Chapter Thirteen: The Raid

At midnight, Carroll, Fraser, Miguel and the crew met at the dock, outlined the battle plan, wished each other good luck and vanished into the night. Fraser and the crew got to work setting about a distraction, removing several large barrels from the ship. During the unloading of their cargo, Davenport dropped one of the heavy barrels on his toe and received a clout from Fraser for his troubles. They reached the front of the fort, where two men stood on guard.
‘This area is off limits to civilians, what do you want?’
‘We’re here with a delivery.’ Fraser replied, staring the guard down as his men lined the barrels up in front of them.
‘I don’t know anything about no delivery. Leave ‘em here.’
‘As you wish sir.’
The crew placed the barrels in front of the guards and moved off slowly. In the darkness, the guards did not notice the look of satisfaction on Fraser’s face as he bid them good night. Nor did they spy the thin cord of rope trailing out of one of the barrels.

Carroll and Miguel followed the wooden walkway along the side of the fort as they waited for the signal. Fortuno took a look at Miguel, who had taken a long length of rope from his belt. He looked every inch the pirate, wearing only the sword from his gentleman’s attire. Fortuno also noted that since that had met in the bar, Miguel had avoided his gaze.
‘So, how did calm quiet Alexander Fortuno end up with a pirate like Sherman Fraser?’
‘He’s not a pirate.’
‘Officially, no. Unofficially, he’s a much a pirate as you are… sorry…were a sorcerer. Not that there’s nothing wrong with that walk of life.’
‘Of course. When did you first meet him…and how did you end up here?’
‘Twenty… or was it thirty years ago, I got him out of a spot of bother during the Mexican war with the Americans … As for Virginia, I’ve been coming here since Ratcliffe landed; it’s the perfect place for an enterprise like this. I simply told my good friend the Captain to meet me here as soon as possible and bided my time.’

Miguel seemed guarded and closed against Fortuno; he spoke in a low voice and did not say more than was necessary. He glanced towards the Fort, where the crewmen were walking away, the guards oblivious to what was going on. Miguel gave a slight chuckle, before swinging the rope in a circle over his head and hooking it onto a spike that was part of the fortress wall.
‘So how did you find me? Fortuno asked after a long silence.
‘In spite of what you may think, the Conclave has long been aware of your whereabouts. They have a spy on Fraser’s ship apparently, which might explain how you managed to get on board so easily.’
Fortuno briefly began to wonder who that might be, but he brought his thoughts right back to the matter at hand. He wanted answers.
‘Miguel, why didn’t you try to contact me before?’
Miguel said nothing, before gesturing to Fortuno, who tightened the rope with his sorcery. He hadn’t seen his friend in such a dark mood since once during an excursion to France, the details of which were between God, Miguel and his confessor, Simon Liberthine.
‘Miguel? Did you deal with Griffon?’
Miguel pulled the rope tight, before pausing for a moment. He spoke slowly and deliberately.
‘After you left, Griffon took over the manor. From there he has begun to systematically kill anyone who defied him or tried to escape, using the Marines as his puppets.’
‘He hypnotised them?’
‘No need. Our friend Captain Negan is still tied by some perverse sense of duty; he has loyally kept his guard at the manor.’
‘Why? What does he hope to accomplish?’
‘He has…commandeered the manor; Griffon lets him run it like a prison. To round up the undesirables and criminals of this land and bring them to justice, he says. A real paragon of virtue is our friend.’
‘And the Conclave?’ Alexander asked, shooting a glance at Fraser and his men, who had quickly ran for cover.
‘The Conclave has so far sent five men to investigate the problem, two of them were killed, and the other three are now Griffon’s acolytes. He has…powerful methods of persuasion.’
He paused, before tying the other end of the rope to a mooring post.
‘And what about…’

