Elfwine sets out for revenge.
Chapter 7Baldwin stood at the cave entrance looking out to sea. “The first boat is getting close. We need to get down to the water's edge before they land,” he said.
“No," Elfwine said. "We must be up here to protect the girls when they come back, then we can all go into the cavern.”
“There is no sign of the girls and the first boat will land soon. The other one has not set off yet.”
“We are better off here, Baldwin. If they attack before the girls get back we can close the gate and pick them off through the gaps in the gate.”
The first boat landed and the pirates were running up the beach but they were heading for the marsh, not the cave. One of them stopped and beckoned the leader to the cave. The leader shouted something to the man and then pointed to the other boat before they set off again to the marsh.
“It looks like they are heading for Mossley,” Baldwin said. “I don't know why. They have no chance of an attack on the town. But they are not our problem now as long as the girls are safe.”
“Osbert is no fool," Dunstan said. "He will keep them well hidden until the raiders have passed.”
Elfwine looked out to the second boat. “It will be a while before the second boat lands and because they have not landed together, I think this second lot are coming to raid the cave.”
They watched until the second boat landed but at the same time, Osbert and the girls came running out from the marsh. The pirates began to charge towards them.
“Let’s go,” Elfwine shouted and they ran towards the pirates Baldwin and Elfwine with their bows and Dunstan following behind with his sword drawn.
The pirates were close and one let off his pistol. Arabella screamed and dropped to the ground.
Elfwine loosed off an arrow and took the man down. He also dropped the next man. Baldwin let two arrows fly but missed.
Two pirates fired their pistols without success. Elfwine took another out and Baldwin dropped one with a lucky shot. The pirates were now close and had no time to powder their pistols so they drew swords and charged at the men.
Baldwin and Elfwine dropped the bows and drew their swords. Baldwin easily killed the first and engaged the second. Elfwine struggled but kept his adversary away.
Dunstan was in trouble. The pirate was a skilled swordsman and was forcing him backwards. The pirate would soon go in for the kill. Osbert ran up behind the pirate and stuck his dagger in the pirate's back. As the pirate turned, Dunstan brought his sword down on top of the pirate’s head.
Baldwin soon defeated his other pirate. He looked towards Elfwine. “Do you want a hand, Elfwine?” he shouted.
Elfwine managed to knock the sword from the pirate’s hand before running him through. “I can manage.”
They turned and looked back at Erica tending to Arabella. “Get going,” Baldwin called out. “I’ll make sure of this lot.” He began checking all the pirates as the others ran over to Arabella and Erica.
Elfwine picked Arabella up and carried her to the cave.
After he checked the pirates were dead, Baldwin gathered up their weapons into a heap and checked the pirates for valuables. They were wearing lots of gold and had a few coins. With the gold and coins safely in his pocket, he walked slowly to the cave thinking of Arabella's wound and fearing the worst.
* * * * *
Morgan finished his shift at the small gate in Mossley and handed over to a lesser guard who would remain as a sentry after dusk. As usual, Morgan set off to The Bull Inn to meet Flora.
The bearded man was out of sight in an alley and watched as Morgan passed. He waited until darkness fell and walked over to the guard. “I am a hunter for the mayor,” he said. “I need to check my traps for rabbits for the mayor’s supper. Can you put the walkway out for me?”
“You must know this gate is not used during the hours of darkness. You must use the main gate.”
“But this is urgent,” the man said. “My traps are in the woods over this side and the mayor will be waiting for his broth.”
The guard laughed. “Well the mayor will have to wait, and you had better hurry to the other gate.”
The bearded man pointed towards the gate. “But I suppose you will let those two women in from the fields?”
The guard turned to look through the gate and the man covered the guard’s mouth with a rag and stabbed him four times in the back. He opened the gate and dropped the dead guard into the ditch before rolling out the walkway. He took the guard's lamp and waved it from side to side and the pirates made their way out of the woods and across the meadow towards the gate.
Like a group of rats, the pirates weaved their way through the dark narrow streets. Trying to avoid any folk who may raise the alarm. Only one unfortunate old man crossed their path and he was strangled and dumped down an alley. One of the pirates remained behind at the gate pretending to be the sentry.
They made their way to the mayor’s house and knocked on the door. The mayor always felt secure in the safety of the town and opened the door. The pirates barged in grabbing the mayor, his wife, and his young daughter. Hands over their mouths and knives at their throats ensured the lack of resistance and cries for help.
The leader pushed the mayor to the floor. “Where’s the gold?” he said.
“What gold?” the mayor said. “We have no gold.”
