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A note from captaink-19

Yesterday this story hit trending.  Today, the number of views has doubled and it's currently ranked at #3 on RR!  I'm releasing the next chapter ahead of schedule in celebration.  I had a goal when I started this story to break the top 100.  I didn't imagine breaking the top 5 in just over a month!  

I appreciate the feedback I've gotten and I'll be looking for more - particularly after this chapter.  I have some ideas for what the magic system needs to be capable of in order to progress the story, but it will need to fleshed out much more to keep each ability I list from being the one thing my MC needs ... share your thoughts and ideas in the comments!

I've also gotten resounding feedback that Domenic's work-ethic and how he's not an OP MC are what make the story interesting.  It's not my intention to have Davy Jones hand Domenic the keys to ruling the high seas, and I'll show that over the next few chapters.  Growth needs to happen, but if you feel that Domenic is straying too far from his roots don't hesitate to share what you think should happen instead!

When I composed myself, the first thing I did was find a place to lay low. I didn’t know if being bound to Davy Jones gave me an easy pass through the ocean depths, but I doubted it. I was very cognizant of the fact that I was in a part of the ocean known for monster sightings. Sure, it was a big ocean and most monsters wouldn’t even glance at me, but it payed to be prudent.

Walking along the ocean floor was a joy. I found that with a mental shift I could go from ‘walking’ to ‘swimming’. While walking, I felt the water around me but not in the same way. It was like the water offered less resistance, like either it or I were more ethereal. I felt normal gravity instead of suspension. My hair and clothing were behaving like Jones’ had, not obeying normal physics. That was as it should be; I was no longer normal. I was cursed. I was magically altered.

When I switched to swimming, it was like that magical alteration was turned off, and I was again moving in ways I had been for years. Only now, there was no timer to be cognizant of. I could breathe and supply my body with all the ‘air’ it needed. I still caught myself holding my breath out of habit and had to remind myself to breathe. Was I now amphibious? I mean, I was pretty sure I wasn’t confined to the underwater realm – I’d been breathing air in Davy Jones’ pocket realm and so had he. I didn’t have gills, like mutated ‘amphibian’ people did. My lungs were pulling in and expelling seawater like they did air. What did you call something like me?

Most sailors would call me a ghost.

I found the cleft of a rocky protrusion and tucked myself into it. I should be hidden from most predators in the area, and if something did see me it wouldn’t be able to sneak up behind me. Then I set to addressing my own growth and notifications.

Congratulations! You have learned water magic!

Congratulations! You have learned air magic!

Congratulations! You have learned a Deeper magic: Ocean magic! This power harnesses the ambient mana of the sea to accomplish unique feats. Be warned: Deeper magics carry greater risks!

You have learned a Deeper magic! +10% mana recovery, -10% mana cost.

I was now a mage. That was discomforting for two reasons … ok, it was discomforting for a lot of reasons, but there were two big ones. Reason #1 was that I had discounted learning magic years ago, when I’d failed to pick up on any of the tricks some people could do with water. It hadn’t seemed like a big loss, there were mundane ways of doing lots of the things I’d seen water mages do at sea. Nor did I want to devote my life into developing the power of a weather mage only to find that the best I could do against the might of the ocean was divert or modify it a little. (Seeing that mage try to stop a coastal storm all those years ago had been rather sad. He’d been so disappointed.)

Because I’d ruled out magic, I’d ignored the idea of assigning attribute points to either Intelligence or Wisdom. Since I hadn’t assigned many points at all that hadn’t hurt me, but it was a shock to realize that I couldn’t ignore those attributes: they could be vital to my skills as a ghost captain.

I took a moment to appreciate that I was now a ghost captain. A bloody ghost captain! Sure, I had neither ship nor crew, but that was minutia.

Reason #2 for feeling discomforted about magic was that I had learned no spells. Some tricks water mages could do involved using their mana without the control of a spell, but they were just that: tricks. Not to mention that they drained MP ridiculously fast compared to the mana cost of a spell. If I wanted to do something like shoot an icicle at a certain pirate, I’d need to learn the spell for it.

