“S’all too easy, this treasure hun’ing thing, ay?” the Cabin Boy said to Captain Hannes van der Klooster, Commander of the dreaded band of privateers The Iron Tongue and all round nice guy. “Back in my day we used to actually search for treasure, ay? Yeah, it was always ‘idden behind the rubber duck, but we had a map and shovels and it was really exci’ing. Not like now, ay? Just bloody fin’ing it lying there in an alley, ay? Nah, back in my day we was real pirates, with real swords we found on the ground, made of wood, ay? Those were the days, ay? Runnin’ ’round, jumpin’, laughin’-”
    Hannes and Roger were walking down the main street of Curaçao, the late afternoon sun on their backs as they trudged back to the docks. The wind blowing up from the ocean brought a pleasant sea breeze; though the saltiness made sure that Hannes had his Captain’s hat pulled low, covering his eyes. Roger, being an insignificant Cabin Boy, didn’t get a Captain’s hat, and the wind tousled his long hair backwards, making him look like a girl. Over Roger’s left shoulder was a small, brown sack.
    “- course, we didn’t know he liked to play with girls, else we woulda chopped his arms off good an’ proper, ay? The thought of it, ay? A boy playin’ with girls, ay? Silly little blighter used to-”
    At the end of the street they turned left, passing under a sign that read ‘Very Important Privateers: Common People Please Stay Out’. It always pleased Hannes that the Governor decided to use ‘Please’. At one point it was Hannes’ word of the day. Hannes strode purposely in the direction of the Moniker as Roger tagged along with the sack over his shoulder, constantly chatting as if anyone cared what he thought.
    ‘As if anyone cared what he thinks,’ thought Hannes to himself, grimacing. ‘He bloody well does look like a girl and I will get my twenty gold back from Seamus one day.’ Once they got back to the ship he could once again forget that Roger even existed. Blasted Cabin Boy was the only one not incapacitated from last night’s coffee drink-off.
    “- and he called me mum a trollop, so I chopped his head off. Well, I mean I tried to, but the stick wasn’t sharp enough, ay? Did me best though, ay? Course, he ran off before I could do any real damage, what with-”
    They reached the gangplank leading up to the Moniker without Hannes having to cut Roger’s head off. Just.
    “Coming aboard!” Hannes yelled to the ship, partially to let them know he was back, but mainly to shut Roger up. He stomped up the gangplank and onto the Moniker, where the only sign of life was a cat sprawled out lazily on deck. Wearing tiny, black boots with gold buckles; a tiny, black tricorn hat with a tiny skull and crossbones on the front; and a teeny, tiny, black eye patch over one eye, Sniffles the Crewmaster yawned insolently at Hannes.
    “Where the hell is everyone?” asked Hannes.
    “Rweaowr,” replied Sniffles.
    “Right well I’ll leave this ‘ere, ay?” said Roger as he dropped the sack on the deck. “Got me some work I got to do or Hunter’ll ‘ave me ‘ead, ay? Keeps saying somethin’ ’bout catchin’ fish, ay? Catchin’ fish? In an ‘arbour? Crazy Northerner, ay?”
    As Roger set off to the underdeck doorway, Hannes scooped up the sack, walked over to Sniffles then sat down, making sure to tuck Giggles the cutlass up so he didn’t sit on it again. It had been five years since Hannes had last sat on Giggles the cutlass, after a long night of drinking coffee in Tortuga, and he’d be damned if he did it again.
    Inside the sack was a little wooden chest, bound in cast iron. On the front was an iron emboss of a gargoyle, the mouth set in the shape of a keyhole. Placing the chest on his lap, Hannes opened his top left breast pocket to pull out a size four lockpick, and set about trying to open it.
    “Can’t stand that bloody boy,” Hannes mused aloud to Sniffles as he stroked his fur with his free left hand, producing ecstatic rumblings of joy from the little maniac.
    “Then fire him out of a cannon.”
    Hannes looked up at a steaming pewter mug.
    “You’re lucky Captains don’t get startled,” Hannes said to the dangerous looking Italian attached the the arm, attached to the hand, attached to the mug.
    “And you’re lucky you don’t have to make your own coffee,” answered Luchinus de Pescina, First Mate on the Moniker and Second-in-command of the Iron Tongue. He handed the mug to Hannes, who forgot about the mysterious chest, before continuing, “I’m serious. You could always fire him out of a cannon. While your approval rating amongst the other privateers could drop, if you stuff him full of explosives and light up the sky with his fireworks, you really could put a positive spin on it all.”
    “Remember to remind me never to cross you, alright?” Hannes replied after coughing a little bit of coffee back into his mug. “And what’s with the ‘positive spin’ and ‘approval rating’ jumbo?”
    “I’ve been reading. Did you know that we can maximise the throughput of our inventory by reinvigorating the market with a capital gain acquirement?”
    “… what?”
    “It’s marketing speak. Roughly translated, if we take more ships, we’ll make more money.”
    “Oh. Yes, well, that seems. Ummm. You… you don’t…. hmm… you don’t think it’s easier to just say it like that, do you?”
    “Well of course, but if we want to appear more salient to the Governor, we need to brush up on our lingua merctus.”
    Suddenly, the door to the underdeck burst open, hinges rattling. Through the frame stormed Hunter, the ship’s cook. His Union Flag cape flowing behind him, he stumped intermittently towards them, his left peg making a hollow, bronzed clank. In his right hand was his scythe, blood dripping from the edge, staining the deck. In his left was the Cabin Boy’s head.
    “Fookin’ arse en’ of a bloody trollop! Caugh’ th’ fook’r in th’ bac’room, ‘avin’ ‘is way wi’ a fookin’ fish,” came the excuse as Hunter threw Roger’s head down onto the deck. At every bounce, Hannes winced.
    “You do realise how hard it is to get blood out of wood, don’t you?” Hannes inquired. Hunter turned his good right eye at Hannes, his left hidden under a bright blue patch.
    “’e was ‘avin’ ‘is way wi’ a fookin’ FISH! Tol’ ‘im to go get won an’ I fin’ ‘im wi’ ‘is tackl’ ou’, givin’ i’ a goo’ rog’rin’!”
    “A good… wait,” Hannes paused for effect. “We had a Cabin Boy named Roger? Roger… the Cabin Boy. I finally get what those pirates were winking to him about last week in that tavern. He told me he needed to use the John, and I figured he was just in there for a long time. Good god. WELL, nothing for it but to send him off in style. Luchinus, can you ready a cannon? Hunter, bring the body up. I’m off to get some fireworks.”

The End

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