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Dante eyes glittered in reflection of the fires still burning in the warehouse along the docks. Thick acrid smoke still permeated the air, but seemed to part as Dante strode through it. His eyes darted into every corner searching for further clues.
He had easily found the foolish Genoese ‘merchants’ laying in pools of their own blood and gore at the church. Having realized that his prey had made their escape long ago, he chose to commune with his God for further guidance. Amidst the cannon fire and screams at the docks, he’d spent an hour prostrate at the alter gaining strength and regaining his inner calmness. A low guttural growl in his throat emerged as a prayer, a promise, a purpose as he rose, crossing himself before turning swiftly on his heel and leaving the inner sanctum of the church.
Standing on the dock overlooking the battered remains of the yet to be completed Castillo de San Antón, Dante suddenly clasped his hands together and bowed his head. “Lord” he prayed, “Unless you gift me the power of wings, I cannot follow him in these winds – the ship is the fastest in Spain and only Satan knows where he is headed. Grant me a path in which I may continue the purging of evil in this land and rid it of that Captain.”
A bowswains sharp whistle roused him from his appeal to his God. An English Ship had entered the harbour and appeared to be flying a treaty flag. Despite the chaos surrounding him, soldiers shouting, sailors swearing as they were dragged from docked ships and the morning chorus of howling dogs, Dante surrounded himself with peace and calmness and the absolute focus which made him the most feared and respected in his trade.
He watched at a longboat drew up and landed. With practiced ease he stepped into a doorway and watched as an athletic young man of signatory disembarked was lead away to a waiting carriage. The clouds parted for a spit second and the sun shone brightly , highlighting the blond hair of the departing captain.
Dante bowed his head slightly in recognition of his sign from God and followed the detachment to the Ambassadors residence. Dante decided there was little use in attempting to approach or follow him into the secure area so secured several hot loaves of bread from the markets and chewed on on a peice thoughtfully. Purchasing some cheese as well, he languidly made his way back to the docks to awaited for the emergence of the young Captain. Having subsisted on dry ration biscuit, the warm smell of fresh bread made the young cabin boys mouth water as he sat bored waiting at the longboat for the arrival of the Captain. He was more than happy to share his exciting adventure with the kind priest who appeared beside him. Matthews mother would have been proud of her son as he bowed his head and gave confession on the docks.
The clattering of hooves heralded the arrival of the English crew. The Blond nobleman alighted from his seat with a scrowl still etched on his face.
“Captain Blakeshaw, I believe we might be of service to each other.” Dante approached him bowing slightly.
The Captain sensed the danger and the hunter species within this dark tall figure. He recognized the bloodshed in his eyes and involuntarily shivered.
“What the devil are you talking about? Who are you?” He countered raising himself to his full height in front of Dante.
Dantes thick English accent, betrayed his Italian origin, but noted him of a man of learning. Blakeshaw hesitated, curious at this turn of events.
Dantes head inclined slightly “I am a simple God fearing loyal subject of the crown”. He continued smoothly “I am afraid that many of the inns have been damaged or looted in this madness, however, you would find a great benefit if we broke bread together and spoke of important matters. Please invite your men to join us at the nearby church. They can offer us a quiet place to speak. There are too many open ears in this public place.”
Blakeshaw signaled the carriage and they pulled themselves into the seats. Sharp silence sliced the air as they rode in the carriage together, each man staring the other in undisguised mistrust.
One gesture from Dante had the monks scurrying to tidy a prayer room when they arrived. Dante wasted no time as he handed the captain slices of bread and cheese. “You are hunting Juan. Both the public and private price on his head has increased considerably since you were in court. I also am committed to bringing justice to that pirate. I have at my disposal letters of mark from the church and from Royalty to allow me passage through any “unpleasantries”. You have a ship and I need to follow him - do we have an accord?
Blakeshaw stumbled. His logic told him that Dantes words rang true and that a powerful ally as he would get him into places that he would not ordinarily be able to go. He was astounded at the ease in which Dante had culminated events and secrets that even he had only been privy to recently. He was curious to who Dante was , or who he knew; but was very wary of the preditor.
Despite all doors closed, a cool rush flowed through the room, perfuming the area; as if a noblewoman had walked past. Dante growled and crossed himself, his eyes darting to each corner. That presence was back and had not been blocked by the sanctity of the grounds they stood upon.
Blackeshaw stood, unaware of any of this. “I am sorry Sir, your offer is very compelling. However we must press on with my Kings orders and am not allowed to carry passengers or foreigners upon our ship. I wish you well in your search.”
Dante gripped his arm and stared into his eyes. “Hes a marked man Captain. One of us will find him, He would do well to pray that it will be you and the hangmans noose and not me first. But the Lord is the only one who can judge his soul.”
Dante disappeared into the shadows of the church, leaving Blakeshaw and his men puzzled and speechless.