Prota 8
Prota 8

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Prota 8
The Shipwreck of Many Discoveries

Captain Egorius was the strongest man in all of the Southern Keys. He and his crew of pirates sailed their entire lives across the seas. The men lived on Isle of Ilios—the only habitable coral cay out of the dozens that sprawled into the south-eastern waters. For most of the year, the Southern Keys would endure fierce hurricanes and stormy weather. The Keys were located in the middle of a popular shipping route, but only the largest vessels would attempt to pass through, and even then, few would survive. The alternative was to go around them, adding weeks or months to a voyage. Only the most experienced captains were aware of the Southern Keys and would know when to plan their sail through the short, calm season, unlike smaller fleets, who would get caught in the midst of the storms and suffer the common fate of becoming shipwrecked. Hundreds of new shipwrecks would scatter the cays of the Southern Keys, consisting mostly of wealthy travelers and explorers who carried a bountiful supply of treasure and artifacts on their vessels.

Captain Egorius and his men settled there for much of the year. They salvaged any treasures and artifacts found from the wreckages and sold them in private auctions. They were known as the strongest and most experienced sailers in all of The Waters, and also the most dangerous. For centuries, pirates had the reputation of committing mass murder and thievery by the sea and major ports. They were usually outcasted criminals of society who chose to live in exile amongst The Waters since they were governed without law and there was still uncharted territory to conquer.

One misty morning, Captain Egorius awoke to a grey sky that seemed to have temporarily stopped its torrential downpour. The clouds had dispersed and the winds whispered calmly. Captain Egorius and his men took this rare opportunity to leave the Isle of Ilios and trek through the water of the coral cays to find new shipwrecks.

Several hours had passed while the weather kept on their side. From a distance, they saw what appeared to be an object in the water with a rising black cloud of smoke. Captain Egorius steered his ship towards it through the murky waters. As they slowly drifted towards the large object, a clothed body drifted by with its back facing up. A moment later, two more bodies appeared, but this time, they were half naked, and birds surrounded the corpses while picking at their flesh.

As the pirates floated past the bodies, four more appeared. Then five more. Then ten more. The crew fell silent as they saw children, women, and men with disfigured faces, burnt skin, and severed limbs floating in the water. Flocks of birds rounded the skies with ripped carcasses in their mouths. The stench of burnt flesh became suffocating. The only sounds heard were of starving birds flocking, haunting winds breathing, and the wooden ship colliding with the piles of corpses that drifted in the blackened salt water.

One by one, the mouths of each men dropped as they came to face a giant floating object that appeared through the fog. It was a capsized ship, larger than what they had ever seen before, severed in half with protruding wooden beams and ripped stems in the middle. Multiple floors were visible within the ship; even an entire ballroom hung upside down between the curdled black smoke. Scathed furniture, including bedding, chests and tables, collected all together. The water below was hidden by the dense shrapnel of incinerated objects and piled bodies. In the middle of the ship were the upside down letters that read, in capitals, META, before being cut off.

A faint whispering voice came from below the floating bodies. It was a man, presumably the only survivor, who was calling for help. The pirates deployed a rope and climbed down to retrieve the man and laid his badly burnt body down on their deck. His crystal blue eyes vibrantly shined through the melted flesh that once used to be skin. Fine garments were replaced with blackened rags that continued releasing fresh swaths of smoke. Only a gilded pendant remained intact around his neck.

“What ungodly creature did this to you?” asked a crew member to the dying man. It became quiet as the entire crew including Captain Egorius painfully waited for a reply. The man muttered through his melted lips, “Maudlin,” while repeating himself in his last dying breathes. The men all stared at each other with deep worry and confusion while Captain Egorius had disappeared. The crew became hysterical and scattered the ship to find him.

Finally, a crew member found him coddled in the corner of the deck while shaking and muttering to himself. The crew member asked him for orders but was ignored. More of the men started amassing around captain Egorius, and they too asked for orders, but he kept to himself with a flushed look. The crew basked in silence and stared at one another. The eldest pirate took control and yelled for them to turn the ship around immediately. They quickly scattered and left their captan alone. The old man took control of the wheel and muttered under his breathe while staring at his captain, “A glimpse of hell can turn any man back into a boy.”