirate alike, the lavish meeting hall of the Brethren is filled to the brim by nine Pirate Lords, including captains Zoomer, Jeremiah Garland, Lawrence Ironhawk, Leonhard Bosch, and Pirate King Richard Cannonwalker, along with their equally unhygienic entourages. The Pirate Lords discuss the recent discovery of the lost island of Raven's Cove, and subsequent unearthing of a massive cache of powerful "cursed weapons." King Cannonwalker, dressed fittingly, speaks in a smooth baritone which commands the attention of all present.

Cannonwalker: It is clear that, as we speak, this dangerous cache is in the hands of our sworn enemies, being meted out to their lackeys and allies who all seek to destroy us. If we don't act now, I fear all we have worked for will have come to ruin.

Lord Zoomer interjects before the others, a younger and less experienced voice that nonetheless carries a certain weight to it, as if it has experienced great hardship in the past just the same.

Zoomer: Is no one else concerned about the nature of this discovery made by the Company and Roger? How could it be that they made their way to the Cove and looted it without us knowing? Aren't we supposed to have eyes and ears everywhere?

Lord Garland, an older man, is wiser and older in comparison, with a hint of sardonic nostalgia in his tone.

Garland: If I may speak boldly, it would appear the Court is no longer the daring pirate government it used to be. But perhaps this discovery by our enemies may yet be attributed to a factor... outside of our control.

Cannonwalker (almost visibly bothered): Truthfully... I was aware that Adrian was on the hunt for Raven's Cove, but assumed such a venture was far-fetched at best. I underestimated both him and his competition. That doesn't change the fact that-

Zoomer: You knew there was a danger and you did nothing? You allowed Hamm, a rogue Lord to pursue this goal by his lonesome?!

Ironhawk: I'm wondering why Adrian was allowed to continue operating after his treachery in the first place.

Cannonwalker: Enough! The man is dead, and his demise has introduced a myriad of weapons of considerable power to the Caribbean for better or worse. At the very least, we have Teller Lohand to thank for eliminating his threat forever. Now, my friends, if you please, it's time to turn our attention to retrieving these weapons from the Company bef-

An abrupt bang interrupts the Pirate King's speech, accompanied by a paranormal change in temperature. The numerous candles illuminating the hall flicker ominously. A faint clanging in the distance is just barely audible. The Lords look around suspiciously, and Zoomer and Bosch clutch their weapons closely.

Sea Slasher (in a hushed voice): Do you feel it? That familiar... cold.

It is completely silent for a few seconds before, before the silence is broken by the sound of screams just outside the room. The hall's doors swing open vigorously, slamming against the walls. A dozen men, some alive and some dead, flood into the room, weapons drawn, led by a man with red hair, a red vest, and a handlebar moustache brandishing a blunderbuss. The fresh corpse of James, first mate of Captain Teller Lohand of the Adipocere, is thrown on to the cold ground with a thump, creating a warm pool of crimson blood. Bosch and the other Lords immediately rise from their seats and draw their weapons in kind, aiming at the intruders.

Bosch: Who dares intrude and threaten the Pirate Lords?

An ethereal voice: Threaten my loyal servants? Doubtful.

Finn Hamm (known by many as Dread Adrian), clad in a dark tattered coat, a strange beaked mask, and a wide-brimmed hat, carrying an elongated cane with a gleaming blue jem on its end, struts into the room, not intimidated by the raised weapons of the Lords and their crews. He kicks over an open pot in his way, spilling ashes on to the ground near James' corpse. He comes to a stop at the end of the rectangular table in the center of the room. He soaks in the bewildered faces of his former allies.

Adrian: My friends. I regret not returning sooner, but circumstances these past few months have left me priorly occupied. It is... good to see you again.

Cannonwalker: Impossible.

Adrian: Is it so? Surely you don't think so litttle of me to assume that a taste of hell's raging fire would be enough to silence me.

Adrian chuckles lightly. The trinkets and voodoo dolls strewn across his chest emit a quiet humming sound that deeply disturbs the others. Jeremiah Garland notices the several undead pirates accompanying Adrian and Slappy.

Garland: An alliance with Jolly Roger, then? Is that the company you keep these days?

Slappy scoffs. Adrian waves his hand dismissively.

Adrian: No, it's alright, my friend; he is merely curious. I would be, too. Roger proved to be an invaluable ally in my hunt for El Patron's weapons. As it turned out, our goals aligned beyond the search for the cache. He wanted revenge on the Brethren. My intent is not so violent, however; he has agreed to settle for my demands in the meantime.

Zoomer (bewildered): Your demands?

Adrian: As of now, Richard Cannonwalker is no longer Pirate King. He will be relegated to the position of Attorney General for the new Brethren League, under the regime of the new King, yours truly.

Cannonwalker is stunned. Sea Slasher and several others step forward, offended.

Bosch: You think any of us would answer to such a depraved, untrustworthy man such as yourself? You make me laugh.

Adrian: Untrustworthy? Tell me, Leonhard, when have I ever lied to you? How many times have I led you all astray? Surely not as frequently as your sitting King.

Cannonwalker (losing his temper): I will not tolerate this coup. You were a fool to return here, Adrian! And now you will pay the price for your insolence.

Zoomer: It's high time you were put in your place.

Zoomer, brandishing an ornate dagger, steps up to Adrian, poised to strike. Adrian immediately draws his own blade with his free hand, an elaborate sabre with a visibly lethal edge. He clanks his sword against Zoomer's knife perfunctorily.

Adrian: My place, boy? I would be astounded by the hostility of any of the Lords toward me, but you? I'd think it above you to threaten a man who's gone out of their way to aid you in the past without seeking equal payment in turn. I'm sure you recall the incident concerning Mr. Sharp - the letter?

Zoomer is temporarily thrown off his guard, recalling a past event. His gaze subtly shifts to the side. Immediately, Adrian swipes the man's dagger to the side with his sabre and points his gleaming staff at his chest, freezing him in place with a crackling noise. Adrian pushes him to the ground and turns to the others.

Adrian: There, you see? I can be merciful, and merciful I shall continue to be if I wish to rule a full Court. Richard, step away from the end of the table, if you please. I believe it's time for me to pay a visit to Teller Lohand, but not before I reclaim what is mine. In the meantime, Slappy will lead the negotiation for your unconditional surrender.

The Lords scowl.

Adrian: Unless... you object?

Adrian's staff begins to glow once more. Slappy fixes his blunderbuss on Cannonwalker. Reluctantly, the Lords take their seats once more; Richard remains seated at the end of the table. Adrian bows slightly and departs, flanked by two reanimated pirates.

Slappy (taking a seat, blunderbuss in his lap): How shall we begin?


Scene 2 - Old Debts

One half hour later. Slappy preaches the folly of the Court from the top of the table, no longer speaking directly to any of the Lords, completely lost in his speech. Several of the pirates begin to doze off, while Richard and Zoomer stay alert, their eyes fixed on their captor.

Slappy: That's why Driftwood was never worth the effort. That's certainly why a Man-o-War is no match for a well-equipped sloop. With that in mind, then, why in God's name would you possibly divine such a...

An unseen hand whispers into Cannonwalker's ear.

Voice: Stay calm. We are leaving.

Cannonwalker (jumping slightly, whispering): Who is this? Surely we will be caught.

Voice: Look at him. He wouldn't notice us if we sprinted out the door.

Slappy's gaze is fixed toward another corner of the room, making uncomfortable eye contact with Leonhard Bosch.

Voice: It's leave or endure his speech until judgment day.

Cannonwalker slips out of his seat slowly, crouching under the table. He turns to his rescurer; it is Teller Lohand, a bright, young face, scarred by recent battles. He motions for him to stay quiet.

Cannonwalker: If you're planning to ambush Adrian... we'll need at least one more set of hands.

Teller: I'm sure Zoomer would be happy to oblige. From what I hear, he's less than a pushover when it comes to fighting anyway.

Teller and Cannonwalker crawl silently to the other end of the room. Teller tugs at Zoomer's shirt, motioning for him to come down. Zoomer, keeping his eyes on Slappy, slowly sinks under the table. Captain Wavecrash notices them with wide eyes. Teller puts a finger over his mouth, motioning for him to be quiet. Wavecrash returns his gaze to Slappy. The three pirates quickly slip out of the room and into the antechamber, looking over the fortress below, which is patrolled extensively by undead and living guards.

Zoomer: At least we're out of there. Now we're surrounded.

Cannnonwalker: We need to find Adrian and end this.

Teller: My thoughts exactly. He'll be heading for the Adipocere by now for certain. I know precisely where I left it docked. Our best bet is to get there first and hope we get the drop on him.

Cannonwalker: The trouble will be getting there in one piece. Lead the way.

The three, with great patience, sneak past the legion of League soldiers, turning corners and slowly moving towards the Adipocere's private dock in silence. The ship sits stationary in a river, kept still by a lock that stems the tide. The exit, a massive wooden door, leads out into the open ocean. The dock is dimly lit only by a dying lantern on the wall. As they approach the Adipocere, there is no sign of Adrian or any of his accomplices.

Teller: This is it. Quickly, hide yourselves - he'll be coming!

Teller runs below decks, while Zoomer hangs off the edge of the Adipocere and Richard climbs the mast, hiding behind a sail. After several uncomfortable minutes, the familiar thumping of Adrian's black boots is heard in the distance. He slowly steps on to the deck of his former ship, stolen by Teller. Cannonwalker cocks his flintlock pistol, aiming it directly at Adrian. Teller bites his tongue.

Adrian: I would have thought you would have known better by now, but it seems you're the one who will be paying the price for your insolence!

Adrian utters an incantation and his staff begins to glow. The dock's only lattern explodes, casting the room into the light and revealing the hidden pirates. Adrian draws his saber and holds it at the ready. Cannonwalker jumps down from the mast, Zoomer climbs up from the side, and Teller runs topside.

Adrian (angered): You!

The masked pirate charges at Teller, who blocks his first strike with his golden dagger. Teller immediately retaliates, striking at Adrian's head. Adrian blocks. Zoomer charges into the fray, forcing him into a defensive stance. He at once holds off both Teller and Zoomer, while Cannonwalker draws his cutlass and looks for an entrance. Zoomer presses the assault, giving Teller an opening to slice directly at Adrian's exposed chest.

Adrian (panting): Yes... strike once more at your fear personified. Imagine the humiliation should you fail!

The wounded Adrian continues to hold them off despite Teller's succesful hit. The two attackers step back, astounded, while Cannonwalker worms into the fight. He engages Adrian directly while the others back away. The two are an equal match for a time before Cannonwalker begins to tire, leaving him open. Before Adrian can take advantage, however, Zoomer throws his dagger at his leg, forcing him to his knees. The dagger is wedged into his thigh.

Adrian: Does it give you pleasure? Or does the weight of the confrontation begin to bear down on you, like the cold stench of a battle nearing its end?

Adrian rises once more and blasts the trio away with his staff. As they fall on to their backs in a bewilderment, Slappy and a pair of skeletons rush into the enclosed dock, standing on the rocks next to the ship. Teller quickly rises to his feet and helps Zoomer up. The two are battered but engage an amused Adrian once more, whose defense is suddenly impenetrable. Cannonwalker slowly pulls himself up.

Slappy (taking aim with his blunderbuss): Stand clear! I've got them!

Adrian steps off to the side, keeping up his vicious offensive. Richard, panting, notices Slappy lining up his shot, and sprints at Adrian from the right. He shoves the masked corsair into Slappy's line of fire, which sends Adrian flying off the edge of the Adipocere. Cringing, Slappy drops his blunderbuss and draws his engraved broadsword. Thinking quickly, Cannonwalker takes aim at the waterlock on the ceiling and fires, letting a stream of water begin to push the ship forward. The massive wooden door of the dock opens, allowing the water to rush out unabated. In moments, the Adipocere begins to sail out into open sea, while Slappy and the skeletons stumble into the river below with Hamm. Relieved, Teller, Zoomer, and Richard help each other up.

