François Arnauld, late of Saint-Domingue, drained the last of the wine from his bejeweled goblet; heedless of the overflow dribbling down his long, unkempt beard and further staining the white linen robe that shrouded his bulbous form. The heavy oak chair he wallowed in creaked in protest as he shifted his flabby bulk. Wiping first his mouth then his sweaty forehead with his dirty sleeve, He proffered the empty goblet to a white-robed Creole girl at his side, who dutifully refilled it. François leered at her from behind the darkened spectacles he habitually wore and bared his blackened gums and rotting teeth at her in a perverse grin.
“Thank you, my child.” he slurred, fondling the girl with greasy fingers.
François sighed and looked about at the rough-hewn timbers that made up his great dining room. His life in Saint-Domingue had been far better, but his flock’s depredations against the local populace and bloody feuds with rival vodou cults became too outrageous for the authorities to ignore. François and his followers were forced to relocate to the wilds of Spanish Florida.
Selecting a spot by the shores of Lake Welaka, they built a primitively resplendent mansion using the lumber from the ship they’d arrived in, supplemented with pines felled from the forest. The indigenous Timuchua people offered little protest, decimated as they were by diseases introduced by the Spaniards. The few that still dwelt in the area gave the manse and its inhabitants a wide berth.
François Arnauld was an occultist, and through his esoteric studies he came into contact with an entity he referred to as Le Batracien. François cultivated a relationship with this entity, one of the Great Old Ones, for some years, and used the resulting arcane influence he gained to amass wealth and followers. These latter were mostly disaffected youths, outlaws, and misfits looking for some meaning to their dismal existences. Calling himself The Father, François assigned the strongest men to act as laborers and fighters. Any young, comely women were attached to his personal entourage. (The Children of Le Batracien where to keep themselves chaste save on those occasions when their leader, François, required a carnal element to work his magics. This was quite often.) The weak, the aged, the unattractive, or the intractable went to meet Le Batracien’s copious appetite for human sacrifice. When no victims could be culled from the ranks of The Children, the local populace was preyed upon, this was why François and his flock where violently driven out of France, Quebec, and finally Saint-Domingue.
François’ musings on his misfortunes were interrupted by the entrance of a regal, mahogany-skinned Haitian woman firmly leading a dark-haired white woman by the arm. Both were clad in the ubiquitous white linen robe. François gestured grandly.
“Josiean, please seat our guest at the place of honor opposite me, and then bid Hurby to bring forth the victuals.”
Josiean roughly forced her charge into the chair at the opposite end of the table, and then approached François.
“Father,” she hissed, close to his ear. “This slattern is not worthy of our blessings. She is foul and vulgar. I examined her closely as proscribed in your teachings. Her body bears the mark of the lash and the noose. She also show signs of one given over to ribaldry and wanton debauchery.”
François smiled paternally, while placing a less paternal hand on Josiean‘s hip.
“We are all debauched in some way, my child. Through Le Batracien we can all shed our flawed earthly mantle and become true celestial beings. Trouble yourself not on such matters. Go and fetch Hurby now.”
Josiean cast a menacing look at the raven-haired woman, then slunk off to the kitchen,
Smoothing his long, greasy brown locks, François took a good look at his guest. She was a tall, lithely muscular woman, with the sun-bronzed skin that spoke of a life spent outdoors. She held her head upright, glaring boldly at him with dark, piercing eyes. There was a suggestion of a sardonic smirk on her full lips. Her upturned face sent her long, straight black hair cascading behind her shoulders, and fully revealed an angry, ruddy scar encircling her otherwise flawless neck.
This woman had come into François’ possession when his followers waylaid a lightly guarded Spanish carriage traveling to St. Augustine. The Spaniards proved more determined than anticipated, killing six of the cultists with gun and sword before being slain themselves.
The survivors, hoping to find treasure or other valuables, found only the woman, bound and gagged inside the carriage. She was clad in filthy, gaudy man's clothing. She herself was unwashed and grimy. Thus they had brought her back to the mansion. François ordered her bathed and clothed in clean, more suitable garments. It was in this more palatable condition that she sat before him.
