The Antagonist

The Antagonist was an 18th-century naval cutter co-captained by the pirates Silas and Bethiah Silver. From the Silvers’ seizure of the vessel in 1733 until its disappearance near Bermuda in 1742, the ship was feared all along the eastern seaboard of America. And though the Silvers only ever flew their Bloody Red when attacking vessels making the crossing to or from Europe, even the crews of intra-colonial ships trembled at the sight of The Antagonist on the horizon.

 

As for slave ships coming from Africa, the Silvers—much to the disappointment of their descendants—did little to disrupt that trade. A family legend contends that the husband and wife once tried to commandeer a vessel, pilot it back to Africa, and set the captives free, but there is no evidence to support this claim.

 

The Earth-2 version of this ship made a name for itself in Eden after a Calamity brought that iteration of reality to its end.

 

Commandeered by James Hook and rechristened the Jolly Roger, the former Antagonist was a force to be reckoned with on Eden’s Sea of Tears for much of the Second Interregnum. Only the efforts of Neverlandian hero Peter Pan brought this reign of terror to an end.

 

The whereabouts of the ship after Pan took it from Hook are unknown, but perhaps that’s fitting. After all, every other timeline’s Antagonist disappeared in Earth’s Bermuda Triangle—never to be see again.

 

Design

The Antagonist was a naval cutter designed for speed above all else. An evolution of the gaff-rigged sloops that its shipwright had spent the past decade building, The Antagonist maintained the general hull shape of a sloop while adopting a larger fore-aft sail plan and adding longer-than-usual bowsprit.

 

The aforementioned sail plan consisted of three fore-and-aft headsails, two supplementary square sails, and a gaff sail aft.

 

The hull was shaped like that of a full-size ship, only in miniature. At the stern, it had a small raised quarterdeck on which sat the helm. Rear of that was an elongated poop deck and the entrance to the captain’s cabin below.

 

The main deck was armed with eight four-pounder cannons and six railside swivel guns.

 

The hatchway to the cargo hold sat about dead-center.

 

Notable Captains

Silas Silver IV
Better known as “Long John” Silver—a nickname he earned during visits to Bostonian brothels—Silver’s stint as co-captain of the Antagonist followed a brief five-year pause in his piratical adventures. Having had his fill of domestic bliss—and eager to recapture the spirit of the years he spent under the command of Captain Flint—Silver and his wife set sail in 1733 for a nine-year campaign of treasure-hunting and harrassment of the Crown.


Bethiah Silver
Born Bethiah Hascall, this daughter of Welsh immigrants met her future husband while a captive on The Walrus. An unethusiastic Quaker—much to the chagrin of her devout parents—the young Bethiah quickly fell for the dashing scoundrel who made sure no harm came to her.

The feelings, it turned out, were mutual. Upon their return to port, Silver took his leave and brought Bethiah back home with him to Massachusetts.

But after five years of pregnancies with only one child to show for it, Bethiah’s thirst for adventure reached its apex. Hungry for a taste of the life her husband had led before their wedding, Bethiah played a huge role in planning and motivating their capture of The Antagonist.


James Hook
The early days of this Eton-educated seaman are still shrouded in mystery. Born James Fitzroy, little is known—and even littler said—about his life before he joined the crew of The Antagonist.

As he rose in prominence amongst the crew, he began catching the wandering eye of Bethiah Silver—a predicament which led to whispers that he was “the only man Long John ever feared.” But the captain needn’t have feared James at all. The future Captain Hook knew that it would be “bad form” to steal another man’s wife, and so rejected the advances of the flustered Bethiah.

After the Earth-2 version of The Antagonist made its way into Eden and the Silvers were split apart—Bethiah still with them and Long John lost at sea—James Fitzroy convinced the crew to relieve the heartbroken Bethiah from duty and make him captain instead.


Peter Pan
Nicknamed “The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up,” the young man born Petra Pansdotter was a thorn in the side of the James Fitzroy from the moment The Antagonist first arrived in Eden. Responsible for the feeding of Fitzroy’s right hand to a hungry crocodile, and for many of the misfortunes that followed, the mischievous Pan ultimately took control of the Earth-2 version of The Antagonist (rechristened by Fitzroy as The Jolly Roger) and served as its last captain.

Pan has never spoken of the ship’s fate after he used it to deliver the Darling children back to Earth, but Pan hardly ever speaks of the past. It is believed that the price he pays for staying forever young is incurable forgetfulness.