Then there was the Deeper magic. I actually liked that one. It was like I had proof that I was more than the average sailor. The mana bonuses would certainly be nice, too. Since I had no reference for how much mana I used, I couldn’t appreciate the bonus as much as a mage certainly would have.

I looked up my stat sheet to reference how much mana I currently had.

Name

Domenic Seaborn

Age

23

Race

Human (Cursed)

Profession

Captain of the Deep

Level

10

XP

337,500

Health

230

Mana

160

Stamina

220

Strength

18

Agility

20

Dexterity

17

Constitution

23

Endurance

22

Intelligence

16

Wisdom

12

Charisma

14

Luck

16

Skills

Swimming 14

Seamanship 18

Sea Legs 13

Rowing 8

Swordsmanship 2

Fishing 8

Unarmed combat 7

Dirty fighting 4

Small blades 7

Axes 1

Archery 3

Artillery 2

Observation 10

Analyze 8

Carpentry 3

First Aid 2

Lock Picking 2

Cooking 2

Traps 10

Stealth 6

Singing 2

Climbing 11

Leadership 2

Spears 1

Magic

Air magic

Water magic

Ocean magic

Achievements

Lifesaving III

Trickster

Perks

Adaptable

Heart at Sea

The fact that ‘cursed’ was part of my stats now wasn’t good news. Davy Jones had said people would be seeking to stamp me out early. That ‘cursed’ was like a blaring horn announcing what I was.

Why would people be hunting me again? Oh yeah, I’d bound my spirit to the terror of the seas and agreed to do his bidding. Thoughts of all the things he might have me do began to filter into my head. There was good cause for the rulers of nations to be afraid. Jones’ own reign of terror had been a major cause for the breaking of the last human empire, along with the seas’ decision to destroy several cities with a series of tsunamis. That empire had been utterly barred from the seas – which had been its backbone of control. Those stories were mere legends mixed with tidbits of fact by now, though. Sailors and common folk argued whether Jones still existed, but the refusal of more learned people to declare the legends as simple myths spoke volumes.

My wandering mind diverted to the quest prompts I’d gotten when Jones cursed me and I’d since ignored. They were terrifying.

You have unlocked the quest chain Terror of the Seas! Men stay at harbor with your name on their lips – but only whispered, so as not to draw your eye. Monarchs and rulers restructure their shipping and economies to avoid you. You answer to no one but your master and mistress; Davy Jones and the sea herself!

You have unlocked the quest chain Tall Tales! You are a superstition, a specter, a ghost story told to cabin boys. None know whether to believe these accounts or even their own eyes. Are ships who wander in your fog forever lost? Or do drowning sailors tell their shipmates that they felt someone pushing them to the surface? They wonder at your roots; some saying you were a vengeful naval captain, and others saying you were but a mild-mannered sailor who saved the lives of others until he went down with his ship. What will you decide to be?

You have unlocked the quest chain Ruin of Nations. The machinations of rulers led you to your resting place below the waves … and the curse that brought you up again. Investigate the reasons for your sacrifice. Choose a side to support or fulfill your mandate of chaos!

I had refused to become a pirate under Lawless Jack and had instead gone to Davy Jones himself. Was I mad? I’d just been given quests centered around becoming a bloody-handed monster!

No, the quests were open-ended and gave me options. For Ruin of Nations I could choose how I would complete it. Tall Tales suggested I even become a benevolent savior. Terror of the Seas … well, I didn’t have to complete each quest, did I? My introspection would have to wait. I needed to get myself sorted and get out of this area.

Everyone received 6 attribute points when they gained a level. There were 9 primary attributes, so common wisdom was to balance them across the attributes you used most and then catch the other ones up on the next level, so you didn’t get out of balance. That was the textbook example, no one did exactly that. People tended to advance the two or three attributes they used most and let the others evolve as they would naturally. The majority of people didn’t advance past level 10 anyway, so being grotesquely out of balance wasn’t likely.

My Strength, Agility and Endurance were respectably high because I used them so much. My studying all things nautical and observing a dozen different cultures had even advanced my intelligence decently. The only thing I was really behind in was Wisdom. No need to poke fun at people with a lower wisdom score, we’re not all mages who study abstract theories.

