Captain Duskella is a character from the SotS Inc campaign.
I was never supposed to be in this land. But for a child stolen away in the dead of the night from a village of corpses, home is irrelevant, I suppose.
You’d think one would remember the faces of the parents slaughtered in front of her eyes or at least the screams of agony. And you’d be right. Those images, that gore, is permanently burned into my memory, but it’s a pleasant sort of feeling, the kind I imagine children get about holidays. Warm. Cozy. With a fire crackling and the soft smell of smoke and burning flesh. Typical festive cheer.
That’s how much of my painful childhood is represented in my mind. The beatings and the punishments are lost in a glowing, dreamlike fog. I do not resent my village; hell, I barely know its name. No amount of suffering can make me loath where I ended up, newly appointed captain of my mistress, the Shadow Queen.
This is my first captain’s log. In this book, spanning centuries of sailing and generations of captains, are the words of my predecessors, the wise and the moronic, the cruel and the kind, the cowardly and the heroic. In here, I find my story and the story of every pirate on this ship. The last captain, my dearly departed Captain Marcelo Federi, was a wise man, but of no real courage. When his crew kidnapped me with the hopes of abusing my body, he saved my life. He raised me to be the pirate woman I am today. It’s a terrible shame I had to kill him, but it was for the good of the ship.
Our secrets are recorded herein, but I do fear that the age of our cunning escapism is coming to an end. No other ship has shifted the planes as often as ours and survived to tell the tale. The legends say that the Shadow Queen emerged from the night, a strong vessel in the midst of a great storm. Soon overtaken, the plunderers, our first crew, found it barren and devoid of life; not even a rat scurried across the empty floorboards. There are those who say the crew was lost to suicide and cannibalism; others say they fled from a great terror into the depth of the ocean. I choose to believe the more far-fetched tale, that it was conjured by a god and left floating for the right crew to come upon it.
The Shadow Queen’s mythology says that it once vanished into a whirlpool and then spent years sailing around another plane, a world of total darkness. It reappeared overnight, with the man on watch claiming a mythical beast swallowed them and spat them back out in Quelmar. The man hanged himself from a bow nights later. His child, our late Captain Marcelo, spent years trying to find a way to transport us back to that shadowy realm so he could prove his father’s story true. ‘Tis a shame he never did, though shift through the planes we did. There are places in this world where you can squeeze through, places barely noticeable by the human eye.
But these places are vanishing and our tactic of thievery as well. Soon we will be like other pirates and these men are not strong enough for not. Neither was Marcelo. No man is strong enough to lead a crew in the battles we are ought to face. I have taken over this ship in a time of great peril and I fear it will not last much longer.
- From the first Captain’s Log of Captain Duskella M. Jaspers
Duskella joined Sick of this Shit Incorporated after being arrested in Jewelspar during a heated encounter at the docks, caused by Duskella's fractured memories and a deep feeling that something rightfully belonging to her was there. (This would later be proven correct as her ship, The Shadow Queen, was sitting at those docks, just in the Shadowfell parallel plane)
Her memory of her childhood is really faulty, specifically because of the trauma she faced when she was being taken. Duskella is gradually starting to remember is that she had a younger sister.
When her village was raided by the pirates and her parents killed, she and her sister tried to flee for a nearby Shadar-kai village; however, they were attacked by the crew. The crew didn't want to bring both girls along, so they gave the option of taking one girl and letting the other go free. Duskella, thinking she was doing the right thing, insisted that they take her and let her sister go. They took Duskella and tied her up and then murdered her sister in front of her.
The rifts in her memory would persist, causing her to stay in SotS Inc and 'go with the flow' until something happened that ultimately refreshed her memories. After going to The Shadowfell to send off Zugs (during an operation known as The Hunt for Zugs) Duskella discovered her ship The Shadow Queen docked there in Shadespar. That caused a fissure in her memory that, upon seeing the Shadow Queen, is starting to heal itself.
Second Captain's Log Edit
I haven’t found strength to write as of yet. My fingers still shudder when I attempt to recollect the events, like physical fragments of the broken curse. But with Nymphsview less than a day’s journey away, I must find time to record this, to put into words the horror and tragedy that have befallen us in the past several weeks.
Our ten days in Jewelspar seemed to soar by in a blur of giants and new crew mates. King Zachary’s coronation occurred and our own beloved Hillevi was named queen. I have never seen a more regal and elegant woman; she looked more beautiful than even in her days in Nobility Wed. She carried herself upon that throne with the grace of one groomed for the position. That seems like such a long time ago, even now.
Our friend in the City Guard, Vimes, set about getting us back the runes to ensure the Shadow Queen would run. Iris studied magic. Krik-Et began developing a delicacy yet unknown to this world, something she refers to as Thrice-Cream. Hillevi, sweet Hillevi, was enjoying her life as the queen. She would have been a good queen, but…
But we are not there yet. I must remind myself that this log is strictly factual. This is not the time for emotional musings of a former madwoman. I am a documentarian, a chronicler. I must write to preserve the facts of what happened, of how the Queen of Jewelspar died.
