In 874, at age 13, Alphonse (more commonly called 'Al' by his friends), joined a local gang called the Buccaneers. While they might be called a street gang, they preferred to think of themselves as pirates, often sailing on the Triscot River, in boats they'd made themselves. Al was a fan of stories about Terran pirates from centuries before The Land was even created. He was also a fan of the play Gallen II, by Tooblan. While Al greatly enjoyed playing pirates with his friends, he was also a lover of reading, both fiction and history. It's also said that he was always very good at persuading others to go along with his ideas, or the ideas of others who he agreed with. And so, this talent was often put to use for recruiting new members to the Buccaneers (such as a boy named Capp in 876, and a girl named Cherilyn in 879). It was in 879, at age 18, that Al took over the gang, when the old leader departed.
In 883, at age 22, Al decided the time for playing was over, and he left to get a job on a merchant ship. (When he left the gang, Cherilyn became the new leader.) But he continued to study as much history as he could, often adding books to his private collection. His favorite topic of conversation among his crew mates was history, and they all appreciated learning from him, sometimes even jokingly calling him "master." Though Al laughed along with them at the joke, it was only a few years before he decided to become a wandering history master, for real. Though he still worked as a sailor, needing the money before his career as a teacher took off, his position on the crew eventually became increasingly simply a means of getting from place to place, so that he might find employment as a master to children in various villages, if their parents could afford to hire him. In the end, he quit his job as a sailor entirely, and took to traveling over land to villages which were landlocked.
Over the years he would meet a number of other masters, some who wandered between villages, like him, and others who worked only in their home village. Among the friends he made was Rune, a wandering mathematics master who happened to be from his home village of Triscot. The two of them would often travel together, seeking employment from the same parents, who naturally would want a well-rounded education for their children, in various subjects.
During the Coming of the Order, when it was suggested that villages should establish centralized and standardized schools, Al quickly realized that the day of independent masters would soon come to an end. He wasn't sure whether he'd be hired by any school, nor was he sure he wanted to be. And so, he decided it might be best to go back to his old career as a sailor, joining the crew of a merchant ship called Woodsorrel as first mate, in 902. The following year, when the Protestant Movement was organizing a navy, Al joined the cause, as did the majority of the crew on which he was serving as first mate. Sometime after the war ended, with the Protestants having lost, Captain Verde retired from seafaring, and passed the ship on to Alphonse, who became the new captain. He decided, rather than returning to life as a merchant sailor, to turn to a life of piracy. But he didn't make this decision alone; rather, he put it to a vote among the crew. The majority were in agreement, and the few who voted against it left to find honest work on other ships. Meanwhile, Al renamed the ship Woodsorrow.
In 904, when the surname law was passed, Al chose the name "Teach," the obvious reason being that he had once been a teacher, and still enjoyed imparting history lessons whenever possible, even if he could no longer make money at it. But as he tells anyone who'll listen, there's a second reason for the name, albeit one derived from his knowledge of history; more specifically, of Terran history. There had once been a pirate on that world named Edward Teach, more commonly known as 'Blackbeard.' Though Al's way of conducting the business of piracy is said to be more honorable than that of Blackbeard, he nonetheless found the name "Teach" quite fitting. (It's also said that that's why he chose to grow a thick beard of his own, having generally been clean-shaven prior to adopting that surname.)
In 912, Teach was contacted by Darius Lonewander, whose cousin Cara MakeDo had joined his crew the previous year, and quickly worked her way up to a position as junior officer. (Teach's first mate at the time was Flynn Sharpblunt, the son of a former crew mate of his during the war. Flynn had attained this position around the same time Cara joined the crew, three years after he himself had begun working on the Woodsorrow.) Darius was planning a possible rebellion against the Second Order, which he called The Chaos. He wanted to form his own navy, recruited from among various pirate crews who might have their own reasons to oppose the government, and Teach was instrumental in that endeavor, and played an important part in the Chaos War, later that year. After the United Villages of the Chaos was founded in 913, Teach became admiral of its navy, serving under Triumvir-General Alecstar Inco.