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The Great Hunt (Part III)

The Great Hunt

Part III: The Truth of Prophecy

Life aboard the Snow Giraffe was both easier and more difficult than confinement under Mullinatti. I wasn’t constantly tied up and guarded, but I was no less a prisoner. I mean; the middle of the ocean. Even if you do escape, where do you go?

The Deannalin crew didn’t help. They treated me as…it pains me to admit, but as Gilf’s pet! She was the Captain of the Snow Giraffe, and my Ex. To put it mildly, we didn’t end on great terms.

But women are funny creatures, and sexy pirate captains more than most. After beating me senseless on the deck of the Sandpiper Express, Gilf now conversed with me regularly. She also demanded I (and occasionally Swax) play her at Trinity.

For those who don’t know, Trinity is a game combining the skill of Chess, the gambling of Poker, and the daring of Capture the Flag, all on a 3-D scale. Think of it as a hard core inter-planetary Axis and Allies. By the late 18th Century there weren’t many who knew about the game, as it was mostly played in the Chinese court, among the Maori and inside a sphere or two. But pirates—who went everywhere—knew about it.

Pirates, though, weren’t very good, which meant Gilf had a hard time getting a good game. This is where I came in. I excelled at Trinity and was much better than Gilf even knew from when we last met. I thought it wise, however, to let her win. (Which is hard to do if you’re trying to make it close. Also on the negative; the loser had to cut his/her arm and make it bleed on the table. Not fun.) Oh, if only I’d known.

There was one member of the Deannalin crew who didn’t accept me because Gilf did. I don’t know his name, but the others called him Tetris Mariner, for his habit of arranging and rearranging the cargo in different geometric shapes and patterns.

Tetris Mariner was Gilf’s favorite before I showed up, and he was none too happy about the reduced attention. At one point he even challenged me to a game of Trinity, but I was so fed up from pretending to lose to Gilf that I flattened the salty dog in under thirty minutes.

Tetris Mariner would have just been a minor annoyance if it weren’t for Kelly. I was really starting to get worried the lad’s secret was going to spill out, and with the chip on Tetris Mariner’s shoulder, he might be the one to do it.
I didn’t have to worry about it for awhile, though. Gilf got word there was treasure in Iceland and we stopped there for a visit.

I guess I should back up a step. After only a few days with the Deannalin, Gilf revealed that the Snow Giraffe was in the Great Hunt. True; they weren’t part of the Liberal Guild, but what pirate could resist this Siren call? (I couldn’t hate: I was not a pirate, and yet there I was too, all for the lure of the Great Hunt.)

Gilf had been down in Barbados and talked to an old mystic called Chipura. Chipura was over 1000 years old, and remembered previous Great Hunts well. For the price of a Leftley (a Welsh dagger), Chipura told Gilf that besides all the swag a pirate could snag, the real goal of the Great Hunt was to find and capture the Spicy 1000.

The problem was that no one knew what the Spicy 1000 was. Rumors pegged it as a sleet fast ship, a chest of enchanted gold (a thousand pieces), and one theory popular in Paris was that the Spicy 1000 was sort of salad dressing. (Indeed: they tried to recreate it themselves, which today we call Thousand Island, for the islands pirates visited looking for it.)

The Spicy 1000’s true nature was a guarded secret. However, garbled versions had gotten into public domain. I’m sure you’ve heard that the Age of Exploration was largely because of the Spice Trade? Hogwash. It was pirates in the Great Hunt, and other ships soon followed (though obviously they got it wrong). More recently you might have wondered about the seemingly unfathomable craze for the Spice Girls? Someone got a hold of an old pirate tale.

Gilf goes to Barbados to find out about the Spicy 1000, and to Iceland to actually find it, or so she thought. I had a long history on the island myself, so I was just hoping someone else didn’t recognize me.

