|An Ancient prophecy warns of an imminent return|
Any crews who visited Plunder Valley during the recent events of ‘The Sirens’ Prize’ would have found themselves making some new and unexpected acquaintances. Their trip to the Sunken Kingdom, and subsequent retrieval of three long-lost treasures on Belle’s behalf, was courageous enough to convince an Ancient Priest and his acolytes that pirates are worthy comrades. At the Adventure’s conclusion, they pledged themselves to the cause of defending the Sea of Thieves.
It’s always good to have allies, especially in a world where the likes of Phantoms, Ocean Crawlers and Ashen Lords delight in picking fights with any pirates they encounter. But who are these Ancients, and what precisely had Belle so concerned that she was willing to risk life and limb to secure their help? To answer all that, it’s best to start before the beginning…
Time of the Ancient Mariners
While the Pirate Lord is often considered responsible for ‘creating’ the Sea of Thieves as it currently exists, he was far from the first to set foot upon its shores. Others had previously pierced the Devil’s Shroud – but none, perhaps, left so significant a legacy as the enigmatic civilisation now known as the Ancients.
Not only were the Ancients capable fighters and seafarers, they displayed remarkable mastery of the Sea of Thieves’ special qualities. Over lifetimes, they formed their own pact with the merfolk and constructed great storehouses for their vast treasures, leaving behind plenty of powerful artefacts – and quite a few cursed relics – when they suddenly departed.
Why the Ancients chose to leave their home, and where they sailed to, was a profound mystery for many years, though Belle’s recent intervention has provided an answer. The Ancients undertook a mass exodus into what they called their ‘Sea of Tribute’, an ethereal realm that pirates know better as the Sea of the Damned.
Not all the Ancients were able to make the trip. The spirit of their legendary Great Warrior remained unaccounted for, trapped in skull fragments long since stolen by the Sirens. By retrieving these fragments and reforming the skull, Belle was able to release the soul of the Great Warrior to be with his kin once more. In return, the Ancient Priest has sworn that when the time is right, he will answer her call.
Fanning the Flame
Years spent exploring the Sea of the Damned may have given Belle extensive knowledge of the Ancients and how to secure their loyalty, but it was a card she played reluctantly, having stumbled upon one of their most troubling prophecies. It details a looming Time of Resurrection, when a powerful enemy is destined to return and wreak havoc upon the Sea of Thieves.
Belle believes that this can only be referring to Captain Flameheart, who has haunted the seas in a spectral state since his release in ‘The Seabound Soul’. Given the chaos he caused when manifesting as little more than an ill-tempered cloud, the damage inflicted when he reclaims a physical form could be catastrophic – and his return would serve as a rallying cry for The Reaper’s Bones.
The Servant of the Flame, meanwhile, is aware of this omen and will be striving to ensure his father’s rebirth comes to pass. After all, Belle only discovered the prophecy’s existence while exploring the lair of a man who was instrumental in the creation of The Reaper’s Bones, and whom she now suspects will assume a fated role as the Herald of the Flame. A man named Stitcher Jim…