The cannonball arced across the smoke-laden sky, cutting a bright orange trail through the moonless night. Geoffery Flores gritted his teeth as it struck the starboard side of the Pandora. He heard the unmistakable sound of water rushing into the lower hull, and knew it was only a matter of time before they would be forced to abandon ship.
Cursing under his breath in French, he took out his spyglass and gave one last gaze across the battlefield. The smoke thinned and he shuddered as he saw what was left of the Duke – she had been boarded, and if the stories he had heard were true, he considered himself lucky that he would probably just end up in the locker. Through the haze of gunpowder smoke, he could see the Cassandra further off, and she wasn’t much better than his ship. As his men desperately tried to save the Pandora from sinking, he saw the Cassandra turn, a glint of red hair at the helm, and ram the monstrosity that was responsible for all of this… he knew she was crazy, but this was insane, even for her…
…The Cassandra slammed into the Deliverance, and battle cries pierced the air as her crew charged the now solid form of the deadly ship. She was not afraid to die, but then again, she wasn’t betting on that outcome either. The Deliverance had caught her by surprise – darn she was fast - and now it had forced her hand. He…. IT…. had forced her hand. She pushed back the thought of what she had to do. This ship will be mine, these souls will be redeemed and will serve me. I will look at death and defeat it… because I am the Crimson Angel, and I know what defeats death…
…The mortal did not stand a chance – like so many, she would die at its hands, and its master would have another soul for his keeping. She was an excellent fighter, and would make a worthy addition to its crew… yes, she was right! Do it here, take her life, drain it from her!…
…. It was a feeling the Wraith had never felt before, a feeling it had seen countless times on its victims. It was betrayal, it was fear…. it was pain. Its ship shuddered as it felt the pain along with it. Paint cracked and peeled, masts twisted, a thunderous sound of what seemed like a hundred shackles being broken filled the air. It twisted in on himself, trying to ward it off, trying to overcome it. She stood over top of it, her wild red hair swirling in the wind, a wind not natural but caused from the essence of its ship melting away. It could sense its hold on the ship fading, its power in this world diminishing. She was so far away from it now, and it had forgotten everything else except for the pain…and the fear of what its master would do to him…
It remembers floating in that area between life and death, understanding its master's decision that it wasn’t enough to control others – the Monkey's Paw brought the first of their kind to the battle lines, and soon it was followed by its master himself. Still, even in this semiconscious state, it knew its master was not happy. He had chosen El Fantasma to take his commands – it was he who got the true power. It wondered how long it would be, although down in the locker, time really had no meaning. But this meant he had an endless eon of thought – thought about how it had, and lost, everything. It was a sentinel of death - the living saw its ship and turned to flee, or killed themselves if trapped. It invoked fear beyond anything the mortal world had to offer. And it lost it all because of one mistake… one vile, mortal, red haired woman.
Soon, it could feel his master’s presence. It had been given a chance, a chance to defend its master, a chance to take its revenge on those who did this to it. But its master did not give it all that it was. It felt weaker, bloated, and sluggish. Oh, the mortals would still fear it sometimes, and it could feel its death touch powers reawakening – any ship it attacked would feel its wrath. But something was missing, and it wasn’t just its ship. It felt… insignificant, an afterthought, and worse of all, almost useless.
Uses and Strategies:
He materialized on the Flying Dutchman. The sensations overwhelmed him - the cold, harsh breeze whipping his cloak, the biting smell of the salty ocean and the decayed flesh around him, and the disquieting presence that was slowly approaching him, one that was almost too much to bear. He wasn't sure if he knelt out of respect, or because of the weight of his master's presence.
“Rise my servant. I have called on you because you are needed. The humans need to know who the real master of the sea is, and I will stop at nothing to make sure they understand.”
The Wraith rose. A momentary disorientation struck him – he felt so… heavy?… but he pushed it aside. “My soul is yours, master. I only exist to carry out your bidding. Give me a ship, and I will strike fear in those who oppose you. I will hunt down every human and personally slay them on their own decks to get your message known.”
“I expected no less. Then again, you understand that if my expectations are not meant, then there will not be a third chance.”
The Wraith felt... cold. What was going on? “I will not disappoint you.”
Davy Jones smirked. “You still don’t understand, do you?” He drew his sword, and slashed at the Wraith, piercing his cloak. The Wraith shuddered, and barely held in a scream, as blood started to ooze out of the superficial wound. Not again, he thought, I cannot bare the pain again….
Davy’s smirk vanished. “The She-Devil’s kiss made your soul mortal, my servant. And I have decided that is how you should remain. At least, until you prove yourself worthy, which will not be easy.” He sheathed his sword. “Now go, I have a sloop waiting for you – it will take you to your first assignment. Prove yourself to me and our brethren – before you cut down every human you see, feast on the fear in their hearts, the paralysis of their terror. Bring their souls to my service.”
