Spanish Eyes Part Six by Mary G
For Disclaimers see part 1
Enrique followed Omar and Montalvo until they reached the Inn. He dared not enter for fear they would recognize him. He did not have much contact with them on the ship but it always paid to be cautious in these matters. The hour was growing very late and he had to find out about the young caballero's ship. He could not afford to continue to waste time on these two fools. He slipped around the back of the Inn and was about to head back to the docks when he heard a woman's voice.
"And what have the two of you gotten into?"
Enrique positioned himself under the window of the back parlor. He heard the laughter of two men. Then one answered, it was Omar. "Oh this is nothing." He answered rubbing a bruise on his jaw.
"Si Contesa, we were merely repaying a debt to a former shipmate." finished Montalvo.
Enrique furrowed his brow. Well that explains why they look the worse for wear. He thought to himself.
"Very well, I see nothing wrong with a little amusement. Do you have anything for me?" She asked taking a sip of her drink.
"Oh si Contesa. It would seem there are several people interested in finding that bitch Montenegro." Said Omar.
"Careful Omar, she may be a bitch but she is my bitch, or at least she was. She will be again as soon as her little blond is taken care of." Said the countess as an evil grin formed on her lips.
"Perdón Contesa. While at the tavern there was a caballero looking for Montenegro."
"Si," agreed Montalvo. "There is also a new ship in port from France. We went to see if there was any work for us aboard and when we mentioned what our last duty had been their captain came to greet us personally. He claimed to be an old friend of Montenegro's but I am not so sure. I know she has had dealings with him but I do not think I would call him a friend. Montenegro took his cargo not two weeks ago."
Katherine considered the information. "Well, the young man I knew about. I sent him on his to way to Vega's house. It turns out the little blond whore is his fiancé. Apparently he came all the way here to claim her. Won't he be surprised to find out she has already been claimed?" She said with a chuckle.
Montalvo and Omar looked at each other and shrugged slightly. They watched as Katherine began to pace the room. She had a far away look in her eye and they wondered what plot she was hatching. They had only known the Countess a day, but already it had become clear to them that she was not a woman to be trifled with. She was accustomed to getting what she wanted when she wanted. It was also clear she and Captain Montenegro shared a past. Neither one of them was terribly interested in that, or in any of it for that matter. They simply wanted to get paid and see Montenegro get what they felt she deserved. The Countess seemed like a good avenue to achieve those goals.
"My, my but Pillar seems to be popular this evening. Who was the captain of the other ship?" asked Katherine genuinely interested.
"A man by the name of Santiago." Answered Omar.
"Santiago?" Asked Katherine surprised. "Hmm yes, they have known each other a long time. She served as first mate on his ship up until her and I first met. No doubt he wants to…catch up on old times. Let's help him. Go to his ship and inform him that you know the where abouts of the good captain as well as that of her ship. He may want to discuss the status of his cargo."
Enrique's mind was working, putting all the information in order. The Caballero was on Santiago's ship? That made no sense. Why would a proper French gentleman travel or associate in any way with the likes of a man like Santiago? Well no matter, no time to sort it all out now. The Captain and crew had to be warned. He took off at a dead run back to the docks.
Ianna lay in that pleasant state between asleep and awake. That state where everything seems so real and yet so dreamlike. It didn't matter to Ianna at the moment which state of consciousness she was experiencing. She only knew she'd never felt this happy in her life.
She had her head comfortably resting in the hollow of Pillar's shoulder. The rhythmic movement of Pillar's breathing lulling Ianna into a very peaceful state. She had one arm draped across Pillar's mid-section holding her close and one leg draped over one of Pillar's. She loved the feel of Pillar's body against her own. She reflected on the way they moved together and, despite their difference in height, how well they fit together.
A shiver ran down her spine as she remembered their last encounter. She unconsciously moved her leg up and down against Pillar's as the recollection began to excite her. She felt Pillar's hand gently rubbing circles on her back and felt her other hand move under her chin and tilt her head up. Pillar lowered her head and captured Ianna's lips in a long and tender kiss. When their lips parted Pillar kissed the tip of Ianna's nose and smiled.
"Que pasa amor? It is very late. What keeps you up this night?" Asked Pillar quietly.
Ianna smiled, "I'm too happy to sleep. I never imagined being with some one could feel this way."
Pillar chuckled and Ianna blushed furiously. "That's not what I meant and you know it." She said, giving Pillar a tap on the belly. "I meant our relationship. I've never felt this way before, about anyone. I didn't know it could feel like this."
Pillar's brow furrowed, "And how does this feel to you amor?"
Ianna was quiet for a long moment then took a deep breath, "It feels…right."
Pillar smiled and kissed the top of Ianna's head, "Si amor, it is right."
Ianna felt Pillar's arms settle securely around her once again and she sighed contently. She was about to drift off to sleep when she felt Pillar's body stiffen beneath hers. She lifted her head quickly and was silenced by one of Pillar's fingers on her lips. Pillar quickly climbed out of bed and covered Ianna with the sheet.
"Stay here." She said to Ianna as she reached for a shirt.
"I will not Pillar. What is it? What's wrong?" asked Ianna rising on one elbow.
"I do not know, there is a commotion downstairs. Do not worry yourself I will see what it is and return. I am certain it will only take a moment."
Ianna sat up and was about to get out of bed when Pillar stopped her. "Please Ianna, do as I ask and stay here. I'm sure it is nothing but it would make me feel better to make sure."
Ianna leaned back against the headboard and made no further protest. Her instincts told her not to stay behind but in all likelihood Pillar was probably right. "Alright but hurry back love, its cold here without you." Said Ianna with a smile.
Pillar pulled her trousers on and gave Ianna a quick kiss. "I'll be right back."
She watched as Pillar took her sword belt and secured it around her waist as she headed for the door. She loved the swagger of Pillar's walk. She moved with such grace and confidence. It was a pleasure to watch her move. A nice rear end doest doesn't hurt either. The thought came unbidden and she covered her face with one hand to hide the blush.
It was then that she noticed Pillar was still standing in the door way. Her brow furrowed as she tried to discern the reason why. "Pillar what is it? What's going on out there?"
When Pillar opened the door her first reaction had been surprise which was quickly followed by shock. She had not expected anyone to be standing at the door when she opened it. And never in her wildest dreams did she ever expect to see Ianna's fiancé standing before her. She was dumbstruck until she heard Ianna's voice.
The surprised look on Ranger's face was replaced by one of sheer joy as his features reflected his feelings clearly. "Ianna!" He shouted as he pushed his way past Pillar and entered.
