A machine gun rattled again, throwing dancing shadows past Masaracchia. Through her hand, Masaracchia felt Iseabail turn around. She said nothing, though, and they pushed on through the veiling darkness and its unsettling soundscape.
The cross twitched on its chain, and Masaracchia stopped. Sliding his foot forward, he found a wall—no, a stair. “Watch the steps.”
Iseabail and di Giacomo followed him, cursing occasionally as they stubbed toes on the risers. Masaracchia counted the steps. At forty-one, his foot fell through where the stair ought to have been, and he landed heavily at the top of the flight. “Careful.”
“We’ll wait three minutes before we go back ta find the cap’n,” Iseabail resolved. “I’m countin’.”
She’d just said, “Thirty seconds left,” when, from the base of the stairs, Cannon called, “Are you up there?”
“Aye, cap’n!” Iseabail shouted back. “Good tae hear ye werena kilt. Get up here so we can leave, aye?”
“No argument here!”
Cannon and Burr climbed the stairs. Atop the dais, it was a little quieter; the howls and groans filling the chamber reached the raised platform mainly as echoes. Cannon could make himself heard without raising his voice. “Everyone’s here?” He got four yesses and continued. “All right. The way out is right over there, on the opposite wall. We’ll spread out and find it, then try another torch once we’re through. If that doesn’t work, we’ll have to climb the cave-ins and dodge the poison darts in the dark.”
“I’d nae look forward tae that.”
“I wouldn’t either. Let’s go.”
Experimentally, Masaracchia let the cross swing on its chain. It settled to hang straight down. Worth a try, he thought, looping the chain around his belt and dropping the cross through it. God certainly provided directly in times of desperate need, but He had also been known to work through people at least as unlikely as a gang of pirates.