The Advent Militia arrive at Mossley.
Chapter 20The duke's ship arrived back at the bay and no one was more pleased to see The Flashes than Elfwine. Despite having a comfortable hammock to sleep in and not having to walk back from Sandway, Elfwine was not happy. Part of the trip had taken them through rough waters and Elfwine had been violently sea-sick, much to the amusement of Baldwin and Morgan.
The three men looked out towards the shore. “The Flashes look so different from out here,” Baldwin said.
“I’ll be glad to get ashore,” Elfwine said.
Morgan laughed. “Yes, I bet you will. You are looking a lot better now though.”
“I’ll be better still when I get off this floating hellhole.”
“Is that someone on the shore,” Baldwin said. “Two of them. Looks like they’re gathering shellfish.”
“From Mossley,” Morgan said. “They didn’t waste much time before taking your living, Elfwine.”
“Not my living and they are entitled to take some usually for their own use but as there is no supply now, we can’t say much.”
They were getting closer to the shore and Morgan turned to Elfwine. “It looks like one of them is Alfred,” he said.
The Duke walked over and gave the men a gold coin each. “You know I am still being paid by the mayor,” Morgan said.
“I know but this is a bit of a bonus from me for your help. My men are not due to be paid until the end of the month either but I’ll even give all of them a bonus today as well.”
“Got all your gold back then?” Baldwin said.
“Yes, ten-fold. This trip has made me a very rich man.” He walked off to give his men the good news and a silver coin each.
“A very rich man for watching from the deck,” Elfwine said. “His men get a silver coin for risking their lives.”
They were soon anchored up in the bay and the three friends were the first ashore. Baldwin walked over to Alfred.
“It’s good to see you,” Alfred said. “Did you achieve your aims?”
“Yes, the Duke got his gold back, and we caught and dealt with the murderers of Erica's family.”
“I am glad you caught those terrible murderers," Alfred said. "And I'm so glad that you all got back safe."
“Thank you,” Baldwin said. “And it’s good to see that someone is continuing to supply the town with some seafood.”
“It’s just until you get settled back here. I’ve spoken to Erica and she is okay with it. I said I would give her some of the money from the sale of the seafood so she would have a bit of income.”
“That’s good of you, Alfred. Thank you again."
"No need to thank me, I owe you my life."
His words brought a smile to Baldwin's face. "Do you want some help?" he asked.
“No, we can manage. You get off and relax.”
“Come on, Baldwin,” Morgan shouted back. “The Bull Inn is awaiting.”
The Duke left ten of his men on board and took the rest along with the old seafarers and joined the three friends on the walk back to Mossley.
When they got back to Mossley, the Duke went to report to the Mayor, the seafarers went home to their families pleased with their pay and the Duke's men dispersed among the town’s inns.
“Well pop in to see the girls,” Morgan said.
“Tell, Erica I’ll look in later,” Elfwine said and walked over to the Inn.
Baldwin and Morgan walked into Flora’s dwelling. They both greeted Erica and told her of their success with the pirates. “Where’s Flora?” Morgan asked.
“She’s keen, it’s only early. I’ll leave you two alone then,” Morgan said and then left.
Baldwin waited until Morgan had gone. “It’ll be a bit awkward here now that we have returned," he said. "There is not much room.”
“I’ve found a room over near the back gate. We can move in now that you and Morgan are back.”
“I don’t know if that is such a good idea. We will have to pay rent and I’ll have to work for the Mayor. If we go back home we have a good living and no rent to pay.”
“Back home, you mean The Flashes. That is no longer my home and I've already told you I'm not going back there. If for no other reason, than for the safety of our child.”
“You’re being silly. We can come back here when it’s nearer your time.”
“I am not staying in a cave where I stood by and heard my mother screaming as she was abused and murdered. Now, will you get out and leave me alone.” Erica broke down in tears and Baldwin tried to cuddle her. “Just go will you?”
Baldwin walked to the door. “I’ll send Flora over.”
“Go!” she shouted.
Baldwin joined his friends at the inn. Elfwine stared at him. “What’s up lost your gold coin?”
“Just had our first row.”
Flora had walked over and heard him. “It’s not about the room, is it? You haven’t upset her have you?”
“I think I have. Can you do me a favour and go...”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Flora interrupted him. "I’ll go and see her. But I’ll tell you something, Baldwin. She will either move in that room with you, or she’ll move in there on her own.”
Flora walked out. “Why don’t you do what she wants,” Elfwine said. “You can go down the cave and still get the seafood to give you a living and you can keep an eye on the place. If it’s empty too long someone else might move in thinking it’s disused.”
“Seafood twice a week won’t give much and with the rent for the room to pay.”