Fortuno did not get to finish his sentence, because at that moment, an enormous explosion shook the dock. When Fortuno picked himself up, Miguel had already climbed to the top of the fortress. Fortuno followed, and joined Miguel at the top.
‘What about Miranda? She wasn’t…’
‘No, she wasn’t one of the ones who tried to escape. Her fate is… it’s much worse than that.’
‘What do you mean?’
Miguel took a deep breath before replying.
‘At the end of this month, Griffon is going to marry her; he’s hunting far and wide to ensure you’re the guest of honour.’
Fortuno turned on his friend angrily.
‘And you didn’t think to stop him?’
‘Of course, I’d manage to stop the greatest Necromancer the world has ever known all on my own?’
‘I managed it.’ Fortuno retorted petulantly.
‘Then why is he still here? He tricked you Alex. He tricked us all, and now he’s stronger than ever.’
Captain Fraser stood up, ignoring the slight ringing in his ears that had come from demolishing the front of the fort. He signalled to Brooks, who nodded and headed towards the cloud of smoke. Two soldiers came running across the dock and they were immediately set upon by the crew. Fraser smiled amiably at them.
‘Sorry gentlemen, but the fortress is out of bounds.’
Instead of frowning, the guards smirked. Fraser turned and heard the click of a pistol.
‘Well… that makes things harder for us.’
In one move, he ducked, pulled his cutlass from its scabbard, clouting his would be attacker on the head. The other men were taken aback by this, and were quickly set upon by the crew. One large guard attempted to arrest Dr. Troughton, but the older man knocked his sword aside and cracked him over the head with his cane with extreme nonchalance, taking a hearty swig from the bottle he clutched tightly in his other hand.
‘That was highly enjoyable.’
‘If you say so Captain.’ replied Davenport, nursing a cut to his right arm.
‘Have to take the rough with the smooth, Paul. Now come, let’s see if we can help out Mr. Carroll in his task.’
‘Stop right where you are.’
Once again, Fraser was taken by surprise by the click of a gun. This time, he did not have time to respond before one of the several musketeers who had arrived knocked him out cold.

Fortuno peered through the archway at the end of the passage and looked down the stairs. No one. He quietly made his way down, Miguel following close behind.
‘So why did he let you go?’
‘He believes he can manipulate me, that he’s got some power over my actions.’
‘Why?’
‘He thinks I’m… in love with Rosemary Weaver.’
‘And you aren’t?’
‘Of course not.’ Miguel hissed, but there was little conviction in his words.
‘And he actually believed you?’
‘Apparently so.’ Retorted Miguel dryly.

Neither man spoke for a while after that, and they managed to sneak down into the armoury. There were only a few guards patrolling and they had all been relatively easy to deal with. They strode confidently into the armoury to find… the barrels of several muskets pointing in their faces. Behind the muskets were four men. Behind the men, frowning like a displeased schoolmaster, was Captain Negan.

