It is 1721, and the Golden Age of Piracy is coming to an end.
In the winter of 1718, the Crown retook the island of New Providence and its famous capital, Nassau, but it wasn’t as simple as the broadsheets made it out to be. The rebel Captains of the Republic of Pirates were forced out, or sold out and were given the King’s Pardon in exchange for hunting down their fellows. Some were hanged, some died at their guns, but many escaped to cooler climes and other opportunities.
A year passed, and it became clear that they were a dying breed, begging for scraps. The hunting grounds of the Caribbean were now the fortified trade routes of four empires, and without a friendly port to guarantee refit, the danger of taking on a British, Spanish, French or Dutch frigate was often too high to countenance.
In 1720 the stories started to be told. A Pirate fleet could be assembled; the likes of which no Empire had ever seen. Over a hundred independent Captains working together to form a Pirate Armada to chase out the navy of King George forever, and show the world that the Republic was not just a brief dream. Some disagreed, but many were won over, taking their ships and persuading their allies to follow the figureheads of the last of the Pirate Council who once ruled Nassau. In the Spring of 1721 they met, and sailed. The Pirate Armada of the Free Republic of Nassau sailed for the first and last time, gathering speed and numbers as it thundered along to the island it once called home.
A home where it was met by the full force of the British Navy. Over a hundred ships of all shapes and sizes from the free captains, against sixty frigates, a dozen Third Rate Ships-of-the-line, four ninety-gun Second Rate Ships-of-the-line and the pride of the British Navy, the HMS Britannia.
It was a bloody day for Pirates: great names like Calico Jack, Charles Vane, Benjamin Horningold, Mary Read, Ann Bonny – the greatest pirates of their age – either died or were captured and hanged in the newly re-established British port of Nassau by Woodes Rogers.
But not all was lost that day. During the heavy fighting, five ships manage to escape amongst the chaos of the shot, smoke and screams. They collected those who were left sinking by the crown as they focused on the ships still showing fight, taking as many people on board as they could before they were claimed by Davy Jones.
One of these ships was captained by Blackbeard’s first mate – a ruthless and puritanical pirate by the name of Israel Hands – who led these five ships north for fifteen days across open seas, avoiding any land or ships that crossed their path. On the sixteenth, Hands’ ship, the Santiana, flagged to dock in the next island cove, but the other crews looked about with alarm – there were no coves nearby on any chart they possessed. The nearest land was six days north or eleven days west, the only thing they were likely to find in this salt-ridden waste was a slow death by becalming and the thirst that came with it.
But then, out from the sea spray on the horizon a shimmer of light. Land ho! As if hidden between the sea and the sky themselves.
Rumours always abounded about Blackbeard’s secret island and how he escaped the Crown for so long, and this must be Blackbeard’s final gift to the Pirate Republic.
A place to start anew. A trick of the light from that old trickster.