Fathoms of the Bowl
“From Galla we get brandy
From Borinkeen comes rum
Sweet oranges and lemons from the Tougains come
But whiskey and cider are Bretland’s control,
Bring in the punch ladle, we’ll fathom the bowl.”
The old bar song rolled forth from Sally Brown’s ale-stained lips. She was the entertainer in La Pajara Linda. Governor Zingaro thought that it served only privateers, but in truth there were always more than a few full-fledged Pyrates present. (Letters of mark mattered little in Borinkeen.)
One such ruffian had been keeping his wandering eye fixed as well as possible on the robust young lady for quite some time, and, as soon as the song ended, barged his way over to the counter, slurring, “I’m thirsty for the wine of yer lips, lass.” His flailing hands reached for Sally, as a look f terror spread across her face.
Suddenly a cry of “Bakka!” rang out and a katana, such as those used by the samurai of the Jahappans cleaved the drunkard to the breast bone. Sally had time enough to see her rescuer before he stole out into the night. He was a tall Tougain with the gaze of a priest in his eye. He had a goatee and mane of short dark hair, and the mane was partially covered by a featherless black musketeer hat. He wore a black kimono and his samurai blade was of watered steel.
Sally whispered a prayer of thanks for her silent gallant, Father Joao Tiago, for that was his name, though she knew it not.
Ehud McKiernan Walked through the open air market with his Ouaitiin friend Tapangan. Ehud and his black blood-brother were searching for the same thing, the Norbretman’s slouch hat. For, despite thee excessive Karribbean heat, the brogue-tongued McKiernan liked the handsome figure he fetched in his brown leather jerkin and pants. Fully armed under his red-cuffed black silk waist-coat, he felt quite the privateer, or rather, in truth, liberator. But he was incomplete without his famed Brethren slouch.
“Ah, koowan, (brother),” boomed Tapangan, “That Tougain clown there has your hat.”
Approaching fromabout a hundred yards away was a rather mismatched and ridiculous looking Tougain sporting a black slouch incongruously paired with a Jahappanian kimono, albeit black.
“Ho, sirrah, lira lee,” brogued McKiernan, “Ye’ve absconded with m’hat. Return her or taste highland steel.”
The Tougain raised an eyebrow. “The Holy Writ says that wine is a mocker and beer a brawler and I don’t know how much of either you’ve had so early in the morning but this hat is mine. Thus I bid you both good day. Pax Vobiscum.”
“A papery, are we?” sneered the Bret, drawing his watered steel cutlass and saber, but honorably leaving his brace of flintlocks. Sheathed. “Well I am of the Heeland Covenant faith. Have at you!”
“Wait!” Cried a third voice. A rotund, disgruntled, barkeep pushed himself in between the two would- be combatants. “Father, please. before you kill this man allow him to pay his debt to my establishment. What’s more, he left his hat behind. Lucky I didn’t keep it as collateral, eh?”
Tapangan and Ehud began to laugh and even the usually stoic Tougain half-grinned. “Where are my manners ? Ehud McKiernarn’s my name, and this is my blood-brother, the machete-wielding Tapangan, very handy in a rough spot, I might add. I apologize for all this. Let me treat you to breakfast While I fathom the bowl.”
“Yours truly, Father Joao Tiago, thanks you, my friends.”
When all intake had settled, Father Joao asked, “What, if I may make so bold is your business here? Privateering?”
McKiernan leaned in close and lowered his voice. “You are a man of the cloth, so though our theology is different, I believe I can trust you. Tapangan and I are clandestinely working to end the slave trade in these islands.”
The priest chuckled softly. “Not many would approve of your methods…or mine. I have many secret connections here from years of being a blade for the Lord. After several aimless years, I have again found a cause to call my own. We shall forge freedom here by crossed steel.”
“Thus we are named priest, the Crossed-Steel Brotherehood.”
“Aye,” asserted Tapangan.
Thus that day a new family was born as three hands were struck together.