The End of Joris Janszoon


There is a wizard, destined from birth to be a butcher, who chose instead the life of piracy and butchery of humans. No man or creature born on this earth will ever defeat him, and he shall overcome all before him until he rises to prominence. No man born on Earth can ever defeat the butcher pirate.

So had the Seer said of Joris Janszoon, one-time pirate chaser for the International Confederation of Wizards, a deserter, and a man spoken of only in fearful whispers by merchants flying over the waters off the Malabar Coast, lest he be conjured by the mention of his name.

Janszoon was fearless, because he had no need for fear. He was fierce and bloodthirsty in battle, seeming to enjoy the fight nearly as much as the reward. Only a few months after joining the band of pirates with whom he raided, he had met an old Seer in Cochin who had given him his prophecy. He had immediately recognized himself in it, for his father was a butcher and had named him for the patron saint of butchers. Within weeks, he had slain their leader and taken his place, believing it to be his destiny.

Now he had nearly thirty men under his command: the nine who had been part of his original band, plus those who had chosen to join him rather than die when he had defeated their leader, a rival pirate from Portugal, as well as a few former merchant guards and pirate chasers. They often broke into two groups, the second and smaller group under command of Janszoon's right-hand man, a Spaniard called Velázquez, and raided separately.

So it was that stifling June night. Velázquez's party was sticking close to the coast near Cochin, while Janszoon's was staying at The Rusty Bucket, a notorious pirate den some ways off the coast. It lay directly under the trade route, despite all of the Confederation's attempts to force the proprietor to move it, and was a perfect place to lie in wait for unwary merchants. One of Janszoon's men was quietly keeping watch outside, while the rest of them pretended to lounge about inside, though none could deny the tension in the room. Only Janszoon had eaten well, and even he had to feed what was left of his dinner to the jarvey he kept as a pet. They had missed an opportunity earlier – another band had beaten them to it – and none of them wanted to miss a second one.

The man on watch appeared in the doorway, and a ripple of movement went through Janszoon's men as they noticed him. He nodded, and they streamed out into the heavy summer air, Janszoon tossing a sack of coins onto the table as payment.

In silence, they mounted their brooms and took off, Janszoon in the lead. Shadows, just barely distinguishable from the moonless night sky, showed them where the merchants were. Janszoon put on speed, and his men followed, swooping around to surround the merchant party almost before they noticed the pirates' presence.

The merchant, at the center of a ring of guards, cowered on his broom, looking as if at any moment he might foolishly attempt to dash off with his cargo. His guards were serious, able-looking men who blocked the first curses aimed at them with quick Shield Charms. Their first responsibility was to see to the merchant's safety, not their own, so simply dodging was not an option. Another volley of curses came hard on the heels of that one, and another, until one of the guards failed to cast his Shield Charm in time. He clutched his wand arm, bleeding, as his wand fell into the sea.

After that, a rout seemed all but assured. But just as Janszoon subdued the last of the guards, several of his men cried out and fell from their brooms. Flashes of spell-light lit the night as more of Janszoon's men fell to the surprise attack. The rest of them rounded on their attackers and found another pirate crew, headed by a wizard with a scar across his face.

"Harfang, you dirty coward!" Janszoon roared.

"Now, Janszoon, you know that I am simply being practical." Harfang smiled. "You're becoming far too good at what you do. You nearly interfered with my attack earlier this evening. I'm afraid it has to stop."

Janszoon laughed derisively. "Haven't you heard? 'No man born on this earth' can defeat me. Better give up now before I kill you."

As they had spoken, their bands had engaged one another in a brutal battle, spells flying around the two pirates. Now Janszoon whipped his own wand up and aimed a curse at Harfang. Their duel was so fierce and so fast, the spells going back and forth, deflected or dodged or turned back upon the caster, that the men of both sides stopped fighting to watch the spectacle.

Finally, ropes sprang forth from Harfang's wand, securing Janszoon's hands behind his back. Janszoon, panting, spat into Harfang's face, his eyes furious.

Harfang wiped the spittle away calmly. "Didn't you ever hear the story of the boy born to a barmaid at the Whales' Rest Inn? He was born and raised in that sea inn, and he grew up to be the pirate Harfang."

"'No man born on this earth,'" Janszoon said, eyes widening in sudden terror.

"There you have it, laddie," Harfang said. "Avada Kedavra."

A bolt of green light transfixed Janszoon, and he fell ungracefully into the sea, there to be submerged and carried away.

"So ends Joris Janszoon," said Harfang, and sheathed his wand.