Dracos and Otter

And now, with no further trials to your patience, my audience, we proceed with:

The Strange History of the Dreadful Wolfen Corsair AnnaMaria Dellasandros, Commonly known simply as “Dallas”, From her Birth in a small Fishing Village Through to her Present-Day Circumstances5

The origins of the Family Dellasandros are now lost, like those of so many others, in the unrest and turmoil of the Dark Years. 6 If, indeed, detailed history of the family had been maintained through such antiquity at all. The family, though of good healthy stock and generally upright moral character, was one of those so many, that are overlooked by history, and which seem to accomplish little other than that necessary for their day-to-day existence, and whose interests only rarely extend outside their own immediate community.

It is known, however, that the scion of the family arrived in the W___ region approximately 4 generations before the birth of AnnaMaria. This ancestor, who we shall call Arvin, though that was not his correct name7, soon settled down in W___-shire, married, and began raising a family. His children and latter descendants all adhered to the example he set, entering the fishing or related trades, marrying, and raising families with every seeming expectation that the family would continue to be solid, dependable, and unsurprising. 8 Therefore, the longing for adventure and excitement that AnnaMaria Dellasandros would display at such a young age, is of considerable note.9

Even as a small cub, AnnaMaria was the most adventurous of the litter of siblings, which totaled 4, 1 sister and 2 brothers. She was the ringleader, leading her siblings into scrapes and adventures. Although these were, it must be noted, all of the innocent and childlike kind that any active, bright youngster may encounter. She also early displayed a bright and curious mind, and a strong sense of independence. Early on she came to the decision that AnnaMaria was entirely “too much of a name, and simply too frou-frou to be borne” and insisted that all who she interacted with should call her “Dallas.” The only exception to this pronouncement was an equally strong-willed grandmother, then living with the family. AnnaMaria and Grandmother Dellasandros were to fight several lively verbal battles before AnnaMaria agreed to the use of that name by Grandmother, and Grandmother would refrain from comments on the use of the nickname Dallas by all others.

Commencing at or about the age of 7 years10, as was customary at that time and in that region, Dallas entered the one-roomed Village School, entering with a solid, though not outstanding knowledge of letters, ciphering, and other baby-learning. She continued to advance at an unexceptional pace, neither at the top nor bottom of her classes. What was somewhat notable, however, was her imagination and adventurous spirit. She continued to be the ringleader of her family and classmates of similar age, encouraging the type of small picnic expeditions beloved by children and allowed by their parents, pranks, and occasional real mischief, though it never was suggested that her intentions were truly malicious.

At the age of 12 she began work on her family's cod-fishing boats. Voyages lasted in the neighborhood of nine months, or “until all the salt was wet” - referring to the popular chanty sung by the first boat to leave the fishing grounds with a full cargo of salt cod. 11 The short 3 month on-shore stays were spent in further schooling, adding “book-learning” to the practical arts being gained of seamanship, navigation, etc. She and her brothers served alternately on boats belonging to their father and his brother, who was himself childless, and glad to have his niece and nephews as crew. Her sister, however, had no desire to join the fleet, and remained home, learning the housewifely arts, and eventually settling down with a stolid young man of the town to keep house for her husband and one brother who remained a bachelor. The other brother also married, settled, and continued the family fishing tradition.

By the age of 15 or thereabouts, however, Dallas was finding the world of the fishing fleet too restrictive. On the occasion of a rare stop at a port city, she found a replacement for her post as cabin-cub on the family's boat, a post taken by a shirttail cousin, and signed on another ship, somewhat against the wishes of her Uncle, the master of the schooner she was serving on. Although still small for her species, she was wiry and strong, and was taken on the sealing schooner of the infamous “Wolf” Larsen, in the capacity of general deckhand. Wolf Larsen was in the sealing business, where voyages might last several years, but his schooner, the “Ghost” might circumnavigate the globe in search of fur seals and visit many strange places. Certainly this was the allure that brought young Dallas onboard, as was the chance of more profit on one hold of seal pelts than a codfisher generally saw in two voyages or even three.

Dallas' knowledge of seamanship and navigation quickly moved her upward in the small community onboard the Ghost, as Larsen's mate at that time was not a notably sober personage. Her stature and inexperience, however, prevented more formal promotion to a titled mate position.

This was to prove one of Larsen's longer voyages, and by the time he arrived back at his nominally home port, it had been 3 years, and Dallas had, finally, hit her final growth. Not the largest or brawniest Wolfen to be found on the docks, but not one to be trifled with, either. The voyage had continued her education in all the seamanship lines. However, serving under Wolf Larsen was to have its more unfortunate affects on her personality. Wolf Larsen, as most readers may know, was a martinet, though brilliant, and some have whispered, quite quite mad. Dallas also served, during that long voyage, briefly under Larsen's brother, the even more notorious (if such is possible, which I assure my reader truly to be) Death Larsen. 12 This was occasioned when the small hunting-skiff that Dallas was serving as boat-puller (oarsmen, one of three per skiff) was caught in fog and storm, and “rescued” by the crew of Death Larsen's ship. This losing of boats and temporary lodging on other ships was common enough among seal hunters. Dallas and the other crew from the Ghost were forced to work for Death Larsen, which was not common – normal circumstances included returning hunting skiffs to their proper home ships as soon as possible – until they were able to escape and return to the Ghost and Wolf Larsen's employ. These two rather ominous examples of ship-mastery taught Dallas that a certain level of anarchy was normal and allowable, and that violence was an acceptable answer to problems.