Zoomer: I admit, I was beginning to worry, but... we've done it!

Cannonwalker (grimly): Don't be so sure.

Richard points to the massive undead fleet patrolling outside Shipwreck Cove. Back inside, Adrian and Slappy, soaking, meet up with Jolly Roger in the empty dock.

Jolly: Don't fret, Adrian. They won't be makin' it past the blockade, that's for sure.

Adrian (grumbling): They may have something that will help them do just that.

Scene 3 - Escape

Several hours past midnight, the Adipocere, crewed by Richard Cannonwalker, Zoomer, and Teller Lohand sails out into open sea out of the hidden dock in Shipwreck Cove. In the distance, accompanied by a malevolent green haze is the infamous Undead fleet, a flotilla of haunted and decayed ships, the most prominent of which the Harkaway, Jolly Roger's sinister flagship. The Adipocere still has yet to be spotted by the fleet, but risks detection in seconds as undead scouts scan the horizon for escapees. Zoomer, at the helm, swerves hard to port to buy them some time as the others frantically scan the deck for something to help them avoid Davy Jones' Locker.

Cannonwalker: We won't last two seconds against that fleet! Get us out of here!

Zoomer: Nay! The entire Cove's surrounded. If I'm to die, it will be with a blade in hand and a bottle of rum in the other - besides, you always said a glorious death was to be envied!

Cannonwalker: You call being blasted out of the water by an armada glorious?

Teller, ignoring their arguing, rushes into the cabin.

Zoomer: Some hero he was.

Zoomer and Cannonwalker stare out into the bleak horizon as the outline of ghost ships in the distance becomes clearer.

Teller: Look alive, gents!

Teller brandishes a small red spyglass and spies at the nearest ghost ship, and a cloak of shadows is placed upon the Adipocere. Their vision is temporarily obscured before it returns to them.

Zoomer: What the devil...

Cannonwalker: Of course... the spyglass!

Zoomer: Brace yourselves!

The Harkaway angles its starboard broadside in the direction of the sloop, and its crew flinches. On the deck of the Harkaway, the elegantly dressed undead Le Lapon Rouge approaches Admiral le Blanc of the Undead fleet, who just ordered the ghost ship to prepare to fire.

Rouge (in a gravely voice with a hint of accent remaining): Sire? What are we up against?

The admiral is deathly silent for a moment as he stares in the direction of Shipwreck Cove. He could have sworn he spotted something familiar for a split second before it evaporated into the night. He suspects trickery but sees and hears nothing but the roaring of the waves and the shuffling of his rotting crew.

Le Blanc: Belay that. Signal General Hex to go ashore and brief the Commander. We will keep lookout.

Rouge: Aye, sir.

Rouge stands at the deck of the Harkaway and waves a ripped black flag 50 meters away at the nearby Harrower, the second most impressive ghost warship. Back on the Adipocere, the trio of pirates hold their breath as they approach the formidable Undead fleet.

Zoomer: I don't understand... the fog can't be that thick.

Teller: Aye, a clearer night there hasn't been for weeks. We have this ship's former captain to thank.

Teller tosses the curious spyglass to Richard, who observes it for a second before tossing it back. Zoomer glances at the artifact quickly and returns his gaze to the Harkaway, which is a matter of meters away.

Zoomer: Let's see just how effective this trick of yours is.

The Adipocere begins to sail between the Harkaway and the Harrower, the undead crews none the wiser. The pirates focus their gaze on Admiral le Blanc, who is staring intently out into the night. The skeleton commander fixes his eye sockets on the sloop for a moment before sneering and storming below into the interior of the Harkaway. In a matter of minutes, the Adipocere slips past the undead blockade and out into open sea. Zoomer breathes a sigh of relief while Teller stows the spyglass. Richard looks slightly concerned as he stares out into the distance, the sun beginning to peak over the horizon. A new day, a world flipped on its head.

Back on Shipwreck Cove, Jolly Roger convenes with several skeleton officers outside the grand meeting hall of the Brethren Court, now the Brethren League, led by its new autocratic Pirate King Adrian.

Roger: Sweep the town for any stragglers. If they be thinkin' of defyin' our rule, bring me their head!

Skeletons: *incomprehensible gargling*

As the skeletons depart, General Hex, his rotting corpse dripping with worms and bile, manifests in a green mist and approaches Jolly Roger, head bowed in respect.

Roger: Hex! What do ye have for me?

Hex: No sign of Cannonwalker and his accomplices yet, m'lord. But the admiral suspects something's up.

Adrian, mask in hand but still wearing his gaucho, steps out from the vacant meeting hall, flanked by Slappy. It appears the remaining Lords have been escorted elsewhere. Adrian is deathly pale and his eyes a nefarious crimson.

Adrian (annoyed): They would have made it out of the bay and past the fleet by now. It seems your admiral has failed to stop our friends from slipping out of our grasp.

Roger: Ha! Not likely. How could they possibly have avoided being spotted? It's impossible.

Adrian: They have something that belongs to me, and until I get it back, chasing them while under the cover of night will be fruitless.

Hex: M'lords, if it's true - that the pirates made it past the blockade - there's no place in the Caribbean for them to be hiding, that I can tell you. We'll have them in chains in no time at all.

Adrian: No, I'm afraid the hunt is mine. I can't have your armies sullying the kill.

Roger: Are ye certain? Ye be our new King, after all... surely ye be havin' more important business to attend to, if ye follow.

Adrian: I am certain. My tenure as Pirate King will be a less-than-traditional one.

Roger: If ye mean to hunt these dogs down by yer lonesome, the very least ye'll be needin' is a ship... and a crew.

Adrian: It would appear I'm short of both at the moment.

Roger grunts and utters a silent incantation. In the blink of an eye, he, Adrian, Slappy, and Hex appear on board a fearsome vessel within the undead fleet, not quite as large as the Harkaway but armed to the teeth with a savage crew of skeletons possessing glowing red eyes and supernatural auras. The ship itself, a War Brig, is black with fiery red flair and skull designs. The sails are blood red, embroidered with a white hawk ensignia.

Roger: Feast yer eyes on the Gangrene, one of the fleet's newest additions. I've been savin' its crew for a special occasion and, well, this be one. I give ye Hex and all the cursed souls aboard to aid in yer quest. Use her well.

Adrian is impressed with the Gangrene. The elite skeleton crew eyes him intently as he makes his way up to the helm and equips his white plague mask with Slappy at his side. He chuckles softly.

Scene 4 - The Pirates

At noon the next day, the Adipocere is at full sail speeding through the rough winds and waves. The fog that day is thick, and it is difficult to see one's own hands. After a long few hours of a rotational helmsman shift, Zoomer is back at the wheel once more.

Zoomer: So, where is it we're heading, exactly? You do have a plan..?

Teller: A plan? My "plan" for the past few hours has been to put as much distance between us and Shipwreck Cove as possible, but-

Cannonwalker: No plan that entails a man fleeing his own home is one to be desired. Our goal should be to kill Adrian and be rid of this whole ordeal as soon as possible.

Teller: Yes, well, "killing Adrian" doesn't seem to be so simple, does it? Twice now he's survived fights that should have killed him, and I doubt a third try would be any different.

Zoomer: You want to find a way to kill him.

Teller (nodding): We need to find a way to kill him. I wouldn't know where to start, but I think I know who would.

Cannonwalker: Who would that be?

Teller: We killed most of Adrian's officers back at Raven's Cove, but one of them escaped. Ellison, it must have been. If anyone knows Adrian's secrets, or at least knows how to hurt him, it would be him. No one alive has known him quite longer.

Zoomer: Sound logic. All we'd need to do is find this Ellison, and I don't recall seeing any of Adrian's officers back at Shipwreck.

Teller: Exactly. Maybe he's flown the coop, realized his captain's a psychopath and turned heel. Our best bet would be to go back to where it all started.

Zoomer: Aye?

Teller: The Isle of Sacrifice, of course. Isla Perdida.

Just then, the unusual rushing of water sounds. A ship approaches in the fog, just visible in the thick of it. The new vessel's crew cackles and takes aim at the trio, who throw their hands up.

Teller: Don't shoot!

Zoomer: I don't suppose that spyglass would help us now...

The other ship, surely pirate in nature, fires grappling hooks at the Adipocere and begins to reel it closer. Meters away, a plank is dropped, connecting the two vessels. The other pirate crew storms aboard the sloop, some of them confused by the presence of the trio. The one they assume to be their captain, a beautiful woman with dark skin and quite elegant clothes for a seafarer, steps on to the deck of the Adipocere as her crew bow their heads.

Captain: You're not who I was expecting.

Teller: And just who were you expecting?

Captain: Well, this is the Adipocere, isn't it? Scourge of the Adriatic? Captained by the Emperor of Blood?

Zoomer: Do I look like an emperor to you?

Captain (amused): You're asking if you look like the infamous Dread Adrian? The face isn't remarkably different, but no, you're certainly not him. So you must have stolen this ship.

Cannonwalker: We had no choice! Adrian is a threat to all of us, and he must be stopped.

Captain (pointing her cutlass at Richard): You there, step forward!

Richard steps closer, his expression stoical and defiant.

Captain: By God.

The captain removes her tricorne and bows her head slightly, and her crew does the same. The other two pirates look to each other, bewildered.

Captain (sheathing her weapon): Your majesty, King Cannonwalker. I had no idea, forgive me. My name is Ariana, and my ship the Holliday. We're a crew of humble pirates, nothing more.

Cannonwalker (embarrassed): Uh... that's alright, we're just in a hurry, you see...

Ariana: So this is the Adipocere, then? What on God's green earth happened to you? No offense, of course.

Teller: We were betrayed.

Cannonwalker: Adrian tried to usurp the throne, and... he succeeded. The Brethren are under his rule now, and we were forced to flee for our lives. Teller here believes he knows of a way to stop him and make things right again.

Ariana: And you took his ship on your way out, like true pirates. Any enemy of Adrian is a friend of mine, not that the aligning of our goals would be needed to count me among your allies, your majesty.

Cannonwalker: Thank you, but just captain is fine.

Ariana: Alright, captain, where is it you need to go, then?

Cannonwalker: Isla Perdida, apparently.

Ariana: Isla Perdida? Not on this course. At this rate you'll barrel straight into Florida before you get anywhere near that godforsaken island. What's gotten into your helmsman's mind?

Zoomer: It was the fog.

Ariana: You'll need to veer portside for about 6 hours and then take a hard right. From there, Perdida's about a day out, maybe less if you have the wind. We'll make ready and follow you.

Cannonwalker: That won't be necessary, I assure you.

Ariana: You said Adrian is a threat to all of us, no? If that's the case, then of course it's necessary. It's my duty. Now, are we going, or not?

Cannonwalker looks to Zoomer and Teller, who both shrug.

Ariana: I take that as a yes.

Ariana smiles and turns to her crew and begins barking orders. She returns to the helm of the Holliday and in minutes the two ships adjust course toward the Isle of Sacrifice, the birthplace of Adrian's power.

Zoomer: Odd friends one makes on a quest such as this.

Teller: I've had stranger allies.

Cannonwalker: As have I. But a stranger enemy, never.

Scene 5 - At Sea

24 hours later. The next day's waves are calmer and less foggy but no less ghastly. The eerie silence is deafening, and no man or woman dares speak a word under the oppressive gray sky, where the sun has given way to the eerie clouds' overbearing cloak of shadows. Ariana stands ready at the rail of her galleon, the Holliday, which closely trails the Adipocere. The pirates are bound to reach their destination, the desolate Isla Perdida, within the hour. Richard Cannonwalker is at the helm of the Adipocere.

