Chapter 2: Heading West

At this time, and for the hundreds of years to come, it would be associated with bad luck to include women as part of the crew. But Captain Bloodspatter was, as I said, a man ahead of his time, and although the gender distribution was limited to a single woman on board, she had at least an officer's position as the ship's cook. Myself as the newest recruit, was immediately set to peel potatoes and turnips. This suited me very well and gave me plenty of time to get to know what it was like to work for Captain Bloodspatter on board his ship, which I quickly learned was called 'Black Blood'. It was also a great help that the chef, who the crew only called the Goddess, was exceptionally talkative when it came to life onboard.

The Goddess was a colorful person who made my first weeks on board to a little adventure in itself. She was loud and noisy. If any of the crew complained about her burnt lasagna, she gave them a slap in the face, and no one dared resist the one who served three meals a day. The blame for any burnt meal was placed on the ship's used equipment. Which, admittedly, was well used, but as a galley boy, I was constantly witnessing how the Goddess constantly dreamed herself away from her job and fell into her memories of chalk-white beaches in the warm Caribbean, which she had obviously put her love on.

Initially, the Captain had decided that we should use the Norwegian coast while we were after all on these domestic tracts. Then we were to set course for the frozen Greenland and on over to the land of the Indians, which today is known as America. No matter how long the Norwegian coast is known to be, it will be small in the big world picture. In a couple of short weeks we had passed the coast, or what at that time was worth taking with us. After passing Tromsø, a small trading town along the northern coast - where we by the way witnessed the local people conduct a series of witch burnings, as we loaded the ship full of provisions for the long trip that lay ahead of us. I noticed on the crew that the voyage we now embarked on was not a dance on roses. Only those with the greatest courage would set course Northwest before the ice had really let go in the waters to the North. The captain, on the other hand, was determined to reach the land of the Indians in good time, so we could plunder their valuable treasures while the population was still tired after a long and energy-exhausting winter.

The time aboard had probably been harder at the beginning if it wasn't for that I quickly got me a friend. The young man that the first night stood next to me proved to be my closest allies. His name was Simen and was also quite new among the crew. He had only been on board for a few months and was in many ways as new as myself. When I arrived on board I took over his job in the galley, but for dinner there was still a great need for help in the galley, and then it was the sim we called. Now, Simen was upgraded to the night watchman, that is, who was responsible for keeping a watch at night. Therefore, we shared the bunk, Me and Simen, I had the bunk at night and he had it during the day. The time in between, when we both had time off, we spent together. He was from Denmark and had been brought in to the crew the same way as myself.

The other pirates on board were also nice to me. All in all, the days went fast, and before I knew it weeks had flown by, and we had to dress in fur coats to keep warm. Having hunted a couple of polar bears in the area around Spitsbergen and Bjørnøya we sailed onto the amazing land of Greenland. Here were just a couple of places where humans would reside, and it was not necessary to plunder them. They volunteered from what they had left of both clothing and food to escape Captain Bloodspatters cruel ravages. Up there in the north, it was about surviving, and for the natives we were the biggest enemy one could ever imagine.

On our Southbound journey, it proved to be quite the adventure. The winter storms had yet to let us rest and the sea we experienced on the western side of Greenland was a furious one. The Goddess swore and had her words with the Gods above as she cooked for the crew. Not only did we get burnt food, but also plain potato soup scooped from the floor. No one dared to complain, the Goddess forbid it, and one evening she threw one of the crew overboard after having complained about hair in his polar bear meatballs. The man was never seen again and Captain Bloodspatter just laughed when he heard the news. Lesson learned; You never complain on the one that feeds you. 

Our next stretch was long, cold, and not exactly filled with a lot of events. Mostly we saw open water and ice in the distance, analytically a whale but we had no space onboard to take on such a large animal for food. Eventually we did however pass by the straight parting Europe from the American continent. The currents here was ravishing, but our crew and our proud ship held together, and not long after we entered land of Nova Scotia. Our fight-ready and hungry crewmen did what they do best by pillaging and rob the villages we encountered for anything of value. Already I could see how our storage of gold and treasures of all kinds were growing in our treasure chamber.

Simen, the Goddess and myself proved to be quite a team. In time we learned to let her know minutes before the food got burnt, and after a while she decided that I should graduate to a real cook instead of peeling potatoes. Instead we got one of the young slabs called Morten to help out with the peeling. Morten was a quiet guy, and one who was obviously not really a man, but he dressed like one and acted like one and we all treated him as one - and with that my thoughts were that he was happy. Now in the latter days we understand more of this, but at the time of the 1600-hundreds a person like Morten was perfectly normal to be part of an including crew like ours. Simen was busy doing his night shift jobs. But i was forever happy when he crawled in next to me and fell asleep holding me tight. 

