Cutlass Mission 12A (12/30/20) pt 3 of 4 “A Communique to the Bullingdon Cartel from a Trusted Agent
Maître Bräu Bullingdon,
It might be expedient for the Consortium to look into the financial and political interests attached to the Lady Guinevere's business of golden threads and cloth. I had returned to Paris with Paxton Wildemoon after assisting in the disposition of his late cousin’s remains, when I found myself “summoned,” along with many of the other agents involved in recent favors performed for His Imperial Majesty, Khan Bahadur, Lord du Destin. We were informed we had all somehow “incurred debts” to the Lady Eloise.
The suggestion is ludicrous, the stated method of “restitution,” dubious. We were to man a merchant vessel, sail to Madrid and engage in business on behalf of the ship’s owner, Lorenzo. I nearly sneered at the assemblage, and left, but decided to take part in this fool’s errand, at least until reaching Madrid. Travel from Madrid into Bavaria up-river would be shorter and less hazardous than riding overland across the continent and over mountains with winter nearing. Cheaper, as well, as horses wouldn’t need to be procured.
A few discreet inquires determined we were opposed by Lorenzo’s brother - Raleigh, a moneylender of ill-repute who was attempting to subvert the important diplomatic and commercial works of betters to line his own grubby pockets, and the same man whose plans we had foiled in Cyprus. Rumors hinted the moneylender was attempting to have his merchant brother killed - a level of greed even the followers of Shem might balk at. I accepted an assignment as “Master of Arms,” and immediately had the Tormentor's Rain secure all firearms aboard for their sole use.
We set to sea and hadn’t even lost sight of port before we came under fire from a smuggler or pyrate. Our Captain, Enzo Eymard, was unprepared. His attempts at deception - smoke pots to make us appear aflame - only encouraged the smugglers to close in for a quick kill. We were quickly overrun, and forced to swim for shore. Eymard seemingly never made it to shore..
Another ship was produced. Oddly, the cost of the first vessel was not “added to our tallies.” She was provisioned, and quickly turned into the waves. During preparation of this second ship information arose that the moneylender had mistaken Eymard for his brother. At least we wouldn’t face attacks or subterfuge from our “own patron.” I considered abandoning the mission, yet felt it possible more information could arise of use to the Consortium.
And so, to sea again, under a fresh rejoinder to proceed “with stealth.” Once more we found ourselves attack by smugglers. This time the Mughal, Yonten, had been given the Captaincy and he brought the fight to the foe. We boarded and quickly took the ship. I personally took the smuggler Captain captive. From the smuggler we learned the moneylender was reputed to be awaiting us in Madrid.
We transferred our crew and cargo to the larger and better armed smuggler’s vessel, and took the merchant vessel under tow. Yonten, perhaps, is less free of the influence of the cursed “Captain” Mayweather than indicated in my previous missive. The Mughal named our prize vessel “Lord Nathaniel” after the madman. The Mughal also seemed to become fast friends with Ricardo Wildemoon, the ship’s Chronicler. Yonten provided Wildemoon with his journals and suggested Wildemoon might find them an interesting read.
While selling our merchant vessel in London the Governor-General Merry Wells arrived. I wasn’t privy to the conversation he had with Yonten, but the Governor came aboard as ship’s Chaplain. Scuttlebutt held the Governor had both enmity and unfinished business with the moneylender. Captain Yonten did mention to we officers that the crafts guild of Madrid had gone on strike.
Still, with an improved ship, and a Man of God aboard for spiritual comfort, the crew of the “Lord Nathaniel” were in high spirits as we set back to sea. We had abundant stores, and the crew were obedient and vigilant. The crew held faith with Captain Yonten when a galleon of the Pyrate’s Brotherhood approached us off the Carpathian coasts. Yonten, in a display of mad bravery hailed the approaching pyrate and invited their Captain abord to parlay. To my shock, Yonten then offered the Brotherhood Captain our spare mainmast in exchange for free passage through the waters the Brotherhood now claimed.
So, perhaps Yonten was the only one surprised when, two days later a galleon flying the Brotherhood’s flag appeared over the horizon, closed, and opened fire. “At least the don’t have a brand new mast” Ricardo Wildemoon griped. Yonten gave orders. Unction was applied to the faces of the crew to make them wan and discolored and the plague flag was run up. The Brotherhood vessel had already thrown grapple lines by the time the flag fluttered in the breeze, but the late revelation they were boarding a “plague ship” obviously gave the pyrates pause. Gilbert Durand, our navigator, led the repulsing action. Denis l’Menace, Master of Sails called for us to counter-board. I was surprised when the sailors of the “Lord Nathaniel” started over the rail. Before I could order the Tormentor’s Rain to cross ships, a good portion of our crew had swarmed across, and Ricardo Wildemoon already lay bleeding - but alive - on the opposing deck. Captain Yonten himself had crossed, and I had the Tormentor’s Rain move to protect him. The impulsive actions of Yonten and the surge of my musketeers pushed back the pyrates and Durand slew their commander.
