Many tipped their chairs over in the effort to get out of the way of the maddened creature that hurled past them towards the lone man at the front of the room. Struggling to get a look at what would happen next, they were shoved aside as other men ran after the one that was still screaming with rage at the one he had called Simon. Baffled by the event, the regulars stood back to the side of the room and watched in awe what happened next.
Simon heard the animal-like screams and knew that it was Robert that was now hurtling towards him. Chilled by the rage in the man’s voice but intent on his mission to make them help him find Leigha, he stood his ground and braced himself for the attack. Just as Robert approached Simon with his fists clenched, body crouched to spring upon him, two sets of great, strong hands circled his forearms and held him in their steely grip, leaving him half hanging in the air, swinging and kicking fruitlessly.
“Damn you! Let go of me!” Robert bellowed. “I’m going to kill him!”
Simon stood tall, his face impassive, showing no response as his eyes grew fully adjusted to the dim light. He recognized Lord Dagon holding on to one of Robert’s arms with Gordon Carpenter firmly planted with his great paws about the other. The two men held Robert at bay, none of them speaking until Robert’s rage subsided and he stilled his violent movements, though his dark eyes held fast upon Simon, emitting a glowing fire of pure hatred.
“We will release you on one condition, Robert,” Lord Dagon’s stern voice ended the deadly silence. “That you wait to carry out your threat until after we have found out from him where Leigha is!”
“Very well,” Robert spoke, his voice gravelly and heavy with the emotions that raged within him. “But he had better answer our questions quickly! I have waited too long for this day!”
Releasing Robert’s pinned arms and signaling Gordon to do the same, Charles stood before Simon, his own eyes dancing in anger as he faced the man they had chased halfway around the world. No one spoke as the two men looked levelly at each other.
“Where have you hidden my daughter? Speak up!” Charles commanded.
Simon looked steadily into Lord Dagon’s eyes, his face a mask of stone hiding the pain and sadness that welled up within him as he thought again of what had happened to Leigha. Turning his back on the merciless eyes before him, he blinked at the bright sunshine beyond the open door as he gazed out to sea. Raising his arm slowly, almost painfully, he pointed out across the waters as he spoke.
“She is lost to us all somewhere out there.”
“She is dead?” choked the old familiar voice of Jesep MacFee who now stood beside Lord Dagon.
“Nay, but lost just the same,” Simon replied, his voice low and full of undisguised anguish. “She was taken from me by pirates and slave traders twelve days ago.”
“How could you let that happen?” Robert yelled, coming up behind Simon and turning him roughly around to face him as he then demanded, “Did you hate her so much that you would sell her and your own child that she bears into a life of slavery?”
Simon stared at Robert’s blazing face and wondered briefly how they knew that Leigha was with child, in fact, how had they even known how to find them here on Crete? Silently, he looked at the familiar faces before him, the absence of Stephen’s snide face fluttering across his thoughts as a shadow before he turned once again towards the sea, his mind working hard to find a way to stay alive and make them take him with them to find Leigha. The silence hung heavier about them than the humid climate ever could, and Charles began to wonder if Simon would ever speak. Robert was growing quite angry at Simon’s delay and was kept from speaking again by his father’s stern look.
“They attacked the Pepperwind while most of the crew and I were ashore clearing the land so as to build a home for Leigha.” Simon’s words came softly to the ears of those present, and Charles heard the pain in his voice as it echoed about in the still room. “We raced to the long boats to aid in the battle aboard our ship but arrived too late and could do nothing but row uselessly after the departing ship as it sped away with Leigha, its only captive. All of the men that had remained aboard the Pepperwind that morning were killed, brutally slashed to ribbons. I believe that the pirate’s only reason for attacking us was to capture Leigha and so they waited until the number of men on board was small enough for them to accomplish that act. Did I sell her to them, you ask?” Simon questioned as he turned once again towards them all and faced Robert squarely. “I tell you that she is greater to me than life itself, and I would have fought the demons of hell if I could have to save her from those men! You see, I am in love with her!”
“You can speak of love after having kidnapped her away from her family and home, raping her and spreading your evil seed within her until she carries your child? Love her, you say, when you so carelessly left her unguarded so that she could be taken, even from you!”
“You understand nothing, Robert,” Simon spoke softly as if to a child in tantrum. “‘Tis true that I took Leigha cruelly away from all that she loved, thinking that I did so out of my angry need for revenge upon her for how she had wounded and humiliated me at Clairemont’s Keep. I soon found that I could not harm her as I had planned and discovered that what burned within me since first we met was not anger but love. She realized that she had been hiding her feelings of love for me even from herself as well, and this hurt her greatly at first. She spent long days and nights wondering how she could love both of us as much as she does.”
“You lie! She would never love you willingly!” Robert exclaimed as he stepped threateningly towards Simon. “You raped her, and it is only that she carries your child that makes her think that she has fallen in love with you!”
“She does love me, Robert. We had planned a life together here on Crete. Her heart is full and capable of loving in many different ways. Her love for me in no way diminished her feelings for you. Though I have become her lover, it was never done by rape. My seed meant nothing, for yours had already found its mark. She was pregnant before you left her at Dagonmoor.”
“She carries my child?” Robert asked, stunned by the revelation. “Are you so certain that it is mine?”
“I regret deeply that it is the truth, for when I first found out, I hoped that it was mine, but fate granted you that victory. As to my leaving her unguarded as you have accused, I swear that I left her with the greatest guard possible short of an army!”
Virginia Lee – Dagon’s Blood – Kindle Edition