Combos with other miniatures:
The Nosso Lar came up quickly upon a dense fog, hanging on the glass-like water, forming a shimmering wall. Its captain did not slow down, but barreled into the fog, passing through it with ease. The Wraith immediately felt at home and soothed, as thousands of souls seemed to connect to him at once. The captain spoke haggardly – “staging point… large battle here… many ships lost.”
The fog cleared, and Wraith marveled at what he saw – clearly his master was not fooling around, nor was his second in command. A dozen ships were sprawled across the inlet of a small island, completely enshrouded by the magical fog. In the forefront, two massive ships flanked the main channel. The Wraith did not need to be told what ships these were – the Executioner and Divine Dragon seemed to radiate hate and fear, and it wasn’t long before the ghoul in charge himself appeared on deck, his subordinates cowering with every gesture. He gave a sneer as he locked eyes with the Wraith, and then barked out an order and motioned toward the west.
The Nosso Lar turned, and the Wraith couldn’t help but simmer in anger. Those should be MY ships – my talents could definitely be used there. He would never let me serve on his ship, though – there is not room for the both of us – just like his master and his ship - and especially if he brings his minions with him. Although, he smiled, he can only be on ONE of his ships at a time. In time, in time… the Divine Dragon will be mine. A ship like that needs the fear I bring, and every ship we board will cower in fear when they see us coming.
The captain of the Nosso Lar must have noticed his thoughts – “Those ships are nothing compared to the behemoths taken from the far east.” Wraith nodded. He remembered hearing about the large ships that flew his master’s flag before he was reborn. One of the captains seemed to be difficult to work with, but the other drew his admiration even in his spectral haze. Imagine the chaos I could seed with that ship. Imagine the gifts I could bring back to my master. Would he be able to cooperate with its gold loving captain though? Such a large ship brings a large crew. Could he share the glory of the kill?
His thoughts focused back on what he was seeing around him. Many of the ships in the inlet were small – not majestic or grand enough for someone of his stature, although in one he could sense it could help spread his terror more effectively. He passed a ship that seemed half complete, several hideous blades emerged from the side, and to the Wraith it seemed to call to him. This was a ship that he could use, and it felt like one that would complete him. “What is that ship,” he bellowed to the captain. He answered – “Stolen from the humans. It is a ship so foul it has taken us some time to master how to use it. It is not for you, at least not yet.”
Finally, they came to the edge of the fog, where several ships were moored next to each other. As the Wraith watched they saw a wrecked hull rise up from the seabed – he could hear the broken masts crack back into place, the souls of the drowned coming back from the sea with a scream of unwillingness. It shimmered into place, and seemed to teeter on the brink of existence.
The captain spoke once again – “The undying one has given you the choice of ship and crew.” Wraith was surprised at this freedom, but even El Fantasma knew what Wraith had done in the past. He eyed the ships – he needed one that he could instill himself on – one that needed the presence, the fear, he would bring to fulfill his task from his master. One caught his eye that seemed to match his predilection for attacking other ships, while another radiated something he had lost. Yet, he came back to the one that had just risen from the seafloor. The moaning had died down, but the ship spoke to Wraith and reminded him of his ship, the one that devil had stolen from him. As they drew near the ship, the Wraith noticed some sort of creature in the water. It came up to him, and he could feel its malevolence, yet it seemed to want to him help and protect him. The Wraith stepped over the side, and the water creatures lifted him to the other ship. It went back and hugged the ship's hull.
He stepped on deck and practically fed on the aura of suffering that surrounded the crew and ship. The Wraith looked around. A skulking and greasy looking being stared at him from the shadows. A skeletal figure approached from the helm, eyeing him the whole way, and finally spoke with a shallow voice that echoed from nearly unmoving jaws - “What have the water devils brought me today? Surely… a ghost from the past?” The figure displayed a twisting and haunting half grin.
“I am the Wraith, devastator of ships, destroyer of souls. I have been charged by our master Davy Jones to take a ship and do his bidding. This ship… It reminds me of my past, and I intend to use it to make my future.”
Sammy the Skull said nothing for a few moments, then nodded. “Some of my crew wanted to focus on the gold coin. But that is not our way – that is not why we are here. I was going to focus on making this ship faster, but you remind me of our commander. We may find use of you. I have just been… separated… from those who had talents such as yours… although I can see your presence is a bit more… menacing. I obviously think that is an improvement.” Sammy lets out a wheezed filled cackle. “Plus, anything that can make the Houngan jealous is a win in my book. He thinks he can win our commander’s favor, but it will be us on this ship that will impress El Fantasma. We will be the face of our wrath on the mortal world. Welcome to the Nightmare.”
Ways to counteract it:
The Wraith smiled. “My thirst for the souls of the humans needs to be quenched. Let us set out immediately. In fact, I would like to find a certain ship and enact some long needed revenge. Do you know where the Deliverance berths?”
