Pirate Captured in Yew!

Erik Valstrom

UP: Catskills

    "Ye can talk and walk, or ye can wrangle and dangle," the Constable threatened, first grinning foolishly then laughing out loud so that the whole room reverberated with the sound of it. The pirate and I looked at each other. I rolled my eyes and in all probability, both of us, simultaneously, felt our stomachs turn over. His eyes begged deliverance but I could do nothing for either of us. For whether it was because the Constable knew I was a publisher and sought to impress me, or if it was just his own personal quirk, we, the pirate and I, had spent the last three hours enduring his many futile attempts at offering noteworthy, entertaining, or clever prose. This was supposed to have been a serious interrogation, or so I had thought. I never expected it would be a circus act.

I had followed the trail of these pirate raids along the coasts of our cities for weeks. Each time I found myself arriving on the scene of an attack too late to examine bodies or question those who had come to grips in close combat with the brigandish raiders. I learned a few salient facts nonetheless: the raids were not mere random events but were the result of careful planning and considerable organization. The raiders were searching places, private homes and public buildings alike, for something more than just gold, though the pirates took whatever they could lay hands on. Evil mages were interspersed among them, apparently serving as leaders. They were not many, the mages, but were enough to channel the pirates' chaotic energies toward a common goal. I surmised, correctly as I learned, that the evil mages themselves are the ones employing the pirates as minions and allies, hoping they will serve as a dodge to conceal the true purpose of the raids. The pirate admitted as much. He had fallen asleep, treasure and wine bottle in hand, in the shade of a Yew tree a wee close to the Abbey. The Constable and his men discovered him there and escorted him roughly to the Yew jail. I was fortunate enough to be approaching the Abbey as they were taking him away and, as is my way, intruded into the affair. I was surprised at first why the Constable was so eager to have me come along after I had introduced myself. He seemed quite eager to have me come along. I forgot that even the smallest courtesies may carry a hefty price.

Perhaps it was due to the heat of the small cell wherein the interrogation ocurred, or the threat of hanging, or, most likely, it was the torment of the Constable's grating rhyme, but the pirate finally cracked. He confessed that he was recruited at Buc's Den by a representative from a conclave of wizards who would not reveal their name or their leader. Large sums of gold were handed out and much more gold was promised as barter for his services and those of his cohorts. They were told they would be needed for special raids, that homes and buildings along the coastline of cities would be targeted. They were to search for magic items but especially to check homes and buildings for crystal balls and if they found one, to inform a mage in their group. If a crystal ball was found, the mage would force everyone else out of the place and remain alone inside. What the mages did then, no one knew, or really cared.

He claimed their attention was now being focused at an area southwest of Wrong where strange stories of the appearance of golden elementals had been circulating among citizens of, and visitors to, a nearby village called Edinburgh. Already his own Captain, whom he called Caine, had made for it with his own ship, the Red Tide. He could not, or would not, say anything more.

The Constable was pleased with the information extorted from the pirate and ordered him be taken to a special cell where no one could get near him. I was ushered out before they took him there, however. Through me, the Constable was hopeful that his prose might find circulation in my published report. He as much said so. I promised I would make mention of it and have printed the one above, the best of the lot I assure you, to make good on it.

I must now attend to more important matters, and a long journey east toward the village called Edinburgh is foremost among them. ~ Erik

From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Wednesday, October 25th 2000