Captain Pigheart and The Scary Lady

Tis a tale o’ romance and thievery…

Night met us at the island, where even the moon turned a blind eye to our questing. Gaargh, not content with ye gloomy shroud, the clouds also tipped their chamber-pots upon us. ‘Tis just as well, for we’d been practising the noble art of piratical prevaricating and the downpour thrust us within.

I should explain how we came to be in this sodden land. Twere not through the usual drink, idiocy and greed. Y’see, we’d been visiting our old pal the King of Tarsus whose daughter were gravely ill. The king’s need were dire enough to outweigh me sawbones excessive keenness to wet his blades on the poor innocent. We spent an anxious night a-waitin’, with the anchor ready to flee.

To me great relief the princess lived, despite Gunther’s ministratin’s. In reward, the king granted us the pick of his famed Hall o’ Bullion. It were huge! We rested by a statue of a pirate captain engraved so finely ye could see the terror in his contorted face and the desperate grip on the plate o’ gold he held.

For a giggle, I laid me bottle of Old Scrotes Midnight Brew at the statue’s lips – as if he were drinkin’ it ye see! Ha har. As the first drop touched his lips, the figure began to rock violent-like, showering me with grit. There were a great groan and its stone jaw creaked open, and spake like a volcano blowin’ chunks.

The stone captain rumbled on and on about his exploits and the lasses he’d loved, though he finally turned to the details of his statuary and that lovely golden plate. “Seekest thou the isle of Gorgon. Treasure lies within, but turn not ye eyes upon the lady o’ the isle for she be most… bashful”. This plunged it into a fit of laughter so vigorous that he were soon naught but a heap of dust under a golden dish. Gaargh, twere a mite disappointing for he’d revealed little of use.

Ye sign over the Hall’s entrance were clear: ‘ye breaks it, ye buys it’. And so, a shiny platter and a sack o’ grit paid for saving the princess’ life (though not her virtue, gaaargh). Twas not till I scraped me breakfast of bubble and squid surprise off the plate that I espied the treasure map upon it.

And so we came to be standing, damper’n usual, in a murky cave. Having some bad personal experiences of poking into mysterious holes, I sent forth old Sam Knacker, the sail patcher. He’d scarcely tottered off before we heard a strangled scream – of the sort ye’d not wish to follow. Gaargh, twas not encouraging but I picked another of me expendable crew an’ we pushed him on ahead.

We found Sam round the bend, grey and rigid with fear. At least we’d truly found Gorgon. Sam’s granite fist still held a torch at a useful angle, brightening a broad chamber awash with untold plunder, tauntin’ us magpies with its glitter. Twere then I laid me eye upon a frightful vision – methought one of Jelly McFish’s more tentacular pals had crawled onto land. Its face were reptilian, and its hair writhed wildly as if eels’d infested its skull. It seemed womanly, though in the rough. Truly I fancied a good shriek and some girly runnin’ but I were mindful of me reputation. So I nudged Scurvy McMurphy towards her. Gaargh, their eyes met across the crowded cavern petrifying the lad mid-gurn. Then I noticed that the cave were filled with such figures – twere an ill vibe and called for a new plan.

Me crew were intrigued by the stonificatin’ and there were much disputing. All were agreed that curious rockipatin’ rays (‘tis Mick’s term) were surely transmitted by way o’ ye peepers. Gaargh, ‘tis here that me optometrical maimin’ by that malodorous octopus be finally a blessin’ for me monocular vision granted me grace against this demon. The plan were simple: I’d distract the crone whilst the lads robbed her blind – lest they be stoned blind themselves.

I returned to the cave bearing rum and a bucket o’ charm. In me most alluring tones I called her forth. Gaaargh, she were grimmer than Barry in the ship’s panto, but a swig o’ liquor softened her hiss. ‘Twere not long afore we were pleasantly conversing on matters from the military uses o’ whelks to the tragic loss of her sisters to some Greek feller. She’d been alone ever since with just her curse for company in this dank fortune-crammed cavern. Despite me instinctive revulsion, what with the rum an’ cushions me heart swelled for this sad creature, in whose eyes I saw not petrifyin’ doom but a glimmer o’ beauty deep, deep within. Her skin, while scaly were warm, although me fingers were numbed by her snappin’ mane. Yarrr, ‘twere a task for Captain Loveheart. I thought I’d lost me touch along with me hand.

