Pirates of the Burning Seas

Prologue

The sailor burst into the captain's quarter, slamming the door open, unannounced. Captain Tomasso's rage rose even quicker than he did from his desk, but the angry words he was about to unleash went dead as he saw the pale expression of horror in the sailor's face. 

"Captain, the sea is burning."

Tomasso grabbed his hat and marched past the slack-jawed sailor. The smell of sulphur filled his nostrils immediately, as did the smell of smoke. Sailors and deck-hands ran all about, some working on the riggings, some securing all items on deck, others in abject terror. Tomasso climbed the stairs to the quarterdeck, where First Mate Vincenzo stood barking orders and firmly grasping the wheel.

"Captain, we need to change course now."

"Preposterous, Vincenzo. We need to be in Porto Azurro in five days by any means necessary. We cannot afford any detours."

"But, sir, it's the Burning Seas. We must change course!"

Captain Tomasso's hand flew so fast that First Mate Vincenzo never knew he had been slapped across the face except for the sharp sting and taste of blood in his mouth. "Listen to me, Vincenzo. I will accept such ignorance and cock-and-bull stories from these imbecile crewmembers, but you are a son of Porto Azurro, a graduate of the Naval Academy, and an officer in the Dogessa's navy. Speak to me of a legend only when we're off-duty and drinking. While you're commanding my ship, the Dogessa's ship, however, I will bode no such talk, let alone actions based on such talk, from you. Capisci?"

Tomasso turned around and addressed the crew next. "Listen up, you nescient scallywags. We sail forward, you hear me? We sail to Porto Azurro as fast as this ship can take us. Man your station, or I will personally turn you into food for the sha…"

BANG!

A puff of smoke was all that came out of Captain Tomasso's mouth as his body slumped down, lifeless, the hole in the back of his head gushing blood onto the deck. Vincenzo calmly tucked the pistol back in his belt, and yelled out, "Belay that order. We will escape the Burning Seas!"

A collective roar went up from the crew as they resumed whatever they were doing. But it was too late.

The water around the ship went up in flames instantly, as if being fed by an underwater furnace. The hull caught fire as if it'd been made of paper and kindling. Tongues of fire whipped about almost intelligently, seeking out crewmembers, setting them ablaze with unnatural speed. The ship was lost, the crew was lost, and everyone knew it. 

Vincenzo ordered everyone to abandon the ship, and while some welcomed their doomed fate by diving into the fiery waves, others managed to get into two lifeboats, hoping they would have a chance of escaping. Vincenzo waved them off from the quarter deck, the captain's hat now on his head, the ship, his ship, a floating inferno.

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