The Complete talesThis Book is a partial Autobiography of Captain Richard Bladebane and is a continue of Richard Bladebane this book follows the adventures of a young Rick, before he joined the British Army and found as he said "A Lawfully Gained wage" for the adventures after he joined the British Co. Elites go to Richard Bladebane to read of his lawful exploits!
The Life and Adventures of Richard Bladebane. Being a preliminary, fragmentary, confidential and much unedited first draft of Captain Rick Bladebane as told by himself.
In which the author describes his early years. It is a curious thing how soldiers, banished to some desolate outpost or perhaps just keeping sleep at bay during a cold night's watch will turn to speech as their main form of amusement, jokes, anecdotes, dubious legends and exaggerated reports of battles none but the teller have witnessed are all weaved into a comforting blanket to make one miss home a little less, and make the time between battles pass a little faster. But no subject elicits a warmer interest or a more genuine narration than the biographical details of ones own life, and having been encouraged by my fellow officers and the enlisted men to put down on paper the particulars of mine, I hope that you derive some measure of the comfort they gave to those first hearing them. I will warn you as I did them, that everything I am about to relate is the honest truth, though sometimes it falls short of such an ideal, and other times can only be said to be distantly related to the truth. It is customary in such accounts to begin one's tale at the beginning, in childhood, and I have no wish to be original on this point. I was born Richard Bladebane in the small hamlet of Gunk, somewhere east of London. Gunk was not its true name, but it is the one my brothers and I gave it, and I see no reason to betray my heritage so early in this narrative.
I said before that we soldiers told these stories so that was as not to miss home, but in truth I have never truly felt the sense of that word in any place I have visited, and certainly not in Gunk. Yet there it was that I was raised by my shop-keeping parents, who through no fault of their own often struggled to keep other things, such as shoes on our feet and food on our table. This being the case, my three elder brothers and I had no recourse but to find other sources of sustenance, money and entertainment. Despite my small hands, I was never the equal of my siblings in what constituted the main form of income for all Bladebanes under the age of fifteen: the picking of pockets. It is possible that even then, though barely eight years old, I had begun to form some sort of moral objection to such activities. Instead I found my calling as a street performer, standing in the town square telling jokes and falling down repeatedly. 'Did you hear about the man who went through a were-wolf forest and messed up his trousers?' I would ask the audience. 'No' they would reply. 'He said with fiends like that who needs enemas.' Alright, so it wasn't sophisticated - I was only a child after all - but at least it was honest. Or it would have been, had my brothers not taken the opportunity afforded to them by the villagers uncouth laughter to rob them blind. All this accidental aiding and abetting won me the greatest gift I had ever received. For my eleventh birthday my criminal siblings bought me a beautiful pellet gun, and thus it was that I found my second talent: a rather surprising accuracy with firearms. It was not long before this ability was put to good use. My brothers set up a fair booth in which they challenged all-comers to pit their target practice skills against young Rick. Having fleeced all the local clods, we soon had to rely on traders, passersby and occasional tours of neighboring villagers, out of which we would more often than not be run out by the local authorities.
While my accomplices spent or gambled most of their earnings, I saved every gold coin I could to fulfill my burning ambition of exploring the British Empire one day and becoming a great adventurer, such as the ones whose stories I've read about in two-penny pamphlets and third-hand story books. More than anything, I wanted to meet Jacobites, though I knew their heyday had long passed and that the aging exiled ruler of the kingdom was the last. It was the death of this ruler when I was fifteen years of age, that marked the beginning of a series of tragedies that were to befall my family. First, my eldest brother, Jason, was killed in a duel with an irate farmer, who also happened to be the husband of Jason's last sexual conquest. The duel was fought with pitchforks, and my brother, who had never worked an honest day's work in his life, made the fatal mistake of holding the farming tool the wrong way round. It was shortly after this incident that the second eldest, William, was arrested for trying to run a con game by the wrong person: a passing plainclothes townsguard. He was taken to London and was never heard from again. Then my third brother, Quentin, contrived to accumulate enough gambling debts to have a price put on his head. Quentin's death I remember most clearly of all, for I was unfortunate enough to witness it. When the assassins and bounty hunters came in to collect on his suddenly valuable head, I did what I could to protect him. But no matter how accurate the shots from my rifle, nothing could change the fact that I was shooting peas instead of bullets. I had not yet been able to afford a real weapon. It is no surprise that the next to go was my dear mother, grief stricken by the loss of three of her children. She left my father a drunken widower, though drunk only when he could afford it, poverty having made his attempts to drown his sorrows all the harder. While I did what I could to help out in his shop, employing all my charm and wit to become a highly persuasive salesman, it was plain that there was never going to be much of a market for novelty toothbrushes in such a small village. And one which had made such a conscious effort to avoid any form of oral hygiene at that. Soon my father passed away, too, far more sober than he would have liked. It was then I resolved to leave Gunk for good, and to seek my fortunes and adventures elsewhere in the kingdom of England.