“Now then my child, let us converse as civilized people! I am François Arnauld, humble leader of this congregation, which we call The Children of Le Batracien. And what is your name? How is you came to be a prisoner of the Spaniards?”
The woman replied, in perfectly intelligible, if barbarously accented, French. “Mary Purlee. I was sold to those Spanish dogs by pirates for a sack of doubloons. Now I ask you, François Arnauld, what do you have in mind for me?”
François smiled broadly. “You will remain here as our guest, Mary Purlee! At least until you have recovered from your ill-treatment at the hands of the pirates and the Spanish.”
“You’re very generous I’m sure.”
“I detect a cynicism creeping into your tone Mary. You worry yourself needlessly… Ah! Dinner is served, no doubt you are famished.”
Josiean returned leading a half-dozen servants bearing an assortment of victuals.
“I hope you don’t find our fare off-putting. Most of it is grown in our garden, or foraged from the lake and forest.”
A platter was placed before Mary Purlee by a tall, wolfishly gaunt black man with a balding pate and gnarled, sinewy hands. She regarded the contents of the platter; steamed potatoes, corn, a few pieces of grilled fish, and a cutlet of rare meat, somewhat similar in appearance to veal. Mary looked up at the servant with a smirk on her lips, opening her mouth to speak, but paused as she met his gaze. The ebon giant’s eyes widened and he made a sharp intake of breath. Mary looked again at Françoise, but he was guzzling more wine and had failed to observe the interaction. Mary scoffed quietly, and then consumed the vegetables and fish, washing it down with clear water from a goblet placed beside her. She was indeed famished.
Having eaten her fill, she reclined in her chair and regarded François. The Frenchman shifted his corpulent mass into a more comfortable position, and held out his goblet for more wine.
“You have not touched the meat, my child. Is it not to your liking?”
Mary Purlee‘s eyes flashed mischievously, she seemed to be hiding some amusement. “I have seen that particular cut of meat in native huts on Papua, and along the Amazon. I am not fond of it, Monsieur Arnauld.”
François seemed taken aback for the briefest of moments, but soon his demeanor returned to it‘s carefully cultivated hospitality. He changed the subject.
“You are well traveled, Madame. You have ranged far from… where is it? England?”
“Extraordinary! So many of us find ourselves far removed from our native lands. I myself was forced to vacate my beloved León.”
“It is a tragedy.” replied Mary.
“Alas, such is life. You are no stranger to hardship, either! Those scars about your neck… and Josiean tells me that when she bathed you, she found your back scarred as if by the lash. Not marks one often finds on the back of a white woman.”
Mary shrugged and cast her eyes languidly upon the Haitian. Josiean returned her gaze venomously.
“Josiean and her helpers took a keen interest in my bathing, her ministrations were most thorough.” Mary returned her attention to François “It’s been my misfortune that from time to time, people take offense to my behavior. Sometimes they become most unreasonable, and willing to visit the harshest of punishments on me for the pettiest of misdemeanors.”
François grinned and leaned forward; he snatched off his tinted spectacles and fixed Mary with beady grey eyes. “It is just such unreasoning hatred that has driven us into this sweltering wilderness! My children and I only wish to spread the truth and wisdom of Le Batracien to all. Yet we are hounded and persecuted!”
Mary nodded. “It is most unfair you’ve been treated thus. I will be sure to tell any who will give ear a true account of your generosity, once I’ve left here. Pertaining to that, I would not impose on your hospitality overlong. If I could collect my clothing, and perhaps a few of the weapons you took off the Spaniards. I’ll be on my way.”
“Nonsense! Night is upon us, I would not have you tramping through that alligator and mosquito infested hell at night. Stay with us overnight. We will outfit you and see you on your way at dawn.
“So be it.”
“Excellent! Now let us relax.” he turned to address the tall black man. “Hurby! Get thee to the kitchen and fetch the good wine! You know, the fine vintage from the old country.”
François eyed Hurby intently as he issued this order. Hurby nodded and made his way to the kitchen, somewhat reluctantly it seemed.
