Christine Keel

Royal Britannia Navy

HMS Jaana

MEMORANDUM FOR:  ROYAL BRITANNIAN GUARD

SUBJECT:  APPOINTMENT AS COMMANDER

To the Members of the Royal Britannia Guard:

Greetings. I am honored to have this opportunity to command such a public-spirited group. The Royal Guard is bonded by a proud tradition of distinguished service.

I began my military career fighting in Moonglow against Minax’s attacks. Sir Geoffrey then asked me to join the Royal Britannian Guard. After several years of serving in the Guard, I left to captain my own ship. My ship assisted a royal navy ship, the HMS Mariah, and I was asked to become captain of that ship. The Mariah provided naval support in the Magincia Battle. I later resigned from the navy and again had my own ship, The Jaana. The Jaana provided assistance at the Fire Island battle that ended the War of Shadows. It was then commissioned as the HMS Jaana.

I look forward to meeting all of you at the banquet at which I shall take up my new post. Long live the Queen.

Sincerely,

Christine Keel [signed]

CHRISTINE KEEL

Captain, Royal Britannian Navy


An entry from the diary of Maggie the Red (AKA Margaret Keel), Captain of The Get Even:

I hear that my little girl is going to be Commander of the Guard. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. When she ran away to fight in Moonglow, I didn’t send my crew after her because I thought she’d come back, someday. Maybe that was just wishful thinking, but she’s always been my lucky charm, even before she was born.

I had finally been captured. I was facing death by hanging within the month. Then dear Christine made her future presence known. I was able to “plead the belly”, as they say. My execution was delayed and, after Christine’s birth, I was pardoned. I was released immediately and even given some gold, with the instruction that I should go forth and be a good and doting mother. I was back on the high seas within a week. But I’ve always tried to be a good mother to dear stubborn little Christine, the baby who saved my life.

It’s true that our personalities differ in some ways. She’s never had a sense of humor. I remember when she was young, on calm days the crew would take turns throwing her as far out into the water as possible, to teach her to swim. Christine nagged me to make them stop, but I wasn’t worried. She was born in a caul, she’ll not die by drowning. Anyway, all that ended the day she clambered up the bobstay quicker than thought and kicked the first mate so hard he limped for a week. She’s a fine swimmer now though, better than most sailors. Well, that’s not saying much as most sailors don’t know how to swim!

She’s always been very methodical. You should have seen her when she was ten, systematically hacking off the fingers, one by one, of an enemy pirate who was hanging onto the gunwale of our ship. After each finger, she politely asked him if he’d like to surrender, then went on to the next. Actually, he joined our crew after he finally gave up, and he and Christine got along well, no grudges. Good old Six-Finger Bob, pity about that shark.

I intend to be at the banquet, to see my baby again.  I’ll disguise myself so she’s not put to the trouble of arresting me. Though, I wonder if she would?


Sam, a retired sailor, and his wife, Gianna, a wealthy wine merchant, in their Nu’Jelm villa:

Gianna glanced up from the morning paper and said to her husband, “it seems there’s going to be a banquet in Britain, I wonder if we should go. No, such a long journey and I can barely endure the wine at the castle.”

Sam nodded and continued to scoop up forkfuls of his eggs Magincia.

Gianna turned the page. “That old friend of yours, Keel, seems to have gotten herself appointed Commander of the Guard.”

Sam perked up. “Well deserved!”

“You followed her all around the globe for years, didn’t you?” Gianna said in a bemused voice. “Was she beautiful?”

“Better than that, she was competent,” Sam said.

“I remember that was your first compliment to me as well,” Gianna said, laughing.

“Well, it’s true. The way you run your business is the way she ran her ship. She knew how to do every job on that ship and was willing to pitch in when needed, but she could give orders without making anyone feel like a worm.”

“Good instincts too,” Sam continued his reminiscences, “I remember when I met her, she’d just bought her first ship, The New Hope. In those early days, we took on whatever cargo we could get. She had a knack for avoiding pirates. Sometimes we’d sail days out of our way, through rough waters, to arrive at our port and find we were the only ones who’d gotten through a virtual pirate blockade of the place. So we got more work and were doing pretty well.”

Sam paused to uncover another platter, this one piled high with bacon.

“Then one day we saw a distress signal. We were far out at sea and most of us didn’t want to respond, knew it had to be pirates, but Keel gave the order, so we sailed into our first battle. We had some cannons—“

“Cannons?” Gianna said. “That’s unusual for a cargo ship.”

“Yup, told you she was good at thinking ahead.” Sam said, grinning. “So we had cannons and weapons, but we were a young crew and most of us were terrified.”

“We fired our cannons at the pirate ship, while Keel got herself aboard the distressed ship and ran through those pirates like butter. Several of us were right behind her, hacking away. We were winning, but the pirates set fire to The New Hope. Keel looked back and yelled the order to abandon ship. No concern for her life savings going up in flames, just ‘get everyone off that bloody boat and get a weapon in their hands!’”

Gianna had put down the newspaper and was wide-eyed. “Did everyone get off the ship in time?”

“Every single soul. And we all fought our hardest. I even saw Keel put her extra dagger in the hands of the ten-year-old deck swab and tell him, ‘stab anyone who smells like horse dung.’”

“So your crew was able to kill all the pirates?”

“No, there were a few left alive, lying on the deck groaning. Keel threw them overboard and let them try to swim for their ship, which was already retreating. A few made it.”

“Clever,” Gianna said, “so those survivors could warn other pirates how fierce your crew was. Did the ship you saved take you to port?”

“Better than that. It turned out to be a navy ship, The HMS Mariah.”

“The first ship you served on. You never said much about it.”

“Yup. They’d suffered heavy losses, including most of their officers.” Sam said, “So they asked Keel to be their captain and the rest of us to join up too.”

“What happened next?” Gianna asked, happy to hear her usually taciturn husband so talkative.

“Let’s go for a walk in the garden,” said Sam, standing up and offering his wife his arm. “I’ll tell you about the Battle of Magincia, building The Jaana for the resistance, and sailing to Fire Island to defeat the Shadowlords.”