The Harrington rolled lazily into its berth at the docks of Constantinople, its crew busy and running about to make fast its moorings while at the railings of the English vessel stood six men, all anxiously peering about at their surroundings.
“Then ‘tis agreed,” Lord Dagon spoke to his group as the companionway was set down upon the wharf below. “Robert, you and Stephen will go to the marketplace and see if anyone has seen or heard of Leigha. You have the amulet with you, son?”
“Yes, I do,” Robert spoke huskily, his trembling fingers seeking out the presence of the heavy chain about his neck that held the treasure against his breast. “I will guard it well, for if Leigha is a slave, this piece that I dread will be a blessing with its wealth this day.”
“Noo, dinna le’ yer hopes rise too high, Robert,” Jesep MacFee warned, reaching out to touch Robert’s sleeve as he spoke. “We mayn’t find her this day. Anxious as I be ta find the lass, I’m sure ‘twill take sum time.”
Robert looked down at the dock below, feeling nervous and excited that they had finally arrived in Constantinople, the city that they all prayed would have Leigha somewhere in its fold. Jesep’s words touched his heart with ice, and he fondled the chain about his neck that held the hopeful price of Leigha’s freedom. He felt an overwhelming sense of doom pervade his very soul as the amulet shifted under his shirt and crossed his heart. He weaved slightly from its passage as if to faint, and only Gordon’s staying hand kept him from falling.
“You haven’t been drinking, have you?” Gordon whispered in concern as he steadied his friend and noted how pale Robert had grown.
“No, no, I haven’t,” Robert answered, drawing a deep breath to further steady himself. “I wouldn’t do that today of all days. I must be sober when I find my Leigha. It’s this, this cursed thing!” He nearly choked on the words, flicking at the chain in his fear and anger. “It has always bothered me, and the feeling is even worse today than ever! I hope that if we find Leigha, this will serve its purpose, and then I may be rid of it once and for all!”
“I cannot understand why you feel as you do!” Stephen exclaimed, his scorn clear in his voice as he thought again with disgust that Robert was so willing to throw such wealth away for a woman. “It is an inanimate object after all, exquisite yes, but it has no power of its own!”
“Robert has a right to his feelings!” Charles snapped sharply, irritated by Stephen’s remark. Hearing his own words, he thought about the increasing arguments he had been having with Robert about spending so much time with Stephen and realized that he too must allow his son his own choices. Watching Robert closely in concern, he spoke more carefully now, “Though this amulet is a family heirloom, it is Robert’s to do with as he wishes. As are any of the choices he decides to make in his own life.”
Robert looked hard into his father’s eyes and knew what was now being spoken of. There was silence for several moments as everyone, except Stephen, understood the effect the amulet had on Robert. They also knew of the harsh arguments between the two Dagons and shifted uncomfortably with the intensity of the elder’s warning gaze upon his son.
Virginia Lee ~ Dagon’s Blood ~ Kindle Edition