“Seafood, chicken and goose eggs, vegetables, seaweed and you could trap rabbits. There even is a market here for sand and rocks, if you get a barrow.”
“Not just eggs,” Morgan said. “You could start a chicken farm and at weekend you can work for the Mayor, a lot of the guards don’t like working weekends.”
“Not practical,” Baldwin said. “Three hours there and three hours back every day. I'll soon get fed up with that.”
“No,” Morgan said. “Go there and spend the night in the cave and come back the next day. Then the next day do the same. You'll be home here with Erica every other day and also keep the cave going.”
“I don’t know,” Baldwin said.
The warning horn began to sound across the town. “Now what,” Elfwine shouted and they got up and rushed over to the fence. “Horse-riders, six of them and about twenty men on foot and a donkey and wagon. Who the hell are they?”
“Black clothing, silver buttons, they’re Advent Militia,” Morgan said. “I wonder what they’re doing here.” The visitors stopped on the meadow and two of the riders came up to the main gate. The mayor had called for Morgan and they made their way to greet the Militia lieutenant and his sergeant.
The riders dismounted.
“Welcome to our town,” The mayor said. “To what do we owe this visit?”
“First, can we use your stables for our horses?”
“I'm afraid we have no stables because we have no horses. We do have a donkey shed which might have some room.”
“I see. You need to keep up with the times, mayor.” He turned to his sergeant. “Take the horses back to graze on the meadow for now and get the men to set up the tents. We’ll stay here tonight.”
“Would you like to come to the guard’s office for some wine, captain?”
The lieutenant nodded and they walked over to the office. “A nicely protected town you have here mayor.”
“I think so.”
They went into the office and sat around a desk. “Go and take your break,” the mayor said to the guard.
After the guard had left the captain spoke. “I hear that you are having trouble with a gang of raiders called The Vialians, is that right?”
“We were,” Morgan interrupted. “But they have been dealt with.”
The lieutenant looked at him. “And who are you?”
“Morgan, Morgan Trevan.”
“Ah, so you are Morgan Trevan. I don’t know you but I know of you. Said to be one of the greatest Militia swordsman and deadly with a throwing knife. Of course, that was a few years back and you were a lot younger.”
“No point, just chat.”
“So what brings you here?” the mayor asked.
“Mr Mayor, you want to know why I’m here. A few days ago one of the Vialian leaders.” He looked at Morgan. “You didn’t get them all. “A Vialian leader and a handful of men managed to enter Advent undetected.”
“Not difficult,” Morgan said. “Seeings as Advent has no defensive wall.”
“Let the lieutenant finish,” the mayor said.
“Thank you. They killed four civilian guards at the goal and released a number of criminals awaiting trial or execution. All in about twenty men in total.”
“I thought that the Militia supplied guards for the prison,” Morgan said.
“We used to, but the governor thought civilians would be cheaper. Cheaper yes but not as efficient and now dead.”
“Do you think the escaped men are heading here?” the mayor said.
“Heading here or passing here on the way to Sandway. Am I right in saying you have not sighted them.”
“No, haven’t seen them.”
“They probably by-passed the town through the forest to the old Vialian base camp,” Morgan said. “Maybe they are re-establishing there.”
“Worth a look but I think they will be making straight for Sandway.”
“The reason I’m here. You have the Duke of Lovat and his men here and I have orders to hire him and his men to join us to march on Sandway.”
“Do you want me to go and find him?”
“If you will, Morgan. And while we are waiting, perhaps we can sample your wine, Mr Mayor.”
Morgan returned with the Duke. After the introductions, the lieutenant looked at Morgan. “Can you leave us while we talk money?”
Morgan left and walked to The Bull Inn.
“So, what’s going on?” Baldwin said.
“The Militia wants the Duke to join with him and track down some criminals led by a Vialian leader. They're heading for Sandway.”
“Are we invited to the party?” Elfwine said.
“I should imagine so. But I think there is more to it than hunting down a gang of criminals. I’ll speak to the Duke later and find out.”
“Well,” Elfwine said. “Whatever happens I’m not going back in that boat.” His friends laughed though it was obvious that Elfwine was serious.
Morgan remained with his friends for a while before going to see the Duke at the mayor’s house. “So what’s going on,” Baldwin asked.
“I’m joining with the lieutenant to go after this new Vialian group. They are heading for Sandway. The lieutenant will go across land and I’ll go by ship and attack from the other side. I cleared it with the mayor if you want to come along and the lieutenant has agreed to pay Baldwin and Elfwine.”
“So, twenty men and maybe another ten or twenty at Sandway. We have more than fifty altogether so it should go our way. But I can’t help thinking that there is a bit more to it than that.”
“You’re right, Morgan. “In fact, there is a lot more to it than that.”