Angels O’ Mercy .
As penned by George A. Yesthal and witnessed by His Upright Holiness, Father Edarius Van Dieder
“One might think, and well so, that the tale that I impart is euphemistic or false. But brethren, I assure you that I, Jeremiah Brubaker do solemnly swear that all accounts herein imparted are fact, On pain of death and dishonor do I so aver.
I washed up on the Island of T’jar sometime in early June of 1829 clinging to whatever flotsam I could find. The precise date is washed from my ken by days of confusion and pounding seawater. As God is my witness, I thought myself dead and drowned more than once during those agonizing days. I still awaken tasting salt and seaweed. I lay in the tide pools for I know not how long, cut something savage from the reef and losing blood, fading in and out of consciousness.
When at last I came to my senses and realized against all odds that I’d survived, I began to take stock of my surroundings. I realized the storm was abating and it was dusk. A few yards from me lay our boatswains mate, Emil Whist…well half of poor Emil, from the waist up. He was the last man I spoke to before the frigate Hellswind was taken to a deep grave. The tale will be told that she split her spine and slipped under, but gentlemen, you must believe me when I say that it just ain’t so. Truth be told, I know no good way to convey it to be sure you taste the truth of it, so I’ll just say plain what I know.
Just before the storm blew full the crew had finished tying off and preparing to ride out the blow. Every latch, hatch and loose end tied to and battened in good time. Excuse the wet, eyes, but I’ve never shipped out with a haler crew of stout lads. Sharp to th’ job, every one. The Captain gave the order to trim up, turn about and tack out away from land as to avoid the shoals. We had only the lads needed up top and all else below. God help me but I’ll never use the term skeleton crew again. The way the lightning flashed that night I’d not have traded places with Alfy, the lad in the crow’s nest, for all the gold there is. When he gave the shout, “Ahoy…ships a-starboard “, Emil and I rushed to the gunwales and peered into the flashing storm. We saw nothing at first but soon through the flashes we could see sails and prows. "
Here first mate Brubaker filled his glass with rum from the flagon on the table and drank deeply.
“Ye’ll say I’m a liar…no matter. They were dragon prows such as were sailed by Norse warriors. Their like has not been seen on the high seas in centuries. Shallow draft knarrs, sailing at full sail in that impossible wind and swells. They glowed a bit…St. Elmos fire? I don’t know.”
“The vessels fell in behind us and followed apace for some time and by this time the captain had ordered all hands topside and armed against the likelihood that they were pirates. In what was only moments at best our pursuers overtook and flanked us. Four ships in all there was, and now in the flashing of the lightning the crew was visible and I shivered uncontrollable with fear of the sight of them. Massive men, fur clad and helmed all. And their look was that of the dead, gaunt skullish faces with dead sightless eyes…or none. They made no attempt to grapple our ship or to board and yet…God help me, we stalled in that storm as dead in the sea as our attackers. Impossible I well know, but true nonetheless.”
“No arms did these specters brandish, no attack, no threats or aggression, and yet their look was death. I know not how I knew but I was, and am, certain that to gaze into those horrid faces was a curse. Those stares would take my soul to hell. I could not look much less do battle with such as these. I turned away and as I cowered the low moaning chant began and I fell to the deck holding shut my ears and wept. The whole crew was in a state of horrific frenzy. Twas then the clouds above the Hellswind parted and a pale light shone through. The boldest of us took up weapons and waited for whatever would come. I am ashamed to say I was not among them. I lay prostrate, paralyzed with fear. I could see that through the light in the parted clouds were tiny spiraling specks…birds I believed them to be. They circled for a time and one by one began to descend. It became obvious that if they were birds, they were huge. The specter’s chant did then crescendo but their speech was unknown to me.”
I heard Alfy in the crow’s nest calling out that these creatures were angels o’ mercy and that we were saved. Just as one of Alfy’s “angels” swooped down and hauled him screaming into the sky, another winged down to light on the hatch and I could see clearly that it was in fact a winged female with so terrifying an appearance that I rolled over and vomited. It was just then that I knew I would lose consciousness. Before I did I saw the rest of the crew plucked up to a man. When I came to my senses I was alone. The ship was fractured and sinking fast. I had only time to abandon ship and grab whatever flotsam that I could find, the one word I could understand from the chant echoing in my ears…Valkyrie."