There was awkward silence at the table until Hurby returned bearing a platter with a dusty wine bottle and a brace of goblets. As he approached Mary, he grew closer and closer to the edge of the table until he stumbled against it. Dropping the platter and sending the wine bottle to crash at Mary’s feet.
François seemed to recoil in horror and Josiean hissed like a startled viper.
“I am sorry Father” Hurby intoned in stilted French, and quickly stooped at Mary’s feet, cleaning up the mess. Mary looked down and he raised his balding head and met her gaze with blazing eyes, he glanced down meaningfully, drawing Mary’s gaze to where the shards of the wine bottle lay. There he made a sign with his fingers, a sign well known to Mary Purlee.
“You are growing clumsy in your dotage, Hurby.” stated François. “ Go and fetch another bottle… one of equal… quality.”
Mary abruptly rose, and made a slight curtsy to her host. “If it please you, good sir, I would forego any further imbibing and retire. I feel a bit light headed. My ordeal took a greater toll on me than I’d thought.”
François paused, tapping on the arm of his great chair, then smiled broadly. “Of course my child, Josiean will see you to your room. I look forward to conversing with you further on the morrow.”
Josiean, her face a stiff mask of disgust seized Mary by the arm and led her brusquely though winding corridors to an empty bedchamber. She thrust Mary through the entrance and slammed the door to. Mary listened carefully and grinned as she heard the door lock from the outside.
Mary threw herself on the low timber framed bed and stretched luxuriously. She was indeed weary, but she would not sleep away this night. She relaxed and allowed herself to enter a half-doze that she had learned from a Austrian mercenary that rested the body without allowing it to fall fully asleep.
It was in this state she reviewed the events of the past few days.
That she had lied to François was not in question. She was not Mary Purlee. She was in fact “Mad” Morwenna Jones late of Nassau, and Captain of the brigantine Antelope. She had indeed been handed over to the Spaniards by pirates, but those pirates were her own crew who, having grown resentful of taking orders from a woman, and convincing themselves Morwenna had been cheating them, arranged to hand her over and collect the sizeable bounty placed on her head.
Her lot seemed to improve when she was rescued, but the situation soured when she discovered her rescuers were a pack of fanatics. She had been handled roughly and perversely by Josiean and her minions. Morwenna made a note to kill the Haitian at the first opportunity.
Things once again seemed to be looking up though. The towering Hurby she had recognized as a former crewman on the Antelope. (He had become disenchanted with the pirate life and jumped ship at Port-au-Prince.) When he had spilled the wine, he made a sign used solely among the crew of the Antelope, invented by them to signal one another surreptitiously.
Morwenna now had a plan. She would rest until the wee hours, then sneak out of the room, collect clothes, weapons and any valuables she could carry. And slip away. Any of The Children who sought to hinder her she would quietly dispatch with the carving knife she had secreted on herself at the dinner table. She had no doubt in her abilities to deal with the cultists. They may have overwhelmed a few Spanish conscripts, but Morwenna Jones was a stealthy viper in their midst.
Last Edit: Aug 25, 2018 9:56:15 GMT -5 by Char-Vell
Morwenna dozed thus until she judged it to be a few hours before dawn. She rose, already fully alert, and slipped catlike to the door. The lock she picked easily with the tip of the carving knife, and eased it open just far enough to allow her to stick her head out in the hallway. It was dimly illuminated by tin Betty lamps placed at intervals along the walls. Morwenna bit her lip to suppress a yelp. Directly opposite her door was seated a burly cultist, a tawny-haired Northman from the look of him, his head slumped on his breast.
Morwenna eased the door open. The hinges creaked abominably but did not rouse the slumbering guard. She leapt across the hall like a spider pouncing on its prey and ruthlessly sliced open the man’s throat. Blood spewed and he twitched once and expired with barely a gurgle. Morwenna propped him up so he remained slumped on the wooden stool. Nimbly stepping around the growing pool of blood, she proceeded down the hall.
She stealthily investigated numerous rooms along the way, most were other bedrooms, curiously empty. This vexed Morwenna, as she had no desire to stumble upon a whole slew of fully awake cultists. She passed though the dining room and into the kitchen, were she augmented the carving knife with a heavy cleaver and moved on, passing through the pantry into another corridor. At the end of this, she spied a large door secured with a padlock. Reflecting that one does not often padlock a room unless it holds valuable or useful items, she made straight for it.
