As night began to fall, the stronghold came into view. The ship made a wide circle around the rocky structure, trying to keep out of view. Algreve, once again in the crow’s nest, sighted the entrance to the caves and directed Silas toward it. José offered to steer, claiming he had the steadier hand, but Silas ignored him and guided the ship smoothly between the rocks. He pulled up beside a crag that resembled a pier and threw the anchor overboard before disembarking, his group following close behind.
José pointed out the staircase and the four boys began to climb, Silas leading the way. He could see a wooden door set into the stone wall at the top landing. Silas put a finger to his lips, signaling for the others to be as quiet as possible as he gently pushed the door open . . . to find a group of nasty looking pirates waiting for them.
One of them wrestled Silas away from the door, while another two grappled with Maldir and Algreve. The last one nodded at José and said gruffly, “Well done. The captain will be pleased.”
“I should have known,” Silas hissed. “You always did have the makings of a traitor.”
José leered at him. “No, I am simply a good first mate, unlike you.” He turned away from Silas and began to walk down the dark hall, away from the caves, calling back, “There are two at the cave entrance, and you can find the last three on the ship. Now, take them away.”
Silas was shoved into a dank cell with no light and no idea where the rest of his crew had been taken. He sank against the wall and a feeling of absolute hopelessness overwhelmed him. He had failed – not just Timberwolf, but the whole crew – and there was no one to save them.
. . .
Silas wasn’t sure how much time had passed since he was thrown in the cell, but he knew it hadn’t been more than an hour. In that time, Silas had been sitting listlessly on the ground; there was no point in trying to escape because he never would be able to do so anyway.
Silas choked back an angry sob and threw a punch at the wall. He gained nothing but bloody knuckles and a sore hand. It was all his fault. Sure, José had betrayed them, but Silas had been the one to trust him in the first place. He had wanted to lead the crew, but had led them toward nothing but their own imprisonment.
A sudden sound startled him out of his stupor. The sound was faint at first, but it grew in both volume and proximity until he could recognize it as a voice. It sounded like a guard talking to himself as he made his rounds. Moments later, a flicker of torchlight on the wall confirmed Silas’ guess, and with the short burst of light, Silas was filled with a strong determination to escape and save his crew; no, his family. He remembered Kincade’s faith in his ability to lead the crew. He remembered Maldir standing up to José without thinking twice about it. He remembered Red looking to him for confirmation when the other boy was the one taking charge.
Silas had so many people who believed in him, and he was determined not to let them down.
As the guard passed by his cell, Silas called out to him. The pirate stopped to sneer at the boy. “What do you want, scum?” Silas muttered something under his breath and the guard moved closer to hear him. “What?”
Quick as a diving sea eagle, Silas’ hand shot out from between the bars of the cell door and grabbed the man’s shirt, pulling him against the metal bars. Halloway’s guard struggled to get away, but the boy had a grip of steel.
“Let’s make a deal,” Silas growled. “You let me out and tell me where they’re holding Captain Timberwolf, or I’ll figure out how to kill you from inside this cell.”
The pirate, of course, chose the first option. He unlocked Silas’ cell, then told him that Timberwolf wasn’t at the stronghold. The captain was being held at a prison on a nearby island, with little security because of its utter isolation. After thanking the pirate for his cooperation, Silas took his keys, locked him in the cell, and went to rescue his crew.