Let us cast our minds back to pirate times now, as we embark on brand new adventures set in the sober nautical history simulation called Sea Of Thieves. In this intermittent chronicle, we’ll be following the story of Captain Bartholomew Humungus, played by Nate, as he attempts to go down in history by completing the legendary 12 Labours of Pirate Hercules (which tasks Nate has, of course, made up). He won’t get far on his own, mind, as he’s never played before – so assisting him (i.e. carrying him) will be First Mate Dolly Roger, played by Imogen, and Humungus’ biographer, the mysterious Mariana Hench, played by Matt Cox.
Will they complete all twelve labours? What strange people will they meet, on this ocean of kleptomaniacs? Are skeletons even real? Read on to find out…
- Learn five facts about sharks from strangers, and then tell them to sharks
- Fire two animals at each other to see if they become a new, third animal
- Tame a megalodon
- Reason with the kraken
- Beg for enough loot to fill a boat
- Inconvenience a skeleton as much as possible
- Do five donuts round an active volcano while completely shitfaced in a rowboat
- Put on a show and make at least one person applaud before we die
- Commit piracy of any kind
- Form an armada of four ships
- Take a boat to the pub and get to know it
- Circumnavigate the globe
Humungus: As I spring into reality fully formed, I roar with shock and despair, and then look down glumly at my vast and horrible hands. I am Captain Bartholomew Humungus, and I have been created to accomplish the 12 Labours of Pirate Hercules. There is a man in a pub, trying to cajole me into doing a quest, but I could not be less interested. Humungus has his own quest. 12 of them, in fact. As I fish around in some local barrels, hoping I might find solace, I’m greeted by a strange ruffian with a face like a brick, and a woman wearing at least two coats, despite this damnable heat. They are my biographer and my first mate, who god has put on this grim expanse of brine to facilitate my works. I ensured this was the case by kidnapping them both, of course.
Not knowing what else to do, I consume a handful of live worms.
Dolly Roger: “I have consumed a handful of worms!” Our fearless leader exclaims. “Is anything bad going to happen to me?”
We’ve been at Galleon’s Grave outpost for all of about five minutes and it is already the longest voyage of my life. Ignoring my crewmates running around looking at the many wondrous things you can find in barrels, I start off nice and simply, by putting some decorations up on the ship. A nice regal pink is what we decide on, and though it is met with an immediate “that looks like an aunt’s living room” from the captain, the comment isn’t insulting, so much as approving of the statement we will make sailing around with that livery.
Next, I attempt to show the crew the ship up close – an endeavour derailed almost immediately by the discovery of the hurdy gurdys in their inventories. We will set sail eventually, I suppose.
Mariana Hench: At last, I come face to face with the great Humungus. The subject of what is to be my finest work, the centre of an ode that will be sung upon the seas for generations. His is a very large face, attached to a very large body. His biceps ripple as he cranks his hurdy gurdy, quivering with the pent up energy of a man who’s spent too long ashore. I see the hunger in his eyes, the desperate longing for adventure. It’s the look of a man who will take no prisoners, apart from me and the first mate, who are exactly that.
The power of the moment is almost, but not quite, enough to distract from the decapitated worms still dribbling out of his mouth.
Humungus: A strange box keeps appearing in front of my vision, telling me what to do, and I do not care for it at all. Mariana, my biographer, is similarly afflicted. In time, it sours even the joy of the hurdy gurdy, and I order the First Mate to sail us far enough away that it will no longer be able to follow us. I try to look at the map to choose an island for us to sail to, but I cannot look round the awful thing.
I also attempt to punish a bat.
Dolly Roger: I think I’ve actually managed to get through to them now. Captain Humungus has had a run around the ship to inspect it, and we’ve decided on a maiden voyage. He’s demanded to be shown a beautiful sunset (as if the sky from an island will look any different than it does from the deck of this ship, but hey). At any rate, this seems like a good chance to get the pair of these hurdy gurdy obsessives to help me prepare the ship to start sailing. I’m pretty sure the biographer has at least touched a rope before, and the captain stood at the helm for all of about 20 seconds before they both scurried off to play their hurdy gurdies again. In their defence, the sun is setting now and it looks rather lovely, so a small tune to play out the day is far from unwelcome.
Mariana Hench: I wake up to my second day of servitude, and our first full day at sea. The water stretches out around us, acre after acre, suggesting all the freedom we lack. The waves glisten, like the sweat on the captain’s brow as he returns to the ship’s prow, hurdy gurdy in hand.
At least we’re now expert sailors, and will have absolutely no problem weighing anchor next to our first island.
Humungus: Overcome by a black urge, I climb into a cannon as we approach the island.
Dolly Roger: Mariana is proving himself a good travelling companion, in the end. On the first island we find, he swims out to with me, and together we take down an Ashen Key Master skeleton, which is a moderate deal. Alas, however, the captain has fired himself into the sea, roaring.
When he finally returns, sodden and dour, he refuses to believe we ever met a skeleton. Even though we dump its actual skull at his vast feet.
Mariana Hench Now the captain mentions it, I’m having doubts about the whole skeleton thing too, if I’m honest. Who knows? Whatever we just cut to pieces could easily have been a coconut someone left out in the sun too long.
Humungus: In an attempt to convince me skeletons are real, Dolly steers us to an island fortress she swears will be teeming with the things. But for a start, one look at it tells me this place was clearly constructed by orcs (which are definitely real), and then when we land, there is not so much as a bone to be real. Skeletons are a fiction, and I cross off the act of inconveniencing one from my list of labours. Hmm. We should get to work on those.
