- Sci-fi comic about ancient things people find in melting icebergs
Oldtimers still remember the days when a ruthless pirate Barcelon Cartilago roamed the seas. Some called him a villain, some called him a hero who robbed the rich but helped the poor. One thing we know for certain: he was a legendary sea wolf.
The pirate had a daughter, Sindel, whom he loved more than anything in the world.
Sindel Cartilago was born and raised on a pirate ship. She learned the ropes of her dad’s craft with the ship boys as a kid. As a teen, she already fought alongside her proud parent. Barcelon loved his daughter so much he could not refuse her the same life he enjoyed himself, the life full of risk, danger, and adventures.
There’s an old saying that bringing a woman aboard is bad luck... Cartilago’s men laughed at it, of course, but no superstition grows on bare ground, there’s always something that starts it. The old saying had a second part, lost in ages: “...because women can attract merfolk”. And if merfolk gets interested in your ship, it usually means you’re a dead man.
Years passed, pirate life went on. Sindel, being as strong and brave as she was beautiful, had broken countless hearts before she found Red Largo, her one and only. Their teammates called him Largo the Lucker and envied him furiously. Yet this is not the stuff proper stories are made of…
One day, an alien-looking ship appeared on the horizon. It looked like a gigantic, pearly-white sea conch topped with transparent magical sails that gave it unbelievable speed. The sight, both beautiful and terrifying, bode ill.
There was no way a human-made ship could outrun a vessel made by merfolk. Soon, the pearly conch kept up with Barcelon’s ship; the mermen left their shining deck paved with nacre shells and stepped onto the creaky wooden boards. Of all the men aboard, only Barcelon and Largo were brave enough to block the intruder’s way and demand them to explain themselves.
“Our Lord took a liking to your daughter. He is currently looking for a new queen and thinks she will do,” said one of the mermen. His eyes were purple amethysts, his hair resembled blue kelp, exquisitely curled and styled on his long head; he was full of contempt.
The high guest didn’t appreciate the answer, given to him by the lady’s father and husband even though they did their best to express themselves fully by choosing the dirtiest and meanest phrases possible to illustrate their point of view. The crew looked at Barcelon and Largo in horror knowing that if a battle were to happen, the merfolk warriors would kill them all.
The battle would have happened, indeed, if it weren’t for Sindel. She unceremoniously pushed her father and husband aside and faced the ambassador merman herself.
“Hah! I’m coming with you, pretty boy!” she said to him in a loud, brash voice.
“They will return me in a couple of days, I tell you,” she whispered to Barcelon and Largo before leaving the ship. “Pfft! I bet, they will offer to pay you so you would take me back. Don’t you jump at the very first offer then!”
That said, Sindel Cartilago ruffled the ambassadors hair, completely ruining his elaborate hairdo in process, hopped overboard, and landed on the nacre shell deck with a crash. The ambassador stifled a moan. He had a very, very bad feeling about this…
Sindel stayed true to her promise. It didn’t take her long to turn the merfolk crew’s life into hell. She played the “I’m your future queen!” card without any shame and bossed the mermen around mercilessly. Sindel was a pirate and a daughter of a pirate captain. One thing she knew best: how to make people obey her orders.
Her first victims were the cooks. Sindel refused to eat algae salads and plankton soups; she demanded meat, fruit, and rum! Every day, the terrified cooks bullied the ship sorcerer into conjuring all that she ordered, driving the poor squidhead crazy.
After eating her meat and drinking her rum, Sindel turned into a classic bard-tale pirate who is never drunk but always merry; she demanded there to be dances, singing, and sharing rum with all the crew… the crew of mermen who had never drunk anything as strong as rum before…
In the morning, when everyone was still trying to get themselves together after a rowdy night, Sindel had already been up, sober, and angry. She ran from cabin to cabin yelling “Get up! Get up you lazy bastards!!!” (Just where did the girl take so much energy from?) Orders followed, lots of them...
Merfolk ships are almost self-sufficient things, they don’t usually require much care, so merman crew members relemble idle passengers much more than hardworking sailors. Sindel would have none of it! On her second day, she lined up the crew and began teaching them - with the help of punches and kicks - the proper seaman skills. Rebels she immediately sent to swab and scrub down the deck (the beautiful bluish ooze covering it was nothing else but disgusting dirt in her eyes). In the evening, it was “rum and dancing” time again...
Two more days like that - and blue-skinned mermen became so exhausted that they turned green. They prayed both the Heavens and the Depths to take Sindel Cartilago away. When a pirate ship appeared on the horizon, the merman captain cracked up and ordered to approach it.
Barcelon laughed in his beard as he spoke to the dishevelled ambassador and told him that, no, four chests of gold and gems were not enough. He wanted the conch ship with everything on it, nothing less. The merman captain… agreed!
Since the ocean was a home to merfolk and they could swim and breathe underwater well, Cartilago’s pirates just threw them all overboard. The proud crew had to recall the basics of survival and eat raw fish and algae for a few days but in the end, they all returned home in one piece. Not that their Lord was very happy with how things had turned out, though…
And the pirates…
Well, far away in the ocean there is a beautiful island that still wears Cartilago’s name, a land of freedom and marvelous ships!
But this is a story for another day…
(May 1, 2003)
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English is not my native language.
If you see an error or a typo, please, tell me. I will fix it.