The Tale of Captain Scumbucket

written by Aveena

Walter was a shy boy, a loner, who spent the summers with his Grandfather on Ootay even though he was now in college as a history major at the UOT. He looked forward to his summer vacation all year long. He had spent most of his childhood in boarding schools during the regular school semesters since both his parents were with the UOT as experts in ancient Island history, and spent most of their time away at digs. This year they were off to Tyr to study some giant bones there. And so Walter found himself at his Grandfathers, whom he loved dearly, for yet another summer. He looks forward to Grandpa’s company and found his visits a never-ending adventure in pirate lore and tales of the sea. It was long meandering walks on the beach looking for treasures and long nights before a crackling fire listening to Grandpa's gruff smoky voice reciting yet another seafaring story. One such story was about a distant relative, the very inept and hapless Captain Scumbucket, his mangy crew and their ship the Bilgehead.


As Grandpa started the tale, he coughed a bit to clear his throat. “As I recall the story went like this.”

Now Scumbucket was always one with an idea but being just a swabby on another man's ship left little opportunities for the enterprising man. One day Scumbucket happen to overhear the captain talking to the firstmate about a buried treasure on the island of Nada. "Aye", said the captain, "it be 330 paces in from the sister trees on the beach that point the way, in a cave behind a waterfall. It be a sword with mighty powers and other gold and trinkets. The sword was stolen from the great Chief NeNe of the Tiki Piki Tribe." The first mate replied, "Aye but Captain it be told there be a terrible curse on it. Any man what uses it looses all!” To which the captain retorted, "ARR! Nothing but bilge and scuttlebutt."

Scumbucket started thinking, which in his case was never a good thing. He decided it might be good if he and his mates got to the treasure first. Of course all that thinking made Scumbucket very thirsty so he decided to help himself to the captains private reserve of grog and he being the benevolent soul that he was, shared it with his mates, Jack Tar and One Eye Picaroon. The captain was a very astute man and had noticed his personal grog was evaporating rapidly as the cruise continued and so had stationed a spy to watch it. Of course Scumbucket and his mates were caught and unceremoniously tossed off the ship at the first port. Here in the little sea port of Marooned, Scumbucket and mates, managed to hornswaggle a landlubber out of his ship and crew in a suspicious game of hearts. For many years the now Captain Scumbucket and crew sailed the seas wreaking havoc on many a tall ship and relieving it of it’s burdensome cargo, the whispered memory of treasure forgotten for a time. Finally one day Scumbucket met with 4 other captains to make a pact to end their competitive plundering of the seas. They each provided a small treasure and each had a map piece to where they buried it. The map piece was to be put in a bottle and tossed to the sea, but Scumbucket couldn’t bring himself to part with it… Here Grandpa let out a long wide yawn and scratched his bristly white beard. In a tired and gravely voice he told Walter he would finish the tale the next night.


The following night Grandpa picked up his tale where he left off. “As I recall,” he said, the tale went on this way.”

After the captains meeting, Scumbucket found a renewed interest in the hidden treasure so he and his crew headed to the island of Nada and following the directions Scumbucket had overheard, found the cave behind the water fall. What ensued tries a sane person’s reason but it is said to be true. Scumbucket insisted on being in first and found the sword immediately along with several chests. As he held the sword he felt a vibration and a high wind arose. Then the voice and undulating visage of Chief NeNe appeared. With his black painted face and bone-adorned headdress and robe, the Chief presented a horrifying spectral and told Scumbucket to put the sword back or face the Chief‘s curse. “From bone to dust and from steel to stone any man not of royal blood who steals the sword will be cursed.” Not understanding or believing the vision Scumbucket just nervously laughed and then gathering courage bellowed to the spirit “It be mine, I found it and I be keeping it. Now off with ye before I run ye through.” With that he raised the sword and pointed it at the spirit. A flash of lightning streaked from the sword and the spirit vanished in a puff of smoke. He told his men to continue to loot the cave. While his men were busy carrying boxes full of gold coin and jewels, Scumbucket hid a piece of parchment into the hilt of the sword. “As safe a place as any he thought”. While his men were leaving the cave and were trudging back down the hill to the beach, they let out several agonising guttural screams and turned immediately to stone statues. Scumbucket was left all alone with no mates and only the sword in his hand. Terrified he ran toward the ocean and kept going till he could no longer swim and finally gave up and sank to the bottom in a watery grave.


