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After some hard work ashore to redistribute our supplies to be able to send an unladen galley ahead as a scout, we round the northern tip of this, as yet un-named land mass to chart the west coast of what could be a large island or small continent.
The men cry in alarm at sighting another great monster of the sea, yet the creature is so quickly and casually dispatched I forget who slew the alleged beast. So soon a second sighting, and so quick a victory after our first encounter with a true fantastique? More likely too much rum, not enough sleep.
Percy is the next aboard to find himself marked with the Black Spot. Porse has already slain our Captain and another officer, and is a killer of most foul aspect and skill. Percy's survival is surely due to the intervention of an Angel, guiding Percy to Make certain his skills were true.
Perhaps foolishly, rather than go ashore and find this Kleef rat, we turn our fleet west to continue across the ocean. Some of the crew whisper that we must surely be approaching the edge of the world. Yet there is a strange hope in this fear. There is a conviction amongst the rowers of the galleys that the edge of the world must have land to discover--else the seas would surely have emptied into the void by now! For once, superstition doesn't harm morale...
Or, I speak too soon. The soldiers aboard fear the westward ocean, wishing to return to the land we have just left--Diaz, never comfortable as a leader of soldiers, has lost the respect of his men. Their jibes and japes see him quickly reduced to Scape-Goat. To add insult to injury, Helmut von Bismark, four-time foe, and four times defeated and humiliated is elevated to Master of Arms. Small wonder Diaz has locked himself in his cabin! If he wishes to return to his position as Chronicler, he has but to ask. For now he seems resigned.
Still, soon enough the soldiers share the faith that there must be more land to our west.
And, for once, Faith is rewarded! Another new landmass, another New World is discovered! Again, we have yet to name this land! I might venture to suggest naming, at least a small part, after my Grandfather, "Bailee," who was a Royal Cartographer, decades ago, or my late cousin, "Baylee," killed on the same voyage where the company now called "Vert Valliant" opened a trade route to Sind. Or, we just name it for the Queen of France.
Whatever we decide to call this land, we cruise northwards to map the coast and find ourselves attacked by another denizen of the depths. This behemoth shakes the entire ship, and Moridin is felled with a vicious wound. Mal de Merd-a-din leaps forth, sneaks around the flailing mass, somehow striking it in a vulnerable spot, saving Moridin from falling overboard. With this deed, Merd-a-din is now a Freebooter of renown.
As we move towards landfall the "Black Spot" attempts to claim another victim. Yet, this is the second time Porse fails to kill his target. While his Father may be the one known as the Killer of Kit Marlowe, Wilde-moon II is, in fact, far deadlier a man.
Our first landing spot is a poor choice--hordes of locusts infest the area. I shan't delve into the details, but just say that my Audacity quickly repels the swarm of insects, allowing us to return to the Ram's Head and strike out for the south.
Fleet Commander LeBeouf emerges from his cabin, where he's been staying since we first set out from France, weeks ago. LeBeouf is a good man, and proven himself to be most Cunning, but he's still a Landlubber, and I suspect he's simply taken this long to find his sea legs--not to mention stomach!
LeBouf takes us ashore, where we found our second Colony to the west--"New France." We set aside an allocation of Whale Oil, Forges and Coal, Tenting, Carts, Missionaries, Conquérants (to use a proper French term, rather than the Spanish), Warhorses, Sulfur, Seeds, Swine, and leave them a Galley for local sea travel. These supplies and men should ensure the survival of the colony as we secure this route. We also offload our remaining assets and secure them in nearby caves. For now it's more important our ships be nimble in the water and ready to take on new goods. Surely in this land we'll find the types of timber we seek--never have I seen such forest!
The east coast is charted more until south becomes west--perhaps the south edge of this land? Regardless, we return to New France and begin charting the inland, taking with us conquérants, tenting, horse, food supplies, some of the finest war dogs it has been my pleasure to see (reminding me of the mastiffs back on the Estate when I was a young Gentry), and, of course, the fine silver utensils. Francois insists that even in the Wilderness of the New World a gentleman always eats with the finest silver.
