Cecil's "friend from Martinique" turned out to be a Romulite named Captain Black Cæsar - a wolfman of oiled black fur and as imposing as Cecil.
You know, the pirate that all pirates fear?
Just wonderful, isn't it? I didn't even ask how the two became friends: I just got on board, gave the captain a weird look and a quick thank you, and hid away in an assigned cabin. Or unassigned, borrowed, stolen, whatever. I wasn't really in the mood to mix with pirates again, but, eh - when in the West Indies, right? I received Aldrin's letter from Cæsar himself (how he'd gotten his hands on it, I can't really tell...) and I think I'll leave off replying to it for now. I long to return to Normandy, but home is closer on the way back, so I might make a stop there and see how everyone is doing. Besides, I think Aldrin's questions may need a more personal response than a letter, and Cecil can meet his son after all these years. What the result of that would be, though... I dread to think. I don't want to lose Aldrin or Tori. They're both my children as they might be Cecil's. But... they have every right to decide where they want to go, what they want to do and who they want to do it with - and it wouldn't really be right for me to step in and put ideas in their heads. I can't do that, or I hope I won't.
All these years, I never considered adoption to be a temporary ordeal...
What would become of Amethyst, then? Would my granddaughter be taken from me as well? Taken? I'm making it sound like a kidnapping.
I should really move on to something that won't tangle up my brain into squiggy knots. We landed on Tortuga soon after we boarded Black Cæsar's ship. He didn't speak much (at least, not with me) but he didn't seem to mind or notice our company while we were on his ship. Cecil and Cæsar shared a few words, but they were ones I didn't hear. It seemed that Captain Black Cæsar hadn't been to Tortuga in a while. The way the pirates ashore regarded him... Like he was a demon from Hell come to punish them all. I even saw one man soil his breeches.
Cecil approached me and said, “Cæsar tells me that you know a man that can lead us to the Fountain.”
“I do-” I began.
“Why wasn't I told this?”
“Calm down. I did know a man here that knew the location of the Fountain of Youth. Back when I met Estaban Vasquez, I didn't really take his ramblings seriously, but he seemed cock-sure. However, when your son and my niece came here to retrieve a man named Cortés... Vasquez might be dead because of it. Bex told me that she shot him between the eyes.”
Cecil huffed, “We won't get far without a map. I propose we search this Vasquez's fort anyway. In case he left something that might indicate the Fountain's location.”
“You want the two of us to storm into a fort?”
Cecil rolled his eyes, “Did you honestly think I would suggest that?”
“I honestly don't know what to think of you, Cecil.”
“I'm suggesting that we simply go there to look.”
“And you thought storming the fort was a bad idea? Cecil, these are pirates. They won't just grant us entrance!”
“But we have-”
“Black Cæsar or no, the fort won't just welcome us! They're more likely reel us in with fishing rods and put a ransom on our freedom!”
“If reason doesn't work, then we'll use force.”
“It's a stupid idea to reason with drunkards.”
“Can we just try it?”
“You have a worse opinion of your people than I do.”
“Touché. I've lived with them longer.”
“Midnight. You said you knew this man. Why wouldn't they welcome you?”
“Because they won't. Maybe if he was still alive, I could count on it, but even then - I never trusted him. He was a touch crazy.”
“Well, we have to get into that fort somehow... Can we just try to reason with them? With coin, if nothing else?”
“Coins might work...” I conceded, “Though I wouldn't guarantee it.”
“At the moment, we'll take what we can get.”
So we travelled to the fort. It was as crumbled and unkempt as I remembered. Vasquez wasn't really one for decorum, though he knew how to keep his guns clean. I walked up to one of the sentries on duty (piss-drunk) and he made an uncoordinated motion to grab at me.
I gave Cecil a look.
He shrugged, “No-one's tried to kill us yet.”
“He said proudly,” I muttered.
I helped the sentry up and snapped my fingers in front of his face, “Oi,” I said.
“Ain't you got the loveliest face I've ever seen?” he slurred, with a goofy smile on his face.
“How do we get into the fort?”
“I can tell you how to get into my-”
“Who's commanding you?”
“Oh, Midnight!” a familiar voice called, “Up here!”
Cursing my luck, I looked up to the turrets and who should be staring down at me but Vasquez?
I put my hands on my hips, “A surprise, seeing you here,” I said.
“Oh, that business with your niece and your son? Eh, fucking child's play,” Vasquez said, waving his arm in the air and disappearing from view as he descended from his post, “Open the gates! What you waiting for? The fucking horses to do it for you? Fucking animals have been dead for weeks!”
I heard bolts being turned and the doors slowly opened from within. Vasquez stepped put and brushed himself off. He definitely had the mark of a bullet on his forehead.
“So, why don't you come in and tell me why you've come? I'm assuming it isn't the chemistry that's brought you here,” Vasquez said, “Although, I did hear the rumour of the death of a certain Thomas Rogue.”
“I'm not here for the chemistry,” I said, folding my arms, “I'm here for information.”
“And your over-sized pet?”
“He's with me. And he's not a pet.”
“Eh, they're all pets, Midnight. Look at these pathetic motherfuckers,” he kicked the drunk sentry, “They look like they deserve to be called people? Barely deserve to be called animals.”
“Vasquez, I haven't got time for your philosophy on the degeneration of mankind.”
“No shit. Come in, and I'll see if I can help you.”
“I'm staying out here.”
“Oh, loosen up, Midnight! You're widowed, not dead. You know I'm not about to play a bunch of games to make you lose your shit.”
“I can't count on you to stay serious.”
“What's the point of fucking fort if I have to stand out here and argue with you!” Vasquez snapped, “You want to hear something from me, then come the fuck inside or find someone else!”
I shrugged and turned away, “Fine. I'll find someone else. Come on, Cecil.”
“Urgh!” Vasquez growled, “What do you want?”
“I thought you weren't going to humour me.”
“Answer the question.”
“The Fountain of Youth. We need a guide.”