Walter thought Scumbucket was one of the unluckiest men he had ever heard of and was glad he was a very distant relative, and yet there was a strange feeling of loss and kinship too. Then one night a high wind came wailing off the sea in a horrific storm. The shutters banged and the house moaned and creaked with the force of it. In his room, in the chaotic flash of the lightning, Walter saw a ghostly figure. It was an old man dressed as a pirate and dripping with seawater. In an eerie and strangled voice it said, “Where once the sword be laying, so it shall do so again. And once it be returned home the rest shall be freed. It be with the treasure five, five pieces shall ye need. Go boy and fulfil the end and reap the riches that be.” Walter was so terrified he pulled the covers over his head and shivered till at last the storm subsided and he fell into a deep and troubled sleep. Upon awaking the next morning Walter related his nightmare to his Grandfather in stammering starts and stops. His Grandfather told Walter it was his long ago relative Captain Scumbucket and that it was a message to find the sword and treasure and somehow free Scumbucket from Davey Jones’ locker. The only place to start was the University of There. Grandfather thought the old books in the library might contain some documents or stories with clues to the where abouts of the sword.


Walter caught the ferry to Comet and headed up the grassy hill to the University Library. As he walked through the heavy oak doors, he notices a particularly pretty girl just leaving and managed a shy smile in her direction. She tossed her thick flowing hair and smiled warmly back at him and then hurried with her armload of books out the door. He proceeded to the main desk and asked the librarian where the older texts and maps of the Tiki Islands were located. She pointed to the back stacks and the document area adjoining them. The book stack search gleaned little information so Walter made his way to the documents. Here, after many hours of searching he found an obscure reference to Scumbucket. It said something about a pirate hangout that was located near Sutters Camp, a tavern. The owner, a Tom Gaskill, was reported as being a shrewd businessman and friend to the outlaw pirates of the Tiki Islands. Walter looked up the address of the Tavern and found it still existed on the island of Ootay.


After another long and invigorating trip over the Tiki seas, Walter was feeling rather sea worthy and could just imagine what life at sea was like. He was beginning to envy his distant relative, Scumbucket, despite his unhappy ending. Walter soon landed at the dock at Rogue Housing track and trudged up the mountain to the Gaskill Tavern. It was a warm day and the sun glinted through the trees like a sprite playing hide and seek. As he approached the Tavern, Walter saw it was a little the worse for wear. The shingles were at odd angles and one of the shutters hung menacingly by only one hinge. Inside the tables were covered with old oil cloth covers or just bare wood. There were small lanterns on the well-used tables letting off a greasy smoke and dim yellow light. At one corner table Walter noticed a newbie who kept her head low and was the only other customer. The proprietor, Tom Gaskill, a great, great, great nephew of the original owner, said he still had a lot of papers and documents in a storage room in the back. Walter thanked Mr. Gaskill profusely and hurried to get started with his search. After several hours in the dim dusty room, Walter came across an old journal of receipts and personal notes. It mentioned several pirate customers, a Red Queen, a captain with a pet turtle, and Scumbucket. It mentioned that ole Scumbucket often went to his homeport of Marooned to rest and restock after being at sea for long periods. Scumbucket kept a residence at Marooned and most of his personal belongings. Walter decided the next stop would be another trip over the ocean to Marooned. He was really beginning to like this treasure hunt.