It happened so fast no one had time to react to any of it. Ranger ran in to find Ianna in bed hastily pulling the covers up in her modesty. He reached the bed and hesitated. He looked at Ianna then back to Pillar who was still by the door. His mind was fighting with what his senses perceived. He looked back to Ianna and blinked several times. "Ianna?"
Ianna looked up at him her eyes wide and heart pumping so hard she feared it was going to come right out of her chest. She grasped the blanket tighter and looked at Pillar. Ranger followed her gaze and he looked from one to the other. "Caballero…" Began Pillar as she approached Ranger. Her words were cut short when something impacted with her jaw. The blow was unexpected and it took her to the ground.
Ianna climbed out of the bed and wrapped the sheet around her body. "Ranger!" She ran over and knelt at Pillar's side. "Oh my god. Pillar, are you alright?" She asked worriedly gently caressing Pillars' cheek.
Pillar nodded and got to her feet. She dusted herself off and squared her shoulders facing the young caballero. Her look was serious and menacing. Ranger was not swayed and held her gaze without a hint of fear in his eyes. Ianna looked from one to the other. Oh no.
She was certain they were going to come to blows when she saw Rodrigo and Sebastian in the door way. "Enough!" Sebastian's voice boomed in the room grabbing everyone's attention. He stepped up to Ranger using his large size to intimidate the young man. "Who are you? What are you doing in my home?"
Ranger looked up into the big man's eyes and swallowed hard. "My name is Ranger Dupre. I am here for my fiancé." He stated simply pointing at Ianna.
Sebastian looked at Ranger a moment then at Ianna. She gave him an almost imperceptible nod then looked over at Pillar and Rodrigo. Pillar was angry, that much was clear. Her eyes showed the storm that raged inside of her and it was a battle to keep it contained.
"All right, I do not pretend to understand all of this but first things first. Let us give the Senorita a few moments to dress. Caballero, Rodrigo let us wait in the study."
Ranger was reluctant to leave Ianna in Pillar's company but after a few encouraging words and a thinly veiled threat he followed the two men downstairs.
Ianna sat on the edge of the bed with her head in her hands. "Oh my God, this is not happening." She looked up at Pillar imploriningly. "Please tell me this isn't happening."
Pillar looked down into twin jade pools and her heart broke. She could see the unshed tears in her eyes and forgot her anger and went to Ianna's side. She gathered the young woman in a hug and whispered soothing words in her ear. "Sshh, amor I am here. Whatever you need I am here."
Ianna's mind was going in a hundred directions. What was he doing here? How did he know she was there? Oh my God. She jumped up and Pillar could see fear in her eyes. She watched as Ianna rushed to dress. She stood and went to her. She was mumbling something she could not understand. "Ianna?"
Ianna gave no indication of having heard her. "Ianna?" She repeated a little louder. Still no response or reaction. Ianna bent over to get her boots and Pillar stopped her. She grabbed hold of her hands and forced Ianna to face her. "Ianna!"
Ianna blinked a few times but said nothing. "Ianna? Que pasa amor?" She looked Ianna over carefully then realized her entire body was shaking. "What has frightened you so? Surely the Caballero is not the cause of this. I know the situation is difficult but we can…" Ianna walked away leaving Pillar unable to finish her sentence.
She watched as Ianna went over to the window and looked out. She took a deep breath and joined her. "Do you wish to return home? Is that what has you this way?" Asked Pillar her voice shaking.
Ianna heard the emotion in her voice and shut her eyes tightly for a moment. She turned to Pillar and looked up into her eyes. Her heart ached when she saw the fear in the taller woman's eyes. "What a fool I've been. Look at you, Pillar Montenegro, your reputation precedes you where ever you go. And here you are so vulnerable, so delicate. You've made me the keeper of your heart and I will protect it for all the days of my life, with my life if necessary." She caressed Pillar's cheek and a single tear escaped as a relieved smile took possession of her features.
"Do not fear love. I am not and would not leave you. I will speak to Ranger and painful though it will be I will do my best to make him understand that. As I said before, I am yours forever. There is no where you would go that I would not follow."
Pillar took a deep breath and swallowed a few times in the hopes it would keep her voice form cracking. "So then what is it that has upset you?"
Ianna turned back towards the window and folded her arms on her chest. Pillar waited patiently for her to answer. Finally Ianna took a deep breath and spoke, "My father, I…I can't face him Pillar."
"Do you think he is here with Ranger?"
"As horrible as this may sound, I simply cannot imagine him coming to look for me."
Pillar opened her mouth to speak but Ianna stopped her. "I promise to explain later. You deserve no less than the complete truth from me. But right now let me go talk to Ranger. Alone."
Pillar hesitated a moment then spoke, "Very well amor, handle the situation how you see fit. And when you are ready to speak about what troubles you I will be here to listen no matter what the tale."
Ianna turned to face her partner once again. She rose up on tip toe to give Pillar a soft kiss on the lips. "Come on lets get this over with." She took Pillar by the hand and they headed to the study.
Rodrigo watched as Ranger paced the study, he honestly felt bad for the young man. He appeared to be very distraught by the entire situation. He let his gaze wander over to Sebastian who was pouring a round of drinks for the trio. He took his when it was offered and watched Sebastian's interaction with the young man.
"Caballero" said the big man getting Ranger's attention. "You look as though you could use something strong." He finished, handing Ranger the drink.
Ranger accepted and turned back to the window. Sebastian was at a loss. He did not know what he could possibly say to him to help soften the blow. He also had no idea what the young man's appearance here would mean. Now that Ianna's fiancé had come to claim her would she go with him? For Pillar's sake he hoped not. But then again one need only look at the two of them together to know they shared something very special. He let out a long breath and joined Rodrigo at the chess board, giving the shorter man's shoulder a comforting squeeze before taking his seat.
Ranger took a long swallow of his drink and shut his eyes tightly as he felt the burn from the liquid. He looked at the glass then sniffed it. He wasn't kidding when he said strong. He shook his head and resumed his vigil at the window. His mind was racing; he had thought Montenegro to be an honorable person. He never imagined that she would take advantage of Ianna's innocence. The thought fueled his anger and he fingered the hilt of his sword. He wanted nothing more than to be away from this place, these people and have Ianna safe with him. He no longer cared what Victor's plans were or what he intended to do. He wanted to be away from all of them.