Zoomer (hushed): I've heard stories about Isla Perdida. That Adrian and his people committed some great atrocity here, a long time ago now.

Teller: Aye. He brought us back here on our quest for El Patron's cache. When we arrived, it was a dark, accursed place, devoid of all life but the savage wasps that reigned supreme over the endless jungle. We left it in worse shape still.

Zoomer: Wasps, huh? I can sympathize. I'm no stranger to insects, myself. Best to cover up any exposed skin. The ones in Cuba are the worst by far.

Teller: Really? Are Cuban wasps a meter long and loaded with venomous vangs that can kill a man in minutes?

Zoomer: I see your point.

Holliday helmsman: Land ho!

Cannonwalker: Land? I don't see- wait, there!

Teller and Zoomer rush to the edge of the Adipocere to get a closer look. Teller confirms the report with the spyglass, which he hands to Zoomer so he may see for himself.

Zoomer (handing back the spyglass): You said these wasps were how big, exactly?

Teller scoffs and prepares to land. Zoomer is slightly shaken.

Scene 6 - Remnants

Zoomer and Teller drop the anchor of the Adipocere as it makes its slow approach to the forboding Isle of Sacrifice. Its beach is barren, and beyond, a black jungle obscures what little sunlight there is, creating a sort of eternal artificial night for the island, which seems to radiate a hard-to-place sensation of impending doom and daunting dread. The crew of the Adipocere prepares a dinghy to sail ashore and are followed close behind by the landing party of the Holliday, led by Captain Ariana.

Cannonwalker (stepping foot on the beach): Have you any wisdom to impart upon us before we proceed, Teller?

Teller secrets away the spyglass, which he taken ashore. He clutches his golden dagger tightly.

Teller: Stay close together and don't touch anything.

Zoomer: And what if said thing is shiny, indicating material worth?

Ariana (coming ashore): Not all treasure's silver and gold, my friend.

Zoomer (groaning): Not you, too...

Entering the ashen jungle of Isla Perdida, it is clear the island was recently ravaged by an unnatural blaze. The ground is littered with dead wasps half the pirates' size. There is an interminable sense shared by all who have stepped on the island that they are being watched by dozens of eyes that seem to peer into one's soul, and the expressions of the pirates reflects this. Zoomer leads the two crews through the darkness, deep as Hell, occassionally slashing dead plant matter out of his path in order to proceed.

The party abruptly halts as Teller stops in his tracks and draws his dagger.

Cannonwalker: What is it?

Teller: Quiet.

There is a faint stirring in the brush before them, a quiet whimpering crying out in the eternal night for the comfort of light, if any should exist in this dark place that seems so far from the welcoming arms of all that is good in this already shrinking and corrupted world. The noise makes Teller's stomach churn. Slowly, the source of the noise crawls out from under the charred tree it has called its home.

A killer wasp, green and black, worms into view. Most of the pirates flinch while others prepare to attack. It casts its pitiful red eyes up at the men before it; its gaze does not communicate hatred or disdain, only an intense sadness, a longing for a world that has been gone for so long. There is humanity in these eyes which tell a simple tale of suspended peace and security. The creature's small body is wrinkled and deformed, its scalene skin warped and twisted by something evil and not of this world. Its small eyes waver as the pirates lower their weapons. The wasp lets loose one last cry of anguish before collapsing on to the ground, dead. It has already begun to decay.

Teller: Let's go.

The pirates continue to struggle through the thick darkness of the jungle. In time, the charred plants give way to a large clearing surrounding an imposing mound of dead, yellow grass. The sky is finally visible in its full, bleak glory. The pirates search around the clearing for a time, taking notice of the massive, destroyed nests strewn about at the base of the dirt mound.

Teller breaks from the hectic crowd and explores the surround jungle. After disappearing for a few minutes, he returns to the party.

Teller: Over here!

Ariana and the others rush to his side at the verge of the clearing.

Ariana: You have found what you're looking for?

Teller: I may have. Just through here.

The pirates duck through the burnt jungle once more, trudging north. They soon arrive at a second clearing, this place a brief retreat from the overbearing absence of man on the island of Isla Perdida. It appears to be a small encampment comprised of several tents and freshwater springs. The tents are mostly destroyed, perhaps weathered simply by the inevitable passage of time, but a small few are still almost completely intact. The pirates set about exploring; Zoomer ducks inside a tent and emerges with an ornate musket, made of unscathed redwood and pristine copper mechanisms.

Zoomer: Ariana, my dear, you were right about all treasure not being silver and gold!

Ariana smiles.

Teller: What did I say about touching things?

Zoomer: For God's sake, it's not Aztec gold we're dealing with, Teller. Though if tomorrow I'm afflicted with a heinous curse, I shall forever trust your judgment.

Cannonwalker: What is it you were hoping to find here, Lohand?

Teller: Anything relating to Adrian or his former first mate. From what I understand, this is where they met; where Ellison's people were slaughtered and the survivors all threw themselves at Adrian's feet.

Ariana: Indeed - look here.

Ariana uncovers a tattered flag bearing Adrian's flag design, a white crown with dark blue lines. The large cloth was covering a simple wooden chest, untouched for what was likely many years. Teller steps forward and opens the container carefully; within are many small trinkets resembling family heirlooms. A small locket, bearing the name Bates, is tucked neatly at the bottom of the chest, along with a crude scribbling of a sea map of the shortest route from Port Royal to Isla Perdida.

Holliday crewman: The Bates family of Port Royal? One of the wealthiest in the town, until Lord Bates dragged the family's empire into the ground.

Ariana: And what exactly caused Lord Bates to drag his family into the ground?

Holliday crewman: Grief, they say. From what, no one knows.

Cannonwalker: The loss of a close one.

Zoomer: His wife?

Teller (astounded): His son... For whatever reason, Ellison must have left his family and made for Isla Perdida, like the island was calling to him somehow.

Cannonwalker: You mentioned Ellison wasn't present during the coup. Perhaps he's gone home.

Ariana: It's our best lead as of now.

Zoomer: Back to Port Royal then, hmm? And perhaps even in the presence of nobility. We'd better put on our best behaviors, then.

Meanwhile, the Gangrene approaches the beach of Isla Perdida. The cursed undead crew aboard make ready to go ashore. Adrian and Slappy confer on the deck.

Slappy: The crew are ready to go ashore. But I must ask - how did you track them here, to this Godforsaken place at the edge of the charts?

Adrian: I already told you, they have something of mine that I would very much like back. The very same thing that helped them escape Shipwreck Cove.

Slappy: An artifact of some sort? Magical?

Adrian: A spyglass which I happened upon some time ago. Its powers were stunning, but they came at a great price, not just to my ship but to the crew which manned it, including myself.

Adrian flexes his left hand.

Adrian: Now I am bound to it. It calls to me. It will not tolerate being separated from its true master for much longer, much as I will no longer tolerate my prize remaining in the hands of my enemies. General Hex! Take your men ashore now.

Hex nods, and he and the other undead immediately evaporate in a green mist and reappear on the barren shores of Isla Perdida.

Slappy: We're not to follow them, sir?

Adrian: No. Hex will draw them out of the jungle, and then we shall spring the trap and seal their fate.

Adrian motions to the Holliday and his lost ship, the Adipocere, docked to the west. Slappy nods.

Scene 7 - Thwarted

The pirates make haste to exit the jungle and leave Isla Perdida on their path to Port Royal, where they hope to find Ellison, the last one alive who may know the secret to Adrian's immortality. There is once again a stirring in the darkness.

Zoomer: Not another pitiful critter fallen victim to this accursed island...

Hex: Get them!

A dozen pairs of blazing red eyes suddenly appear in the shadows. General Hex, accompanied by the savage undead crew of the Gangrene, leap from the darkness at the pirates. The two forces violently clash, several pirates immediately being slaughtered in the surprise attack. These skeletons pulse with dark energy and are more powerful and aggressive than any undead the pirates have faced in the past.

Teller fends off a pair of the attackers with his golden dagger, which graces him with pinpoint accuracy and alacrity. He scores many hits on his unholy adversaries, but they are unflinching and determined to end his life. Zoomer, climbing atop a rock, takes aim at the undead with his new musket, picking them off one by one. Skeletons left and right lose their limbs and are temporarily knocked down - only for them to regrow their rotting appendages after several seconds. Richard Cannonwalker, with his mighty broadsword, engages the enraged General Hex directly. The undead commander towers over the disgraced Pirate King, but he remains willfull and never relents in his stonewall defensive against Hex's ceaseless onslaught with his jagged cutlass. Zoomer shoots off one of the skeleton's heads.

Zoomer: This is pointless! Run!

Ariana: Agreed!

Ariana rushes toward the Holliday, but Teller charges in another direction.

Teller: They'll be expecting us there! This way!

The pirates sprint east through the jungle, hoping to escape to the beach another way. The undead give relentless chase.

Hex: Tear them to shreds!

Zoomer: You should have brought guns, my undead friend! Or do they require a certain patience and skill that your ilk do not possess?

Hex: *enraged gargling*

Teller and his allies pick up the pace to escape the angered skeletons. In time, as the mortals tire from hunger and exhaustion, they finally spill out of the deadly jungle on to the white beach and immediately notice the ship the undead must have arrived from: the terrifying Gangrene, with its sinister black hull and red engravings.

Teller: Quickly, climb aboard!

Ariana: But what about the Holliday?

Zoomer: And the Adipocere!

Teller: Leave them. This is our only chance.

The two crews quickly swim up to the Gangrene and begin to board. As Hex and his skeletons burst out of the jungle and give pursuit, Adrian and Slappy, who were waiting at the Adipocere to ambush the pirates, notice their quarry escaping on the Gangrene.

Adrian: Quickly!

The two men sprint toward the Gangrene and meet up with the undead, who are picking off the stragglers. A foolish crewmate of the Holliday sprints directly at Adrian, who nonchalantly sidesteps and impales the sailor. Slappy engages a pirate with his poison-tipped cutlass; one seemingly harmless scratch on his enemy quickly causes him to buckle from pain, allowing Slappy to behead him.

Ariana, enraged at Adrian, charges at the cursed pirate, ignoring interfering skeletons.

Teller (from the Gangrene): Ariana, no!

Ariana ignores Teller's warning. As the pirates prepare to shove off from the island on the Gangrene, she sprints up to Adrian and locks blades with him. He is greatly amused by this. Close by, Slappy and Hex's men finish off the pirates who fell behind.

Adrian: My dear Ariana, it's been too long! I had rather hoped to see you again, if only to gaze upon your expression of utter betrayal and defeat once more - you never fail to deliver!

Though Ariana is clearly a master swordsman, Adrian is obviously only toying with her, easily predicting her every move and inching closer to a finishing blow with every passing second. In her rage, she allows him to disarm her and kick her to the ground, defenseless. She rolls out of her blade's reach and, realizing her failure, sprints toward the Gangrene. He cackles and casts a sinister spell on the fleeing Ariana, and shackles made of black mist emerge from the sand to lock her in place.

Zoomer looks on in horror. After throwing a persistent skeleton off the deck of the Gangrene, he takes aim directly at Adrian and fires at his chest. The shot is a direct hit, and on collision his invisible attunement to Ariana is broken. He curses and stumbles as the bullet shatters on his flesh. Ariana regains her composure and sprints toward the Gangrene, covered by Zoomer's blanketing fire.

