If you want to read more about the Spanish Armada before reading this so you know what it’s about click here.
I watched the chaos unfold around me like a phoenix opening it’s wings. I saw the hell-burners snaking their way through the Spanish formation. I saw the ships cut anchor in panic. I heard the screams of agony of those burning.
I was meant to be a messenger on my way to Sir Francis Drake, giving a letter from Effingham. I was meant to go to Plymouth, but when I saw those fire-ships drifting by, unseen in the black night, it was too tempting to just go.
“Who goes there? I have arrows, so i you try anything I’ll be ready!”
The deep voice echoed around in my cove above the Calais beach. I pressed myself into the wall behind me. All was silent. I dared not to breathe.
“I say, show yourself this minute! How dare you insult and ignore a commander of my standard. Who. Goes. There?”
There he was, so different from his voice, looking around like a lost child. Wearing a doublet and a sword, he looked a lot like… Sir Francis Drake! When he turned to face where I was hiding, I could see that it was him.
“Francis! How good to- I mean, Sir, I…”
I parted with the shadows and bowed stiffly. Surprisingly, he dropped his sword and shook my hand with both of his.
“Finally, someone on my own side!” Drake beamed, “I have been here for four hours, and not one English man do I see until now.” He sighed, his eyes fading. “But it certainly is a pleasure to watch those scoundrels catching fire. This has to be the most ingenious idea I’ve ever had. Isn’t it?” His gleaming eyes met mine. “Eh, soldier?”
“Yes, sir.” He stood up on a rock barely a foot high, as if he was going to make a speech.
“I have a feeling we will win this war. You wouldn’t believe how big fools the Spanish are- I even heard one cry out, ‘We’re going to be blown up by those hell-burners!’. You can easily figure out you’re going to catch fire, not get blown up. Well, I would. Pardon me, I’m rambling now. What is your name?”
I came to with a start, and realised Francis Drake was staring at me.
“Oh! T-Thomas Howard. Sir.” I said, looking at my shoes.
“And what is your status?”
“Just a messenger, Sir. But before I was a soldier.”
“So I suppose you can fight properly?”
“I-I think so, Sir.”
” Well, let’s see how good you are.” He picked up his sword and held it out, moonlight reflecting on the blade. With trembling hands, I drew out my (much smaller) sword, and tried to stop it shaking.
Within a second we were fighting. I prevented his blows with some satisfaction, but this was a first-class soldier here, so I don’t think I’ll last long.
All of a sudden I was lying on my back, watching the sword on my neck waver slightly.
“You’ll do. Now get up. I take it you can ride a horse?”
“Yes, Sir.” I’ll do for what? Where were we going? Thoughts kept tumbling into my head, and I barely noticed getting on the horse.
Soon, we were galloping towards the Spanish ships through the undergrowth and leaves. When I thought we were almost about to ride out into the open, we stopped at a small pathway leading to the west.
“We depart here, my friend,” Drake said, wiping his brow and flicking his hair, “I need you to do a massive favour for me. Ride your horse along this path until you meet a soldier who will give you further instructions. Is that clear?”
“Uh.. yes, Sir. What am I actually going to do?”
” You, my friend, have the most important part in this war. You are going to lead a secret army, you army, across the Channel, to the Gravelines, where we will have our final battle. Go.”
I saw I had to go, so I went. I went to end the war.