He turned when he heard the door to the study open. Ianna entered followed closely behind by Pillar, they were holding hands. The level of anxiousness he was feeling skyrocketed. The silence was deafening and it was Ianna who finally broke it. She turned to Pillar, "I need you to wait outside."
Pillar looked over Ianna's shoulder at Ranger then back down to Ianna. Ianna could see it wasn't pride or bravado keeping the taller woman there. She reached up and caressed Pillar's cheek, "Remember what I told you?" she asked quietly.
Pillar nodded and Ianna smiled. "Good, don't worry. I will be out shortly. Go with Sebastian and Rodrigo."
Pillar nodded and was rewarded when Ianna rose on her tip toes and kissed her. She smiled back at the smaller woman trying to keep her nerves under control. She looked over at her two old friends and inclined her head towards the door. The men took their cue and the trio left leaving Ianna and Ranger in the sole possession of the study.
Ianna turned slowly and faced Ranger. She had no idea what to expect, especially after that little display of affection. She would have spared him that if she could have but Pillar needed her reassurance. She had no intention of leaving Pillar no matter what Ranger or anyone else had to say about it. They looked at one another for a moment and it was Ranger who finally broke the silence.
He approached Ianna and embraced her, "I am so very sorry."
Ianna hugged Ranger in return but was at a loss. She was not sure what he was apologizing for. She loosened her grip and held him at arms length. Perhaps his expression could help her gage what he was feeling.
He looked down at her, "Look at how she has you dress. God Ianna I'll get you away from here as soon as possible. This must be torture for a proper young lady such as you."
Ianna burst out laughing unable to contain herself. "Ranger please, and when have I ever been the proper young lady? Come let's sit and talk for a moment there is much I must explain and I fear little time in which to do it."
She took him by the hand led him to the couch. She took a deep breath and rubbed her hands on her thighs to try and calm her nerves. Ranger opened his mouth to speak but Ianna stopped him. "Please let me say what I have to say then you can say whatever you wish. Agreed?"
He nodded, a little puzzled and waited for Ianna to speak. He watched as she stood and paced the room as she searched for what she wanted to say. "You don't have to say anything." Began Ranger. "Whatever that woman made you do it isn't your fault. You need not speak of it if it is too difficult. It doesn't change the way I feel about you. I came here to find you and take you away from this place. In time this will all seem like a bad dream I promise you. Let us go and leave Montenegro to Victor's mercy." He finished bitterly.
Ianna's brow furrowed. "Victor's mercy?"
"Yes Victor will deal with her swiftly and thoroughly I am sure."
"Victor? Ranger what are you talking about? Why would Victor have dealings with Pillar? What is going on? You must tell me!"
Ranger stood and faced Ianna. "The cargo she took belongs to my father." He stated simply his voice void of emotion.
"Cargo?" Asked Ianna puzzled. The realization showed on her face. "The one she took from that man Santiago."
"Yes. Victor is here to get it back." He walked over to the window then turned towards Ianna. "We must get away from here. I need to get you somewhere safe. I don't know what's going to happen and I want you out of harm's way."
Ianna turned her back to Ranger her mind racing. "Oh my God, I have to alert Pillar."
Ranger reached the limit of his patience and his temper snapped. He grabbed her by the arm and spun her around. "We are leaving." He said raising his voice.
Ianna pulled her arm out of his grasp. "I am not going anywhere."
"Ianna what are you saying? Of course we are leaving. You've no need to remain here a moment longer, we are going home." He said sounding certain.
"No Ranger, I…I can't go with you."
He blinked several times, his mind refusing to accept what she had just said. Finally the words made sense. "Ianna…I realize this situation must have had a great deal of stress on you. When I think of what that woman has done to you I can barely contain myself. You…"
"I love her Ranger."
Once again there was silence from the young man and she took the opportunity to continue.
"I can't go with you Ranger. I'm in love with Pillar, I'll not leave her. I'm sorry, I know it seems preposterous but I assure you it is not."
"What has she done to you? How can you claim to be in love with her? We've known each other all our lives. Ever since I was a little boy I've dreamt of making you my wife. All I ever wanted to do was protect you from anything that would hurt you…including your father. I dreamt of the day I would finally be able to take you away from him and his cruelty." Ranger turned away from Ianna afraid the tears that were so close to the surface would fall if he looked at her any longer.
Ianna on the other hand could not keep the tears from falling. Ranger heard her sobs and turned gathering her in his arms. "I love you Ianna I always have. Please come with me. I realize this is all confusing to you. We will work it out. She used your body that is all, it is not love."
He lifted her chin so he could look into her eyes. He lowered his head and their lips met. She stiffened in his arms and placed her hands on his chest to try and put a little distance between them.
"Please Ranger don't. I love you very much, but I'm not in love with you. I'm sorry, I should have told you sooner but I just couldn't. Our marriage was what everyone wanted except me. I'm in love with Pillar Ranger. She didn't force me to do anything. Hard as that is to believe it's true. I want to be with her, I'm not going anywhere other than where she goes. She is the other half of my soul and I'll not lose her."
His temper flared for an instant then he deflated realizing it would do no good. He knew Ianna well enough to know that the stubborn set of her jaw meant her mind was made up. She would not be swayed he was certain of this. He had seen her prefer her father's discipline to giving in on something she felt strongly about. At the time he had respected her for it, and now that he was being faced with a broken heart he found he still did.
"Are you absolutely sure this is what you want? I mean have you thought it all through?" He asked quietly.
Ianna closed her eyes in relief. "Yes I've considered everything and this is what I want. I've spent my entire life wishing I could escape from my life and now I have the opportunity. But it's more than that. From the moment I saw her there was a part of me that knew this was the way things would be. A part of me that was drawn to this person, this…soul in a way I had never known was possible. When I look in her eyes I see…the shadows of what have been, the images that are and glimpses of what will be."
He took a deep breath and ran his fingers through Ianna's hair. His heart was breaking but her happiness was what mattered to him even now. "Its like one of your novels, is it not?" He said softly, a smile playing at the corner of his mouth.
Ianna looked down and began to blush, "Yes I suppose it is."
"For your sake I hope it ends like one. I honestly mean that Ianna. I hope you find your happiness and when you do never let it go."
Ianna smiled and tears flowed again from her eyes but this time they were happy tears. She hugged Ranger tightly, "Thank you Ranger."
They were startled when the study door opened. Pillar entered and would have done an immediate about face if it wasn't for the fact that Rodrigo was directly behind her. She stiffened when she saw Ianna in Ranger's arms and her worst fears began to surface.