As the Gangrene weighs anchor, commandeered by Teller and his pirate allies, Slappy stomps the last straggler's head in before helping Adrian up. Adrian, Slappy, and Hex, followed by their empowered undead minions, make their way to the Adipocere, a consolation prize for the pirates' second escape. The three commanders gather on the deck of the cursed sloop.

Slappy: What's our next move?

Adrian: We follow them, as we always have.

Hex: But the ship - we've got it back, we've no way to track them now.

Adrian: Yes, we have the Adipocere. But it appears its temporary captain decided it would be best to keep my spyglass on hand.

Act 2

Scene 1 - Crashing the Party

PORT ROYAL, ONE WEEK LATER. It is a chilly autumn night, but the streets are packed and the sky is bursting with a myriad of splendid colors and joyous visions. The streets are particularly crowded near the entrance to the lavish Governor's Mansion at the center of Port Royal, where the new governor, Albert Mayhew, is throwing a highly-anticipated inaugural masquerade ball.

The Gangrene lies still at the mostly empty docks, where Ariana, Richard, and Zoomer are gathered. They hide behind a large crate to avoid arousing suspicion, though most of the Royal guards are stationed at the mansion.

Richard: He said he'd be back by now. You don't think...

Zoomer: I'm sure he's more than capable.

Ariana: He'd better be. We took a risk coming here in the first place, and if he blows our cover...

Teller appears from behind the crate with a box in his hand.

Teller: Four masks, as requested.

The others each take an elaborate masquerade mask from the wooden box. Richard inspects his mask suspiciously before putting it on.

Richard: The latest fashion, you said?

Teller: Let's hope they're not too modern, if you follow.

Ariana: What do you have regarding the party.

Teller: Yes, the party. Bates will be in a swan mask.

Zoomer: Just Bates?

Teller (shrugging): I doubt there's another Bates in Port Royal prestigious enough to be invited to the Governor's Ball. It seems his father's legacy was still worth something, as it were.

Richard: Then let's get to the mansion.

Teller nods and slips on his mask.

At the gates of the Governor's Mansion, a line leads up to a checkpoint guarded by a formidable cadre of Royal Navy veterans. The four were lucky enough to arrive before most of the guests, but Teller begins to grow nervous.

Guard: Welcome to the home of Governor Mayhew. Invitation, please.

A woman in a lavish blue dress fumbles around for a moment and hands the man her invitation, sealed with the governor's insignia.

Noblewoman: There, from the Governor himself.

The head guard takes the letter and inspects it for a moment before handing it back to her.

Guard: Proceed. Enjoy yourself. Next!

Teller winces.

Richard: You did bring us invitations, correct?

Teller: Well...

Zoomer: I don't believe this.

Teller: I didn't think we'd need one!

Ariana: It's a party! Why wouldn't we need an invitation?!

Teller: Perhaps they'll just let us in?

The next guest steps up to the checkpoint.

Guard: Welcome to the home of Governor Mayhew. Invitation, please.

Nobleman: Uh... oh, no. Sir, I seem to have forgotten my invitation. But you know me, right?

Guard: So you're not on the guest list?

Nobleman: Of course I am!

Guard: Then where is your invitation? If you are on the guest list, you must have an invitation.

Nobleman: My name is James Tillerson! I'm on the guest list!

Guard: Gents, it appears we have an impersonator trying to sneak into the Ball. Please remove him.

Nobleman: What? No - this is outrageous!

Two veterans clap Tillerson in irons and escort him toward the prisons as he screams for help.

Teller: I guess that's a no.

Zoomer: Come on, this way!

The four pirates break off from the line. The next noble shrugs and smiles slightly, glad to wait a little less to get inside. The pirates stow away in the bushes after waiting for several seconds to ensure no one was watching. They slowly and perilously scale the outer wall of the mansion, each of them landing on the cold grass on the other side with a loud thud. One of the guards at the checkpoint hears them and turns their way for a moment, seeing nothing. As he returns to his post, the pirates rise from the bushes and begin to walk towards the door of the mansion.

Ariana: Now we're sure to be noticed. Look at us! It's as if we're nothing but common street beggars.

Zoomer (flustered): Do you do anything but complain?

Ariana: Forgive me for being concerned for our welfare.

Zoomer: Our welfare? We're pirates, we don't-

The group comes to an abrupt halt at the door to the mansion, where a bewildered guard stares them down.

Guard: Welcome to the Inaugural Ball, enjoy the evening...

Richard nods awkwardly. The four enter the mansion and are immediately captivated by the luxurious sights, sounds, and smells of the party. The mansion smells of melting chocolate and freshly baked bread, and every guest's face is hidden with creative and bizarre masks. The pirates' costumes allow them to blend right in with the others. They quickly enter the foyer where most are gathered, gossiping and laughing with each other in delight.

Richard: An impressive display.

Ariana: Indeed. It reminds me of my younger days. A simpler time, it was.

Teller: Before you get too used to the noble life, we've a mission to complete.

Zoomer: Right. A swan mask, was it?

Teller nods. The four split up and begin to wander the winding halls of the mansion. Richard inspects the packed dining hall, Ariana enjoys a pipe in the smoking room, Zoomer stays and mingles in the foyer, and Teller wanders off to the music room, the site of an intimate gathering of nobles admiring and playing the many intruments strewn about the room, specifically open for guests to use as specified by a sign out front.

Two men strum away on lutes, singing fantastic shanties they learned from their fathers while at sea. In the center of the room, a slim man in a black coat masterfully plays piano while he faces away from the door as a young couple merrily dances to his skillful chords. In one corner, a beautiful woman with flowing blonde hair plays the harp in a style Teller has never heard before. Every note captivates him further, and at once he falls deeply in love with both the music and the woman creating it. Is it love? Perhaps; perhaps not. He simply knows he is absolutely enamored.

The man playing piano finishes his song, and Teller breaks him from trance and turns to face the center as the others in the room, including the harp woman, begin to clap politely, thanking him for his elegant performance. The pianist rises and takes a bow, thanking them each. He turns towards Teller, revealing his mask; it is the image of a plague doctor, a beaked horror forever burnt into Teller's mind. His smile fades and he turns and runs back to the foyer.

Teller grabs Zoomer from his conversation.

Teller: He's here.

Zoomer: I was enjoying myself...

Teller: Zoomer, he's here! Adrian, he's here. In the music room. He was... he was waiting for me!

Zoomer (in disbelief): In the music room? Doing what?

Teller: It doesn't matter; we have to find the others and leave.

Zoomer: We can't leave. We need to find Ellison! He's the reason we came all this way. He has the key to killing Adrian!

Teller: And it won't matter if he kills all of us tonight. Come on, let's find Richard and-

The guests break into a stunning applause. Many others begin to pour into the foyer, looking upstairs at the railed platform overlooking the bottom floor.

Lord: Honored guests of this most joyous celebration to usher in a prosperous new era for our fair town of Port Royal: Presenting the esteemed Albert Reginald Mayhew the First, our new Governor!

Mayhew appears at the rails from behind closed doors. The crowd bursts into applause once more. The new governor gives a curt bow and waves at several of the guests. Richard and Ariana appear and gravitate towards Teller and Zoomer, who stare with the crowd up at the governor.

Mayhew: Hail and well met, my friends! Thank you, truly. It is a... unique honor, standing here, before all of you. After the unfortunate death of Governor Weatherby Swann, you all were owed that a replacement be named fairly and with good haste. That did not happen.

The crowd erupts into boisterous, forced laughter. Mayhew smiles a kind smile. There is sincerity in his tone, and also his warm brown eyes. His voice stutters slightly, perhaps out of nerves.

Mayhew: But, now that I'm here, I could not be more excited to usher in a new era of prosperity for our great town. I'm reminded of one particular event in my early childhood, in which my father and I had left our home in London on a voyage to a nearby town, the name of which I... struggle to remember, in honesty. My father was a kind man who cared about those who worked for him. I recall our new servants being placed in a genuine shock more than once upon experiencing his unique respect for all men. On that particular voyage, he taught me something very important; a lesson I shall never forget. He told me that, above all, the one thing that can never be taken from a man is not his wealth or any earthly possession, no. What can never be taken from a man is... his...

Mayhew begins to choke up. Several nobles smile and whisper to each other, believing the governor to be caving from anxiety. The lord who introduced him clears his throat awkwardly, expecting him to continue in a moment. But Albert Mayhew has spoken his first and last words as Governor of Port Royal.

The governor begins to gasp for air. As soon as the guards at his side realize what is happening, he topples over the railing and falls down to the foyer, expiring as soon as he hits the ground with a horrendous splat. The crowd erupts into terror as all Hell breaks loose in the mansion. The guests run in all directions, screaming obscenities at each other. A sinister cackling, like metal scraping against rock, projects throughout the mansion.

Teller looks to his left, where he expects Adrian to emerge from the music room. He spots the man in the plague mask immediately, but he does not cackle; he screams in terror like all the others with his hands clasped together behind his head. He can barely make out his poignant hazel eyes. He had made a grievous misjudgment, but where was the true culprit of the killing of the new governor - the source of the unholy cackling?

Teller: We have to leave - now!

Adrian (amused): Leaving so soon? But the celebration has just begun.

Demonic creatures emerge from the shadows bearing piercing crimson eyes. The skeletons, the former crew of the Gangrene, take to the guests, slashing wildly into the crowd and slaughtering dozens by the minute. Those who try to sprint out the front door are immediately grabbed and devoured, either by the colossal General Hex or one of the revolting henchmen flanking him.

The pirates dart their heads in all directions looking for Adrian. Finally, Teller spots his ghastly figure standing at the top of the stairs, overlooking the chaos with his sabre and staff drawn.

Adrian: There you are! I presume you were looking for me?

Adrian waves his gleaming voodoo staff and teleports with a flash to the floor of the foyer. He takes several steps toward the pirates with his blade aimed at them.

Adrian: Clever disguises. But you gave me all I needed to hunt you down so that we may meet again.

Teller removes his mask and throws it to the ground as the others have done. He draws his golden dagger and holds it at the ready.

Richard: Teller, no!

Adrian: Shall we?

Teller rushes at Adrian and the two lock blades. Adrian was more than prepared for this confrontation; he predicts every move Teller makes a few moments before he strikes, just as he did with Ariana. As the others rush to his aid, Teller catches a glimpse of another figure in the distance, fleeing the mansion: a small woman in a modest dress, her horrified expression obfuscated beneath a lavish mask depicting the likeness of a swan.

Adrian holds his blade high and slashes it down across Teller's chest. Then, darkness.

Scene 2 - The Eternal Enemy

Teller awakes from his lucid dream with a jump, immediately shutting his eyelids again in response to the overbearing light. His buttoned shirt is open, revealing a grievous wound across his chest. A woman, blonde, with dull blue eyes, grips his hand tightly.

Woman: It's alright, Teller. Your friends are all here. You endured quite a beating back at the mansion, but you'll recover.

Teller (straining): I... I recognize you.

Woman: And I recognize you. The music room. My name is Eileen, by the way. Your friends just barely saved you and came to me for help, looking for Ellison.

Teller: Ellison. You know him?

Eileen: He was my husband. Came back to Port Royal a broken man, and no one was there to comfort him but me. He told me stories about his life as a pirate. Strange stories that I never quite believed until he began to share secrets with me. The same secrets that kept you alive after your scuffle with Adrian.

Teller: What happened?

Eileen: Ellison fell ill. He died peacefully in his sleep not long ago, leaving me the burden of being the last person to bear the Bates name in Port Royal - a name that I wasn't born to.

Teller: I'm so sorry.

Eileen hangs her head low for a moment.

Eileen: At any rate, you should make a full recovery soon enough. You have Ellison to thank for that.

Teller, with great effort, rises from his back and sits on the bed. The others are sleeping in chairs and sofas around the room. Eileen assists him.