Morwenna picked the lock, constantly swiveling her head in search of lurking cultists. plucking a nearby lamp from the wall she entered the darkened room.
The she-pirate clicked her tongue in satisfaction as the light from her lamp illuminated a variety of bundles, chests, and barrels piled and strewn chaotically upon the timber floor. The Children of Le Batracien had gathered for themselves quite the impressive stockpile. She soon located the clothing the cultists had removed from her. A fine Spanish coat in black with gilt trim, scarlet silk pantaloons in the Persian style, high polished leather sea-boots, and more importantly, her prized hat, a broad-brimmed black felt affair decorated with an ostrich plume. In an open chest she found several flamboyant silk blouses, and a long bolt of green silk that would serve nicely as a sash.
Setting the lantern and cleaver down on a nearby barrel, she stripped off the linen robe forced upon her by the cultists and hastily dressed herself, struggling to remain quiet as possible. Accomplishing that she rummaged further about the room. In short order she found a box filled with powder and shot, which sat next to an array of weaponry piled up like cordwood. From this she armed herself with a brace of flintlock pistols and a heavy Spanish cutlass suspended from a broad leathern baldric.
After loading both pistols, Morwenna decided to search the remainder of the room for anything else of value. Holding aloft the lantern she surveyed the rest of the contents. Mostly it was barrels. Barrels of what? She leaned forward and held the lamp close to the faded stamp on one of the barrels, struggling to make out the Spanish script.
“Pólvora” she whispered.
Her eyes widened and she nearly cried out.
“Sweet Jesus! Gunpowder!”
With some alacrity she removed herself and the lamp from the store room.
Back in the corridor, she leaned against the wall to calm herself before proceeding. As she stood there, she detected a low and distant chorus of human voices from the other side of the wall, form outside the manse. No doubt François and his minions where performing some asinine ritual, thus explaining the empty beds. All the better! Morwenna could slip away undetected.
She was about to do just that when a shuffling and gurgling sound emanated from the corridor in the direction she had come.
“Damnation!” she thought. “Did I not cut that slumbering oafs throat deep enough? Is it he that lumbers toward me?”
A staggering figure stepped into the lamplight, dragging itself bloodily along the wall, it’s arms hung limply by its sides. Its legs thrusting mechanically, pushing it along. It was not the slumbering guard. It was Hurby.
In her piratical career, Morwenna Jones had witnessed the most appalling mutilations that can be inflicted on the human body, but nothing she had witnessed compared to the destruction that had been wrought upon Hurby of Port-Au-Prince. He was naked save for the leather moccasins upon his miraculously uninjured feet. Great contusions welled up on his calves and thighs as though from the blows of a cudgel. A glistening, scarlet crater was gouged out where his manhood had been, and the flesh of his buttocks was mangled and torn. What Morwenna had first thought were some sort of ropes or vines laid over his shoulders and chest were actually hanging strips of flesh, flayed from his body by some unspeakable means. Hurby’s arms were near denuded of flesh, reduced to useless twitching,crimson twigs laced together by strips of sinew. He had been scalped, the bone of his skull glistening whitely in the flickering lamplight. By some strange chance, his face was untouched save for a cut on his lower lip.
Hurby lurched forward, sliding off the wall and falling in a heap at Morwenna’s feet. Hurby’s dark eyes gazed up at her, and he grinned bloodily.
“Cap’n Jones!” he croaked in his pidgin English. “They get you too! Ah! We in hell now!”
Morwenna knelt, thinking to comfort her former crewman, but could think of nothing that would relive what he must be suffering.
“Nay Hurby! We still be among the living. But ye’ll not be tarryin’ here much longer! Tell me what they done to ye!”
