This year, International Talk Like A Pirate Day falls on a Saturday, and thereby the crew of this proud ship be calling this Talk Like A Pirate Week! (Sunday is for recovering from the rum.)
In the spirit of the week, I’ll be publishing an excerpt from The Incorrigible every day, just so you can hoist the colours together with my pirates. Today’s longish bit comes from the very beginning of the first chapter (you can read the first two chapters for free here).
All of Port Vert was in flames. The two dragons still lingered above the city, fanning the blaze with every beat of their enormous wings, occasionally breathing another roar of fire down, for fun, or in rage, or to be thorough.
Out beyond the harbour, the light from the fire still glittered on the dark waves, but the weathered, grey longboat was finally far enough from shore that the dragons were unlikely to follow. The half-dozen men in the boat did not relax, however, and wouldn’t until they’d brought themselves and the loot back to where the White Viper lay at anchor.
Four of them were at the oars, pulling hard; the other two had their muskets up, staring intently back toward the city and the sky above it.
They never even saw the ship that waylaid them.
Two of the rowers and one of the gunners were thrown in the water, bleeding to death from stabs and cuts, before anyone knew what was happening. Pirates swarmed over the longboat, seeming to have dropped down into it from nowhere, and the other two rowers were soon as dead and drowned as their mates. The second gunner’s musket went off but hit nothing, and he was run through by two blades the second after, thrown overboard as the last of them. Only then was the concealing mirage lifted, revealing the pirate ship towering above the longboat.
“What’d they got, then?” asked the pirate captain, standing in the middle of the longboat and wiping blood off a long, slim sword.
“Rum!” bellowed One-Eye Joss, hauling a cask onto his shoulder and heading back towards the rope-ladder rattling down from the ship’s side.
“This ‘ere sound like gold,” grinned Dead Eddie, kicking a locked chest standing on end among the sacks and bundles on the floor of the longboat.
“Here’s a girl,” said Second Mate Herod from the prow.
“A girl?” echoed the captain.
“Aye, Cap.” The second mate, huge, very dark and still having most fingers on his left hand, bent down and picked the girl up in his arms. There wasn’t much to be seen in the flickering faraway firelight: woman, dark-blonde hair, a dress probably blue, white and pale red. “She knocked out.”
“Git her to my cabin. Git everyt’ing we want, then le’s get the fuck away from this place.” The captain grabbed two green bottles by their necks and started up the rope-ladder, yelling while climbing: “All scoundrels on deck! All sails up an’ fill ‘em with wind sprites! Port Vert is burning and we’re ou’ of here! Sea ho!!”