Morgan and Elfwine get to Sandway but can't get near Captain Swing.
Morgan got back to Flora’s dwelling and sat at the table. “Where’s Baldwin,” he said.
“He’s got a bed over at the inn,” Flora said. “But where’s Elfwine?”
“He’s all right; he’s bedded down in the guard master’s office.”
"Oh, has he gone to keep Thomas company?"
"Something like that." He looked at Erica. “Couldn’t Baldwin get a double room?”
“I don’t know,” Erica said. “I'm sorry, Morgan, I don't want to be a nuisance but Flora said I could stay here another night. Is that all right, Morgan?”
“Of course it is, but we only have one bed.”
“I don’t mind sleeping in the chair," Erica said. "It’s quite cosy by the fire.”
"That's settled then if you are all right with it." Erica just returned a smile.
“So, Flora, do you have any meat and bread?" Morgan asked. "I could do with a bit of supper and wine before we turn in.”
“Sounds good to me; I'm a bit hungry myself,” Flora said. “Do you know your friend Baldwin is going in the ship with the Duke to look for the pirates?”
“No, I didn’t.” Morgan rubbed his hand on his chin while thinking. “I’d best go with him then.”
Flora gave a large sigh as if to show her displeasure. “You have only just got back. There’s enough men on that ship to take care of the pirates without you.”
“Maybe,” he said.
“I don’t mean to interfere, Morgan," Erica said. "But I know Flora has missed you terribly while...”
“Well don’t interfere then,” Morgan interrupted.
“I’m sorry,” Erica said.
Morgan noticed the look of anger on Flora’s face. “No, I’m the one that's sorry, Erica. I didn’t mean to snap at you. Maybe you’re both right. There’s enough of them to sink the pirates' ship if they should find it and there's no guarantee that they will.” He stood up and went over to give Erica a hug. “Will you forgive me?”
After supper, Morgan and Flora got into bed and Erica cuddled up on the chair. “Goodnight you two," Erica said. “And remember, no loud roodies.”
Flora laughed loudly, pleased that her friend seemed to be healing a bit from her ordeal.
Early the following morning Thomas called and he and Morgan left Flora's dwelling to go and get Elfwine.
Baldwin had just left the inn and stopped to speak to Morgan as they met in the pathway.
“The Duke’s ship is leaving later today to go after the pirates,” Baldwin said. “Will you be coming?”
“Yes, I will,” Morgan said. “But don’t say a word to Flora. I’ve got to go and get Elfwine. He’s in the cell and I need to let him out before the guard master turns up.”
Baldwin gave a puzzled look.
“I’ll tell you later. Wait at Flora’s I’ll be back soon.”
When they got to the guard master’s office Elfwine was not in the cell.
“I told you not to let him out,” Thomas said.
“I had to,” the guard said. “Not long after you left last night the guard master called in and told me I had to accuse him of something or let him out. He was not pleased and said this is not a doss house for drunks.”
“Why didn’t you come and tell one of us?” Morgan said.
“I couldn't,” the guard said. “I’m not gonna risk being found guilty of leaving my post unattended in times of trouble.”
“I’ve gotta go after him. He’s not in a good frame of mind,” Morgan said.
“You don’t even know if he’s left town,” Thomas said.
Don't worry, I’ll check with the gate guards before I go. You go and tell Flora I’ve gone after Elfwine and I don’t know how long I will be away.”
* * * * *Thomas called at Flora's dwelling and Baldwin went outside to talk to him. Thomas told him the news about Morgan going after Elfwine.
"Okay, you get back to your duties," Baldwin said. "I'll go and tell the Duke and then I'll speak to the girls."
Baldwin hurried to the mayor's house and asked to see the Duke.
“Are you ready to go then,” the Duke said.
“Do you think we could put it off until tomorrow?” Baldwin said. “Elfwine has gone off on a quest to deal with the pirates on his own and Morgan has gone to try and talk sense into him and bring him back.”
“I was thinking of leaving it another day anyway. But, we will definitely set sail tomorrow morning. I will need the experienced men you have found onboard ship today though.”
“They are ready and eager. I’ll get them there this morning.”
“Good, there’s a lot for my men to take in. Tomorrow I will be leaving here at dawn. If you don’t meet me here, I’ll leave without you.”
“I’ll be here and hopefully, I will have Morgan and Elfwine with me.”
Baldwin called back to see Erica and Flora and told them about Morgan going after Elfwine.
Flora shook her head. “He couldn’t even come and tell me himself,” she said.
“He had to leave straight away to catch him before he gets too far away,” Baldwin said.
He turned to Erica. “I’m going down to The Flashes if you want to come and see the work me and Thomas have done.”
“I’ve told you, Baldwin. I’m not going back there. We either look for a place here, together, or I’ll look for one on my own.”
“I know we can make a go of it down there. You have to move on.”
“Matilda is dead. I can’t have a child down there without her with me.”
“You’re with child,” Flora said. “That’s wonderful news and as far as I’m concerned it settles the argument. You need to give birth in town; in here if you like.”
Baldwin just shrugged his shoulders in defeat. “I have to take the town’s seafarers to the Duke's ship this morning. I’ll see you later,” he said and left.