10 points was an average baseline. If someone of no noticeable talent lived to maturity and didn’t apply themselves to any particular study, they could expect to get 10’s across the board.

Here’s my secret that impressed the administrator back in Antarus and pissed off Jones: I had 41 attribute points saved. Before the speed leveling I’d done in the last two days – or was it three? – that stockpile had been 29 points, which didn’t sound quite so crazy. As I’d mentioned before, I’d started saving them when I hit level 3, at a time when the other boys in my area were encouraged to put their points into Constitution and Strength so they’d have a buffer of HP’s between them and death and were strong enough to be useful. I’d run my gambit of developing those naturally, and it seemed to have paid off.

I wanted to make sure that I didn’t leave any attribute behind when I leveled, but that didn’t seem to be a problem – I wanted to advance all of them. Intelligence and Wisdom would probably take the biggest chunk of my stockpile, because I wanted to use the magics I’d learned. I couldn’t level my combat abilities through attribute points, and I expected to run into some heavy hitters when the world learned of my existence. Having some magical abilities to level the playing field (or make a getaway) sounded appealing.

With that, I sunk 9 points into Intelligence and 13 into Wisdom, bringing both to 25. 25 seemed like a high number that was still within my reach, and we humans tended to count and think in block increments of five. Unfortunately, that meant 22 points were gone just like that, over half of my reserve. I knew consciously that I had 19 left, but I’d gotten used to having a total of 29 and freaked out a bit. What had I done? I’d never used magic in my life and threw how many points into my mana pool?

Increasing your mental attributes also gave you a headache, which didn’t improve my mood. If only people became instant geniuses by increasing their intelligence – but no, we got headaches instead. There was a joke there somewhere.

Feeling a little more hesitant about spending the rest of my points, I put 2 into Constitution. My health pool had taken some hard knocks and the world didn’t have any intention of letting up. 2 points wasn’t much, but I wanted a little more peace of mind. The fact that it brought my Constitution to 25 as well was pure coincidence.

What was I lagging in now? A rule of thumb was you didn’t have to worry about repercussions unless there was a disparity of 10 or more points between attributes. What those attributes were then dictated the result. Blake, for instance, had highly developed Strength and Endurance but had a baseline Charisma. It hadn’t killed him, just made his mug look a bit uglier and people around him found it harder to get along with him. If he’d had the same disparity between his Strength and Dexterity he would have been suffering a loss of motor control, unable to make finer movements and transforming into a bull in a china shop.

My lowest now was also Charisma – though I would point out to anybody that I’d advanced it several points beyond the baseline and without attribute points, thank you. I was altogether a nice guy. I refused to let my Charisma be my lowest attribute though, so advancing it normally wasn’t going to cut it anymore. It had been over a year since my last advancement in it anyway. I added 4 points to Charisma, bringing it to 18. See? I didn’t need everything to be 25.

Should I add anything to Endurance? I’d worked that one high naturally, the only reason Constitution had been higher was because I had put more points into it earlier, wanting to stay alive and all. I decided to leave Endurance where it was. It was a respectable score, and I didn’t foresee any instances where I would need a greater stamina pool.

I did foresee greater combat roles in my future. Ideally, I’d man the helm and use artillery to kill my enemies, but no one likes artillery unless it belongs to you. Enemies were pretty good at closing to their preferred killing distance. I couldn’t advance my fighting skills down here on the bottom of the ocean, but I could advance their base attributes.

Strength got 2 points, bringing it to the same score as my Endurance. Dexterity got 3 points, bringing it up to 20. Agility also got 3 points, bringing it up to 23. I’d advanced all these skills working lines and heaving cargo. Soon they’d help me swing a sword. I’d still have to exercise the right muscle groups, but my whole body grew stronger from attributes.

That left me with 3 points, and I put them into Luck. That made Charisma my lowest attribute again, but I thought having Luck be the lowest was, well … bad luck.

All told, I’d grown significantly in the last 10 minutes.

