A new, thrilling adventureEdit
British Isles, 1749 Great Britain is in the seventh year of her bitter struggle with Imperial Spain. Philip V Clemente, hailed as the most brilliant European general since Julius Caesar, has established himself as a brutal, unrelenting Conqueror, he has the reputation of being invincible on land, but at sea it is a different matter....
Chapter I: The Dead of NightEdit
The full moon had long set on the rolling Yorkshire moors when dense storm clouds blew in from the west, obscuring the stars. In the pitch darkness before dawn two riders walked their horses down a narrow, overgrown bridle path. The first of them carried a lantern. He was a burly countryman in a rough russet-coloured coat and battered old tricorn. The second wore a heavy cloak over the scarlett uniform of a Major of a Royal Highland Regiment.
Both men where well armed. They had carbines in the holsters attached to their saddles and both wore a brace of pistols in their belts. The Major's heavy sword was curved like a cavalry sabre rather then the customary straight blade. The countryman with the lantern had a double-barreled shotgun slung over his shoulder.
They stopped and listened, but all they could hear was the soft jingle from the metal bits as the horses tore grass from the ragged edge of the pathway. The Major took a watch from his waistcoat and leaned forward to read the time by the soft glow of the lantern.
"Do you think he'll be there?" asked the countryman, a touch of anxiety affecting his voice.
The Major nodded. "I'm sure of it, is everything prepared?"
"Just as you instructed"
"Pass me the lantern and follow my orders if I give the signal"
"I will sir"
Leaving his companion in the lane, the Major urged his horse forward to a gap in the hedge which led into the wide courtyard of an abandoned Inn. A dimmed lantern hanging above its entrance cast a small circle of light onto the cobbles.
Despite the darkness, the Major was familiar with the layout here. A row of stables was connected to the Innhouse, and a ramshackle barn completed the third side of the open square. The Major doused his lantern, slid down from his horse and looped the reigns over the shaft of a massive old farm cart with a broken wheel. Much of its load of hay had spilt onto the cobbles. Then he stood very still in the darkness. He could feel the weather had changed; a sudden stronger breeze blew from the west and he could smell the rain coming.
"Did ye bring the money?" a low voice asked from the circle of light. Remaining in the darkness the Major took a heavy leather pouch from the pocket of his cloak. Holding it at arms length he shook it. The Gold inside jingled, and instinctively he stepped away from the sound he'd made. The movement saved his life.
A Musket blasted out of the darkness to the left of the lanterns pool of light, the shot thudded into the butt of the carbine on his saddle. The horse reared in terror, and tearing the reigns free, it galloped blindly out of the yard. Two more shots sounded before a voice cried out, "Stop firing you fools! give me some bloody light!" A figure carrying a musket darted forward, reaching up to turn up the wick of the lantern over the doorway. From where the Major now lay flat out on the cobbled yard, he discharged his pistol at the man and rolled away to seek the cover of the broken carts, sagging edge.
Two more musket shots rang out! Five of them, the Major calculated. Time to adjust the odds. Reaching up, he fired his second pistol into the straw spilling out of the wagon, and scrambled into the nearby barn.
The muzzle flash from his last shot caught the dry straw and lick of flame showed, then a sudden explosive brilliance - gunpowder mixed in with the straw had burst into a dazzling incandescence that illuminated the entire courtyard!
"Down on him!" Shouted the hidden leader, "before he had time to reload!" Silhouetted against the flames, three men approached carrying muskets fitted with bayonets, The Major thrust his hands into a full corn bin next to the doorway and withdrew two large horse pistols that had been concealed in the grain. When his attackers where within seven paces of him, he fired. Grunting two of the mercenaries sprawled at his feet, but the third came on, lunging with the bayonet that glinted wickedly at his stomach. The Major dodged and tossed aside his empty pistols and drew his sabre. With an upward sweep he parried the musket and swung the blade down to strike the attackers neck.
As the man fell, the blast of a shotgun was followed by another single pistol shot. After a brief pause, his companion called out, "all clear sir" The Major cleaned his blade on the coat of one of the mercenaries and returned to the courtyard, where the flames of the burning straw were already dying down. The countryman turned up the lantern over the doorway and pointed with his shotgun toward the two other dead men. "both done for sir"
"Hardly my most elegant plan" Replied the Major wryly. "but affective for all that"
As the Major searched the mercenary corpse's, the accomplice commented, "Good thing we came prepared!"
The Major seemed to have found what he was looking for in the form of a small, black book which eminated evil and dark sorcery. The Major then consulted his watch again. "I've got to catch the mail coach to London. I must hurry. you'd better clean up here latter"
"I caught your horse" answered the countryman, "We'll make the rendezvous with time to spare"
Major Richard Venables looked up at the black sky. As he wearily hauled himself into the saddle, the first drops of rain began to fall.
Chapter II: The Road to the FutureEdit
The Royal Mail coach roared down the high road towards Portmouth, It was pouring rain outside and those inside were cold and damp. The occupants of the coach were all well to do folks, some civilian and some naval. Lieutenant Arno Venables sat in the middle seat of the coach. On one side of him sat a portly gentlemen in the garb of a clergyman, who was asleep and leaning his bulk onto the young Lieutenant. The other was a young, beautiful lady in elegant clothes, who smelt of sweet, delicate perfume and had an air of superiority to her. In front of him sat four, weary looking people. Two were obviously married, a young gentleman in posh and well pressed clothes and his young wife, who was heavily pregnant. Another was a older man, who was dressed in fine clothes that had been crumpled by some obvious scuffle of some sort, who was staring at the rich, young lady. The final figure was a tall man in his forties, who wore a large woolen cloak over the scarlett uniform of a Major in the British Army. This man caught his attention, due to the fact he seemed very familiar to Arno, though Arno could not pick where from.
Arno yawned and fell asleep, he was weary from the long journey and knew that there would be no rest once he stepped out into Portsmouth. He slowly fell asleep as the Major in scarlett smiled at him and looked out the window.
Arno was sound asleep when the coach stopped and the tall Major stepped out of the coach and departed into the rain. The coach continued on into Portsmouth and arrived at it's destination unharmed, the young lady sitting beside Arno awoke him when they arrived as she got out and he smiled to her gratefully, his dark, blue uniform creased and untidy. He stepped out of the carraige and into the light drizzle of rain that pattered into the courtyard of the tavern.
Arno made his way out of the courtyard and walked down a long, crowded street towards the naval dockyards. He was in awe of the sights and smells of Portsmouth, totally different to London or York. There was the smell of the salty sea, the smell of alcohol, the smell of unwashed bodies, but also the smell of spices and exotics goods from India and the Caribbean, he noticed sailors walking around, their 'pursers slops' were nether neat nor tidy, but they were unmistakably British.
He walked past a bustling tavern, full of rowdy seamen and dockyard workers, a jaunty tune played on a badly tuned fiddle wafted out of the public house. The rain continued to pour, many were running to get out of the rain now. Suddenly was startled by a cry and a rough hand grabbed his uniform coat and pulled him aside as a large, black coach pulled by black horses roared down the street. He shook his head in disbelief and turned to look for his saviour, but what he saw was a rough looking sailor, his face thin and scarred, his sailors slops better than most. He had a wild grin on his face and saluted to Arno. "Sorry Sir, I didn't mean to scare you, but I thought you wouldn't like to be run over by a rich man's carraige." he said with a mild tinge of a Ukrainian accent.