 

History

The tale of The Antagonist begins with a proud Cape Cod shipwright, Ebenezer Young, who was thirsty to prove himself. Jealous of the attention being given to his northern competitors on Cape Ann and in Kittery, Young set out to build the fastest ship in New England. With his mind set on improving upon the designs he’d been building for years at this point—designs based shamelessly on the then-popular Bermuda Sloop—he and his sons began construction of the vessel in December 1732.

 

Silas Silver III, a neighbor of Young’s in the mid-Cape town of Harwich, was invited to take a look at the ship in January 1733. Marveling at the still-incomplete vessel, Silver asked Young who he intended to sell it to when he was done. When Young laughed and said, “the highest bidder,” Silver nodded and began to fear the worst.

 

The scion of a family who had a deep-seated hatred of the British, Silver feared the Royal Navy might end up with Young’s ahead-of-its-time ship. And so, Silver let slip to his ne’er-do-well son where the thing was being built, and when it might be ready to sail.

 

That spring, together with the gang of ruffians who would make up their first crew, Silas Silver IV and his wife Bethiah stole Young’s ship under cover of night. They left their young son in the care of Silas III and the spinster daughter who ran his household, and began their nine-year-long campaign of pillage and plunder.

 

They first made a name for themselves as molasses smugglers, following the passing of the Molasses Act later that year. As such, they came to be much beloved outlaws in the colonies—at least amongst those who hated the Crown as much as they did.

 

Sadly—for the Silvers, at least—their crusade came to an end in 1742, at the height of the Atlantic hurricane season. Emboldened by nine years of great luck—and driven by their nigh-insatiable greed—they shipped out one time too many, and the ship was lost at sea near Bermuda. All of its crew, save Silas, were lost with it.

 

But as mentioned above, in one iteration of reality, the story didn’t end there. On Earth-2, Bethiah Silver took the helm and successfully steered the ship through the universe-ending maelstrom of a Calamity. Arriving on the Sea of Tears in the region of Eden called Neverland, the crew celebrated their captain with rum and the firing of their pistols into the air. But when Bethiah couldn’t find her husband amongst their number, the poor woman’s heart broke. And it was only a matter of time before she was relieved of duty.

 

The new captain, James Fitzroy, re-christened the ship The Jolly Roger—claiming to the crew that it was “good form” to begin their new venture, sans Silvers, with a new name. And it wasn’t long before James had a new name himself.

 

Though they did quite well for themselves sailing the Sea of Tears during the Second Interregnum, Fitzroy and his crew were stymied on a regular basis by the efforts of one Peter Pan. And it was during an early encounter with said interloper that Fitzroy lost his right hand in combat and gained his most enduring sobriquet as a result: Captain Hook.

 

The eventual downfall of Hook and his crew—and of the as-yet longest-lived version of The Antagonist—came after the arrival of Wendy Darling in Neverland. One of the so-called “lost girls,” Darling and her younger brothers were instrumental in Pan’s final defeat of Hook in “The Battle With The Boy Who Wouldn’t Grow Up,” and the peoples of Neverland were forever grateful. But Wendy’s decision to return home to her parents and her request for Pan to deliver her there—that meant that the Neverlandians never got to see what this amazing ship could have done in the hands of their national hero.

Launched
1733
 
Type
Naval Cutter
 
Max Speed
12.5 knots (14.3 mph)
 
Tons Burthen
71 BM
 
Length
58'
 
Beam
16' 8"
 
Sail Plan
Fore-and-aft rigged
 
Complement
26
 
Armament
Eight four-pounder cannons and six railside swivel guns

Deck Plans

 

Upper Decks

 

Lower Decks


Comments

Author's Notes

Thanks to Alishahr, Dimitris, and Jacob-W for their early help on sailing terminology and the feasability of the ships I was thinking about for this challenge. And thanks to the First-Week Followers of my brand new Twitch channel for their encouragement as I wrote parts of this on stream.


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12 Sep, 2021 19:41

Nice work :) Looking forward to seeing it with art

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E. Christopher Clark
13 Sep, 2021 00:03

Thanks! I'm hoping to fill it out over the next week. Fingers crossed!

13 Sep, 2021 13:02

Lovely work! Very detailed and nicely formatted (:


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Actually, just 1.7 cats in a trenchcoat!
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E. Christopher Clark
13 Sep, 2021 16:12

Thanks so much! I can't wait to add some art to it, maybe even as early as today.