Our sweet moments of bliss in Jewelspar were cut short by the arrival of a storm giant, who was slain by Vimes, Braedan, Juris, the City Guard, ourselves, and, to my surprise, Janky, who arrived in Jewelspar serendipitously to round out our crew. Also filling in the ranks were a former SOTS member, Alakrin, and two half-giants, Vladimir and Olga. With a few more days post the storm giant attack, we gathered a few more crew members (Lola, Behold, Patricia Cake, and Cleopatra) and set out to accomplish our own missions. I, for one, set sail for Granite.
In days prior to the storm giant attack, nightmares plagued my sleep. Nightmares of a girl in a green cloak, floating in the Shadowfell ocean. Nightmares of horrific men brutalizing her. Nightmares of waking up alone on the open seas, floating in the lifeboat, praying I would be found and being discovered by the Rwendian Guard. These nightmares felt more like memories than fantasies, so I began scavenging the deepest corners of the Granite library to find information on memory curses, afflictions, etc. Nothing seemed to apply to my situation, but I also committed Janky to joining our crew; perhaps it was lack of sleep, but that annoying bard was growing on me.
When we set sail at the end of the week, our crew consisted of myself, Krik-Et, Iris, a royal bodyguard Toby, Vimes, Braedan, Juris, Alakrin, Olga, Vladimir, Janky, Lola, Behold, Pattie Cake, Cleopatra, a strange silent man named Detritus, and our own Queen Hillevi. Vimes and the other members of the Guard asked us to bear them to Nymphsview, to solve the mystery of the strange letters and the storm giant’s appearance in Jewelspar, so that was our first stop.
The nightmares plagued me again, worse this time, on our first eve at sea. I called Iris, who is cautious about going to Nymphsview for some reason, to my chambers. Just before she removed the curse from my mind, we were attacked. In the ensuing battle, we lost Detritus, Lola, and Behold, and the Shadow Queen took severe damage. We docked in Dwalevale, or something like that, for a week, to repair the ship. While there, we picked up four new crew members: Red, Scarlet, Crimson, and Ruby.
Immediately upon returning to sea, I called Queen Hillevi, Janky (who revealed his name was Julian), Krik-Et, and Iris to my chambers. With my trust in them, I was going to have Iris lift the curse. They were instructed to protect the crew, to finish the mission, at all costs, even if it meant my life. Before that, however, each of them was given a black stone to protect them in case of emergency. And, perhaps most importantly, I finally bestowed upon all of them the title of Shadow Queens. Not everyone gets to wear that badge, but I trusted them, I knew they would uphold the honor of our lineage. Then Iris laid her hands on me and lifted the curse.
I wish I could describe the horror I felt in this moment. And the agony. But this is time for facts, not for emotions, so I will simply say this: A creature of enormous size ejected itself from my mouth like a serpent from a corpse and destroyed our galley, the captain’s quarters, the kitchen, the helm, so much of the ship. This creature, a Leviathan, began to attack our crew, but did not strike me. It killed Pattie Cake and Cleopatra, then devoured our Queen Hillevi in a single bite, then Vimes and later Juris.
After what seemed like hours of fighting, but must have been less than a minute, the creature had all but cleared the deck of creatures. It then loomed its horrific head to my own and laughed a monstrous laugh, before dissipating into the night air, leaving behind an unconscious Vimes and a weakened Juris. As it faded from my vision, I remembered the rest of the tragedy that was my childhood: The pirates I had been raised by had raided my village and killed my parents. They then dragged my sister Dawn and me into the center of the town, where they told me one of us could go and the other would stay with them. I, of course, had offered to go, to allow Dawn to try to live a normal life, thinking perhaps I could return to her, and they feigned letting her go before the bastards killed her in front of me. I felt grief, fear, anger, hatred, unlike any I could picture.
Something in those emotions must have manifested in a creature, the Leviathan that had attacked my crew on the ship, and it murdered my attackers. Perhaps this creature was defending me, I don’t know, but as it retreated into me, I lost consciousness. In my haze, I remember being referred to as the Infected and being dragged aboard the Shadow Queen, where I spent the remainder of my days. I remembered, too, the fierce joy I had felt after I became captain, which had apparently released the Leviathan upon the crew, who stranded me in a lifeboat and fled to the Shadowfell to save their own cowardly hides.
I then remembered that three had been swallowed, but Queen Hillevi had not returned with the others. She had been slain in the fight against my demon and was lost to us. This demon, which was born from the death of a sister, died the same way.
We go now to Nymphsview at as fast a speed as Olga’s conjured winds can manage. For now, we forget the injuries of the ship. For now, we all sleep together, a family united in our tragedy. For now, we rush towards a city wherein we may find the magic to restore our fallen friend. Despite Iris’ misgivings about the city on the horizon, we must go, if there is even a chance to bring her back. Of this “great magic” or the source of the giants, I do not know. But I know that I am a captain and I lost a member of my crew. I lost a member of my family. I lost Hillevi and it’s all my fault.