Captain Yonten had us round up the surviving pyrates. Yonten re-christened the galleon “Lord Nathaniel’s Plunder,” then, to my utter shock, turned the military vessel back over to the Brotherhood pyrates as “a gift!”
Here I am forced to reconsider my recommendation of Yonten into induction into the Consortium. After the difficult years of work to bring down the Pyrate’s Trust, I can conceive of no reason for Yonten to aid and re-arm their successors in the Pyrate Brotherhood. In the long term, this serves to work against the interests of the Consortium, as well as the civilized governments of Europe.
In our immediate circumstances, there was one consolation. The Brotherhood crew chose to escort us through Brotherhood waters back to the sea lanes off Sofia. When Governor Wells spread lies throughout the crew and tried to arrange a mutiny, the Brotherhood was more than happy to take the Governor off our hands.
As the Brotherhood ship took it’s leave off the coast of Sofia her Captain shouted to Yonten, “The crew of ‘Snake’ (the pyrates obviously took no heed of the name “Lord Nathaniel’s Plunder”) thanks you for your kindness, and will share with you the ransom we’ll get for this High Lord Governor!”
Perhaps “Snake’s” crew spread tales to other Brotherhood ships? We were left unmolested from Sophia to Seville. In Seville a representative of the Church spoke with Captain Yonten. This Champion of the Faith offered to take control of the “Lord Nathaniel” and ferry her to Madrid, while the rest of us could consider our debts paid. Yonten conferred with his officers. General consensus was a desire for “revenge.” The officers wished to see the matter through, seek out, and slay the moneylender. I understand vengeance and the wisdom of removing one’s enemies, but, to me, it seemed the moneylender had no issue directly with us - only his brother. As the moneylender mistakenly thought the merchant was already dead, the moneylender was no immediate concern of mine. Better to turn this rich scoundrel's connections and resources to the Consortium. .
And so, we made the final crossing to Madrid. Bribes were give to the right men in the Royal Docks for Port officials to ignore our actions, and Paxton Wildemoon attained false Dock-master's credentials. More gold exchanged hands, and my musketeers found themselves in the livery of the City Watch - under my command, of course. As we made out way through the city past the Watch barracks, Durand prattled insipid words meant to inspire. There was no greater cause here to invoke. Our mission had become one solely of murder without consideration given to long term advantages.
A meeting with a brother of the Consortium brought to light Raleigh knew he was now a hunted man, and time was now of the essence. Could he be found before he fled the city? I no longer cared, and was ready to extricate my men and myself from the situation. In our guise as City Watch my Tormentor’s Rain cleared a path through the common area of the port, where a music festival had drawn crowds.
We emerged near the Royal Stables where a gang of toughs was harassing what seemed to be the entourage of some dowager Lady. Paxton Wildemoon charged in discharging pistols into the air to drive off the thugs. All very gallant of him, but to the detriment of his own stated mission. It was now obvious how mistaken my hopes for Yonten had been. The fools who had decided to murder Raleigh couldn’t even keep themselves focused to their self-appointed task!
Again, there was a pause outside the drawing room of some manor. Yonten was offering the officers and my musketeers some foreign draught while Durand was offering a purse of doubloons to the man who identified Raleigh’s house. I was considering using my own skills of persuasion on the dithering idiots when I was quietly approached by a hooded figured. I had been recognized by the agents of Raleigh, and offered the contents of Raleigh’s stables - some hundred horses - to simply walk away. The horses were already saddled. I glanced at Yonten and his crew. Yonten was juggling pistols and speaking to Denis l’Menace. I don’t think any of the disorganized rabble even noticed as the Tormentor’s Rain and I mounted up. I was given a note of credit for the other fifty horses and I wheeled my mount, motioned my men to set forth, and rode away. If anyone in Yonten’s doomed party noticed our departure they let us leave unchallenged. I doubt any took notice.
So, Maître Bräu Bullingdon, I have sent my Lieutenant ahead with this message and the copies of Raleigh’s charts obtained on Cyprus. With luck the moneylender survived the clumsy charge for his skin. He should be easy to persuade.
I should arrive before too long in Berlin, where we can, in person, discuss our next steps in how to increase the Consortium’s influence in France and the Indus, as well as how to best prevent the Pyrate Brotherhood from filling the void left by the dissolution of the Pyrate’s Trust. I look forward to fruitful discussions with you before I return to my duties in governing the Indus port of Marathus.
Alastor du Sang, Nawab ul-Marathu