[Mock-Fiction] V - Fures Misericordiam

Note: Please read the Formal Notice movella. It should be on the list on the right hand side.

Aye. Tis me again.

Cover by Secrets Unfold

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39. 37 – The Forging of Gentlemen

“Look at her!” said the Lieutenant, disgusted, as he sat next to his commander by a modest table within the walls of Mariqah’s fortress. Heavy iron chains weighed down both their hands, “Look at her, my Lord! She looks no better than a common cleaning lady!”
 

Mariqah heard him and came up, her face smeared with ash and pitch and her hair tied back with a bandana, wiping her hands on an oil cloth, “Big words coming from a man who got his arse handed to him today,” she said, cocking her head to a side.

“The leader of an army, and still no dignity?”

“Oi,” she said, “ease your temper and calm your tongue, mate. I may have given you shelter, but that don’t mean I’m givin’ you leave to talk like that. Besides,” she yawned widely, “this place is a skip since I left it. Horses need shoeing, the floors need a good clean, clothes need washin’ and, dammit, I’m goin’ t’do Khadir’s head in – there’s mushrooms growin’ in every corner of the kitchen! And not edible ones, either,” she turned to her mercenaries, “And what is this, eh? Get ‘em out of chains!”

 

“But they’re our prisoners, ma’am,” one replied.

“No, Sammy, they’re our guests,” she replied, “Get e’m some food, some water, and prepare rooms for ‘em. And get some hot baths goin’ while your at it, eh? They stink. Oh, and equip their rooms with some paper and pens. Seth’s mother is probably worried sick, poor old woman.”

The mercenaries did as Mariqah bid them. She took off her bandana, casting it aside lazily. She yawned again.

“I don’t get it, Seth,” she said, wearily, “I’m disappointed in you. You mock me with your lot.”
Seth sighed, rubbing his sore wrists as they were unchained, “Put it on my brother’s tab. He wouldn’t listen to me. ‘Take horses,’ he kept saying, ‘take horses, that’s all you’ll need’,” he looked up a little, his expression sour, “I never thought I’d miss my father so sorely. What would you have Simeon pay for my release? I doubt you’re keen on asking for more than, I don’t know, five pence? I’m not sure my army’s even worth that.”

 

“Please, Seth,” said Mariqah, hands on her hips, “if it were all about money, I’d rather’ve killed all of ye on that field today – and stripped the studs off of your boots and the silver outta your helmets,” she turned her head to a side, “But I’m tuckered out, mate. Diplomacy is for the well-rested and the finely-dressed. We’ll speak in the mornin’, aye? I’m havin’ some fresh clothes made for ye, find me in the stables tomorrow at dawn. There’ll be someone to wake you and someone to bring you. For now, though, hold your peace, eh? And try to relax and eat well. I’ve errands run, villagers to check on, and…” she rubbed the back of her neck uneasily, “and a disobedient student to lecture.”

 

He just nodded, and Mariqah turned on her heel as food for her guests arrived. She was met by the return of her eighteenth-century naval force.

“Ah, my guests o’ honour!” she said, over-dramatically, “Good to see ye – Captain Thatch, Captain Hornigold, Vane, Rackham, Kidd, Bonny,” she turned her head to a side, “and Edward. Take a seat, take a seat!” Mariqah gestured to the cushions propped up in a corner, “You’re welcome once again to Normandy – everyone is that does their fair share.”
“Fair share?” said Vane, sitting down uncomfortabley, “What is this? A ducking monastery?”

“Ah, tighten your belt, Charlie,” said Mariqah with distaste, “This ain’t your comfy tavern at Nassau about three hundred years ago. This is the army, you’ll ‘ave to get used to it,” she sat down in front of them, “So, what can I get ye? I was hopin’ that you’d bring your crews along with you. There’s a merry feast afoot – courtesy of the villagers wives after our…” she shook her head, sighing, and gestured an air-quotation, “war.”

 

“Disappointment on land too?” asked Kidd.

“Aye. Was like slaughtin’ baby rabbits,” she shivered.

“Well, not too much to tell,” said Thatch, “After sinkin’ your Queen’s Nose… there was nothin’ else to sink.”

She from one pirate to the other, “No reinforcements?” she said.

“No reinforcements,” Edward repeated.

She sighed and rubbed her temples, “God damn it, idiots are dangerous people,” she muttered, “How stupid can that muppet get, eh? This is my strongest stronghold! And he sends me a hundred nancies and a handful of ponies! Might as well’ve been warring with sailors!”

“Oi!” they all said.

 

“You know,” she continued, ignoring them, “I pitied them – now I’m just plain offended. What I had out there wasn’t a fight – it was a bloody circus performance!” Mariqah shook her head, “Nonetheless, you lads and lass’ll get your food and enjoy it, eh? I’ll send someone to give some to the lads back in your ships. There’s aplenty in our cooking pots tonight.”
“And where can we get a bit of rum?” asked Rackham.

“Ah, I was wondering when you’d come up with that one. All forms of narcotics are banned for tonight. I doubt that the Royal ‘Army’ will pose as a threat any time soon, but it’s general protocol. There’ll be regular watches tonight too… I should probably check with Khadir on that one.”

“This really is a bloomin’ monastery,” Vane muttered.

 

“What’s your plan, then?” asked Hornigold.

“My plan? For what?” replied Mariqah.

“For your enemy… who seems to be gorging himself on your food over there.”

“My plan is to talk and make an agreement with him,” she said, pensively, “He’s not my enemy. I’ve had fewer of those since I stopped tryin’ so hard to make friends.”

“So… what is he then?”
“A… a rival. But he knows he does better in talk against me, than in a fight against me. You don’t make too many ties when your mercenary – you make money. Saves you from a lot of trouble, I must say – from keeping friendships and from taking revenge for no other reason than to fill your own bloodlust. Seth, I think, knows that. His brother on the other hand, is too much of a fool to see it,” she stretched, “Well, I’ll get goin’. I’ve… businesses to attend to. Have a good night, fellas.”

 

Mariqah stood up and left them as their food was served.

“Oi!” she called.

The mercenaries turned to her.

“What is this?” she said, “A graveyard? Make some noise, lads. Wasn’t the most fierce of battles today, that you fought… actually, that might be an offence, calling it a battle at all – but celebrate all the same.”

They laughed.

Our ‘pprentice Tom may now refuse,” sang one of them, as a drum beat boomed steadily in turn,

To wipe his scoundrel master’s shoes –

For now he’s free to sing and play:

Over the hills and far away!

 

Over the hills and o’er the Main,

To Flanders, Portugal and Spain.

The Rogue commands and we’ll obey!

Over the hills and far away.

 

We ought to lead more happy lives,

By getting rid of foster’s wives –

That scold and bawl both night and day:

Over the hills and far away!

 

Over the hills and o’er the Main,

To Flanders, Portugal and Spain.

The Rogue commands and we’ll obey!

Over the hills and far away.

 

Then Mariqah chimed in,

Courage, boys, ‘tis one to ten,

You return all gentlemen!

A gentleman as well as they,” she pointed at Seth’s horde,

Over the hills and far away!

 

They laughed,

Over the hills and o’er the Main,

To Flanders, Portugal and Spain.

The Rogue commands and we’ll obey!

Over the hills and far away!

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