We lay twisted in her silken sheets hissin’ softly to one another, when her eyes grew watery. Me heartstrings twanged as she sobbed that she were disfigured an’ ugly. She were no classic beauty ‘tis true, but I’d spent good money on far worse. I chanced upon a hand glass nearby, and held it to her face. She had time enough to whisper “Ignatius” before turnin’ herself to stone. Gaargh, I’d only wanted to show her the rainbows cast on her cheek by Sam’s torch. I lingered for a moment, then pulled up me britches and pillaged.

We filled the Grim Bastard with the Gorgon’s loot an’ steel enough for an armada. As for ye fossillated folk, the curse were not lifted so we flogged ‘em all to Polyorchid Paul’s Garden Chintz Boutique for a tidy sum.

Twere all grand until we found another map directing us to the island o’ Minos with its tantalizin’ labyrinth. Gaargh, the temptation were too great, and the ball o’ wool too short. If only I’d worn me bigger jumper.

Captain Pigheart’s Theological Adventure

Gaaargh, after months of plundering an’ the holing of many hulls, we was looking forwards to the King of Tarsus’ hospitality. In appreciation of the great man’s patronage we’d prepared a chest of lacquered limpets to brighten his cave o’ fancy tat.

The King’s a capricous fellow at the best o’ times, but the town had an oddness to it as we sailed in. The fishing boats that normally plagued the harbour were gone, and the Tarsian flag’d been crudely daubed with a violent pink squid.

The lads were in dire need o’ bathin’ and duty-free shopping, so we docked anyways. We’d scarcely shaken the salt from our beards when we were accosted by a swarm o’ pink-clad clergy folk. They boarded the Lollipop and officiously rooted through me cabins. Rage grew within me, and I expressed meself through the medium o’ a crossbow bolt. The rosy little friar tumbled off the pier with a satisfying splash, but it slowed the slew of ‘em not a jot.

Yarr, they confiscatered me booty and dragged it from me ship – we could not contest it, for me hasty shot’d caused them to direct their arsenal upon us. To break the awkward ice, I enquired after the particular nature of their faith, for their robes were more lurid than Barry’s snog-a-hog skirt. The mad-eyed monks dropped to their knees, waggled their arms and made ‘ooblie-oo’ noises. I were unsure how to respond so I smiled politely. Their bureaucratic brothers gave me a receipt for me tithes and a fistful o’ hysterical pamphlets before flouncin’ off.

Twere highly irregular; I feared there were either a new King in town or our normal crazed one had dived off the stern of his sanity. The King‘s enthusiasms are both a blessing and a curse for his subjects. Well I remember his order that we all wear live jellyfish for their prophylactic effect… twas an unhappy but pregnancy-free week.

Our anchors were locked and me cannons impounded, all on ye King’s orders. Gaargh, I felt more impotent than the operatic eunuch gibbon who tidies me cabin. I’m distrustful o’ priests with pistols, so I dispatched the young simian to investigorate the state of the Kingdom. Off he scampered, chittering in his gibbous tongue, arms a-flail.

There were little for the rest of us to do but drink rum an’ play deck games. The lads’d lost interest in curlin’, and had found favour in the ancient game of Hopscotch, or Hop over ye Scot from which it derives. We took turns to hurdle the inebriate mass o’ Hamish McMuffin, a man prone to ire and deep-fried squid rings. Barry had tripped over the slumberin’ Scotsman and were being battered about the deck when me freakish cabin-lad returned.

Gaaargh, I’d neglected to send a crewman with the gift o’ speech, so we endured an hour o’ monkey-mime to learn that an evil Greek (be there any other kind?) named Testicles the Canker had tainted the King’s mind and taken over the Kingdom with ‘is Church of the Gibbering Cuttlefish. The leaflets showed much leaping on furniture and evangelising of an inventively ludicrous nature. We’d actually encountered one such band of loons swimmin’ with cuttlefish in hopes of saving them from killer whales… they’d not been blessed with success on that occasion.

Testicles’ first edict were the executing of all budgies guilty of gnawing upon the holy husks ‘twixt the bars of their cages. He then embarked on a campaign to educate ye fishermen in the preservation of the sacred cuttlefish. Ye Tarsian fisherfolk be none too bright and after pickling their catch, dungeon-bound. Gaaargh, I be a fan o’ neither zeal, nor learnin’, plus the lads were most aggrieved at bein’ unwhored, so we made our plans with care.

