By THLaird Colyne Stewart
From the Letters of Cap’n Bloodfox
I think the last the world had heard o’ me and me mates was when I was capture
d by them archers
o’ Thule last
year1. Me woman, Cap’n Widow, led them right to me in a bid for her
own freedom. At first I was sore at her, but when she later slunk into the gaol
and set me and the lads free, well, I just had to forgive her.
That Constable2 o’ Bastille—name o’ Evander—was after us in moments and we were forced to sail south for a year to avoid him and the ships of Her Majesty’s navy. Plundering the southron kingdoms is fun and all, but home is where the heart is. As soon as we could, we sets sail for the northlands again.
As we’re on our way homeward we hears that the Shire o’ Bastille du Lac is holding an event, a jaunty party inland, where they figure privateers will let them be. I’m not a man to let an opportunity for revenge pass me by, so’s I tell me Navigator Mr. Andersen to plot a course.
You remember Mr. Andersen I trust? This Norwegian fella who tells me he’s a Viking? Yar, that’s the bloke.3 Well, he manages to run the Interceptor aground. We beached, well and good. I almost string him up then and there, but I can be a merciful fellow and I only cut off a digit or two. The Clever Wife—me woman’s ship—weighs anchor without incident o’ course.
So I leaves some men to try and get me ship back in the blue, and the rest start creeping through the trees towards the lodge where this here gathering is supposed to be happening.
That Constable and the shire’s seneschal—Edward Fuchyn—must o’ had scouts out in the woods, for they found out we were coming. Worried for the safety of his people, Fuchyn knows he needs to call fer some help, but who to call? If he calls for help to Septentria to the west, or to Skraeling Althing to the east, whose to say they’ll leave having gained a foothold in his shire? So he does the only thing he can think of, and that is to send messengers to both o’ them baronies begging for aid.4
Now me men managed to intercept most o’ them messengers heading west, and Widow took most o’ them heading east, but some must have managed to slip through. For when we finally reached the outskirts o’ the lodge what do we see but representatives o’ both them baronies.
Bah, we thinks. We just sailed and then walked all this way. Are we gonna be run off now? By gar we’d show them what for!
So me woman and me, draped in our flags, cutlasses drawn, stride outta the trees.5 Soon we have us a three way showdown with the forces o’Skrael, and Septentria and our crews facing off.
Now That Constable wanted to avoid bloodshed it seems, so he asked us all to sheath our weapons and take part in a contest. Out on the water he’s got a boat at the end of the pier, and he wants us all to take turns fighting on it. Each person has got to face the other fifteen fighters once, to see who is the best fighter of the day. Not one to back down from a challenge we and our crew say we’re in.
At the same time, on another pier, some more o’ the three groups fence with blades long and short. Lady Rusalka o’ the Galbraiths in fine pirate fashions crossed blades with THL Wilhelm von Pottruff and THL Cristabel Wensleydale of Skraeling, and Lord Robert o’Septentria.
Some o’ our forces were taken through the woods by THL Dayfdd ap Sion and Lord Augustyn o’ Ely to shoot at roving targets. (Both Thulish archers, ar!) I did not have a change to wander the course meself, but I did hear that there were targets representing both Baron Corwyn o’ Septentria and Baron Menken o’ Skrael.6 (Me thinks from reports that Menken had a few more holes in him than Corwyn did.) Also, several folks threw axes and knives at butts on another range.
But back to the boat. Since each fighter present had to battle fifteen times it was a long way to go to the final. Some of the more memorable incidents included: me lady Widow knocking a parrot of the helm o’ Lord Derfel Mallory7; a clankety German pirate in full metal armour who fought on the tiny dingy with a harpoon (and who fell over board at least once)8; and my own victory over the Constable o’Ardchreag. When all was said and done I had managed to send nine down to Davy Jones’ Locker, having been sent down meself six times.
