Part the Two Hundred Eighty Second: The Past Is Never Far Behind
Hope thought the fortress guarding the mouth of the harbor was more threatening with the sun behind it.
From the deck of the Black Swallow, as the ship rounded the point on its way by the cape, she faced the shaded slopes of the hills on the eastern side of the mouth. They were an ominous black, deeper than the darkness of a roaring storm on the horizon. Their features were lost to the glare of the light shining over the hill; had the crew not seen the fortress at dusk yesterday, they might have assumed it was a rough outcropping of rock at the summit.
Watching the sun come up over the hill made Hope realize just how tired she was from last night’s actions. She sucked her cheeks between her teeth and bit hard, trying to shock herself awake.
“How soon before we’re away from here?” she asked, only half realizing that she had done so aloud.
“We’re running aft,” said Samuel. “She’s versatile and can make good headway, but it’s not ideal for us if we need to change course quickly.”
“With any luck, that won’t be necessary.”
“What makes you so certain?” Jukes asked.
“The confusion we left in our wake should buy us some time to head into open water. I would only be concerned if they had sent word at the first sign of trouble, but not seeing any fires or hearing any drums in alarum, we can assume the best.”
The sun climbing over the ridge at the water’s edge started to reflect light off the hill to its north, highlighting the features of the fortress. The stone walls looked again the color of a skull in the snatched dawning light.
Unlike she had at sunset, Hope didn’t feel as much dread anymore about skulls…
“See any activity up there?” Hope asked in general.
“There’s a standard atop the block house,” Goddard said from atop the mast, “and not much else to see.”
“Keep your eyes peeled, just in case. We’re not fully out of this until Santiago is over the horizon. No sudden movements or change in heading until then; the less reasons we can give them to fire on us, the better.”
“And then what?” asked Mason.
“What port are we heading towards?”
“I think we can parley once we’re out to sea,” said Hope. “I imagine Port Royal is the likely choice.”
“I’d have to say no,” said Samuel. “I may have made strong enemies of the Am H’Sefer of Port Royal, and it would not be politic for me to be there for some time. What about Tortuga? I understand they are as free about buccaneers there, no?”
“No. No, I don’t think so,” she cast a slight glance at Charity, “not for the moment.”
Before Samuel had the chance to question her, Goddard called out, “Sail, off the stern.”
Hope turned to look and felt her knees start to buckle.
“No…” she said, “No, it can’t be…”
Off the stern, the blazing sun emblazoned on the mainsails of the fore and main mast caught the rising sun, turning their symbols to blazing red.
“What is that?” Edward asked.
“She is the Casa del Sol,” said Hope. “And she’s also been a great discomfort to me for some time…”
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