Tale of the Thresher Maw
It was sighted shored upon the deep, burning sands of the south, when throats had thirsted for the sweet taste of firewater upon their lips. The ship had been enticing: battered and worn with age, but standing strong and hearty. Cautiously did the travellers approach, their investigations spurred on by respite and desire. They found no life aboard, yet signs of its activity filled the ship: skulls adorned every corner, every corridor, heads in various states of damage and decay decorating the captain's quarters. Should the owners themselves return... these travellers were not willing to risk an ambush, and so they left, taking nothing to not give away their presence. One man, however, looked upon this vessel with a different eye, taking a certain bottle by his own hand; the seeds of ambition had taken root.
Time passed. The man who had finally acquired his sweet waters began to plan, and for many months did this plan simmer, as the ship never seemed to leave or raise anchor. Further scouting was performed, trusted allies spoken to, and those that would join the heist recruited. Having gathered a band of men, women, and a daft child that followed after them despite the dangers and warnings, they made for the ship to claim it for themselves. Alas, despite all of their scouting, they had missed an important truth; one soon found out as the first of his men began to creep upon it...
They were pirates, pirates of undeath!
Alarms were rung and cannons were armed with coconuts to fire down upon the advancing band! A monkey of a man with a patchwork of dead fur swung from the rafters and sent a hail of ammunition descending towards them. But as swift as the rain fell, the men continued to advance, fiery passion and cries of battle roaring as armour clanged and clamoured, the twang of bows echoing in the air as they dove into the water and climbed onto the vessel! The fight was fierce, the deck collapsing from each heavy blow, sending several men plummeting into the depths of the ship with the undead pirates. Their captain revealed himself, throwing the man that had organised the operation through a window in the process... an abomination of a shark with black ichor pouring from its sickly maw!
The trusted ally, Taal, almost fell to the brutal assault of the captain, but quick-thinking Tally-bones saved the life of this dearest and cherished friend of many. The head of the beast was severed, the undead brought low. Only the monkey escaped, but their hat was stolen by an Uruk named after a fish of the abyssal deep.
And so the Thresher Maw was claimed, and the highlander who began this operation, this theft of ships, became a captain with a straw hat resting comfortably upon his crown.
Repairs were made, the sails turned to red and green, mirroring a festive theme. With it restored to its full lustre and form, cannons shined and cannon balls forged, the ship was ready for an expedition! And so began the first of many voyages out into the deep unknown.
There were voyages without danger, that brought warmth to the hearts of those that looked out across the ocean. Whales that rose up to greet the travellers as they explored the seas, an awe-inspiring sight to the crew that might have rested upon the deck in those hours. Dolphins that ran alongside the ships, diving amongst schools and colours of sea life dancing through the crystal clear waters. Bardic spirits were well-sated by these feasts of inspiration.
But the sea wasn’t always so kind. It was a day of foreshadowing; rot and butchered beasts floated within the waves, spreading a foul scent over the winds that basked the hull of the ship and wreaked sickness among the crew. The captain guided the ship closer to investigate the unnatural waters, to find the source. Yet - it was a trap, a trap by a cunning creature that had left prey wasting away to lure in something larger. Meatier.
It slammed into the side of the ship and sent it rocking, almost flinging many of the crew into the waters themselves as the call to arms was bellowed! The iridescent-scaled serpent of the sea slowly revealed itself as it reared its horrific head from the waters. Blind, but a maw filled with razor sharp teeth that hungered for all that it could sense as its thrashings hammered against the deck. And so the battle began.
It was a grievous assault. Men were almost devoured, pierced through by its fangs that seemed to cut the very air, only to be saved by the rest of the crew. Cannon fire cracked scales and bloodied the beast. Arrows could only spark against them, a natural armour as hard as platemail, yet found flesh in the cracks that the cannons caused. Flames caught within the maw of the beast as a man shrouded in a blindfold sacrificed themselves, igniting a potion as the creature bit down upon them.
The crew, and the ship, just managed to survive. The beast fell dead, laid to rest over the deck of the ship itself. Bone, flesh, scales and fangs were claimed as trophies, brought back to be cooked - a feast for their people after a successful hunt.
Pirates, undead, and monsters from the sea itself joined together in unison to attack and scorch the land, alongside the ships and their people who dared to venture out into the waters. Their homes burned, their ships sank. Ruin and death ravaged the domain, the ruthless and insane pirates of death finding no solace even as their numbers dwindled, abyssal abominations falling one by one as everything turned to ash. Yet surprisingly, when everything was said and done - when all the ships had plunged into the depths to finally sleep - the Thresher Maw was the only one that still stood. Waiting proudly within the waters for future ventures.
The actions of the pirates were not something to be taken lightly. They rebuilt, recovered, the lands restored and information gathered to find just where this enemy was residing. Allyship was born with men of faith and bearded folks, and so they came to retaliate as one. The Thresher Maw, unfortunately, was not brought back to avenge its fallen this time. Instead, the crew boarded a new vessel, a gift from these men of faith, with which they led their armada bow-first into violent fray. The pirates' ships burned, their people cut down, and even their sea beast, a monstrosity with tendrils upon tendrils to bear against such righteous onslaught, found itself unable to halt the tides.
Yet, this battle bore its own costs. The ship of the faithful sank, lost to cannonfire like many of the pirates' own. From this wilderness of wooden corpses, the crew managed to salvage a single rowboat, joining the Thresher Maw as it rested in its home waters, ready for the next expedition. Which wasn’t long away…
As the location of the base, the island which the pirates called their own, was discovered. The guardians of the glade stepped upon the ship, an operation of stealth, surveyance and sabotage to be held as they set sail. As they neared, a fog crept in, and with it, a siren's call; Perhaps only a few, perhaps a great chorus, a sultry but morbid melody that also heralded the arrival of monstrous fishmen. One of the crew was captivated, and lured to their death.
They gleaned what information they could bit by bit as they avoided the unnatural glow of a lighthouse. Eventually, the light died out, as if it had stopped its search. The eagerness of the crew did not heed caution and rushed to the lighthouse to investigate. A crystal of blood was found upon the top of the tower - but suddenly, an unnatural presence slammed and locked the door behind them. A great explosion burst the top of the tower and alerted the rest of the island to their existence. Retreat was the only option.
Arrows flew through the air and cut through the sails as the crew fled a veritable army of pirates, rabid faces ignited in fury and desire to lay claim to their lives. But they escaped! Information in hand. Successful through the flames.
The final voyage of the once-pirate ship Thresher Maw came in the last expedition out to attack the pirate island. Unfortunately it was not with a familiar crew; only the strawhat captain guided the ship out with Uruk allies singing shanties and arming themselves for combat. The Uruks did not even wait for the ship to reach the shores before they dove off and swam fervently to begin their raid. Rejoining his allies, the captain of straw found himself in battle on land, when a vessel twice the Thresher Maw's own size pulled itself out of the fog and fired upon the ship. There was no way to defend, to fight back. Cannons fell, wood splintered, water rushed in through the gaps. Once a pirate ship, sunk by its own blood. The end of the Thresher Maw was an ironic fate.
Captain no more, the man who favoured his hat of straw, teeth, and scale searches once more for a vessel to call his own.