Name

Domenic Seaborn

Age

23

Race

Human (Cursed)

Profession

Captain of the Deep

Level

10

XP

337,500

Health

250

Mana

250

Stamina

220

Strength

22

Agility

23

Dexterity

20

Constitution

25

Endurance

22

Intelligence

25

Wisdom

25

Charisma

18

Luck

19

Skills

Swimming 14

Seamanship 18

Sea Legs 13

Rowing 8

Swordsmanship 2

Fishing 8

Unarmed combat 7

Dirty fighting 4

Small blades 7

Axes 1

Archery 3

Artillery 2

Observation 10

Analyze 8

Carpentry 3

First Aid 2

Lock Picking 2

Cooking 2

Traps 10

Stealth 6

Singing 2

Climbing 11

Leadership 2

Spears 1

Magic

Air magic

Water magic

Ocean magic

Achievements

Lifesaving III

Trickster

Perks

Adaptable

Heart at Sea

I was also suffering from the headaches, soreness, stiffness and cramps that came with my changes. They’d go away in a few minutes, but maybe I should have spread them out a bit more … I’d never spent attribute points like this before. Not many people had.

To distract myself, I focused on what I really wanted to delve into: my profession. I found that it was directly tied to my cursed status. I had 337,500 XP to spend, and I expected to unlock all of the primary abilities of my profession with that.

I was wrong.

The very first skill listed in my profession was Raise Ship. It was 200,000 XP. Blood of my fathers! What kind of progression system was this? I had that much because I was a low-level nobody who’d gotten lucky taking out over a dozen high-level enemies, with quest XP to boot! But who could possibly afford that sort of buy-in? It would take most people years to grind that much XP, and for one skill! Was there a second stage? How much would that cost? Bloody stars!

When I finished cursing I looked over the skills description. It allowed me to claim a ship as my own, converting it into a cursed ship. Okay, that mollified me a little. I had a rare profession with a high starting cost. I wasn’t in the same position as most of the world, I was playing on the world stage. I might be Davy Jones’ servant, but he’d gifted me the power to become his right hand man. What was 200,000 XP compared to that?

The thought of spending that much still hurt, so I looked over my other skills. Would they be as bad?

Raise Crew was 50,000 XP, which hurt but not nearly as badly as the first skill. This one was easily identified as an incremental skill. The skill allowed me to bind the spirits of accepting individuals to my crew. The criteria didn’t look to be the same as the curse Davy Jones had placed on me, which made sense because if Jones could make servants who could make servants who could perpetuate the cycle, he’d be a lot more than legend.

Realistically, he could be more than he was right now if he wanted to. He wasn’t off raiding the high seas for a specific reason, I just didn’t know what it was.

Summon Crew was similar to Raise Crew, but instead of binding acceptant sapient spirits to me I temporarily created a magical construct. There were several caveats to their service – the most notable being that they would not fight for me.

I decided to avoid buying either of the crew skills until I had a ship that needed a crew. I’d have to have the points on hand to buy one or the other when I did get a ship, but I preferred to have the reserve than have XP committed to something I couldn’t undo.

There were a few other skills with more reasonable XP costs of a few thousand for an initial increment – like Vision. The major skills continued along the trend of being quite spendy, however. Hide True Nature was a passive skill that cost 40,000 XP. It magically altered my stat sheet to hide my cursed status. I could still hide my stats normally, but if people saw through me there would still be a magical barrier that hid the most important details. They’d have to have a high analyze skill to see through it, though they might get suspicious before they made it that far.

I bought the skill immediately. The moment people saw my true nature they’d have me plastered on every wanted poster in port. If they pinned me down somewhere, navies would circle me. Maybe that was an exaggeration at this point, but navies had amassed to face Jones. (Since it hadn’t worked for them, would that make navies more- or less-likely to hunt me down early?)

I found that the skill also obscured my Ocean magic. People could see my air and water magic, but not my third kind. Was that because it was a deeper magic? Or was it intrinsically tied to my curse? I’d never heard of it before – not that I’d spent much time learning about magic – so maybe it was something you could only get from Davy Jones.

