Chapter Three

The prisoners converged on the guards, taking their guns, fighting with their fists, and some of them were even eating guards alive. In the midst of the chaos, Alastair fought his way through the crowd to make his way up to the Warden; he was going to kill him. All around, Alastair saw his friends get the revenge they wanted: Milton was tearing through guards like books, Rooke and the Welsh were drawing and quartering all the guards they could find, it was quite a massacre. Of course, the guards got their fair kills too, impaling prisoners with their swords, setting up makeshift fire squads. In all, chaos ensued, and the prisoners were successful in taking the prison, but the Warden was nowhere to be found. When the battle was done, the prisoners took down the body of Simon Cooke, and gave him a burial of fire. They mourned the loss of their fallen brother, but in their loss, they found comfort in the unity they had created. Together. All that was left was to cut the head off the snake.

Alastair charged different prisoners to search high and low for the Warden, whom Alastair thought that he might be hiding as a prisoner. He had groups checking high and low, across multiple levels of the prison to locate the Warden, even Alastair himself joined in on the hunt. They searched everywhere in the Tolbooth: the Hole, the Warden’s Quarters, every main floor and cell in the prison. The Warden was nowhere to be found. Alastair even checked his own cell, but upon arriving, he heard a low moaning sound coming from the cell. It sounded like the Skeleton. Alastair rushed in to see the Skeleton on the floor, in a fetal position, mumbling to himself. Regretting every decision in his mind, Alastair went over to check on him, when Alastair was beholden to the Skeleton’s body: A pale, frail, small man, with only one eye as his right eye socket was never formed. Alastair was taken a bit aback from the body, but not before the Skeleton leaned over and grabbed at Alastair’s shirt. “Midnight….tonight” the Skeleton groaned. “Must…escape”. The Skeleton died right on the spot. Alastair did not know what to make of it, until he found something gleaming out of the Skeleton’s pocket. It was a map! A map to somewhere that Alastair did not know of, but he did not have time to go over it. A commotion was building in the street, many horses were travelling throughout the exterior of the prison: Reinforcements had arrived, and the Warden was among them.

~

Alastair quickly ran to inform the others of the situation. “Reinforcements are here lads!” He shouted to everyone. “We will NOT lose this war! They wanted to cast us aside, assure that the power of control will put us to shame. What they have forgotten is how we have known for too long to live under the yoke, and the curses of it! But now we fight! We fight for our freedom, so that we tell the yoke that we SHALL NOT BE OPPRESSED! TODAY, THE TOLBOOTH IS OURS!!!!” Everyone roared in cheer of applause and admiration. The prisoners then began to arm themselves with everything the prison had: Weapons, firearms, explosives, nails, crushed glass, anything at all. They also found a series of armories that were distributed across the population. While some chose the heaviest armor, Alastair went with a personal leather harness found in the Warden’s Quarters, held up by two large leather bands that held all the shot in a designed pouch, no longer having to worry to dig through a bag to get one.

To defend themselves, the prisoners fashioned a series of bunkers and lookout points in the interior that could be used when the soldiers eventually break in. They had designated sniper positions that resembled a crows nest, cannon bunkers that were reasonably well stocked, with what supplies they could find. Some of the prisoners even set up traps around the main entrances to quell any major advances the soldiers look to make. On the front gate, the Welsh rigged up a couple of boxes laced with sharp wooden stakes designed to drop on any unsuspecting enemies. The Scots found a way to dig holes and put seven feet holes full of hot tar. While the Africans, mostly Senegalese and Congolese groups, created a series of tunnels throughout the prison, dug in through the walls, that prisoners could use to move back and forth, known only to those that knew how to use them. The prison became their home, and they had feathered the nest for war.

~

Both sides were ready to do battle; Outside were the redcoated soldiers armed with their guns, with 100 men per company, and the Warden who knew the prison inside and out ready to lead the charge to get back what was his. On the inside were thousands of beaten down bodies, soulless as they were fearless, ready to face death and stab it in the heart. While the prisoners were taking positions, Milton was relaying orders, and Alastair was nowhere to be seen. Milton had found him digging a passageway from the remnants of The Hole. “Figured you of all people would want to oversee this battle” Milton heartily replied. Looking back, on his dirt filled fact, Alastair only replied with a cold look on his face “Must escape”. “Aye, but after we fight back this scourge” “They will come, and the resources they will commit will be inexhaustible. The Skeleton told me so” Shocked, Milton rushed over to comfort his friend in inquiry “What did he say?” he asked Alastair. “He only said: ‘Must escape. Midnight tonight’”, then handed me this map” “MAP?!” Milton nearly yelled in excitement. “Hold onto that map, and whatever you do, DO NOT LOSE IT”. “Okay…” Alastair replied in confusion, placing it back in his pocket. But before he had a moment to think about why Milton was adamant about the map, he could hear guns going off at the front of the Tolbooth. War had begun.

