Nicote sat with his back against the dank stone, arms and legs weighed down by the immense chains bolted to his ankles and wrists. Ribeiro sat across fom him, similarly bound, his head drooping.
Nicote cleared his throat grinned, feeling the gap where the guard’s spear-butt had knocked out his front tooth. “Another tight spot, Salvador.”
Ribeiro’s right was swollen shut, but he returned the smile. “We’ve seen worse, Captain.”
“Do you remember the great bell of Shwedagon Pagoda?”
“I’ll not soon forget it. Trussed six ways from Sunday, yet still the knots slipped before we could load it onto the barge. A million of money dropped straight in the river, never to be seen again.”
“Got out of that one by the skin of our teeth.” Nicote peered around at the dark cell. “But we’ll not have such luck this time, I fear.”
Filipe de Brito e Nicote (known as Nga Zinga in Burma) was one of the most colourful Portuguese pirate adventurers. Nicote was born in Lisbon to a poor French family and shipped to Siam as a cabin boy, eventually taking service with the king of Arakan as a mercenary.
In 1608 , Nicote plundered the Shwedagon Pagoda. His men took the 300-ton Great Bell of Dhammazedi intending to melt the bronze down and make cannons, but it fell into the Bago River. To this date, it has not been recovered.
He eventually rose to become the lord of Syriam. After failing to defend his kingdom against the forces of King Anaukpetlun. Nicote was captured, stripped naked and impaled on an iron stake atop a hill overlooking his ruined domain. It took him three agonizing days to die.
The fate of his companion and lieutenant Salvador Ribeiro remains unknown, though he is rumored to have survived and returned to Portugal.