Serial Settings 1: Ubiquity ~ Week 27

The seventh month of this year’s Serial Setting for Ubiquity is here already. This week’s entry begins with a look at one of the failed expeditions to plunder the riches and penetrate the secrets of the mysterious Windlet Islands. The Serial Settings series of posts is intended to provide usable setting material for busy GMs. Series 1 is for those looking to run Daring Tales of Adventure or Hollow Earth Expedition.

27) The Wreck of the Gordon O’Barr, Shipwreck Crag, Greater Windlet Island

Comparatively few ships have been lost off the reefs of the Windlet Islands, but more than either the residents or passengers would like. One of the earliest of these was a clipper of uncertain registry and ill-tempered crew that during a hellish storm was thrown to her doom on the rocks below what was afterward known as Shipwreck Crag. The area, alternately spoken of as ‘The Wrecks’ by the workers stationed on the as-yet unsettled and inordinately dangerous island had been almost universally shunned since long before the wreck, and the events which followed did not make it rise in anyone’s estimation. Even today, virtually no one would choose to go there without powerful persuasion.

The crag is a bleak, grey, stony drop of over 100 meters from the peril of the jungles to the dark, hungry cove below. The waters below the crag seethe with foaming menace at low tide, and hidden peril at high tide. The razor sharp rocks immediately put observers in mind of the toothy maw of some horrific creature of the deeps surfacing in abject hunger to feast on the unwary. Access to the narrow, stony beach requires rope or extraordinary climbing skills, and while the variety and size of the shellfish are unparalleled the risks and difficulty send fisher folk to other destinations, leaving this for the birds and other predators.

So unpopular with the locals is this location that no access to it from behind the fence was ever planned. To reach it, one must travel overland through the coastal jungle taking one’s chances with the quicksand, mud, biting insects, biting and leaping spiders, and the ubiquitous and mean-spirited serpents. Other larger predators, while hopefully no longer present outside the fence, have been known to surprise those who were not prepared for them. Nature abhors the confident and comfortable.

Shattered and scattered by the waves, the Gordon O’Barr lies mostly on her side in the mouth of the small cove below the crag. Her bow, broken off clean from the rest of the ship, points hopelessly up at the heavens, with the leering skeleton below her bowsprit posing a stark reminder of the perils of the sea and the fate of pirates.

As with any tale of pirate vessels, this one comes with its share of treasure.

The workmen of those days were hard men, but even the atheists among them would send prayers heavenward before discussing the tale of the night the Gordon O’Barr was snatched from the sea, and ground to death by the merciless teeth of Greater Windlet.

Spotted from the Company Pier as she struggled against the fearsome wind and surf for safe harbor, the Gordon O’Barr was tracked by a party of well-armed security men as she was brought closer and closer to her end.

Neither those men, nor the men who crewed the Gordon O’Barr were ever seen alive again.

Once the storm had abated, a search party braved the jungle to track the missing men, and perhaps give aide to the ship. Coming upon the crag and looking down into the surf they found it slick with blood and oil, wreathed in shattered timbers, and enshrouded by dizzying swirls of sails. Men they found too, in the surf and on the stones of the beach, but no single man was in a single piece. Each had been torn limb from limb, and some had been consumed by something the likes of which none present could ever imagine. Moved by the horror of what they had seen, they sought out survivors of the brutality, or signs to track that which performed it, but found nothing on the shore, nothing in the jungle 100m above, and nothing in the cruel, cold caves which sink downward into the depths at the base of the crag. The ship itself, apart from shattered barrels of whale oil bearing stamps from numerous vessels, none of which bearing anything in common with the Gordon O’Barr, was empty of cargo, and most certainly empty of treasure.

Treasure however, was implied, by a few glimmers of golden coin in the tide pools and on the beach. These coins, of a bloody-golden colour, heavy and soft, and scarred by time were turned in to the foreman when the search party returned, and  a larger search was organized, to gather up and bury the dead, and locate the treasure.

The treasure was never found, but several more men were lost to the tide, to the rocks, or snatched up by something which left nothing of them but pieces and sprays of blood. On an island known for the fierceness of its wildlife, the fear of this predator was unmatched. It was not long before none would venture there even in the largest groups.

Usual Suspects: The Other Gang

A group of teens, bored and dreaming of the growing world off this miserable and deadly paradise have made it their badge of honor to be the only residents of the Windlet Islands who brave The Wrecks.

Our Gang circa 1922

None have yet been lost, and they are a fine group of courageous boys and girls, raised to be wary of the dangers and hungers of the island, but the deep-seated fear that soon the island will claim its due both compels and repels them. It is their place, the only place truly theirs in all the world, yet… it hates them and they know it. They are its masters and their group and their group alone has lost no member to its perils. The gamble they take is thrilling.

They will not react well to incursions, should treasure hunters once again return to climb down the crag.

Rumours: heard primarily among the workers and fisher folk of the islands

  • The treasure has to have been washed into the caves and covered up by silt. A clever team could sift for it and be made rich
  • The purity and sheen of the gold was unlike anything else
  • The coins are still in the company archives
  • The Gast family has already retrieved the treasure quietly
  • The last survey advised against venturing there for fear of disease
  • Tracks of some beast were found by the first search party but they destroyed them
  • The body of one woman was found among the dead. She had drowned but was otherwise unharmed
  • The company plans to remove the wreck in early 1938.

Truths:

Soon!

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