Ianna saw the expression on Pillar's face and immediately went to her. She wrapped her arms around the taller woman's waist with her cheek resting on Pillar's chest. She could hear the rapid heart beat thundering in Pillar's chest and felt Pillar's arms wrap around her and her sense of security was restored. She looked up into apprehensive blue eyes and smiled. "It's alright love I was just saying goodbye." She felt Pillar relax considerably and she herself felt a sense of relief as well. She turned when she heard Ranger clear his throat.
The women waited quietly for Ranger to speak. Finally after what seemed like an eternity the silence was broken. "Captain, Ianna has explained to me the nature of your relationship and the depth of her feelings for you. I am concerned only for her happiness and if her happiness lies with you then that is something I will accept. I have but one question to ask you Captain. Do you return Ianna's sentiments with equal measure?"
Without hesitation she answered. "Si Caballero, I love her with all my heart like no other before her. Without her I would not be complete. She is…"
"…the other half of your soul." He finished for her.
"Si…she is." She said quietly.
Ranger extended his hand to Pillar. "Take care of her Captain she is very special."
Pillar took his hand firmly, "My life is hers caballero."
‘That's just as well Captain because you have a problem though you are not aware of it."
Pillar's brow furrowed and he continued. "I believe you know a man named Santiago."
"Yes" replied Pillar simply.
Ranger took a deep breath, "The cargo you took from him belonged to my father. I overheard Victor talking to Santiago on board our ship. I didn't even know the man was on board." He explained.
"Who is Victor?" asked Pillar.
"He works for my father. He takes care of many aspects of my father's business. He was sent here to get my father's cargo back."
"Do you know what the cargo was?" asked Pillar.
"I have no idea."
"It was a weapon's cache. A rather sizable weapon's cache." She explained.
This information even surprised Ianna. "You don't think…"
"That my father is running weapons? Perhaps…I don't know what to believe anymore. But the fact is Victor will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal. He is most efficient I can assure you. Even if you left Victor would scower the oceans for you, he does not accept defeat and as far as I know…he never loses."
"Until now." Said Pillar in a very definite tone. "Rodrigo we must get back."
"Si Capitan but what about Rafael?" Asked the first mate.
"Can he travel? He looked bad."
At this question Ianna jumped into the conversation. "Rafael? He's here? What happened to him?"
"He was brought in by the Caballero." Began Sebastian. "He appears to have been beaten."
"I must see him." She said looking over at Pillar.
Pillar nodded, "Si amor go, he will be glad to see you. I will send for you when its time to go."
The men waited until Ianna exited before continuing with the business at hand.
Rodrigo broke the silence. "Alright, what are we getting ourselves into this time?"
Pillar folded her arms over her chest and took a deep breath. "Bueno, it is not our concern what the cargo was to be used for but I think this Victor has definite ideas about that."
"You could always just give it to him." Said Sebastián.
"Easier said than done. It's already been sold the client is bringing the money this morning." Said Rodrigo.
"Well then point this…Victor in his direction and be on your way. If it's the cargo he wants, he'll go after it." Said Sebastián.
Pillar was about to speak but Ranger spoke first. "No. He wants the cargo and he will follow it no matter where it goes but that's not all he wants. You don't know how my father is. You stole from him, he will see you dead."
Everyone was silent and he continued. "Ever since I was a boy that was one lesson he always tried to instill in me. Keep what's yours, go after what you want and never under any circumstances let anyone steal from you."
The four men were silent for a moment then Sebastian spoke. "Bueno, a vacation interrupted by a dispute over a stolen cargo and some one wanting to kill Pillar. At least it's a normal day."
He sighed and went to the door of the study. He opened it and whispered something to the servant outside then turned to his guests. "I am not without my resources, Pillar I am at your deposal."
Victor stood on the deck with Jean. All the preparations had been made. He did not want to wait until morning and the cover of darkness would serve them well. Santiago in particular was looking forward to it. He hoped Pillar had some interesting items other than simply his cargo. It would give him pleasure to see her ship burning. A fitting payment for what she had done to him, he thought. Pity she would not live long enough to see it. As hard as he tried, he simply could not convince Victor not to kill her until afterward.
Omar and Montalvo had been there but a few minutes before telling them the where abouts of the good captain. Victor would not budge. He refused to go into a situation where the advantage was not his. Montenegro's friend's villa was not where he wanted to confront her. He knew how to choose his battles. He would get what he came for first then deal with Montenegro.
He looked over at Jean who stood with his arms folded looking out over the ocean. He was not amused at the moment. Ranger had gotten the better of him and it had made him furious. In truth Victor did not mind that the boy was not around. It made certain things easier in fact. He actually hoped he was able to find the girl and get her off the ship. He would not let her presence hinder his job but she was an innocent party perhaps the only innocent party, aside from Ranger that is, and would rather not have to kill her.
"Alright, let's move out. You know what we are looking for. Let us find it as efficiently as possible. Dispose of any resistance you encounter and when we are done taking back Monsieur Dupre's cargo… burn the ship."
"Monsieur?" asked Jean furrowing his brow.
"A favor for a friend." He answered looking over at Santiago.
Jean nodded and went to tell those still aboard to take their positions. The crew would be caught unaware and resistance would be minimal. And easy night as far as Jean was concerned. He fingered the hilt of his sword and went down the gang plank.
Mendez walked casually across the deck towards his post. Enrique's report was fresh in his mind. He did not know what the Captain had gotten herself into this time but she never did things halfway. "Why should getting in trouble be any different?" He said to himself. He just hoped Rafael was safe and had made it to warn the captain. All things considered he would feel much better if Pillar were there. He had no idea how many men they would be facing and the fighting skills of some of the men left something to be desired.
He looked around and saw many of the men had bedded down for the evening. Some light and some not so light snores could be heard coming from different spots on the deck. He looked up at the sky then glanced over as he turned to glimpse at the seemingly empty crows nest. He climbed the stair towards the wheel and past it to his regular post. He took a deep breath as he removed his dagger from its sheath.
"It worked for Beowulf I just hope it woks for us." He whispered readying himself for what he knew was coming in the night. His instincts told him it would be before dawn. Before the hustle and bustle the morning brings. They would probably try to rely on stealth, move in quickly kill the crew and be off. With enough men and organization it could be done without anyone else ever noticing. He knew this from experience. His Captain had not always been as kind as she is now. In fact there was a time when, if you had the misfortune to be boarded, not only would you lose your possessions but most certainly your life.