At sea, our days very much was the same over and over again. I was happy the days where we had calm seas and we had good winds to take us where we wanted. Between the storms we made rapid progress toward lands I'd never even known about before my recruitment. I seldom offered my family back home a thought. It was hard to think about, but I had promised myself that I send mother and father the gratitude I'd receive. Somehow. Simen had it much in the same way, but unlike my own mother she had made resistance and Bloodspatter himself had killed her in front of his eyes. He had therefore developed a certain grudge against the Captain that would later come into play.

Blæik was keeping a tight ship. Along with his strong and musculus officers Varg and Snorre, who were twin-brothers, he made sure that everyone was taking care of their responsibilities. Varg was the strongest fighter onboard, the one responsible for training and execution of our heists as we went along. He was not a man to go against and the crew had grown a deep respect for his fearsome persona. Snorre on the other hand took care of provisions and the logistics of our long weeks at sea. He was the one to make sure that the Goddess had enough potatoes for her infamous horrible potato soup, and that enough gunpowder was stored below deck.

Knowing your place was the most important rule. And the barrels of rum didn't make it easy on long passages. Once a man I'd never talked to before picked a fight with me. And if it wasn't for Simen that night, I'd be speaking to angels that night. The drunken man jumped me as I was crawling into bed. He pushed me against the floor and said he was ready to relieve me from my pain. I hadn't felt any pain at all and was surprised by the mans accusations. But the man insisted I had a whole lot of pain and it wasn't before Simen jumped out of our bed with his knife ready to attack that I understood that the man himself was the one in pain. Sadly he never got to explore this pain further, cause both Simen and Varg himself made sure the man never lived to see another day.

Other than these minor mishaps, life onboard went on smoothly. Once you learn that your life ain't worth a thing on its own you were set up to succeed and with this I started to play my role as a pirate for real. I believe this is the first time I thought that I'd be able to off another man without feeling regret. Since then I may have killed hundreds of men and women. I've never killed a child, but then again, never been put in a situation where this was required. I was, and am to this day, a full blooded pirate. In modern times I am not necessarily proud of my doings, but not ashamed of them either. You have to live your life by the cards you are dealt, and these was mine. At the time.  

The general rule onboard was this; As long as we made more than we spent, Captain Bloodspatter was happy and the crew was well taken care of. But while sailing the stretches of nothing but nature and ourselves we started to feed on each other. Just in the first couple of months onboard I saw many a crew go down in favor of the stronger opponent. At times the crew behaved as wild animals and as part of the crew, now counting well over 150 men, I bettered be careful on how I played my game. But things were about to change, we were heading for the Caribbean, a land I'd never heard of. But since the Goddess spoke so warmly about it, I warmed up and had expectations that I never felt disappointment of. From my inexperienced and newly acquired pirate's view.

Chapter 1: Captain Bloodspatter

I was not very old the first time we were told about the ravages and warned against standing in the way of the cruel Captain Bloodspatter. He ruled all the world's oceans, and is to this day the most infamous pirate captain this world has ever seen. One could say that Bloodspatter was ahead of his time for the world had barely had time to launch its first ships before him and his pirates claimed the oceans as their dominion. That you have not heard more about this ravaging Captain has its natural explanation in that the stories I am now going to tell have been hidden away for centuries. Hidden from a world that has not been ready for the story of Bloodspatter and his men, of which I am to this day still is part of.

My name is Captain Jack. I was of course not always a Captain, and for many years I sailed under the flag of the horrific Captain Bloodspatter. To this day, I still wake up with the nightmares of the many robberies, looting, and horrific events I was made part of at the time. It is many years ago now, many more than a human life really should count. This also has its explanation, but we will return to it later. Let's start with the beginning. I was 14 years old, the year was 1604 according to the Gregorian calendar, which at this time had not really taken root yet. The world was ruled by several calendars and the year can therefore be many others. I lived with my family in the middle of a long fjord somewhere along Norway's long coastline.

Life at that time was quite different from today. Norway was a poor country, and it was a struggle to survive. On the other hand, the population was something completely different from what we could imagine in our wildest fantasies, so it often took weeks between each time we met people, or the neighbor at all. My father was a farmer, like most people in our region at the time. I had abnormally no siblings, but my mother was a seamstress and took care of the village clothes. Based on this, I worked long days in the fields and in my young life knew little about the world outside our small little fjord. In 1604, Norway was part of Denmark, so we paid little attention to life outside our small community. King Christian IV had never set foot in our part of the country, and it was unlikely that he would ever do so.

