Intimidation Tactics

(Treasure Island)

Silas Harfang was the terror of the Arabian Sea trade routes. Swift as lightning, he and his band of cutthroats attacked merchant parties, seemingly appearing out of nowhere, overwhelming the guards, and stealing their cargo – and then disappearing again, as quickly as they had appeared. They never lost, and, like lightning, they hardly ever struck in the same place twice.

Captain Harfang – for so he styled himself – had a long mane of steel-grey hair, a fleshy face crossed by a livid scar that extended diagonally from forehead to jaw, just missing his right eye, and keen black eyes. People said he had spent his youth among Muggles, learning from them brutish savagery and all manner of horrible tricks. He was a vicious wizard, dangerous to enemies and allies alike, but he kept his men tightly controlled, and they both feared and respected him. It was this control, and his cleverness, that had made Harfang so great.

Harfang lounged at his ease in his rooms, drinking port with the most trusted of his lieutenants, a sharp-faced man called Flint. Suppertime had long passed, and his men were likely whiling away their free time with gaming or sleep.

The quiet was interrupted by a banging at Harfang's door. Flint sprang to his feet and opened it. The man at the door said, "Peterson's party has been spotted."

Harfang was on his feet and pushing past Flint and the sentry into the main room in a moment. "All hands!" he roared. "Peterson's been spotted!"

Men jumped up from dice games and exited rooms, until all of Harfang's pirates – some fifteen or so skilled wizards – stood outside their base. It was a former sea inn, floating on a foundation of wood, commandeered some years ago and made invisible by powerful enchantments. But, unlike most sea inns, this one moved about, propelled by spells learned from the wizards of India, who had been crossing the Arabian Sea for centuries. This was Harfang's secret, and his greatest weapon.

No more than sixty feet away was another sea inn, this one lit cheerily from within. The din of talk from inside was easily audible across the water. As they watched, six wizards on brooms alighted and entered the inn.

"Move alongside," Harfang ordered, his voice pitched low. None would see them, hidden by their spells, but sound carried across water, and only the building itself was spelled to silence. Two of Harfang's men sprang to obey, their nonverbal spellwork moving the base slowly towards the inn.

When they had drawn close, Harfang made a swift cutting motion with one hand. The base slowed and stopped, held in place now with the usual anchor spells. Harfang gestured again, this time simply pointing. The pirates streamed onto the platform on which the inn rested, Harfang at their head. The door was blasted open, and, with a great shout, many voices joined together to make one loud roar, the pirates attacked.

Spells flew from both sides, but Harfang's men were quick, and they had the element of surprise on their side. Their target, in the end, made things easier for them. Peterson, a tall, golden-haired man dressed in simple but luxurious robes, stepped forward with the other defenders. Flint and a few others Stunned or killed those who looked like the most trouble, while Harfang dueled Peterson himself.

"At last, pirate," Peterson growled. "I've been chasing you for years. Seems you've decided that today's the day to die."

"On the contrary," Harfang said as he deflected a hex. His voice was light but his eyes were deadly. "I came here today to see you dead. Your people are becoming…troublesome. I aim to teach them a lesson." He grinned, a predator's grin as it closed on its prey.

Peterson faltered, and Harfang seized the moment of weakness and Stunned him. Levitating his captive before him, he called to his men, "Retreat! We got what we came for."

The pirates backed out of the inn, a few of them setting some fires to keep those within too busy to follow. As he left, Flint called, "Make sure to tell the Confederation's pirate chasers that Harfang came to call."

The next day, Peterson's head was found at the International Confederation of Wizard's anti-piracy station in the waters near Mocha. His body was never recovered, nor was Captain Silas Harfang ever captured, though he continued his predations for a decade and a half more.