We find Lions! Not like out friend Leon, not like the city, Lyons, but, honest to God Lions, larger and fiercer than any known in the Olde World! From claw to shoulder they must have been six feet tall! Wilde-moon is mauled, but somehow escapes unscathed. Francois spins Harmon around, shoving him towards the beasts, seemingly using his fellow soldier as a shield. Francois and Harmon insist this was a strategy, as Harmon stumbles under the swipes of sharp claws and falls to the ground between the beasts, in the perfect position to shoot out both cat's hearts with his brace of pistols.
Luck, skill, it matters not--for besides the source of new timber we seek both the legendary Fountain of Youth, and the foul Marco DaVinci, and both are reputed to be near a place of lions. Our goals must be close by...
After circling around to the south of where the Lions range, we discover a tribe of tall natives, most fearsome and barbaric seeming, using a white mud to daub themselves in striped patterns which cross their ebon flesh. Yet these "Zebra People," are almost pleasant in their savage ways. Wonder of wonders, somehow Mal de Merd-a-din speaks their strange language. These people call themselves "Chibchan-Zulu," They hate Marco da Vinci (and his green-eyed people), they know where we can find him, and they will send along warriors of their tribe to help us eliminate him! All we need to to is provide these Zulus with better spears and pikes! With the forge at New France this proves simple, and, with our superior guns, swords and cannon, there is surely no repercussion to handing the natives some finely wrought steel...
Marco DaVinci has made himself the Chieftain of the "Pineapple People" (Merd-a-din insists it's "Papua" tribe). The old Swashbuckler has no desire to return to a civilized home. He is happy in his Godless life, Lord of a tribe of savages, yet he has the gall to try to trade with us, to ask us to betray the Zulu! We'd rather have DaVinci dead or captured than as a rival or trading partner, so the battle is joined.
First to fall are those beautiful mastiffs. A miscalculation on my part. Harmon steps in to take tactical command. I pray for guidance and, inspired by God and vengeance for those dear dogs, step into the fray, felling several foes for each slain by my companions. Soon enough almost the entire Pineapple tribe is dead or fled, with no further loss to us--in fact, every man of the Vert Valliant discovers new fighting techniques during this battle--not merely a stop-thrust or jab, but the type of techniques that give a man a little Swagger. Despite this, some feel, without knowing how they know, that our "Gentleman's Luck" is not with us for this battle.
Luck? Who needs luck when Godly men have skill! DaVinci and his Elite bodyguards still stand having cowardly stood far back while we slaughtered the rabble, and they now leap to press the attack. We are tired, some low on powder and forced to fight with Irregular means, others, fearing a fresh opponent trying to find a Calculated path to victory, but slowly whittling away these guards, until Francois Recklessly lunges forward and, with a single un-deux-trois combination knocks unconscious the last remaining savages.
Harmon steps forward to fight the Swashbuckler. Daggers are thrust, whole battles are fought with words alone, swords are locked. DaVinci even manages to attack several of us as if he were a Bane, yet Harmon's Oriental Pummeling wears the older man down. The final blow is an effective use of spurning--a kick to the head. DaVinci is fallen, bound and taken, while, Harmon is now "Chief Pineapple."
With DaVinci captured, surely we can get him to reveal all the secrets to his charts and his travels of this land--the location of the Fountain is now ours!
Leaving DaVinci alive can surely, never, in any way, come back to haunt us.
Ben Johnson, the surviving representative of our Patrons (Since Eka is dead), bathes in the Fountain and declares his sight restored! The rest of us drink and bathe from the Fountain. The water is cold, refreshing and remarkably clear, yet no one else seems to feel any different. Perhaps only Johnson sees change because only Johnson started ill? Perhaps none of us will age and the fountain's gifts will be apparent years from now? Perhaps Johnson was never blind to begin with. For now it's a mystery.
Most importantly with the Fountain discovered, two colonies founded already, and the amazingly tall trees of this land, all we have to do is chop down logs to fill our fleet, return home via our established route (and refine our rutter) along the Sea Lanes, and collect our pay! Perhaps, while in France, I'll have the time to track down that dog, Tortenssen. He still owes a debt of honor to be repaid in blood.
Fleet Chronicler Bailey
It was foretold we would find our prize near Lions ..... -- IronConrad (posted: 5/3/2018)
The New Worlde... -- Mike Myke Mique (posted: 5/4/2018)
A Fine Tale, Rousing -- red (posted: 5/3/2018)