We lived so secluded that one night when we heard cannon shots as we ate our dinner, we were immediately assured that the world had come to an end. My awakened father must have understood more than he told us, because it did not take many minutes before he had housed us down in the basement and rattled the door behind us. Admittedly, we had nothing to steal, we were far from rich and hid no treasures worth stealing. With us we grew potatoes and herbs, beyond that we hunted and fished what we needed to survive the long cold winters. The basement was a small dark room we used to store the crops, but this spring there were only a few of the fjord year's potatoes left in the boxes along the wall. We therefore had plenty of space in the minutes that followed, and that would forever change my life.

After the first bang from what father now told was a cannon, there were several loud bangs. In the distance we heard men singing, and father watching the ventilation hatch kept me and mother informed of what was happening outside; A group of men had boarded a light boat and were now rowing from a large ship, larger than father had ever seen, heading for the village that lay down by the water some distance down in the fjord. Dad had always insisted that we live outside and now in retrospect I understand that it was precisely because of events like this, that had made him think in such ways.

"If we are lucky, they will not come up here," muttered mother.
She looked terrified. I was also afraid I had never seen her like this. Not father either, but unlike mother who was shaking in a corner, father looked for weapons to protect us if it should come to that.
"Who's coming?" I wanted to know.
Mother and father exchanged glances. Mom shook her head, but Dad ignored it and turned and grabbed my shoulders. I had never seen him so intense.

"The captain of the ship out there is called Captain Bloodspatter." He said, holding my gaze. "He's the worst pirate the world has seen to this day, and he's most likely come here to recruit young men to join his crew. I'm probably too old for him to want me, but you... 'He hung the rest of the sentence in the air.
Only now did I get really scared. A feared pirate had come to our fjord to kidnap me. It was my first encounter with human evil in stark contrast to our otherwise quiet everyday life.
"But, why me?"
"Look at yourself boy, you are strong and muscular and have a youthful strength that are the best qualities at sea. You're the perfect crew for Captain Bloodspatter and his men. We have to stay hidden until they move on. "
Dad returned to keep an eye on us and told us what had happened down by the sea.
'Now they have come to the pier. None of the villagers are to be seen yet. I hope they have managed to hide. If the pirates get one of them, they'll definitely talk about Jack. "
The last thing he said to my mother, but a look at me told me everything I needed to know. The fact was; that I was the only one of my age in the village who even came close to fitting the description my father had given of men who hired Captain Bloodspatter. There was simply no one else within a mile of my age. Just then it slammed again, a crash on the outside told us that our house had been hit by a cannonball.
"I forgot to blow out the light," hissed my mother. "They see us a long way from here."

We knew we had lost. There would be no point in running to the forest and we had of course left the weapons inside the house. There it was dark and forever far to the nearest good hiding place. Besides, wolves or other wild animals would either eat or reveal us. Our best opportunity was to lie hidden. But even Dad understood that the battle was lost. Fate was not challenged at this time, and we all three knew that my poor mother would not be able to run far with her health. Our best hope was to stay hidden and hope that the pirates thought we were gone - despite the light we had standing in the living room.

Mom cried and held me close to her. For twenty minutes we lay quietly and hoped that everything would pass without any further problems. Dad reported from the window. They had set fire to the inn, and we heard the screams of the villagers right up to us. Then it was quiet for a long time before a shot in the door made mother scream loudly.
"Come out right away and we'll save your lives. We're only interested in the boy, we know he's in there so do not try.
Dad looked so lost on me and mom. I got up.
"No," cried Mother.
Suddenly I had grown up. I felt in my whole being that the rest of my childhood was over and that the only thing I could do to protect my family was to take responsibility by going with the pirates. That was the only thing that could give my parents a chance. I turned to them.
'I have to go now. Father. Mother. I promise to come back. "
Even though I pretended to be tough, I could not stop any tears from pushing myself forward. We held each other's arms for a moment and then I turned towards the door, one last look behind me was the last I ever saw of those who had given birth to me and let me grow up to be the strong young man I had now become.

I opened the door and went out into the yard outside. The pirates stood in a semicircle waiting. They each held their own torch, and muskets to the side. They were not threatening while looking at me.
"Here I am." I said in an overly bright voice I did not recognize.
A tall man with a large saber in his belt took a step forward.
"What's your name, young man?" he asked
"My name is Jack," I said, which was true, "Please leave my family alone, and I will be with you." The last with a slightly clearer voice, I really had to steel myself and push everything forward against I had to be able to prevent the voice from bursting.
"You have my word." Said the man with the saber. "You seem to be as strong as we have been told. Do you agree to sail under Captain Bloodspatter until the day you die of old age or fall in battle? »
I swallowed hard. "Yes, I do."
Two men came up on both sides of me. The pirate who had spoken came walking towards me and tore my shirt open. Another came forward with a steel. A staff that had been warmed by the torches they were carrying. The glowing wand was brought to my chest. The little I had left of pride was the only thing that enabled me to bite into me the scream of the pain I felt. It smelled of scorched flesh, a smell I have unfortunately felt so many times since and seconds later the part over the heart mite was a smoldering wound of burnt skin, where one could see the contours of what today stands as my first tattoo, a letter, a red-hot B that would forever make me one of Captain Bloodsplatter's men.

