Jim had had an eventful stay in Buenos Aires, to say the least, and now as he approached the gangplank of the S.S. Monterey he looked forward to his bunk where he could take a well earned rest.
He started when a hand was placed upon his shoulder.
“Have faith my child. Your good works have not gone unseen. Your brave acts are making a difference.” Behind him was a Catholic priest and a nun, holding a shepherdess’s crook. She lowered it above Jim’s head, it was as if he was to be knighted, and she spoke a benediction as well. With an unlooked-for spring in his step Jim boarded the ship.
He immediately sought out Willis, the cabin boy; Jim found him in the ship’s galley.
“Yes, Mr. Culver,” said Willis happily, looking up from the mess of fishing net he was untangling.
The S.S. Monterey steamed up the Pacific coast of South America, called in at Panama, and then continued on to San Francisco.
As the ship puffed past Alcatraz Island Captain Burdock, in the wheelhouse, shouted down to Jim: “There’s gonna be a bridge built here, right across the bay!”
“Hard to believe, sir,” answered Jim, gazing overboard at the shoreline.
Shortly afterward the S.S. Monterey docked. A thick fog enveloped the ship and, within seconds, Jim was drenched, so he began hunting for a sou’wester. Climbing the ladder up to the wheelhouse, he called: “Hey, Captain–” but Jim’s question was cut short, Burdock was lying on the deck, jerking spasmodically, atop him was a grotesque harridan plunging away, it was the most revolting spectacle Jim had ever witnessed. Her balding head turned to Jim and she snarled, revealing rancid gums and red, wet teeth. “Be gone,” shouted Jim. He chanted words which ol’ Marty had taught him back home in San Antonio; the wraith was blasted by the magic spell, thrown against the bulkhead, one arm shrivelling and curling, like a burning twig. He took a pull at the whisky bottle, then smashed it upon the ship’s wheel. Jim Culver, the broken glass held out before him, advanced on the wraith, “You’re gonna pay for what you done to the Cap’n!” The monster was truly hideous to behold. As he stumbled towards the repulsive thing he whispered another magic spell, Instill Bravery was its name, Jim felt courage course through his veins. Jabbing and tearing he ripped apart its filthy rags, then he gouged at the putrid flesh until the wraith ceased squirming.
Jim rushed over to the prone Captain Burdock. Burdock’s lips moved but Jim couldn’t make out the words. An eyelid stuttered open, Jim saw a fog swirl upon the eyeball, its colour yellow and green…
A suspicious-looking thug in a dark robe offered to help Jim stand up.
“You are in Dylath-Leen, my friend.” A stupefied Jim Culver surveyed the lake and orange beach. The thug continued: “I am a fugitive, hunted by the prince’s agents. Will you protect me?”
The agent materialised and immediately set upon the thug. Jim grabbed hold of his leg, pummelling repeatedly at its thigh until it squawked and fled.
Jim was invited aboard a galley, the grateful thug telling him that he would be returned to the waking world. “I know of many forgotten truths” he said, offering to instruct Jim. Jim, being fascinated by magic, readily agreed to listen and learn during the voyage back home.