Part 258

Part the Two Hundred Fifty Eighth: Fire and Brimstone

“We could use lights,” Jukes noted.

“Not this close to the heart of de Colera’s property, we can’t,” Hope retorted.

She had to admit to herself, though, that the growing darkness was as much an adversary as ally now.  And while she trusted Osei to keep his grip on Nina’s arm, she kept her ears open for the rustle of the girl’s escape and desertion, to be followed by an ambush from de Colera’s men as they surrounded the commo-

“Stop here,” Osei said as he broke into Hope’s worry.

“What is it?” she asked.

“We’re at the point that’s closest between the edge of the forest and the workshops.  She says that one there is the smithy.”

Hope easily spotted it, the low fires burning inside the building beyond the tree line casting a glow that seeped over and around the shutters and doors, a dull orange that burned ever brighter in a darkening night.

“Ask her if he keeps people working in there around the clock,” Hope said to Osei.

“It’d be une situation sanglante if he keeps the forges running into the night,” said Charity.  “I’ve gone up against smiths before, and they can be nasty.”

“Why would you get in a fight with a smith?” Samuel asked.

“It was a transaction badly discussed. We had come-”

“She says no,” said Osei.

“Good,” said Hope.  “Then we should make our way there, get out of the dark and into somewhere that we can defend if need be.”

Quietly, the raiders made their way to the forge.  The door facing them easily opened, and slid they inside.

As Goddard and de Barrer barred the doors, Jukes poked at the coals.  “Finally, some light,” he noted, “which I can bring up to a more comfortable level without arousing suspicion.”

Hope nodded at him before asking Osei, “Have her give us the layout of the buildings here.  If there was-”

Her eyes landed on a bucket of small wooden blocks.  She picked them up and handed them to Nina.

“Ask her to pick out blocks to stand in for the buildings, and place them close to each other relative to how far apart they are in real life.  See if she can build us a crude map of where we are and what to expect.”

As Osei started to work with Nina, Hope turned her attention to Jukes.  “That fire best be kept under control,” she told him.

“I think I can manage that,” he said.  “A forge is the best place to have a fire; bellows here to adjust the burn, give us what we need when we need it, plenty of charcoal over here to the side in addition to the wood for fuel.”

“This charcoal,” said Samuel, “this could be useful if you turn it into something, couldn’t it?  As black powder, maybe?”

“I’d need more than charcoal for that.  I’d need saltpeter and sulfur as well, and the latter of the two is not likely to be found in abundance on this plantation.”

“Can you make a powder without it?” Hope asked.

“It wouldn’t be very good if I did only use those two, but I’d have something close to what you are looking for.”

“Good.”

“Provided we have saltpeter handy.”

Hope sighed with rolled eyes…

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