We visited an Inn called Lizard World. They played a game there called Lizard, kind of a forerunner to Rook or Spades. We had a pretty good time at the Inn. The air was thick with opium smoke (I’m sure that helped). Hoarse Charley (who was still with us), went ashore too, along with Gilf, Swax, Kelly and myself. The Deannalin crew was too rough for this place, and there was NO WAY I was leaving Kelly alone on board with that lot.

Hoarse Charley got more than a bit toasted and regaled the assembled patrons with his rendition of “You’re a Lizard, Larry.” (Which, if you heard it, would make you blush six shades of red.)

Gilf found her source, this guy called Horish. I thought I recognized him but if I was right that meant Horish was really really really old, and as folks don’t generally like being asked if they fought for Egypt under the 17th Dynasty, I kept quiet.

Horish had a theory about what the Spicy 1000 actually was. Gilf and I (and Swax, who had wondered over) sat there agog at the tale. Frankly, the idea was preposterous, but then again, some morons don’t believe in Elves, trolls, mogres or purple horses, so why couldn’t this be true? Besides, if this dude was who I remembered, he didn’t lie.

According to Horish, the Spicy 1000 wasn’t a ship, gold, or tangy dressing, it was a—wait for it—a cyborg sent from the future. Horish said the Spicy 1000 had a mission to find a door that led to a stairway (where the stairway was to, he didn’t say). In the future the knowledge about this door’s location had been lost so the Spicy 1000 was sent out to various points in the past to look for it.
This is why the Great Hunt was called so infrequently. Whenever someone would spot the Spicy 1000 the Hunt be called to find her. Pirates would search high and low, but as the Spicy 1000 jumped in and out of time, the quest was a difficult one.

Like I said: a crazy story.


Except, the Snow Giraffe had in its possession a key made of bone (you recall, from last chapter), and I’d heard a legend about what this key opened. If I was right, I might know where the Spicy 1000 could be found.

We set off for England. The journey across was not without peril and adventure.

First, I had to deal with Tetris Mariner. Increasingly frustrated by Gilf’s new attitude, he decided to get to me through Kelly, picking on the lad mercilessly. I told Kelly to just stay out of the way as much as possible, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Finally, after a series of escalating insults, Kelly was accused of thievery and sentenced to caning. I believe I mentioned earlier I considered this to be a worse fate than death….for Kelly.

You see, Kelly Lacrosse, Kelly LaCroix as he styled himself, ran away from Canada when it was discovered he was in the army posing as a man.
Which is a problem if you’re a girl.

Swax and I never said anything, as it was obvious that Kelly wanted to pass as a man. However, stripped to the waist for caning reveals a lot about a person, especially Kelly.

At that time the punishment for impersonating a man at Sea was the same as in the Army: death. Things looked bleak indeed until Swax whispered a bit of knowledge he’d picked up on the voyage.

Gilf was not herself Deannalin. However the Deannalin way was to follow their captain absolutely until he was beaten at Trinity by another. Then they first captain was unceremoniously thrown overboard and all allegiance transferred to the second captain. This is how Gilf came by the Snow Giraffe.

Upon hearing this, I challenged Gilf for the Captaincy. Challenges of this sort superceded all ship business, including caning, so everyone gathered ‘round to watch. Belatedly Swax told me that when someone loses an Official Challenge he is beaten to death with rotting fish, but to save Kelly it was a chance I was willing to take.

I’ll save you the suspense: I won. As I’d been sandbagging all this time I caught Gilf unaware. Poor girl never had a chance.

At the end I moved the three spheres into one and she accepted defeat, cutting her arm in the traditional way and spilling it onto the board. I was now Captain.

I stood and spoke to my crew. “As my first act, all crimes, both petty and felonious are pardoned and punishments cancelled in celebration of my reign.”
“Huzzah! Huzzah!” Cheered the Deannalin . One down, one to go.

“As my second act, I am suspending the tradition of killing the previous captain. I realize, “ I continued, “that Deannalin Law calls for death after an official challenge. However, it does not speak to whose death….Verdammt durch das fleisch, Garettet durch das blut.”

This was met by nervous glances from the crew. I looked at the Tetris Mariner, who was trying to hide and said, “How do you feel about really ripe cod?”


