Blood in the Water

Secundus 24, 1667

An accounting of events written by the Count Della Montagna

Secundus 21, 1667

In the morning Chatter had returned with a tied note from the Pirates. Roderick said that they were willing to meet us. They chose a small town in Inismore called Durk, two days travel from our location in Newport, and said to bring no more than ten men. I would have liked to have brought all of the mad king’s armies down upon them, but with Allende’s life in the balance I did not even have the courage to suggest a more secure meeting place. I would have liked to meet them on the Straits of Blood, where no man may draw his weapon, but we sailed for Durk.

Before disembarking we looked to hire more men. The local Swordsman’s Guild only had two men for hire at our arrival. Both Castillian. One was an archer, Alonso, with a beast that was never far from his side whom he called Angus. The other was a man who fought with a spear. They both seem to be good men, though they both seem to be quick to fight and kill. Though neither of them are swordsman at all really, I suppose I should not expect differently from members of the guild. They are warriors, and it was comforting in a way to know that there are still those who act according to what they claim to be. We set sail for Durk in the morning, arriving half a day early at noon on the 21th of Secundus.

During the voyage we altered the name of the ship. After I convinced Roderick that he was the Captain he decided to rechristen the ship the Chatter, after his simian pet. Royston proved himself an adequate carpenter and was able to transform the cresting wave on the ship’s bow into a primate, though I did not think it a close likeness to Roderick’s monkey.

The town of Durk was a small village built into the Cliffside. It was peaceful there, and quiet. I had little doubt that the pirates had arrived before us. They would not have suggested a meeting place they could not secure before our arrival regardless of how early we were able to arrive. Before going into town I disguised myself as a Highland Pirate; Mac the Black. I thought it best the Pirates remain unaware of the Count Della Montagna so that there was no risk of them interfering with my vengeance. Twice now the others, Roderick, Isabella, and Royston have seen me change my face and character. I explained as to the Count’s love of the theater, but I know it is not long now until truth may become necessary.

The tavern was packed, with men both local and not. I found the bartender to be unresponsive, but got the impression that he was not free to speak as he would like. They had men in the tavern, no doubt. There was a child that stood out, studiously searching for something in his books. When I, or anyone else attempted to approach him a man would come up, grapple, push us away, and call us perverted.

Other than this the tavern bore no one of interest to us. Galina scouted the church and returned with a disturbing report. The women of the town were being kept in the antechamber of the church while the pirates occupied the fortified and barricaded sanctuary. On the bell tower were two sacks containing bodies. They were still alive, or at least one of them was. Alonso noted the presence of a wagon at the ideal vantage point for the barricaded church doors. I attempted to provoke the driver, but he proved to be a bribed townsfolk, rather than a pirate laying in wait for ambush as I had suspected him to be.

A little while before the appointed time for the meeting the perverted man ran from the tavern to the church. Fearing the townsfolk were about to do something foolish I moved to intercept him but I was again mistaken. The man was a member of the Crimson Roger. The pirates came out of the tavern and the man moved to the roof where he placed nooses around the necks of the bound Allende and Alesio. The boy from the tavern did the negotiating, and I found his manner to be prideful, arrogant, and most unfortunately of all: infuriating.

I’m ashamed to say that for all my rage, and for all my righteous purpose, I was a coward. I did, and said, what I needed to in order to have Allende and Alesio returned to us safely, and then we withdrew. Hatred burns in me for those abyssal pirates. My ire for them rises to almost the same level as my hatred for the others. I do not know the fate of the town after we left it. I hope that between their bribes and their threats the pirates withdrew after having received what they sought without further harm to the town or its people. I think it more likely that they raped, pillaged, killed, and burned whatever they could impeded only by the poor man with a stick trying to defend his home.

After we returned to the Chatter, distraught at my cowardice, I drank the first wine I’ve had since the night that Count Moncelle was murdered. Royston must have thought I was celebrating, as he joined me and encouraged the drinking with his laughter and smiles. I just wanted a restful sleep, and peace from my obsessions for a few hours. I fear Galina did not know how to respond to my inebriation, but she has much occupying her thoughts as of late. The wine gave me some much needed peace, but only for a little while, and the memory of the absence of my pain caused its renewed presence to crush me all the worse. I hope not to face such a moment of weakness again, though I know no that the drink offers me no solution, no solace. I am envious of Royston’s ability to find solace in drink and in women, but for me I cannot enjoy my drunkenness without thinking of its cause, and of that terrible night so long ago, and I cannot enjoy carnality without being reminded of the love I have lost and is now beyond regaining.

We returned to Newport, and explained all to Allende and Alesio as they woke along the way. Alesio, the Stryga, is convinced that Royston, Roderick, Isabella, Galina, and I are bound by fate. I was almost convinced of mine and Galina’s ties, but I am convinced wholly that my fate is my own to forge, and it lies with the others, not with the crew.

During the voyage I altered the contract we had established between the Castilian, Alonso, and I. I offered them each a year’s pay at one guilder per day for a year of service. They agreed almost without pause, as I believe that our unconventional crew has rather captured their hearts for adventure.

After we restocked in Newport we sailed onward to Carleon. It appears that Royston was no stranger to the mad dog Berek. With he and Allende reunited, Allende left us to be reunited with his crew. I took the rose that Berek had attempted to give to Alesio, thinking that I might give it to Galina as a thank you, and as a token of my vow not to worry her with my inebriation again. When I went to give it to her however, I noticed that it had turned black in color from the red it had been. No doubt a reflection of the darkness that fills me with such hatred and fuels my actions even now. I cast it into the sea as we sailed for my villa in Vodacce.

We have hired a small five man crew to man the vessel, and we sail under whatever flag suits our fancy. With any fortune, we shall sail quickly, and arrive without any further unfortunate events.

- M

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