Captain William Edwards was helping transfer the bolts of cloth and sacks of sugar from the Spanish merchantman to his own ship, the Sea Hound, when one of his crew own came up to him with a small chest.
"Found this in the Captain's Quarters sir", the man said.
Edwards was intrigued. A small chest like this often had valuables in it. Sugar and cotton were all well and good, but even a small quantity of gold was always a welcome addition to a haul such as this.And this was just the sort of chest that a ship's fund would be carried in. He tried to flip the lid with his sword, but it didn't budge. Locked.
"No key?" Edwards asked the sailor.
"No sir. None that we could find, sir" the man nervously replied.
Edwards just smiled. "Let's find that key" he said, and went to look for the captain of the captured Spanish ship, "Bring that chest". He punctuated his order with a snap of his fingers and then he began to walk across the deck.
If anyone had a key, it would be the captain. Soon Edwards found the man, luckily not dead, just propped against a railing and mortally wounded having taken some grapeshot in the gut. Edwards put his cutlass under the man's chin and said "Key!" while he pantomimed turning a lock with his other hand. Then he pointed to the chest carried by the sailor.
The Spanish captain glared for short while and then spit a mixture of saliva, phlegm and blood into Captain Edward's face. Then he began to laugh which devolved shortly into a coughing fit. Then he said something in Spanish. Captain Edwards did not speak much of the language of his foe, but he was pretty sure the last two words were "English Pig"
Never one to be disrespected in front of his men, Edwards drove the point of the cutlass into the throat of the Spanish captain, killing him instantly. After wiping his face, he searched the body and found a small iron key on a leather cord around the man's neck. It fit the lock and turned. It was full of gold coins, a few jewels and lying on top of it all, a silver amulet, with a design that the captain did not recognize but for some inexplicable reason, made him shudder to look at it.
Days passed, the Spanish ship was burned, leaving the survivors of her crew to either burn with her or become food for the sharks, The Sea Hound returned home to Port Royal where the goods in her hold were auctioned off, shares paid to the crew and all were enjoying life in the most notorious pirate port in the West Indies. All that is, except for Captain Edwards. He had claimed the amulet with his share of the loot. In fact, to the delight of his men it was the ONLY thing he claimed out of the small amount of gold and jewels in the chest. If anyone had asked him why, he would never have been able to explain it. He hated the thing, the dull heavy weight of it in his hand, the way that light reflected off of it in a way that made it look like something glistening with slime more than a simple thing of silver. But it was sometimes all he could think about. He contemplated selling it, or maybe just tossing it into the sea, but he knew he could never do such a thing. Never.
So while the rest of his crew was drinking, wenching, and spending the fruits of a pirate's labors, Captain Edwards was in a small room in a boarding house, just staring at his new treasure. Just watching it dangle in the candlelight. Not knowing what he was going to do with it but unwilling to part with it. Eventually, when the candles burnt out, he slept.
Or at least he tried to. He woke up when he felt a weight at the foot of his bed. He opened one eye to see someone sitting on his bed, in the moonlight he could just barely make out the feature of the Spanish captain, whom he had left to die several days ago. He was about to scream when the apparition put a cold finger over his mouth and said "Shhh"
Captain Edwards remained quiet. Not because he was inclined to obey orders from this thing, but because he COULD not disobey. He could not move his mouth or his jaws. He could not move his arms or his legs. He could do nothing but lay there.
"Enjoying this?" it said, in perfect unaccented English, as it picked up the amulet. Or at least that is what Captain Edwards heard, for the thing did not seem to move its mouth as it talked. "I hope it brings you every bit as much enjoyment as it brought me". Though he was afraid and unable to move, an involuntary spasm of anger surged through Captain Edward's body, when this...thing...touched the amulet. The Spanish Captain tossed the amulet to Edwards and suddenly it was like a dam broke inside him. He sat upright, and let out a yelp. No one was in the room with him and...it must have just been a dream. Only he was holding the amulet and he was certain he had left it on the little writing desk across the room when he went to sleep.
