Elfwine thinks that his troubles are over.
Chapter 16.Baldwin and Thomas took Erica to Flora's dwelling in Mossley. Thomas sat with Erica while Baldwin went across to the Inn to get Flora. When Flora got there Erica had calmed down but looked pale and dishevelled. “You poor dear,” Flora said. The presence of Flora caused Erica to break down again. Flora hugged her. “You two can leave us for a while so I can help Erica gets freshened up. I’ll look after her now.”
“I was wondering if she could stay with you for a few days?” Baldwin said.
"Of course." Flora looked at Erica. “You can stay here just as long as you like.”
The men left and walked up to the mayor’s house to report to the Duke. Thomas waited outside while Baldwin was invited into the house and directed into the mayor’s front room. The Duke was sitting in a luxury chair drinking wine. "Hello, Baldwin," the Duke said. "And what can I do..."
“There has been a pirate attack at the bay,” Baldwin interrupted. “My wife’s family have been murdered and I could not see any movement on your ship so maybe the crew were attacked as well.”
The Duke stood up as if in a panic. “Excuse me, Mayor,” the Duke said. “I must go to my ship.” He turned back to Baldwin. “Is your wife safe?"
"Yes, she's with a friend."
"That's good. WelI, I have ten men out with Morgan and the mayor wants to keep ten men billeted here for now. A further nine were killed and one is wounded so I am leaving with ten men to secure the ship. Will you be coming with us, Baldwin?”
“I’ll go to The Flashes,” Baldwin said. “I have things to do there and I'll take Thomas with me." He looked at the mayor. "If you will allow, Mr Mayor?" The mayor remained silent but nodded in agreement. "But first, me and Thomas need to eat.”
"That's fine. It'll take me a little time to get the men together. I’ll meet you outside here in half an hour."
“The pirates have smashed holes in all your longboats. It's no use taking a lot of tools from here. I have some hidden in the cave which you can use to do the repairs. ”
“Good," the Duke said. "Half an hour then.”
Baldwin went back to Flora’s house to get some food and to tell Erica he was going back to the cave. He wanted to say goodbye to Erica but she was in a deep sleep in Flora’s bed and he didn't want to disturb her.
“Don't worry, Baldwin,” Flora said. “I’ll look after her until you get back.”
The group met up and set off. Baldwin noticed that the Duke still seemed to be in a panic about the attack on his ship.
They got to The Flashes and the Duke and his men went to check the damage to the boats. Baldwin and Thomas went into the cave and sparked up a fire. “Can you light a lamp, Thomas, and go into the cavern to get some tools for the Duke’s men.” Baldwin walked about the cave thinking of the lost family and the good times they’d had there. He thought of them sitting by the fire laughing and found it hard to take in that he would never see them again. “When this arm is fully healed, that Captain Swing will pay for this.” He was disturbed by a couple of the Duke's men. "The Duke sent us across for some woodworking tools." Thomas was already back on the ledge and he passed the tools down.
The Duke’s men had to break up one of the boats to use for the repair of two of the others. As soon as one boat was ready, six of the men rowed across to the ship with Baldwin and the Duke.
“There’s no way up,” one of the men said.
“Try the other side,” the Duke said. They rowed around and the rope ladders were still hanging there. “It looks deserted,” the Duke said. “But be prepared just in case.”
The men climbed aboard and gathered on the deck. “What a mess,” Baldwin said. "The idiots have even tried to take one of the cannons until they realised it would be too heavy for the boat." The pirates had emptied boxes and cupboards and just slung everything they didn’t want about the deck.
“I suppose it will be the same below decks. I need to check my cabin.”
Two men ran across to the crewman lying on the front deck. They turned to the Duke and shook their heads.”
“All right,” the Duke said. “Split into groups of three and check through the ship to see if any of the crew have survived. Baldwin and I will check the captain’s cabin and my guest cabin.”
The Duke looked into his own cabin first. All his clothes and low-value belongings were strewn around the room. But more important to him, the floor panel had been discovered and lifted and his hoard of gold coins was gone. “Well, that’s that then. Looks like I’ll have to work for a few years more. I'll tidy this up later. We'd best go and find what's happened to the captain.”
The captain’s cabin was in a worse state with everything smashed and pulled apart. The dead captain had been unceremoniously dumped in a heap on the floor. “Blood everywhere,” the Duke said. “We’ll have to get this all shipshape again. There’s lots to do and these men will need to be buried. But I suppose you have things to do yourself on the shore.”
Baldwin just nodded.
“I’ll get one of the men to take you back. Can you send the rest of my men back over?”
“Yes, and if they haven’t finished repairing the other boat, me and Thomas will do it.”
“I know your loss is greater than mine, Baldwin. But I give you my word that I will hunt down whoever done this and they will pay with their lives.”
Baldwin got to shore and the other boat was already fixed. Baldwin and Thomas walked over to the cave. “First job, make both the gates much stronger,” Baldwin said.
“They don’t need to be so wide, Baldwin. We can make most of it a solid unmovable fixture with a small gate that's quick and easy to secure.” He looked at Baldwin's arm. “How’s the wound though?”
