Day 5 – 1305 words today and total of 6081 words! Today’s doesn’t end quite so abruptly as last times :D.

Turning to look in the direction Steik was pointing, Stikky stared out into the rainy haze, looking for some kind of sign to prove his friend’s claim, but soon gave up.

“I can’t see anything Steik,” he said eventually. “It’s too rainy at the moment…”

Suddenly a flash of lightning blinded them for a moment, a clap of booming thunder following it a moment later.

Opening his eyes, Stikky looked around for a moment, and started.

Less than a few hundred metres behind them, with its sails filled to the brim, sailed The Rogue, a full crew of sailors crowding her decks.

Staring open-mouthed, the two stickmen watched as the ship disappeared behind a wave and crested it a moment later, gradually drawing nearer.

Stikky was the first to break out of it. “All hands on deck!” he yelled, leaping down off the quarterdeck, startling the three sitting peacefully under the tent as he opened the hatch to the decks below and bellowed down it again. “All hands on deck!”

 

***

 

Captain Azrog was perched high on the prow of The Rogue, clinging to the bowsprit as the bow dipped and heaved. He yelled encouragement to his crew as they ran about on the decks, despite the pouring rain.

“C’mon, chaps! Pile on more sail there, and we’ll have them! If we don’t sink ‘er, the first stickman aboard will get that ship as their prize once we’ve rid ourselves of those tiresome pirates!”

Nódin joined him, shouting to be heard above the shrieking gale and hissing spray. “Uh, Cap’n, are you sure their pirates?”

Azrog turned to look at him, a crazy gleam in his eye. “What are ye talking about, of course they’re pirates! An’ not just any pirates, they’re Rogers’ crew! Why, I saw ‘im myself, holding his golden cutlass!”

Nódin nodded, pushing any doubt from his mind. “Well, they’ve got a few lengths start on us, but we’ll catch them soon!”

“Yer right there, mate,” Azrog said as he wiped spray from his eyes. “Get some archers up ‘ere, and some grapplin’ hooks. When we get close enough then we’ll clap grapplers an’ hold ’er close, while the archers pick them off one by one. Tell them t’get that rogue Rogers first!”

Nódin saluted sharply as he leaped down to obey his Captain’s orders. “Ahoy, Goz, get below an’ break out some bows ‘n’ arrows! Arthkul, we’ll need some grapplin’ irons an’ ropes. C’mon lads! We’ve got ‘em!”

 

As the Stickmen came clambering up onto the main deck, Stikky took over from Steik at the tiller as the weather rapidly worsened from raining to stormy, the wind shrieking through the sails of the ship as it grew stronger.

Turning his head, Stikky took a glance back at their pursuers, smiling at the sight.

With her decks and bows crammed with her entire crew, The Rogue began to slow, floundering as her prow began to dip deeper into the waves of the storm.

Over the howling of the storm, a deep, rumbling noise began to fill the air until it was all around them, puzzling the group on the quarterdeck.

“What is that noise?” Leddy asked, scratching his head. “I’ll go and take a look around quickly.”

“Why aren’t they shooting at us?” Stif enquired, shouting to be heard above the shrieking of the wind and rain. “They were last time, weren’t they?”

“Maybe they’ve decided they want to capture us, and keep the ship, rather than sinking her?” Stib replied. “Or maybe they’ve realised we’re not pirates, and they’re coming to apologise?”

“Well…” Stif continued. “It looks like they’ve got bows and arrows, which I think means they’re gonna start attacking soon…”

“Stikky!!” yelled a voice, and they turned to see Leddy clambering hurriedly down from the rigging, a panicked look on his face.

“Take over for a moment, you two,” Stikky told the twins. “I’m going to go see what Leddy’s on about.”

Hurrying down onto the main deck, he almost collided with Leddy as his younger friend slid on the slippery wood.

“What is it?” Stikky asked, catching hold of Leddy to stop him slipping up.

“There’s a…” Leddy gasped, pointing away in the direction the ship was heading. “There’s a huge hole in the sea!”

Stikky stared. “What?” he exclaimed, then began to head for the foremast. “Come on, you need to show me this!”

Together they climbed into the rigging, and Leddy pointed directly in the direction they were heading. “Look that! What even is it?”

The sight took Stikky’s breath away. Less than a few hundred metres southwest was a gigantic whirlpool, more than ten shiplengths wide, a complete circle, whirling around like a tornado, with a massive hole at its centre. The roaring noise increased until it filled the air for kilometers around.

“Is that a whirlpool!?” Stikky exclaimed to himself. “I always thought they were a myth!”

Realisation suddenly dawned on him. “We’re heading straight for it!” He yelled, beginning to climb down the rigging. “We have to warn the others!”

“Actually,” Leddy replied, an idea popping into his head. “That could be where The Rogue is going!”

Stikky stared at him. “You mean we trick them into falling in?” he exclaimed.

“Exactly!”

Captain Azrog was laying about with the flat of his sword at the stickmen crowing the bows. “Get back, you fools, wait till I gives the word! Go an’ shove more sail on—yore slowin’ the ship down by all pilin’ up here. Go on, get back, I say!”

Nódin came hurrying forward, grinning. “Cap’n, Cap’n, looks like they’re floundering. She’s limping like a lame duck with all sails on the starboard side slack!”

Azrog was jubilant at his sudden good fortune. “Har-harr, she ain’t goin’ nowheres! Ahoy, where are you lot off to? Get back up for’ard here! Stand by with weapons and grapplin’ hooks! Running with this gale, we’ll hove alongside in no time!”

A stickmen in the rigging on lookout began shrieking, “Waaah, Cap’n! There’s a big ‘ole in the seas!”

Azrog shook his head in mock despair. “You’ve been up there too long, Sarg. Come on down!”

But the lookout persisted. “I’ve never seen nothin’ like it, Cap’n off to the sou’west. Can’t you ‘ear the noise it’s makin’?”

Azrog could ignore the noise no longer, even though The Rogue was upwind of the maelstrom. At first he thought the roaring of the vortex was thunder, but there lightning had stopped a long time ago. The Captain of The Rogue hauled himself high into the forepeak rigging to take a look. Most of the crew did, too, and the sight of the colossal whirlpool caused chaos.

“Sarg’s right—’tis a pit in the waters!”

“Put about or we’re all going to die!”

“We’ll be sucked down into it, mates!”

“Bring ér about, Cap’n, afore we perish!”

Strapp gritted his teeth—he was determined to capture the pirates’ ship, and take Captain Rogers prisoner. He’d had good fortune so far; he’d already damaged their vessel, and would’ve sunk them except for the fact they’d been near land. Now, after chasing them halfway across the Stykk Ocean he was not about to give up and turn tail. Booting the closest rats down to the deck, he railed at them.

“Down an’ stand ready, every one of ye! I ain’t goin’ back empty handed! Are you seastickmen or landlubbers? Wherever that ship goes, we can follow. Anyone not with me is against me, an’ it’s over the side with the cowards! Now look lively an’ jump to my biddin’!”

 

Spume and roaring water were everywhere, enveloping the crew of the Resolution. Stif and Stib fought against the tiller as it bucked and yawed. The two had to shout their reply to Stikky at the top of their voices. “Are you sure about this, Stikky?”