Wednesday 2 October 2013

Thule Takes Bastille into its ‘Protection’(A Day of Piracy III, Oct 4, 2003)

By THLaird Colyne Stewart

My name is known only to my mother, but the men on my ship call me Cap’n Bloodfox. (At least to me ears. I’m sure they call me other names behinds me back, but they’re all smart enough to know what’ll happen to ‘em if I hear ‘em utter such names.) I am, as me name implies, the proud owner of a ship—a schooner that was once part of Her Majesty’s fleet. If you look carefully under the paint you can still see her old name of Huntress. Nowadays I calls her Interceptor.

When I was in port at a cove in Greenhithe I heard some lads talkin’ about a group of raiders heading down the river from Petrea Thule. Them Thuligans were apparently aiming to put the shire of Bastille du Lac under their ‘protection’. The du Lacers were rightly nervous, as the might of the Thule archers is well known (I have a few on my own paybooks.)

Well I’m always lookin’ for work or booty (preferably booty that don’t take too much work to acquire) and so’s when one of them du Lacers comes over to my table and offers me a job, I takes it of course.

The offer was good, though I ain’t gonna share with you scurvy lot jus’ what was offered. Let’s just saw it’ll keep me in rum and parrots for a good long time.

I went to me ship and me woman, a cap’n in her own right who we calls Widow, had already got it rigged. She said she could smell profit in the air. I threw on me greatcoat and told me navigator Mr. Andersen to get us underway. Mr. Andersen’s an odd one, from Norway as I understands. Thinks he’s a Viking.

Our ship sailed up the Trent without running across any of Her Majesty’s fleet, and we berthed in the Bastille port. Far out in the distance I could see the Thule ship approaching. Mr. Andersen told me it was a drakkar. Alls I know was it was an ugly thing with a long curved prow, and it sat too low in the water. Round shields were hung along both sides painted with Thule’s star and chain.

Since we could see that it would be a few hours yet afore they arrived, the lads decided to practice with our swords and harpoons just in case the fighting came to boardin’. The first thing we did was lay out a plank over the water and took turns pairin’ off and fightin’ on it. If’n ya fell off the plank, well, you were good as shark food you were.

Then this fellow comes over, the local constable he is, but he thinks he’s a knight or some such. I swear, the folks ‘round these parts are touched in the head more of’en than not. Well this constable, he decides we should up the ante as it were, and he took down the plank and he put a small rowboat in the drink, and he says we’re to stand in the itty dingy, one in the bow and one in the stern and fight it that way. All ten men and women would take a turn until they had all fought each other.

This sounded like fun to us, though the cramped fightin’ conditions were a hindrance to many of us. In a fight against a Welshman named Dafydd I ended up sitting on my duff on the seat whilst we continued to trade blows. This constable, who’s idea this was, ended up fallin’ in the drink more than once. He was a soggy lad by the time we was done. One feller, name of Rothgar (also from Norway, gar!) came in late, so’s he fought us all in a row and did right well for himself, I must say. Over all though, it was a German name of Siegfried who come out on top.

The town bell started ringing then, and we knew it was time to pick up our bows to fight off them Thuligans. So’s we line up on the shore as the drakkar draws closer and we ready our bows. Only thing is, the Thuligans are smart devils and they had sent a group of their own archers in by land. So’s while we’re shooting at the Thule ship, these archers are shootin’ at the Bastille ship that was going out to meet the drakkar. What’s more, the Iron Companions, which is part o’ the army of Septentria, were marching with ’em.

The arrows flew thicker than flies on a dead man, and I am sorry to say that the Bastille ship was the one to sink beneath the waves. Ar, that was hard luck. But I had been paid already, so’s it’s all the same to me.*

With that bit o’ excitement out of the way I went back over to the lads for a bit more swashbuckling. This time they locked all us lads up in a cell and told us that we had to fight our way out if’n we ever wanted to be free men again. I swear I thought that was a ploy by the constable to keep us all locked up, but they placed only three guards and left us our weapons. So one by one we rushed the first guard. We only had to hit the guard once to get past him, whiles he had to hit us thrice. The first guard was that Siegfried fellow. Not many of us made it past him (including me, I am sorry to say). The second guard was a man by the name of Aaron Worgenson who chopped a good many of the lads down to size. The last guard they later told me was the King hisself! Only two managed to get past him—the Baron of Skraeling Althing, and a lad named Benedict, who is this baron’s squire. The constable puts ‘em both in the itty boat, and makes ‘em fight it out! Well they fight long and hard, but in the end it’s the baron that walks away.

We then thought we’d play a game, and so we grabbed a bunch of folk and put a bag over their heads and tied their hands in front of ‘em. It was great fun to watch ‘em wriggle like a worm while they tried to free themselves. The first six people to undo their bonds were then sat at a table with bowls of seaweed plunked in front of ‘em. Some of those tryin’ to eat that dry weed had a hard time of it, but this lass in red satin and a big furry hat name o’ Iolanda just gobbles it down! That Siegfried put all the weed in his gob at once, and then couldn’t swallow it as it sucked up all his spit. One o’them Thuligan archer chaps, named Augustyn, was watchin’ this while quite calmly eatin’ his weed little bit by little bit. In the ends, Siegfried just manages to swallow his great mass of weed at the same time that Augustyn finishes his last pinch. So’s they take these three and blindfold ‘em all, and make them walk through a stretch of ground strewn with debris, while a friend tries to talk ‘em through it. Augustyn made it in the fastest time, as he took very long strides.

All of us are right famished by this point, so’s we descend on the wharf-side inn where we is all stuffed right full of some o’ the best grub I’d et in a long while. The ‘chicken’ though looked a lot like me parrot (who had been missing all day).

After we had all et our fill, me woman Widow is dragged off by the constable to see the king. Visions of gallows is now flashing through me head, but in a weird twist of fate they wants her to stand at court and read out charges, rather than answer them.

As luck would have it, all the charges is good ones anyways. It seems the king was in a generous mood, even with Thuligan pirates claiming one of his shires as their own. So’s he calls up some folks and gives ‘em their rewards, though I don’t know them all. I do know that this lad name of Verenko was given an Award of the Orion, even though he didn’t already have his Award of Arms (the AoA now being conferred by the Orion). Also Lord Kennric Manning and Lady Tatiianna were given these Orions as well for their fine craftwork. Also, that Benedict bloke, who apparently did not die of the wounds his baron kindly gave him, was given a Scarlet Banner in recognition of his skill with the blade.

Once the court was over, me and my crew snuck out the back door to avoid that constable and we snuck outta the bay under cover of darkness. My sword was bloodied, my belly was full and my purse was jinglin’, so I was a happy man.

* The denizens of Petrea Thule had constructed two very large Norse ships for archery targets. Each ship—complete with sail—was lined with shields. Behind the shields stuck up heads that were the actual target. Those on the Thule ship were actually painted to resemble Thuligans. To play the game, a line of eight archers for each side fired at the ship belonging to the other side. If target 1 was knocked down on the Bastille ship, then archer 1 on the Bastille line was out of the game. After each volley, the line advanced one step. Each archer only had six arrows, and did not have to fire if they wanted to try and save them until they were closer. Once the first line had shot all their arrows, secondary line archers could take the spots of any ‘dead’ archers. It worked very well and was a lot of fun. A rousing wassail is deserved for all the effort, energy and imagination that went into that game!

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