Captain Pigheart in the Valley of Seth

Gaargh, the sky were blue and the sun shone brightly upon me and me beloved wife, Roberta-Clementine, as we drifted over the countryside. Me mates’d surprised me by rememberin’ our anniversary wih the gift of a romantical balloon ride. They’d managed to land a giant puffer-fish, but rather than cook it, the lads’d tethered a basket to the festerin’ fish and allowed it to re-inflate with its decomposin’ gases. Billy No Mates piloted whilst we growled sweet nothin’s an’ tore off our petticoats.

The picturesque valley below, with light dancin’ across a patchwork of yellow and green fields seemed the ideal spot for our pickernick. At me direction, Billy began our descent, slashin’ the swollen carcass above our heads with ‘is cutlass. The fishy-flesh parted with a damp pop and smothered us with a stream of foul vapours. We began to corkscrew down into the valley’s shadow…

I awoke surrounded by wheat and cornflowers. Ye rural scents were spoiled by the rancid balloon blanketin’ me and me bride. Gently I roused Roberta and savagely booted Billy into wakefulness. Gaaargh, ‘e seemed quite abashed, and I’d not the heart to beat ‘im further; Roberta shared not me sentiments and laid about him with the hamper.

For want o’ direction we skipped along a neatly bricked lane singin’ shanties (me current favourite be ‘A Bishop Met a Raddled Whore’, for its fine rhythm and ring o’ truth). Our ramblin’ were disturbed by a rustlin’ in ye field before us from which a figure staggered. Garrgh, he seemed at first to be a fellow of whom we might make enquiries, but ‘is ramshackle gait, sackcloth face and the straw pokin’ from out ‘is garments made us wary. He lunged towards us, as if to partake of our sing-song. To me surprise (though more to Billy’s), ye scarecrow proved to have viciously sharp finger sticks with which he flailed at us. Perhaps our gigglin’ and good cheer’d irritated ye ordinarily inanimate agricultural figure. No matter, we pulled off his legs and skipped away.

Our jiggin’ were further hastened once Roberta’d noted that all the scarecrows dottin’ the fields were not merely twistin’ their malevolently misshapen heads to mark our passage, but were unhitching ‘emselves and stalkin’ us through the corn. Mercifully we soon espied a dwellin’ atop a hill; the doors of which proved robust and easily barricaded.

We’d happened upon an abandoned visitor’s centre featurin’ a range o’ rustic exhibits and blissfully, a bar for ye parched and edgy travellers. We chose to ignore ye eccentric décor of wooden beams an’ whitewash crudely streaked with red, reminiscent o’ some terrible slaughter. Perhaps it were a yokel fad, I knows not, bein’ of the sea.

Accompanied by mugs of cider we ambled about with our minds turned to ye “enquiring” settin’. In the heart o’ ye buildin’ a large arrow declared “ye be here” on a map of ‘Ye Valley of Seth’. The locals were proud o’ their exports of cider apples and golden wheat (and rightly so). Tragically, recent years’d seen a plague o’ thievin’ birdery cause terrible harvests, rickets and so forth. Seems they’d overcome these setbacks, for ye fields were full and we’d heard not a twitter all day.

The next tableau featured a wax figure of King Seth himself strikin’ a plainly insane deal with witches to rid ye valley of pests. There were then a fascinatin’, if disturbin’ explanation of how to make a more effective raven-repellent by transplantin’ a man’s still-beating heart into a scarecrow. Gaaargh. From there ye exhibit digressed to scrawlin’ on ye walls – ‘Seth be killin’ us all, he be a scarecrow himself, aargh, they be comin’ for me now, they be here, help…’ trailin’ off into a pool o’ blood.

Twere a most informative exhibition – but a bit slapdash at the end. It did set concern a-tickin’ in our breasts, for the hammerin’ on ye doors had grown and we’d now reason to fear ‘em even more than the crows did. Roberta, with ‘er practical female mind, found distraction in tidyin’ and re-organisin’ the stuff about us whilst Billy and me sought a moment o’ peace in a third barrel o’ scrumpy.

I decided to establish a dialogue with ye besiegin’ army. Leavin’ Billy curled beneath a shelf, I leaned from ye window and hurled friendly abuse at the agrarian automata. Gaaargh, they’d multiplied since last I checked and ye visitors centre were the heart of a sea o’ gawky straw folk. I could see why they’d scared off ye birds; their button eyes stared into ye soul and left it cold, and itchy.

One scarecrow seemed familiar as ‘e stumbled through the massed army, bearing the tattered robes of a patchwork prince; a cloth crown stitched across his lopsided noggin. He confirmed himself as King Seth, with a yokelly gargle of “get orf moi laaaand, you’m be trespaaassin’ on moi praaarp’ty”. He sounded foolish enough to tear out ‘is own heart at the behest o’ some mad crone. Apple-addled I belched a contemptuous retort (I were not me usual erudite self). This only angered the bumpkin king further for he rattled ‘you’m been drinkin’ moi coider and stealin’ moi craaaarps!’

Frankly, the yokel-ruler’s absurd accent were startin’ to rankle, plus the scarecrows’d started to throw stones – ‘twere time to formulate a stratagem for escape. Fortunately I’d underestimated me bride. While I were busy rilin’ the valley’s ex-populace she’d made amazin’ progress. Roberta were at the top of the stairs, astride a rustic killing cart. ‘Tis remarkable what ye can do with a few barrels and a dozen scythes. I hauled Billy on behind us; though I’d gladly have left him behind, I’ve never yet lost a pirate – in a visitors’ centre anyway.

The monster rook-rattlers were usin’ each others’ spinal poles to prise ye doors apart; ‘twere cruel, but effective. Roberta ignited ‘er makeshift cider rockets and we shot down the stairs and through the first row o’ scarecrows. The bladed wheels mowed ‘em down exactly like a mechanical scythe on wheels – there be a patent pendin’. Roberta be a vengeful wench so we descended spiral-wise, so as to hack up as many o’ the accursed crow-queerers as possible.

They fell upon us in their unfortunately comical manner, and we cut a swathe through ‘em on every turn. Windin’ about the hill, we came upon King Seth himself – but just as Roberta were about to cut him down he showed surprisin’ agility and leapt onto the cart.

He proved a tricky adversary – me hook sliced through him to no avail, merely scatterin’ a few ears o’ wheat over me companions. His claws scratched at me face as he raved tediously about the harvest. As ever, me beloved were straight to the point. She drew her pistol and fired it point-blank through the King’s chest, blasting ‘is rotten heart across Billy’s face. As the scarecrow king fell limp, so too did his army, falling in crapped out crop circles about us.

We tootled onward, out o’ the Valley of Seth, we’d reached the end o’ this awful, scenic place. Ahead of us were a quaint little tavern advertisin’ ales, cobs and the cabaret stylin’s of the Siren Singers. Gaaargh, I loves it when a plan comes together.

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