“The Father…François! He wanna make you one ‘o his wifes. But he see you too damn hard for dat! He want you drugged and give over to the Toad! He sent me for poison wine. But I could na do it Cap’n! You always dealt square with me! I can count on one hand the number o’ folks who dealt square with me. I spill the wine on purpose, give you the sign. That bitch Josiean see me give the sign, she rat me out to the Father. They give me over to the Toad, Cap’n Jones! The Toad do this to me. God, how I fight him! But the Toad... him too strong! I’m damned! I never shoulda followed the Toad.”
Hurby was seized by a fit of some kind, convulsing and vomiting forth blood. Morwenna thought he’d given up the ghost but his eyes opened and he spoke again.
“Kill them for me Cap’n Jones. Get me revenge!”
“Damnation, Hurby! That be a lot of folk for one lass to take revenge on. I can’t promise ye that.”
“I know, I know… least mebbie kill François fer me… mebbie Josiean? Just don’t let the Toad get ye, Cap’n… Beware the Toad… the garden… the garden…”
Hurby expired quietly as Morwenna looked on.
“Blast you Hurby, ye scurvy knave!” she muttered, wiping Hurby's blood off her hands on her coat.
Hurby had arguably saved her life by spilling the wine and giving the sign, thus François and his minions had brutalized him hideously for acting on her behalf, and she was his Captain at one point, that surely came with some responsibility.
No! she should sneak off into the dark, get as far away from these fanatics as she could.
Mad Morwenna Jones stood up and turned back toward the store room. Contemplating the barrels of gunpowder as the chanting outside waxed louder...
Last Edit: Aug 25, 2018 9:56:42 GMT -5 by Char-Vell
Morwenna stepped out of the back door of the manse, onto a worn footpath that led to the lakeshore by way of the garden; toward the glow of a bonfire and the sound of guttural chanting.
She toiled under the burden of a pair of matchlock muskets, one on each shoulder, and she gripped a smoldering match between her teeth.
On either side of the path were rows of vegetables. Corn, beans, potatoes. Interspersed among these was what a casual observer might take for scarecrows. As she passed near one, something compelled Morwenna to pause. Looking upon the “scarecrow”, what she saw was not the typical crude sculpture of rags and stick, but a human body, mutilated in a similar fashion as Hurby, but even more extensively. Morwenna shuddered and averted her gaze.
She came unchallenged to within musket shot of the gathering and set down her burden, carefully propping one matchlock on her hip, and bringing the other up and preparing it to fire. From this vantage point, she could see and hear what was transpiring by the lake shore.
François, firelight glistening on his sweaty brow and glinting off his spectacles, was standing before a crude clay idol of a toad depicted with its tongue roiling out of its mouth obscenely. Behind the idol was a gray-green mound of indeterminate composition. Perhaps a rubbish or compost heap?
François was gesticulating wildly and uttering incomprehensible calls, to which the assembled Children would respond. With each response from the Children, the gray-green heap behind the idol seemed to shudder.
Françoise raised his arms and the assembled cultists grew quiet. He resumed speaking in French.
“Children! This night you have seen how Le Batracien not only protects us from enemies without, but also from within! The treacherous Hurby has met the fate of all traitors and infidels! It is well our lord let him crawl off with some life in him, so that in his last agonies, he may reflect on what it means to interfere with the will of Le Batracien!
Now, to show our lord’s mercy, we will bring forth Hurby’s accomplice, Mary Purlee, who would repay our kindness with treachery! Before La Batracien she will be scourged and excruciated with the ancient methods, and given one last chance to renounce her vile ways and join our family!”
At that moment, Josiean, who stood near Françoise as his second, spotted Morwenna, noting the glow of her match in the dark beyond the firelight.
“She is free!” she exclaimed, pointing at the buccaneer. “The bitch is loose she…”
The matchlock thundered. Josiean’s outburst had caused Françoise to move, so the ball that was meant to strike him in the chest tore through his jaw, shattering teeth and shredding his tongue. He staggered about clawing at his face and gurgling incoherently. The ball continued on past the idol and spent its remaining force striking the gray-green heap.
Morwenna dropped the spent musket and quickly shouldered the other, threading the smoldering match into the serpentine. The Children still milled about in confusion save Josiean, who ran toward Morwenna brandishing a cane knife.
“English Whore! I'll split you in twain.”