In the end a parrot-less Lord Derfel faced off with another Constable, name o’Roak who came from the east. In a well fought battle Derfel took the day. Derfel presented his parrot to Widow, and it was discovered that the poor birdie had lost his beak in the battles. He was dubbed Peckerless Pete, and plans were drawn to replace his beak with a hook.
With a maniacal glint in his eyes, that Constable Evander o’ Bastille draws five circles on the ground and in each circle he places some swag, ranging in size from a small brown bag to a large wooden box. What he wants is for each barony to take a turn coming ashore in the boat and getting the swag into the boat while the other barony defends the goods. You could only carry the booty if you wore a full gauntlet, and either side could handle it. If you got yerself killed you had to run back to yer side to resurrect and rejoin the fray.
So Septentria is set to defend first, and I manage to sidle into that side fighting alongside Her Excellency Domhnail Galbraith, Mr. Tibs9, Argyle o’ Bastille and Constable Siegfried Brandbeorn. His Excellency Menken secures the arms of Constable Roak, Lady Jocea, Lord Derfel and a bloke whose name I never did catch. Everyone else was apparently too worn out from the round robin to participate.
So Skrael comes off the boat and we all fight like madmen, and let me tell you that was one tiring ordeal! People were legged and left to crawl about on their knees until finally one of their own teammates took pity and killed them so they could resurrect and be more effective. Everytime a raider bent down to pick up a piece o’ swag, he was clocked by a defender. In the end Roak, on his knees, was backing up like a scuttling crab dragging a box after him. That Constable o’ Bastille declares that Skrael’s time was 5 minutes and 19 seconds and we all falls over out o’ breath. Evander—the bastard—wants to send us back in after five minutes, but we manage to convince him that ten would be better.
Then Septentria is placed in the boat, and we has to run ashore and grab the booty. We did well off the bat, and it all came down to this here little brown bag that kept sliding out o’ our carriers’ hands. Roak then manages to grab the bag and he retreats with it to the furthest circle from the boat, at which point we had exceeded Skrael’s time so we stopped the pillage o’ the village.
I then dropped me kit off with the lads and suited up in me finest apparel: brown pants, red and white striped socks, red sash, brown belt, black baldric, white shirt and purple and red velvet greatcoat. A hat with a black and a red feather sat atop me head. Widow dressed herself up as well: gold hoop earrings, black skirt, white blouse, black bodice, green jacket, a brown hat with white and black feathers, and a gold cross sitting upon her bosom.
We and the other lads and ladies of our crews walked about with impunity, and no force o’ Septentria, nor force o’ the Skrael tried to arrest us. Likely that was because That Constable’s truce was still going, but I prefer to think it was our bloody reputation. Yar.
As we sauntered about we made a few small ‘acquisitions’ so the day was not a complete loss. In fact, though we were going to leave to see my brother Shane o’ the Fish, we received a missive that he could not make the rendezvous. As such we were invited to stay and the Baroness o’ Septentria herself gave us coin to reserve a seat for supper.10
The tables for feast were all decorated with pirate flags crafted by the young’ uns who had been present throughout the day, and mighty fine flags they were too! Dinner was delicious (and well it should be what with folk like Lady Melusine de la Rose in the kitchen). It was also a riotous affair, with gifts of rum being passed out by both sets of Excellencies. In the spirit of things I grabbed me a woman passing by—her name was Lady Safrida Axehammer—and I abducted her to the next room where I planned to get to know her better. Unfortunately for me I suffered a case of ‘low tide’. As we walked back into the main hall I tells her, “Yar, I swear baby, that’s never happened to me before,” to which she replies, “That’s what they all say.”