            While Alastair and Milton were having their confab, the redcoats were shooting at the windows and ramming down the door with a large cut oak battering ram. The prisoners were barring up the door with whatever timber planks they could, shooting down soldiers holding onto the ram. But each time the prisoners killed one soldier holding the ram, not more than five minutes later two or four more came to defend them. It took the soldiers an hour to take down that great entrance, forcing the prisoners to retreat. Alastair had joined the fight with Milton at that time. Upon entering the fray, he started prepping order to the others, getting them ready for the fight. “Axes, Augers, Chargers” He whispered quietly “Smoke screens file in, choose your targets, zero range, and dinna waste a shot!” With the great doors that made the entrance to the prison busted open, redcoats lead by the Warden filed in a nearly uniform fashion. All they saw was an empty hallway that was left in a trail of white smoke from the screens. Throughout the entrance, and into the prison yard, the soldiers were left in a fear of hollowing screams let out by the prisoners so far gone they could not even pick up a dead twig. Their howls were a reminder to the fear that they been given by the English, left to rot in a hole ruled by a Devil incarnate. The soldiers were shaking in their boots, but the Warden was not fazed, his mind had grown custom to those howls, he made them, and he was prepared to take them away, because this Warden had no fear: He was what the prisoners made him to be, a Devil.

 

 

~

            The Warden and his soldiers arrived at the center of the yard, the gallows transformed into a funeral arrangement for Simon, with a sailors knot placed on his coffin made of the noose that tied his neck. “Muskets at the ready!” The Warden ordered his men, as he drew his great broadax. Soon, what followed was a loud screeching chant, followed by rhythmic drumming and grunts coming all around. The redcoats formed a tight group, not closed in, but a circle pattern around each other to defend themselves. Each time, the chanting got faster, and faster, and faster, to the point where the recoats were growing more fearful, while the Warden was more stern and aggressive. Then it stopped. Silence. Alastair then called out to the prisoners “BEGIN”. All of a sudden, the traps were sprung, and soldiers either fell in the hot tar or were impaled by wooden spikes. Snipers picked off stragglers, ending the 100-man assault in a matter of minutes. The Warden was all that remained, but he remained with this stupid half smirk on his face; he merely blew a whistle and another round of 100 men emerged, packed with grenades and mortars.

            The Warden had launched a high ground counterattack, and the snipers changed roles to riflemen on level ground. After the nests were pillaged, Milton commanded a group of his own to strike the grenadiers as well as the Warden. Using a series of tunnels made underneath the prison, Milton had a surprise attack on the Warden’s reinforcements, able to strike from below using trap doors made in the prison yard floor. Armed with a double axe and no protective armor, Milton hacked down redcoats while the Warden used his broadax in one arm. Milton and the Warden had locked eyes and moved to strike, while Alastair watched on as he made a retreat to the passageway in Hole. Alastair saw Milton, and Milton to him, but Milton on smiled and nodded in affirmation: Alastair had to go.

~

Beneath the drowning sounds of the battle, Alastair was digging his way from the Hole to an exit he would make to escape the Tolbooth for good. ‘What happens at midnight” Alastair thought “Could the Skeleton have set a trap for me? Knowing that this is how long I would have? Could not be. But I am not sure. I must keep digging”. At the battle, Milton and the Warden were at even combat: The Warden was able to do defend against both of Milton’s axes, while Milton broke the broadax into two pieces. What delivered a fatal blow for the Warden was when Milton aggressively attacked the Warden, stayed on the offense, until the Warden lost both pieces of his axe, and his footing when Milton chopped off his left leg. A crawling, bloody, screaming mess, the Warden was in the very state he left these prisoners: soulless. Milton held the Warden up by his neck, without choking him, and asked for the prison’s advice: “Should we feel mercy”, He asked “NO” they replied. “Shall we feed him to each other?” “YES” “Shall we put him in hot tar?” “YES” “Capital ideas friends, but lets release him back to the company of his charge”.

            Milton carried the Warden’s nearly dead body back to the front gate of the Tolbooth. He wanted to get Dunne’s attention, because he knew Dunne financed this army to regain the prison. Milton pointed at Dunne and asked him one question: “GOT ANYTHING ELSE?!” Milton then proceeded to pick up the Warden’s left arm, rip it off the socket, then pick up the Warden by his neck and crush it in his hand, ripping off his head and throwing it to the British camp in the process, walking off. Dunne’s reaction to this display of barbarism was met with three words: “Cannons and Mortars”. Dunne was through with the games, he wanted these monsters dead, and he used any means necessary. Cannon and mortar crews were placed, and the next phase of the battle began.

~

            The cannons and mortar did not let up, and the prisoners had no way to combat except take cover. Milton went to help out Alastair because he knew Alastair had to escape. That map was apparently that important to Milton, so he wanted to make sure this plan would work. “So what can you tell me about this map?” Alastair asked Milton. “It leads to a place nobody knows” Milton warned “No sane pirate dare venture to that place: The Devil’s Shroud. The Skelton, also known as Hugh Dufrense, was brought to this prison when he was found harassing people by something so frightening it drove him to madness. He had been living in this place for over ten years with no contact, no food, no water, just withering away in that corner, taking his secrets to his grave. But if he talked to you, it was for a reason, but something only he knew.” Alastair had better respect for Hugh that day, and that he wanted to hope he has passed in peace. “Sounds like the fighting stopped, things got quiet” Alastair noticed. “Keep digging I’ll be back” Simon said, giving Alastair a grenade to hold onto just in case. But it was midnight, the church bells were chiming away; Simon had made himself known to a large group of angry redcoats, taken prisoner immediately. Dunne emerged from the hallway leading to the prison yard, noticing his former enforcer manacled, but never forgetting that Milton had become a monster, more than he already was. Dunne shot him, without a single regret, and he had his mind set on finding Alastair, the man he blames for starting this insurrection.