Chapter Twelve: The Port at Virginia

Six months later, John Carroll, first mate on the good ship Red Wanderer marched across
the deck, his hands behind his back. He had all but forgotten the events of the last few
months, and felt better for it; it seemed that that his colleagues had deserted him. He now
worked under a new master, the middle aged; ruddy faced Captain Sherman Fraser, one
of those men who were often heard before being seen. Carroll still kept his staff attached
to his belt, but he had not removed it for several months.
‘Mr. Carroll! Is everything in order?’ Fraser bellowed from the helm. He looked every
inch a ship’s captain, with a red bandana on his head, a short, bristly beard, and an
arsenal of pistols, swords and daggers covering his frame. He was flanked by the bo’sun,
a somewhat eagle faced individual by the name of Paul Davenport, and Richard Brooks,
the ship’s scribe, who had been freed from a Chinese slave ship. Since his rescue,
Brooks seemed always to remain silent, only ever speaking to the Captain. Only Fraser
knew the man’s true name, for he had been given a more English-sounding soubriquet to
suit his new masters, and it had followed him to his current position.
‘Aye aye sir!’
‘Good. Mr. Davenport, fetch up another barrel of rum!’
‘That might be unwise sir.’
‘Damn it man, fetch me rum! Brooks, give him a hand down there!’
The bo’sun complied, muttering under his breath as he disappeared into the hold,followed by the silent scribe. John Carroll ascended the steps and clapped the Captain on
the back, before being handed a spyglass.
‘Can you see the bay?’
‘I can just about make it out Captain.’
‘Excellent. M’boy, that’s Jamestown, Virginia, and an excellent source of business.’
‘Business?’
‘Oh yes, rum, piracy, guns, whoring, there’s few businesses that don’t profit in Virginia.
Except, I suppose, the legitimate ones.’ He let loose a great burst of laughter that nearly
knocked Carroll backwards. ‘It’ll be a definite success this time.’
‘Oh if I had a coin for every time I heard that.’ mumbled Davenport.
‘The so-called sorcerer of Whitby was an isolated incident.’ bellowed Fraser, proving he
could hear just as far as he could be heard. ‘Just for that, you can fetch me two more
barrels.’
Technically, Captain Fraser was not a pirate, as he did not concern himself with the
looting of vessels, or the raiding of ports, yet he had a great respect for those in the
pirating business, seeing them as combating the draconian techniques of the East India
Company and similar money grabbing organisations, and assisted them wherever he
could. If you asked him his occupation, Fraser would have claimed to be an entrepreneur.
Indeed, he had a finger in many different pies, carrying rum and guns, as well as
occasionally providing his services to the highest bidder. He did, however, have more
morals than the average pirate, and would only provide assistance to an employer
providing their methods did not contradict his unusual code of morality, which included not assisting in slavery, murder of innocents, or molesting of women.
Fraser steered the ship further towards the port as Davenport and Brooks emerged from
the hold with two more barrels of rum.
‘Good work men, now bring up the rest.’
‘But sir, you can’t just drink it all.’ Davenport protested. For a moment, Fraser was
stunned into incredulity.
‘Drink it? And get rid of our hard earned profits? Heavens man, I’m getting it ready for
the arrival at Virginia!’
‘Oh.’
Fraser sighed, exasperated. Davenport was a good, honest man, but he was not renowned
for his mental capacity. He went below to fetch the rest of the barrels, with several other
crew members joining him. Fraser called after him.
‘Oh, and Davenport? Be so good as to wake the Doctor when you go down.’
‘Must I sir?’ muttered Davenport as he continued inside. The ship’s doctor was an
irascible, impish fellow called Dr. Troughton, who was well known for his irritable
nature. Fraser grinned as the men disappeared, and turned back to Carroll.
‘And as an added bonus, our friends in the Royal Marines happen to operate here.’
‘How is that an added bonus Captain?’
Fraser lowered his voice; the first time Carroll had seen him do so.
‘I think we might be able to turn a tidy profit out of our tax-loving friends.’
‘You have a plan Captain?’
Fraser gave him a devilish grin and tapped his nose. He turned back to the helm and prepared to dock in the steadily approaching coast. Following a great deal of angry
muttering and cursing, the doctor emerged on the deck.
‘Well Doctor, here we are.’
‘I don’t see why you had to wake me for this. I’ve seen it before.’ grumbled the doctor,
waving his stick dangerously close to Brooks’ face. As ever, the scribe did not speak, but
his eyes flickered over to Fraser, concerned.
‘And I’m sure the citizens of New York will never forget you.’ Fraser responded, raising
his eyebrows slightly.
‘Don’t be sarcastic with me Captain.’ He turned to go. ‘I’ll be in my quarters… not to be
disturbed!’
‘But Doctor, if things go to plan… or rather if they don’t go to plan… we’ll need your
incomparable skill for our excursion.’
The Doctor looked humbled and he muttered.
‘Well… if you put it like that…’
‘I knew you’d see things my way.’
When they reached the port, Davenport leapt down and tied the ship’s mooring rope to
the dock.
‘Everyone off. We have arrived!’
A dozen crewmen staggered out, some falling over from exhaustion, others because they
had sampled some of the supply.
‘Come on men, it’s time to get a good price for this loot!’
A scattered cheer came up from the sailors, apart from one man who slipped over the rail and fell into the sea.
After the sailor had been retrieved from the water, the crew began moving their goods on
