Vox Populi Forum
To the Second-Greatest Explorer in the World,
Before, I wrote to you of obligation, duty, and honor, These are the hallmarks of the truly civilized man. Yet once discharged, freedom becomes a cherished blessing.
Obligation and duty had been fulfilled - the colony of “New England” had been re-established and re-vitalized. Lord Baileigh had, will all the pomp and ceremony he could muster, had been formally sworn in as her Governor. All that was left was a debt of honor. “New England” needed to be restored to self-rule under a model of French Law.
The Governor formed a war council. David Stanton, Thomas Gee, Jorgez DuLac de Nantes, Alain Gignot, Jean LeBeouf and myself formed most of it’s core. Birmingham Brown had caught fever during our earlier crossing, and the illness had left him with a lingering cough. Birmingham was among the planners, but he delegated his assigned tasks to Gualterius Du Moucel. I suspect because Gualterius was lacking in imagination and initiative. He could be counted on to follow plans, but was too much the dullard to attempt “improvements in the field. Mal de Merd-a-din had set out before Lord Baileigh’s taking office. Mal’s disappearance became clear when his formidable cousin, Moridin, Viceroy of Japan arrived. It had been many a year since I last laid eyes on the taciturn sailor, and time had been kind to the man. Moridin remained terse, yet seemed possessed of a profound inner calm. He came ashore and strode forth clad in the distinctive armor of the Japanese Samurai, his customary broadsword moved from it’s rest upon his hip to a sheath across his back. It was somewhat disconcerting when the man greeted myself, Alain, Jean and Birmingham with a smile and handshake. The Governor was met with a deep bow, in the Asian style, and a bottle of a liquor called sake.
Moridin brought news of the surrounding lands. The English, of course, had plans to secure the colony. Rumors held that the exiled survivors of Robespierre’s regime had designs on the extant French colonies. Those men were not fans of the die-hard Royalist loyalties and leanings of Governor Baileigh.
Of the savage tribes, the Corn, Tomato, Avocado and Pepper People had formed dislike of the “New England” colony, while the Pineapple people were more inclined to friendship, perhaps due to the influence of Harmon Boylyn. The Protectorate of the Incago and Alexandria Free-port remembered their founders fondly. Japan, of course, was one of the pillars of the new “French Quarter” Francois Duclos, Wischard Percy, Moridin and Bailey were attempting to establish. Moridin brought with him a small fleet of Japanese junks to transport our forces and agents.
Governor Baileigh, Jean LeBeouf, Thomas Gee, David Stanton, Birmingham Brown, Jorgez DuLac, and Alain Gignot had all co-ordinated with Francois, Wischard and Moridin in their operations to stabilize Marseilles and Noire, and they agreed that similar tactics could be applied against the Savages and English. No matter the civilization, to wage war, one must have a supply chain, a General (or “War Chief”) to command the military, and the will and support of the common man to sacrifice in the name of conquest. Disrupt any of these factors enough and the war could be won without massive loss of life. The native tribes were much smaller in number than the great nations of Europe, thus it seemed certain that the limited forces available to us could be up to the task.
Jean managed to make friends with one of the major farmers of the Corn People, and convinced him it was in the interests of his tribe to make friends with the colony. The farmer agreed, and, moreover, supplied food to the colony. His words bore fruit among the tribe. Unfortunately the farmer was present in the Corn village when Jorge’s men attempted to slay the Champion of the Corn. The farmer’s intervention allowed Jorge to escape at the cost of his own life.
The rest of us turned our attention against the largest threat, the ships and guns of the English.
Alain, and Moridin attempted to assassinate the English General. Moridin approached the English on behalf of Japan as a ruse. The plan was unsuccessful. Alain was badly slashed by a saber in the aborted raid, although Moridin managed to intercept English dispatches. This enabled the wily Viceroy to create false news of English atrocities, which embarrassed the English. I was able to successfully plant the tales, but found myself recognized. The news of my presence almost undermined Moridin’s efforts, and it was decided my own talents would thence be better used against the primitives.
Thomas and Stanton tried to divert several English supply cogs to Governor Baileigh’s domain. The effort was ineffective, and near calamitous for the colony. The need to repair and rebuild the colony had left food supplies in shorter supply than the Governor had made known.
Gualterius was a brave and loyal man, yet his skills were not up to the importance of his duties. He had been sent out to parley with the Corn people, yet approached the wrong village. He was rewarded with a spear to his vital, and was unable to recall which village he had, in fact, visited.
The colony continued to suffer. Frankly, Governor Baileigh had placed too much trust in we former companions of the Vert Valliant, and too much stock in the wisdom of his wife Caterina’s views, skewed as they were by her upbringing as a Lady of Russia. He would have served his people better by listening to the colonists who had built on and worked the land to begin with.
The situation in the colony was exacerbated by Thomas’s impatience. After a second unsuccessful attempt to divert the English supply ships to the colony, Gee, instead, used Moridin’s fleets to sink the lot. At least the loss of supplies served to demoralize the English.
Moridin, Jorgez and I focused our efforts upon the Corn people. Missionaries of the Church were attempting to convert the heathens. Moridin’s close relationship with Archbishop Percy worked to our advantage. The priests were more than willing to share all they knew of the surrounding tribes, and even aided in my efforts to convince the Corn people that the now-worthless currency of fallen France held value among the “white invaders.” Jorgez’s efforts to slay their Champion almost undid our work. His face and name became known to all the tribe following his failure.
