Attack at Sandway.
Outside The Mayfly Inn, the men ran after Morgan and Elfwine. Morgan turned and straight away threw his dagger and took one down. Elfwine quickly passed his dagger to Morgan who hit another one and the man staggered about bleeding profusely.
“That’s better odds,” Morgan said as he drew his sword. He easily outclassed his opponent and soon dispatched him. The other man stood little chance with two against him. Morgan pulled his dagger from the dead man and walked to the other who was still staggering about.
The man put a hand up. "Mercy," he said.
"You came out here to kill us," Morgan said. "Big mistake." Morgan ran him through and dropped him before retrieving Elfwine's knife. He saw a few men looking out from the windows. “We better go,” he said and they hurried off to disappear into the alleys. When they were sure things had quietened down they made their way back out of town.
Elfwine retrieved his bow and arrows. “Well, we won’t get him in there.”
“I think we only have two options,” Morgan said. “We either wait until they're asleep and go onto the ship hoping nobody sees us. Or we hide somewhere on the quayside and you take him out from a distance with an arrow.”
“If we board the ship we would need more men in case it goes wrong,” Elfwine said. “But if we return to Mossley for the Duke’s men, the ship might not be here when we get back. Or the Duke's men might all be on his ship wandering about the sea searching for the pirate ship.”
“I think we’ll go down there early in the morning and see how many guards are awake on the ship," Morgan said. "If it looks too risky then we will have no choice but to try and get more men."
"You can go back to Mossley if you want," Elfwine said. "If it's not possible to sneak aboard the ship, then I'll hide and wait for the second option."
"You are after revenge as am I," Morgan said. "But it won't be so sweet if we are both dead. Anyway, we'd best get some sleep. I'll grab a couple of hours and then you can wake me up and you can get some.”
They changed over, as agreed, a few hours later. It was just breaking dawn when Morgan woke Elfwine. "Look, there's another ship coming in."
Elfwine sat up scratching his head. "Is it the Duke's ship?"
"I don't know," Morgan said. "They all look the same to me. But it's flying a pirates' flag."
Let’s get down to the quay while the ship is still a way off," Elfwine said. "If it's the Duke then we're in luck. If it's another pirate ship it might just add to our problems."
They hurried into the town. Because it was early in the morning, there were not many people about. One old man leading a couple of goats just smiled at them and a woman looked out from her door but turned back when she saw them and shut and bolted the door. They got through the town to the quay unhindered.
Morgan walked over to some old wooden crates. “We can hide amongst these empty crates and see what goes on before we commit ourselves to anything,” he said.
“The more I look at it the more I think it’s the Duke’s ship,” Elfwine said. “But it does have a pirate flag.”
“That makes sense. If the Duke was flying the Lovat flag, it might cause a bit of a stir and he would lose a bit of his advantage.”
“We can only wait and see then, Morgan. But I don’t think we will have to wait long.”
* * * * *
The Duke’s ship was edging towards the town quay at Sandway. They gave the impression, should anyone be watching, that they were going to go and berth to the front of Captain Swing’s ship; the sails were down and the two longboats were pulling the ship but it was almost at a stop when it drew level with Swing’s ship.
The Duke called to a man at the rear of the ship. “As soon as you hear the first cannon shot, take down the pirate flag and raise the Lovat flag.”
“Aye, aye, Captain,” the man called out.
The Duke looked back at him. “Don’t be so bloody funny, it's Duke or sir.”
They were no more than twenty feet from the pirate ship when they opened up with a broadside of the eight cannons ripping great holes into the ship's lower decks and sending lumps of timber flying at all angles.
The Duke shouted to the men in longboats. “Pull the front onto the other ship.”
The longboats pulled the front forward as the cannons re-loaded and fired again.
“Get ready with the grappling hooks,” the Duke shouted. The front collided and the men threw the hooks pulling the ships together. Some surviving pirates came up onto the deck and were met with the Duke’s warriors who had boarded the ship. The disorientated and shocked pirates were no match for the Duke’s fierce fighters and the slaughter was swift. Four of the Duke’s archers stood facing the quayside ready for any attack from the town’s folk and the cannon master got the quayside-facing cannons on the pirate ship loaded.
“Secure the quay,” the Duke shouted. “Can you take over, Baldwin.”
“James came up with a dozen men after searching below. “All clear below but the captain’s cabin is empty.”
“All right, follow Baldwin.” James and his men followed Baldwin and his men down the gangplank. They came to a stop on the quay. There was no one about. All the Sandway people had fled back into the town.
Morgan shouted out from the crates. “Baldwin. It’s us, Morgan and Elfwine. We’re coming out.” Morgan had called out before coming from the crates so as not to be accidentally attacked.
“Good to see you two," Baldwin said. "We have a problem though. There’s no sign of the pirate captain.”
“I think I know where to find him," Morgan said. "Bring half the men, Baldwin, and follow us.” They ran through the town to The Mayfly Inn. The cannon fire had woken most of the people but the bad ones amongst them were not yet organised enough to confront the heavily armed men. The door was locked at the inn but one of James’s men kicked it open.
