The Captive Kingdom (Ascendance 4) - Page 30

“He hasn’t said anything to Roden either, not even when they both came down here a while ago. I —”

“Stop.” I stepped toward him. “What did they say?”

Fink stared at me. “Roden said you’re not king anymore, that the throne belongs to someone else.”

“There is no one else.”

“Roden told Tobias to get you off this ship, but said he’s got to stay and see this through.”

“See what through? Whatever Roden has heard, he’s wrong. No one else could possibly be —” I stopped there, my heart suddenly racing. I looked at Fink. “Come with me.”


“I need your help.”

He threw a fist into the air. “I knew you would! Where are we going?”

Despite what Fink had said, I had to believe that Imogen was on that lifeboat, and Mott too, though I knew it wasn’t possible. Swallowing those worries, I pointed to the porthole. “Get back into the lifeboat, and let’s hope that spare rope is still there.” I explained my plan to him, then practically shoved him out the porthole.

He would meet me in the sick bay when he was finished, but I needed to finish my work here and get there too. The entire future of Carthya depended on it.

Despite Teagut’s promise, the lower deck was far from abandoned when I climbed up to it. In fact, it was the very opposite, crowded with both pirates and Prozarians, half of them grumbling about afternoon duties when they only wanted to sleep, and the other half wanting to stay awake and gamble.

“Place your wagers,” one Prozarian in the corner was calling. “Come now, pirates. You lost your ship, why not lose your coins as well?”

That set off a round of arguments and a few thrown fists, but I put my head down and walked straight through them all.

Teagut was still guarding the sick bay door and pointed out his addition to Tobias’s sign, which now read, suspected plague. do not enter. I grinned at him, promised myself again to find a way to pay him the coins he was owed, and entered.

Tobias hadn’t yet returned from the midday meal, but I was anxious to speak to him. I listened at the door as a man walked up to speak to Teagut.

“Did I see that door open just now?”

“Jaron wanted to escape,” Teagut replied. “I told him to go back inside and he did. He’s afraid of me.”

“Then you should remain as vigil. What if the plague gets loose on this ship? We’ll all be dead.”

A third man joined them. “Maybe this is a cursed ship after all.”

Behind me, I heard a knocking sound at Tobias’s porthole window. I turned and saw Fink’s face, upside down, waving at me.

I rushed over to him and opened the window, then grabbed his arms to pull him through.

“Why are you upside down?” I asked.

“I pulled the wrong rope. It carried me up a little high, almost to the deck. Wouldn’t that have been awful?”

He grinned. I did not.

“No one goes inside,” Teagut said from outside the sick bay door. “No one.”

Whoever was speaking to him was much quieter. I opened a cabinet door and told Fink, “Get inside.”

“I hate hiding in dark places!”

“You got on this ship by hiding in a crate!”

“That’s how I know I hate it.”

Tags: Jennifer A. Nielsen Ascendance Fantasy
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