And so Blackthorn's ship, The Greedy Hangman, set sail for the remote isle of Coral Spit. When his men heard of what their Captain had planned Captain Blackthorn and a few loyal die-hards had to quell what could have developed into a full-scale mutiny.
"Ye'all be fine pirates, lads, but you'll never be the men your Mothers were! Now who thinks he can take me in single combat?"
Nobody was prepared to take on the seasoned Blackthorn who was not beyond a little cheating in a 'fair fight'. So he told them the plan:
- They would bury the treasure so that none but themselves knew its true whereabouts.
- They would sail home on a lighter ship, free of cargo, to more safely cross the distance to their home port.
- They would prepare maps showing the location of the bounty with a face value representing the true value of the buried treasure.
- They would sell several copies of the map for more money than the total value of the treasure.
So the pirates walked far inland dragging the treasure behind them. They found a small ravine with a dried up river bed at its base and started to dig. The navigator prepared a local map of the area and its local landmarks to precisely position the treasure's location and they were done.
On the way back to their homeland the navigator again set to drawing the map that they planned to use for currency back home. Other members of the crew helped out with the copying and when they finished they had what Captain Backthorn believed was a bounty of riches far beyond the value of the treasure.
Two hundred and fifty seven days later the Greedy Hangman arrived in the Port of Martinesse and all the crew went ashore. Rumours began to circulate about the arrival of a sinister looking ship which is probably piratical but which unloaded nothing, and yet the crew all look so happy. The Captain himself headed to a trading establishment to see what price he can get for his maps. An hour later he left said establishment despondent and crestfallen. The negotiations had not gone well.
Blackthorn had miscalculated the perceived value of the maps. The idea was good but good ideas sometimes need a push to get going.
He next headed to the Pirates' Guild where he secured an audience with Flatfoot Peersquint, the Guild Treasurer and Bursar. Peersquint was a shrewd man and while he had no sympathy for Blackthorn or any intention of helping him out of his predicament he did see an opportunity in the crazy pirate's idea, not only to make a quick buck but to gain control over all the finances of Martiness, and perhaps beyond.
"The problem with your scheme, Blackthorn", intimated Peersquint, "is that it lacks credibility. Nobody believes that any of these maps actually lead to anything. There are so many forged maps going around the markets of this city that no-one can tell a real one from a fraudulent one.
"I'll tell you what I'll do. The Pirate guild will purchase these maps from you for five hundred gold pieces or two hundred and fifty doubloons, if you prefer."
"That's a hundredth of what they're worth!" protested Blackthorn
"No, it's a tenth of what your bounty is worth, which you are trying to sell to me ten times. Do you have a better deal?"
Begrudgingly, Blackthorn accepted the Guild's offer and handed over all the maps and copies he had and then went back to the docks to break the bad news to his crew.
He was later found floating in the harbour having accidentally brutally stabbed himself in the back with a cutlass, possibly while shaving.
A month later the names of Blackthorn and the Greedy Hangman were on everyone's lips, as well as their hands and in their pockets. The Pirates Guild has a new department which has issued a code of conduct for the selling of treasure maps with an interesting diversity of ways to die for anyone who breaches them, pirate or not.
Code of Conduct for the issue of Maritime Notes
As supervised by the Maritime Bank of Martinesse, 64 Duke Street, Martinesse
For the convenience of those who find themselves with an embarrassment of riches which is impractical to haul to a place of sale the Maritime Bank of Martinesse (hereinafter referred to as 'The Bank') hereby authorises the issuing of Maps baring the location of the bounty to be issued for the purpose of barter with the populace subject to the following conditions:
- The maps are derived of a cartographic method that meets with the approval of The Bank.
- The note of paper on which the map is drawn (hereinafter referred to as The Note) bares a design and is of a size that meets with the approval of The Bank.
- A promise as to the authenticity of the map is placed upon The Note along with the signature of the leader of the group that secured the bounty (hereinafter referred to as the issuer).
- A maximum of nine copies may be made and issued by the issuer.
- Once any notes have been issued to the public no further notes may be made referring to that bounty nor any existing notes issued at a later date.
- The true value of the bounty on the date of issue is prominently displayed in at least two of the four corners of the note on both sides.
- The note is countersigned by the chief cashier of the Maritime Bank as complying with all the above requirements.
Any person contravening the above shall be invited to take a voyage to a place outside national waters where he shall be divested of his intestinal organs which shall be burnt in front of him. He shall then be hanged from the neck until nearly dead and then fed to whatever sharks, orca or other predatory fauna inhabit said waters.
The first notes to be issued where by the Maritime Bank itself and the face depicted on the front of the note is none-other that Captain Blackthorn adjacent to a woodcut of the Greedy Hangman. On the reverse is an elaborately drawn map showing the location of Blackthorn's bounty. And in accordance with paragraph 3 of The Code a promise from the deceased pirate:
I do promise to the bearer
that the map on the reverse of this 'ere note
be a true and accurate representation of
the whereabouts of a bounty to the value of
Signed in his absence
Before long it is common practice for pirates to bury their treasures on remote islands and produce maps for use back home as currency. Any person being presented with such a payment has a choice. They can either spend the note as a piece of currency or more adventurous types can hire a sailing vessel and venture forth to liberate the stranded hoard.
Initially each note corresponded to a single and entire bounty but this, of course results in the issuing of a small number of notes of very high denomination and pretty soon the piratical community realises that it is easier to get rid of notes if they are of lower values. To facilitate this bounties would be broken up and each part buried separately so that even the moderately wealthy had a chance to partake in the 'new money'. Even those unlucky enough to have been on Blackthorn's last voyage.
"That Captain Blackthorn was a clever bloke after all."
"Yea, per'aps we shouldn't 'ave killed 'im."