The end of Big Dick Lester
The Ienne returned to the island and the Ishwas bringing tobacco and rum with them. They found the chief in a cave, where he was making paintings on the walls. He was happy to see them, and thanked them for relieving his ancestors’ forest of the white men. He agreed to let two of his warriors take them to the smugglers’ camp, but would not let them join in the white man’s fight. The two men, named “Walks on two feet” and “Farseer”, would have liked to fight, though, as they had lost several friends to wandering smugglers, but they obeyed their chief. Hawk and Ernest formed a bomb squad; bringing lamp oil and gunpowder with them. The chief also gave them a strange powder to use against the enemy. As they left the Ishwas the chief told them that the forest would be benevolent towards them, and curiously enough the journey to the smugglers’ camp was pleasant and completely without the otherwise pestering insects of that island. Fiona had arranged with Billy that he would take Ienne around the island and anchor up south of the island, so they could join up with him after the fight.
Fiona et al arrived at the camp to find the smugglers in a strange depressed mood, all of them quite drunk. There were quite a few women amongst them – prostitutes by the look of them. The camp was situated in a secret valley with a large lake from with ran a river into the ocean. The valley was hidden from the sea however by high cliffs – really a perfect hideout for smugglers. By the lake, where 4 large boats were shored, was a small settlement in a corral. Beyond the settlement and up the cliff was a small fortress where presumably the leaders of smugglers stayed. While our friends were lying in hiding, two men passed them – smugglers gone hunting for meat. They were promptly killed by Fiona and Ernest. Ernest and Hawk then took their clothes, put their hats low to cover their faces and walked into the camp. Their mission was to get to the fortress on the other side of the settlement and wreck havoc there, before any battle noise alarmed them. On their signal Fiona and the rest of the men would attack. Before attacking Fiona ordered that no prisoners was to be taken; all that resisted would be killed – including the women.
It was an ugly fight. Fiona’s men threw bombs over the fence around the settlement, killing many in their drunken stupor. All that resisted were indeed killed, but a surprisingly large number threw down their weapons at once and surrendered. Not so the leaders: Ernest and Hawk was hard wound up at the fortress. They had used the strange powder to great success, but those that survived that to fight, were uncommonly fierce. Hawk was nearly killed on that account. Big Dick Lester fought fiercely, but ended up fleeing the fight into the jungle.
When the fight was dying out and quite a few prisoners sat bound on the ground, Michael did something that brought much controversy on the ship later on; he started cutting the prisoner’s throats. At the sight of that Jean Luc hurried to stop him, but Michael ignored Jean Luc and continued killing the bound prisoners (who were by now squealing their rightful protests) with the argument that the captain had ordered ‘no prisoners’. Jean Luc then gave him a straight order to stop, which he finally did with a shrug. Many of Ienne’s seamen noticed this squabble and it was talked of later, when calm had befallen the area.
Meanwhile Fiona was at the fortress checking out what loot they had won: immense quantities of rum, loads of raw sugar and molasses, along with a chest full of silver coins. Also in a locked up room they found a barrel with a mysterious liquid. It looked like liquid light, and Fiona in particular felt that it was somehow benevolent… She would soon now better!
The crew of Ienne left the surviving smugglers behind, burned all the settlements and the fortress, sunk the boats, and took every little scrap of food and drink with them. Also every gun, musket, knife, dagger and cutlass – and the mysterious barrel of shining water... They left them to die surely, but Fiona refused to hang them, a demise she might any day face herself. And killing them in cold blood, as Michael had begun to do, was just not the way things were done on the Ienne, just as it would never have been done on the Fortuna. Fiona learned that much from Captain Enrique – what ever you do in life, reflects on you in death. And Fiona did not wish to be remembered as unnecessarily cruel. Smart, cunning and fierce – yes! – but not cruel.
Back on the ship Fiona learned of Michael’s doings. His disobedience enraged her and she called together her officers. Now, I understand if you, my readers, fail to see how Michael trespassed. Fiona had in deed ordered that no prisoners were to be taken, but she failed to express that those who surrendered unprompted anyhow, would be treated honourably. It was always so on the Fortuna. It was an unwritten law that that was the way it was. But Michael had never sailed on the Fortuna and knew not of any unwritten laws. He was thus understandably forgiven for that trespass. What Fiona could not forgive him, was his failure to heed Jean Luc’s – his superior officer’s – order. Orders were always to be heeded! It can be a matter of life and death on a ship that orders are heeded immediately. If non-officers take into their heads that orders are a matter of whatever one feels like, then soon mutiny breaks out. Fiona could not risk that and thus ordered Michael given 5 strikes with the rod. A lenient punishment in some regards – the whip, not to mention the nine tailed cat, wrought much more damage on a man’s body – unfortunately N’Gote, boatswain on the Ienne, is a very strong man and Michael frailer than he appeared. After 4 strikes he passed out, and Fiona ordered the punishment to seize.
Michael was brought below to the doctor, who took care of him as best he could. But soon Michael started thrashing around, mumbling about strange visions and whispering voices. At first everyone thought he had just taken his punishment hard, but soon the madness spread – one by one, from the lowest cabin boy to Fiona herself, they were seized by mad visions and strange feelings. For a long while Fiona and a few of her fellows were spared, but soon all were swallowed up by a strange madness that came and went, changed the emotions of the men like waves change on the ocean… The madness that consumed Fiona made her see the wind spirits in the sails and water spirits in the waves and currents. She explained to me that she didn’t find this odd at all; she had always believed in those spirits – now she was merely able to see what she had always felt existed. (I realize that my educated and pious readers may frown upon the mention of natural spirits of the voudou faith Fiona followed, but please note that this is no sentiment of mine – I am merely describing my biographed subject’s heathen and unnatural beliefs. J.M). Fiona felt that she could almost communicate directly with these spirits. While she found this quite useful, she could also see what the madness did to her crew: they thrashed around, some divulging in powerful emotions; anger, lust, envy, happiness, and certainly not doing what crewmen should do. Fiona felt that the liquid light was somehow the source of the madness, and along with N’Gote, Jean Luc and Dominique, who were all somewhat sane at the time, she decided to bury the barrel on the nearest beach.