It had been a few years since I had been to the sea. The life I had once loved was a distant memory and I had moved on from the life of piracy to settle down in a quaint village before Davy Jones and the sea came a knockin' to collect back what I rightfully stole. I swore I'd never return. But when my younger brother wrote to me of a mysterious, new discovery he had made, promising of treasures untold. I was forced to return to the fickle waters, after adamant warnings of danger had gone unreturned. For you see, if the sea has taught me anything, it is that no matter the glory or riches that may come your way, there is always a price to pay.
When I arrived in the port town of La Noferia, I was quick to learn that my brother had been missing for some time. From the locals, I had learned he had arrived a few weeks ago regaling anyone who would listen about his new discovery and potential fortune. The idiot had always been a boisterous one and it seems it may have cost him, dearly. A few of his crewmates informed me he had been staying in a small shack a few hours from the harbor so I immediately took off and by nightfall of that first day, I had arrived.
It was a lonely thing, this shack, sitting on the edge of land and beach silhouetted by the moon as the shore curled behind it, leaving only the ocean beyond it. As I entered, it reeked of sea and spirits, as well as a few rotten meals from nights before. I carefully searched the shack, but there were no signs of my brother and from the condition of the room, no one had been around for days. Exhausted, I sat down on the steps in front of the door and looked out to the sea, contemplating the odd reunion taking place before me and wondering what twisted fate the sea had planned for me.
It was then that I saw it, off in the distance, a small sparkle in the tide. I knew it before I even got up from the steps but still I ran to the tide, hoping to disprove my darkest fears.
As I drew closer, the outline of a body began to take shape. Although he was face down when I approached, I knew it was him. He was prone, lifeless, washed up from the sea and around his neck was that stupid bandana: the one he was so proud of, the one he never took off, the one I gave him when he took my place in the company. As the waves lapped over the poor soul, I dropped to my knees and cursed myself realizing my debt had been paid. Through the tears I noticed he was holding something. A book of some sort, inset with an exotic jewel that I had never seen before. Is this what this fool had thrown his life away for? I pried the journal out of his hands and sat in the damp sand, book in my lap. Unnerved by the tide, I needed to know what was so important that my brother was willing to die for and so by moonlight, I began to read.
Most of the pages were damaged, torn out, or in a language I could not comprehend. Tried as I could, I was unable to make sense of it and after what seemed like hours, I threw the book down in frustration. Defeated and knowing the responsibilities still required to tend to my dead sibling, I reconciled to calling it a day. I looked at the body next to me with a feeling of guilt and frustration, staring at that damned bandana. Why did I have to give him that stupid thing? Why couldn't I protect him? Why couldn't it have been me? Blinded by the welling rage, I grabbed at the bandana attempting to rip it off him.
To my dismay, the knot was under his neck and I was forced to flip him over to untie it. Perturbed, I rolled to my knees and shoved the lifeless corpse exposing his smiling face now bright in the moonlight. That wily smile, the one that had been his forgiveness after all the pranks he had pulled on me as children, now revealed, startled me causing me to sit back on the damp sand. "One last prank?", I thought as I recovered and surveyed the lifeless prankster in front of me. "Even when you're dead, you're an asshole", I muttered as I leaned back over him to untie the bandana. But as I reached over, my eyes widened as I caught a glimpse of a familiar parchment carefully tucked under his shirt.
I quickly grabbed the damp, tattered pages, identical to the ones found in the journal. One seemed like a cypher, half in the foriegn writings and the other, in my brother's handwriting. The other was written by my foolish sibling, an already translated copy of one of the pages from the journal. Maddened by this turn of fortune, I began to read aloud the blood-stained scribblings that my kin desperately died protecting.
When I first heard that Pathfinders were discovering locations in the world that have a strange apparition that disappears a week or so after it is found, I had an ominous feeling. I set sail to investigate, and found one of these locations!
There was an unnatural fog, a swarm of insects, and a strange noise that seemed to be coming from the ground. As I watched several of the cursed pirates that have plagued our waters approached. They built a small hut and began to dig! I watched as they uncovered what looked like human remains. My ominous feeling was justified, as I just watched cursed men dig up cursed bone chips.
I had to know more. After about a week of digging, the fog cleared, the insects left, and the Cursed Pirates packed up their bone chips and left. I followed them at a distance. We arrived at what seemed to be some kind of Altar, which was aflame with a ghostly green.
What the cursed pirates did next stunned me. They poured all the bone chips they had dug into the fire pit. It immediately sparked and the flames grew high, almost too bright to look directly at. I watched as they took the wood from the fire, and some flame scrocech bone chips to a workbench. Astounded, I observed as they constructed strange weapons and what might have been part of a building. I have never heard of any Cursed Pirate ports or structures, we have only ever seen their ships as they destroy our fleets. I have to return to port and spread this unsettling news.
As I turned to leave, my attention was caught on a large standing stone. It seemed to be glowing the same ghostly green as the Altar fire. I had to investigate. I crouched, and snuck up to the stone. I’m glad I had that grog earlier, ‘cus what I saw would have terrified me if I wasn’t drunk! Cursed Pirates, singing and playing a crude set of drums. I slumped against the stone, and suddenly felt the urge to sing along to the drums. Unnerved, I ran back to my Sloop and set sail back to port.
What did I just stumble across? What powers are these that have never been seen before?
As the last words trailed from my lips, I froze. Unsure of what to do with this amazing new discovery, my mind blanked. Suddenly, a smile crept to my face and I began to laugh. Unable to control what was coming over me, the laughter began to build, louder and louder to the point of hysteria. “You son of a...”, I yelled as I finally got a hold of myself and wiped a tear from my eye. There was only one thing left to do in my mind: Unearth the mysteries of the journal and continue the discoveries my brother sacrificed himself for. “For the first time, we’ll do this together, Nathan.” I whispered as I untied the bandana from his neck and fastened it around mine. Once I got to my feet, journal and pages in hand, I began to walk along the shore preparing in my head the arrangements for my brother's funeral and for the upcoming adventures ahead. The sea had cleared my slate and I paid a heavy price. But the way I see it, Nathan didn’t get the chance to take from all that life has to offer, so for him, I plan to collect in full.
Again, we would like to emphasize that ATLAS is still in Early Access, meaning many things can and will likely continue to drastically change - even in the middle of development. Anything discussed is only up to date as of the moment it is posted. Features and changes that ultimately make it to the next patch, as well as timing, may be different from what was previously discussed.
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