I laid out a map of the Caribbean on my desk and had Cecil look at it.
“Have you had word from any of your kinsmen in the West Indies?” I asked him.
He looked at the map, dragging a claw along the banks of Cuba, “The comings and goings of the Caribbean are frequent. Merchant vessels, slave ships and pirates. It is a centre of commerce and tribulation. Many ships are sighted, and even more action.”
“I don't even know what we're looking for. He could be aboard any one of those ships.”
“Where is he most likely to land?”
“If it were me on a pirate vessel, I would land in Tortuga. But Kenobi is... "righteous". He wouldn't board a pirate vessel if he could help it and no merchant vessel, or British ship, or Spanish galleon would willingly head to Tortuga to drop off a traveller as it's crawling with pirates and such. If you ask me, Grenada or Margarita is our best bet. They are major ports and they're close to the intended destination.”
“Where to, then?” Cecil asked.
“Do you have any brothers on either of these islands?”
“We have a pack in Grenada.”
“Then we will sail for Margarita. Contact your kinsmen in Grenada to look out for an old man in worn, tan robes with a glowing sword strapped to his left side.”
“Is something the matter?”
“My brother's will not miss him. I assure you.”
I looked at him for a while, but shrugged and packed what I needed. I found Felicia, Clay's Friday wet-nurse, putting him to sleep. She passed my baby to me and left with a small nod. I sat down on the bed, Clay in my arms, and sighed loudly.
“I shouldn't be leaving you,” I muttered, “I shouldn't be leaving you, I shouldn't be leaving you.”
Disturbed, Clay babbled and moved his arms around as if frustration. He took the hem of my tattered shawl in a chubby hand and began chewing and dribbling on it. I smiled at him, took the cloth out of his mouth and kissed his cheek. He nuzzled his head into my chest and snored softly.
I sighed again, not wanting to put him away.
“The curse of much knowledge,” said Cecil, from the doorway, “is often indecision.”
I regarded him for a moment before I found my voice, “I don't need telling,” I murmured, “What kind of mother am I, if I leave him here with people he doesn't even know?”
Cecil came and sat down next to me, “He resembles your mate,” the Romulite said.
“Everyone thinks so,” I scoffed.
Cecil leaned forward and huffed, “Being caught between two responsibilities is never an easy situation, but there is a priority to be met.”
“This boy is but one child. Would you sacrifice the fragile peace of the world only to be with him?”
I shook my head, “I don't owe the world anything.”
“No, perhaps not. But you have not answered the question.”
“I would,” I said, “If it weren't Thomas's map, I would sacrifice the world itself just to be with Clay. This is my child, this is Thomas's child. How do I leave him? How do I leave him?”
“As your traditions narrate - as the Mother of Moses left her child to the Nile.”
“I'm not the Mother of Moses! I'm nowhere near!”
“Your child will be cared for here.”
“How do you know? How do I know?”
“You don't, I don't. You must trust your people.”
“But I don't trust them! They're soldiers! They're rejects from everywhere trained to kill a man merely because I say so! Can a person like that protect a child, a baby?”
“Can the person who orders such killings be a mother?” he continued after a pause, “Then why can't these people be fathers?”
I looked away.
“You have protected my children for many years, Midnight, and though I cannot know, I guarantee the protection of your child within these walls. I stake it on my life,” Cecil said.
“That gives me little comfort,” I murmured, “There's... too much roaming untamed in my mind.”
“Tell me. Perhaps it will unburden you.”
“I... I feel like he's still here. And, yet he is gone. Even so far from home, I find his scent on my clothes, his laughter in my ears, his smile to comfort me within my mind's eye. His presence haunts every dream and his absence haunts all my waking ours. With every child I had I was grateful for what I'd gained, but... I look at Clay and all I can think of is what I've lost, what I will never have again. Thomas is gone. How can Thomas be gone and all that remains is his memory?”
Cecil touched my back, “The dead has left this suffering life for a lasting peace, so that you might struggle towards him until your time. He is not gone, Midnight, only waiting for your arrival. But would you go to him with a frown of failure or a smile of success?” he said gently, “You must erase his mistake.”
I took a breath and stood. I placed Clay in his small wooden crib and hid his fragile body in a blanket and tucked it around him. I kissed his cold cheek and left a tear on his face.
“Thank you, Cecil.”
“We should leave now,” he said, “We don't want to lose the killer.”