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Land Pirates.

( From Words by Tristram Tangent.)

"Pirates! What wonderful stories can I tell you of pirates my friends as we sit here by the cold and silver sea? Why, they roam the inland, of course - on foot and on beastie - and most of them hunt on our side of the Fly, the fertile western side, so shiver, stare behind your backs and wonder if they might be somewhere in those dark trees - but they are people like ourselves, and as clumsy as we would be amongst those trees at nighttime, so do not flog your fear too heartily.

Ah - I hear you say - but are there not those who hide silently and patiently in the trees for people to pass nearby? True - I reply to you - so perhaps we are not so safe after all. This is not the answer you wanted to hear, is it clever one? All at once we are afraid again. The pirates do not care who they hurt or whom they hunt, though there are many farmers who have made friends with certain bands of them - a band of pirates is known as a fleet, my friends - and receive protection from them. Fleets may be named after the towns they protect - for instance, The Hollows, The Red Scream, The Mildew Wretches, The Lost Women who care for Lost by the Forest of Ex.

They do not often live in those small towns as you know but in Jail where the noisome lanes and foul vapours afford them congenial protection - and the richest live in the northern end of Jail - for instance, Two Noses Salvador who lives in the clean white house by the Georgina Thread Theatre leads the fleet, Blue-Trousers Alto. There are others who live on the land - The Thug Mi Ling and her fleet do inhabit the Wandering Woods and prey on those who pass by - and her people are called, The Wandering. It is more normal to say, The Thug Mi Ling's Fleet - she is famous as you know. The Brilliants are her family - those most well-known and secretive aristocratic pirates whose influence spreads like a web through the world of pirates and pub owners and other thieves. They are the greatest criminals of all, but she is free of them - she has discarded her family - she is free of their influence - but after disdaining the Brilliants she is no longer safe in Jail - they will cut her throat. She clips the ears from their mercenaries and sends them back with little notes, a past-time which affords us all much amusement.

Let me recite to you one of her notes: "My father, I talk to you and you do not listen but I talked to this man and he listened. I think you need these ears more than he does. Love The Thug Mi Ling.""

(the following is an excerpt from My Life by The Thug Mi Ling.)

"Wed been waiting all the wet morning & finally there comes somebody I took the measure of him with my eyes quick as a blink. He had run away from his farm Ill bet & all the things he owned has got to be on his beastie with him. I thinks heres a good haul. I hear him hes whistling. He wont be happy for long says Antionette the Mystic her being next to me with a short bloody cutter between her teeth. And I arsked you did I I says. Shut it. I am some thing fierce so she shuts it.

Next thing we come out in the road & I says Give it to us. He says he aint got nothing. What's your desobs says I. Therent nobody travels without something of value they can trade aint that right my friends & my fleet all agrees with me as so they ought. I sing. I pay by singing says he. O singing says I very much softened in my heart by this news. He says Yes but Im not singing for you.

There follows some talk from him about not giving in to pirates because were scum what preys on good travelling people & we takes offence at this so at my word we bring him down & bang him in the dirt. Hes all over blood. Theres mud at the side of the road so I say Stick his face in it & Jim Lad my good man does it sos he cant breathe. Bring him out says I. That's what I do to them as wont sing when I tells em to. Hes garsping with his pink mouth. Give it in Jim Lad says. He says No so theres another bath for him.

Good man he was stubborn. I almost let him go but no you cant do that so hes dead after a bit & we leave him with his head in the mud his body dragged out like a wet weed across the road & we takes his beastie & we takes off. I eats his lunch cakes & they is very green but not well cooked.

Hes cold now says Antionette the Mystic with a sulk. His cakes is still warm says I. They laughs at that. Life is funny."