“Build me straight, O worthy Master!
Stanch and strong, a goodly vessel,
That shall laugh at all disaster,
And with wave and whirlwind wrestle!”

The pirate’s word
Delighted the Master heard;
For his heart was in his work, and the heart
Giveth grace unto every Art.
A quiet smile played round his lips,
As the eddies and dimples of the tide
Play round the bows of ships,
That steadily at anchor ride.
And with a voice that was full of glee,
He answered, “Erelong we will launch
A vessel as goodly, and strong, and stanch,
As ever weathered a wintry sea!”

And as he labored, his mind ran o’er
The various ships that were built of yore,
And he said with a smile, “Our ship, I wis,
Shall be of another form than this!”
It was of another form, indeed;
Built for freight, and yet for speed,
A beautiful and gallant craft;
Broad in the beam, that the stress of the blast,
Pressing down upon sail and mast,
Might not the sharp bows overwhelm;
Broad in the beam, but sloping aft
With graceful curve and slow degrees,
That she might be docile to the helm,
And that the currents of parted seas,
Closing behind, with mighty force,
Might aid and not impede her course.

Thus with the rising of the sun
Was the noble task begun,
And soon throughout the ship-yard’s bounds
Were heard the intermingled sounds
Of axes and of mallets, plied
With vigorous arms on every side;
Plied so deftly and so well,
That, ere the shadows of evening fell,
The keel of oak for a noble ship,
Scarfed and bolted, straight and strong,
Was lying ready, and stretched along
The blocks, well placed upon the slip.

Day by day the vessel grew,
With timbers fashioned strong and true,
Stemson and keelson and sternson-knee,
Till, framed with perfect symmetry,
A skeleton ship rose up to view!
And around the bows and along the side
The heavy hammers and mallets plied,
Till after many a week, at length,
Wonderful for form and strength,
Sublime in its enormous bulk,
Loomed aloft the shadowy hulk!

With oaken brace and copper band,
Lay the rudder on the sand,
That, like a thought, should have control
Over the movement of the whole;
And near it the anchor, whose giant hand
Would reach down and grapple with the land,
And immovable and fast
Hold the great ship against the bellowing blast!
And at the bows an image stood,
By a cunning artist carved in wood,
With robes of white, that far behind
Seemed to be fluttering in the wind.
It was not shaped in a classic mould,
Not like a Nymph or Goddess of old,
Or Naiad rising from the water,
But modelled from the Master’s daughter!

Behold, at last,
Each tall and tapering mast
Is swung into its place;
Shrouds and stays
Holding it firm and fast!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Two Wednesdays Later: (and the time in between)

The next few days pass without incident, such that the party is finally able to sit down and talk about something actually important—what to name their ship. Caddis suggests they use a name that implies their plans to make it fly, such as “The Icharus”.

“Moya”, suggests Thaduk.

“Albatross,” suggests Leo.

Rummy says that perhaps they should pick a fairly innocuous name, like “Potato”, to give their prey a false sense of security.

“Baiju?” suggests Caddis.

The rest of the crew quickly point out that a pirate’s success is based in large part upon reputation and intimidation, and no merchant would surrender to “The Potato”.

“Rancid Turnip?” suggests Caddis.

The discussion drags on and on, taking up most of a day as more and more suggestions are thrown out. Finally Leo suggests that, if it needs to be something intimidating, perhaps they pick something reflective of their actual past, “Moonplum’s Revenge?”

“Doomplum?” says someone.
DOOMPLUM!” shouts Thaduk.

“What about…”

DOOMPLUM!!” shouts Thaduk.


DOOMPLUM!!!” shouts Thaduk.

It soon becomes clear that the discussion is over, and the ship shall be called the Doomplum. After a Thaduk pours a few more rounds of drinks, everyone agrees that this is, in fact, a good name and the conversation pivots to how they could capitalize on the new name. Rummy says they should dip the sails in plum wine to stain them purple. Leo and Oppenheimer begin composing a themesong (Zarina especially approves). Guillaume slightly alters his design for the figurehead, which he had already modeled on his missing love (topless of course), to have the hands held outstretched, holding a plum (on fire?).

Caddis insists that it’s spelled “Dümplom”.



“Der Dümplom?”

“Hurr Durr Dümplom?”


“Just Dümplom.” Finally, after a long day of arguing, everyone, content and very drunk, turns in for the night.

The next morning, Caddis, Leo, Rummy, and Thaduk sat down to write up a proper roster for their crew. Realizing how many new people they had, and their own lack of knowledge, they called in Zarina and Riaris and put together a kind of “Pirate-lympics”. The next two days were filled with s series of competitions testing the crew’s knowledge of ropes and rigging, climbing skills, carpentry skills, speed and accuracy at loading and firing cannons, boarding technique, and other necessary talents.

