Chapter 43: Out Of The Flames Into The Winds
Blood curdling screams filled the air, as the ones left inside the burning fort were reduced to mere piles of ashes. Agony was easy to pick up from the screams just as were the pleas of help, but I was unable to find even a tad bit of sympathy, compassion, or will to help within myself. They were getting nothing more than what they deserved. Every time a pain filled cry or a call for help met my ears I could not help but recall the pleas, tears, and cries of all those women, children, and slaves who had suffered at the hands of the men now in the arms of the dancing flames. The justice had been served.
Turning a deaf ear towards the sounds floating towards my ears from the blazing structure of stone and wood, I turned around and cast a glance over the ones standing in safety. Altogether there were around three hundred children, women, and men who were willing to provide me with their support in the hopes of finding a better life.
With the help of my hands I dusted off the layer of soot that had settled on my pair of pants and shirt. A determined look was plastered on my face, as I headed towards the group of people. First and foremost I searched for the thin frame of Jonathan among the several malnourished slaves gathered together. Upon locating him, with a flick of my fingers I gained his attention, and called him apart from the group.
“Did everything go according to the set plan?” I inquired.
“Yes. We were able to round up all the weapons that were stored previously in the store room, and bring them out here once you had gotten rid of the soldiers on the parameter,” he spoke, while pointing towards the impressive collection of weapons lying on the ground; a bit away from where I stood, “however we were not as lucky when it came to gathering food. Almost all of the eatables present at the castle were served at the wedding celebration and after feast. We could only get our hands on a sack of fruits, a half full bag of vegetables, and small portions of meat and fish.”
“For how long will it serve all the people present here?”
“At most, two days and no more.”
“In that case we will have to buy all that we can before setting off into the sea. I was unable to find where Gritti kept his gold and jewels, but I still have some jewels and gold left that I had with me when I stepped onto the Spanish soil.”
Fishing the two pouches out of the confines of my belt I handed them to the boy, and saw him off, with the instructions of buying as much food as he could, and if the price falls higher than what he had, he can trade off few swords and bows we had. Taking along some other former slave men Jonathan left for the market, while I spun around and marched towards where the still immobile men lay on the ground due to the herbal effect. I got down on my knees, letting a hand rest on the hilt of the sword hanging from my waist, while using the other to grab the collar of the man lying near me on the muddy land. I used the fabric in my grip to propel the man’s face on the same level as my face. My eyes bore into his, trying to find a gateway to his soul and search for the truths he hid in his mind. My voice was loud enough that every person present around could hear me clear enough that no one stay doubting on what I said. My gaze still bore into that of the man in my grip while I spoke leaving a message to all men like him.
“If anyone of you thinks he has arose victorious; unlike your companions who are burnt to crisp by this point, and you have this thought playing in your minds that once the residual effects of what you were fed wears off you can rise against me or my companions than you are utterly mistaken. Only those of you will further not be fed the herbal concoction to keep you asleep who will in one way or another manage to prove their loyalty towards me.”
With that, I let go of the clothing and the man’s upper body hit the soil with a faint thud. I used my hands to push me off the ground, and rose up to my feet. With the warning delivered loud and clear, I set to work on the next task to be dealt with. I headed towards the heap of weapons lying on the ground. More than three different types of artfully carved swords were poking out of the heap. More than a hundred bows lay on the ground gathering mud on their surfaces. Approximately two thousand arrows were placed in numerous quivers. Quickly slinging a bow and quiver over my shoulder, I began to distribute weapons amongst others. Every able bodied person may it be a man, a woman or a child received one weapon in the least while the physically stronger ones got even two weapons.
Recent rain had turned the soil muddy. Every time my feet hit the ground, the mud would press down before releasing my foot from its grip with a popping sound. We had far too many important issues on our mind to pay attention to the unsuitable condition of the place we were currently residing at, but by the looks of the thick clouds gathering in the skies and the ice cold wind blowing, a storm was on its way and we would have to get moving sooner than later.
I was still fighting with myself in order to figure out what course of action we should take when the first drop of rain hit my face. Within moments I was completely drenched, and so was everyone else. Thunder rolled with a fierce intensity that left fear in the hearts of the people and animals alike. Horses whined and tried to find freedom from their tied reins and run, children clung to their parents, and suckling babies wailed as the storm grew thicker and lighting struck around every now and then.
With quick and frantic movements, men incapable of walking on their own feet were thrown over the saddles of the horses. Adults grabbed hold of the young ones, while few men grabbed the reigns of the terrified horses. Three men lifted up our meager supply of food, and we started our trek towards the docks. The winds were harsh, slapping and biting our skin sharply as we tried to battle its force and move against it. Darkness surrounded us wholly.