Captain Pigheart’s Crustacean Adventure

Gaargh, twas the night before ye mornin’ after. Me and the lads’d put in at nearby Thorny Knobbler for a well-deserved and liver-bruising bingein’. Y’see, our lootin’ of a brace o’ refugee ships just off the coast looked to be boostin’ our lamentable performance in ye Piratical League Tables.

We gatecrashed the village’s annual Crab Fete, and found ‘em celebratin’ their crabbin’ at the Sole Tavern where they merrily capered in amusin’ marine garb. Ahar, we had a fair old braggin’ over the sheer cunning we’d expended on ye luckless travellers. We’d masqueraded as a ship o’ mercy, offerin’ to tend to the various sickenin’s such as ye know from ye times at sea. Gaargh, the surprise on their faces as we boarded ‘em unasked and then sailed off with the remnants o’ their former lives – it be a treasure itself.

Talk soon turned to the fresh tally o’ league points we’d accrued through our sheer pirattitude – ruthlessness, and such precious heirlooms as a fishin’ rod and cardigan – would more than counter-balance the sea-beasties and disaster with which we be unfairly afflicted of late. Ahar, I had meself a fine new hat, and me lads were suitably bedecked with their spoils.

Me mates challenged the crabbers to a drinkin’ contest which left ye cellars drained, and Billy No Mates blubberin’ in a corner. Thus brutally inebriated we turned rowdy and broke ye tavern. The locals’d been somewhat crabby throughout and their sourness peaked: it seemed their visitin’ cousins had arrived late and naked, and we were wearin’ their fine embroidery… it were an awkward moment.

These quiet times be dangerous for pirates – a few drinks make us prone to melancholic or mutilatin’ moods. Twas in such an interlude that Monty McBuboe unveiled a truly manly brew – his infamous barnacle absinthe, scraped from ye hull and crudely filtered through the bowels of a monkfish. Gaargh, it tasted like the ocean had shat itself in a bottle and died. A few rounds later we were tossin’ back jellyfish shooters and laughin’ at the stingin’ sensation in ye eyeballs.

I suffered a glimmerin’ of alcoholic contrition – though we’d certainly not be returnin’ their family jewels (we be pirates!), we had shared their shindig and our fermented molluscs – and it seemed right that we be makin’ some recompense. Yarr, we’d much experience o’ crabs, and given the encouragin’ cheers I committed our hands and hooks wholeheartedly to honourin’ their crab-catching ways.

Those of us still capable o’ perambulatin’ (let alone rowin’) tumbled into the dinky coracles favoured by ye locals. After much gigglin’ and splashin’ only Monty, Hamish an’ meself were still afloat, the rest mostly made it back to shore. Gaargh, me plannin’ under the influence be poor and we’d failed to take note of ye crab lines or even bring any bait for the temptin’ of ye crusty snacks. Twas well we had Monty McBuboe and his loose leprous limbs. We tugged free a handful o’ toes and dunked ‘em in Monty’s brew to sterilise ‘em – we’d not want the catch inedible.

We tossed the baited pots overboard and toed ye line patient-like, enjoyin’ the stars as they spun widdershins above us. Arr, the barnacles be makin’ a giddyin’ brain-pickler and the world blurred about us. Me old pal Jelly McFish and Sir Lee Shark serenaded me with a shanty about a grumpy mermaid and her itchin’ nether-flippers.

I were brought back to meself by the sound o’ the sea to which Hamish were addin’ with ‘is rhythmic retchin. But that familiar sound were not what roused me – ‘twere in part the urgent jerkin’ o’ the line I’d tied ‘twixt pot and Monty, an’ partly the result as it tugged off his foot. Hamish and meself grasped the rope and hauled upon it (for Monty seemed ill-disposed t’assist), reelin’ in ye kreel and the tasty supper it doubtless held.

Ahar, as ye water grew foamy, so too did me excitement – mayhap a half-dozen o’ the wrigglin’ tykes’d be the meal to square us with our reluctant hosts. ‘Twas when a claw the size o’ the coracle itself broke the surface and seized Hamish that I recalled the somewhat ominous edge to ye yokels’ cheers. I looked about hopefully, but there were no sign o’ me delusional chum Jelly McFish to mediate with our new pincered pal.

Gaaargh, I smote it a blow with me cutlass that made me hook ring. Its gnarly forelegs tilted me boat and its monstrous mandibles made nibblin’ motions at the screamin’ Monty – methinks the absinthe’d taken ‘im badly. Hamish struggled in the crab’s squeezin’ till his eyes bulged and his sporran quivered – thank the gods for his deep-fried-flabbiness, it’d be awhile before findin’ bone.

Though I felt its mad boggly eyes upon me I grabbed for Monty’s sack, squeezed and pulled out the last two bottles of barnacle absinthe and smashed ‘em over the beast’s carapace. The liquor were certainly irritatin’ the creature, but I were countin’ on Monty to snap shut me trap. I urged ‘im to scrabble faster with ‘is tinderbox. Gaargh, he were makin’ a poor fist of ye task – ‘tis tricky when ye be a thumb short. At last me disastrously-dextrous chef achieved flame and laid it gentle against the crab’s craggy shell.

Ahar, that vile spirit caught with flair, cookin’ ye crab in ‘is own exo-skeletal pot. Me prey seemed immediately displeased and pulled harder, until in its broilin’ frenzy the crustaceous monster popped poor Hamish like one o’ Monty’s buboes. Gaaargh, ‘is lad-lard bubbled and spat on the deceasing sea-fiend. At length the thrashin’ ceased and the crab floated still and steamin’ in the first light of dawn, Hamish’s tam o’shanter welded to its claw. Twere a sad sight but a marvellous smell. We hopped aboard, so as to punt it to shore.

We’d great expectations o’ a grand welcome and reconciliation and hopefully the revealin’ of a secret supply o’ grog. As we hauled the crabbish dish onto the pier ye locals fled shriekin’ and yellin’. ‘Twere a puzzle till Billy observed, with rare lucidity, that it be odd to find just one giant beast – they be known for begattin’ further monstrous kin, which were at that moment sidlin’ up to ye village in angry, snappin’ waves.

The chances o’ sortin’ our differences seemed limited and less important in the light of day, so we fled to ye Lollipop. We sailed off to a safe viewin’ distance and cracked open our breakfast smackerel. It turned out me Scottish butterball’s man-fat’d flavoured the crabmeat finely. ‘Twere a balm to me burgeonin’ hangover and added to ye excitin’ crab-cabaret ashore. Gaargh, we’d ruined most of our embroidered prizes in our briny flailin’ and had little but a new recipe to show for our bravado the night before. I’d blame me men, but I fear it be me own catastrophic magnetism what consigns us to the shallows of ye Piratical League Tables.