the harbour. Carroll went below and retrieved a large brown satchel from his cabin. There
was a muffled grunting noise and he unbuckled the straps, causing a black cat to come
tumbling out.
‘You… absolute… bastard!’
‘Sorry Sam. But I couldn’t have you wandering about on deck… when you’re out at sea
for a long time, even a scruffy, flea-bitten…’
‘Get to the point.’
‘You could have been dinner.’
Sam scoffed.
‘Well we can’t have that can we. I might have had to claw someone’s eyes out, and that
certainly wouldn’t have made you very popular.’
‘John! Hurry up down there!’ Came Fraser’s voice from above.
‘Go on, your Captain awaits you.’ He nimbly returned to the satchel and lay down flat.
‘You want to come out too?’
The cat did not emerge, but his sarcastic voice soon emanated from inside the carrying
case.
‘No, I thought I’d stay here with the woodworms and rats.’
‘If you’re sure.’ Carroll went to refasten the satchel, but Sam spoke again, this time with
a more serious tone in his voice. For the first time Fortuno could remember, his familiar
sounded sad.
‘Alexander… when are we going home?’
‘I don’t know Sam.’ He clicked the buckles back together. ‘I don’t know.’
Three hours later, when most of the rum had been sold and the afternoon sun was beating
down upon the port, Carroll, Fraser and the crew stopped at the local tavern and began to
drink the remainder of their supply. Davenport had spent most of his time awkwardly
trying to avoid the attentions of a particularly voluptuous barmaid, much to Fraser’s
amusement. Dr. Troughton began singing a drinking song and soon the entire tavern
joined in before they all collapsed in an exhausted heap.
As the sun began to set over the sea, the bar staff began clearing away the flagons and
half eaten scraps of food that lay strewn about the tavern. Despite the early hour, the
Doctor had already managed to fall asleep, balanced precariously on the edge of the bar
as he sang and mumbled in his sleep about the whiskey in the jar. Fraser gestured for the
bartender, a grizzled, former sailor called Harry Asselin, who had been the first mate in
Fraser’s crew before Carroll. In fact he had been with the crew of the Red Wanderer from
the beginning, before Fraser had won the ship in a bet from its previous Captain, a
perpetual inebriate named Ronald Sarris.
‘Harry, come and tell Mr. Carroll of our enterprise.’
Asselin limped over, his right leg still recovering from a musket shot. According to him,
the wound had been received whilst battling pirates off Cape Horn. According to Dr.
Troughton, who had treated him, it had occurred in a bar fight, when he had refused to
pay his bill. He pulled out a chair with some difficulty, and sat down. There was already a full flagon of ale waiting for him.
‘So this is the fellow who replaced me. Christ, Sherman, he’s barely older than my lad
back home.’
Carroll said nothing, he wondered how Asselin would feel if knew his real age.
‘That may be so Harry, but he’s an excellent sailor, and he fights better than most of the
rabble I seemed to have picked up. Now get on with the plan!’
‘Right, Mr. Carroll, know you of the fort that lies along the dock?’
‘Only by sight, this is my first time in Jamestown.’
‘Ah. Well, that fort happens to contain enough treasure to make Cortes himself go green
with envy.’
Carroll frowned.
‘I thought all the gold had dried up since the conquistadors left.’
Fraser lowered his voice past its usual bellow and whispered conspiratorially.
‘Well, the gold that lies in Jamestown Fort don’t come from the land… it’s obtained from
some of the more morally questionable practices of the local soldiers.’
‘You mean they…steal it?’
Asselin laughed and took a large drink from his flagon before letting out a short belch.
‘You sound surprised boy, wearing the livery of the Queen’s Navy is no mark of quality.’
He would have continued, but a man entered the tavern and made for their table. The man
had a long beard and a shock of black hair. He moved silently towards the table and sat
down.
‘John, this is Mr. Carrera, the mastermind behind this endeavour.’
‘Miguel.’ hissed the first mate, in tones that no man could have heard.
The two sorcerers met each others gaze and there was a brief moment of understanding,
that passed by Fraser unnoticed. After a long pause, Carroll replied slowly.
‘’So what do you have to do with our enterprise Mr. Carrera?’
‘Well, Mr…’
‘Carroll. John Carroll.’
‘Carroll, as Harry has already explained, the local troops happen to be er…rather on the
corrupt side. Beneath their headquarters at the fort lies a large amount of loot that has
been confiscated under legal pretences. Now, if Captain Fraser can cause a great enough
distraction, then I’m sure we could sneak in undetected and leave with a large portion of
the loot.’
‘And the Marines are going to leave no one behind to guard? This plan seems somewhat
simplistic Mr. Carrera. And rather foolish.’
‘Mr. …Carroll, I have been coming to this port for a long time. The officers stationed
here are not disciplined, they are generally fat and underpaid. I’m sure they shouldn’t
provide you with too much of a challenge?’
‘Of course not.’
‘Well, then…Captain Fraser? What do you say?’
‘I think it’s a plan perfect in its simplicity Mr. Carrera. Who will you take with you to
collect the loot?’
‘I’ll go.’ Carroll volunteered quickly.
‘Good. I’ll meet you at the docks around midnight.’
The men began to leave, and Carroll would have followed, but Fraser stopped him with a
hand to the shoulder.
‘John, be careful tonight. Carrera is a man I have known for some time, and his nature
can be less than savoury. There’s a dark heart hidden underneath that playful façade.’
Carroll tried to hide a smirk.
‘You can count on me Captain.’