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.

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