In the end, they managed to assign everyone, including making some significant changes. Sandara was made ship’s surgeon. Caulky, the cabin girl, was promoted to Master’s Mate, reporting to Leo and Zarina, with Tilly as senior rigger in charge of the actual labor in the tops. Chumlet was promoted to Bosun’s mate under Thaduk. Ratline Ratsberger and Henrye were put under Riaris, as gunner’s mate and signaler. And Wunorse and Zarina’s assistant, Oppenheimer, were made ship’s carpenters, and given free reign to start developing traps for repelling boarders and new munitions (in addition to helping Zarina with the necessary modifications to make the vessel flight-capable).

As days passed without further signs of threatening ships or giants, work on the ship continued apace. The squibs seemed not at all bothered by the loss of the Puritan foreman, and only slightly put off by Guillaume’s apparent taciturness and insistence on wearing armor (he’d always been weird and grumpy anyways). Only Rickety Hake himself complained particularly, since he had to more directly oversee the final work.

Worried about taking Guilleaum on the ship, or even simply leaving the demon behind, Rummy pulled Zarina aside and asked whether the faerie would help him research a way to possibly change Guilleaum’s fiery and volatile demonic nature. The two of them holed up for nine days with Rummy’s book, reading and experimenting.

The more he read of the book, the more depressed Rummy became, and by the end of their time of study had fallen into a deep melancholy—miserable and demoralized now that he understood the profound grotesquery that he had involved himself in. He took to sitting naked in the ruined hulk of the Ginger Belle stinking drunk and obsessively reading and re-reading passages from the infernal tome. Finally Zarina shoved a different kind of drink into his hand…and everything was better…sort of.

The two of them did, after nine days, find a potential cure for Guilleaum, provided they were able (or willing) to acquire sufficient fresh bodies. Before the two would-be diabolists could act, however, the choice was made moot, as, by the time Rummy stopped feeling sorry for himself, the demonic foreman burned out, his armor and bones melting into metal slag and then fading away in a whiff of caustic vapor. Thus making the point moot.

Leo and Caddis, meanwhile, spent their days watching the final repairs to their ship and considering where to go once it was done. Back to Moonplum seemed the obvious choice, but some of Captain Pegsworthy’s crew pointed out that the Imperial Navy had been seen out in force around Nova Britannia in the last weeks. “Time for all proper pirates to make themselves scarce from the Coral Sea.” Once their new ship was squibbed, they said the Captain was turning east, heading back to the safer hunting around The Republic and the Americas.

They chatted up some of the squibs, talking a few into joining the crew once the ship was ready, adding a half dozen new swabs. Leo also asked about the map they’d found on the Puritan’s body. No one seemed to have any real clues, other than to point out stories of the so-called Forbidden Island where the Emporer had supposedly imprisoned the Puritan’s god, (though no one really knew where it was or if it was even real). Puritanism, they reminded him, was illegal throughout the entire Empire and the Kingdom of Hapsburg, which meant most of the world, really, as were those black coins they were carrying.

Finally, after three weeks of waiting, the new ship was done. Everyone in the small settlement, the eighty-odd squibs, their crew, now pushing fifty, and Captain Pegsworthy’s men gathered around the drydock to christen the Dümplom. Barrels of rum were tapped and drinks were passed out to all present, and emptied and refilled many times. After the first couple rounds of drinking and cheering, Pegsworthy stepped up to the prow of the ship, bottle of plum wine in hand, and cleared his throat.

“For thousands of years,” he began, "we have gone to sea. We have crafted vessels to carry us and we have called them by name. These ships will nurture and care for us through perilous seas, and so we affectionately call them “she.” To them we toast, and ask to celebrate the Red Sadness."

A shout rang out, “TO THE SAILORS OF OLD! TO RED SADNESS,” and glasses were emptied and refilled again.

“In the name of all who have sailed aboard this ship in the past, and in the name of all who may sail aboard her in the future, we invoke the ancient gods of the wind and the sea to favor us with their blessing today. Mighty Neptune, king of all that moves in or on the waves; and mighty Aeolus, guardian of the winds and all that blows before them: “We offer you our Red Sadness, the she be struck and removed from your records. Further, we ask that when she is again presented for blessing with another name, she shall be recognized and shall be accorded once again the selfsame privileges she previously enjoyed. In return for which, we rededicate this vessel to your domain in full knowledge that she shall be subject as always to the immutable laws of the gods of the wind and the sea. In consequence whereof, and in good faith, we seal this pact with a libation offered according to the hallowed ritual of the sea.”

