Come gather ’round children, man-children and childish folk, for I have stories to tell and rum to drink before the morning. You asked for tales of piracy by land or by sea? I could spin enough yarn to fashion a coat worthy of Bartholomew Roberts, fancy as he be, and deliver tales darker than a boat full of unfortunate slaves. You have, no doubt, heard tell of that most dashing and dangerous of pirates, Edward Kenway. A man known across the Caribbean for his cunning, bravery, humbly masculine facial hair and insatiable lust for adventure. A man who descends from on high and deals all manner of grisly death to any who stand between him and 10 boxes of sugar. A man the Spanish and British empires call “Kenway”, as that is his name.
I am that name. That man with a name. I am Captain Edward Kenway, and all of you gathered here in the Stoat’s Fussock wish to hear of my travels then lean in close. Particularly you, my dear, as the view down your top reminds me of a night I had in Wales many years ago. A jest, of course, as I am quite taken — and not just with your eyes. My bonnie lies over the ocean, but my love lies inside this mug.
Early in my career as a redistributor of goods and a man free from the confines of lawful society, when I was merely beautiful and yet to become rakishly handsome, our ship became lost in a thick fog. The Jackdaw is a strong vessel, but strength means little when navigating blind through roughly charted waters. We slowed to half-sails, drifting carefully onward and hoping to come out the other side of the soup unscathed. We were on our way to Nassau, impromptu capital of the Pirate Republic. The Republic was conceived as a place where men were able to operate as they pleased and wear as many pointy hats as they wanted without interference from the government. Nassau was our symbol.
But I wasn’t to see the city that day, as our journey through the mist was about to be stained red. A small British schooner bobbed invitingly nearby and the crew were eager for some action. Percy Guggins — a former butcher and lover of cats — led a call for us to take the unsuspecting ship, and I was more than willing to oblige. With sails unfurled we charged at the schooner, our cries echoing off the moon and putting the fear of God into our prey. A volley from our broadside cannons got their attention, and sent 13 cannonballs through their side and main mast. The schooner sprang to life, at once trying to put in some distance between us and turning hard to ready their own weapons. Two quick shots from our impossibly shiny swivel guns brought the tiny ship to a standstill, and we watched excitedly as their sail burned to nothing and the spare gunpowder on the deck ignited. The flurry of explosions announced our victory, and I brought the Jackdaw in close so we could board. As my crew clambered onto the dying vessel I heard a low whistling.
I began yelling for the men to come back, but it was too late. Mortar shells rained down all around us, some splashing harmlessly into the ocean, others tore through the injured schooner like maggot-infested lamb through fresh pantaloons. The last we saw of the ship as it disappeared beneath the waves was Guggins staring out at us from the doomed deck. His eyes seemed to say “I will fucking haunt you, you pox-faced swine.”
As I took the wheel and we sliced an escape route from the murky surface of the sea, the fog began to recede. The air itself seemed to shake, and from inside the mist we saw the outline of fortifications, parapets reaching up into the sky like the teeth of some unthinkable and terrifying creature. We had drifted into the restricted waters around a Spanish fort — Ablacada, maybe? El Forto? It’s not important — and their considerable firepower was aimed in our direction. More of their mortar fire rained down, like smoke-tailed instruments of Satan yearning for their home, and we were forced to weave between shots to escape. Turning the Jackdaw to face the fort, we surged back towards it at full sail, curving at the last minute to release a flurry of fire from all guns. Wood and smoke filled the air as the deck became littered with flaming debris, and towers crumbled away. With a single shot we destroyed the fort and cleared the way for a looting such as has never been seen before. Seriously, that place had gold-plated bathrooms.
What happened inside the fort? Well, that’s a story that would need more rum. If you catch my meaning. My meaning is that you should get me a drink. Excellent. Now where was I up to? Oh yes, sharks.
The deep ocean is no place for any sane man. The pressure alone can crush a body to dust, and the wildlife is as fierce and strange as you might find in any ancient myth. Nonetheless, we are pirates and, by our very nature, braver than the average sod. So when the Jackdaw came upon the sunken wreck of a Portugese man o’ war — the ship, not the jellyfish — we damn well took our giant metal bell and went into the deep. I want you all to remain calm, but I did take my shirt off at this point.
The wreck itself — which I affectionately like to call “Old Wetface” — was in several pieces on the ocean floor, and guarded by at least a dozen deadly sharks. Despite the complete lack of traditional food sources around the ship, the toothed terrors appeared to sense my lust for gold. Hiding in a nearby patch of reeds, slowly running out of air, I planned my attack on the first section of the wreck. Like something from a fairy tale, I launched myself across the area and swum for my life towards a hatch. A large great white shark saw me and began closing in, infinite sharp teeth glinting ominously in his grinning mouth.
Snap! His jaw closed around my left leg and I cried out soundlessly. I could see blood leaking into the water and sense the other prehistoric enemies taking notice. They say you should punch a shark in the nose to distract it, if you are ever attacked. Aside from the difficulty of this, given the shark’s nose was buried in my tendons, the middle of a shark attack isn’t the ideal place for logical thinking. So I punched it in the dick.
Or where I would imagine a shark keeps it. Whether due to surprise or disgust, the animal loosened its grip on me and I managed to swim away. Desperate and bleeding, I hid in a dark gathering of vegetation and waited. But these weren’t reeds, they were eels! Horrible, angry, slimy, bug-eyed, disgusting eels. One of them tried to latch onto my face and I was forced to beat it to death with a rock. Never let it be said that Edward Kenway can’t handle an eel. Among other things. I could tell you some amazing stories about my hunting expeditions; from leaping out of trees onto the backs of lethal jaguars, to running down killer whales with nothing but a rowboat and a harpoon. Once I even shot a turtle.
What? Why is everyone looking at me like that? Oh, I see how it is. Everyone loves those damn turtles. You don’t even know what that turtle might have done. That turtle could have been shuffling adorably down the beach so he could get home and beat his wife. Anyway, it turns out nobody wants to buy turtle-skin hats, but I did find 100 reales in that wreck.
Reales I would very much like to spend on some quality alcohol. Or some rather terrible alcohol, I’ll happily take whatever you might thrust my way. Oops, that was a trifle saucy and I apologise. You don’t serve trifle here do you? Pity. I absolutely can’t tell anymore stories until that blonde wench with the bung eye and fabulous rear parks the latter upon my person. I stole this outfit from a dead man, you know. I made him dead myself with my own two hands. Swords may have been involved.
Once I was fighting off a Spanish frigate off the coast of Tortuga, when some sly bastard of a redcoat carrier slipped between me and my quarry. Apparently the Spanish and the British do not get along, and he was engaged in a high seas duel with the Spaniard for some silly reason like trade route control or to bring honour to the King. Personally I was hoping to get a new hat. The British interloper caught a few cannonballs and completely overreacted. So now I have two empirical representatives trying to shove His Majesty’s Royal Ammunition up my privateers. Needless to say, no man crosses Captain Edward Kenway and comes back alive — except the ones we bribed.
That’s just a slice of the danger we face every day on the high seas. I just was only just in a pile of leaves outside for forty minutes so I could keep tabs on a government official who wants to slavery some people. Or something. I fell asleep. Don’t judge me, I’m the captain of this ship. Although I wish it would stop rocking so much. And there are too many tables and chairs and I have a headache. I forgot where I was. Ah, yes. Did I ever tell you about the amazing Captain Edward Kenway?