If only that was the most exciting thing on our trip to England. 45 miles out from land we noticed a ship sailing so fast it looked like it was riding the wind. Within just a few moments the ship went from just a speck on the horizon to its black flag clearly visible.

It was the most dreadful flag in existence. Worse than any pirate flag—including the Snow Beasts of the Deannalin. This black flag was the Jolly Roger Rabbit.

We were in the presence of Pinja.

As Hyperion didn’t know what Pinja were, I’m guessing you don’t either, so I will explain. The Pinja are the Imperial Guards of the Magic Pygmy Rabbits. (You know they rule the world, right?) More to the point: Pinja are both Pirates and Ninja.

I realize you are probably both excited and sick to discover such a hybrid exists. It’s true. They are unstoppable enemies, implacable foes, so much so that the nearly indestructible Deannalin crew were overcome with trembling, as they were sore afraid.

As luck would have it, I once spent some time with the Magic Pygmy Rabbits, and as such was familiar—at least a little—with the Tao of the Pinja.
Quickly I began to play on the mouth organ. The music was lilting, sad, and ageless. Without further prompting Hoarse Charley started singing. (If only you could have heard this song….)

♫Embarked upon the Greatest Hunt
Treasure Seek to find.
Such Beauty, take away your breath
Tales to blow you mind.
Come now the mighty Pinja
On raging like a flood,
Dashing foe against the rock
Roiling them like mud
We have braved our own peril
Escaped the closing bind
To destroy us now, oh great ones
Would truly be unkind.
Verdammt durch das Fleisch
Garattet durch das Blut;
Damned by the Flesh
Saved by the Blood

Hoarse Charley went on, verse by verse, to tell all that had happened to us, ending with the discovery of Kelly’s woman bits and my ascension to captaincy, (Included was that the German Grosslänga predicted it as he was dying with his prophecy, “Damned by the flesh, Saved by the Blood.”)

The Pinja were visibly moved. After checking to see Kelly was indeed a girl (they were half pirate, after all), the Pinja agreed not to kill us. However, we were to be taken back to their masters. This bought us time, but I wasn’t altogether sure it was ultimately a better fate.

I didn’t get a chance to find out, as just at the moment a ship dropped out of the sky, hovering over the waters. It was the Kyron, whom as I’m sure you all know are notorious Intergalactic Pirates. Shots were fired from the Kyron’s plasma cannon at the Pinja ship.

Fortuitously—for us, anyway—the Kyron were also the sworn enemy of the Magic Pygmy Rabbits. Without another word the mighty Pinja jumped back to their ship and took off into the sky in pursuit of the Kyron. (I had no idea Pinja ships could fly, but in retrospect, it isn’t surprising given that the Ninja have dominion over everything totally sweet, and a flying ship is pretty sweet.)

After that, you’d think the rest would be anticlimactic. This is true, but only because I can’t reveal what happened. I will tell you that despite not running into the Spicy 1000, we did find the doorway. I can’t tell you where the doorway was other than to mention there were a few huge rocks lying around.
In the door was a stairway, but where that stairway led or what happened there is for another time, if ever. I’ve never told anyone except this bloke Robert Plant I met in a bar one day in 1971. Plant said he was going to write a song about it, but I never heard if he did.


Six months later we were back in Portugal, at Costa’s. Deolinda Costa was not best pleased with the loss of her ship, but what we brought back more than made up for it. Times were slow again. The Mayor, the King of Jellies, was kicked out of office and now tried out a new profession, as a Mailman. Fights came and went, with the occasional loser thrown out the back window down into the bay. We spent our days drinking and playing Lizard, waiting for who was going to show up next. They did show up, too, in droves, because back then, everyone came to Costa’s.

Thanks for giving my tale a gander. If you’re ever in my neck of the woods look me up, and maybe we’ll get luck and the Great Hunt will be called again. I’d sure like to find the Spicy 1000. This time I’m taking a GPS.


August 28, 2005

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