Loot

 

Chapter 32

Cashing in on the loot

 

For the next couple of days their followers were spotted at intervals. Apparently a sloope, a lineship and a frigate were still giving chase. Fiona and a couple of the others had time however to check out the cargohold – there were no more foreign sailors on board, but treasure was, lots and lots of treasure… Furniture, fine rugs, gold, jewels, art – a fortune! £30.000 in cash and £10.000 worth of jewels and jewelry alone! Also quite a few deeds to property on the Islands, in Ryendor and other places. These deeds they decided to take to Port Royal and Black Harry and try to get him to sell them to the Harrowbrothers or in some other manner let them fall into their hands against a generous commission. Ernest went with Baird on the Soleil on this mission. Black Harry was nowhere to be found, so the papers were left with Mamasita to be delivered to Black Harry when he showed – apparently he had gone underground.

 

Jean Luc, Dominique and N’Gote took the Ienne to Cagliano to look up Zees van Roten, to see if he could connect them to takers of the more delicate loot – the things that would hardly survive the journey across to the ocean to the old world. They sold some furniture to him for £700 worth. While in Cagliano Jean Luc decided to stay behind to wait for the Ryendorian representative that was scheduled to show up soon, to see if he could be turned to help the crown pretender’s cause. Billy Halliwell stood the helm on the return voyage.

 

Fiona captained the Denise and set course to the now very dead Legless Carlos’ island, to lie low in safety until the others came back. While there Georges de Villier’s seal was found in one of the officer’s cabins. Fiona kept this for future use.

 

The three ships met up at Legless Carlos’ island a week later – at this time the Dominator was searching for them, so far luckless. They set course straight east. Ernest claimed to have an associate in the Codorian colonies on the Africaan coast who was well connected to people able and willing to take such a large treasure off their hands and pay them generously for it too. On the way the damaged Interceptor crossed their path and gave chase, but they outran her. She was clearly still too damaged from the fire in Jamestown harbour. Due to some clever manoeuvring the rest of the journey was pretty eventless. The winds and currents seem to favour them all the way.

 

In the Cordorian colony (I never learned the name of the place. JW) they looked up Ernest’s acquaintance Antonio, who turned out to be a bit of a skunk. He claimed to have a likely taker for the loot in Cap Sacres: Mullah Omar. Antonio was easy to talk into helping them, his wife Maria however was a different matter altogether… They had to pay her up front for borrowing her husband and guarantee that he would be returned to her – preferably without having drunk and whored his fee up in Cap Sacres.

 

Cap Sacres is a city of wonders – and none of them pleasant. It had once been an imperial city of great beauty, but over the years it had added layers from each culture that had taken the city. It was at the time quite overlooked by Codora though still officially a codorian colony - it was the Africaan version of Port Royal: a place for trading and cheating, a place for people of all colours and creeds leeching off each other. A place where everything is for sale – humans included. I’ve heard people call it the armpit of the world – and that’s the nice version of it.

 

The brothers Al Adhin dressed Fiona to look more local; in almohadish clothes. Ernest knew his way around the city and kept a low profile – there were people here he’d rather not get reacquainted with.

 

As it turned out, Antonio didn’t know Mullah Omar directly, but rather his 2nd cousin or somesuch, whom he went to set up a meeting with. He returned to meet Fiona and her friends in ‘The Swallow’s nest’ – rather sweaty and nervouslooking. Fiona told me later that his looks should have been warning enough, but he had all along been a rather shifty fellow and not one to waste water on washing. He showed them to a small inn on the citywall – accessable by stairs and runways only. They were led into a room, where several almohadish characters were seated, waiting for them. Fiona, and her friends (Ernest, Jean Luc, Hawk, the doctor and N’Gote – the brothers Al Adhin were acting lookouts) and Antonio, were asked to leave their weapons on the table – which they did… Well partly; they left their obvious and visible weapons on the table. Now I have to explain something about almohadish customs to make the following understandable for everyone: they – even amongst the lowest of almohadhs - always start a businessmeeting with introducing one self and ones family some generations back, complementing the guest and all sort of niceties, including breaking bread together, before any sort of business is discussed. As a result almohadish businessmeeting usually drag out for hours on end. Ernest and Fiona were, besides the Al Adhin brothers, who were outside on watch, the only crewmembers who could speak and understand almohadhish. Antonio came along as middleman, but also as translator, so the almohadh fellows now in front of them did not know that there were people among Antonio’s friends who could understand them. So after having asked Fiona et al to leave their weapon, they said something in the line of: ‘ask the sons and daugther of dogs to sit their *** down, so we can get to it’. As you can understand this was not proper procedure! Ernest immidiately grabbed his gun from the table and shot the man posing as Mullah Omar straight in the face. Suddenly the room was full of thugs attacking our friends. It was a trap for sure! Antonio ran off, but was caught by cityguards alerted by the gunfire. The Al Adhin brothers barely made it away. The front door with the city guards on the other side was now no longer available as an exit. N’Gote checked out a backdoor that was connected to another house by a ropebridge, which several thugs were now crossing to join in the fight. Fighting on the bridge commenced, N’Gote chased the thugs away and cut the bridge from the opposite side, so it could be used as ladder. Meanwhile the doctor was wounded and from the sound of it it was a terrible and lethal wound. Hawk, Ernest and Jean Luc was clearing the way to the bridge/ladder, as Fiona kept their backs free from several thugs coming from the kitchen. N’Gote tossed the screaming doctor over his shoulder and made down the ladder and the others soon followed, bullets flying around their ears from fleeing thugs and approaching city guards.