“The town’s gold. Don’t take me for a fool." He went to the terrified child, who was being held by an evil-looking pirate called One Eye, and lifted her chin. "How old is your daughter?”
“Twelve years. Please don't harm her.”
“I’ll count to five, and if you don’t lead me to the gold, One Eye will cut her throat wide open and you will watch her die. One, two...”
The mayor’s wife pulled her captor’s hand from her mouth. “For God’s sake, give him the gold.”
“All right, all right. The gold is in the town offices across the way.”
“You two tie and gag the woman and her daughter then wait for us. If we don’t get back, kill the pair of them.”
They crossed to the offices and stood at the side while the mayor knocked on the door. A sentry opened the hatch. He looked at the mayor and closed the hatch and then opened the door.
The pirates barged in and three of them attacked the guard with their swords giving him little chance of defence.
“Where is it?”
The mayor pointed to a side room. “Under the carpet.”
The leader pulled the carpet aside and lifted a lid. His eyes lit up when he saw the casket and he lifted it out. “Where's the key,” he shouted.
The mayor went to his desk and took a box from a drawer. The box contained many keys to fool would-be thieves and the mayor took the right one and gave it to the pirate.
The pirate opened the casket and grinned. “More than I was expecting,” he said. “Tie him up and let’s go.”
The mayor was soon tied to a chair. “Something to remember us by,” the leader said and took out his dagger and cut the mayor across both cheeks.
They set off back for the gate but were seen by an archer who was leaving his dwelling. He shouted for them to stop but one of them turned and fired his pistol hitting the archer in his arm.
The shot was heard all over town. Morgan jumped up from his seat in The Bull Inn. “That was a pistol shot,” he said. He left Flora and ran from the inn. There was another shot and Morgan ran in the direction of the small gate where the shot came from.
The pirates cut the walkway restraints and after they crossed pulled the walkway and dropped it into the ditch. They had gone into the woods by the time Morgan got there.
Morgan saw the wounded archer who had been joined by another archer and he saw the blood running from the archer’s shirt sleeve. “How bad is it?” He asked.
“Not too bad. They took a second shot but missed.”
"Who were they, how many?"
"I don't know who they were; I haven't seen them before but they looked like seafarers. There were about eight or nine of them."
"A guard came running up. "They've attacked the mayor and stolen the town's gold."
Morgan took his broadsword from the store and looked at the other archer and guard. “You two come with me.” He looked at the wounded archer. “You stay here until someone else comes and then go and get that wound seen to.”
Morgan dropped into the ditch and called back up. “Make sure they get this dead guard out of here.” He climbed up the walkway and helped the other men up and they set off in pursuit.
* * * * *
Baldwin walked into the cave to see Arabella laid out on the table. Dunstan was trying to stop the blood flowing and Arabella was not conscious. Matilda and Erica were looking on and weeping. It was two hours of hope before they realised they had lost her. Dunstan was comforting Matilda and Osbert was comforting his sister Erica. Baldwin took over from Osbert and held the sobbing girl to his chest as he looked at Elfwine who was standing staring at Arabella.
“I’m going for the others,” Elfwine said.
“They will probably be killed at Mossley,” Baldwin said.
“Maybe, maybe not. I’m going anyway. And I need to bring the vicar for when we bury Arabella.”
“The vicar may not come all this way,” Dunstan said.
“He’ll come, even if I have to tie him up and carry him.”
Elfwine left the cave and Baldwin followed. Elfwine turned. “You’ll need your bow if there are still eight of them.”
Baldwin nodded and went back for the bow.
“I’ll come too,” Osbert said.
“No, you stay in case Dunstan needs your help,” Baldwin said. "Keep an eye on the pirate ship in case more of them come ashore." He spoke quickly and then ran off to catch up with Elfwine.
They were through the marsh and into the first group of woodland. "This is a good spot," Elfwine said. “Let’s get to the higher ground and wait for them.”
It was an easy climb and they were soon at the edge of the trees and stood partially hidden. The time passed slowly and Baldwin wondered how long they would be there before Elfwine thought the pirates had been killed at Mossley.
Sound travels well during the night and Elfwine put up his hand. “Do you hear them?”
“Can’t hear anything.”
“Shouting and laughing. They are coming this way.”
“Yes, I hear them now,” Baldwin said. “But how many have survived their futile attack?”
It still took a while before the pirates came into view and Baldwin and Elfwine waited until they came up level with them.
"They have not lost any men, in fact, they seem to have gained a man, I counted nine,” Elfwine said. “They are carrying a casket and some other goods. Seems that despite what you said, they have had a successful raid. “Are you ready, Baldwin?” Without waiting for an answer Elfwine let loose with his first arrow which easily made its mark and a pirate dropped screaming.
