It was just after mid-day when Baldwin got to The Mayfly Inn with six of the Duke's men. They were surprised that it was open and trading as normal. The owner was also surprised when Baldwin closed the place down and arrested him and all his staff. The Militia got on with searching all the houses and workplaces and found that most of the people in the town were law-abiding citizens. The people were overjoyed when they realised that they were to get their town back with their own Militia force of twelve men, two of which were mounted, and they would be housed in the converted Skate Inn. It was a bonus when they disovered that the Militia were to stay there permanently. The good citizens were eager to point the finger at those that weren't good citizens. A house was to become a bar to replace The Skate Inn with the previous owner taking it over. It was known that the previous owner had been forcibly made to sell the Inn at a derisory price under threat of death. It was also decided that the Mayfly Inn was to have a new owner and was to be re-named The Mayflower Inn.
The cannons off the pirate ship were to be relocated on land to protect against any pirate ships trying to visit and the pirate ship was to be stripped of anything of use before being broken up for the usable timber.
The Duke had his ship pulled alongside the pirate wreck ready for when the ship arrived from Advent.
The following day the ship arrived from Advent and moored on the quay. The duke’s ship was getting ready to depart and the lieutenant of the Militia came aboard to say farewell.
“So what of the prisoners?” the Duke said. “There are quite a lot of them locked up in the pirate ship.”
“There is a justice on board my ship and he will process those that can remain and those that will go back to Advent for further processing. Those who are truly bad, like the owners of the Mayfly and Skate inns, will probably be executed here.”
“And the girls?” Elfwine said.
“They are what they are. There is a place for them here I suppose. But that will be up to the justice taking into account the will of the local people. He may let them stay, but their boss won’t be so lucky. Anyway, Duke, the vicar here was killed by the pirates months ago because he stood up to them. So the captain of our ship has agreed to do a service at the burials of our fallen this afternoon. If you would like to attend?”
“Of course we will attend. We can leave later this evening.”
The lieutenant looked at Baldwin and Elfwine. "Will you be bringing Morgan over for burial?”
“No!” Elfwine said. “He’s coming home with us.”
“Of course, I understand. I must say, Elfwine, your archery skills are amazing. If you ever move to Advent there will be a job for you teaching our men. And you will be made welcome as well Baldwin.”
“I think I can answer for both of us,” Elfwine said. “We have had enough. We want to return to a quieter life. Now that the pirates and the Vialians are finished, we probably can achieve it.”
* * * * *The Duke’s ship set off in the early evening and arrived back at The Flashes with a very sickly Elfwine.
Morgan’s body was put onto one of the Duke’s carts for transportation to Mossley and the Duke draped one of his flags over the body. The cart passed the small gate and drew attention from the guards as the cart, Baldwin, Elfwine, The Duke and some of the Duke's men went in procession towards the main gate.
News spread around the town and some of the people came to look from the fence although they didn’t know who was in the cart. Flora heard the news and went to the main gate to see what was going on. As the procession came through the gate she saw the draped body on the cart. She saw Elfwine, Baldwin and the Duke but no sign of Morgan and she feared the worst. She gave a huge sigh as tears formed in her eyes. She turned and walked quietly back to her dwelling where she sat staring into the flames of the fire.
Erica sensed something was wrong. “Whatever’s the matter?” she said.
“The men are back," Flora said. "There is a body. I think Morgan is dead.” Flora started to choke as she said the words and then burst into tears. Erica rushed over to try to comfort her friend.
Shortly, there was a knock on the door and Baldwin walked in.
“Is it true?” Erica said. “Is it true about Morgan?”
“I’m afraid it is,” Baldwin said. “He was killed fighting to free the people of Sandway. I’m so sorry.”
“Thanks for coming, Baldwin," Flora said. "I know you and Morgan were friends for many years.”
“We had been in many battles together.”
“But one battle too many, Baldwin,” Flora said.
“Would you like to see his body?”
