Second battle of Sandway.
It was still dark when Elfwine woke and the daylight was just starting to peep over the horizon. He stood up, looked out to sea and a smile spread across his face. He walked over to the lieutenant's tent. A Militia guard was sitting outside on a box and he stood up when he saw Elfwine.
“What do you want?” the guard said.
“Can you wake the lieutenant and tell him that the duke’s ship is approaching.”
The lieutenant soon hurried out. “Rouse the men,” he said to the guard. “Get them ready to move.” He looked across to the ship.
“What do you think, Elfwine? Half an hour.”
“Yes, they’ll be dropping the sails and will tow the ship in.”
The lieutenant looked back. “Are you sure that it’s him? It looks like he’s flying a pirate flag.”
“That’s him.” Elfwine gave a laugh. “But I don’t know if he’ll get away with that a second time.” They walked to the top of the hill and looked down to the tents.
“They have a sentry sitting on a chair.”
“And he’s awake, unfortunately. But luckily it looks like there’s only one.”
“Soon as he sees us he’ll raise the alarm," the Captain said. "But we can still catch them unawares if we move quick enough.”
“It's best to deal with him first. If I can get into that clump of bushes without being seen, I’ll have a nice close shot at him.”
“If he screams out it will still raise the alarm.”
“He won’t make a sound other than a thud on the ground. I’ll hit him in the heart.”
“That will have to be an exceptionally good shot. Are you sure?” Elfwine stared at him. The lieutenant gave a laugh. “Silly question. I take it back.”
“I’ll go and get into position," Elfwine said. "Can you make sure the men are hidden down there and ready to go?”
"That's another silly question, only from you this time,” the lieutenant said.
“I’ll need to wait until the Duke’s ship is near the quay. If I were you, I’d leave the horses here for now. We don’t know how many archers they have and a horse is an easy target.”
“Okay, good luck, Elfwine.”
* * * * *The longboats towed the ship slowly past the wrecked pirate ship and towards the quay.
“Two men just came out of that quayside shed,” Baldwin said.
The Duke looked over at them. “Are all the archers ready?” he said.
“Yes, Duke,” came the reply.
“Hold your fire," Baldwin said. "They are waving lamps, they’re calling us in, they must be the look-outs. Surely they are not that stupid as to be fooled by the pirate flag again.”
The ship pulled close into the quay. “Throw us your lines and we’ll pull your ropes over,” one of the quay men said.
The men secured the ship. “I’m going down there,” Morgan said. “Cover me and get everything ready to get the men ashore quickly.”
Morgan got onto the quay with Baldwin right behind him.
“Welcome,” one of the men said. “We know who you are from last time and hope you can rid our town of all the filth this time.”
“Well, we’ll do our best for you,” Morgan said.
“Do you know where the ‘filth’ are?” Baldwin said.
“A lot of them are bunked up on the old ship. Some are in The Skate Inn and the rest are in, what they call safe houses. But some are also on the other side of the town.”
While they were talking the Duke’s men had come ashore. “Okay you two, go home lock your doors and stay there.”
“Baldwin, I’ll take ten men to The Skate Inn and you can have the rest for the barrack ship.”
The Duke stood on the deck with three archers.” Good luck men,” he said. He looked to the old seafarers. Pull the gangplanks on board in case we get rushed,” he said.
* * * * *
Elfwine made it to the bushes. “Well the Duke’s ship must be in by now,” he whispered to himself. He was able to stand and take aim while hidden but the sentry was still sitting and was side on. Elfwine took a dry branch and put his foot on it and took aim again. He stamped on the branch. The sentry looked over, stood up, and stared over at the bushes. Elfwine’s arrow hit in the man's heart and he dropped. The lieutenant saw the man fall and gave the word for his men to rush over.
The criminals in the tents stood little chance as the Militia burst into their tents and set upon them before they could even get their weapons. The criminals good at petty crime were not so good at combat with professional Militiamen and even those that managed to arm themselves stood little chance within the confines of the tent. But the alarm had been raised and a dozen Vialian warriors rushed out from The Mayfly Inn.
Elfwine knew that the Vialians would be more formidable opponents. He managed to drop two of them before the Militia got into his firing line. The Vialians attacked and despite the Militia's training, the Vialians were more skilled fighters. Four of the Militia lay dead in the first engagement. Elfwine managed to take the opportunity for another clear shot only once and got his man. Despite the ferocious fighting by the Vialians they were beaten by numbers and eventually killed but not before they had killed another three of the Militia. The rest of the men charged into The Mayfly but it was empty except for the Vialian leader hiding in an upstairs room. They tied his wrists and brought the Vialian leader out to the lieutenant .
“You are going back to face charges and then you will probably be publicly executed,” the lieutenant said.
The Vialian leader laughed. “It’s a long way to Advent, Lieutenant . I’ve escaped from your Militia before and I’ll escape again.”
“Take him up to the camp and tie him to the cart and don’t take your eyes off him, “the lieutenant said. “If he tries to escape, kill him.”
The men began walking the man up the hill holding onto each of his arms. They were nearly halfway up when an arrow smashed into the back of the leader’s head. Elfwine then set off into the town to meet up with his friends at the quay.