Again the glasses were emptied, and the assemblage shouted, “TO THE SEA…TO THE SAILORS OF OLD…TO THE SEA!” With a crash, Pegsworthy smashed the bottle of wine across the prow, and Chandra Goodwin layed a bough of green leaves on the deck.

“Mighty Chris,” the priestess cried, "who knows the names of all that which was and all that which should be, I name this ship Dümplom and may she bring fair winds and good fortune to all who sail on her. We ask that this ship be given the strength to carry on. The keel is strong and she keeps out the pressures of the sea. Today we come to rename this lady, and send her to sea to be cared for, and to care for the Captain Caddis and his crew. We ask the sailors of old and the mood of the gods that is the sea to accept Dümplom as her name, to help her through her passages, and allow her to return with her crew safely. "

Glasses were drained again with yet more shouting, “TO THE SEA…TO THE SAILORS BEFORE US…TO DÜMPLOM!” And drained again, “TO DÜMPLOM!”, and again…

The celebration ran late into the evening. As Caddis staggered, very very drunk, off to his bunk, Captain Pegsworthy caught his arm and managed to slur out, “Good fortune and sure sail await one what can crack the Tidewater Rock. All ‘Free Captains’ are welcome in the Republic. If you ever find yourselves in the Americas, come out to Nassau and we can get you proper letters," before he also stumbled off to bed.

The next morning was bright and sunny, not necessarily a good omen when your entire crew is hungover. Still, with effort, the assemblage got the Dümplom launched out of drydock and underway. Coming on the deck of his own ship for the first time, Caddis found Leo with Jessica in her lap. He messaged her and explained that they could not go home, an idea which clearly bothered her much much less than it might have three weeks earlier.

Seeing Leo starting to get fresh with his sister again, Caddis critically sowed the thought in his friend’s head that he was not really interested in Jessica that way. Later, belowdecks, Jessica would be quite put out to find that Leo simply could not get it up for her. Nor will he ever again.

The crew were drowsing at their stations, still recovering from the night’s revelries, so Leo struck up a song to help dispel the collective hangover. As they sailed, refreshed, out into the bay, the discussion again turned to where to go. Caddis asked Leo about Pegsworthy’s cryptic statement of the night before. The sailing master told him that “Tidewater Rock” was a fortress in the Falklands, famous for its advantageous position if one wanted to dominate the shipping lanes around Cape Horn and Drake’s Passage.

With threats of the navy back north, and west, the crew decided to head east, to the Spanish Hapsburg controlled port of Port Vila on the island of Efate in the Vanuatu chain — hoping to hire on more crew there, liquidate some of their stores of plunder, and take on stores for voyages further east. When Leo ordered Zarina to lay in the course, she flitted up to his shoulder to jingle in his ear. “Actually, if we’re heading east, I’d suggest a slightly different course…”

She went on to explain that she and Oppenheimer were very close to completing their plans to make a ship fly while working for Captain Pegsworthy, but were missing one key ingredient. One which could only be obtained in a very specific place and which they had not been able to convince Pegsworthy to go after. The place was, of course, her home, in Faerie. There was a passage between the worlds, just off the southern tip of the island of Erromango, no more than three days from their current position, and only about a day south of Port Vila.

The officers readily agreed to her change of course and they turned east by south-east towards Erromango. Leo left Zarina the helm and performed a weather reading, learning that there was a tropical storm heading their way. They could shelter in the bay and wait it out, steer north and try to avoid it…or…

“Sail strait into it at full speed and try to get past it as fast as we can,” Leo suggested.

Leo took the helm, summoned up a strong tailwind, and steered the Dümplom headlong into the course of the storm. Caddis sent Thaduk, Rummy, and all non-essential personnel belowdecks and told them to secure the hold, then took up position in the aft-castle and struck his best pose of defiance against the gods of nature. The storm was slow-moving, but big. A thing that would have reached them in six or seven hours, they caught up to in one and attacked head on.

The rain drove at them. The wind ripped at their sails. The waves rose higher than the top of the aft-castle. Leo laughed and sang, and sailed on. He made it look easy.

The continued on at full sail. Four hours into the storm, a line broke loose, lashing across the deck to strike Caddis. He took the blow, grabbed the rope, and used it to swing up into the tops to help the riggers.

An hour later, they came out of the far side of the storm, wet and wind-blown but otherwise unscathed. Behind the storm, the sea was calm and the skies clear.

Except the clear sky was entirely the wrong shade of canary yellow…

And the sun shining in the sky was entirely the wrong shade of magenta…

And the smooth seas were entirely the wrong shade of puce…and sparkly…

“Wow!” Zarina said, “I never expected you’d be crazy enough to take the shortcut…”


From up in the crowsnest came the weak call of “Land Ho,” followed by the sound of retching from Henrye.

And the Dumplom dropped anchor off the coast of Faerie…

To be continued…