This is a repost of my entry at the latest Scribe’s contest over at the old forum. There is a reference to it in my emissary’s backstory, so I thought it might be good to post it here again (slightly edited and modified for continuity)
Wilham the Plight, disgraced sea captain, entered his master’s forges with grim determination, furiously glaring at any acolyte not shuffling out of his way fast enough. Reputation was everything in Zharr Kagur, and Wilham had already fallen out of favor with his patron. He would not suffer to be ousted by some upstart of a few hundred winters. He was Wilham the Plight, scourge of the Black Coast and dread of the Imperial Sea. Sorcerer-Prophet Alkanash regarded him with a disdain-written face, as old and unyielding as the rock. “Come nightfall, you will set sail for the Turtle Islands. You will bring back no less than 200 Ashheart Salamanders for a grand ritual in Hashut’s honour.” Alkanash did not ask this of Wilham, he merely stated what would come to pass. Compliance was irrefutable. Wilham gave a curt nod, here was a chance to redeem himself. “The Ashen Crusader is your eternal servant, honoured one. I will send for Grashduk and the rest of my crew at once.” “No, you won’t,” Alkanash corrected him. “You shall not sail with Hashut’s blessing, for the Dark Father is weary of you. Prove yourself worthy captaining the Hobgoblin barque Bountharr , before you ever will command Uzkul-Drath-Zharr again. One of the tribes shall be your crew. Be gone.”
Wilham left, trembling with barely contained anger. To lead a crew of Hobgoblin slaves was an insult! But there was no denying his commands. Alkanash expected him to sail through the Gates of Calith, but Wilham decided to take the shortest passage to the Turtle Islands, leading around southern Lustria under the watchful eyes of the cursed Elgi at the Citadel of Dusk. A perilous route, but he would arrive two moons early with his spoils, retake his rightful place among the higher echelons of Zharr Kagur and would never have to command a slave ship again!
Wilham whipped the crew on day and night to make haste. By the time he reached the Citadel of Dusk, already forty-six had died of exhaustion; an acceptable number and the reason the crew counted over two hundred at the start of the voyage, when only twenty would be enough to man the ship. But the Hobgoblins feared the Elgi even more than the flogging, and so the Bountharr could not make the passage. A furious Wilham lashed out in unchecked anger but could not prevent their failure to follow through on his commands, and so a much diminished crew started the detour through the Gates of Calith.
Three months later the Bountharr finally arrived at the Turtle Islands. By now the Ashheart Salamanders had started hibernating and so Wilham would lose another two months. The Hobgoblins not yet flogged to death started raiding the coastal villages and enjoyed the easy match the rural island folk presented in combat. Eventually spring arrived, the Salamanders came crawling out of their lairs and after months of waiting, the Bountharr finally left the Turtle Islands. Wilham was eager to make up for the lost time by flogging the crew twice as much.
Not after long, as the Bountharr was just rounding the Lost Isles of Elithis, the Hobgoblins began to think back longingly about their time on the Turtle Islands. Finally one night a group around Fletchakk Khan, second in command on the Bountharr and only marginally more lenient with summary punishment of his crew than Wilham himself, realized that they were far away from Zharr Kagur, and there was only a single Chaos Dwarf on board. Spurred on by the dubious confidence only rum can bestow, they stormed their captain’s cabin, in hopes to surprise him in his sleep, as is the Hobgoblin way. Wilham however did not survive that long among the brutal society that is Zharr Kagur, only to be killed in his sleep by drunken slaves. The first two Hobgoblins through the door were soon killed by shots from his double-barreled pistol and dropped dead on the floor within seconds from each other. A tumultuous melee ensued and Wilham would surely have been bested, hadn’t, at the height of the confusion, the treacherous Hobgoblin nature thwarted their plans yet again, as a couple of Hobgoblins decided that a better fate awaited them as the new second-in-command under their saved captain than staying mere slaves under Fletchakk’s uncertain leadership on the Turtle Islands. The mutineers however proved to be more numerous and so the “loyal” Hobgoblins soon started fleeing the ship. They managed to launch the boat and even dragged the still fuming Wilham with them. All in all eighteen Hobgoblins and Wilham escaped in the boat, chased by the taunting laughter of the victorious mutineers.
Under their new captain Fletchakk Khan, the Bountharr turned around and once again set sail for the Turtle Islands. Unfortunately for the Khan, the next day he, and four of his closest followers, had a “nasty accident”, according to his successor, with the ship’s boom. Bad luck followed the Bountharr ’s voyage from now on, where deadly accidents happened almost daily, curiously most of the times involving the then-acting captain.
Forty days later the people on the Turtle Islands signaled alarm, as they saw the now dreaded sails of the Bountharr approach on the horizon once again. Unbraked ran the Bountharr on the ground and had the villagers running from their imminent doom, but surprisingly no cutlass-wielding Hobgoblin jumped ashore. It took the bravest villager two days, when hundreds of underfed Salamanders gleefully waded from the ship onto the sandy beach, to set foot on the ominously silent ship. All he found were twenty-four dead Hobgoblins; two of them with hands still wrapped around each other’s throats.
Not much is known about the fate of Wilham and the other Hobgoblins. Some say he killed them all on the first day, before he alone made the long way back to Zharr Kagur to atone for his failure and join the ranks of the Legion of Azgorh. Others claim that the boat sank south of the Tower of the Sun, brought about by a High Elf fleet. In any case, Wilham the Plight is a threat on the oceans no more.