Morwenna smiled and sighted along the barrel. She had been ill-used by various captors in her day, but the liberties Josiean had taken with her while “dressing her for dinner” aroused a special appetite for vengeance.
Morwenna squeezed the trigger and fired. Josiean dodged, thinking herself faster than the musket ball. Like François, she avoided being shot through the heart, but took the ball through the guts instead. She collapsed in a heap, vomiting blood. Morwenna dropped the matchlock purposefully strode to Josiean, violently kicking the stricken cultist in the ribs.
“I be a Welsh bitch! Ask the devil to show ye a map of Britain when ye get to hell. And give me regards to Hurby, he be keen to get reacquainted with ye as it where.”
Josiean emitted garbled curses and sought to bring her cane knife up to attack, but Morwenna kicked the weapon away and proceeded to gleefully stomp the Haitian occultist most brutally.
This continued for sometime, until, having spent her rage, Morwenna stood over the battered form of her hated enemy panting and sweating. Fresh wails from the lake shore drew her attention.
The children were shrieking and running hither and yon in a panic. Some had careened into the bonfire, scattering blazing logs and burning embers. François was on his knees, his arms high in the air in supplication, heedless of his mangled jaw which hung by a shred of flesh, flapping about like a gory, bearded pennant of some hellish army.
Morwenna looked toward what he made obeisance to. The gray-green heap had moved from behind the idol. Morwenna struggled to understand what it was she was looking at.
To say it looked like a toad would be inaccurate. There was a suggestion of the toad-like in that there were flabby lips, seeking, roiling, pseudo-tongues, and yellow, slit-pupiled, soulless eyes, but the gelatinous bulk of the thing defied comparison to any terrestrial creature.
It reached out and seized François. With what Morwenna could not be sure. A flailing mass on narrow, whip-like extrusions erupted from the mass and shredded the flesh from the Frenchman with blindingly fast flailing motions. It cast aside the flayed, scarlet bones of François Arnauld and to her horror, slithered toward Morwenna.
“Le Batracien.” croaked Josiean. “He comes for you, bitch!, Now you learn!”
“We’ll be seein’ who learns.”
Morwenna seized Josiean by the ankle, and with strength one might not believe possible in a woman, dragged her along the path toward the manse. The occultist kicked with her free leg until Morwenna turned and fired a pistol into her knee. Josiean howled and spilled yet more blood onto the sandy loam.
Blood that Le Batracien followed hungrily.
Last Edit: Aug 25, 2018 11:10:46 GMT -5 by Char-Vell
Josiean, dazed and bleeding out, lapsed in and out of consciousness as Morwenna dragged her across the lawn and into the manse. She was aware that the Welsh demoness was taking her circuitously through various corridors, and on the floor of each, along the wall, was piled a row of gray powder.
At last they arrived in the dining room. Morwenna hoisted Josiean off the floor and threw her roughly into the heavy timber chair of François.
Josiean spat blood and sneered at the pirate.
“I die bitch, but you will not long enjoy your vengeance! Le Batracien comes for you! Listen!”
True enough, there was a great cacophony of shattering timbers as Le Batracien forced his amorphous bulk through the back door and into the manse. The sounds of destruction continued as the foul abomination made his way through the pantry, but rather than crash through the kitchen and into the dining room where the women were, the sound continued toward the further part of the house.
Morwenna grinned broadly and snatched a Tin Betty lamp from the dining table. Josiean stared at her in bafflement. Morwenna was laughing. “Now YOU listen, slut! Le Batracien may be strong, but he’s nae smart enough to see a trap! He follows the trail of yer blood l left through the house, at the speed he’s moving, it’ll put him in the storeroom about the time this trail of powder I left burns to there! Watch!”
Morwenna stooped and used the lamp to ignite a small gray pile from which depended three trails leading off in different directions. With a cloud of acrid smoke and a demonic hiss, the pile ignited and fire danced along the trails and sped off to the storeroom. Morwenna Jones rose and turned grinning to Josiean, who writhed in impotent fury on the chair.
“Farewell, Josiean. Enjoy the show!”