I decided against investing in any of my other skills just yet. I intended to buy them, but I didn’t know which order would be most useful. I thought that if I needed any of them, I’d be able to take a moment and do the purchase on the spot.

I pulled myself out of my hiding spot and stretched, breathing deeply of the saltwater. I could feel the difference in my attributes! Because I’d saved my attribute points up, my attributes would be comparable to those of people a few levels above me. It would help me punch above my weight, at least in the levels of the early teens. When higher level people went to battle, everything hinged on your professional abilities anyway. It took a lot of levels to make up for that.

I was feeling good! I’d drastically increased my growth, I’d uncovered the rare abilities of a Captain of the Deep, I was breathing water instead of drowning … I was on top of the world! Metaphorically speaking, anyway.

A shadow eclipsed the filtered light from above. When I searched, I found a pod of Liopleuros above. They looked like alligators that had been adapted for open water. The smallest of them was 20 feet long, and each of them could put on an incredible burst of speed when they wanted. I quickly dropped my megalomania. Nothing like hanging out in the backyard of apex predators to make you feel like a small fry.

I decided to make my way with great care. I ran into two problems: where was I headed and how was I going to get there? The first problem was Andros by default. It was the closest. If I had made my way to Oorkom without my curse, I’m sure I could have expected a nice reward for my service and a possible quest chain. No way was I stepping into that hornets nest, though. Besides the fact that they were now assuredly on the warpath, Oorkom wouldn’t care what I’d done if they found out I was a servant of Davy Jones! Come to think of it, Antarus wouldn’t care that I’d rescued its princess, either. Better that I live on in their memories as the poor sailor who’d bid them farewell.

The second problem was less easily resolved. How could I tell where north was? How did other underwater ghost captains do it? None of my sailor experience had made me ask this particular question before! My best guess was based on the diffused light from the surface, combined with my best recollection of where I’d been facing when I went down. That was hardly precise, but there was no way I was going to swim up past those Liopleuros to the surface to get my bearings!

I made my best guess and started off. I’d find out soon whether I still needed food and fresh water.

Judging distance underwater was difficult. I’d never spent this much time underwater, and it was like exploring the rules of another world. Add to that how I switched back and forth between walking and swimming and there was no hope.

I had to go back to my profession interface and buy Vision before too long. Light was incredibly filtered down here, so while the moons took their places after the sun set, they didn’t illuminate my surroundings. Vision improved my ability to see in the dark and through murky waters. It only extended to its maximum distance, however, and after that the water quickly became blackness again, making it seem like I was swimming in a sphere that travelled with me.

The initial cost of 5,000 XP bought me 50 feet of visibility. That wasn’t bad, but in the vastness of the ocean I’d like to see much further. How many monsters could be just beyond my field of vision? 50 feet was well within striking distance for just about anything that called this place home.

Each subsequent upgrade cost 1,000 XP and improved my vision by 15 feet. A flat rate, standard, relatively low-cost improvement seemed too good to be true. I did the math and realized it was. To see a mile at that rate would cost me … what was it? 350,000 XP? I didn’t mind the thought of chipping in a thousand points here and there but spending hundreds of thousands on Vision wasn’t in the budget right now. I spent another 2,000 to get 30 more feet, and that was where my frugality compromised with my inner need to know what was out there.

I was glad I did, because just on the fringes of my vision I saw something. Not a monster, thank the stars, but something man-made. I looked closer and realized that it was the ruin of a ship, and a large ship at that!

H.M.S. Galaxy

Wreck

I approached and laid my hand on her fractured hull. She’d been down here a long time. The sea was gradually reducing her from a recognizable beauty to an abstract mound of shapes.

How about it? Was Galaxy a suitable name for a first ship?

I went into my professional interface and purchased Raise Ship, not even noticing how my fortune of XP fell. I was about to become a proper captain with his own ship – not just the last man standing aboard a sinking one. Not quite sure how to enact the ability, I just thought of the Galaxy and using my ability on her.

You cannot raise this ship.

The notice in my head jarred me. What do you mean I can’t?

You cannot raise this ship.