But he had seen a change in her, and not just of late either. It had been coming on for some time. She no longer lived for the chase, the running down of her prey. There was a time when one could see the excitement in those lapis lazuli eyes when a boarding was within reach. Then something happened. He knew not what it was but it extinguished that fire; that excitement, so characteristic of his captain.
He looked towards the sea and smiled. Until the Senorita arrived. That one simple mistake had transformed Pillar. The spark in her eyes had returned and her enthusiasm renewed. He could see what they meant to each other and considered them fortunate to have found one another no matter what the circumstances. No, he would do all he could to defend the ship, the cargo, the senorita and the captain herself if need be.
He turned his attention to the deck and crouched low when a warning sound drew him abruptly from his musings. He saw the men stirring on the deck still maintaining the semblance of sleep. He did not know the strength of Santiago's men but he hoped the element of surprise would put them on equal footing. It was a risky plan but one that had merit. They would let them board, and in their overconfidence and arrogance they would be caught unaware thinking they had the easy kill.
He hoped catching them by surprise would buy then enough time for the Captain to arrive. That is assuming Rafael had warned them. From what Enrique had told him it sounded as though Montalvo and Omar had found his young friend. What the results had been no one knows as of yet but he knew the men would fight ‘til the end. He stayed very still and listened to the breeze waiting for it to carry any sounds of Santiago's men to his ears. He felt like he had been holding his breath the entire time but finally there it was. A creaking sound, very faint, almost imperceptible, but a creak just the same. He gripped his dagger tighter and focused his attention on the plank. There was one shadow and then another. The men remained still as more shadows appeared and began to move along the deck.
As Santiago's men made their way silently across the deck they each chose a target. One man was poised to strike when he was stopped in mid-motion by a searing pain in the ribs. He howled in pain before falling to his knees and the deck exploded into a flurry of motion. From all around the deck came similar screams as Santiago's men were caught unaware by their seemingly helpless victims. The lanterns came to life illuminating the deck and showing the surprised faces of their attackers. Bodies littered the deck in spreading pools of blood. The men ascending the gang plank froze for a moment not knowing whether to plow ahead or retreat. In a matter of seconds they had lost more than ten of their comrades and were hesitant to proceed. Santiago reached the top and stood with sword drawn facing Mendez and his men.
"This is going to turn out very badly for you I can promise you that. But in a show of generosity and in appreciation of a job well done I am willing to let you live. Let us have the cargo and I will let you live." Said Santiago seriously.
Mendez looked around and saw the determination on the men's faces. "I am afraid I cannot do that." Replied Mendez.
"Ah Mendez, still with Pillar I see. Come now be sensible. You served on my ship for a long time. I will not lie, I was sorry to see you go chasing after her coat tails. From what I hear you faired no better with her here than you did aboard my ship." He gave Mendez a wicked smile then continued.
"Did you honestly believe you would ever have a chance with her? She's nothing more than a heartless, cold, calculating bitch. She cares for no one but herself and when she is done with her little whore she will leave her at the most convenient port. How many have you seen it happen? You know I'm right. She is no better than I am. Your loyalty is admirable, but think of these men. Most of them are no more than boys. Will you carry their deaths on your conscience? Are you willing to waste their lives over a ship, a cargo and a worthless cut throat you call Captain?"
Santiago's words rang in his ears. On countless occasions he had see his Captain do exactly that. Some fair young senorita would be caught up with Pillar's charm and the romantic idea of a life of adventure on the high seas, only to be left in a far off port once Pillar had tired of her. Was this any different? He looked to the faces of the men as they looked to him for his decision. They were so young, so trusting. Were they also victims of the same delusion? He knew Pillar well, had seen her do things that sent shivers up his spine in memory. He lowered his eyes to the deck and closed them for a moment in reflection. Taking a deep breath he opened and looked again upon the men. He saw their faith in him in their eyes and the determination that reminded him of a pack of wolves protecting their den.
He turned to Santiago and spoke in an even tone. "You are right. I have seen the Captain do and be all of those things. Take the cargo…."
Santiago gave him a smirk and was about to sheath his sword when he heard Mendez speak once more. "…if you dare."
Santiago rushed forward and his men followed. The men engaged one another in a bloody display. But to Santiago and Mendez the only two men on that deck were themselves. Santiago had the advantage in reach using his cutlass but Mendez parried expertly getting inside Santiago's defenses several times cutting him on the arm and again on the thigh. Not the most severe of wounds but enough to sting and distract.
"You're a fool Mendez. You throw away your life for what? You cannot win surely you know this. You are far too out numbered." Taunted Santiago as he scored a blow in Mendez' side.
Mendez dropped and rolled to avoid a blow coming up behind Santiago. He quickly grabbed him and put the dagger to his throat. Santiago froze, barely breathing. "I do this for my Capitan, for the men and most of all I do this for me. I do it for the love of being what I am."
Santiago drew a shallow breath to speak. "And what is that?"
"I am Fernando Mendez, pirate and chief navigator to Pillar Montenegro. If I die today I do so with the honor of knowing I served her well." Said Mendez through gritted teeth as he tightened his grip and prepared to slit the other man's throat.
Suddenly he stiffened as he felt a searing pain go through him from behind. He lurched back as the sword that had run him through was quickly removed. He fell to the deck at Victor's feet and tasted his own blood in his mouth. He heard Santiago's laughter and turned his head slightly. He squinted and smiled slightly as he realized the last thing he would see in this would be his beloved Capitan. Her gaze was locked with his in a look of admiration and pride then he was gone.
The two men followed the dying man's gaze. When Pillar looked up at them the look in her eyes made Santiago's blood run cold. He took a step back and looked at Victor. Victor spoke to Santiago without taking his eyes off the woman. "See to the cargo. I will deal with this." Santiago hurried off not needing to be told twice.
Pillar turned her gaze on Victor. His blood pumped a little faster as he registered the look. This was no woman. It was a warrior, hair triggered and ready for battle. The hatred he saw in her eyes was tempered with the control learned from the experience gleamed from countless battles. He could see into her very soul and he knew she could see into his. This was the adversary he waited for his entire life. His life had been a preparation for this moment. He cleaned off his blade with the end of his cape then impaled it in the deck as he prepared to remove it. He removed his sword belt and jacket and rolled up the sleeve of his right arm.
Their eyes remained locked as Pillar made similar preparations. She removed her jacket and rolled up her sleeves waiting for the last moment to unbuckle her sword belt. She unsheathed her cutlass and Victor took his sword in hand once again.