In which the author sees the real world for the first time. What little gold I had saved in my youth had gone in the quick succession of funerals described in the previous chapter, not to mention paying off the gambling and business debts of those now in the ground. And so it was that I left my so called home as penniless as I had entered it seventeen years previously. Unable to embark on my career as an explorer, I found myself gravitating towards the main cities and doing a variety of jobs. I stocked books at the London Library, absorbing as much knowledge about the world from those precious pages as I could. I served drinks at the Cow and Corset in Portsmouth (once I’d established that my comedy routines were getting me nowhere among the ever slightly more sophisticated urban rabble) and eventually managed to put my shooting skills to proper employ as one of the many bodyguards who protect traders as they go from town to town. At last I held a real rifle in my hands, and using it against the bandits, hobbes, and other undesirables who the trading caravans attracted, felt as natural as breathing. Not only that, the wages were so superior to any I had earned before, I’d soon put away enough gold to make my dream come true. I loaded myself with provisions, weapons and a good set of leather boots, and set out to experience the sort of adventures I’d read about since so young an age, exploring every corner of the world as I did so!
I shall, in time, expand on the many strange and incredible escapades that occupied me during the following years. For now I will simply remark that I hunted hidden treasures, set on dangerous quests in the very same manner the Adventurers of legends once did, and in short, exhausted almost every legitimate means by which a young man may experience life at its fullest. It must have been this exhaustion, coupled no doubt with the fact that I could never quite shake off my involvement, accidental or otherwise, with criminal behavior, that led me in the end to run with a band of smugglers operating out of the Port Royal. After a few weeks of contrabanding, it was inevitable that I would wash up in the capital of such activities, Tortuga. Its uncouth nature, colorful characters and almost daily bar room fist fights, fed a rather unhealthy, and until then quite hidden, appetite for the pleasures only the lowest of societies can provide. I blush to recall those days of drinking, gambling and indulging in other unsavoury pastimes. I blush even harder as I bring to mind the succession of strong-willed and even stronger thighed women I fell in love with. My only excuse is that such lack of restraint was latent in my blood, and while I had not followed my brothers' example while they lived, I celebrated their memories by following it now.
At last, I boarded a motley-crewed frigate one balmy night. Whether on a drunken impulse or because of the result of a drunken bet, I cannot say, though drunkenness was most certainly to blame one way or the other. Though hardly pleased with the company I was forced to keep, or the profession I was forced to embrace, I looked forward to the chance to see more of the world than was bounded by Tortuga’s borders. I must admit, however, that the plundering nature of our voyages contrived to spoil any tourism I might have otherwise enjoyed in the foreign landscapes we visited. My impression of such exotic locations is inextricably tied with images of the local population waving sharp implements in a threatening manner as our ship set sail to the horizon. When my crew and I next alighted in the port of Port Royal with the intention of selling our wares to the black market, I grasped by chance and left this chapter of my life behind, with little regrets but quite a few cuts, bruises and monkey bites. It was there I met a man who was to change my life for the better, and offer me a career that would give me what I longed for most: a sense of belonging, a new family, and a lawfully gained wage. I was about to join the Royal British Army.