C’mon, don’t toy with me. I bought the skill, now I get my ship. Let’s go!

You cannot raise this ship.

You cannot raise this ship.

You cannot raise this ship.

I screamed in frustration and was cut short by the sound of my own voice. Bloody stars, that was a creepy sound underwater!

So I couldn’t raise the Galaxy. There were a couple of explanations: maybe I wasn’t utilizing my skill correctly. Maybe it was too broken and decrepit to be resurrected. Maybe it was too big for my skill level. Stars, I hoped that wasn’t it. I really wanted the XP cost of that skill to be one-and-done.

Looking at my professional interface, there was another level of the Raise Ship ability. Only I couldn’t see what it was: it was telling me I didn’t meet the criteria. Thanks for the descriptive analysis, world.

I couldn’t find the reason for why my ability wouldn’t work, but maybe that was for the best. The thought of sailing into Andros on The Cursed Galaxy made me rethink my plans. I had no crew to sail the ship and fight with me, so a huge ship like this was like a baby-faced youth asking to be dealt a hand of cards at the professional’s table: I wasn’t ready yet.

Still, the ship was interesting and there was a guarantee that no one had laid eyes on it since it made its last voyage down here. I wondered what its cargo had been. I also had a morbid curiosity whether the remains of any of its crew were trapped inside. What nationality of ship had it been?

The hull where I had approached didn’t offer any promising entry: I didn’t feel like squeezing through splintered boards. I swam up and over to where the main deck was listing. I froze for two reasons: the first being that this ship was in much worse shape than I’d even realized, and the second was there was movement on my periphery. After a few heart-pounding moments, I calmed myself. There were fish poking around and out of the wreckage. Normal, non-monster, perfectly harmless fish that saw this as a nice location.

Of course, where these guys were there’d be predators, and where their predators were would be hunting grounds for predators even higher on the food chain. I tried to convince myself that this location was as safe as any location I’d been since I was captured by pirates and walked the plank. Somehow that wasn’t very comforting.

A great portion of the forward deck was missing, and I could tell that the sea had nearly filled the holds with silt. I entered through the largest rent – keeping a close eye out for sharks or anything else that might be around. I saw a number of broken crates and barrels, but there was no trace of whatever had been in them. Something that was biodegradable, surely. Food, most likely? That didn’t tell me much about who the ship had belonged to. Everyone shipped food.

After a few minutes of inspection, I found a barrel that looked like it was still sealed. I pried a stave off a nearby broken barrel and used it to break the lid. As expected, the barrel wasn’t magically sealed, and the contents hadn’t survived. Whatever had been in it had turned into a kind of paste that I imagined had once been fruit …

Something slammed into me from behind and clamped down on my side. I felt teeth penetrate my skin with crushing force and I gasped as I sent ruined barrels flying and silty debris filled the air.

Name

Spotted Moray

Level

15

Health

780

Mana

400

Stamina

620

I’d been ambushed by a Moray eel, only this one was level 15 and about that many feet long! It was brown with black spots and wicked teeth that were currently embedded in my body. A second set of teeth bit my side, and I yelled in pain as the Moray adjusted its bite. That’s right, these things had two whole sets of jaws in their mouths!

I tried elbowing the eel’s head but its skull was hard and it was stubborn. Thinking back to the Tarish pirate who’d taken a knife to the eye, I reflexively reached for my rigging knife. Only I didn’t have one, because I’d been sent to the depths with nothing but my ragged clothes.

The eel adjusted its grip again and coiled part of its body around me. The dynamic was unusual; because I was walking instead of swimming I felt gravity and had a means of anchoring myself. On the other hand the eel was several times my size and weight. My blood tainted the water, but I only had a minor bleed debuff. It was just scary to see. My HP had taken a 50 point hit initially with the surprise attack, but the adjusting the eel was trying to do was only taking off a few points at a time. Of course, it was trying to maneuver me so it could swallow me whole. If it did manage to do that, a slow HP drain wouldn’t be kind. Jones wouldn’t be happy to see me in his locker less than a day after conscripting me.

