Redclaw -- Introduction

The following account is that of Captain Lonn Yägger, master of the Sea

Angel, a trading vessel of Müden.

“It was a year ago at least that I first saw the monster. It was much

smaller then, but already of frightening size. Would that it had been

killed when we had the chance, but how could we know it would grow so

quickly and become so ravenous? The thing that I saw then was larger than

a man, but it was not the size of monstrosity that sank the Sea Angel. It

must have been the same creature, though, for how many such abominations

could there be in the world? Beside, it had the same huge, bright red claw.”

“I first saw it while we were sailing past the shoals of Morrins in the

lands of the Manticore. We had traded unwrought iron for local goods to

sell in Brechtur, and we expected to see a good return for our

efforts. From the deck of the Angel I could see figures upon the

not-too-distant shore. Some trick of the current deposits flotsam for a

hundred miles in every direction upon that coast. As the tide recedes the

foragers come out to do their work. There are bright corals and shells

some of which fetch a good price at market. Wood that has been strangely

warped and worn, odd sea creatures washed up from the depths and the

occasional pearled stone. Of course, there is also the wreckage of

ships. The bodies of lost seamen or the equipment from their ships are not

an uncommon sight there. Scavengers of every kindhuman and beastprowl

those pools.”

“I saw the monster as we sailed by just off shore. It was a calm, quiet

day. One of those days that sound carries strangely across the water, and

you can hear the conversation of the dockworkers a mile from shore, so it

seemed for a moment as if the screams came from just overboard. I ordered

my men to reef the sails. The lookout called out and pointed towards a

commotion on the shore. Through my glass I had a good view, and was soon

able to reconstruct what had happened.”

“The monster had startled several of the human scavengers away from what

appeared to be the bloated corpses of two Khinasi sailors. Rough seas the

week before had likely taken their ship, and their bloated bodies had

finally washed ashore. The foragers had been doing their business when the

creature fell upon them. It had snapped off the arm of one of the

scavengers--I could see him and a companion trying to stop the bleeding a

few paces off. The beast had little interest in him any more, however. It

turned its attention to the corpses and began to eat. It’s mandibles

chewed and its little arm worked methodically in the way of

crustaceans--that weird, almost dainty way they feed themselves bit by bit,

like highborn ladies dining upon sweetmeats. The third mate, Jaran, was

standing next to me and he also had his glass pointed at the scene. The

young lad began to retch, and though I kept my composure for the sake of

the crew, I could hardly blame him.”

“It was already a large beast then. It was perhaps the size of an

ox. One claw was much larger than the other, like that of the large minax

crabs that inhabit much of Cerilia’s coasts, but that claw was a bright,

blood red. Overall, the monster was shaped like a crab, but different in

some ways. It seemed… longer. More upright. It scuttled along sideways,

but seemed to stand as it did so, like some horrid parody of man and

animal. I had seen enough myself. I ordered the men to resume course and

we left that place as quickly as we could.”

“It was a year before we returned to the lands of the Manticore. Too

short a time to forget what we had seen there, perhaps, but long enough

that the lure of profit brought us back. In truth, who would have expected

that the beast had grown as it did? The thing had no fear of us now, and

indeed it needn’t have any, for we had little opportunity to defend

ourselves against its assault. In fact, I saw little of the monster, for

it attacked from below, and the Sea Angel was doomed before I really even

understood what it was that was happening. There was a great tumult around

the ship, and we slowed from the weight of it clinging to the hull. We

could see little of the beast, but could make out the monstrous dark form

of the thing below the waterline. We tried to attack it with gaffs and

harpoons but we had little success penetrating its thick shell. It seemed

to ignore us in favor of attacking the ship. As it became clear that the

ship would founder if something was not done my first officer, Valmer,

suddenly dove into the water. Always more foolhardy than brave, was

Valmer. He never surfaced.”

“I knew the Sea Angel like my own body, so when the monster snapped the

keel like a twig I felt it as if my own spine had broken. I ordered the

men to launch the skiffs and abandon ship. I waited until all had made it

off before I climbed aboard the last boat. We pulled desperately for

shore. The monster took one of the fleeing skiffs before we were able to

get clear of the wreckage, and that is when I knew what it was that had

attacked us. It was the same red claw that I had seen the year before that

rose from the water to crush the little boat and those aboard her.”

“By the size of that claw the thing must have been three or four times

the size it had been when I first saw it. It took down that boat as if it

were a child’s toy in a tub. Redclaw is of a size to put even the largest

ships at hazard. It took my own easily enough, and I can promise you that

the Sea Angel is not the last ship that will go missing in those waters.”