The crew of the Privateer had no reason to disbelieve the Good Captain, he’d never led them astray before, but even some of those men who’d been with him since the days before he took command had to wonder about the latest story. Surely it was just folklore. Surely it was a tale taller than the masts of the ship.
An Innkeeper perhaps as old as the seas themselves who built his Inn for wayward travellers only to invite them in and scare them with tales of the past and the present. People like that did not maintain Inns, people like that did not open their doors to strangers, they were driven from towns, driven from villages and driven out of existence.
The fact that the Black Hand Inn was so remote, miles from the closest city, therefore it could be easily considered that the Innkeeper had been driven from where he once resided did weigh upon the minds of some pirates. But the Good Captain was as honest as the day was long, he would not be leading them knowingly into danger, therefore heeding his words it would seem was the thing to do.
Those words were to not present their weapons in a threatening manner, to be aware of what the Innkeeper was capable of and to not fear what he be saying and be lulled onto the pit that the Innkeeper was capable of digging for the feared soul he spoke to.
By word of the Good Captain the bay was indeed safe enough for all pirates to embark on a journey to the Black Hand Inn and within a short time of the captain’s speech being over the entire crew of more than a hundred and fifty men were standing on the jetty their ship was moored too.
“Ahoy me mateys, follow me forth t’ th’ Black Hand Inn.” The Good Captain said from the front of the crowd.
The moon was rising in the dark of the eastern sky, it was a cloudless sky and a fingernail moon, yet still the path the crew of the Privateer followed was easy to see. The Good Captain lead his crew he did not need the supposed psychic abilities of the Innkeeper to know how the night would play out, but alas when a pirate needs an ale he needs an ale.
“Ahoy me good barkeep. We th’ crew o’ th’ Privateer ‘ave travelled long ‘n far o’er many a sea. We be thirsty ‘n in needs o’ refreshment. I be requestin’ tankards o’ ya finest ale ‘n in return I shall be offerin’ ye these pieces o’ eight.” The Good Captain called as he walked up to the bar and tossed a baggie of gold upon the bar.
“Welcome t’ me tavern here in th’ blackened grove
Where ancient sprits live ‘n ancient spirits rove
I’ll tell ye about yer troubles, ‘n all about yer sins
I’ll tell ye about th’ future welcome t’ th’ Black Hand Inn”
The Innkeepers introduction was exactly as the Good Captain had predicted.
Drinks flowed, tankards clanged together, ale sploshed, men drank and men cheered. It was a party of epic proportions. All the time the men drank the Innkeeper tried to work his magic, tried to catch an unsuspecting pirate.
“Once in this fine establishment a priest he did come t’ cleanse the Inn o’ wha’ he claimed was godless acts.” The Innkeeper spoke to a small group of pirates as he poured more drinks. “He claimed th’ tales that were bein’ told within these walls were naught but a mess o’ hodge podge. He stood right thar, where yer cap’n be standin’ now. He made a cross ‘n condemned every sea cur who was partakin’ in an ale, jus’ like yer good selves. He called me a liar ‘n told me I shall burnt at th’ stake. He called me th’ Devil ‘n a beast. So I gave ‘im his word ‘n let ‘im burn me. Yet here I stand today afore ye pourin’ yer drinks wit’ this here BLACK HAND!”
As the last few words escaped the Innkeepers mouth he lifted his hand from the below the bar to reveal the blackest of black hands. Only seconds before each and every pirate listening would have sworn black and blue that the innkeepers hand was as white as the rest of his body.
Ohs, ahs and gasps escaped the surprised mouths of the men listening to the story, it was exactly what the Innkeeper wanted. Shock and amazement could breed the fear he needed and wanted to continue his stories.
However the Good Captain had spoken well and his warnings were heeded by his crew of piratical seaman. As ale flowed from a seemingly bottomless barrel the men drank heartily and cheerfully. All men breaking into smaller groups before their entry into the Black Hand Inn, then constantly circling those small groups around the bar to ensure that no group was exposed to the innkeepers words for too long at time.
There was still those among the group that wondered if such a move was necessary, but it was their captain’s order and they followed it too a tee.
The night drifted on and on as each pirate got a belly full of ale and it wasn’t until the wee hours of the morning, only a few hours before the sun rose, when the Good Captain spoke up and rallied his troops.
“Listen up scallywags o’ th’ Privateer. Our night be comin’ t’ an end. Drain yer tankards, thank th’ Innkeep fer hospitality, thank ‘im fer his ale, thank ‘im fer his tales, but most o’ all thank ‘im fer th’ tales he didn’ get t’ tell.” The Good Pirate called.
A line formed at the bar, each pirate placed his empty tankard on the bar, thanked the Innkeeper then made it for the door following the pirate before him. When the last pirate was out the door and making his way to the ship the Good Captain drained his own tankard, slammed it on the bar and headed for the door. At the door he stopped, pulled another baggie out of his jacket pocket and looked at the man behind the bar.
Tossing the rattling baggie toward the Innkeep the Good Captain simply said, “Thank ye fer th’ wonderful evenin’, Reggie.” and was gone.
Previous Pirate story here.