Galain knew there was no way he could drag the Narume all the way home. Even once he got it there, there was no way to get the beast up the rocky bluffs that made up Galain Island. His only choice was to drag it to the Algrind Coast, work as fast as he could, and get it loaded onto his ships. He’d sent a pigeon home, his fleet should rendezvous with him the next day.
Getting the beast to shore was a task by itself. First, he anchored La Chance in a small channel in the reef, about a hundred feet offshore. He used three anchors, huge hooks buried in the reef to hold his ship steady in the current that ran up the coast. The next step was to send men ashore in a long-boat. They dragged his heaviest line with them, anchored to his mast on one end tied high in a tree on the other.
Once the ship was in position, divers secured ropes around the massive creature at three points, just behind the head, at it’s massive dorsal fin, and around the tail. Those three lines ran to steel rings that slid along the shore rope. The last step was to pull the massive creature up the shore rope, as far into the shallows as possible. The upper rope couldn’t support the entire creature without sinking his ship, but it did keep it from digging into the ocean floor as the pulled it. With his entire crew and Galain heaving on the rope, they were able to get the Narume’s head into waist deep water, and butchering began in earnest.
Galain’s crew consisted of fifty-five sailors, twelve gunners, and four marines. He was in hostile waters, and he knew it. The Algrinds loved to take pot shots at passing ships, they wouldn’t think twice about killing every one of his men and claiming the Narume as their own. He appointed each marine three gunners, dividing his best warriors into four teams. Their job was to scout the area, and alert him if anyone was coming. Galain’s goal was to work the next twenty-four hours straight through, until the Narume was processed and loaded on his ships.
They had the skin off and stretched out on the beach to dry when Anwin’s ships approached. It took eight men and four hours to get the massive hide stretched tight enough to lift it off the sand.
“The Sea Dragon approaches,” Called Galain’s lookout, stationed on top of the mizzenmast.
Galain knew attack was likely, but he was expecting it from the shore. His first order when he hit the beach was for his men to dig fox-holes with large sand walls to shelter his crew from cannon fire. Everyone on the beach knew to dive for the nearest hole in the event of attack. He hadn’t considered an attack from the sea and didn’t know for sure that Anwin was going to attack him. That was the worst thing about dealing with the other pirates. Galain and Anwin had been allies for generations. When the current Anwin took over the island, their alliance had stayed in place, but a Narume of this size was a very valuable prize.
“Marines! Gunners! To the ship! Man the guns, protect the crew!” He called as he ran for the long-boat. His men filed in behind him seconds later and began rowing out to La Chance, double time. Galain hoped he’d be able to buy Anwin off. He could trade away a good portion of the meat, if he had to. Narume was a delicacy, and the meat would fetch a handsome price.
Galain stood on the foredeck and watched Anwin strategically anchor his ship. He was broadside, all twenty of his guns pointed at Anwin’s ship, but angled such that none of Galain’s guns could hit his. He studied the angles for a moment, and visualized how he could use his own anchors to twist his ship to best advantage. He had the benefit of forward facing chase cannons, Anwin did not. Turning his ship to point directly at Anwins would present the smallest possible target to his enemy, but also only allowed Galain to use his two chase cannons, instead of the twenty five guns he could use if he was willing to present himself broadside. It was a risk he was willing to take. Turning himself broadside would add tension to the situation.
“Lengthen the forward port anchor line! Point us directly at them. Ready the chase cannons, but hold the portholes,” Galain ordered the men on the ship. His voice was quiet, and he changed the timber to stop it from carrying over the water. La Chance slowly came around, pointing directly at Anwin’s ship, The Sea Dragon. Galain watched as a longboat was lowered into the water. Anwin and six men climbed into the longboat and started rowing towards Galain. Anwin was holding a small version Galain’s flag in his hand, a symbol that he came as a friend.
Galain breathed a sigh of relief. “Marines, assemble above.” Galain called. His men surrounded him on the deck. When Anwin was within earshot, he called out, “Hail brother! What’s this about The Windlass? Permission to come aboard?”
“Granted,” Galain called back. His men lowered a rope ladder, and in under a minute Anwin and his six rowers were aboard. Galain approached Anwin and extended his hand. Anwin took it, and in one smooth motion drew his flintlock pistol and shot Galain in the head. His men drew and fired at the same time. Only one of Galain’s men survived, shot in the shoulder. Anwin pulled the corpse towards him, pulling the hat off the corpse formerly known as Captain Galain.
The marine threw up his hands and got on his knees. “I surrender!”
“Coward,” said Anwin, drawing his thin rapier. He shoved the long, thin blade down into the triangle between his neck, collar bone and shoulder, piercing the Marine’s heart. “Get the gunners,” he said to his men, who reloaded their pistols.
Anwin placed Galain’s hat firmly on his own head, he affected the previous Galain’s accent in a nearly perfect impersonation. “Gunnairz! To ze deck!”
Anwin’s men took position on either side of the ladder leading up to the main deck. The captain himself donned Galain’s coat, and turned his back and looked down over the railing. When his men came up, they started immediately to their captain, and Anwin’s men shot them in the back.
Dropping the former Galain’s coat to the deck, Anwin kept the hat. “I am now Captain Franklin Anwin-Gilain. Let Morrison know he’s promoted to captain of The Sea Dragon, I’ll be taking ‘La Chance’ as my flagship. Send the crew to inform the beach. Any that wish may continue to serve aboard her under me.”
“Yes Sir!” Three of Anwin-Gilain’s men rowed the longboat back to The Sea Dragon, the others stayed with him on La Chance. Anwin-Galain went into the ready room and started reviewing the previous Galain’s papers. After nearly an hour, Anwin-Galain walked out onto the deck of his ship to see his men on the shore working with the crew of La Chance, continuing to process the whale. Everything was going to plan. He climbed into a longboat with his three best marines and headed to shore.
“Captain Anwin-Galain, my name is Demitri. First mate of La Chance, or at least, I used to be. It’s my honor to serve you, if you’ll have me.” Demitri held his dagger out sideways, balanced on his finger tips.
“It turns out, I am in need of a first mate.”
“My Loyalty is to my island, and to La Chance. And that means I am loyal to you,” replied Demitri.
The crew worked into the night butchering the Narume. Anwin-Galain mingled with the crew, heaving on lines and making himself useful. He organized the and loading it into the ships. The Captain finally relented hours before dawn, allowing the crew to get some sleep. That was the way it was for buccaneer crews in the strait. Captains came and went. The ship you worked on and the island you called home were all that mattered.