Making war

 

Chapter 12

Making war on Goldmouthe

 

On our way back I ran into Nwgolo, quite the young man now. He wore an officers’ band of the White Gang – it seemed my luck followed me still. Nwgolo was happy to see me (I believe he had had a crush on me when we were kids), and he was quick to join our cause, and he would try and gather the gangleaders in Mamasitas as soon as possible. As he ran off I felt that we would come out on top of this no matter how many men Goldmouthe had with him, and no matter their size. When small boys like Nwgolo can grow up to become gangofficer, you know that Fate deals her aces not only to the big and powerful, but also to those with spirit and will to endure. And I would endure anything to get my hands on Grandpa Blackwell’s treasure!

 

Two pathways before Daybreak Square I saw Mweler Jefferson standing waiting, and I hoped to talk him into joining as well. He had joined already it seemed, but not our side; he lounged an attack on me as soon as I was close enough and got passed my guard to cut my arm. With a small pang of regret I killed him for that. I had known him long, and would never have guessed that Yellow Gang would have joined Goldmouthe! When I was safely back at Mamasitas, Jean Luc ran to get the crew from Fortuna.

 

Within the hour Nwgolo had gathered 8 gangleaders to Mamasitas. They were hesitant to join at first; Goldmouthe wrought terror in even brave hearts (I should know!), and they had much to loose, should we fail to prevail. Two of the gangs – Blue and Stripe from the southwest of Shanty Town declined, but promised not to join Goldmouthe instead. So 6 gangs were at the ready with 27 men all in all. Black Harry could muster 12, and Jean Luc returned with 20 men from the Fortuna – most of them with muskets. We sent a messenger to Goldmouthe (wearing Mweler’s yellow armband) to lure him to come to us. We had placed ourselves strategically about Shanty Town, but we needn’t have bothered. Soon a young gangboy - nearly green in the face - came running to us and begged me to follow. We found our messenger hanging from his feet sliced open from neck to crotch in the outskirts of Shanty Town. On his shirt was pinned a message; ‘Fortuna, I am here. Come and get me’. I completely lost my temper then; I was furious! I would have stormed off to fight Goldmouthe myself right then and there, had not Jean Luc held me back and talked sense to me; I could not possibly get close to Goldmouthe; they would kill me on sight before I got anywhere near the Whore Pits, let alone Steven’s Mermaids. It tooke some time to get me to calm down. I hate it when my men are killed!

 

A while later Black Harry sent a suggestion saying we ought to challenge Goldmouthe to meet with us on Gallows Hill tomorrow at dawn bringing the key and Cecilie with him (he sent it, because he under no circumstances would enter Shanty Town – ‘despite my name, I’m too pale for Shantyland’ he used to say). We let the challenge find him thru the mouth to mouth method; we told a penny whore in the outskirts of Uptown and I’m sure it reached Goldmouthe’s ear within the hour.

 

We were up late planning and scheeming, and I got a few hours of sleep before dawn was near upon us. Jean Luc woke me; he looked as if he hadn’t slept at all; he was silent, but on alert. In the dark before dawn we placed Fortunas men with muskets behind the stone walls surrounding the fields below Gallows Hill. I only prayed to all my gods that the peasoup fog would lift before dawn was actually on us, or the musketmen would be completely useless. On Gallows Hill I stood with Jean Luc and Hawk at my side, Black Harry and his men to one side and the Gangs on the other. Goldmouthe arrived with 30 men, big and weathered, and a scrawny and beaten Cecilie. I gritted my teeth at that; obviously she had not voluntarily aided him in his war against me. We stood insulting eachother for a while, while I waited for the fog to rise sufficiently for the musketmen’s view to clear. Finally I must have said something that irritated him enough to attack”.

 

Obviously there have been several tales of the epic battle on Hallows Hill. And while Fiona’s version of it is entertaining, it doesn’t quite seem to correspond with the other stories I’ve heard. She seems to embellish some points while completely leaving out others. And the points she leaves out are off course the ones that are most interesting to the rest of us. So here is the storie of the battle as I have pieced it together: Black Harry was a practical whirlwind, and his gang of retired pirates showed how they had survived the piratebusiness and managed to enter old age. The gangs fought valiantly, but tooke heavy blows. While Fiona fought bravely, she did not have much luck getting anywhere with it. Soon in fact she found herself completely disarmed. Hawk found himself fighting Goldmouthe himself, and though he managed to wound Goldmouthe a couple of times, he in retreat. He deflected one of Goldmouthes’s attacks with his bare arm, and thus ended up with Goldmouthe’s lefthand dagger thrust through the arm. Fiona, unarmed at this point, jumped to, threw him her bandana, yelled ‘bandage yourselfe’ and drew the dagger from his arm. I’m not sure that Hawk was particularly greatfulle for her harsh first aid, but at least Fiona was no longer unarmed… And a weapon she needed, for at this time Robert, Goldmouthe’s enormous bodyguard was pressing Black Harry’s men back. Robert towered even Goldmouthe with a full head and so wide across the shoulders that he had to walk sideways through most doors. He was a bull born in a man’s body, big, strong, not overly bright, but almost impossible to overpower and completely dedicated to Goldmouthe. Fiona and Jean Luc attacked him together – through the whole fight they seemed doubly dangerous when fighting next to eachother. Robert got Jean Luc on his knees, but Fiona used his distraction to wound him. Then she was thrust to the ground, and while Jean Luc fought Robert, she managed to use her low position to cut Roberts knee tendons. Even the biggest of men cannot stand with the tendons of the knees cut, and Robert fell. Jean Luc sprang to and wounded him twice in the chest. A roar comparable to a lions escaped Robert, but he did not cease fighting. He crawled away in the mud, but Jean Luc and Fiona was determined not to let him escape not even in his present condition. They killed him. Not in any heroic fasion, for there is no way of heroicly killing someone already fatally wounded and on his back in the mud, no matter how big he is. But as Fiona has told me; an enemy left to live, is an enemy that comes back to kill you another day. They could not take that chance.

 

At this time the musketmen had fired at Goldmouthe’s men and had split the fighting force in two. They were now fighting bravely sword to sword, and though Goldmouthe’s men were larger and more experienced, they were outnumbered.

 

With Robert finally dead at her feet, Fiona started looking around for Goldmouthe and saw him having the upper hand against Black Harry himself. She sprang into the fight with merely the dagger she had pulled from Hawks arm, not giving a single care for her own safety. It is unknown whether she managed to wound Goldmouthe, but it is certain that seconds later she lay sprawled in the mud at Goldmouthe’s feet and would have perished there, had not Jean Luc leaped into melee and taken the blow that would have killed her. As Fiona sprang to her feet again, Goldmouthe fled. He fled leaving the remains of his men behind. And this is where Fiona’s story seems to miss out on information; if Goldmoute fled with the last key, she would never find him or it again; as he fled, so did all her hopes of finding the Blackwell treasure. As I have been told, she looked after him – and these thoughts must have been in her mind – for a mere splitsecond, then she turned away and fell by Jean Luc’s wounded body. She chose him over the treasure – that is how I see it. When confronted with this, she merely shrugs and says ‘no treasure is worth a good man’s life’. But I choose to interpret her action then and there as this; she chose love over riches. And then Luck threw in another twist to the story; as Fiona desperately tried to stop Jean Luc’s bleeding, Nwgolo bend to the mud and picked up a broken leatherstring with a golden key on it… The last key!