Written by Brian Jacques
|Castaways of the Flying Dutchman|
| Followed by|
At The Angel's Command
Born a mute, abused by his family, Neb knows he must run away if he is to have any chance in life. He can only run so fast, though; knocked senseless into the sea by his step-brother, he finds his one chance for survival aboard a ship sailing all the way to the Americas . . . A ship crewed by cutthroats, and a captian feared by all: Vanderdekken, Captian of The Flying Dutchman. It's never easy, making the crossing from Europe to the americas, especially not when it is turning into winter, but Vanderdekken has a reward waiting for him if he can force his crew to complete the voyage around Cape Horn. Neb rescues a chocolate lab along the way and names him Denmark; soon, with the conditions the captian is forcing on the crew, Neb and Den are Vanderdekken's only hope against a mutiney. Reaching the Horn, Vanderdekken tries once, twice to make the passage, and is thrust back by the wind and waves both times. The crew all believes him mad to make a third try, but try he does . . . and still the passage will not let him through. Enraged, Vanderdekken begins to curse the wind, the ocean, the crew . . . and even God himself. For his crimes against his crew and for his blasphemy, an Angel is sent down to condemn him: "Your greed and your cruelty and your arrogance turned your tongue against your Maker. Henceforth, and for all the days of time, this ship, with you and all upon it, are lost to the sight of heaven. You will sail the waters of the world for all eternity!" (CotFD, pg 48)
But Neb and Den, by virtue of their innocence, are spared the harshness of the angel's curse: they too, must wander the earth for all eternity, but they may cross both land and sea. The angel gave a gift and a command to the two of them: the gift of speech for both, so Neb and Den could talk to each other mentally and Neb could talk to other humans; and a command, to help those they encountered, to spread truth and joy and peace. And so our two travel the ages together, fighting wrongs where they find them, from the very shores where they first washed up, down to the not so very long ago. These are the tales of the Castaways of the Flying Dutchman.