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Spaz Skunk 6/18/2024 11:52pm

"Awooooooo!" Howlin' Wolf cried from the crow's nest.

"Captain!" called Bridget the Boar. "The island! It's going under!"

Badger Bijan and I looked up from the map we were studying and and rushed to the windshield. The entire island was submerging quickly. The sea was churning around it and swallowing it up.

"Any sign of @Harry Otter?" I asked "Or Big Bulldog?"

"No sir," Bridget said. "But the rats are gathering on the high ground."

We saw the rat crew of the Moonbeam swarming to the tops of the small hills and ridges that made up the surface.

"Sir, the Moonbeam!" Bijan pointed.

The Moonbeam's mooring line was tied fast around and outcropping near what used the be the shore of the tiny island, and it was rapidly following it down.

"Bridget, take us to the Moonbeam now! Bijan, get ready to board her and cut her loose."

"Aye aye, Captain."

"But sir! The rats!"

"We know they can swim. Ready the nets and we'll scoop them up once the Moonbeam's free."

"Burrrrp," said Toady McEvershine.

Harry Otter 2/27/2024 11:42pm

Spaz took The Therianthrope for a trip around the island to look for Big Bulldog.

I had a bad feeling about it. I hadn't known the big weredog for that long, but the one thing that was clear was that he was a leader. He wouldn't just wander off and abandon his mission -- the emancipation of shapeshifting people of every... shape. He had a clear sense of purpose, and wouldn't just--

"Captain?" asked one of the rats. They had been learning to mimic our speech. I hadn't been called captain before.

"Some of the Mischief found a tunnel," it said. "Smells of bulldog there."

"Take me to it," I said.

Communications Lt. Officer First Class Harry Otter, reporting.

Spaz Skunk 10/30/2023 11:20pm

"How could we have lost him? This island's really not that big," I asked Harry.

"Well, he's, half bulldog. Like a were-bulldog. Bulldogs are like bloodhounds, right?"

"No, I don't think so. Actually some of the worst smellers, I've heard. Something about those flat noses."

"Well he smelled something. He got really focused on it. We could have used him getting the casks filled and loaded but I haven't seen him."

"What if he fell off a cliff? Off the island? I don't think bulldogs are great swimmers either."

"Oh he loves the water. The Mermaid Kindgom, remember?"

The island shook with another shudder beneath our feet. The little quakes were getting more frequent.

"Ok. You finish loading the Moonbeam," I said, "and I'll take the Therianthrope for a quick look around."

Harry Otter 7/26/2023 11:31pm

The rats scampered across the verdant, flower covered hills.

"Happy to be on dry land again," I said.

"And thirsty as all get out," Big Bulldog said.

The Therianthrope was mooring next to the Moonbeam back near the shoreline. Blue sky with some clouds and cool ocean breezes.

"Squeeeeee!!!" squealed a group of rats in a copse of trees in the distance. All the other rats raced towards it.

"Found a spring," Big Bulldog said. "I could smell it from here."

With a source for freshwater, and all the fish we'd caught along the way (much of it drying in the Moonbeam's rigging) we were set to continue our search for the Mermaid Imperium. Equally lucky, there was no sign of our pursuers on the horizon.

"Still smelling that Mermaid Imperium on the breeze?" I asked. I was sure Big Bulldog couldn't really smell it.

"Yes, but..." he snorfled through is big wet snout and raised the folds over his right eye, "there's another scent. Big and musky. Can't see how I missed it before..."

The island shook with a small shudder under our feet. Great. It was geologically unstable.

"Time to get the casks down and start rolling them over to the spring," I said. "Maybe you could get some rats to help?"

Big Bulldog just stood there, snorfling at the air, his nose and saliva running.

This is Communications Lt. Officer First Class Harry Otter, reporting.

Spaz Skunk 4/9/2023 11:12pm

"Pretty sure that's an island," says Bridget the Boar. "Take a look."

We've got a big telescope on the Therianthrope. One of the onion domed minarets opens up like an observatory. Probably WAS the observatory from the palace we stole the ship from.

"Well," I said, trying to make it out, "even if it is a mirage, it's not like we've spotted anything else. And it's generally on the way. Signal the heading to the Moonbeam."

Bridget the Boar picked up the mirror contraption she'd made.

"Tell them we'll follow them in. And to keep the rats inside as we get close."

Harry Otter 1/3/2023 11:47pm

Nothing but ocean. For days.

"Don't you worry your flappy tail," Big Bulldog said. "I know we're headed in the right direction for the Mermaid Imperium. I can smell 'em!"

We were peering over the bow of the Moonbeam, wind shields open to the bridge.

"I think that's just how the ocean smells," I said. "You know? Salt, seaweed, fish..."

"You don't have quite the acute olfactory powers as Big Bulldog," Big Bulldog said, tapping his snout with a dewclaw and squeezing a wink out of the rest of the folds in his face.


Meanwhile, @Spaz Skunk arrived with a new net full of half drowned rats.