Down on the dock Sebastian's men were rushing towards the ship to lend some much need aide. As they neared they could hear the sounds of the battle on board the ship. Rodrigo stopped a few hundred yards form the gang plank and grabbed Ianna by the arm stopping her as well.
"Senorita! You must stay here!" She shouted so as to be heard above the shouts of the men.
"Are you mad?! I will not! Pillar is up there! Let me go!" She shouted back retching her arm from his grip.
"Ianna!" Shouted Ranger grabbing a hold of her. "You can't go up there!"
"I can take of my self! A fact you are very much aware of! Now let me go!"
"Ianna please! If you love her the way you say you do you will remain here!"
Ianna struggled against his hold. Rodrigo stepped up to help him when Sebastian stepped in. "Senorita! She cannot do what she will need to do if she has to worry for your safety!"
Ianna stopped struggling and with tear filled eyes said, "Don't you understand? If anything happens to her….if she dies…" Her voice failed her.
Santiago put his hands on her shoulders and turned her to face him. "Si Senorita, I know. One without the other cannot exist. It is this way with companions of the soul. As long as she feels the pull of the other half of her soul she will do what she must to be reunited with it. Por favor Ianna remain here with Rafael."
Ianna relented. "I will remain here but you will not leave me here with no means of defending myself Rafael is injured and we do not know if more will be coming."
Rodrigo began his protest and Ranger ran to stop one of the men. He spoke to the man quickly but with urgency and the man took off running back towards town. He ran back to the trio. "It has been taken care of. He will bring you what you need." With that he drew his sword. "Let's go!"
Ianna said a silent prayer as she watched them run for the gang plank. Sebastian stopped only long enough to send a few more men in Ianna's direction and he ascended the plank. Rafael stepped forward as the men approached. "Do not worry we will protect you. You will be safe."
She turned to him. "My worry is not for myself Rafael but thank you."
"Si Senorita but give us the illusion of being the gallant protectors if only for a moment si?" He responded with a shy smile.
She looked up at him and her eyes opened wide, "Look out!" She ducked and pulled him with her in time to avoid a sword slash that would have surely taken off the young man's head. He turned quickly, just as the swordsman was about to strike down on them. He kept his head low and lurched forward catching the man by the mid-section using his shoulder to drive the wind out of him and knocking the sword out of his hand. Ianna looked for the other men Sebastian had sent to them but they were similarly engaged with adversaries of their own. She watched as Rafael struggled with the man. He was holding his own but he was hurt and it taking its toll on him.
She watched as out of the distance another man came running. It was the one Ranger had sent to town and she could make out a familiar shape in his hand. She stood quickly and ran towards him when she saw him drop the items and run towards his comrades. She grabbed the bow up off the ground please, please, please. She grabbed an arrow from the quiver and turned to see Rafael on the ground with the man straddling his chest, sword raised above his head. She cocked the arrow and let it fly. She'd barely aimed but managed to strike the man in the arm. He dropped the sword as the unexpected pain coursed through his arm. Rafael pushed him back and scrambled for the sword. The man stood and turned only to have Rafael run him through with his own sword.
Ianna came running and stopped short when Rafael turned towards her wielding the bloody sword. He looked at her with relief and lowered the weapon. Then he saw the bow and looked down towards the dead man. He looked at Ianna once again. "Senorita?"
"One of the few things I enjoyed as part of being a lady. Archery was acceptable and I started when I was four." Stated the young woman.
Rafael stared at her in disbelief. Ianna looked around and saw that they were alone on the dock. She tugged at his shirt and yelled. "Come on!" He considered protesting but instead took a firm hold of the sword hilt and followed her.
Pillar and Victor circled each other slowly like a pair of predators in the wild. Pillar could feel the fire building up within her. Her blood coursed in her veins and demanded her to strike. It took all her control to wait and stalk her prey. Finally the duel began. Victor struck the first blow and it was formidable. He was strong, very strong and his movements were fluid, honed to instinct through years or training. He moved well for a man his size. He had the advantage in reach but quick as he was, she was faster. She parried his blows flawlessly. With each one learning more and more, looking for weaknesses in his defense.
Victor's soul soared. He was in his element with an opponent worth his trouble. He marveled at her quickness and ability withstand even his hardest blows. More than one man had suffered a broken wrist from one of those blows. Yes, it would be a shame to kill one such as her. But his orders were clear and his loyalty was without question. He would do as he was ordered and he would prove that this legendary swordswoman was exactly that…a legend.
Pillar narrowly escaped a lunge, the tip of Victor's sword piercing her shirt and grazing the soft skin of Pillar's firm belly. They circled one another once more and he noticed the red stain forming. She saw the shift in his gaze and struck. He parried and gave a backhanded slash aimed and her head. She ducked and stepped in getting inside his defenses just long enough to slash his thigh. He stepped back quickly and reset himself. The wound deep of that pillar was sure but he didn't falter. Instead he redoubled his efforts executing a series of strikes that took all of Pillar's skill to counter. They ended face to face with their swords crossed between them.
Victor used his size and strength to his advantage pressing down against Pillar. She gritted her teeth and held firm but she could feel herself losing ground slightly. He allowed himself the luxury of a wicked smile. "She does not love you." He said maliciously. Pillar continued her struggle ignoring his words. He continued, "You are her escape."
She growled and let herself drop quickly getting her feet under him she used his own momentum to throw him over her. She stood immediately to see him roll and end up on hi feet. She watched him as he approached. He saw a change in her eyes. He had touched something deep insider her and he knew it. "Oui her father is cruel. Since she was girl he beat her. She is desperate to be away from him. So desperate is she that she would even share your bed. She could never love you."
Her sword dropped slightly and like the predator he was he pounced. He began to drive Pillar back. With every blow he neared victory he could taste it. Pillar parried and countered but could create no openings. His defense was flawless. He had her up against the rail and she was tiring he could see it. He swept up in a wide arc catching the hilt of her sword and disarmed her. The next blow would have killed her had it not been for a blow to Victor's back. Wood splinters went flying and Victor grunted turning to see Ranger standing there. "Stupid boy!" He shouted grabbing ranger by the throat with his free hand cutting off his air instantly. Pillar dove for her sword but a boot slammed down on the blade. She looked up to see Santiago standing above her, a wicked smile on his face ready to strike her down.
Time slowed as Santiago heaved up to get full momentum. Then laughed as he savored the moment; looking down into Pillar's eyes. Suddenly a shout broke the spell. It was desperate and soul born. Pillar, Santiago and Victor all looked up to see Ianna standing by the wheel bow in hand arrow cocked and ready.