Wolf Larsen's mercurial and violent temper, however, was not to Dallas' satisfaction, and at the end of the long voyage, she “resigned” from his employ. As Larsen was many times documented to be unwilling to part with good crew, it is unlikely that Larsen assented to Dallas' departure, and one hopes that he does not hold a grudge for abandoning him to whatever scum and villainy he could find on the docks willing to serve under one sunk to his level of depravity.

Dallas then signed on with Capt. Artemus Ward, the noted scoundrel, and servant of his majesty, King Sarawak of Albermarle. It has been said that Ward is a pirate, but as I asserted earlier, that is most certainly not the case. Ward has always served King Sarawak, and has indeed at all times been authorized in his activities by Letters of Marque issued by the Crown Council of Albermarle,13 as can be clearly seen in the court records of his attempted court-martial by the Crown of Frunofia.14 Artemus Ward and his crew were most properly acting in the offices of Privateers for the Crown of Albermarle, and directly under the authority of King Sarawak.

Dallas proceeded through the ranks of Captain Ward's crew with a rapidity that no doubt astonished some, but keeping in mind her experience on the sea from a young age, thorough knowledge of the more scholarly arts and sciences relating to her profession, and her bold, excitement-seeking personality, it should not be. What a young Wolfen may accomplish through earnest endeavor assisted by learning and experience is marvelous to behold. Indeed, by age 23, only 2 years after leaving Larsen's Ghost, Dallas was promoted to the position of First Mate by Ward.15

This, then was the standing of AnnaMaria Dellasandros when I met her on the docks some few months ago. No doubt her career will continue on as it as begun, and she will be an honor to her family, W__-shire, and the Wolfen community in general.

5 I don't know how much longer I can sustain this mode of translation/speech. I do hope you, the reader understand if the language starts to lapse into the vernacular, now that you've had a taste of it.

6 The Dark Years were indeed dark in the land of Palladium. Estimates put the casualties of war, pestilence, famine, and other catastrophes at the 90-95% range. Far in excess of those of Europe during our own Dark Ages and the Plague. – LMW

7 An interesting scruple of the author's, to change the name of one dead for many years, but to use the true and proper name of a living subject. Perhaps because Dallas never bothered to conceal it herself? – LMW

8 My own research, however, indicates that Arvin arrived in Wartshire on the run from the authorities for suspected piracy. This may have been a youthful indiscretion not completely his fault, as no other indications exist of illicit activities on Arvin's part. Every generation or so, though, a youngster of the line seems to disappear from the records, though not listed as dead, missing, and hints of lives like those of Dallas may be found, upon perusal of the courts and more flamboyant maritime chronicles. – LMW

9 Or perhaps not, see previous note. – LMW

10 Wolfen lived lifespans not terribly different from those of us modern humans, matured at the same rate, and a Palladium Year was close enough in length to that of today's calendar to make conversion unnecessary. – LMW

11 A fuller description of such a life can be seen by reading Kipling's “Captains Courageous”, although Wolfen vessels sometimes dispensed with the offices of a cook, and simply consumed their meals in a manner somewhat reminiscent of sushi and sashimi. – LMW

12 It is believed that Jack London based his characters of Wolf and Death Larsen on these examples, and possibly that of his protagonist Humph, on a shadow of Dallas, when writing his classic “The Sea-Wolf”, although as will be seen, Dallas and London's Humph proceeded to rather different ends. – LMW

13 At this point I feel it appropriate to point out that Hrrul Arkinsdaughter was at one point in her career the official crown historian for what we would term the Duchy (or Kingdom, as it was then referred to) of Albermarle. Further, this particular narrative was written at the time of that employment. And Hrrul was nothing, if not loyal to the employer of the moment. That, and fond memories of her former pupil should be kept in mind. – LMW

14 Surviving fragments of the records of this court case are not so clear-cut. It is thought that Dallas herself may have assisted in preparation of certain questionable documents, given my research into other sources. – LMW

15 Other documents imply that those stood between Dallas and a goal were wont to meet with certain unfortunate “accidents”, and that she and Ward eventually came to an agreement that she would be promoted to Mate, and would not seek his life. Indeed, Dallas probably never even had Ward in her sights, as she was not so bold as to not know her own limitations, and mutiny and taking over of Ward's command at this point in her career would be unlike her style. – LMW


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