Part the Two Hundred Fifty Third: Past the Teeth of the Beast
The last thing she saw the light of sunset kiss was the fortress guarding the mouth of the harbor.
The Black Swallow was a good few miles out as the grey stone walls of the fortress caught the last rays of the sun like a disinterred skull coming up through the dirt. The edges of the block house she could see were spiked with divots, while the walls beneath them built into the side of the peak were smooth.
“Are you sure they’re not looking down on us?” Jukes asked.
“If they are,” Samuel replied, “they aren’t going to be as alarmed as they might be were we a larger ship.”
“And from what Morgan got when he questioned Mersey,” Hope added, “they’re less likely to be manning the walls at this hour.”
“And they don’t believe in pirates coming under cover of darkness?” Jukes asked.
“According to him, the Governor of Santiago puts his faith in two articles. Once is that so long as Christopher Mings is in England, no great bands will assemble again to sack the city.”
“And the other?”
“That so long as de Colera and the Casa del Sol are able to set out the instant they get word of an incursion,” she replied, “that threat alone will deter pirates from coming here.”
“Assuming they’re not out at sea, of course.”
“Oh, they know he’s here. They know he’s staying close by on his lands, now that he’s bested the terrible Red Abigail.”
“You know,” Jukes responded after allowing Hope’s bitter, mocking comment to ferment in the air, “it just occurs to me: If we do succeed in liberating this woman and reinstating her as captain, then this de Colera will be at sea and come hunting for us.”
“And your point being, sir?”
Jukes left his mouth agape a moment before he closed it and withdrew from her.
“It is not a point that can go without consideration,” Osei noted in a lowered voice. “We may well not have enough time to enjoy Abigail’s liberation before he comes for us.”
“Then we will have to make certain that we use our time wisely,” she replied.
“Do you refer to the time when once we leave de Colera, or when we are on his lands?”
She took a moment a to draw a breath while she thought. “The first thing we need to do is remove her from his grasp. Anything that keeps that from happening would do us little good, do you agree?”
“I might object, were we going in with more men and better armed. But being as it is, I do agree.”
“Perhaps once we’ve regrouped, we might consider another visit with a different objective.”
“Oh, I could easily see Abigail leading a force in arms to take him down.”
The sun died on the fortress’ walls as the breeze softened.
And trouble introduced itself not with shots, but with flapping…
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