The sting

 

Chapter 31

The Sting

 

For the following I have had several reports to rely on. They aren’t completely consistent, but I believe I’ve managed to sieve the most unlikely tales from the truth: The Soleil (captained by Blair) and the Ienne (captained by Billy) waited down the channel beyond sight of the fortress, while Ernest, Jean Luc, N’Gote, Hawk and Fiona and a score of other men from Ienne’s crew went on board the fire boat (not yet on fire, off course). They steered into the harbour on a not quite steady course, to look a little bit out of control. A small group of men left the boat to swim to the Denise ahead of the others to overcome the guards on deck in silence. Ernest lit the first fire in an oilpot that would eventually set fire to rigging and sails and more oil and gunpowder. They started making a commotion, and every one, except Ernest, went into the ready boats and set the course directly towards Denise. Ernest corrected the fireboat’s course to head directly towards the Interceptor – he stayed on board longer that was intended to make sure it actually did reach its goal. And well he did! Interceptor’s crew desperately tried to turn the fireboat away, but Ernest kept it on course, until someone hit him in the head with a pole and he fell overboard into the dark water of the harbour.

 

Meanwhile Fiona and her men had boarded the Denise, and fighting broke out. The marines were now sure foul play was afoot, but they were nevertheless subdued and for most part locked below deck. Several witnesses have accounts of how Fiona and Georges Villiers duelled (interestingly enough Fiona completely left this detail out of her side of the story), while bantering in good nature. Fiona struck him in the stomach, but that did not stop the hero of so many other tales; he in turn cut Fiona in the arm, though he easily could have hurt her much worse – always the gentleman! (Do remember to purchase James Wotham Jr.s biography ‘Georges Villiers – the man and the myth’ at Harrison, Harrison & Sinclaire’s Publishing Company. Ed.). As Fiona’s men seemed to have secured the deck, Georges Villiers grabbed Fiona and managed to toss her aside (he himself denies this brutal mannerism towards a female – he claimed she swooned because of her wound and a particularly charming smile of his), he then jumped to cut as much rigging as he could, before Jean Luc and N’Gote overmanned him and threw him overboard (again, Georges Villiers claimed a different story; he says he jumped upon the railing, bid them adieu and dived into the harbour. This is what I wrote in his biography, but this is Fiona’s story).

 

But what of Ernest? N’Gote had witnessed his fall overboard and sent Bosser Narwik, the best swimmer on board as he had spend quite a few years with the mermaids of the Vanilla Isles, with a line to find and recover him. Just as Bosser found him (under the water) the entire fireboat blew up. N’Gote pulled Bosser and Ernest both on board, while debris and burning oil now covered the water. Meanwhile Fiona got the Denise moving away from the burning ships in the harbour. The Interceptor too took quite a bit of damage, not enough to keep her in the harbour, though. Several of the trapped marines and sailors under the Denise’s deck tried to find their way up to fight, but they were deflected and tossed unceremoniously into the harbour. The Denise exited the harbour, passed a small merchantship on her way out and met up with the Soleil and the Ienne in the channel. A race began; our three friends fleeing out the channel, ducking the fortress which never got their cannons ready in time, The Interceptor and a few other ships hot on their tails. The Soleil managed to cripple one of the followers, and the mines that Ernest and Phoebe had concocted and put in the channel took out another. But soon they were clear of the channel and set the course southeast in direction of Port Royal, and when the followers were no longer in sight, to the north and Cagliano. While not completely in the clear as yet, cries of joy rang between the ships, backs were pounded in glee, hands were shook’d in congratulation of a heist well done. They had succeeded!