"You'd think they'd learn," I said.

"There are fewer and fewer each time. I guess it doesn't hurt we miss a few."

I looked at Spaz in horror.

"Just kidding," Spaz said. "I'm pretty sure we've caught all of them so far. But they're getting smarter, I can feel it."

The rats in the rigging chittered and laughed.

"But, it also means more sardines for all of us!" Spaz added. Each net full of rat crew members that had fallen off the Moonbeam also brought a small load of fish. We were set for food, but the fresh water was getting low. And I didn't think that would would be something mermaids would necessarily have in abundance.

"Hey," Spaz added. "So we got a name for the ship. The Therianthrope. Pretty on the nose, don't you think?"

If only I knew what that meant.

"Sure," I answered. "So, now that you've got your own name, maybe you could get your own ship's log too?"

Spaz said he'd think about it.

Communications Lt. Officer First Class Harry Otter, reporting.

Spaz Skunk 10/10/2022 10:12pm

"Rats ahoy!"

"Loose the nets!"

"Loosing the nets!"


We were on rat pickup duty for the first few days.

"Rats secured!"

"Pull 'er up!"

"Pulling 'er up!"

The Moonbeam was crewed by rats. Rats and little big-eyed monkeys and squirrels. @Harry Otter did his best to keep them in line, but the rats just couldn't help climbing on the outside of the gondola and up the fins and onto the envelope.

And they kept falling off.

So we'd been flying cleanup duty, following The Moonbeam, skimming the surface of the sea with nets to scoop them out.

"Thank ye! Thank ye kindly!" chirp the rats. We dry them off with towels.

This ship is well apportioned. Until recently it wasn't a ship at all -- it was the onion-domed spire of the tip of the palace of a barbarian queen. A palace she probably took by force with her army of barbarian warriors. The point is, it had been the penthouse apartments of her shapeshifting harem. Till we found the control room and drove away in it.

Ermine Stoat was cleaning the bridge -- wiping the dirt and grime of centuries off the control panels.

"Hey Spaz, take a look at this."

Ermie finished rubbing the dust off a flat portion of the mahogany. There were letters.


"Well I guess we don't need to worry about coming up with a name for her," I said.

Harry Otter 7/29/2022 7:38am

"A mermaid imperium?" Spaz Skunk asked.

"Yeah, I know," I said. "But the big bulldog-headed guy is real set on it. It's the only reason he set me free."

"We do need somewhere to go, and in a hurry. I've got trouble on my tail too."

The ship Spaz Skunk arrived in looked like a floating palace from the Arabian nights. Or an oldĀ movie theater in the Thief of Baghdad style. And there were pieces of wood and plaster dangling off it.

"Well it does look stolen," I said. "Do you have a name for it?"

"A name? Not yet. Been in too much of rush, I guess. Speaking of which, we do need to get going as soon as possible."

"But what about @Captain Jack Fenris?" I asked. "AndĀ @Strange Katz? They've got to be around here somewhere. We can't just leave them."

"I don't think we have a choice," Spaz said, looking at the horizon to the east. "I guess they've got till we get unmoored and airborne. We can always come back later."

Spaz Skunk wasn't fooling around.

"Alright!" I called to the rats. "Get ready to cast off!"

Communications Lt. Officer First Class Harry Otter, reporting.

Spaz Skunk 5/3/2022 11:09pm

City slowly replaces desert as we make our way towards the bay.

Scattered tents and mud huts transform into subdivisions of sturdier structures; multilevel dwellings whitewashed and glowing in the evening sun, colorful fabrics hung out to dry.

Then the city starts to rise. Tall towers, dirty and crumbling. New spires under construction here and there. The natives drape bright streamers from the buildings to catch the wind.

Finally, ships abound, tied to docks and anchored at bay.

"There!" cries Weasel Least, hanging from the bow.

Below lies the Moonbeam, floating at a list, but anchored at the edge of the open sea.

As we approach, it appears to be inundated by rats, crawling the hull and casting off.

Harry Otter 2/20/2022 10:01pm

I didn't know a thing about finding mermaids. Much less an entire mermaid empire. But there was one simple thing that had to be true.

"To the sea!" I cried, and Big Bulldog barked a laugh and pounded his paw on the counter, and the little big eyed tarsiers chittered in approval, and there were some smaller, squirrel-like creatures doing cartwheels.

"To the sea!" Big Bulldog cried and pounded his paw one more time and stood and led us all out of his tiny shop and around the corner to a great, wide well, with stairs built into the curve of the wall.

"To the sea!" Big Bulldog cried again, and the herd of tiny pseudo-bipedal mammals began to leap off the walls of the well and deep into its depths, accompanied by tiny splashes.

"The Rats will see us there on their ships! With you at the wheel and me at your side, we will find the Mermaid Imperium and be free!"

And with a broad slap on the back, he hurled me into the well.

This is Communications Lt. Officer First Class Harry Otter, reporting.

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