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.