#atozchallenge L is for Ludo ~ Guest post by Jemima Pett


#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter L

L is for Ludo

Ludo is a board game derived from the ancient game Pachisi. Most of us have probably played at some time! 2 to 4 players roll a die in turn and move their piece around the board accordingly. You have to get all your pieces home first to win.
I also played it as Kappit – probably a version of the German Coppit.
ludo board
Picture by Micha L Reiser (via Wikipedia)

Ludo as a character

Ludo is the name I gave to the Pirate King in the second of my series The Princelings of the East. He was eventually exiled in that book. I interviewed him in 2012, and realised he would return to cause trouble, which he did, from book eight, The Princelings of the North, to the final one, Princelings Revolution, which came out last October.

This is part of that interview: you can see why I wanted to write more about him… now who asked if I had more spin-offs to write?

Jemima meets Ludo, the Pirate King

I’m sitting with Ludo at a beach table under a cloth awning, drinking the local wine. I ask how the pirating business is going. He glares at me a lot.
“I was the legitimate crown prince of Castle Marsh, going about my business according to the rules laid down by others. They were happy for me to take their produce across the water and bring them the profit, with a little charge for the service. They accused me of smuggling. Then they closed off my source of business and I formed a plan to survive in spite of them. And they called that piracy.”
There was nothing about this that came out in the trial.
“Pah, trial. One step away from a lynching to save certain people’s skins.”
I ask him to name names. He is a big chap, an imposing presence. His tan is an even deeper red than it was when I last saw him, at the trial. His black eyepatch is just as rakish. I’m not sure he actually needs it. He has a very stylish hat with a wide brim, which currently lies on the bench next to him. 
He declines, after consideration, so I ask him how he came to take up sailing. 
“Got in with a sporty crowd who raced small boats, then got onto one of the big ships and loved it. Told grandfather I was going to take a year to sail on these big ships, then come back and be crown prince properly, and he wasn’t bothered, so I did.  Took me six months to get my own ship and crew together, get the business going nicely, earning lots of gold, then someone turned everyone against me.”
“So you think you should still be king of Castle Marsh?”
“Of course I should. Although I’d rather have the ships. Free to roam, no responsibility except to your crew, and they obey you anyway. I’m doing well now, thank you!”
So while he doesn’t want any responsibility for Marsh, he still wants the recognition and the title.  
He doesn’t have any contacts in the realms he wishes to keep up, “although Uncle Vlad is a good sport.” He surprises me by recounting an embarrassing moment; I had expected him to be one of those that didn’t have them.
He’d most like to change the power play in the realms so he can be king again. He does not explain what he means by ‘power play’. The Kings’ Council, which unites the various castles, deems that he could not live in harmony with them. So is he an outsider who sees authority working against him, or is there actually someone in the Council working to undermine the peace? I am unsettled by Ludo’s accusations—or are they merely insinuations? 
I feel increasingly uncomfortable in his presence. The ferry is docking at the quay, so I have an excuse to finish.
We exchange formal thanks for the interview, and I get up, relieved. He has a casual manner that could lull you into thinking he’s a playboy, an anachronism, playing at being a pirate. But he’s not. He’s the real thing, and he’s dangerous.

About Jemima Pett

Jemima writes fantasy and science fiction, and is writing the third in her scifi series during the April AtoZ. Check on her progress at her blog jemimapett.com. She also has several books of her flash fiction coming out in time for summer. Get Critters and Crises at Amazon now, and pre-order Greed and Retribution, out 6th May.

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Author: John Holton

Internet disc jockey, lover of old TV (especially the commercials), inveterate wise guy.

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