Makwah, Captain of the Drunken Seahorse, I gave you this empty journal so you could fill it with your adventures. When I read your stories, they will also become mine.
You confronted your greatest fears through a voyage within yourself. Now it’s time for you to complete the mission I gave you: you and your crew have to find all of the MEKANS. These objects are the parts of a big clock that was built to set the time on Delantera. There should be twelve pieces: one for each hour of the day. That’s all you need to know—it’s the only thing I can tell you anyway. You and your crew will need courage and precision to find these objects that were stolen from me a long, long time ago. But it’s capital that you do not fail.
When you write down your adventures in this journal, I’ll be able to read them from up here. I’ll discover things and feelings I never knew before. We’ll be linked by the ink that you’ll lay down on these empty pages. My Scribs will act out your stories. It’ll be the best distraction since the be- ginning of time! I’ll also be able to keep a close eye on you so you don’t fail while accomplishing this task. Remember, I’m nowhere and everywhere all at once.
I can breathe again. It’s amazing. Way more than I ever imagined. You never realize how lucky you are until you lose everything.
I was so happy to see my crew again, even if they didn’t realize I was gone. Like you said, all the time we spent together only lasted a second or two in this world. They haven’t noticed my beard yet. They must think I’ve always had it, because we don’t shower that much on board.
The said beard doesn’t shine as much as I thought it would. It’s better that way: it’ll draw less attention. You knew that gift was poisonous, of course.
Are you mad at me, Goldy? I thought a beard would make you like Blue Beard, and Red Beard, and all those great pirates! You’ll be remembered for centuries to come.
If I can work it out so that nobody notices it, the beard could actually be quite helpful. I know an old alchemist technique to fabricate golden doubloons. I just hope I have everything in my quarters. My crew mustn’t notice. Or else…
Thank you for the head’s up on the beard busi- ness, but I’ve had enough of your feelings.
I need concrete. I need to feel alive. Tell me your stories! Action, please!
After a long battle, the Drunken Seahorse is finally mine again.The Birds almost destroyed it completely. They were keeping it in a cave near the Royal Castle, tied up to a rock. I’m sure they scavenged it for all the good pieces before abandoning it there. They left the pirate flag up there, though. I expect it was meant to set an example for all the pirates and criminals that they hold prisoners on Bird Island. They want to establish some sort of an intimidating presence. Like they’re capturing all the scoundrels and bandits they can one after another. But they’re the true criminals. The Birds steal from the poor and invent new laws so they don’t ever have to give anything back. They steal, lie and destroy everything that keeps them from stacking up all the riches they can gain. I was able to get my ship back, thanks to an old friend that owed me a favour. We hired a team of beavers to put the Seahorse back on its feet. Beavers always have been the best carpenters.
The birds, those feathery bums! They can try to capture us all, us pirates, but they’ll never be able to. Pirates are inexhaustible. Even when we get weary and tired and broken down, we only need a tiny spark to light our fire once more. Oh, how it’s good to sail the seas again, aboard my oldest and most loyal friend.
What’s it like to sail on the ocean?
You’d have to ask Bacon. He was born on a boat. He says that the feeling of the waves hitting the ship’s sides under his foot (he only has one leg, he lost the other one a long time ago and replaced it with a wooden peg) is the best one he knows. I agree with him on that.
Although, I don’t think life on the open ocean is meant for just about anyone. It’s unstable and constantly moving. If you want to survive, you have to be healthy and steady on your feet. Even when it rains or hails or storms, you have to be up there on the dock, to make sur the sails don’t rip or get tangled up. Storms are my favorite moment to steer the ship. It’s exciting. The problem is, storms are also Bacon’s favorite moment, so we usually draw the short straw to figure out who gets to steer. I often win. I think my boat knows how to please me.
Today I don’t feel like writing at all. I’m still going to do it, though. A con- tract is a contract. I wouldn’t want you to doubt me or my commitment to your mission. We found something concerning the MEKANS. I’ll try to find out more about that soon. To be followed.