I don’t want to remember what I remember. I want it to go away. I want to go back to my heart being closed off but my Shadow Queens at my side. I want…
It is not important what I want now. What matters is Hillevi’s return. What matters is safety for the realm from monsters like me. What matters is my crew. I will not fail them again.
Third Captain's LogEdit
The seas were rough today, as we sailed into Nymphsview. It seems only fitting that rocky tides should mark the end of what has truly been a rocky journey. To think this all began with simple crimes we once committed…
As we approached the coast, I was reminded of another seemingly fatal mission, that of Zuggs McFlair and the Shadow Gate. In the blur from joining and then leaving Sick of this Sick, Inc., an organization intended to rehabilitate and pardon criminals by having them help people in need, I’d forgotten about the connections we made, the paths we started on. For some, such as Hillevi, Iris, and Krik-Et these paths started earlier, with induction to the Shadow Gate happening before many of us even were brought in by SotS. For myself and Janky, we were brought in later. And yet, somehow, many of us arrived to that same place, that same mission, together.
Perhaps this is what they call fate. Perhaps the gods intervened. Perhaps we were meant to travel together aboard this vessel. But perhaps, also, I’m getting ahead of myself.
The lethal mission in question brought most of my Shadow Queens together for the first time. As Iris, Krik, Hillevi, Janky, and I, along with Zachary and Killis, arrived in the Astral Plane, we knew not what the outcome would be. Perhaps we’d fight a monstrous enemy in Zugs. Perhaps we’d just talk it out. Perhaps it would be a bloodbath and no one would survive. All we knew was that we were going into it together and, after the wedding of the future King and Queen, we had some sort of bond as a team.
Of course, this mission proved far less dangerous than originally thought. Though Janky, Hillevi, and Zach did not travel with us, Zugs was banished to the Shadowfell and I was finally reunited with my ship. I felt home at last. The treacherous double-edged sword of that not yet known to me.
And for a moment, all was joyous. We returned to Shadespar and then to Jewelspar, where we found Hillevi and Zachary. After some mild issues, Zachary was the king and our own Hillevi the queen. And there was not a nobler head to wear the crown than that of our queen. The city celebrated the coronation and the idea that magic may soon return to the land. And then it did, in the form of a Storm Giant, sent along with a cryptic note. The Giant was defeated, but the threat was not gone, and so I was approached by Captain Vimes of the City Guard of Jewelspar to bring them to this very hive of villainy, Nymphsview, so they could do reconnaissance and see if indeed someone from here sent the giant into their fair city. It was to be a simple task, accompanied by old friends in Ilakrin and Janky and new friends in Heath, Olga, Vladimir, Toby, and more. Our crew was large, our futures optimistic.
But dark clouds were gathering in my mind. A large part of me blames what happened on those first days at sea, those nightmares plaguing my mind, of a girl, my sister, floating in the water, of brutal attacks, of violence and rage and pain and something horrible. And when Iris released the curse, all hell broke loose in the most literal sense, destroying part of our ship and killing Queen Hillevi. Though the fiend was defeated, I will never forgive myself for that loss and vow with every fiber of my being to return her to life if at all possible. Though, while we are trapped behind this wall, I am not so sure we will be successful in this endeavor. For, you see, all went wrong as we got closer to Nymphsview We repaired the ship, but we then raced to Nymphsview, where we encountered Killis, who led us into the labyrinthine mines below the city. Once there, we found out that this Killis was Solomon, Iris’ long lost brother and the de-facto leader of the city, who had an army of Thri-Kreen at his disposal. This drove a wedge between Iris and Krik, who believed that her surrogate mother had been lying this entire time.
Still, this didn’t seem to be as grand a failure as it could have been, as we struck a deal with the charismatic leader and were led to what we presumed would be a room for us to stay in. That is, until the Thri-Kreen in question shoved us into portals leading to a jail cell. Determining our best option was escape, we fought valiantly as a team, defeated the Chimera, and began to speed out of the tunnels. However, we were soon cornered and raced for the vault, where the strongest magic is said to be held, led by the real Killis. As we stepped in, however, the door slammed shut behind us, trapping Juris and Anema behind.
What is this vault we hide in now? What fate lies in store for our friends who did not make it in? What fate in store for those of us who did? Will we be able to find the information out about why Jewelspar is being targeted? Will we be able to resurrect Hillevi?
Despite all the darkness that has led to this moment, despite the loss we have faced, a part of me still has hope. A part of me, lost somewhere in my childhood, believes that we will make it out of this, that Iris will conquer Solomon, that Krik will understand that we are her true family, and that Hillevi will once again reign as queen. For now, we wait, trapped in this vault, hopeful and fearful and praying to the gods that we may sail again.