“Why! Why, Baldwin?" She suddenly started shouting at him. "Why would I want to see the lifeless body of the man I love? Why, when I pleaded with him, did he go to a fight when he didn’t have to? Why, Baldwin, why?”
Flora broke down again and Erica went to her. “Can you leave us for a while, Baldwin?” she said. “Maybe come back later.”
“Of course. I’ll be in The Bull if you need me.”
An hour later, Flora and Erica walked into The Bull and went over to Baldwin and Elfwine. Both men stood up. “Do you want me to get you two a drink?” Elfwine said.
“No, thanks," Flora said. "I’m sorry about earlier, Baldwin.”
“No, it’s not. You didn’t deserve to be spoken to that way. You have known Morgan a lot longer than I have and I’m sure your loss is as bad, if not more, than mine. I've thought again and I'd like to go and say goodbye in private before the burial.”
“I’ll take you over there,” Baldwin said. “He’s in the chapel.”
“I want to see him on my own, Baldwin. Can you stay here with Erica?”
“I don’t want you walking over there on your own,” Erica said.
“You two need to talk.” She turned her attention to Elfwine. "Could you escort me to the chapel doors, Elfwine, and wait for me outside?”
“Of course I can. Come on, let’s go.”
Erica watched as her friends left the Inn. “Me and Flora have been talking. I don’t want to go through what Flora is going through. I’ve had enough grief to last a lifetime. I have a deal to make you.”
“Promise me that you’ll give up that hired killer occupation that you keep returning to. And I’ll move back to The Flashes with you.”
“What about the baby?”
“Flora said she would stay with us for a while when I’m nearer the time. Well, what do you say?”
“Yes, I promise I'll dedicate my life to looking after you. Can I kiss you, Erica?”
“No, Baldwin, not in here .”
* * * * *
A week after the burial, Baldwin and Erica were getting ready to move back to The Flashes after only a few days in the room that Erica had rented.
“How was your landlord about us leaving so soon,” Baldwin said.
“He was all right,” Erica said. “He wouldn’t take the rent. Said it was a mark of respect for our friend Morgan. I would have liked to see Elfwine before we go.”
“When we left the Bull last night he was still in there. I don’t know what time he went to bed but I doubt if we’ll see him. He’ll be in a room at the Bull sleeping it off all day.”
“Can we call and see Flora before we go though?” Erica said.
They went to Flora’s dwelling but she was not at home. “That’s funny,” Erica said. “You don’t think she’s stopped over with...” She looked over at The Bull Inn.
“No, I wouldn’t think so; she only lives over the road. She might be at the chapel. We’ll call back in a couple of days to see both of them.”
They set off for the bay and came out from the marsh at The Flashes. "I see that the duke's ship has gone," Erica said.
"Yes, they have gone off to Advent. But eight of the duke's men have stopped behind to join the mayor's guards. I don't know how the rest of them will get on without the old seadogs. I suppose they will be all right though; some of the men have learned a lot from the old-timers. ."
“It's a good job the tide’s out,” Erica said. "But look, the gate’s open; someone's been in there. I hope no one has moved in while we were away.”
“I'll soon see; you wait here,” he said. He drew his sword and walked to the cave. He called back to Erica, “it’s Elfwine.”
Erica hurried over and followed him inside.
“Elfwine, Flora.” She gave a laugh. “What are you two doing here?”
“I've got a pot of rabbit broth on the go,” Flora said. “I thought we might have to eat it all ourselves if you didn’t turn up.”
“We didn’t like the idea of you two living here on your own," Elfwine said. "So we thought we would move in. Otherwise, who’s gonna get the rabbits?”
An hour later they heard the squeak of a small barrow's wheel. Elfwine looked outside. "Welcome, Thomas, you're just in time for dinner."
Thomas walked inside and looked at Flora. "I've brought the rest of your stuff from Mossley."
"Thank you, Thomas."
"No, thank you." He looked at the others. "Flora has let me take over her dwelling."
"Handy for The Bull then," Baldwin said.
"Mmmm, I didn't think of that," Thomas said, and then laughed.