Sammy turned. “Patience. While I would love to see the Devil Angel die beneath my boot, we must proceed with caution. You know the power and size of that ship, and there is a rumor that the Devil Angel employs a source of black magic. If she influences our friend over there, all could be lost. I have also heard rumors she runs with a French piratewho has a way of with his cannons and individual targets. I would hate to have you return to your exile before you had a chance to prove yourself.”
Wraith hissed at Sammy. “Do not worry about me. Find a ship to attack, and I will board it and reward our master’s faith in me with more souls for his locker. The humans do not stand a chance – they will cower in horror, freeze in panic. Their souls will be ours, and their ships will sink to the locker.” He let out a cackle that echoed across the inlet.
Sammy kept his sarcastic half grin. “I do hope your confidence is backed up. Something tells me your exile has left you weak… unpredictable… unreliable.” Sammy’s grin faded, and his eye sockets glowed a soft red. “You are a large investment, Wraith. One that not every captain and ship would tackle, even given how few of us there are. I am going to sacrifice a lot to take you with me, and I while I know we can work well together, I think you overestimate your power.”
Wraith returned Sammy’s stare. “I have not come this far to fail.”
“Very well, then I think I have an idea for our first target…”
Artwork and aesthetics:
Jonas Richman woke up in a cold sweat. They were coming. He wasn’t sure if it was a dream, his intuition, or just the smell, but he threw off his covers and staggered out onto the deck just as the large ship materialized out of the dense fog and slammed, screaming, into the side of the Saratoga. Death and decay seemed to descend on his ship as he desperately fumbled for a sword. His head snapped around as a familiar cackle washed over the dense air. The decaying head of Sammy the Skull mocked him from the attacking ship’s helm – he thought he had seen the last of the fiend during their last encounter. At least Richman knew he destroyed most of his ghoulish militia…
Cannons burst through the side of his ship, and screams came from the aft deck, as he saw his men cowering in fear. He shouted for the men to arm cannons, but he was distracted by a figure he had never encountered before. It seemed like Death itself descended from the enemy ship, a black cloak fluttering behind it, a grotesque and gleaming white skull sticking out from underneath the hood. Two filaments of red flame gleamed from his eye sockets, and as each man fell to his cloud of despair, the being seemed to grow in size and menace.
One by one his crew fell, throats sliced, backs broken; their souls seemed to scream in Jonas’s ears, as they tried to hold on to their mortal tether. The interloper now was headed to him, and despite Jonus’ years, he arm wavered, his legs crumbled, and the last thing he saw was a sword coming at his neck. He hoped he would see his family soon…
The Saratoga finally sank to the locker, and the Wraith couldn’t help but revel in the death and destruction he had just helped to cause. His nirvana was interrupted by a loud horn, and he turned just in time to see large sails, glowing from the rising sun behind them, slice through the deathly fog. He heard Sammy curse out a human name, but despite the incoming ship being more formidable than the Saratoga, the Wraith welcomed its advance, hoping it would start an encounter where he could feel yet again the pleasure of death he had just experienced.
Yet, it didn’t ram the Nightmare. The ship came within shooting distance, and its men swung over on ropes, yelling battle cries at the top of their mortal lungs. The Wraith smiled and moved to intercept, but stumbled on a loose board, and soon realizing he and his fellow undead souls were well outnumbered. Sammy seemed surprised at their move, and several of the Nightmare’s crew were sliced down, as the attacking ship swung around and finally rammed the Nightmare. Again, Wraith felt like he was swimming in syrup – he could do nothing, hurt no one. The attackers were confident, bold, and did not stop as they came at him. He saw the malevolent water rush up and stop three men who were about to strike him down – the unnatural fiends evaporating in a true death that the Wraith now feared beyond anything. Cannons rang out, and he knew his ship would not survive the encounter.
He heard shouts from the other ship, as he saw Sir Edmund impaled. The Captain of the other ship was now aboard, and screaming: “Go back to Heck, demons of the sea.” The sun was now above the horizon, and the Nightmare seemed to moan in pain as her crew continued to be taken back to the locker.
Sammy parried the enemy captain’s sword, and then retreated toward Wraith. They were the only two crew left alive. “I knew this was a mistake. I knew you were a mistake. One successful boarding in three. You are weak and a waste of resources, and your mediocre and inconsistent abilities have cost us dearly. Perhaps we will meet again someday, but I promise you, you will not be on my ship again. May Davy Jones have mercy on our souls.”
The captain slashed through Sammy, his skeletal body slumping to the floor in a pile of dust. He turned to the Wraith. “I do not know what you are, nor do I care. But I promise you if you return from death, you will meet the same fate. As many times as necessary.”
The Wraith cowered in fear. If only he still had the power of immortality again. If he returned to this plane, he would find a way to regain that power. He would be a master of his own fate… he would be better than this failu –
The Nightmare sank. The crew of the Paul Revere looked on. To Master CPO Richards, it was too quiet, almost as if the sea welcomed it back to its depths. The captain sheathed his blood stained sword, and went to bed. It was time to move on to more important things.