Stanton and Gualterius tried to barter for crops from the Tomato people in order to re-stock the colony’s larders. It turned out the Tomato village was where the dullard had mistakenly been before. He was recognized by the angered tribe as the despised “Mouse Demon.” In the rout both men were pierced by arrows. Stanton in the calf, Gualterius through the throat. The dullard died, his corpse defiled by the uncivilized pagans. Stanton was badly shaken by his own narrow escape, and, for the remainder of the conflict was less forceful and commanding over the men placed at his disposal.
In retaliation for the death of Gualterius Jean LeBeouf led a raid against the Tomato tribe. Two fields were burnt, and an admonition given to, next time, negotiate before jumping to conclusions. The destruction of crops, followed by threat, then negotiation divided the tribe. Half were inclined to sue for friendship, half to wipe the colony from the continent. The tribal elders, however, agreed to a mutual cease fire. If we honored the bargain, the Tomato tribe would not oppose any actions we took against tribes they had hostile relations with.
Further actions against said enemies - the Corn, Avocado and Pepper Peoples, as well as the feared English - yielded no appreciable results, other than to demonstrate to the Tomato tribe that we Europeans would honor our bargains.
The constant raids, negotiations and travel were dangerously close to completely exhausting the colony’s stores. Manpower that would be better used farming the colony lands was being wasted in ineffective actions. Alain’s last attempts to alter public opinion in England only served to maim his arm when his junk was intercepted and sunk by the English Navy. Moridin was able to restore the use of the arm with arcane methods he learned from the Corn people. My own final efforts to slay the Corn Champion were aborted when I came across a group of Scottish who were attempting to found their own colony. Instead, I convinced them it would be to their benefit to help us repel the English from those shores.
We finally convinced Governor Baileigh it was time to bring his people home and focus on their families and farms, while those of us in the “War Council” quietly approached the surrounding tribes, or sent envoys to Europe to ascertain if the situation seemed favorable for the continued survival of the colony.
The Tomato tribe was satisfied we would honor our treaty, and pledged friendship with the colony. The Pineapple People, as well, remained inclined towards friendship. The Scottish were more than willing to co-operate with the colony in exchange for protection against England. The Avocado and Pepper people were willing to ignore the colony, while the Republican exiles were too busy with their own affairs to pay the colony any mind. The Protectorate of the Incago, meanwhile, had declared themselves independent of all nations in the belief that it’s rich stores of gold made it a power in it’s own right.
Naturally, Moridin was willing to use Japan’s fleets to protect the colony’s waters, while Alexandria wished to ally with her sister colony.
Only the Corn people felt true animosity towards, the colony, but the ever-present possibility of inter-tribal warfare with other savages left them unable to commit to harassing Governor Baileigh’s domain.
All hinged on the disposition of the English. England was loathe to cede control of “New England” to Governor Baileigh, but the relationships forged with our new allies, and the logistical difficulties involved in securing the colony, combined with the need to strengthen their swollen borders while the tenuous peace held amongst the newly expanded nations of Europe left little choice. Reluctantly, the colony of “New England” was released from obligation to the English Crown and granted self-rule.
Governor Baileigh crowed with an inflated sense of triumph, and turned his attention to what, in his mind, was the most pressing matter of renaming the colony. Of course Bailey was part of our long ago voyage that led to the initial foundation of the colony and wished to honor both the Vert Valliant, and the would-be King Bonadventure. The colony was dubbed “Bon Valliant.”
As for myself, I considered all obligation to Governor Baileigh, Bon Valliant, and the new French Quarter fulfilled.
I have grown weary of playing futile political games. Power is hard to grasp, harder to hold, and I find myself reminded of the adage “Uneasy is the head that wears the crown.” The most joyous years in my life were those spent with a breeze at my back, spray in my teeth, seeking new and unexplored lands with a stout crew and good friends as my side. I had told you I planned to return to Europe and attempt to commission or purchase a new vessel, and to return to those happy times when I was beholden to no other. I was preparing to take my leave of Bon Valliant and have one of Viceroy Moridin’s fleet return me to the continent when word reached me that my beloved Lion’s Pounce - my beloved beautiful Galleon that had carried me to Japan, the south seas and Sind - believed lost at sea had, somehow, been salvaged and returned to Kleef.
There is only one man I can think of who could have accomplished such a miraculous feat. It is to that man I now write.
And so, I accept the gift. I sail for Kleef to restore to glory the finest keel ever to be laid by that nation’s justly vaunted shipyards. Afterwards, I shall venture west, alternating between Japan, Bon Valliant and Alexandria to resupply while seeking new shores and new adventures as a truly free man.
I can merely assume you feel as I do and yearn to ride the winds and currents, brave surf, storm and the creatures of the deep, and to explore the oceans of the Earth.
Together, my friend, we could see things no civilized man has even imagined, draw new charts that would make those of Da Vinci as outdated as those of DeWolff. Perhaps we could even, one day, return to a certain garden where many of us of the Vert Valliant are celebrated in bronze, and lay a new plaque that, truly, reads “World’s Greatest Explorers” as partners.
With warmest regards,
The Third Greatest Explorer in the World
Author's Ramblings -- Mike Myke Mique (posted: 12/15/2019)
"Mouse Rock" (for Conrad) -- Mike Myke Mique (posted: 12/15/2019)