A New Beginning

                                                                        Chapter 19

After telling the hostages of the late hour Pablo ordered Padre Felipe to return to his quarters. A short time later the light in Padre Felipe's room went out.  Before turning the door knob to enter the women's quarters Pablo listened at the door to make sure there was silence.  The light from the full moon shown through the window's flimsy drapery allowing  Pablo to slyly way
edge his to the bed where Leonar was sleeping.  Reaching with an outstretched arm he covered her mouth with his hand and with his other arm dragged her from the bed.  Unable to scream she tried to pull away but his strength was too much for the young woman.  As they neared the open door Leonar managed to grab a bottle from the table and throw it to the floor.  Startled Melita awoke and immediately went to Leonar's aid.

"Cursed woman if you know what is good for you and those brats, you will be silent," snarled Pablo.

"No, I will not be silent.  Leave her go," cried Melita tugging at Pablo.

Still holding on to Leonar with one arm Pablo released his hand from her mouth and slapped Melita hard across her face.  Melita lost her balance and fell to the floor knocking her head against the table.  Leonar tried to free herself from Pablo's grasp but he held her tight and shoved a cloth into her mouth to silence her. 

"Now it is just you and me," sneered Pablo.  "Not only will I have my gold but you too!"

Paco led Monastario to the hidden entrance to the mission then returned to the campsite where Bernardo waited.  After lighting a torch the commandante eased his way through the narrow passage.  As soon as he could see the opening on the other side Monastario laid the torch on the ground and extinguished the flame.  The cemetery was quiet accept for the occasional hoot of an owl.  Creeping vigilantly he moved among the headstones until he caught sight of one of the kidnappers leaning against a tree fast asleep.  Sliding the rope off his shoulder he began to unwind it as he moved closer to the tree.  With his sword in his hand he poked at sleeping man.  Dazed by sleep and the darkness Monastario had no problem capturing the man without resistance leaving him gagged and tied to the tree.  The commandante easily slipped into the mission and made his way to the sanctuary where he was to meet Diego.  As he entered he found an unexpected surprise kneeling at the altar.

"De la Vega...why are you dressed in that manner?" asked the commandante.

"Capitan, everyone knows "Diego" is not a man of violence.  If I were to swoop in as Diego there would be many questions...questions I do not wish to answer especially from the governor's daughter."

Together the two men checked out the rooms tucked away in the church as they moved toward the kitchen.  So far two of the kidnappers had been eliminated and two remained somewhere in the mission.  Between the church and the sleeping quarters was the kitchen.  As Zorro and Monastario approached they could see a light flickering.  Quintana was relaxing with a glass of wine in his hand and his legs up on the table unaware that the two men were watching from behind.  The two men decided that Zorro would continue on toward the quarters while the commandante took care of Quintana.  So far things had gone smoothly thought Zorro.  One more man and the hostages would be free.  Could things be as simple as that?

Zorro ran through the dark passage and stopped just before entering the quadrangle.  Everything looked clear but where was Pablo.  Removing his sword from it's scabbard Zorro slowly moved down the long corridor toward the Padre's quarters knowing all to well how dangerous Pablo could be.  Halfway down Zorro stopped when he heard a scream coming from a room across the courtyard.  As he ran through the quadrangle he saw a woman collapse outside one of the rooms. 

"Senorita, are you alright," asked Zorro.

"Find...woman...Pablo...," she said.

"Nooooooooooooooo," a woman's voice cried out.

Zorro dashed in the direction of the woman's cry checking each room along the way.  In one of the rooms he found Pablo binding Leonar's hands.  With lightening speed Zorro jumped the man before he could reach for his weapon and knocked him to the ground.  Zorro ran to Leonar's side and cut the bindings from her hands.

"Do not worry, Senorita."

"There are three other men, Senor Zorro...watch out," she yelled as Pablo rose to his feet..

Zorro turned as Pablo lunged forward with a sword in his hand.  Pushing Leonar to one side Zorro jumped to the other.  Pablo safely passed between the two.  Turning Pablo now faced the man cloaked in black.  With a wide grin on his face he grabbed the frightened woman once again.

"Do not try to stop me or the woman dies."

With Leonar his hostage Pablo made his way to the open door.  There he could see the courtyard which was empty except for the priest leaning over Arturo's wife.  Without loosing site of Zorro Pablo pulled his hostage into the open air toward the locked gate.  Padre Felipe watched Pablo, with his arm around Leonar, move in their direction.  Zorro followed but could do nothing that would cause Pablo to harm his hostage.  Something must be done to stop this man before he could escape...but what thought the priest.  Patting Melita on the hand Padre Felipe rushed toward the unsuspecting man and pushed Leonar out of the way.  Pablo stood looking into Zorro's smiling face.

"All right, now it is just you and I.  Let us see what you can do when you do not have a woman to hide behind."

The sound of clashing swords cut through the peaceful night.  Padre Felipe helped Leonar to her feet and together they made their way to Melita.  As they watched the two men with their swords raised they hoped Pablo would be at Zorro's mercy shortly.  However even though his skill was not great Pablo managed to keep his opponent at bay.  With a final flurry Pablo rushed Zorro pushing him back toward the stone tiles on which the fountain sat.  As Zorro reached the stone tiles he lost his balance and Pablo was right there to take advantage of the situation.  With an uplift swing of his sword Zorro's weapon was taken from his hand. 

With a menacing grin Pablo said,  "You have finally met your match.  Now you will die and I will have the money and the woman."

Pablo raised his sword about to strike when a shot was fired.  Grabbing his chest he looked in the direction of the sound then fell to the ground.  Zorro scrambled to his feet as Leonar and the Padre ran toward him.  On the ground Pablo lay dead.  Leonar looked at Zorro stunned.

"Senor Zorro, what happened?" Leonar asked just as they were joined by Monastario.

As the two embraced the others looked away until they heard Leonar say, "It was you who shot Pablo."  There in the commandante's hand was the pistol which had saved Zorro's life.