15 Sep, 2021 12:07

Nice article with an interesting history! I especially like the second iterations with captain Hook and Peter Pan :) Nicely formated and easy to read as well.   Curious how the map will turn out :)

Feel free to check out Worldember Overview if you want to see what I am up to!
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E. Christopher Clark
15 Sep, 2021 19:25

Me, too! I think I've finally settled on using DungeonFog, just to keep things ***le. While I would be able to do the top deck relatively easy in the program I'm already using, the lower decks are proving a problem. So I exported a top-down view of the boat to use as a blueprint, which I've now imported into DungeonFog.   Anyway, glad you liked Hook and Pan! I've got a portrait of Hook I'm hoping to have done and up there by the end of today.

20 Sep, 2021 12:36

Did you... censor ***le?

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E. Christopher Clark
20 Sep, 2021 23:08

Not on purpose. Thanks again for catching that!

17 Sep, 2021 03:36

Not knowing what program you use, all of you illustrations are awesome. As is your formatting. Very enjoyable read

Feel free to browse my Mapvember Tracker and remember, Worldember is coming
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E. Christopher Clark
17 Sep, 2021 10:42

Thank you! For the illustrations, I use a combination of Daz Studio and Photoshop. I'm hoping to, in the future, give them an even more painterly look, but we'll see.   I'm also glad to hear the formatting is working for you! Easy, enjoyable reading is what I aim for.

20 Sep, 2021 12:34

You have a Twitch channel!? I must follow!   'a nickname he earned during visits to Bostonian brothels' This made me laugh. I love your sense of humour.   I would love for some of the sailing terminology to have tooltips, as I'm afraid some of it went right over my head.   I had a lot of fun reading this article - as always, I love your twists on well-known stories.

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E. Christopher Clark
20 Sep, 2021 23:06

Thank you for all the kind comments! I always love hearing about how I'm getting laughs out of folks. I've been sitting on a version of that "Bostonian Brothels" joke for a while.   Thanks also for the suggestion on adding tooltips for the sailing terminology. I'm going to add that my to-do list, because some of it is terminology that went right over my head too before I did the research for this one.

24 Sep, 2021 19:17

Ohh, what a beatiful map style, with the wrapped paper!

Bienvenidos a Eiláar
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E. Christopher Clark
24 Sep, 2021 19:21

Thanks so much! The paper was part of a pack of textures I bought a few years back called The Ultimate Texture Pack. It's been really useful for things like this.

2 Oct, 2021 11:12

This turned out really well!

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E. Christopher Clark
2 Oct, 2021 12:57

Aw, thanks so much! It was great to have your help in the early-going. I'm pleased with how it turned out, too. Thanks again for all your advice!

3 Oct, 2021 15:07

I really enjoyed how you blended history and fantastical elements together in this article. Your map also looks really nice and it's easy to read even without labels.

Creator of the the Disputed Lands, a bronze age world of politics and clockwork magic.
Check out my shipwright challange article: Little Victory
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E. Christopher Clark
3 Oct, 2021 20:23

Thanks so much! I kinda ran out of time for the labels, so I'm glad to hear that the map read well even without them. And I'm super-happy to hear that you enjoyed the blend of history and fantasy. That's what I love to do.

Eternal Sage AmélieIS
Amélie I. S. Debruyne
6 Oct, 2021 07:10

Great article! This was a fun story :D I also enjoy trying to catch up the references in your articles. I really like your Captain Hook and his insistance on following good form for everything XD Your illustrations are all really nice, and I particularly love the look of the captains - though the ship and plans are very nice too :D   The way you presented information, with a summary, presentation of the ship and captains, and then the full story at the end really worked well for me. I also appreciate your use of tooltips, though I still ended up having to google something :p (Long John silver to refresh my memory on Treasure Island XD )

Feel free to check my list of WE articles.
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E. Christopher Clark
6 Oct, 2021 10:55

Aw, thank you so much for all those kind words. Good call on the Long John Silver reference. I'll try to remember to Tooltip that one, once the entries are open for editing again.

6 Oct, 2021 08:11

I like the map and I like the article! Also the images! I was a little lost at points though because you jumped between entirely different versions of the ship, describing entirely different characters from entirely different versions of reality, but it made sense by the end.

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E. Christopher Clark
6 Oct, 2021 10:54

Thanks for the kind words and the feedback. Although I'll have to work on sparing readers that "lost" feeling, I am happy to hear it made sense by the end.

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