* * * * *
Baldwin and the Duke’s men were making their way towards the ship when a man came on deck. He saw the men and began to run to the steps. The Duke had sent his archer to the rear of the ship looking down on the pirate ship and one of them hit the man. He gave out a scream alerting some of the others and they were quick in responding. The Duke’s men had made it to the gangplanks and a bottleneck formed giving the Duke’s men an advantage as three could engage one.
The Duke’s archers picked off a Vialian whenever they had a shot. Some of the Vialians swung across on ropes to the quay but their numbers were dwindling and they were outnumbered. Soon there were no Vialians standing and the Duke’s men went aboard to flush out any stragglers hiding aboard the ship.
“Run up the Lovat flag,” the Duke shouted to a seafarer.
It took four men taking it in turns to kick in the door of The Skate Inn. By that time everyone inside had been alerted but most of them did not have the will to fight and those that did were soon dealt with. Morgan checked all the rooms. “Their leader is not here. Hopefully, they'll get him at The Mayfly.”
They could hear action from the other side of town. “Four of you stay here and guard the prisoners. The rest of you come with me.” They ran through the town and met Elfwine coming the other way. “You took your time, Elfwine.”
“We were quicker than you sea dogs.”
“Well, we got prisoners. I bet you didn’t,” Morgan said.
“What are prisoners?”
Morgan laughed and then an arrow hit him in the back. He let out a yell, staggered forward a few steps, and fell on his face.
“Archers, archers on the roof,” one of the men shouted and pointed to a flat roof. Another arrow bounced off the cobbles.
“Get him clear,” Elfwine shouted. He kneeled down aiming at the roof. An archer’s head appeared and Elfwine's arrow hit him in the eye. “Four of you men get up to that roof and see if there’s any more up there.” He ran to Morgan. “Morgan, Morgan, answer me."
Morgan opened his eyes and began coughing blood. "Elfwine look after Flora for me."
"You can look after her yourself. We'll get you back to the ship and get you fixed up."
"You must look after her. Tell her I'm sorry." Morgan's head dropped forward.
"Please, Morgan, don’t die on me.” But his words were wasted. Morgan was dead. “No! No! No,” he shouted and held Morgan up against his chest.
There was a scream and then a thud. One of the Duke’s men was standing on the corner and he looked towards Elfwine. I think that was the other archer. It seems he can’t fly.”
The rest of the men came back down. Do you want us to take him back to the ship?"
“No. I’ll carry him. I’ll carry him myself.”
Baldwin stood on the deck talking to the Duke. “So that’s us done then,” Baldwin said. “Are we leaving today?”
“I’ll have to speak to the lieutenant of the militia first but...” The Duke stopped abruptly. “Baldwin, look.” He pointed ashore.
Baldwin turned and saw Elfwine carrying his friend. He ran down the gangplank and across to meet Elfwine.”
"Is he alive? Tell me he's alive."
"I'm sorry Baldwin, he's gone."
“Oh no, not my dear friend. Not Morgan.”
“You can take him, Baldwin. Take him on the ship and off this cursed place.”
Baldwin carried him up on deck to the Duke. “I’m so sorry,” The Duke said. “Take him to my old cabin; the guest quarters. You’ll need help on the stairs.”
“I’ll be going as well,” Elfwine said.
Baldwin left Elfwine in the cabin with Morgan's body and joined the Duke back on deck.
“Is Elfwine all right?” the Duke said.
“Not really, but he will be. He just wants to spend some time down there. It’s devastating news. We have been through so much through the years. He’s like a brother to me.”
The Militia horsemen rode onto the quay. They dismounted and the lieutenant told the men to take the horses to the stables at The Skate Inn. He walked onto the Duke’s ship.”
“Well done, Duke,” the lieutenant said. “Can you get your ship moored against the old pirate ship? I have a ship coming in from Advent in the morning and I’ll have a lot of goods to be unloaded on the wharf. When my ship is unloaded I’ll be using it as a prison ship to take all the undesirables back to Advent for trial.”
“Why not just execute them here?” Baldwin said.
“They need to go to trial. We will only execute those that warrant it,” the lieutenant said.
“Well, our work is done here,” the Duke said. “I was going to leave in the morning.”
“It’s a big task to check through all the people and places in town. I could use your men for another day to help get through it all quicker.”
“I’ll have more men on the ship when it gets here so you could leave the next day.”
“Okay, it’s your money.” The Duke said. “But my men are warriors, not police. You’ll have to tell me what you want us to do.”
“First go to the Mayfly and arrest the owner and all the staff as well as the working girls. Then check the other three bars in the town for undesirables.”
“Where do we take them when we arrest them?”
I've sorted something out," the Duke said. “I’ve got carpenters coming to make cells in the pirate wreck.”
“Where did you find carpenters at this short notice?” Baldwin said.
“Your two quay men friends got them for us. They’re quite handy old boys. They know everyone.” Baldwin looked over to the quay men's hut. The men were there and they waved at him.
Baldwin turned back without comment. “I’ll get some men and make a start,” he said.
“Are you all right Baldwin?” the Duke asked. “Are you up to this?”
“Yes, but I’ve got to keep myself busy. Just look in on Elfwine now and then.”
“Didn’t Morgan have a girl?”
“Yes, and I’m not looking forward to telling her. They had an argument; she didn't want us to come on this one.”