Not long after, I crawled up a rope ladder, aboard the ship that would prove to be my home for years to come. I was no longer afraid that the pirates were out to hurt me, the man with the saber had kept his word and did not hurt either my mother or father. The worst thing about it all was that I now had to leave the fjord I had grown up in. The only place I knew on earth that until tonight had been a safe and good place to live.

The man with the saber climbed after me. When we got on deck, he stood to assess me from head to toe.
'You should probably do well. My name is Blæik, remember that, it's me you will answer to onboard. The captain will soon meet you, so keep your mouth shut and just answer the questions you get."
I was still a bit confused and quite exhausted after everything that had happened, but I nodded and watched while the rest of the men climbed on board. Each of them nodded to me as they climbed aboard the row.

They were hard-boiled sailors, but somehow I realized that most of them had been in the same situation as I was now. Don't get me wrong, these were top-notch pirates. The most dangerous men who would ever sail the world's oceans. But the mark on my chest, which was still hurting so bad I thought I was going to black out, must have made me already one of them. Now all that remained was to meet the Captain himself.

There was silence between the twenty men who lined up on deck while Blæik patrolled the row of pirates. When he was satisfied with the crew, he lined up and announced that the crew was ready for inspection.
I was already dumbfounded with admiration. I had always imagined that pirates like this would be wild and uncontrollable. But there was no doubt that there was strict seamanship and discipline on board.
Up the stairs from the deck we heard heavy footsteps. I saw how the crew sharpened, and the young man who seemed to be about my age next to me began to tremble a little.
A tall man with a long big beard slipped out on deck. His eyes glazed over the crew as he took heavy, slow steps across the deck. Captain Bloodsplatter, at last he stood directly in front of me and stared down at me with a watchful eye.
"So you're your new recruit?" Bloodsplatter lifted off the part of my torn shirt that covered the burn I had received just a short time ago. "I see Blæik has taken care of the inauguration already. Good."
"He was very cooperative all the way, Captain. No problems arose."
"Well. What is your name, boy? ”
'My name is Jack, sir. Captain." I managed to say in a fairly stable voice.
"So. Jack. You are, from what I understand, the only one on these funnels in this forsaken fjord who is fit for serve with me. You will follow Blæik's order, otherwise I promise to set the course directly back here and wipe out the whole village." A trembling finger in the direction of the flames from the inn told me everything I needed to know. There was no doubt that these were not empty threats. And I had no plans but to follow orders. With a final nod, the Captain went ahead and ordered Blæik to raise the anchor.

The legacy of Captain Bloodspatter

The story tell that hundreds of years ago, while pollution was not invented and the oceans water still seeped into what today is known as the inland waters of the Swedish Kingdom and Foxen – a group of pirates was left behind to guard a great treasure. They were to guard a truly unique collection of gold and glittering minerals collected from heists, robbery’s and gruesome piracy all over the world. Their fearsome Captain Bloodspatter himself had given them the task of protecting their legacy at any cost while the rest of the pirates went back out to search for even greater treasures.

Years went by without a word from Captain Bloodspatter or any of his crew. And the pirates left behind was never going to abandon their given assignment. As if the magical land of Foxen had put a curse on the inland pirates, they stopped aging, and lived to see wars come and go, experience pandemics and global warming while only making sure of the one thing Bloodspatter would forever keep them accountable for, to watch over the biggest treasure known to have ever existed.

East in the waters of Foxen, South of the Bridge to civilization – right next to West Bird Bay and to the North of the troll-fences in the South is where you might be lucky enough, but not secluded to, catch a glimpse of the inland pirates. In their very own little bay called the Super Secret Pirate Bay, you might be one of those selected few to grab a good old warm meal or a very cold pirate beer on a hot summer day from their secret hide. You can always try to call on them, but I wouldn’t put a bet on them showing up until you are truly ready to accept the consequences…

One thing is for sure. The treasure will stay hidden until the day the fearful Captain Bloodspatter return to Foxen, breathing or not – And until that day the remaining, broke and drunken pirates of Foxen will do everything in their power to protect their waters like they have done for hundreds of years.