Eileen: I said you'd recover soon enough, not that you had already recovered.

Teller: I need to ask you something, and I'll understand if you can't give me an answer.

Eileen: Whatever you came all this way for - whatever you risked your lives for - I think it's worth the best answer I can give.

Teller: Ellison was one of Adrian's officers. Did you know that?

Eileen: I know about his involvement with that blaggard.

Teller: Then you must have heard stories about the things Adrian can do. That he can't die.

Eileen: Aye.

Teller: Did Ellison ever tell you why that is? Did he even know Adrian's secret?

Eileen sighs and sits with Teller on the bed.

Eileen: Ellison knew, all right. He told me stories. Secrets about the crew, about the Shadow Song, about Adrian. He told me about one night, in the spring, when they traveled to the place they called home for so many years. That dark place in the corner of the world where Hell meets Earth, where God cannot reach so he may purge the land of its taint. Where they did something that left them both scarred for the rest of their mortal lives; not just their bodies, but their minds. That night, Adrian sacrified his own soul so that he may trap the spirits of those he kills and use them as his own, to prolong his miserable life of misery and bloodshed.

Teller: How... how did he do this?

Eileen: His fetish.

Teller: I don't need to know about that. I need to know how he's been trapping spirits to-

Eileen: Yes, his fetish. Some sort of object close to him that's harboring the souls of those he's killed. Destroy this fetish and he's powerless.

Teller: Did Ellison ever mention what this fetish was?

Eileen: Nay, never. But I reckon if you want to find out what it is, you'll need to travel to where it all started.

Teller: And where is that?

Eileen frowns.

Eileen: Poveglia.

Scene 3 - Restless Dreams

POVEGLIA, THE SPRING OF 1748, TWO YEARS BEFORE ADRIAN'S COUP AND THE HEIGHT OF HIS SADISTIC REIGN OF TERROR IN THE ADRIATIC. The small island of Poveglia is comprised mostly of green pastures, and at its center is a modest town from which Adrian and his crew base their operations. The most prominent of all the buildings in the town is a large bell-tower, situated next to a delapidated asylum.

It is a sunny day in Poveglia, though the air is heavy as it always is. No birds sing their songs of joy and peace, the breeze is calm, and few of the pirates there say much more than simple whispers. The Adipocere, then known as the Shadow Song, is docked at the shore. An average sized man with red hair emerged from its hull, a beaked mask concealing his face. He strides quickly through the town and enters the old asylum next to the bell-tower.

Navigating the winding halls for several minutes, the man finally arrives at a large room on the top floor of the asylum, Adrian's office. Inside, the captain is quietly conversing with another individual, too softly to be heard from outside. He knocks twice.

Adrian (from within): Enter.

The man enters. Standing behind his desk is Adrian, a tall, lean man with black hair and streaks of blonde and silvery blue eyes. He wears a dusty brown jacket over a simple blue and white striped shirt, along with black pants and muddy boots. A wide-brimmed black gaucho sits on his desk idly, along with his plague mask and a goblet of rum with what appears to be peppers dissolving in it.

On the other side of the desk is a strange woman in elaborate clothing of obeah nature. Her skin is deathly pale and her eyes a sort of otherwordly black, as if peering into the void itself. Her long, frizzy ginger hair is partially covered by a strange purple and black top hat. Her age is impossible to tell. It is hardly as if she is a person at all, simply a fact of life that men ponder the nature of but could never understand, like the passage of time or the clapping of thunder. Both turn to look at the man as he enters.

Adrian: Ah, Ellison. Come in. Our guest has arrived.

Ellison steps into the office and removes his mask, setting it on the table beside Adrian's. He remains standing next to the priestess, slightly unnerved by her presenece. She senses this.

Ellison: I hope she has enjoyed her accomodations here.

Priestess (seductively): Indeed.

Adrian: This is Maman Brigitte, the priestess we sent for. I was just recalling the lengths we went to in order to gain an audience with her. I'm sure the end will justify the means, as it were.

Maman (amused): Your satisfaction from this transaction will depend solely on your commitment to attaining what it is you seek so deeply.

Adrian: I assure you, for my prize there's no cost too great.

Maman: And what is your prize, ti kras kòk?

Adrian: My prize? My prize is what every man seeks but few are willing to admit to wanting. The ability to explore the world as I please with no inhibitions, to seek every treasure lost in time. To conquer time.

Maman: Immortality is a prize few have received, and one that has led many men to ruin. But they did not have Maman Brigitte's counsel, hmm?

Maman turns to Ellison.

Maman: Your captain seeks to cheat death. What is it you want?

Ellison: To help the captain cheat death, of course.

Maman: A selfless answer, and one I do not believe.

Ellison: Fate led me to him, and it is destiny that I should help him in any way I can.

Maman: You believe fate to be a flowing river, then? Then you must know we will drown if we do not learn to swim.

Scene 4 - Legacy

1750, THE ADRIATIC, THREE WEEKS AFTER THE SKIRMISH AT PORT ROYAL. Teller awakes with a jump from a deep sleep. He clutches his chest. His wound seems to have miraculously disappeared, but it still courses with an otherwordly pain on occasion.

Ariana: Land ho!

Teller grabs his dagger and Adrian's spyglass from under his bed and rushes up to the deck. The Gangrene is quickly approaching an eerie island in the distance under the captivating setting sun. The dark waves crash violently against the shore and carry the pirates ever closer. Richard and Zoomer stand at the rails as Teller joins them from below. They can just barely spot a bell-tower and some buildings on the island.

Teller: This is the destination, then?

Ariana climbs down from the crow's nest and joins the others.

Ariana: Aye, this is Poveglia, if Eileen's bearing was correct.

Richard: Bring everyone ashore. We'll need all the help we can get.

Zoomer: What kind of resistance are you expecting? The island looks like it's been abandoned for years.

Richard: Zoomer, when have you encountered a ghost town that wasn't dangerous?

Teller: He has a point.

Ariana: I will rouse the crew.

Ariana begins barking orders to her crew. Several dinghies are hoisted up to the deck and prepped for sail.

Richard: Will you be alright, Teller? You've hardly been in a condition to walk until last week.

Teller: I'll manage. We've come this far, it's time to get to the bottom of this.

The pirates make their slow approach to Poveglia. Ghost town was exactly right; hardly anything seems to be alive, and most of the grass is dead aside from a few patches of dark green. The only sign of movement is the stirring of tiny crabs in the sand, scurrying around the shore in search of easy meals washed up by the waves. In minutes, the crew steps on to the island with the Gangrene anchored offshore. Many of them are visibly bothered by an invisible presence on the island that makes their hairs stand up and sends shivers down their spines.

Teller: This place feels... familiar.

Zoomer: Bad sign.

Richard: Or perhaps a good one, in our case.

Ariana, Richard, Teller, and Zoomer lead the crew to the town at the center of the island, leaving behind several pairs of winding footprints. The crew split up and explore the town's many abandoned buidings, while Teller and his three allies head directly for the ominous bell-tower in the center. As they push open the ancient doors of the tower, a chilling cold seeps out from within that makes their very spirits stir. As they regain their senses, they notice a figure cloaked in darkness huddled in the shadows in the furthest corner of the large room. Strange markings are scribbled into the walls around the figure, who speaks in a shrill and ghostly tone.

Figure: At last, you come. I would say I have waited long for your arrival, but the passage of time has long been a trivial matter to me.

Teller: Pardon? Who are you?

The figure rises from their kneeling position. It is a woman with piercing white skin and eyes that seem to feed on what little light there is in the spacious tower. She is dressed in sorceress robes, adorned with animal scalps and teeth, all decayed by time.

Figure: I am Maman. I have seen your face before, and heard your name in hushed whispers, echoes from dreams that give me glimpes into the window of every possible future. We all walk our own paths in life and encounter great hardship, but you, Teller Lohand, seep with the embers of the dark and unknown.

Teller: How long have you been here, on Poveglia?

Maman: I arrived as soon as you did. But in truth I first came what seemed like decades ago, when times were simpler and our greatest adversaries were at least susceptible to the passage of time. Your adversary is not, but that has not always been the case.

Richard: You know of Adrian.

Maman chuckles. The air grows colder and heavier.

Maman: I knew him, though not like you do. He showed me all his secrets once, and gave me more than most could offer. In return I gave him what he so desired.

Ariana (accusatory): You're why bullets shatter on his skin, and steel slips off the clothes he wears.

Maman: You think I am responsible for making Adrian what he is? The fault is his own, but perhaps he shares it with his once-devoted comrade. Come, I must taste fresh air.

Maman emerges from the shadows and stalks past the pirates, paying the no mind as she floated like a spectre out into the dying sunlight. The rest of the crew gather to watch the spectacle as Teller and the others follow her outside. Maman turns to inspect Teller.

Maman: You carry something dark with you, a relic of another era that carries all the burden and bloodshed of its glory days. Show me.

Teller retrieves the small red spyglass from his pocket. In Maman's presence, it seems to sing a faint song of loss and hardship that none of them had heard before. The spyglass levitates from Teller's grasp and floats into Maman's hands.

Maman: You know this belonged to your enemy, yet you cling to it regardless. Explain.

Teller: It helps me.

Maman: For now. It has certainly helped Adrian.

She releases her grasp and the spyglass levitates back into Teller's hands. He stows it away once more.

Maman: Come. I will do you a favor, but I expect payment in return.

Teller: What payment?

Maman is silent. She sets off toward a small hill beyond the town, where a gaping entrance to parts unknown reveals itself. As the day nears its end, several pirates light torches light torches to guide the way. Teller brandishes one as he follows Maman into the cave.

The dark cave emanates a darkness even stronger than that of the town. There are echoes in this place, the frantic screams of the dead that persist after years of drifting in the black void. After several minutes, the pirates, led by Maman, reach the central chamber at the end of the cave. The ceiling rises and the floor abruptly drops. They are suddenly standing over a massive expanse filled to the brim with fleshy skeletons and other scattered remains unceremoniously buried here centuries ago. Maman travels to the center of the chamber, just over the bodies below, over a small dirt path. Many pirates rightfully choose to stay back. Teller, Richard, Zoomer, and Ariana steel themselves and follow Maman to the central platform over the sea of remains.

The central platform is adorned with an occult sigil drawn in dried blood, depicting strange arcane symbols derived from hearts, crosses, and hourglasses. Maman stands at the center of the sigil.

Maman: Stay back. You will watch and see.

The sigil glows red and Maman utters an incantation in her unholy tongue. The chamber begins to rumble, and rocks and unseen critters fall from the roof of the cave down into the remains below. Teller and the others dodge strange creatures as they fall and dissolve into the dirt.

Maman still stands at the sigil, but she is now accompanied by two others. Adrian is there now, accompanied by Ellison. In a stupor, Adrian holds only his plague mask. Ariana tries to rush forward, fooled by the illusion, but is stopped by Richard.

Maman: You claim you are ready to risk everything to live forever. To see all that life has to offer. To live as men are meant to live.

Adrian: Yes... I am ready.

Maman: Are you? Do you know the price of immortality?

Adrian: I know the price!

Maman: You lie, my child, my little black crow, but I forgive you. For you could never truly understand the cost of what you seek.

Adrian: NO! I KNOW THE PRICE! ELLISON KNOWS THE PRICE!

Ellison: I... I don't...

Maman: You will.

Maman throws her hands in the air. She speaks wicked words, curses invented by the darkest loa and spread among men by the ignorant and the evil. Indiscernible but absolute in both their intent and their weight. The skeletons in the chamber begin to slowly ascend into the air while the pirates cower in fear, staying firmly grounded. Adrian begins to rise with the dead while Maman and Ellison look upon him. As he drops his mask, Ellison picks it up from the ground and holds it up before the priestess.