“Search the guest rooms," Baldwin shouted. "If you find the captain he is to be taken alive. The Duke wants to question him.” Morgan and some of the men searched downstairs and captured the occupants who gave up without a fight. Elfwine and the rest went up the stairs to the balcony. One of the Duke’s men kicked a door open and a pistol shot was fired hitting the man in his shoulder. Two more men dashed in before the captain could reload and they dragged him out. "Is this him?" one of them said.
"That's him all right," Morgan said. "A fat, bearded, ugly man."
Baldwin looked up and saw Elfwine going for his dagger. "Elfwine," he shouted. "Later."
"Take him down to Baldwin," Elfwine said. "And one of you help the wounded man out."
The next door was kicked in. “I give up,” the man shouted. “I surrender.”
Elfwine walked into the room and looked at Squid. He looked at the trembling girl who had shared the night with Squid and he recognised her. “Sit down, shut up, and don’t move," he told her. "If you move from this room you will be killed.”
He turned and spoke to the Duke’s men while pointing to Squid. “Bring this shit out.” Elfwine walked out and the men dragged Squid out behind him. “Let go of him," Elfwine said. The men did as they were told but drew their swords at the ready.
“Come here, Squid.”
Squid shuffled up to him. “I am just a simple sailor. I've never harmed anyone,” he said.
"You harmed my friend Matilda in the cave, near Mossley."
"It was him," he pointed down to Captain Swing. "He made me do it. I pleaded with him to let her go."
Elfwine picked the frail man up and held him in the air near the edge of the balcony. "Now you can plead for me to let you go."
"No, spare me, please. It was him not me. Please put me down."
"Okay, I'll put you down." Elfwine threw him over the balcony. Squid landed on the stone floor screaming in pain from multiple fractures and broken bones. James was downstairs. He drew his sword and stepped towards Squid.
“Don’t kill him, James," Elfwine said. "Don’t anybody kill him. Let him lay in agony for a while. Though you can kick him if you want to.”
James looked over at Morgan, raised his eyebrows, shook his head, and then walked off.
Elfwine walked back into the room and walked over to the girl. "You sent those four men to kill me and my friend." He pulled his dagger out.
"Please, please don't kill me," she said.
"I will only kill you if you don't tell me what I want to know. Who were the four men?"
One of Oliver Fenglast's main men is recruiting and sending men here to raise his own gang of bandits."
"Yes, I think so." The girl only gave an occasional glance at him. Most of the time her eyes were transfixed on his dagger.
"Are there many more in town?"
"Yes, but only a few at the moment. I know they are here but I don't know where."
"The men downstairs, are they Vialians, or Pirates?"
"They are all local men. They are regulars and come here all the time."
Much to the girl's relief, Elfwine put his knife away and walked out.
The captain was taken out of the Inn. "We'd best get going, Elfwine," Baldwin called out.
Elfwine came down the stairs and walked over to Squid. Squid was coughing up blood and screaming with every cough. Elfwine kicked him a few times causing even louder screams. "I'm sorry, Squid, but we have to leave now." He took out his dagger, leaned down, and slit Squid's throat before leaving the inn. As they walked back to the ship Elfwine noticed that small groups of men had started to gather just off the main street. "Looks like they are forming up," Elfwine said.
"Probably just being curious," James said. "Most of the people here are good people. I think it's the Mayfly and Skate innkeepers that run this town."
Baldwin took Swing onto the ship and the Duke made him tell where his gold and any other valuables were. Swing fearing for his life was very co-operative and couldn't be more helpful. They went back onto the deck. “Come here, Elfwine,” the Duke said. The Duke nodded his head a few times. “He’s all yours.”
“No, Duke, you have to protect me,” Swing shouted. "We had a deal."
Elfwine punched the pirate in the head but the captain just flinched and then threw a punch back. Elfwine managed to weave back out of the way.
“Allow me,” Morgan said and hit the captain knocking him down on the deck.
Elfwine stamped on his right hand breaking his fingers. The pirate was in pain but spat at Elfwine and missed. Elfwine took an arrow out of his quiver. He placed the point under the pirate’s right eye held it there for a moment as the captain remained still and dare not move. Elfwine grinned and then drove it through the eye socket into his brain.
“It looks like the scum have started to meet up and form into a mob,” The Duke said. “We have what we came for so let’s get off back.”
"The men are not best pleased," Morgan said. "Their blood is up and they want a fight. Maybe the good people of this town need to be given some assistance and the scum need to be given a lesson."
"They have already been given a lesson," Baldwin. "I am not prepared to risk any of my men's lives just for anybody's ego." After instructing the seafarers, the Duke walked off to his cabin.
Morgan looked at Baldwin. "He's forgotten about the Pavillion Uprising then."
"It's nothing to do with ego, Morgan. He's got his gold back and he's not getting paid for this fight."
The ship was pulled out into the open sea and the sails raised. The cannons had been prepared and Elfwine and the other archers were ready but the mob in the town had kept its distance.
The immediate threat was gone and Elfwine walked to his two friends.
"Well that's the end of that," Morgan said.
Elfwine looked at him. "The end of what?"
"The end of trouble in this region."
"I wouldn't be so sure. The whore in The Mayfly Inn seems to think someone has taken Fenglast's place and he is building up a new Vialian raiding party."
"I wouldn't worry too much about what she has to say. Her customers tell her all sorts of exaggerated lies to impress her. The Vialians are wiped out. They are finished."
"Maybe," Elfwine said. "Maybe not."