Now this lady is the lady o’ Dafydd ap Sion, who came and clamped a large hand on me shoulder and told me to watch meself. Now, trying to protect me honour (har, what honour?) the lady had not told him about me ‘lowered sails’, so’s I spill the beans and it saves me life I’m sure. Mr. Andersen, who looks mightily like Dafydd’s squire brother, watched the whole thing from beginning to end. Dafydd, thinking his squire-brother had just stood by and watched a pirate abduct his lady, had almost smashed poor Mr. Andersen to bits before his true identity was made known. Gar, I was looking forward to seeing a good thrashing. (One that didn’t involve me, at any rate.)
The food, as I believe I’ve said, was excellent. We feasted on bread with honey butter, greens, mushroom and barley soup, spinach quiche, mushroom and cheese tart, ham with honey mustard sauce, lamb, mussels and a type o’ cheese cake glazed in honey. We was all quite full to burstin’.
After dinner a bonfire was lit outside, while some folk danced in a side room. Downstairs a pirate who bore a striking resemblance to Derfel sang for the little ‘uns and later for us big folk too. A local man, who had come to witness the happenings o’ the day for a local broadsheet, played a fiddle on the front steps. It was a lovely, relaxing way to while away the evening. THL Baldric (o’ the really long last name) asked us to come by his home for drinks as he was hosting a party, but we had a long walk back to ships so set off into the trees, followed by our crews.
It was then that I realized that we had spent more than we had earned on this expedition, and when we got back to our landing I found me ship still beached. And I cursed the gods o’ the sea and swore that I would have my revenge!
One o’ these days.
1. At Late Winter Shoot 2004 Cap’n Bloodfox and Cap’n Widow were targets for the archery contest. Since Þorfinna (Cap’n Widow) was on the team that won the shoot, in my event report she had actually helped capture Bloodfox to ensure her own escape.
2. Within the context of event reports written in Bloodfox’s voice, I refer to Knights as Constables.
3. Lord Eirik Andersen
4. The letters (which Fuchyn and I wrote together) read as follows (both were identical, though the one I am quoting was the one for Septentria):
Unto Their Most Ursine Excellencies,
Corwyn and Domhnail
Galbraith, does Edward
dit Lion, Seneschal of the Shire of Bastille du Lac, send his most esteemed
Your Excellencies, I write to you to bring to your attention the plight of my poor shire, which on more than one glorious occasion has found itself under the protection of Your Might and Justice. Once again our land has been encroached upon by pirates and corsairs, flying under the flags of the Dread Pirate Captains Bloodfox and Widow. They and their men have been raiding our shores, raiding our stores and terrorizing our folk.
An army from the East is currently approaching our shire. Their captains assure me that they are only coming to help us and to push the pirates back into the sea, but I am afraid that without your forces here to balance their numbers they may forget to leave.
Please, Your Excellencies, I beseech you to come to the Shire of Bastille du Lac on
October 1, 2005 for A Day
of Piracy and to protect us from our enemies.
Your Most Obedient Servant,
Edward dit Lion
5. We were wearing black tabards painted with our respective skull and crossbones. Bloodfox’s is a fox skull with crossbones, and Widow’s is a skull with eight boney legs (forming a spider). We also were wearing black bandanas emblazoned with skulls and crossbones on our helms.
6. I honestly did not get a chance to shoot, so I didn’t get to see the course, but I heard it was awe inspiring. It’s not everyday I get to hear my Baron crow about shooting at an alligator!
7. And since Siegfried had proclaimed he’d buy a drink for the person who knocked it off Þorfinna got herself a Smirnoff Ice out of it.
8. Lord Ludwig von Eisengard, fighting with a polearm and wearing a full suit of plate (which in real life of course would be suicidal to wear while fighting on the seas).
9. Lord Tiberius of Warwickshire
10. We were supposed to get together with my brother Shane and his new bride, but they had a memorial dinner to attend, so we were able to stay at the event after all. Since we only had enough cash on hand for one of us to eat, Domhnail not only loaned us the money for the other feast spot, but went in and talked to the cooks and event staff to ensure they could accommodate us. We don’t deserve such good friends.