Adrian begins to shake vigorously. The skeletons in the chamber sing a chorus of ancient evil and strife. Supernatural wind courses through the winding tunnels of the cave, centering around the focal point created by Maman's blood sigil. Ellison's hand twitches as drops of blood monotonously drip like tears of despair from his index finger. As the chorus and wind swell, Adrian's eyes glow a sinister green, and a purple haze escapes from his gaping mouth. As the haze hovers over the group, it warps and twists into a terrible creature of a million eyes and innumerable fangs and festers for a moment before descending back down, not returning to Adrian, but swelling around Maman as she consumes it whole, slowly and with great pleasure. At once, the chorus of the dead comes to a halt, and the spirits of the risen skeletons emerge and are at once absorbed by the mask in Ellison's hand.

Adrian falls back to the ground as the ritual comes to an end, slumping to his knees. Holding back tears, Ellison slowly places the mask on Adrian's face, and the vision ends. The pirates pant heavily as they stare in disbelief at Maman.

Richard: The mask...

Zoomer: Destroy the mask and... and then we can kill him? That's all?

Maman: It is a hopeless task. He has not only harvested the souls of those who died here, but those of all he has exerted his wrath upon since. If you try to kill him, you will fail.

Teller: Then why bring us here? Why show us all he went through, why reveal his weakness, just to tell us that our journey is fruitless?

Maman: Adrian knew the price. Now, so do you all of you. Follow his path. Forget your perilous mission and become what you were meant to be.

Ariana: So you can eat our souls and teach the next fools who come here how to kill us? Not likely!

Maman: You will bend to my will!

Maman utters a curse and the countless skeletons in the chamber stir with hatred once more, this time pursuing the pirates. Teller and the others sprint back towards the crew and flee out of the cave, the unlucky few who happened to trip inevitably being consumed by the skeleton horde. The pirates cling to their lives desperately, leaving the town and Maman behind and never looking back. Under the cover of the moonlight, they board their dinghies and shove off back to the Gangrene.

Scene 5 - The Usurper

The next morning, the Adipocere, accompanied by the Harkaway and the rest of the skeleton fleet, arrives at Poveglia and explore the town, following the Gangrene crew's trail. Adrian, Jolly Roger, General Hex, and Slappy disappear within the burial cave, which is littered with freshly disturbed remains. Adrian and Roger deliberate at the sigil.

Roger: Gone again, just outside your grasp. Perhaps yer precious trinket's led ye astray.

Adrian: Or perhaps the presence of your fleet alerted them, allowing them to escape.

Roger: Ye and the Gangrene's crew weren't doing the job, so I figured it was high time to bring in the big guns.

Adrian: I had them.

Maman: Or perhaps they had you.

The priestess appears in the shadows, just beyond the sigil.

Roger: What in the-

Adrian: You again. Why have you stayed here?

Maman: I have waited for your enemies for some time. I had hoped to give them the gift I had given you, but they... surprised me.

Adrian: What did you do?

Maman: I showed them the price of immortality, much like I showed you. But they saw a vision different from yours.

Adrian (grimly): You showed them... my ritual.

Maman nods.

Adrian (enraged): Then they saw! They know...

Maman: Yes. They know your secret.

Adrian: YOU HAVE RUINED ME!

Maman: No. You knew the price. You knew what would come...

Adrian draws his blade and grabs Maman furiously. Staring deeply into her black eyes from behind his expressionless mask, he drives his saber through her heart. She hisses furiously and scratches at him like an animal. As he pulls out his blade, her expression calms and she chuckes quietly. As Adrian backs off, blade at the ready, she utters a dark incantation, and his mask vibrates unnaturally for a moment.

Maman: When your blessing becomes your curse... remember my name.

Maman collapses, and as her body falls to the ground and disintegrates into cold ash, a cloud of bats manifests, screeching into Adrian's ear with fury before flying off into the darkness. The others look on in disgust as Adrian recomposes himself. Attempting to remove his beaked mask, he finds it is suddenly transfixed to his face by some dark spell, likely uttered by Maman in her final moments in the mortal world. He turns to Jolly Roger after cursing silently.

Adrian: We must keep moving. They'll be going back to Shipwreck Cove now.

Roger: Nay, Adrian. I didn't bring the fleet here to help you find your lost pups.

Adrian: Then why did you bring them?

Roger cackles as he grabs Adrian by the neck. His body begins to spasm as his limbs turn gangrenous and his flesh slowly peels.

Roger: Ye're no good to me alive anymore, but don't fret - bein' dead has its benefits! An' so does being Pirate King...

Slappy gasps and aims his blunderbuss at Jolly. Hex backhands him in Roger's defense, sending him to his knees. As Adrian struggles to get free from Jolly's skeletal grasp, he swings his sword wildly, eventually going limp. After a few moments of horrifying silence, he suddenly jerks back into motion and violently impales Roger in the stomach with his blade. He reels in pain and disbelief, dropping Adrian.

Roger: Impossible! I-I'm...

Adrian (panting): I had some time on my hands, waiting for you on Raven's Cove. A little bird told me the weapons there would help kill you. I knew I was right to trust her.

Roger: Ye'll pay fer this! I WILL COME BACK FOR YOU!

Jolly Roger, commander of the undead, dissipates into a green haze. As Slappy rises back to his feet, Hex freezes up.

Hex: I don't understand... I feel cold. My brothers and I are lost.

Adrian breathes deeply. One of his hands has decayed to bone, and beneath his cursed mask, half his face is covered in gangrenous flesh, but he is otherwise still in perfect health.

Adrian: Your people cannot act on their own. They need someone to guide them.

Hex nods.

Adrian: Gather them at the shore.

Later, as ordered, Hex has gathered the undead army on the shore of Poveglia, the endless horde covering every inch of the island with countless more looking on from the fleet. Adrian addresses them from the top of the bell-tower.

Adrian: I am sure you have all felt it. Your commander, Jolly Roger, has finally passed on to the beyond. But you still remain. Lost, and without purpose. You are not ready to join him, yet. So I offer you an alternative: Join me, the rightful Pirate King, and take revenge on your enemies. The old Brethren, the English and their minions the East India Company, every Royal Navy crony and everything that lives that will not submit to us. We will destroy them all. Every last one of them!

The undead horde explodes in a hurricane of deplorable cheers. They have chosen their new commander.

Adrian: Then we sail! We sail until every light dies; starting with Shipwreck Cove.

Scene 6 - A Day Worth Living For

ONE WEEK LATER, SHIPWRECK COVE, THE CARIBBEAN. The town of Shipwreck is uncharacterisically silent. Hundreds of disparaged men and women, some retired pirates, some wealthy merchants, common criminals, and even some common folk all came to Shipwreck to escape the iron fist of the British Empire and their minions, the nefarious East India Company, but for the past few weeks have been enslaved by an even more deplorable, more authoritarian leader: the wretched Finn Hamm, now Adrian the Black, perpetrator of a violent coup against the Brethren Court.

Assuming leadership of the Court, which he renamed to the Brethren League, the former Pirate King and two of his closest allies fled the cove, and Adrian personally left the impenetrable walls of Shipwreck to hunt them down with his companion Slappy. Meanwhile, Jolly Roger's most sinister officers were left to keep the remaining Lords in line and govern the pirate haven with a tight grip. Since the undead commander's apparent death, Adrian assumed direct control of all undead and has telepathically commanded them all to enforce his rule even harsher. 

Now, the people of Shipwreck are living in fear and poverty, with daily killings in the cold streets. The detestable flag of the Brethren League, identical to the Court but reversed in color scheme, flies over the town, a constant reminder to its people that their best days are behind them.

In the deepest bowels of the fortress, within the hull of a wrecked ship, the island's prison is filled to the brim with the former Pirate Lords and those of their allies that were lucky enough to survive Adrian's rampage. Leonhard Bosch and Johnny Sea Slasher, skinny and pale, sit in one cell, facing Jeremiah Garland and Lawrence Ironhawk directly across. Bosch is grasping the bars of his cage while Sea Slasher sits in a corner, bored. An undead brigand patrols the block.

Bosch: Ay! Fiend!

Sea Slasher: Not again.

The brigand turns and stalks toward the cell.

Bosch: How much is your holiness Jolly Roger paying you to pace around in here while we starve?

Brigand: Ha! The old commander has passed to the beyond. We serve Adrian, and he pays us with the postponement of death.

Bosch: Postpone until I escape from this wretched cell and send you back to where you came?

Sea Slasher rises from his nap.

Sea Slasher (concerned): Did you say that Roger had died?

Garland and Ironhawk step up the bars as well.

Brigand: He is at rest. Much as you will be, soon.

Garland: I surely doubt that. Had Adrian desired our death we'd be rotting right now, not lazing around in this prison.

Brigand: Perhaps he thinks a quick and painless death would be too merciful for your likes.

Ironhawk (annoyed): Why are we arguing with a mindless drone now? Please, let me decay in peace.

Bosch: Nay. I want this fiend to recall his smugness when our captor is defeated and we walk as free men once more.

Sea Slasher: Not likely.

Bosch: Just you wait. As long as the true King lives, we have hope.

The brigand sneers, chuckles and walks away.

Bosch (concerned): Why are you laughing?

A cold night, clear and desolate on the sea. A portion of the undead fleet still sails beyond the walls of Shipwreck, patrolling the fortress as the remainder of the flotilla is dispatched elsewhere to aid its new commander. Admiral le Blanc paces on the deck of the Harkaway with his boney hands clasps behind his back. He is rather composed and worried compared to the other undead, as if he has retained some semblance of his past self unlike his inferiors. Perhaps this is why he has been elevated to such a rank. Le Lapon Rouge, le Blanc's right hand, approaches him from behind.

Blanc: What is it, captain?

Rouge: No sign of trouble in the town, sir. But we have not received a report from Adri-the new commander for some time, sir.

Blanc groans lowly, eyes still fixed on the cove.

Rouge: Take some men ashore to inspect the prisoners and the powder reserves. Return within the hour.

Rouge bows respectfully, a decayed eye hanging from his decayed skull. He disappears in a puff of green haze. Blanc abruptly steps away from the rail of the Harkaway and stalks toward the starboard side, staring intently out into the sea. Some of the skeletons on board notice his sudden concern and join him in gazing out.

The silence is broken. Crashing out from the darkness of the sea as if materializing from nothing, the Gangrene begins blasting at both the Harkaway and the other adjacent ship. Blanc is stumbled on to his rear and several undead are utterly destroyed by the savage broadside that rips the Harkaway's hull to shreds. Quickly reloading and before the rest of the fleet can react, the Gangrene lets loose another pair of broadsides, decimating two more vessels. As the brig races toward the Cove, Blanc quickly jumps to his feet and commands the crew of the Harkaway, the last standing ship of those targeted by the Gangrene's ambush.

Blanc: FOLLOW THAT SHIP!

On the deck of the Gangrene, Ariana mans the wheel. They sail at breakneck speed towards the fortress and quickly approach the cove's only entrance bar hidden docks: the gaping maw that leads directly to the main port. Richard races up to the wheel as they approach the dangerous maw.

Richard: Careful! If we make our approach too quickly, we'll be ripped to shreds!

Ariana: I fear no undead lackey!

Richard: The skeletons will be the last of our problems if we can't get into the cove in one piece...

Ariana narrows her eyes. The Gangrene slows ever so slightly as it penetrates the maw, steadily disappearing into the cave. The crew look up in terror at the sharp stalactites hanging from the roof of the cave like carniverous teeth. After several moments of tensity and grown men shaking in their boots, the Gangrene edges into the cove and sails up to the dock. Several undead immediately take notice and race to the island's defense.

