The Pirate King

“You must ask to join their crew,” she said suddenly, because she could hear – though perhaps her daughter could not – that the day was lost.

“What?” her daughter asked, because although she could hear that the day was lost, that didn’t sound remotely like a solution.

“Ask to join their crew,” her mother repeated, more urgently. “If you ask to join their crew, you’ll be under the protection of the Pirate King and they won’t dare harm you.”

“But I don’t want to be a pirate,” her daughter said, as if what she wanted still mattered.

“It’ll be hard work, it’ll be wretched and you’ll have to be wicked, but it’s – it’s better than–”

Her mother’s practical advice was interrupted by the door being kicked down, and a sword sliding through her stomach. A smile, green and gold and broken and crooked, was all it seemed she could see past her mother’s corpse.

“I want to join,” the orphan croaked, and a note of panic entered her voice as the rotten smile grabbed her wrist. “I want to join your crew!” she said, louder, almost shrieking.

“Poor thing,” the pirate captain said, though he didn’t sound very sorry. “Someone’s been telling you fairytales.”


Later, the captain found his favorite whore less amenable than he would have thought to wearing the dead girl’s dress.

“It’s got blood on it,” Giselle pointed out, and the captain rolled his eyes.

“It’s not a lot of blood,” he argued, “and it’s still a fine dress. It has to be worth a night…?”

“You shouldn’t have done that,” a stranger said from the shadows, and the captain scowled at the figure.

“Fuck off,” he said, but the stranger grabbed the dress away from him, held the dress higher to look at the blood in the candlelight. The captain snatched it back, snarling.

“You broke the code of the Pirate King,” the stranger said, rather than asked, and he rocked as he moved as if he’d never quite found his land legs.

The bar went quiet but for the sound of beads hitting one another in the stranger’s hair, and the captain scoffed though he felt uneasy. “Stories,” he said, even as Giselle recoiled from him.

“You used to be a Navy man, didn’t you?” the stranger asked, with a grin no more hygienic than the captain’s. “Can’t’ve been a pirate long. It’s a shit pirate doesn’t listen to stories.”

“You expect me to believe that these pirates – all these men,” he said, gesturing to the bar that watched in silence, “live in fear of a woman?”

“They’re alive,” the stranger pointed out, as if this was answer enough.

“The Pirate King, a woman whose beauty was so deadly she could only marry Death himself – you expect me to believe in such a woman?”

“You think not believin’s gonna stop her killing you?”

“I suppose you’ve seen her, this Pirate King,” the captain asked, now convinced that he was being mocked.

“I have,” the stranger said with a sly smile.

“And you lived?”

The stranger looked almost pleased, then frowned and furrowed his brow, scratching at his braided beard. “Well, no, actually.”

“So you’re a ghost,” the captain said flatly, looking around as if for confirmation that this stranger was mad. He, unsettlingly, found none in the faces around him.

“O’ course not. I only died, I didn’t stay dead.”

“So now the Pirate King can raise the dead?”

The stranger, much to the captain’s consternation, seemed to consider this seriously. “I s'pose she has, at that.”

“Are all pirates such fools?” the captain sneered.

“Only the really good ones.”


He left shore with half the crew he’d brought with him. He laughed at the ones who stayed behind, the ones who wished to avoid the wrath of the Pirate King.

After three days at sea, the Pirate King found them, and another captain learned that the stories were true.

Her hair was bleached with sun and salt and her skin had been baked by the same, and she seemed bathed in a golden light as she cut down his men as quickly and efficiently as the Grim Reaper himself. When she found the captain – trying, as most pirate captains do, to flee the scene while his crew died for him – she had the audacity to smile. Her teeth were as white as the moon, and she smelled like rum.

“You should have just let her join,” the Pirate King scolded, as if the advice would be any good to him now that she’d slit his throat.


“Looks like Jack had the right of it,” Anamaria said, letting an opal necklace dangle from her fingers.

“He usually does,” Elizabeth shrugged, waving the bauble away. It felt bloodthirsty to be smiling in the face of all this carnage – but it would be harder not to.

“One of these days, he’ll send you down the wrong track to clear out competition,” Anamaria warned, pocketing the necklace.

“He knows I’d kill him. Again.” Her attention was mostly focused at the horizon, as if willing the sun to fall faster. Anamaria only rolled her eyes.

When sunset came, so too did the Flying Dutchman. Elizabeth stood ready at the edge of her ship, and across the water her husband tried very hard to look stern.

“You can’t keep doing this, Elizabeth,” Mr. Turner said, but Mrs. Turner did not stop smiling.

“You keep saying that,” she said, “and yet here we are.”

“You should be safe on land–”

“Never,” she swore, and her eyes shone with fury at the thought.


“I can think of nothing worse,” she said, as if he hadn’t spoken, “than dying with my feet on the ground, without my husband to claim me.”

Will Turner was still of the opinion that his wife should have a natural life, and a natural death, after which he would cede his ship to Jack Sparrow to join her.

Elizabeth Turner thought that was the worst idea she’d ever heard – not when she could die at sea and they could sail together forever.

It was the primary source of tension in their relationship. That, and the fact that Elizabeth Turner was getting very good at killing people.

“Were they at least bad people?” Will asked his bloodstained wife.

“Awful,” Elizabeth assured him. She tugged at the rope that tied her to the main boom, did a final check on the harness around her waist and her legs, and leapt off her ship to swing toward The Flying Dutchman. Will caught her, and as always looked torn between horror and amusement.

“If your feet touch the deck–”

“Best to keep my feet in the air, then,” she said, tipping her hat back and wrapping her legs around his waist.

“What did I do to deserve you, Elizabeth Turner?” he asked as he pulled the hat from her head to let her hair fall around her shoulders.

“Oh, you don’t,” she corrected, lest the immortal ferryman of death get the wrong idea. “But as long as I’m here anyway, we may as well enjoy ourselves.”

My Jolly Sailor Bold
My Jolly Sailor Bold

“Upon one summer’s morning, I carelessly did stray, Down by the Walls of Wapping, where I met a sailor gay, Conversing with a bouncing lass, who seem’d to be in pain, Saying, William, when you go, I fear you will ne'er return again. His hair it does in ringlets hang, his eyes as black as sloes, May happiness attend him wherever he goes, From Tower Hill, down to Blackwall, I will wander, weep and moan, All for my jolly sailor bold, until he does return. My father is a merchant—the truth I now will tell, And in great London City in opulence doth dwell, His fortune doth exceed ₤300,000 in gold, And he frowns upon his daughter, ‘cause she loves a sailor bold. A fig for his riches, his merchandize, and gold, True love is grafted in my heart; give me my sailor bold: Should he return in poverty, from o'er the ocean far, To my tender bosom, I’ll fondly press my jolly tar. My sailor is as smiling as the pleasant month of May, And oft we have wandered through Ratcliffe Highway, Where many a pretty blooming girl we happy did behold, Reclining on the bosom of her jolly sailor bold. Come all you pretty fair maids, whoever you may be Who love a jolly sailor bold that ploughs the raging sea, While up aloft, in storm or gale, from me his absence mourn, And firmly pray, arrive the day, he home will safe return. My name it is Maria, a merchant’s daughter fair, And I have left my parents and three thousand pounds a year, My heart is pierced by Cupid, I disdain all glittering gold, There is nothing can console me but my jolly sailor bold.”