Baldwin feared for his friend Morgan over at Mossley but had to dismiss the thought and he too let an arrow fly. Elfwine took another down but both of Baldwin’s missed though they did add to the panic.
One of the pirates fired a shot which fell short and the raiders spread out and began to hurry up the bank, weaving as they went. The targets would not be so easy to hit until the enemy was almost on them, then it might be too late. An arrow came from the direction of Mossley and a pirate fell dead.
“It’s Morgan,” Baldwin shouted. “Careful you don’t hit his men.”
“I’m not an idiot, Baldwin.” One of the pirates stopped momentarily to look at Morgan’s men, unwittingly making himself an easy target and Elfwine took him down.
The pirates, in panic, ran back down and tried to flee but three arrows flew at them killing another although it was unclear whose arrow did the deed.
The remaining four held up their hands. “Yield, Yield,” they shouted. But their words didn’t stop Elfwine and he took another easy target.
“It’s over, Elfwine,” Baldwin said and he wrestled the bow from Elfwine. “Calm down. Let’s get down to help Morgan, I don’t trust those men.”
“Give my bow back and you won’t need to trust them.”
They went down and met up with Morgan. “Look, Baldwin,” Morgan said. “It’s our bearded friend from the Inn. He killed one of my men and let this lot in through the back gate. I’ll watch him hang.”
Elfwine looked at the bearded man. “So, it’s you who brought these men here.” He lunged forward with his dagger and stabbed the man in his heart. He looked at the other pirates but Baldwin and Morgan’s archer grabbed him.”
One of the pirates raised his pistol and fired at them, hitting the archer in the head. The two pirates drew their swords but had no time to raise them before they were cut down by Morgan and his guard.
Morgan kneeled down to his archer. “He’s dead." He turned to his guard. "What is your name?"
"Well, Thomas, you are now part of my squad. You carry the gold casket. I will carry this man back. I’ll not leave him for the wolves.”
“It’s not far to the cave from here,” Elfwine said. “Me and Baldwin can take turns. We can take him and bury him on our land tomorrow when we bury Arabella. But we’ll need the vicar from the chapel in Mossley.”
“Arabella!” Morgan said.
“Pirates killed her,” Baldwin said.
Morgan walked over and clapped Elfwine on the back and gave a nod of his head, no words were needed. “Let’s go then.” Morgan picked up the casket and Thomas took the other stolen items. “I'll see you tomorrow.”
“With the vicar,” Elfwine said.
“You can be sure of that,” Morgan said.
* * * * *
Morgan arrived with the vicar early in the morning, the guard, Thomas, also joined them. After the greetings, Morgan spoke to Baldwin. “I see the pirate ship is still in the bay,” he said. "Have you noticed any movement from them?"
"Not really. We see a man looking over now and then. I don't think there are many onboard."
"I can't understand why they are still there after all this time," Morgan said.
“Maybe they think there is a problem at Mossley and some of their men will still make it back," Baldwin said. "They will probably wait a few days before they give up. Like I said, I think they are short of men or they would have sent another boat to shore by now.”
“Umm, I’ll be glad to see them gone though,” Morgan said.
“So will we. We have to take turns all night watching for them, just in case.”
"I think you will need to keep an eye on Elfwine as well, in case he decides to row one of the boats over there."
"I don't think there is much chance of that. Apparently, he doesn't like going on boats. I will watch him though."
They all walked out to a special corner of the field where Dunstan's parents were buried. The graves had been dug and the services for Arabella and the archer were soon over.
“Would you like to stop for some dinner?” Matilda asked.
“We need to get back,” Morgan said. “We would love to stay but we can’t leave Mossley short of men for too long.”
“Another time then.”
“I’ll look forward to that.” They said their goodbyes and as they walked off Morgan gave another concerned glance over to the pirate ship.
When they got back to Mossley, they reported to the mayor who had two wads of cloth over his facial injuries. He was pleased about the return of the town's gold and though he did not want to say much for fear of opening the wounds, he stood them down for the rest of the day. Morgan set off to The Bull Inn with Thomas.
They were halfway through their first jug of ale. “Let’s hope the Vialians leave us alone for a while,” Morgan said. “What with the men dead and wounded from their last visit and the injured archer and the two killed by the pirates. We might struggle in a sustained attack.”
No sooner had Morgan finished speaking when the town's warning horn was sounded. The two men ran outside as an archer was running for the small gate.
“What is it?” Morgan shouted.
“Vialians,” the man called back.