The crew quickly jump from the deck on to the docks and draw their weapons. Teller leaps into battle and tussles with a pair of rotting raiders, saving one of the pirates from an unsavory death. Richard draws his broadsword and enters the conflict with Zoomer taking shots at the undead from the deck. As a dagger-brandishing skeleton takes aim at him and prepares to throw, Ariana leaps from the Gangrene and slashes it as she falls, rolling to break her fall.

Teller: To the prisons!

The crew cheers, following Teller into battle. Zoomer slides off the deck and follows the disgruntled mob of buccaneers. Shocked undead pour out from every corner of the shaken town, all taken by surprise by the liberators and falling with hardly a fight. The crowd rushes deeper into the cove into its dimly lit winding internal halls. Brushing off interfering undead, they turn a sharp corner into the first cell block only to meet Le Lapon Rouge and a cadre of heavily armed skeleton officers pointing their swords directly at them, standing at the mouth of the large room.

Rouge: Not a step further!

Teller: This one still has a bit of an accent.

Rouge: Indeed! One of the many things I have retained since my passing, along with my bitter disdain of every man who walks this accursed world. The day I died in glorious battle is one I shall never forget.

Zoomer: If you enjoy losing so much, just wait until I get my hands on you!

Zoomer fires a quick shot at the undead officer, barely missing. Rouge's tall and regal hat is blown off, offending him. The pirates rush the skeletons with determination in their eyes.

Rouge: Show no mercy!

Rouge and his skeletons charge into battle. He locks blades with Teller, pushing against each other wrathfully for several moments before relenting, lunging back and extending his blade in defense.

Rouge: You've a look of audacity, for a breathing man!

Teller: I can't say the same for you.

He lunges forward and keeps the heat on Rouge as the other pirates fend off his skeletons. Zoomer bashes the head of one of their heads in with his musket and continues firing carefully into the mob. Ariana dances across the battlefield, jumping from one undead foe to another and keeping them all on their guard. Richard quickly dispatches one skeleton and moves to another, severely denting their numbers. He notices one of the men being cornered and rushes to his aid, but is moments too late; the pirate is impaled by a cackling brigand. Another pirate charges the undead killer and slays him in revenge.

Rouge and Teller continue to duel. Rouge's consummate grace and skill is impressive for a skeleton, but Teller is emboldened and bears and invincible will. When the officer's guard finally drops for a split second, he swipes wildly at his neck, slicing his rotted head right off. As his body topples to the ground and shatters into pieces, Teller grins and charges into the cell block. As the others quickly follow him and slay the one undead guard within, the imprisoned Lords cheer for them.

Bosch (to Sea Slasher): I told you!

Garland: You're... alive! We thought you were long dead.

Richard: Have faith, my friends. Tonight, we restore our honor.

Teller snatches the keys from the fallen guard and begins to free the Pirate Lords. Sea Slasher gratuitously shakes his hand as he leaves his cell. The pirates quickly leave the cell block and walk into the open, not facing much undead resistance.

Ironhawk: We must convene the true Court to decide our next course of action.

All jump in terror as a massive blast shakes the fortress to its core.

Ariana: If I may, perhaps now is not the best time for a formal meeting.

Ironhawk: But-

Richard: This way!

Richard leads the pirates up to the ramparts overlooking the entire cove and the surrounding sea. As suspected, the undead fleet in all its nefarious glory has arrived. Behind the first line of skeleton ships is the Adipocere, eratically sailing back and forth like a predator preparing to pounce. It grows noticeably colder.

Garland: The League has come to defend their honor.

Richard: We'll dispatch what we can to hold them off.

Teller: We should take the Gangrene to finish this now!

Richard places a hand on Teller's shoulder.

Richard: No, Teller. You have led us remarkably until now, but you mustn't let your personal vendetta against Adrian to endanger the entire fortress. Besides, we'd be blasted out of the water. The Adipocer isn't the only ship out there.

Bosch: We need to arm the defensive cannons. Only so many attackers can teleport here at once. If the fleet is able to land, we'll be dead to rights.

Teller: The Gangrene may be the only ship able to stand against the Adipocere.

Richard: If we arm the guns, could you cover our counterattack?

Garland: You can count on us, Richard.

Richard nods in appreciation. Bosch turns to the other pirates and begins to bark orders to man the guns as blasts from the fleet shake the fortress.

Richard: We need a few good men who are ready to face death for our cause to accompany us into battle. Who will serve alongside us?

The crew of the Gangrene shifts awkwardly.

Teller: We'll sift through all the able-bodied. Surely we'll be able to convince enough to crew a boarding party..?

They set about recruiting willing men to crew the Gangrene. First, though, Ironhawk approaches Zoomer with something in his hand.

Ironhawk: I see you've maintained your good taste in firearms.

Teller: Of course.

Ironhawk: In that case, and given the rumors you're facing a foe with a certain... supernatural inclination, I thought you should have these. I doubt I'll need them.

Lawrence Ironhawk hands Zoomer a handful of gleaming bullets. Zoomer nods in appreciation.

Scene 7 - All Come to Ruin

Beyond Shipwreck Cove, a dozen or so loyal Brethren ships crewed by liberated pirates sail into glorious battle. Much of the massive undead fleet is unprepared to defend against the counterattack, but the lightning fast Adipocere fires constant deathly accurate volleys at the defending ships, keeping them from making any real dents into the fleet.

Abruptly, the Gangrene slips out of cover and begins firing broadsides into the fleet, making sure to stay just close enough to the island to avoid the Adipocere's volleys in an attempt to bait it out. As the defensive cannons of the fortress become operational and begin to pepper the fleet, the Adipocere remains comfortably behind the first line of undead ships.

The cannons from the fortress pick up in intensity. The undead fleet continues to be chipped away at. In response, small groups of skeletons are teleported inside at once in hopes of shutting down the cannons, one of which is defended by Bosch and another by Garland and Lawrence. Bosch and his men defend their gun valiantly, though more and more undead materalize in waves every few minutes.

Bosch: Find your courage, men! Our freedom will not be impeded by these demons from Hell!

Slappy: You will eat those words, Leonhard.

Slappy, joined by a pair of more skeletons, draws his cutlass and takes aim at Bosch, who, enraged, prepares to settle an old debt.

Elsewhere in the cove, Garland and Ironhawk defend another gun with their lives. As they slay waves upon waves of heinous skeletons, the towering giant General Hex looms into battle, sneering with hatred.

Meanwhile, the undead fleet is withering away thanks to the combined efforts of the remaining guns and the Gangrene's incessant broadsides. In time, the Adipocere is left with no choice but to charge into battle, followed closely by Admiral le Blanc on the Harkaway.

The sloop-of-war charges into range with the Gangrene, keeping its broadside aimed. Immediately, it fires a volley of cannonfire at the Gangrene, tearing into its hull and sending several pirates overboard. Teller clutches the rail of the Gangrene and looks up to Ariana at the helm.

Teller: We may have overestimated our firepower!

On the Adipocere, Adrian stares with contempt at the Gangrene, which frantically swerves to avoid the sloop's constant fire. le Blanc teleports next to him from the partially damaged Harkaway.

Blanc: How shall we proceed?

Adrian: Cease fire and prepare to board. With their champions dead, their hope will crumble into pieces.

le Blanc nods and returns to the Harkaway. The helmsman of the Adipocere swerves portside and moves in closer to the Gangrene. Thinking quickly, Teller grabs the spyglass from his pocket and gazes through it directly into Adrian's eyes. Sensing his gaze, Adrian turns to meet him. The Gangrene disappears for a split second but is immediately revealed once more as the Adipocere rams directly into its hull. Its skeleton crew grapples aboard as the pirates prepare for battle.

Bosch and Slappy violent clash blades. Slappy appears unrefined, slashing in wide, arcing blows, but his wild style makes him unpredictable and difficult to time counterstrikes. Bosch stays close to him, however, swiping away his blows and attempting to edge through his erratic defense.

Slappy breaks off from the duel, feigning surrender. However, from his pocket he begins to throw small incendiary bombs at the wooden buildings around the cannon. Bosch takes it as a simple distraction and keeps the heat on Slappy, figuratively.

Both Garland and Ironhawk engage Hex at the same time. His massive spiked broadsword is able to contend with both pirates at once. The two are beginning to tire from the draining concentration. Meanwhile, more skeletons continue to pour in, assaulting the cannon. The gunner manning it is overrun and killed without the two Lords' defense.

The red-eyed undead crew of the Adipocere leaps on to the Gangrene. Though bold and ready, the pirates on the Gangrene were not prepared for the sheer savagery of the Adipocere's crew, who are further empowered by Adrian's dark gaze. Zoomer initially fires standard rounds at the unholy foes, but quickly realizes his error; he loads his musket with Lawrence's silver bullets and takes aim once more. The empowered skeletons immediately grind to ash upon being shot by the special ammunition, but Zoomer can only fire so often as the crew holds their ground.

Ariana abandons the wheel and enters the grand battle, joined by Teller and Richard. Teller dances around the battlefield, mostly throwing the invulnerable foes on to their rears to allow Zoomer to finish them. He is distracted however, keeping on lookout for the real enemy. Standing at the center of the Gangrene, it appears for a moment he's about to be overwhelmed by the undead; they relent and step aside, however, as their captain enters the fray. Teller and Adrian stare into each others' eyes, singularly focused on each other. Teller notices Adrian's skeletal hand.

Adrian: You should have taken Brigitte's offer. It might have put off your death a bit longer.

Teller: I'd rather keep my mortal soul than be locked in a battle with you of all people for an eternity!

Adrian quickly steps forward, brandishing his sabre in one hand and staff in the other.

Adrian (vengefully): Your vainglorious gasconade of a man staring in the face of death is at an end.

Slappy and Bosch's duel is nearing an end. Try as he may, Bosch has been unable to penetrate Slappy's unpredictable defense, and his own is now slowly breaking. Grunting and panting, his sword suddenly slips from his hand. Slappy slashes wildly, just barely gracing Bosch's face. Clutching his wounded right eye, he falls to the ground in pain. An unnatural pain courses through his veins as Slappy looks at him in amusement. The cannon Leonhard had been defending is slowly being overrun by skeletons.

Garland and Ironhawk continue to fend off Hex, slaying interfering skeletons hovering around the confrontation looking for an opening. As the undead bombardment resumes, the two pirates leap to cover at the sound of an incoming shot. Hex grunts in confusion moments before he is swallowed by a massive explosion, a blast fired from a randomly firing undead warship outside. Ironhawk breathes a sigh of relief before helping Garland up, and the two rush to defend the closest remaining gun.

Adrian charges Teller in a furious onslaught, his impressive handling of the blade paired with his insatiable rage making him a force to be reckoned with. Teller recalls his previous confrontations with Adrian; both times he had been accompanied by close, skilled allies, but now he faces his nemesis alone. As he just barely blocks swipe after swipe, he begins to grow cold and tired. He tries to lead his strikes toward his enemy's face, aiming for the mask, but Adrian easily brushes away each cut. One could surmise from Teller's face that the weight of the battle is beginning to weigh on him; with each clashing of his blade with Adrian's, he doubts whether it is worth continuing. Adrian realizes this and laughs madly, but does not relent for one moment. His hour of victory is upon him.

Slappy looms over Leonhard, circling him and soaking in his pain.

Slappy: Do you feel that, Leon? How many of your regrets do you recall once more in your final moments, as death draws closer?

He raises his cutlass in the air and prepares to strike. Two pairs of footsteps rush from the hallway before Slappy delivers the death blow, and he flings himself to the left to avoid an impending strike from behind. Ironhawk slashes where Slappy had been a split second prior, then helps the convulsing Bosch from the ground. Garland takes hold of him and helps him limp to the nearest doctor. Lawrence is left to finish Slappy, who welcomes the confrontation.