“The only wounds I have now are in my mind and in my heart. I should have been here, Thomas, I should have been here.”
"Blaming yourself is no good my friend. You couldn't be here all the time and nobody knew another lot of pirates would turn up here. Let's not dwell on blame, but look towards retribution and finding the scum that did this."
* * * * *
In Sandway, Morgan and his men walked across to The Skate Inn on the other side of town. The Skate Inn was a dismal looking place near the quay with the stables at the back. A few smaller boats were tied up at the quay but there were no ships in and all was quiet. Morgan looked through a window of the inn. It was a smaller saloon than The Mayfly but just as rowdy.
“We’d best leave the men outside,” Morgan said. “We don’t want to spook Fenglast.”
Morgan told the duke's men to wait on the outside benches. The sight of ten warriors caused a solitary drinker to leave his ale and nervously walk off. Morgan and Elfwine walked into the room. Straight away they spotted an older man sitting with four young dangerous looking warriors. There was loud singing going on.
“Vialians, Vialians, are rising in the land bravery in our chests and swords in our hands.”
“Vialians, Vialians, will always be the best in battle after battle we are better than the rest..."
This carried on while Morgan and Elfwine went to the bar and got a drink.
The old man stood up and put his hands up to quieten the men. “The time is here to get out around the town and gather more men for our cause. And what is our cause?”
“Power,” some of them shouted.
Morgan and Elfwine finished their mugs of ale and left.
“We need to draw them outside to give our men the edge,” Morgan said. “We’ll all be on top of each other in a swordfight in there and not all of them are Vialians anyway.”
“I’ll draw them out.” Elfwine said, “If you open the door I will get a clear shot at Fenglast; that should bring his men after me. I won’t kill him yet, I don’t want him to have a swift death. I’ll hit him in the shoulder.”
“Okay, all you men get against the wall so we can get them all out before they realise you are there.”
Morgan opened the door and Elfwine sent his arrow across the room into the man’s shoulder. The response was immediate. Morgan and Elfwine turned and ran towards the quay to draw the men after them. Seven Vialian men rushed out and by the time they realised their error, the Duke's men were on them. Morgan and Elfwine turned and one of the Vialians took an arrow from Elfwine and Morgan threw his dagger into another's chest before they both drew their swords and joined the fight. The enemy were soon killed but some of them were fierce fighters and one of the Duke’s men was lost.
The old man walked out to the doorway with the arrow still in his shoulder. “Who are you? Why are you doing this?” he shouted.
Elfwine pulled out his dagger. “Time for you to die, Oliver Fenglast.”
The man laughed. “I’m not Oliver Fenglast, you idiots. I’m one of his leaders.”
My mistake then,” Elfwine said. “And yours as well.” The man looked on in disbelief as Elfwine put his dagger back in his belt loaded his bow and let the arrow fly at the man’s heart.
They all heard the sound of a horse's hoofs coming out of the stables. “Elfwine saw the horse and ran after it. Fearing he would lose Fenglast, he stopped and shot an arrow into the horse’s rump. The horse reared up and threw Fenglast to the ground. Elfwine walked towards Fenglast. He was in no rush and could see that the man was in serious pain from the fall. He got close and pulled out a dagger.
Fenglast looked up at him. “You have very good warriors,” he said. “I don’t know who’s paying you. But if you and your men join with me, I will make you rich beyond your wildest dreams.”
“That’s a very good offer, Fenglast. But I am Elfwine, the son of Balfor.”
Fenglast knew his fate was sealed and he drew his knife in an attempt to defend himself.
Elfwine kicked the knife from his hand and kneeled down on his chest to slit the man’s throat. “Now I will watch you slowly choke and die.”
An old man stepped out. "Do you want me to take care of the horse," he said nervously.
The horse was stood further up the road still with the arrow sticking from his rump. "Yes, if you want to, it's yours," Elfwine said. He waited until he was sure Fenglast was dead and then walked back to the men.
“The men picked up their fallen warrior. We don’t want to bury our man in this place. We will take him and bury him in the forest.”
“And I will feel honoured to take my turn carrying him,” Morgan said.
“I will too,” Elfwine said. “But we’d better leave now. We should get back to Mossley where our actions today will mean we can now all live our lives in peace.”
The news spread quickly around the town of Sandway but the men had no further trouble. They got to the forest and buried their man using only their hands and daggers to dig. “No need to go back through the forest,” James said. “This coast track will take us near to Mossley. Unless you want some of the Vialian’s tents and equipment.”
“No,” Morgan said. “If the Duke wants any of it he can organise it himself."
"It's been a long day," Elfwine said. "The men need to rest."
"Okay," Morgan said. "We'll camp here for the night. But tomorrow we can all hurry back to The Bull and get drunk; my treat.”
“By the looks of all the smiling faces, the men like that idea,” James said.
“So what’re your plans now, Elfwine?” Morgan asked.
“Back to the good life at The Flashes. It will be strange without Arabella but the others are like family to me. I owe them a lot and I feel bad that I have not spent much time with them. Now I feel that I can handle my grief at losing Arabella and I look forward to going home. I’ll only use my bow for catching our food again now.”