you can also see a sharper photo set of this story at '2484.members.page4.me' - password 'waterloo'
For the full pirate saga visit 'Bayko Baron' 13,14,15,16,34,37,38,40,44,45
- 'Lakjaw Manor', 'The Rescue of Calico Jack', 'San Serif', 'Casa Lardo', 'Loom O'Shean', 'The Frantic Frog', 'Isla Isabella','La Hachada' ,'Eldorado'
'Auto De Fe'
Castel Branca, guarding the northern approaches to San Serif, HQ also of the Inquisition in Nuevo Aranjuez
Bristling with cannon, the fortress has more guns than gunners these days thanks to yellow-jack, dysentery and malaria, but still enough to sink an entire fleet needed
Apart from the gunners, there's also a detachment of the Regimento Irlanda as guards
Outside on the Plaza De Castro there's fresh food on sale for those with money to spare
but most prefer to drown their sorrows, at 'The Ramrod'
While across town there's always Miss Sadie's Home for Indigent Seamstresses, though today the 'ladies' are enjoying a rare day off - a chance to let their hair down and get some clothes on. It's Mariah and Dominique's turn in the bath - unadulterated luxury!
Back at Castel Branca Chief Inquisitor, Don Diego Palafox, feels the need to reassert his local authority after the fiasco at Roche Marie (see Pirates 6 - Le Grenouille Frenetique)
With the result that Capitano Toledana, a frequent visitor under other circumstances, finds himself apologising as his men burst in on Sadie's Ladies and brother Pablito announces a heretic hunt - and where better to start than a den of lubricious iniquity!
The hunt yields five hapless victims who couldn't recite the mass
Ms Sadie uses her 'connections' to get an audience with Governor Don Lardo - himself a former customer. The governor's wife, Donna Quibab, is unexpectedly sympathetic, but His Excellency won't go up against the Inquisition. Meanwhile Peter-Paul Fat-Birds puts the finishing touches to his masterpiece.
Which leaves Ms Sadie only one place to go
Shortly she is with her sister, Ethel Puttle, better known as 'The Baracudda'. With her also comes, 'The Brethren' - Short-John Nickel-Plating, Gaspard Le Phew, Rob-Roy McChicken-Nuggets, Happy Dan Pugh and of course, Calico Jack Chinless!
Meanwhile, the interrogation begins, in public to send a message. First the soft cushions, then the selected readings from Barbara Cartland. But that's all just propaganda, their fate is already announced - an 'act of faith' - an 'auto de fe'
The dread day arrives, the arcades and galleries of the Plaza De Castro are packed, the Regimento Irlanda out in strength to keep control, the bonfire awaits
Determined to distance herself from the coming atrocity, Donna Quibab is heading up-country to the hacienda at Casa Lardo, escorted by palace equerries since all the troops are at Castel Branca
Meanwhile, inside the fort the duty men who can't be in the square watch from the western embrasures
While not far away Donna Quibab is discovering that servants are no substitute for soldiers when a pack of 'pirettes' come calling!
The women are brought out. Sisters from the local convent give the last rites while the town crier reads out the Inquisitions judgement to the crowd.
Coronel Mendola, newly promoted to replace his predecessor lost at RocheMarie, signals the drummers to begin the death roll.
With attention fixed on the Plaza and not a sail on the horizon, Happy Dan Pugh urges his people in under the fort's eastern wall and its open casemates.
And he is not alone!
The nuns retire. Abigail Spoon will burn first, with her arms shackled back to show her for what she is. The others will be cast into the flames one by one to keep the drama going as long as possible - an object lesson on the fires of hell!
But at that moment the urgent clatter of hooves and iron tyres draws all eyes to the end of the square
For a moment Don Lardo fondly imagines his wife has changed her mind, then Anne Bonney, Mary Reade, Lettice Fotheringay-Thomas and their pistols disabuse him.
Across the square, Toledana, eager to prove himself, raises his sword to lead his men to the rescue
But a blast of double-shotted grape stops him, his men and the horse he rode in on, dead in their tracks - while also alerting Governor Don Lardo to the true horror of his situation
Impotent under the guns of his own stronghold and with his wife hostage, he must stand by as a pack of rapscallions trot out, round up victims and inquisitors alike and hustle both back into the fort.
While the crowd, stunned for a moment by the cannon blast, now raise a thunderous cheer as the empty pyre goes up in flame!
The final humiliation, Don Lardo must negotiate with The Barracuda herself for the return of his wife
Back at the palace Donna Quibab reminds her husband that she has already done the same for him (see Pirates 5 'Casa Lardo') while Don Lardo, his gout back as usual, tries to work out how he can explain the loss of an entire Inquisition- without sounding careless
Meanwhile, beyond the horizon aboard the Saucy Glady Trusspott, Grand Master Palafox and his fellows contemplate the unfairness of it all!
see a different photoset at '2484.members.page4.me' - password 'waterloo'