Slappy: How like him to depend on his friends for help!

Lawrence takes out a flintlock from his coat pocket and fires at his new foe, nearly grazing his shoulder. Slappy's expression changes into one of surprise.

Ironhawk: Please.

Adrian is in full control of his battle with Teller, if it could be called a battle. Several scratches burned into Teller's skin, and the pain began to reinforce his growing doubt that he would survive this fruitless duel. Adrian bashes Teller's face with the hilt of his blade, knocking him off the deck of the Gangrene and down on to the Adipocere with an audible thud. With his back aching in pain, Teller desperately crawls away from Adrian, who jumps down and prepares to drive his blade through his prey's back, kicking Teller's golden dagger away from reach.

Zoomer, who has now defeated a respectable amount of the empowered skeletons, takes notice of the duel and rushes to the rail, steeling himself and taking aim at Adrian. Richard and Ariana move toward the rail of the Gangrene as well, covering Zoomer from the remaining boarders whom the pirates have resorted to wrestling with in an attempt to throw them overboard. Adrian's staff glows brightly for a split second and he immediately side steps, the speeding silver bullet zooming past him and nearly hitting the cowering Teller. Adrian turns and aims his staff at Zoomer in response as he frantically reloads his musket.

Lawrence and Slappy clash blades. Lawrence fights similarly to Slappy, wildly and always shifting focus between offense and defense, and while he has learned to combat equal opponents, Slappy has not. As his flames consume the buildings around him, he is forced into a pure defense, which slowly withers. Without warning, the flames reach the nearby powder reserve, and the kegs within burst gloriously, swallowing the surround area in a sea of wrathful fire. Mortified, Slappy stumbles and falls into the all-consuming flames. Ironhawk quickly lunges back and rushes to find Garland and Bosch.

Zoomer quickly reloads his musket while Adrian's staff crackles and hums with otherwordly power, preparing to unleash a wave of violent energy.

Adrian (amused): Zoomer, you wound me. I thought after all this time, you'd have learned not to waste your shot on a man who cannot die.

Adrian holds his hands out in suspense as he prepares to release the blast from his staff, almost welcoming another shot. Zoomer finishes reloading, and, holding his breath, fires directly at Adrian and hits him in the chest. He immediately falls to his knees and clutches his ribcage. To his horror, his chest begins to sizzle and catches fire. He gasps in pain as the righteous flame burns him from the inside. He drops his weapons and desperately rises again, writhing in agony as he reaches for his staff while Zoomer reloads once more.

Teller searches around for his dagger but finds nothing; nothing, that is, except for a sharp wooden splinter from the Gangrene, one of the many that were ripped from its hull when the Adipocere collided with it. He grabs the miniature stake and limps toward Adrian who is frantically grabbing for his staff.

As 'Teller steps up close to Adrian, he notices him and raises his hand in defense, as if preparing to defend himself hand-to-hand. Teller wastes no time, however, raising the splinter high and stabbing it into Adrian's mask with great force. The searing flame glows brighter and turns a dark blue as Adrian claps his face in terror.

The beaked mask turns to ash, and a magnitude of colorful wisps instantly escape from it, as if seeping out from Adrian's mouth. His face is a monstrosity; it is mostly decayed and purely skeletal in certain places. His silver eyes are sullen and a wrathful crimson, though they turn to a look of terror as he realizes what has happened.

The wisps linger in the air for several seconds before floating down to the ground, surrounding Adrian. Teller races back to the Gangrene, helped up by Zoomer. The skeleton boarders have all been dispatched or pushed into the sea, unable to rejoin the fight. The pirates watch in bewilderment as the forms take shape; black silhouetted figures with red eyes emanating a myriad of various vibrant colors, all staring coldly at Adrian, who rises to look upon them defiantly as he pants for breath.

Adrian (with vitriol): You... you have already died. You can no longer harm me. You never could! YOU WERE ALL TOO WEAK!

Teller understands. The spirits he has captured and stored in his cursed mask have been released and have one last matter to attend to before passing on to the beyond. One spirit, who glows a vivid sea green, steps up to confront Adrian, its expression and intent unknown.

Spirit: These are not your words. You have been corrupted. It pains me to see you like this.

The spirit's words are smooth and comforting, reverberating with a ghostly echo. Its form unfolds, and beneath its shadow Elena, his first and only love, appears in her vibrant form. Teller recalls her merciless death at his hands back at Raven's Cove. She steps up to him slowly and caresses his face. His expression calms as he stares into her eyes, which glimpse into the infinite knowledge of the universe.

Two more forms unfold, another woman and a man. Both look vaguely familiar to Teller. Then he soaks in the features of their faces and sees them to combined to form Adrian's broken and confused countenance.

Woman: We love you.

Man: We miss you.

Adrian continues to stare into Elena's entrancing eyes. He is lost. The vitriol in his expression has faded, and he simply looks confused and regretful. The other spirits unfold as well. As a single tear falls from his sunken right eye, he reaches out his hand and attempts to touch Elena once more. Before his hand rests on her, once more, her silhouette holds and is obscured once more. Her irate red eyes blare into his soul as she hisses mightily and disappears into his body.

His mother and father follow her example, twisting into creatures of darkness and wrath and floating into his body. Soon, the rest of the spirits return to their shadowy forms as well and one by own float into the air, float for a moment, then rush into vessel. He writhes in terror, his vision obscured by countless colors that stain his senses and shake him to his core. The pirates back away in concern for their health.

A great wind picks up and centers around Adrian. With the dread of a hundred dying men in his pitiful eyes, he drops to his knees and absorbs the final spirit. He stares up at Teller and the others briefly, silently pleading for help. The moment he realizes his plead is futile, a flurry of color explodes from his body, forcing the pirates to cover their eyes. With a mighty crash, the massive cloud of spirits violent explodes in all directions, splitting the Adipocere in two and dragging it down to the bottom of the ocean.

The countless restless spirits trapped for so long by the mask of terror finally pass on to the void, taking their captor, Adrian, with them.

By morning, Teller, Richard, Ariana, and Zoomer return to Shipwreck Cove after a night devoid of sleep. The entire fortress is a smoldering mess, seemingly beyond repair. The raging fire was put out overnight by the living pirates, but had left a permanent mark on the island that may never be healed. Richard and his comrades, accompanied by the remaining Pirate Lords (including the healed Leonhard Bosch, now sporting a right eye patch), return to the ruined meeting hall of the Brethren Court after taking down the wretched flag of the failed Brethren League. They do not replace it with the old flag of the Court.

Richard inspects the meeting hall, depressed. He remembers how ambitious the Court had been once, with its mighty Lords imposing limitless fear on the entire world. He knew it would not last forever, but had always assumed their end would come at the hands of their sworn enemy, the British, not one of their own, most trusted members.

Ariana is seemingly the only one with an optimistic expression.

Ariana: Why aren't we celebrating? We've won!

Richard is silent. He cannot meet her eyes, nor can any of the others.

Ariana: Richard... you're going to be King again! No one will oppose your rule!

Richard (solemnly): I can't.

Ariana (almost offended): You can't? What do you mean, you can't?

Richard: I've failed. It was my oversight that led us all to our ruin. I can't go on like this. I've done enough.

Ironhawk: The fault is not your own, Richard.

Ariana: Surely one of you will be willing to take his place.

None of them answer for some time. All but Teller only stare silently at the ground, and all he can offer her is a sympathetic gaze.

Ariana: You're the Pirate Lords! You're the terrors of the seven seas and you're quitting now? When our way of life is almost dead and gone?

Sea Slasher: What is our way of life? Sailing the sea and living as free men with no obligations or worries? That life has been dead for a long time.

Some of the other Lords nod sadly. Ariana is fuming.

Ariana: You are all cowards! If we are to be a dying breed, it is your fault alone!

Ariana storms out of the meeting hall. Richard rises silently from his seat.

Teller: What will you do now?

Richard: The world has seen enough of me. I will go where I can disappear quietly into the night, and in time fade from the memory of those who knew me. And what of you, Teller Lohand, slayer of Adrian and savior of a dying dream? Will you be the last beacon of light in the darkness?

Teller (quietly): I don't know. I... I just don't know.

Richard nods and pats Teller on the back.

Richard: You will find the answer. You always have, in these short months that I've known you. I think you were the only one Adrian feared, in the end. The one person whose spirit he could not crush if he truly put his mind to it.

Richard looks at the others silently and nods, expressionless, and walks out of the meeting hall slowly. Teller looks hopefully at the others. As he looks into the blank expressions of the last living Pirate Lords, the hope in his eyes disappears.

Epilogue

A feathered quill writes delicately into a fat open book in a dimly lit room, the windows closed. An unseen individual speaks the words he writes aloud, his voice gruff and damaged from age and the scars of battle.

Voice: Richard Cannonwalker, the last Pirate King, got what he wanted. He left the Caribbean and never came back, hoping desperately that he had traveled far enough that no one would ever recognize him.

A blurry vision depicts a man with a large black beard and ragged clothes, living out his days as a hermit in a small hut on a lush island. The locals speak of him only in hushed whispers. There are many rumors surrounding him, each further from the truth than any of them could imagine.

Voice: He grew old, and learned to forget his past. Others did not.

An elderly Richard looks up calmly as a man cloaked in shadow approaches him with his blade drawn.

Voice: Ariana, with her sense of betrayal staying alight like a blaze in the darkness, attempted in vain to unite the last pirates. No one recognized her rule as the next Pirate Queen, much less joined her.

Ariana is seen returning to Shipwreck Cove years after the attack, only to find it the same smoldering mess it had been when she left, and all of its residents had left in search of greener pastures.

Voice: Perhaps Zoomer would have lent her his aid, had the circumstances been different. When the Court disbanded, he embarked on a perilous voyage back to his homeland in far-off Cuba in search of the source of a deep-seated longing that had been festering within him for some time; a voyage that would test him like no other.

Zoomer steps boldly on to the shores of Cuba, walking up the beach to an old shack.

Voice: With no Lords to support her, Ariana went on a warpath. She hunted down the remaining corsairs with a vengeance and became the spitting image of her demented brother, whom she had sorely wished she'd been the one to kill all those years ago. Teller regretted gifting her Hamm's old spyglass every day since.

Ariana the Dreadful commands a crew of cursed men, bearing a silver necklace that pulses with the souls of the dead.

Voice: And what of Teller, the man who gave them all hope in their darkest hour but wouldn't be remembered like history like they were? Did he follow the same path as his contemporaries, fleeing his old life in search of something new in a race against time?

Leonhard Bosch frantically writes a memoir which no one will read, his hair gray and his skin pale. He races against the ticking of the clock, much like Jeremiah Garland, who manages to find a sense of belonging elsewhere in the world and dies defending it.

Voice: No. Teller used what he learned in those short months of turmoil and did the best he could to do better than those he had seen suffer under the weight of their regrets. He never forgot their sacrifices, nor his own.

A vision shows Teller standing before a great army of undead, battered but far from total defeat. As they bow before him, he commands them all to do the unthinkable: Move on. He looks hopefully up into the sky as thousands of spirits depart from the mortal world. Then, an elderly Teller is smoking a pipe in a rocking chair beside a fireplace, looking out at a small and prosperous town in the wilderness where men in blue coats laugh with the locals.

Voice: They had all found peace in their own way, whether it came from forgetting their past or embracing it. But perhaps none more so than the man whose resolve to live they had gravely underestimated from the beginning.

The speaker sets aside his quill pen and rises from his chair, leaving the book open. Slappy takes a sip of warm tea and chuckes to himself.


THE END.

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