The Captive Kingdom (Ascendance 4) - Page 20


Roden sighed. “It’s like I told the captain before. Nothing I do is ever good enough for him. He always believes he can do it better, or smarter, or bolder.”

“You must make him see you as you truly are.”

“Jaron will never change, no matter what I say or do. Besides, if I want to live, then I can’t think about him anymore, only the captain. I need her to trust me.”

Wilta placed her hand on his cheek. “If there’s a way to gain her trust, we will find it together.”

> “Thank you, Wilta.”

He continued staring at her, and her hand was still on his cheek, and I was getting increasingly annoyed with all of it when Wilta finally stepped back. “Someone’s coming.”

The vigil who had been with Teagut walked partway up the stairs. “Is Tobias up here? He’s needed down in the sick bay.”

Roden glanced around. “No one’s up here but us.”

“I know he came up, not thirty minutes ago. He is here, somewhere.”

With tension thick in his voice, Roden said, “I’ll go look starboard.” Wilta followed him and I immediately darted out of the wardroom, with Tobias’s hat pulled low over my face.

“Never mind, I found him,” the vigil called.

“Hush, or you’ll be next in the sick bay.” I pushed past him to start down the stairs just in time to hear Roden’s feet pounding across the deck.

“Tobias!” he called, but I didn’t look up. Obviously.

Instead, the vigil followed me down the steps and I hurried forward, trying to keep a few steps ahead of him. I didn’t know how well he knew Tobias’s face, or mine, but I hoped any differences would become blurred in the low light belowdecks.

I called behind me, “What’s the problem?” If the patient required my use of needles or a surgeon’s knife, he would have serious regrets for being ill tonight.

“It’s Teagut. We were on deck keeping watch for the night. He went up to check on the prisoner we put up there, and he’s been acting strange since we came down. Says he’s too ill to return to the deck. I doubt he’s really sick though. When the captain finds out nobody’s been keeping watch on the deck, she’ll have our heads.”

“You’d better get up there and hope she doesn’t notice,” I agreed. “I’ll tend to the pirate.”

The door of the sick bay had a sign to indicate when someone was being treated. I turned the sign, which read do not enter, then shut the door tight behind me.

The sick bay was a square room with a small bed and wash basin for Tobias in one half and a narrow exam table on the second half, surrounded by shelves and cabinets and trays. Teagut was on the table, seated with his back to me, his head hung low.

“I know you’re not a real physician yet,” Teagut began, “but that’s all right because I already know what’s wrong with me.”

“What’s wrong is that you abandoned your post, and if the captain finds out, you’ll be in trouble.”

“I — wait!” Teagut twisted around as I raised my head and grinned. He did not. “You!” His eyes narrowed. “You’re the solution to my problem. The captain will forget that I abandoned my post. All I have to do is turn you in.”

“Turn me in for what? As far as anyone knows, I am up in that crow’s nest. And you are trapped in here, under my treatment, with everything I think I know about medicine.”

“Then you’ve got to help me,” Teagut said. “It’s your fault I’m in this situation.”

“Well, to start, are you really ill or do you need an excuse for the captain?”

He gulped. “Which answer gets me away from you?”

“The second.”

“Then that’s my answer.” He lowered his voice. “I came here because there’s a rumor about a medicine Tobias made. One that … makes you sick.”

We hadn’t even been on this ship a full day, but Tobias had made this formula, spread the word about it, and found a lodestone. That was impressive. In that same time, I’d only attempted a mutiny, and it hadn’t even succeeded.

Teagut pointed to a small shelf behind me. I reached for the bottle he was pointing at and gave it a shake. Liquid sloshed inside.


Tags: Jennifer A. Nielsen Ascendance Fantasy
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