The next morning, Edwards decided to find out what he could about the cursed thing. He traveled to Kingston to consult an old friend of his, James Blevins, an old Oxford scholar who had retired to Jamaica for his health. As far as Edwards was concerned, Blevins knew everything about everything, and if Blevins couldn't tell him about it, no one could. After the requisite greetings and chit-chat, Edwards got to the purpose of his visit.
"It's this, James. I want to know what it is. What do the markings mean. And most importantly, why can't I think of anything else since I have gotten it"
Blevins took the amulet in his hand and looked it over, turned it over and stared at it some more. Then he let out a little harumph. "Sorry old friend, but I have never seen the writing on this in my life. It isn't Latin, or Aramaic, or anything else that I am familiar with.
But take heart. I have a whole library full of books on languages. Something of a passion of mine. Leave it with me for a few days. I'm certain I can come up with SOMETHING"
"No" snapped Edwards.
"Say?" Blevins looked shocked.
"I said no. It is mine. I won't permit you to steal it."
"I have no intention of stealing it. And I am offended at the accusation. But I am a charitable man and not one to throw away our years of friendship lightly. If you wish, just let me do a rubbing of it. Then when I have something to tell you about it, I will.
Edwards nodded assent and then Blevins carefully began to make his rubbing. Edwards kept a wary eye on him the whole time. When Blevins was done, Edwards snatched it away. "Thank you Blevins. I am sorry if i offended. I...I don't know what came over me."
"Think nothing of it, old boy. It looks to be quite the puzzle. I will let you know when I have something of substance to tell you. You have my word"
Time passed. Edwards returned to Port Royale and thence to the sea. Another voyage, another round of raiding Spanish ships and granting them no quarter. Edwards kept his amulet, in a small box hidden in his cabin. He was careful never to wear it, he was afraid if the crew saw it they might want to take it for themselves, but he never wanted it to be that far from him either. And as time wet on, he spent more and more time in his cabin, because the thought of having it any further away made him itchy, for lack of a better word. It produced a worried gnawing in his but and a prickly sensation on his skin. Increasingly, Horner, his second in command ran the ship, not him and the sailors were saying that this would be Edwards' last voyage as captain of the Sea Hound. The rumors got back to Edwards and he did nothing to correct them, for the rumor was correct. He had made plenty of money in his time as a Privateer for His Majesty. It was time to buy and estate on Jamaica and...do what? He did not know. But he and his treasure would be far safer there than among pirates, that much he DID know. The Spanish Captain never appeared to him again, as he did that one time. But Edwards would have the occasional nightmare, and in them, the Spanish Captain would always be there in the background, laughing.
Upon his return to Port Royale, he was greeted by a young boy on the dock bearing a message from James Blevins. It said that he had some information for him regarding his "recent acquisition" and that he wanted to meet to explain it in person. At the St. John's Inn, a dockside tavern Edwards knew well. When Edwards entered, he barely recognized Blevins. Blevins was old, to be sure, but he never looked sickly like he did now. Gray, not just his hair but his face had an ashen pallor. And gaunt. When Edwards had left him in Kingston, months ago, Blevins hadn't been exactly fat but definitely had the sort of pot belly that denoted a man who lived and ate well. The Blevins in front of him looked like he hadn't eaten in quite some time. Edwards sat down with him and said, "I came as soon as I got your message. What did you find?"
Blevins gave him a wan smile, and said "Probably best we don't speak of it here. Not with so many people about, lets go somewhere more private."
Edwards knew that talking of the amulet would just invite others to steal it. So he nodded "No one aboard my ship at the moment. Let's talk there"
Blevins replied that it would be an excellent idea so he followed Edwards back to his ship, and to the Edwards' cabin where he kept it. Blevins told him "Best if I show you, put the Amulet on the table"
Edwards turned and reached under his bunk for the box where he kept the amulet. As he did so, Blevins produced a small pepper-box revolver from inside his jacket and shot Captain Edwards dead. "MINE", he said. Then he took the box and its prize for its own, and was never seen again.
Somewhere, the Spanish Captain was laughing still.