Sir Aaron Zarnoff
My name is Sir Aaron Zarnoff. You may find my surname curious. My father was born Johan Zarnoff, of Riga, before taking service as a mercenary in the bloody wars that periodically wrack Eastern Europe. He proved himself able, and ruthless, and eventually took service with George I in Hanover. For service on the battlefield he was made Sir John. For less gentlemanly services he won the friendship and support of his son, George II, thus joining the ranks of the English aristocracy.

My father so wanted his son and heir to fit in. That was why he beat me so often - to make me tough, especially after my mother died. He knew that a man has to be strong, and merciless, and ruthless. Thatís the only way you can rise. Thatís why he beat me, and thatís why he sent me to Eton - to learn how to play the role of the proper English aristocrat. I learned how to talk, how to smile when I needed to get something, how to mask my feelings. Oh yes, I learned. I learned how to find where the power lies, and how to cultivate those who had it, and work my way into their confidence. I knew how to get the rich what they wanted - women, gold, a rivalís letters, poisons when needed. And always I climbed, step by step, perfecting the fine mask I wear everyday.

As a young man I was brought to court, and learned how important that mask was. We all wear masks, donít we? Except for fools, fools and weaklings! But once you learn to see through the masks, to play the game, it all becomes easy. The right innuendo, placed at the right moment, in the right ear, can kill a man more effectively than a pistol blast or a rapierís slice across a throat.

And then there is the sea. The little fools that crowd this island hardly give it a thought, even though it girds their lives all around. I saw it not as a prison, but as a highway, where a man can find his way to wealth and power. So, as Captain Smyth, I roved the seas for many a year. From the blood stained waters of Tortugas to the flaming decks of East Indiamen off the coast of Madagascar I carved a path of blood and fire. Men feared me. And to this day I miss it.

Why did I come back? I actually read a little at Eton, more than most of those entitled swine. Iíve read history, and put some study into trade and finance. What are they calling it - Ďeconomicsí? It can be most useful. And it taught me that the real money is not on the fattest galleon or Dutch merchant ship. No - the real money is right here, wherever His Majesty by the Grace of God, George III sits his fat ass. This is where the power lies. The power and the money, and all the pirates that seek it. And thatís where youíll find me. In the shadows, smiling, as the puppets dance, and the music plays. Or you may not see me. But know, Iíll see you. And youíll learn how fast and silently I can strike. Until then, enjoy the wine, and the fine music. Enjoy while you canÖ