25 Dembris, 1498
Sailed out of Firstclaw at six bells of morning. Charted course around the Sea of Shards, bound for Low Simurgh, then High. With fair winds, I expect to reach L.S. port in 16 days.
Personally observed sacrifices to Jujani and Poseidon to ensure safe winds and currents. First Mate Demers reports on sacrifice offered to Ralauni. Apparently, a red eyed viper crawled onto the altar while our offering of silver was melting in the flames. A bad omen; I would delay the journey, but Her Majestrix craves our cargo most urgently.
Will double the watch, especially when drawing near the Shrapnels. Pirates would be fools to engage Menace, but then, piracy is scarcely a career for the wise, nor the prudent.
26 Dembris, 1498
Personally inspected cargo to confirm manifest. 13 tons of sugar; 10 tons of rum; 3 tons of textiles and precious moveables, 27 tons of Ovindi lumber; 45 tons of guano and dried saltpeter; and 750 slaves of mixed races, weight approximately 25 tons.
All accounted for, except I received notification that the slave merchants did not supply adequate fresh water for their cargo. Ordinarily none of my concern; however, given the omen Demers described during the sacrifice to Ralauni, I fear the possibility of revolt, should the slaves be made to suffer thirst.
If no alternative solution presents itself, will reduce standard water rations to slaves and lower crew.
27 Dembris, 1498
Favourable winds. Cleared the Manticore before midday. Confirmed passenger manifest — potentially good news: a cleric of Ulcis is on board. Since the Red Twin is in decline, this priest’s advice may not be pertinent to our journey; none the less, I feel reassured to know we have a servant of sun aboard — even the darker of Allu’s two suns may still offer a guiding light in difficult times.
In addition, this cleric may be able to generate the fresh water we need to keep the slaves alive and appeased. I will beseech this favour from him personally as soon as occasion permits.
28 Dembris, 1498
Crew unnerved by prolonged bellowing sounds below decks. Investigation revealed that the Brothers Marl, bounty hunters from the Heartwater, are transporting several prisoners, including an unruly minotaur. He is kept well chained; I instructed the Brothers to muzzle him as well.
Am honestly more concerned about their other prisoner, a sudur. I have read that alchemists from the Maelstrom can adapt the elements to suit their will. It may be unwise to steer close to the Tarat coast, where the elements are most unstable.
No contact with the Ulcis priest yet. He keeps to his cabin, even when summoned to table.
29 Dembris, 1498
Gained the Tarat Current at six bells, as plotted. The Skull reports fire is dominant along the Changing Coast, which means our sudur prisoner should not pose a problem. The chained bull bellows on, alas.
Thus far, only our passengers (and their bounties) have been vexing. The cleric still keeps cabin. And now a cartographer, Iveana of the Dremven, comes to me with papers from the Claw, demanding that we slow The Menace periodically along the Shrapnels to facilitate her scribblings.
I suspect forgeries; but regardless, I told her no delay would occur while we lacked conjurations of fresh water.
30 Dembris, 1498
More disruptions, this time from the crew.
The fire geysers along the Changing Coast are especially bright, owing perhaps to Ulcis’s declining position on the Rim. The crew have become anxious about the cleric in Berth Seven, having heard of his connection to the capricious Red Twin. And many now refuse to enter the lower deck, on account of the minotaur prisoner’s howls and shouts.
To disabuse the crew, I have ordered both cleric and prisoner to be brought up to the gun deck tomorrow at white dawn. The crew can show their contrition to the priest, and regain their spines by mocking the chained bull. This will restore the power aboard ship, and let the crew feel once again upon a safe thread.
Until all this nonsense is resolved, I have ordered Demers to remain tight-lipped about the water shortage. No word of it must reach the slaves in the hold.
31 Dembris, 1498
Blood on the deck at dawn. The procession of the Ulcis priest was suitably intimidating for the crew: the cleric, it turns out, is from the SeptI clan, and possessed of a singularly unsettling demeanour. I suspect now that it is our clans’ rivalries that has made the priest so reluctant to engage with me. Foolish, but not without merit, for it was indeed the mighty Rapti Empire who used the Sept’s black powder to conquer a third of the Rim.