Finally! I was starting to believe you had forgotten! Did you hear about Salem, the old human that slipped through my fingers?
A human? No. I don’t know who he is. Maybe I’ll hear about him later in my mission.
He’s well hidden and has been for years. Any- way, what’s in the past is in the past. I have you now, you great adventurer and captain!
I get the feeling you’ll bring me all I’ve ever wanted in such a long time. Please keep telling me your stories, I want to know everything! I know it’s a lot to ask from you, but I’m so ex- cited! I’d like to be down there, on your boat with you, to live all your adventures.
Don’t worry, I’ll tell you everything. Anyway I know that if I forget you, you’ll find a way of reminding me you’re still there.
Have I ever told you about Bill? He’s the ship accountant. He’s a frog from an old aristocratic family. You should see him, he always insists to wear his white wig. I’ve told him many times to take it off, because it’s completely
ridiculous and intimidates absolutely no one, but he insists. He says his goal isn’t to scare people, but to do a good job with the ship’s finances. He’s scared of everything, but he can count money like no one else. His head is completely money-focused, and he can make a fortune out of a few doubloons. He’s a stin- gy one too, so he never spends anything. Accountants who are afraid to spend money are the best ones.
I told him to reduce the ship’s expenses today, because we don’t have anything left aboard, except barrels of rum.
You know who to thank for those!
Yes, but rum won’t get my guys very far. It’s pretty much the opposite. Grog, our lookout, drinks too much and can’t see straight anymore. He mixes up ships and icebergs. Can’t get rid of him, though. He came along with the Drunk- en Seahorse when I bought it. Sometimes he’s useful, but mostly he’s just a burden.
As you can see, we live quite simply. The crew usually doesn’t eat as much as it needs unless we find a treasure. That’s the pirate life we chose!
That crook Rakkar’s crew is messing up my plans again. He seems to always know my next move.
He’s another Captain. He and his whole crew are rats. We often compete for the same treasures. They tried to attack us a few times, but it backfired for them. You probably met a couple of his crew mates already. But you wouldn’t remem- ber them. They’re not very interesting.
Where was I? You want me to tell you stories but you keep interrupting me with your questions. Right. An old seafarer told me that Rakkar took a new guy on board. Said guy used to be a burier for a King. His job was to bury the Royal Treasure everywhere around the island, to keep it away from pirates and crooks.
The burier skipped town with the treasure maps and joined Rakkar’s crew. Rak- kar dug up the treasures and made a ton of cash selling them.
Maybe the Royal Family bought back all of its treasures. Sometimes chance is funny like that. Anyway, I’m against any form of royalty. It makes no sense to me that the family you’re born into would grant you privilege and wealth.
I think it’s linked to the Lines of life.
Anyway, we don’t need a lot of money to live. Royal families often don’t know what to do with their money.
Are you looking for new crew mates? I just met a very seasoned pirate. I think you’d like him.
I’m not looking for anyone. The crew is complete and everyone is starting to work very well together. It wasn’t easy in the beginning. I thought I was going to have to get rid of a few guys, like Georges. I never told him but I really hated him at first. He seems to always think he’s better than everyone. But the other guys put him in his place alright. He’s got some important skills. His ear sight is really developed. I’ll never tell him that though, because we’d never hear the end of it. He’s always complimenting himself. There’s no need to add to it.
So there’s not much left on the boat in the food department. We had to steal off a fisherman ship that we came across earlier. The fish was rotten and every- one got sick. That’ll teach us. From now on, we eat only what we fish. You can’t count on anyone but yourself.
What’s it like to be hungry?
You feel an emptiness in your stomach.
Oh. I think I’m hungry all the time.
Today, Romeow found a bottle in the ocean. We thought it might contain a distress message, or an old love letter, probably destined to Romeow him- self. It turned out to be a coded message.
I’ll transcribe it here. Maybe you can help.