The trip to Marooned was almost too quick. Walter had found he was well adapted to sailing and had easily found his sea legs. The breeze off the salty water and spray in his face refreshed and exhilarated him. When he landed he had no trouble finding the small two story house mentioned in the journal and found the owner agreeable to Walter searching through the attic where there was still trunks of the previous owners. After looking through several he came to the last one. It was a worn leather affair with thick cumbersome straps and big brass buckles holding it fast. Gently Walter eased the crusty leather out of the tarnished metal and opened the chest. Inside he found papers, books and maps. All stained and darkened with age from the musty damp air of the attic. Slowly turning the pages of one of the books, an ornately carved trinket box towards the bottom of the chest caught his eye. It had a strange picture on its lid with a skull and two palm trees and a waterfall etched into the old wood. In it was a map of the Tiki islands and there was an X on Nada indicating a place with a small house and a ship aground. With an arrow pointing south and two palm trees, and the words “twin sisters“. Walter gleefully thought “Great another ocean voyage for me.” And he smiled broadly to himself.


Walter knew well the old shipwreck and castaway hut on Nada. He had no problem finding them and then trekking south till he came across the sister trees keeping a lonely vigil on the sand hill. He walked around and was about to give up when he remembered the story his Grandfather had told him, the twin sisters pointed the way. Yes, yes that was it they pointed the way. He quickly got out a compass and lined it up with the trees….AH HA, Walter yelled in triumph. It was due west of here. He could feel the hairs on the back of his neck raise up and his whole body seemed to tingle. Frantically he clambered up the sand and then grassy slope, slip sliding in his efforts to reach the summit and find the cave.


As Walter laboriously and breathless ran past the stone statues, he had an odd sensation that they were watching him and voicelessly imploring him to help them. So strange to have those dark sentinels scattered about in this isolated place. Walter saw the falls and abruptly stopped before it. It was covered in lush tall ferns and dense undergrowth. He awkwardly pushed the green fronds aside and forced his way through the water and into the cave. As his green eyes became accustomed to the dark he could dimly make out the glint of something shiny. He saw a lantern on the floor and lit it so he could see better. To his utter amazement what he saw left him totally dumfounded. Here before him was chests, some opened and gaping, with gold and jewels and coins. His heart leaped out of his chest and was firmly stuck in his throat. Never had he expected this sight. Then a cold clammy chill went down his spine and he remembers the rest of the story. His relative, Scunbucket had met his doom here and there was no sign of the sword, or any weapon for that matter. He stood trembling and thought hard on what to do next. The sword, he had to find that, but where. The story said Scumbucket had run straight to the sea and drowned. Again Walter checked his compass, straight out of the cave would be due east. He remembers seeing a small dinghy on the beach on his way up here and hoped he could borrow it. He headed directly east with a hesitant and reluctant gate in his step back to the little boat and then out to sea still heading east.


At last, after rowing for several minutes, Walter found the resting-place of his long lost uncle Scumbucket. With a sigh of relief and trepidation, Walter eased the sword from the sand that encased it and carried it solemnly back to the cave. Just as he was about to set it on top of the nearest chest, he noticed the hilt was wobbly. He played with it but couldn’t get it to come apart so he got out his pen knife and pried it loose. Inside he found a folded parchment wrapped in oilcloth. Gently unfolding the paper he found a torn piece of a map that somehow looked oddly familiar but he just couldn’t remember where or when he had seen the picture. Suddenly the cave grew dark and cold. Walter shivered and then saw a figure wavering a few feet away. “You be doing well this day, laddy.” the spectral whispered in a deep and throaty voice. “You have put back what I stole and have freed me and my men from eternal sorrow. I thank ye. Now we can leave these earthbound shackles. I be forever grateful.” And having said that Scumbucket in a wisp of smoke evaporated into the gloom. As Walter left the dank and gloomy cave he thought he saw the stone statues shiver and emit a soft hazy smoke that rose in wispy tendrils from them into the bright sunlit sky. Somehow they no longer seemed to have a life of their own but were only hard cold stone men now.

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