Simon stared at the grave in silence for a long time, unaware that the men had departed from his side, uncaring, for he felt more alone and heartsick than he had ever felt before in his life. His quiet, simpleminded friend lay lifeless below his feet, never to give him a soft word or crooked smile again. Turning his back on the tuft of earth in front of him, Simon stared out across the sea towards the horizon where he had last seen the ship carrying Leigha away from him. His tears fell unheeded as his heart broke from the strain of his greatest loss. Without her, his life meant nothing. His soul lay empty as dry wasteland, and he fell to the ground, weeping bitterly and cursing the fates that had twisted and torn at his life since the day of his birth. Until this day, he had always felt that he could better anything that was thrown at him. Now he felt the full, crushing weight of fate as a deathblow, breaking him and leaving him to lay exhausted from his tears to sleep heavily, his mind mercifully blackened from all thoughts of his lovely Leigha and his fears for her fate.
Simon awoke with the midday sun in his face and sat up quickly, blinking and rubbing his eyes as his numb mind registered that something was wrong. He stood up, his legs shaky at first as he walked about and looked for what his sleep-filled brain had failed to relay completely. He remembered the events of the day before, but there was something beyond that tragedy that disturbed him. Walking towards the beach, he knew at once what was wrong. The sea was empty save for the birds that flew about overhead. The Pepperwind was gone. Stopping at the edge of the water, he screamed, his arms stretched towards the heavens with clenched and shaking fists as he yelled.
“You bloody bastards! You have taken my last hope of ever finding Leigha alive! Damn you to hell for all eternity for deserting me!”
The first mate had seized the opportunity to make the ship his and claiming the need of a safe harbor to make the necessary repairs of the damage the pirate raid had caused, he told the men that he wanted to set sail with the morning’s tide. Not completely heartless, he offered Simon’s men the choice of going or staying with their unconscious captain. Uncertain what they should do, they then tried to awaken their captain from his deep slumber of shock and pain. Despite their best efforts, they could not get him to respond. With much argument among themselves, they finally decided that it would be some time before their captain could recover from this and that he would want them to go on with their own lives as best they could. The first mate felt no obligation to the man, yet he allowed Simon’s men to leave behind the two horses and some supplies for him in the clearing. They then set sail with the men of the Pepperwind, anxious to leave the nightmare of the pirate raid behind them in the small bay that had been like a paradise to them all.
The first mate had no knowledge that Simon had planned to use the Pepperwind to give chase to the pirates and to gain Leigha back to his side. Neither would the man have cared had he known, for he wanted nothing more to do with such men. He knew only that since Captain Tolwin was dead, the Pepperwind could now be his, and he intended to take full advantage of his position as its new captain. The man only felt relief that they were leaving these pirate waters. Hours had passed. No one saw nor heard the man standing in the shallow, lapping waves, screaming curses until he fell to his knees to beat vainly at the foaming water with his powerful fists. No one knew of the all-consuming rage and despair of the man they had innocently left behind on Crete to suffer on alone, so terribly alone.
Lee, Virginia – Dagon’s Blood – Kindle Edition