Ienne

 

Chapter 24

Virgin voyage of the Ienne

 

In Port Vender (or Port Vendateir as it is also called) Fiona sought out the local bosses (the Gillows-clan) and asked for permission to hire amongst their men. For some reason or other they let her do so without any sort of commission – she must have argued her case well, for the Gillows-clan are generally not known as a generous lot – and fools they certainly are not! Fiona picked out 30 men who agreed to be available for pick-up, when she returned from Brest. They were a bunch of cutthroats the lot of them, but capable seamen who would on the whole turne out to be valuable crewmen under Fiona and her officers’ firm guidance. On her second day in Port Vender La Querida hit port. Fiona greeted them on the harbour-front wholeheartedly, though not all were as pleased to see her. She sought out Billy and after the initial getting reacquainted, she asked him to be ship’s master on the Ienne, to which he agreed. Also from the Ienne followed: N’Gote as boatswaine, Bill Glass as gunner, Marcel Cybeaux on sails and rope, Neb Wilson, Marcinho ‘Horsehead’ Grignol and his woman Mama Imbasa, Dale Hareforth (the one-armed man), Obikwe K’Toini and ‘Mute’.

 

As a curiosity I can inform you that at this time a strange natural phenomena took place: there was an uncommonly strong ebb, where the ocean drew back almost half a mile from the eastern shores of the Islands, multiple shooting stars fell, and the sky has been reported to be yellow. Many thought that the end of the world was neigh, but off course it wasn’t so (as we are still here). When I asked Fiona of her opinion of it, she merely shrugged and said that good men can hold the end of the world at bay if they so chose, whatever that meant.

 

In the winter of 1626 Fiona returned to Brest alongside Jean Luc and Hawk. While Hawk and Fiona saw to the finishing touches of the Ienne, Jean Luc took some time off to see his family. But as he sought out the shipping company’s office in Brest he was given grave news; his father, the member of Parliament, war-hero, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Robert de Bergerac had died, 54 years old about a month previously. He whisked away to his bereaved family without a second thought. He returned in a sort of daze; his father had left him the shipping company! But Jean Luc felt no desire to sit behind a desk for the remainder of his days, so he left the company in capable hands, and sailed out with Fiona as planned.

 

Fiona and Hawk hired 31 capable seamen in Brest – skeleton crew for the Ienne. Sebastian – fellow boatswaine to N’Gote – was picked up in the jail. He was put there for drunkenness – a state he often found himself in when on shore. Along with the crewmen they also picked up a lot of rumours; from the many refugees from the Islands they were told that many of the Venduer-family had gone missing – on their own account or because of foul play no one knew. Everyone expected some sort of rebellion to break out anytime, but no one dared guess who would lead it. I know that Fiona gave it great thought – she too wanted to object to the self-installed king. For some reason she felt almost obliged to act, as if she personally ought to protect the righteous Venduer-line, if such a one still existed. I must admit she didn’t tell me this herself; I overheard a muted conversation between her and Hawk, and thought it worth while listening to. I’m sure it was not something she wanted blurted out at the time – and loyally enough I have kept my tongue until now. Another rumour had it that the Sachish Empire was falling apart, something that would surely spark of a quick little war between Ryendor and Codora. Jean Luc had brought back with him from Ryendor City a letter of marque. All though Ryendor was at war with nobody at the time, Jean Luc had argued the sensibility in having somebody already out there ready to pounce on enemy ships as soon as they became enemy ships…

 

On Ienne’s first voyage she sailed commercially; bringing Sachish oak, rope from Epirus and such stuff to Cagliano. Once in Cagliano 10 of the sailors from Brest lefte the Ienne (preferring to return to Brest I presume), and 10 others were hired in their stead. The crewmen from La Querida and Port Vender were to be picked up later. Ernest, Dominique and Michael came on board in Cagliano; Ernest as 3rd mate, Dominique as physician and Michael as Master of Arms. Jean Luc sailed as 1st mate and Hawk as 2nd mate and navigator. As a curiosity; it was in Cagliano that Fiona picked up Gibbet; her childhood tag-along. She found him in the jail (pickpocketing), and freed him on the condition that he would never steal from shipmates. Indignantly he agreed; off course he would never do such a thing! Over joyous as he was to be freed, and by Fiona at that, he would have agreed to gnaw off his own head, I’m sure.

 

On their second day in Cagliano Fiona was summoned to the harbourmasters office. Going like a mischievous child to the schoolmaster, she was wondering what she might already have done wrong. But it turned out that her reputation had reseeded her (or maybe he had picked up that she sailed with a letter of marquee); she was offered a commission to find and capture a smuggling ship that had sailed the north side of Cagliano coast for some time, and if possible unravel the smuggling organisation behind it’s endeavours. Fiona promptly agreed.

 

They sailed off the next morning on the tide to the place where the smuggling ship, a two-masted schooner, had last been seen. They followed the coast for a while and then set out to sea. On the third day they spotted birds on the horizon, indicating land, and soon thereafter; a twomasted schooner. They raised the Ryendor flag, since that was the jurisdiction they sailed under, and they closed upon the schooner. The wind was down, but they closed quickly, and without further warning the schooner fired upon them! Had there been any doubt previously about the intent of the schooner, it was there no more! Fiona ordered the attack and the battle was brief. The schooner did however have a devilish devise on board; a machine that fired firebolts at their enemies! Fortunately the first shot fell short and the second overshot, before the Ienne could board the schooner. Sebastian was at the wheel, while Fiona was in the front line of boarders – where she has always been, if she has a choice. Her men fought bravely and quickly overcame whatever enemies on board the schooner; they killed eight men and wounded nine. The captain (who will remain nameless – Fiona wouldn’t telle me the name, and no one else had been able or willing to either) surrendered. After some persuasion (he was offered his freedom for goode information) he amongst other things tolde the names of the moneymen behind the smuggling business. He claimed that he was not associated with the Harrow Brothers, but when he was put in the schooner’s dingy and before he was led down, he handed Hawk a note saying something like ‘They’ll raise the prize now’. But that certainly didn’t dissuade Fiona, quite on the contrary! She was delighted that she had managed to spite the Harrow Brothers once more.

 

As an aftermath Dominique tried out his healing skills on the wounded enemies (Ienne’s crew only sported a few cuts and bruises) – he, or rather they, were not very fortunate. Not that this discouraged Dominique any. He regarded it as good practice that would turn out better next time. Once back in Cagliano he was given a few pointers by a local physician, and indeed I have heard that hardly any of amputations on the crew of Ienne have gone completely wrong after that.