Lacking a proper weapon, I drove my fingers into the fishy eye. Even with my upgraded strength, I couldn’t just pop its eye out like that. I still gave it my best effort, trying to pry my fingers around and ruin its vision. My other hand reached around for its other eye as it thrashed, disliking the new development in its ambush. Just as I thought I was going to rupture one of its eyes it released me and threw me across the ruined cargo hold.

I hit the deck harder than I would if I’d been subject to the water’s restrictive presence. I wondered if I could learn to fight submerged by switching between swimming and walking? I quickly grabbed up the nearest thing at hand – a semi-squashed crate – and faced my ambusher. It was shaking its head, lacking any appendages to rub its eye with. When it composed itself, its left eye was half-shut. It was breathing in the discomforting way its species did, showing its long, needle like teeth every time it opened its mouth.

“Easy now …” I cautioned it. It ignored me and struck again. It used mana and its body’s natural lubricant to move incredibly quickly in the water. If I didn’t have my own advantages, I might not have been able to maneuver the crate I had between me and its mouth. Its bite crushed the crate and its ramming snout still sent me flying. The good news was I hadn’t been bitten again, and this time I mentally shifted to swimming and the water slowed my momentum before I crashed into more crates. I grabbed another handful of debris, grateful that it was so prevalent. If the eel had seen fit to hide in it, then it was only fair that I got to use it too!

The eel wasn’t so quick to attack me again. It watched me carefully, waiting for an opening. It was a natural ambush predator, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t go head-to-head in a straight fight. The question was whether it would try.

I didn’t like the thought of trying to fight it. My attack on its eyes had only knocked off 20 HP. If it decided to keep attacking, my best option would be to try and blind it and get away. I didn’t have the means of inflicting significant damage on it.

I backed away from the eel, towards the aft of the ship. It followed. I didn’t want to get stuck with it in this wreck, but I didn’t want to have it chase me outside of the wreck either. Even if it didn’t chase me outside of the Galaxy, I didn’t want to be bleeding in the water as I made my escape. Might as well start yelling ‘easy meal!’

My impasse with the beast lasted until it backed me into a hallway with cabin doors on each side. The door on my left was broken, but the door on my right was sealed. I tried lifting the latch but it was corroded shut. Not having any other inspirational ideas while keeping eye contact with an aggressive eel, I tried harder, shaking and jerking the latch until I felt things grind and break. I was in!

I ducked into the cabin and shut it behind me, quickly glancing around to make sure I hadn’t jumped from the frying pan into the fire. There was scattered furniture, but no enemies. The cabin was intact; it didn’t look like anything had entered since the ship had gone down. I slumped against the door and slowly slid to the ground. Nothing like an overgrown eel to make a Captain of the Deep shut himself in a cabin out of fright, huh?

I was still bleeding, even if it was slowly. Thinking about the teeth on that thing, I was surprised my body wasn’t in bloody shreds! That must be my attributes modifying my reality, like its attributes had stopped my 22 points of strength from popping its eye out.

I pulled off my torn, ragged shirt and pressed it against the wounds on my belly. My shirt had a whole 1 point of durability left in it. My trousers had 3. They’d been worn out a few days ago, but not this badly. They didn’t even cut it as scrap for bandages.

One of the pieces of furniture caught my eye: a broken armoire. Clothing was spilling out of it: belonging to whomever had once owned this room. Clothing that had been soaked in seawater for decades didn’t make the best bandages, but my priority was to stop the bleeding. It’s not like I could use sterile bandages down here, anyway.

I rifled through the clothing until I found a shirt that I could tear without a knife. (I swear, I’m going to start carrying a dozen knives on me at all times! I never have one when I need it!) Then I wrapped my torso. That wasn’t completely effective, not with my level of First Aid. I used more clothing to pad the wounds on my belly and back, then tightened those in place. I looked ridiculous, but I’d bandaged my bleed. Could I still get infected? It’d be nice never to worry about that again. It usually took a trip to a healer to take care of that.

I picked up the armoire so I could drag it against the door and blockade it from any prying predators. As I did, I revealed a skeleton. I instantly looked around for any threat, but the room remained sealed and unchanged. This poor sap had probably been the occupant of this cabin.