"NOOOOO!" She released the arrow and fell to her knees.
The arrow's flight was true as it pierced Santiago in the heart. Victor followed the arrow's flight and saw Santiago fall. He saw Pillar go for her sword with a renewed energy and sense of purpose. He turned and threw Ranger at Pillar. The impact knocked her to the ground. She quickly made her way out from under him but Victor was gone. Santiago's men were also retreating by any means necessary. Either by gang plank or over the side they did not care much which.
Pillar turned and ran to the captain's wheel any thought of pursuit gone. Ianna was still on her knees and her head was bent. Pillar knelt beside her and took her in her arms. "Amor."
"He was going to kill you, I didn't mean to…I couldn't let….I couldn't lose you." She finally got out.
"Si amor, I know. I wish…I wish I could have spared you that." Said Pillar, tears forming in her eyes.
Rodrigo came running to the pair. "Capitan! Senorita! Are you all right?"
Pillar nodded unable to speak. Sebastian came up beside Rodrigo and upon taking in the scene he led Rodrigo away, leaving them alone once more. They made their way to Ranger and were relieved to find him still alive. Unconscious and from the marks on his throat he would have a very sore throat for a few days but he would live.
A few yards away they saw Mendez. Rodrigo knelt beside the body and crossed himself. Sebastian stood by his friend and gave him a moment to mourn. He stopped one of his men and gave him quiet orders to organize the clean up. The eastern sky was purple and he wanted as much done as possible before the sun was fully up.
Rodrigo stood and looked up at Sebastian. The big man pulled Rodrigo in a heart felt hug. "He was a good man. I know."
The sun had fully risen when Ianna and Pillar finally stood and joined their friends. Pillar had two of the men carry Ranger to the doctor's rooms. She refused to allow any one to carry Mendez there. It was a task Pillar took upon herself. She could do no less. She mustered what strength she had left, gathered him up and took him down. When she exited the room she found Rodrigo, Sebastian, Ianna and Rafael all in attendance.
"The doctor says Ranger will be alright. He just needs a little rest. He can receive visitors when he awakens. I ummm…I told the doctor to send some one for you when he does." She said looking at Ianna.
"Thank you." She said quietly.
Sebastian cleared his throat. "My men are taking care of everything. We should try and get some rest. I have….discreet guards posted. No one will get past them."
Pillar patted him on the arm, "Gracias amigo. When I have rested I want a full report."
"Si Capitan." Responded Rodrigo in his official tone.
She put her arm around Ianna then turned to Rodrigo one more. "The cache of weapons."
"Si?" Said the first mate a little puzzled.
"We will not be selling them." She answered.
"We are giving them to the Caballero. He can do with them as he likes." She answered and let Ianna lead her away towards her quarters.
"Si Capitan." He answered and took his leave with his two companions.
When Pillar woke it was several hours later. She felt Ianna laying in her arms and tightened her hold on her a bit. She ran the events over in her mind. Of all that had happened she could think of nothing worse than the fact that Ianna had felt forced to kill Santiago. She would have spared her that forever if she could have. It was something she hadn't considered. She would have gladly died if it meant Ianna would never know the feeling of having taken some ones life. She felt a wave of guilt take hold of her and wallowed in it for a moment. Then her mind was thrown back to Victor's words. There was a part of her that had thought some of the same things once. She let out a shuddering breath and kissed the top of Ianna's head. Ianna stirred and cuddled closer to the taller woman draping her leg over Pillar's. "What's wrong?" She asked in a sleepy voice.
"Nothing Amor." Answered Pillar stroking Ianna's hair.
Ianna looked up at Pillar and reached up gently turning Pillar's face to hers. "I know there's something wrong. What is it?"
Pillar sighed. "Later amor, right now I have much to do and I do not with to remain here any longer than necessary. I know we have the protection of Victor's men but do not wish to put them in danger. We will leave in the morning."
Ianna thought on it for a moment. "Alright love. But you promise to tell me later?"
"Si amor I promise."
Satisfied Ianna rose from the bed and began to dress. Pillar followed suit and they were soon both dressed and on their way to check on Ranger. The doctor reported he had regained consciousness several times but only for a few moments. He insisted he was doing well. Ianna went to his side and spoke softly. "Ranger…Ranger its me Ianna…come now enough lazing about time to get up."
He stirred a little and his eyes fluttered open. He tried to speak but nothing came out and he grimaced clearly in pain. Pillar stepped forward. "Careful Caballero you will have trouble speaking for a few days I am afraid. But I am assured you will be fine." He managed a small smile and she continued. "I wanted to thank for you assistance. I assure you I will not forget it."
Ranger raised his right hand and Pillar took shook it firmly. "I fear I cannot stay. I have several things to attend to." Ianna turned to leave and Pillar stopped her. "No, please stay as long as the doctor will allow. As soon as I am briefed I will be back for you."
"Thank you." Said Ianna rising on tip toe to give Pillar a soft kiss.
Pillar cleared her throat as she felt the blush creep up her neck. "Si bueno, I will be back soon." She said taking her leave.
Ianna watched Pillar leave then turned back to Ranger. She stroked his hair gently. "I'm so glad you're alright. And thank you for…" She couldn't continue.
Ranger reached up and stroked her cheek. He ran his hand gently to the back of her neck turned her head slightly and pulled her in close so her ear was close to his mouth. "Anything for you." He whispered.
She looked at him and smiled sadly. She knew she had broken his heart and for that she was genuinely sorry. She loved him very much and to have caused him any amount of pain was difficult for her to deal with. He took her hand and offered her what comfort he could until the need to sleep became too great. She sat quietly by his berth and held his hand while she awaited Pillar's return.
Pillar reached the deck and took a good look around. Sebastian's men had done wonders in only a few hours. The deck had been washed clean of the blood and she looked out across the water to see several heavily laden row boats headed towards deeper waters. In the warn climate it would not do to have bodies laying around too long. She caught sight of Rodrigo by the wheel with Sebastian and went to them.
"Did you sleep well Capitan?" asked the first mate.
"As well as can be expected." She answered.
"Is Ianna alright?" Asked Sebastian.
"She seems to be. Though I suspect it will take time for her to come to terms with things."
Sebastian sighed, "Si, it is difficult for some to deal with the knowledge of having taken a life. But she is strong Pillar. Give her some time."
"I left her visiting with Ranger. He seems to be doing well. How many men did we lose?" She asked seriously, changing the subject.