A great storm cast its shadow upon Tarsus that night. We raided Barry’s wardrobe for dresses and body-stocKings of general pinkitude and sneaked ashore. As we slew the dock-guardin’ dullards I noted that the lads had acquired somewhat more ladies’ garb than was strictly necessary for disguise, though the glitter were awful sparkly in the lightning flashes.

From ye palace could be heard a vigorous hooning between the thunderous rumbles. We crept forth in alternate pace with the clouds’ discharging. The vision that forced its way into me eye as I peered into ye window’ll stay with me till I die: ‘twere an undulating mass of pinkish people, frottin’ tentacularly in foamy excitement. Yarr, the sight were queasifying – like a room full of amorous octopi. Even his majesty were thrashing limply with the rest of ye deranged devotees. Gaaargh.

We leapt into the flock of fools, unnoticed at first. I think it were the stabbin’ and stocKings what gave us away in the end. The monks soon ceased to turn the other cheek an’ their faith faltered in the face o’ steel borne by such crudely caparisoned corsairs – as Barry bemoaned: we’d not taken the time to accessorise properly. Me gibbon’d brought a jar o’ pickled squids and were adding to the hysterics by flingin’ them into the crowd.

Yarrr, one slimy squid slapped the King out of his religious reverie; enlightenment be a grand thing to shine in a man’s eyes. The King seized his favourite sword and set to a fine swashbuckling duel with the Hellenic heretic Testicles. Barry discovered that ye could tell the real monks from the press-ganged locals as the latter were mainly trying to escape from the cuttley-tryst we’d disrupted. Them we spared (if we’d not already slain ‘em) an’ mopped up the last of the molluscy monks.

The evil Greek fought on, face flushed in the manner of his favoured cuttlefish. With a dramatic spurt the King castrated him to polite applause, since we’d no desire to unhinge him further. It seemed the King were in the pink once more, for he ordered the monks stripped and their fine silks hung in the courtesans’ quarters whence he bade us all retire.

Around midnight, when the storm’d passed, I heard Testicles a-wailing for his, um, testicles, and were soon joined by the sympathetic tones of me gibbon. ‘Twere quite a castrati lullaby, for I fell sound asleep. Of course the next morning I awoke to find meself securely knotted to the mast of me ship. But that be another tale and never did dim the memory of me night in a King’s harem – gaaargh!

Captain Pigheart’s Heroical Adventure

Gaargh, I awoke half black, half red, and all hurtin’ with the sun glaring in me eye. It took a moment to detach me face from the tarry deck; ‘twould be a long day of rippin’ pitch from me beard. Ah, tis the sign of a fine night’s revel in our latest victory, which I’ll relate to ye now followin’ a brief summary of the events leadin’ to it. The wicked Admiral Kneehorn’d seized the Good Ship Lollipop and her crew, casting me to the whims of ye ocean. I’d washed up on the pitiful isle of Merkin and acquired a serious opium habit.

Some days before, meself, Umberto Phlapjacquet and me shipload of poppy-perplexed puffers had heroically fled the isle o’ Merkin aboard the Sirrup o’ the Sea. Arr, ‘twere an ill name for a pirate ship, but it’d serve till I’d found a way to rescue me crewmates. In the meantime, I were mainly hoping to toot on me poppy-pipe and spend a blissfully delirious day in Mistress Squidlington’s all-singin’ all-dancin’ Cockle Club.

Yarr, me slothful plans were disturbed by Umberto bellowing about some mutatered turtle to starboard. Bless his heart, Umberto had mistaken the raw, pustulent flesh of me old chef Monty McBuboe drowning in the sea for a turtle’s crusty shell. I was delighted to have me leprous pal back in the galley once more. The rest of me crew were not so keen, but being unused to the pirate life they’d little appetite anyway.

Monty’d been booted overboard by Kneehorn for fear of pestilence; twas entirely justified – he’d been voted Plague Vector o’ the Year by Scabs and Spots Quarterly for five years running. He brought news of me lads fate: Kneehorn was taking them to his notorious prison island, the Bastard’s Fate, where hangin’ be ye only respite.