Dolly Roger: As we move on, I spot a shipwreck just ahead, and insist we stop to loot. We’re not disappointed! There’s some expensive tea down there, plus some exquisite spices and even a Chest of Sorrows. Mariana and Humungus, meanwhile, did not turn out to be natural divers, and quite frankly I’ve a mind to piss off by myself with the treasure I’ve found.
Mariana Hench: Drowning, it turns out, does not feel like going home. It’s much more like having your lungs set on fire while your brain disintegrates, until you wake up on a ship from the netherworld that smells like damp prawns.
Humungus: As my biographer and I drown pathetically in the upturned boat, I am despondent. But once I am dead, I appear on a marvellous boat, and my mood picks up spectacularly. Mariana does not care for it much, and returns to the world of the living, but I have a simply marvellous time, hurdy-gurdying and clapping the night away with the other shades as they pass through. I vow to myself that I will resolve to visit this place as often as I can.
Dolly Roger: After convening with my crewmates from beyond the grave to help them figure out how to leave the Ferry of the Damned, they finally return – the captain somewhat reluctantly – and we raise anchor to move on. Bringing aboard the Chest of Sorrows may have been a mistake, it turns out, as it is crying quite a lot and I keep forgetting to check on it. We may or may not have nearly sank at least four times from the volume of tears it has produced.
Mariana Hench: I try to cheer the chest up, but none of my anecdotes about fly-fishing in the hebrides will get through to it. What does a chest have to be upset about, anyway? What existential quandaries might trouble an entity with such explicit purpose, a being that should find fulfillment from being filled with treasure?
I’m interrupted, right in the middle of telling the chest about a particularly riveting tussle I had with a trout off the coast of Baleshare. There’s a sail on the horizon, and the captain has spotted some people he can ask about sharks.
Humungus: I find my blood pumping at the prospect of achieving one of my labours, and so I race out to the end of the bowsprit with my battered tin loudhailer in hand, and attempt to connive some shark facts from the strangers as they flee. Alas, however, after ten minutes of shouted begs as we pursue them across the twilit waves, this is the only response we get:
They will tell us nothing about sharks. Later, we try another boat, but in our enthusiasm to learn, we accidentally ram it amidships at full speed, and they do not take kindly to us. We are slaughtered. Even when I return from death, I make an attempt: finding a stranger climbing into a boat from a burning shipwreck, I climb in politely beside him, and ask if he knows anything about sharks, but he merely mutters “you what about sharks?” and plays his banjo. As I try to withdraw my own instrument to play along, I accidentally draw my gun, and he shoots me in the gut in self-defence. At least I get to visit the glowing boat again.
Dolly Roger: The loot is gone from our being wrecked, but I’m not that hung up about it. If anything I’m glad to be rid of that bloody weeping chest. The island we’re on now is pleasant too, and the captain and biographer are introducing themselves to the local wildlife.
The captain’s asking a snake if it knows anything about sharks. Oh, never mind. He has “punished” it with his flintlock for refusing to comply.
Mariana Hench: I really liked that snake. It danced when I played my hurdy gurdy. I will never forgive the captain for murdering my friend. We had a bond. A connection. Now all the captain has is a piece of snake meat, greasing up his pocket.
These thoughts weigh on me as the seas around us begin to darken. Ah, I think, the ocean itself is resonating with my sadness. Today was one serpent’s last day in the world, and it is as if the whole world has recoiled, the sea curling back in great tentacles of sadness and…
No, wait. That’s a kraken.
Humungus: I was becoming despondent about my chances of achieving any of my labours, but what a perfect opportunity to cross one off! Without a second thought, I leap into the sea – via the cannon – to reason with the kraken.
That is, improbably, when I notice the shark the size of our ship that has also arrived. A megalodon. It has eyes like a cat’s.
Dolly Roger: Well, I have enough nautical experience to know we’re well and truly fucked now. Mariana has been picked up by a tentacle and launched into the air, and I’m pelting the leviathans with cannonballs – but it’s a matter of time before I’m sunk. And then I see Humungus swimming towards the beast.
Moments ago, I thought it was all over. The voyage was a bust. And now, after holding the captain in its hooked tentacle for a few moments, the kraken… lets us go? I think… I think captain Humungus might’ve just reasoned with a kraken.
Mariana Hench: If the kraken is enough of a coward to let us go, then it’s coward enough for us to kill it. With the captain still hanging out somewhere at sea with the megalodon, I turn our sails back towards the mass of tentacles. How feebly they wriggle above the water! How fragile those suckers are compared to cannonballs!
How… wrong I am. The kraken murders us and our ship, and we awake, newly resurrected, on a tropical island.
Humungus: I check the island for skeletons. But of course there are none. For they do not exist.
- Learn five facts about sharks from strangers, and then tell them to sharks: INCOMPLETE. Made three attempts: all were fatal
- Fire two animals at each other to see if they become a new, third animal: INCOMPLETE. But we have a parrot!
- Tame a megalodon: INCOMPLETE. But we saw one!
- Reason with the kraken: COMPLETE!
- Beg for enough loot to fill a boat: INCOMPLETE
Inconvenience a skeleton as much as possible:Prove to the captain that skeletons are real INCOMPLETE
- Do 5 donuts round an active volcano while completely shitfaced in a rowboat: INCOMPLETE. But we have a rowboat!
- Put on a show and make at least one person applaud before we die: INCOMPLETE. But we have been practising the hurdy gurdy.
- Commit piracy of any kind: INCOMPLETE. In fact, we were pirated.
- Form an armada of four ships: INCOMPLETE
- Take a boat to the pub and get to know it: INCOMPLETE. We do not know our boat
- Circumnavigate the globe: INCOMPLETE