Morwenna ran like the proverbial bat out of hell. She could hear Le Batracien raging near the storeroom, perhaps pausing to devour the remains of Hurby. She had hoped the thing might make it to the dining room in time to consume Josiean, who even now howled curses at her back, but c'est la vie.
Morwenna burst out of the front entrance and ran at top speed to the tree line. She made it to within a few yards of it when she was thrown face first to the ground. Behind her, the powder kegs in the storeroom exploded, blasting the manse to splinters.
When dawn broke over the steaming forest, it found Morwenna Jones seated on a singed rocking chair among the shattered ruins of the house, sipping on a salvaged bottle of rum.
She had been knocked senseless by the explosion, and when she came to, there was no sign of Le Batracien, Josiean, or any of the Children. She had picked through the wreckage for anything useful, and then decided to rest until daylight before moving on.
Movement in the tree line drew her attention. Three sinewy, bronze-skinned men emerged from the fog-shrouded wood. Their black hair was cropped peculiarly about their faces and gathered in topknots. They were clad in colorful breechclouts with a sort of cloak thrown over one shoulder. Their faces and arms were painted, and their bodies festooned with feathers and shell ornaments. They were armed with bows and heavy clubs.
As the trio regarded her sternly from the edge of the forest. Morwenna drew her cutlass and set it across her knees, and drew a pistol, holding it low at her side. She kept the rum bottle in her other hand and sipped from it.
The three men conversed together for a time,and at length one of their number strode forward to within a few feet of Morwenna. He glanced over the destruction, and then squatted on the ground. From a pouch tied about his waist with a rawhide thong, he produced a wad of dark, aromatic tobacco and thrust it in his mouth. This he chewed for a space, and finally spoke,
His Spanish was near perfect. Morwenna nodded and regarded him coolly through languid eyes.
“Those crazy folk who lived here.” he continued “They finally do themselves in?”
Morwenna shrugged, and responded in the tongue of Spain.
“I won’t lie. I’m responsible for most of this, but those crazy folk brought it on themselves.”
The native nodded.
“It was only a matter of time. They got up to bad stuff here. We should have dealt with them, but the Spaniards sickness has lain us low. You are not a Spaniard, are you?”
“No, but I’m as bad or worse than one though.”
The native laughed and Morwenna joined him. He extended his tobacco pouch to the pirate.
“Don’t mind if I do!”
Morwenna greedily seized the pouch and helped herself to a generous portion.
“I’m Morwenna Jones.”
“That thing, Le Batracien. What was it?”
“Don’t know. Something they brought here with them. Or conjured up with their evil medicine. You kill it?”
“I think so. There was enough gunpowder in that storeroom to blast it to China!”
“Good! Maybe the fish’ll come back.”
“A gaggle of those loons ran off into the woods.”
“We found them, some we had to kill. The rest… well, it’s bad luck to kill crazy folk, we’ll set them on the road to the Spaniard’s fort. What will you do?”
Morwenna spat and shifted in her seat.
“Head north. I have to get out of Spanish territory, they want to hang me. Do you have a problem with me passing through?”
Dulchanchellin smiled grimly.
“Not at all. Our lands end a few leagues north of here though. The tribes beyond there may feel different. There will be other white men there too. Is it just the Spaniards that want to hang you?”
“I’m fairly certain the English want to hang me as well.”
Dulchanchellin guffawed again and rose, tossing the tobacco pouch at Morwenna’s feet.
“Farewell Morwenna Jones. You have my thanks for ridding us of those crazies. I hope you avoid being hanged.”
“It was my pleasure Dul… Dulch… Friend!”
Dulchanchellin grinned and strode back to the tree line.
Morwenna rose and placed the tobacco pouch in her coat pocket, alongside a purse bursting with gold doubloons she’d pillaged from the wreckage. She had also scavenged some meager supplies in a burlap sack that she threw over her shoulder.
As she took one final look at the splintered remains of the mansion, she felt she should say something, some parting word to the shade of Hurby, or some final curse at Josiean or François.
Instead, she spat into the pile of smoldering timbers and turned northward.
She had a long walk ahead of her.
Last Edit: Aug 27, 2018 6:39:12 GMT -5 by Char-Vell