This were the spur I needed to kick me poppy habit and be-Captain me ship once more. First: herbal yoghurt drinks to purify me body. Gaargh, I’d rather suckle on Monty’s buboes. Second: shiver and retch to pass the time. That night Monty and Umberto whisked away our supplies and doped ye fishies, so they’d bob eager-like to the surface. Aarr, it were a source o’ no little contention and sadly led to some of the lads desperately gnawing the fishy spines for a taste o’ poppy and choking t’death on them tiny bones.

Me cravings faded, as did me dreams of one day singing baritone alongside Murray Eel and the Planktones. I were heart-broke when Umberto revealed them as drug-fuelled delusions. Yaarr, me naturally irritable nature resurfaced like an ill-weighted corpse. I seized the wheel once more, an’ spun ‘er portwise for Kneehorn’s vile isle. Alas, me crew were but little recovered. Their whining and poor bowel-mastery’d caused me t’evict a number of the drooling wasters already; perhaps they’d make it back to their crotch-cochetin’ isle, should the fishin’ lines to which they were tied somehow snap.

I’d a plan to re-take me crew, a daring rescue requiring swashbuckling, valour and excess cannon-fodder. I directed Monty to brew up some war-juice – a venomous cocktail of rum, brine, rotting fish and a sprinkle of opium to arrest the addicts’ attention.

We slipped in under cover of night for there’s little honour in being seen and slain by light. ‘Tis far nobler, an’ may I say more fun, to come upon ye enemy from the shadows. We dosed up the crew and despite its foulness they gulped it down. Clearly, the time spent sucking on me hempen ropes had paid off. They were a-twitching with the lethal juices and when one bit off his own hand we knew it was time to attack.

Me scurvy and psychotic crew swarmed up the walls and fell upon the soldiers with a savagery unknown to the sober, belying their formerly kittenish weakness. I bade Umberto pause, lest our beserkers mistake us. They were an excellent diversion and I cast a short prayer of longevity upon them before slipping into the jail.

The guards were losing at dice when we ran them through. At least their day could get no worse. It were a simple matter to free me lads once we had the keys that is, although it took the promise of new shoes to extract Barry from his cell. They were in a sorry state, but we pressed arms into their hands and shoved them down the drains.

The roar of battle echoed through the sewers as the crazed wastrels threw themselves at Kneehorn’s soldiery. We sprinted from the tunnels and climbed aboard the Sirrup, shakin’ the filth off as we went. The huge gout of flame that followed us caught Kneehorn’s eye and he directed his guns towards us.

Thankfully Monty were manning the deck still. We heard a SPRANG, a startled scream and the fleshy THWAP of the cabin-boy slamming into the Admiral. Gaargh, bless that catapult, though god only knows why it were on board. We let out a ragged cheer and loaded the next comatose crewman into the net. We soon found that if we set light to the poor buggers they exploded on contact and soon did for the Admiral’s fleet.

There looked to be only a few of me raving troops left, so I let me emancipated mates pick ‘em off with crossbows. Arr, ye may think me callous but I were sparing them the agonising death than Monty’s concoction guaranteed.

Gaargh, they be happy times in me mind, I’d granted me wig-makin’ pals a heroes death and no longer suffered their sickliness and lackadaisical ship-sense. Me satisfaction were only slightly overshadowed by the astonishin’ new prices laid upon our heads by the somewhat vexed Admiral.

We left the Bastard’s Fate to burn and broke out the grog to mull over the naming of our vessel, mindful of its cost in both blood and booty. And so the Grim Bastard embarked on yet another miscalculated adventure.

A Tale O’ Brief Lamentation

Gaargh, tis a day of woe for ye naturally cheery crew of The Grim Bastard.

Me pet albatross, Peregrine, was tragically immolated in a freak slave-brandin’ accident.

Twas the fault o’ no man. Peregrine’d often shown a peculiar fondness for nuzzling up to ye fortune- and freedom-free passengers we sometimes carried.

Billy No Mates (envious o’ Peregrine’s pal-making skills) postulated this as an attempt to pluck at their man-eggs in an unspecified avian plot.

I suppose ye hottened coals might’ve struck the bird as in need of nestin’.

As the mad old thing dove upon them his beautifully varnished wings caught light. We’d only just shined him up, so’s he’d look his best at the Pirate Pride swim-off next Tuesday. Gaaargh.

O’ course he were not content to simply smoulder away, oh no. He flew in a sparking arc through me sails and crashed blazin’ into me good rum.

Now I’ve got to glue feathers to Neville, me tortoise or I’ll never outshine Captain Aaaarsbeard next week.