I blocked the door, then took a closer look at the deceased. It seemed that the armoire had fallen and cracked his skull on the way down. He’d probably been unconscious while the ship flooded and he’d drowned. I say ‘he’ because the majority of humans who went to sea were men, but this skeleton was a Chortin and I wasn’t knowledgeable enough to differentiate the sexes from their bones. Judging by the clothing and weapons, he’d been some sort of adventurer.

Speaking of weapons, I removed the sword he was wearing. I was hoping for some named blade that would let me go make mincemeat out of that eel, but I identified it as corroded sword with a damage of 9-11. Not bad for a sword that’s been submerged in seawater for years, but hardly the amazing weaponry I was going for. Still, it was better than my fists. I had to take his belt too, so I could carry the sword. That felt irreverent, like I was defiling the dead, but the belt had attribute bonuses! +1 to Strength and +2 to Constitution! I had no regrets about taking it and even examined the rest of his gear for bonuses. It was as I belted the sword on and saw my health pool expand that I saw it: an unobtrusive satchel. If this was an adventurer …

This was everything I’d hoped it would be: an adventurer’s bag of holding! It opened up a pocket dimension and could carry much more than its size indicated, and at a fraction of the weight! If you could fit items through the opening of the bag, you could take it with you. I’d mocked adventurers my whole life. Most of it was deserved, but every joke about the bags they insisted on having was born of jealousy. These bags were very valuable. As I picked it up, I received a prompt:

The spirit of the previous owner of this bag has relinquished all claim to it. Do you wish to claim this bag of holding and its contents?

With my mental confirmation, I became aware of the entire contents within the bag. Everything that had been stored in it had been protected, the bag didn’t flood its pocket dimension with seawater. The bags durability had dropped, though, and was sitting at 15/120. It contained no weapons or raw materials. It did contain an assortment of potions; including health potions. I immediately withdrew one. Now, how to drink it while underwater?

I ended up sealing my lips around the vial and using my teeth to work the cork loose. I still drank seawater with the potion, and the potion’s own taste was different than usual – more syrupy. I didn’t know if that had to do with how it was made or if it was an effect of spending too long in a pocket dimension, but it worked just fine! My HP’s were completely restored – including the extra 20 points I got from my belt! I also felt my wounded torso healing up, but I didn’t bother to remove the bandages just yet.

In addition to health potions, the bag had mana potions, stamina potions, cleansing potions, boosts to different stats, and temporary improvements to different abilities – including a few philters of water breathing, which I found ironic. There were also a few different vials of poison, which went well with the other contents: traps. There were a few pre-built traps, but mostly it was all materials to create custom traps from scratch. This was my kind of guy! Luckily for me, I happened to have 10 levels in Traps, and could put everything here to good use with a bit of practice!

The last item was possibly the most precious to me: a compass. A functional, waterproof compass! Thank the salt winds! I could navigate again!

There were other documents in the bag; letters and either charts or maps, but I knew better than to bring them out now. The adventurer had no other items of note, and I apologized to him for taking his stuff. The prompt I’d gotten with the bag of holding told me that there was no wraith hanging around with the stuff, but I avoided taking from the dead as a rule. Too many ghost stories as a kid, I guess. If they all had things as cool as this guy did, I’d probably get over that compunction quickly.

I looked around the cabin for anything else but found nothing. I did check thrice for any holes or cracks that would provide easy access to a predator, but the cabin was tight. Just my luck. I’d have to go back out the way I’d come in, but I should be safe while I was in here. With that in mind, I wrapped the skeleton in the tattered remains of the bed sheets and laid him on the ruined mattress. Then I did my best to arrange a semi-comfortable spot – the ship was listing badly enough that the deck wasn’t level, but not badly enough that the bulkhead became the deck – and let the emotions of the day catch up to me. I’d already vented a bit after my meeting with Jones, but it had been a long while since I’d had proper rest. Judging by my current conditions, it would be a while more. That didn’t stop sleep from overtaking me.

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captaink-19

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