“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!”
“You’re speaking of that giant of a man that stood with her by the railing when you were in Formentera?” Charles asked.
“Yes, that was Adam,” Simon answered, turning to face Lord Dagon as he continued, “Adam loved Leigha with the great heart of a child, for his mind was little more than a child’s though his strength was that of a dozen men. He protected her and loved her ‘til the end, giving all he had and more in his attempt to save her! I saw his death as we approached the ship, and later, I examined his wounds. He had been butchered, his wounds so numerous and deep that by rights, he should have died before the half of them were born upon his body. He took a great deal of the barbarians with him before the pirate captain entered the fight and cleaved poor Adam nearly in two before Leigha’s eyes. I heard her scream and saw her struggle against that mad giant as he carried her to his own ship. Never have I felt as helpless as I did that day.”
“The captain was dark and bearded, laughing evilly, blood dripping from his saber.” Robert’s hollow voice came as Simon’s faded off, making everyone turn in shock to see Robert’s features drawn pale and gaunt, his eyes closed to all but the ghost that had haunted him, tormented him, these past months.
“You know of the man?” Simon asked in wonderment.
“He ha’ been seein’ the mon und wha’ ye ha’ said aboot his takin’ Leigha ever since we found oot that she was wi’ ye,” Jesep said softly, staring hard at Robert as they all realized that Robert had been tormented by premonitions of the evil that befell Leigha. “The dream stopped cumin’ ta him a’most two weeks past noo.”
“When it came true apparently,” Lord Dagon whispered tensely. “I believe your story now, Simon, but what can we do for our Leigha now?”
“We must leave at once if we are to save her from being sold at the slave markets!”
“But at what slave market? There are so many in these lands,” Gordon interjected, anxious to help. “Where will we be able to find her?”
“They have most likely taken her to Constantinople,” Charles said, his jaw set as he turned to look out at sea in much the same way that Simon had before.
“My thoughts exactly.” Simon smiled, encouraged by Lord Dagon’s wisdom. “And we must sail there quickly. It will take almost two weeks to journey there, and we will still have to find where she is being held once we arrive.”
“But won’t she already be sold by then?” Robert asked with a voice full of pain and his face drawn.
“It is my understanding from having traveled in these lands before that the slave ships start at one point then make several stops along the way before they arrive at the main markets so as to fill their holds with their human freight,” Charles spoke to the wind that was now blowing hard outside. “If we hurry, we might be able to reach the markets at about the same time that they do and prevent the selling of our Leigha and my coming grandchild.”
“What of Simon then?” Robert demanded in a voice still tight and full of anger.
“What of him?” Charles turned and glared at his son, his tension showing on his fine features as well.
“Now that we have our answers, I still want to kill him for what he has done. ‘Tis bad enough what he has done to me, to us, but now because of his actions, Leigha is left helpless in the hands of a savage!”
“Did you not hear him?” Gordon asked his friend. “Leigha loves him too, and she would surely hate you if you were to kill him!”
Robert stared angrily at them all, trying to refute Gordon’s words in his mind. Everyone held their breath, uncertain of what would happen next, all except Simon, who stood calmly, almost passively, gazing at his would-be assassin.
“He may be lying,” Robert finally spoke. “But in case he isn’t, I will let him live. He will stay here however. I don’t want him to ever set eyes on Leigha again. She is my wife!”
“I’m afraid that you will have to take me with you,” Simon spoke slowly, confidently. “I am the only one that knows the name of the ship she is on, the only one that saw the men that took her. You will need me to help you find her.”
“The hell I do!” Robert yelled. “I too know the face of the man that took her. I don’t need your damn help!”
“But you do,” Simon said quietly, his calm control and confidence showing him the greater man compared to Robert’s unthinking temper. “There were other men on that ship who seemed to be the minds of the outfit. It is they that we must find if we are to find Leigha.”
“He knows what he is talking about, Robert,” Charles said, placing his hand on his son’s shoulder. “The pirate was probably only the brawn of the plan, there had to be brains behind it as well, and it is those men that we must seek and the name of their vessel. You must control yourself, for Simon will be coming with us. The question is settled. Now let us return to the ship and inform the captain that we wish to sail on this evening’s tide. The wind is up and will blow in our favor. With the help of God, we shall reach Constantinople on time.”
Robert glared angrily at them all, aware by the looks on their faces that they sided with his father. He fumed within for a moment, but his mind finally won out against the violent feelings that tore through him.
“Even if he is lying, we cannot take the chance,” he spoke finally in agreement. “You are right, Father, as much as I loathe the thought, he must come with us.”
Simon met Robert’s eyes for a long moment, trying to convey to the man his honesty and sincerity, trying to tell him that he felt the same for Leigha as he did. Robert took the look to mean conceited triumph and clearing his throat in a sound of insult towards Simon, he turned to push past him and strode out towards the wharf, his long legs leaving the others quickly behind.
“Come, Simon,” Charles said, holding out his hand to him, noting the grief that he saw in Simon’s eyes as he watched Robert leave. “You are welcome with us. Though Robert does not understand your feelings, I do. I have been on this earth many years and know the twisting of fate and a man’s heart. We shall talk later.”
“Thank you Lord Dagon.” Simon smiled and bowed slightly. His look became more serious yet as he took the outstretched hand of the older man and held his blue gaze with his own as he spoke again. “I must sincerely apologize for putting all of you through this pain, but I cannot, not honestly. Had I not taken Leigha, I might never have known the love that we shared, even for the brief time that we had.”
Virginia Lee – Dagon’s Blood – Kindle Edition