"Five all together." Answered Rodrigo.
Pillar was silent for a long time. "Their personal effects?"
"They have been gathered and set aside." He replied.
"What of Victor?" she asked turning towards the water.
"I have men looking for him. But his ship is gone. He may have very well left with the rest of the crew. No one has reported and information that he is still here." Reported Sebastian.
When Pillar did not replied both men became concerned. Finally she spoke. "Set course for Spain. Make all the necessary preparations we'll leave in the morning."
"Spain? Are you certain? I mean…" Rodrigo began.
"Yes I am certain. We are going home my friend. I want to put some distance between us and this place." She did not know why but she had the feeling Victor was not far away and she wanted no more encounters with him…at least for the moment.
"As you wish. I will make the preparations. We leave at dawn." Assured Rodrigo.
Sebastian spoke up. "If it would not be an imposition I will accompany you. I have need to visit the Iberian Peninsula. This will be the perfect opportunity."
Pillar smiled knowingly, "Of course my friend you are always welcome."
"You are going to have to stay off that leg." Said the doctor.
"It will heal. I have things to do. Remaining still is not one of them." Said Victor.
The doctor finished packing his medical and turned to the woman by the window. "Contesa, if there is nothing else I will be on my way."
She turned and handed the doctor his rather sizable payment. "I trust this cover the discretion clause in your oath as well?"
"Si Contesa." He answered giving a slight blow before turning to go.
Once he was gone she turned to her guest. "You are fortunate no one saw you enter last night. Vega has had the entire island looking for you. We must find a way to get you off the island."
"Get word to my ship. They will see to it."
"Your ship is gone. It departed just before dawn this morning. You have no ship." She said with a certain amount of amusement.
Victor remained silent and stoked his rage. Katherine Rivaldi regarded her guest for a moment. "I am leaving in two days. Perhaps we can think of something. Smuggle you in with the luggage perhaps. I am not going as far as France but Northern Spain may suit your purposes no? Close enough I would think and far enough away from here for you to be safe from Vega's spies."
"Why are you doing this?" He asked suspiciously.
"Let us just say that anyone who would seek to give Pillar Montenegro a hard time is a person worth helping."
"Oh make no mistake the next time we meet I will kill her but not before she watches Ianna suffer at my hands." He said bitterly.
Katherine was not overly concerned. This could work better than she hoped. He kills the tramp. Pillar kills him and she consoles Pillar during what is surely to be a most trying time. Yes, she liked it. "Wonderful then we are in agreement you will travel with me as far as Northern Spain then you can make your way from there." She said with a smile. Victor simply nodded in silent agreement.
Pillar went up on deck to find Ianna standing by the rail where they had shared their first kiss. She approached quietly and simply watched the younger woman. She was beautiful standing there. She had taken the leather tie out of her hair and it flow freely about her shoulders. Dressed in her trousers and britches to Pillar she was the most desirable woman in the world. She would want no other for the rest of her life.
"Are you done watching me?" Asked Ianna with a smile.
Pillar smiled broadly as she approached and hugged Ianna from behind. "You knew I was there?"
Ianna giggled, "Yes of course."
"How?" asked the taller woman genuinely curious.
Ianna's smile faded. "I don't know. I just knew you were there."
They were quiet for a few minutes. Then Pillar finally spoke. "What was troubling you last night amor? Or are you not ready to discuss it?"
Ianna took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "When I was five years old my mother died in child birth. Genna had just turned three and doesn't remember her the way I do. She was beautiful, kind, loving; everything a mother should be. My father never spent much time with Genna and I but I didn't mind because mother was always there." Pillar hugged her tighter and she continued.
"She was always asking me questions causing me to use my mind and encouraged me to give her my opinions on things. When she died father was beside himself. He loved mother very much but I'm afraid his skills as a parent were seriously lacking. Genna always did what was expected of her she never questioned things or spoke out of turn she was the perfect young lady in every sense of the word. I on the other hand questioned everything and always had an opinion on this or that and had no desire to keep them to myself. Unfortunately I learned at a very early age that being strong minded and independent was not ladylike and would not be tolerated. Father refused to be embarrassed by what he considered to be ill manners. The first time it happened I was seven and I spoke out of turn by questioning something my father had said in front of his associates. He was furious. Once they had left he came to my room and slapped me so hard my ears hurt for days after."
Pillar kept her feelings at bay and listened quietly as Ianna relayed many examples in which her father had disciplined her. Including the one occasion where the doctor had to be sent for because she had fallen down the service steps. She couldn't understand how it was possible that some one could treat a child in such a manner. She wanted to find the man and horsewhip him. She turned Ianna around and made the smaller look up into her eyes.
"Amor you did nothing wrong. You are a strong, intelligent, kind, loving and beautiful young woman. I am blessed at having known you and even more so for being loved by you. No one will ever hurt you again. I would give my life before I would allow it to happen. Do not fear amor."
"When this adventure first began the thought crossed my mind that it could be the perfect opportunity to escape." Pillar's heart sank a bit at hearing those words but she remained silent and let her continue.
"I thought that when we got here I could just remain here or perhaps get passage to somewhere my father would never find me. I had agreed to marry Ranger out of desperation. But I couldn't condemn him to that it wouldn't have been fair to him. But the moment I saw you…" She reached up and placed her hand on Pillar's cheek. "…the moment our eyes met I was lost to you forever."
"Si amor I felt it too." Replied Pillar softly as she moved a lock of hair from Ianna's face.
Ianna wrapped her arms around Pillar's neck and pulled her down for a kiss. It was long and sweet and full of all the emotion neither could find the words to express. They were interrupted from their sweet moment when some one cleared their throat. It was Rafael. He looked down at his feet as he reported that all the preparations were ready for their departure in the morning.
"Ranger will be traveling with us. He will make his way to France from Valencia. I spoke with him before I came to find you. He said he will ensure that any charges against me or my men will be cleared. His word as an officer and gentleman is beyond reproach and he is willing to give official testimony if need be." Explained Pillar.
"Oh that's wonderful!" exclaimed Ianna. "Wait, we're going to Valencia?"
"Yes I want to go home. I feel that after all this time I need to do that. You do not mind no?" Asked Pillar.
"Of course not. As I said before where you go I will follow." Answered Ianna.
They spent a good portion of the evening in each other's arms gazing up at the stars. Each one lost in her thoughts of the future and what it would it bring for them. Though it was full of uncertainty one thing was certain. As long as they were together whatever the future held it was going to be a grand adventure.
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