The Captive Kingdom (Ascendance 4) - Page 27


“Yes.”

“Then I’m not as bad as I thought.” I sat up again. “Late last night, a fishing boat was spotted in the distance. I saw it again this morning from the crow’s nest.”

“We’ve seen it too. It’s just a thin old man with a fishing net he can barely drag half-full onto his deck. He’s no threat to this ship.” Wilta sighed. “I won’t defend the captain, Jaron. I’ve suffered more than most because of her. But she isn’t wholly evil. She won’t harm that fishing boat without cause.”

I hoped not. Because a plan was forming in my mind, and my only choice might be begging help from a thin old man.

Wilta took my hand. “Are you feeling any better?”

I pulled my hand free to help balance my head. I tried to answer her, but my words were blurring and finally I gave up. She couldn’t understand me, and I was unable to hold two thoughts together long enough to decipher her questions. Time continued to drag by until the door opened again and Tobias walked in.

Wilta quickly stood, eager for an excuse to leave. “I should go and let you rest.”

Once she was gone and the door was closed, I lay down, still curled into a ball. “What did Roden have to say?”

Tobias frowned. “The captain called Roden to the deck at first light, before anyone else was called. She asked him a question that he couldn’t answer. So he wants me to ask you.”

“If the question is whether Wilta likes him back, the answer is, who cares?”

Tobias sighed. “The captain asked him whether you cried at your family’s funeral.”

I opened my eyes, squinting at him to be sure I’d heard him correctly. “How is that relevant to anything happening now?”

“She seemed to think it was releva

nt, but Roden couldn’t answer because he wasn’t there.”

“He wasn’t there because he was attempting to assassinate me, if you recall.”

“Of course I recall. But the question spooked Roden enough that he wants me to get you off this ship. There’s only one lifeboat on this ship and he wants you on it tonight.” Tobias hesitated. “I told him I would make sure you are.”

I made myself sit up again and dizziness overtook me, forcing me to lie down. “You don’t get to make plans for me — that is not your place. Nor is it Roden’s. I will decide when to leave this ship.”

“Unless the captain has you killed first — don’t you think she is considering that now? Maybe she originally planned to bring you all the way to Belland, but I don’t think she cares about that anymore. In fact, I think the only reason you’re still here is because she doesn’t want to risk a revolt from the pirates.”

“The pirates would shift loyalties from me for a single gold coin.”

Tobias sighed. “Then what should we do?”

My eyes turned upward. We had completed a cut into the ceiling, but in our hurry, we had made the opening too small for either of us to fit through. Nor could we widen it. As far as everyone knew, my surgery was over. Any use of the bone saw now ran too high a risk of discovery.

Besides that, I desperately needed to rest. If I’d slept at all last night, it could be measured in minutes, not hours, and I was still aching fiercely from the formula I’d swallowed. I lay on the table and closed my eyes, and in a chair beside me, Tobias did the same.

The last thing he asked before he fell asleep was, “But did you cry at their funeral?”

No, I hadn’t.

It couldn’t have been much later before a knock came at the door, summoning Tobias out of the sick bay. My ears perked up when I recognized the voice as belonging to Captain Strick, who said, “Were you not ordered to give me a report in one hour?”

I peeked through half-opened eyes enough to see Tobias leap to his feet. He glanced back, assuring himself I was still asleep, then hurried out the door.

I felt better enough that this time when I sat up, I didn’t feel like losing the entire contents of my stomach. I crept over to the door and pressed my ear to it.

“Jaron was missing from the kingdom for a while,” Strick said to Tobias. “How did he come to the throne?”

“He was living on his own as a boy named Sage. A regent named Bevin Conner captured Roden, Sage, and me with the intent of making one of us look and act enough like Jaron that he could fool the entire kingdom. Turns out that Jaron was one of the boys he captured.”

“Until Conner captured him, did Jaron have any idea of his family’s deaths?”


Tags: Jennifer A. Nielsen Ascendance Fantasy
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