Upside down :
!erusaert a dnif ot meht wolloF .pihs eht edisni devargne era snoitcaidni emoS .snihcru aes ynam yb derevoc yletelpmoc pohs tfihsekam denodnaba na si ereht ,dnalsI s’namre- hsiF dnilB fo tsew eht nO
In morse code :
. _ ._.. _ _ _ . _ _ …._ _.. ._.. …_… _…._ ._ _.._._._._…….._._. ._…_..__ _.._… … …. _._._ _ _ _.._…_. .._ _. _.._…_…_.. _… .._._ _ _._._.._ _.. ._ _….__. _.. _ _ _ _._.. _ _._.._. _…… _ _ _.._._……_….
_ _ _.._._……_…. _ _ _ _._ _._._ _ _ _ _._ _.._…_._ _._._ ._.._._._ _ _.._…_.._._
…_.. ._ _.._._.._.._ _ _._.._ ._ ._.. .._._.._……_._.
…. _._._ _ _.._…_. _ _.._.._…_. ….._._. ._… _…_ _ _….. _…… .._._…._._..__.._ _ _ _…. ._ _._ _ _.._._. .._ _. _._….._ _ _._.
JI’m standing on the dock, looking at the ocean. The sea is calm today and most of the guys are still sleeping. A small wind is rippling the water. I love feeling the wind on my face. You probably don’t know what it’s like. It’s hard to
describe it, though.
Please try! You’re the only one who can tell me.
Okay. It’s like a caress. The sun warms you and the wind chills you, like a strange warm shiver. You probably don’t know what hot or cold means, but it’s nice when the temperature is as good as today’s.
It’s not going to last though. The sky is clear, but the air is humid. A storm is coming. It’ll probably hit us tonight. The wind rises really fast in the open ocean. Clouds cover the sky in only a few minutes and then boom, the storm hits.
When I was just a cub, my father taught me to recognize the clouds in the sky. Now I know what they want to tell me.
We used to read the sky together all the time.
After that, he showed me how to sense changes in the air, so I would know when rain was about to fall, or when a storm was brewing up. It’s quite useful on the ocean. You wouldn’t want to be unprepared for a hurricane.
My father used to say that all you had to do was learn to smell. Not smell with your nose, but with your whole body.
Right now, there’s only one cloud in the sky. It’s white and not all that menacing, but it seems very compact, kind of like a cotton ball. Part of it is a dark gray.
It sort of looks like a duck.
[Sorry the clouds have faces. Esteban got a hold of the journal.]
It’s going to be a big storm.
I have to warn the crew so they clean the deck before it starts raining.
Sorry Esteban drew all over the journal. He’s the smallest of three raccoons I have on board. He stole the journal while I wasn’t looking. He and his brothers are professional thieves. They’re able to steal anything from anyone.
Don’t worry though, they can’t read. The youngest one can’t even talk.
So, there are some news. We just got back onboard. A cargo ship sunk and is pouring all the slimy liquid it was carrying into the sea. We were forced to change our route to Bird Kingdom because of the spill. I think all of this might’ve been plotted by the Birds to catch more pirates.
The oceans are dirtier than ever. No one cares about the environment any- more even though it was there before any of us. My father used to say that. Pollution makes me incredibly angry.
One of the main rules aboard the Seahorse is to always respect the environ- ment. That’s why Benett is on the crew. That, and because he’s incredibly strong. Before he worked with us, he was part of a seafarer crew that worked to protect the environment. Aboard the Drunken Seahorse, we use the same system they used.
I don’t think I want to hear about the environ- ment anymore, Makwah.
Well you told me to write about what I do, so there you go. We work very hard to preserve the environment. It’s part of my daily life. And I can’t do EVERY- THING you ask me to. If you lived on Delantera, you’d see how alarming things are. You’d be happy that some people are working to protect the planet.
So. Like I was saying before I got interrupted, I gave the order to pick up any detritus that might be sighted in the water. We pile them up in a corner of the deck, and we bring the pile to a dump when we dock on a new island.