            When sound traveled to Alastair’s ears of the shot, he knew Milton was gone. But he could not mourn his loss now, because he needed to escape the prison immediately. Using the grenade, Milton’s final gift to Alastiar, he broke through the concrete to reveal a deep passage underneath the prison that stretched for miles. Then he noticed running water; he was in the old tunnels that were used in the original plans for the building! He remembered Simon telling him about this area once before “Be important for you to know Al, that this place was recently improved” Simon told him one night over a moonlit sky. “Before the Warden came to this place, there was a vast tunnel network beneath the southern wall that the guards used to use to funnel supplies. But this also acted as a perfect way for prisoners to get personal items, including weapons, without detection. But the Warden found out and closed out the area, save for a small pocket he left to remind prisoners of order around this place”. Lost in reminisce, Alastair took a moment to read the map Hugh Dufrense gave him before he passed, but not before he heard footsteps and saw a faint light coming from the Hole. Immediately ducking for cover, Alsatair knew: He had to escape, the soldiers are here, and the time is now.

~

            Every time Alastair saw a soldier, he moved further into the tunnels. Fearing that he would get discovered, but also deeply wondering about that map that was buried in his pocket. All around, Alastair heard voices travelling through the hallways, as if they were closing in on him, but he found a way out: a randomly gated door that led to the outside world. Alastair attempted to pry at the door, but he heard large footsteps approaching the door. Hiding in a small-darkened corner, he saw Dunne and a shackled Milton heading up to the gate, and Alastair did well to keep himself quiet, not a whisper, not a breath. ‘Watch this area, he’ll come back.” Dunne said to his envoy. Posting a watch near the gate, Alastair knew he had to kill them to get free. Waiting under cover of night, Alastair moved from his position to readjust his presence from the soldiers. He saw the soldiers posted by the doorway, but at the other end of the hall, he saw Milton next to a guard, and thought he could get Milton’s help to take down the door.

            Covering his face in dust from the ground, and removing one of his leather bands, Alastair used it to choke out Milton’s guard. “You made it!” Milton cheered in soft excitement. “Aye, and I found a gate. We can get out.” Alastair said. “Okay, get me out, the keys are in his pockets.” Milton replied. After unlocking the shackles from Milton, Alastair found a gun and sword on the guard’s person. They had the tools to take down the guards at the gate. But time was of the essence, because both Milton and Alastair knew that the soldiers above are making arrangements to reorganize the prison, so they did not have too much time to dilly-dally. Milton took the sword and Alastair took the gun, and with a rush of madness, Alastair shot one guard and Milton cut down the other. But they knew the risks: Soldiers were coming, and they meant to exterminate them.

~

            They spent a good ten minutes prying the door open, because there was no key. After pulling at the door, a small pocket was wedged open, big enough for someone to crawl through. Alastair made it through the half bent door, and Milton was not far behind, but not before a soldier grabbed Milton by his legs and pulled him back into the prison. A gun was pointed at his head, and Dunne presented an ultimatum: Return now and Milton lives. “DON’T DO IT AL! RUN” Milton roared. Alastair was at an impasse: He did not want to lose his friend, but he did not want to be subjugated anymore. “No” Alastair calmly replied. Milton reacted with only a small smirk and a sigh of relief, Alastair did not want it to happen, but he has to accept the situation: It was time for Milton to go. Dunne ordered Milton to be brought to his feet, Dunne shot Milton in the left leg. Then cut Milton’s head off. It was done. Alastair was filled with rage as he watched his friend die, but something inside him was awoken: Alastair was a monster by his own countrymen; he lost it all and he was prepared for what was next. In the short span of a year and a half, Alastair Groovybeard had everything taken from him, then called a monster for it. But in his loss of friends, family, comfort, Alastair had learned the hard way that things must be made. But he wanted no more than in that exact moment to get vengeance on Dunne. That evil sadistic heartless thing framed him, stole from him, and Alastair had no means to defend himself. Whatever sense of fun and excitement that existed in Alastair died, what remained was a tortured soul that, for a time, will wish naught but to kill those who took from him, to feel pain as he felt pain. But he also had that map in his person, a map that was importance, which he would figure out later. Upon his friends, death, Alastair gave this look, a look that was quite devoid of emotion, dead. He knew whom to kill, but not now. He needed to run, and regroup. So began a darker phase, where the howling of evil persists in the hearts and minds of men. Dunne and Alastair will meet again, and for one of them, the last time.

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