Twas yet another dark night – it seems to be a theme of our venturin’ across the straits between Noster Fabreezi and the temple island of Blue Lycan. Not that yer noble captain is complainin’, no sir. The darkest nights are finest for sneaking, hiding and ambushing. It had just been an awful long while since we’d seen the moon. Ye see, before our present venture (which we’ll be getting to, calm your bristles lad), we’d ah, suffered some lunar mishaps ye might say. Allow me to whisk ye back in time about three weeks ago, when the lads went a tad off-piste in the charming seaside resort of Thiccorassi. Ye see, it was to be me pride and jot to officiate the wedding of one of me most beloved crewmates, Billy No Mates. At last we’d be marrying him off and shunting his miserable chops off to a life or drudgery and possibly happiness in a fine landlocked town where we’d likely never see him again. Twas a fine prospect. Maritime law, of course, dictates that yer mates must take the groom to be out on the town for a spot of debauchery and assorted acts of shame and humiliation. We were all looking forward to it, even Billy.
Now, Thiccorassi’s a fine place, renowned for its hanging gardens, well-hung gentlemen and a gallows-themed theme park just beyond the harbour. Our leprous chef, Monty McBuboe, had consented to be Billy’s best man (at best he was but half a man, but ye can’t be too picky when you’re at sea), and he’s signed the crew up for a day and night of frantic drinking and sight seein’. Twas a beautiful night, with our big pal Captain Moon at his fullest, gazing down encouragingly at us all, with an indulgent smile on his lips and the hint of a wink in his eye.
I’ll confess that the theme park was rather more special than I’d imagined, with a wide range of rides and delights all based around the stretching of a fellow’s neck. Twas where we lost the first of our crewmembers that weekend: I’d had me doubts about the Long Neck ride where they’d just clamp a cage about the neck and shake you round and about in the air. In fairness, the kids that got off the ride before us seemed fine, if a little loose about the shoulders. Alas, poor Nikolai Shoebutt’s neck popped just minutes into the initial spinnin’. Perhaps it was me own admiralty-related fears that had my fingers white with how hard I clung on to that cage, but Nikolai’d been content to be flung about and his spine proved unfit for the challenge. They did at least return his head to us, which was a blessing since his body had been flung out across the park; we’d heard the screams that indicated its landing, but we were too busy to lug a torso about for the weekend. The head and cage we amusingly strapped to Billy’s shoulder so it appeared he had an intimate pal at last. Ah, how we laughed.
Onwards to the well-hung gentlemen and their impressive damsel companions. I’ve not seen so sensual a sashay and shimmy since I last braved the underwater realm of King Neptune and his saucy shark maidens. The ongoings of this particular occasion are to be fondly reviewed in our memories, yet ne’er spoken of again (until the rum flows in sufficient volume to drown even the most bashful of our seabound lotharios), suffice to say, “gaargh”. From thence we began a bawdy run about the wineries and ouzo parlours – all excellently well filled with libations from both grape and, I must presume, the fetid shart oysters from which ouzo is brewed. By the time we pounded on the gates of the hanging gardens, I could barely feel me eyes. All I wanted was to drag me fingers through the danglin’ flowers like a drunken fairy. After a bit we discovered that it wasn’t so much a gate as a portcullis, and with our mighty combined strength we raised it and staggered off into the garden. Tis a pity that none of us paid mind to the sign we trampled, with its strict injunctions against entering the gardens on a full moon. Still, you live and learn as they say, or, in pirate parlance, die a terrible death. The extending of life’s only good for increasing the likelihood that your end will be a vile and monstrous thing. Dive into a shark when yer young, that’s what I say.
The gardens were all silver filigree in the moonlight, rich black shadows framed by the horticultural treats of Thiccorassi. We were halfway through garlanding Billy in the flowers of the night when a dreadful howl quite split the velvet blackness about us. Twas shortly followed by a chorus of other howls, roughly torn from the throats of some frightful beast. Come to think of it, the sign we’d stamped over had had a curious red triangle with a wolf’s head turned in profile. Being a mostly sea-trottin’ fellow I’ve little experience of wolves and hairy, toothed monsters of their ilk. I’m more comfortable with a foe who’s arms outnumber the limbs on your average man. That night in Thiccorassi filled in some gaps in me education. An eruption of wolves from the undergrowth caused considerable alarm, especially given they were lurching about on two legs and snapping their foul muzzles wantonly at us. We lashed out, more or less at random with cutlass and pistol, for the beasts were swift, snapping in and out at our huddled circle in which we protected young Billy No Mates. Tis possibly the only time I’ve laid meself in harm’s way when that harm could easily have been absorbed by his unlovely face. Though we fought them off in time, the brutes had been cursedly effective, and all of us bar Billy bore their clawmarks and bloody imprints of their cruel fangs. We’d slain but one of the beasts, and were further startled when, as the full moon slid behind a cloud, the pistol-shot wolf-thing changed into a naked young lad filled with holes. Fear not, he was still dead.
We thought little of it, for stranger things happen at sea. We returned to general carousin’, after reading the sign and making sure it was replaced a little more at eye level for future visitors. Ouzo’s scarce fit to drink, but by god can it disinfect a wound. After the first rather full night of partying and drinking and violence we retired to an inn run by a rather waspish pair who seemed reluctant to grant us bed and board. Though they stared all moon-eyed at our somewhat bedraggled appearance, I swept their concerns aside with a description of Billy’s upcoming wedding. And also with me cutlass. Gaargh. Sleep came swift, and spinny.
The next day was to be spent in oiled wrestling, olive hurling and other Grecian pursuits, and we were as slippery as a jellied eel by the time night fell, and the moon rose once more. The reflected rays of Mr Moon fell upon our party as we rested in a moussaka garden. A frightful itching came over my teeth, and me arms looked a mite furrier than I recalled from earlier that day. In only a moment or two I watched Monty McBuboe’s arms and legs stretch out all furry and his head elongated into that of a snarling beast. He was not the only one. I followed too, which was wildly irritating as my peg leg and hook hand fell immediately by my chair, leaving me hopping about in new howling werewolf form! While we were still dimly aware of our human natures, the urge to bite and run rampant overwhelmed our better sides. None of us noticed Billy hiding under a tablecloth as we rioted out into the busy night streets of Thiccorassi.
It’s all well and good to put a cautionary sign up on your hanging gardens where you happen to pen up your local werewolves, but it was rather lacking in both detail and proper deterrent to a horde of drunk pirates. While we might be deserving of some share of the blame for the bloody mayhem that ensued that bright moonlit night, I’ll be damned if the real villain ain’t an administrative failing. We came to ourselves, naked and covered in blood, our pack in an unwelcome cuddle pile in the Thiccorassi cemetery. Twas potentially a mite embarrassing, but once Billy found us, pushing a barrow filled with what remained of our clothing and prosthetics, he explained that we’d quite decimated the local population, and there was no one likely to poke fun at our bedtime bonhomie.
So, Thiccorassi. Nice place, but no longer on the list of popular stag destinations. And now, near a month on from our hairy massacre, we sailed for the ancient temple on Blue Lycan, whose monks are reputed to have a cure for our lunar lunacy. Tis to be hoped they do, for otherwise Billy No Mates’ wedding’s to be a disaster, and worse, he’ll probably remain on board forever. Gaargh.