It’s a good way to find unexpected treasures, too. We keep stuff that might be useful to us. At some point we found a rudder that was
as good as new, used sails and even an aero- plane propeller. We installed the latter in the kitchen so that Norbert wouldn’t get too hot when he cooks. His food is already terrible. We don’t need his sweat in it.
Today is chore day on the Drunken Seahorse. There’s a lot to do on a pirate ship. We have to change the sails up there on the masts, or repair some of them when the wind or some enemy damages them. A cannonball rips through a sail in two seconds. During chore day we also untangle the ropes and tighten the nooses. There are tons of nooses and we have to make sure that we use the right ones. A loose noose is no good and could get one of us hurt. Or worse.
Nothing can happen to you, Goldy.
You understood the idea, I’m sure. It could be very dangerous. The weaponry and canons also need tending to. Romeow and Georges usually take care of that. Romeow sharpens the swords and Georges cleans the canons. I don’t know if he really does it though. He’s incredibly lazy, but he makes up for it when we have to fight!
I’m tired of your chore stories, Goldy. They bore me.
Well, being a pirate isn’t always thrilling! You asked me for a real story, so I’m giving you the high moments and the low ones. You want to feel alive and know about everything we do, so I’m telling you about our daily lives. If we want to go on treasure hunts, we need to make sure our equipment is in perfect condition. Moving on now. I hope you’re taking notes.
Today, I asked the mice and the monkeys to scrub the deck because the weather is nice. It’s important to wash it often because of the salt in sea water. If there’s too much salt on the deck, it splinters and cracks. We wouldn’t want anyone cutting their feet or getting splinters.
I untied Glou and asked him to wash the hull. We get slower if too many seaweed sticks to it. Glou feeds on seaweed, so it’s like lunch to him. After he’s eaten enough, Benett goes down there and takes care of the rest. He probably eats it too.
While retrieving trash from the sea, Benett caught a fish I’d never seen be- fore. It was small and transluscent. Between his eyes was a long antenna with a small orb at the end that seemed to cast some light. Even Papingo had never seen anything like it. And Papingo is our brainiac—he knows every- thing there is to know about everything. The species must be very rare.
Papingo put it in an aquarium and he’s studying it in the sump of the Seahorse. He thinks we could use it to look for treasures and sunken shipwrecks in the night. Sort of like a lantern.
We’re on the hunt for a small treasure. Bill says it’s probably not that much but even a few doubloons couldn’t hurt these days.
Someone is yelling on the deck. I think Bacon and Bill are arguing again. I’ll go check on them. Be right back.
Be careful with the journal! I’ll remind you that no one must know the link between us.
Don’t worry. I am being careful. If you want to know what the problem was, Bill and Bacon were arguing about money again
Bacon told me he’s really tired of Bill, or Frog Legs as he calls him. They can’t stand each other because they’re completely different, both physically and mentally. They’re literally opposites. And whoever said that opposites attract was REALLY wrong in this case.
Bacon is like my older brother—sometimes he even gets protective, kind of like a father. I hate when he does that in front of the other crew mates. I can’t let my authority be compromised. Bacon is the only one I fully trust, though. The others do a good enough job and they’re fine people but Bacon is the one who taught me how to navigate this ship.
We fully understand each other even if we don’t always speak much. He seems tough at first, but he’s a very good guy. In the beginning, when we were recruit- ing our crew, we drank a lot of rum one evening and he confessed his undying love for Miss Piggy, a cabaret superstar. It’s the first and only time he confided in him like that.
The next day he was even quieter than usual. He never speaks unless he has something to say, and that day, he said nothing at all. I sensed that he regretted telling me all those things about Miss Piggy. I gave him a picture of her that Ben- ett had cut out of a magazine and hinted that I would never talk about his feelings to anyone. He almost smiled. I love the old piece of lard. He’s solid and he always knows what he’s doing.
But I’m keeping the frog, regardless of Bacon’s feelings. Nobody except Bill knows how to count anyway.