The trouble arose with the second procession. The Brothers Marl hauled the enshackled minotaur onto the gun deck, but before the crew could begin petting offal at the brute, he snapped the chains binding his feet and charged across the deck, impaling one of the bounty hunters and pinning him to the mast. First Mate Demers acted quickly, binding the criminal with a Medusa Net. Others stepped in, once the creature was clearly helpless; but most of the crew were daunted, and by the time the one ambulatory Brother Marl managed to expedite the beast, the ship’s morale was heavily compromised.
The impaled passager will live, but may lose an arm. The cleric slunk back to his berth in the confusion. Our journey is halfway complete, and the New Year begins tomorrow — yet these bright omens cannot eclipse my dread. My dreams are haunted by white serpents with eyes that burn like the geysers of fire.
1 Jujanis, 1499
Ill-timed impertinence! Now, while I try to cope with paranoia and near-mutinous sentiments from the crew, the brazen cartographer, Iveana, confronts me while on watch, and has the impudence to demand that we alter our course once we pass the Changing Coast.
When I told her again that we could brook no delays, she had the audacity to threaten me with blackmail. In poor judgment, I mentioned to her that we were potentially low on water for the slaves; now, she implied that she would spread the secret below decks, if I did not accede to change course, just so she can chart some gods-forsaken island!
The last straw. Iveana has been confined to her berth, with Ensign Lonat guarding the door. In fact, I have cancelled captain’s table dining for the passengers and officers, and all other social activities as well. The only cure for unrest aboard ship is labour — under the watchful eye of an undisputed authority.
The next person to challenge — or threaten — Jujani’s hierarchy will dangle feet-first from the mizzen mast for their troubles.
2 Jujanis, 1499
At last, a modicum of good fortune comes my way—a potential distraction for the crew. Today, during patrol at six bells, I asked Demers to pass my his spyglass, and as he extracted it from his belt, the fool fumbled and dropped his pistol on the deck. Before anyone else could act, a rig slave dropped onto the deck from above and scooped up the pistol! It was the albino rat I purchased in Firstclaw, three years ago if I recall. A fine rigger. but I had often noted the slave took an unhealthy interest in firearms.
At any rate, I expect the little fool was simply trying to hard Demers his pistol back, but he lingered a moment too long with the piece in his claws, and his fate was sealed. Demers accused him of thievery; the boatswain brought his flail down onto the rat’s head; and in short order, all the hands on deck were crying for the rat’s hide.
I would have had him executed then and there, but I think a formal hanging, at dawn and before the whole crew, will be better for morale. By tomorrow’s dawn, we will have passed the Changing Coast, and so our journey will seem all but through. The while rat, whatever his name was, will become our sacrifice for lusty winds and a calm crew.
3 Jujanis, 1499
I have been forced to postpone the ratIing’s execution while I dispatch half the watch crew to search for Iveana, the bedeviling Dremven cartographer. The wench escaped from her berth last night, and now roams somewhere on my ship. Worse, I fear she may be enchanting my crew, for Ensign Lonat, who was charged with guarding her, now speaks incessantly about her, and prattles on as if she held his heart in the palm of her hand.
She will be caught, and then I will decide her punishment. Far worse for her, if she manages to reach the hold and make good or her threat to me. In the meantime, I will assuredly steer clear of those Shrapnel islands she was asking after, for now I suspect that her motives were not as she origina—
Here the Captain’s entry is cut short.
4 Jujanis, 1499
heart of my heart, the love i feel for thee compels my hand
demers and the others will never understand. thou art right to bid me hold my tongue. yet it takes all my will not to sing thy name to the clouds and the waves
course changed, as my love bid me. the currents are treacherous, but demers is a fool to think the gods will guide our voyage. the gods mean nothing now. there is only one goddess, and her beauty and charm outstrips all other comers
i only hope i can make thee proud, my dear true love Iveana
5 Jujanis, 1499
close now. her whisper Kisses haunt my ears. the Crew will never understand, they complain about the hazards of the Shrapnels—they will likely join with the filthy slaves, marked now for the thirst of the Blood Mistress. i Say let them come, but Iveana is as wise as she is beautiful. She has a plan to quell the Mewling doubters,
More precautions are needed as we close in on our new destination. i have moved necessary provisions to the lifeboat. I have given my beauty access to the Kitchen, and removed the cook. She assures me that Demers and the other traitorous fools will soon eat their own poisonous words,
Our destiny draws near, i can feel it as surely as i feel my love’s sweet kisses. She has promised that we can be together always in the new world, remade in our Mistress’s image. Together we can sail upon a sea of blood.