 

They found shelter with an old friend of Ernest’s – I never discovered any details about him. To save him from represalias, both Ernest and Fiona has kept completely quiet about him (or indeed her if that was the case). They spent the night there, discussing plans. Some of the officers was all for leaving Antonio where he was; in a cage hanging over the harbour, since he had betrayed them. But in the end they decided to rescue him; he was still their only contact to Mullah Omar. They had now gathered that the thug who had set up the trap, was a rival bandit and not connected to Omar at all. First they pondered appealing to the mayor – who was incidently also the local govenor – a short fat man, they had seen in the street the day before. They had also seen his mistress; a very beautiful young woman carried around in a litter. She was pale and obviously not local, every man in the city was a little in love with her, but the mayor guarded her jalously. They considered going through her, but investigations showed she was even harder to get close to than the mayor himself. Finally they decided to simply spring Antonio from his prison: as I mentioned previously; a cage swinging over the harbour close to the garnison of city guards protecting the harbour... The Al Adhin brothers who had rejoined them by this time, was sent to the ship in the harbour with the message they should be ready to leave the harbour right after midnight – the rescue would take place just before midnight.

 

Oh, to those readers who might wonder about the good doctor’s fate, I better tell you that he had merely suffered a harmless fleshwound. Apparently he had a very low tolerance for pain... Honestly Ernest called him a girl, and Fiona called him something less flattering.

 

While N’Gote, Hawk and Jean Luc preoccupied the city guard (by amongst other things rolling half a dozen barrels in front of their door), Ernest and Fiona set to freeing Antonio. They had to hang upside down from the beam to which the cage was chained to get to the lock; Fiona provided the light (with the help of a shiny knife and the moon), whilst Ernest picked the lock. Just as they had Antonio on safe ground, they were discovered. To divert the guards they called ‘fire!’ and chaos broke loose.

 

I’m told they laughed all the way out of the harbour and into open sea. They sailed a little way down the shore to a fisherman’s village where they anchored up. Antonio was all apologies; he had been threatened and pressured into betraying them. They were not about to forgive him just like that, but he was given a second chance. They took the backway back to the city. Antonio frequented a hashishbar to look up Mustafa, Omar’s business partner. He arranged for a meeting at Mullah Omar’s villa.

 

Mullah Omar’s villa was a hamas – a bathing house – from the imperial days; a beautiful building with mosaics, pillars, small garden with fountains and glaced tiles. They found Mullah Omar in the bathing area, and were surprised to find a large, muskular and a little too wellfleshed man well past his best years, a man with blond hair and grey eyes and a skintone obviously northern. In fact Mullah Omar had been a sachish mercenary in his younger days, and had fought besides Jean Luc’s father Robert in the liberation of Damar under the name Manfred von Grüner. Jean Luc didn’t know this, off course, and Fiona certainly wasn’t aware of this strange coincident. Had it not been for my meticulous research I couldn’t have included this curious fact. Omar invited Fiona, Jean Luc, Ernest, Antonio, Hawk and Jean Luc to join him in the pool, which they did. They started talking business, when Antonio recognized a slave girl, who atempted to run away, when he called her name. She was the sister to the thug who had attempted to trap Fiona and her crew, and was apparently here to assasinate Omar. A fierce fight commensed between Fiona, her men and several assassin slavegirls. An uneven fight on the best of days our friends soon had the situation under control. Omar was so thankfull of the quick and wellorganized rescue that he gave them a particular good deal on their goods; £ 26.500 in codorian goldtops!

 

So all in all the Ienne and the Soleil had cleared a £ 67.200 profit from taking the governor of Jamesport’s treasure! £ 2.000 went into the Ienne treasury – the rest went to the freedom fund for the good king – pretender at the time – William. A contribution that would not be forgotten!