Ahuge storm kept us up all night long. While we were passing through two mountains, gusts of wind took us by surprise and rain started pouring. Georges, who was on guard duty on the deck, almost drowned. The main sail tore. I asked Romeow to sow it back together. No one got hurt.
Have you heard of any MEKANS yet?
We finally found one!
I’ll be brief but Papingo and I visited a cruel flamingo’s lair, next to the Bird King’s castle. I took Papingo with me because he knows the island best. He grew up there, his father used to be the King’s councillor. Anyway. We almost got caught, like, eight times but after a long run, and the King’s death (please say hi to him for me when you see him), we finally escaped through a window, and jumped down a cliff before heading back to the ship.
That’s it? That’s the type of action I want to
know about. More details about how you get hold of the MEKANS and less about what you eat for dinner! Thanks!
Alright, alright. You said you wanted to see the world through my eyes. I’m giv- ing you a lot of details. I’ve never written a journal before.
It was time. I thought you had forgotten about me. We have a contract, Goldy!
I remember, don’t worry. I was just very busy with the other task you gave me.
A huge sea creature got hold of the MEKANS right after we found it. It looked like a dog, but it had fins and gills. Papingo says it’s called a Dogfin. Supposedly it’s a popular pet down on the ocean floor. Families keep them the way people up here might keep, well, dogs. Something else came up too but I can’t quite remember what.
Did you catch it?
Something like that, yes.
The mood onboard is terrible. The guys are stressed and want to know more about the mission. I hush them by promising them more gold and giving them a few doubloons that I stir up in my room at night.
It’s a long work, but if I cut off a few hairs from my beard every night, I can make a few doubloons a day. The beard grows back incredibly quickly. I use a technique Papingo showed me to heat and harden the golden hair. Of course, I didn’t tell Papingo why I needed this information, but he was very pleased to tell me all about metal lique- faction. He says he learned about it during his many travels. I can’t remember which, though.
Whenever he talks I try to retrieve the important information. He gives A LOT of information. I don’t know how he stocks it all in his small head.
We ransacked a cruise ship. You should see the buffet we brought back on board. If you could eat, you mouth would be watery by now.
I wish I could just bite into juicy fruit and crunchy vegetables. There are so many dishes I see but can’t taste or smell! Thanks to you, though, I almost feel like I can.
It’s like your becoming melancholic. For a second there, I almost thought you were going to thank me.
Don’t worry, I haven’t changed. I’m still impatient for you to find all the MEKANS.
I just hope you honor our contract, because it’s the only thing that keeps me holding on. Anyway. Proceed.
So the boat we looted was a cruise ship from Bird Kingdom, of course. They’re the only idiots to go on fancy boat rides just for the heck of it. They’re careless because they think nothing can hurt them, so they sure weren’t expecting a pi- rate attack. Grog took down the black flag so they wouldn’t recognize us. We got close and asked them directions to an imaginary island. I promised them a few doubloons in exchange, but of course they never got any. We tied up the navi- gator and muzzled the rest with cloths. We took everything there was to take.
I wonder how much time we have before their bird friends notice their disappearance.
The stupid chickens will roast under the sun for a while.
We came across a Nordic ship that was carrying Princess Hermina. She’s the daughter of a very notorious King and Queen from the Northern lands. She was heading to Bird Kingdom to meet potential spouses. It’s Bill that told us all of that. I don’t know how he knows, but since he takes a lot of interest in royal families, I’m pretty sure he’s right.
We pushed their ship against a mountainside, boarded it, and took Princess Hermina back onto the Drunken Seahorse. We planned to ask for a ransom in exchange of her liberation, but things didn’t go exactly as planned.
Princess Hermina wasn’t afraid of us at all! On the contrary, she actually seemed quite amused. I we were a much more entertaining crew than the one she had travelled with until then.
She asked a bunch of questions about us and talked a too much. I mean far too much. She wanted us to keep her onboard. She even said she wanted to become a pirate! Apparently, the life of a Princess isn’t as exciting as ours. Princess Hermina even talked about marrying Taïga, who wanted nothing to do with it. She even talked in her sleep during the night. Eventually we got tired and brought her back to her family, asking for nothing in return. We left quickly so she wouldn’t swim back to the Seahorse. She was insufferable.
