Illustrations © Zenobia 2018
A Chamber in an Inn in the Port of Hafnium.
Enter TILDA, FELIX, ETTY, VULPECULA, JESSICA and VISCUS.
FELIX: Now we have made a pirate very rich,
And won some wealth ourselves, it must be said.
But we’ve not won our struggle. Thetans still
Oppress our land, and though three regiments
Are all that stay out of the ten they sent,
Their cruelty t’ our folk prevents us yet
From rising up. We must reduce them more
Till we can rouse the people to rebellion.
They’ll know when th’ time hath come, thanks to our Etty
Whose pamphlets circulate throughout the land,
Passed hand to hand and read by everyone.
Yet here we sit, with a few hundred men,
Powerless against their thousands. What’s to do?
TILDA: We have a stratagem, but ’twill not please thee.
Thy mother, Etty and I hatched it in secret;
We trow ’twill serve.
FELIX: If so, why dost thou falter
In telling me? Forsooth, my dearest Tilda,
We have no secrets.
TILDA: What is the Thetans’ weakness?
’Tis this: their women. Half the population
Is bound with chains and prisoned within doors.
We must arouse them to o’erthrow their masters.
But here’s the rub: to gain th’ desired effect
We needs must go to Theta and awake them
– I and Vulpecula and Jessica.
’Tis perilous for all; my mother’s heart
Is full of apprehension at the thought.
Yet we must stand together, or we’ll fall.
We go not unprotected, for we have
Magic of divers sorts: Jessica’s phantoms,
Thy mother’s powerful spells of transformation,
My few weak tricks and, most importantly,
The peach stones of invisibility
With which we rescued thee from the foul Tartars.
What dost thou say, Felix my darling love?
FELIX: It rends my heart to hear what thou dost say:
My dearest Tilda and my darling daughter
And mother, though I know how strong ye are,
In the foul stronghold of the enemy
Exposed to death at every fleeting moment.
And yet I know ’tis right: we must dare this,
A gambler’s throw to win all or lose all.
I do believe the odds are in our favour
Thanks to your magic powers and dauntless hearts.
Besides, I know that, were I to forbid you,
Ye’d take no notice of my feeble words
And rush into the lion’s maw all the quicker.
But stay, we have not heard from Jessica,
The youngest of the three, but not the least.
Say, lovely daughter, what’s thy word on this?
JESSICA: Father, I am afraid, but I will go;
We must do this, and so it shall be done.
FELIX: This is true courage, dearest Jessica:
To feel the fear and do it anyway.
TILDA: We’ll guard her to the utmost of our power,
Though she hath power beyond the two of us.
ETTY: Tilda, I know that thou wilt win the day
With thy companions, but it grieves me sore
That I cannot be with thee on the road
As once we were. Yet ’tis a witches’ matter,
And I must play my part in our own land
Rousing the folk when it is time to strike,
For magic is beyond my power.
TILDA: Not so,
Etty, thou hast the magic of thy words,
A potent spell indeed to move a nation.
In war a word is worth a thousand arrows
To energise our friends and crush our foes.
But I shall miss thee on this desperate quest.
VULPECULA: Kevin is still ashore, guarding his galleys.
We’ll visit him tomorrow and take passage
T’ a lonely place upon the Thetan coast.
Felix, I’ll give thee one o’ th’ scrying glasses
So thou canst see that all is well with us.
FELIX: Aye, and if ’twere not, know I would rush
With all the meagre force at my command
To rescue you from th’ very pit of hell.
But let’s not dwell on that. Say, brother Viscus,
Are our men ready to decamp tomorrow
And cross the border to our native land?
VISCUS: Aye, they stand ready. ’Twill be easier
To enter than to leave. The Thetans watch
To stem the flow of folk leaving the land
As thousands have, t’ escape their tyranny.
Though Jessica’s pink bears would come in handy,
We’ll do it fair enough in our own way.
’Tis well we left the printing press i’ th’ mountains;
Such things are hard to haul about in secret.
ETTY: Would we had better means to spread the word
Than cumbrous presses made of wood and iron
And boxes full of heavy leaden type,
And paper purchased in the dead of night
From honest stationers whose lives we risk.
Yet better ways will come; of that I’m sure.
FELIX: My family, my friends, my loyal folk:
The tide of war hath turned. It flows our way
To wash our enemies out of our land.
Come, let us raise our mugs of frothing beer
And drink a toast, for victory draws near.
(All cheer. Exeunt Omnes.)