The men have returned from their excursion, and the Provençese cochons are down one sloop. The crew were slain to the last man, which I suppose was an unspoken part of the plan, and the sloop burned. I find that I am both pleased and appalled.
Jacques Poquêrie led the group. Having prepared the "hideout" in the grotto, they kept watch for any patrolling sloop; and when one came in sight they laid an ambush. A man in the grotto let a fire smoke briefly and then put it out, just as though a cooking fire had briefly got out of hand. And when les cochons landed to investigate, our men were hidden in and among the trees.
All of our men had guns, and several had bows, for it is not that long since the village had to be completely self-sufficient. We are, after all, on the frontier. There were perhaps thirty men on the sloop, and five were downed by arrows before the rest knew anything was amiss. Several more were taken by bullets, and then our men fell back further into the woods. After that it was like a deadly game of tag. Most of our men led the Provençese sailors further into the woods, picking them off one by one; the rest descended upon the sloop in sky-sleds and fell upon the five left to guard it from above. That was a great risk, for if even one of the cochons had escaped we would be lost.
But I find I haven't the heart to remonstrate with them today.
I am surprised at how easily we have had it against the Provençese to date. Our men know the local forests and ground perfectly well, having hunted in them since they were small, whereas it seems that these sailors are no woodsmen, and are more used to fighting ship-to-ship than on land. I also expect that le Maréchal is keeping his best troops for the main front with the Cumbrians: the sailors left to guard the sloop should certainly have been keeping an eye on the skies, but I am told they were crowded against the rail, trying to track the path of their fellows by the sounds of the shooting.
We lost no one, though there were a number of cuts and scrapes and one sprained ankle; for Jacques, leaped from the sky wagon on their return in his eagerness to share the good news, and came down upon a loose stone. It did not dampen his spirits.
Now we wait for them to discover the burned remains of the sloop. One of our men stayed behind, equipped with a sky-sled; he is in a blind overlooking the remains and will stay there until the Provençese have come and gone.
I wish I could inform our folk in Bois-de-Bas of today's victory, but I was told not to risk it. As of now, only those two know of our plans; and it will go easier with the townsfolk if they do not need to feign surprise when the Provençese command questions them.
There remain two sloops; I greatly fear that they will patrol in tandem in the future. If one stands off while the other lands we will have a great deal more difficulty in taking them.
photo credit: swampt01 Shenandoah Nat. Park via photopin (license)