Arrgh. Strange seas and strange lands they were. We sailed long and hard before we made landfall upon Levin's Island, a sad faraway place that I sometimes see yet in me worst fevered dreams.
It looked to be a normal enough place upon droppin' anchor and sendin' out the boats. We steps on the beach and head for the huts when we gets our first notice of somethin' that's not right. Urchins always come runnin' to see that what's new. When these ones got close it could be seen plain that they was the ugliest little creatures what ever pattered on two feet. Not just one or two, but every mothers baby could have busted glass with a wink.
These little ones circled us and follered us up to the huts. Then them's what came out froze us in our tracks. The natives, to a one, were as hideous and disgustin' as any monster from a fairy tale book. Their googled eyes, them warped mouths, the silent pain behind their blank-like stares, everythin' about 'em made our knees weak and our heads swim. My guts churned and a few of the men lost theirs right off.
We was herded to the feedin' hall and sat, tryin' to collect our wits. Normally we would have been chewin' on anythin' that didn't move outa the way fast enough, but what with this bunch bringin' the food there weren't none of us what could manage even a bite. What's more than that, after food and a good pull o' rum the men would have been seein' to the wenches - after all, they's no choirboys there, at least not most, an' with them we don't ask and they don't tell. Well, with this lot there be no chance of that sort of recreation. Whichever ones were women would've made a blind man turn tail and run, they would
Seems the story come out then. This island is home to an awful monster gorgon, a sister of Medusa. She prowles it's shores and forests constantly, and them natives what didn't turn to stone right off were horribly disfigured by her gaze. All who live there have suffered this curse and come to accept it as normal, more or less.
Normal they might be thinkin' it is, but me crew wasn't standin' it too well. There they were, crouched on their benches, eyes clenched, hands tight between their legs and stomaches growlin' so loud we all had to be raisin our voices to be heard. Old Pegleg Pete was angriest of the lot and yelled out for treasure or leavin'. I spoke to the headman about that and he come right out and told that treasure was to be had up Agua Caliente way, 'bout a mile in and a strong haul uphill.
This seems odd to me, it does. In usual pirate ways it takes a few barbequed natives before they come around to tellin' about the places that treasure is to be found, and here this one just pointed and as much as said have at it. Oddness didn't matter much to the rest of 'em tho. As soon as we all heard that the whole crew breaks for the door an' the trail up the hill, and I had to stump lively to keep up.
When we hove into view of the treasure Old Pete was in the lead, and he opened the chest as soon as he reached it. All at once he stiffened right up and fell to the ground like a log. That done held the men up and I had a chance to come alongside and see what was what.
The chest Old Pete done opened were filled with the most vile and disgustin' shrunken heads, ones from the village far as could be be told. The awful curse them natives carried in life boiled down and thickened along with their shrinkin' noggins, and the full power of it had turned Old Pete into stone as solid as any gatepost.
My eyes burned and my ears screamed, but bein' undead already the curse couldn't fully work on me. Instead, I slammed the lid closed and hove the vile thing back into it's hidin' place. I seen then why that headman were so easy with what he called his treasure, knowin' what would happen to us when we reached it.
Old Pete's little brother, RePete were over aside, wailin' by Pete's stoney body. There were no way nor account for haulin' that mass back to the ship, even as ballast, so RePete done took Old Pete's Pirate Tags and threw them after the accursed treasure that had killed his elder. Then, as one, we made for the ship and away from that doomed place.
Stay away, says we. There be no way ye can gaze upon them's chest and live, it's as simple as that.