Kapteynport had, at once time, been a center of trade and commerce. At the mouth of the River Barnard, it was a key artery in bringing trade from the inland cities to the colonies. That had changed when the river mouth silted up and it changed course–the trade now flowed through Maanenburg. But Kapteynport had maintained a low-key prosperity of a sort with its fishing fleet, enough that the grand old buildings from the old days could be maintained and occupied after a fashion.

That all changed on the day the Black Ship arrived at the bay mouth.

Larger ships still called occasionally to take on salted fish or when the wharfs of Maanenburg were full, but the appearance of a tar-black carrack was still unusual. Aside from the white of its furled sails, every inch of the vessel–even its lines–was as if blackened by pitch. Stranger even than that was its position: anchored within the sheltering arms of the cove but not anywhere close to the docks.

After it had been there for nearly a week, a group of townsfolk boarded it and found the ship to be deserted, without so much as a nail aboard that wasn’t part of the blackened timbers. No further parties were sent, as every last member of the boarding party was stricken dead within a week, either by illness or an unfortunate accident. That, and the subsequent failure of the next month’s fishing, led the citizens of Kapteynport to conclude that the black ship was a cursed vessel.

Many abandoned the town, but others resolved to rid themselves of the curse. Volunteers cut the anchor line and attempted to tow the ship away, but their vessel foundered before much headway could be made, as did its replacement. Despite the calm waters and nearness to shore, there were no survivors from either wreck. A final attempt had desperate Kapteynporters flinging lit torches onto the ship, which burned for hours without incurring any visible damage.

The conflagration that swept through town less than 48 hours later led to Kapteynport’s final and total abandonment.

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