View Full Version : La Buse: The Buzzard of the Indian Ocean

07-05-2018, 03:17 PM

As we develop Skull & Bones, we'll share parts of this fantastic landscape that inspires us every day. Let these stories inspire you and share with us how you envision your journey in the Indian Ocean.

Say ‘pirates' and the Caribbean probably springs to mind. Such is the power of Hollywood. But in fact, history's greatest pirates plied their trade on all seven seas. And no sea was wealthier and wilder than the Indian Ocean.

Take for example the notorious French pirate Olivier Levasseur, better known as La Buse ("the Buzzard"). He started in the Caribbean, but after Colonial powers there turned up the heat , he made his way around Africa and into the wide expanses of the Indian Ocean, plundering along the way.

Among his many exploits, he sacked a trading port, survived a shipwreck, and marooned a fellow captain for not being ruthless enough. Throughout his career, he preyed on the English, the French, the Portuguese and anyone else unlucky enough to cross his path. From his stronghold off the coast of Madagascar, he made the Indian Ocean his personal hunting ground.

Perhaps his greatest exploit was taking down Nossa Senhora do Cabo, a massive warship of the Portuguese Empire. The ship was carrying the Bishop of Goa and the Viceroy of India along with a massive hoard of loot back to Europe.

This was a true king's ransom destined for the royal coffers: chests overflowing with guineas, bars of gold and silver, sacks of diamonds, and the famous Flaming Cross of Goa.

That last bit was a gigantic crucifix of solid gold studded with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. It took three men to carry that one piece of loot onto his ship! In today's currency, hijacking this single ship netted his crew around twenty million dollars.

Here's another fun fact about La Buse. Instead of flying the traditional Jolly Roger, he hoisted a white flag emblazoned with a black skeleton—an eerie image at any time, but imagine seeing that banner coming across the sea a thousand miles from home. La Buse was also one of the few pirates who did wear an eyepatch. A battle scar across one eye left him half blind.

After earning his fortune, La Buse never enjoyed his ill-gotten spoils. Despite the promise of a royal pardon, the hangman's noose cut his career short. But he did not go quietly to the grave. According to legend, while standing on the gallows with a noose around his neck, he started bragging about his buried treasure.

He revealed a secret cipher that promised clues to its whereabouts, but that code was never cracked. Even today, tourists visit his grave on the island of Réunion , east of Madagascar, searching for clues to his long-lost stash. It remains undiscovered.

La Buse's missing trove, his bloodthirsty career, and his mysterious cipher have inspired storytellers through the centuries. He's popped up in everything from Robert Louis Stevenson's epic Treasure Island to Japanese anime. Members of his pirate gang were last spotted in the Ubisoft booth during E3 2018, challenging players in the Skull & Bones demo.

As one of many colorful characters in Indian Ocean lore, La Buse is both larger-than-life and historically authentic, the perfect for inspiration for what we want to do in Skull & Bones. But that's only the beginning of our journey.

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