We barely have any rum left. We had to give a lot of what was left to Glou when the Dogfin stole the MEKAN we had found. Grog alone drinks half a gallon a day—but we don’t stop him, since it’s pretty much all he’s got left in his life. When he doesn’t drink, he’s insufferable. Plus, I know that you’re going to see to the situation. It was our deal.
Say no more.
Thank you. We mix some of the rum with our water stock so that it stays fresh.
It’s Papingo who taught us that alcohol acts as a disinfectant. Well, those weren’t exactly his words, but it works anyway. Our water stock lasts longer. I don’t complain when Bacon drinks a little more than usual because I know his wooden leg makes him suffer. Anyway, you said we’d have endless supplies.
I’m sticking to my part of the deal. What about you?
Not only did the Dogfin steal our MEKAN, but its masters, the sea peo- ple, wouldn’t give it back! They even attacked us when we tried to re- trieve it! We only wanted to take back what was ours, but they accused us of being thieves, murderers and polluters. You know by now that we don’t pol- lute—my whole crew works to protect the environment! The fight was pretty violent. Fortunately, they eventually retreated. I don’t really know why, but I think it’s because they were scared of the island we were headed to. Papingo says it’s called Tanzana. I’ve never been there, neither alone nor with my crew. I don’t know what to expect but apparently, wild beasts live there. I hope they’re not the ones we have to deal with for the MEKANS. I’ll go help the guys. We’re docking soon.
We have just landed on Tanzana, where to tribes of feline creatures cohab- it. We’ve only met one of them for the moment. They seem pretty inof- fensive, but the second tribe has to be clo..
That’s it? Goldy? Are you okay? It was just starting to get interesting!
I’m back on the Seahorse. Way too many things have happened. The whole crew except me was poisoned by the feline tribe I was telling you about, I almost got eaten by a carnivorous plant but was saved by a girl. I followed her into
the forest only to find out she was chasing another creature, this one wearing a bird mask. The bird-mask guy jumped straight into the volcano, triggering its eruption! The Tanzana girl and I had to jump between parts of rocks to avoid the boiling lava. Then, Felicia’s necklace stuck to mine like two magnets.
SHE HAS A MEKAN! I found it without even looking! We were attacked by a crazy snow leopard who wants to steal our MEKANS for some reason, but we were able to get rid of her. We jumped into the water and swam to the Seahorse. I don’t know if I’m really lucky or if you planned all this, but the important thing is that we have one more MEKAN! The girl from Tanzana is named Felicia. I’ll keep her on the ship for a little while. Just long enough to convince her to let me use the second MEKAN. She knows how to fight. Maybe she could be useful.
Wow! That’s a lot of information at once. At least the news are good. What’s the plan now? Goldy? Goldy what are you doing?
That crazy leopard I told you about is attacking us. Talk to you later.
After Sibri attacked, we got stuck in a huge storm, like a tsunami. We just woke up. The Drunken Seahorse is in pieces and I don’t know how much time we spent laying here, unconscious on the beach.
We just arrived in a new city or perhaps a new world—I’m not quite sure. I’ve never seen anything like it and I’ve certainly never heard of such a place. There’s a city in the distance, with very high buildings made out of metal. There’s some sort of smoky cloud surrounding it. It all seems very dirty, and there’s a weird odour in the air, like rust. I feel like it’s the storm that brought us here, but I don’t know how. Papingo said that portals between physical places don’t exist, but since I met you, I’m not sure what exists or not anymore. I’m starting to think that the mission you gave me is far more complex than you said it would be.
Salem, That salmon-eater Taïga was right, you should never think about how slowly time passes down here or you’ll go crazy.
We never really discussed it, but how much time do I have to assemble the twelve MEKANS?
As much as you’d like, but my patience has its limits.
Well I’ll need more of it, because I feel this is only the beginning of a very long journey.