The following day Baldwin met the Duke and they walked down to the Flashes with the rest of the Duke’s men. "It's a shame Morgan couldn't make it," the Duke said.
“Yes, but he has his hands full at the moment," Baldwin said. "Did the mayor complain about you not leaving any of your men in the town?”
“No. He’s all right. The Vialians are done with and I don’t think the pirates will show up here for a while. He only has small time bandits to contend with and he has more than enough of his own guards to deal with them.”
They got to the shore and the longboats were waiting to take them aboard. “She looks good don’t you think, Baldwin?”
“Yes, it's a fine ship. I bet you feel strange though. Now the captain has been killed you are in sole charge of the ship.”
"Yes, it is strange, but it was a stroke of genius from you to seek out the old seafarers from the town. Already they have taught my men a great deal and it gives me confidence that we can achieve the voyage to Sandway without and mishaps."
"I only hope we find the pirates there," Baldwin said.
"I think we will. Where else will they get to freely spend their ill-gotten gains?"
* * * * *
Morgan covered a lot of ground on the first day but he didn’t catch up with Elfwine and he rested for the night just off the track amongst the trees. He kept his sword and dagger loose and close to him not knowing if there were wild animals in the area. The next day he set off at dawn wondering if Elfwine was going to Sandway at all and if he had made a mistake. At mid-day, he was not far from the town and sat to rest against a tree. He looked over towards the town and saw a pirate ship tied up at the quay. A moment later an arrow whacked into the tree eighteen inches above his head. He jumped up with his sword in his hand and looked across to the forest. Elfwine walked out laughing. “See, Morgan,” he said. “The bow will always beat the sword on a one against one.”
Morgan put his sword away. “It depends how close you are.”
They greeted each other and Morgan was pleased that Elfwine seemed to be in a good frame of mind. Elfwine worked his arrow out from the tree. “Can’t afford to waste any,” he said.
“So, what are your plans now?” Morgan said.
“Well firstly, I’m glad to see you. Despite the punch in the head.”
“How’d you know it was me?”
“Yours was the last face I saw before being woke up in the cell. Anyway, I have had time, during the walk here, to think about what to do. And to tell the truth, there are problems so I’m not sure how to proceed.”
“Well,” Morgan said. “There was always going to be problems. So how do you see them?”
“Firstly, I, or we, may be recognised from our last visit. And secondly, I don’t know what Swing or his right-hand man Squid looks like."
We know he drinks in The Mayfly when ashore. But if you go in and shoot a man who looks like a pirate captain, you could get it wrong again, like last time.”
“With no men with us, it would be folly to kill him in the inn anyway, Elfwine said.”
“We have different clothes on and if we leave it until late most of them will be drunk. So as long as there is no one from The Skate Inn we should be all right. We’ll get away with it if we mingle in with the crowd. We won’t ask too many questions either, we’ll just listen at first and maybe we will locate our man. But your bow will be a giveaway. There doesn’t seem to be any archers here.”
“Swords and daggers then. I’ll hide my bow in the forest but I will feel a bit vulnerable.”
“You’ll be okay, Elfwine, you’ll be with me.” Morgan laughed but Elfwine just returned a false smile.
They sat outside the town until it was late and then walked across and into The Mayfly. “You can tell there’s a ship on the quay,” Elfwine said. “The place is packed.”
“We better hope the barman who served us is not here tonight.” They were in luck and the previous barman was not there. A couple of squeeze-boxes were playing and some of the crowd began singing.
Davy Jones is calling us but we’re not going yet.
There’s gold and silver out in ships for us to go and get.
There’s buxom ladies on the quay their bodies put on sale.
And good times in the Mayfly Inn drinking quarts of ale.
They had just got their got two mugs of ale when a short scruffy man reeking of body odour pushed into the bar next to them. “Two jugs of ale, now,” he shouted.
“You’ll have to wait your turn, Squid.”
Morgan and Elfwine looked at each other and then glanced at the man just long enough to make sure they could recognise him again.
“You’d best hurry,” Squid said. “These are for the captain.”
“You should have said that in the first place,” the barman said. “Sit down and I’ll fetch them over.”
The barman filled the jugs and worked his way through the crowd and put the jugs in front of the captain.
“A surprisingly well-dressed, fat, bearded, and ugly man,” Morgan said. “We won’t forget that face.”
“I feel an urge to go over there and cut that demon’s throat,” Elfwine said.
“And then, Elfwine, we’d both die.”
“Looking for a good time, boys,” a girl said.
“Not tonight,” Elfwine said.
“Oh, it’s you two. I didn’t recognise you without the bow and arrows. Was it you two that set about those men at The Skate Inn?”
“Never been in there,” Morgan said.
“Oh, haven't you. Very strange. I'll see you later then,” the girl said and she hurried off across the room.
"Funny she's gone off without trying to proposition us," Elfwine said.
“She’s over there talking to those four men in the corner,” Morgan said.
“They don’t look like pirates,” Elfwine said. “They might be a few left over from the Vialians. I think we better leave.”
The men left their ale and walked across and out of the inn. They had only gone twenty yards when the four men came out, drew their swords, and began to run towards them.